15 top Anti-Inflammatory Herbs and Spices

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iStock_spicesHALFpage These days, I don’t need to go far in my day before meeting a friend or colleague or client who has a similar complaint. Many of the ‘imbalances’ that people experience can be traced back to some form of inflammation.

What to do?

Inflammation is a huge topic these days as recent research indicates that there is no longer any doubt that inflammation produces a cascade of events responsible for most chronic diseases including cancer.  Often the medical docs jump to a drug treatment and there are times that this is what is needed. There are also MANY instances when alternatives are appropriate, however, in the world of herbs and herbalism and some are as close as your pantry! Many herbs can work on inflammation in a multi–faceted holistic and balanced way without the side effects of drugs.  A herbal consult with a practicing herbalist will provide a plan; a process, which, over time, can often find the cause, alleviate symptoms and re-direct the situation. 
Anti-inflammatory herbs and spices can be taken as medicine and also as ‘functional’ foods that bite after bite.. can fight inflammation!

Do you habitually experience bronchitis when you contract a cold? or maybe, laryngitis or tonsillitis? 

When words end in “i t i s” — this indicates INFLAMMATION.

Perhaps you know someone with some form of  arthritis ? Maybe your mom has or had it? Do you notice a stiffness in your body upon arising?  How’s your digestion?  Do you find that you are more ‘sensitive’ to foods or ‘day to day’ environment than previous? We are surrounded by these conditions to such an extent that many simply feel that it’s inevitable and unavoidable and to put it bluntly, ‘a sign of aging’.  


MY CONCERN?  It’s NOT just friends in their ‘golden years’ who are sharing this info with me.. It can manifest in young people ~ teenagers and even children are increasingly exhibiting inflamed discomfort. Anti-inflammatory herbs and spices can play a role in helping to avoid the situation forming to begin with.

It doesn’t need to be this way.

In our day – to – day lives, we can make healthy choices which start us down a different road — perhaps a road which detours away from chronic inflammatory illness. I am fond of saying that small choices group together and can create huge outcomes…

With every teaspoon of healing herbs and spices, you are choosing life-enhancing tastes and helping your body to keep inflammation at bay. These ‘plant medicines’ contain ingredients which paint a specific ‘picture’ about how we can help to bring a situation ‘to balance’.

‘Kitchen medicine’  should not be overlooked as a supportive, nourishing way to tip the scales in favour of great health! There are LOTS of anti-inflammatory herbs in my apothecary. This list feature some of the best culinary herbs which can be powerful allies fighting chronic inflammation.

Which of the following, below, do you have in your pantry?
Which ones do you already use often? Do you want some ideas?

Here are the top 15  anti-inflammatory herbs and spices.

  • Black Pepper
    BlackPeppercorns3Although not an ‘official’ anti-inflammatory, black pepper and it’s ‘piperine’ have been shown to support the body with issues of osteo and rheumatoid arthritis. Black pepper is an excellent supportive component to a healthy diet.  Here’s a recipe that has become a family favourite with Black Pepper in a starring role. Coming soon!
  • BasilBasilplantsSm
  • Cardamom


  • Cloves  Cloves
  • Fennel Seeds
    Fennel Seeds

    Fennel Seeds

  • Parsley
    Parsley ~ Curly

**As indicated by the ‘highlight’ above, Turmeric & Ginger are at the top of the list in terms of ‘strength’. Use them whenever you can –in your meals or as a tea. (see the post “Ginger and Turmeric – A perfect marriage’)



So many of the herbs + spices in our kitchen offer us great healing 
benefits.  Why not learn how to convert these herbal allies into 
herbal remedies that you can make at home?

Check out my ebook “Cold + Flu Season ~ Are you Ready?”

~ Anti-Inflammatory herbs and spices can ALSO boost immunity!



In herbalism, we have a term, “therapeutic dose”.  For example, one can drink a cup of tea and enjoy it, experiencing the great taste and receiving benefit.  If, however, one is wanting to take the tea as an herbal medicine, it’s helpful to drink 3-4 cups per day. This is then what is known as “therapeutic dose.

If one has a cold and takes ONE dropperful of Echinacea tincture every day ~~ this is fine & dandy but will probably not create the healing affect wanted. There are ‘therapeutic doses’ in herbal medicine for every herb and every specific herbal remedy.

