We are going to get into some specific herbs that have a proven record of effectiveness at reducing inflammation and reducing oxidative stress.
- Turmeric/Curcumin—you have heard of turmeric before… it has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic (Indian) medicine and is one of the most effective anti-inflammatory herbs we have.
- Rosemary is a common culinary herb, but it is also a powerful anti-inflammatory herb and helps to heal the digestive system. If you use rosemary as a cooking herb, no problem, but you should be aware that it is also used to raise blood pressure—and if you have high blood pressure, you should avoid rosemary as a supplement
- Holy basil—while this sounds like the common kitchen herb, it is slightly different than THAT basil. Both basils are anti-inflammatory but holy basil wins the contest as to which basil is more anti-inflammatory.
- Oregano is another herb that is used in cooking and can boost the immune system by dampening the over-the-top inflammatory response.
- Borage oil contains high levels of fatty acids that can be used to make the anti-inflammatory types of prostaglandins—if you take borage oil, you are essentially providing your body with the building blocks to reduce inflammation.
- Boswellia is another name for frankincense. It can be used topically (on the skin) or internally as an anti-inflammatory supplement.
- White willow bark has been used traditionally for centuries to reduce fever and inflammation. The active ingredients have a chemical structure very similar to aspirin (which was derived from white willow bark) but does NOT have the stomach damaging effects of aspirin. Also, white willow bark does not affect blood clotting like aspirin does.
- Licorice (the plant, NOT the candy) has been used for centuries as an adaptogen—allowing the body to cope better with stress. It acts on the adrenal glands and is a potent anti-inflammatory agent.
- Milk thistle is a liver adaptogen and an anti-oxidant. It also helps regulate sugar and cholesterol levels and helps protect the liver against toxic damage.
- Açaí—the açaí berry is a potent anti-oxidant from the açaí palm that grows in tropical Central and South America. Ounce per ounce, it contains some of the highest levels of anthocyanins and was traditionally used to boost energy and maintain stamina.
Again, your best bet is to get all these anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories in your foods. But, if you determine you need that extra nudge, talk to your health care professional and determine which—or which combination of herbs is best for you.
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