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Four Spices That Fight Inflammation

I’ve been switching up my diet lately to try and combat a recent psoriasis flare-up on my hands. I have guttate psoriasis, and on my hands especially, new guttate spots are preceded by these wicked itchy bumps. When things are super inflamed, the plaques crack and weep. This unseasonably cold weather is not helping (Canada, what have you done with spring?!). In the way of spices, I hadn’t thought much about how my spice rack might help me beat inflammation, but why not? Here are four spices they say can turn your next meal into an inflammation-fighting weapon!


Let’s start with the most obvious. Turmeric is perhaps the best-known spice to help reduce inflammation in the body. The active ingredient is curcumin, which has been shown in a number of studies to be anti-inflammatory. Because psoriasis is an inflammatory condition, consuming whole turmeric or curcumin extract has been suggested. So what are some of the best ways to increase turmeric in your life? Curry is the easiest way to sneak turmeric into your cooking, but turmeric lattes are also very popular. Make sure to grind in some fresh black pepper to curries and lattes as it helps the absorption of curcumin. Turmeric may cause upset stomach in some, so if you’ve never used it before try to ease yourself in.


Number two is one of my faves. Ginger! I love fresh ginger, but powdered ginger will do in a pinch. The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger have been well studied and are likely attributed to its phytonutrients, like gingerol (which gives ginger its spiciness). There’s even some evidence that the active ingredients and antioxidants may help fight cancer. You can incorporate ginger into your diet in many ways. Try grating some fresh ginger into your stir fry or curry, making a fresh ginger tea, or even making your own ginger candy. Throw some ginger into your pilafs, use it to marinate your meats, or grind it up to make a chutney (spicy mango chutney is a current fave).


Vampires beware! Garlic, like ginger and turmeric, has anti-inflammatory properties that have been well studied. Be aware though, if you are following a low FODMAP diet then garlic should take a backseat. For the rest of us, now might be the time to up your garlic game. What can you put garlic in? Basically everything. Soups, salad dressings, roasts, dips, they’re all fair game. My fave way to prepare garlic is to cut off the top, wrap it in foil, and roast it in the oven. Roasting garlic releases all sorts of yummy aromatics, and soft garlic is a lot easier to mix into dishes (or blend into hummus and babaganoush!). Roasting garlic also decreases the pungency and some of the spiciness.


We cap off the power four with cinnamon, a spice described as having “mystic powers” by one scientist who reviewed its benefits for his research paper. To date, studies have looked at not only the anti-inflammatory effect of cinnamon but also the potential anti-microbial and cancer-fighting properties. The easiest way to incorporate cinnamon may seem to be in sweets but if you’re looking to avoid sugar that may not be super helpful. Luckily, cinnamon is a great ingredient for savory cooking too. It adds a super flavor to curries and chilis and pairs well with root vegetables (think butternut squash soup with cinnamon). I like to use cinnamon in my stews and to top off a bowl of oatmeal (and I have to wonder if shaking some cinnamon onto my hot chocolate will make it healthy? Probably not).

On the flip side of spices that may help psoriasis, certain spices may cause you irritation. Cayenne, paprika, and chili flakes are all nightshade vegetables, which many of us try to avoid. In addition, you may hear about the ability of spice extracts to combat inflammation (think oil of oregano or cinnamon bark extract). While these may be great additions to a homemade salve, don’t eat them!

Thanks for reading, and let me know in the comments if there are any spices that affect your psoriasis.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.