Chill Out with these Natural Anti-Inflammatories

Millions of people in the United States struggle with inflammation every single year, meaning it is a serious health concern. That means there is plenty of demand for relief from this irritating condition.

So, for those who want a natural way to fight inflammation, what are the options?

Types of Inflammation

First things first; it pays to know a little about inflammation itself. There are two types of inflammation: chronic and acute.

Acute

Acute inflammation occurs at the time of an injury, such as getting a cut or other wound. In other words, the associated swelling, pain, and redness is your body’s reaction to the injury. This short-term reaction takes place within a few minutes or over a period of a few hours.

Chronic

Chronic inflammation is where the body makes an effort repeatedly to contain and heal an injury or infection. This process takes place over a prolonged period of time, which can span weeks, months, or even years.

Chronic inflammation is oftentimes related to inflammatory diseases, such as:

  • Asthma
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Allergies
  • Irritable bowel disease

Dangerous conditions may also increase the risk of developing chronic inflammation. These condition include:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cardiovascular disease

How is Chronic Inflammation Treated?

Chronic inflammation is treated with a variety of medications that range from simple aspirin to prescription drugs. However, side effects are common and some of the medications have addictive tendencies.

Over-the-counter medications aren’t always better. They can damage other areas of the body and may actually increase inflammation for some people.

What are Some Natural Anti-Inflammatories?

For these reasons, many people turn to natural remedies to treat their chronic inflammation. The best part? Most people can find these remedies right within their kitchen pantry.

The first natural anti-inflammatory on this list? It’s a staple in many Asian dishes…

1. Curcumin (Turmeric)

Turmeric is one of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatories in the world. It also has the added benefit of being an extremely strong antioxidant. Why is it so effective? Many believe that it’s due to the fact that its main active ingredient is curcumin.

Evidence-based Goodness

Curcumin and turmeric have been used to assist individuals suffering from inflammation resulting from the following conditions:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • IBS
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Cholesterol

How to Use Curcumin (Turmeric)

  • Curcumin is more potent when ingested with black pepper. Research suggests that consuming black pepper with curcumin enables the body to absorb curcumin by an additional 2,000%!
  • Liquid curcumin may also work well for those who cannot tolerate black pepper.

Either form—dry or liquid—may be added to foods or beverages and consumed orally (by mouth). Just know that research suggests that the body does not readily absorb pure curcumin/turmeric powder by itself.

If sweet remedies are more your style, you should love the following…

2. Ginger

That’s right: sweet ginger can combat inflammation. Ginger may also fight against oxidative damage and improve metabolism in addition to its anti-inflammatory properties.

What’s Inside Ginger?

The main anti-inflammatory components of ginger are gingerol (when ginger is fresh) and zingerone (when ginger is cooked and/or dried). These compounds restrict inflammation-causing molecules from being synthesized, thereby reducing inflammation.

Gingerol

Gingerol is a bio-active compound that is widely considered to be responsible for the medicinal properties of fresh ginger since it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Zingerone

Gingerol transforms into zingerone (aka, vanillylacetone) when ginger is cooked and/or dried. Like gingerol, it too has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

What Conditions Can Ginger Help?

There is plenty of research linking these compounds to a reduction inflammation caused by many conditions, including:

  • Kidney damage
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Colitis
  • Irritable bowel diseases (IBDs)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Osteoarthritis

Ginger has also been known to reduce chronic colitis and cancer risk among patients with irritable bowel disease.

Ginger’s properties may also offer relief from neuroinflammation, or inflammation of the brain. Specifically, some research suggests that the chemical properties of this root may help those who have dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

How to Use Ginger

  • Consumption of raw ginger is best. Trials suggest that 170 mg of ginger/day may be a good dosage to start at; research has not examined the effects of ingesting more than 4 g of ginger a day.
  • Ginger supplements and powders may be preferable for those who have difficulties digesting ginger. 2-3 g of ginger in powdered form is typically a safe dosage.

The following natural remedy is so effective that NASA has used them to help keep astronauts healthy in space…

3. Spirulina

Cyanobacteria are blue-green algae. People can derive the dietary supplement spirulina from two species of these algae, A. maxima and Arthrospira platensis.

What’s Inside Spirulina?

Cyanobacteria contain phycocyanin, a pigment-protein complex (PPC) that research suggests can remove or de-activate free radicals in the body. Importantly, free radicals can lead to oxidative stress, which can damage the body in many ways. One such way? Resulting in chronic inflammation.

Beyond phycocyanin, spirulina is also made up of another PPC known as c-phycocyanin. Importantly, c-phycocyanin has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on the body.

How Does Spirulina Fight Inflammation?

Spirulina is so beneficial that NASA has used it as a dietary supplement for astronauts on space missions. Why is it particularly great for fighting inflammation, though?

The short answer

Spirulina primarily fights inflammation by stopping the body from releasing inflammation-causing compounds.

The long answer

The immune system releases histamine as one of its go-to measures for fighting infection. Histamine then makes its way to the site of infection, which ultimately results in inflammation. Now, spirulina can inhibit the release of histamine, which means reducing inflammation.

How to Use Spirulina

For adults with uncompromised immune systems, 1-3 g of spirulina is considered a standard daily dose. Some people have taken up to 10 g daily and claimed effective results. The best way to determine the right dosage? Consult with a doctor first and start at the lowest dosage possible.

The following remedy is a spice that many people use to add some extra kick to their meals; that’s why many are surprised to learn that it can also fight inflammation…

4. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper isn’t just great for adding a kick to your meals; this pepper can also fight inflammation. Yes, you read that right: this spicy pepper can fight inflammation.

What’s Inside the Cayenne Pepper?

