Inflammation is our body’s response to infection, stress, injury, and any type of irritation. While short-term inflammation keeps the body safe, chronic or long-term inflammation, though, can cause damage and pain, as in the case of arthritis. Long-term inflammation can be caused by poor dietary choices and unhealthy lifestyle habits such as smoking, drinking, inadequate sleep, and a sedentary lifestyle. Chronic inflammation is known to increase the risk of conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. In some cases, getting an additional boost to your health from supplements can help fight inflammation. Here are some of the top supplements to fight inflammation.
5 Top Supplements to Fight Inflammation
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids should be an essential part of our diet. These can be found in abundance in fatty fish like cod, mackerel, tuna, sardines, salmon, herring, etc. Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory supplements.(1, 2, 3)
These supplements can help you fight against many types of inflammation, including vascular inflammation, which is a major risk factor for heart attack and heart disease.(4, 5) A study carried out on 250 participants who experienced pain from degenerative disc disease found that 59 percent of them were able to switch to fish oil from taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to manage their pain.(3)
The dosage of the supplement varies with its potency. Some supplements are available in pill form, while others sell them in the form of fish oil. Always remember that it is important to use these products according to the instructions given on the packaging.
Similar to many prescription drugs for inflammation, omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil can increase the risk of bleeding. This is why people who take blood thinners or those who have bleeding disorders should avoid using omega-3 fatty acid supplements.(6)
Curcumin is a compound that is commonly found in turmeric, a spice typically used in Asian cuisine and known for its yellow color. Turmeric is popularly used in many Asian traditional medicines because of its many health benefits.(7, 8)
Curcumin is known to help reduce inflammation in conditions like inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and several other illnesses.(9, 10) Curcumin is also known to be useful in reducing inflammation and also improving the symptoms of conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.(11, 12)
A controlled, randomized trial discovered that people who had metabolic syndrome and took curcumin regularly had dramatically lower levels of the inflammatory markers known as C-reactive protein (CRP) and malondialdehyde in their bodies as compared to those who were administered a placebo.(13)
Another study found that when 80 adults with cancerous tumors were administered 150 mg of curcumin every day for eight weeks, most of the inflammatory markers in their blood decreased much more than in the control group. The quality of life also improved significantly.(14)
However, despite these benefits, curcumin is not absorbed properly into the bloodstream since its bioavailability is restricted. Bioavailability is the rate at which the body absorbs any substance.(15)
One way to increase the absorbance of curcumin is black pepper. Black pepper and a component of black pepper known as piperine are known to dramatically increase the absorption of curcumin. This is why you will find piperine as an ingredient in many curcumin supplements. If you are cooking, it is a good idea to include turmeric and black pepper in your dish to ensure good absorption of curcumin. Using up to 500 mg of curcumin daily is considered to be safe. It is important to note that in some studies, people taking higher doses reported symptoms like diarrhea, headaches and nausea.(16)
S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e) is a naturally produced substance by your body. It has an important role to play in the epigenetic regulation of genes. Epigenetic factors are those that affect gene behavior and expression. This means that these factors can turn specific genes on or off and also change the effect of other genes. Doctors often recommend SAM-e to people for managing the symptoms of osteoarthritis, depression, and some liver conditions since inflammation are known to play a significant role in each of these conditions.(17)
Several clinical trials have shown that SAM-e can help alleviate the inflammation and pain associated with a variety of arthritis, and in some cases, it can work just as well as some NSAIDs.(18)
The right dosage of SAM-e, though, depends on the exact condition a person has. For example, your doctor might prescribe 200 to 800 mg to be taken twice a day if you have fibromyalgia. For those suffering from clinical depression, a doctor may recommend anywhere between 800 to 1600 mg twice a day, while for osteoarthritis, the dosage may vary between 600 to 1200 mg three times a day.
It is important to note that SAM-e is known to interact with a variety of drugs, which is why you should never take SAM-e as a supplement without consulting your doctor. If taken at high doses, SAM-e supplements may cause diarrhea, gas and bloating, nausea and vomiting. This is why it is essential to consult a doctor before taking this supplement so that you are taking the correct dosage of SAM-e.
