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In accordance with our Law of Pain, the origin of all pain is inflammation and the inflammatory response. The biochemical mediators of inflammation include cytokines, neuropeptides, growth factors and neurotransmitters.

Inflammation is your body’s protective response to injury or damage. It helps your natural healing and repair processes. A problem starts when your body is chronically inflamed. You don’t have to accept inflammation as a part of modern life. There are many different foods and herbs that can help you reduce or prevent inflammation in your body. If you’re looking for an eating plan that closely follows the tenets of anti-inflammatory eating, consider the Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and healthy oils. Incorporation of anti-inflammatory herbs and spices is essential – try these easily accessible herbs and spices:

Turmeric (Curcumin)
The anti-inflammatory agent in turmeric is its yellow pigment called curcumin. Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines have long used turmeric and curcumin to reduce inflammation as well as treat digestive disorders, wounds and infections. Studies have shown that curcumin also acts as an antioxidant. Fresh or powdered turmeric is excellent in curries, soups or other dishes. Fresh turmeric can be added to fresh vegetable juices. Supplements of curcumin are also available.

Green Tea
Recent studies have shown that green tea can be an effective anti-inflammatory, particularly in the treatment of arthritis. It can also reduce inflammation of the digestive tract, potentially helping conditions like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Drink three to four cups of tea daily. And, for those who don’t want the caffeine, decaffeinated green teas are available.

Chilli Peppers
There are countless varieties of mild to hot chillis available in South Africa today and they are really easy to grow. The chemical capsaicin is what makes a chilli hot. And it’s capsaicin that’s been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect in your body. Any type of chilli pepper, such as cayenne or jalapeno, contains capsaicin. You can use chilli peppers fresh or powdered in a wide variety of dishes, including desserts. Supplements containing capsaicin are often mixed with other herbs to create natural anti-inflammatory blends.

Frankincense (Boswellia serrata)
Boswellia is a tree variety. Frankincense is a resin extracted from the trees. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic and pain-controlling properties. Boswellia resin is currently used to treat degenerative and inflammatory joint disorders. One study showed that a combination of Boswellia and curcumin was more effective for treating osteoarthritis than a commonly used synthetic drug.

Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa)
This herb is derived from a woody vine. The bark of cat’s claw has traditionally been used to treat arthritis, bursitis and intestinal disorders. Studies have shown that it can reduce inflammatory responses in the body and it has a protective effect against gastrointestinal inflammation.

Boswellia and Cat’s Claw are a powerful combination in pain relief from arthritic conditions and inflamed joints.

Black Pepper
This unassuming spice actually packs an anti-inflammatory punch. The distinctive flavour of black pepper comes from the chemical piperine. Even at low doses, piperine has been shown to reduce inflammation. It has been shown to suppress the perception of pain and arthritis symptoms.

Clove oil can be applied directly to the gums to help with a toothache or for pain control during dental work. Cloves have been shown to reduce mouth and throat inflammation.

Ginger has a very long history of use in various forms of traditional/alternative medicine. It has been used to help digestion, reduce nausea and help fight the flu and common cold, to name a few
Research has shown that ginger has a better therapeutic effect than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to treat pain and inflammation. Ginger also inhibits the activation of several genes involved in an inflammatory response. Ginger is delicious in many savoury dishes, as well as in teas, juices and desserts.

This popular spice is made from the bark of cinnamon trees. In addition to being anti-inflammatory, cinnamon has been shown to have antioxidant, antidiabetic, antimicrobial and lipid-lowering properties. I

Top spices of choice are turmeric, cloves and ginger. Researchers in a recent study noted that the amounts given of each herb were no more than what someone would normally eat in a curry or seasoned soup, sauce or other dish. Rosemary also featured in the study

Participants were given small amounts of various common herbs and spices for a period of seven days. Rosemary showed one of the strongest protective effects against inflammation and oxidation.

This is an antioxidant found in many plants. The highest amounts have been found in Japanese knot weed (Polygonum cuspidatum) and in the skins of red wine grapes. Resveratrol has been shown to be a strong anti-inflammatory. It also protects against DNA damage and mutations. You can find resveratrol as a common supplement in health shops.