Best Spices for Arthritis
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Arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation and pain in the joints. There are over 100 types of arthritis, some of the most common ones being rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Common symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion.
Many people with arthritis choose to follow an anti-inflammatory diet. Not only do they add flavour to your food, but spices also contain anti-inflammatory properties. They work by inhibiting certain inflammatory pathways in the body, easing the symptoms of arthritis.
With that in mind, here are some of the best anti-inflammatory spices to use.
For thousands of years, turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to treat a range of medical conditions, including arthritis and musculoskeletal disorders. This vivid yellow spice gets its colour and health benefits from curcumin, the main compound in turmeric. Curcumin is commonly used to treat conditions which involve pain and inflammation. Add turmeric to curries, soups, stews, smoothies and teas.
Top tip: turmeric is much more effective when eaten with black pepper, which helps the body absorb it better.
Like turmeric, ginger has been used for centuries in Asian medicine and cuisine. Ginger contains anti-inflammatory compounds which function in the same way as COX-2 inhibitors, which are drugs used to treat pain and inflammation. Ginger also contains salicylates, which the body converts into salicylic acid. Salicylic acid prevents your nerves from producing certain prostaglandins which eases pain and discomfort.
Ginger is a very versatile spice. Add chopped fresh ginger to stir fries and other vegetable dishes, add grated ginger to soups, eat pickled ginger or add it to teas, smoothies and desserts.
Garlic is one of the best natural medicines for treating arthritis. It contains diallyl disulfide, an anti-inflammatory compound which helps to fight inflammation and prevent cartilage damage from arthritis. Garlic can be added to many kinds of food, including pasta, soups, stews, roasted meats or vegetables, stir-fries etc. When you can, opt for fresh garlic or supplements, in order to avoid unnecessary preservatives.
Cayenne and other chilli peppers contain natural compounds called capsaicinoids, which are responsible for the ‘spice factor’ in chillies. Capsaicinoids are anti-inflammatory, and work by reducing pain transmitters in your nerves. Use cayenne and other chilli peppers in any dish you want spicing up, from sauces, marinades and rubs, to meat and fish dishes. You can also find gels, creams and plasters which contain capsaicin.
Cinnamon is more than just a spice used in desserts. This fragrant spice contains cinnamaldehyde and cinnamic acid which help to reduce inflammation and tissue damage in the joints. People with arthritis have higher chances of blood platelets clumping around their joints, preventing blood circulation and producing an inflammatory fatty acid. Cinnamaldehyde prevents the release of this acid. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, bone damage at the joints occurs due to excess activity of cells called osteoclasts, causing loss of movement, pain and deformity. Cinnamon helps to slow down the process of bone loss. As well as in sweet treats, cinnamon can be used in teas, smoothies, soups, stews, rubs and marinades.