In looking at the pooled results, ginger extract appeared to be one of the most beneficial herbs for inflammation pain
There is a vast body of research on the difference between acute and chronic inflammation in patients, and how the latter is linked to a number of long-term health issues such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, the number of Americans suffering from health conditions related to chronic inflammation keeps steadily rising, and patients are steadily buying more herbs for inflammation pain.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately half of all American adults (or 117 million people) suffered from at least one serious health issue in 2012 that could be attributed to chronic inflammation. Furthermore, one in four adults suffered from two or more such health conditions during that same time period.1,2
Given these high numbers, you are likely seeing a similar rise in the number of your patients either with chronic inflammatory health issues or at risk of developing them. A well-rounded anti-inflammatory wellness regimen should include regular exercise, a mindfulness program to reduce stress, and a balanced diet that emphasizes foods known to reduce inflammation.
Herbs for inflammation pain can provide some of the same anti-inflammatory benefits as whole foods for your patients who may have allergies or other dietary restrictions. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular nutritional supplements that help fight chronic inflammation.
Ginger root (Zingiber officinale) is perhaps one of the best known herbs with both strong culinary and medicinal properties. It has been used for thousands of years in various parts of Asia to treat a wide variety of health issues, including colds, migraines, nausea, arthritis, and high blood pressure. Ginger contains more than 100 active compounds, including gingerol, shogaol, zingiberene and zingerone, which are believed to have anti-inflammatory properties.3
A 2020 paper in the journal Nutrients published the results from a meta-analysis examining the findings of 109 randomized clinical trials regarding the effects of ginger extracts on a number of health issues, including nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, metabolic syndromes, digestive function, and colorectal cancer markers. In looking at the pooled results, ginger extract appeared to be one of the most beneficial herbs for inflammation pain in reducing inflammation and other symptoms of chronic health issues.3
Similar to ginger, garlic (Allium sativum) is another popular culinary spice that also possesses strong medicinal value. For centuries, garlic’s many health claims have included treatment for arthritis, coughs, constipation, infections, and toothaches.4
More recent studies have pointed toward garlic’s sulfurous compounds, including allicin, diallyl disulfide and s-allylcysteine, as the sources of its anti-inflammatory properties.5 A recent meta-analysis in the journal Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome looked at the combined results from 17 papers, which included more than 830 participants and spanned from 4-48 weeks, examined the effects of a garlic supplement on blood levels of the CRP inflammatory marker.6
Herbs for inflammation pain: turmeric
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is perhaps the best known culinary spice and medicinal herb within the Ayurvedic (Indian) tradition. In the kitchen, it is the key ingredient for curry stew, which is a staple of Indian cuisine. In its medicinal form, turmeric boasts more than 300 active compounds, of which curcumin is the most prevalent. Curcumin has both powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
A 2019 article in European Cardiology Review reviewed several studies that looked at curcumin’s ability to block the activation of NF-κB, a molecule that activates pro-inflammatory genes.7 The researchers found that curcumin was effective in blocking this molecule, which has been linked to a number of chronic health issues, including cardiovascular disease, obesity, and dementia.
Unfortunately, turmeric only contains approximately 3% curcumin by weight and has poor bioavailability, due to its rapid metabolism into the liver. However, several studies have noted that a supplement that combines curcumin and black pepper extract (piperine) will increase absorption by as much as 2,000%.8
Given the standard American lifestyle and diet, the current high rates of health issues linked to chronic inflammation should not be surprising. Fortunately, current research is showing that a number of medicinal herbs have strong anti-inflammatory properties that can help protect against or stop the chronic inflammation cycle in patients.
- Egger G. In search of a germ theory equivalent for chronic disease. Preventing Chronic Diseases. 2012;9:110301.
- Ward BW, Schiller JS, Goodman RA. Multiple chronic conditions among US adults: A 2012 update. Preventing Chronic Disease. 2014;11:130389.
- Anh NH, Kim SJ, Long NP, et al. Ginger on human health: A comprehensive systematic review of 109 randomized controlled trials. Nutrients. 2020;12(1):157.
- Bayan L, Koulivand PH, Gorji A. Garlic: A review of potential therapeutic effects. Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine. 2014;4(1):1-14.
- Arreola R, Quintero-Fabián S, López-Roa RI, et al. Immunomodulation and anti-inflammatory effects of garlic compounds. Journal of Immunology Research. 2015;2015:401630.
- Mirzavandi F, Mollahosseini M, Salehi-Abargouei A, et al. Effects of garlic supplementation on serum inflammatory markers: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome. 2020;14(5):1153-1161.
- Shimizu K, Funamoto M, Sunagawa Y, et al. Anti-inflammatory action of curcumin and its use in the treatment of lifestyle-related diseases. European Cardiology Review. 2019;14(2):117-122.
- Shoba G, Joy D, Joseph T, et al. Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta Medica. 1998;64(4):353-356.