Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder that most frequently affects the wrist and fingers. The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis and why it attacks women more than men remains a mystery. Heredity, environmental factors, and hormonal dysfunction may all play a role.
Chiropractic treatments have proven helpful in managing the condition but sufferers are always looking for anything to ease the never-ending pain and discomfort. Some alternative medicine practitioners believe adding certain spices to a diet may be beneficial. Even though the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) says no study has proven the effectiveness of a spice treatment, it also notes that eating spices with known anti-inflammatory properties can’t hurt.
For example, ginger contains a compound called gingerol that gives it its flavor and also provides anti-inflammatory properties.
Researchers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center found curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, may have antibacterial and anticancer properties, as well as anti-inflammatory properties that could help with rheumatoid arthritis. Curcumin is also what gives turmeric its color.
NCCAM has funded research into the properties of green tea. Results from animal studies suggest that substances in green tea called polyphenols are rich in antioxidants and may suppress the body’s immune response, which is what causes the pain and swelling associated with RA.
A study published in 2012 in the journal BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine indicates that cinnamon extract may reduce substances that cause inflammation and tissue damage in mice. Researchers stress that while cinnamon may have healthful properties, it is extremely important to use cinnamon sparingly. It can be dangerous if consumed in large doses because it can prevent blood clotting and interfere with blood thinner medications.
Fresh garlic has strong anti-inflammatory properties; roasted garlic, not so much. Results from a study published in the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal found that garlic inhibits the production of substances called cytokines that are known to cause inflammation. The study also found that heating garlic extract significantly reduces those anti-inflammatory properties.
Peppers have long been known to provide health benefits and are used by many cultures to ease pain and reduce swelling in natural remedies. Capsaicin, the chemical that gives hot peppers their heat, is an ingredient in arthritis creams and lotions. Research published in Natural Product Communications indicated that many of the anti-inflammatory properties found in capsaicin are also found in black pepper so go ahead and add a few shakes on your dinner.
Just remember, spices are meant to be used sparingly. But in addition to making your food taste better, spices just might make you feel better if you suffer from RA.