Inflammation is a useful natural reaction that the
body has in response to injury and certain other
conditions. Chronic inflammation, however, can be
more destructive than beneficial. Indeed, when we
hear the word inflammation, we tend to associate
with conditions like arthritis and other more serious
issues. Nevertheless, there are many common
causes of inflammation that are not associated
with disease states. These include eating diets
high in certain inflammation-promoting foods
(e.g., polyunsaturated fats, simple carbohydrates—
especially refined sugars1, common allergens like
casein and gluten2), being in colder temperatures3,
experiencing menopause (with hormone
fluctuations)4, experiencing psychological stress5
and exposure to environmental toxins.6
Ramifications Of Inflammation
That being said, there can still be ramifications associated
with common, non-disease types of inflammation, even low-grade
systemic inflammation. Examples include but are not
limited to everyday aches and pains, alterations in digestion
and absorption7, behavioral changes8, minor disruption in
microcirculation and blood flow over the course of the aging
process9, and a minor negative impact on immune health.10
In addition, obesity is associated with inflammation.
Specifically, overweight and obese children and adults
have elevated serum levels of C-Reactive Protein and other
known markers of inflammation. This is not to say that
inflammation causes obesity, but rather the reverse: obesity
causes low-grade systemic inflammation. While obesity is
commonly thought of as adipose tissue, it is also associated
with fat storage in other tissues—including the liver and
skeletal muscle. This may lead to insulin resistance and may also stimulate inflammation. Obesity also changes the type
of chemicals that our fat cells secrete, which may include
the secretion of several pro-inflammatory mediators.11
Since chronic inflammation is closely associated with
cardiovascular risk factors, including cardiovascular and
non-cardiovascular causes of death, this may help explain
the increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and many
other chronic diseases in the obese.12
One of the strategies to help decrease inflammation is
the use of anti-inflammatory nutraceuticals—and there
are many from which to choose. Following is a discussion
of some of my favorite anti-inflammatory nutraceuticals,
which includes resveratrol, grape seed extract, calcium
fructoborate, turmeric (curcumin) and ginger.
Resveratrol (RSV), a natural substance found in grapes,
peanuts and Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum),
made a big splash when it was introduced into the dietary
supplement market because it was considered to contribute
to the “French paradox,” the unexpectedly low rate of
death from cardiovascular disease in the Mediterranean
population, despite a diet that is relatively high in saturated
fat. Since then research has demonstrated other benefits for
RSV, among them its effectiveness as an anti-inflammatory
agent. This was seen in a randomized, placebo-controlled
study13 investigating the effectiveness of 40 mg RSV or
placebo daily (for six weeks) on oxidative and inflammatory
stress in normal subjects. The results were that RSV
significantly reduced oxidative stress (P < 0.05) and also
significantly suppressed levels of several inflammatory
markers, including TNF-alpha, IL-6, and C-Reactive Protein
(P <). There was no change in these indices in the control
group given placebo.
Grape Seed Extract And Resveratrol
Grape seed extract contains phenolic compounds known
as oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC). These OPC have
significant antioxidant properties.14 In addition, they also
appear to have significant anti-inflammatory properties—at
least when combined with RSV. In a triple-blind, randomized,
placebo-controlled, one-year follow-up, 3-arm pilot clinical
trial15, 75 stable–coronary artery disease (CAD) patients
received a combination of grape seed phenolics (i.e. OPC)
and RSV, grape seed extract alone, or a placebo. The daily
doses of the combination were as follows: 139 mg of grape
seed OPC for the first six months, and then doubled for the
following six months, which would require about 293 mg (a
grape seed extract providing 95 percent OPC, 146.32 mg is
required to yield 139 mg OPC); RSV was eight mg and 16
mg for the first six months and the remaining six months,
respectively. The daily dose of grape seed OPC alone was 151
mg during six months, and then doubled for the following
six months. The results showed that after one year, in
contrast to the placebo and grape seed extract only groups,
the combination group showed an increase of the antiinflammatory
serum adiponectin (9.6 percent, p = 0.01).
