Inflammation is an immune response; a response to an infection, an irritation, or an injury. Immune cells are called to the site through the blood stream. The blood vessels near the site become miraculously permeable and the site becomes warm and red due to the increased blood flow (warm, hence inflammation).
Neutrophils and macrophages engulf microorganisms and phagocytes are called in. Some immune cells try to “eat” the invaders; others excrete hydrogen peroxide (and other oxidative chemicals) trying to kill them so they can be cleaned up by the phagocytes and friends.
Inflammation is a part of the body’s natural defense system against injury and disease.
Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is a disease. The system has gotten hung up, and instead of protecting the organism (our body) it starts to kill the organism, slowly but surely.
Today modern medicine is starting to admit that chronic inflammation is the main contributing factor to all chronic degenerative diseases, and the root cause of the two greatest killers in America: Cancer and Heart Disease. Indeed, chronic inflammation might just be the root cause of all degenerative disease.
Chronic inflammation may be the root of all degenerative disease.
Andrew Weil — www.drweil.com
Accepting this would certainly simplify preventive medical practices (even as non existent as they presently are), but I find it interesting that once in our early history, medicine tried to create a theory that reduced all disease into one or two categories. History does, it seems, repeat itself.
Pro-inflammatory cytokines are the part of our immune systems that attack and kill cells with oxidative chemicals. If they don’t stop their attacks, they will start killing cells our bodies need. The inflammation in a joint can eat away at our cartilage and you’ve got a serious case of arthritis. Unchecked inflammation in an organ, say the pancreas, can cause diabetes. Unchecked inflammation is now thought to be responsible for cardiovascular disease and cancers. The elderly are especially vulnerable to this sort of unchecked inflammation since the body looses the ability to “down-regulate” inflammation with age.
You do not have to be old to have chronic inflammation. You can have it and not know it, until it is too late. Thus we are going to spotlight those tests for having chronic inflammation or being at risk for chronic inflammation.
After that, we will outline the therapies to bring down chronic inflammation and how to avoid it in the first place, for you will soon find that inflammation begins on the end of your fork.
Does anyone recall the headlines in the New York Times about blood vessels bursting like popcorn? The article told us that the latest theory on the cause of heart disease is inflammation. One of the doctors who made this discovery was Dr Paul Ridker. The results of his studies in the early 1990s landed on the front pages of the New York Times right around the turn of the century. We’ve covered this in our book, Bypassing Bypass (and in our Cardiovascular Articles section), but we must tell you a little about it right now.
Microorganisms cause inflammation within our blood vessels, and the inflammation attacks the inside of the arteries. Besides immune cells being sent to the site to fight the inflammation, lipoprotein(a) is sent to form a sticky patch over the damaged area; a patch that that can grab onto cholesterol (supposedly bad cholesterol) and a cholesterol bandage is created over the site. However, the inflammation is inside now. The patch grows and bulges. The inflammation grows and bulges. Eventually, “blood vessels explode like popcorn.”
The reason I called the cholesterol “supposedly bad” is that it tried to save your life. If the inflammation continued without being patched by cholesterol, the artery would eventually open and you’d bleed out.
However, because the inflammation was not halted, the bandaged area has burst and the body must quickly respond because your artery is about to open wide. How is this patch formed? By a blood clot.
A clot is formed at the site to patch up the damage. Eventually, lipoprotein(a) will come along and form a sticky patch and attract cholesterol to form a better bandage, but there is a problem, and it has to do with our diet and lifestyle, our hypercoagulable lifestyles. Our blood tends to clot “too” much. The clot formed is usually bigger than it need be, and being such, the chances of it breaking loose increase. If it does break loose and it goes to your brain, you suffer a stroke. If it goes to your heart, you suffer a heart attack.
This sums up a good deal of what we have to say in Bypassing Bypass (which we are rewriting) but there is a lot more to learn (so if you want a copy, go get it here: Bypassing Bypass, and keep in mind that you are eligible to get the updated online version free when it is released).
One final cause of inflammation is insulin resistance and high blood sugar, along with the associated weight gain.
First off, high blood sugar raises your inflammation markers, IL-6 and CRP (C Reactive Protein). Then high insulin levels in your blood activate enzymes that raise the amount of arachidonic acid in your blood. Arachidonic acid is a polyunsaturated non essential omega-6 fatty acid. The problem with omega-6 fatty acids is when they exist in large quantities in the blood without a proper ratio of omega-3s or omega-9s (monounsaturates) to balance them out, and inflammation results.
Diets high in omega-6 fatty acids are very inflammatory; and considering that many of our foods come from corn (including our beef), the average American eats over 4 pounds of corn each day, resulting in an over abundance of omega-6s in our blood stream and consequentially, inflammation.
And we still have one more route for inflammation to set in: when our bodies are insulin resistant, our brains are leptin resistant. The more body fat we have, the more leptin we have in our blood which triggers the immune cells in our body fat to release Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha, which is usually a good thing in that it helps consume nascent tumors, but in this case it’s highly inflammatory, and it can set off a cascade of events ending in chronic degenerative illness such as MS, arthritis, cancer, and heart disease.
And if you have food sensitivities, your immune system is already overworked creating more chemicals that raise your immune markers. The problem is, most people with food sensitivities don’t even know it.
Most of you have never heard of NF-κB (nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells). The cytokines mentioned above, TNF, IL-6, and an unmentioned IL-1 are proteins. NF-κB is the protein that largely controls their production. You can call him the Head Honcho.
NF-κB is a first responder. When your body is under attack from a pathogen, the 911 call goes first to NF-κB, which rapidly begins calling out the cytokines. In healthy individuals, there are situations in which this “cytokine storm” can be deadly. During WWI, the Spanish Flu killed millions, and most were healthy individuals. The young, infirm, and old weren’t as affected by it.
But in healthy individuals, that flu bug set off a cytokine storm, causing the immune system to attack its own body and eventually killing themselves. Luckily, this is something very rare, and you can read about it here: Scientists reveal how world’s worst flu killed victims.
Now here is the long and short of NF-κB induction. When NF-κB is induced, this is a good thing. Pathogens, stress, exercise, and oxidative stress (free radicals) induce NF-κB to start to build up a bit of inflammation to handle these things. But chronic activation of NF-κB can lead to depression, cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases, not to mention all those listed below. But don’t forget the pain and agony. Arthritis and joint issues are no fun.
Just luckily, antioxidants and many of the anti-inflammatories listed below will keep NF-κB from being overly induced.
At the National Library of Medicine Natural Institutes of Health (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) website, searching for “inflammation” AND “NF-κB” will bring up 128,148 results.
Knowing you have a problem is the first step to fixing the problem.
The first test you should know about is called the C-Reactive Protein test, but please note that there are two CRP tests. The one that is needed MUST BE specified to the lab as H.S.C.R.P., which is High-sensitivity C-Reactive Protein test. This is crucial as it is measured in mg/L with a range of <1.0 mg/L being a low relative risk for “cardiovascular disease events” to >3.0 mg/L being a high relative risk. Now, the regular test, CRP, is measured in ml’s. Thus if your results came back showing that your result is .3 you look great and are considered low risk. But, if the lab measured CRP and not hs-CRP then the number is actually 3.0 which is not good.
Since many MDs are still unsure of their positions on chronic inflammation, they often order the wrong test without realizing it. So, be on your toes and always try to know more than your doctor.
The New England Journal of Medicine has published two significant studies on CRP, one that concluded:
In a study of people without known cardiovascular disease, we estimated that under current treatment guidelines, assessment of the CRP or fibrinogen level in people at intermediate risk for a cardiovascular event could help prevent one additional event over a period of 10 years for every 400 to 500 people screened. (Funded by the British Heart Foundation and others.) [http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1107477]
In another study we found at the Life Extension website showed that if your CRP is high, you are three times more likely to die of a heart attack, no matter how many cholesterol drugs you are on, or if your cholesterol is normal. [NEJM, 1997]
If you have Vulnerable Plaque (the popcorn popping arteries described above) you have an 800% greater chance of a heart attack.
In July of 2001, JAMA published a study on chronic inflammation and the risk of diabetes. Another test they used, besides the CRP, was an inflammatory marker test, the IL-6. The study concluded that your chances of developing type two diabetes are easily predicted by the outcome of the CRP and IL-6 tests together. The ultimate test would be the Inflammatory Cytokine Profile consisting of the two mentioned plus TNF (tumor necrosis factor), interleukins -1 beta and 8.
You should note that your doctor will not ask for an Inflammatory Cytokine Profile unless symptoms exist for a specific inflammatory condition, but for a true assessment of your inflammation index, an Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR) test is also required.
Depression, asthma, pancreatitis, Parkinson’s, lupus, anemia, kidney failure, psoriasis, and fibrosis might just be the start. All of these diseases have a suspected root cause of chronic inflammation.
From Life Extension Vitamins, we learned that seemingly unrelated illnesses often exhibit excess levels of pro-inflammatory markers:
Lets take a closer look at some diseases and their inflammatory connection.
