Finding “home remedies” for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and other forms of arthritis is easy. Finding effective ones is a lot harder. Few have been rigorously studied, and even remedies that perform well in trials don’t work for everyone. Here are five low-risk therapies that science shows may reduce pain and inflammation.
ICE MASSAGE. Simply rubbing an ice cube or a paper cup of frozen water in small circles over a painful area reduces swelling, slows pain signals and inhibits the production of inflammatory chemicals. The American College of Rheumatology recommends doing it 5 to 10 minutes several times a day.
FISH. The omega-3 fatty acids in some fish reduce inflammation by halting the production of pro-inflammatory enzymes – and they can ease pain, too. The best sources include salmon, sardines, herring and tuna. Eat several servings per week.
WALKING. Few therapies can match walking for reducing pain and stiffness, building muscles around the joints and improving flexibility. Start as slowly as you need to, and work up to 30 minutes a day.
GREEN TEA. Studies show a potent antioxidant in green tea called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) blocks the production of molecules that cause joint damage in people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). To reap the health benefits, drink two or three cups of green tea a day, researchers suggest.
PROBIOTICS. In studies, certain strains of probiotic bacteria – “good” bacteria found in some foods, such as yogurt – significantly reduced pain and disability in people with RA. Though research is still preliminary, try eating yogurt every day for two or three months to see if it’s effective for you.