Ask a trained specialist or take as directed on the product (if you’ve purchased a commercial product)

I normally take my herbal remedies as tea, tincture, infused honey or glycerite.
There are times, however, when busy people, or those who are traveling, prefer ‘portable’ non-liquid remedies.

For Turmeric & Ginger, here are some “therapeutic dose” suggestions:

  • Turmeric (Curcuma longa): Turmeric IS the yellow color of curry and the standard ‘hot dog’ mustard and has a delicious flavour.Turmeric can be effective for all inflammatory disorders, including arthritis, tendonitis, and auto immune conditions. Dr Andrew Weil suggests that you take 400 to 600 milligrams of turmeric extract (available in capsules) three times per day or as directed on the product label. He also says that the full benefit takes two months to develop. NOTE: Don’t use turmeric if you have gallstones or bile duct dysfunction. Pregnant women shouldn’t use it without their doctors’ approval. In very rare cases, extended use can cause heartburn or stomach upset.
  • Ginger: (Zingiber officinalis) Fresh ginger is easy to use. Grate it or finely chop it or slice it into ‘coins’. Powdered dry ginger is also an excellent anti-inflammatory. Take one to two capsules (500 to 1,000 mg) twice a day with food.  As above, with turmeric, you won’t get the full effect for two months.

Every bite of herbal goodness, big or small, is life-enhancing! Add to your daily meals and DO experiment.  It’s ALL good!

and… if I may.. Don’t stop there.. It’s all about EVERYTHING we eat.. We can add a 1/2 ton of herbs to our meals but if we are making poor choices? Limited results.

I’d love to share an excellent resource on this topic ~ Food + Inflammation.
My long-time friend Julie Daniluk has written a wonderful insightful detailed book about just that.
Check it out here:
Meals That Heal Inflammation: Embrace Healthy Living and Eliminate Pain, One Meal at a Time

What’s YOUR favourite anti-inflammatory herb or spice??
WHO do you know, who can benefit from this info?  Please share.
It’s easy to leave a comment. Everyone benefits from your ideas.





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  • On 10/04/12 I have watched Forks over knives or vice versa documentary film, in addittion to Food Matters. So, before going to bed I have made ginger tea with mint tea, sprinkled cinnamon powder. The next day, one glass of water prior drinking coffee, which I often sprinkled with cinnamon powder, and I have felt the natural cleansing result. So, as the articles calls to us to pay attention to our kitchen herbs. This information I think to be useful to many in the Western Civilizations due to high level of meat intake. Balance works in Ecosystem, perhaps it may work with the western eating habits. Eat, and Delete from your system via anti toxins herbs. I am no doctor. I have just experienced the result and I am passing the info.

  • have just come down off prednisone , started in october 2012 , for polymyalgia rheumatica , trying to build up my imune system , and want to use herbal remedy , anti inflamorty herbal i would prefer , also im trying to avoid refined foods and sugar , i am 84 this year 2013 , but determined to get my health back , i found the pain from this virus is not as servere as ross river , when i had that i had a tonic as well as apple cider vinegar and honey , over it in 6 weeks

  • I use a number of these herbs, and drink teas with anti inflammatory properties. But even more than those things combined, I take a balance of omega 3s and GLA.
    I take wild salmon oil (from Costco) – 2 capsules which provide 1000mg of fish oil, plus one borage oil which provides 1000mg of borage oil. The 2:1 ratio is purportedly the correct ration. It works for me.

    In addition, I have quit eating foods high in aracadonic acid – a major contributor to inflammation. We all need this acid – it fuels the appropriate inflammatory response when there is a injury, etc. But too much of it causes too much inflammation. And our modern American diets introduce too much of this acid to our systems. I learned about aracadonic acid from the book “Win the War Within: The Eating Plan That’s Clinically Proven to Fight Inflammation – The Hidden Cause of Weight Gain and Chronic Disease” by Floyd H. Chilton. It is a good read, and adds a lot to the understanding of inflammation.

