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Finding the Best Natural Anti-Inflammatory Supplements
Inflammation is a healthy short-term response to infection or injury. Acute inflammation allows the body to isolate harmful germs or other threats while summoning the resources necessary to fight infection or other damage to the body. Inflammation is also a part of the allergic response system and the immune system. It protects the body from disease, infection, and injury.
How does inflammation harm us?
Inflammation becomes harmful when it’s chronic and is implicated in many diseases. It is a part of many auto-immune disorders, like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as a significant complicating factor of diabetes and cardiac disease. There is early but convincing evidence that the inflammation of tiny blood vessels in the brain may contribute to mental illness, particularly depression.
Although acute inflammation is a helpful reaction of the body to injury, chronic inflammation causes lasting harm. Most of us suffer from too much inflammation over too long a period. Chronic inflammation contributes to the severity of all major illnesses, in some cases being the primary cause of the illness or its severity. Just a few of the illnesses made worse by inflammation include:
- Heart disease and coronary artery disease. About one out of every three deaths per year in the USA result from cardiovascular diseases.
- Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Around 43 million Americans suffer from arthritis, which is caused by an aggressive inflammatory response. Rheumatoid arthritis results from the immune system attacking the capsules surrounding joints, which leads to severe inflammation.
- There is strong evidence that chronic inflammation affects the way critical brain chemicals work, worsening depression and reducing the effectiveness of anti-depressants.
- Metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome, closely associated with diabetes, is associated with chronic inflammation. It results in a high portion of belly fat and insulin resistance.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) results from serious inflammation of the lungs. It’s the 3rd leading cause of death in the world. Although it’s most often associated with smoking, not everyone who smokes will develop COPD; likewise, many people develop COPD and don’t have a history of smoking.
- Type II diabetes is greatly affected by inflammation. Inflammation in diabetes causes a vicious cycle. Mild insulin resistance leads to an increase in body fat and metabolic syndrome. The body produces cytokines in response to excess body fat, which accumulates in fatty tissues. As fatty tissues increase, insulin resistance grows and the cycle repeats.
The signs of inflammation, such as pain, redness, and swelling, usually show up before an infection reveals visible signs, like pus.
Our bodies produce many inflammatory chemicals, including cytokines. Cytokines are a kind of small protein the cells of the body use to signal each other. Although they’re part of the immune system, some cytokines cause inflammation, while others tend to reduce inflammation. Some natural supplements reduce inflammation by changing the way inflammatory cytokines work.
Prostaglandins are also a part of the inflammatory response. Unlike cytokines, they’re produced at the site of an injury or infection. They’re essential for the healing of wounds, but in excess, they can lead to chronic inflammation. Medications called COX2 inhibitors are commonly referred to as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. Although these medications, like Celebrex, are useful in reducing inflammation, they have serious side effects.
What are the best natural anti-inflammatory supplements?
At this point, it’s obvious that chronic inflammation is a serious health risk and must be controlled. You’ll find many prescription and over-the-counter medications that treat inflammation, but they all come with significant side effects. As well, drugs like NSAIDs are not meant to be taken daily over long periods. They can cause stomach problems, including ulceration.
The best natural anti-inflammatory supplements have long been recognized as helpful for reducing the swelling and pain associated with inflammation. Many natural anti-inflammatory supplements have fewer side effects than prescription medications.
Perhaps the best natural supplement for inflammation, fish oil is rich with omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids have a powerful impact on overall health and wellness, but it’s their inflammation-fighting effects that truly stand out. Omega-3s fight depression that may be caused by depression. Omega-3 fatty acids also decrease inflammation typically associated with cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil have even been shown to reduce inflammation associated with obesity.
To be helpful, supplements must contain types of omega-3s eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Studies on the effectiveness of DHA show that it reduces the levels of inflammatory cytokines throughout the body, but particularly in the gut and muscles.
What’s a healthy dosage? 1–1.5 grams of omega-3s from EPA and DHA per day, or as directed by a physician. Fish oil supplements may come with additives that prevent “fish” aftertaste. Don’t take fish oil if you take aspirin daily or blood thinners unless directed by your physician to do so.
Find fish oil supplements here.
Curcumin also vies for the top spot as the best anti-inflammatory natural supplement. It is the chemical component of the spice turmeric that gives it a bright yellow-orange color. It’s an inflammation fighter, able to decrease inflammation in heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, and cancer. Curcumin seems to work by easing oxidative stress in inflamed tissues. Curcumin improves the symptoms and reduces the severe inflammation of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
What’s a healthy dosage? A person will need to take 600 mg to 1200 mg three times a day for the inflammation caused by osteoarthritis. SAMe has been found to be as effective as celecoxib (Celebrex) in professional studies. Note that SAMe does not work immediately. It can take about a month of daily doses of SAMe to get a full response.
Don’t take SAMe without consulting with your doctor first. It’s known to interact with many common drugs.
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Boswellia is famed for reducing pain and inflammation. It’s been associated with natural medicine for thousands of years. Boswellia is especially effective for treating inflammatory diseases, like osteoarthritis. There’s evidence that it works even better in combination with curcumin. is typically safe, with few side effects. However, some people report stomach pain and gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea.
What’s a healthy dosage? 300 to 500 mg, up to 3 times a day.
Find Boswellia supplements here.
Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant the body makes to break down food, in addition to other tasks. Alpha-lipoic acid works as an anti-oxidant, helping restore healthy functioning to cells that are under stress. It’s heavily used by the body in producing energy.
Alpha-lipoic acid reduces inflammation associated with heart disease and obesity. Several studies also show that it reduces the inflammation linked to obesity-related cancer, liver disease, diabetic neuropathy, and heart disease.
What’s a healthy dosage? 300 to 600 mg a day.
Find alpha-lipoic acid supplements here.
Ginger root contains a complex compound, gingerol, that’s been used as a medication for thousands of years. Ginger is noted for its ability to reduce inflammation, particularly in joints. Not only does ginger reduce the inflammation of osteoarthritis, but it also reduces the pain associated with it. Ginger has been found to be as effective as ibuprofen for controlling inflammation in osteoarthritis.
What’s a healthy dosage? Ginger is available in many forms. Typically, 500 to 1500 mg of ginger per day in capsule form is recommended for inflammation.
Finger ginger root supplements here.
Quercetin is a flavonoid, a kind of pigment found in plants. It neutralizes free radicals, a group of metabolic by-products that damage cells. Quercetin reduces the amount of histamine released by the body. Histamine is a major inflammatory chemical responsible for many symptoms of chronic inflammation. It’s also a primary contributor to allergies. Quercetin reduces the effects of histamine, causing a reduction in inflammation.
What’s a healthy dosage? 500–1,000 mg per day.
Resveratrol is a polyphenol, an organic compound that works as a powerful antioxidant. It’s found in blueberries and grapes and is plentiful in red wine. Resveratrol may decrease the inflammation found in insulin resistance, heart disease, and gastritis. Resveratrol has also lowered inflammation, blood sugar and triglycerides in people with obesity. In another study, resveratrol supplements lowered inflammatory markers, triglycerides, and blood sugar in people with obesity. People taking blood thinners should not take resveratrol.
What’s a healthy dosage? 150–500 mg per day is a good starting dosage.
Legal Disclaimer: Statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition