5 Natural Anti-Inflammatory Supplements

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Some things just don’t know when to quit: past-their-prime sitcoms; greedy, ineffectual CEOs; hurricane season, and … inflammation. Yes, inflammation.

In the case of an injury or infection, inflammation is a good thing. It is the body’s effort to repair itself, the process by which white blood cells are rushed to the scene of the crime to begin mitigating damage. But when inflammation doesn’t know when to quit, it can lead to rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and inflammatory bowel diseases as well as other serious health conditions like stroke, high cholesterol, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and more.

Fortunately, there are several ways to dial down the inflammatory response in your body, including the use of these five all-natural anti-inflammatories:

1. Turmeric

A relative of ginger (which also has anti-inflammatory properties), this vividly colored spice is found in everything from yellow mustard to Indian curries. It contains over 24 anti-inflammatory compounds including six COX-2-inhibitors which block enzymes known to create inflammation. It’s proven effective against arthritis, cancer, and especially Alzheimer’s disease; elderly villagers in India who eat the spice daily have been found to have the lowest rate of Alzheimer’s in the world. Aim to get 400 to 600 mg three times daily. Or try a turmeric tea: simmer 1 teaspoon of the spice with four cups of boiling water, strain and sweeten to taste.

2. Fish Oil

All those unfortunate people who were made to drink cod liver oil back in the day might not be receptive to the idea, but fish oil really can help improve your health—and fight inflammation. The magic lies in the oil’s content of Omega-3 fatty acids which can help heal small lesions in blood vessels, preventing an endless cycle of inflammation. The oil has also shown positive effects in treating diabetes and cardiovascular disease. If you can’t eat oily, caught-in-the-wild fish 2-3 times per week, supplement with capsules: look to get 2 grams daily and be sure your supplement has both EPA and DHA (two potent Omega-3s). You should also try to get a brand that’s molecularly distilled and free from heavy metals and PCBs.

3. Quercetin

This compound is a plant pigment called a flavonoid. It is responsible for giving to color to such nutritious powerhouses as blueberries, cherries, grapes, leafy green vegetables, apples and more. Its anti-inflammatory action is believed to occur because it can inhibit the effects of inflammation-producing enzymes and also block the release of histamine in the body—making it worth a try to combat allergy and asthma symptoms. A dosage of 400-500 mg three times a day is the typical clinical amount.

4. Resveratrol

Red wine lovers take note! Resveratrol, a compound found in the beverage (and blueberries, cranberries, peanuts and obviously, grapes), has been proven to reduce inflammation as reported in a 2010 study published in the “Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.” The study used a supplement known as polygonum cuspidatum (PCE), derived from an invasive flowering plant known as Japanese knotweed, which contained 40 mg of resveratrol. At the end of six weeks, study participants had a reduction in three major pro-inflammatory molecules. The compound has also been shown to have anti-cancer properties and significant benefits for the cardiovascular system. Although you can get resveratrol in a glass of red wine, you’d have to drink 82 glasses to get to the 40 mg per day used in the study, so it’s probably best to use a supplement!

5. Bromelain

Found in pineapples, bromelain is what’s known as a proteolytic enzyme which means that it can break down protein. It is, in fact, sometimes used as a meat tenderizer. The compound is also believed to have anti-inflammatory properties. A 2005 study published in “Cell Immunol” showed that bromelain exerted anti-inflammatory effects in the airways, thus helping to alleviate asthma symptoms. In a later study published in “Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology,” subjects taking bromelain saw chronic hip pain diminish as much as those taking an anti-inflammatory drug. It is believed to work by inhibiting the development of inflammatory prostaglandins, hormone-like substances found in the body. For general health, the recommended dosage is 80-320 mg two to three times per day. For injuries, the dosage can be raised to 500 mg four times a day. And the amount for arthritis relief is 500-2000 mg divided into two daily dosages. A pleasant side-effect is that bromelain can also improve digestion.

Michael FrancoMore from this Author

Michael Franco has been writing professionally since 1990, when he joined Reader’s Digest as a junior copywriter. His work has appeared in “Islands” Magazine, “Time Out Singapore” and on numerous travel websites such as i-escape.com and nineMSN for whom he was the Singapore “Insider.” He has also written “Be Here Now: Vieques,” a guidebook to the tiny Caribbean island on which he lived for two years with his wife and giant poodle. Franco is the About.com guide to Bed & Breakfasts, a position he earned thanks to the five years he owned the Churchtown Inn Bed & Breakfast in Lancaster County PA’s Amish country and is currently the owner and co-creator of Musewear Flip Flops, a line of Brazilian-made flip flops featuring wise words. He holds a master of arts in Creative Writing.

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