As an alternative to facing this worrying list, many plants contain strong anti-inflammatory properties and have much fewer side affects. I have compiled a list of the ones I came across most commonly in my research. If you have used any of them, I would love to hear about your experience. As I work my way through them I will update the blog with experiences:
1.Tumeric / Curcumin
I have previously carried a bag of this with me when travelling in Asia in an attempt to ward of a dodgy tummy and was stunned when my normally weak tum held on throughout! I felt very disspointed that I could not join in with the daily ‘Poo chat’ on that trip, which I’d previously been leading!
It is also one of the very most effective and potent natural anti-inflammatory agents. Curcumin is derived from Turmeric the yellow spice, part of the ginger family native to Asia, widely enjoyed as both a food and a dye. Extensively well studied for its anti-inflammatory powers, curcumin is scientifically proven to be highly effective at relieving pain, and very safe. Like the NSAID’s, curcumin inhibits COX2. But unlike the NSAID’s, it does not do so selectively. Instead, curcumin also affects the activity of other key factors in inflammation. By inhibiting the activity of all these aspects of inflammation, tumeric delivers far superior anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving activity than most drugs. Curcumin has long been used in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines as an anti-inflammatory agent, a treatment for digestive disorders, and to enhance wound healing.
2. Omega-3 Fish Oil
Research has shown that the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are some of the most effective natural anti-inflammatory agents available. The active ingredients in fish oil, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), enhance the conversion of COX to prostaglandin E3. A natural anti-inflammatory agent, prostaglandin E3 competitively inhibits the effects of the arachidonic acid conversion to prostaglandin E2, a highly inflammatory substance.
Bark from the white willow tree is one of the oldest herbal remedies for pain and inflammation, dating back to ancient Egyptian, Roman, Greek, and Indian civilizations, as an analgesic and antipyretic agent. The mechanism of action of white willow bark is similar to that of aspirin which is a nonselective inhibitor of COX-1 and COX-2, used to block inflammatory prostaglandins.
Green tea has long been recognized to have cardiovascular and cancer preventative characteristics due to its antioxidant properties. Its use as an anti-inflammatory agent has been recognized more recently. The constituents of green tea are polyphenolic compounds called catechins, and epigallocatechin-3 galate is the most abundant catechin in green tea. Green tea also inhibits the aggrecanases which degrade cartilage. Green tea research now demonstrates both anti-inflammatory and chondroprotective effects.
The gum resin from the Boswellia trees located in India, Ethiopia, Somalia, and the Arabian Peninsula. This resin possesses anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, and analgesic properties. Clinically, the substance is used in the treatment of degenerative and inflammatory joint disorders.
Kelp seaweed found commonly around the UK contains fucoidan, a type of complex carbohydrate that is anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour and anti-oxidative. The high fibre content of kelp also helps to induce fullness, slow fat absorption and promote weight loss. As with fish it is increasingly hard to source kelp from unpolluted seas where high levels of toxins are being found in the waters.
This relative of turmeric is also highly prized around the world for its anti-inflammatory benefits, and are used to expel cold and relieve motion sickness and vomiting, (a slice of fresh ginger taped on the skin several hours (some need 12 hours or so) before travelling.
Described by Christopher Columbus as the ‘fruit of the angels’. Papaya’s reminds me of working in South Africa I had a Papaya tree outside my window and a cockrel. This cockrel crowed/screamed all night long….every night… every morning I picked a Papaya and despite that birds best efforts the world was alright again!
Papaya contains papain, a protein-digesting enzyme. Together with other nutrients such as vitamin C and E, Papain helps to reduce inflammation, improves digestion and helps heal burns.
I didn’t know that these grow in the UK until on our honeymoon in the lake-district we came across a whole medow of them! Bluberries are an antioxidant powerhouse, high in phytonutrients that confer anti-inflammatory protection.
10. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Virgin olive oil is Mediterranean’s secret to longevity. Its rich supply of polyphenols protects the heart and blood vessels from inflammation. The monounsaturated fats in olive oil are also turned into anti-inflammatory agents by the body that can lower occurrences of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
If vegetables were men I’d marry this one! (infact my husband is rather broccoli esq! Bit less green, bit more brown) Broccoli is a highly nutritious vegetable that contains anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer phytonutrients such as sulforaphane which helps the body to get rid of potentially carcinogenic compounds.
12. Sweet Potato
Sweet potato is another favourite of mine and often overshadowed by other exotic vegetables and fruits. But it is also a good source of complex carbohydrate, beta-carotene, manganese, vitamin B6 and C as well as dietary fibre. Working in concert, these nutrients are powerful antioxidants that help to heal inflammation in the body.
I came across this Womens Natural Heath site which I thought had some good areas and advice on how to use food to heal. However, I don’t agree with everything there so perhaps one to look at with care!