Brazilian ironwood, or leopard tree, found to reduce joint pain

The Brazilian ironwood, known natively as juca or pau-ferro, is grown in the Northeast Region of Brazil where it is commonly used as a treatment for illnesses such as diarrhea and cough. Studies suggest that ironwood leaves contain anti-inflammatory properties.

Ironwood leaves reduce joint inflammation

In a recent study, researchers from Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte and the Federal University of Pernambuco evaluated the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities of Brazilian ironwood (Libidibia ferrea) leaves in rats. They wanted to determine if these activities could reduce inflammation associated with arthritis.

The researchers fed rats by gavage with 100, 200, or 300 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) of ironwood leaf extract and observed whether it has anti-inflammatory properties. They took fluid samples from the rats’ joints to test the levels of oxidative stress and determine the level of inflammation. Researchers also analyzed the extract’s polyphenol content to confirm the presence of antioxidants.

The results of the analysis confirmed the presence of antioxidants gallic acid and ellagic acid in the leaf extracts. Their other test results also revealed that the leaf extracts contain anti-inflammatory properties. Upon closer examination of the treated rats’ joint tissue, the researchers found the presence of neutrophils, which are white blood cells that fight inflammation.

Based on the results they gathered, the researchers concluded that ironwood leaves contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory activities that can relieve joint pain in arthritis patients. Their study was published in the journal of BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.


Ways to get relief from arthritis pain

Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints, which causes pain and discomfort. To date, there are more than 100 different types of arthritis, but the most commonly acquired is called rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when white blood cells mistakenly attack tissues surrounding the joints, causing inflammation. Although over-the-counter medicines are widely available, natural is still the best way to go. Here are a few tips on how to relieve arthritis pain. (Related: Arthritis – How to relieve the pain and heal naturally.)

  • Non-strenuous exercise: People diagnosed with arthritis can participate in exercises like aquatic exercise, yoga, and tai chi. These exercises can improve range of motion without being too intense. Tai chi, for example, uses slow and gentle movement to increase flexibility. It also improves balance and core muscle strength.
  • Hot and cold treatment: Hot and cold therapy are two very different methods but are proven to increase blood flow while reducing inflammation. Heat therapy increases circulation and provides relief for stiffness and muscle pain. Cold therapy, on the other hand, tightens blood vessels, numbs pain, and reduces inflammation. By alternating these treatments, blood flow will increase and bring an influx of nutrients to affected tissues to let them heal.
  • Increase sun exposure: Vitamin D not only helps in building strong bones, but also in the regulation of the immune system. In a study published in PLOS ONE, researchers found that people with rheumatoid arthritis were deficient in vitamin D compared to those who didn’t have the illness. Vitamin D is available in a wide variety of food, but sun exposure is the best way to get it.
  • Increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids: Several kinds of research show that omega-3-fatty acids can help relieve inflammation. One study, published in the Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry, concluded that the intake of omega-3s could reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Natural sources of omega-3s include nuts, seeds, and fatty fish.

To know more about natural treatments for arthritis, visit

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