Ginger root is a popular ingredient used in cooking, and it is also used in many herbal medicines. Ginger is also a traditional home remedy for the treatment of nausea and indigestion and even helps in morning sickness during pregnancy. Ginger has two components, zingerone, and gingerol, that are known to help decrease inflammation caused by various health conditions, including type 2 diabetes. Consumption of ginger is also known to improve blood sugar control over time.(19, 20)
A 2014 study done by the Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iran found that when people with diabetes were administered 1600 mg of ginger daily for a period of 12 weeks, their blood sugar levels improved, and inflammation levels went down drastically as compared to the control group.(21)
Another 2015 study discovered that women who had breast cancer and were given ginger supplements had significantly reduced levels of the inflammatory markers interleukin-6 (IL-6) and CRP as compared to the group who were given a placebo. The results were significantly better when the ginger supplementation was combined with exercise.(22)
Using up to two grams of ginger per day is considered to be a safe dosage. It is important to note that high doses of ginger supplementation can have a blood-thinning effect. So if you are on a blood thinner, you should speak with your doctor before you start taking ginger supplements.
Research has shown that zinc has a powerful anti-inflammatory that helps boost the functioning of the immune system and lowers many of the markers of inflammation in the body.
For example, in a 2014 paper, zinc was found to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in older adults. Oxidative stress is one of the known triggers of inflammation in the body and is known to also increase the risk of a variety of conditions, including cancer.(23, 24) In the same study, zinc also successfully decreased the rate of infections by 66%.
People who are deficient in zinc are known to be at a greater risk of having arthritis, which suggests a potential link between inflammation, pain, and zinc deficiency.
The typical daily dosage of zinc supplements is 8 mg for women and 11 mg for men. Consuming over 40 mg of zinc per day can be dangerous to your health. Zinc is also known with diuretics, calcium, and some antibiotics, so it is necessary to only take the supplement after consulting your doctor.
It is important to bear in mind that anti-inflammatory supplements may not work for everyone in the same way. And not only this, but it also takes some time for these supplements to reverse the inflammation. People who are looking for an immediate relief from pain may want to explore other options and continue taking the supplements at the same time. Some of these options may include over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs such as acetaminophen, aspirin, and ibuprofen. Prescription anti-inflammatory drugs and following an anti-inflammatory diet can also help. The focus should be on consuming foods that decrease inflammation and avoiding those that trigger inflammation, such as red meat and fried foods.
Natural anti-inflammatory supplements can help the body against inflammation and pain, and they may even prevent several of the long-term complications caused by chronic inflammation, including cancer. However, remember that before trying out any new anti-inflammatory treatment, even if it is a natural supplement, it is necessary to consult your doctor because some of these supplements can interact with other medications and also cause side effects. Nevertheless, the good news is that when they work, these natural anti-inflammatory supplements can help reduce inflammation and cut down on the need to take over-the-counter or prescription medications for inflammation and pain.
- Mori, T.A. and Beilin, L.J., 2004. Omega-3 fatty acids and inflammation. Current atherosclerosis reports, 6(6), pp.461-467.
- Calder, P.C., 2010. Omega-3 fatty acids and inflammatory processes. Nutrients, 2(3), pp.355-374.
- Maroon, J.C., Bost, J.W. and Maroon, A., 2010. Natural anti-inflammatory agents for pain relief. Surgical neurology international, 1.
- Koenig, W., 2001. Inflammation and coronary heart disease: an overview. Cardiology in review, 9(1), pp.31-35.
- Schumacher, A., Seljeflot, I., Sommervoll, L., Christensen, B., Otterstad, J.E. and Arnesen, H., 2002. Increased levels of markers of vascular inflammation in patients with coronary heart disease. Scandinavian journal of clinical and laboratory investigation, 62(1), pp.59-68.
- Harris, W.S., 2007. Expert opinion: omega-3 fatty acids and bleeding—cause for concern?. The American journal of cardiology, 99(6), pp.S44-S46.
- Singletary, K., 2010. Turmeric: an overview of potential health benefits. Nutrition Today, 45(5), pp.216-225.
- Singletary, K., 2020. Turmeric: potential health benefits. Nutrition Today, 55(1), pp.45-56.
