Prednisone is a well-known steroid drug that helps the body curb inflammatory conditions. Inflammation is the natural response of the body towards an infection or injury. It has two types; one is the acute type that lasts only three to four days at the most. On the other hand, the second type is chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation may last for months or even years in the case of viral infections or extensive injuries. The pain and other symptoms associated with chronic inflammation are a source of significant discomfort for the patients.
Physicians often use medications that decrease the response of the body towards such chronic inflammatory situations. Most of these medications are glucocorticoids that help suppress the body's immune system to avoid excessive immune bursts in chronic conditions.
One of these glucocorticoids is prednisone. Prednisone helps suppress the immune system to prevent pain and other symptoms of discomfort associated with chronic inflammatory diseases.
However, using this medication for a long time may have adverse effects on the body, the most significant of them being the recurring infections due to the suppression of the body's immune system.
Physicians encourage the patients to opt for alternative supplements that can help the body fight chronic inflammatory conditions. They have the advantage of eradicating pain and other symptoms causing discomfort while having no significant side effects on the body. However, not every natural supplement works for all inflammatory conditions.
Following is a list of natural alternatives that are safe to use to fight chronic inflammation.
Turmeric is a famous spice used all over the world, particularly in South Asia. It is not only used for culinary purposes. The medical importance of turmeric has also been proved several times through research.
Turmeric has a class of compounds called curcuminoids.The principal curcuminoid in turmeric is curcumin, a bright yellow chemical sold as a cosmetic agent, food flavor, and color.
The potential benefits of using curcumin to enhance wound healing in the body have been studied extensively. Curcumin also has cancer-fighting abilities.
Research has found that curcumin helps the body eliminate cancerous masses by killing the already existing cancer cells and preventing the growth and spread of new cancer cells (1). As cancer is a long-term disorder, the body's processes causing chronic inflammation in the body in cancer can be a significant source of degrading the lifestyle of the cancer patients.
Using immunosuppressant medications that help decrease the body's immune response are the primary drugs in preventing pain and discomfort due to chronic inflammation in these conditions. However, as evident from recent scientific research, using curcumin can eliminate the need to use such medications due to its cancer-fighting abilities and getting rid of chronic inflammation.
A study has also found that using curcumin in metabolic disorders like obesity-related diabetes can help reduce the inflammation in such conditions. Curcumin can help the body improve its insulin response, thereby helping curb the dangers of chronic inflammation in diabetes. It also improves glucose metabolism.
Typically, clinicians recommend having 400-600 milligrams of curcumin every day with meals. However, people taking NSAIDs such as aspirin in high doses should exercise caution in using curcumin to increase the risk of bleeding from different parts of the body when used along with blood thinners such as aspirin.
Curcumin can be easily bought online, such as specially formulated turmeric pills with ginger and black pepper from Be Herbal. This formulation is the most potent organic formula on the market, which contains 95 percent organic compounds.
2. Green Tea
Green tea is made from raw leaves of the plant Camellia sinesis.Compared to black tea, green tea contains more nutrients and compounds because it is not subjected to the oxidation and refining processes and is made from raw leaves.
The origin of green tea is traced back to China, but the medical benefits associated with green tea have enabled this herbal drink to expand its roots throughout the world. It is famous mainly for the people on a weight loss program due to its benefits on its metabolism.
Physicians have shown that green tea contains many beneficial compounds that can help the body fight the symptoms of chronic inflammation. It has been noted that people who regularly drink green tea show fewer symptoms of chronic inflammation. It has also been recognized as a potent agent to fight cardiovascular problems due to its antioxidants.
Green tea contains a class of compounds known as catechins. Catechins such as epigallocatechin gallate have shown significant chondroprotective and anti-arthritic properties.
Arthritis is a chronic condition that affects the joints of the body. The chronic pain associated with arthritis due to cartilage degeneration is a significant issue in patients that often requires a lifelong medication regime. However, the catechins in green tea are known to prevent the release of proteoglycans and decrease the type 2 collagen degradation in the cartilage.
These effects help the body overcome the degenerative changes brought about by arthritis. This anti-inflammatory action helps to eliminate the chronic pain due to arthritis, which is a symptom of chronic inflammation. Therefore, making green tea an everyday drink can help patients with arthritis reduce their dependence on steroids such as prednisone to curb chronic inflammatory conditions. (2)
The typical dosage of green tea is about 3-4 cups of tea in a day; however, your dietician may alter this range according to your body's needs. Green tea has no significant side effects. But, as it contains caffeine, it may elicit an allergic reaction in people allergic to caffeine. This condition is associated with severe diarrhea and stomach irritation problems. Alternatives such as decaffeinated green tea seem to be a better choice for people allergic to caffeine.
Zinc is one of the essential trace elements of the human body. It is found in the cells of the whole body, owing to the crucial roles in the metabolism and working of the body. It is involved in cellular division ad growth, so it plays a vital role in wound healing. However, zinc deficiency is one of the most common mineral deficiencies worldwide despite its functions in the human body.
One of the symptoms of zinc deficiency in the body is the increase in inflammatory cytokines in the body, promoting chronic inflammation in conditions like cancer and arthritis.
One of the essential manifestations of old age is oxidative stress on the body due to increased free radicals that cause collagen degradation and skin disorders. Oxidative stress is associated with conditions like atherosclerosis. It leads to a direct increase in inflammatory cytokines in the body, which causes chronic inflammatory diseases.
