6 Anti-Inflammatory Spices for Psoriatic Arthritis

From turmeric to cloves, some of nature’s best inflammation fighters can help ease your psoriatic arthritis symptoms. Have you added these 6 spices to your meals yet?

turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger
Spice up your diet to help ease inflammation.Canva (3); Everyday Health

Psoriatic arthritis?is characterized by joint pain, swelling, and stiffness — all of which are caused by the underlying inflammation that is a hallmark of the condition.

While medication is the primary approach to?controlling the inflammation, there are additional steps you can take to soothe inflamed joints. Adjusting your diet to include anti-inflammatory spices with your meals could be a smart move. Just be sure to talk to your doctor first — not all herbs and spices are safe for everyone. Some may interact with your medications. And as promising as some of these ingredients and supplements may be,?Ana-Maria Orbai, MD, director of the psoriatic arthritis program at Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center in Baltimore, cautions against viewing them as a cure or a replacement for treatment prescribed by your doctor.

That doesn’t mean they can’t or shouldn’t be used?in addition?to prescribed treatment, though. With your doctor’s go-ahead, here are some of the best spices to add.

1. Turmeric Lowers Levels of Enzymes That Cause Inflammation

Research has shown that curcumin, the active ingredient in?turmeric, can help reduce inflammation in the body — meaning it has potential benefits for people with psoriatic arthritis. One meta-analysis of studies?found that curcumin is a safe and effective treatment for psoriasis, helping to reduce the inflammation caused by the condition.

?The spice, traditionally used in curries, works by lowering levels of certain enzymes in the body that cause inflammation.
The?Arthritis Foundation?recommends that you check the curcumin content of products before using them, noting that the ingredient makes up a small percentage of turmeric and can be difficult to absorb. It also emphasizes that high doses of turmeric act as a blood thinner and can cause stomach upset.

RELATED:?12 Scientific Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin

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2. Chili Pepper Contains Capsaicin, Which Helps Ease Pain

Peppers get their heat from a compound called?capsaicin, which “works by binding to pain receptors on your tongue, sending a signal to your brain. The spice isn't a taste but a sensation that occurs because of that reaction,” says?Alison Massey, RD, CDCES, owner of?Flourish Nutrition Therapy and Wellness?in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland. Chili pepper is a spicy addition for meat and seafood dishes, she says. It’s also great for firing up stews, soups, dressings, and marinades.

There’s no specific dose of chili pepper recommended for fighting inflammation, but the hotter the pepper, the more?capsaicin?it contains. Still, Massey emphasizes that consuming too much capsaicin can be harmful, so listen to your body and try to include a little spice in your dishes each day, as tolerated.

You can also try topical capsaicin for pain relief: When applied to the skin, capsaicin can temporarily reduce substance P, a chemical that plays a role in arthritis pain and inflammation.

3. Cloves May Help Ease Pain and Inflammation

According to an?article published in the?Royal Society of Chemistry, Cloves contain eugenol, a phytogenic bioactive component?that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

To incorporate cloves into your diet, Massey suggests the following strategies:

  • Add two to four whole cloves to a pot of hearty soup or stew for both health and good flavor.
  • Use several whole cloves to infuse both flavor and nutrition into hot drinks. Be sure to take them out before consuming.

4. Ginger May Help Manage a Variety of Symptoms, Including Pain

A root with an energizing scent, ginger has been used throughout history to treat a variety of ailments, including nausea, asthma, diabetes, and pain. According to the Arthritis Foundation, ginger has been shown in some studies to reduce pain and inflammation in?rheumatoid arthritis.

?Like psoriatic arthritis,?rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease?characterized by painful inflammation.

You can incorporate ginger into a?psoriatic arthritis diet?in a number of tasty ways, including in smoothies, marinades, or stir-fries. However, the exact amount needed to ease psoriatic arthritis isn’t known.

5. Celery Seeds Have Been Used for Millennia to Ease Pain

Fragrant celery seeds, which come from the flowers of the celery plant, have been used since ancient times to treat pain. Research shows that celery seed extract reduces pain and inflammation associated with arthritis in animal models.

According to?Mount Sinai Health, celery seeds may interact with blood-thinning medications,?lithium, and thyroid medications; if you’re taking any of these, it’s important to talk with your doctor before trying celery seed.

6. Cinnamon May Reduce Free Radical Damage

The Arthritis Foundation?notes that cinnamon contains cinnamaldehyde and cinnamic acid, which have antioxidant properties and may inhibit cell damage caused by free radicals, though more research is needed.

?And like cloves, cinnamon contains the anti-inflammatory eugenol as well.

Cinnamon?is delicious to sprinkle on oatmeal or in a smoothie, but that won’t be enough for a therapeutic dose. However, if used in tandem throughout the day with other antioxidants, you can build up a cumulative effect.

Create a Diet Regimen With Your Doctor

Before you start incorporating any of these herbs and spices into your diet (or make any significant dietary changes), check with your healthcare providers that they are safe for your particular needs. Some of these may interfere with your medical regimen.

“Sometimes modifying your diet significantly does result in physical changes that might also warrant changes in your medication regimen. Your provider should be aware so those medication adjustments can be made appropriately,” says Massey. She also adds that discussing your goals regarding dietary and exercise changes provides an opportunity to receive new resources to help achieve those goals, such as a referral to a registered dietitian in your area.

Additional reporting by Brian P. Dunleavy.

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  1. Zhang S et al. Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Psoriasis: Preclinical and Clinical Evidence and Possible Mechanisms. Frontiers in Pharmacology. August 29, 2022.
  2. Supplement and Herb Guide for Arthritis Symptoms. Arthritis Foundation.
  3. Can Capsaicin Cream Help Joint Pain? Hospital for Special Surgery. May 3, 2021.
  4. Khalil AA et al. Essential Oil Eugenol: Sources, Extraction Techniques and Nutraceutical Perspectives. Royal Society of Chemistry. June 27, 2017.
  5. Powanda MC et al. Celery Seed and Related Extracts with Antiarthritic, Antiulcer, and Antimicrobial Activities. Progress in Drug Research. 2015.
  6. Celery Seed. Mount Sinai.
  7. Best Spices for Arthritis. Arthritis Foundation.
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