Can Herbal Teas for Pain Alleviate Symptoms of Arthritis?

Creating and using a formula of herbal teas for pain may be intimidating initially, but with some practice and dedication, you’ll likely soon develop a renewed admiration for herbal medicine. Many people are familiar with the process of making tea, as it has become a well-adopted practice across cultures. Often, people simply select a pre-packaged green tea, black tea or rooibos tea for their well-documented anti-inflammatory benefits. Yet, if people are willing to work with whole herbs, they’ll find a whole new world of pain relief options, that can be particularly helpful for arthritis. Boiling herbal medicine may be a bit more intensive and require additional time investment, but the results of working with raw medicines are well worth the time and attention.

Arthritis Awareness

As we enter May, we focus on joint health and inflammation in honor of Arthritis Awareness month. Chinese Medicine traditions have long been recognized for their emphasis on longevity and vigor. Practices like Qi Gong, Tai Chi, acupuncture, herbal medicine and other traditional healing practices have allowed various cultures to maintain agility and attain flexibility well into old age. Staying active and motivated is essential to living a long life with mobility. 


In addition to movement, incorporating herbal teas for pain can buffer the joints and build strength while preventing breakdown. Plum Dragon Herbs has a curated selection of cultivated and wildcrafted Chinese herbs. Cultivated herbs are grown in their native environments for consistent quality and potency. Our bulk herbs do not contain preservatives, chemicals, irradiation or fumigation. These are important factors in maintaining health, especially when the goal is to reduce inflammation, toxicity and other disruptors that can cause disease in the body. 

Treating Chronic Conditions

Chronic joint pain is one of the most common conditions treated by Chinese Medicine. Often, patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis seek Chinese Medicine as an alternative to harsh medications or surgical procedures. Research shows that while inflammation is a major factor, there are various factors that contribute to degenerative joint disease. One such factor is a reduced blood flow to the joints, which supports a vascular theory of decline. 

For this reason, Chinese herbal medicine formulas focus not only on anti-inflammatory protocols and treatments, but also on blood stasis and phlegm. While these terms may be uncommon for the layperson, an herbalist trained in Chinese Medicine uses a unique terminology in both diagnosis and treatment. Rather than focusing on the symptom itself, Chinese Medicine seeks to understand and alleviate the root cause issues underlying the manifestation. 

One of the most important purposes of blood in the body is, according to the medicine, its moistening of the four limbs and hundreds of bones. If there is a blood deficiency this will lead to phlegm because Qi flow to the area will be impeded. If Qi cannot flow freely, there will be pain. So, these ancient diagnostic protocols do align well with more modern research on the vascular obstruction theory leading to chronic joint pain. This information is greatly useful in informing us of how herbal medicine can be of benefit for chronic pain conditions. 

In theory, herbal medicine that will move the qi and blood, stop pain, and transform phlegm can be used to remove stagnation to treat chronic joint issues. Sometimes herbs are used as single herb decoctions to create a strong and specific medicine. Oftentimes, herbs are paired into herb sets, called Dui Yao, or into formulas where herbs work synergistically for increased effects. 

Herbal Teas for Pain and Arthritis

Drinking herbal teas for pain is of great service to those with chronic arthritis that impairs their movement or even their ability to enjoy life. When pain is reduced, people are able to remain active and may even be able to exercise or complete tasks they otherwise couldn’t manage. Here’s one of the top herbs for treating chronic pain, which should be used only with consultation by a medical professional:

  • Xian Mao (Golden Eye Grass) 
  • This herb is literally translated as “Immortal Grass.” It has been used for over 1,000 years to dispel cold and damp in the joints and bring yang energy. Xian Mao is toxic and should be used internally only under direction of a healthcare professional.

Herbs for Connective Tissue Health

Connective tissue provides an essential function to maintain stability and flexibility of the joints. These herbs, unless otherwise noted, can be safely used by most people. Herbs for connective tissue health include:

