Friday, April 8, 2011

Anti Inflammatory Herbs – Herbal Remedies for Inflammation and Pain

As I start moving around and washing my containers for spring planting I am immediately reminded of my age and all of its aches and pains.  With a family history of arthritis and a recent injury to my hand I am acutely aware of the problems caused by inflammation.

Inflammation is a condition when a body reacts to any infection, injury or irritation, environmental changes or malignancy. Due to inflammation swelling, pain, redness or change in color of the skin is felt. But sometimes some internal inflammation can result giving rise to fever and other discomforts.

The inflammatory response involves the activation of white blood cells that start releasing some chemicals such as cytokines and prostaglandins. Inflammation is mostly treated by administering varied doses of corticosteroids that are effective in reducing and suppressing inflammation.  Steroids are not a long term solution however as the side effects can cause other issues.  There for I researched treatments for anti inflammation:

There are many herbal therapies that have been tried through ages and have proven record in healing inflammation by treating the cause. Latest scientific researches have given the final approval to opt for these herbal therapies rather than the OTC drugs.

But remember this information is for reference and education only.  It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a physician.  I do not advocate self-diagnosis or self-medication.  Be aware that any plant substance, whether used as food or medicine, externally or internally, may cause allergic reactions in some people.  Everyone responds differently to herbs. Use them carefully and responsibly.

1. Turmeric is one of the common anti inflammatory herb that is widely used in Asian recipes in good amounts. It helps in reducing swelling, pain in arthritis, tendonitis, sprains and other autoimmune disorders. So addition of extra turmeric in curries is beneficial in the long run! But this treatment is time consuming and it may test one’s patience.

2. Ginger is another herb which is popular for its anti inflammatory properties and is used liberally in most Asian dishes. Taking ginger tea regularly in the morning relieves a lot of inflammation.

3. White willow bark is another inflammatory herb that helps in reducing pain, this is actually the original plant studied for the creation of aspirin.  It has been studied recently and is seen as good for many pain applications, but is not found to be effective against arthritis in any form.  However it does have some toxicity issues so ask for professional advice if you desire to try it.

4. Devil’s claw is said to work well on arthritis both in reducing inflammation and pain. Known also as Harpagophytum procumbens, Grapple Plant and Wood Spider it is a plant native to southern Africa.
The unique name comes from the small hooks on the plant's fruit. The active ingredients in devil's claw are believed to be iridoid glycosides called harpagosides, which are found in the secondary root. 
It is not an herb I am personally familiar with, so that is all I can say.
5. Licorice root is another popular anti inflammatory herb, but its prolonged use may raise the blood pressure and cause potassium loss. So person suffering from hypertension must be cautious with its use.

6. Arnica, also known as Arnica Montana, is another herb that is widely used in treating pains and bruises. It can be taken in regulated doses or sometimes a tincture can be applied to the affected areas to reduce inflammation. Arnica cannot be extracted at home nor can the plant grown at home be used for treatment.  It is actually toxic in plant form and should be handled carefully and products acquired only from reputable sources.

7. St John’s Wort though used to treat depression has also some anti- inflammatory properties. This is an easy plant to grow and the flowers, which bloom in June, are the best place to extract the helpful compounds from.  Making a tincture that is applied topically is good as is taking it internally.

8. Flax seed in a poultice is also very effective in treating bronchitis and reduces swellings in gouts and rheumatoid arthritis.  The plant is another you can grow at home.  But remember potency will vary with home-grown herbs as you have no standards to measure your finished product, so effectiveness will vary.

These herbs are very commonly used and are somewhat easily available. In sudden injuries these can be applied immediately for some relief before consulting any doctor. They are cheap and if applied properly with supervision, one can avoid spending money on painkillers and other drugs.

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