Best Spices for Arthritis | Arthritis Foundation (2024)

Best Spices for Arthritis

Season your food with these anti-inflammatory spices.

Often when prepping a meal, food is the primary focus and spices are an afterthought. But when following an anti-inflammatory diet, it’s important to not overlook the benefits of certain spices to season your meals.

“I think people are often surprised at what a great anti-inflammatory source spices can be,” says board-certified sports dietitian Kim Larson, a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. “But the more anti-inflammatory foods and spices you eat, the more you are tamping down on chronic inflammation.”

Anti-inflammatory Spice Basics
When you have arthritis, your joints and sometimes other parts of your body become inflamed, and many spices inhibit certain inflammatory pathways in the body. And although a dash of cinnamon may not seem like a lot, spices can pack a significant punch when you consume them throughout the day.

“If you do a sprinkle of cinnamon in oatmeal or a smoothie, have some ginger tea mid-morning and something with pepper and garlic for lunch and dinner, it can certainly have an additive effect,” explains Beth McDonald, a nutritionist at The Center for Health and Healing in the Department of Integrative Medicine at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in New York City. Try to experiment with new recipes and incorporate a spice with an anti -inflammatory benefit with every meal, she says.

With that in mind, here are some anti-inflammatory spices to consider the next time you are in the kitchen.

Garlic is a tasty addition to just about any savory dish. Like onions and leeks, it contains diallyl disulfide, an anti-inflammatory compound that limits the effects of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Therefore, garlic can help fight inflammation and may even help prevent cartilage damage from arthritis.

Tip: Opt for fresh garlic from the produce section of your market. Preservatives may be added to bottled garlic and processing, which may decrease some of its strength.

Curcumin is the active chemical in turmeric root; it blocks inflammatory cytokines and enzymes in two inflammatory pathways. Several human trials have shown an anti-inflammatory benefit, which can translate to reduced joint pain and swelling. The yellow spice is popular in curries and other Indian dishes.

Tip: It is most effective when eaten with black pepper, which helps the body absorb it better.

Gingerol and shogaol are the chemicals in ginger that block inflammation pathways in the body. Along with its anti-inflammatory properties, some studies have shown ginger can also reduce osteoarthritis symptoms, although other studies do not find such benefit.

Tips: Ginger is a versatile spice and can go in both sweet and savory dishes. It’s best to use it in its fresh form. A great way to add ginger to your diet is to boil it into a tea: Put a one- to two-inch piece of fresh ginger root in boiling water for 30 to 60 minutes.

Cinnamon contains cinnamaldehyde and cinnamic acid, both of which have antioxidant properties that help inhibit cell damage caused by free radicals. However, studies say more research is needed to make formal recommendations about its use.

Tip: Cinnamon is delicious mixed with oatmeal or added to smoothies, but it’s not strong enough on its own to offer a therapeutic effect. Used in combination with other foods and spices, it may offer a cumulative anti-inflammatory effect over the course of the day.

Chili peppers contain natural compounds called capsaicinoids, which have anti-inflammatory properties. Cayenne and other dried chilies spice up sauces, marinades and rubs.

Tip: Chilies can be hot, so start with just a dash or two.

General Tips for Using Spices
When trying a new spice, start small and add more after you’ve taste-tested your dish. Anywhere from a half teaspoon to a full teaspoon is generally a good place to start for most spices, except cayenne (start with a ¼ tsp or less).A good rule of thumb with spices is “fresh is best.” But experts say bottled spices can pack a punch too. “Spices are already dehydrated so the antioxidants are concentrated in a small, powerful amount,” Larson explains.

Remember the wide variety of foods you can spice up. They are wonderful in rubs, marinades and sauces; on steamed or roasted vegetables; mixed into pasta, potatoes, rice, couscous and quinoa; and in soups and stews.

