20 Powerful Natural Remedies for Healing and Eliminating Inflammation and Pain
BY DR. MARK WILEY
there are many powerful, effective natural remedies for inflammation and pain that can help the holistically minded avoid medication and actually work to heal the underlying root cause. photo: marazem dreamstime.com
Healing Natural Remedies for Inflammation and Pain
Natural supplements are not the same as chemically manufactured medicines. To begin with, they are made of natural ingredients and are less toxic and therefore less harmful to the body, if taken as directed. Even in
Because drugs, unlike natural remedies for inflammation and pain, are created in a lab and our bodies are not equipped to digest and process them. Moreover, drugs are incredibly powerful which gives them the ability to offer fast relief of symptoms, like pain and inflammation. This is good for short-term use, but can be harmful over time. The body just can’t metabolize these drugs sufficiently to prevent them causing new damage and side effects.
Natural remedies, on the other hand, are made from the stuff of nature. This includes leaves, twigs, berries, bark, roots, vines, vitamins and minerals. They are natural substances that can’t be regulated by the FDA because they are technically foodstuffs. If you understood herbology you could, as many traditional cultures do, adjust your diet to include the herbals in your meals. However, for painful and chronic conditions, like arthritis, this would mean at every meal. Taking these ingredients as supplements to your diet is the way to go.
In addition to the other methods and strategies discussed throughout my book, I recommend taking natural remedies that reduce pain and inflammation, protect joint health and promote healing without side effects. Below I offer an overview of 20 different supplements formulas or ingredients often found within such formulations. Read each, keeping in mind your specific condition and how some may be more effective for you than others.
1. Avocado Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASU)
ASU is a vegetable extract made from the oil of avocados and soybeans that is said to slow the progression of osteoarthritis. It slows down the production of inflammatory chemicals in the body and thus the breakdown of cartilage in the joints. It has also been found to spur new cartilage cell growth. It is available in capsule form at a recommended 300 mg daily.
2. Boswellia Serrata
Boswellia serrata is a traditional Indian Ayurvedic remedy for inflammatory conditions. It is extracted from the gum of the Indian boswellia tree and has been in use for centuries to treat joint pain and inflammation. It provides anti-inflammatory activity in areas where there is chronic inflammation by turning off the pro-inflammatory cytokines that begin the inflammatory process. Moreover, research shows that the acids contained within boswellia extract stop the formation of immune cells known as leukotrienes, which are responsible for inflammation. This then allows blood to flow unobstructed to the joints for healing and improved mobility.
3. Burdock Root
Burdock root is a natural botanical for that is in wide use for many conditions, among them arthritic pain, swollen joints and rheumatism. More than anything else, clinical studies have found it most effective as a blood purifier that helps to rid the body of deleterious toxins and clear congestion from the circulatory, lymphatic, respiratory and urinary systems. Burdock is said to cleanse and eliminate long-term impurities from the blood very rapidly through its action on both the liver and kidneys. For those who suffer from arthritis and have taken too much Tylenol, burdock root has been clinical proven to protect the liver cells from the damage of taking acetaminophen. It is believed to stimulate the gallbladder and encourage liver cells to regenerate.
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4. Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO)
Cetyl myristoleate (CMO) is a fatty acid, an ethylated esterified fatty acid derived from bovine tallow oil. Though it is similar to fish oil, it is made specifically to help joints through its action as a cellular lubricant. Clinical studies show CMO to be an effective natural anti inflammatory compound that promotes healthy joint function. It increases joint flexibility and range of motion by lubricating the joint at a cellular level. It works to decrease inflammation specifically in the joints and lubricate their movement. In other words, it increases the fluids that cushion the space between the joint bones. CMO is reported to effect change at the cellular level, within the cell membranes themselves. It assists in the reduction and prevention of breakdown in joint cartilage. This can be especially helpful for those suffering degenerative osteoarthritis. The Journal of Rheumatology reported on a double-blind study of patients with chronic knee osteoarthritis where the CMO group saw significant improvement while the placebo group saw none. In fact, the scientists were so impressed with the results they concluded CMO “may be an alternative to the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for treatment of osteoarthritis.”
