Arthritis, broadly defined as swelling or tenderness in the joints, is among the most common medical conditions in the world. While typically thought of as an elderly person’s disease, arthritis can and does affect people of all ages. The Arthritis Foundation reports that over 50 million Americans suffer from arthritis, including around 300,000 children.
Symptoms of arthritis vary, but tend to include the following:
- limited range of motion
More than 100 different types of arthritis exist. Each presents its own set of challenges. The most common forms are osteoarthritis and the more debilitating rheumatoid arthritis. In the latter case, your joints are attacked by your body’s immune system; this results in extremely painful inflammation and swelling. Over time, rheumatoid arthritis can destroy the bones and cartilage in your joints. It can also damage internal organs.
Anyone living with arthritis—even a mild form—will tell you it’s no walk in the park. Many sufferers turn to medication for symptom relief. With that said, not everyone is eager to add another prescription to their medicine cabinet. For a lot of people, natural treatments represent a more appealing option.
Fortunately, when it comes to arthritis, Mother Nature gives us plenty of topical remedies to choose from. We focus our attention on three of them below.
Cannabidiol, aka CBD, is a naturally occurring chemical compound and one of the main ingredients in the cannabis plant. CBD is what is known as a cannabinoid, of which there are more than 100. Another well-known cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the psychoactive compound in marijuana that causes intoxication.
CBD directly interacts with THC, but it doesn’t make you feel “high” the way THC does. Nor does it generate the unpleasant side effects associated with marijuana. In fact, part of CBD’s job is to make marijuana more tolerable; it does this by tempering the harsher effects of THC.
In isolated form, CBD can be administered numerous ways, from candy and beverages to bath bombs and muscle-soothing roll-ons. Given its anti-pain and anti-inflammatory properties, it is frequently used to help manage arthritis.
The anecdotal evidence in favor of CBD is abundant; more importantly, though, several studies have shown it to be beneficial.
A 2017 study found that CBD blocked pain from osteoarthritis and also prevented nerve damage in the affected joints. As a result, the authors stated that “CBD may be a safe, useful therapeutic for treating OA joint neuropathic pain.”
According to a study from the previous year, transdermal CBD gel significantly reduced swelling, pain and immune cell infiltration associated with arthritis—all without apparent side effects.
Black cumin oil
Also known as kalonji and black caraway, black cumin is derived from the Nigella sativa plant, which is native to Western Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
Like other essential oils, black cumin has been used in traditional medicine for many centuries. Modern research has identified it as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Researchers are also looking at whether black cumin can help aid weight loss and even treat tumors.
In 2018, a study came out which illustrated black cumin’s ability to relieve chronic knee pain—one of the most common symptoms of arthritis. The study’s participants rubbed black cumin oil on their knees three times a week for a month. At the end of the study, the severity of their knee pain was significantly reduced.
Black cumin oil, the authors concluded, has significant pain-relieving properties, making it a suitable treatment for older adults suffering from arthritic knee pain.
Capsaicin is an active constituent of chili peppers. Indeed, it’s the reason why chili peppers are so hot. In your mouth, capsaicin produces a painful burning sensation. With that in mind, it seems counterintuitive that capsaicin would be effective in soothing arthritic pain, but that’s precisely what it does when applied to your skin.
Topical capsaicin cream has been shown to reduce pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, as well as fibromyalgia.
A 2011 study concluded that capsaicin gel can effectively treat osteoarthritis in the hands and knees. Patients applied the gel four times per day for several weeks. After 12 weeks, the authors observed a 53 percent reduction in pain severity. The only reported side effects were some redness and a burning sensation.
Capsaicin is widely available over the counter. It can be purchased as a cream, ointment, lotion, gel or transdermal patch.
If you suffer from chronic pain caused by arthritis, consider giving CBD, black cumin, or capsaicin a try. Of course, while all three of these plant-based medicines are regarded as safe and effective, it’s best to consult your physician before beginning a new regimen.