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Helpful Anti-Inflammatory Herbs When You Can’t Use NSAIDs

gardening back pain

Opt for alternative treatments that are safer than NSAIDs when you’re in pain

When people are in pain, they automatically reach out for pain relievers. The most common pain relievers used are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). While NSAIDs are useful in providing comfort to many people, recent studies suggest that intake of NSAIDs increases the risk of developing heart problems. It also has severe effects on the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract.

While there may be other types of pain meds that you can try as an alternative for NSAIDs, you can opt for alternative treatments that are safer and have minimal side effects on the body. One such alternative treatment is anti-inflammatory herbs.  Below are some potent anti-inflammatory herbs that give you other options for your treatment.

White Willow Bark

White willow bark contains salicin that is converted into salicylic acid by the liver. Unlike the salicylic acid in regular aspirin, its effects are minimal.  The mechanism behind how the white willow bark works is similar to that of aspirin in that it blocks the inflammatory prostaglandins, which are hormones that cause pain. While it is useful in reducing pain, it is more expensive than aspirin, but you only need 240mg/day to feel better.

White willow bark exists in many forms such as tablets, tinctures, powder, and capsules. For most ailments, take two tablets or capsules of white willow bark three times a day, totaling from 60mg to 120mg of salicin. If you opt for tinctures and powder, take at least one tablespoon twice a day to get the same effect.


Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is one of the most potent anti-inflammatory herbs related to the ginger family. It contains the compound curcumin, a pigment that gives turmeric a deep yellow look. It has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to treat various maladies aside from inflammation, such as to treat wounds and digestion problems.

Curcumin is not only a potent anti-inflammatory agent, but it also has antioxidant and antineoplastic effects.  Several studies suggest that curcumin in turmeric is an effective treatment for cystic fibrosis. It has also been suggested that it can help treat chronic degenerative diseases, cancer, and arthritis.

To get the most benefit from turmeric, a dosage of between 400 and 600 milligrams taken three times a day is enough. Since turmeric is a culinary spice, you can add it to soups and stews to enjoy its health benefits.

If you are using fresh turmeric root, a one-inch root slice infused in warm water is excellent for relieving pain. A tablespoon of powdered turmeric can also be mixed in a cup of water or taking two capsules daily will give the same therapeutic effects. Research also cites that adding a dash of ground black pepper can improve the efficacy of curcumin. Making a topical paste by mixing one-part turmeric powder and one-part water applied on the affected area can also give relief. If you opt for turmeric supplements, choose those that contain black pepper. Moreover, make sure that it contains 95% curcuminoids for better efficacy.

Green Tea

Green tea is touted to have protective effects for the body against cancer due to its high antioxidant properties. Green tea contains compounds called catechins and epigallocatechin-3 gallate that inhibit the degradation of cartilage. Thus, it possesses protective qualities against arthritis. Because of its efficacy, it is called the “the Asian paradox” as people who consume green tea on a regular basis have fewer risks for developing heart diseases.

Taking three green tea capsules every day can help improve your symptoms. While there are green tea capsules that you can consume, consuming it as tea will also give you the same results. Create a green tea infusion by mixing a tablespoon of loose green tea leaves in a pot of warm water. You can also use a tea bag if you don’t have loose tea leaves to achieve the same effects.


Frankincense (Boswellia serrata) resin possesses high anti-inflammatory compounds. It can inhibit the leukotriene biosynthesis that affects and perpetuates inflammatory diseases. The gum resin from frankincense is used to treat arthritis. It also contains boswellic acid, an active anti-inflammatory agent. Studies suggest that a combination of frankincense and turmeric extracts can increase the efficacy of the two herbs.

While it is difficult to obtain frankincense resin in the market, it is mostly available in the form of essential oil. If you can get a tincture of frankincense oil that is already pre-mixed, then it will make your life a lot easier. If what you have is an essential oil, mix 25 drops of frankincense oil in a 100mL carrier oil (coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil). Give a good stir and apply directly onto the affected area.

Red Wine Grapes

Red grapes contain a tremendous amount of resveratrol, which is a plant-based polyphenol that has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Fruits that are red and blue in color contain high amounts of this compound. This compound is generally found in the skin of the fruit as it serves as a phytoalexin that protects the plants from infection. Aside from its anti-inflammatory effects, resveratrol also has anti-mutagenic effects that can help protect DNA against unwanted and harmful mutations.

Resveratrol is used to treat arthritic joint pain and osteoarthritis, plus it helps protect the brain and heart functions. While it is available in capsule form supplements, you can benefit from including more grapes and colorful fruits in your diet. There is no standard dosing according to available literature, but you can gain the benefits by taking two tablets daily.

Chili Pepper

All types of chili peppers (Capsicum annum) contain adequate amounts of the compound capsaicin. This compound is responsible for the heat of the chili pepper. In fact, the compound makes up 12% of the small chili pepper. Capsaicin produces a selective, natural and regional anesthesia that causes the degeneration of capsaicin-sensitive nociceptive nerve endings.

Many topical medications used to treat arthritic pain contain adequate amounts of capsaicin. You don’t have to force yourself to eat chili peppers to get capsaicin, especially if you dislike eating spicy foods. Capsaicin is now available in tablet or capsule form. There is no exact dosage of how much capsaicin you need to take, but you can take two capsules daily for best results. You can also try capsaicin topical lotion. Put a small dollop of the lotion onto the affected area and gently massage until the pain subsides.

Many anti-inflammatory herbs such as these help with pain relief, especially if you are trying to stay away from NSAIDs.  With these herbs, you will be able to experience comfort without worrying about the side effects.

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