Updated: Apr 20
Reducing inflammation isn't just about swelling and body pain - any reduction in inflammation can improve brain function, lower blood pressure, improve insulin resistance and help thin the blood; improving circulation and heart health. Enjoy these flavorful, colorful spices in your food for added anti-inflammatory power.
The label here is from New Chapter Zyflamend, which is one of the best herbal formulas for body pain and inflammation - take a look at the label and notice these ingredients are already in your kitchen! Do you have Rosemary growing in the yard? Turmeric, ginger and oregano in the cupboard? Black pepper on the counter? Add these culinary herbs to your food for anti-inflammatory power.
Rosemary grows as a hearty shrub and is used for landscaping because it can grow wild without being watered. Simply cut off a few inches and place the fresh rosemary sprig in a cup of hot water for anti-inflammatory tea. Add a large sprig of rosemary to any soup stock or roast while cooking. The sharp woody needles of Rosemary are woody, so after filling your tea or soup with the essence of rosemary, discard the used rosemary needles.
Oregano is an anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial. A simple potted oregano plant will continue to provide fresh herb for years with minimal water and no care at all. Use scissors and cut off a batch of fresh oregano from the plant and put it directly into a stock pot - this way the water pulls all the healing power and flavor out and the oregano sticks are discarded, along with rosemary sticks. The fresh oregano leaves can be picked individually and chopped with garlic to leave in a sauce. Oregano is also available dried for culinary uses and as an oil for nutritional supplements. Both can be used in a spaghetti sauce. Oregano oil is very strong, so just 1 single drop for a pot of sauce and 1 single drop per day if you're taking it internally.
Turmeric is a bright orange root used to reduce inflammation, dye monk's robes orange and in traditional curry. Turmeric can be purchased as a fresh whole root or in dried powder or dried chunks. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin which makes up less than 5% of the turmeric spice. One heaping tablespoon of turmeric contains about 1 small capsule full of pure curcumin anti-inflammatory power. Black pepper and ginger work with Curcumin, making it more powerful. Simply add a few grinds of fresh black pepper or a wedge of ginger to 1 tablespoon of turmeric in any dish you desire. Turmeric is slightly bitter and not strong flavored. The medicinal power is in the color so it's easy to add plenty. Just be careful, it will stain your counters and your fingers.
Ginger has it's own anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory effects, in addition to activating curcumin. Ginger snap cookies, ginger candies or ginger ale are great for traveling with motion sickness. Fresh ginger can be sliced and added to the rosemary hot tea or soup. Ginger is available fresh in the produce section and dried as a powder or chunks. I keep fresh ginger in the freezer so it's available when I need it.
The main power in black pepper is to increase the absorption of other antioxidant foods. Whether you're adding black pepper to Rosemary, oregano, turmeric or ginger - it enhances the amount of antioxidants that absorb into the bloodstream. Research has shown that adding 1% black pepper to 99% curcumin increases the amount of curcumin in the bloodstream by 2000%! (Pubmed) compared with curcumin alone. For your heaping tablespoon of turmeric, simply adding a few grinds of fresh black pepper increases absorption of the anti-inflammatory curcumin in turmeric.
Whether you're dealing with a particular disorder that could benefit from reduced inflammation or you want to increase general health; anti-inflammatory spices are a fun, easy and flavorful way to boost any meal.
Basic Anti-inflammatory Spice blend is nice to keep on the counter for any foods, improving flavor, color and nutrition – Turmeric 5T, Ginger 1T, black pepper (1/2 tsp)
Plant rosemary and oregano - they'll need less water if planted right in the ground, but a planter pot works well as long as it's watered occasionally. Cut off fresh herbs anytime to throw in tea, stock, soups and sauces. These hearty herbs require little attention and provide fresh flavor and nutrition year round.
There is no wrong way to cook and no wrong way to use spices - simply begin adding more color and flavor to your foods to help reduce inflammation. If you want guidance on which specific herbs are beneficial for your individual health then set up a time to talk.