Science-backed ways to naturally cure arthritis

People who chose their own tunes experienced the greatest reduction in pain, depression and disability

UMNIA SHAHID February 16, 2015
It is not easy to live with but there is much you can do to overcome or cope with the problems it presents. PHOTO: COMPFIGHT.COM

Almost all people who have arthritis find that it affects their everyday activities, job, financial resources or relationships with family and friends. It is not easy to live with but there is much you can do to overcome or cope with the problems it presents. Consider trying these scientifically-proven home remedies to relieve arthritis pain naturally. As compiled from The Telegraph,, and Reader’s Digest Magazine, here are a few tips you should try.

Sniff fragrant spices

Aromas, such as lavender, can modify the perception of pain. Japanese researchers found that lavender reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can make you feel relaxed and less aware of pain, stiffness and discomfort. Korean researchers found that arthritis patients experienced less pain and were less depressed when they were exposed to the aromas of a variety of kitchen spices, including rosemary and peppermint. For a pain-soothing aromatherapy treatment, add a teaspoon or two of one of these dried herbs to a quarter-cup of vegetable oil. Take a whiff frequently and feel the ache disappear.

Wash dishes by hand

It surely sounds counterintuitive but, if your hands ache, this simple kitchen activity can relieve arthritis pain. First, dipping your hands in hot water can help relax muscles and joints and relieve stiffness symptoms. Second, the exercise helps keep your hands and fingers mobile. “It is critical to keep joints in good range of motion. Simple shrugs, wrist movements, and finger range of motion exercises and tasks, such as doing the dishes, help keep joint range of motion,” says physical therapist Charles J Gulas, dean of the School of Health Professions at Maryville University of St Louis.

Make a heat pad with rice

Fill a cotton sock (don’t use synthetic fibre that can melt, if heated) with any kind of uncooked rice from your pantry and seal it. Microwave the sock for two to three minutes and, when it cools down slightly, place it on sore and stiff joints to gain relief from the pain. It should stay warm for about half an hour. You’ll love how the rice shapes to your body and provides soothing heat. If you have lavender or another fragrant herb at hand, toss it in the sock for some relaxing aromatherapy.

Add cloves to your diet

This Pakistani staple contains an anti-inflammatory chemical called eugenol, which interferes with a bodily process that triggers arthritis. Research, conducted by the University of Maryland Medical Centre, found that eugenol prevented the release of COX-2, a protein that gives rise to inflammation. Cloves are unsurpassed when it comes to antioxidants, which are central in slowing down the cartilage and bone damage caused by the painful condition. Aim for half to one teaspoon a day. Adding it to curry or tea helps too.

Walk barefoot

This reduces the load on knees and minimises pain and disability from osteoarthritis by 12 per cent as compared to walking with shoes, according to a Rush University Medical Centre study of 75 people with osteoarthritis. When you must put on shoes, try to choose footwear that mimics the natural arch and heel contour, but doesn’t lift up the heel, which puts more pressure on the joints. Try donning soft socks and ditch the shoes while walking around the house and garden.

Eat spicy foods

According to the National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, switching over to spicy foods when arthritis flairs up can do wonders to quell the excruciating pain. Pakistani-favourite spices, such as cayenne pepper, ginger and turmeric, contain specialised compounds that reduce swelling and block a brain chemical that transmits pain signals. Apart from Pakistani chatpatta dishes, indulge into spicy Mexican cuisines and Thai recipes to suppress pain or simply keep a bottle of hot sauce on your table at all times.

Tune in to your favourite music

Listening to music can ease soreness by raising levels of hormones that reduce pain sensitivity. In a Cleveland Clinic Foundation study of people with arthritis joint pain, one group was given a playlist of relaxing tunes, a second group chose their own soundtrack, and a third didn’t get a musical prescription. The two music-listening groups had lower rates of pain and disability than the non-music group, which, in fact, experienced an increase in pain. The study indicated that the kind of music you listen to doesn’t matter, but you must like it. People who chose their own tunes experienced the greatest reduction in pain, depression and disability than those who listened to generic relaxing music.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 17th,  2015.

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