“Homeopathic treatment is always worthwhile, even in individuals who are seriously ill and in need of care where there is no hope of complete recovery of health” (Teut and Doppler 2019).
This topic is near and dear to me… Arthritis (this article focuses on osteoarthritis). Every time I have had an x-ray done over the last 10 or so years, they came back and said there is arthritis in there. Why would I have so many xrays? Cuz I had pain, that’s why. I have x-ray evidence of arthritis in my hands, (fingers and wrists), feet, ankles, knees and following an injury as a teenager, I was told the left side of my jaw was “bone on bone.” I’m pretty sure that were I to have further imaging on my hips and low back and neck that arthritis would be seen in those places, too.
Now, I would like to point out that in that last paragraph I used the past tense. Since using homeopathy to address my arthritis, my pain levels have absolutely plummeted. It’s a rare day when my hands ache. I walk about 3 miles a day and while I do sometimes have some stiffness afterward, it is short-lived and soon forgotten. I’m not going to say all my joints are in perfect working order, but compared to where I was (and, definitely as compared to where I was headed), I have very few complaints at the age of 55. I had way more pain and discomfort 10-20 years ago.
(I credit homeopathy for the bulk of my relief, but in addition to exercising regularly, I also eat a good, healthy whole foods diet, including plenty of bone broth and I also credit rolfing, too.)
Once we hit age 65, nearly half (47.4%) of Americans have been diagnosed by a doctor as having arthritis (Brooks et al. 2018). If we want to add in people who have not bothered to get an official diagnosis, I’m willing to bet that number is considerably higher. Dr. Andrew Lockie (1993) estimates that 90% of people over the age of 40 have some degree of osteoarthritis in one or more joints.
Along with the physical discomfort, osteoarthritis and all its limitations can lead to depression and sleep disturbances (Brooks et al. 2018). Additionally, anxiety and depression can lower your pain threshold and then the chronic pain aggravates the anxiety and depression — resulting in a vicious circle. See? It’s a good thing to try and get a handle on as soon as possible!
What exactly is arthritis and who gets it?
“Arthritis” is painful inflammation and stiffness of the joints. (Joints, as a reminder, are places where two bones meet.) Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease. Degeneration is structural or functional breakdown. Common symptoms include pain, redness, heat and swelling. The most commonly affected joints are: hands, knees, hips, neck and lower back. In addition to the breakdown, small bone growths (osteophytes or bone spurs see also: The Importance of a Proper Diagnosis) may grow on the edges of the joint. Or, a bit can break off and float inside the joint space. (I had this as a kid when I chipped my patella). Did I mention that I have had more than my fair share of injuries? I was a busy kid, playing hard and getting hurt! The receptionist at the orthopedist’s office once said to me, “you really do love us, don’t you?”
Anyone can get it, though generally speaking, it’s not a problem until we age — especially women when it develops after menopause. Though young people can get it as a result of an injury or a genetic defect.
Why is osteoarthritis so common? Joint injury, obesity, genetics and anatomical factors affect joint mechanics (Shane Anderson and Loeser 2010). But, wear and tear takes its toll and “age remains the single greatest risk factor for the development of OA in susceptible joints.”
So, how can homeopathy help arthritis?
It’s very important to remember that conventional medicine doesn’t have a lot to offer in terms of helping osteoarthritis. The first line treatments are pain relievers, according to Mayo Clinic: Tylenol, Advil and Duloxetine (Cymbalta). (I highly recommend looking into the side effects of any medicines you plan on putting in your body. Drugs.com is a quick way to do this.) Other therapies which may be helpful include: physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around the joint; occupational therapy, and Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS*) — low-voltage current to relieve pain. Beyond these, then we’re looking at more serious interventions, including cortisone injections and surgery to replace damaged joints.
Homeopathy is not the absolute answer to every problem (though I think it's pretty close!) What homeopathy can do is to assist your body to wellness. When I began using homeopathy to treat my arthritis, as much as I was wanting an overnight success, that’s not how it works. The first few remedies I used went a long way at relieving my immediate discomfort, taking the edge off, so to speak. There is a lot to undo after a lifetime of wear and tear. It wasn't until I got into some deeper remedies that the daily pain disappeared.
Let’s start with some support remedies: cell salts, (also known as tissue salts/remedies or biochemical medicine or Schüssler’s tissue salts). Cell salts are derived from substances that are naturally present in the human body, intended to nourish and balance our bodies; they are our building blocks. Dr. Schüssler “worked by the theory of deficiency. The idea of deficiency is that, if we can ascertain exactly which mineral salt or salt the body’s cells are starving for, and if we can give the body those salts in a manner in which it can absorb and digest them, then the cells will be nourished and the balance needed for function, form and good health will result.” “The cell salts are, therefore, a strange balance between allopathy and homeopathy, or, better put, a balance between homeopathy and nutritional medicine.” (McCabe 2009).
Dr. Carey (1894) recommends three cell salts** for arthritis:
Ferrum phos for an acute attack with very painful joints which are worse on movement. Tenalgia crepitans, (inflammation of a tendon sheath in which movement of the tendon is accompanied by a cracking sound).
Natrum phos “is indicated in all cases of rheumatism of the joints.”
Natrum sulph should be given alternately with Ferr phos in acute cases, but in chronic cases, Nat sulph alone may be helpful; especially in joints of the fingers.
Other cell salts which may be helpful:
Kali mur: in acute arthritis may be alternated with Ferr phos. Movement makes the pains worse; tenalgia crepitans.