Cancer: in an article entitled “Chronic Inflammation and Cancer,” by Emily Shacter, PhD published in Oncology, she sums up her findings thus:
A substantial body of evidence supports the conclusion that chronic inflammation can predispose an individual to cancer, as demonstrated by the association between chronic inflammatory bowel diseases and the increased risk of colon carcinoma. Chronic inflammation is caused by a variety of factors, including bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections, chemical irritants, and nondigestible particles. The longer the inflammation persists, the higher the risk of associated carcinogenesis. This review describes some of the underlying causes of the association between chronic inflammation and cancer. Inflammatory mediators contribute to neoplasia by inducing proneoplastic mutations, adaptive responses, resistance to apoptosis, and environmental changes such as stimulation of angiogenesis. All these changes confer a survival advantage to a susceptible cell. In this article, we discuss the contribution of reactive oxygen and nitrogen intermediates, prostaglandins, and inflammatory cytokines to carcinogenesis. A thorough understanding of the molecular basis of inflammation-associated neoplasia and progression can lead to novel approaches to the prevention and treatment of cancer. [ONCOLOGY 16:217-232, 2002]
Though conventional medicine hates admitting that sometimes we must fight “like with like” (the theory behind homeopathy), what I gleaned from this article that truly stood out was that irritation caused by the oxidizing chemicals released by the immune system can lead to a cancer. Cancer, in turn, is often treated by attacking it with oxidizing chemicals, which a few chemotherapies are, as is Paw Paw fruit.
Since oxidizing chemicals are responsible for cancer, shouldn’t it be obvious (as Shacter points out) that supplementing with antioxidants might be a smart move to prevent cancer in the first place.
Aging: why do people age? One reason is the inflammatory process. This is why you see people who appear much older than their age, and you see people who look much younger than their age. One of them suffers from chronic inflammation.
Another cause of aging are AGE’s, or Advanced Glycation End Products.
Macular Degeneration: JAMA, in Feb of 2004 linked this one to inflammation.
Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: we still don’t know which came first, the problem or the inflammation, but these two are often found together. In her article “Cytokine and other immunological markers in CFS,” Dr Nancy Klimas believed that the unusual amounts of cytokines might lead to hormonal imbalances. Often called the most mysterious of illnesses, and hard to diagnose, we do know that chronic inflammation accompanies both, and that treating the terrain is a person’s only hope for long term recover.
Osteoporosis: as we’ve seen with chronic periodontal disease, inflammation leads to bone loss. Studies using people with inflammatory bowel disease are also showing that bone loss progresses as the disease progresses.
Arthritis: earlier we mentioned that the inflammation eats away cartilage. In Rheumatoid Arthritis, the inflammation is systemic eating away at the entire body, an autoimmune disorder.
Multiple Sclerosis: this is a tough one. MS has been described as an inflammatory disease of the central nervous system. According to Professor V Hugh Perry, the macrophage population in MS brains are much more activated than in others, and that inflammations can be further amplified with age, injuries, infections, and surgeries.
To heal anything, you must know its cause. As stated at the beginning, chronic inflammation begins on the end of your fork, or the Standard American Diet (SAD).
Sodas, French fries, chips, and burgers are the real weapons of mass destruction.
Every day there are WMDs of our diet that assault our bodies rendering countless damage and casualties to our body’s defenses, yielding more and more inflammation and damage. [Dr. Richard Fleming, cardiologist]
Let us talk about prostaglandins.
There are three types, Prostaglandin 1, Prostaglandin 2, and Prostaglandin 3. P1 and P3 are “good” in that they dilate blood vessels, reduce clotting, and are anti-inflammatory. It is P2 that is considered bad, mainly because it signals lymphocytes to increase the immune response. This in itself isn’t bad, because if you have an infection, you want P2 to do just that. However, we’re talking chronic inflammation here; the battle is over, but the soldiers fight on.
The building blocks of prostaglandins come from the foods we eat, but are synthesized (made) in our bodies. Biochemical synthesis requires that all the parts are available plus enzymes. Enzymes are the workers that put chemical A and chemical B together to make chemical C. Well, it just happens that the COX2 enzyme takes lipids (fats, mostly omega-6s) from our food and add them to arachidonic acid to create prostaglandin 2, which signals two things: Pain and an immune response.
Drugs on the market called COX2 inhibitors are designed to stop this process. And they did. They did this so well, that we learned a bit more about the connection between inflammation and cancer when Vioxx was discovered to prevent colon cancer. The big drawback was that Vioxx attacked the arteries causing heart disease.
There is another way to inhibit and stop this process, and that is by increasing our good fats in our diet which inhibit immune response, and take out the things that are causing our inflammation.
Additionally we should learn to cook our foods at lower temperatures. Cooking foods at high temperatures causes glycotoxins (such as AGE’s). Glycotoxins are sugars (glucose) bonded to critical proteins that accumulate in our bodies naturally (but we don’t need to help the process by eating foods cooked at high temps). As this buildup progresses, they cause cells to signal the production of inflammatory cytokines. This is one reason that as we age, our ability to bring “down” the inflammation response decreases.
Trans Fats: Funny, but we’ve been told for the longest time to avoid butter and eat margarine. Well, the American Heart Association, even though it had received a lot of money from the corn oil industry, finally came out and said that trans fats “might” be deadly and that we should cut down on them.
Trans fats inhibit the enzymes in our bodies that process our omega-3 fatty acids. They should just be avoided, plain and simple.
Corn Oil: This is the most popular omega-6 fatty acid in our diets today. Above we learned that omega-6s are needed to produce prostaglandin 2. Although I love the cult classic movie Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, I have to shake my head, because I know that corn is the real killer in America.
When I lived in Israel, I was amazed at how much olive oil they used. Your average Moroccan recipe called for anywhere from a half a cup of olive oil to half a swimming pool of olive oil (especially for egg plant). However, while I was there, the government began importing huge corn oil shipments from the US. Suddenly corn oil usage was on the rise, and they were exporting more olive oil than they were using. Today, Israel is a long-term human study in dietary fats. Cancer rates are on the rise. It will not be long before all the results are in. And no one who studies fats will be surprised, either.
Refined Carbohydrates: White sugar and corn syrup are in everything, it seems. Fructose is no better. And what about High Fructose Corn Syrup? Here you have a corn product and a highly refined carbohydrate. We have told you again and again and again that sugar depresses immune function. How does this work? you ask. From the Linus Pauling institute we get this:
High glycemic-load diets have also been associated with increased serum levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of systemic inflammation that is also a sensitive predictor of cardiovascular disease risk. Not surprisingly, in the Nurses’ Health Study, women whose diets provided the highest glycemic loads had a risk of coronary heart disease that was almost twice as high as those whose diets provided the lowest glycemic loads. The relationship between dietary glycemic load and coronary heart disease risk was more pronounced in overweight women, suggesting that people who are insulin resistant may be most susceptible to the adverse cardiovascular effects of a high-glycemic load diet.
If you eat something that is high in sugar, it stimulates the inflammation response. One thing we know about the inflammation response is that it taxes the immune system.
This is the last time I want to ever have to tell any reader to avoid processed foods. The more processed the food, the higher the glycemic level, the more chemicals, and the less food value. If high temp cooking is dangerous, Kellogg’s Cornflakes must be pure poison, for they are actually heated up to 4000 degrees during the process.
If you take a trip over the internet searching for the terms “Chronic Inflammation,” you will eventually find the worst foods you can eat:
French fries, Donuts, Commercial Pastries (donuts, cookies, crackers), Chips (potato, tortilla), and Sodas (and bottled Teas and Fruit Juices).
Why? French fries are cooked at high temps in trans fats. So are donuts and most commercial pastries plus they are made from white sugar; trans fats (shortening), and lots of white sugar, mmmmm. Chips are either high in trans fats or high in omega-6 fatty acids, not to mention the high-glycemic starches. And we should all know by now what’s in our sodas and fruit juices: sugar, sugar, and more sugar. Aspartame/NutraSweet isn’t any better; it too has been linked to triggering inflammation.
And the latest culprit is High Fructose Corn Syrup. This, we are finding out, is just plain deadly; and the food industry has silently slipped it into a huge portion of our foods.
Beyond what you eat, you should be careful about how you live: diet and lifestyle are not two separate things. When the body is overloaded in toxins, it can respond only in one way: chronic inflammation. Smoke, pesticides, cleaning chemicals, allergens, dust, contaminants, herbicides all contribute to toxic overload just as much as nutritional deficiencies. Pathogens, as we’ve already seen cause infections that lead to inflammation. We’ve already discussed stealth viruses; but there are many more pathogens (Parasites, bacteria, and yeast) that are also contributing. If you don’t get enough sleep, your IL-6 markers can go thru the roof. If you are on drugs, antibiotics, steroids, birth control pills, they are killing off the good bacteria in your body. Candida can flourish. And don’t forget chlorinated water. Anything that kills off our good bacteria allows Candida to flourish.
Finally there is stress. Stress increases your natural steroids and eventually leads to depression. Depression has been linked to the inflammatory response. [Licinio J et al.] “The role of inflammatory mediators in the biology of major depression: central nervous system cytokines modulate the biological substrate of depressive symptoms, regulate stress-responsive systems, and contribute to neurotoxicity and neuroprotection.” Mol Psychiatry, 1999 Jul: 4(4):317-27].
