Psoriatic arthritis (PA) is a form of arthritis that affects some people that have the skin condition psoriasis – a condition resulting in red patches of skin topped with silvery scales. Joint pain, stiffness and swelling are the main symptoms of PA, and are caused by a hyperactive immune system that creates inflammation in the body. There is currently no cure for PA, so treatments focus on controlling symptoms and preventing damage to joints. Without treatments, PA may become disabling. Several medications can be used to decrease pain and inflammation, or there are procedures to reduce inflammation, such as steroid injections or joint replacement surgeries. However, before utilizing these measures, many people turn to natural remedies first. There are several spices that have been shown beneficial in psoriatic arthritis.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in the Indian spice Turmeric, has been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. A study published in the journal Biofactors found that it works in two different pathways to improve inflammation, resulting in reduced joint pain and swelling (psoriasis.org). Turmeric is now available in capsule form with a dosing of 1-2 capsules per day, depending on the strength. Turmeric, in both pill and spice form, is most effective in combination with black pepper which helps the body absorb it more efficiently. Turmeric can be added to bean dips, dressings, marinades, sauces, soups, smoothies, and juices, or sprinkled on eggs, greens, or rice.
According to Allison Massey, RD, LDN, CDE, chili pepper gets its ‘heat’ from capsaicin, which has anti-inflammatory properties and helps ease pain by encouraging the body to release feel-good endorphins. The hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin it contains; however, too much can be harmful. The pepper can be added to meats, seafood dishes, stews, soups, dressings, and marinades. It can also be used topically on skin to temporarily reduce Substance P, which plays a role in arthritis pain and inflammation.
Cloves also contain chemicals used to ease inflammation and pain. Try adding 2-4 cloves to a pot of soup or stew or infusing it into hot drinks – it also adds good flavor! Ginger has been used for many years for a variety of ailments. It contains phytochemicals that suppress inflammatory compounds in the body. It is a very versatile spice used in both sweet and savory dishes such as marinades, soups, stir-fry, or baked goods. Celery seeds have also been shown beneficial in arthritis pain and can add flavor to soups, salads, meat, and vegetables. Finally, garlic contains diallyl disulfide, and anti-inflammatory compound. It can help fight pain, inflammation, and cartilage damage from arthritis.
Although spices may seem harmless, it is important to always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before beginning a natural therapy regimen. The mentioned spices have been shown to provide relief from PA, however much of the evidence is anecdotal, and patient experience varies widely.
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