Inflammation is a natural defense mechanism within the body, but out-of-control inflammatory responses can create disease. Fortunately, there is a simple way to reduce inflammation – by adding some powerful spices to the diet.
Spices are time-tested and much safer than conventional anti-inflammatory drugs. Besides adding a kick of flavor to any meal, they are proven to bring many health benefits ranging from weight loss to cancer prevention. Today, we’ll focus on turmeric, ginger and cinnamon.
Turmeric can help ease inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
Bright yellow in color with a peppery, bitter flavor – turmeric has been used in traditional Indian cuisine for many centuries. A study on mice induced with ulcerative colitis showed that turmeric protected the mice from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
In the study, turmeric was added to the diet – for five days prior to inducing the inflammatory agent. Researchers found that the mice that received turmeric showed decreased signs of colitis and healthier intestinal cell function.
Researchers suggest that curcumin’s antioxidant effect and its ability to inhibit the inflammatory agent NF kappa-B are instrumental for the protective effect. It is easy to get similar protective effects by adding a quarter to one teaspoon of turmeric or a fresh turmeric root – every day – to curry dishes, soups and gravies. Generally speaking, you’ll get better results by adding turmeric powder or the root to dishes versus questionable supplements.
Relieve arthritis pain with ginger
Ginger is a spicy herbal remedy that eliminates intestinal gas and distress – while adding some zest to any food or juice. Research clearly indicate that the potent anti-inflammatory compounds, found in ginger, are responsible for relief from pain, swelling and muscular discomfort due to arthritis. In fact, clinical studies show that spicing up your meals with ginger on an everyday basis is beneficial in improving painful arthritis.
A double-blind, placebo controlled study published in the journal Osteoarthritis Cartilage revealed that ginger was effective in treating arthritic pain. Patients consuming ginger supplements everyday experienced less pain in the knee cap region and moved better than those who received a placebo.
When researchers replaced the ginger supplements with placebo, pain and other symptoms returned indicating the significant role of ginger. Researchers discovered that 6-gingerol, the active phenolic compound in ginger acts as a potent inflammation suppressor to help soothe arthritic pain.
Cinnamon helps to lower muscle soreness and inflammation
Cinnamon is valued in energy-based medicine system due to its warming qualities. The active ingredient, cinnamaldehyde, displays many benefits including inhibiting inflammation in the cells. Researchers say that cinnamaldehyde helps to release arachidonic acid from cell’s membranes – which in turn reduces the formation of an inflammatory messaging molecule called thromboxane A2. In addition, being a natural antioxidant – it curbs the release of free radicals which also is a reason for decreased inflammation.
A 2012 study, published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, showed that cinnamon extracts were able to decrease inflammation in lab studies. According to researchers, the rich polyphenolic components in cinnamon like flavonoids and tannins are responsible for the potent anti-inflammatory effect. These compounds were shown to inhibit specific signaling pathways that cause inflammation in the body namely NFkB and MAP kinase.
A word of caution. When choosing spices – go for organic varieties that are not irradiated. Irradiated spices have decreased antioxidant effect and lower potency. Most spices are readily available, inexpensive and can be easily incorporated in most meals. So cook up relief from pain and inflammation by using these ingredients in your next meal or smoothie.