What Is Inflammation, and Why Does It Occur?
There are many causes of inflammation, but the root cause is always injury or infection. When tissues are injured, they release chemicals that cause inflammation. Infections also trigger inflammation as part of the body’s immune response.
Inflammation is often associated with pain, swelling, redness, and warmth. It can occur in any part of the body and can last for a short or long time. Some types of inflammation are more serious than others and can lead to health problems if not treated.
In short, inflammation is a natural and necessary process that helps protect our bodies against infection and injury. However, when it occurs unnecessarily or becomes chronic, it can lead to a wide range of health problems.
Arthritis is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects many individuals. There are different types of arthritis, but all involve inflammation in the joints. In some cases, the inflammation can damage the joint and cause pain, stiffness, and loss of mobility.
Painkillers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Advil and Ibuprofen, various ointments and creams, and corticosteroids are either taken orally or injected directly into the afflicted joint and all used in arthritis and similar treatments. Some of these therapies have harmful side effects that make them poor choices for particular people.
For this reason, many individuals are turning to natural remedies to control inflammation. This could be in conjunction with mainstream therapies or as a replacement for them.
What Are My Options?
There are many natural options for reducing inflammation. Some people swear by green tea, while others prefer white willow bark or turmeric. Some find that supplements like CBD or fish oil help to reduce inflammation.
Below are some of the most common natural anti-inflammatories:
Cat’s Claw (Uncaria Tomentosa)
Cat’s claw is a vine that grows in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest, and the bark and root of the plant are used to make medicine. It derives its name from the sharp spines found on the vine, which look like a cat’s claws.
Cat’s claw has been used for centuries to treat a variety of health problems, including inflammation. It contains several active ingredients that are believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, including alkaloids, flavonoids, proanthocyanidins, sterols, and tannins.
Cat’s claw is thought to be particularly effective at inhibiting the formation of TNF (tumor necrosis factor), an inflammatory chemical released by the body. In addition, it may also aid in the prevention of gastrointestinal irritation. Typically Cat’s claw is available as a tea or in capsules.
CBD is a compound found in the cannabis plant with many beneficial properties, including anti-inflammatory effects. CBD does not cause the intoxicating high associated with marijuana because it does not contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive compound in cannabis.
CBD is believed to be effective at reducing inflammation in a number of different ways. It inhibits the production of cytokines, molecules that play a role in inflammation, and it blocks the activation of receptors that are involved in the inflammatory process. CBD is also effective at suppressing inflammation in brain cells, which can help to reduce the pain and swelling associated with conditions like arthritis.
CBD is available in various forms, including tinctures, edibles, capsules, and topical ointments. Different products have varying potency levels and effects, so individuals will often need to test several before finding the ideal one for them and their particular condition.
Chilli Pepper (Capsaicin)
Chilli peppers get their heat from capsaicin, a compound responsible for the fruit’s anti-inflammatory properties. The chemical compound capsaicin is a highly effective local anesthetic that targets and degenerates the capsaicin-sensitive nerve endings.
When capsaicin comes into contact with the digestive tract or skin, it can cause burning, but it is seldom consumed alone since it is used for medicinal purposes. It’s generally mixed with other natural components used for anti-inflammation because of the burning sensation caused by capsaicin.
Topical capsaicin creams and ointments are available over the counter and can be effective at reducing inflammation and pain when used regularly.
Fish Oil (Omega -3 – Essential Fatty Acids)
Fish oil is a source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are believed to have anti-inflammatory properties. The fatty acids in the fish oil help decrease the production of inflammatory chemicals like cytokines and prostaglandins.
Fish oil has been found to be more effective than traditional pharmaceuticals in treating arthritis. In fact, a study published recently discovered that 59% of persons taking NSAIDs for lumbar disc disease could substitute those drugs with fish oil as a natural alternative and achieve the same outcomes.
You can purchase fish oil as capsules and in liquid form. Choosing a high-quality product tested for contaminants like mercury and PCBs is important. Some people find that taking fish oil supplements causes them to suffer from indigestion or a fishy aftertaste.
Frankincense (Boswellia Serrata)
Frankincense is a fragrant resin that has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine to treat a variety of health conditions. It is found in the gum of Boswellia trees and is thought to reduce inflammation.
Boswellia is effective at reducing inflammation in a number of different ways. As it lowers the overall white blood cell count in joint fluid, it’s often used to treat degenerative and inflammatory joint diseases like arthritis. You can find Frankincense available in the form of an extract, capsule, or tincture.
Though it has been long known for its health benefits, it has more recently been discovered that green tea has anti-inflammatory properties. According to researchers, some of the chemicals in green tea may help prevent cartilage deterioration.
Green tea is available in various forms, including loose-leaf, bagged, and capsules. It can be brewed using hot water or made into a cold or iced tea. The suggested dosage is three to four cups per day. Some people find that drinking green tea makes them feel jittery and can cause insomnia or other side effects in some people. There are caffeine-free options available if these are a concern.
Maritime Pine Bark (Pycnogenol)
Pycnogenol is a natural extract derived from the bark of the maritime pine tree. It has been used for centuries to treat a variety of health conditions. Pycnogenol is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent as it contains several active polyphenols, including procyanidins, catechins, phenolic acids, and taxifolin.
Resveratrol is a plant-based compound found in red wine, dark chocolate, Japanese knotweed, and berries. Plants use resveratrol to defend against infection, injury, excess UV radiation, and fungal attack. When humans or animals consume resveratrol, it has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. It’s especially effective at treating arthritic joint pain.
Turmeric is a bright yellow spice that is often used in Indian cuisine. It is made from the dried root of Curcuma longa and is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
According to current research, turmeric has shown promise in treating cystic fibrosis due to its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric inhibits the production of certain enzymes and cytokines that cause inflammation. While research so to date has been primarily limited to animals when combined with its long history of usage in different cultures, it indicates it may be a viable option for treating inflammation.
The body does not absorb curcuminoids well, so it’s essential to take a curcumin supplement formulated to improve absorption. Curcumin is available in the form of a capsule, tablet, or powder. It can also be added to your meals or even drunk as tea.
White Willow Bark (Salix alba)
The bark of the white willow tree has been used for centuries to treat pain and inflammation. White willow bark has been used as a herbal remedy for hundreds of years. It was used to treat pain and inflammation by the ancient Egyptian, Roman, Greek, and Indian civilizations.
The active ingredient in white willow bark is salicin, which is converted into salicylic acid in the body. Salicylic acid is the same active ingredient found in aspirin, but in this case, it is derived from a natural source.
It’s important to speak with your healthcare provider before starting to take white willow bark to ensure there are no interactions with other medications you are taking.
Which Is the Best Choice for Me?
People are increasingly turning to natural treatments due to health concerns or financial factors, and more study is being done looking for non-pharmaceutical options that are good for our bodies and wallets.
Each of these natural inflammatories has its own unique set of benefits. When choosing a supplement, it’s important to select one that is made with high-quality ingredients, and that has been tested for purity and safety. It’s also important to read the label carefully to ensure you are getting the recommended dosage.
It’s important to consult with your doctor to see which one might be the best choice for you. It’s important to understand that some of the natural anti-inflammatories mentioned above could potentially counteract the effectiveness of any other drugs you’re taking or even induce severe adverse effects when combined with other drugs.