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Arthritis relief - Healing stiff and painful joints with homeopathy

Bottom line: Relief
of acute arthritic pain can be provided through homeopathic primary care, either
using individually chosen homeopathic medicines or homeopathic formula products;
there is mounting evidence for this in the scientific literature. For deeper
and longer-term relief, professional homeopathic care is highly recommended.

Homeopaths do not simply treat arthritis but the person with arthritis. Because
arthritis is usually only a part (sometimes a significant part) of a person's
dis-ease, the homeopathic approach makes sense and is often very effective. While
the best results tend to occur for people who are in early onset or who have
not taken massive doses of corticosteroid drugs, at least some relief can be
expected for people in any stage of arthritis when the correct homeopathic remedy
is given.

Research reveals relief
According to two reviews of research, there is a body of evidence to suggest
that homeopathic medicines, either individually prescribed or used in a homeopathic
formula, can provide relief for people with rheumatic disease1 or
osteoarthritis.2 More research is warranted, however.
     One study on the homeopathic treatment of people
with rheumatoid arthritis was published in the British Journal of Clinical
. It found that 82% of those patients prescribed an individually
chosen homeopathic medicine experienced some relief of their arthritic pain,
while only 21% of patients prescribed a placebo experienced a similar degree
of relief.3 Another study compared the results of a homeopathic formula
product with acetaminophen in the treatment of osteoarthritis, and the homeopathic
remedy was found to be safer and more effective.4 A third study on
patients with osteoarthritis tested a single homeopathic medicine (Rhus toxicodendron
6C); this remedy was not found to be more effective than a placebo or a conventional
drug.5 The study was fundamentally flawed, however, because Rhus toxicodendron
is more commonly effective for people with rheumatoid arthritis, not osteoarthritis.
     One new study that was not a part of the above-mentioned
reviews of research compared a homeopathic topical application with a conventional
topical drug. The randomized, double-blind trial found that a homeopathic topical
gel was as effective and as well tolerated as piroxicam, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory
gel.6 This trial evaluated the care of 172 osteoarthritic patients
over 4 weeks as they applied either a homeopathic gel or piroxicam gel three
times daily. The homeopathic gel contained Symphytum, Rhus toxicodendron, and
Ledum palustre.
     Another new study that was not a part of the reviews
of research was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial on the individualized
homeopathic treatment of people with rheumatoid arthritis.7 It found
no difference over a six-month period in those given a homeopathic medicine and
those given a placebo. The researchers theorized that the negative results may
have been because the patients were selected from a conventional clinic's practice,
and the patients were regularly self-medicating with over-the-counter non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs.