  • Xu Duan (Dipsacus Root)
  • This herb translates as “Heal Fracture.” It promotes the circulation of Blood and strengthens the bones and tendons. For an easy herbal formula, combine Xu Duan with Du Zhong to mend bones.
  • Rou Cong Rong (Broomrape)
  • This Broomrape stem is very flexible, soft and sweet. It acts as a mildly warming Yang tonic to improve flexibility.
  • Sang Ji Sheng (Mulberry)
  • Mulberry branches and foliage are used to dispel wind-damp in the joints and strengthen bones and sinews. It is often combined with Du Zhong or Wu Jia Pi for synergistic healing effects.
  • Lu Rong (Deer Antler)
  • Chinese deer antler is an expensive herb that is powerful in replenishing the Essence (Jing) and tonifying Yang. It can also nourish the Blood and strengthen sinews and bones. It has a storied history of use in martial arts practices as a healing medicine.
  • Sang Zhi (Mulberry Twig)
  • This herb is a bone and tendon strengthener. It opens the channels and collaterals and reduces swelling while promoting water circulation.
  • Qian Nian Jian (Homalomena)
  • This warming herb dispels dampness and wind while strengthening the bones and sinews. Its name literally translates to “Thousand Year Vitality” or “Thousand Years of Health” and it is often used by the elderly for osteoarthritis pains.
  • Kuan Jin Teng (Tinospora Stem) 
  • This herb name means “Vine to Loosen Sinew.” It relaxes the sinews and unblocks the channels. It’s often used to treat traumatic injury. 
  • Gou Ji (Cibotium)
  • This Yang tonic promotes the healing of bones and ligaments and has a warming quality.

Herbs to Treat Inflammation

As we learned above, inflammation is one of the factors contributing to arthritis, joint pain and similar obstructions. Taking anti-inflammatory herbs regularly can lower inflammation levels to reduce pain and discomfort.

  • Yan Hu Suo (Corydalis Tuber)
  • This herb circulates the qi and blood and acts as an analgesic, sedative and anti-inflammatory. Pair Yan Hu Suo with Chuan Lian Zi to move the Qi and alleviate pain.
  • Ban Xia (Zhi) (Pinellia)
  • Ban Xia Zhi is one of the best plants for relieving phlegm and has the nickname “green dragon.” Ban Xia is often combined with ginger to reduce nausea. It can be combined with Gan Cao to reduce spasms and moderate the effects of other herbs.
  • Calendula (Marigold Flower)
  • Calendula has been used for vision health and supports healthy digestion and immunity. Calendula can be used on it’s own as a tea, tincture or poultice to reduce inflammation and irritations while supporting immunity.
  • Zhang Nao (Camphor)
  • This herb is for external use only. It interacts with the Heart Meridian. It’s often used as an analgesic in balms as it invigorates the Blood and reduces inflammation. Topical application of Camphor is commonly applied to injury for its analgesic quality. This herb is also found in our Herbal Ice Liniment for ease of use.
  • Fang Ji Fen (Stephania Root)
  • This herb dispels wind damp to relieve pain, especially in the lower half of the body. This herb has an amazing analgesic effect on swollen, painful, or hot joints. It also promotes diuresis while relieving pain. 
  • Ju Hua (Chrysanthemum Flower)
  • This herb is typically used to dispel wind heat, headaches and to lower inflammation. Ju Hua is often combined with Sang Ye to clear wind-heat which can show as symptoms of warm and inflamed joints. 
  • Gua Lou Pi (Trichosanthis Peel)
  • Gua Lou Pi clears stagnant fluids from injuries while reducing inflammation. This herb is sometimes used as an addition to Dit Da Jow formulas to clear stagnant fluids at the site of injury and reduce inflammation.
  • Song Jie (Knotty Pine)
  • This herb dispels wind and dampness and is used for arthritis and inflammation due to Bi blockage, from the obstruction of Blood and Qi or external injury. Song Jie is often combined with Ru Xiang, Mo Yao, and Su Mu for pain from traumatic injury. 

In addition to the above herbs, there are many other Chinese herbs and Dit Da Jow formulas (topical herbal liniments) that can relieve joint pain and arthritis that we invite you to explore.

Conclusion

Purchasing bulk herbs is recommended for chronic Bi syndromes including arthritis, joint pain and inflammation. Additional ingredients to create herbal teas for pain and other related conditions can be found on our website under whole herbs. Often, symptoms occur as a combination of deteriorations from various root causes. If Qi and Blood stagnation combine, this can cause a similar disease as what is called Vascular Theory in Western Medicine. Chinese Medicine utilizes natural substances to regulate and eventually harmonize the body into a state of balanced benefit. Choosing bulk herbs and testing formulas takes time and experimentation, but for some of the most chronic cases, these herbs provide the best opportunity for healing on a deep level. 

1 comment

Very good article, muchas gracias

Leo September 23, 2021

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