Chronic inflammation and pain can be utterly debilitating and lead to symptoms such as arthritis, eczema, psoriasis, ankylosing spondylitis, fibromyalgia,rheumatoid arthritis, and many more. Many anti-inflammatory herbs can be found in the kitchen and can be used to reduce pain and swelling naturally and inexpensively. These anti-inflammatory herbs may act more slowly than a pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory, but they have no side-effects.
• Cayenne Pepper: This is commonly found in the pantry but many do not know that it can be used internally and externally with good results. Cayenne stimulates circulation and blood flow to the peripheral areas of the body, thus bringing blood and nutrients to the affected areas to speed healing. Using cayenne pepper topically on muscles and joints as a pain-reliever is helpful in reducing pain and inflammation because of a compound called capsaicin. Capsaicin causes nerve endings to release a chemical known as substance P. Substance P transmits pain signals from the body back to the brain. When the nerve endings have lost all of their substance P, no pain signals can be transmitted to the brain.
• Boswellia: Boswellia has the ability to counteract inflammation. It has a history of successful use in India for arthritis. Other inflammatory conditions like asthma and ulcerative colitis have also shown improvement when treated with boswellia. Asthma sufferers have noted less attacks and better air movement through the lungs. It is taken internally and usually at a dosage of 300mg three times a day.
• Cat’s Claw: Cat’s claw is a herb that can be taken in capsule, tea or tincture form. It is known as an adaptogen because it adapts according to the body’s needs. It can either boost or dampen the immune response. A heightened immune response, over the long term, can lead to chronic inflammation and the associated conditions. Cat’s claw is useful in treating painful conditions like arthritis and may reduce swelling by up to half, because active compounds within it may have a steroid-like action. It is essentially an anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-oxidant, and anti-fungal herb.
• Devil’s Claw: Devil’s claw is a herb that is widely used to treat pain from osteo and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as tendon and muscular pains. It may be just as effective as prescription painkillers. It is taken internally via capsules until relief is felt.
• Tumeric: Turmeric is an orange-coloured spice from India that is commonly used in Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian cooking. It has been used for centuries to treat inflammation in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine and is now being recognised by Western medicine too. Studies have shown its effectiveness in treating rheumatoid arthritis, joint pain and reducing blood levels of inflammatory markers. Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric which is responsible for its colour and its anti-inflammatory benefits. It is recommended that one take 1,200 milligrams of turmeric in capsules per day. It is also a good idea to add turmeric to food and sauces as much as possible.
Bear in mind that while these herbs do reduce pain and inflammation, they do not address the underlying cause of these symptoms. It is essential to address chronic inflammation through diet, exercise and other lifestyle factors.
Most herbs are safe to take, however they can interact with certain medications so it is important to check with your doctor or healthcare provider if you are taking any medication or are pregnant or lactating.