Supplements that can help reduce inflammation

Supplements that can help reduce inflammation

Inflammation can occur in response to trauma, illness and stress. However, it can also be caused by unhealthy foods and lifestyle habits. Antinflamtory foods, exercise, good sleep and stress management can help. In some cases, getting additional support from supplements may be useful as well, but they should not replace a healthy diet.

6 Supplements That Fight Inflammation

Inflammation can occur in response to trauma, illness and stress.

However, it can also be caused by unhealthy foods and lifestyle habits.

Anti-inflammatory foods, exercise, good sleep and stress management can help.

In some cases, getting additional support from supplements may be useful as well.

Here are 6 supplements that have been shown to reduce inflammation in studies.

1. Curcumin

Curcumin is a component of the spice turmeric. It provides several impressive health benefits.

It can decrease inflammation in diabetes, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease and cancer, to name a few (13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).

Curcumin also appears to be very beneficial for reducing inflammation and improving symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source).

One randomized controlled trial found that people with metabolic syndrome who took curcumin had significantly reduced levels of the inflammation markers CRP and MDA, compared to those who received a placebo (19Trusted Source).

In another study, when 80 people with solid cancerous tumors were given 150 mg of curcumin, most of their inflammatory markers decreased much more than those in the control group. Their quality of life score also increased significantly (20Trusted Source).

Curcumin is poorly absorbed when taken on its own, but you can boost its absorption by as much as 2,000% by taking it with piperine, found in black pepper (21Trusted Source).

Some supplements also contain a compound called bioperine, which works just like piperine and increases absorption.

Recommended dosage: 100–500 mg daily, when taken with piperine. Doses up to 10 grams per day have been studied and are considered safe, but they may cause digestive side effects (22Trusted Source).

Potential side effects: None if taken at the recommended dosage.

Not recommended for: Pregnant women.

2. Fish Oil

Fish oil supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital to good health.

They can decrease the inflammation associated with diabetes, heart disease, cancer and many other conditions (23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source).

Two especially beneficial types of omega-3s are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

DHA, in particular, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects that reduce cytokine levels and promote gut health. It may also decrease the inflammation and muscle damage that occur after exercise (29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source).

In one study, levels of the inflammation marker IL-6 were 32% lower in people who took 2 grams of DHA, compared to a control group (31Trusted Source).

In another study, DHA supplements significantly reduced levels of the inflammatory markers TNF alpha and IL-6 after vigorous exercise (32Trusted Source).

However, some studies in healthy people and those with atrial fibrillation have shown no benefit from fish oil supplementation (33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source, 35Trusted Source).

Recommended dosage: 1–1.5 grams of omega-3s from EPA and DHA per day. Look for fish oil supplements with undetectable mercury content.

Potential side effects: Fish oil may thin the blood at higher doses, which can increase bleeding.

Not recommended for: People taking blood thinners or aspirin, unless authorized by their doctor.

3. Alpha-Lipoic Acid

Alpha-lipoic acid is a fatty acid made by your body. It plays a key role in metabolism and energy production.

It also functions as an antioxidant, protecting your cells from damage and helping restore levels of other antioxidants, like vitamins C and E (1Trusted Source).

Alpha-lipoic acid also reduces inflammation. Several studies show that it reduces the inflammation linked to insulin resistance, cancer, liver disease, heart disease and other disorders (2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source, 9).

Additionally, alpha-lipoic acid may help reduce blood levels of several inflammatory markers, including IL-6 and ICAM-1.

Alpha-lipoic acid has also reduced inflammatory markers in multiple studies in heart disease patients (9).

However, a few studies have found no changes in these markers in people taking alpha-lipoic acid, compared to control groups (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).

Recommended dosage: 300–600 mg daily. No issues have been reported in people taking 600 mg of alpha-lipoic acid for up to seven months (11Trusted Source).

Potential side effects: None if taken at the recommended dosage. If you also take diabetes medication, then you may need to monitor your blood sugar levels.

Not recommended for: Pregnant women.

4. Ginger

Ginger root is commonly ground into powder and added to sweet and savory dishes.

