According to studies published in The Lancet, chronic low-grade inflammation is thought to be the cause of diseases from arthritis to cancer. While inflammation is usually a sign of your body protecting itself against injury or infection, chronic, low-grade inflammation is a destructive force that causes the immune system to constantly attack an unknown enemy — your own body. Treatment and prevention of the ravages of this attack can be somewhat alleviated with herbs.
Turmeric and Ginger
These two members of the ginger family contain a component named curcumin. Turmeric has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines to treat pain caused by inflammation, such as arthritis. Clinical studies show that curcumin has antineopoastic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. These studies show that it may be effective in the treatment of chronic neurodegenerative diseases, colitis, arthritis and cancer. The recommended daily dosage is 400-600 mg taken three times per day.
The polyphenolic compounds in green tea called catechins give it its anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show it to be effective in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and several types of cancer. It is recommended that you drink 3 to 4 cups of green tea daily or take 300-400 mg of green tea extract. If you are avoiding caffeine, a decaffeinated variety is available, but there have been no studies on hte polyphenol content.
Boswellia serrata Resin
The resin of the Boswellia tree may be more familiar to you by its common name, frankincense. This resin is an analgesic, anti-arthritic and anti-inflammatory. It works by inhibiting the action of leukotrienes, which are present in many degenerative joint diseases. Studies have shown it to be effective in the treatment of both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The recommended dosage is 300-500 mg of standardized extract two to three times per day.
The cat’s claw herb is derived from two members of the Uncaria family. The bark of these vines have been used in traditional medicine for hundreds of years to treat intestinal disorders, arthritis and bursitis. Studies show that the active ingredients are polyphenols, alkaloids and sterols. Although the risks are considered minimal, two lupus erythematosus patients in the studies suffered acute renal failure, so it is not recommended for treatment of lupus. The recommended daily dose is 20-60 mg daily of standardized extract in capsule form.
How to Know if You Are at Risk
If you suspect you have chronic inflammation, there is a test called the C-reactive protein test that can detect hidden inflammation in your body. You also want to be tested for interleukin 6. A study showed that generally healthy elderly adults with high levels of these two elements had a better chance of dying within 4 years.
Herbs alone cannot treat chronic low-grade inflammation. While NSAIDS may help with the pain, they also damage your body and should never be taken long term. Talk to your doctor about other treatments, lifestyle and diet changes that can help you.