    • Thanks for writing Sue. I agree that there are a number of good ideas to combat inflammation, besides incorporating herbs into every day. Thanks for sharing what is working for you + the book reference. I think we will see a lot more about inflammation, don’t you? I will be writing more about it, for sure. Green wishes, Carol

    • I have suffered with osteoarthiritis for 15 years. My mom had and daughther has rheumatoid. I tested myself that white sugar and fructose aggrivate the inflammation along with acidic foods. I have been on Meloxicom for years and most of the time they do help. But the last 4 days have been my best days. I conjured up a mixture of cinnamon, cayenne pepper, basil, rosemary, tumeric, ginger root, apple cider vinegar with agave to sweeten, drinking 3 times a day and have NOT experienced the stiffness and swelling as I once did. I do take a tylenol once a day for some pain. But not taking the prescription drugs is a blessing. It was burning holes in my stomach causes acid reflux. So I plan to continue to drink this concoction until it is no longer a help to me.

      • Hi Denise,
        How long have you been doing this concoction? Everything I have read says it takes about 2 months to feel the effects of the tumeric & ginger. I have been taking those & drinking the apple cider vinegar (with the mother) YUCK. It’s only been about a week. I also ordered ground cayenne, sage, clove, cinnamon & rosemary but I ordered empty capsules to put them all in because I don’t know if I can stomach a drink mixture. Lol. I have also been eating fresh pineapple, celery, blackberries & pomegranate as they are suppose to be good anti inflammatory foods. I saw someone already asked how much of each you put in each drink. Good luck to you

  • I have combined solomons seal, horsetail,st johns wort,gravel root and mullein together in tincture for anti inflammatory and healing for a remarkable result in both areas. I have back and joint problems that in a medical sense can only be treated for discomfort but i am healing and have already cut back on pain meds and i predict in about two months i will be healed. Solomons seal is an amazing herb in itself. good luck

  • My wife has RSD , it is the same as fibromyalgia. Except the pain is located in a part of the body, not the whole body. Still 24/7 Pain. My wife’s pain is 8 years ongoing ranging from 7-10 on the pain scale. Nothing works. Electronic pain stimulator helps about 30%. So far no neuropathy formulas work, at least the ones she has tried. We want to get rid of the drug. I like the idea of Rosemary and Turmeric. What can you suggest? Thankyou—-Tired of being sore and tired–Larry and Elaine

    • I am sorry to hear about Elaine’s pain. How difficult that must be for you both. I hope that you understand that i Can’t make direct suggestions as that is beyond my herbalist ‘code of ethics’. I can suggest that some herbs, in general, may be worth exploring but can only make a specific plan with my own clients, in one-on-one consults.It will depend where the pain is, and that wasn’t mentioned. Anti-inflammatory herbs can sometimes be of great help. They won’t heal the condition itself, but may help overall

      Turmeric, Ginger, Devil’s Claw, White Willow.
      Rosemary in a small amount can act as a good circulatory stimulant to move the formula through the body.

      I would suggest working with an experienced practitioner in your area; a good protocol is needed.

      Sending healing thoughts to you both. Carol

    • Aching, cramping or twitching of the muscles, fibromyalgia included, usually indicates the need for an absorbable form of magnesium such as glycinate, malate, citrate, aspartate or taurate. In addition, Hyland’s, Inc. makes a cellular form of magnesium, either 6x or 30x strength, that is sublingual and takes effect within two or three minutes…I personally carry some with me at all times. It’s marvelous and inexpensive…500 tablets for around $11.00. Ask for Hyland’s #8, Mag. Phos. Researchers state that magnesium is the most deficient mineral in America. And renowned cardiologist, Dr. Stephen Sinatra, puts his heart patients on magnesium, for the heart is also a muscle. Unfortunately, there is no blood test available that can measure our cellular levels of magnesium. Formerly trained in the medical field, I am a strong advocate of effective natural products. Good luck!

  • Good Afternoon,

    I do know this if a person can control there inflammatory
    they can eliminate a lot of health problems .
    Another thing big health companies or doctors don’t want you to know
    anything about that is natural grown !!!
    Because these products would take a bite out of the wallet !!!
    I am not saying all health co. and doctors are bad !!!
    Just the cost keeps going up on these companies and doctors !!
    Who can afford it ???
    For myself I am vitamin person !!! I have been using them for 1/3 of my

    Have A Nice Day – Gary

    • I would suggest that she work with a qualified holistic practitioner. Herbs can help with COPD. TURMERIC, a super anti-inflammatory,has been shown to help clear airways, in studies.. THYME is also very good for the respiratory system. There are many. She needs a good treatment plan, Alan. Sending good wishes. C

  • Hi, I have dry eye syndrome and rosacea. I’ve read that Turmeric can help reduce inflammation. But, I’m worried about taking too high of a dosage since I’m petite (only 108 pounds). I found a supplement that is 370 mg Turmeric rhizome plus 80 mg Turmeric Extract plus 50mg Ginger and when I took one capsule i felt like my body temp went up and couldn’t fall asleep. Do they make small doses? Or can I somehow split the capsule?

