Due to the prevalence of side effects from nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, and corticosterioids, concerned individuals are looking for alternative approaches for treating pain, according the Arthritis Today website. A variety of natural and home remedies possessing anti-inflammatory properties are coming to the forefront of alternative medicine; however, herbs should be used with caution due to their ability to produce side effects. A practitioner should be consulted before starting any conventional or alternative treatment plan.
Garlic's popularity as a healing herb has been known for thousands of years. The Chinese and Egyptians used garlic in herbal preparations taking advantage of its ability to reduce inflammation and fight infections based on its anti-microbial properties. Garlic's healing properties are described in the hieroglyphics found on the great pyramid of Cheops in Giza, according to Wright State University. Current discoveries find that garlic possesses disease-preventing compounds supporting its historical use, according to reports from Oregon State University's Linus Pauling Institute.
Another ancient herb used in ayurvedic medicine as well as for cooking is turmeric, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. The active ingredient in turmeric is called curcumin. Recent discoveries indicate that turmeric may be useful for the treatment of inflammation for ailments like arthritis and fibromyalgia, as well as for digestive disturbances and cancer, adds the UMMC. Further research is necessary to verify these claims.
In addition to turmeric's ability to reduce inflammation on its own, the UMMC adds that combining it with the enzyme bromelain, increases its efficacy. The UMMC suggests 400 to 600 mg of turmeric, three times per day. Turmeric can also thin the blood and cause bleeding. People taking blood thinners like coumadin or warfarin should consult a practitioner before using turmeric.
The enzyme bromelain comes from pineapples, primarily the skin and leaves of the plant. A clinical study conducted by Dr. Sarah Brien was published in the "Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Journal" in 2004. The research results suggest that bromelain has analgesic properties, and may be effective for treatment of osteoarthritis and other musculoskeletal disorders, in addition to being efficacious in the treatment of edema and deep vein thromboses. Ongoing research is needed to support these claims. Like turmeric, bromelain has the ability to thin the blood. Individuals who desire to use this enzyme for the treatment of long-term conditions such as arthritis, or those taking blood thinners should consult with their practitioners before starting to use it.
Wright State University states that cayenne pepper can be used as a topical ingredient to reduce pain and inflammation associated with neuropathy, specifically the pains of diabetic neuropathy. Cayenne helps to mediate the transmission of pain from the nerves of the feet or other points where neuropathies occur to the spinal nerves. Because of its ability to produce heat, cayenne must be applied in very small doses, several times a day initially. Patients should build up use over time, perhaps as long as several months, to avoid side effects such as burning and increase in pain.
- Arthritis Today: Drug Guide NSAIDs
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Turmeric
- "Evidenced-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine"; Bromelain as a Treatment for Osteoarthritis: a Review of Clinical Studies; Dr. Sarah Brien; December 2004
- Linus Pauling Institute: Garlic and Organosulfur Compounds