In addition, in the combination group six key inflammation
factors were significantly improved (p < 0.05) without any
Using the same dosage strategy and group types as in
the last study, a randomized placebo-controlled, triple-blind,
dose–response, 1-year follow-up study16 with three parallel
arms was conducted in 35 in hypertensive male patients with
type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Results showed that after
12 months there was a significant reduction in levels of the
inflammatory markers ALP (p = 0.02) and IL-6 (p = 0.00) in
the combination group. In addition, the production of proinflammatory
cytokines was also reduced significantly.
Calcium fructoborate (CF) is a form of the mineral boron,
known for its role in bone health—but it is also good for
joints and inflammation. A double-blind, placebo-controlled
study17 examined the effect of 108 mg CF twice a day in
patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA). Results showed that
in the CF group, pain scores at Day seven dropped to 82
percent of the Day one value (from 74.0 to 59.9, p<0.05).
By Day 14, the pain score reduced to 71 percent of the
baseline (from 74.4 to 52.2, p<0.01). In contrast, there
was no significant reduction in pain scores in the placebo
group on either Day seven or Day 14. Other measures of
pain were also significantly reduced (p< 0.05) on Day seven
and Day 14 (p< 0.01). In addition, blood level of C-Reactive
Protein were reduced up to 37 percent compared to Day
one baseline levels in 79 percent of subjects. Interestingly,
the study also showed that blood level of vitamin D was
increased more than 19 percent compared to baseline, but
not in the placebo group. The CF was well tolerated by all
study subjects with no reports of adverse effect.
Calcium Fructoborate And Resveratrol
A 60-day, randomized, double-blinded, active-controlled,
parallel clinical trial18 was conducted in three groups of
subjects to evaluate the effects of oral supplementation with
CF (112 mg/day), RSV (20 mg/day), and their combination
(RSV – 20 mg/day + CF – 112 mg/day) for 60 days on the
clinical and biological statuses of patients with stable
angina pectoris. Of the total number of subjects included
in study (n = 166), 87 completed the test treatment study
period and 29 followed in parallel their usual medical care
and treatment. Results showed that there was a significant
decrease of high-sensitivity C-Reactive Protein in all groups
at the 30-day and 60-day visits. At 60 days, this decrease
was greater for CF (39.7 percent), followed by RSV + CF
(30.3 percent). Markers for congestive heart failure were
significantly lowered by RSV (59.7 percent) and by CF (52.6
percent). However, their combination induced a decrease of
65.5 percent. The improvement in the quality of life was best
observed for subjects who received the RSV + CF mixture.
Turmeric, a member of the ginger family, has been used as
a traditional remedy in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine
as well as for condiment and flavoring purposes for over
2,000 years, based on records dating back to 600 BCE.19
Its primary active constituent is the flavonoid curcumin
(diferuloylmethane), which is responsible for the plant’s
yellow color and the compound providing most of its
medicinal qualities.20,21 Certainly, research has demonstrated
that the curcumin molecules inhibit 5-lipoxygenase (LOX)
and cyclooxygenase (COX), resulting in a well-established
anti-inflammatory action.22,23,24 This ability to help relieve
common, everyday inflammation has been demonstrated in
a significant number of published human clinical studies on
Although it’s probably more known for its anti-nausea
properties (i.e., treatment of motion sickness and morning
sickness), Ginger is also an effective anti-inflammatory herb
that has historically been used for arthritis and rheumatism.
In a study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis
and muscular discomfort, the majority experienced (to
varying degrees) relief of pain and swelling. None of the
patients reported adverse effects during the period of
ginger consumption, which ranged from three months to
Another double-blind trial found ginger extract to be
more effective than placebo at relieving pain in people
with OA of the hip or knee.37 Likewise, in another doubleblind
study ginger was significantly more effective than a
placebo in pain relief and overall improvement.38 Ginger
is considered to exert its anti-inflammatory activity by
inhibiting COX-2 and lipoxygenase pathways.39
Inflammation may be present in disease or non-disease
states. In either case, resveratrol, grape seed extract,
calcium fructoborate, turmeric (curcumin) and ginger may
be helpful in reducing markers of inflammation, reducing
pain, and improving other parameters of health.
- Lopez-Garcia E, Schulze MB, Fung TT, Meigs JB, Rifai N, Manson JE, Hu FB. Major dietary patterns are related to plasma concentrations of markers of inflammation and endothelial dysfunction. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80(4):1029–35.