Natrum mur: for chronic arthritis; the joints crack; synovitis; rheumatic arthritis, especially of finger joints; hot, painful swellings of the knee joint.
Mag phos is useful for the (violent) pains; excruciating pains which are spasmodic in character.
Kali sulph: for pains which shift from one joint to another and are worse by heat. Shifting and wandering rheumatic pains in the joints.
Calc phos for bone health, in general.
Calc fluor for enlargements of the finger joints.
Cell salts are generally given in a 6x potency and they can be combined in the mouth at one time as one dose and taken twice daily.
(Martin & Pleasance*** makes a Comb M for rheumatism with equal parts Calc phos, Kali mur, Nat phos and Nat sulph.)
On to homeopathy itself.
For dealing with the acute pain of arthritis, a quick go-to remedy is T-Relief*** or T-Relief Arthritis***, both are available in either a cream or a tablet. Medinatura*** also makes/sells BHI Arthritis Pain Relief***. All three of these combos are made of slightly different remedies.
The individual remedies which are shared between these combinations are worth investigating.
Arnica for soreness all over the body. Worse for touch, pressure, cold or cold, damp weather. Worse for motion.
Bryonia for excruciating, often stitching pains. Worse for the slightest motion (they just want to be still) and heat. Even though they are worse for moving, they feel restless. Better for pressure and warmth on the painful part, lying still, especially lying on the painful side. Joints may be hot and swollen. May seem irritable.
Dulcamera is worse especially in damp weather, and cold damp autumn and the change of weather in general. Better for motion and warmth.
Ledum may have some swelling and coldness in the affected joint. Worse for heat or becoming over-heated and motion. Though they may be chilly, they feel better for cold applications or cold bathing. Pain in the small joints, especially the toes and joint pains seem to progress up the body. Ledum is particularly good for the feet and lower legs. The soles of the feet may be painful. Ledum can also be helpful for the after-effects of steroid injections.
Rhus tox (see also: Rhymes with Box) is a good remedy for all forms of rheumatism. Worse in the morning on waking, cold, sitting still (resting) and when first moving. Better after getting up and going, continued motion and hot baths or showers. They may be restless and feel better if they keep moving.
All of these remedies listed are primarily to address the acute pain of osteoarthritis. Alan Schmukler (2006) mentions that Bryonia or Rhus tox will bring relief in a majority of cases.
This is just a small sampling of the most common (and readily available) remedies which may help arthritis pain. I could keep writing on homeopathic arthritis remedies for hours! There's a lot to say and a lot of individual remedies which may be further tailored to specific arthritic symptoms.
I highly recommend working with a professional homeopath to try and get to the root of the issue. In the meantime, try one of these above listed remedies and see if you can get a little relief.
Life is just way too short to be in constant pain and discomfort. Try some homeopathy and see if you can get back to doing things you love.
Julia Coyte, CHom
Classically Practical homeopath
* I have and am very pleased with ireliev’s wireless TENS unit (though, I must say, I really don’t use it very often any more). Again, I have no affiliation with this company, I just like their product.
** It is possible to purchase a mixture of all 12 cell salts. However, I have found better results when choosing just the best indicated cell salts rather than using the full complement.
***I have no affiliation with this company, I just like their products.
Anon., 2023. tenalgia crepitans [online]. TheFreeDictionary.com.
Arthritis Foundation, 2016. Arthritis and Mental Health [online]. Arthritis.org.
Brooks, J. M., Titus, A. J., Polenick, C. A., Orzechowski, N. M., Reid, M. C., MacKenzie, T. A., Bartels, S. J. and Batsis, J. A., 2018. Prevalence rates of arthritis among US older adults with varying degrees of depression: Findings from the 2011 to 2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry [online], 33 (12), 1671–1679.
Carey, G. W., 1894. The Biochemic System of Medicine. F. August Luyties.
Kansal, K. and Kaushal, R., 2015. Textbook of practice of medicine with homeopathic therapeutics. New Delhi: B. Jain.
Lockie, A., 1993. The family guide to homeopathy : symptoms and natural solutions. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Mayo Clinic, 2021. Osteoarthritis - Diagnosis and treatment - Mayo Clinic [online]. Mayoclinic.org.
McCabe, V., 2009. The Healing Echo. ReadHowYouWant.com.
Morrison, R., 1998. Desktop companion to physical pathology. Nevada City, Calif.: Hahnemann Clinic Publ.
NIAMS, 2019. NIAMS Health Information on Arthritis [online]. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
Rath, L., 2022. What Is Arthritis? [online]. www.arthritis.org.
Schmukler, A. V., 2006. Homeopathy : an A to Z home handbook. Woodbury, Minn.: Llewellyn Publications.
Schüssler, W. H., 2003. Schüssler’s twelve tissue remedies : comprising the theory, therapeutic applications, materia medica and a complete repertory of tissue remedies. Sittingbourne, Kent: Homæopathic Book Service.
Shane Anderson, A. and Loeser, R. F., 2010. Why is osteoarthritis an age-related disease? Best Practice & Research Clinical Rheumatology, 24 (1), 15–26.
Teut, M. and Doppler, C., eds. 2019. Homeopathy in Dementia: Materia Medica and Case Studies. Emryss.
Thornton, P., 2022. Duloxetine: Uses, Side Effects, Dosage, Warnings [online]. Drugs.com.
Julia Coyte, CHom
I am passionate about homeopathy and I love sharing this passion. Having a working knowledge of homeopathy shouldn't be kept a secret. If people have the ability to help themselves, their children and their friends when they have minor ailments, life just gets better for everyone. That is the purpose behind Ruminating on Remedies.