An anti-inflammatory supplement is a non-pharmaceutical substance that is primarily taken to combat the effects of chronic inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s response to tissue damage in a localized area. Chronic inflammation is generally experienced for an extended period of time — possibly for many years — and is the result of a complex network of physiological reactions in the body. Most conditions that exemplify chronic inflammation are categorized as diseases such as cancer, asthma and arthritis. Symptoms of chronic inflammation can include acute version as well as other symptoms that are specific to the nature of the inflammatory disease in question.
Anti-inflammatory supplements come in a variety of forms, such as vitamins, minerals, oils and herbs. They can be taken orally in the form of pills or liquids or topically through creams or other agents. Even though most anti-inflammatory supplements are natural substances, they also are effective in synthetic form.
Examples of vitamins and minerals that are taken as anti-inflammatory supplements include vitamins A, C and E and selenium. Vitamins A and E are antioxidants that are frequently used to treat arthritis. They have been shown to reduce joint swelling and pain in many patients. Vitamin C is another powerful antioxidant that is known to treat a wide range of inflammatory conditions, including rashes, certain cardiovascular diseases, asthma and arthritis. Selenium is a mineral that is used in the treatment of inflammatory digestive conditions such Crohn’s disease, colitis and irritable bowel syndrome as well as heart disease, cancer and arthritis.
Various oils are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, including fish oil, olive oil and emu oil. Omega-3 fatty acid and cod liver are two popular fish oils that are taken as anti-inflammatory supplements to combat the symptoms of asthma, arthritis and certain cancers. Olive oil is known for its overall cardiovascular benefits, and like fish oil, it contains natural anti-inflammatory agents. It is used in the treatment of asthma, arthritis and numerous skin conditions.
Emu oil is oil that is extracted from the fat of an Australian bird called an emu. It used to treat the pain that is associated with chronic inflammatory disorders in the joints, bones and muscle. It also can be used to treat acute conditions in which localized pain and swelling occur.
These and other anti-inflammatory supplements typically can be purchased without a prescription and are not regulated by government health and nutrition agencies. As with regulated pharmaceutical products, however, they also have varying side effects and drug interactions. A doctor or pharmacist can provide additional information about specific anti-inflammatory supplements.