The word "arthritis" means inflammation. Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful condition caused by inflammation of the lining of the joints, while in osteoarthritis, the cartilage in weight-bearing joints such as the knees and spine is most often affected. Pain and stiffness in the joints are primary symptoms of arthritis. The anti-inflammatory properties of garlic can help to ease arthritic pain and swelling.
Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder, is the most crippling form of arthritis. When a person has rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s immune system attacks synovial membranes in the joints. When this lubricating oil is destroyed, inflammation occurs, causing pain. Different from osteoarthritis, which affects individual joints, rheumatoid arthritis can affect all of the joints in the body. According to the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability, garlic is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to decrease the swelling and inflammation associated with arthritis. People who suffer from arthritis might be able to lead a more pain-free life by adding garlic to their diets.
If taken daily, garlic works to stimulate the immune system and improve circulation and blood flow. Healthy cell maintenance requires sufficient levels of oxygen; therefore, inadequate supplies of oxygen in the blood prevent the body from functioning properly. Garlic also contains the mineral selenium, an antioxidant that helps fight free radicals, which can damage joints. Free radicals found in environmental pollutants are often responsible for causing the damage characteristic of degenerative diseases like arthritis.
Peel fresh garlic cloves and eat them raw or cooked. In order to get the maximum benefit of the herb’s healing properties, garlic should be mashed or roasted. Eating raw garlic can irritate the stomach and digestive tract, so garlic should be roasted to make it easier to digest. Cooked garlic might also be more effective in protecting cells against free radical damage. To get the most therapeutic benefit, eat several cloves of garlic each day. Garlic tablets or capsules provide a convenient dietary supplement and offer the added advantage of being odorless.
Garlic, a food rich in sulfur, plays an essential role in collagen production. Collagen is needed to form cartilage tissue, which cushions joints. The problem is that sulfur levels tend to be lower in arthritic joints than in healthy joints, and the body cannot produce sulfur on its own; therefore, sulfur intake must come from dietary sources. The sulfur in garlic helps to repair cartilage and reduce muscle and joint pain by producing an anti-inflammatory analgesic effect on the affected joints.
Some people report that eating too much garlic gives them heartburn or makes them nauseated. Others might suffer an allergic reaction when consuming large amounts of garlic. If you develop a skin rash, stop ingesting garlic and contact your doctor. Because garlic thins the blood, be careful about how much garlic you eat if you take prescription drugs or an over-the-counter medication like aspirin that can thin your blood. Bleeding can be an adverse side effect of consuming too much garlic. Let your doctor know if you take large amounts of garlic to treat pain, especially if you need surgery.