How spices can lower inflammation

When one thinks of anti-inflammatory spices, turmeric is usually the one that comes to mind. While there is plenty of research that supports turmeric’s anti-inflammatory mechanisms, this king of spices holds court with a multitude of royals that are also helpful for reducing inflammation in the body. If you experience joint pain caused by inflammation, you may want to consider adding some of these spices into your daily diet.

Warming spices, such as cinnamon and ginger, have anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce joint pain. Cinnamon contains the compounds cinnamaldehyde and cinnamic acid, and ginger contains 6-gingerol. Combining these spices will only strengthen their potency; enjoy them in smoothies, oatmeal, teas, and savory dishes.

Garlic, while not a spice, contains the compound diallyl disulfide (DAS) which helps to decrease the effects of pro-inflammatory peptides called cytokines. DAS has been shown to protect the cartilage, preventing the onset of arthritis, and enhance collagen production. Make sure to buy fresh garlic and let it sit out after mincing or pressing for at least ten minutes before cooking for maximum benefits.

And last but certainly not least, we’ll get back to turmeric, which contains curcumin, one of the most studied nutraceuticals. Curcumin is a known inhibitor of pro-inflammatory pathways that contribute to the development of conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and colitis. Add fresh or dried turmeric to smoothies, teas (see recipe below), or stir fries for a slightly bitter but nutrient-packed kick!

Try this delicious golden milk recipe for a warm alternative to coffee and tea:


Golden Milk Turmeric Tea
By Katherine Sacks

Makes 2 cups


  • 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (coconut, almond, hemp, etc.)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 1-inch piece unpeeled, thinly sliced turmeric OR 1/2 tsp dried turmeric
  • 1 1/2-inch piece unpeeled, thinly sliced ginger
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp virgin coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • Ground cinnamon (for serving)


Whisk milk, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, honey, coconut oil, peppercorns, and 1 cup water in a small saucepan; bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer until flavors have melded, about 10 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into mugs and top with a dash of cinnamon. 



Arthritis Foundation (n.d.). Best spices for arthritis.

Higdon, J. (2005). Curcumin. Linus Pauling Institute: Micronutrient Information Center.

Kunnumakkara, A. B., Sailo, B. L., Banik, K., Harsha, C., Prasad, S., Gupta, S. C., Bharti, A. C., & Aggarwal, B. B. (2018). Chronic diseases, inflammation, and spices: how are they linked?. Journal of Translational Medicine16(1), 14.

Sacks, K. (March 2016). Golden milk turmeric tea. Epicurious.