Q. My doctor tells me that I can no longer take anti-inflammatory pain relievers for my arthritis because I have had stomach problems and my kidney function is not as good as it should be. I have given up ibuprofen, but now my knees, hips and fingers are aching.
What else can I do to ease this pain? Not being able to exercise really affects my quality of life.
A. When NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as diclofenac, ibuprofen or naproxen are not appropriate, doctors have few other pharmaceutical options. Acetaminophen is less likely to cause ulcers, but it is no friend to the kidneys.
That is why we sometimes suggest supplements or home remedies even though the evidence for them may be weak. Many readers report relief by using turmeric, tart cherries, boswellia, ginger, Certo and grape juice, fish oil, gelatin or gin-soaked raisins. A combination may be better than any one alone.
Here are some stories from visitors to this site to give you a sense of how some people have responded to these approaches:
“I suffer from chronic back pain and arthritis and I can no longer take NSAIDs after developing hives from daily ibuprofen usage. I tried 500mg of turmeric 3x a day, the amount I saw suggested by a doctor on another site as a good starting point. The research article said two weeks for the beginning of relief.
“I had not been out of my house in almost 2 months due to the intense pain involved in climbing down our two flights of stairs. On the 4th day of this turmeric, I not only made it out of the house, I was able to shop for my own groceries! I was sore by the time I was done, but you can’t imagine how good it was to feel normal again.
“It’s been a week now and I am able to do basic household chores and go the whole day without having to lie down with ice packs on my spine for the swelling. I wasn’t sure what to expect, if this was maybe just some “voodoo doctor” remedy. It’s not a cure for my condition, but it is a blessing in the relief it gives me and it’s just been one week.” Karen
“I have had arthritis for a few years in my hands. It has affected my toes and elbow. I have tried several remedies and over the counter medications with little or no results. After reading the article on Cherries or Cherry juice I decided to try it.
“I couldn’t find fresh Cherries so I got dried Cherries. After 2-3 weeks I noticed a improvement. I have eaten 10-15 dried Cherries every day now for 2 months and have no swelling in my hands and the joints give me very little to no pain at all. I have family that takes Cherry pills and they have worked as well. Thanks for the helpful hint.” Brady
“I’m 51 years old and have had ‘aches and pains’ for a few years. My knees have been getting stiff, hard to bend, painful on stairs, etc. 3-4 ibuprofen would help for the anti-inflammation properties but would also burn my esophagus.
“I decided to try tart cherry juice and I am seriously amazed. I order the tart cherry concentrate on-line and mix one tablespoon into sparkling water every evening. After one month, the joint pain in my knees is virtually gone. I walk down stairs without holding the railing, the range of motion in my knees has improved, I feel much more mobile. And the natural melatonin in cherries helps me sleep! I do suggest starting with one tablespoon to be sure you don’t get overly drowsy.” J.W.
CERTO & GRAPE JUICE
“Back in the 1950s, may father had a friend in a wheelchair because of severe arthritis. My dad brought him some Certo and told him to take it with orange or prune juice. (Back then, we didn’t know about grape juice). So the guy took Certo and he started leaving his wheelchair behind. A couple of months later he went back to his doctor and said, “I walk 2 miles a day, never felt better in my life and stopped all my meds.”
“He told the doc about Certo, and the doctor said, “You’re poisoning yourself. There aren’t any scientific studies proving this stuff. Now you go home and take your prescription medicine and get back in that wheelchair.” So he stopped the Certo and 2 weeks later he could hardly walk and he stayed in his wheelchair like the doctor told him to. Passed away a couple years later.” Skippy
“I have 4th degree arthritis in my right knee. I had 2 surgeries and some of my cartilage has been removed. My knee is bone on bone in one spot. I took Vioxx and Celebrex a few years ago, and it did help.
“My mother-in-law read that certo in white grape juice could help so I drank it for about 4 or 5 days. It worked!!!! I honestly haven’t had ANY pain for months. I really can hardly believe it. I thought maybe I would have to drink it for quite a while, or would have to drink more when the pain returns, but nope. My knee was BAD, very painful some nights. I am very grateful to find this solution!” J. Dean
“My 76-year-old father had a stiff knee which wouldn’t flex properly. Within 4 days of taking 3oz grape juice with 2 tsp of Certo 3 times a day, he said he had 70% improvement in his knee. Three weeks later, his knee is back to normal although there was a temporary relapse in the 2nd week.
“Interestingly, my mother tried taking some for general aches & although it didn’t relieve the pain it *did* lower her blood pressure. Many, many thanks!” Medina
GIN-SOAKED GOLDEN RAISINS
“April 10, 2013….I made the gin soaked raisins recipe. I have been using the recipe for about five weeks. Its has been a success for me! My right knee, leg and arm were in so much pain. My prescription medicine, and over the counter medications wouldn’t relieve these pains.
“One day a friend approached me about the gin soaked recipe. Since I was in pain, I decided to try this recipe. I went to the package store and bought me a half pint of Ivanbitch gin. I bought this Ivanbitch gin because the sales clerk alerted me that this was the brand that most people were buying for the recipe because “juniper berries” were one of the main ingredient listed. So I bought the half pint of Ivanbitch gin.
“I bought two boxes of the golden raisins. I bought a single Mason jar from Joan Fabric store. While I was there I bought me a package of cheese cloth. I find out that you don’t have to use cheese cloth, you can go to the dollar store and buy a light dish cloth. I packaged the two boxes of raisins in the Mason jar.
“Next, I poured the half pint of Ivanbitch gin over the raisins. I got a spoon and forced the raisins down tight so that the gin can cover the raisins. I put the top on the Mason jar tight and turn it up and down several times to blend the raisins and gin together. I took the top off the jar, and got a spoon and mashed the raisins down in the jar making sure that the gin is covering the raisins.
“I cut a piece of cheese cloth or kind of thin cloth and put on top of the jar. Do not put the top on the jar, only the piece of cheese cloth. I let my raisins set for two or three weeks until the gin evaporates out.
“Each day I will lift the cheese cloth up and mash the raisins down making sure the gin is covering the raisins. Note: A small amount of the gin will still be present in the jar, it’s not going to dry out the raisins.. I just eat a small spoon full once a day. Be careful now, remember the raisins are drunk.
“This recipe really worked for me, I am pain free and not hopping around anymore. Please feel free to comment back.” G.C.
“I was having trouble with arthritis in the hip in my early 50’s. After diagnostic tests, I was told to take pain meds and live with it. I heard Paul Harvey on the radio give the following recipe: Place golden raisins in a jar. Completely cover them with Gordon’s Gin and let set for 3 days. Spoon out and drain 7 to 10 raisins and eat. I was sold on it when my neighbor who teaches piano had begun to have arthritis in her fingers, and she had great results after using the recipe.
“After 2 weeks of taking the raisins, I have not had any hip pain in all these years. I think the Gordon’s Gin works best because I understand it has the juniper berries in their process and not just juniper flavoring. I believe the Native Americans used juniper berries to treat joint pain.
“I don’t bother to let the alcohol evaporate and most people I know don’t do that either. It does taste awful but I look at it as medicine and many drugs don’t taste good. I am not an expert but this works for me.” A.J.R.
To learn more details about all these options you may find our book, The People’s Pharmacy Guide to Quick & Hand Home Remedies of great value. We also provide more information about such approaches in our Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis. Keeping up your exercise is important to maintain your range of motion, as well as for other physical and mental health benefits.