Inflammation and pain go hand in hand.
Inflammation occurs as part of the body’s natural response to an injury or infection and its efforts to heal itself. It also serves as the body’s biological response in an attempt to remove a harmful or irritating substance that entered the body.
Inflammation has both positive and negative effects in the body. While inflammation helps your body respond to stress, injuries and infections, chronic, low-grade inflammation is a leading cause of disease, premature aging and illness.
In fact, several health problems are associated with inflammation. Some of those problems are acne, asthma, sinusitis, atherosclerosis, periodontitis, hay fever, inflammatory bowel diseases, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, interstitial cystitis and even cancer.
Irrespective of the effect of inflammation in the body, it often presents a range of common symptoms. Typical symptoms include redness, a swollen or tender joint, joint pain, stiffness and loss of function.
Additionally, it may cause flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, fatigue, loss of energy, headaches, loss of appetite and muscle stiffness.
While inflammation is a biological defense response, the symptoms can take a toll on your health and impair your quality of life. Well, there is no need to be disappointed, as there are several home remedies that help relieve pain by getting to the root cause.
Most of the remedial products are common household items and they are completely natural and cause no side effects.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for inflammation.
1. Heat and Cold Therapy
Applying hot or cold compresses on the affected area helps reduce inflammation and pain. While heat helps improve flexibility and reduces muscle tension, the cold temperature helps numb the pain and reduces inflammation.
You can try the therapies together or one at a time.
- Put warm water in one bowl and cold water in another bowl.
- Soak a cloth in each bowl.
- Wring out the excess water.
- Now put the warm cloth on the inflamed area for 5 minutes.
- Then put the cold compress on the same area for 2 or 3 minutes.
- Repeat the process for several rounds.
- Do it 2 or 3 times a day.
Caution: People who have diabetes should not use a warm compress, while people with circulatory disorders like peripheral artery disease should not use cold therapy.
Turmeric is also effective for treating inflammation. The compound curcumin in turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce inflammation and pain.
According to a 2004 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, researchers reviewed many studies on curcumin and concluded that it inhibits a number of different molecules that play a role in inflammation (1).
In a 2009 study published in Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, researchers found that turmeric eased pain as much as ibuprofen did in patients with arthritis (2).
A 2012 study published in Therapeutic Advances in Musculoskeletal Disease highlights the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of curcumin (3).
- To fight inflammation, boil 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of milk. Drink it twice daily.
- Alternatively, you can take curcumin capsules, after consulting your doctor for the proper dosage.
Caution: Avoid consuming too much turmeric if you take blood-thinning medications or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
If you love the pungent flavor of ginger, then you will be happy to know that ginger is good at fighting inflammation.
Ginger contains a compound known as gingerol that has anti-inflammatory properties. According to a 2005 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, ginger affects certain inflammatory processes at a cellular level. In fact, it helps block COX-2, a chemical in the body that causes pain (4).
A 2013 study published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine reports that gingerol, shogaol and other structurally-related substances in ginger inhibit prostaglandin and leukotriene biosynthesis through suppression of 5-lipoxygenase or prostaglandin synthetase (5).
- Drink 2 to 3 cups of ginger tea daily. To make the tea, grate a small piece of ginger root and boil it in a cup of water for 10 minutes. Strain it and add a little honey.
- Also, you can massage the affected area 2 or 3 times a day with ginger oil to help reduce pain, inflammation and stiffness.
Caution: Avoid consuming too much ginger, as it can thin the blood.
4. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne Pepper is another trusted home remedy for inflammation.
It contains natural compounds called capsaicinoids. These are what give cayenne pepper its anti-inflammatory properties. It also prevents the activation of the brain’s pain transmitters, which in turn reduces the feeling of pain.
In a 2011 study published in the British Journal of Anesthesia, researchers found that topical application of capsaicin cream is effective for pain management (6).
Again, in a 2016 study published in Molecules, the analgesic effects of capsaicin and its clinical applicability in treating pain was highlighted (7).
- You can start taking capsaicin supplements daily to get rid of inflammation, but consult your doctor first.
- Another option is to massage the painful area with a cream or lotion containing between 0.025% and 0.075% purified capsaicin.