Many of the following are anticoagulants or blood thinners. You are advised not to mix them or to avoid them if you are already taking anticoagulants or blood thinners. You might want to visit a naturopath or functional physician to help you get off pharmaceuticals and onto safer alternatives, and to guide you in your choices if you have chronic inflammation.
Algae: This page has been worked on and modified over the years, but this one (Algae) just slipped right by me. I had no idea. Study after study has shown that algae are powerful antioxidants and substantially anti-inflammatory. They are also neuroprotective, meaning they protect the brain. Studies on arthritis show they easily compete with the best arthritis medications. People with inflammation sometimes develop an increased sensitivity to pain (called hyperalgesia). One study showed that, not only did algae lower the inflammation; they lowered the subjects’ sensitivity to pain. The only real problem with most of these studies is they’re all done in rats (and/or mice). This is ridiculous since we’re talking about a food here, not a dangerous drug. Human subjects could easily have been used in any study on algae, though we acknowledge that the cost of the study would be greater. Most people take their algae in the form of Spirulina and/or Chlorella. Here is a separate list we’ve published listing many of the studies we found on algae and inflammation.
Anthocyanins are the water-soluble flavonoid pigments in fruits and vegetables that help inhibit inflammatory COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes. [British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2006] Many of the fruits listed below contain these phytochemicals, however here is a graph we got from Wikipedia. Not in the graph is Red Cabbage, which is the vegetable with the most anthocyanins. In fact, a study published in Scientific Horticulture stated that red cabbage contained 36 different anthocyanins which help with neurological functions, promote cardiovascular health, and assist with weight loss.
Alpha-lipoic Acid is a fatty acid that is made by your body and plays a key role in metabolism and energy production while functioning as an antioxidant. In fact, it is sometimes referred to as the “Mother Antioxidant,” because it works in both a water and a fat environment, and “re-charges” other antioxidants like Vitamin E and Vitamin C, that lose electrons when fighting oxidation. Alpha-lipoic acid helps restore lost electrons so your antioxidants can go on fighting.
Studies show that it also stimulates insulin response, regulates blood glucose levels, and repairs liver cells.
Alpha-lipoic acid also reduces inflammation by reducing blood levels of inflammatory markers, including IL-6 and a new one we’ve not mentioned, ICAM-1. The inflammation Alpha-lipoic acid reduces have been linked to heart disease, liver disease, cancer, and insulin resistance to name a few. Here is just one study backing of these assertions: Fructose-induced inflammation, insulin resistance and oxidative stress: A liver pathological triad effectively disrupted by lipoic acid.
Alpha-lipoic acid has especially been studied in its role in reducing inflammatory markers in heart disease patients, though a few studies have shown no advantages over the control group. [The Protective Effect of Lipoic Acid on Selected Cardiovascular Diseases Caused by Age-Related Oxidative Stress]
The recommended dose is 300–600 mg daily. The only caveat is that women who are pregnant should check with their doctor before using Alpha-lipoic acid.
Most Alpha-lipoic acid sold is synthetic. The best form is R-Lipoic Acid, and we’ve investigated two forms that seem to be the best: R-Fraction Alpha Lipoic Acid – Triple Strength and LIFE EXTENSION SUPER R-LIPOIC ACID 60VC.
Berries are wonderful antioxidants. Raspberries, acai berries, goji berries, blueberries, cranberries and strawberries. Berries supply antioxidants with a host of bioflavonoids that work together like an orchestra to help fight chronic inflammation; antioxidants are anti-inflammatory.
Birch taken as a tea and made from, the bark or leaves, is a diuretic and anti-inflammatory herb used for gout, kidney stones, and rheumatism. Oil and creams are used for swollen joints. Do not use if you are allergic to aspirin.
Bitter Mellon is an Ayurvedic herb with around 4,000 years of use. It has many uses, but for this subject, it manages blood sugar levels (blood sugar raises inflammation) and decreases (beyond the blood sugar control) inflammation. It’s been used successfully in the treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Black Cohosh Root (Cimicifuga racemosa) is a Native American remedy, used mainly for “women’s problems” (menopause). It is also used for tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and arthritis. It contains alicylic acid, tannins, resin and bitter glycosides, so it is contraindicated if you are allergic to aspirin. It is an aspirin substitute, but should be avoided if pregnant, nursing, or using anticoagulants or are on HRT therapy.
Update 3/28/1019: An Ayurvedic specialist informed us of a great combination for pain that has been used for centuries, though the problem in the US is that it’s hard to find a good stuff. I’m referring to ashwagandha. Consumer Labs just published a review of ashwagandha products and found problems with them in that the active ingredient, the withanolides, in most products had gone AWOL. Really expensive stuff just did not have the power their price promised, and so I had to do some research and found one that I now use from Swanson. The reason we have placed this paragraph here is that our Ayurvedic specialist recommended we use ashwagandha with boswellia for a synergistic effect, and I personally found that in less than two weeks, my pain levels have dropped significantly. I hardly notice the pain and I have a meniscus in my right knee that’s turned to hamburger and a hand that’s been destroyed from years of martial arts. I’ve added both the ashwagandha and boswellia to my morning regimen. Here is your link to a solid product from Swanson: Ashwagandha. And you’ll find the best price anywhere.
Boswellia is a rainforest herb that in clinical studies has been shown to improve symptoms in patients with osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Like Curcumin, its active ingredients block the production of inflammatory prostaglandin hormones and other inflammatory chemicals.
Butterbur with Feverfew, a plant from the UK and Europe, is an amazing anti-inflammatory and anitispasmodic (prevents cramps). Just recently, studies in the British Medical Journal found that butterbur treated allergies (hey fever) just as well as expensive medicines. Another study showed that it was far superior to the traditional allergy medications. In a combined study from Germany and Switzerland using a group of 330 patients, they discovered that an extract used, called Buterbur Ze339, was just as effective as Claritin and Tavist with no drowsiness. Dosage: 50mg twice daily with meals. [“Treating intermittent allergic rhinitis: a prospective, randomized, placebo and antihistamine-controlled study of Butterbur extract Ze 339.” Phytotherapy Research Vol. 19, Issue 6.] Feverfew has been used historically for headaches and in studies has proved to be highly anti-inflammatory. Together these two herbs complement each other.
Vitamin C (this is our favorite from Swanson’s affiliate program) has long been recognized for its anti-inflammatory properties and works best when taken as a Vitamin C Complex (with bioflavonoids such as quercetin and copper, calcium, and l-lysine). In a study of people exposed to simulated sunlight, researchers found that vitamin C and E worked synergistically to reduce skin inflammation. In a cell study, Italian researchers noted that quercetin and vitamin C worked together to protect cells from inflammation-induced damage. The daily dosage should be 1,000-2,000 mg if you live in a relatively non toxic neighborhood, up to 6,000 mg per day if you live in lots of smog.
Capsicum/Hot Pepper aka Capsicum frutescens, or Cayenne Pepper, helps fight dangerous blood clots, can “cool” a number of inflammatory responses including burns, some nerve ending disorders and even possibly arthritis. Has definite fibrinolytic activity (can break down blood clots through enzymatic mechanism to some degree), also may be helpful in the pain of rheumatoid arthritis and a number of bowel diseases. Topical capsicum cream cools pain of several nerve ending disorders such as shingles and post-therapeutic neuralgia, a drop or two to the gum around an aching tooth works wonders. The cream can be helpful for pain due to diabetic neuropathy, and the pain which occurs after an amputation or mastectomy, as well as other peripheral neuropathies such as those that occur in AIDS patients. If you are taking anticoagulants or have a bleeding problem (slow clotting time) do not take capsicum without your doctor’s approval. If the pepper you have eaten is too hot and starts burning you up, eating a banana will quickly cool you down.
Normally people take capsicum in their food, but some cannot take the burn and taking capsules is just as good as long as you take it with food. Do not take capsicum on an empty stomach. NOW FOODS CAYENNE 500 MG 100 VEG CAPS
Carnosine, at least 1000 mg a day, and/or 300 mg of the European drug aminoguanidine can inhibit pathological glycation [AGE’s ─ the bonding of sugars to proteins] reactions in the body which are now known to contribute to inflammation.
Cat’s Claw, known as una de gato and Uncaria tomentosa, is a Peruvian herb with a long history as a remedy for inflammatory arthritis. Recent cell-culture and animal experiments at the Albany Medical College, New York, studies show that cat’s claw inhibits inflammation by blocking the activity of NF-kB.
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Celery seed (Apium graveolens) has a calming effect on the nervous system, helps to lower blood pressure, and can aid in a urinary infection. The seeds are traditionally used to improve circulation to muscles and joints and helps excrete uric acid. Celery seed is contraindicated if you are pregnant or suffering from kidney disease. Like Curcumin, celery seed can cause photosensitivity if taken in large doses. Additionally, celery juice is a wonderful detoxing, cleaning drink.
Chuchuhuasi is an herb from the rainforests of Peru and is used to treat a multitude of ailments. It is first and foremost an anti-inflammatory with immunostimulant properties. It also repairs DNA damage and has anti-tumor properties. People traditionally have combined this with pau d’arco in their battle against cancer. Most herbalists recommend taking between 1,000 and 3,000 mg daily. The link provided is for a tea.
