It took me decades to realize that inflammation could be controlled by something other than ibuprofen. In 2008, on the advice of my naturopath I started exploring natural remedies for a tired, burning back. After closing the medicine cabinet and raiding the kitchen, here’s a list of homemade cures with real medicinal properties and minimal side effects.
For years my parents have promoted the magical, mystical healing properties of turmeric. As youngsters, they would rub it on their wounds, or stir it in with milk to feel it cool their bellies. But it wasn’t until I heard good ol’ Dr. Oz mention it over and over again that I began to work it in to my diet. First, a few pinches in my smoothie, then a teaspoon in sauces until finally I was taking one of these turmeric pills in the morning. Just google turmeric and inflammation, the research overwhelming supports what I’ve tried at home. Here’s some guy named Dr Josh with a quick video on the anti inflammatory properties of turmeric.
Here’s a home recipe for some turmeric protein balls that I made recently…enjoy!
2. Fish Oil (EPA 800+)
Not all fish oils are created equal. The anti-inflammatory agent in most fish oils are the two essential omega-3 fatty acids known as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). These elements are found in the fatty tissues of cold water, oily fish and they do wonders for reducing the burn. In my experience, taking fish oil pills that have an EPA value of 800 work best to reduce inflammation and joint pain. But here’s a good primer on fish oil dosage and quality of oils.
Along with settling a belly ache, ginger has some serious anti-inflammation properties especially if you infuse it in tea. Used by the Chinese for thousands of years to relieve nausea, arthritis, headaches, menstrual cramps and muscle soreness, ginger can increase calcium levels in the body which reduces heat. Here’s an excellent study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information to give you the full scoop.
I was first prescribed valerian a few years ago during a particulary bad bout of insomnia. Valerian is a centuries-old natural herbal sedative that can relax the body enough to decrease pain. Often taken in tea, Valerian is milder than many over-the -counter pharmaceutical products and can regulate the nervous system to reduce pain, stress, tension and anxiety.
5. Chili Peppers
The heat in chili peppers comes from a compound inside the pepper called Capsaicin which helps it fight fungal attack. When applied to the skin, Capasaicin starts to deplete nerve endings, specifically on a neurochemical called substance P which sends pain signals to your brain. Less Substance P in your body equals less scorching hot pain. Apparently, chilis are one of the worlds healthiest foods!
A study in the Asian Spine Journal established a link between nutrition and back pain. Foods high in fat and sugar trigger inflammation throughout the body, including the lower back. The study reveals that about 31 percent of women and 25 percent of men who have back pain also had gastrointestinal issues, such as abdominal pain or food intolerance. Foods low in sugar and saturated fats and high in lean protein, clean carbs and vegetables can help prevent back pain.