Although glucocorticoid medications such as prednisone are well established to overcome the effects of chronic inflammation, eradicating the root cause of the inflammatory condition is essential.
Zinc acts as a potent antioxidant in the body. This role helps the body eliminate the oxidative stress imposed by increasing free radicals in the body. This helps curb chronic inflammatory states in the body caused due to diseases like cancer and atherosclerosis, indirectly manifesting increased oxidative stress.
People suffering from chronic zinc deficiency are more susceptible to inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. Arthritis is the primary cause of joint pain in older adults. Therefore, maintaining safe levels of zinc in the body is necessary to avoid such painful conditions. (3)
The above-stated facts show that zinc can be used as an alternative to prednisone to check the progression of chronic inflammatory states' bodies. It helps to eradicate the root cause of these chronic inflammatory conditions.
The typical daily dosage of zinc is about 11 mg in men and 8 mg of zinc for women. However, it is crucial to maintain the zinc levels within this range, as taking more than 40 mg of zinc in one day is attributed to toxic side effects.
Frankincense is a hard gummy resin obtained from the Boswellia sacratree. It has been traditionally used in perfumes and fragrances. However, this resin has several medical benefits. Frankincense has very potent analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-arthritic properties.
Frankincense has been used for inflammatory and degenerative diseases like arthritis for a long time. This has been attributed to its anti-inflammatory properties. This resin decreases the production of inflammatory mediators in the body, such as leukotrienes.
Leukotrienes stimulate the immune cells of the body to attack pathogens. However, in chronic inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, the increased levels of leukotrienes can cause significant pain and fever in the body. Physicians have been using glucocorticoids such as prednisone to get rid of symptoms of chronic inflammation. But the use of frankincense to check the levels of inflammatory mediators in the body can help eliminate the pain.
Frankincense is beneficial for the treatment of joint pain in older adults due to arthritis. This chemical decreases the level of white blood cells in the joint fluid throughout the body, which reduces the immune response. It is also linked to reducing the levels of leukocyte elastase which plays a significant role in causing rheumatoid arthritis. (4)
Frankincense is usually safe for people to consume. The safe daily dose of frankincense for anti-inflammatory purposes is about 400 mg three times a day. It has minimal side effects, with some people reporting gastrointestinal irritation after consuming frankincense.
Capsaicin is the primary compound that gives chili peppers their hot taste. Capsaicin is obtained from the chili peppers that were traditionally grown in the American continent. But it is grown worldwide nowadays and is used commonly as a spice throughout the whole world. The inhabitants of the American continent have used chili for a long time due to its medicinal benefits.
Capsaicin is a very potent analgesic. It helps reduce pain in different sites throughout the body owing to its specific physiologic actions. It increases the pain threshold of the body by stimulating the capsaicin-sensitive nociceptive nerve endings. Repeated stimulation of these endings to capsaicin causes desensitization of these receptors, increasing the threshold for pain in the long term usage.
Capsaicin is also known for its potent anti-inflammatory effects. It helps inhibit NF- kappa B, a significant chemical causing inflammation in the body. This helps get rid of various chronic inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and extensive injuries.
Capsaicin use needs to be checked as it irritates when it comes into contact with the human skin. Many people experience gastrointestinal irritation and acidity after increased use of chili peppers. This is also due to the irritation caused by capsaicin, which increases the release of stomach acid.
6. Cat’s Claw
Cat’s claw is obtained from Uncaria plants. This strange plant has been blessed with various health-related benefits. The extract obtained from this plant includes various polyphenols, sterols, and alkaloids, which occur to be beneficial for treating various disorders.
Cat's claw has been traditionally used for treating various chronic inflammatory conditions such as bursitis, arthritis, and gastrointestinal disorders related to inflammation. This ability is due to the inhibition of the synthesis of various proinflammatory mediators such as NF-kB.
These proinflammatory substances stimulate the inflammatory cells to release many factors that increase the body's immune response towards a pathogen or a chronic condition such as arthritis and cancers.
Moreover, the compounds in the extract obtained from the cat's claw also directly decrease the levels of TNF-alpha by inhibiting its synthesis. This inhibits the expression of various genes associated with inflammation, thus reducing the synthesis of many inflammatory factors. A reduction in the inflammatory factors reduces the inflammatory response directly, enhancing wound healing in the body.
Cat's claw can be used in the form of tea. The safe level to drink it in tea is around 1000 mg per 8 ounces of water. Moreover, the extracts from this plant can also be found in the form of capsules. The capsules are administered in doses of around 20 mg to 60 mg daily.
The side effects of using cat claw extract in safe levels are minimal. However, rare reports show that uncareful use of the extracts from the cat's claw can lead to a condition called lupus, an auto-immune disorder.
- Turmeric | Complementary and alternative therapy | Cancer Research UK [Internet]. Cancerresearchuk.org. 2021 [cited 23 April 2021]. Available from: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-in-general/treatment/complementary-alternative-therapies/individual-therapies/turmeric#:~:text=A%20few%20laboratory%20studies%20on,cancer%20and%20skin%20cancer%20cells.
- Bost J, Maroon A, Maroon J. Natural anti-inflammatory agents for pain relief. Surgical Neurology International. 2010;1(1):80.
- Prasad A. Zinc is an Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Agent: Its Role in Human Health. Frontiers in Nutrition. 2014;1.