Coconut Oil is antiviral, antibacterial, and parasiticidal (kills parasites). Inflammation begins with a bad terrain and germs. Coconut oil can improve the terrain and help get rid of the germs. You have to be very careful in your choice of coconut oil. If your coconut oil has been heat processed, it is not anti-inflammatory, but rather INflammatory. We get all our coconut products from Simply the Best.
Coffee contains chlorogenic acids, antioxidants that slow the production of glucose after a meal and slow the release of glucose into the blood stream, keeping insulin levels and inflammation markers low. Both JAMA and Harvard have released studies showing that those who consume coffee regularly have a much lower incidence of type two diabetes. However, the coffee can’t be a mocha latte filled with sugar. Either drink it black, or add stevia or erythritol. Additionally, one of the latest diet fads, Svetol® is chock full of chlorogenic acids.
Update: We have found a coffee, a Café Mocha and Café Latte that have reishi mushroom in them that diabetics can drink because the properties of that mushroom keep a tight hold on blood sugar and keep it from spiking. You can find them here, along with other treats, all with the same mushroom: Organo™.
Curcumin is the natural yellow pigment found in turmeric, a spice from India we spoke about above. Curcumin is also a powerful antioxidant; is active against a range of bacterial and fungal infections; a superb liver tonic; helps normalize blood cholesterol, and thins the blood. In a study from Cornell University, it was found that curcumin blocked the activity of Cox-2. which might explain some of the herb’s anticancer effects. Curcumin is contraindicated if you are taking anticoagulants, suffer from gall stones or obstructive gallbladder disease. Curcumin also increases your sensitivity to the sun, so it is advisable to avoid long periods in strong sunlight. The daily dosage is 2.8 mg. We have two articles on curcumin, one on Curcumin and Cancer, and another that goes into the problem with bioavailability, how to beat it, and more on the benefits: Curcumin, There’s More To Tell.
Two solutions to better absorption of curcumin are pepper and oil (coconut oil) and many companies are adding pepper, in the form of piperine, or the patented form Bioperine. However, it’s been discovered that another form with greater absorption and bioavailability seems to be nano-curcumin. Many products are adding nano-curcumin to them, and there’s one with Ecklonia Cava Extract in it called LifeForce. In each capsule, there is 150 mg of Ecklonia Cava Extract and 150 mg of nano-curcumin. (This is a product your author takes daily.)
Editor’s Note: Many websites write about supplements and then send you to their affiliate program to purchase. We do that. However, we don’t go find you links and then drop them on our site, we go out and find products that we personally have tested and have used. This entire site came about because I, your humble author, wasn’t going to make it alive out of his forties (at the rate I was going). I’m 66 today, and for nearly 30 years I’ve taken many of you along on my journey. There is nothing I put on this site that I do not check out, test and use (or have used). I find the best of the best because I’m worth it. So I’d like to introduce you to this form from Global Healing Center. If you’ve ever seen the hyped up liquid forms of Curcumin or Turmeric, I’m sure you were tempted. They sounded so good and for around $30.00 you could get sixteen servings. This little bottle has 48 servings and it’s potent and comes with a money back guarantee. I first discovered it when my right hand went out (years of martial arts) and the VA could only give me pain pills. Just click on the bottle to take a look.
One more brand of Curcumin that we have tried with great success (the CEO of Simply the Best has rheumatoid arthritis and swears by it) is PureNature Turmeric Curcumin Extract Complex. As always, we recommend “complexes” because the parts work together like an orchestra.
Devil’s claw tuber (Harpagophytum procumbens) contains glycosides, phytosterols (suspected to have some effect in cancer prevention), flavonoids and harpagoquinone (we’ve yet to figure out what harpagoquinone is or does, but it’s in the Devil’s claw tuber). It is a bitter, anti-inflammatory herb, useful for a wide-range of joint and muscular problems, including Rheumatoid Arthritis. It is also a digestive stimulant. Devil’s claw tuber is contraindicated if you are suffering from stomach or duodenal ulcer, taking anti-coagulant therapy, or are pregnant.
DHEA is a hormone that decreases with age. DHEA has been shown to suppress IL-6, an inflammatory cytokine that often increases as people age. Typical doses of DHEA are 25-50 mg daily, although some people take 100 mg daily.
DHEA is a hormone and supplementing with hormones can be a double sided sword. Best to check with a physician first to see if you need it, then follow her instructions. There can be side effects.
Vitamin E is a protective antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties. A vitamin E complex that contains gamma tocopherol and tocotrienols provides the most broad-spectrum protection. Vitamin E is a blood thinner. The link will bring you to a product I use daily, of mixed tocopherols and mixed tocotrienols. Beware of most Vitamin E because they’re made with a single synthetic tocopherol. The link is to my favorite.
Ecklonia Cava Extract is such an important food we’ve dedicated an entire page to it. ECE is one of the most powerful antioxidants known, is a powerful anti-inflammatory that repairs arteries, lowers blood pressure, removes plaque, and normalizes blood sugar. Read about it here: Ecklonia Cava Extract. You can find it and a few other forms, one with nano curcumin, at Simply the Best. And one more time, your author because I play tennis and at my age (late sixties) the knees start to go out, I use LifeForce, which is ECE and nano-curcumin, half & half. I’ve seen great results.
EpiCore is a preventive. If you have a cold, it won’t end it overnight. But the odds are, if you’re taking it, you won’t get that cold. Researchers believe that EpiCor is a more powerful antioxidant than blueberries, that it will protect against most known infections, reduce inflammation, fight off Candida, and support the growth of probiotics in the intestinal tract.
Folate comes from food. Folic acid is made in a chem lab (though here is a form that is made from food: Real Food Folic Acid). Your body needs folate. Your body can use folic acid, and the media leads the cause telling expectant mothers that they need it to prevent birth defects. Okay, studies show that folic acid protects against birth defects. But we should all know that the best form is the form found in food. This just makes sense since we all got here eating real food for millions of years.
Folate fights homocysteines. Homocysteines are markers in your inflammation levels. They are more than markers, they are also the cause of inflammation and are a “cardiovascular risk factor.” [Ref] Folate destroys homocysteines.
Here are what can contribute to high homocystein levels:
You will find folate in dark greens.
I recently read a paper telling me that Spinach Reduces Inflammation and Lowers High Blood Pressure. I think it was written by Popeye. Let me show you why I think that.
|1) Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)||½ cup: 557 mcg (over 100% DV)|
|2) Liver||3 oz: 221 mcg (55% DV)|
|3) Pinto beans||½ cup: 146 mcg (37% DV)|
|4) Lentils||½ cup: 179 mcg (45% DV)|
|5) Spinach||1 cup: 56 mcg (14% DV)|
|6) Asparagus||½ cup: 134 mcg (33% DV)|
|7) Avocado||½ cup: 61 mcg (15% DV)|
|8) Beets||½ cup: 68 mcg (17% DV)|
|9) Black eyed peas||½ cup: 112 mcg (28% DV)|
|10) Broccoli||1 cup: 57 mcg (14% DV) [Ref]|
One study showed that 8 mg of folic acid/folate are needed daily to eliminate homocysteines. [Ref] If you were eating spinach, you would need 143 cups of spinach daily to get that 8 mg. Popeye helped raise spinach sales in the thirties. He also helped lift “canned” foods sales. But if you’re only going to eat spinach to get the folate you need, you’re going to have to buy a spinach farm.
We’re not home yet. There seems to be a genetic disorder, a MTHFR mutation, which is rare, but those with it cannot process folate or folic acid and are likely to develop a folate deficiency. So after a bit of research on the web, I discovered Methylfolate, and it fulfills two needs. First, it does an “end run” around the your MTHFR (do I have to tell you what that looks like to an ex-soldier who knows how to curse?) mutation so that you don’t develop a deficiency, and if you can’t get enough folate from your diet, this stuff is a folate analogue that biochemists seem to agree is better than the laboratory version of folic acid. ‘
Now get this, the Methylfolate above seems to show a plasma level 700% higher than synthetic folic acid. So, as you can freely assume, 2 1000 mcg capsules of Life Extension Optimaized Folate L-Methylfolate daily should be enough to protect even those with the highest homocysteine levels.
We had to discuss folate for a number of reasons, as shown above, but it’s not the only thing to fight homocysteines. A combination of vitamin B6, B12, folate, and TMG (trimethylglycine) will do the trick. And we’ve found this formula that also has, not only the Methylfolate version of folate in it, but the best (in our opinion) B12 form, methylcobalamin: Activated Homocysteine.
Foods: foods can be alkalizing or acidifying, anabolic or catabolic, and anti-inflammatory or inflammatory. We are going to list for you anabolic, anti-inflammatory foods. But first, a few rules. The first rule is: when shopping, choose foods with only ONE ingredient. Pretty simple, eh? In most cases, the rawer the better (just a little cooking), though we have to admit and post an article soon on foods for which steaming brings out the nutrients (such as Kale). Colorful foods such as red peppers, red cabbage, tomatoes, carrots contain hundreds of anti-inflammatory bioflavonoids and antioxidants. Here is a list of anti-inflammatory foods: Dark Colored Grapes (red, blue, black), Papaya & Pineapple (especially these fruits), Kelp (seaweed), Dark Green Leafy Veggies, Mushrooms (all of them, my favorite are Shitake), Chocolate (70-75% dark), Cruciferous Veggies (Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cauliflower, Bok Choy, and especially Red Cabbage), Colorful Peppers, Hot Pepper (the hotter the better), Superfoods (concentrated) (Spirulina, Chlorella, Wheat Grass….there are so many to list), Broth from Beef and Chicken Bones (chicken feet make a great clear broth, but you just can’t find them at your local supermarket).
