When you experience an infection or injury, your body will naturally react with inflammation, usually causing localized redness, pain, heat, or swelling. What is more, the involved tissues may lose their proper functioning. Nevertheless, it is a protective reaction aimed at healing the body and helping the tissues to get back to normal again. Sometimes inflammation lasts for a longer period, and it becomes chronic due to allergies or autoimmune reactions, like those present in rheumatoid arthritis.
Fortunately, there are natural ways to fight such chronic inflammation. You may not know it, but many herbs and spices have outstanding anti-inflammatory effects, and they may help you to feel better every day. Some of them are commonly used while others are less popular but still worth trying out and adding to your diet. Let’s explore them together!
- Turmeric (Curcumin)
One of the most efficient anti-inflammatory foods is definitely turmeric, with its yellow pigment called curcumin. There is historical documentation showing that Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines have been using this spice not only to treat inflammation but also, for example, wounds and digestive problems.
Apart from that, curcumin can also fight free radicals and help to prevent cancer. What is more, it can provide your soups, curries, or other dishes with great taste! Also, you can add them to your smoothies or take supplements, such as Primal Turmeric Complex.
We usually don’t think about basil as a medicinal plant – most people treat it as a great addition to Italian dishes. The truth is, this herb contains a compound called (E)-beta-caryophyllene (BCP) that has excellent anti-inflammatory properties and is often used to improve the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions. Its most efficient species is called Ocimum sanctum L., or holy basil. You can, for instance, combine it with thyme and vinaigrette to make your food healthier and tastier!
- Chili Peppers (Capsaicin)
Nowadays, there are numerous varieties of hot peppers, but they all originate from one small shrub called Capsicum annum, originally growing in the tropical areas of the Americas. The chemical compound responsible for making pepper hot is capsaicin, and the same element is very helpful in reducing inflammation! Many varities of peppers are now known to the world, some come in the category of hottest peppers. One of them is ghost pepper.
Capsaicin can be found in chili pepper, including very popular ones such as cayenne or jalapeño. In your cooking, you can use fresh or powdered peppers in many different foods (even desserts!). Apart from that, it is also possible to find supplements containing not only capsaicin but also other herbs with anti-inflammatory properties.
- Black Pepper
If chili peppers are too hot for you, we have great news for you – the milder black pepper helps to reduce inflammation as well! It’s actually often referred to as the “King of Spices,” as it has not only anti-inflammatory but also antibacterial and antioxidant properties. It is recommended to combine it with turmeric, as it makes it easier for your body to absorb curcumin.
Interestingly enough, ginger is more effective in treating inflammation and pain than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. On top of that, it stops a few genes involved in an inflammatory response from activating. It is also worth knowing that ginger is often applied to minimize osteoarthritic pain and treat heart disease. Apart from that, it has been used for centuries in traditional and alternative forms of medicine to reduce nausea, help fight the flu and common cold, or improve digestion, to mention but a few. This spice is very versatile and tastes excellent in savory dishes and juices, teas, and desserts.
Garlic contains a really powerful compound called allicin that can even reduce the probability of getting heart disease. Apart from that, if you eat garlic on a regular basis, it can be helpful in regulating your high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels. It has also been scientifically confirmed that it proves great in treating chronic inflammation, such as arthritis. However, you need to keep in mind that to get all the health benefits, you should chop or crush the clove because only in this way allicin can be formed in the garlic cells.
You probably know cinnamon as a popular addition to muffins, pastries, and desserts in general. Apart from tasting delicious, it also provides you with great anti-inflammatory benefits and helps you to fight infections, treat headache and pain, and recover from tissue damage. It is worth including cinnamon in your daily diet, as it can weaken systemic inflammation and reduce the risk of various diseases to a large extent.
However, take into consideration that only Ceylon cinnamon is the true one. Most other variants do not have such a positive effect on health and can even do some harm if they are used in huge amounts. To add Ceylon cinnamon to your daily diet easily, you can sprinkle it in your tea or coffee. It will not only add outstanding flavor but also ease the swelling.
Rosemary is also one of the anti-inflammatory herbs and spices that can help you boost your health. Its most significant property is the ability to enhance the activity of superoxide dismutase, which is an enzyme responsible for removing superoxide, the potent free radical that appears along with chronic inflammation. It works most efficiently when the herb is cooked, so it is recommended to add it to roasted meat, vegetables, or other cooked dishes. It will not only work great for your body but also improve the taste of your meal significantly!
Nonetheless, uncooked rosemary also has some benefits due to its flavonoids, including apigenin, which is a very important compound that helps to stop the development of pancreatic cancer cells, and diosmin, preventing hemorrhoids.
It is a fantastic idea to add some rosemary to the oil when you are going to cook something in it. In this way, the antioxidants can help preserve it from oxidation.
- White Willow Bark
Even in ancient Egypt and Rome, white willow tree bark was used to treat inflammation and pain. Nowadays, it is often considered to be a great alternative for aspirin, as it has a similar impact but with fewer side effects. Usually, white willow bark should be dosed in 240 mg per day for ongoing inflammatory problems. What is more, you can find blends of it with other herbs that prove excellent for a headache or another acute event.
Cloves are famous for their expectorant properties, and they can help with nausea, upset stomach, and throat or mouth inflammation. Sometimes clove oil is used directly on the gums to ease toothache or the pain associated with dental work. Thanks to this herb, you can also get rid of the problems with bad breath.
You can easily include powdered or whole dried flower buds in savory dishes, like stews and soups, or in pastry. Moreover, you can apply whole cloves to enhance both nutrition and flavor in hot drinks, like cider, tea, coffee, or mulled wine.
Sage contains carnosol and carnosic acid – potent anti-inflammatory molecules making this herb so full of health benefits and amazing flavor and aroma. It is worth mentioning that sage is studied for its potential properties to improve the treatment of inflammation-based neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s. Moreover, it also shows promise for enhancing concentration and memory, as well as reducing anxiety. Additionally, it has antioxidant properties, so having it regularly may help to avoid cancer.
All in all, there are many herbs and spices that help prevent various diseases and fight arthritis or another form of inflammation, with the eleven mentioned above being just chosen examples. Thanks to the chemical compounds that can be found in turmeric, black pepper, ginger, white willow bark, rosemary, or other spices and herbs, you can naturally stimulate your organism and improve its struggle with an unpleasant condition. In most cases, you can easily use it in various foods or find excellent supplement blends, helping you to get the right dose regularly.
However, keep in mind that such a herbal treatment should be just an addition to your diet, and when you are dealing with chronic inflammation, you should reach for medical advice. You can consult your doctor on what herbs and spices would be the best complementation of the treatment in your case.