7 Arthritis Medicines Already In Your Kitchen
Did you know that you probably have healthy spices and foods lingering in your house which may have arthritis friendly properties? There is no cure for arthritis and there is no one-size-fits-all diet that can make arthritis better or worse. However, some studies and personal accounts have found that there are foods which people with arthritis may find beneficial.
“It is worth remembering that no diet can ‘cure’ arthritis, and there are no particular diets or specific types of food that will make arthritis better or worse”, says Martin Lau, Arthritis Action’s Services Development Manager & Dietitian. “Instead, the aim should primarily be to strive for a normal body weight if carrying more than you should, and to eat a well-balanced, varied diet. Fruit and vegetables contain high levels of vitamins and antioxidants which are essential for staying in good health, not to mention the high fibre content which is helpful for our gut bacteria.”
Many people find that the following ingredients help with their arthritis. Let us know if you find them helpful by getting in touch on Facebook!
General tips on healthy eating
“Make sure you are not deficient in vitamins and minerals,” says Martin Lau. “People with arthritis are often deficient in vitamin D, so a supplement during winter months is advisable. Vitamin B12 - found in meat, dairy, eggs and fish - and magnesium - found in green leafy vegetables and wholegrains - could be associated with reducing pain sensitivity. Have more colourful fruit and vegetables. The ‘phytochemicals’ in these foods have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Reduce ultra-processed food and sugar. These foods are calorie dense and nutrient poor, and can promote inflammation.”
So what are the 7 arthritis medicines that you may already have in your kitchen? Read on to find out!
Inflammation is an important immune reaction to infection or injury. If the inflammation stays after the original problem has ceased, or if the inflammation is triggered by something that isn’t actually a threat, it is known as chronic inflammation and can lead to pain and swelling. Whilst osteoarthritis is not an auto-immune condition like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation can occur around damaged joints and can become painful.
Foods that have anti-inflammatory properties may be beneficial for people living with osteoarthritis, although it’s important to remember that it is chronic inflammation that is the issue - inflammation in itself is an important part of the healing process. Turmeric contains small amounts of the compound curcumin, which is believed to have significant anti-inflammatory properties. Studies on rats have found that turmeric, which can be used as a yellow powder popular for flavouring curries, has a ‘distinctly expressed positive anti-inflammatory effect’. A meta-analysis of turmeric's role in alleviating pain associated with osteoarthritis found that it can improve symptoms in similar numbers to ibuprofen.
There’s a reason some people swear by ginger when they’re sick. With antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and even anti-cancer properties, ginger is thought to boost immunity and this is why you’ll find ginger in most immunity boosting drinks. Animal studies suggest that ginger can help fight infection, and ginger can also help with nausea and vomiting. Some studies have found that ginger can be effective in treating the symptoms of arthritis. One study found that ginger and echinacea supplements reduced pain and inflammation following knee surgery, whilst another study found that ginger extract had a significant effect on reducing symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee. Ginger can be consumed in capsule form, as ginger powder or in its food form.
You may have bought cinnamon powder ages ago to flavour something and then forgotten it at the back of your cupboard - so did you know that your lonely cinnamon could help treat your arthritis symptoms? Cinnamon contains various nutrients including phosphorus, zinc and antioxidants, and some people believe that - due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties - it can be helpful in managing arthritis symptoms.
Cinnamon bark contains Catechin, a type of secondary metabolite providing antioxidant roles in plants which, according to research, can inhibit cartilage breakdown. It also contains cinnamaldehyde and cinnamic acid, both of which have antioxidant properties which can inhibit cell damage. Whilst more research is needed before cinnamon can be formally recommended as an alternative way to manage arthritis symptoms, using it and seeing how it goes won’t hurt - and it’s also a delicious spice which can enhance your breakfast.
4. Cayenne pepper, chilli powder & black pepper
Cayenne pepper doesn’t always make it into our staple meals, but it might be worth going off recipe and sprinkling some into your next dinner! Cayenne pepper, like chilli powder, is a source of capsaicin. Capsaicin can help reduce pain because it reduces Substance P, a pain transmitter in your nerves. It is suggested that capsaicin can be helpful for osteoarthritis pain, as it can reduce pain and tenderness in the affected joint. Research has also shown that capsaicin has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, although it remains unclear whether the amount you would get in a serving of cayenne pepper or chilli would be enough to offer significant benefits. Did you know that little old black pepper can help joint pain? That’s right, it’s probably been sitting there all this time and it could be helping you. Studies have shown that the chemical compounds of black pepper, in particular piperine, can help inflammation which in turn could greatly reduce joint pain. So there’s no need to worry about offending people when you reach for more pepper, it’s just good joint health.
Garlic is great in food, but did you know it also has properties which may be important for fighting inflammation? Like onion and leeks, garlic contains diallyl disulfide, an anti-inflammatory compound which limits the effects of cytokines, small proteins involved in the immune system's response. Whilst they are very important in fighting infection, they can also contribute to inflammation which can contribute to joint pain. A study of over 1,000 healthy women found that garlic may help lower the risk of developing osteoarthritis, although other studies have been less conclusive. Garlic is a tasty addition to any diet, so why not try it in your next dish and see if you experience any benefits?
Cooking oil is a staple in many people’s homes, and your choice of oil can have important health consequences. Some oils are more inflammatory than others, so which oils should you be cooking with? “Choose and use your dietary fat wisely. Both Omega-3 fats and olive oil help to reduce inflammation and support the immune system. Steer clear of trans fat and limit the use of saturated fat,” says Martin Lau.
Olive oil is popular with the anti-inflammatory mediterranean diet, and it contains high levels of oleic acid, which some studies suggest may improve the immune response and have a beneficial effect on wound healing and inflammation. Avocado oil is also high in unsaturated fats and thus may also have anti-inflammation properties. Flaxseed oil is another anti-inflammatory cooking oil linked to various health benefits.
If you have a kitchen, chances are you also have a sink flowing with tap water. Drinking enough water is really important for anyone, as humans are made up of 60% water and getting enough of it helps maintain our energy levels, promotes digestive health, regulates our body temperature and can aid in weight loss. Staying quenched has additional benefits if you have arthritis.
“Drink plenty of water. Dehydration can increase sensitivity to pain,” says Martin Lau. Water helps flush toxins out of your system, and it helps to hydrate and encourage the growth of your joint cartilage. Water is also a necessary component of synovial fluid (which lubricates and helps cushion the joints) which is really important for preventing damage and inflammation. It’s really important to keep your joints hydrated by making sure you’re consuming enough H2O.