Some natural supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids, curcumin, and zinc, may help fight inflammation. However, some anti-inflammatory supplements may work better than others.

Inflammation is the body’s response to irritation, infection, and injury. Short term inflammation protects the body, while chronic inflammation can lead to long term pain and damage, such as in arthritis.

Anti-inflammatory medications help fight pain and chronic inflammation. However, these drugs are not safe for everyone, and extended use can lead to complications and side effects.

In this article, we describe some of the most effective anti-inflammatory supplements that people may wish to try, depending on the cause of their inflammation.

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Omega-3 fatty acids, which are abundant in fatty fish such as salmon or tuna, are among the most potent anti-inflammatory supplements.

These supplements may help fight several types of inflammation, including vascular inflammation. Vascular inflammation is a significant risk factor for heart disease and heart attack.

Like many prescription anti-inflammatory medications, omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil may increase the risk of bleeding. People with bleeding disorders and those taking blood thinners should not use this supplement.

Curcumin, which is an active ingredient in turmeric, is a plant in the ginger family. Multiple studies show that it may help reduce inflammation in many chronic conditions, including arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and psoriasis.

There are a few studies that showed curcumin alone was as effective as and better tolerated than the NSAID diclofenac.

Although it is safe to take curcumin with low doses of NSAIDs, higher doses may increase the risk of bleeding. Curcumin also increases the risk of bleeding in people taking blood thinners and those with bleeding disorders.

S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e) is a substance that the body creates naturally. It plays an important role in the epigenetic regulation of genes. Epigenetic factors affect gene expression and behavior, turning some genes on or off and changing the effect of others.

Doctors sometimes recommend SAM-e to manage symptoms of depression, osteoarthritis, and certain liver conditions, as inflammation may play a role in each of these.

Some clinical trials have suggested that SAM-e may help relieve the pain and inflammation associated with various types of arthritis — sometimes as well as NSAIDs can.

The right dosage depends on the condition a person has. SAM-e may interact with a wide range of drugs, so people must not take it without first consulting a doctor.

Some research suggests that zinc is a potent anti-inflammatory that may support the immune system and reduce several markers of inflammation.

According to a 2017 paper, zinc decreased inflammation and oxidative stress among older adults. Oxidative stress triggers inflammation and may increase the risk of a host of conditions, including cancer. Several studies have suggested that supplementing with zinc may reduce infection rates by approximately 66% among elderly participants.

The recommended daily intake of zinc is is 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women. Taking more than 40 mg per day can be dangerous – long-term excess consumption can reduce immune function and lower a person’s ‘good’ cholesterol levels.

Zinc may interact with calcium, diuretics, and certain antibiotics, so people must talk to a healthcare provider before trying this supplement.

Doctors have long suspected that green tea may fight inflammation, because people who live in regions that consume more green tea have lower rates of inflammation-related illnesses.

Research suggests that green tea may inhibit the production of certain inflammatory chemicals. It may also help slow cartilage loss, reducing the symptoms of arthritis.

However, green tea can reduce the amount of folic acid and iron the body absorbs, so may not be suitable to consume for pregnant people and those with iron deficiency anemia, respectively.

Boswellia serrata resin, or frankincense, may ease both inflammation and pain.

It may also help reduce cartilage loss and reverse autoimmune symptoms. Per the Arthritis Foundation, it is a fast acting supplement that may help with osteoarthritis pain in just 7 days.

The usual dosage is an extract containing 30–40% boswellic acids, which a person takes in 250–500 mg doses two to three times per day. Combining frankincense with curcumin may increase its potency.

Frankincense is typically safe, with few side effects. However, some people report stomach pain and gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea.

Capsaicin is the ingredient that gives hot peppers their heat. Substance P is a pain transmitter produced by the body. Capsaicin temporarily reduces substance P, thereby reducing the body’s ability to feel and transmit pain.

It is typically available as a topical cream or patch and some research suggests that capsaicin may help with both nerve and muscular pain.

Capsaicin can irritate the skin and eyes, so it is essential to wash the hands thoroughly after use.

Cat’s claw comes from various uncaria plants, including Uncaria tomentosa and Uncaria guianensis.

Research suggests that cat’s claw may reduce various forms of inflammation. It is especially effective at inhibiting TNF-alpha, an inflammatory chemical in the body.

Although cat’s claw is generally safe, an older case report suggests that it may cause kidney failure in people with lupus. It may also cause nausea, though an older animal study suggested that it may have a protective effect against gut inflammation induced by the NSAID indomethacin.

Anti-inflammatory supplements do not work for everyone. In almost all cases, these supplements take time to reverse inflammation.

So, people who need immediate pain relief may want to try other options, either in addition to or instead of anti-inflammatory supplements. Some options include:

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory drugs: Medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin can help with inflammation-related pain. They may also reduce the swelling of a recent injury.
  • Prescription anti-inflammatory drugs: A wide range of prescription medications can help with inflammation and pain.

For a more long-term solution, another option is to try an anti-inflammatory diet. Some people focus on eating foods that reduce inflammation, while others avoid those that may trigger inflammation.

Below are some frequently asked questions regarding natural anti-inflammatories.

What is the strongest natural anti-inflammatory?

Several supplements have natural anti-inflammatory properties, including omega-3 fatty acids, curcumin, S-adenosylmethionine, and zinc. The efficacy of these supplements can vary depending on a person’s health and the underlying cause of inflammation.

Which vitamin is the most anti-inflammatory?

As part of a nutritionally-balanced diet, vitamins A, D, and E, can all have potent anti-inflammatory properties.

What can I take daily to reduce inflammation?

Daily supplements, including omega-3 fish oil, curcumin, zinc, green tea extract, and S-adenosylmethionine, may all help reduce inflammation. Always talk with a medical professional before taking new supplements to check for possible interactions.

Natural anti-inflammatory supplements can help the body fight pain and inflammation. They may even prevent some of the long term complications of chronic inflammation, such as cancer.

Before trying a new anti-inflammatory treatment, even a natural one, it is important to consult a doctor. Natural remedies are often potent medicine that can cause side effects and interact with other drugs.

When they work, however, they may reduce the need to take prescription or OTC medications.