The Best Herbs & Spices for Lowering Inflammation

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A dash of just the right spice or herb can unlock new flavors in favorite recipes. Now, there is evidence that such seasonings also can lower inflammation in your body.

People who ate meals high in fat and carbohydrates with an added 6 grams of a blend of spices and herbs had lower inflammation markers compared to when they ate such foods with reduced levels of the blend, or none at all, according to a Penn State University study.

Overhead View of Assorted Spices and Herbs for Inflammation on Wooden Spoons on Blue Surface |

Nancy Farrell Allen — a registered dietitian nutritionist and founder of Farrell Allen Dietitian Services in Fredericksburg, Virginia — is not surprised that the blend of more than a dozen herbs and spices appears to boost health.

“These spices all do have indications of anti-inflammatory health benefits,” says Farrell Allen, who was not affiliated with the study.

Studies have found a link between chronic inflammation and health issues such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and overweight and obesity.

Spices and herbs for inflammation

The blend the researchers tested included:

The researchers note that they cannot say for sure if it is one particular spice or herb or the blend itself that contributed to the lower inflammation. But they note that earlier studies also have found that spices such as turmeric and ginger may reduce inflammation.

Incorporating more spices and herbs into your diet is easy to do, Farrell Allen says. And you can start by growing them yourself.

“At my home, we grow fresh basil, rosemary and parsley,” Farrell Allen says. “It’s easy, and can also be done in a patio container.”

Farrell Allen says she prefers sweet basil, the variety typically used in Italian cuisine.

“It does not have the minty taste seen in other basil varieties,” she says. “I use it on bruschetta, pizza and to make homemade pesto.”

Meanwhile, she uses rosemary in fresh breads. “Its fragrance is pleasant — so much so that it has been used in aromatherapy,” she says.

As for parsley, Farrell Allen says she mainly uses its color as a way of “brightening up any dish.”

Other seasonings you can bring into your diet easily include:

Oregano. Farrell Allen says some research indicates this herb might help lower blood sugar levels.

Thyme. This herb can be used when roasting meats, or in soups and stews. Traditionally, it has been used to help alleviate coughs and upper respiratory infections. “Maybe that is why in the fall season soups and stews are so pleasing to the palate,” Farrell Allen says.

Turmeric. The active ingredient, curcumin, has gotten a lot of attention for its anti-inflammatory properties. “I like adding it to foods for the cognitive and brain health benefits. including improving memory and mood,” Farrell Allen says. She suggests pairing it with coconut milk for a soup base. Or, use it to flavor chicken, sweet potatoes and vegetables.

Getting help from experts

Before adding copious amounts of herbs and spices to meals, Farrell Allen suggests speaking with a physician or a registered dietitian nutritionist. With some seasonings, there can be negative consequences you might not expect.

For example, rosemary may have interactions with drugs and other dietary supplements, she says.

Once you’ve determined what is safe to use, Farrell Allen suggests finding a good recipe book that focuses on anti-inflammatory recipes. Two that she recommends are written by nutritionists:

“Adding spices to smoothies, teas, pasta, vegetables or main dishes is really very simple — and fun,” Farrell Allen says.

These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.