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Inflammation is simply your body’s reaction to an infection, irritation or injury. It is usually a helpful response and shows that your body’s defences are working correctly. Sometimes, however, the body can learn to over rely on this, responding for longer than necessary or when there is no substance to fight off. An improper inflammatory response can lead to numerous health problems because it is non-specific and somewhat unpredictable.
The herbal approach
Until recently, sufferers were reliant on non-steroidal anti-Inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) to manage inflammatory conditions. Today, however, one of the most promising alternative anti-inflammatory agents is Boswellia, a herb traditionally used to manage conditions such as joint pain and gastrointestinal irritation.
Boswellia for arthritis
The gum resin of the Boswellia tree is a traditional remedy in India for arthritic conditions. Now clinical research is able to explain how the activity of the Boswellic acids helps inhibit the release of certain inflammation aggravating chemicals that are involved in the deterioration of joint tissues, contributing to improved mobility and a reduction in pain. A 16-week randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial that demonstrated Boswellia’s benefits in managing osteoarthritis involved 30 adults with osteoarthritis of the knee. All of those who took a Boswellia supplement reported less pain and swelling, increased knee flexion and the ability to walk a greater distance than those who took the placebo.
Turmeric and Curcumin
Curcumin, the active ingredient in Turmeric which gives curry its distinctive yellow colour, is also showing promise in reducing osteoarthritis symptoms. Curcuminoids have been the subject of hundreds of published studies and are emerging with the potential to offer protection and treat a number of health conditions, including arthritis.
Historically, in both Indian and Chinese medicine, Turmeric was prescribed for a variety of inflammatory conditions, including liver complaints and coughs. Unlike NSAIDs, which are potentially damaging to the gastrointestinal tract and cardiovascular system, curcuminoids have shown to be protective to both.
Like Boswellia, Turmeric has been used safely for thousands of years as part of Indian traditional medicine. In Ayurvedic medicine, Turmeric is used as a readily available antiseptic and antibacterial agent for cuts and burns. Even Band Aids sold in India commonly have Turmeric on them!