Types of Herbal Treatments for Pain and Inflammation

Inflammation is the body's response to injury in the body's cells or tissues. The body may become injured due to infection, trauma, injury, or disease. As the tissues in one part of the body become damaged, cells in these tissues send out chemical signals through the vessels of the lymphatic and cardiovascular systems. The immune system receives these signals and sends blood to these injured areas of the body to remove the damaged cell tissues or pathogens from the site of injury. The body's immune system also initiates a regeneration of new healthy cells to replace the ones that have been damaged. This healing process is vital for the body, but patients may experience uncomfortable effects related to the healing process. This process of breaking down the injured part of the body and building it back may result in redness, swelling, stiffness, and pain in the area of the body where injury and healing process is taking place. In some case, the pain and related symptoms may disrupt the quality of a person's life. In other cases, the body's immune response may be destructive to the part of the body that it is acting on. A prolonged immune response over days or months to the same areas of the body may actually cause a breakdown of the body tissues that they are acting on. Some patients have specific medical conditions which cause an immune response to joints throughout the body. Some medical conditions in which uncontrolled inflammation may cause permanent damage to the body's joints include rheumatoid arthritis, Systemic lupus erythematosus, and ankylosing arthritis.

To control inflammation in patients, there are several categories of medically prescribed anti-inflammatories which are designed to:
  1. Control the release of the chemicals in the injured cells that initiate the immune response
  2. To block the immune system's biological agents that would damage the body's tissues from reaching the joints
Natural Anti-Inflammatories: Though the medically prescribed anti-inflammatories may be essential to save your joints from sustaining permanent damage, they are all associated with complications and side effects. Consider that the chemicals released by the damaged tissues that stimulate the body's immune response are also responsible for other types of essential body processes, such as protecting the inner linings of your digestive tract. Also consider that medications that inhibit the body's immune response also inhibit the body from being able to fight disease and grow new healthy tissues in other parts of the body.

Fortunately, there may be natural food sources out there that act as natural anti-inflammatories. These food sources have demonstrated promise in reducing inflammation without producing their harmful side effects. Here is a brief list of the types of herbal treatments for pain and inflammation.

Flax (Linum usitatissimum): By now, most of you are knowledgeable enough in the science of nutrition to know that there are good fats and bad fats. The good fats, including omega-3 fatty acids are known to reduce inflammation in the body. While fish oil is a common source of omega-3 fatty acids, there are also herb and plant sources of this important fat. Flaxseed is one vegetarian source of Omega-3 (ALA). Many of the other sources of Omega-3 also come from animal proteins, though these animal proteins also contain bad fats which increase inflammation in those suffering from back pain. You may consume this food source by eating the seeds directly or taking supplements that contain flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil may be available in holistic stores or in the health supplements section of your pharmacy or grocery store.

Burdock Root (Arctium lappa or Arcticum minus): is another source of essential fatty acids that you may also consume without having to take in other unhealthy fats into your body. This root is common in Asian cuisines as an ingredient in stir-fry dishes. This herb may also be ground up and taken in supplement form or in teas and other types of drinks.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa): Tumeric is a natural anti-inflammatory which also offers other potential health benefits, such as the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, cataracts, and cancer. This plant is grown in Southeast Asia and some parts of the Middle East. Tumeric contains two active chemical ingredients (curcuminoids and curcumin) which have both proven to be natural anti-inflammatories.

Nettles (Urtica dioica): This plant is native to the Continents of North America, Africa, Asia, and Europe and has been used for thousands of years is a food source and for its medicinal properties. The components of this herb reduce the levels of TNF- ? and other inflammatory cytokines from causing inflammatory related destruction to the joints and soft tissues. This herb has also been demonstrated by its users to control dandruff and prostate related medical problems.

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra): The medicinal ingredients of this herb inhibit the enzyme production involved in the inflammatory process and decrease free radicals at the site of inflammation.