Inflammation is the process by which the body begins to heal itself after being triggered by allergens, pathogens, damaged cells, and stress. Common symptoms include pain, depression, weight gain, and frequent infections. Inflammation may last for a few days, months, or even years. However, eating anti-inflammatory foods, taking anti-inflammatory supplements, and getting sufficient rest and regular exercise can help for both prevention and treatment.
Omega-3 fatty acids are effective anti-inflammatory agents, and fish oil is an excellent natural source. Research studies have shown that fish oil is an effective treatment for arthritis. One study, looking at 250 people with cervical and lumbar disc disease, found that 59% could substitute fish oil for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Curcumin, the pigment that gives turmeric root its yellow color, has been used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Research studies have shown the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin in the treatment of diseases such as cystic fibrosis, colitis, cancer, arthritis, and chronic neurodegenerative diseases. Turmeric supplements are easy to come across, and the fresh root makes an excellent addition to smoothies, soups, and curry dishes.
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Green tea is well-known for the antioxidant properties provided by its polyphenol compounds, called catechins. It is not only protective against cancer, but research has also shown its anti-inflammatory effects, particularly in treating arthritis. To help with inflammation, the recommended amount of green tea is three to four cups per day. Green tea extract is also commonly available as a supplement, which can be helpful for those who do not enjoy the flavor.
Pycnogenol is a notably strong anti-inflammatory compound. It is extracted from the maritime pine tree bark, and its many uses include treating wounds, scurvy, ulcers, and vascular inflammation. Pycnogenol is much stronger than vitamin E in deactivating free radicals and, taken with vitamin C and E, makes them more effective. Additionally, studies have reported that it can lower blood pressure and the risk of blood clots.
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Frankincense is derived from the Boswellia species of trees that can be found in India, Ethiopia, Somalia, and the Arabian Peninsula. Frankincense can relieve pain, inflammation, and arthritis. Mixtures of boswellic acids have been used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Boswellia is most commonly taken as an extract containing 30-40% boswellic acids.
Resveratrol is a polyphenol compound found in plants. The skins of red and white grapes have the greatest concentration of resveratrol and it provides general plant defense including protection from infection and UV damage. It also has the benefit of being a natural antioxidant, protecting against inflammation. The supplement is available as a capsule and the typical dose is 50-500 milligrams daily.
Chili pepper is the fruit of the capsicum annum shrub and is native to the Americas. The medicinal properties of chili pepper are attributed to capsaicin- a naturally occurring chemical derived from the pepper. Research has shown that capsaicin provides anti-inflammatory effects. Topical products derived from peppers are effective at relieving pain and discomfort.
The echinacea family of plants, native to North America, are well known for their many medicinal properties. The herb provides anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, and antifungal benefits. It is used to treat respiratory infections such as the common cold, urinary tract infections, and inflammation. Research shows that its ability to fight inflammation also makes it effective in treating wounds. Echinacea is available as a capsule supplement, a tea, or as an oil.
Cat’s claw is a Peruvian herb derived from a woody vine. The bark of the plant is used in traditional medicine to treat inflammatory illnesses like arthritis, bursitis, and intestinal disorders. The active ingredients, which are polyphenols, alkaloids, and sterols, reduce substances in the body that can trigger inflammation. You can take cat’s claw as a tea or as a 20-60 milligram capsule each day.
Ginseng is a widely used herbal medicine and is known for its many health benefits. Ginsenosides are the main components of ginseng that provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer benefits. Clinical studies have shown that ginseng supplements help to manage diabetes when used along with conventional treatment methods. Additionally, ginseng has been used along with chemotherapy to reduce the negative effects of cancer medication.
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