What is an Anti-inflammatory?

As the name implies, these herbs help the body to control inflammation. However, the symptomatic alleviation of inflammation employed by pharmaceuticals is rarely the same mechanism by which these remedies act.

Inflammation is a normal and healthy body response to infections or systemic issues of many varieties. The cardinal signs of inflammation (swelling, heat, redness, loss of function & pain) all serve eliminative purposes and meaningful immune system responses. Over time the inflammatory reaction will bring about necessary changes to heal and restore health to the area affected. Modern medicine is conditioned to react to inflammation as something that should be quickly and completely smothered. Herbal remedies offer us the possibility of achieving a balance between the complex chemical mediators involved and working with the body rather than against it.

DemulcentsEmollients and Vulneraries will often act in an anti-inflammatory way, especially when applied externally.

How Anti-inflammatories Work

Herbs can reduce inflammation in a number of different ways. It’s important to note that these herbs will rarely inhibit the natural inflammation process, instead they support and encourage the chemical mediators involved. This aids the body with the cleansing work it’s already doing, thereby speeding the healing process.

Herbal anti-inflammatories can be broadly placed in groups according to the way in which they work. While some identified plant constituents have been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect, the overall action of these plants is so much more than any specific chemical, however the following summarizes some major anti-inflammatory constituents:

Sulphur (Rubefacients):


Salicylates: Are natural chemicals found in a large range of plants. Note: Aspirin was originally isolated from these plant sources as an anti-inflammatory compound

Steroidal saponins:

Triterpenoid saponins:

Essential fatty acids: 

Volatile oils:


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