It’s probably not something that you think about often (if ever), but it’s important to keep inflammation in your body at bay. Did you know that chronic inflammation is at the root of almost all diseases? You may be surprised to hear that chronic inflammation has been linked to arthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, depression, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. The list doesn’t end there.
To help fight inflammation, a healthy diet filled with vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and lean proteins can work wonders. But what if I told you just swapping out table salt with a spoonful of flavorful herbs and spices could play a major role in keeping you healthy too? Before we go over the top 12 best anti-inflammatory herbs and spices, it’s important to know what inflammation is and why it’s considered “bad.”
What Is Inflammation?
Let me start by saying inflammation is a natural process that’s actually meant to protect the body – not harm it. Have you ever broken a bone or stubbed a toe? If so, chances are you’ve experienced swelling, redness, and pain. That’s inflammation! When it occurs, the natural response of the body is to release chemicals from the body’s white blood cells into the bloodstream. This results in an increase in blood flow to the injured or infected area it’s trying to protect. Eventually, these symptoms will subside and the body will return to normal.
What if this inflammatory response doesn’t stop, though? The real problem arises when inflammation persists even after an injury has healed. Researchers believe this happens when the immune system overreacts, resulting in an overload of defense cells that damage blood tissue. This whole process can lead to serious illness (as mentioned above).
The immune system overreacts for a few reasons:
- Toxins overloading the body.
- Poor diet filled with refined carbs, trans fats, pasteurized dairy, and other “unhealthy” foods.
12 Best Natural Anti-Inflammatory Herbs and Spices
Numerous studies have been conducted on the impact herbs and spices have on inflammation. The findings are promising.
A popular spice in Asian food, ginger has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Among its many health benefits, it’s considered a potent anti-inflammatory. If you are someone who suffers from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) or another gastrointestinal issue, ginger may be your key to relief. Studies show consuming ginger can reduce inflammation in the intestines. Ginger has also been known to improve digestion and relieve nausea. So if you suffer from GI issues, I definitely recommend picking up some ginger root at your local grocery store.
Several studies have also found that ginger works well as a natural pain reliever. Specifically, ginger has been found to reduce arthritis pain. That’s thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Additionally, as a result of ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties and high amounts of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, researchers believe ginger can fight a wide variety of cancers.
Ginger can be eaten raw or you can use it to flavor stir-fries. Also, shave, slice and steep fresh ginger root in steaming water to create a soothing ginger tea.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is part of the mint family and has a woody, evergreen-like scent. This herb is often used to flavor Mediterranean-style foods, but it compliments a wide array of dishes. Along with the delicious flavor that rosemary adds to meals, it’s also known as one of the most powerful herbs on earth. With a laundry list of nutrients, its top health benefits include:
- Improves memory
- Soothes digestive issues
- Helps relieve muscle aches and pains
- Benefits hair growth
- Fights cancer
- Fights inflammation
Researchers from three universities say rosemary is one of the most potent anti-inflammatory herbs out there. For one week, researchers had 10 to 12 subjects in 13 groups consume a moderate amount of a particular spice each day. By “moderate amount,” I mean about a spoon full. Researchers took blood samples from the participants one hour prior to consumption and again at the end of the experiment. Rosemary was one of four herbs/spices that showed impressive anti-inflammatory results. Watch this video by Dr. Michael Greger MD to hear more about this study:
If you eat meat, then try incorporating some sprigs of rosemary into your cooking. It makes for a great flavor enhancer on roasted chicken, lamb, pork, tenderloin, etc. If you follow a vegan lifestyle, then you can sprinkle some rosemary on potatoes or mushrooms for a delicious flavor. Those are just a few ideas!
Turmeric is the ingredient that gives curry its yellow color. It’s been used in Indian cuisine for thousands of years, not only for its taste, but also its amazing health benefits. Today, numerous researchers have confirmed turmeric’s power.
Researchers say the yellow spice is five to eight times stronger than vitamins C and E, making it an amazing immune booster. It’s also proven to fight cancer, fight diabetes, boost mood, and support brain health. Plus, it has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. In the video above, you can see researchers deemed turmeric one of the top 4 most potent anti-inflammatory spices of all time. Turmeric’s amazing benefits are largely pinned to the antioxidant curcumin.
If you’re looking to incorporate turmeric into your regular diet, you can start by making turmeric tea. Also, you can simply add it to soups, rice, smoothies, sautéed vegetables, or even your morning scrambled eggs!
Native to Indonesia, cloves are widely used in Asian cuisine. Like the other herbs and spices mentioned on this list, they too have been used for thousands of years for their medicinal purposes. They’ve been used to improve digestion, fight cancer, fight diabetes, and much more. Another noteworthy benefit is their ability to reduce inflammation throughout the body. That’s because cloves contain a compound called eugenol. Eugenol works by blocking the activity of the harmful inflammation-causing enzyme cyclooxygenase (COX).
To incorporate cloves into your regular diet, try adding them to homemade soups and stews. Another popular way to eat cloves is to steep them in water and make clove tea.
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