Tame The Flames: 6 Anti-Inflammatory Supplements

Double down on your efforts to lower inflammation in the body with these powerful anti-inflammatory supplements.

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You already know all about the benefits of turmeric (and omega-3 fats, and green tea) for fighting inflammation. But if you’re still battling pain, stiffness, soreness and discomfort, you have other anti-inflammatory supplement options. Here, six science-backed solutions shown to tame the flames, and what to look for in a supplement.

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1. Boswellia

Also known as Indian frankincense, is derived from the resin of the Boswellia serrata tree and has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine to treat a variety of ailments. It’s rich in boswellic acids, including acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid (AKBA), shown to modulate enzymes that promote inflammation. Studies suggest boswellia reduces pain, eases swelling, improves mobility and significantly decreases inflammation; it’s especially effective for osteoarthritis, knee pain and soreness after exercising. You’ll find boswellia in capsules, softgels or liquid extracts; because it’s not well absorbed, bio-enhanced delivery systems are best. Look for forms standardized to provide at least 50 percent boswellic acids, including 10 percent AKBA.

2. Andrographis

From the leaves and roots of the Andrographis paniculata plant, has a long history of use in traditional Asian medicine. Its primary active compounds, called andrographolides, inhibits the release of inflammatory chemicals and influences other factors that fan the flames, making it a very effective anti-inflammatory supplement. Andrographis may be especially beneficial for inflammatory respiratory disorders, asthma and respiratory tract infection. Some research suggests it can also ease symptoms of arthritis, reducing pain and swelling and improving mobility, and other studies show andrographis lowers inflammation, inhibits tumor cell growth and may protect against certain kinds of cancer. You’ll find andrographis in capsules, tablets or tinctures; look for forms standardized for at least 10 percent andrographalides.

3. ALA (alpha-lipoic acid)

Is an antioxidant naturally produced in the body in small amounts, and found in some foods, mainly red meat or organ meats. ALA has proven antioxidant activities, but it’s also thought to blunt inflammation independent of its antioxidant properties. Studies show ALA significantly reduces levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) and other markers of inflammation, and it’s particularly beneficial in protecting against chronic inflammation linked with heart disease, liver disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s. ALA is hard to get from dietary sources, especially if you’re vegan or vegetarian, so supplements can help. Look for capsules, tablets or softgels; liposomal forms are thought to be better absorbed. And take ALA between meals, on an empty stomach to enhance absorption. 

4. Celery seed

From Apium graveolens—a variety of wild celery—has a long history of use in Ayurvedic and other traditional medical systems. It’s rich in a variety of compounds known to lessen inflammation, and research suggests it can minimize pain and swelling associated with arthritis; in some studies, celery seed extract was as effective as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen, a common prescription drug used to treat pain, in suppressing symptoms of arthritis. Other studies show celery seed extract can protect against and treat gastric irritation caused by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), while working synergistically with them to enhance their inflammation-reducing actions. You’ll find celery seed extract in capsules and tinctures; because it may interact with blood thinners and certain prescription drugs, check with your doctor if you’re taking any medications before getting started with this anti-inflammatory supplement. 

5. MSM (methylsulfonylmethane)

A sulfur-containing compound found in garlic, onions and protein-rich foods, blunts the release of inflammatory chemicals, and seems to be especially useful for rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, muscle soreness and lower back pain. Studies show MSM significantly reduces inflammation, lessens pain, decreases stiffness and swelling in the joints, and improves mobility and function; other research suggests it also hampers the breakdown of cartilage, and can protect against joint degeneration and pain. Look for MSM in capsules, or in powdered or crystallized forms that can be mixed with juice or water. Because it can cause stomach upset, start with a small dose of this anti-inflammatory supplement and gradually work your way up. 

6. Resveratrol

Best known as the heart-healthy antioxidant in red wine, also has powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. It works by inhibiting the activation of cells that prompt the release of inflammatory chemicals and interacting with other pathways and factors. Research shows resveratrol protects against inflammation linked with heart disease, ulcerative colitis, Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions; some studies suggest its anti-inflammatory actions can also lower the risk of gastric cancer and other forms of cancer. You’ll find resveratrol in capsules, tablets or softgels; look for standardized forms with trans-resveratrol, extracted from red grapes or Japanese knotweed.

Now that you’ve got the skinny on some of the best anti-inflammatory supplements (that aren’t turmeric), read on for articles and meal plans that will help you eat clean to reduce inflammation:

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What to eat to beat inflammation

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