Traditional Research | Muscle/Joint Tonic

Sarsaparilla rhizome (Smilax ornata)*

Contains plant sterols which are anti-inflammatory. It is indicated for conditions with skin, fascia, or muscle tissue that is red, inflamed, and hot to the touch. It is used for psoriasis, arthritis, gout, bursitis, colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic inflammation of connective tissue. Sarsaparilla binds endotoxins in the gut which increases their elimination and reduces inflammatory response.

Turmeric fresh rhizome (Curcuma longa)*

Useful as an anti-inflammatory, antioxident, and analgesic used in the treatment of arthritis, colitis, Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and bursitis. It is also a hepatoprotective agent, a cholagogue, anti-protozoal, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and is gastroprotective. As an antioxident, Turmeric has anti-tumor activity, stimulates glutathione s-transferase (GST) and modulates nitric oxide to reduce inflammation and inhibit cancer growth.

Devilís Claw tuber (Harpagophytum procumbens)*

A native of South African grasslands and deserts. It produces large roots (storage tubers) which contain saponins. These chemicals act as anti-inflammatory agents, so Devilís Claw is traditionally used for osteoarthritis, bursitis and rheumatic pain as well as digestive disorders.

Bupleurum root (Bupleurum falcatum)*

Known in Chinese medicine as Chai Hu and is used for stagnant liver qi. The symptoms of this condition include a feeling of fullness in the liver, pain on the right side, biliousness, a coated yellow tongue, difficulty digesting fats and abdominal bloating. A prominent liver herb, Bupleurum can also be used for hepatitis, liver fire rising (liver headaches) and hepatomegaly. As an anti-inflammatory agent Bupleurem induces production of natural corticosteroids and enhances their activity. It also inhibits inflammatory prostaglandin production.

Ginger rhizome (Zingiber officinale)*

Increases circulation of blood and qi, improves digestion and is useful for nausea and motion sickness. This spicy herb is also a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, a mild emmenagogue and a diaphoretic. It improves circulation to the uterus, gastrointestinal tract and skin. Ginger extracts have shown in vivo activity against COX-1 and COX-2 mediated inflammation. It also enhibits enzymes such as 5-Lipoxygenase (5-Lo) and 12-Lypoxygenase (12-Lo) which metabolize arachidonic acid creating powerful pro-inflammatory byproducts.

Willow bark (Salix spp)*

A source of the chemical compound salicin. Related to aspirin, salicin inhibits inflammatory prostaglandin production. Unlike aspirin, Willow bark does not thin the blood, nor does it cause gastric irritation. Willow bark is commonly used for everyday aches and pains, osteoarthritis, backaches, headaches and to lower fevers.

Sichuan Teasel root (Dipsacus japonicus)*

An astringent, styptic, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic. It is used in Chinese medicine for deficient kidney yang with symptoms such as low back pain, weak knees, and weak ankles.  It can also be used for bursitis, stiff joints, arthritis, and trauma injuries.


Bartram, T.  Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Grace Pub., 1995.

Bone, K.  Bupleurem - A Natural Steroid Effect, Medi-Herb.Newsletter #50 & 51, 1996.

Newmark, T. & Shulick, P. Beyond Aspirin, Hohn Press, 2000.

Snow, J.  Curcuma longa L. (Zingiberaceae) in the Protocol Journal of Botanical Medicine, vol. 1, #2, 1995

Van Wyk, Oudtshoorn and Gericke  Medicinal Plants of South Africa, Priza Pub., 1997.

Weiss, R.  Herbal Medicine, Beaconsfield Arcanum, 1988.

Winston, D., Specific Indications for Herbs & Herbal Formulas, 2003

Herbal Therapeutics Research Library, David Winston (RH) AHG

©2012 Herbal Therapeutics Research Library. All rights reserved

*Disclaimer: The information on historical, ethnobotanical and phytotherapeutic uses of herbs and traditional formulas contained herein is based on the experience and research of the author. It is not intended as a substitute for consulting with your physician or other health care provider. Any attempt to diagnose and treat an illness should be done under the direction of a health care professional. The publisher and author are not responsible for any adverse effects or consequences resulting from the use of any of the information discussed. Should you have any questions concerning the appropriateness of any preparation mentioned, the author strongly suggests consulting a professional health care advisor.