All types of joint pain, whether it’s osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout, share one symptom, namely inflammation. Inflammation causes pain, swelling and sometimes joint deformity.
In the Western herbal tradition, you’ll find any number of anti-inflammatory herbs. These include black cohosh, feverfew, yucca and wild yam. Also, vitamins like vitamin A, the B complex, vitamin C, and vitamin E are often helpful along with minerals such as zinc, calcium and magnesium, copper salicylate, and selenium. Other supplements like evening primrose and fish oils, along with glucosamine, and superoxide dismutase (SOD), also help reduce inflammatory reactions.
But recent research has uncovered some very effective anti-inflammatory agents right in our own kitchen.
Some, like ginger, are also available in capsule or pill form. That can be a good thing because sometimes these spices and foods have a strong taste. If so pills or capsules might be a preferable way of taking them to get enough for a significant anti-inflammatory effect. Others, like olive oil and cinnamon, are easy to add to your daily diet.
Here’s a list of some useful anti-inflammatory substances you’ll likely find in your kitchen:
One of the active constituents in ginger are a group of phenolic compounds known as gingerols. These substances have a strong anti-inflammatory effect. In a study reported in the Osteoarthritis and Cartilage Journal, the participants who took the ginger compound had significantly less pain during movement than those who took the placebo. This study followed 29 people over 12 months, and also found that swelling in the knees was also reduced.
Note that if you take blood thinning medication (Warfarin, etc.), be careful about the amount of ginger you take, as ginger can thin the blood also. (Note that this also applies to Fish Oils.)
This yummy spice has lots of healthy benefits including helping regulate blood sugar. Cinnamon also helps inhibit the release of inflammatory fatty acids. Limiting these substances can have a positive effect on inflammation.
Yellow and Orange Fruits and Vegetables
Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables contain carotenoids. And some of the carotenoids in help reduce inflammation. Carotenoids give these vegetables and fruit their color.
Extra virgin olive oil has a substance in it called oleocanthal, which acts similar to NSAID anti-inflammatory drugs. The difference is that it doesn’t have the immediate pain relieving effects seen with ibuprofen, etc.
The key to using olive oil for reducing inflammation is taking it over time and in high enough amounts. The September, 2005 issue of Nature magazine featured research by Paul Breslin and his associates from Monell Chemical Senses Center. In it he describes oleocanthal as a natural anti-inflammatory compound potentially as strong as ibuprofen. He suggests that taken over the long term, it will have the same potential benefits that long term use of ibuprofen does.
Their research found that taking 50 grams of extra virgin olive oil is equal to approximately 10% of the dosage of ibuprofen recommended for pain relief for adults. 50 grams is about 4 tablespoons of olive oil. You could get this much by using olive oil on salads, cooking with it or adding it to other dishes. Crock-pot cooking works well for this.
P Bedson, The Complete Family Guide To Natural Healing (Hinkler Books)