Inflammation is the common element in many chronic and debilitating health conditions, including arthritis, tendonitis and colitis (if it has “itis” at the end of it, it means inflammation). Many people take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications regularly just so that they can function. Such medications work by inhibiting prostaglandin (hormone responsible for inflammation) synthesis. While NSAIDs may provide symptomatic relief from the pain and discomfort, such medications can have serious side effects over the long term, including kidney damage, digestive problems and increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The good news is there are some safer, natural alternatives that have shown promising results in studies examining their anti-inflammatory potential. Here are a few of them:

Omega-3 Fatty Acids. In a review* conducted at Institute of Gerontology and Geriatrics, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy in 2009, researchers concluded “A large body of evidence supports a protective effect of omega-3 PUFA in experimental animal and ex-vivo models of Crohn's disease (CD), Ulcerative colitis (UC) and Rheumatoid arthritis (RA).”

Quercetin. The bioflavonoid Quercetin is believed to support the body against inflammation by inhibiting the production and activity of pro-inflammatory biochemicals such as leukotrienes and prostaglandins and to block the release of histamine, the biochemical that causes allergic symptoms like runny nose and itchy eyes. But a study** conducted at the University of South Carolina and published in 2009 suggests that Quercetin may also help the body by promoting “mitochondrial biogenesis” (the formation of mitochondria, the “power plants” in our cells) and in doing so, increase exercise tolerance.

Bromelain. Bromelain is a protein-dissolving enzyme that comes from the stem and fruit of pineapple. Its anti-inflammatory effect seems to come from its ability to mitigate leukocyte (white blood cell) activity (white blood cells fight infection but also contribute to inflammation). A 2007 study*** at Duke University suggests that Bromelain has a significant anti-inflammatory effect against ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, two very debilitating forms of inflammatory bowel disease.