5 Tips for Soothing Arthritis Flares When It’s Cold Outside

Reading by a hot fire

I love the winter! Cool, crisp air, the snow blanketing the ground, fires in the fireplace….but boy, the cold does a number on my joints. I bet it does for you, too. I have been really creative in ways to calm that pain and stiffness, since I don’t take NSAIDs anymore. I’ve been trying to manage as many drug-free options as I can. Here’s my top 5 tips.

  1. Use a warming salve on the stiff joints. My favorite is from my friend Amanda at Natural Herbal Living.  This salve is designed to be ONLY warming, with no cooling mint or menthol. On the super cold days, this is my secret weapon
  2. Make sure you’re taking enough vitamin D. In the winter, we’re just not in the sun enough to make sufficient vitamin D. Vitamin D is crucial to connective tissue health, and having a deficiency makes your joints feel extra creaky. Check these links for more info - https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/in-rheumatoid-arthritis-vitamin-d-levels-are-related-to-disease-severity-inflammatory-cytokines-and-bone-loss/ and http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/vitamins-minerals/vitamin-d-deficiency.php  Vitamin D is found in salmon, sardines, and milk. Enjoy these foods during the winter to keep up your Vitamin D stores, or if you don’t eat fish and dairy, look to a good D3 supplement.
  3. Mullein Tincture is one of my super sneaky herbalist tricks. Mullein is a delightful plant that grows in the western US. It sends up a stunning flower stalk covered in bright yellow blossoms. The flowers, infused in oil are an amazing remedy for earache. The leaf and root extract is useful for many maladies. It can help clear congestion when you have a cold. It can help you breathe easier. (It was used to treat tuberculosis in Ireland) And, it’s particularly useful for joint alignment and reducing pain. The herb seems to have an affinity for the small bones of the hands and feet, and I find it remarkably helpful in the cold months. It’s a gentle herb, and has limited reactions with medications (of course, use caution when trying an herbal preparation, and to be safe, coordinate with your physician – remember that I’m not a doctor, and my suggestions are not medical advice). You can find Mullein tincture in your natural foods store, or order it online. HerbPharm makes a good one. Take 15-30 drops 3 or 4 times daily.
  4. Wear mittens and heavy socks. When your hands and feet are cold, the rest of you is cold, too. This is no time to be making a fashion statement. Keep your body warm and you’ll feel more comfortable. Mittens are better than gloves because your whole hand produces more heat when inside a mitten. And, you can use hand warmers inside for even more warmth. Heavy socks will keep your toes from getting cold, and you can do even better with two layers of socks instead of one.
  5. Enjoy a cup of hot herbal tea! A tea of cinnamon, orange peel, and cardamom make a tasty tea. You can even use the spices in your cabinet to make it. If you’re using powdered spices, mix ¼ tsp of cinnamon and cardamom powder with a teaspoon of orange peel in a disposable tea bag (you can put them in a coffee filter and tie it closed if you don’t have bags). Steep for 5 minutes or so, and sweeten with honey. This yummy tea will warm you up from the inside out. If you don’t have these spices on hand, or don’t care for them, try a cup of chai tea. It has many warming spices and herbs that will get you toasty in no time.

Stay warm out there!

Remember, I'm an herbalist, not a doctor.  You are responsible for your own health choices.  I am providing you with information and education.  I don't diagnose, treat, or claim to cure any diseases.  If something here strikes a fancy with you and you'd like to give it a try, I encourage you to consult with your physician.