Herbal treatments for arthritis include aloe vera, boswellia (white daily), cat’s claw, eucalyptus, ginger, green tea, thunder god vine, turmeric, willow bark. In this article, we talked about the role of herbal treatments in joint calcification. The subject of natural and herbal treatments, which is frequently researched by patients, is also recommended by doctors from time to time. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a prescription. If herbal treatments are used unconsciously, they may interact with other drugs used by the person or damage internal organs such as liver and kidney. In addition, herbal treatments are not strictly controlled by the Ministry of Health, like medicines. Some products may not contain the advertised content in the appropriate concentration and purity.
In joint calcification (osteoarthritis), the cartilage layer covering the surfaces of the bones facing the joint becomes thinner. The quality of the joint fluid deteriorates. Spinal protrusions (osteophytes) form on the ends of the bones. The part of the bone under the cartilage hardens (subchondral sclerosis). Joint calcification is a very common problem. The frequency of knee calcification detected in X-ray films over the age of 60 is around 40%. The frequency of knee calcification, which causes complaints such as pain and limitation of movement, has been reported to be around 10%.
Joint calcification makes walking and stair climbing activities more difficult because it affects load-bearing joints such as knees and hips. When the hand joints are involved, it gives symptoms such as swelling, deformity and pain in the fingers. Although joint calcification is a very common and important health problem, there is no definitive treatment method yet. Exercise, weight loss, healthy eating, physical therapy methods, injections are used in treatment. In advanced cases where joint functions are impaired, surgery can be performed. There are also many natural and herbal treatments available to alleviate joint calcification complaints.
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One of the most frequently used plants in alternative and complementary medicine is aloe vera (1). Creams containing aloe vera are used in the treatment of skin abrasions and sunburns. Similar products are also useful for relieving joint pain. Oral intake of aloe vera may cause side effects such as diarrhea and low blood sugar, but it is safe to apply on the skin.
White diary (Boswellia)
White daily is preferred because of its anti-inflammatory, that is, suppressing the excessive activation of the immune system (2). It is obtained from the gum of the white log tree growing in India. It is thought to act by blocking leukotriene molecules that cause inflammation in joint rheumatism. It is available as tablets and cream.
Cat’s claw is another of the herbs with anti-inflammatory effects (3). This vine-shaped plant, which grows in the tropical regions of South America, has been used for medicinal purposes since at least the time of the Inca civilization. The roots of the plant are used for treatment. Roots that are cleaned and dried are boiled and the water is drunk. Its effect on joint inflammation is controversial due to its immune system strengthening effect.
There are products obtained from eucalyptus, which are applied both orally and on the skin. Forms applied to the skin are used in the treatment of joint rheumatism pain. The tannin substance contained in eucalyptus leaves acts as a pain reliever and reduces edema. Before using eucalyptus products, it is recommended to experiment with a small amount to see if you are allergic or not. If there is no reaction within 24-48 hours after applying the cream, you can use it. Eucalyptus oil may be beneficial in reducing pain after joint replacement surgeries (4)
Besides being used as a spice, ginger is also preferred in alternative medicine. The molecule that gives ginger its strong aroma also has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-cancer effects (5). It has an important place in Chinese medicine. There are scientific studies showing that ginger is beneficial for joint pain. It is thought that ginger acts in a similar mechanism to COX-2 inhibitor drugs.
Green tea reduces the over-activation of the immune system in the body. It can be used in drink or tablet form. The benefit of green tea is known for both joint calcification and joint pain due to rheumatoid arthritis. Green tea can potentiate the effect of other drugs used for rheumatism. The risk of side effects was found to be less compared to pain relievers (6).
Thunder god vine
The medicinal use of the plant, which can be translated as “thunder god vine” in English sources, and which can be translated as “thunder god vine”, dates back to ancient times in Chinese medicine. Its anti-inflammatory properties have brought its use to the agenda in conditions that cause joint pain such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis (7). While the root part of this plant is used for therapeutic purposes, parts such as leaves and flowers are poisonous. Therefore, the way the plant is prepared for use is of particular importance. There are forms that can be applied orally or on the skin. Long-term use is not recommended.
Turmeric is a yellow spice used in making curry. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has an important place in traditional medicine. It may slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis, according to mouse experiments. It is believed to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Turmeric can be used orally in the form of tablets or capsules to reduce joint pain (8).
Willow bark has been used to treat inflammatory conditions since the time of Hippocrates. The bark of the willow tree contains salicylic acid, the raw material of aspirin. Willow bark can be taken orally as a tablet or tea to relieve knee, waist, hip and neck pain. Excessive use of willow bark can lead to rash and other inflammatory responses. Those who are allergic to aspirin and those who use blood thinners should not use willow bark.
Always consult your doctor before using herbal treatments.
As in the whole world, there is a great interest in herbal and natural treatments in our country. Doctors may also recommend these traditional treatment methods from time to time to supplement accepted medical treatments. However, keep in mind that herbal remedies are actually medicine. In other words, as with other drugs, it can have toxic effects in overdose, cause allergies regardless of the dose, and interact with other drugs you use. For this reason, you should consult your doctor before using any herbal treatment.
Regenerative medicine methods are the newest among the non-drug treatment methods of knee osteoarthritis . You can find detailed information about PRP-stem cell therapy in the knee here .