photo of runner with injured knee
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Vitamin A

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.

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photo of pouring pineapple juice
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Bromelain

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.

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photo of chili peppers
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Capsaicin

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.

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photo of rheumatoid arthritis
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Cat’s-Claw

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.

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Curcumin

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.

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photo of vitamin e foods
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Vitamin E

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.

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Garlic

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.

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Ginger

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.

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photo of omega 3 foods
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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. 

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Resveratrol

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. 

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SAM-e

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.

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Zinc

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.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 08/20/2020 Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on August 20, 2020

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Journal of Clinical Medicine: “Role of Vitamin A in the Immune System.”

Cleveland Clinic: “9 Diet Tips to Help You Fight Inflammation,” “6 Surprising Ways Garlic Boosts Your Health.”

NIH Office of Dietary Supplements: “Vitamin A Fact Sheet for Health Professionals.”

Mount Sinai Health System: “Bromelain,” “Cats Claw.”

Surgical Neurology International: “Natural anti-inflammatory agents for pain relief.”

Arthritis Foundation: “Best Spices for Arthritis,” “Cat’s Claw (slideshow),” “Health Benefits of Ginger for Arthritis.”

Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy: “NF-κB signaling in inflammation.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Ask the Doctor: How Does Hot Pepper Cream Work to Relieve Pain?” “Do fish oil supplements reduce inflammation?”

Molecules: “Curcumin, Inflammation, and Chronic Diseases: How Are They Linked?”

IUBMB Life: “Regulatory role of vitamin E in the immune system and inflammation.”

Oregon State University Linus Paulding Institute: “Micronutrient Information,” “Inflammation.”

Mayo Clinic: “Vitamin E,” “SAMe,” “Zinc.”

International Journal of Preventive Medicine: “Anti-Oxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ginger in Health and Physical Activity: Review of Current Evidence.”

California Agriculture: “Dietary omega-3 fatty acids aid in the modulation of inflammation and metabolic health.”

Biomedicines: “Resveratrol: A Double-Edged Sword in Health Benefits.”

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: “Resveratrol,” “SAM-e.” 

Inflammopharmacology: “Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of zinc. Zinc-dependent NF-κB signaling.”

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on August 20, 2020

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.