It’s also commonly used to treat indigestion and nausea, including morning sickness.

Two components of ginger, gingerol and zingerone, may reduce the inflammation linked to colitis, kidney damage, diabetes and breast cancer (36Trusted Source, 37Trusted Source, 38Trusted Source, 39Trusted Source, 40Trusted Source).

When people with diabetes were given 1,600 mg of ginger daily, their CRP, insulin and HbA1c levels decreased significantly more than the control group (39Trusted Source).

Another study found that women with breast cancer who took ginger supplements had lower CRP and IL-6 levels, especially when combined with exercise (40Trusted Source).

There’s also evidence suggesting ginger supplements can decrease inflammation and muscle soreness after exercise (41Trusted Source, 42Trusted Source).

Recommended dosage: 1 gram daily, but up to 2 grams is considered safe (43Trusted Source).

Potential side effects: None at the recommended dosage. However, higher dosages may thin the blood, which can increase bleeding.

Not recommended for: People who take aspirin or other blood thinners, unless authorized by a doctor.

5. Resveratrol

Resveratrol is an antioxidant found in grapes, blueberries and other fruits with purple skin. It is also found in red wine and peanuts.

Resveratrol supplements may reduce inflammation in individuals with heart disease, insulin resistance, gastritis, ulcerative colitis and other conditions (44Trusted Source, 45Trusted Source, 46Trusted Source, 47Trusted Source, 48Trusted Source, 49Trusted Source, 50Trusted Source, 51Trusted Source, 52Trusted Source, 53Trusted Source).

One study gave people with ulcerative colitis 500 mg of resveratrol daily. Their symptoms improved and they had reductions in the inflammation markers CRP, TNF and NF-kB (52Trusted Source).

In another study, resveratrol supplements lowered inflammatory markers, triglycerides and blood sugar in people with obesity (53Trusted Source).

However, another trial showed no improvement in inflammatory markers among overweight people taking resveratrol (54Trusted Source).

The resveratrol in red wine may also have health benefits, but the amount in red wine is not as high as many people believe (55Trusted Source).

Red wine contains less than 13 mg of resveratrol per liter (34 oz), but most studies investigating the health benefits of resveratrol used 150 mg or more per day.

To get an equivalent amount of resveratrol, you’d need to drink at least 11 liters (3 gallons) of wine every day, which definitely isn’t recommended.

Recommended dosage: 150–500 mg per day (56Trusted Source).

Potential side effects: None at the recommended dosage, but digestive issues may occur with large amounts (5 grams per day).

Not recommended for: People who take blood thinning medications, unless approved by their doctor.

6. Spirulina

Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae with strong antioxidant effects.

Studies have shown that it reduces inflammation, leads to healthier aging and may strengthen the immune system (57Trusted Source, 58Trusted Source, 59Trusted Source, 60Trusted Source, 61Trusted Source, 62Trusted Source, 63Trusted Source, 64Trusted Source, 65Trusted Source).

Although most research to date has investigated spirulina’s effects on animals, studies in elderly men and women have shown that it may improve inflammatory markers, anemia and immune function (64Trusted Source, 65Trusted Source).

When people with diabetes were given 8 grams of spirulina per day for 12 weeks, their levels of the inflammation marker MDA decreased (66Trusted Source).

Additionally, their levels of adiponectin increased. This is a hormone involved in regulating blood sugar and fat metabolism.

Recommended dosage: 1–8 grams per day, based on current studies. Spirulina has been evaluated by the US Pharmacopeial Convention and is considered safe (67Trusted Source).

Potential side effects: Aside from allergy, none at the recommended dosage.

Not recommended for: People with immune system disorders or allergies to spirulina or algae.

Be Smart When it Comes to Supplements

If you want to try any of these supplements, then it’s important to:

  • Buy them from a reputable manufacturer.
  • Follow the dosage instructions.
  • Check with your doctor first if you have a medical condition or take medication.

In general, it’s best to get your anti-inflammatory nutrients from whole foods.

However, in the case of excessive or chronic inflammation, supplements can often help bring things back into balance.