Spices are a must-have in any kitchen. They punch up the delicious flavors of every dish you make, adding heat and herby notes. Yet they hold so much more potential beyond just improving the flavor of your recipes. Adding a dash of certain spices into different dishes just might have a positive effect on your health if you’re living with joint pain.
If your joint pain is the result of chronic inflammation, or an inflammatory condition like arthritis, add these spices to your kitchen pantry and give them a try.
If there’s a single must-try spice for joint pain, it’s turmeric. This bright, golden yellow spice is made from turmeric root, and its primary active compound is a substance called curcumin. Curcumin has been shown to have a positive effect on inflammation, potentially reducing it throughout the body. Curcumin is able to block inflammatory cytokines and enzymes, ultimately limiting inflammation.
Joint pain that results from different types of arthritis, like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, has also been shown to be helped by turmeric. According to the Arthritis Foundation, several human trials demonstrated that turmeric offers a beneficial anti-inflammatory effect that can be felt through reduced joint pain and swelling.
Turmeric is an easy spice to add into your diet. It’s often used in curries, like our Squash, Spinach & Chickpea Curry with Turmeric Blend. However, it can also add flavor to vibrant bowls, be incorporated into breakfast muffins and even stand out in dishes like deviled eggs.
Who doesn’t love cooking with garlic? Whether you’re using it ground into a powdered spice, chopped fresh or roasted, garlic is both delicious and anti-inflammatory.
One reason that garlic is so great for inflammation is it contains antioxidants. According to a 2020 review, these antioxidants can lessen the potential effects of harmful free radicals (which can cause inflammation via cellular damage). Allium vegetables – which include garlic – also have compounds that can protect against or even potentially treat inflammation-based conditions like osteoarthritis. These compounds work to limit pro-inflammatory cytokines, fighting inflammation as it appears.
You can put garlic in just about any savory dish. This incredibly versatile spice can be used with all kinds of protein, and it’s easy to incorporate into sauces, marinades, seasoning blends and so much more. Give garlic-rich recipes like Roasted Garlic Tomato Pasta, Garlic & Lemon Red Snapper or even simple Garlic-Roasted Chickpeas a try to get plenty in every bite.
Turn up the heat when it comes to spices, and you’ll thrill your taste buds while you fight inflammation. Truly spicy spices have been found to be beneficial for fighting inflammatory joint pain.
Cayenne, along with other spices made from different varieties of hot chili peppers, contain natural compounds called capsaicinoids. You’ve likely heard it called capsaicin. These compounds can soothe inflamed joints and relieve pain. In fact, capsaicin is so helpful for joint pain that it’s found in pain-relieving topical creams you can buy at your local drugstore.
While some people love a lot of cayenne and hot chile peppers, others can’t handle very much. You don’t have to load up on these spicy ingredients in order to take advantage of their benefits. Because they’re so hot (and so potent), you can start small. Add a dash of cayenne to different savory dishes, or incorporate chile peppers instead.
If you love a sprinkle of cinnamon on ice cream, in cakes and even in sweet breads, there’s good news: this spice has great therapeutic potential. Cinnamon is quite potent – in a good way. This sweet spice is packed with antioxidants, and it offers even more antioxidant activity than garlic.
A 2018 study found that cinnamon can help reduce inflammation and inflammatory markers in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. And a 2015 study demonstrated that cinnamon has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on rats. Research also shows that cinnamon can offer anti-inflammatory properties that ease swelling, which often accompanies joint pain.
Cinnamon is most commonly found in sweet dishes like cinnamon buns, smoothies and muffins. You can get a little creative and whip up cinnamon-centric treats like our Nutty Maple-Cinnamon Bars or Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Quinoa. However, if you don’t have a big sweet tooth, you can also get a daily dose by sprinkling the pleasantly-scented spice into your cup of coffee or tea.
Ginger has long been used medicinally, but this spice is prized most because of its potential anti-inflammatory benefits. Thanks to two particular chemicals present in ginger – gingerol and shogaol – this spice may help soothe joint pain.
Gingerol and shogaol help alleviate joint pain by blocking inflammation pathways within the body. While ginger’s effectiveness on different causes of joint pain, like different types of arthritis, varies, the anti-inflammatory chemicals may be beneficial in reducing painful symptoms. Research also shows that ginger had a statistically significant effect on reducing osteoarthritis knee pain.
Ginger is a pretty versatile spice, and you can use it as a dried, ground spice or freshly grated. It can work in dishes both sweet and savory – try blending it into a smoothie or sprinkling it over a sheet pan meal of protein and veggies. You can also incorporate it into dishes like our Ginger Steak & Veggie Noodles or Spicy Shrimp Winter Salad with Miso Ginger Carrot Dressing.
How to incorporate these spices into your daily diet
Ready to start reaping the potential benefits of the spices listed here? You can eat one, two or all of them as part of your healthy, balanced diet. Even in small amounts, these spices can offer their anti-inflammatory, pain-soothing advantages when incorporated into beverages, snacks and meals.
You don’t have to whip up spice-centric meals, either. You can start small. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon into your smoothies or coffee; add a dash of cayenne or chile pepper the next time you’re seasoning veggies. You can also try fresh varieties like freshly-grated ginger or chopped garlic, which are less concentrated but still beneficial.
Lastly, remember that any anti-inflammatory foods, meals or meal plans may be able to help soothe your joint pain. Often, joint pain is caused by inflammation. However, if yours is the result of an injury or another root cause, these spices (and other anti-inflammatory options) may not have the intended effect.
For more ideas on soothing and living with joint pain: