In every issue of Herbs for Health, professionals from a variety of health-care fields answer your questions about using medicinal herbs. Medical doctor Robert Rountree and herbalist Daniel Gagnon responded for this issue.
I am a thirty-three-year-old male with a chronic condition called hypocomplementemic urticarial vasculitis. My symptoms are debilitating joint pain, hives, and, on occasion, stomach distress. I’ve been on prednisone and methotrexate for more than a year without a great deal of success.
On the natural front, I’ve been taking glucosamine sulfate, fish oils, and vitamin and mineral supplements which seem to give me relief; however, because my condition has been so unpredictable, it’s hard to tell what’s working. I do know, however, that I want and need to reduce the pharmaceutical medicines because of the side effects.
Over the past year I’ve also tried turmeric, bromelain, and high doses of vitamin C with no real success. Is there something that may offer me relief from the swelling and/or hives? What is good for a vascular condition?
Received via email
Several herbs may help ease your joint pain, hives, and stomach distress. Fresh nettle, in liquid herbal extract form or freeze-dried capsules, alleviates and prevents the discharge of inflammatory compounds that cause swelling as well as hives. The supplement quercetin works well in tandem with fresh nettle to stabilize cells that secrete inflammatory compounds. Flaxseed (Linum usitatissimum) oil or its ground seed taken on a daily basis with meals will further calm inflammation. Avoid fried foods, foods made with hydrogenated fats, and meat. Green leafy and other vegetables, as well as whole grains, should be a major portion of the diet. Other useful herbs to take include butcher’s broom (Ruscus aculeatus), which has an anti-inflammatory effect on blood vessels; licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) which supports the adrenal gland while taking prednisone and methotrexate; and meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria), which offers support for distressed stomach tissues.
Daniel Gagnon is a medical herbalist living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild, vice chairman of the American Herbal Products Association, and owner of an herbal retail store in Santa Fe.
The information offered in “Q & A” is not intended to be a substitute for advice from your health-care provider.