Inflammation Interventions

Good Health Lifestyles Herbal Helpers

When working properly, inflammation is part of the body’s immune process, helping to heal injuries and fight off pathogens. But if you have too much of a good thing—which is what happens when there is excessive or chronic inflammation—a destructive cycle of damage occurs that has been linked to nearly every disease. The good news? There are powerful, clinically proven interventions that can reduce unhealthy inflammation naturally.

Curcumin

This powerful compound from the turmeric plant is a remarkable anti-inflammatory shown to benefit numerous health conditions. But its rise in popularity has also produced some misunderstandings about which type of curcumin is best. The problem with most curcumin supplements is that they are very poorly absorbed by the body. One exception to this is a special form of curcumin that has been blended with AR turmerones—BCM-95. The result is a considerably more absorbable curcumin boasting powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Studies back up this unique type of curcumin’s ability to address a number of health problems. Take rheumatoid arthritis (RA) as an example. In a human trial, a daily dose of this enhanced form of curcumin was compared to diclofenac, a popular prescription arthritis drug. The results? The enhanced curcumin worked as well as the drug in reducing RA disease activity. Another study showed comparable pain-relieving activity when pitted against a standard dose of acetaminophen. Other studies report that this same curcumin worked just as well as a popular depression drug in patients with major depressive disorder. From Alzheimer’s disease to arthritis, and many other diseases, superior absorption curcumin is making major strides in helping people deal with chronic inflammation.

Ginger

There’s more to this relative of the turmeric plant than its role in gingerbread. The oil from the bulbous part of the plant rhizome is highly valued as a natural medicine. The primary compounds, called gingerols and shogaols, provide the most benefits. As an anti-inflammatory, ginger optimizes the cell’s protective abilities. It has been shown to reduce delayed-onset muscle pain after intense physical activity. Ginger also has anti-inflammatory effects when it comes to cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, and gastrointestinal health. Standardized ginger extract has been found to significantly impact the symptoms of osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. A highly versatile anti-inflammatory, ginger fights the oral pathogens involved in periodontal disease, too. Combining ginger oil with turmeric essential oil through a supercritical CO2 extraction is another reliable way to fight inflammation.

Grape Seed Extract

Some people think that a glass of wine provides them with the same benefits they would get from a grape seed extract supplement. Sadly, that’s not the case. Grape seed extract contains potent antioxidants called oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes or OPCs for short. But here’s the catch—not all of the OPCs in grape seed extract are beneficial. Only small OPCs can be easily absorbed and provide multiple benefits for the body. Tannins (the compounds that make wine “dry”) are also OPCs but they are too big to be absorbed. That’s why you have to be a smart consumer when it comes to choosing a grape seed extract. Some supplements contain only tannins and, as a result, cannot be absorbed. Small OPCs are water-soluble and highly bioavailable—and that’s precisely what works to make a difference. A French grape seed extract with small OPCs has been shown to provide strong anti-inflammatory activity that is useful in reducing high blood pressure, supporting cardiovascular health, protecting against the damage caused by diabetes, and as a weight loss aid. Grape seed extract also acts as a neuroprotector to prevent cognitive loss, including slowing Alzheimer’s progression, and has been proven in studies to work as a potent ally in cancer prevention.

Tannins may not be the only problem with grape seed extract products. Some manufacturers use red peanut skins as a substitute for grape seeds. Check labels to ensure your grape seed extract hasn’t been adulterated. When you want the true anti-inflammatory power of a tannin-free grape seed extract, choose a French grape seed extract standardized to contain only small OPCs from a company you trust.

Boswellia

Boswellia is one of nature’s most powerful anti-inflammatory weapons. A resin from the frankincense tree, this amazing compound has been shown to combat pain, protect the cardiovascular system, improve some digestive diseases, relieve respiratory distress, and prevent tumors. Long revered by herbalists, clinical studies explain why boswellia is such powerful medicine. Able to exert a multitude of therapeutic effects throughout the body, the boswellic acids in the herb effectively extinguish inflammation in a specific pathway called 5-LOX. The most active of these boswellic acids is Acetyl-11-keto-B (AKBA). For respiratory ailments, boswellia can open airways, reduce bronchial and sinus swelling, and lessen allergy symptoms. This was shown in a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial involving 40 patients who had bronchial asthma. Those taking 300 mg of boswellia three times a day for six weeks experienced a 70 percent improvement, while those taking the placebo only showed a 27 percent improvement. Boswellia is also effective for patients dealing with IBS, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis. In fact, researchers found it to be as effective as some prescription drugs, without the side effects. Looking for even more anti-inflammatory power? Because of boswellia’s ability to treat pain, it’s a great herb to combine with curcumin. This dynamic duo can reduce the activity of inflammatory pathways in the body. In one clinical trial the combo was deemed superior to the prescription drug celecoxib for arthritis pain. But to get these benefits, choose a boswellia supplement that is standardized to provide at least 10 percent AKBA.

Omega-3s

Omega-3s are healthy polyunsaturated fats, highly valued for their anti-inflammatory capabilities. That’s especially true for heart, brain, and skin health. But where your omega-3s come from can make all the difference in the benefits they provide. Most fish oils are derived from anchovies or sardines, yet these fish oil supplements, as well as those made from krill, are subject to variants in oil quality and rancidity. A better option is a phospholipid-bound omega-3 fatty acid supplement from Atlantic salmon. It’s not a fish oil, but rather a bioidentical extract with the added benefits of phospholipids—a type of lipid that helps your body absorb and use omega 3s. An omega 3 supplement that also contains peptides—short chains of amino acids—protects delicate blood vessels in the brain by fighting oxidative damage.