5. Chondroitin Sulfate
Within the cartilage around your joints is a chemical known as chondroitin. Chondroitin is naturally produced by the body. As you age, your natural supply starts to plummet. And a loss of chondroitin from cartilage is linked to a major cause of joint pain. Moreover, through wear and tear the joint cartilage breaks down, resulting in the condition of Osteoarthritis. We can’t regenerate cartilage on our own, but we can take a supplement called chondroitin sulfate which, studies show, can help slow down this degenerative process and help naturally reduce arthritic pain. Chondroitin sulfate is made from the cartilage of cows and other animals, and is often used in combination with other products including glucosamine and manganese.
6. Citrus Bioflavonoids
Sometimes referred to as vitamin P, citrus bioflavonoids enhance the absorption of vitamin C and act as important antioxidants. Flavonoids also inhibit collagenase and elastase, the enzymes responsible for the breakdown of connective tissue. Connective tissue breakdown is one of the factors that may cause arthritis. Flavonoids reinforce the natural structure of collagen, improve the integrity of connective tissue, protect against free radical damage and are a great natural remedy for inflammation and pain.
7. Devil’s Claw
Direct from the Kalahari Desert comes devil’s claw, a claw-shaped fruit that has been used for centuries by the South African tribes as a natural remedy for inflammation and to treat arthritis pain. Numerous studies carried out on devil’s claw show it to have powerful natural NSAID-like properties. In fact, the journal Phytomedicine reported that it is just as effective as the osteoarthritis medication Diacerein. What’s more, studies carried out in both France and Germany pointed to devil claw’s effects being similar to cortisone.
8. Fish Oil / Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The omega-3 fatty acids found in abundance in fish oil derived from cod, trout, herring, salmon and other coldwater fish are proven natural remedies to reduce inflammation. Research from Cardiff University in Great Britain found that cod liver oil not only relieves pain, but also stops and even reverses the damage caused by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Omega-3s help morning stiffness, regenerate joint tissue and have been shown to also aid in autoimmune disease like RA, lupus and psoriasis.
According to recommendations of the Arthritis Foundation, when treating conditions related to arthritis it is best to use “fish oil capsules with at least 30 percent EPA/ DHA, the active ingredients. For lupus and psoriasis, 2 grams EPA/DHA three times a day. For Raynaud’s phenomenon, 1 grams four times a day. For rheumatoid arthritis, up to 2.6 grams fish oil (1.6 grams EPA) twice a day.”
9. Glucosamine Sulfate
Glucosamine is one of the most-studied supplements around the world for relief of arthritis symptoms and joint health. Sulfur is produced naturally in the body and is an essential component to joint health. Glucosamine sulfate is a type of glucosamine that is most useful in the support of joint mobility and pain relief because it absorbs well. Conversely, glucosamine chondroitin does not absorb in an amount significant enough to create enough of a change to make taking it worthwhile. Glucosamine sulfate works as well as NSAIDs for some people but without the negative effects to the gastrointestinal tract or liver.
10. Hydrolyzed Collagen Type II
Collagen—particularly Type II collagen—is the main structural building block of joint cartilage. The human body is made up of 60 percent Type II collagen, and Hydrolyzed Type II collagen contains the amino acids found in human cartilage. Your body uses these amino acids to create new collagen—and repair your cartilage and connective tissue throughout your body. Hydrolyzed Collagen Type II also contains Hyaluronic Acid, which lubricates your joints and makes it an effective natural remedy for inflammation.
11. Ionic Minerals
The human body is a miracle of electrical impulses that keep it functioning and make life possible. Ionic minerals are an essential part in this process, as the body relies on them to conduct and generate electrical impulses. Without the correct balance on ionic minerals in the body, your brain and muscles could not function properly and cells could not properly absorb nutrients.