Two powerful anti-inflammatory foods are black pearl rice and artichokes. Black rice contains more antioxidants (anthocyanins)than an equal weight of blueberries. And strangely enough, artichokes are chock-full of antioxidants too, more than any vegetable I’ve yet to examine. Just some of the antioxidants in an artichoke are quercertin, rutin, luteolin, silymarin, cynarin, and anthocyanins. Studies on this little guy show it supports healthy liver and digestion. And get this: it seems to be the only vegetable that keeps its high antioxidant levels during and after cooking, no matter which method of cooking is used.
Foods Especially Anti-Inflammatory: when you think anti-oxidant, also think anti-inflammatory. Antioxidants take out the garbage and that garbage is highly inflammatory. Additionally, foods high in antioxidants often come with anti-inflammatory flavonoids. Here they are, in no special order.
Fruit: Many fruits are anti-inflammatory. Those that are tart and dark colored are usually the better anti-inflammatories. We singled out mangosteen below because studies seem to suggest it’s the most powerful anti-inflammatory of all fruit, perhaps with the exception of the pomegranate and tart cherry which is filled with anti-inflammatory polyphenols. Next comes the pineapple, because it has some great anti-inflammatory enzymes. Life Extension wrote a pretty good article on tart cherries. And as we’ve already pointed out, berries; all berries (and some grapes) are hugely anti-inflammatory: black raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, Loganberry, red-purple-black grapes, passionfruit, boisenberry, black currants. Then you have fruits that are dark purple, red, or blue, such as plums, black cherries, and acai.
Ginger inhibits Cox-2 and another proinflammatory compound, 5-lipoxygenase. This simple herb and condiment contains almost 500 different compounds, many of which are anti-inflammatory. It contains many volatile constituents, including zingiberene, zingiberole, phellandrene, borneol, cineole and citral, and can also be used externally. Ginger is contraindicated if you are taking anticoagulants. Large doses are contraindicated if you are pregnant or suffering from an ulcer. The daily dosage is 100 mg, and always use ginger in your stir-fries. Ginger is very common in Ayurvedic cooking (curries).
GLA: Although GLA (Gamma-linolenic acid) is an omega-6 fatty acid, it has anti-inflammatory properties. Very little GLA is converted to arachidonic acid and prostaglandin E2; GLA actually increases production of the anti-inflammatory prostaglandin E1. Robert B. Zurier, MD, of the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Worcester, gave GLA supplements or placebos to 41 patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Two-thirds of those receiving GLA had a 25 percent reduction in their arthritic symptoms. The daily dosage is 2-3 grams. I take Now Foods Borage Oil.
Green Tea Extract: Researchers at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, recently reported that the antioxidant polyphenols in Green tea had anti-inflammatory properties by inhibiting Cox-2 and TNFa. Genistein inhibits prostaglandin E2 and Cox-2, and quercetin inhibits the activity of inflammation-promoting “adhesion” molecules. It’s likely that Pycnogenol, grape seed extract, and other bioflavonoids work through similar mechanisms. The daily dosage is 25-500 mg. (Your author takes it daily.)
Irvingia gabonensis or African Mango is something many have been using for weight loss by balancing your hormones. In studies, Irvingia gabonensis brought HDL and LDL into a healthier balance, lowered C-reactive Protein (an indication of inflammation and one of the main culprits behind cardiovascular disease), and lowered their blood sugar rates.
Jiaogulan is a potent antioxidant (gypenosides are the active molecules) that protects the body from DNA damage, liver disease, atherosclerosis, is a potent anti-inflammatory, and increases both mental and physical stamina.
Vitamin D: in the last few years, vitamin D has been in the news so often that it has overtaken vitamin C as the most important of the vitamins. However, most feel it is not a vitamin but a hormone, affecting thousands of chemical events in our bodies. In a March of 2012 issue of The Journal of Immunology, a study was published linking vitamin D to the suppression of inflammation that finally showed how it did it: by binding with DNA, and interfering with a signaling pathway to reduce proteins in the blood known to trigger inflammation. No one seems to agree on how much we need in our blood or how much we need to take, but many do seem to agree that vitamin D-3 is the best form to take if supplementing. Low vitamin D levels have been associated with high inflammatory markers affecting prostate cancer, heart disease, and periodontal disease just to name a few. Personally, I had been taking 5,000 IU of NOW Foods Vitamin D-3 nearly daily, and I just learned that my Vitamin D levels are below the base line my doctor goes by. Go figger. But keep in mind that, as a hormone, it’s being used up quite a bit daily. So now I’ve switched to NOW Foods Vitamin D-3 10,000 IU.
Now Foods Vitamin K-2 (MK-7) helps reduce levels of IL-6, a pro-inflammatory messenger. In one study, higher levels of menaquinoens [MK-7] showed lower levels of C-Reactive. Vitamin K also helps in the treatment of osteoporosis by regulating calcium and promoting bone calcification. One 10-mg capsule daily is recommended for prevention purposes. Vitamin K is found in leafy green vegetables. Vitamin K and Vitamin D work together. If you take it as a supplement, vitamin K2 is the most biologically active form. But most important is the role of vitamin K in keeping altherosclerotic calcium plaque off our arteries.
“High dietary Vitamin K2 is associated with decreased coronary calcification and therefore is important to prevent cardiovascular [problems]” [Beulens J.W. et al. Atherosclerosis 2009 April, PMID 18722618]
It seems that K1 keeps calcium out of the blood vessels and K2 inhibits calcification, but out of all the thousands of studies (over 15,000), if you want to clear calcium out of your arteries and improve blood flow, lowering your blood pressure, MK-7 is the one that does this. You can bet the bank I take this one daily.
Lyprinol is a unique configuration of Eicosatetraenoic Acids (ETAs) that are related to the omega-3 fatty acids found in flaxseed and fish that could easily be 200 to 300 times more powerful than most NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) for relief of muscle and joint pain if used over a period of time. You seafood lovers will be glad to know that the Green Mussel (it has all sorts of names, but Green is always in the name, and it comes from New Zealand) from which this oil comes can be found in the frozen food section at your supermarket. Lyprinol can be pretty spendy, and every time we find a location selling it, we find soon after that it’s not being sold there anymore.
Mangosteen fruit: Mangosteen might just be the fruit with the greatest anti-inflammatory properties. Many fruits (see below) are anti-inflammatory, but this one has some real good research behind it. Historically Asian folk medicine had used mangosteen to treat diarrhea, dysentery, fever, cystitis, eczema and psoriasis, mangosteen, and a host of other illnesses for centuries. It wasn’t until the 1970s that Western science began to investigate this fruit. It was discovered that mangostin, a xanthone found in mangosteen, showed anti-inflammatory effects in rats. In one recent study involving obesity-associated inflammation, it was discovered that mangosteen attenuated many activities that led to inflammation and reduced inflammatory cytokines released by white adipose tissues. Another study on animals showed that it inhibited the prostaglandin E-2 as well as COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes, but a paper out of the Mayo Clinic [which is no longer posted on the web] claimed that studies only showed a reduction of CRP levels, and that more research is needed to examine mangosteen’s ability to work for those suffering from arthritis. But it doesn’t just stop there, because mangosteen stops the release of histomine, meaning it can also help with allergies. And finally, it helps maintain blood sugar levels. So, you can call for more studies if you want, but obviously we’ve got something here that is good for our bodies and especially our hearts. You can find Mangosteen juice on the web, but I use the organic raw mangosteen powder I get from Sunburst Superfoods.
Well, I used to use that raw mangosteen powder. I now use mangosteen pericarp powder, which I get from Simply the Best. The pericarp of the fruit is where most of the super nutrition comes from, and if you’re reading this right now, it means I am working hard on a paper outlining all the health benefits recent studies have uncovered and one of the most significant ones I’ve discovered so far is how the pericarp protects against the formation of AGEs. So check back because we’re going to let you in on all the research behind this miraculous fruit, and you’ll even find a recipe or two using it.
Meadowsweet flowering tops (Filipendula ulmaria) contains salicylic acid, tannin and citric acid. It is an excellent digestive remedy, that reduces acidity in the stomach and helps to alleviate gastritis and peptic ulceration, which makes it tremendously useful for those with arthritic conditions who cannot take aspirin or other NSAIDs due to the side effects on the stomach. Quite a large dosage is needed for treating arthritis, but it does combine well with other herbs (all mentioned on this page ), but avoid if you are allergic to aspirin.
