Herb Simples for Arthritis & Rheumatism

Arthritis is an umbrella term which encompasses over 120 diseases and conditions that affect joints, surrounding tissues and connective tissues. Osteoarthritis is thought to be due to the wear and tear on the cartilage that protects the joint, while rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder where the tissues surrounding the joint are attacked by the body’s own immune system. Arthritis is a chronic condition that conventional medicine finds hard to treat and impossible to cure. Studies have found that a meat free diet is beneficial, and many have found relief by avoiding certain foods such as wheat, sugar, fats, salt, caffeine and nightshade plants (such as tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and aubergines). There are several herbs with anti-inflammatory properties, some of which have been shown to be as effective as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Ginger and Nettle Tea

½ oz. powdered ginger

1 oz. ground dried nettle leaves

Powder the nettle leaves and combine with the ginger powder. To use put two teaspoons in a teapot and pour on a cup of boiling water. Infuse for ten minutes, strain and drink with a spoonful of honey, if liked. You can also use the ingredients fresh but putting a small handful of fresh nettle leaves and half an inch of peeled and grated fresh ginger in a teapot and pour on the boiling water. Infuse 15 minutes and drink with a little honey, if liked.

Ginger contains an anti-inflammatory compound called gingerol. This, and other components in ginger have been found to reduce inflammation. It has properties similar to those of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including interfering with the pathway that leads to chronic inflammation. 

Nettle Tea

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) leaves, dried or fresh

Powder the nettle leaves. To use put two teaspoons in a teapot and pour on a cup of boiling water. Infuse for ten minutes, strain and drink with a spoonful of honey, if liked. You can also use the leaves fresh but putting a small handful in a teapot and pouring on the boiling water and infusing for 10 minutes. Nettle tea bags are also commercially available.

Rich in minerals and anti-inflammatory properties, a cup of nettle tea a day can help reduce inflammation, prevent water retention and support the kidneys and adrenal glands.

Caution: Stinging nettle is considered safe for most people but it should be avoided if pregnant or breast feeding. It can lower blood sugar and blood pressure, so if you are diabetic or have low blood pressure, you should monitor your levels.  Do not take if you have kidney problems.

Celery Water

1 stick chopped celery

½ pint water

Boil the celery in the water for 4 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave for 10 minutes. Strain and drink a cup daily.

Celery contains over 25 anti-inflammatory compounds, as well as providing potassium (potassium deficiency may be a culprit of arthritic pain). Celery also promotes sleep, increases urine flow, promotes muscle relaxation, decreases blood sugar and lowers blood pressure. 

Caution: Avoid celery supplements if you have kidney problems, low blood pressure, a bleeding disorder or if you are taking Levothyroxine, lithium or sedatives.

Castor Oil and Juniper Rub

Warm some castor oil slightly, add a few drops of juniper essential oil and massage into the affected parts to help reduce pain.

Olive Oil and Eucalyptus Rub

30 ml olive oil

10 drops eucalyptus oil

Put the olive oil into a dropper bottle and add the eucalyptus oil. Eucalyptus oil has natural anti-inflammatory properties and helps reduce stiffness too. Olive oil is also beneficial for arthritis.

Coconut Oil Rub

Just heat some virgin coconut oil till it gets lukewarm and massage it into your painful joints two or three times a day. Heating the oil increases blood supply to the area and increases absorption of the oil.

One study found that the unique coconut oil antioxidants reduced the inflammation associated with arthritis more effectively than current pharmaceutical drugs. Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce swelling and pain when applied topically or taken internally. Be sure to use virgin coconut oil though, as the refined ones have little of the active ingredients necessary to be effective.

Turmeric and Ginger Tea

½ tsp. turmeric powder

1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and grated

1 pint water

Bring the water to the boil in a pan. Add the turmeric and ginger and simmer for about 10 minutes. Strain and rink sweetened with a little honey, if liked.

Like turmeric, ginger contains anti-inflammatory properties.

Caution: Avoid if you are a diabetic or on blood thinning medication and for two weeks before surgery.

Coconut and Turmeric Bedtime Drink

1 cup coconut milk

1 tsp. turmeric

½ inch ginger root, peeled and grated

1 tsp. honey

Warm the milk, ginger and turmeric in a pan, strain, add the honey and drink before bed.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa), a plant of the ginger family, is known to have so many health benefits. It contains curcumin, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory; curcumin downregulates the production of chemicals that play a vital role in spread of inflammation. Some studies have found turmeric to be as effective as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and without their side effects such as damage to gastrointestinal system and kidneys.

Caution: The use of turmeric as a spice is considered safe for adults and children alike – people have been eating it on a daily basis in India for thousands of years. As a supplement, for adults 1200-2100mg of curcumin a day for 2-6 weeks is considered safe. However, turmeric is known to lower blood sugar and is a blood thinning agent, so it should be avoided by diabetics, if you are on blood thinning medication and for two weeks before surgery.

Turmeric Tea

1 tbsp. turmeric powder

1 pint water

Bring the water to the boil in a pan, add the turmeric and boil for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Drink within 4 hours.

Caution: The use of turmeric as a spice is considered safe for adults and children alike – people have been eating it on a daily basis in India for thousands of years. As a supplement, for adults 1200-2100mg of curcumin a day for 2-6 weeks is considered safe. However, turmeric is known to lower blood sugar and is a blood thinning agent, so it should be avoided by diabetics, if you are on blood thinning medication and for two weeks before surgery.

Chilli Salve

4 fresh chillies (cayenne) chopped

½ cup sunflower oil

1 tbsp. beeswax

Put the chillies and oil in a double boiler and simmer for 40 – 50 minutes. Strain out the chillies and return the oil to the pan. Add the beeswax and stir until it has melted. Pour into warmed, sterilised glass jars. Apply directly to your joints.

Cayenne contains a substance called capsaicin which helps reduce pain by blocking pain signals to the brain. 

Caution: Wash your hands afterwards and avoid touching the eye area.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Mix one tablespoon of cider vinegar in a glass of water. Take three times a day.

© Anna Franklin, The Hearth Witch’s Compendium, Llewellyn, 2019

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Author: annafranklinblog

Anna Franklin is the High Priestess of the Hearth of Arianrhod, which runs teaching circles, a working coven, and the annual Mercian Gathering, a Pagan camp which raises money for charity. She regularly speaks at conferences, moots and workshops around the country. She is the author of many books on witchcraft and Paganism, including the popular Pagan Ways Tarot, Sacred Circle Tarot, The Fairy Ring, Herb Craft, Magical Incenses and Oils, Personal Power, A Romantic Guide to Handfasting, Familiars, The Oracle of the Goddess, Hearth Witch, The Path of the Shaman and The Hearth Witch’s Compendium. Anna’s books have been translated into nine languages.

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