Remedies for relief
The following short list is primarily to provide relief of the acute phase of
the arthritic inflammation. It is best to obtain professional homeopathic care
to obtain deeper and more significant relief and cure.
     Rhus toxicodendron (poison ivy): This is
the most common remedy for acute arthritic pain. It is indicated when people
experience a "rusty-gate" syndrome of arthritis, that is, when they feel great
pain upon initial motion, reduced pain the more they move around, and then stiffness
again after resting awhile. Typically, these people are particularly stiff in
the morning upon waking and after they sit or lie still for a period of time.
People who benefit from Rhus toxicodendron also tend to be very sensitive to
cold, wet weather, and they tend to have aggravations of their symptoms at night
and in bed. Warm bathing or showers, and continued motion provide temporary relief
of their pain.
     Bryonia (white bryony): This remedy is indicated
when arthritic pain is aggravated from any type of motion; the more the person
moves, the worse pain the person experiences. Usually, this pain is sharp and
excruciating. They experience some relief from lying still, heat, direct pressure,
and lying on their painful side, while their symptoms tend to be worse after
exposure to cold, from simple jarring, and after eating. These people tend to
be irritable, to dislike being examined, to be constipated, and to want to be
     Apis (honeybee): When a person experiences
great swelling in the joint(s) with hot, burning, stinging pain, Apis can be
highly effective. Warm or hot applications as well as touch or pressure tend
to aggravate their condition, while cool air and cold applications provide some
     Belladonna (deadly nightshade): When rapid
and violent onset of throbbing arthritic pain arises in red, hot, swollen joints,
this is the remedy to consider. The arthritic symptoms are aggravated by touch,
jarring, and especially by motion; warm wraps relieve them.
     Ruta graveolens (rue): This remedy is sometimes
given when the condition develops at the site of an old injury. The symptoms
are aggravated by motion or touch, in the morning, and from exposure to cold,
wet weather, and they are relieved by rubbing and warmth. Ruta graveolens is
also indicated when sensitive nodules develop on the tendons and periosteum (i.e.,
the covering of the bone where the tendons attach) after an injury.
     Rhododendron (yellow snow rose): Think of
this remedy if Rhus toxicodendron seems indicated but doesn't work. It, too,
is known for arthritic pains that are aggravated during cold and wet weather
(especially storms), during the night, and during rest (from sitting too long),
and that are relieved by continued motion or walking. It is also known for arthritic
pain in the small joints, lower back, or shoulder, and for pains that wander
from one place to another.
     Kalmia (mountain laurel): This remedy is
useful for a sudden onset of severe acute arthritis, especially when the pain
is paralyzing and tends to come and go. The arthritis pains may even move from
one joint to another or tend to travel downward. Numbness, weakness, and trembling
may also be experienced. A heart condition may alternate with arthritic symptoms.
Motion of any sort and exposure to cold aggravates the pain, while hot bathing
provides temporary relief.
     Caulophyllum (blue cohosh): This remedy
is useful when arthritis primarily affects the small joints of the body, specifically
those in the hands and/or feet. In particular, closing one's hands creates a
lot of pain. This remedy is more often given to women than men, especially when
the woman is pregnant or experiences concurrent menstrual or hormonal disturbances.
     Pulsatilla (windflower): Consider this remedy
when arthritic pains tend to move from one place to another. The symptoms are
worse from initial motion or during rest, in the evening or at night, and definitely
from exposure to warmth. The symptoms are relieved by cold applications and by
slow motion. This remedy is also invaluable when a person has a Pulsatilla constitution:
gentle, mild, yielding, moody, sympathetic.

It is generally best to take the 6C, 6X, 12C, 12X, 30C,
or 30X potency four to six times a day, as needed. Continue to take it only as
long as it provides relief.

This article is excerpted from Homeopathic Family Medicine, an eBook by
Dana Ullman, MPH. See for
free sample chapters, to purchase the entire ebook, or to obtain a two-year subscription.

1. W.B. Jonas, Klaus Linde, and Gilbert Ramirez, "Homeopathy and Rheumatic Disease," Rheumatic
Disease Clinics of North America, February 2000,1:117-123.
2. L. Long and E. Ernst, "Homeopathic Remedies for the Treatment of Osteoarthritis:
A Systematic Review," British Homeopathic Journal, 2001;90:37-43.
3. R.G. Gibson, S. Gibson, A.D. MacNeill, et al., "Homeopathic Therapy in Rheumatoid
Arthritis: Evaluation by Double-blind Clinical Therapeutic Trial," British Journal
of Clinical Pharmacology, 9(1980):453-59.
4. C.N. Shealy, R.P. Thomlinson, R.H. Cox, and V. Borgmeyer, "Osteoarthritis
Pain: A Comparison of Homeopathy and Acetaminophen," American Journal of Pain
Management, 8(1998):89-91.
5. M. Shipley, H. Berry, G. Broster, et al., "Controlled Trial of Homoeopathic
Treatment of Osteoarthritis," The Lancet, January 15, 1983, 97-98.
6. R.A. van Haselen, P.A. Fisher. "A Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing Topical
Piroxicam Gel with a Homeopathic Gel in Osteoarthritis of the Knee, Rheumatology.
7. Fisher, P., and Scott, D.L., "A Randomized Controlled Trial of Homeopathy
in Rheumatoid Arthritis," Rheumatology, 2001,40:1052-1055.

About the author:
Dana Ullman, MPH, is a leading spokesperson for homeopathic medicine. He has
authored eight books, including Essential Homeopathy, Homeopathy A-Z,
and The Consumer's Guide to Homeopathy. His company, Homeopathic Educational
Services, has published 30+ books on homeopathy. He serves in an advisory and/or
teaching capacity at alternative medicine institutes at Harvard, Columbia, and
University of Arizona schools of medicine. He is an NCH Advisory Board member
and has coordinated the NCH Annual Conference program for 16 years.