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For centuries, cultures from around the world have been using herbs, plants, and spices to combat inflammation to live happier, healthier lives. Holistic remedies don't always live up the claims they so often make, but thanks to the leaps and bounds we've made in our understanding of human health, we're learning that the benefits can be more powerful than our ancient ancestors even realized.
If you've ever wanted to reclaim your health and support your natural ability to fight inflammation, here's a list of some of the best inflammation-fighting herbs and supplements that you can buy, and how to leverage them for optimal health.
Curcumin, derived from the golden orange root turmeric (curcuma longa), is constantly surprising researchers by its tonic-like effect on human health.
There are lots of studies that show curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory compound. It shows special efficacy in treating arthritis and osteoarthritis.
It’s generally not recommended to consume more than 3 mg/kg of curcumin for your body weight. If you’re using raw turmeric, this can be difficult to calculate - you’ll have to figure out how much curcumin is in your turmeric, and this can vary based on the way that it’s processed and grown.
Common doses of curcumin range from half a gram to 7.5 grams daily, split into 3 or 4 doses. Curcumin is about 10 times more potent and effective when it’s consumed with black pepper (thanks to a compound called piperine) or a healthy fat source.
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Aside from being a fantastic addition to a wide range of meals, ginger packs a lot of health benefits. Beyond inflammation, it can improve metabolism and help fight oxidative damage.
The best way to consume ginger is, of course, through eating the raw root. It’s widely available in powder and supplement form, as well.
Research suggests that there are two components present in ginger that are primarily responsible for its ability to fight inflammation, gingerol and zingerone. They have been linked to reductions in many forms of inflammation, from colitis to kidney damage to diabetes and cancer.
2 to 3 grams of powdered ginger is recommended for people hoping to treat inflammation. It’s not recommended to take more than four grams of fresh ginger a day because this might cause heartburn or digestive issues.
Spirulina is a blue-green algae and potent antioxidant.
If you’ve been following the hype of spirulina, then you’ve probably heard that its health benefits cover pretty much everything under the spectrum. Naturally, one of the benefits of this all-encompassing herb includes its ability to fight inflammation.
In a study done on people with diabetes, people given eight grams of spirulina daily showed marked decreases in malondialdehyde (MDA). MDA is a compound produced by our body that reflects your immune system’s inflammatory response; higher levels indicate more inflammation and lower levels indicate less.
Since a lot of the beneficial effects of spirulina are caused by c-phycocyanin, and spirulina is about 20% c-phycocyanin, we can calculate doses that way. Daily doses of spirulina range between one to eight grams daily. Effects can be registered at doses at as little as 2.5 grams a day but shouldn’t exceed more than 12.
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4. Cayenne pepper
Capsaicin, the spicy compound that makes chili peppers hot, is actually a potent anti-inflammatory compound. Many topical pain relief creams actually use capsaicin because it inhibits the production of substance P, a compound your brain produces that increases sensitivity to pain.
Cayenne pepper also contains a wide range of flavonoids and other phytonutrients. These are antioxidants that work at a cellular level and actually disarm free radicals that can lead to cellular inflammation.
The University of Maryland’s Medical Center recommends taking between 30 and 120 mg of cayenne pepper three times daily to experience beneficial effects.
Cinnamon. As delicious as it is nutritious. Many of the phytonutrients present in raw cinnamon are potent anti-inflammatory compounds. Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants and flavanols that are both known for having a positive impact on inflammation in the human body.
One of the main components of cinnamon, cinnamaldehyde, is known to inhibit certain proteins that are factors in causing inflammation, as well as preventing blood from clumping which further helps protect against other inflammation related diseases.
You can begin to notice the benefits of cinnamon when taking between 1-1.5grams a day. Too much more than this can lead to adverse reactions or indigestion.
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Cloves contain one compound that is particularly potent when compared to other components of the herb. This compound is eugenol, and it acts in a very similar manner to cinnamaldehyde.
Eugenol works partially by inhibiting an enzyme that’s responsible for causing an inflammatory response. This is actually the same enzyme that non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs target, making cloves and clove oil one of the most potent natural anti-inflammatories that you can find.
Dosages of clove oil can be effective at reducing inflammation topically with as little as a single drop.
The two primary compounds in sage, carnosic acid and carnosol, give sage its unique flavor and are responsible for many of its health benefits. Sage increases the activity of superoxide dismutase, which is responsible for metabolizing and eliminating superoxide from the body. Superoxide is a free radical that is known to cause considerable inflammation in the human body.
Dried sage leaf has been indicated to reveal benefits at doses between 300 and 600 mg, but regular, fresh leaf should be taken in doses between four and six grams daily.
Rosemary contains some of the same compound as sage, which explains the similarities between their flavors. Rosemary also contains its own unique compound called rosmarinic acid, commonly used as a natural preservative and stabilizer in health supplements.
Like sage, rosemary impacts the body's production of superoxide dismutase. Its effects are more potent if you cook with the herbs, which helps to release some of the phytonutrients. However, Rosemary will still benefit you. Apigenin and diosmin are two compounds present in rosemary that act by preventing your body from producing prostaglandins, which are responsible for causing an inflammation reaction throughout your body.
Fresh rosemary leaf can be used at doses between four and six grams a day to help treat symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. The essential oil can be used in doses of 0.1 to 1 ml to treat similar symptoms.
9. Black pepper
You know that curcumin is much more potent when taken with black pepper, but the benefits are amplified when you recognize that black pepper carries its own anti-inflammatory benefits. Piperine, the compound responsible for making pepper hot, is known to help ease symptoms of various forms of arthritis.
Dosages are typically measured by their ability to improve the absorption of other compounds like curcumin, and for this, it’s generally believed that you need about 20 mg of the active component, piperine. This is probably a similar dosage that’s needed to provide some degree of inflammation relief on its own, as well.
10. Green tea
Green tea has been regarded for a while for having a wide range of health benefits. Recently, it has been shown to be effective at reducing inflammation for arthritis sufferers.
A couple cups of green tea a day are enough to provide mild relief from symptoms of inflammation.
There are many anti-inflammatory herbs out there and it’s important to know which ones are effective and what doses you should take for the best benefit.