Medically Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on August 20, 2020
It boosts your immune system and guards against infectious diseases. Taking 10,000 international units (IU) for 1-2 weeks may help you heal after an exercise-related injury. Vitamin A is easy to find, too. It runs high in liver, fish oils, milk, eggs, and leafy greens.
Got pineapple juice? Then you have this enzyme that packs anti-inflammatory powers and supports your immune system. It’s sometimes used to treat tendinitis and minor muscle injuries like sprains. Some studies have shown bromelain may ease inflammation after dental, nasal, and foot surgeries. More research is needed. Doctors usually suggest taking capsules or tablets. That’s because drinking juice won’t supply enough.
That’s the hot stuff in chili peppers. It stops a group of proteins that control your body’s response to inflammation. You can find capsaicin in products you put directly on your skin. You can also shake dried cayenne in your sauces and meat rubs. Start with ¼ teaspoon or less to see.
Named for its hooks, this vine grows in South and Central America. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, ask your doctor if it might help. A small study found people who took this supplement with standard RA treatments had less joint swelling and pain. But there’s no evidence it can ward off joint damage that comes with RA. Cat’s-claw also has compounds thought to aid your immune system. It's sold as a pill or capsule and can be made into a tea.
Curcumin is found in turmeric and gives the spice its yellow hue. This traditional Indian medicinal herb is known for its natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show curcumin might help with certain conditions, including arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and fatty liver disease. You can find it in the spice aisle. It’s also in capsules, creams, drinks, and sprays.
Packed with antioxidants, vitamin E boosts your immune system and may also ease inflammation. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you might find it helps manage pain when used with standard treatment. You can easily get it from the foods you eat. It’s in olive oil, almonds, peanuts, meat, dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified cereal. If you need extra vitamin E, your doctor might prescribe it in drops or capsule form.
It’s worth the breath mints. Garlic slows down two inflammatory enzymes and clears the way for blood to get to your muscles. Add 2-4 fresh garlic cloves to your meals to fight swelling and pack flavor. You can rub garlic oil directly into swollen joints and muscles, too. If you prefer it from the bottle, look for aged garlic extract. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the right dosage.
Research shows it has anti-inflammatory powers similar to ibuprofen. One study found ginger extract tamed swelling in rheumatoid arthritis as well as steroids. It may cut muscle pain after exercise. The fresh stuff might not be enough to get the health benefits. In ginger capsules, look for the words “super-critical extraction” on the label. This means it’s pure.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Our bodies don’t make these. Fish oil supplements are loaded with them, but you can also get the recommended amount from certain foods. These include fatty fish like salmon and tuna, kale, vegetable and flaxseed oils, nuts, and eggs from flax-fed chickens.
This natural compound is found in some berries and nuts. Some research suggests it may help with arthritis. Grab a handful of grapes, peanuts, pistachios, blueberries, cranberries, or mulberries. It’s also popular in supplement form.
It might sound like the name of a friendly robot, but it’s short for a natural compound in your body. Studies show it might control inflammation and may work as well as mainstream treatments for osteoarthritis. You can take it by mouth or get a shot. Talk to your doctor before taking it. It may clash with certain medications, including antidepressants.
Your whole body needs this micronutrient, which can help ward off inflammation. You might already get enough zinc in your diet. It’s in chicken, red meat, and fortified cereals. Talk to your doctor first if you think you might need a supplement. Zinc can cause problems with certain drugs.