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Herbs & Spices for Rheumatoid Arthritis

relieve pain and inflammation

By Negomi Oak RhettsPublished about a year ago 4 min read

In recent years my mother has begun feeling the effects of rheumatoid arthritis in both her thumbs, and now a few more of her fingers.

Debilitating, as it turns simple tasks such as doing up buttons or opening bottles into a mission or something to be avoided. Watching her have difficulty holding a pen was crushing.

My mother has tried multiple approaches to tackle the pain she is subjected to daily. But after much trial and error she has found a combination that suits her and has seen significant improvements from adding certain foods, herbs and spices to her diet, and in using plants to relieve pain and stiffness from this particular aliment.

There are many approaches that can help, such as taking pain relief, trying to not over use your hands and resting when needed. There can also be much benefit from doing specific physio therapy exercises designed to strengthen joints and muscles in the hands and fingers, or trying alternative therapies such as massage and acupuncture.

More extensive medical treatment for arthritis can either be surgeries or having cortisone injections that suppresses inflammation, reduces pain and relaxes the nerves.

Although effective, this kind of medical treatment is not always available (in my mother's case, she has been on a six month wait list for one injection) so for people suffering with chronic pain it is important to find remedies more easily available, especially if you do not wish to take pharmaceutical pain relief everyday.

So, in an effort to try all her resources my mother started introducing more herbs and spices that specifically help with inflammation to her food, and now uses them in creams, teas, and massage balms too.

Everyone is different, so it's worth experimenting in order to find the right fit for you, your body, and your specific needs.

Here are the top 10 herbs, spices and plants I recommend for aiding Rheumatoid Arthritis :

Green Tea

Green tea contains an antioxidant called 'polyphenols' which research shows can reduce inflammation.


Turmeric has become a popular spice in the west in recent years, with good reason.

Turmeric contains the active ingredient 'curcumin' which again, helps to treat inflammation and then pain in the body. It is also traditionally used in cooking, so it is very easy to add it more regularly to your food.

Devils Claw

This plant has been used in African countries for centuries to treat pain.

Devils Claw a well known remedy that is very effective, however it is strong so should not be taken in your are pregnant, have gallstones or ulcers. It can also sometimes thin the blood so if you are on cardio-medications or diabetic it should be avoided.

Thunder God Vine

This herb is as impressive as it's name! Research has shown that this plant can reduce arthritic pain as much as orthodox medication. Of course whenever results like this are found it is important to check with your doctor before taking as a remedy.


Used for centuries in cooking and traditional medicine, ginger is one of the most well-known plants to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Adding more to your food or drinking ginger root tea regularly can aid in reducing inflammation from arthritis.


Another common kitchen herb, thyme also has anti-inflammatory properties as well as anti-microbial properties that aid in reducing the effects of rheumatoid arthritis.


This tasty spice has antioxidants that are known for reducing cell damage that can also be a reason for arthritis happening in the body.

Cinnamon is another easy spice to add to cooking, in both sweet and savoury dishes.


Cayenne and chilli peppers are widely known to have anti-inflammatory properties, and are commonly used in medical ointment and creams designed to treat painful muscles and joints. You can find creams containing cayenne and chilli in pharmacies or get prescription creams from your doctor with this ingredient.

Willow Bark

Willow bark is yet another herb that helps with arthritis. Studies have shown when taken regularly it can significantly reduce rheumatic pain.


Not only is garlic delicious but it also has medicinal properties.

Like the other plants mentioned above, garlic is anti-inflammatory. As well as this, garlic can reduce cartilage damage which helps reduce the effects of arthritis.

However, it's not just herbs and plants that can help the symptoms of arthritis, but other foods can help too. Some of these include: fatty fish, omega-3 oils, dark green leafy vegetables, avocados, and yoghurt.

Of course there are also foods to avoid as some can trigger or worsen pain and inflammation. For example; red meats, omega-6 oils, high levels of salt and sugar, and food or drinks that contain gluten.

Arthritis can be hugely painful. Sometimes so much so that taking pain killers isn't enough. So you may wish to try other forms of pain relief such as:

. Hot and cold compress

. Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates

. Wrist and hand splints or supports and shoe insoles

If you are interested in learning more, these books offer more information and can be useful for incorporating herbs, spices, plants and other natural remedies specific to your arthritis health care :

Healing Arthritis by Susan Balm

Herbs for Rheumatism and Arthritis by Sarah Beckett

Beat Arthritis Naturally by Emily Johnson

Treating Arthritis the Drug-free Way by Margret Hills & Christine Horner


As with any herbal, natural, or traditional approach it is best to seek professional medical advice before taking.

Remember: less is more, be responsible, and ask your doctor for advice. If you want to take a herbal supplement for a specific condition, if you are pregnant or breast feeding, or if you already take other forms of medication, speak to your health care provider first.

wellnessself carehealthbody

About the Creator

Negomi Oak Rhetts

Herbalist & holistic health coach

Ex biodynamic farmer

Amateur poet and short story enthusiast

Self-published author of two free-verse poetry books: Weaving Roots and Wild Sanctuary

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Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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Comments (2)

  • Rachel Deeming4 months ago

    Again, very interesting article. I don't have rheumatoid arthritis but more and more I am interested in finding different remedies for aches and pains that are not pharmaceutical. I am going to look into more of these natural alternatives, I think.

  • Stephanie J. Bradberryabout a year ago

    I've never heard of Thunder God Vine before. I have to see if it's in any of my herbal books. I'm very curious about its properties. You list a lot of tried and true and heavy hitter herbs for inflammation!

Negomi Oak RhettsWritten by Negomi Oak Rhetts

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