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Preventing Inflammation, Part 2: Supplements
Published: 01/10/2013

Yesterday’s Daily Tip discussed nutrition and inflammation; today we cover supplements and herbs that can help address inflammation, which appears to be an underlying cause of age-related health conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, heart conditions and many cancers.

In addition to eating an anti-inflammatory diet, the following four herbs and medications have powerful anti-inflammatory effects. 

  1. Ginger (Zingiber officinale). Dried, powdered ginger is a potent anti-inflammatory agent, and capsules are readily available in health food stores. Choose products that are standardized for their content of active components, and start with one gram per day (usually two capsules), taken after a meal to avoid stomach irritation. There is no toxicity and you can stay on it indefinitely.
  2. Turmeric (Curcuma longa). The principal ingredient in mild yellow prepared mustard and in some curries, turmeric has excellent anti-inflammatory properties. This bright spice may also have a specific preventive effect against Alzheimer’s disease and reduce the risk of cancer. Take a whole extract of turmeric, such as those prepared by the process of "supercritical extraction" which uses liquefied carbon dioxide to extract turmeric’s beneficial components.
  3. Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid). This time-honored pain medication offers a great many health benefits, including down-regulation of inflammation, decreased risk of heart attack, blood-thinning effects and reduced risk of some cancers. There is a downside to aspirin – a potential risk of irritation and bleeding of the lining of the stomach and lower GI tract – but in general the health benefits of low-dose aspirin regimens greatly outweigh risks. Talk with your doctor to see if a daily aspirin is right for you.
  4. NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) other than aspirin. These include ibuprofen, naproxen and related products. Ibuprofen reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease to a greater degree than aspirin, but has the same risks of gastrointestinal irritation and bleeding. Dr. Weil recommends daily use only for those with significant family histories of Alzheimer’s, or with symptomatic inflammation (such as from arthritis or bursitis), but be sure to speak with your doctor first.
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