There are over 70 trace minerals that are important to cellular, neurologic, joint and bone health. Taken together, ionic minerals balance and replace electrolytes, maintain pH balance, improve circulatory health and aid absorption of vitamins and nutrients.
helps metabolize calcium and magnesium and is critical for healthy membrane function.
is important for healthy teeth and bones and helps regulate nerve function.
is essential for healthy function of proteins and enzymes and aids in the absorption of iron.
is needed to transport oxygen to the cells in your body.
helps relax muscles and stimulate enzyme production, in addition to regulating bowl function to help eliminate toxins.
promotes healthy bone formation, supports growth of healthy connective tissue and boosts calcium absorption.
helps repair damaged cells and promotes healthy new cell growth.
is a powerful antioxidant that helps vitamin E protect cells and connective tissue by destroying free radicals.
helps boost white blood cell production in your immune system.
Glutathione is a natural protein found within every cell in the body and consists of the amino acids Glutamic acid, L-cysteine, L-glycine. It is produced by the liver and is also found in fruit, vegetables and meats like mutton, lamb and beef. It is the most powerful antioxidant in the body and helps protect cells from free radical damage and oxidative stress, thereby improving cellular health and strengthening the immune system. As such, in addition to a host of other diseases, L-glutathione is useful in the natural treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
13. Methylsulfonlylmethane (MSM)
MSM is a potent sulfur naturally found in plants, animals and humans that helps rebuild the connective tissue in your joints and is a powerful natural remedy for inflammation and pain. What’s more, MSM has the unique ability to improve cell permeability. This allows harmful toxins to flow out, while allowing health boosting nutrients to flow in to feed your joints, cartilage and connective tissue. It is used for hundreds of symptoms related to a myriad of health diseases and conditions, and is especially effective as a natural remedy for relieving inflammation for improved joint function, and pain associated with joint inflammation, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis and tendonitis. One study published in the Journal of AntiAging Medicine found that MSM provides an 80 percent greater reduction in pain compared to the placebo.
Paractin is a clinically proven extract of the medicinal herb Andrographis Paniculata, which helps correct an imbalanced immune system. This helps cut off the signals that cause inflammation and significantly decrease joint pain, which makes it a great ingredient in supplements for arthritis.
15. Proteolytic Enzymes
For arthritis relief, it is important to have proteolytic activity on the systemic level. Known as protease, this category of enzymes acts as a catalyst in the breakdown of proteins into peptides or amino acids. This helps control both systemic inflammation and inflammation resulting from soft tissue injuries, like those associated with both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Proteolytic enzymes also provide essential antioxidant and cardiovascular support. I will discuss two of the more potent ones here:
Bromelian is a mix of proteolytic enzymes (those found in pineapples), which have been used for centuries to help indigestion and reduce inflammation. Studies indicate this product helps reduce pain associated with arthritis, especially when used in combination with some other natural pain-relieving agents making it a great natural remedy for inflammation and pain.
Papain contains a wide array of proteolytic enzymes, incorporating a broad range of substrate specificity and optimum environments. Because of this attribute, Papain easily and efficiently hydrolyzes most soluble protein, yielding peptides and amino acids. Papain has an effective pH range of 3.0 to 10.5.
Rutin is a flavonoid composed of the flavonol quercetin and the disaccharide rutinose. Rutin is found naturally in a variety of plants, and dietary sources include black tea and apple peels. Rutin’s natural anti-inflammatory potential is attributed mainly to its powerful antioxidant activity. Rutin also helps maintain the levels of reduced glutathione, which is a powerful biological antioxidant. The combination of these activities helps to minimize the cellular damage and resulting inflammation caused by the various oxidative processes.
17. SAMe (S-Adenosyl methionine)
SAMe is one of the natural chemicals made within the body that science has been able to duplicate in a lab, and make into a supplement. Studies have shown SAMe supplementation to be comparable to the pain-relieving effects of Celebrex by the second month of taking the product, without the side effects. The SAMe chemical has a role in pain, depression, liver disease and has been shown effective when used for relieving the symptoms of osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, bursitis, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), migraine headache, depression and more, making it a great natural remedy for inflammation.
