Known for making pasta and pizza tastier, research suggests garlic is one of the best herbs to reduce inflammation
An estimated one in five U.S. adults lives with chronic pain according to a 2021 article published in Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, with rates being even higher for women and individuals who are older. Many conditions characterized by chronic pain — such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetic neuropathic pain, and fibromyalgia — have been linked with chronic inflammation, and have non-drug patients seeking the best herbs to reduce inflammation.
While lifestyle changes and certain medications can help ease long-standing inflammation and the pain it creates, data collected from 26,157 subjects reveals that approximately one-third use at least one herbal supplement. Individuals with chronic diseases had the highest herb usage rates, even when taking more traditional medications. If your patients are looking to do the same for their inflammatory pain, here are a few herbs to consider.
Best herbs to reduce inflammation: boswellia
Also known as frankincense, this herb comes from the Boswellia tree. In a meta-analysis of seven trials involving 545 patients, researchers noted that, when compared to a control, treatment with Boswellia for at least four weeks helped relieve osteoarthritis-related pain and stiffness while improving joint function.
Boswellia serrata has also shown significant promise in the treatment of other inflammatory diseases as one of the best herbs to reduce inflammation according to this study’s authors, some of which include rheumatoid arthritis, chronic bronchitis, asthma, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease.
Celery seed contains vitamin C, a nutrient that research indicates helps alleviate inflammation by reducing levels of high-sensitivity C-reactivity protein, interleukin 6 (IL-6), and fasting blood glucose. Celery seed also contains apigenin, a phytopolyphenol known to have anti-inflammatory effects.
Combining celery seed with other herbs may provide even more enhanced effects. For instance, a 2022 study published in the International Journal of Orthopaedics Sciences combined celery seed with Boswellia serrata, resulting in joint pain and function improvements in 1,236 patients with osteoarthritis.
Inflammation is often the foundation of migraines due to increased levels of nitric oxide, IL-6, and more. So, one double-blind placebo-controlled trial set out to discover whether cinnamon, an anti-inflammatory, could help relieve migraine pain.
Fifty patients either received daily treatment with cinnamon powder or a placebo. After two months, the group receiving the cinnamon had lower levels of inflammation and their migraine attacks were significantly reduced in terms of duration, frequency, and severity.
This herb is known for making pasta and pizza tastier, but research suggests that garlic can also have a positive effect as one of the best herbs to reduce inflammation.
In a study involving 80 post-menopausal women who were overweight or obese and had knee osteoarthritis, it was reported that 12 weeks of garlic supplementation helped reduce their pain, in part, by reducing resistin, a pro-inflammatory adipocytokine.
Ginger is a perennial flowering plant and, according to a narrative review published in Phytotherapy Research in May 2020, it plays a role in inflammation reduction. It has been found to reduce pain in conditions such as delayed onset muscle soreness, chronic low back pain, osteoarthritis, and migraine. These effects have been found with various administration methods ranging from taking ginger orally to having a Swedish massage with ginger in the oil.
An article in Neuroscience Insights explains that Ayurvedic therapies have long-used massage oils containing herb extracts. Additionally, most have a sesame oil base, and this oil helps reduce inflammation by inhibiting activation of the microglia and also inhibiting the release of certain pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as IL-6, interleukin-1β, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha.
This herb is a member of the ginger family and comes from the Curcuma longa plant. A review of therapeutic potentials cited turmeric as being helpful for numerous inflammatory disorders, some of which include arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases, neuropathic pain, psoriasis, and dermatitis, making it one of the best herbs to reduce inflammation.
An article published in Nutrition Today in 2020 adds that, with this herb specifically, bioavailability can be an issue. Choosing a supplement that includes piperine (black pepper) is one way to improve its intestinal uptake. Uptake can also be improved with the use of novel delivery systems.
All these herbs have promising effects for reducing inflammation and the pain that comes with it, making them considerations for patients with these types of conditions.