As with stress, the body's natural inflammatory response is often misunderstood. In 5 Herbs for Healthy Stress Management, you learned that stress is a normal part of everyday life, and your adrenals are designed to help you adapt to it. The body has similar protocols in place for the healthy inflammatory response. While there is no specific organ charged with maintaining this equilibrium, as with the stress management response, the body instead relies on each and every part to take care of itself and maintain balance in its own little realm, while also keeping the lines of communication open with other areas.
The inflammatory response is like your heartbeat or your digestion. You don't really notice it. It just happens, day in and day out. (Learn what the body's healthy inflammatory response has to do with dropped calls and voicemails.)
Part of that response is occasional pain. Think about what happens when you get a twinge now and again. You pause and pay attention, right? That's your healthy inflammatory response doing what it's designed to do: Get you to notice what's going on and maintain balanced wellness.
Because all elements of health and wellbeing are connected, supporting healthy stress management and immune health are ways to also promote a healthy inflammatory response. In addition, there are several herbs that traditionally have been used to support that response.
Here are five herbs for a healthy inflammatory response and/or occasional pain.
Supports a response to occasional pain and a healthy inflammatory response.*
The resin of the Boswellia tree is a common yet valued herb in Ayurveda. Also known as Indian Frankincense, Boswellia (Boswellia serrata) has traditionally been used to support a response to occasional pain and to promote a healthy inflammatory response.* Boswellia specifically promotes healthy, comfortable joints.* It also has a long history of use to support the liver and healthy cholesterol levels already within normal ranges.* Boswellic acid, one of the active constituents in Boswellia, supports apoptosis, which is the innate end of the cellular life cycle.*
Supports the body's reaction to occasional pain and promotes joint comfort.*
Originally from southern Africa, Devil's Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) gets its name from hooks on its seeds, an evolutionary trait designed to ensure they stick to animals that pass by the plant, thereby distributing it. The genus name actually means "hook plant" in Greek. The root of Devil's Claw supports the body's reaction to occasional pain and promotes joint comfort and mobility.*
Supports a healthy inflammatory response.*
Though Ginger is often called a root, this relative of Turmeric is actually a rhizome, or enlarged underground stem. Ginger (Zingiber officianale) is a familiar ingredient in Asian cooking and has been a staple in Chinese herbalism and Ayurveda for centuries. This warming herb is commonly used to support occasional nausea and healthy digestion.* Whether taken as a tea, in a capsule or as part of a dish, potent and spicy Ginger also supports a healthy inflammatory response in the body.*
Provides antioxidant support.*
Though it's most commonly known as a culinary herb, Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) has a rich history of use in herbalism, too. The herb gets its name from the story that the Virgin Mary laid her cloak over a bush, causing the flowers to turn blue. Native to the Mediterranean, this herb also has been associated with remembrance, youth and romance. (Fun Fact: Before refrigeration, Rosemary - along with Oregano and Thyme - was used to preserve meat. Thankfully, we now just use it to flavor dishes!) This herb provides antioxidant support and promotes healthy blood flow, especially to the brain.*
Supports a healthy inflammatory response.*
The golden root we know as Turmeric (really a rhizome like Ginger) is hidden beneath the surface, and that's what is used in herbal supplements, food and more. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) has a rich history of use in supporting overall health and vitality.* It promotes healthy inflammatory function and provides antioxidant support.* Turmeric supports the body after a workout, promotes healthy joint function and supports a healthy response to occasional pain.* Turmeric's bright yellow color comes from Curcumins, which are also among it most active constituents.
Turmeric is an example of herbal synergy. It is better absorbed and more available to the body when combined with Black Pepper as well as the flavonoid Quercetin (which supports a healthy inflammatory response in its own right).