Posted on: December 2, 2016 at 2:43 pm
Last updated: July 17, 2018 at 9:55 am

Since knee pain is such a common complaint, it’s no surprise that so many different methods of treating it have popped up all over the world. Whether your knee pain comes from arthritis, over-use, an injury, or just aging, there’s plenty of ways to find relief without using any NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).


While not every remedy has been thoroughly researched yet, many people continue to share their favorite methods because they work just right for them! What has been thoroughly researched is the unpleasant effects that NSAIDs will have on your body if you use them regularly as your primary treatment for pain.

What NSAIDs Do to Your Body Over Time

Most joint pain takes a while to go away, and in cases of chronic conditions, all you can do is reduce your discomfort as much as possible. Dealing with knee pain involves a commitment to exercises that strengthen the muscles around your knee, keeping your body otherwise healthy and well-hydrated, and minimizing acute pain on your bad days.


For those who choose to regularly consume NSAIDs like Advil, Tylenol or Aleve to reduce pain and inflammation, here’s what you should know:

  • they’ve been linked to dyspepsia, ulcers, and gastrointestinal complications (especially among those who use them heavily for arthritis pain) (1)
  • linked to cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease and heart attack (2)
  • linked to increase risk in strokes (3)

In the short-term, sometimes taking a painkiller is necessary for fast relief when it’s required. The long-term risks however, make NSAIDs a poor way of treating a chronic or at least long-term condition like knee pain. So, what other ways can you reduce inflammation and pain in your knees? Plenty.


Top 6 Natural Knee Pain Treatments

As mentioned earlier, some of these remedies are only supported so far by preliminary studies with either a non-human subject like rats or mice or only a small group of human subjects. While scientists continue to work to gather more data to support these remedies, you can talk with your health practitioner about using one or even several of these natural options as an alternative to riskier drug-based methods. Many of these tricks have been passed down from generation to generation, and continue to be based on people’s success with them.

1. Cayenne Pepper Oil

Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne pepper oil, has been found to have an analgesic effect. Preliminary research has found that capsaicin offers fast-acting and long-lasting relief from pain associated with inflammation- one preliminary study applied capsaicin in a cream form with 10% concentration and produced pain relief for up to 18 weeks! (4, 5).

Naturally, cayenne pepper oil is hot, so mixing it with a carrier oil or dissolving it into a solution will help to prevent any skin irritation. Try mixing it with coconut oil, which has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of its own (6).

What You Need:

  • 5-10 drops cayenne pepper oil
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

What to Do:

Mix the oils together and rub on your knee. If you don’t want the warming effect on your hands, use gloves to apply. Let sit for 15 minutes, then wash off with soap and water. Repeat no more than once a day.

2. Ginger Oil

A 2007 study tested the effects of a ginger oil massage for seniors with knee pain and found a reduction in knee pain and an improvement with stiffness. The effects weren’t sustained past 4 weeks, however, so ginger oil is thought to be a better short-term treatment (7).

What You Need:

  • 5-10 drops ginger oil
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

What To Do:

Mix the oils and massage into your knee, paying special attention to the most painful areas. Let sit for 15-30 minutes, then wash off with soap and water. Repeat once a week.

3. Eucalyptus and Peppermint Oils

Eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils contain the active ingredient menthol, which activates “cool receptors” (and is the same reason something that’s minty fresh feels cold. Ever drank some water after chewing gum? Freezing!). This helps to alleviate pain, and produces a natural analgesic effect (8).

What You Need:

  • 5 drops eucalyptus oil
  • 5 drops peppermint oil
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or other carrier oil)

What to Do:

Combine the oils and massage onto your knee. Leave for 15-30 minutes. To augment the cooling effect, apply an ice pack while resting as well.

4. Turmeric and Ginger Tea

These popular spices are well-known for their anti-inflammatory properties in the health and science communities. Both can fight inflammation throughout your body (9,10). A turmeric and ginger tea can help reduce the swelling and discomfort from both arthritis and joint injuries, and will work well along with your pain-relieving treatments.

