If you find yourself living on over the counter anti-inflammatories like NSAIDS or cortico-steroids you may be wondering about natural alternatives for chronic inflammation. In today’s article, I will be reviewing some of the Best Supplements that can naturally reduce inflammation.
When something damages your cells, your body releases chemicals that trigger a response from your immune system. This includes increased blood flow, production of antibodies and specialized proteins. The acute stage of inflammation typically last from a few hours to a few days.
Chronic inflammation on the other hand occurs when the insult or injury to tissues and organs continue for a longer period of time. Chronic inflammation has been shown to cause Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune problems, hormonal imbalances, depression, gastrointestinal problems and is considered a root cause of all disease processes.
The Best Supplements for Reducing Inflammation
Before you resort to popping NSAIDs or corticosteroids to lower inflammation? it is important to understand and address the underlying cause of your chronic inflammation.
There are many lifestyle factors that when implemented and consistently followed, can naturally lower chronic inflammation in your body without all the side effects that come from over the counter NSAIDs or steroid prescriptions.
While chronic inflammation has many causes, following an anti-inflammatory diet is a great place to start. But… if you have already eliminated inflammatory foods and you are only noticing marginal improvement, it’s time to address this from another angle.
Depending on how long you have been dealing with chronic inflammation, and what the cause of inflammation is in your particular case, diet may not be enough to get you to the therapeutic levels that these supplements can.
You may remember in my last article, Top 5 blood markers for Inflammation I talked about the damaging effects of excess insulin. I talked about excess insulin and how oxidative stress will lead to chronic inflammation.
It turns out that that Alpha-lipoic can kill two birds with one stone so to speak.
Not only can it reduce inflammation linked to insulin resistance (prediabetes), and heart disease but, because Alpha lipoic acid functions like an antioxidant it protects your cells from the damaging effect of oxidative stress.
You can see here in this illustration what Oxidative stress does to your cells.
Another benefit to Alpha-lipoic acid is that it also helps regenerate some of the other antioxidants like Vitamin C and vitamin E that you might be more familiar with.
Next on my list of supplements that have a proven track record in quenching Chronic inflammation is Resveratrol.
Resveratrol is another antioxidant that scavenges for free radicals. It’s found in grapes, blueberries, and other fruits with purple skin. It is also found in red wine and peanuts.
Resveratrol has been shown to play a role in the Nrf2 pathways. Nrf2 is the defense mechanism within your cells that protects your cells against oxidative stress and cell damage.
Nrf2 activates many different kinds of intracellular antioxidants that help block oxidative stress, cell damage and inflammation.
I use Resveratrol with many patients who have gastritis, Hashimotos, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, insulin resistance, atherosclerosis, autoimmune disease, pulmonary disease and patient who struggle with Fibromyalgia and chronic pain.
When you start to look at the studies it’s exciting to see that once again, nature provides a solution.
A recent study looked at people with ulcerative colitis, and they put them on 500 mg of daily resveratrol.
The conclusion of the study was that after 6 weeks of supplementation with 500 mg of resveratrol, quality of life improved, and inflammatory markers in the blood was significantly reduced.
Curcumin is component of the spice Turmeric.
The powerful anti-inflammatory benefits you hear about when it comes to Turmeric comes from the concentration of curcuminoids and polyphenols present.
Curcuminoids can influence many different inflammatory pathways. There are many different chemicals associated with either chronic pain and chronic inflammation. You may have heard of chemicals like NfkB, COX, histamines, leukotrienes, prostaglandins all of these can drive inflammation in the body and ultimately if elevated for prolonged periods of time, drive disease.
Several studies have shown between 500mg up to 1g of Turmeric Root Extract per day, can help people with diabetes, heart disease, Inflammatory Bowel disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, Osteoarthritis and cancer.
So here again, we see a powerful anti-inflammatory alternative to NSAIDs.
One thing I want to point out is that for you to have optimal absorption of the curcuminoids, it’s best to combine the turmeric with good fats such as coconut oil, avocado oil or olive oil.
Studies show that a dash of black pepper will also enhance curcumin absorption.
Next on my list of Natural NSAID alternatives for Inflammation is Fish oil.
4. Fish Oil– Essential Fatty Acids
Most people are familiar with the heart health benefits of fish oil, not everyone is familiar with just how powerful of an anti-inflammatory effect fish oil can be.
The powers of fish oil on inflammation have to do with how omega 3 essential fatty acids balance something called eicosanoids.
There are three main kinds of eicosanoids, and what you eat and how much you eat, determine the kinds of eicosanoids that are made. Some eicosanoids are good and prevent or modulate inflammation and some eicosanoids drive or promote inflammation.
Good fats like the ones found in fish oil, make good eicosanoids and bad fats make the bad eicosanoids.
Fish oils contain high amounts of good fats and its these fats and eicosanoids that are made that can reduce inflammation and bring balance to the so called bad eicosanoids.
Research Shows Fish Oils Can
- Maintain Normal Inflammatory Balance
- Support Joint Discomfort and Muscular Skeletal Integrity
- Lower blood pressure.
- Reduce triglycerides.
- Slow the development of plaque in the arteries.
- Reduce the chance of abnormal heart rhythm.
- Reduce the likelihood of heart attack and stroke.
- Lessen the chance of sudden cardiac death in people with heart disease.
Another one of my favorite supplements to fight chronic Inflammation naturally is quercetin.
