Anti-inflammatory drugs are available with or without a prescription for some. Too often taken by people that are self-medicating, they are not without health risk. Without medical advice, it is best to resort to natural anti-inflammatories. Here’s our selection.
Inflammation is a normal reaction of the immune system when the body faces an aggression or disorder. It can be an infection, a foreign body, a wound, an immune disorder and It results in pain and the affected area may be hot, red and/or swollen. In case of inflammation, taking anti-inflammatory drugs may be recommended. They are divided into two categories :
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen.
- Steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, better known as “corticosteroids” (cortisol and cortisone derivatives).
Why should you favor natural anti-inflammatories?
Anti-inflammatories do not treat the cause of inflammation, they only reduce its intensity and duration. By taking an anti-inflammatory drug, you calm the symptoms that bother you, such as pain. While they relieve the discomfort caused by inflammation, these drugs can have side effects. Some can make infections worse. An example is Covid-19: some patients who took ibuprofen as self-medication to bring down the fever saw their condition get worse quickly. It is believed that the drug reduces the body’s defense mechanisms and thus allows the infection to progress. Other side effects, such as stomach problems and an increased risk of cardiovascular problems, have also been reported with some anti-inflammatories.
This is why, when confronted with pain or fever, paracetamol should be taken as a first-line treatment in self-medication. And to calm the symptoms of inflammation, think about natural solutions.
Curcuma against inflammatory bowel diseases
Turmeric is a gastrointestinal protector and a natural anti-inflammatory. According to several studies, curcumin (the main pigment of turmeric) helps combat inflammation in intestinal inflammatory diseases, ulcerative colitis, pancreatitis and osteoarthritis.
How to use turmeric?
Turmeric is most often found in powder form. You can consume it:
as an infusion. Infuse 1 to 2 g of powder in boiling water and then add some lemon juice. Ideally you should drink 2 cups a day in case of inflammation.
as a dietary supplement. Choose capsules with high curcuminoid content.
Mixed with honey.
as a drink
sprinkled on your salad, soup or salad dressing.
Aloe vera against skin inflammation
Aloe vera relieves skin, joints (sprains, tendinitis) and digestive inflammation. In case of burns, its cooling effect quickly relieves the pain. It also relieves the discomfort of irritated or prone skin for psoriasis, eczema or herpes.
How to use Aloe Vera?
Aloe Vera is mainly found in gel or juice form.
In case of inflammation of the skin, joints or muscles, massage the aloe vera gel directly on the skin (never on a wound!). To relieve digestive inflammation, take one tablespoon of aloe vera juice daily for three weeks, either pure or diluted in water, fruit juice or a smoothie.
Birch water against cystitis
It is a very feminine problem, which we would like to do without! A cystitis or urinary tract infection affects every second woman. It causes an inflammation of the bladder wall. In the program: burns and acute pain in the lower abdomen. An antibiotic treatment is prescribed if the infection is of bacterial origin. To relieve the inflammation and the discharge, you should consider birch water (or birch sap).
How do you use birch water?
Take for 10 days to a maximum of 3 weeks. Ideally, 150 to 250 ml per day on an empty stomach before breakfast.
White willow for headaches and fever.
White willow bark is known for its strong anti-inflammatory properties. Some even consider it the vegetable cousin of aspirin. It helps to lower fever and relieve headaches. White willow is also recommended for rheumatoid arthritis.
How do you consume white willow bark?
White willow bark is found in the form of dried plants, capsules, liquid or dried extracts. It is consumed as an infusion. Put 2 g of bark into a cup of boiling water. Drink an infusion before each meal.
Be careful, as white willow has the same properties as aspirin, its consumption is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women, people with stomach ulcers, people with bleeding tendency, people suffering from kidney disease, gout and asthma.
Omega 3 to prevent and combat all types of inflammation
Taking Omega 3 allows the body to release anti-inflammatory substances. Basically they help our immune system to fight inflammation. Since the body does not make them, we have to look for them in our diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish (Argan oil, salmon, mackerel, sardine, tuna), eggs, avocado, nuts, green vegetables, rapeseed, linseed, etc. In order for them to work properly in our body, it is important not to consume too much omega 6, because if they are present in excess, they damage the anti-inflammatory effect of omega 3. However, we tend to eat too much. We say yes to foods rich in Omega 6 (sunflower oil, grape seed oil, corn oil, pork, etc.), but in moderation!
A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids would reduce the risk of suffering from diseases involving the inflammatory process (obesity, fibromyalgia, psoriasis, cardiovascular diseases, Crohn’s disease).
The list of natural anti-inflammatory drugs is not complete. Other plants are known for their anti-inflammatory effects:
- blackcurrant leaves (for rheumatism).
- harpagophytum or “devil’s claw” (back and joint pain).
- ginger (indigestion).
- Boswellia serrata (inflammatory bowel disease and asthma).
- Essential oils of wintergreen (muscle pain), lavender (for inflammation of the middle ear) and Scots pine (inflammation of the respiratory tract such as bronchitis, sinusitis, rhinitis).
- Chamomile (skin irritations).
- Sage (inflammation of the mouth, such as mouth ulcers).
Warning: Plants and essential oils contain active ingredients that may have undesirable effects. Always seek the advice of a health care professional before using them orally, dermally or by inhalation.