These are remedies that have been observed improving the patients experience of rheumatic problems. That is not to say that they have a specific effect upon the disease or even necessarily upon the musculo/skeletal tissue itself. It is a description of outcome rather than process, and as such is very limited in its applicability, unless the processes at play for each herb are understood.

Achillea millefolium Yarrow

Angelica archangelica Angelica

Apium graveolens Celery Seed

Arctium lappa Burdock

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Bearberry

Armoracia lapathifolia Horseradish

Arnica montana Arnica

Artemisia absinthium Wormwood

Artemisia vulgaris Mugwort

Berberis aquifolium Mountain Grape

Betula spp. Birch

Brassica spp. Mustard

Capsicum minimum Cayenne

Caulophyllum thalictroides Blue Cohosh

Cimicifuga racemosa Black Cohosh

Dioscorea villosa Wild Yam

Eupatorium perfoliatum Boneset

Eupatorium purpureum Gravel Root

Filipendula ulmaria Meadowsweet

Fucus vesiculosus Kelp

Gaultheria procumbens Wintergreen

Guaiacum officinale Guaiacum

Harpagophytum procumbens Devil’s Claw

Iris versicolor Blue Flag

Juniperus communis Juniper

Menyanthes trifoliata Bogbean

Myrica cerifera Bayberry

Petroselinum sativum Parsley

Phytolacca decandra Poke

Populus tremuloides White Poplar

Rosemarinus officinalis Rosemary

Rumex crispus Yellow Dock

Salix spp. Willow bark

Smilax spp. Sarsaparilla

Tanacetum chrysanthemum Feverfew

Taraxacum officinalis Dandelion

Urtica dioica Nettles

Viburnum opulus Cramp Bark

Zanthoxylum americanum Prickly Ash

Zingiber officinale Ginger

The activity of these herbs as anti-rheumatics can be explained as an expression of a more broadly relevant action. This may be rationalized by the main action alone or a more holistic synergy of the plants actions. For example, the alteratives can work in a number of different ways, as can the anti-inflammatories (please refer to that section if this is unclear). Of course this cannot always be worked out. If you want predictable, reductionist cause & effect, become an accountant………………..
Anti-Inflammatories: Angelica archangelica, Apiumgraveolens, Betula spp., Dioscorea villosa, Filipendula ulmaria, Gaultheriaprocumbens, Guaiacum officinale, Harpagophytum procumbens, Menyanthes trifoliata, Populus tremuloides, Salix spp., Tanacetum chrysanthemum

Alteratives: Arctium lappa, Berberis aquifolium, Fucus vesiculosus, Guaiacum officinale, Harpagophytum procumbens, Iris versicolor, Menyanthestrifoliata, Phytolacca decandra, Rumex crispus, Smilax spp., Urtica dioica

Diuretics: Apium graveolens, Achillea millefolium, Arctostaphylosuva-ursi, Eupatorium perfoliatum, Eupatorium purpureum, Juniperus communis, Petroselinum sativum, Taraxacum officinalis

Circulatory Stimulants: Armoracia lapathifolia, Brassicaspp., Capsicum minimum, Myrica cerifera, Rosemarinus officinalis, Zanthoxylumamericanum, Zingiber officinale

Anti-Spasmodics: Cimicifuga racemosa, Viburnum opulus

Other action or basis unclear: Arnica montana, Artemisiaabsinthium, Artemisia vulgaris, Caulophyllum thalictroides

A number of useful books are available for both the practitioner and patient. Those that deal with exercises and non-drug pain relief will prove most valuable. An excellent example is:

Gach, Micheal Reed. Arthritis relief at your fingertips.Warner Books, New York, 1989

Very useful information is supplied by these organizations:

The National Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Information Clearinghouse


Bethesda, MD 20892

Arthritis Foundation

1314 Spring Street, NW,

Atlanta, GA 30309.

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Written by David L. Hoffmann BSc Hons MNIMH

Explore Wellness in 2021