Minerals such as Calcium, magnesium, and potassium help to fight acidity and inflammation. Additionally you’ll need some trace minerals Boron (found in raisins, prunes, and nuts), chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium (works best with Vitamin E), silver, and zinc (abundant in fish). All of these are found in Celtic Sea Salt. Additionally, there are some things I put in all my water. First off, I have a reverse osmosis filter. This means there is nothing in the water but water. And it has no taste. I add a sachet of coral calcium and an eyedropper squeeze of Ionyte to my water. Everyone tells me I have the best tasting water. The pH goes up and the minerals are all colloidal in water. Nothing makes water better, in our opinion.
MSM is a form of nutritional sulfur. With the advent of chemical fertilizers, our foods no longer have the nutritional sulfur our bodies need. Patrick McGean, a reader of ours who has researched MSM extensively told us, “Sulfur is the mineral which enables the transfer of oxygen by keeping the cell membrane semipermeable. Gases do not transfer as well as liquids through the cell membrane when the membrane is no longer permeable, and anaerobic disease happens in the toxic carbon dioxide trapped in the cell. Otto Warburg proved this but he never asked “why?” MSM has a long history of helping people with arthritis, lupus, and even pollen allergies. It is necessary to good health. Oh, and that link is to the best product for the best price, and it’s our best affiliate program, Swanson. And they have a new product with MSM, Glucosamine, Chondroitin & MSM with Hyal-Joint (a Hyaluronic Acid PLUS product).
MUFA’s (monounsaturated fatty acids). We list below, Olive oil, but there are more: coconut oil (organic, cold pressed), macadamia nut oil, and avocado oil. These oils contain polyphenols which are powerful inflammation inhibitors. Olive oil alone contains over 20 anti-inflammatory nutrients. MUFA’s cut off the messaging molecules that signal your body to increase inflammation, block pro-inflammatory substances, and lower C-Reactive protein in the blood. You need just about two tablespoons of these oils daily to prevent inflammation, and we recommend you never cook food in olive oil unless you keep the temperature at or below 350 degrees, and that goes for coconut oil too. Cooking destroys the benefits of olive oil. (Simply the Best now carries gallon containers of extra virgin, fair trade, organic coconut oil.)
N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) is a protective antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties. NAC is an amino acid with antiviral and liver protectant properties. One 600-mg capsule daily is recommended.
Nettle leaf has been shown to suppress the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-a. It contains amines including histamine, choline, acetylcholine and serotonin. It is usually charged with minerals such as calcium, potassium, silicic acid and iron. It strengthens and supports the whole body. In addition to its major role as a skin herb, nettle improves elimination of wastes via the kidneys, in particular uric acid, making it a useful cleansing remedy and helpful in gout. You can find many preparations of Nettle leaf at health food stores, but picking the young leaves and making tea is one of the best ways to take this herb, just strain well (and wear gloves when picking it).
Nuts: we’ve listed a few separately, but here they are all together: Walnuts, Almonds, Cashews, Pecans, Brazil Nuts, Pistachios, and Macadamia Nuts.
Olive Leaf Extract is antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral. Clearing up systemic yeast is another good start.
Olive Oil (extra virgin) contains oleocanthal, a compound that prevents the production of COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes. Apparently, some studies have shown that three and a half tablespoons is equal to 200 mgs of ibuprofen. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know about the scam of selling less than extra virgin olive oil by passing it off as extra virgin olive oil. Luckily, you can trust Swanson or Bragg, and there are many others.
Omega-3 essential fatty acids found in fish oils contain EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) which are essential building blocks for the body’s anti-inflammatory prostaglandins (e.g., prostaglandin E1) and for turning off Cox-2 and the body’s pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1, IL-6, and TNFa). In addition, omega-3 fatty acids block the activity of an enzyme that breaks down joint cartilage. DHA might just be the most effective nonprescription supplement to suppress pro-inflammatory cytokines (that is until the discovery of omega-7 fatty acids). The daily dosage is 3 or more grams. Keep in mind that the body can make DHA and EPA from linoleic acid (flax seed oil) if you’ve got healthy probiotics in your gut. And flax seed contains more ALA than fish oils, and ALA is a anti-inflammatory. My favorite flax food product is Omegasentials.
(Since writing this article six years ago, I’ve found two products that I highly recommend and use myself that are great forms of Omega-3 fish oils. One is Swanson’s 100% Pure Krill Oil because the price can’t be beat, Krill aren’t toxic with mercury, and there’s just enough EPA and DHA. The other is NOW Foods Tri-3D Omega and again, you can’t beat the price, NOW Foods are very good at keeping toxins out of their products, and the amounts of EPA and DHA in this one are stupendous. I used to take these daily, but now, because I’ve discovered this next product, I’ve modified my regimen.
Omega-7 fatty acid. Omega-7? you say. There is a great story on the web (at every site trying to sell you this stuff) that goes like this: Did this Cleveland fry cook accidentally stumble onto the heart health discovery of the century? Apparently he’d had problems getting years and years of hardened cooking oil off his equipment and pipes till some guy came along and poured this special oil into his equipment and everything turned out looking shiny and new. That special oil came from the sea-buckthorn and from anchovies and it’s an Omega-7 fatty acid. The secret is the palmitoleic acid content of the oil. It just kills CRP (C-Reactive Protein) completely, and then goes on to eat away at the fatty deposits on your arteries. The only problem is that every darn product on the market (even my favorite brand NOW Foods) that contains this Omega-7 fatty acid also contains palmitic acid, which is pro-inflammatory and does a job on your pancreas and we get enough in the foods we eat naturally, so why take it in a supplement? The World Health Organization classifies palmitic acid in the same category as trans fats. Palmitic acid is found in a lot of foods naturally, even mother’s milk. We are lucky that we get it in very small amounts. The thing is, if you’re taking supplements, you probably don’t want to get it in those things you’re taking to stay healthy.
When I first discovered these omega-7s, I ran off on a mission. I researched everywhere, found studies, interviewed the people who had patented the formulation, etc., and posted all this at our (old) website. The product was called Cardia-7 and when we found out they had an affiliate program, you know I was right there filling out the forms. Before they agree to have you in their program, they like to inspect your site. When they inspected our site, the called me on the phone and thanked me and told me that I’d be getting a gift in the mail. It was a year’s supply of Cardia 7. However, we now use their most potent product, Flexinol. Just click on the bottle to find the best price. And if you’re in time, Simply the Best is giving away bottles that have gone past their expiry date (but we still use because they’re working).
So, before my little surprise, here is a list of foods that contain palmitoleic acid (we will not list the raw meats, or raw pork, that contain them because, let’s face it, we don’t eat a lot of raw meat):
|Macadamia nut (roasted and salted) (per 20g edible portion)||3000 mg|
|Yeast (baker’s yeast, dried) (per 3g edible portion)||51 mg|
|Japanese eel (kabayaki) (per 190g edible portion)||2660 mg|
|Avocado (raw) (per 234g edible portion)||2129 mg|
|Unsalted butter (per 8g edible portion)||96 mg|
|Salted butter (per 8g edible portion)||88 mg|
|Yellowtail (mature, raw) (per 4500g edible portion) (Sushi)||40950 mg|
|Chum salmon (ikura) (per 30g edible portion)||285 mg|
|Chinook salmon (baked) (per 186g edible portion)||1507 mg|
|Olive oil (per 100g edible portion)||660 mg|
|Mackerel (boiled) (per 220g edible portion)||1364 mg|
|Cream (milk fat) (per 150g edible portion)||885 mg|
|Hen’s egg (yolk, raw) (per 18g edible portion)||104 mg|
|Natural cheese(cheddar)(per 15g edible portion)||87 mg|
|Pistachio nut (roasted and salted) (per 25g edible portion)||74 mg|
|Natural cheese (cream) (per 15g edible portion)||69 mg|
|Natural cheese (parmesan) (per 5g edible portion)||21 mg|
|Natural cheese (gouda) (per 15g edible portion)||61 mg|
|Natural cheese (blue) (per 100g edible portion)||390 mg|
|Natural cheese (edam) (per 176g edible portion)||669 mg|
|Natural cheese (camambert) (per 100g edible portion)||360 mg|
|Pink salmon (canned in brine) (per 180g edible portion)||684 mg|
|Almond (dried) (per 10g edible portion)||28 mg|
|Olive( pickles, ripe olives) (per 20g edible portion)||24 mg|
|Hen’s egg (whole, boiled) (per 50g edible portion)||80 mg|
|Milk chocolate (per 25g edible portion)||30 mg|
Now in this list, I’m not sure why they’ve referencing the “edible portion” since I would hope nobody plans on eating the inedible portions.
But first: Why do fish oils smell?
Some would say, because they came from fish. But when the fish oils are originally processed, they don’t smell the same way they do when they’re on your kitchen shelf. Nope, they don’t stink. They start to stink as they get older, and older, and they’re not refrigerated, and they start to go rancid. I don’t buy a fish oil unless it’s refrigerated. When I get it home, I cut open a capsule and smell it. Then I toss it into a smoothie, if it’s good. I test them monthly in the fridge, after I’ve opened them.
For some reason, the omega-7 fatty acids in Cardia-7 have never, ever smelled when I’ve inspected them. For some reason, and perhaps this is why their method of processing is patented, these oils just don’t smell, and now they’ve come out with an even more powerful product called Flexinol. I had originally helped Simply the Best get Cardia-7, and now they won’t even carry it. They’re carrying only Flexinol, and the stuff is, at this time, 5 years past its expiry date and when I slice one open, nothing. No smell. For one thing, they’ve been kept refrigerated.
