Whether you experience the swelling of a cut or a more serious condition like arthritis, diabetes or cancer, inflammation is involved. While redness, swelling and heat may seem fairly harmless, inflammation has been linked to a growing list of diseases. And, while the process itself may be the immune system’s means of healing, when inflammation becomes chronic, it can also become serious.
Most people know about rest, ice packs and anti-inflammatory drugs, but what are some of the novel ways to quell inflammation, particularly the chronic variety? Here are some of my favorites:
Frankincense Essential Oil
A study published in the medical journal Current Pharmaceutical Design assessed the effectiveness of several natural remedies against asthma, including frankincense essential oil. The researchers reviewed numerous studies to confirm that frankincense was one of the natural remedies that exhibited several mechanisms relevant to the treatment of respiratory diseases, including effectiveness against inflammation and allergic response. In a study published in the online research database ResearchGate found that frankincense was effective at reducing compounds known as cytokines that cause inflammation in inflammatory bowel disease. Frankincense essential oil can be applied to inflamed areas or, in the case of high quality oil that has been FDA-approved for internal use, can be used internally to reduce inflammation, particularly that linked to arthritis. Be sure the product you choose has been approved for this purpose. Take 1 to 3 drops daily. Follow package directions and do not exceed the recommended dose.
According to the authors of the book The Aspirin Alternative, Michael Loes and David Steinman, specialized proteins known as enzymes work on inflammation on four levels: including: 1) breaking down substances that cause inflammation; 2) removing the material that prolongs inflammation; 3) removing excess fluid in inflamed areas; and 4) counteracting chronic or recurrent inflammation linked to degenerative conditions. Some of the best anti-inflammatory enzymes include: protease, papain, bromelain, serrapeptase and superoxide dismutase. Take on an empty stomach so the enzymes will work on inflammation, not on food. Follow package instructions for the product you choose.
Most people know that eating a largely or entirely plant-based diet is beneficial to health, but it can also reduce inflammation. A study published in the journal Nutrition Research found that vegans, vegetarians and pescovegetarians (people who are mostly vegetarian but also include fish in their diet) had a significantly lower Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII) than people eating diets that contain meat. DII is a rating system used to quantify the inflammatory tendency of foods we eat. A zero DII is neither inflammatory or anti-inflammatory, a negative DII is anti-inflammatory, and numbers above 0 are inflammatory. For example: garlic has a DII of -0.412 while saturated fat (like that found in animal protein) has a DII of +0.373, which shows garlic is anti-inflammatory while meat is inflammatory. Simply eat more plant-based foods and reduce your intake of animal protein.
We know that probiotics contribute to gut health. We also know that the gut is the source of silent inflammation—the kind that may be stealing your health without your awareness. Research shows that aging is linked to a reduction in certain critical probiotic species, especially Bifidobacteria and Bacteroides. A reduction in these beneficial bacteria can set the stage for incorrect immune sensing by the tissue in the gut known as gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), which leads to increased inflammation. The body responds with increased production of inflammatory proteins that can spread inflammation anywhere in the body. Boosting your intake of probiotics like Bifidobacterium bifidum and others can help prevent the gut-inflammation link. Follow package directions for the product you choose. You can also reap the benefits of probiotics by eating more fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, fermented pickles, yogurt (including plant-based varieties) and others on a daily basis.
Maintaining Stable Blood Sugar
Sugar is one of the worst inflammatory food ingredients we can eat. So, eating a low sugar diet is essential in reducing inflammation in the body. However, it is equally important to maintain stable blood sugar levels to prevent an inflammatory response in the body. The best ways to do that include: eating a low sugar diet, eating a small amount of food every 2 to 3 hours, eating healthy fats like flaxseeds, walnuts and other Omega 3 fats that, not only reduce inflammation, but also stabilize blood sugar levels. Research in the journal Nutrition in Clinical Practice found that stabilizing blood sugar levels is key to reducing inflammation.
Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-news World’s Healthiest News, president of PureFood BC, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty Cooking.