2. Green Tea
In addition to being a heart-health protector and brain-booster, this antioxidant superstar may also help reduce the joint pain and inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis. A study involving animals found that a phytochemical in green tea, known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), may block the effects of RA without affecting other cellular functions. Although the study was conducted on animals, the researchers believe EGCG may be a future alternative to prescription medicines. Note: According to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, green tea may interact with acetaminophen (Tylenol), codeine, and other drugs.
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3. Rose Hip Tea
The orange-red fruit that appears on rose plants after they flower is a concentrated source of vitamin C, and it’s long been used as an herbal remedy. But a research meta-analysis published in Australian Family Physician found that one of rose hip’s phytochemicals, a kind of galactolipid, has anti-inflammatory properties that can benefit those with both osteoarthritis and RA. The researchers reported that rose hip powder “consistently reduced pain scores, and that patients allocated to rose hip powder were twice as likely to respond to rose hip compared to placebo.”
Rose hips make a tart and fruity tea that’s often blended with hibiscus; check a health food store or specialty tea shop to find it. Be mindful: Avoid rose hip if you have sickle cell disease, diabetes, anemia, or an iron deficiency, notes Michigan Medicine. And talk to your doctor if you are pregnant before you try rose hip tea.
4. Black Tea
The standard-bearer of tea bags, black tea is rich in quercetin, a bioflavonoid that has anti-inflammatory effects. A study found that quercetin reduced inflammation and increased antioxidant defense in animal test subjects. But be warned: Black tea can be high in caffeine, depending on how it’s brewed, and this may impact the effectiveness of certain medications, according to MedlinePlus. If it makes you feel jittery, try decaf instead.
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5. Willow Bark Tea
An ancient herbal pain relief remedy, willow bark is chemically similar to aspirin, per Mount Sinai, and there are a handful of medical studies that support the use of willow bark in joint pain and osteoarthritis. A review of research found that willow bark extract has both anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects related to the polyphenols and flavonoids it contains. But for people on many medications, this will not be a good treatment option. People who take methotrexate (Trexall), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), beta-blockers, blood-thinning medication, those who are pregnant, and anyone under 16 should not take willow bark.
6. Nettle Leaf Tea
The stinging nettle plant has been used for hundreds of years, especially in Europe, to treat muscle and joint pain, arthritis, and gout. A study in the journal Molecules found that the antioxidant activity in nettle leaf extract inhibits one of the key enzymes that affects the inflammation process.
You can buy nettle in most health food stores, but it is not recommended for pregnant women or those with kidney or bladder issues. Nettle leaf, as Mount Sinai notes, is also used as a topical skin treatment for joint pain.
Additional reporting by Debbie Strong and Cheryl Alkon.