Plants are amazing, and herbs specifically can do some incredible things to the human body. They can reduce high blood pressure. They can clear up acne. They can ward off colds, coughs, and insects. They can disinfect, cleanse, relieve pain, soothe burns and subdue arthritis. For nearly every ailment our bodies can come up with, there is a salad of greenery that can combat it. In a word or two, plants are powerful stuff.

As I coasted into my mid-thirties, I noticed my joints started aching a lot more, and my hands were beginning to really cramp, my fingers lock. It was happening far too much, and knowing my older brother had just had an operation for carpal tunnel syndrome, I decided to act earlier rather than later. At first, I did lots of exercises to make sure my hands were keeping fit. It worked OK, but not convincingly enough: If I missed a day, or even a couple of hours later, my troubles were back.

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Then, I started eating raw herbs, in abundance, every day, and the pain just disappeared. I simply chop up a little side of raw herbs for every meal, flavor my dishes with them and get great flavor while tending to my body. I’ve not had a problem, nary a locked finger, in months now. For those of you suffering from similar achy, arthritic pains, check out these herbs:

Ginger

Use it raw if possible as it is much more potent. It has anti-inflammatory properties which reduce joint swelling. It is also great for upset stomachs and preventing motion sickness. It makes great teas. I like to chop it really finely and mix it in with brown rice, especially with a little curry kicker on the side. Now, check out 30 Insanely Rocking Ginger-based Recipes!

Turmeric

Turmeric is getting good press these days and is now respected as one of the most beneficial plants for our health, so it’s no surprise that it tampers joint pains. It also does wonders for headaches and swelling. I use it a lot mixed with salt and pepper and sprinkled on roasted, mashed, or fried potatoes. It’s a fantastic flavor to add in season-all mixtures. Here’s some great advice for How to Get More Turmeric in Your Diet Right Now.

Flaxseed

Noted in the vegan diet for providing omega-3, flaxseed also provides relief for achy joints. It has anti-inflammatory properties as well! Again, I suggest eating it raw. For me, this works well on cereals, granola, oatmeal, or even squash-y, pumpkin-y soups. Want to know more about flax? Check out All About the Health Benefits of Flaxseeds, with Tips and Recipes.

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Garlic

Most people love garlic for its vampire-repelling properties, but it’s also good for repelling knee creaks and elbow aches. Additionally, it helps the cardiovascular and immune systems. Be aware that raw garlic has a much stronger flavor than cooked garlic, but use it in all the dishes you normally do. Now, I love making raw pesto sauce. And check out this Creamy Zinger Garlic Spread!

Oregano

Oregano oil is regularly available in health food shops, and it’s known especially for its immune system boosting. Oregano is also an anti-inflammatory, so take advantage. This grows copiously in our herb beds, so I use it copiously in our food, sprinkling it raw on top of bean and legume dishes. Read more here: 7 Fabulous Herbs for Your Health (including oregano)

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As I’ve pointed out time and again, one of the beauties of treating joint pain by eating herbs is that everything has several other beneficial qualities to bring to the body. That’s why I like doing it this way. I just feel better all-around rather than using a topical ointment or chemical pain medication. It’s the recurring idea of prevention as opposed to treatment. However, for more immediate relief, and a little bonus for reaching the end of the article, these plants can be used to topically treat joint pain: aloe vera, cayenne pepper, and eucalyptus.

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