8 Best Anti-Inflammatory Herbs & SpicesTuesday Aug 16, 2022
When you twist your ankle (ouch!), you’ll probably notice the injured area starts swelling up like a balloon. Or, let’s say you get sick with the flu. Your fever, the sneezing, runny nose, and body aches—it all relates back to one thing. And that’s inflammation, which is your body’s automatic response to help you deal with sickness or injury. When your body becomes inflamed, your inflammatory cells spring into action to fight off harmful pathogens or viruses.
Inflammation is all well and good, so long as it's temporary. But when there’s prolonged inflammation (aka chronic inflammation), that’s when you run into problems. Food sensitivities, obesity, autoimmune disorders, and drinking too much alcohol are just a few of the many factors that contribute to chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation has been associated with a wide range of diseases and conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer.
Fortunately, something simple, like incorporating certain herbs and spices into your diet, can help.
So with that in mind, read on for the 8 best herbs and spices for reducing inflammation.
Is ginger an herb? Or is it a spice? Well, that depends on who you’re asking. But one thing that’s not up for debate is the punch it packs with fighting inflammation. Those suffering from osteoarthritis have seen a decrease in joint pain and improved joint mobility from taking 500-1,000 mg of ginger daily.[*] [*]
For digestion issues, ginger is known for:
- Soothing the stomach
- Helping with nausea
- Reducing gas and bloating
- Providing pain relief from indigestion.
Try sprinkling some ginger in your soups, salads, stir-fries, or make some ginger tea.
Your breath may not be the freshest after eating too much, but garlic definitely belongs on the list of best herbs and spices for inflammation. It’s high in prebiotics, which provide the fuel probiotics in your gut need to make healthy bacteria.
utside of adding flavor to some of your favorite dishes, garlic has also been linked to better heart health, improved arthritis symptoms, and reduced constipation.
While regular garlic reduces inflammatory markers in the body, aged garlic extract might be a better option for fighting inflammation.
Turmeric is a well-known spice, especially in Indian cuisine. The real draw comes from curcumin, the main compound in turmeric. Curcumin is known for its significant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. In fact, for people with osteoarthritis, research shows that taking curcumin may provide the same pain relief as NSAID’s like ibuprofen.
When it comes to gut health, consuming turmeric can increase the population of healthy bacteria in your gut. One study took a look at the prebiotic impact of four noteworthy spices—turmeric, ginger, black pepper, and long pepper. Turmeric was chosen as having the greatest positive influence on your gut.
You’ll want to make sure to take turmeric with black pepper, as it can increase the amount of curcumin your body absorbs by as much as 2,000 %.
Who doesn’t like a little cinnamon in their oatmeal, morning bagel, or a fresh batch of cinnamon cookies? More than just a tasty spice, cinnamon contains prebiotic properties that support a healthy gut and can help reduce inflammation.
More research is needed, but the results of one animal study suggest that cinnamon may help manage symptoms associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). As good as it tastes, too much cinnamon may lead to liver damage, so use in small amounts to avoid any side effects.
When it comes to the gut, rosemary’s primary benefit comes from helping to reduce inflammation in your GI tract. It can also help your body digest fermented foods and absorb their nutrients without any issues.
In one study, patients with rheumatic diseases (i.e. diseases with chronic inflammation as the root cause) saw significant decreases in inflammation, and also experienced pain relief after consuming rosemary.
Another study found rosemary so powerful it may potentially prevent colon tumors.
Originating from Southeast Asia, cardamom’s sweet and spicy taste goes well with teas, bread, meats, and poultry. Its natural remedies include helping with indigestion, nausea, cramping, and gas.
In one 12-week study, 87 participants (all with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease) saw reduced inflammation and a lower grade of fatty liver disease from taking 3g of cardamom daily.
When you hear cayenne, you probably automatically think cayenne peppers. We do too! Not only does cayenne really bring the spice, it’s good for reducing inflammation too.
Cayenne peppers contain capsaicinoids, which have come to be known as a sort of a natural remedy for pain relief. You’ll actually find capsaicin in ointments and creams designed to relieve muscle and joint pain. Similar to curcumin, a study published in Osteoarthritis Cartilage found that, for those with osteoarthritis, capsaicin cream may be as efficient for pain relief as NSAID’s.
8. Green Tea
Green tea is made from the Camellia sinensis plant. Known for stimulating “friendly” bacteria in the gut and promoting gut microbe diversity, its main anti-inflammatory impact seems to come from epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a compound in the plant. In one study, participants with ulcerative colitis improved their symptoms by 58% by consuming an EGCG-based supplement daily for about two months.
Ready to Use These Herbs and Spices for Inflammation?
Inflammation is your body’s natural response to getting hurt or sick. In the short term, a little inflammation may not be much to worry about. But constant inflammation—often caused by things like obesity, autoimmune disorders, and drinking too much alcohol—can lead to health problems like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer.
Your diet plays a huge role. And now that we’ve gone over some of the best herbs and spices for inflammation, it’s time for you to put them to good use.
Make some ginger tea, sprinkle a little cinnamon over your morning bagel, add a little turmeric and black pepper over your scrambled eggs, or check out our blog post for some more gut-healthy breakfast ideas!
About the Author
Chad Richardson is a freelance writer from Cincinnati, OH who also enjoys going to the gym and doing his best Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation, scrolling through Netflix trying to find a new binge-worthy show, and catching a game to root on his hometown sports teams.