Inflammation – whether unseen or painful – has always been at the root of a variety of incapacitating ‘diseases of civilisation’, such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis and intestinal inflammation … Even though it is the body’s first line of defence and should not be completely eradicated, scientists now recognise it as an important element requiring careful control; it is - along with oxidation and glycation - the third fundamental mechanism of ageing.
The aim of anti-inflammatory supplements is not just to reduce pain where present, but also – and especially - to provide an alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) which are known to cause side-effects in the stomach and kidneys.
Which parts of the body are most targeted by inflammation?
Among the organs and functions most affected by inflammation are:
with effects ranging from straightforward and specific pain, to inflammatory processes brought on by intense physical activity, through to rheumatoid arthritis. To counter such joint inflammation, there are a number of nutrients and plants that can be combined for enhanced synergistic effect
- MSMwhich reduces expression of the cytokines associated with cartilage degeneration.
The heart and blood vessels
- Curcuma and Eklonia cavawhich inhibit COX and LOX enzymes.
- Tart Cherryextracts which inhibit COX-1 and -2, normalise CRP and significantly lower IL-6.
- Andrographis which prevents NF-kappa B activity and thus naturally reduces joint pain and redness.
- Shiitake, especially its AHCC content, which has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect on rheumatoid arthritis in particular.
- Reishi which combats inflammatory cytokines.
- Quercetin which at a daily dose of 750mg can work in just two or three days.
- Cyplexinol and beta-sitosterol which act by inhibiting IL-1 and IL-6.
- And in addition, systemic enzymes which complement these substances.
, particularly the arteries
Taking palmitoleic acid
and especially Krill oil
has been shown to be of benefit following a heart attack or simply in preventing cardiovascular problems linked to chronic inflammation.
- The ginsenosides in ginseng have an anti-inflammatory effect in the brain and may even reduce cell death from chronic inflammation which is often associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Pterostilbene which may improve cognitive function.
- Luteolin which reduces excess levels of IL-1 and IL-6 in the brain and thus improves cognitive function.
particularly chronic inflammation of the intestinal mucosa seen in irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease.
- Boswellia (blocks 5-LOX), zinc
(modulates COX-2) and curcuma
(inhibits COX and LOX) are the key supplements to take, along with a probiotic
containing lactobacillus and bifidobacteria which also have an anti-inflammatory effect in the gut.
specifically for asthma and allergies, a number of supplements should be considered:
- Quercetin, rutin and luteolin which suppress allergen-induced inflammatory responses by inhibiting 5-LOX.
- b>Astragaloside IV and trans-resveratrol can also be taken alongside these supplements.
And if required, ursolic acid
derived from the loquat tree inhibits human leukocyte elastase (HLE) and thus reduces pulmonary inflammation in serious viral infections (H1N1, SARS).
The prostate and urinary tract
would be the supplement to take as it relieves prostatitis and chronic inflammation of the urinary tract.
Ear, nose and throat
is the substance of choice for ENT inflammation as it inhibits the release of inflammatory mediators in this part of the body.
What are the key elements involved in inflammatory reactions and which supplements counteract them?
This protein plays a fundamental role in controlling the expression of genes encoding pro-inflammatory cytokines. It is NF-kappa B that regulates the mechanisms linked to inflammation.
Andrographis inhibits its activity and thus naturally reduces production of cytokines (interleukins, TNF-alpha) and PGE-2. It is highly effective against joint pain.
Quercetin similarly inhibits this pathway; levels are also reduced by AC-11 and S-acetyl-glutathione.
There are three principal cytokines in this small protein group:
- TNF-alpha (Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha), a marker of inflammation.
Cytokines are associated with degeneration of cartilage. MSM reduces their expression. Cyplexinol, by inhibiting IL-1 and IL-6, is also good for joint pain.
- Interleukin IL-1.
- Interleukin IL-6.
Trans-resveratrol inhibits the release of cytokines particularly in obstructive pulmonary disease.
Zinc modifies cytokine secretion, especially in the intestines.
Luteolin suppresses excess levels of IL-6 and IL-1b cytokines in the brain.
And in general, L-ergothioneine has a beneficial effect on interleukins and S-acetyl-glutathione reduces TNF-alpha.
C-reactive Protein (CRP)
This is a physiological marker of inflammatory processes. It is rapidly produced in response to IL-6. Measuring levels in plasma allows diagnosis of the inflammatory state.
Palmitoleic acid acts against C-reactive protein, Krill oil reduces it by around 30%, and similar effects are obtained with Andrographis and Tart Cherry extracts.
Eicosanoids (prostaglandins PGE-2, leukotrienes)
Eicosanoids are produced from arachidonic acid by key enzymes called cyclooxygenase (COX) and lipoxygenase (LOX) :
- COX-1 is involved in the formation of prostaglandins and thromboxane A2 which promotes arterial thrombosis.
o counteract them, focus on:
- COX-2 is directly involved in chronic inflammation.
- 5-LOX generates leukotrienes – molecules involved in a number of inflammatory diseases. They cause inflammation by accelerating free radical damage, breakdown of calcium and auto-immune reactions. They may also be involved in ischaemia, atherosclerosis and allergic processes…
- Curcuma, gingerols and shogaols from ginger which inhibit COX-1 and -2 as well as 5-LOX.
- Quercetin, rutin and luteolin which suppress allergen-induced inflammatory responses by inhibiting 5-LOX. Boswellia has the same effect.
- Tart Cherry extracts which inhibit COX-1 and -2 as well as IL-6.
- Ursolic acid and Ecklonia cava as they both block COX-2 and 5-LOX.
- Zinc for its modulating effect on COX-2, and lastly trans-resveratrol which inhibits eicosanoids in general.
Order the nutrients mentioned in this article