Although inflammation is a natural reaction and helps with the body’s healing process, chronic inflammation can be damaging and even play a major role in the development of many diseases: arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, various cancers and more. Tackling chronic inflammation may require major lifestyle changes—managing stress, exercising more, eating right. While a proper diet can be crucial to managing inflammation, don’t discount the benefits of other kitchen ingredients. Many herbs have anti-inflammatory properties that can be helpful in tackling chronic inflammation—many of them inexpensive as well. Try supplementing your diet with these seven anti-inflammatory herbs for a start.
Green tea and ginger both have anti-inflammatory properties. Photo By Brebca/Fotolia
7 Anti-Inflammatory Herbs
Turmeric: Curcumin, the active in ingredient in turmeric and the substance responsible for its yellow color, has strong anti-inflammatory properties. A clinical trial in the Journal of Neurochemistry found that treating patients with turmeric led to a 30 percent reduction in Alzheimer’s-associated brain plaque. A recent Italian study also found that taking turmeric led to a 58 percent reduction in pain and stiffness caused by arthritis, and a 63 percent reduction in reliance on standard painkillers. Take 400 to 600 mg of standardized powder three times daily; or use liberally in cooking.
Devil’s claw: Widely used for joint pain and inflammation in Europe and the United States, devil’s claw has been shown to reduce osteoarthritis pain and even be as effective as certain prescription painkillers. One small study also showed that devil’s claw may be useful in treating mild-to-moderate lower back, neck and shoulder pain. Take 600 to 1,200 mg of a standardized dose three times daily.
Boswellia: Boswellic acids in this Ayurvedic herb, sometimes called Indian frankincense, bind to enzymes that cause inflammation. Studies have shown boswellia to be useful in treating inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and Crohn’s disease. (For a more in-depth look at how boswellia treats arthritis, check out the article Soothe Aching Joints with Frankincense.)
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Cayenne: Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne peppers, has been shown to inhibit certain substances associated with the inflammatory process, helping to reduce pain and inflammation in conditions such as arthritis and diabetic neuropathy. Studies have also shown this anti-inflammatory herb to be beneficial for heart health and immunity. Use a capsaicin cream as directed for affected areas (never on broken skin), or take 30 to 120 mg in capsule form three times daily.
Garlic: Compounds in garlic inhibit inflammatory messenger molecules, which has shown to be particularly effective in helping to promote heart health. In addition, garlic’s anti-inflammatory properties can benefit our respiratory system (in the case of inflammation in airways), help with arthritis, and maybe even inhibit some changes in fat cells that are critical to the development of obesity. Use garlic liberally in cooking. You can also eat the cloves raw and whole. Cutting or crushing the garlic before consumption amplifies its health benefits.
Ginger: Anti-inflammatory compounds in ginger called gingerol suppress pro-inflammatory compounds. Ginger is particularly effective at treating arthritis; a study published in Osteoarthritis Cartilage found that long-term use of ginger led to less pain, swelling and inflammation in arthritic patients. Preliminary studies have also shown that ginger may help prevent heart disease, another inflammatory condition, by helping lower cholesterol and prevent blood clotting. Take 250 mg of ginger extract four times daily.
Green tea: Polyphenols in green tea act have anti-inflammatory properties, and studies have shown that green tea can reduce inflammation and help with conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, hepatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, stomach cancer and more. Drink at least two cups a day.