Inflammation has been shown foundational to many health problems throughout the body including cardiovascular, neurological, musculoskeletal and respiratory diseases, as well as cancer and diabetes. Of course, any disease or condition that ends in “itis," including arthritis and periodontitis, is inflammatory in nature.
The inflammatory response is a part of the immune system and is mediated by several compounds, called eicosanoids, produced by fatty acids and activated through various pathways. Eicosanoids made from most omega-6s, primarily arachidonic acid (AA), tend to be pro-inflammatory and are activated via the nuclear factor kappa B (NFkB) pathway.Those made from omega-3 eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), as well as omega-6 dihomo gamma linolenic acid (DGLA), tend to be anti-inflammatory. To produce eicosanoids, these fatty acids utilize special enzymes such as COX and LOX enzymes. In some cases an anti-inflammatory omega-3 may compete for the same enzyme with a pro-inflammatory omega-6.
Much of the recent research on natural anti-inflammatory ingredients have looked at the detailed mechanics of inflammation management in order to highlight how an ingredient may help manage or rebalance inflammation in the body and provide a health benefit.
Natural compounds involved in recent research showing an ability to modulate the inflammatory process include omega-3 fatty acids, primarily EPA and DH; antioxidants such as green tea, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), lycopene, astaxanthin and vitamin C; botanicals such as curucmin, Boswellia and ginger; and joint health leaders glucosamine and chondroitin, as well as relative newcomers natural eggshell membrane (NEM) and apple peel powder.
The overall market for natural anti-inflammatory ingredients is strong, as more research results showing positive benefits touch on consumers’ growing desire to self-manage many health problems caused by or amplified by inflammation. Looking at the various ingredients, most are enjoying solid growth rates worldwide, with the exception of recent dips in the omega-3 and glucosamine/chondroitin markets.
Marketing natural inflammation products has been made more challenging by recent FDA clarification on when it considers a purported structure-function claim as an implied disease claim, relative to chronic inflammation.
Read more about the current research and market landscapes for natural anti-inflammatory ingredients in the INSIDER Anti-Inflammation Digital Issue.