Everybody gets aches and pains from time-to-time – some more frequent than others. Headaches, sore throats, stomach pains, achy joints…this list could go on and on. If we sprain our ankle or bump our head, our body reacts. A little (or a lot) of inflammation is the result. But if aches start occurring consistently and with no obvious trigger, something is going on in our body that’s causing the inflammation. Anything ending with “itis” means inflammation.
- Tonsillitis (swollen tonsils)
- Dermatitis (eczema, dandruff, allergic reactions to the skin, etc.)
- Hypersensitis (allergic to life…yes, it’s real word/condition)
- Appendicitis (inflamed appendix)
- Arthritis (chronic achy joints)
- Gingivitis (bleeding/swollen gums)
- Rhinitis (stuffy nose)
- Ileitis (inflamed small intestine)
There are literally dozens of other words that define a specific inflammatory response in the body. Some produce acute symptoms, and some produce chronic symptoms. None are pleasant. For many of us, the first course of action is to reach for the ibuprofen, acetaminophen or some other over the counter anti-inflammatory aid.
What a lot of people don’t know is that the foods we eat play a huge role in how inflamed our body gets, and if it is inflamed from an injury, how quickly we heal. Often times our bodies become overly acidic as a result of our diet (caffeine, sugar, excessive protein) or lifestyle factors (stress, both physical and emotional). This overly acidic environment is a breeding ground for inflammation. According to Dr. Elson M. Haas, author of Staying Healthy with Nutrition, specific herbs, nutrients and amino acids can help to extinguish the flames that arise from inflammation.
Aloe Vera: Didn’t everyone’s grandmother have this plant on the kitchen window sill? If you’ve got a burn, aloe vera soothes like nothing else. A lot of people swear by this herb in liquid form. Topical and ingestible varieties are available. Yes, you can even drink it!
Ginger: This herb has long been touted as a joint pain reducer, particularly for osteoarthritis. Unfortunately, ginger snap cookies, or commercially-produced sugar-laden ginger ale aren’t quite as effective as the root, or an over the counter supplement of the root itself.
Echinacea: This herb regained popularity about 15 years ago as a cold preventer. According to Haas, “Echinacea root can increase the white blood count and thus the body’s ability to handle bacteria and viruses.” While this herb has shown some real power, Haas recommends not using for periods longer than a few weeks due to possible liver irritation and other side effects.
Garlic: Tummy troubles? Potential inflammation reduction of the bowel is one of the many amazing properties of this incredible herb. This herb is also anti-microbial, which means it helps to inhibit or kill germs in the body.
Licorice: This super powerful root has been used for centuries to treat bronchitis, sore throats, allergies and the common cold. Licorice is most effective in tea, capsule and oil form. Unfortunately black and red licorice ropes might taste great, but just don’t make the cut in the healing properties department.
Turmeric: This herb contains curumin, a volatile oil in tumeric that is hugely anti-inflammatory. In fact, it's so strong it's often compared to drugs like hydrocortisone and other over-the-counter anti-inflammatories.
**ALWAYS consult a medical practitioner in the event of illness. This post is meant to be informative, and none of the information above should be substituted without consulting a physician first.**