Sunshine Natural Food & Grocery | Grants Pass, OR

Pain Relief from Herbal Anti-Inflammatories

The hottest topic in medicine these days is inflammation, because it’s now believed to underlie heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke, and Alzheimer’s.

Inflammation is a key component of the body’s healing response, marked by pain, swelling, warmth, and redness.  It’s the body’s way of getting more blood and immune cells to an injured area.  When inflammation is confined to where it’s needed for an appropriate length of time it’s no problem.  However, if it’s allowed to persist or becomes too intense, it can cause disabling symptoms and tissue damage.

Here’s the science: the body tightly controls inflammation via substances called prostaglandins, which are synthesized form essential fatty acids.  When this delicate internal balance goes awry 9as it can when your diet contains too many of the wrong fatty foods, for example), prostaglandins can precipitate inflammation and even make you more susceptible to pain.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including over-the-counter aspirin ibuprofen, and naproxen, and the prescription drugs celecoxib (Celebrex) and rofecoxib (Vioxx), effectively target inflammation and relieve pain.  But there is a downside.  They have significant side effects, especially stomach irritation, that can lead to potentially deadly gastrointestinal complications.

Herbal anti-inflammatories work the same way and have few side effects, however, herbs work much slower than fast acting NSAIDs.  It will take up to 8 weeks of continuous use before you’ll feel their effects.

The most studied of the anti-inflammatory herbs are ginger and turmeric.  Known for centuries, these two herbs are currently undergoing clinical trials at the University of Arizona’s National Center for Phytomedicine Research in the College of Pharmacy.

Ginger is probably best known for its ability to ease motion and morning sickness as well as drug-induced and postoperative nausea.  In a double blind clinical trial, ginger extract reduced knee pain caused by osteoarthritis.

Turmeric (curcumin), a plant related to ginger, is the herb that give curry its brassy golden color.  Turmeric is proven to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antitumor properties.  In one animal trial, a turmeric compound was almost as potent as cortisone in treating acute inflammation.  You could use ginger and turmeric in cooking, but it would mean consuming a lot of both herbs on a daily basis.  That’s not practical for most of us.

Zyflamend from New Chapter and Cox-2 Tame from Jarrow contain ginger, turmeric and other herbs.  Try one; if it doesn’t work for you, we will exchange it for another.