Inflammation is your body’s natural immune response to infection, disease, or injury. When unwanted external elements affect your tissues, your body boosts the production of white blood cells, which fight off the damaging substances.
However, chronic inflammation is a whole other story. This is a type of long-term inflammation that happens inside of the body and may eventually result in the development of serious diseases. This study by Kolb and Mandrup-Poulsen reveals that chronic inflammation is the cause of the ongoing diabetes epidemic. Other illnesses linked to chronic inflammation are cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, kidney disease, and fatty liver disease.
Inflammation can be caused by a variety of factors: eating too much sugar, smoking, leading a sedentary lifestyle, or being exposed to various chemicals. This study by Hammerling et. al shows that consuming too much red and processed meat can also lead to inflammation.
Considering all of this, it’s very important to eat a diet full of anti-inflammatory foods. In this article, we’ll list 8 of the best herbs for inflammation that have been used since ancient times.
Ginger was first discovered by Southeastern Asians thousands of years ago and was used to treat heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, migraines, and colds. We all know how delicious and versatile this herb is when it comes to cooking! You can make ginger tea, cookies, powdered ginger spices, or pickle it. This study by Morvaridzadeh et. al on 1010 human subjects concluded that those who took ginger supplements showed much lower levels of inflammation than those who did not take ginger.
About 3000 BC, Middle Asians were the first to discover garlic and its amazing healing properties. In ancient Egypt, it was even worshipped and used as a currency! Today, we all know garlic because of the delicious taste it adds to any savory dish. But did you know just how beneficial garlic is to your health? Garlic has very high levels of antioxidants, aids in digestion, boosts the immune system, and is one of the best anti-inflammatory herbs. Mirzavandi et. al analyzed 17 studies on garlic and concluded that people who took garlic had much lower levels of inflammation.
White Willow Bark
White willow bark is another one of the best herbs for inflammation. It is the very first painkiller ever used by humans and was discovered about 3000 BC by Sumerians. The white willow tree is native to Europe, Northern Africa, and Central Asia. This herb can be used to treat various types of aches and pains, reduce swelling, and bring down a fever. You can take white willow bark in various forms: drops, capsules, teas, or you may even chew on the raw bark. Small doses shouldn’t cause any unwanted side effects but if you take too much, you might get a stomach ache.
Green tea dates back to 2737 when it was first tried out by Chinese emperor Shennong. For centuries, green tea was considered a luxury product and it was only accessible to the wealthiest people of the highest social class. Today, green tea can be found in almost every household and is a known anti-inflammatory herb. The most valuable compounds in green tea are antioxidants called polyphenols and a catechin called EGCG. They feature a range of health benefits, including protecting heart health, improving brain function, and protecting against cancer. The anti-inflammatory effects of green tea are analyzed in detail in this article by Ohishi et. al.
Turmeric was first discovered about 2000 BC in India and has been an important part of ayurvedic medicine ever since. Turmeric is a great antioxidant, has been reported to fight cancer, improve brain function, and help with joint pain. The most important compound in turmeric is an antioxidant called curcumin, which is actually what gives it such a vibrant yellow color. Curcumin is excellent at helping patients with various inflammatory diseases. This study by Kuptniratsaikul et. al concluded that curcumin acted as an effective treatment for people with knee osteoarthritis.
Rosemary is an ancient Mediterranean herb that was first discovered by the Romans and Greeks. It has long, pointed leaves and is known for its powerful flavor and scent. Rosemary is commonly used as a spice for various dishes but people rarely consider the benefits it features. Rosemary is extremely high in antioxidants, especially a polyphenol called rosmarinic acid. This acid is highly anti-inflammatory. According to this study by Connelly et. al, it can help people deal with the pain caused by osteoarthritis.
Cardamom was first discovered about 4000 years ago by the Vikings but it was also commonly used by the Greeks, Romans, and ancient Egyptians. Ancient Egyptians actually chewed on cardamom to clean their teeth! Today, cardamom is commonly used as a powdered spice, tea, or essential oil for aromatherapy. This herb is an excellent antioxidant that can lower blood pressure and fight bacteria and viruses. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, it can also reduce pain and swelling.
Last but certainly not least on the list of the best anti-inflammatory herbs is black elderberry (or Sambucus nigra). This is a plant native to Europe and North America with some superb health benefits. It can be taken in the form of syrups, pills, gummies, lozenges, or just used as a topping for salads or other dishes (however, elderberry is poisonous if not cooked correctly, so you should probably opt for some commercially prepared supplements).
Black elderberry helps boost the immune system, aids in heart health, reduces acne, and is a great anti-inflammatory herb to add to your diet. According to this study by Farrell et. al, black elderberry can reduce levels of the inflammatory marker MCP-1 and reduce insulin resistance.