Diet

Anti-Inflammatory Supplements & Common Pitfalls

Inflammation is thought to be at the root of nearly every major disease. It is regarded as the immediate result of most epigenetic concerns and can quickly amount to debilitating systemic cellular damage. Modern research is quickly discovering the underlying causes of inflammation and learning several powerful nutritional approaches to addressing the issue.

Anti-Inflammatory Supplements

Introduction

Dietary supplements may help answer the call-to-arms in battling inflammation, but one must be careful. Not only should one work closely with a licensed health professional, but it is also paramount to be aware of how unregulated the dietary supplement marketplace is.

Fortunately, there are certifying agencies like Project Non-GMO, the USDA, and QAI to help assert product quality. The FDA also maintains a decent list of manufacturing standards (cGMP), which can also be certified via third parties such as the NSF.

Inflammation

Before we talk about which compounds may help address inflammation, let’s consider what inflammation actually is, how it gets measured, and why researchers feel certain nutritional compounds can help. Don’t worry—you won’t need a chemistry degree to follow along!

Inflammatory Markers

The human body and many animals and microbial bodies produce many compounds associated with inflammation. Some of these include Interleukin-6 (IL6), C-Reactive Protein (CRP), Tumor Necrosis Factors, and many more.

Researchers monitor levels of these compounds when researching potential therapies for treating inflammation. Essentially, these types of biomarkers are the measure of inflammation—find a way to lower them, and you lower the damaging effects of inflammation.

Free Radicals

Humans, along with lots of other life on Earth, use oxygen copiously. Oxygen may keep us alive, but it also results in the production of compounds that can cause inflammation. For example, the compound superoxide is produced naturally as our bodies metabolize oxygen for cellular respiration, fighting invading bacteria, and several other purposes.

Compounds like Superoxide Dismutase are produced naturally by our bodies to help keep levels of these potentially harmful compounds in check. I say “potentially” because they are quite useful. It’s only when overproduction occurs do we start to seen unchecked inflammation, cellular damage, and otherwise nasty results. Fighting back the unwanted increase in these compounds is often the target of nutritional research related to reducing inflammation.

Anti-Inflammatory Supplements

With the above information in mind, let’s consider some of the more popular anti-inflammatory supplements. Some are well-supported—others only well-marketed—and some require some critical considerations. Keep in mind that some supplements may work well for some people and be massive disasters for others.

Curcumin

This extract of turmeric is probably the most well-known anti-inflammatory compound on the supplement market today. It’s often referenced for its anti-tumor effects but also has a large body of evidence describing its ability to lower inflammatory markers.

Curcumin has been researched as an adjuvant therapy for cancer. This means that in addition to traditional therapies, curcumin has been shown to help improve patient outcomes.

It’s thought that curcumin does this by reducing the expression of a specific compound that eliminates toxins from human cells. By doing this, cancer medications can target tumor cells for longer.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C therapy has shown powerful potential in lowering inflammation in a wide range of circumstances. It helps keep histamine in check, helps the body synthesize collagen, and has entered very mainstream conversations about potentially serving as an anti-cancer therapy.

Before you jump on the Vitamin-C bandwagon, however, there are some essential things to consider. First, Vitamin C is commonly sold as ascorbic acid—an isolated form of Vitamin C—produced from corn in most cases. Higher quality sources of Vitamin C, such as those used in hydration therapy, contain fewer traces of unwanted compounds and are better suited for health therapies.

Benfotiamine

Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, is a water-soluble compound with many known health benefits. It’s an essential nutrient, meaning humans and animals need to get it from their diet. Several years back, researchers discovered that a semi-synthetic, fat-soluble form of thiamine was much better absorbed, had better tolerability, and fewer side effects.

Fast-forward to today, we know that benfotiamine can help lower levels of IL-6, help stabilize blood sugar, and may even help reverse some conditions such as Alzheimer’s, where age-related cognitive decline is an issue. The key word here is maybe. May of its wide-reaching health benefits can be traced back to its ability to keep inflammatory markers low.

Black Seed Oil

In ayurvedic medicine, black cumin seed oil has been described as “curing everything but death.” It’s used as a cure-all in herbal medicine, has been attributed to successes in treating conditions ranging from ankle springs, fungal infections, and even diabetes. Modern research is quickly catching up-to-speed with black seed oil and has shed light on how it may have earned such a loved reputation. Spoiler alert: it really helps lower inflammation!

Black seed oil has shown particular novelty in addressing lung inflammation. Research on this compound is quite mature compared to other natural compounds and has inspired several human trials to confirm its role in addressing a range of health concerns. If searching for an effective universal anti-inflammatory has left you frustrated—black seed oil may be worth keeping on your radar.

Final Thoughts

Inflammation is no joke. It sounds like something one might get after hitting the gym too hard or bumping into a table. The subtle, incremental, and often inevitable increase in systemic inflammation has been linked to nearly every major disease, including cancer, heart attacks, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. Inflammation is such an influential factor in our health that it’s thought even the process of aging results from inflammation.

No one is saying that taking anti-inflammatory supplements is going to cure what ails you. Nor is anyone saying that taking these supplements is going to help you live longer. These are but a few of the well-documented, clinically-verified (in most cases) compounds known to help mitigate inflammation in the human body. However, as much promise as they are shown, it can’t be stressed how disastrous the misguided use of these compounds may be. Always consult with a doctor before adding these potent compounds into your daily regimen.

Dorothy R. Ferry

Coffee trailblazer. Unapologetic student. Freelance communicator. Travel nerd. Music fan. Spoke at an international conference about donating magma for farmers. Had some great experience promoting saliva on the black market. Spent 2002-2009 lecturing about basketballs in Pensacola, FL. In 2009 I was writing about Magic 8-Balls in Miami, FL. Earned praised for my work importing crayon art in Hanford, CA. At the moment I'm managing sausage in West Palm Beach, FL.

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