Arthritis literally means joint inflammation. While scientists have long discovered that the cause of pain, stiffness, and swelling associated with arthritis is inflammation, the cause of that inflammation remains a mystery. Research strongly suggests that there are connections among osteoarthritis and “obesity and joint injury” (Allen, Thoma, & Golightly, 2022). Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is described as “a multifactorial autoimmune disease of unknown etiology, primarily affecting the joints, then extra-articular manifestations can occur” (Radu & Bungau, 2021). Researchers are being careful not to recommend any hasty solutions and treatment methods until the causes of arthritis are identified, but they appear to agree that arthritis “management requires a multidisciplinary approach” (Radu & Bungau, 2021).
Herbal Medicine for Arthritis
One type of natural remedies for arthritis is Chinese herbal medicine (Xia et al., 2020). Scientists have been testing various herbs for different symptoms and manifestations of arthritis and so far discovered that the main compounds that appear to be helpful in management of arthritis are “Flavonoids, phenolic acids, alkaloids and triterpenes” (Wanf et al., 2021). Chinese herbal medicine, however, traditionally is rarely used to treat specific symptoms—or even a specific disorder. Its strategy is to restore the balance among the organ systems so that the organism would create its own natural remedy for arthritis or another condition, and herbs are typically used in combinations as formulas, rather than individual herbs. Such an approach is difficult to study formally, but some researchers do so, and they report certain success rate (Chen et al., 2021). Many other herbs have been used as main natural remedies for arthritis in different areas of the globe for hundreds and even thousands of years, and further scientific exploration will most likely reveal more benefits (Saleem, Khan, Kazmi, & Afzal, 2019).
Acupuncture, Tai Chi, Qigong for Arthritis
Latest research has shown that acupuncture and related therapies (tai chi, qigong) can be effective in reducing the symptoms of arthritis, but the research has also demonstrated that the beneficial effects of acupuncture are greater when their combined with western medicine (Lu et al., 2022).
- Allen, K. D., Thoma, L. M., & Golightly, Y. M. (2022). Epidemiology of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis and cartilage, 30(2), 184-195.
- Chen, Y. J., Liu, Y. X., Wu, J. Y., Li, C. Y., Tang, M. M., Bai, L., … & Yu, Z. L. (2021). A two-herb formula inhibits hyperproliferation of rheumatoid arthritis fibroblast-like synoviocytes. Scientific Reports, 11(1), 3850.
- Lu, H. L., Chang, C. M., Hsieh, P. C., Wang, J. C., & Kung, Y. Y. (2022). The effects of acupuncture and related techniques on patients with rheumatoid arthritis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of the Chinese Medical Association, 85(3), 388-400.
- Radu, A. F., & Bungau, S. G. (2021). Management of rheumatoid arthritis: an overview. Cells, 10(11), 2857.
- Saleem, S., Khan, R., Kazmi, I., & Afzal, M. (2019). Medicinal plants in the treatment of arthritis. Plant and Human Health, Volume 3: Pharmacology and Therapeutic Uses, 101-137.
- Xia, X., May, B. H., Zhang, A. L., Guo, X., Lu, C., Xue, C. C., & Huang, Q. (2020). Chinese herbal medicines for rheumatoid arthritis: text-mining the classical literature for potentially effective natural products. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2020.
- Wang, Y., Chen, S., Du, K., Liang, C., Wang, S., Boadi, E. O., … & Chang, Y. X. (2021). Traditional herbal medicine: Therapeutic potential in rheumatoid arthritis. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 279, 114368.