Pain is inevitable. Suffering is Optional.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by 2040, an estimated 78 million (26%) US adults are projected to have doctor-diagnosed arthritis. (1) Most suffer from joint pain, inflammation, swelling, stiffness, decreased range of motion, and loss of flexibility . The more common areas affected are joints located in the lower back, hips, knees, feet, neck, fingers, and thumb base.
While the statistic above is startling and discouraging, those currently suffering are looking for options right now. Many people are seeking to ease their symptoms with natural approaches, especially when conventional approaches fall short. With the number of people afflicted on the rise, the search is on for natural alternatives and safer approaches to provide pain relief from arthritis.
Here are some of the most popular trends these days:
Arnica is a plant typically found in mountainous areas of Europe and North America with orange/yellow daisy like flowers. It contains anti-inflammatories that stimulate white blood cell activity, which reduces inflammation. Though Arnica is used topically for speeding up the healing of bruises, using Arnica lotion for decreasing pain and inflammation associated with arthritis has gained widespread recognition these days.
Peppermint Essential Oil
The scent of peppermint may remind you of Christmas, candy or even tea, but did you know that peppermint has been used for centuries to reduce pain and inflammation? Many use peppermint essential oil topically and feel the soothing relief from muscle, joint, and arthritis pain. The high menthol content in peppermint has a nice cooling effect on the skin as well. If you have sensitive skin, it’s a good idea to dilute the pure oil with a fragrance free lotion. For added anti-inflammatory benefit, add it to the Arnica lotion mentioned above.
More people are altering their diet to include foods that are considered “anti-inflammatory.” These include vegetables, fruits, plant-based proteins like beans and nuts, whole grains, fatty fish, fresh herbs,and spices. Modifying your diet could help reduce the number of flare-ups you have and possibly decrease your pain.
Ginger and Turmeric
Turmeric is actually related to the ginger family and they both have anti-inflammatory properties. The curcmin in turmeric blocks inflammatory cytokines and enzymes. Ginger has been used in the Asian community for centuries to reduce inflammation, ease pain, and relieve digestive upsets. Many people with arthritis take these as supplements or drink them as tea.
Enzymes, Proteolytic enzymes to be specific, have been found to have anti-inflammatory effects as well. Reducing inflammation can decrease pain and swelling associated with arthritis. Proteolytic enzymes are found in foods such as tropical fruits, including papaya which contains papain, and pineapples which contain bromelain.
Always consult your health care provider before taking a new supplement, changing your diet or adding to your self-care routine to make sure it’s safe for you.
1. Hootman JM, Helmick CG, Barbour KE, Theis KA, Boring MA. Updated projected prevalence of self-reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis and arthritis-attributable activity limitation among US adults, 2015-2040. Arthritis & Rheumatology. 2016 Mar 25. [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1002/art.39692. PubMed PMID: 27015600.