Opinion

Curbing inflammation using natural remedies | Difani

Inflammation - you hear the word everywhere. There are many in the medical community who theorize that inflammation is underlying most chronic illness, including everything from asthma to cancer. Americans consume a stunning quantity of anti-inflammatory medications, both prescription and over-the-counter. They can be effective, but there are negative side-effects with long-term use, so the search has continued for alternatives.

There are various approaches to reducing inflammation using a more holistic or natural approach. These include increasing foods that reduce inflammation and avoiding more pro-inflammatory foods, consuming compounds like Omega-3 fatty acids, which tip the scales toward an inflammation-reducing effect, and taking certain medicinal plants and compounds.

In the plant world there are many roots, resins, leaves, and flowers that contain anti- inflammatory compounds and exhibit these effects in-vitro, inhibiting various enzymes in the pro-inflammatory pathways helping to reduce the symptoms of inflammation, including arthritic pain and sinusitis.  Some of the plants and compounds that can be most effective for reducing inflammation include turmeric root, frankincense resin (Boswellia is its Latin genus name and its oft-referred-to name), bromelain (pineapple enzyme), quercetin (a flavonoid found in some fruits, yellow onions, wine), rosemary leaf, and plants that contain berbine, such as goldenseal and goldenthread.

Most of these plants are only effective when consumed on a regular basis, at least once per day, to exert their inflammation-reducing effects. In addition, the most effective way to take these medicinal plants and compounds varies by the plant and each has areas that it may be more effective in helping. For example, turmeric root is poorly absorbed systemically, so can exert its anti-inflammatory effects on the gastrointestinal tract readily and can be effective for managing inflammation in other parts of the body, including the joints, when taken with lipids (fats) and black pepper.  Usually, a capsule where the curcuminoids are concentrated, a class of compounds determined to have the most powerful effects in this regard, is the best way to consume turmeric.  Another example is quercetin, which can help reduce the symptoms of seasonal allergies due to its antihistamine effects, as well as its anti-inflammatory action. It is usually taken in high amounts in capsule form until symptoms start to ease, and then it can be tapered down to a maintenance amount per day. It can also be effective when taken preventively, before allergy symptoms begin, if someone suffers from pollen allergies in the spring for example.

Using herbal remedies for their anti-inflammatory effects simply requires a different approach. They are usually not immediate in their action and need to be taken in correct amounts for a period of time to have noticeable effects. What you get in return is hopefully an effect that leaves you more comfortable and does not have negative long-term side effects. At Herban Wellness, we are trained herbalists who strive to help provide you with the best information so you can make a good choice as to what herbs to use and how to use them appropriately.

Katya Difani works at Herban Wellness in Kirkland www.herbanwellness.net.

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