The anti-inflammatory property of garlic is effective at reducing inflammation in the body. Garlic has different sulfur-containing compounds that help shut off the pathways that lead to inflammation.
A 2009 study published in Arthritis Research & Therapy found that thiacremonone, a novel sulfur compound isolated from garlic via inhibition of NF-κB, exerted its anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties, and thus could be a useful agent for treating inflammatory and arthritic diseases (8).
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that several compounds in garlic have anti-inflammatory therapeutic potential (9).
- Eat 2 to 3 raw garlic cloves daily on an empty stomach to prevent or reduce inflammation. Also, use garlic in your cooking as much as possible.
- Another option is to take garlic capsules as a dietary supplement, but only after consulting your doctor.
6. Olive Oil
Olive oil can also offer protection against inflammation, due to its beneficial compounds. For instance, it contains oleocanthal that has similar effects as NSAIDs.
A 2011 study published in Current Pharmaceutical Design showed that the compound called oleocanthal in extra-virgin olive oil prevents the production of COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes in the body that cause inflammation (10).
In a 2018 study published in Endocrine, Metabolic & Immune Disorders Drug Targets, researchers concluded that extra-virgin olive oil and its polyphenols can improve disease symptoms in chronic immunemediated inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus and psoriasis, by acting both at local and systemic levels and by modulating several molecular pathways. Nevertheless, more studies are needed to achieve specific nutritional guidelines (11).
- Use extra-virgin olive oil for cooking food and to make healthy salad dressings.
- Warm olive oil can also be used to massage the inflamed area to reduce pain, swelling and inflammation.
Cinnamon is a popular spice rich in anti-inflammatory properties that can ease swelling. It also helps reduce cytokines linked to pain.
A 2012 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine demonstrated that cinnamon has excellent anti-inflammatory activities and thus has great potential to be used as a source for natural health products (12).
A 2015 study published in Food & Function reports that cinnamon and its components may be useful in the treatment of age-related inflammatory conditions (13).
A recent study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2017 shows that cinnamon bark essential oil is a promising anti-inflammatory agent. However, further research is required to clarify its clinical efficacy (14).
- Mix 1 tablespoon of raw honey and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon powder into a cup of warm water. Drink it every morning on an empty stomach.
- You can also sprinkle cinnamon powder in your coffee or tea, and on top of your breakfast cereal.
8. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is useful in relieving inflammation. It helps remove the buildup of toxins in the joints and connective tissues, which is important to ease any kind of pain and inflammation.
It also helps build immunity and control infections that are often an underlying cause of inflammation.
A 2017 study published in Science Reports highlights the anti-inflammatory effects of synthetic acetic acid vinegar (15).
- Mix equal amounts of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and lukewarm water in a tub. Soak the inflamed part of your body in this solution for 30 minutes. When done, dry the affected area thoroughly. Do it twice daily to notice an improvement in the pain and inflammation.
- Also, mix 1 teaspoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar into a glass of warm water and add a little honey. Drink it twice daily.
9. Tart Cherries
Regular consumption of tart cherry juice is another effective way to control inflammation.
Tart cherries contain high levels of flavonoids and anthocyanins that have anti-inflammatory properties that help reverse oxidative damage, which can increase pain and inflammation in the body.
It can also reduce inflammation by reducing the amount of C-reactive proteins produced in the body.
In a 2010 study, researchers from Oregon Health and Science University found that people who drank juice made from tart cherries noticed a reduction in the level of inflammation in their bodies (16).
A 2012 study published in Medicine and Sports Science reports that tart cherries have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on prevention, treatment and recovery of soft tissue injury and pain (17).
Again, a 2016 study published in Antioxidants (Basel) reports that tart cherries, like other dark-colored fruits, may be effective in reducing inflammatory and oxidative stress mediated signals (18).
- Drink 1 to 2 cups of tart cherry juice, once daily.
Caution: Tart cherry juice may cause abdominal discomfort and diarrhea. If you experience these side effects, stop drinking the juice.
Including the tart fruit pineapple in your diet can also help fight inflammation.
