Suffering in the bones, muscles and joints may seem understandable when you’ve just bumped something or are healing something broken after an accident. But whenever such pain sets in after an infection or when it results from metabolic or immune disorders, the term inflammatory rheumatism applies, and even more specifically, that of arthritis. It usually impacts a single joint at the start. At this stage, it’s called monoarthritis. But it can spread to other joints after that and becomes polyarthritis. It can happen to persons of any age.
Whenever bone, joint or muscle inflammation arises in elderly persons and induces swelling around the joint with searing pain, it’s called osteoarthritis.
Rheumatism can thus be categorized into several types. Different causes lead to it – but the pain and symptoms are always very similar.
How to proceed once this inflammation has set in and rendered you almost incapable of any movement? Is it possible to treat or soothe this pain with plants? Let’s have a look around…
Definition and types of rheumatism
Rheumatism is the collective name for all types of ailments that impact joints, bones, muscles and tendons. It can appear in the case of elderly persons (osteoarthritis) and younger persons (arthritis).
Consequently, 2 (two) major types of rheumatism stand out:
- Inflammatory rheumatism, also called arthritis, which isn’t related to ageing, impacts feet, knees, hips and sometimes shoulders and hands. Persons of any age might start experiencing this type of rheumatism which can even spread, if unchecked, to other organs such as the eyes or digestive organs.
- Degenerative rheumatism, which goes by the scientific name osteoarthritis, is directly related to ageing. Cartilage, the natural lubricated buffer zone between joints where bones meet, degrades as time passes. This type of rheumatism also impacts the knees, hands and hips of elderly persons.
Symptoms of rheumatism
In both cases, rheumatism triggers the same symptoms.
A person suffering from rheumatism notices that joints start swelling and feels jabbing pain around these joints, especially the knees, hips, wrists and hands.
These joints tend to make the patient feel stiff upon waking in the morning. As the day advances, the stiffness wears off, all the more so that the patient is moving around a lot. It may happen that pain also sets in along the back and neck.
Causes and impact on human health:
There are several different causes that lead to rheumatism.
In the case of inflammatory rheumatism, the genetic background is often a major cause. Usually, this kind of inflammation occurs after a virus or an infection spreads to the joints. A typical example is septic arthritis. However, if inflammatory rheumatism appeared at a time when there was an accumulation of crystals in the joints, excess uric acid leads to metabolic disorders. Immediate consequences are knee inflammation (gout) or another type of inflammatory rheumatism: chondrocalcinosis.
Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, usually can’t be traced to any specific event: it appears with old age. When it reaches later stages, the joints may start growing out of shape.
Plants to soothe or treat rheumatism
To soothe rheumatism, there are plants that boast many benefits. Some have anti-inflammatory properties and are pain killers, others have anti-degenerative and antioxidant activity, wherein they contain substances that slow or counter rheumatism effectively.
- Harpagophytum or “Devil’s claw” is a plant that alleviates pain.
- Turmeric boasts anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties precisely for persons suffering from rheumatism and more specifically osteoarthritis.
- Meadowsweet flowers soothe suffering thanks to methyl salicylate compounds which, according to herbal medicine experts, reduce joint pain as soon as it is oxidized in the body.
- Black currant leaves purge out toxins and uric acid. They thus have a diuretic effect on top of anti-inflammatory and anti-degenerative activity.
- White willow bark taken in infusions lessens rheumatism and reduces inflammations.
- Canadian fleabane is a plant with diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties. When drunk as an infusion, it is quite effective in treating all types of rheumatism: arthritis and osteoarthritis. It also numbs out pain.
- The ash tree is a plant that contains many potassium salts and mannitol that play a part in eliminating uric acid. Again, infusions are the way to use it to ensure drainage and purging of toxins that cause joint inflammation.
Dosage to use for effective results
For most of these plants, if you want to avail of their therapeutic properties, it’s best to infuse them in water or ingest them as capsules. Sometimes they can also be used by preparing a poultice that is laid on the part of the body that hurts.
- Harpagophytum is a plant that must be ingested in capsule form, 2 to 4 capsules a day during meals for 3 weeks.
- The same dosage applies to turmeric: 2 to 4 capsules daily during meals for 3 weeks.
- As for meadowsweet flowers, recommended dose is 2 to 4 capsules during meals occasionally, or during bouts of pain, for at most 1 week.
- Black currant leaves make for effective infusions and can also be applied topically as a compress.
- Infusion: After having collected the leaves, dry them in an oven at 120°F (50 °C). After that, steep 2 teaspoons of these dried leaves in ¼ quart (¼ liter) water for 10 minutes. Drink 2 cups every day before each meal. The course should last 3 weeks. Endeavor to store your dried leaves in a dry place for the properties to keep well.
- For a compress: recover the leaves that were used to prepare the infusion and apply them on the painful parts of the body. Wrap them in a clean cloth.
- An infusion prepared from willow bark also has anti-inflammatory activity. Pour 1 teaspoon of white willow bark in a mug. Douse with boiling water and let steep for 10 minutes. Filter the preparation and drink 3 to 4 cups a day during mealtimes. A course should last 1 week.
- For Canadian fleabane, steep 1 teaspoon dried leaves of this plant in a cup of boiling water for 10 minutes. Drink 2 to 3 cups between meals every day. Follow this course for 3 weeks.
- Ash tree: prepare an infusion from it. It will help your joints regain some flexibility and increases purging throughout the body.
For pregnant women, nursing women and persons suffering from gastro-duodenal ulcers, diabetes… taking certain products and/or plant preparations may be contraindicated. For more information, please get in touch with a medical practitioner.