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Arthritis is the medical term for joint inflammation, which may cause people to have symptoms of:

  • Joint Pain,
  • Joint Swelling,
  • Redness around the joint.
  • Stiffness and difficulty moving the affected joint.

The most common type is osteoarthritis, a degenerative chronic (long-term) condition, in which cartilage breaks down. Cartilage is the flexible, smooth, gel-like tissue that cushions the space between bones, acting as a shock absorber and helping you bend at the joints.

Osteoarthritis may result in stiffness and pain, commonly felt in areas such as the knees, hips, back, neck and fingers. Lots of things can contribute to this condition, which is usually the result of years of wear and tear (which is why we only develop it as we age!). Being overweight, having family members with the condition, and previous injuries to the joint (including surgery) can also contribute.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a different condition – it is an autoimmune disease, in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks itself. Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms also include pain, inflammation and swelling of the joints.
So how do we distinguish between them? Apart from having laboratory tests, there are a few symptomatic clues…

Osteoarthritis Rheumatoid Arthritis
Osteoarthritis often affects the large weight-bearing joints such as knees, hips and back. Rheumatoid arthritis usually begins in the smaller joints of the fingers, wrists and feet.
Usually begins on one side of the body. Often affects both sides of the body from the beginning of symptoms.
Stiffness in the morning is short-lived, but may return at the end of the day. Morning stiffness lasts longer than one hour.
Generally only affects the joints. May come with symptoms of fatigue, fever and feeling of generally being unwell.
Usually starts in older age. Occurs at any age.
Develops and worsens slowly. May come on rapidly.
Joint pain, but usually no swelling. Joint pain AND swelling.

Treatments for Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis are different, because they have different causes. In Osteoarthritis we try to ‘rebuild’ the joint tissue, slow damage and reduce inflammation and pain. Supplements such as Herbs of Gold Bromelain Forte and Nutra Life Green Lipped Mussel 850mg are very helpful. In Rheumatoid Arthritis there is more of a focus on helping the immune system to function properly, in addition to reducing inflammation and pain – Nutra Life Vitamin D3 1000IU, Fusion Astra8 Immune Tonic and Boswellia are also important here. Fish oils such as Herbs of Gold Omega 3 Concentrate and Ethical Nutrients Hi-Strength Fish Oil will help in both types of arthritis.

Herbs traditionally used to assist in joint pain include Devils Claw (the name gives it away, doesn’t it!), Frankincense and Ginger - these are included in Herbs of Gold Pain Ease.  Some people also find that using homeopathics, sprays and ointments such as Traumeel and Brauer Arnica quickly relieves the symptoms of these conditions.

Updates - 24 October 2014

Wang, Q (2011), ‘The expression change of β-arrestins in fibroblast-like synoviocytes from rats with collagen-induced arthritis and the effect of total glucosides of paeony’,  Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 133, Issue 2, pp:  511-516.

New research suggests that components of the Chinese herb Paeonia lactiflora Pall can help to reduce swelling and tissue damage to joints in Rheumatoid Arthritis. The study was done in rats which had induced arthritis, scientifically reinforcing the traditional use of the herb. Ask your Naturopath to add Paeonia to your next mix of herbal medicine, like the Chinese have done for centuries!


Vive Health Naturopaths recommend the following products for Arthritis:

Product Suggested Dosage

1. Nutra Life Joint Care (120 Caps, 200 Caps)

3 caps x 1 daily
2. Herbs of Gold Omega 3 Concentrate  (100 Caps, 200 Caps) 3 tabs x 2 daily.
3. Ethical Nutrients Hi-Strength Fish Oil (170ml, 280ml) 1 tps x 2 daily.
4. Herbs of Gold Pain Ease (60 Tabs) 2 tabs x 3 daily.
5. Nature's Sunshine Boswellia 2000 (90 Tabs) 2 tabs x 3 daily (with a meal).
6. Traumeel (50 Tabs, 50g Gel, 50g Cream) 2 x 4 tabs daily away from food.
7. Brauer Arnica Applied topically 2-4 times daily.
8. Nutra Life Green Lipped Mussel 850mg (120 Caps) 1 cap x 2 daily.
9. Herbs of Gold Bromelain Forte (60 Caps) 1 cap x 2 daily (between meals).
10. Nutra Life Vitamin D3 1000IU 3 caps x 2 daily.
11. Fusion Astra8 Immune Tonic (60 Tabs, 100ml, 200ml) 2 tab twice daily.

NOTE: Consideration should always be given to individual requirements.  Please consider seeing a qualified practitioner before commencing a new treatment protocol or when combining supplements with pharmaceutical medication.

For more information on Arthritis or to ask a Qualified Naturopath a question about your Arthritis Click Here.

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