NATURAL SUPPLEMENTS THAT CAN
EASE INFLAMMATION AND PAIN
BY JACK CHALLEM
It may come as a surprise that our bodies actually need infammation to fght infections. But when infammation runs amok, it can exacerbate every disease process.
Sometimes its symptoms are obvious—redness, swelling and
pain—such as the internal heat you feel after you burn yourself
or bang a knee. But other times, as in the case of chronic,
low-grade infammation, you won’t even know it’s afecting you
until a heart attack or some other malady hits.
“Infammation drives most chronic, degenerative diseases,”
says Bo Jonsson, MD, PhD, of the Karolinska Institute in
Stockholm, Sweden, where he also practices medicine. “It’s at
the heart of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and all the aches
and pains people sufer. Yet there are many nutrients that
douse the fres of infammation.”
Your body can make both infammation-promoting
substances and anti-infammatory ones, assuming their
nutritional building blocks are present. Unfortunately,
the highly processed American diet leans heavily on pro-
infammatory substances, such as corn and safower oils, too
many sugars, and low levels of vitamins and minerals. Our
anti-infammatory prowess depends on certain healthy fats,
herbs, vitamins and minerals.
Omega-3s. EPA and DHA (eicosapentaenoic acid and
docosahexaenoic acid, respectively) are the key building blocks
for some of the body’s most powerful anti-infammatory and
pain-reducing substances, specifcally hormone-like prostaglandin
E1, resolvins and neuroprotectins. Omega-3s have been shown
to improve multiple risk factors for heart disease, including
hypertension and heart rhythm abnormalities. Tey also raise
life expectancy for at least some cancer patients. A recent study
found that omega-3s eased post-exercise muscle soreness, and
they likely help heal other types of injuries, as well.
Dose: 1,000– 5,000 mg daily
Curcumin. Tis extract of turmeric root has been shown
to block infammation in almost 100 ways, from turning
of pro-infammatory genes to dampening infammation-promoting substances, such as interleukin- 6. Tis broad-spectrum efect suggests that curcumin would be helpful in
most infammatory disorders. Some of the research shows
fewer osteoarthritic symptoms (when curcumin is combined
with glucosamine), as well as improved quality of life among
cancer patients. Infammation also afects mood disorders
and memory problems, and curcumin has shown benefts
here as well. In fact, curcumin boosts brain levels of DHA.
Dose: 350– 2,000 mg daily
Probiotics. Eighty percent of your immune cells reside
in your gut, where bacteria actively regulates your immune
defenses. Recent studies have found that the onset of
rheumatoid arthritis relates to the loss of benefcial gut
bacteria, and probiotics can reduce symptoms of this form
of arthritis. Other studies have found that probiotics reduce
infammation in healthy young adults and seniors. Helpful
strains include Lactobacillus salivarius, L. gasseri, Bifdobacterium
bifdum and B. longum, and their benefts might be enhanced
by adding prebiotics.
Dose: Opt for a multistrain probiotic, and follow label directions.
Gamma-linolenic acid. We tend to think of omega- 6
fats as promoting infammation, but gamma-linolenic acid
(GLA) is an exception that shines for its anti-infammatory
properties. Studies have found that it can beneft people with
rheumatoid arthritis and often those with atopic dermatitis
and psoriasis. GLA and EPA are synergistic, so combining
them can bring extra relief.
Dose: 100 mg daily for prevention; 1,500 mg daily for
rheumatoid arthritis. ➻