What works?

Different herbs and nutritional supplements have been tested for different types of arthritis. Some have been shown to be reasonably effective. However, unlike prescription medications, natural health products are not tested as stringently. Also, the amount and dosing of these products used in trials may not be the same as what is on the label. Natural health products that have shown some evidence for effectiveness include:

  • for rheumatoid arthritis:
    • borage
    • bovine cartilage
    • cat’s claw
    • fish oil
    • superoxide dismutase
    • thunder god vine
  • for osteoarthritis:
    • arnica
    • bovine cartilage
    • camphor
    • cat’s claw
    • glucosamine sulfate
    • rutin
    • SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine)
    • soybean oil
    • superoxide dismutase
    • trypsin
    • vitamin B3

What doesn't work?

There are some purported remedies that have been tested and have not been found to be effective:

  • cod liver oil
  • feverfew
  • histidine
  • MSM (methylsulfonylmethane)
  • stinging nettle
  • zinc

What's still unproven?

For many herbal remedies and supplements, we don't yet have enough scientific data to tell if they are effective or safe:

  • baikal skullcap
  • boron
  • bromelain
  • catechu
  • creatinine
  • chondroitin
  • collagen (for osteoarthritis)
  • devil's claw
  • DMSO (dimethylsufoxide)
  • evening primrose oil (EPO)
  • fluoride
  • gelatin
  • ginger
  • glucosamine hydrochloride
  • guggul
  • Indian frankincense
  • krill oil
  • olive
  • rosehip
  • shark cartilage
  • selenium
  • turmeric
  • vitamin B5
  • willow bark
  • yucca

What should you do now?

If you're thinking of using a natural remedy for arthritis relief, talk to your doctor or pharmacist to see if it will be effective for your type of arthritis and safe to take with your other medications and medical conditions. Herbs may be natural, but that doesn't mean they're safe.