Simply the Best had them on sale and a case of 150 went out the door in less than two months. People have written to me that they love it and want more. So, I helped them get another batch (I’m told this is the last one) that’s gone past its expiry date. In six months when those who purchased 5 for the price of 4 (at a savings of $183.95), I hope we will have some more waiting for them. I’m taking it for my knee, which was injured last fall playing tennis. The nice thing about the company marketing it is that they also did the original research, devised the processing methods, patented their formula and they give lots of support to their customers. It’s just one of the things that I needed in my body, and here is our original write up for Cardia-7: There’s a New Omega Fatty Acid on the Block. Just click.
Onions are loaded with sulfur compounds (see MSM above) that, besides relieving inflammation directly, inhibit enzymes that cause joint inflammation. The stronger the onion, the more phenols and flavonoids. Researchers have found that the strongest is the yellow onion, containing eleven times the flavonoids than the white. The shallot contains the most (phenols) antioxidant activity, and the red onion contains the most anti-inflammatory anthrocyanins (the cardio-protective flavonoids in grapes and wine).
Oregano is one of the most magical herbs in your garden. It is an anti-inflammatory and a powerful antioxidant. The best form of oregano is probably the essential oil, however, you can find oregano in capsules. TAKE WITH FOOD. The wild form of oregano contains 31 known anti-inflammatories, 28 antioxidants, and four known COX-2 inhibitors. The oil itself burns. I know this because I’ve brushed my teeth with it.
Quercetin is a bioflavonoid compound that blocks the release of histamine and other anti-inflammatory agents at supplemented doses; a minimum 100 mg per day.
Pterostilbene, Resveratrol, and Ellagic Acid are three super, anti-aging bioflavonoids that are often found together in nature. They are hypoglycemic (lower blood sugar), anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, hypolypidemic (lower blood fats), anti-cancer, anti-atherogenic (prevent plaque accumulation in your arteries), anti-thrombic (reduces blood clots, inhibiting platelet aggregation), and lower your blood pressure, while increasing insulin sensitivity. Supplementing is the best way to get these powerhouses, and pterostilbene (pronounced tero-STILL-bean) and resveratrol just work synergistically together so here is the best form that we use daily (at the best price): Pterostilbene Plus with Resveratrol
Probiotics help clean up fungus in the gut. There are formulas that are even more specific against candida/yeast. Additionally, probiotics help turn your flax oil (linoleic acid) into DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eiocosapentaenoic acid), natural anti-inflammatories. Recent studies show that probiotics reduce both C-reactive protein and cytokines (which turn on the inflammatory response). I’ve found many of the best probiotics at Swanson’s (here are two which we use):
We should all know by now that we live within a microbiome of bacteria, viruses, fungi, yeast, and protozoa, and their genetic material. When it is out of balance we have problems. Our bad bacteria begin to flourish when our good bacteria count dwindles, and this is why we have to feed our good bacteria with prebiotics (like dark chocolate). Well, something interesting was spotted by surgeons performing knee and hip replacements, that researchers at Cornell’s College of Engineering and Hospital for Special Surgery took a look at.
You see, infections are rare after these surgeries, and so with a further look into their cause, they came up with “bad bacteria” from the gut. So of course they hired hundreds of mice for a study (of mice or men, it seems that mice are much cheaper and don’t even demand minimum wage), and they’ve concluded early on (it’s not over yet) that mice with “unhealthy microbiomes” might have a compromised immune system. Kinda like the years of research that has gone on before this. [Ref1] [Ref2]
All the information gathered has brought a question up to the forefront of this research and that is: could an overgrowth of bad bacteria be responsible (partially, slightly, or at all) for arthritis. And that is now the focus of new research.
Proteins (that are high in good fats): Free Range, Organic Eggs, Grass fed Meats, Salmon (wild, not farmed), Sardines & Anchovies (in olive oil, not soy oil), Halibut, Mackerel, Herring (even pickled), and Tuna. These have to be cooked at low temperatures, and eating red meat as rare as you possibly can to avoid chemicals (homocysteine) linked to aggressive cancers and heart disease.
Really, you open a web page and there's click bait everywhere. This is why you won't see much at this site. We want your experience to be kind and gentle. However, we do have to pay the bills. And we get a small percentage from our affiliates. This particular affiliate has wild, organic salmon. This is the best way to get your Omega-3s, the DHA & EPA. Wild Salmon.
Pycnogenol is a powerful antioxidant that reduces osteoarthritis pain. A recent German study published in Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapay (Vol. 60), discovered that it inhibited significantly the COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes within 30 minutes of taking the supplement. [Nutra]
From a Meta Analysis of studies on pycnogenol, we get the following:
Some pioneering studies demonstrated that Pycnogenol supplementation can down-regulate the NF-κB pathway and reduce the production of the proinflammatory cytokines TNF-α and IL-1β . Other studies have shown that Pycnogenol extracts have desirable effects in lowers fasting plasma glucose , lipids profile , and antioxidant levels . It has also been proved that Pycnogenol has inhibitory effects on cyclooxygenases (COX-1 and COX-2) 
And the study concludes: Results obtained from RCTs in this meta-analysis showed that Pycnogenol had a significant effect on lowering CRP concentration. [Ref]
Rosemary is a common kitchen herb rich in ursolic acid. In laboratory experiments, researchers found that the ursolic acid extract of rosemary was a potent inhibitor of Cox-2 activity. The daily dosage is 100 mg.
St. John’s Wort is better known for its antidepressant effect, but this herb also has anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers from the University of Frieburg, Germany discovered that hypericin, one of the phytochemicals in St. John’s wort, inhibited NF-kB, which activates pro-inflammatory genes.
Silymarin is the antioxidant extract of milk thistle. Studies have shown that it inhibits Cox-2 formation. This role of silymarin might explain why earlier studies found it to inhibit the growth of prostate, breast, and skin cancers. Daily dosage is 100-200 mg.
Spices can be very anti-inflammatory (we’ve listed a few separately); so we thought we’d just list out all the anti-inflammatory spices we’ve found: Turmeric, Basil, Thyme, Cloves, Oregano, Sage, Cilantro, Cardamom, Chives, Parsley, Rosemary, Garlic, Ginger, Cinnamon, Cumin, Black Pepper, and Cayenne. (I now keep a bunch of fresh cilantro in a cup of water in my kitchen for use at any time.)
Systemic Enzymes are used by many people with chronic inflammation. Systemic enzymes fight inflammation, fibrosis (scar tissue), and viruses; modulate the immune system; and cleanse the blood. Wobenzyme®, Rutozyme™, and ArthroZyme™ are just three products containing admixtures of systemic enzymes, although we have had people write to us telling us that Wobenzyme® saved their lives. After years of searching, we’ve now found them at Swanson’s Vitamins.
Below are more systemic enzymes and their actions.
Bromelain is the name of a group of powerful protein-digesting, (proteolytic) enzymes that are found in the pineapple plant. These enzymes are anti-inflammatory and have been proven to suppress the inflammation and pain of many forms of arthritis, sports injuries, and joint conditions.
Papain is also used to remove fibrin from wounds, treating jellyfish and insect stings, and edemas. It is a powerful inflammatory that accelerates wound healing, swelling, and adhesions after surgery.
Serrapeptase, also known as Serratia peptidase, is a proteolytic enzyme found naturally in the intestine of the silkworm, which is used by the silkworm to dissolve the cocoon and emerge as a moth. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, used for bruises, for fibrocystic breast disease, bronchitis (loosens and expels mucous), edema, and lupus.
Serrapeptase digests dead tissue, blood clots, cysts, and arterial plaque. The late German physician Dr. Hans Nieper used serrapeptase to treat arterial blockage in his coronary patients. In addition to its anti-inflammatory abilities, serrapeptase reduces pain. Physicians throughout Europe and Asia have been using serrapeptase for years, especially as an alternative to COX2 inhibitors, NSAIDS, ibuprofen, and aspirin. Always take on an empty stomach 30 minutes prior to eating.
Wobenzyme is the Rolls Royce of systemic enzymes. I’ve never met anyone who did not benefit from them and oftentimes I hear they cannot live without them. They are spendy, but at Swanson’s, they are a bit cheaper.
Turmeric is a yellow spice most often associated with Indian food, curry and yellow mustard. It contains curcumin, which is covered above. It is a very powerful anti-inflammatory that can safely quash pain and swelling in arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Turmeric helps in gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and ulcerative colitis. Turmeric is also an immunomodulator that can bring down an excessive immune response is conditions such as allergies, asthma, and, in animals studies, curcumin (a main ingredient in Turmeric) appears to inhibit development of amlyoid plaques, which would give relief in Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Turmeric was also shown to prevent atherosclerosis and protects the liver from chemical and viral damage. Curcumin, the active ingredient also has been shown to modify more than 250 oncogenes and processes that can trigger cancer tumorigenesis, proliferation, and metastasis.
