Inflammation is the body’s protective response when tissues are harmed by bacteria, trauma, toxins, heat, and other causes. It plays an essential role in repairing your body and keeping it safe and healthy. But while some inflammation is good, too much can be very bad.
There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is the one we’re most familiar with — the warmth, redness, pain and swelling around tissues and joints when you get hurt. Acute inflammation is good because it protects your body.
But when inflammation lingers for too long, it causes chronic inflammation. In this case, the body thinks it’s under constant attack, and so the immune system keeps fighting indefinitely. In chronic inflammation, white blood cells may end up targeting healthy tissues and organs. This can cause disease.
The most common chronic inflammation-related diseases include the following:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Arthritis and Joint Diseases
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Around the world, 3 in 5 people die from chronic inflammatory diseases, such as cancer, heart disorders, stroke, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases and obesity.
In 2014, nearly 60% of Americans had at least one chronic condition, 42% had more than one chronic condition and 12% of adults had 5 or more chronic conditions.
So how do we reduce chronic inflammation?
Your diet plays a major role. Avoiding sugar and refined carbs, and consuming a Mediterranean diet filled with fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts and olive oil can help tremendously. Exercise also lowers chronic inflammation.
But if you’re looking for something small to do each day, consuming herbs and spices that reduce inflammation can help quite a bit. Siesta Botanicals carries several inflammation-reducing botanicals.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an ancient Ayurvedic herb. It belongs to a class of medicinal herbs known as adaptogens and has been used for more than 3,000 years to help reduce stress, improve stamina and increase concentration levels.
In Sanskrit, ashwagandha means “smell of the horse,” which may be applied to its unique smell and its ability to increase strength.
Research shows that ashwagandha reduces inflammation in rats with rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory autoimmune disorder.
Studies have shown that ashwagandha can also help improve sleep and reduce stress. Many of ashwagandha’s health benefits are attributed to its high levels of withanolides, hormone precursors that can convert into human physiological hormones to help bring balance to the body.
Hibiscus tea is packed with antioxidants and is perfect as a cool summertime drink. The flower’s astringent properties offer sweet and tart cooling relief on a sweltering day. Hibiscus tea promotes healthy hair, skin and liver health. It also supports the healthy function of the kidneys and the female reproductive system.
In one study with rodents, hibiscus extract increased the levels of antioxidant enzymes and decreased the harmful effects of free radicals by up to 92%.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a flowering plant of the ginger family Zingiberaceae. The plant is a perennial, rhizomatous, herbaceous plant native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia and has a long history of use in traditional medicine.
This Ayurvedic spice has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is an efficient scavenger of free radicals. Research has shown that curcumin can improve inflammation, pain, metabolic syndrome, and help in the management of inflammatory and degenerative eye conditions.
Reishi mushroom is a polypore fungus belonging to the genus Ganoderma. Its red-varnished, kidney-shaped cap and peripherally inserted stem gives it a distinct fan-like appearance.
Reishi mushrooms are chock full of antioxidants and are a powerful immune system booster. Research in cancer patients has found that some of the molecules in Reishi mushrooms can increase the activity of helpful white blood cells known as natural killer cells.
Moringa oleifera (Moringaceae) is an extremely nutritious plant known for its high levels of antioxidants. Every part of the plant can be eaten: flowers, leaves, pods, seeds, and root.
People consume moringa to improve heart health, lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation.
According to a University of California, Davis article on the superfood benefits of moringa, Carrie Waterman, a UC Davis natural products chemist says, “If there were a top 10 list of plants that are going to help feed the world over the next hundred years, I would say moringa should be on that list.”
Yerba mate contains trace amounts of every vitamin and mineral your body requires, as well as seven out of ten essential amino acids. It will also give you an energy boost with its 85 milligrams of caffeine per cup.
This is almost double the amount of caffeine found in black tea but less than half that of coffee (100 to more than 200 mg per cup). As a bonus, many yerba mate drinkers say it increases alertness and energy like coffee, but it doesn’t have the same jittery effect.
One study found that yerba mate extract can help reduce inflammation in obese rats. Overall, the findings suggest that yerba mate extract may be useful for reducing low-grade obesity-associated inflammation.
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is an ancient nervine (eases the nervous system) that has traditionally been used to treat insomnia, anxiety, menstrual difficulties and burns.
The taste is described as floral, grassy and a little earthy.
Many people consume passionflower tea to help ease insomnia, anxiety or restlessness.
The herb contains many antioxidants, including vitamin C and lycopene, that help neutralize damaging free radicals. Native Americans used the herb as a medicine to treat a variety of health conditions, including wounds, boils, earaches, and liver problems.
Passionflower appears to act on GABA receptors and is considered an effective stress reducer. It has been shown to help reduce spasms and relax the central nervous system.
Research demonstrates that passionflower can help with chronic insomnia and memory issues. It may also help during episodes of restlessness, anxiety, sleeplessness and depression.
Holy Basil (Tulsi): Reduce stress and fatigue and improve mood and sleep
Holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum), or Tulsi, is widely consumed as an herbal tea. It is commonly used in Ayurveda, and has a place within the Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism, in which devotees perform worship involving holy basil plants or leaves.
Holy basil also has antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. Many people consume holy basil as a potent stress reliever.
Research has shown that holy basil can improve mood, reduce fatigue and improve sleep.
In addition, scientific studies in vitro, animal and human experiments have shown that holy basil exerts a unique combination of actions that include antimicrobial, anti-diarrheal, antioxidant, anticataract, anti-inflammatory, neuro-protective, cardio-protective, anti-diabetic, memory enhancement, anti-asthmatic, anti-arthritic, adaptogenic and anti-stress activities.