Arthritis can be caused from natural wear and tear to ligaments and joints as they age. Injuries can also cause ligaments to tear. In addition, autoimmune diseases can cause rheumatoid arthritis. All forms of arthritis involve joint inflammation and swelling. Some herbs are as effective as conventional medications prescribed for the management of pain and inflammation, without the more serious side effects, such as permanent liver and kidney damage and gastric bleeding.
Ficus elastica is an herb that originates from Africa. Practitioners of herbal medicine in Africa often recommend Ficus elastica for its anti-inflammatory properties. Ficus elastica contains flavonoids that block the formation of arthritic lesions.
Alfalfa has been used for hundreds of years to treat pain and inflammation from arthritis. Alfalfa contains calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus, all of which are beneficial for arthritis. If using alfalfa, it is better to brew tea from the plant itself, because alfalfa contains an amino acid that can mimic the symptoms of Lupus in some users. Boiling the alfalfa in hot water neutralizes the amino acid.
Devil's claw contains a compound called harpagoside that reduces swelling and inflammation. A study published in a 2002 issue of Phytomedicine confirmed that 50 to 70 percent of the 227 participants taking 60 mg daily of devil's claw noticed an improvement in their pain levels caused by osteoarthritis. Stomach acid can destroy harpagoside, so it is best to take the herb between meals.
Feverfew can be effective for reducing pain and inflammation. It works by preventing the release of inflammatory substances from platelets, which normally occurs as a reaction to injury or irritation. Feverfew also reduces the production of prostaglandins, which contribute to pain.
Turmeric contains curcuminoids that block inflammation and pain. Turmeric is particularly useful for people with rheumatoid arthritis. Dr. Janet L. Funk, MD, of the UA Medical College, conducted experiments that confirmed the benefits of using turmeric for arthritis. She also discovered turmeric can inhibit bone resorption, making it a useful supplement for staving off osteoporosis. The results of her studies have been published in the Journal of Natural Products, the American Chemical Society journal and the American College of Rheumatology journal.