7 Natural Supplements & Herbs to Lower Inflammation

7 Natural Supplements & Herbs to Lower Inflammation
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7 Natural Ways to Lower Inflammation

There are many natural ways to lower inflammation and pain in the body. Some of these work in similar ways to the drug prednisone, but shouldn’t be used as an alternative if your doctor prescribes prednisone.

This list is not comprehensive, but it’s a breakdown of the top natural anti-inflammatories.

Boswellia, also known as frankincense, is an extract taken from the Boswellia serrata tree. It reduces inflammation by blocking 5-lipoxygenase, similar to corticosteroids. Boswellia has been used in traditional medicine to treat a wide range of disease that include chronic inflammation [1, 2].

In a meta-analysis of 260 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, 400 mg of boswellia extract reduced swelling, pain, and stiffness. Patients were also able to reduce painkiller (NSAIDs) intake and required fewer emergency treatments [3].

In 102 patients with Crohn’s disease, 400 mg of boswellia extract was comparable to the standard treatment for IBD (mesalazine) [2].

70% of patients with asthma showed improvement when taking 300 mg boswellia extract, compared to only 27% in the placebo group [4].

Boswellia is available as a capsule, tablet, or its bark decoction orally [5].

Boswellia (frankincense) is a tree raisin that naturally reduces inflammation. It can help with rheumatoid arthritis, IBD, asthma, and other inflammatory conditions.

Cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa) is a vine found in tropical areas of South and Central America.

It reduces inflammation similar to prednisone (by inhibiting NF-kB) and blocks other inflammatory compounds (TNF-alpha and IL-1alpha, IL-1beta, IL-17, and IL-4) [6, 7, 8].

In a study of 45 patients with osteoarthritis, cat’s claw reduced pain with no significant side effects [9].

It decreased inflammation and pain in rats with arthritis [10].

Cat’s claw is available as capsules, extracts, tinctures, decoctions, and teas [8].

Cat’s claw reduces inflammation in a similar way as prednisone and helps combat pain and inflammation. It’s available as capsules, tincture, or tea.

Resveratrol is a compound found in many foods, most notably in grape skins and red wine [11].

It reduces inflammation by:

In mice with asthma and airway inflammation, resveratrol decreased airway over-sensitivity, high eosinophils, and mucus production [12].

In rabbits and rats with arthritis, resveratrol decreased cartilage destruction, joint inflammation, swelling, and inflammatory cell infiltration [13, 14].

It improved survival, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, and disease activity in mice with ulcerative colitis [15].

Resveratrol cannot be obtained in therapeutic doses through foods. As a supplement, it is available in creams, tablets, capsules, and tinctures [16].

Resveratrol, which is abundant in grape skin and red wine, can help with a range of inflammatory conditions.

Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapples. It blocks inflammatory compounds during excessive inflammation (COX-2, PGE-2, IL-1beta, INF-alpha, IL-6, and TNF-alpha) [17].

However, bromelain also activates these compounds in a healthy immune response, which makes is an immunomodulator [17]

In 77 patients with rheumatoid or osteoarthritis, bromelain (400 mg) improved overall symptoms, reduced stiffness, and improved physical function [18].

In mice with acute asthma, bromelain decreased eosinophils, leukocytes, and autoimmune response [19].

Bromelain is available as tablets, capsules, creams, powders, and tinctures [20].

Bromelain is an enzyme from pineapple that can silence an over-active inflammatory response, such as in asthma or arthritis.

In two studies of 267 patients with osteoarthritis, ginger extract (250 and 255 mg) reduced knee pain [23, 24].

However, in another study of 75 osteoarthritic patients, 170 mg ginger extract had no benefits compared to placebo [25].

The conflicting results in human studies may be due to different types of ginger extracts used, dosing, and duration of treatment.

You can use fresh or ground ginger in cooking or take a supplement (pills or tinctures) [21].

Ginger may help with pain and inflammation; it has mild effects but acts in a similar way as prednisone. You can use it fresh or ground in cooking or take supplements.

Curcumin is an anti-inflammatory component of turmeric that can improve a range of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

In a study of 89 patients with ulcerative colitis, 1 g of curcumin in addition to typical drugs (sulfasalazine or mesalamine) reduced relapse rates [26].

In 45 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, 500 mg of curcumin improved tenderness, joint swelling, and disease activity better than diclofenac sodium (50 mg) [27].

It improved kidney function in23 patients with lupus and kidney inflammation [28].

Curcumin is available as emulsions, tablets, capsules, powders, nanoparticles, and liposomal encapsulations.

It has limited bioavailability due to poor absorption and rapid breakdown. Combining curcumin and piperine (from black pepper) can increase curcumin’s bioavailability, and many supplements contain both substances [29, 30].

Curcumin the active compound in turmeric that can improve a range of inflammatory diseases. It’s often combined with piperine.

One of the main anti-inflammatory components of green tea is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG).

In an animal study, EGCG blocked neutrophils from traveling to the inflamed sites, blocked the formation of new blood vessels, and stopped lung scarring. In rats with rheumatoid arthritis, green tea extract reduced levels of an inflammatory compound (PGE2) [31, 32].

Although cell studies of EGCG herald its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, the results from human studies are conflicting. The reason could be EGCG’s poor bioavailability and breakdown in the body [33].

EGCG is available as standardized green tea extract capsules, powders, or as green tea. To get the most EGCG out of your green tea, steep in 80°C water for 5-15 min [34].

EGCG from green tea may block inflammation, but our bodies can’t use it well. You can get it by drinking green tea, steeped in 80°C water for 5-15 min.

Boswellia

  • 262 mg of boswellia supplement reduced pain and swelling in hands.
  • Taking boswellia with turmeric reduced arthritic pain with no side effects.

Cat’s Claw

  • 485 mg of cat’s claw supplement was comparable to taking minocycline for rheumatoid arthritis in relieving pain.
  • 500 mg of cat’s claw used in combination with iodoral reduced severe brain inflammation.

Resveratrol

  • Resveratrol improved colon bleeding and inflammation.
  • One user reported severe dizziness when taking resveratrol.
  • One user combines resveratrol and ginger for reducing inflammation.

Bromelain

  • A 67-year-old woman with ulcerative proctitis reported improvement in bowel movement without blood or urgency by taking 2 tablets/day bromelain.
  • Taking 500 mg bromelain twice a day before meals improved digestion and inflammation.
  • Taking 500 mg bromelain 1-3 times a day on an empty stomach improved inflammation and joint pain without any of the side effects associated with NSAIDs or acetaminophen.

Ginger

  • Multiple users report that ginger root extract was useful in treating inflammation and digestive problems such as nausea.
  • Ginger tea was effective in reducing anxiety, improving digestion, and decreasing inflammation.

Curcumin

  • Users report that supplements labeled as “ turmeric root powder” only contained a low percentage of curcumin.
  • A standardized turmeric supplement that contains 95% curcumin was effective in relieving joint pain and inflammation.

Green Tea (EGCG)

User experiences with natural anti-inflammatories are mostly positive, as they were able to relieve various inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.

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