• saramayos

7 anti-inflammatories hiding in the kitchen

Updated: Aug 9, 2019

I know through studying nerdy books at college, that anti-inflammatories don't just come from the pharmacy. You can find them in the kitchen.

If you have a hangover, arthritis, pain after a workout, swelling and burning sensations of the muscles, wounds, dental infections, colds and flu’s, or post surgery, you probably need an anti-inflammatory.

Inflammation is a protective response in the body. Chronic inflammation, or inflammation that persists for a long time, can be from an infection, an auto immune response or from an allergy. Arthritis is inflammation in the joints.

I am no doctor. If you need medical advice, make an appointment with your health provider. I find food research and knowledge sexy, because I like looking after my body. I always incorporate natural anti-inflammatories into my diet, daily. It keeps the beasts away.

Oily fish, nuts and chocolate are all naturally anti-inflammatory. However today, I take my lead from Indian cuisine, it uses the following seven spices in nearly every dish.

  1. Black pepper

  2. Cayenne

  3. Cinnamon

  4. Cloves

  5. Garlic

  6. Ginger

  7. Turmeric

Black pepper

It’s cool to know that black pepper can flavour, as well as have antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory benefits. You may not need to know that the chemical compounds of black pepper, are called, piperine. Sprinkle black pepper on everything you put salt on, from French fries to roasts and pizza. White pepper contains more piperine than black, yet most of the research on its health benefits has been on black pepper. Grinding black peppers in a pepper mill is slightly more beneficial than ready-ground.


What are 10 to 20 cm long, thin, mostly red-coloured, with curved tips and rippled skin? Yes you guessed. Cayenne and other hot chilli peppers. They have been used as a hot spice and natural remedy since 7,000 BC. They are an anti-inflammatory, stimulant and digestive.

Caution. Use just a dash in your dish. Too much can cause acute heat in the mouth. To counteract a reaction, gargle with milk, not water, which can make it worse. My absolute favourite is to sprinkle in a Vodka and tonic.

Odd thought of the day. To ward off attackers. Fill a spray gun with lemon juice, curry powder, and cayenne pepper. Ouch can you imagine that in your eyes? Read this link to find the various heat strengths in peppers.


Cinnamon is more than just a delicious treat in cakes at Christmas. This spice has natural anti-inflammatory properties, in abundance, which can ease pain and swelling. Sprinkle it in your coffee, tea or hot chocolate, on your breakfast cereal, on grapefruit, in all egg dishes, sauces, pasta and pizzas, desserts, or ice-cream. If I am making a stock or soup, I often throw in a cinnamon stick and remove it before blending the mixture.


Cloves have been used to treat upset stomach, nausea, and inflammation for centuries. Exciting research shows that they are also natural anti-inflammatory. Put powdered clove work in baked goods and savoury dishes. Pop a few cloves in your blender and sprinkle in soups and stews, or infuse into hot drinks like tea, coffee and herb teas. Or use whole (don't forget to remove them) I often spear them into roast meat along with thin slices of garlic.


The natural anti-inflammatory properties of garlic have been proven to ease arthritis. Use fresh, crushed, sautéed garlic in almost any savoury dish for added flavour and health benefits. Simmer a head of garlic in hot water or roast a head of garlic for a sweeter, milder flavour. A friend pops raw garlic into pitted dates as a snack (one a day). If I am roasting potatoes, I throw in a couple of heads of garlic at the same time. This is a delicious food combination, as roast garlic and potatoes are naturally sweet.


Ginger is a sexy spice used in many cuisines. You can buy it powdered or as a fresh root in most supermarkets. Ginger has been used as a traditional medicine to treat stomach upset, headaches, infections. The best bit is that it improves your sex drive. Cut a thin slice every morning and put it in a hot cup of water, with or without lemon and honey. The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger have been praised for centuries in India, and recent scientific studies have confirmed it.


Turmeric is the beautiful yellow spice in Indian cuisine. Find it in any supermarket. Turmeric has been used as a medicine for centuries, to naturally treat wounds, infections, and colds. Studies show that curcumin, a compound in turmeric, helps reduce inflammation. Caution: this yellow spice can stain everything, handle with care. Or buy in health food shops as a supplement.

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