The active ingredient in cayenne peppers is capsaicin, which has powerful anti-inflammatory and pain-killing properties. This fact may come as a surprise to some as this spicy compound produces the heat found in chili peppers.

These properties are the reason why many creams use capsaicin: to relieve discomfort resulting from conditions like shingles and arthritis. Specifically, this compound reduces the amount of substance P in the body, which sends pain signals to the brain.

How to Use Zostric Cream

A topical cream derived from capsaicin is Zostrix, an FDA-approved over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription drug that may help relieve discomfort from shingles, arthritis, and other conditions. It should be applied externally only, directly to the affected area with a cotton ball or swab.

The upcoming natural anti-inflammatory is a classic spice that most people have in their kitchens…

5. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a known infection fighter with anti-inflammatory properties, making it a delicious way to spice up any treatment plan for inflammation.

What’s Inside Cinnamon?

Cinnamon contains a variety of highly potent flavonoids, the phytonutrient cinnamaldehyde, and antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory effects.

Flavonoids

Flavonoids are a class of chemicals that research suggests may have anti-inflammatory properties.

Cinnamaldehyde

Cinnamaldehyde is a phytonutrient, a chemical that plants produce to protect themselves from the likes of insects and disease. Cinnamaldehyde itself is the compound that makes cinnamon taste and smell good. That’s not all it can do, though. Some research suggests that it also has anti-inflammatory properties.

How to Use Cinnamon

  • The recommended dosage of cinnamon is approximately 1-1 1/2 teaspoons, or 2-4 g per day.
  • Just make sure not to eat too much cinnamon at once, as it can result in coughing and, in some cases, severe complications.

Looking for some sage advice? The following natural anti-inflammatory might just the solution you’ve been looking for…

6. Sage

Plenty of people use sage for cooking as well as cleaning. But did you know that it may also offer anti-inflammatory effects?

What’s Inside Sage?

Sage contains compounds that are both antioxidants and anti-inflammatories; among them are carnosic acid and carnosol. These components give sage its flavor and are also what make it so beneficial to your health.

Specifically, by inhibiting oxidative stress, they indirectly inhibit inflammation. How? Because oxidative stress means too many free radicals in the body, which can cause plenty of problems—including inflammation.

How to Use Sage

  • Fresh sage. The recommended dose is 4-6 g per day.
  • Dried sage. Dried sage shows benefits at between 300-600 mg daily when the leaves are either eaten or used to make tea.

The following classic herb? There are countless ways people use it to fight inflammation…

7. Rosemary

Rosemary is a well-known resource since it is comprised of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. These compounds strengthen the immune system, among other added benefits.

What’s Inside Rosemary?

Rosemary and sage contain some of the same compounds and, therefore, are similar in flavor. Rosemary, however, additionally contains rosemarinic acid, which is used as a preservative and is known to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties.

Rosemary also contains apigenin and diosmin. Importantly, these compounds prevent the production of prostaglandins, which are inflammatory-signalling compounds.

How to Use Rosemary

  • As an essential oil, the recommended dosage is 0.1–1 ml (diluted first with a carrier oil). Note that the oil form of rosemary must only be applied externally. In other words, do not ingest rosemary essential oil.
  • Rosemary leaves can additionally be added to soups, stews, and foods. These leaves may be eaten.

Want to fight inflammation? Research suggests to grab the pepper (but please leave out the salt)…

8. Black Pepper

Black pepper is one of the most commonly-used spices in Western cuisine. Besides taking a meal to the next level, it can also provide relief from inflammation.

What’s Inside Black Pepper?

Black pepper contains piperine, which is a chemical compound that prevents inflammation. Black pepper is effective on its own primarily thanks to piperine and other compounds.

Black pepper can also be used in combination with curcumin, as it helps the body absorb curcumin.

How to Use Black Pepper

Black pepper is widely available everywhere, from grocery stores to drug stores. It is a commonly used spice and can be added to foods and ingested orally.

Not a fan of pepper? Grab a cup of the following tea for some potential health benefits…

9. Green Tea

Green tea is known as a health food staple with tremendous benefits. Green tea has been shown to assist those suffering from arthritis and to reduce overall body inflammation.

What’s Inside Green Tea?

Green tea is a well-known source of polyphenols (micronutrients packed with antioxidants) when made from unfermented tea leaves. Remember: antioxidants can produce anti-inflammatory effects.

How to Use Green Tea

The recommended dosage of green tea is a few cups a day to provide relief from inflammation. It is preferable that the fresh, dried version is used as opposed to brands that are made from concentrate or are in a can.

The final natural inflammatory on this list? It’s coming right up…

10. Cloves

Clove is great for many dishes. Its oil may also help people fight inflammation.

What’s Inside Cloves?

Clove oil contains eugenol, a chemical compound that may inhibit the release of histamine, which is responsible for triggering the body’s inflammatory response.

How to Use Cloves

  • Clove oil may be found in mouth washes (do not ingest).
  • Clove essential oil, once diluted, may be applied to the skin (do not ingest).
  • Cloves themselves can be used to infuse flavor into drinks like ciders and teas.

What’s next?

What’s most important to keep in mind about using natural anti-inflammatories?…

Final Thoughts

When it comes to combating inflammation, a trip to the kitchen pantry may be one natural alternative to a trip to the pharmacy.

Just remember…

When using natural anti-inflammatories, be sure to remember the following:

  • These remedies may not work for everyone.
  • Furthermore, these remedies won’t cure underlying conditions like shingles and arthritis; they may only offer pain and inflammation relief.
  • Before ingesting any for medical uses, consult with a doctor first.
  • Do not ingest if in an essential oil form.
  • Test essential oils in a small spot on the skin before applying over a large area.
  • Always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil (olive oil, coconut oil, etc.) before using.

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