Arthritis, whether it is osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout, have the common symptoms of inflammation of one or more joints. This is accompanied by pain, swelling and sometimes joint deformity. Traditionally, with herbal medicine, anti-inflammatory herbs such as black cohosh, feverfew, yucca and wild yam were recommended. And a naturopath might prescribe vitamins like vitamin A, the B complex, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Plus a host of minerals like chelated zinc, chelated calcium and magnesium, copper salicylate, selenium and bromelain. And supplements like evening primrose and fish oils, glucosmaine, and superoxide dismutase, which is found in good quality dehydrated (but not juiced) green barley powder.
But scientists have found some very effective anti-inflammatory agents in our own kitchen. Some of them, like ginger, can be bought as a supplement. And due to ginger’s strong taste, this might be a preferable way of taking it to get the quantities you need for a significant anti-inflammatory effect. But others, like olive oil, can easily be integrated into the daily diet. Cinnamon is not commonly used as a supplement here, but in India it has a rich traditional use and may be available as part of an Ayurvedic supplement.
Ginger. One of the active constituents in ginger is a phenolic compound known as gingerols. These have been found to 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.
However, if you are taking blood thinning medication like warfarin, you may need to be careful about the amount of ginger you take, as ginger can thin the blood also. (Australian Healthy Food)Cinnamon. This rather delicious spice has a number of health benefits. Specific to inflammation and arthritis, cinnamon can help inhibit the release of inflammatory fatty acids. (Australian Healthy Food)Yellow and Orange Fruits and Vegetables. Some of the carotenoids in yellow and orange fruit and vegetables help reduce inflammation. Carotenoids are what gives these vegetables and fruit their color. (Australian Healthy Food)Olive Oil. Extra virgin olive oil acts similar to the anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen, though it doesn’t have the immediate pain relieving effects that ibuprofen does. But a compund found in extra virgin olive oil, called oleocanthal has been found to inhibit the COX enzymes like ibuprofen, in what researchers describe as a ‘dose dependant’ manner. This research was originally reported in the September, 2005 issue of Nature magazine by Paul Breslin and his associates from Monell Chemical Senses Center. He describes oleocanthal as a natural anti-inflammatory compound that is 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 results 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. Olive oil also has a host of other benefits, including a heart protective effect.
Interestingly, scientists have also found that a diet high in refined grains, sugary soft drinks, processed meat and even diet soft drinks can encourage both inflammation and type 2 diabetes.
2. Australian Healthy Food Magazine, November 2005 Issue.
3. Australian Healthy Food Magazine, January 2006 Issue.
4, P Bedson, The Complete Family Guide To Natural Healing (Hinkler Books).