Though turmeric can be taken in food as a spice, it must be supplemented to get its full benefits, usually two capsules, two to three times daily. If you don’t know by now, you should know that absorption of turmeric by the body is terrible. Studies everywhere show that we don’t get much into our bodies unless it is assisted by a variety of things or by special processing. Every time you find a turmeric supplement, the manufacturer tells you on the label just what they did to improve absorption, such as adding a pepper extract or some oil, or something. When cooking, definitely add black pepper and coconut oils to get the most out of it.
But be forewarned, turmeric, besides doing all the things we’ve mentioned, also thins the blood. People with bleeding problems or who are on blood thinners should not take it as a supplement and be careful using it as a spice. Turmeric also tends to release bile, so for people with bile duct blockage turmeric is contraindicated.
Simply the Best now carries a form of Ecklonica Cava Extract with Nano Curcumin called LifeForce. The Nano-Curcumin is another delivery method of getting turmeric’s active ingredient into our bodies better.
Wild yam (Dioscorea villosa) contains plant estrogens that might help suppress the symptoms of menopause. It is also an anti-inflammatory herb, useful in joint pain; is anti-spasmodic which seems to help in Irritable Bowel Syndrome; and it is a bitter herb that stimulates digestion and supports the liver function. Wild yam is contraindicated if you are taking HRT or are pregnant or nursing or taking birth control pills.
Yarrow is an herb that just seems to grow everywhere. It has an aspirin effect, and is a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory herb which is used for muscle spasms and is also a good wound healer. Do not take if you are taking aspirin. Yarrow works like white willow; it helps blood coagulate, unlike aspirin which prevents clotting. Both yarrow and birch should not be used if you are allergic to aspirin.
Back to the Basics
I can hear some of you chomping at the bit. Yes, we’re going to get to the root cause of this root cause.
Chronic Inflammation has a root cause. And it all comes down to one thing, which was stated in our paper: The Lost History of Medicine.
A healthy body has a pH of 7.0 and a negative electrical charge.
The overall solution to the problem of chronic inflammation is three fold: Alkalize, alkalize, alkalize. As Dr Baroody’s book says: Alkalize or Die.
Keep in mind that parts of our bodies are naturally acidic or naturally alkaline and that the pH of our blood fluctuates between 7.35 and 7.45. We cannot really control our pH as much as some would like us to believe, because the body is always maintaining homeostasis. Eating an alkaline diet just helps the body do that with less effort.
An alkaline diet of fruits, veggies, nuts, and minerals will keep down inflammation, and inflammation is one of the root causes of cancer. Also, this type of diet feeds our good bacteria and all sorts of issues stem from imbalances in our “microbiome.”
There are no secrets in wellness, only things we’re just not fully aware of.
Detox your system. Detox your life.
Electrolyzed water is a good start or add sachet of coral calcium to your water to make it more bioavailable. Eat superfoods and basic greens. Get “good fats” into your body, the omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids, or again, my favorite food: Omegasentials. Get rid of all vinegars except apple cider vinegar or coconut vinegar. Toss out all cooking oils except for coconut and macadamia nut oil. Blow up your microwave and learn to cook.
I was once planning to write a book entitled: How To Cure Incurable Diseases. Well, this is it: Detox and rebuild your body using whole organic foods. Get alkalized and stay alkalized. Make sure your diet consists of the basic building blocks. Run barefoot in grass and on beaches. Fall in love. Play often.
That’s it. Shortest book on earth.
When it comes to arthritis and the ravages of chronic inflammation, if you wait too long, you burn up your cartilage and you’ve got bone on bone grinding and the most modern medicine can do for you is replace the joint.
Products from Vital Proteins and a few others can actually help reverse cartilage degeneration. We like Vital Proteins for a number of reasons which you can read about if you follow the link, and yes, we joined their affiliate program.
For those of you just now realizing you might have arthritis, it’s not too late to develop an anti-inflammatory lifestyle.
Two things I take daily (and I’m 65 and play tennis) are Flexinol and LifeForce (ECE extract and nano-curcumin). Like many of the things we’ve talked about above, these are preventive. However, if you have lost collagen, you have to cut out those things that are causing inflammation, start walking and moving, and start to rebuild it.
For a few months now, because readers have asked me about collagen products, I went in search of the best of the best. I found a product by Dr Axe that I checked out, but it was overpriced and I’m not impressed with things that are hyped as much as that one was. I’ve also found a product called ActivMotion™ which first makes you watch a 20 minute video. I am a firm believer that if they force you to watch a 20 minute video, the product is overpriced. For example comparing the most expensive product at Vital Proteins to ActivMotion™, we found that the collagen in the latter costs 27 cents per gram, while in Vital Proteins it costs 9 cents per gram. Oh, the ActivMotion™ site tells you of all the other stuff in the product, but yes, you can get better and cheaper elsewhere.
When I found Vital Proteins, I purchased a bottle just to try it and I did everything with it their blog recommends: used it in smoothies, fruit juice, soups, etc. It has no taste and mixes well with everything.
Vital Proteins is “hydrolyzed collagen” from grass fed cows.
Now you might wonder, what’s the difference between collagen and hydrolyzed collagen.
We’ve been getting collagen in our diets from that favorite desert many of us grew up with, Jello. Jello is flavored gelatin. Gelatin comes from cooking down the connective tissues in animals.
The difference between gelatin/Jello and “hydrolyzed collagen” is that gelatin has to be broken down into its amino acids to be absorbed, and then reassembled in your body to create connective tissues. As you should know, when our bodies break things down, these processes are pretty good, but sometimes not complete, as there is a lot of waste generated.
This is where “hydrolyzed collagen” has it way over gelatin because you are taking in the amino acids themselves and they start to do their jobs during the digestive process. And like most nutritional therapies, you have to give it 3 months (90 days) to see the results, though some have written to me that after thirty days they could feel results.
Here is what the web says about hydrolyzed collagen:
Hydrolyzed Collagen is the missing link in supplying amino acids like glycine, proline and lysine that are required by the body to build connective tissue to regulate cell growth. It will benefit hair, skin tissue, muscle, cartilage, ligaments and blood cell growth.
This is why I often feel sorry for vegetarians and vegans. We NEED these amino acids and vegetarians and vegans really have to struggle to get them. As the name says, they are VITAL.
I tried to get Vital Proteins into Simply the Best, but they do not allow their retailers to discount the product. This is what Simply the Best does; it finds the best products and gets them out at the best price. So, instead, we joined their affiliate program. And hopefully people will support us thru them (because we’re broke, as usual).
Just click on the picture above or here, Vital Proteins, to see all of their products.
Let’s get something straight. Your body “can” make cartilage. It just needs all the ingredients.
And this requires it’s own page, so go here: Rebuilding Cartilage.
Yes, let your food be your medicine, and if you don’t get enough, then supplement. However, we have invented probably the heart healthiest salad dressings in the universe. We’ve only published the “lite” versions so far, and we’re thinking maybe we don’t need to publish the full versions since these are damn tasty the way they are. And even the oils we suggest, MCT Oils, are anti-inflammatory, though so is macadamia nut oil and extra virgin olive oil.
Our recipes are kitchen tested. When we add new ingredients, we try to balance their flavors by modifying the three other ingredients salty, sweet, or the sour of the vinegar. And I think we’ve done it.
Here are the first two that we’ve posted at this new site:
Craig RP. The quantitative evaluation of the use of oral proteolytic enzymes in the treatment of sprained ankles. Injury 1975 May
Fisher JD, Weeks RL, Curry WM, Hrinda ME, Rosen LL. Effects of an oral enzyme preparation, Chymoral, upon serum proteins associated with injury (acute phase reactants) in man. J Med 1974
France LH. Treatment of injuries with orally administered Varidase as compared to Chymoral and Tanderil. Praxis 1968 May
Gal P, Ted F, Skotakova J, Mach V. Systemic enzyme therapy in the treatment of supracondylar fractures of the humerus in children. Rozhi Chir 1998 Dec
Hingorani K. Oral enzyme therapy in severe back pain. Br J Clin Pract 1968 May
Mazzone A, Catalani M, Constanzo M, Drusian A, Mandoli A, Russo S, Guarini E, Vesperini G. Evaluation of Serratia peptidase in acute or chronic inflammation of otorhinolaryngolog pathology: a multicentre, double-blind, randomized trial versus placebo. J Int Med Res 1990
Mazzone A, et al. Evaluation of Serratia peptidase in acute or chronic inflammation of otorhinolaryngolog pathology: a multicentre, double-blind, randomized trial versus placebo. J Int Med Res 1990
Petry, Judy J. “Nutritional supplements and surgical patients” AORN Journal 1997 June
Kelly, G.S. “Bromelain: A Literature Review and Discussion of Its Therapeutic Applications.” Alternative Medicine Review 1996 Nov
Metzig, C et al Bromelain Proteases reduce human platelet aggregation in vitro, adhesion to bovine endothelial cells and thrombus formation in rat vessels in vivo. In Vivo 1999 Jan-Feb
Starley, I.F.; Mohammed, P.; Schneider, G.; Bickler, SW. The treatment of pediatric burns using topical papaya. Burns 1999 Nov
Thomas M. Newmark and Paul Shulick, authors of Beyond Aspirin: Nature’s Answer to Arthritis, Cancer & Alzheimer’s Disease (Holm Press, Prescott, Arizona, 2000)
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