We have known for some time that inflammation is linked to allergic diseases such as asthma, arthritis and even Crohn’s disease, but now some believe that even things like cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), cholesterol levels and Parkinson’s disease may be linked to chronic inflammation.
But regardless of the disease, or even the root cause, modern medicine looks primarily to drugs to treat the symptoms.
The problem with this is two-fold.
First, by masking the symptoms of disease, we are never really getting to the real issue, and the disease continues to degrade your body.
And secondly, these drugs, in almost all cases, actually contribute to further inflammation, hence more health issues like heart attack and stroke. (1)
The only real answer is to actually find and treat the underlying cause—which more and more researchers are finding is inflammation. The other key is to treat it in a way that avoids dangerous medications that only complicate the issue. Luckily, nature has this covered.
Here are 10 of the best herbs to treat and prevent inflammation naturally.
Turmeric is quickly becoming one of, if not, the most, beneficial herbs on the market. While it has a distinct peppery, slightly bitter taste, it actually resembles ginger root.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric responsible for its powerful therapeutic properties, has been shown in studies to have over 600 potentially therapeutic activities, one of which is an extremely powerful anti-inflammatory. (2)
Curcumin helps remove free radicals from your body that cause cellular damage and ultimately, inflammation. Turmeric is also shown in studies to lower two types of enzymes known to cause inflammation. (3)
2. Black Pepper
Black pepper is something most of us probably use every day without even thinking about its healing properties. It definitely has a distinct, rich flavor that has a real bite to it, which is due to something called piperine. And it’s this piperine that is responsible for black pepper’s powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Studies show that piperine works by preventing the expression of a specific gene associated with arthritis and even the spread of cancer. (4)
Piperine has also been shown to protect against oxidative damage by inhibiting free radicals and any resulting inflammation. And when it comes to the pain caused by inflammation, piperine is also known to significantly reduce the “perception of pain” as well as the symptoms of arthritis while also decreasing inflammation in joints. (5)
You may be aware that cayenne pepper contains capsaicin—the nutrient that gives it its spicy flavor. What you may not know, however, is that when your body comes in contact with capsaicin, it causes the tissues to release a substance called P, which your body typically releases when damaged. What is interesting is that capsaicin only tricks your body into thinking the tissues are damaged.
When a particular area of your body experiences consistent exposure to capsaicin, like your tongue for instance, it will deplete that area of P, which essentially increases its tolerance to capsaicin. This is why people who regularly eat hot peppers do not feel the “burn” after a while.
This same action is why capsaicin is used in cream form to treat pain from arthritis and other inflammatory joint issues. By reducing substance P in one area of your body, it also desensitizes it to pain. And while it may seem counter-intuitive because cayenne is so hot, it can actually protect your stomach from ulcers, even those caused by dangerous anti-inflammatory drugs.(6)
Ginger contains gingerols, which are very potent anti-inflammatory compounds that help to relieving swelling and other inflammation. Because of this, ginger has been used to not only relieve pain but also improve mobility in people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. (7)
Other studies show that gingerol can significantly inhibit the production of nitric oxide, which transforms into a highly damaging free radical called peroxynitrite that causes inflammation. (8) Ginger is also highly effective for nausea and upset stomach that is often causes by NSAIDs. (9)
Cardamon is actually part of the ginger family. Ancient healers used this pungent spice to reduce inflammation for centuries. Today, cardamom is still used for muscle and joint pain in Ayurvedic medicine, because of its anti-inflammatory properties. (10)
Pomegranate juice is growing in popularity for good reason. Pomegranates have been shown to have numerous health benefits, including reducing inflammation and damage caused by any oxidative stress from free radicals. (11)
Pomegranates get their medicinal properties from flavonols, which are potent antioxidants. In fact, according to one study, drinking pomegranate juice for one year, can not only decrease any oxidative stress and overall inflammation but it can also reduce the incidence of infections for people who are receiving dialysis.
Further studies show that pomegranate juice may be helpful for reducing the inflammation caused by osteoarthritis and even prevent cartilage loss. (12)
7. Green tea
Green tea contains powerful polyphenols, which are micronutrients that are renowned for their anti-inflammatory effects, among other things that include potent anti-cancer effects. (13) The key polyphenol in green tea is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).
Typical non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs work because they are able to prevent protein denaturation—when the protein in cells loses its three dimensional structure and thus its ability to function.
Studies show green tea has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect against the denaturation of protein. Other studies show green tea can be helpful for inflammation cause by Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis—two forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). (14)
Further, studies reveal that green tea may help by reducing inflammation and the breakdown of cartilage in cases of arthritis. (15)
Green tea has even been successfully studied as an agent to reduce ocular inflammation.
Chamomile is widely recognized as a calming agent. But it was actually used for centuries as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, mild astringent among other things. (16) The entire chamomile plant is used in herbal medicine.
The flowers, for instance, are widely used alone, or combined with crushed poppy-heads in a poultice for inflammatory pain or nerve pain, as well as in cases of external swelling, including swelling associated with underlying infection or abscesses.
The whole plant is often used in creams used externally in cases of toothache, earache, nerve pain and in cases of external swelling. (17)
You can also use chamomile added to you bath for soothing inflammation.
Even as a tea infusion, chamomile can be used as a gargle for inflammation in your mouth and throat. (18)
According to studies, chamomile flowers contain 1–2 percent volatile oils, including alpha-bisabolol, alpha-bisabolol oxides A & B, and matricin, which is typically converted to chamazulene and other flavonoids that give this herb its anti-inflammatory properties. (19,20,21)
Researchers have also shown that the flavonoids and essential oils in chamomile, penetrate deep into the many layers below your skin’s surface, which is why it is such a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. (22)
The aloe vera plant is an ancient plant that grows wild in most tropical climates around the world, It is renowned for its effectiveness on burns as it not only soothes the skin but can also reduce inflammation. (23)
One study through the University of Maryland Medical Center, actually shows that using pure (97.5 percent) aloe vera gel for inflammation on the skin was as effective as 1 percent hydrocortisone cream. (24)
10. Celery seed
Celery seed is another herb that has been used for its medicinal properties for thousands of years in the Eastern world. Besides it powerful anti-inflammatory properties, celery seed is also known to help treat arthritis and gout, reduce muscle spasms, calm the nerves and lower blood pressure. It is also a wonderful diuretic. (25)