- Pivari, F., Mingione, A., Brasacchio, C. and Soldati, L., 2019. Curcumin and type 2 diabetes mellitus: prevention and treatment. Nutrients, 11(8), p.1837.
- Panahi, Y., Darvishi, B., Ghanei, M., Jowzi, N., Beiraghdar, F. and Varnamkhasti, B.S., 2016. Molecular mechanisms of curcumins suppressing effects on tumorigenesis, angiogenesis and metastasis, focusing on NF-κB pathway. Cytokine & Growth Factor Reviews, 28, pp.21-29.
- Panahi, Y., Alishiri, G.H., Parvin, S. and Sahebkar, A., 2016. Mitigation of systemic oxidative stress by curcuminoids in osteoarthritis: results of a randomized controlled trial. Journal of dietary supplements, 13(2), pp.209-220.
- Dai, Q., Zhou, D., Xu, L. and Song, X., 2018. Curcumin alleviates rheumatoid arthritis-induced inflammation and synovial hyperplasia by targeting mTOR pathway in rats. Drug design, development and therapy, 12, p.4095.
- Panahi, Y., Hosseini, M.S., Khalili, N., Naimi, E., Majeed, M. and Sahebkar, A., 2015. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of curcuminoid-piperine combination in subjects with metabolic syndrome: a randomized controlled trial and an updated meta-analysis. Clinical nutrition, 34(6), pp.1101-1108.
- Panahi, Y., Saadat, A., Beiraghdar, F. and Sahebkar, A., 2014. Adjuvant therapy with bioavailability‐boosted curcuminoids suppresses systemic inflammation and improves quality of life in patients with solid tumors: a randomized double‐blind placebo‐controlled trial. Phytotherapy Research, 28(10), pp.1461-1467.
- Dei Cas, M. and Ghidoni, R., 2019. Dietary curcumin: correlation between bioavailability and health potential. Nutrients, 11(9), p.2147.
- Hewlings, S.J. and Kalman, D.S., 2017. Curcumin: A review of its effects on human health. Foods, 6(10), p.92.
- Pfalzer, A.C., Choi, S.W., Tammen, S.A., Park, L.K., Bottiglieri, T., Parnell, L.D. and Lamon-Fava, S., 2014. S-adenosylmethionine mediates inhibition of inflammatory response and changes in DNA methylation in human macrophages. Physiological genomics, 46(17), pp.617-623.
- Anon, Supplement and herb guide for arthritis symptoms . Supplement and Herb Guide for Arthritis Symptoms | Arthritis Foundation. Available at: https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/treatment/complementary-therapies/supplements-and-vitamins/supplement-and-herb-guide-for-arthritis-symptoms [Accessed September 7, 2022].
- Yang, M., Liu, C., Jiang, J., Zuo, G., Lin, X., Yamahara, J., Wang, J. and Li, Y., 2014. Ginger extract diminishes chronic fructose consumption-induced kidney injury through suppression of renal overexpression of proinflammatory cytokines in rats. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 14(1), pp.1-12.
- Mahluji, S., Ostadrahimi, A., Mobasseri, M., Attari, V.E. and Payahoo, L., 2013. Anti-inflammatory effects of Zingiber officinale in type 2 diabetic patients. Advanced pharmaceutical bulletin, 3(2), p.273.
- Arablou, T., Aryaeian, N., Valizadeh, M., Sharifi, F., Hosseini, A. and Djalali, M., 2014. The effect of ginger consumption on glycemic status, lipid profile and some inflammatory markers in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. International journal of food sciences and nutrition, 65(4), pp.515-520.
- Karimi, N., Roshan, V.D. and Bayatiyani, Z.F., 2015. Individually and combined water-based exercise with ginger supplement, on systemic inflammation and metabolic syndrome indices, among the obese women with breast neoplasms. Iranian journal of cancer prevention, 8(6).
- Prasad, A.S., 2014. Zinc is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent: its role in human health. Frontiers in nutrition, 1, p.14.
- Pizzino, G., Irrera, N., Cucinotta, M., Pallio, G., Mannino, F., Arcoraci, V., Squadrito, F., Altavilla, D. and Bitto, A., 2017. Oxidative stress: harms and benefits for human health. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity, 2017.