  • i have lupus, and basil has been an absolute godsend for me! it helps soo much! but i wanted to mention that some spices can be irritants for people with certain conditions for instance, black pepper, cayenne, cinnamon, and garlic are all bad news for those of us with interstitial cystitis, a very painful bladder condition i’m currently trying to find out if turmeric is okay, since i read somewhere that it can cause bladder irritation in people with ut problems

    • Hello Cindy.
      Thanks for your question. Each situation is very specific. First thing I think of for muscle spasms, as in leg cramps etc. would be “magnesium supplementation”. Magnesium (Mg) is an effective muscle relaxant and can really help with muscle spasms, generally. I am offering up a quick opinion. I hope that’s helpful, Cindy.

  • This is a very good article. I’ve been on a man hunt for a long time against inflammation. As a victim of sarcoidoses I’ve been active in being pro active and not wanting to drug myself with prednisone. I was introduced to the most unlikely product that has truly given me a real boost in quality of life. It’s odd b/c Its located at a hair vitamin store but once I researched the ingredients I could understand the power. The top 3 ingredients are anti inflamatory, Acai, Yerba Mate and Cupucua. Yerba Mate is a higher form of green tea and amazing for inflamation. The product is called NzuriVida and can be found on http://www.hairvitaminstore.com you can sesarch for it. I promise you the first day you will feel amazing. Now the trick is you will have to take more than what is on the label. I need about 3 ozs a day. At one point in the beginning I was up to 6 ounces a day but It also causes weight loss so when I got too thin I went down to 3 ozs and that seems to be doing pretty good. Sometimes I can do 2 ozs. Really great stuff.

  • I just loved tumeric and told everyone how it made me feel so much better. I had 2-3 cups of tea every day and my achiness went away. I started having very loose stools and the more tea I drank, the more loose it became. I cut way down to one small cup a day and then I started aching again. Also no more loose stools. I felt bad that I couldn’t stay on the turmeric. So now I am going to start drinking ginger tea. I hope I have no after effects on that. I wish I knew of other herbs to make tea that would take away my arthritis achiness. Tumeric is wonderful and I miss it.

  • I ended up in hospital with a massive gout attack nearly every jointed locked up and in excruciating pain. After the normal steroids, strong painkillers and alipurinal I am fighting back. Walking fine can even can run up stairs. Heres what I did if anything helps anyone. Got a ph meter (£5) and checked urine ph it was 5.5 should be around 7 so I take a teaspoon bicarbonate soda twice a day plus a capsule of noni powder,devils claw and cayenne pepper. I do not drink any pop whatsoever and little alcohol. Keep urine ph at 7. I eat sweet potatos rolled hard in black pepper with loads tumeric and heaps green salad. No biscuits or sweets or anything processed. I drink pure pineapple juice. Getting your ph really is the key it enables your body to remove the toxins and i swear by cayenne as its a catalyst for the other good herbs. I think I was in a bad acid condition and many people are and do not realize that they are, get your ph right then the herbs can work better. All best all.

  • I am desperately in need of some advice regarding eczema for my 14yo daughter, I have tried so many different ointment and cream but nothing seem to help long term. I am trying to avoid her going back on steroids, her eczema is pretty severe- she has scars literally all over her body and I would like to know of natural herbs that I can give her. Any suggestions, it would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hello Quinette. I am not able to give this sort of information in a ‘comment’ If you would like to book an appointment, we can explore your daughter’s eczema together. I hope that you understand that she deserves a full medical consult with many more details needed before i could make any suggestions. I will say that the first thing I would do? Remove gluten, corn, soy and all processed food from her diet. ALL.
      Ointments added to a body that is trying to release toxins through the skin, are not a solution and will not help.
      I am happy to work with you — Please email me to discuss further if interested. Very sincere good wishes to you both.
      Carol –> carol@studiobotanica.com

  • Many articles will tell people how wonderful Tumeric or Ginger are with controling or eradicating inflammation, few if any, indicate what is an appropriate dose of the herbs to be effective. Nice job!

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