Best Spices for Arthritis  | Arthritis Foundation (2024)


What spices are best for arthritis? ›

Best Spices for Arthritis
  • Anti-inflammatory Spice Basics. When you have arthritis, your joints and sometimes other parts of your body become inflamed, and many spices inhibit certain inflammatory pathways in the body. ...
  • Garlic. ...
  • Turmeric. ...
  • Ginger. ...
  • Cinnamon. ...
  • Cayenne. ...
  • General Tips for Using Spices.

What is the strongest herb for arthritis? ›

The 9 best herbs for joint pain
  • Borage oil.
  • Turmeric.
  • Cat's claw.
  • Eucalyptus.
  • Frankincense.
  • Aloe vera.
  • Cinnamon.
  • Thunder god vine.
Apr 28, 2022

Which spices are most anti-inflammatory? ›

Turmeric and Other Anti-Inflammatory Spices
  • Turmeric.
  • Ginger.
  • Cinnamon.
  • Garlic.
  • Cayenne.
  • Black pepper.
  • Clove.

What is the golden herb for joint pain? ›

Turmeric (Curcuma longa), is commonly used in Chinese and Indian (Ayurvedic) medicine system, possess curcumin which is an active anti-inflammatory component.

What is the strongest anti-inflammatory herb? ›

Ginger is one of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory herbs used for centuries in traditional medicine. This herb contains several bioactive compounds, including gingerols, shogaols, and zingerone, which have been shown to exert anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

What is the Indian herb that helps arthritis? ›

Nirgundi is an Ayurvedic herb, popularly used for all kinds of joint pains. Consuming Nirgundi can also reduce swelling as well as excessive pain. Its potent anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsing and anti-oxidant properties help the joints recover their healthy state in no time.

Is ginger or turmeric better for arthritis? ›

Ginger came out better in a 2020 trial that pitted the commercial pain reliever naproxen against a combination of ginger, black pepper and curcumin (the anti-inflammatory ingredient in turmeric). Black pepper enhances the absorption of curcumin, and the researchers thought adding ginger might help even more.

What foods help arthritis pain go away? ›

Omega-3 fats, inflammation and arthritis
  • oily fish such as salmon and sardines.
  • linseeds and linseed (flaxseed) oil.
  • canola (rapeseed) oil.
  • walnuts.
  • foods fortified with omega-3, such as margarines and eggs.
  • some fish oil supplements.

What is better than turmeric for inflammation? ›

Experts say to stick with curcumin supplements, preferably the high-quality extracts used in clinical trials, which contain up to 95% curcumin. Look for brands using black pepper (piperine), phospholipids (Meriva, BCM-95) antioxidants (CurcuWIN) or nanoparticles (Theracurmin) for better bioavailability.

Does cinnamon help arthritis? ›

Cinnamon contains chemical compounds known as cinnamaldehyde and cinnamic acid. These compounds have been associated with reducing joint pain. Research has shown some promising results with cinnamon supplementation in reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.

What foods aggravate arthritis? ›

Here are eight foods known to contribute to inflammation and the aggravation of your arthritis symptoms.
  • Sweets. Consuming too much sugar increases inflammation in your body. ...
  • Dairy. ...
  • Fatty foods. ...
  • Carbohydrates. ...
  • Tobacco and alcohol. ...
  • Advanced glycation end (AGE) products. ...
  • Gluten. ...
  • Additives.

How do you reverse arthritis naturally? ›

While there is no cure for arthritis, natural remedies, such as swimming, acupuncture, and massage, may help to relieve pain, stiffness, and swelling related to the condition. There are more than 100 types of arthritis that affect an estimated 54.4 million adults in the United States.

What foods fight arthritis inflammation? ›

Omega-3 fats, inflammation and arthritis
  • oily fish such as salmon and sardines.
  • linseeds and linseed (flaxseed) oil.
  • canola (rapeseed) oil.
  • walnuts.
  • foods fortified with omega-3, such as margarines and eggs.
  • some fish oil supplements.

What is good to rub on arthritic joints? ›

Topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Several topical products (Voltaren Arthritis Pain, Pennsaid, others) are made with a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine called diclofenac. They treat osteoarthritis in joints that are close to the skin, such as the hands and knees.

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