Costochondritis manifests when your rib or the cartilage to which it attaches becomes inflamed and painful. Costochondritis is a common cause of chest pain, MedlinePlus states. Most cases of costochondritis are diagnosed by palpation, or touch. If you experiences tenderness in the area where your ribs meet your sternum, or breastbone, you may have costochondritis. Herbal treatments for this condition may help reduce your costochondritis-related pain and inflammation. Discuss the efficacy and safety of herbs with your doctor before using these substances.
MayoClinic.com notes that the pain caused by costochondritis may be easily confused with a heart attack or other conditions that may affect your heart, and that costochondritis is the most common cause of chest pain that originates in the structures of your chest wall. Most cases of costochondritis are caused by unknown factors, although certain factors may play a role in this condition, including blunt force trauma to your chest, physical strain, upper respiratory diseases, infections in your costosternal joint, fibromyalgia and referred pain.
Herbal treatments for costochondritis are used to help reduce the pain and inflammation in the affected area. Two categories of herbs may be particularly beneficial: analgesics and anti-inflammatories. Herbs that possess analgesic action, notes Sharol Tilgner, a naturopathic physician, herbalist and author of "Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth," help relieve pain, while anti-inflammatory herbs reduce inflammation and swelling. Examples of herbs that may possess both these actions include arnica, celandine, chamomile, devil's claw, dong quai, fennel, ginger, ginseng, goldenrod, gotu kola, kava kava, passionflower and willow.
A Helpful Herb
Arnica may be a helpful herb in treating your costochondritis, due to its ability to reduce inflammation and treat pain. Arnica, notes expert herbalist Ed Smith, author of "Therapeutic Herb Manual," is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that is used in treating a wide variety of musculoskeletal problems. This herb may be beneficial in treating pain in your joints, muscles, ligaments and other soft tissues. Various parts of the arnica plant contain flavonoids and essential oils that are used in herbal medicines.
Because herbs have the potential to cause negative health side effects if used incorrectly, consider visiting a health care professional trained in herbal medicine to better understand the health implications of this natural treatment method. Herbs should be used under the supervision of a qualified health care practitioner, who can counsel you on how to use herbs, what side effects to watch for and when to stop using herbs. Ask your health care practitioner if herbs are appropriate for you and your health complaint.
Martin Hughes is a chiropractic physician, health writer and the co-owner of a website devoted to natural footgear. He writes about health, fitness, diet and lifestyle. Hughes earned his Bachelor of Science in kinesiology at the University of Waterloo and his doctoral degree from Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Ore.