Monday, September 26, 2016

7 Herbs and Spices for Rheumatoid Arthritis Relief | Everyday Health

7 Herbs and Spices for Rheumatoid Arthritis Relief | Everyday Health

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Living Well With Rheumatoid Arthritis


7 Herbs and Spices for Rheumatoid Arthritis Relief

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  • Anti-Inflammatory Spices and Herbs

    Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease of inflammation, so adding anti-inflammatory herbs and spices to your diet might sound like a good idea. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), though, there's not enough evidence to support the use of particular herbs or spices as effective treatments for rheumatoid arthritis
    “I think we are a long way from making a recommendation to people. We are not quite there in terms of the right dose,” cautions rheumatologist Beth Jonas, MD, director of the Rheumatology Fellowship Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 
    Still, a number of herbs and spices do have anti-inflammatory properties, and, at the very least, adding them to your recipes will liven up your meals. 
    Here are seven herbs and spices worthy of your consideration.
  • Ginger

    Gingerol is the compound in ginger that gives it flavor and some of its anti-inflammatory properties. Elements in ginger were found to reduce the action of T cells, immune cells that can add to systemic inflammation, in an analysis published in the July 2015 issue of Phytotherapy Research.
    Try stir-frying with ginger or eating fresh pickled ginger. Galina Veresciak Roofener, a licensed acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist at the Cleveland Clinic, agrees that ginger can be a beneficial part of your plan to control arthritis symptoms and recommends working with a trained herbalist. 
  • Turmeric

    Animal studies have shown that essential oils of turmeric have anti-arthritis properties. In a review published in 2013 in The AAPS Journal of curcumin, the active ingredient that gives turmeric its yellow color, researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center found that this natural remedy may have antibacterial and anti-cancer properties, as well as anti-inflammatory properties that could help with rheumatoid arthritis.
    “Both turmeric and curcumin, two parts of the same plant, have very strong anti-inflammatory activity and can be used for treatment of inflammation, especially joints,” Roofener says. But she cautions that turmeric is also a blood thinner and should be avoided in large doses if you take a blood-thinning medicine. Want to try turmeric? Opt for a curry dish like this healthified chicken curry with couscous recipe
  • Green Tea

    Green tea contains polyphenols, says Dr. Jonas, which could aid in reducing inflammation and protecting joints, according to research published in December 2014 in Arthritis Research & Therapy. Evidence from animal studies suggests that polyphenols, which are rich in antioxidants, may suppress the immune response. That could be important because rheumatoid arthritis is a disease in which the immune system attacks joints, causing pain and swelling, Jonas says. And you don't have to stick to plain green tea either — next time test out this recipe for iced mint green tea.
  • Cinnamon

    In China and India, cinnamon bark is used to make natural remedies such as medicinal powders and teas. "Cinnamon may have some properties that fight inflammation," Roofener says. "Cinnamon is a hot herb. It’s very useful for aches and pains, especially when they are worse with cold or cold weather." Researchers who published an analysis of the phytochemicals in cinnamon that help reduce inflammation theorized that cinnamon could be used for inflammation if the right concentration is determined. The findings were published in Food & Function in March 2015. 
    "Although fine on your cinnamon bun, if it’s overdosed, it might not be safe for pregnant women," Roofener warns. Up to 6 grams of daily use seems to be safe, but larger doses of the spice could interfere with blood clotting and blood thinner medications. For RA inflammation, cinnamon may be a good option, but in moderation. Powdered cinnamon can be added to oatmeal, or even oranges for a delicious and healthy dessert.
  • Garlic

    Fresh garlic can liven up any dish and may help ease rheumatoid arthritis pain. A 2013 study published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology noted that garlic has significant anti-inflammatory effects because it inhibits the production of pro-inflammatory substances known as cytokines. But the study found that heating garlic extract significantly reduced its anti-inflammatory properties.
    Garlic can be added to many types of foods, including roasted vegetables, stir-fries, and sandwich spreads. You can also whip up this delicious roasted garlic dressing and serve over greens.
  • Black Pepper

    Peppers are widely used to fight pain and swelling in traditional natural remedies. For instance, capsaicin, the substance that gives hot peppers their heat, is used in gels and creams as an arthritis treatment, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Research published in the journal Natural Product Communications found that many of the anti-inflammatory properties found in capsaicin are also found in black pepper.
  • Willow Bark

    Willow bark has been shown to help reduce markers of inflammation, according to research published in April 2013 in Phytotherapy Research. When researchers gave a willow bark extract to 436 people with rheumatic pain or back pain for three weeks, they saw a significant reduction in pain, according to a report in the August 2013 issue of Phytomedicine.
  • The Bottom Line?

    "Adding herbs and spices to your diet for their anti-inflammatory properties is usually safe," Roofener says.
    She advises using herbs or supplements at least two hours before or after taking your medications. And, she adds, your treatment should be personalized. Work with a health professional trained in herbal medicine, she suggests, because such a person will consider many factors, including your overall health and symptoms, before recommending specific herbs.
    "When you look at herbs, it is important what they do but also for whom they are prescribed," Roofener says. "If you want to use them in high doses as medicine, make sure to check with your doctor first.”
    Additional reporting by Madeline Vann, MPH
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  • Last Updated: 12/03/15

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