Rapid relief from aches and pains is a definite target when troublesome joints flare up as a result of inflammation. This is quite easily achieved through over-the-counter pain-relieving drugs such as Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory creams and Drugs (NSAIDs), but lately, an increasing number of sufferers are turning to natural, drug-free remedies. This may be due to concerns over side effects from medicines, or that they are seeking additional respite.
Thankfully, natural methods of fighting inflammation are abundant – it’s just a matter of finding one that works for you, or you can try a few of them simultaneously. Keep reading to uncover our top-rated, effective, natural ways to reduce inflammation and keep those aches at bay.
How do Joints Work?
Fingers, toes, knees, shoulders and hips are all joints located within the human body – where at least two bones meet to enable us to move and bend as we require. However, it’s not just bones that allow us to move freely; there are supporting muscles surrounding the bones, and tendons which form a connection between the muscle tissue and bone.
When the brain decides it wants part of the body to move, it sends a message to the muscle. Consequently, the relevant tendons are activated to force the bone into moving. The ligaments that hold the bones firmly in position enable movement of the joints in the appropriate form.
In order to prevent the connecting bones from rubbing together during movement, every joint is surrounded by a synovial fluid. While this lubricates the area, the cartilage (a shock-absorbing, tough and flexible tissue) at each end of the bone allows them to slide over one another smoothly.
This complex physiological process works seamlessly when the muscles are tissues are healthy. However, what happens when the tissues are inflamed? This is often the root cause of joint pain and arthritis.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation of the joint is an extremely common cause of joint aches and pains. However, inflammation is a crucial, protective stage in the body’s natural immune response to illness, injury and infection. It occurs as a result of white blood cells and other fluids rushing to the site of a wound or infection to fight bacteria and viruses. Fluids can leak into the surrounding tissues, resulting in redness, pain and swelling.
Inflammation can be described as chronic or acute. Chronic inflammation is persistent and problems can arise if it continues for a long time, or if it mistakenly occurs as part of an autoimmune disorder. Chronic inflammation is often associated with arthritis and can have significant detrimental effects on the body such as prolonged muscle aches, pains, restricted movement and even flu-like symptoms.
Acute inflammation occurs following an injury; this type of inflammation is usually relatively brief and occurs quickly in response to an open wound such as a cut, burn, bruise or a new tattoo, for instance.
While acute inflammation can be tolerated quite well by the body, chronic inflammation can be debilitating for many. The great news is, there are plenty of effective natural remedies that can be tried at home in an attempt to keep the symptoms of chronic joint inflammation in check.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural component derived from the cannabis plant and used to treat joint inflammation and muscle pain. This legal compound does not have intoxicating properties and some studies show that it can have an anti-inflammatory effect within the body. The evidence gathered to date is in the early stages but promising, and many users report noticeable pain relief after using CBD.
CBD is available in a number of formulations. The most popular is CBD oil, which usually consists of pure CBD isolate combined with a carrier oil. A few drops under the tongue and the tincture can bring substantial relief. If CBD oil is not for you, the compound is also available as CBD gummies, capsules, CBD bath bombs and topicals such as anti-inflammatory creams and CBD balms.
2. Epsom Salts
Drop Epsom salts into the bath and they break down into sulphate and magnesium. Simply soaking in warm water can help rejuvenate tired muscles, but there is evidence to show that magnesium and sulphate can loosen stiff joints while alleviating pain and swelling. If nothing else, an Epsom salt bath is wonderfully relaxing. You could combine the anti-inflammatory benefits of cannabidiol and Epsom salts by adding our favourite soothing Lavender CBD Bath Bomb to your tub.
3. Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Increasing your intake of anti-inflammatory foods within a healthy, balanced diet can reduce inflammation levels in the body. Generally, this requires consuming a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fruit, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, while reducing your intake of processed food and refined sugar. Below are some top-inflammation fighting ingredients that you could incorporate into your diet more frequently:
- Oily fish, such as salmon
- Dark green, leafy vegetables
- Olive oil
Some evidence shows that acupuncture – an alternative and traditional Chinese medicine that involves sticking needles into the affected area – can alleviate symptoms caused by inflammation. Consequently, this method has become increasingly embraced by Western medicine in recent years. It involves stimulate acupoints on the body using fine needles, which triggers nerve signalling across the body, improving stiffness and pain. If you’re interested in trying this ancient Chinese technique to relieve pain, contact a reputable acupuncture clinic and book in. Bear in mind, you may need several session to see results from acupuncture.
Studies have shown that aerobic exercise such as swimming can reduce inflammation whilst increasing strength and flexibility of the muscles and stimulating circulation. In addition, an excellent benefit of swimming is that it keeps you active without minimal impact on the joints, thanks to the buoyancy of the water.
Supplements are widely available in health stores and pharmacies, and some research indicates a positive impact of inflammation linked to arthritis. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate are structural components within human cartilage (the cushioning tissue that sits between the bones). While further research is required, some studies indicate a link between benefits to the joint structure and glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate supplements.