Pineapples contain bromelain, a powerful enzyme that works as a natural anti-inflammatory agent. It fights inflammation associated with issues like tendonitis, sprains, strains and minor muscle injuries. Plus, it helps reduce bruising.
A 2012 study published in Biotechnology Research International demonstrated that bromelain exhibits various anti-inflammatory activities (19).
A 2016 study published in Biomedical Reports found that bromelain has anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic and fibrinolytic effects, anticancer activity and immunomodulatory effects, in addition to being a wound-healing and circulatory-improvement agent (20).
In addition to eating pineapples, you can consider taking bromelain supplements after consulting your doctor.
- To keep inflammation at bay, avoid processed foods like packaged meats, cookies, chips and other snacks.
- Limit your alcohol intake to fight inflammation.
- Add more nuts and seeds to your diet.
- Avoid coffee and switch to green tea.
- Eat fish like mackerel, tuna, sardines, salmon and herring, as they are rich in omega fatty acids. If you don’t like fish, you can opt for fish oil supplements after consulting your doctor.
- Include more green vegetables like spinach and kale in your diet.
- Fruits like cherries, pineapple, strawberries, apples, blueberries and raspberries can also help reduce inflammation.
- Safety and Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Curcumin: A Component of Tumeric (Curcuma longa). A Definition for Wildness | Ecopsychology. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/107555303321223035.
- Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts in patients with knee osteoarthritis. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19678780. Published August 2009.
- Current nutraceuticals in the management of osteoarthritis: a review. Therapeutic Advances in Musculoskeletal Disease. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3400101. Published June 2012.
- Ginger-An Herbal Medicinal Product with Broad Anti-Inflammatory Actions. Journal of Medicinal Food. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/jmf.2005.8.125.
- Anti-Oxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ginger in Health and Physical Activity: Review of Current Evidence. International Journal of Preventive Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3665023. Published April 2013.
- Topical capsaicin for pain management: therapeutic potential and mechanisms of action of the new high-concentration capsaicin 8% patch. British Journal of Anesthesia. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3169333. Published October 2011.
- Capsaicin: Current Understanding of Its Mechanisms and Therapy of Pain and Other Pre-Clinical and Clinical Uses. Molecules. www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/21/7/844/pdf.
- Anti-inflammatory and arthritic effects of thiacremonone, a novel sulfurcompound isolated from garlic via inhibition of NF-κB. SpringerLink. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/ar2819. Published September 30, 2009.
- Anti-inflammatory activity of sulfur-containing compounds from garlic. Journal of Medicinal Food. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23057778. Published November 2012.
- Molecular mechanisms of inflammation. Anti-inflammatory benefits of virgin olive oil and the phenolic compound oleocanthal. Current Pharmaceutical Design. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21443487.
- Anti-inflammatory Activity of Extra Virgin Olive Oil Polyphenols: Which Role in the Prevention and Treatment of Immune-Mediated Inflammatory Diseases? Endocrine, Metabolic & Immune Disorders Drug Targets. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29141574.
- Anti-Inflammatory Activities of Cinnamomum cassia Constituents In Vitro and In Vivo. Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22536283.
- Anti-inflammatory activity of cinnamon (C. zeylanicum and C. cassia) extracts – identification of E-cinnamaldehyde and o-methoxy cinnamaldehyde as the most potent bioactive compounds. Food & Function. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25629927.
- Antiinflammatory Activity of Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) Bark Essential Oil in a Human Skin Disease Model. Phytotherapy Research. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5518441. Published July 2017.
- Anti-obesity and anti-inflammatory effects of synthetic acetic acid vinegar and Nipa vinegar on high-fat-diet-induced obese mice. Science Reports. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5532206. Published 2017.
- Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/track/pdf/10.1186/1550-2783-7-17.
- Cherry juice targets antioxidant potential and pain relief. Medicine and Sports Science. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23075558.
- Tart Cherry Extracts Reduce Inflammatory and Oxidative Stress Signaling in Microglial Cells. Antioxidants (Basel). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5187531. Published December 2016.
- Properties and Therapeutic Application of Bromelain: A Review. Biotechnology Research International. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3529416. Published 2012.
- Potential role of bromelain in clinical and therapeutic applications. Biomedical Reports. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4998156. Published September 2016.