When the body comes under attack (from infection, injury, stress …), it initiates the inflammatory process. But when inflammation drags on, our health can suffer, with potentially serious consequences. The good news is there are natural solutions that can help control this chronic inflammation.
This spice with its distinctive yellow colour is also an impressive natural remedy: it fights free radicals, lowers blood pressure … First described by Ayurveda, the traditional Indian system of medicine, its benefits have now been taken up by Western complementary therapies.
Its main active principle is curcumin, which is responsible for the above-mentioned benefits and for its powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Turmeric powder thus protects many key elements of the body against excessive inflammation: the arteries, intestines, pancreas, eyes …
Curcumin also acts against tissue inflammation in general, which can lead to certain forms of cancer (1). The spice has also been shown to have positive effects against chronic inflammation of the joints: a very common problem which is responsible for arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Consuming turmeric helps reduce swelling of the joints and associated paine, with no unwelcome side-effects at recommended doses (2).
In practice: turmeric, with its understated, inoffensive taste, can be sprinkled on everything! On prepared dishes, soups, salads … You can also maximise its effects by taking a dietary supplement that’s highly-concentred in curcumin (Super Curcuma, Natural Curcuma...) These are often paired with black pepper which facilitates absorption.
For arthritis-sufferers, harpagophytum is also a tried and tested remedy. Commonly known as ‘cat’s claw’, this plant grows in dry environments such as deserts and steppes.
It’s rich in harpagoside and procumbide: two iridoid-glycosides (complex molecules composed of both a lipid and carbohydrate part) recognised for their anti-inflammatory effects. The benefits of these compounds rival those of drug treatments when it comes to reducing the pain of arthritis (3). Other studies have shown that harpagophytum reduces joint stiffness and improves mobility, especially in the case of lower back problems (4).
In practice: harpagophytum is available as a dietary supplement (Super Harpagophytum). A period of two to three months’ supplementation is recommended in order to benefit from this plant’s effects.
White willow bark contains a high level of salicin, the basis of one of the most common pain-relief medications: aspirin. White willow is actually able to block the inflammatory process and its accompanying symptoms such as pain and swelling (5).
It also has the advantage of containing flavonoids and polyphenols which boost its anti-inflammatory activity (6). And few side-effects are associated with white willow, making it a powerful therapeutic ally in the fight against chronic inflammation. It effects have been demonstrated against migraine, arthritis, lower back pain …
In practice: supplements concentrated in salicin are available (one such product is Willow Bark Extract). Note : if you’re allergic to aspirin you should avoid any supplement that contains salicin.
We use it grated in cooking, infused in tea … ginger’s taste qualities are well-known. But it’s also a powerful anti-inflammatory: indeed, it’s been used as such for many years in traditional Chinese medicine. The gingerols in ginger help block the production of prostaglandins (7), which are among the main compounds responsible for triggering inflammation in the body, particularly in the case of endometriosis and the pain associated with it.
Ginger has demonstrated powerful effects against period pains, while remaining very safe for the body (8). Studies have also shown its efficacy in relieving inflammation in chronic inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis …) (9) This plant works at a deep level to fight chronic inflammatory processes.
In practice: fresh or dried, ginger can be added to everyday dishes. Even more effective is to take concentrated ginger in the form of a dietary supplement (Super Gingerols).
Cloves, the well-known winter spice, is particularly rich in eugenol. This highly-aromatic compound acts at many levels against inflammation. Its effects have been shown against asthma and other inflammatory lung diseases, as well as in cancer models(10). Cloves’ comprehensive action makes it a spice that should be recommended for chronic inflammation in general.
In practice: cloves are, of course, a cooking ingredient, but they can also be used as an essential oil. Note: eugenol is an allergenic compound and essential oils should always be used with caution. Be sure to seek advice from your pharmacist. You can also take supplements containing eugenol.
Chronic inflammation has significant adverse effects on the body. Phytotherapy can help maintain good health, as can good lifestyle habits such as a balanced diet and regular exercise. More than enough to fight inflammation naturally and effectively!
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