Inflammation occurs in reaction to an array of traumas from wounds to sunburns to auto-immune conditions and infection. It is usually characterized by physical symptoms such as pain, swelling, redness and warmth. Redness and warmth are caused due increased blood flow and dilation of blood vessels present in the wounded area.
The swelling is caused due to the removal of protein rich exudate from the blood plasma and during inflammation there is more permeability in the blood vessels. Pain is a result of chemical substances like serotonin or due to the tissue tension in the inflamed area.
The inflammation becomes chronic due to various factors like stress, poor diet, exposure to toxins in the environment and lack of exercise. In case you are suffering from inflammation-related conditions like back and neck pain, tendonitis or arthritis then including anti-inflammatory herbs in your daily health regimen might help you to deal with your pain.
These herbs are not fast-healing as compared to standard pain medications. Nevertheless, they significantly diminish pain and soreness when they are used regularly. They are more effective, when combined with relaxation techniques and daily exercise, both of which alleviates pain.
Alternative herbs cleanse the toxins and metabolic waste from the body. Allowing these toxins and waste to circulate in the body is the main reason behind inflammation. Hence, using herbs that help in preventing inflammation is quite beneficial.
Herbal Remedies for Inflammation
This herb is generally found in the meadow of Scandinavia at an altitude of about 3000 m and is used only externally. Arnica is quite a rare herb, but it is a significant part of Herbology in the regions where it grows.
It is one of the herbs that have gained official credit from the medical institution. According to Ayurveda (ancient Indian healthcare medicinal system), using a little of this herb while bathing relaxes the body, as it has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. Arnica is available in the form of gels and creams.
White Willow Bark
This herb contains aspirin like compounds and a study conducted in 2008 shows that it is as effective as traditional medicine in reducing pain among people suffering from mild to severe hip and knee problems. It also alleviates joint pain, acute back pain and osteoarthritis.
The frankincense trees are the source of this herb and are shown to prevent the chemical effects involved in inflammation. Besides treating arthritis, the herb is quite effective in healing inflammatory bowel disease as well.
Traditionally, the herb is used to heal rheumatoid arthritis, but it also relieves the pain caused due to tendonitis, osteoarthritis and neck and back problems. A study conducted in the year 2007 involving 259 people suffering from rheumatic conditions has shown that 60 percent of the members either stopped or reduced their medication for pain, after 8 weeks of taking the herb devil’s claw. Besides, it also improved the quality of the participants’ life.
Turmeric (Curcuma Longa)
This herb has an effective anti-inflammatory property and thus used as a pain reliever. Curcumin- the compound present in turmeric helps in decreasing inflammation. A study published in the year 2007 (animal-based), scientists have found that the compound curcumin has the property to overpower pro-inflammatory proteins known as cytokines.
The compound is effective in decreasing the pain related to tendonitis and autoimmune disorders as well. Besides using the spice in the daily diet, you need to take in the form of supplements to get complete medicinal benefits of this herb. It can also be used topically to reduce pain.
Bromelain is an enzyme obtained from the stems of pineapple. It decreases the levels of the hormone prostaglandins in the body. These are the hormones, which induce inflammation. Besides benefitting people with arthritis, Bromelain treats conditions like musculoskeletal tension (TMJ syndrome) and also trauma related inflammation. The enzyme also promotes healing in connective tissues and muscles.
The supplements of this herb provide long-lasting health benefits. Research shows that ginger relieves arthritis pain by reducing the prostaglandin levels.
A study conducted in 2005 suggests that the herb can reduce inflammation and pain more effectively, when compared to the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication like aspirin.
Burdock Rock (Arcticum minus or Arctium Lappa)
Including essential fatty acids in your diet can curtail the pain to some extent. The fatty oils present in burdock (along with tannins and sterols) have anti-inflammatory properties. The herb can be taken in various forms such as decoction (2 tbsp chopped fresh burdock root is used for the tea.
If fresh ones are not available then it can be substituted with dried roots. Add the root in the boiling water. Simmer for about 10 minutes and strain the decoction. Consume the warm tea – 3-4 cups a day). You can also take the herb as stir-fries (a popular Asian cuisine) or as capsules (make sure to follow the dosage direction carefully).
Flax (Linum Usitatissimum)
This is one of the finest sources (vegan) of Omega-3 (ALA). It is quite important for immune system and also to fight inflammation (vegan source is essential as animal fats are known to cause inflammation in people suffering from arthritis). 2 tbsp of flax-seed oil or flax-seed must be included in your diet every day. However, make sure not to cook or heat the oil or seeds.
Nettles (Urtica dioica)
This incredible herb can be used for almost all kinds of ailments. It contains Vitamin A, B, C and D, beta-carotene, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and calcium. Its anti-inflammatory properties combined along with its minerals ease pain and also helps in building strong bones.
NSAID is usually taken by those suffering from arthritis. However, using stinging nettle can help to reduce the dosage of NSAID. Nettle leaf tea (One cup or more every day) can relieve and prevent inflammation and water retention and also nourishes the adrenals and kidneys.
Arthritis sufferers can strike the inflamed part of the joint with a cutting of a stinging nettle plant (fresh) to relieve joint pain. The inflammation and pain are relieved as the stinging part of this plant helps in drawing blood to the affected joint.
This herb acts similar to the body’s natural corticosteroids, which help in reducing inflammation. It also decreases the free radicals in the inflamed area and also inhibits the production of the enzyme that is involved in the process of inflammation.
The component glycyrrhizin present in licorice blocks and alleviates inflammation. Also, it supports the release of cortisol, which represses the immune system and reduces the pain. It inhibits the side effects of the component cortisol such as anxiety and adrenal fatigue. It can be used as a tea or in the form of supplement.