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- Halonen JI, Zanobetti A, Sparrow D, Vokonas PS, Schwartz J. Associations between outdoor temperature and markers of inflammation: a cohort study. Environmental Health 2010;9:42.
- Abu-Taha M, Rius C, Hermenegildo C, Noguera I, Cerda-Nicolas JM, Issekutz AC, Jose PJ, Cortijo J, Morcillo EJ, Sanz MJ. Menopause and ovariectomy cause a low grade of systemic inflammation that may be prevented by chronic treatment with low doses of estrogen or losartan. J Immunol. 2009 Jul 15;183(2):1393– 402. Epub 2009 Jun 24.
- Black PH, Garbutt LD. Stress, inflammation and cardiovascular disease. J Psychosom Res 2002;52(1):1–23.
- Watkins BA, Hannon K, Ferruzzi M, Li Y. Dietary PUFA and flavonoids as deterrents for environmental pollutants. J Nutr Biochem 2007;18(3):196 –205.
- Peuhkuri K, Vapaatalo H, Korpela R. Even low-grade inflammation impacts on small intestinal function. World J Gastroenterol 2010;16(9):1057– 62.
- Teeling JL, Felton LM, Deacon RMJ, Cunningham C, Rawlins JNP, Perry VH. Sub-pyrogenic systemic inflammation impacts on brain and behavior, independent of cytokines. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity 2007;21(6):836–850.
- Payne GW. Effect of Inflammation on the Aging Microcirculation: Impact on Skeletal Muscle Blood Flow Control. Microcirculation 2006;13(4):343–52.
- Ader R. Psychoneuroimmunology, Volume 1, 4th Ed. Elsevier Science & Technology Books; 2006:438.
- Stienstra R, Duval C, Müller M, Kersten S. PPARs, Obesity, and Inflammation. PPAR Res. 2007;2007:95974.
- Das UN. Is obesity an inflammatory condition? Nutrition. 2001 Nov-Dec;17(11-12):953–66.
- Ghanim H, Sia CL, Abuaysheh S, Korzeniewski K, Patnaik P, Marumganti A, Chaudhuri A, Dandona P. An anti-inflammatory and reactive oxygen species suppressive effects of an extract of Polygonum cuspidatum containing resveratrol. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Sep;95(9):E1–8.
- Feringa HH, Laskey DA, Dickson JE, Coleman CI. The effect of grape seed extract on cardiovascular risk markers: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 Aug;111(8):1173–81.
- Tomé-Carneiro J, Gonzálvez M, Larrosa M, Yáñez-Gascón MJ, García-Almagro FJ, Ruiz-Ros JA, Tomás-Barberán FA, García-Conesa MT, Espín JC. Grape resveratrol increases serum adiponectin and down regulates inflammatory genes in peripheral blood mononuclear cells: a triple-blind, placebo-controlled, one-year clinical trial in patients with stable coronary artery disease. Cardiovasc Drugs Ther. 2013 Feb;27(1):37–48.
- Tomé-Carneiro J, Larrosa M, Yáñez-Gascón MJ, Dávalos A, Gil-Zamorano J, Gonzálvez M, García-Almagro FJ, Ruiz Ros JA, Tomás-Barberán FA, Espín JC, García-Conesa MT. One-year supplementation with a grape extract containing resveratrol modulates inflammatory-related microRNAs and cytokines expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of type 2 diabetes and hypertensive patients with coronary artery disease. Pharmacol Res. 2013 Jun;72:69–82.
- Reyes-Izquierdo T, et al. Short-term Intake of Calcium Fructoborate Improves WOMAC and McGill Scores and Beneficially Modulates Biomarkers Associated with Knee Osteoarthritis: A Pilot Clinical Double-blinded Placebocontrolled Study. Am J Biomed Sci. 2012; doi: 10.5099.
- Militaru C, Donoiu I, Craciun A, Scorei ID, Bulearca AM, Scorei RI. Oral resveratrol and calcium fructoborate supplementation in subjects with stable angina pectoris: effects on lipid profiles, inflammation markers, and quality of life. Nutrition. 2013 Jan;29(1):178–83.
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