Inflammation is a natural immune response. It can cause swelling, redness and pain whenever the body deals with irritation, infection or injury. But when inflammation becomes chronic, it can result in conditions that affect a person’s quality of life, such as arthritis.
You can keep inflammation in check by taking natural supplements. Here are eight natural compounds and herbs that can help your body fight pain and inflammation, as well as prevent some of the long-term complications of chronic inflammation.
If you aren’t a fan of hot peppers, here’s a good reason why you should still eat them: Research shows that capsaicin, the compound responsible for hot peppers’ signature heat, can help reduce nerve and muscular pain, thanks to a key component called substance P. Capsaicin can also reduce inflammation, which may help relieve the symptoms of many forms of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Capsaicin can be used as a topical cream or taken as a supplement. The compound can irritate the eyes and skin, so make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after use.
2. Cat’s claw
Cat’s claw is a traditional medicine that has been used for centuries in South America. The bark and root of cat’s claw are used to treat many conditions, including infections and inflammation.
Research shows that cat’s claw can reduce pain and stiffness in the joints of people with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Because of these effects, cat’s claw can also reduce the need for pain medications.
The two most common varieties of cat’s claw are Uncaria tomentosa and U. guianensis. These herbs can be consumed as tea or taken as a supplement.
You may have heard of turmeric, a pungent spice well-known for its many health benefits. These benefits can be traced back to its active ingredient, curcumin.
Curcumin supplements can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain. They can also help lower one’s risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer.
Frankincense, or the dried resinous sap of the Boswellia sacra tree, has been reported to relieve inflammation and pain. In fact, it can help reduce cartilage loss in people with osteoarthritis and even reverse its symptoms.
You can combine frankincense with curcumin for a potent natural remedy for inflammation. According to research, people can tolerate this combination better than diclofenac, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) typically used for pain and inflammatory diseases.
5. Green tea
Green tea possesses powerful anti-inflammatory properties due to its abundance of antioxidants called polyphenols. Green tea has been shown to help slow cartilage loss and reduce the symptoms of arthritis. Green tea can also help treat other inflammatory conditions like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and inflammatory bowel disease.
You can brew green tea leaves for a potent herbal drink or take green tea supplements.
6. Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are among the most potent anti-inflammatory agents found in food. They can be taken as a supplement or consumed through foods like salmon, mackerel and other fatty fish; cod liver oil; oysters; and seeds like flax seeds and chia seeds. (Related: Omega-3 supplements proven to be powerful medicine by drastically reducing CXCL-10 inflammation factors across the body.)
S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e) is a substance that’s naturally produced by the body. Research shows that SAM-e is as effective as NSAIDs at relieving pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
The recommended dosage of SAM-e for people with osteoarthritis is 600 to 1,200 mg daily. At higher doses, SAM-e may cause vomiting, diarrhea, gas and nausea.
Research suggests that zinc can help reduce oxidative stress, which triggers inflammation. Zinc deficiency has also been linked to inflammation, pain and a higher risk of arthritis.
The recommended dosage of zinc supplements is 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women daily. Do not take more than the recommended dosage to avoid adverse effects.
There is quite a bit of scientific evidence supporting the potency and efficacy of natural remedies such as the supplements discussed above. That said, if you are taking prescription medications, it is best to consult your natural health practitioner first before trying out any new treatment.