What You Need:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons turmeric (fresh, grated)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of ginger (fresh, grated)
  • raw honey to taste
  • 1 cup of water

What to Do:

Add turmeric and ginger to water and bring to a boil. Let soak for 10 minutes, then strain into a mug and add honey to taste (optional). Drink while hot once a day.

5. Juniper Berry Tea

Juniper berries have been used as an herbal treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, however, they are not safe for pregnant women (11).

What You Need:

  • 1 tablespoon dried juniper berries
  • 1 cup water
  • honey to taste

What to Do:

Bring the water to a boil, add the dried berries and let soak for 15 minutes. Strain the tea into a mug, add honey to taste and enjoy while warm up to once daily.

6. White Willow Bark

White Willow Bark is one of the oldest herbal remedies for pain and inflammation, having been used by the ancient Greeks, Indians, Romans and Egyptians. Research has compared its effects to that of Aspirin. It is not suitable for people with ulcers, uncontrolled diabetes or renal disorders.You should note that your consumption should be limited to 240 mg per day (12). You can also make a tea from the actual bark itself (13).

What You Need:

  • 1 teaspoon white willow bark
  • 1 cup of water

What to Do:

Bring the water to a boil, add bark and let sit for 10 minutes. Strain the tea into a mug and drink while hot.

Promoting Healthy Knees

While you’re using these natural pain relief and anti-inflammatory remedies, remember to support your knees with the right lifestyle choices like wearing comfortable and supportive shoes, giving your knee rest, using knee strengthening exercises under the supervision of your doctor, and drinking plenty of water throughout the day. After all, your health is never about fixing one symptom at a time- use a holistic approach to get true healing!

And… if super-herbs aren’t your thing for various reasons, you can try this wearable acupressure from Aculief, which can give you consistent pain-killer-free relief.


(1) Epidemiology of NSAID induced gastrointestinal complications. Singh, et al. The Journal of Rheumatology Supplement. 1999, 56: 18-24. Accessed Nov 30, 2016.

(2) FDA labeling of NSAIDs: Review of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in cardiovascular disease. Pirlamarla et al. 2016, 26(8): 675-680. Accessed Nov 30, 2016.

(3) FDA Strengthens Warning on NSAIDs and Heart Risk. WebMD. Accessed Nov 30, 2016.

(4) Capsaicin (TRPV1 Agonist) therapy for pain relief- farewell or revival? Knotkova et al. The Clinical Journal of Pain. 2008, 24(2): 142-154. Accessed Nov 30 2016.

(5) Treatment of Intractable Pain with Topical Large-Dose Capsaicin, Preliminary Report. Robbins et al. Regional Anesthesia and Pain Management. Accessed Nov 30 2016.

(6) Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic properties of virgin coconut oil. Intaphuahk et al. Journal of Pharmaceutical Biology. 2010, 48(2): 151-157. Accessed Nov 30, 2016.

(7) An experimental study on the effectiveness of massage with aromatic ginger and orange essential oil for moderate-to-severe knee pain among the elderly in Hong Kong. Yin Bing Yip et al. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 2007, 16(3): 131-138. Accessed Nov 30, 2016.

(8). Menthol: a natural analgesic compound. Galeotti et al. Neuroscience Letters. 2002, 322(3): 145-148. Accessed Nov 30, 2016.

(9) Inhibitory effects of [6]-gingerol, a major pungent principle of ginger, on phorbol ester-induced inflammation, epidermal ornithine decarboxylase activity and skin tumor promotion in ICR mice. Park et al. Cancer Letters. 1998, 129 (2): 139-144. Accessed Nov 30, 2016.

(10) Evaluation of anti-inflammatory property of curcumin (diferuloyl methane) in patients with postoperative inflammation. Satoskar, et al. International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, therapy and toxicology. 1986, 24(12): 651-654. Accessed Nov 30, 2016.

(11) David Hoffman. Holistic Herbal. Harper Collins, 1990. Page 85.

(12) Natural anti-inflammatory agents for pain relief. Maroon et al. Surgical Neurology International. 2010, 1 (80). Accessed Nov 30, 2016.

(13) Make White Willow Bark Tea For Pain Relief. Motherearthliving. Accessed Nov 30, 2016.

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