Chinese Herbs for Arthritis Relief

Arthritis is an extremely common health condition, affecting over 54 million adults in the United States alone. The two most prevalent types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis happens when cartilage breaks down in joints over time, causing pain, swelling and stiffness. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks joint tissue and cartilage. 

While typical Western treatments for arthritis like painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications can help provide relief, they also come with adverse side effects like liver and kidney damage when used long-term. That’s why many people are now turning to traditional Chinese herbal Anit-Arthritis Tea as a natural way to manage arthritis inflammation and discomfort. 

Chinese medicine has used herbs to treat inflammatory joint conditions for thousands of years. Various herbs and herbal formulas can help block inflammatory cytokines, regulate the immune system, reduce swelling and edema, increase circulation and provide analgesic effects without harsh side effects.

Here are some of the top Chinese herbs to consider for relieving arthritis symptoms:


Ginger is one of the most well-studied and promising Chinese herbs for arthritis. The rhizome contains bioactive compounds like gingerols and shogaols that exhibit powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. 

Multiple studies have shown that ginger is effective at reducing swelling, inflammation and joint pain associated with both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Research indicates ginger works as well as conventional anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen. However, ginger causes fewer gastrointestinal side effects.

Ginger can be consumed in capsules/extracts, as a tea or added to foods. When cooking with fresh ginger, make sure not to overheat it which can destroy the beneficial compounds. Consuming around 2000 mg of ginger extract per day in divided doses provides arthritis relief for most people.


Turmeric is another popular anti-inflammatory spice used in Chinese medicine and Indian Ayurvedic practices. Curcumin is the main active compound in turmeric that gives it the vibrant golden color. Curcumin blocks inflammatory cytokines like TNF-a and IL-6 that contribute to arthritis inflammation and joint damage.

Numerous clinical trials demonstrate turmeric’s effectiveness for improving arthritis symptoms. One study found taking 1000 mg of curcumin daily was just as effective as 800 mg ibuprofen for reducing arthritis pain and stiffness. Since curcumin has low bioavailability, it’s best consumed with black pepper which contains piperine that enhances curcumin absorption.

Curcumin is beneficial for both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Turmeric can be used liberally in cooking or taken as capsules, extracts or tinctures up to 1500 mg daily in divided doses.

Thunder God Vine

Thunder god vine, also known as lei gong teng, is a powerful herb used in TCM to treat autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. The main active compound is triptolide which has potent immunosuppressant and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Research shows taking thunder god vine extracts can reduce joint swelling, pain and tenderness associated with rheumatoid arthritis. One study found 60-90% of rheumatoid arthritis patients had at least a 20% improvement in symptoms after taking a thunder god vine extract.

However, thunder god vine can have serious side effects like gastrointestinal issues, hair loss and bone marrow suppression. It also interacts with medications for autoimmune disorders. Thunder god vine should only be used under close supervision of a doctor trained in Chinese medicine. It’s not suitable for long-term use.

Du Huo

Du huo is an herb used in Chinese medicine to dispel wind-cold-dampness that contributes to painful joint obstruction syndrome. Du huo has analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties that can alleviate osteoarthritis pain and stiffness. 

The main active ingredients in du huo include angelic acid, butylidenephthalide and palmitic acid. Du huo helps relieve joint and muscle pain by increasing circulation and reducing inflammation. It’s often combined with other herbs like xi xin, qin jiao and sang ji sheng in formulas used to treat chronic arthritis.

Du huo is available as powders, tinctures or capsules. Therapeutic dosages are typically around 2-4 grams daily in divided doses. Since du huo may interact with blood thinners, speak to your TCM practitioner before using it. Those with bleeding disorders should avoid du huo.

Frankincense and Myrrh

Frankincense and myrrh are aromatic resins obtained from trees in the Burseraceae family. They’ve been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine to treat inflammatory conditions. 

Modern research has confirmed both frankincense and myrrh contain active compounds that regulate inflammation and the immune system. Frankincense boswellic acids inhibit 5-LOX, an inflammatory enzyme that gets overactive in arthritic joints. Myrrh exhibits similar anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.

A research review found that frankincense extract taken at doses of 200-400 mg per day significantly improved pain and mobility in people with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, with efficacy starting as soon as 7 days. Myrrh essential oil is also beneficial when applied topically over swollen joints.

No adverse effects are associated with frankincense or myrrh use, except for possible skin rashes from topical applications. High quality resins, oils and extracts should be used for maximum arthritis relief.


Corydalis, also called yan hu suo, is an herb used in Chinese medicine to alleviate inflammatory pain. The alkaloid compounds dehydrocorybulbine (DHCB) and corydaline contribute to corydalis’ analgesic properties. 

Research shows corydalis extracts can reduce inflammatory markers and effectively relieve chronic arthritis pain. A combination of corydalis, angelica pubescens and levomenol was found to be just as good as diclofenac, an NSAID pain reliever, for osteoarthritis pain.

Corydalis is also used to alleviate nerve pain, back pain, headaches and menstrual cramps. It’s available as powders, tinctures and tablets. The suggested dosage is 100-200 mg up to 3 times per day. Side effects may include dizziness, sedation and gastric distress.

Other Anti-Arthritic Chinese Herbs:

A few other common Chinese herbs used to manage arthritic joint pain and inflammation include:

- Acanthopanax - Contains anti-inflammatory lignans that reduce cytokine production.

- Asiaticoside - Derived from gotu kola herb, asiaticoside applied topically lessens rheumatoid arthritis joint pain. 

- Boswellia - Boswellic acids in the Ayurvedic herb boswellia serrata reduce inflammatory leukotrienes.

- Willow Bark - Contains salicin which acts similar to aspirin to relieve arthritic joint aches. 

- Rehmannia - Used in formulas to reduce bone and muscle pain associated with arthritis inflammation.

- Eucommia - Strengthens bones and muscles around arthritic joints.

The great thing about Chinese herbs is that they can be combined together in formulas for synergistic effects at doses that minimize adverse reactions. Herbal formulas should be prescribed by a licensed TCM practitioner or herbalist based on your specific arthritis symptoms and health condition.


If you’re struggling with painful arthritis or joint inflammation, consider adding some Chinese herbs like ginger, turmeric and frankincense into your daily regimen. Chinese medicine offers a natural way to find arthritis relief safely over the long-term without harsh side effects. However, always consult your doctor before trying new herbal treatments, especially if you take prescription medications. With the guidance of a skilled herbalist, Chinese herbs can transform your quality of life by easing arthritis discomfort.