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Arthritis and Herbs
Arthritis is a condition in which an individual faces, usually chronic, pain, stiffness, and inflammation in the joints. Friction between bones and joints can be very painful, especially after sleeping for the night, or after exercise. Range of motion diminishes and swelling increases, only aggravating the problem.
While conventional medication aims to alleviate the pain and inflammation, herbs are designed to allow the body to heal on its own, thereby reducing or eliminating suffering. Herbal remedies for arthritis are a way to treat the condition, not only without negative side effects, but with additional positive effects from the holistic approach of herbal medicine.
How to herbs work? There are dozens of plants which can benefit this disease. Some act by helping the body eliminate toxins. A build-up of waste in tissue around joints is one of the causes of arthritis. Some help the body deal with inflammation, instead of succumbing to it. Inflammation is a natural healing response, but when tissue remains inflamed indefinitely, it can have an adverse affect on the body. Some herbs directly treat arthritis pain, and others can be applied externally to increase blood circulation to affected areas. Ideally, a combination of herbs that cleanse, address inflammation, increase circulation, and reduce pain, will cover all necessary aspects of the disease, thus relieving pain and encouraging healing at the same time.
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There are three classes of herbs which are necessary for treating arthritis on a foundational level. They act to help the body eliminate the toxins which have becomes trapped in tissue over time. Until they are released, it will be difficult for the body to return to a state of harmony.
Alteratives help to purify the blood, diuretics promote the excretion of waste through the urine, and aid the kidneys, and stimulating herbs increase peripheral circulation, thereby increasing the flow of cleansed blood, and the removal of toxins. Black cohosh, bogbean, and sarsaparilla are excellent alteratives. Boneset and yarrow are diuretics. Celery seed is both an alternative and a diuretic. Both ginger and rosemary increase circulation.
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Inflammation and Pain
Anti-inflammatory herbs do not stop inflammation; they allow the body to overcome it. This class of herbs is very important for treating arthritis as chronic inflammation can be harmful to the body. It is also a root cause of the pain. Black willow and devil's claw are ideal anti-inflammatory herbs. Meadowsweet has anti-inflammatory properties, but it is also a diuretic, and an herbs which supports liver function.
In cases where the pain is troublesome, or makes it difficult to sleep, consider herbs which will ease tension and reduce suffering. Valerian and Jamaican dogwood are two excellent plants for this purpose.
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Taking the properties of different herbs into consideration, it is easy to formulate an herbal blend to make into a healing tea for arthritis. As an example, blend equal parts of:
- Celery seed
To make an infusion, use two to three teaspoons of dried herbs with one cup of boiling water. Infuse for ten to fifteen minutes. Drink one to three cups daily. Herbal tinctures are also effective. One dropperful is a single dose, which can be taken twice a day while treating arthritis.
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While teas are designed to heal the body over the long-term, they are most effective over time. There are herbal remedies for arthritis which can be applied externally, which can offer some degree of relief right away, while also encouraging healing through stimulating blood flow. These herbs increase circulation, drawing blood from deep within the body to surface areas. This relieves both blockages and inflammation.
Rosemary, peppermint, and wintergreen can all be applied as oils. Using a small amount, rub gently into the skin, although do not use if skin is dry or irritated. If using essential oils, be sure to dilute in a carrier oil, such as almond or avocado oil, ten drops for two ounces of oil. Cayenne and ginger can be made into an herbal poultice. Using the dried herb or powder, mix with enough hot water to make a paste. Apply a very thin layer of oil to the skin, and then apply the herbal poultice. Leave on for ten to fifteen minutes.
Whether using external herbal remedies, or treating arthritis pain with healing infusions, it is also important to eat a healthy diet, and to get moderate exercise. Herbs are a safe, natural, and effective form of treatment, still, it is always important to talk to a doctor when taking herbs, especially if on prescription medication.
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Hoffmann, David. "The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies." (Element Books, 1996).
Balch, Phyllis, CNC. "Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 4th Edition." (The Penguin Group, 2006).
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photo by: Andy Rob (CC/flickr) <http://www.flickr.com/photos/aroberts/12471160/>.
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