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Inflammation can occur in response to trauma, illness and stress.
However, it can also be caused by unhealthy foods and lifestyle habits.
Anti-inflammatory foods, exercise, good sleep and stress management can help.
In some cases, getting additional support from supplements may be useful as well.
Here are 6 supplements that have been shown to reduce inflammation in studies.
1. Alpha-Lipoic Acid
Alpha-lipoic acid is a fatty acid made by your body. It plays a key role in metabolism and energy production.
It also functions as an antioxidant, protecting your cells from damage and helping restore levels of other antioxidants, like vitamins C and E (1).
Alpha-lipoic acid also reduces inflammation. Several studies show that it reduces the inflammation linked to insulin resistance, cancer, liver disease, heart disease and other disorders (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9).
Additionally, alpha-lipoic acid may help reduce blood levels of several inflammatory markers, including IL-6 and ICAM-1.
Alpha-lipoic acid has also reduced inflammatory markers in multiple studies in heart disease patients (9).
However, a few studies have found no changes in these markers in people taking alpha-lipoic acid, compared to control groups (10, 11, 12).
Recommended dosage: 300–600 mg daily. No issues have been reported in people taking 600 mg of alpha-lipoic acid for up to seven months (11).
Potential side effects: None if taken at the recommended dosage. If you also take diabetes medication, then you may need to monitor your blood sugar levels.
Curcumin is a component of the spice turmeric. It provides several impressive health benefits.
It can decrease inflammation in diabetes, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease and cancer, to name a few (13, 14, 15, 16).
Curcumin also appears to be very beneficial for reducing inflammation and improving symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (17, 18).
One randomized controlled trial found that people with metabolic syndrome who took curcumin had significantly reduced levels of the inflammation markers CRP and MDA, compared to those who received a placebo (19).
In another study, when 80 people with solid cancerous tumors were given 150 mg of curcumin, most of their inflammatory markers decreased much more than those in the control group. Their quality of life score also increased significantly (20).
Curcumin is poorly absorbed when taken on its own, but you can boost its absorption by as much as 2,000% by taking it with piperine, found in black pepper (21).
Some supplements also contain a compound called bioperine, which works just like piperine and increases absorption.
Recommended dosage: 100–500 mg daily, when taken with piperine. Doses up to 10 grams per day have been studied and are considered safe, but they may cause digestive side effects (22).
Potential side effects: None if taken at the recommended dosage.
3. Fish Oil
Fish oil supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital to good health.
They can decrease the inflammation associated with diabetes, heart disease, cancer and many other conditions (23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29).
Two especially beneficial types of omega-3s are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
DHA, in particular, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects that reduce cytokine levels and promote gut health. It may also decrease the inflammation and muscle damage that occur after exercise (29, 30, 31, 32).
In one study, levels of the inflammation marker IL-6 were 32% lower in people who took 2 grams of DHA, compared to a control group (31).
In another study, DHA supplements significantly reduced levels of the inflammatory markers TNF alpha and IL-6 after vigorous exercise (32).
However, some studies in healthy people and those with atrial fibrillation have shown no benefit from fish oil supplementation (33, 34, 35).
Recommended dosage: 1–1.5 grams of omega-3s from EPA and DHA per day. Look for fish oil supplements with undetectable mercury content.
Potential side effects: Fish oil may thin the blood at higher doses, which can increase bleeding.
Not recommended for: People taking blood thinners or aspirin, unless authorized by their doctor.