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Natural relief for inflammation: 6 Medicinal herbs for joint pain

Arthritis, or the inflammation of the joints, is a debilitating condition that can cause, among other things, joint pain, stiffness and swelling. According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States, affecting more than 50 million adults and 300,000 children. Fortunately, there are many safe and effective natural treatment options that can help those with this condition. Here are six herbs that you should try if you suffer from arthritis. (h/t to


Turmeric is a spice and medicinal herb originating from India. Its main compound, curcumin, is what gives it its many health benefits. Several scientific trials have shown that curcumin can reduce chronic inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis.

A caveat exists, however: Curcumin is not readily bio-available or easily absorbed by the body. Fortunately, you can mix in your turmeric with a little black pepper to improve curcumin’s effectiveness. This is because of a compound in black pepper called piperine, which studies have shown can improve curcumin absorption.


Frankincense is a Biblical incense that is extracted from the resin of the Boswellia sacra tree. Frankincense has been used for thousands of years for its strong aromatic qualities and its wonderful health benefits. The Arthritis Foundation says that there are active compounds in frankincense that have anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve arthritis symptoms.

Furthermore, a review of several clinical trials found evidence to support using frankincense for managing arthritis symptoms. The authors of the study state that 60 to 70 percent of people who use frankincense saw significant improvements in their symptoms.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera is popular due to its health benefits for the skin. Many skin products contain aloe vera due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Fortunately, these properties also make it useful in combating the symptoms of arthritis. One study even found that aloe vera’s compounds produce effects similar to those of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. (Related: Natural remedy for arthritis pain? Women who drink cranberry juice experience reduced joint pain.)

Borage oil

Borage oil is derived from the seeds of the starflower or the Borago officinalis plant. Borage oil contains large quantities of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an omega-6 fatty acid. Studies have found evidence to suggest that oils that contain GLA, like borage seed oil, can improve function and relieve pain in people with rheumatoid arthritis. However, studies don’t recommend using high concentrations of GLA directly, as they can have a toxic effect on cells. Instead, use borage seed oil to moderate your use.

Cat’s claw

Cat’s claw, or Uncaria tomentosa, is a South and Central American vine plant that can improve immune function and reduce inflammation. Several studies have confirmed that cat’s claw’s anti-inflammatory effects can reduce joint pain. One clinical trial from The Journal of Rheumatology found that people who take cat’s claw extract for 24 weeks have a 53.2 percent reduction in joint pain.


The eucalyptus tree is a popular tree from Australia. Its leaves are popular as the main food of the koala, but they’re also well known in the natural health world due to the leaves’ antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. Eucalyptus leaves have compounds known as flavonoids and tannins that have antioxidant properties. These antioxidants can help reduce inflammation and pain. One study even found that eucalyptus leaf extracts reduced the levels of several inflammatory enzymes.

There are many other herbs out there that can help fight the symptoms of arthritis, such as ginger, thunder god vine and willow bark. The naturally occurring compounds in all these herbs can serve as complementary treatment options for managing joint pain and inflammation. If you’re not sure about which herb you should use, consult with your trusted natural health practitioner.

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