Inflammation is part of the body’s natural response to stress, illness, and trauma.
In some cases, inflammation may also be caused by lifestyle habits and unhealthy foods.
Stress management, good sleep, exercise, and anti-inflammatory foods can help.
Sometimes, you may get extra support from supplements.
This article highlights five recommended supplements with anti-inflammatory functions.
Alpha-lipoic acid is a kind of fatty acid. It is produced by your body. It plays a very important role in energy production and metabolism.
Alpha-lipoic acid also has antioxidant functions. It protects the cells from damage and restores the levels of other antioxidants, such as vitamin C and vitamin E (1).
Alpha-lipoic acid also has anti-inflammatory functions. Studies have shown that it has a reducing effect on the inflammation associated with cancer, insulin resistance, liver disease, heart disease, and other health conditions (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9).
Also, alpha-lipoic acid has a reducing effect on the blood levels of some inflammatory markers, such as ICAM-1 and IL-6.
Multiple studies have shown that this supplement also reduces inflammatory markers in heart disease patients (9).
The recommended dosage for this supplement is 300-600mg daily. Taking this dose for up to seven months have not been found to cause any issues (11).
There are no side effects, especially when taken at the recommended dosage. People who take diabetes medications may have to do regular blood sugar tests.
Alpha-lipoic is contraindicated in pregnant women.
Curcumin is one of the primary components of turmeric. It has several health benefits.
A particular study (randomized controlled trial) found that metabolic syndrome patients who took curcumin had their inflammatory markers greatly reduced, compared to those who were given a placebo (19).
In another study involving 80 subjects with cancerous tumors, administration of 150mg of curcumin was found to decrease inflammatory markers more than those in the control group. They also had a better quality of life (20).
The body doesn’t absorb curcumin well especially when taken on its own. The best way to boost its absorption is by combining with piperine. Piperine is a very important component of black pepper (21).
Several supplements also contain a compound known as Bioperine. Its function is similar to that of piperine and enhances absorption.
The recommended daily dosage is 100-500mg, combined with piperine. From studies, doses up to 10mg daily are safe, although they may cause side effects in the digestive system (22).
Curcumin doesn’t have any side effects if taken at the recommended dose. It is also contraindicated in pregnant women.
Fish oil is enriched with omega-3 fatty acids, which contribute immensely to good health.
Two important omega-3s that are beneficial to human health are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
DHA has immense anti-inflammatory effects that have a reducing effect on cytokine levels while also enhancing gut health. DHA also decreases inflammation and damage to the muscles after exercise (29, 30, 31, 32).
In a certain study, intake of 2g of DHA caused a 32% reduction in IL-6 levels, compared to the control (31).
Also, in another study, supplementing with DHA drastically reduced the levels of IL-6 and TNF alpha after a strenuous exercise (32).
The recommended dosage for fish oil supplements is 1 – 1.5g of omega-3 from DHA and EPA daily. Your supplement should have an undetectable amount of mercury.
Fish oil has a few side effects. Higher doses cause thinning of the blood, which may result in increased bleeding.
Fish oil supplementation is contraindicated in people taking aspirin or blood thinners.
Ginger is commonly used in its powdered form. It is an important ingredient for savory and sweet dishes.
Ginger also has medicinal effects. It aids the treatment of nausea and indigestion, and morning sickness as well.
The anti-inflammatory effects of ginger may be linked to two compounds – gingerol and zingerone. Both compounds reduce inflammation in kidney damage, colitis, breast cancer, and diabetes (36, 37, 38, 39, 40).
In another study, the administration of ginger supplements to women with breast cancer caused a reduction in their IL-6 and CRP levels. This was very effective when combined with exercise (40).
The recommended dosage for this supplement is 1g daily. However, one may take up to 2g daily without side effects (43).
There are no potential side effects when taken at the recommended dosage. High dosage causes thinning of the blood, which in turn increases bleeding.
The ginger supplement is not recommended for people taking blood thinners unless prescribed by a doctor.
Resveratrol is found abundantly in grapes and blueberries, as well as other purple-skinned fruits. You can also find it in peanuts and red wine.
In one study, 500mg of resveratrol was administered to people with ulcerative colitis daily. Of course, they had their symptoms improved, while their inflammation markers such as NF-kB, TNF, and CRP were reduced (52).
On the other hand, another study did not observe any improvement in the levels of inflammatory markers in overweight people treated with resveratrol (54).
Resveratrol in red wine also has some health benefits. However, the amount isn’t that much (55).
The amount of resveratrol in red wine is not up to 13mg per liter. However, many studies investigating resveratrol’s health effects have used no less than 150mg daily.
You see, to get up to 150mg of resveratrol, you will have to drink no less than 3 gallons (11 liters) of wine daily – and that’s unthinkable. It is not recommended.
The recommended daily dosage of resveratrol is 150-500mg (56).
At the recommended dosage, resveratrol has no side effects. However, when taken in excess (up to 5mg daily), it may cause digestive issues.
Resveratrol is not recommended for people who take aspirin or other blood-thinning medications.
Caution should be exercised when choosing supplements
If you are interested in trying out these supplements, then you should:
- Purchase them from a reputable outlet.
- Take the supplements according to the dosage instructions.
- Consult your doctor first to find out whether you have any underlying condition that may interfere with the actions of the supplement.
Anti-inflammatory nutrients are best gotten from whole foods. But then, if you are experiencing chronic inflammation, you’ll be better off with the supplements.