Use Natural Remedies for Arthritis Pain

James Duke, Ph.D. explains how to use these natural remedies for arthritis pain, includes information on which herb helps with inflamation, pain, helpful antioxidants and herbal recipes.

| February/March 2002

Learn how to use these natural remedies for arthritis pain. 

Back in the good old days, I played bass fiddle in a a five-member band. At that time, three of our band members or their relatives were using an herb known as stinging nettle to relieve arthritis pain. Although stinging nettle does cook up into a tasty vegetable, these musicians weren't eating it. Rather, they were stinging themselves with it by grasping the plant in a gloved hand and then swatting their stiff, swollen joints.

This practice, called urtication — from nettle's botanical name, Urtica dioca — dates back at least 2,000 years. Although it's an odd-sounding practice, there's no escaping the fact that it's been around so long precisely because it helps so many people.

Our banjo player kept a plant in his kitchen so he could self-urticate when his arthritis flared up. The guitar player's mother-in-law was unable to write because of arthritis in her hands, but the sting of the nettle improved that. The fiddle player's mother soon had stinging nettle taking over her garden and said her arthritis was much improved.

Just so you don't think that urtication is something only crazy musicians indulge in, my former secretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) kept a nettle plant in the office. She would use the nettle to discreetly sting herself when arthritis stiffened her fingers. On a before-and-after photocopied image of her hand, you could see how the swelling went down.

Urtication often provides considerable relief, sometimes very quickly. I've seen arthritic swelling subside within minutes after the stings were administered.

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