18. Thunder God Vine
China, Korea and Japan grow a vine known as Thunder God, which is one of the powerful natural relievers of arthritis, especially rheumatoid arthritis. It has properties that regulate the immune system and naturally reduce inflammation, thus being good for autoimmune diseases. One clinical trial carried out at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center discovered that roughly 80 percent of those patients who were given a high dose of the plant supplement found that their rheumatoid arthritis symptoms got better considerably making it well worth a try for those looking for natural remedies for inflammation and pain.
19. White Willow Bark
Since the time of Hippocrates white willow bark has been in use as a natural means of reducing inflammation and pain, specifically associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as headache, backache, gout and PMS. The bark of the willow tree contains the chemical salicin, which has a similar effect in the body as acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin). But it’s better than aspirin, because it has none of the gastrointestinal side effects, and it naturally contains flavonoids (anti-inflammatory compounds found in plants).
Vitamins are essential to health. Every natural thing that you eat contains the vitamins needed for growth, repair, bone density, pH balance and hormone regulation. The problem is that many people don’t have access to organic whole foods, so vitamin supplementation is important. When suffering from inflammation, pain and arthritis, the following vitamins may help.
Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that promotes healthy blood cells, prevents anemia and naturally fights off inflammation of the joints and helps make DNA. It is essential for the normal functioning of the cells, nervous system and gastrointestinal tract.
Vitamin D3 is a fat soluble vitamin that promotes calcium absorption and enables normal mineralization and growth of the bones. Deficiency of Vitamin D3 (the active source of Vitamin D) can lead to loss of bone density, brittle bones or misshapen bones. Ample levels can help prevent osteoporosis. It is important that you ask your healthcare provider to test your Vitamin D blood levels, to ensure you do not get too much.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble and essential nutrient for humans. The most important components of vitamin E appear to be the tocopherols. All four forms of tocopherol have been shown to have antioxidant activity, but alphatocopherol is the strongest antioxidant. Alpha-tocopherol inhibits the oxidation of LDL, which can help prevent LDL from sticking to the arterial walls. In addition to its antioxidant properties, vitamin E also acts to reduce blood coagulation and may help to lower blood pressure by eliciting endothelial relaxation.
Vitamin K2 helps prevent osteoporosis by keeping calcium in your bones where it belongs. Without vitamin K2, calcium floats through your bloodstream and sticks to places it doesn’t belong, like your blood vessels.
How to Take Natural Remedies
Because natural supplements are made of organically existing substances, they affect the body in gentle ways—without side effects. The ingredients within natural remedies for inflammation, pain and anything for that matter often do not work as quickly as drugs do at relieving pain or inflammation. However, they do offer acute relief in the short term while working more powerfully over time to create a gradual and lasting change in condition. In other words, natural supplements need to build up in your system to get to a level where more significant change occurs, which is why you often will need to take them several times per day, over periods of weeks and months or even longer.
The best way to take natural remedies for inflammation and pain is by following the guidelines on the label. These guidelines are often the minimal doses and therefore for acute conditions the doses can be increased, sometimes doubled or tripled. However, in high doses even natural substances can become toxic in the body. In all cases, it is necessary to use caution and to take supplements and medications as directed on the bottle or as suggested by a professional healthcare provider.
This article on natural remedies for pain and inflammation is excerpted from Arthritis Reversed: Groundbreaking 30-Day Arthritis Relief Action Plan by Dr. Mark V. Wiley.
About The Author
Dr. Mark Wiley is an internationally renowned mind-body health practitioner, author, motivational speaker and teacher. He holds doctorates in both Oriental and alternative medicine, has done research in eight countries and has developed a model of health and wellness grounded in a self-directed, self-cure approach.