Quercetin, is a flavonoid, it is found in fruits and vegetables, things like apples, berries, Brassica vegetables, grapes, onions, tea, and tomatoes, as well as many seeds, nuts.
Quercetin and other bioflavonoids are especially important for people with a history of chronic inflammatory conditions. Things like Histamine intolerance/MCAS, allergies, Celiac disease, Crohn’s Disease, upper GI irritation, pulmonary or breathing issues.
I use a lot of Quercetin in my practice for a variety of reasons, it not only affects the release of histamine, but it also helps stabilize mast cells so that they don’t continue releasing more and more histamine and other inflammatory molecules.
- Supports Immune Balance in Hypersensitive Individuals
- Supports Sinus and Respiratory Health
- Promotes Normal Viscosity of Mucus
- Clears Nasal Passages
- Help with Pain and Inflammation
- Improve Energy
- Fatty Liver/Fibrosis
- Neuroprotective against neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimer’s– Protects Nerve System
Quercetin supports the integrity of mast cells, due in part to its ability to stabilize the the membrane of the cell. This is why, Quercetin is used as a mast cell stabilizer. It prevents mast cells from degranulating or breaking apart and releasing histamine.
How is Chronic Inflammation Treated in Traditional Medicine?
In conventional medicine, the standard of treatment for pain and inflammation is usually some combination of medications. These medications include steroids, known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These may be things like ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin.
NSAIDs block an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (or COX) used by the body to make prostaglandins. By reducing production of prostaglandins, NSAIDs help relieve the discomfort of fever and reduce inflammation and associated pain. But blocking these enzymes in the way that NSAIDs do, comes with a hefty price for some. While NSAIDs can be effective in relieving pain, fever and inflammation, they can cause unwanted side effects. Stay tuned as we dive into some of the most effective alternative to NSAIDs.
Common Side Effects of NSAIDs Include:
- Elevated liver enzymes on blood work
- Leaky Gut
- salt and fluid retention
- high blood pressure.
- Less common side effects include:
- ulcers of the esophagus
- heart failure
- high levels of potassium in the blood
- reduced kidney function
- bronchospasm (difficulty breathing)
- skin rash
- skin irritation, reddening, itching or rash
- increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, even in healthy people.
These drugs include cortisone, hydrocortisone and prednisone and— are used when treating rashes, inflammatory bowel disease and asthma.
Because oral corticosteroids affect your entire body instead of just a particular area, this route of administration is the most likely to cause significant side effects. Side effects depend on the dose of medication you receive and may include:
- Fluid retention, causing swelling in your lower legs
- High blood pressure
- Problems with mood swings, memory, behavior, and other psychological effects, such as confusion or delirium
- Upset stomach
- Weight gain, with fat deposits in your abdomen, your face and the back of your neck
When taking oral corticosteroids longer term, you may experience:
- Elevated pressure in the eyes (glaucoma)
- Clouding of the lens in one or both eyes (cataracts)
- A round face (moon face)
- High blood sugar, which can trigger or worsen diabetes
- Increased risk of infections, especially with common bacterial, viral and fungal microorganisms
- Thinning bones (osteoporosis) and fractures
- Suppressed adrenal gland hormone production that may result in a variety of signs and symptoms, including severe fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and muscle weakness
- Thin skin, bruising and slower wound healing
Side effects of inhaled corticosteroids
When using an inhaled corticosteroid, some of the drug may deposit in your mouth and throat instead of making it to your lungs. This can cause:
- Fungal infection in the mouth (oral thrush)
If you gargle and rinse your mouth with water — don’t swallow — after each puff on your corticosteroid inhaler, you may be able to avoid mouth and throat irritation. Some researchers have speculated that inhaled corticosteroid drugs may slow growth rates in children who use them for asthma.
Side effects of topical corticosteroids
Topical corticosteroids can lead to thin skin, red skin lesions and acne.
Side effects of injected corticosteroids
Injected corticosteroids can cause temporary side effects near the site of the injection, including skin thinning, loss of color in the skin, and intense pain — also known as post-injection flare. Other signs and symptoms may include facial flushing, insomnia and high blood sugar. Doctors usually limit corticosteroid injections to three or four a year, depending on each patient’s situation.
Chronic Inflammation is often rooted in several areas of dysfunctional physiology- The Standard American Diet with too many inflammatory foods, imbalances in gut microbiome, leaky gut, high insulin levels, chronic stress and hormone imbalances, and various medications. All of these things can and will lead to chronic inflammation, pain and disease.
Remember, when inflammation turns chronic, it’s important to identify and address the root cause. While taking these supplements described in today’s article will help with pain and chronic inflammation, you should work with a functional medicine practitioner to address the root cause. Supplements will not make up for a bad diet and unhealthy lifestyle factors. In functional medicine, its important to look at the Big picture when you are dealing with a chronic health problem.
The last reminder I want to touch on is that while taking NSAIDs may be the number one recommendation by your healthcare provider, nature makes some incredibly powerful, natural alternative to NSAIDs that come without all the side effects that over the counter and prescriptions anti-inflammatories come with.
Additional Recommended Articles On Inflammation
- Chronic Inflammation? Here are 7 reasons you could be Inflamed.
- Foods that cause inflammation
- Best Blood Tests to Identify and Monitor Inflammation
- Inflammation and Weight gain- How Inflammation makes you fat
- Best Supplements to help reduce Chronic Inflammation and Oxidative Stress.