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Inflammation Nation

Inflammation Inflammation

Inflammation is part of the body’s defense mechanism where the immune system identifies and eliminates stimuli that is harmful to the body and then starts the healing process. Generally, there are two types of inflammation: acute, which is short-term inflammation and may last for a few days. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is slow, long-term inflammation that can last for long periods of time (several months to years). If ignored or not treated properly, chronic inflammation can play a role in a number of health issues including rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma and Alzheimer’s disease, according to Harvard Health.

In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) ranks chronic inflammatory diseases as the greatest threat to human health. The prevalence of diseases associated with chronic inflammation is anticipated to increase persistently for the next 30 years in the United States. In 2000, nearly 125 million Americans were living with chronic conditions and 61 million (21 percent) had more than one. In recent estimates by Rand Corporation, in 2014, nearly 60 percent of Americans had at least one chronic condition, 42 percent had more than one and 12 percent of adults had five or more chronic conditions. Worldwide, three of five people die due to chronic inflammatory diseases like stroke, chronic respiratory diseases, heart disorders, cancer, obesity and diabetes. “A growing number of astute consumers are looking for a supplement to combat systemic inflammation (also known as “silent” inflammation) which is the root cause of most of the diseases that kill us,” said Bob Capelli, executive vice president of global marketing for Algae Health Sciences in California. “Over the last 10 or 15 years, a great deal of media coverage has focused on how systemic inflammation is prevalent in most developed countries and how it causes heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc.”

“Marinova is noticing widespread interest in anti-inflammation as consumers are increasing their understanding of the body’s defense system,” noted Dr. Helen Fitton, chief scientist for Australia-based Marinova Pty Ltd. “The global anti-inflammatory market is being driven by factors such as increasing autoimmune and respiratory conditions, and widespread allergy-induced conditions. The search for effective therapeutic treatments for these conditions will only see this market increase.”

Going Natural

With all of the dangers that come with chronic inflammation, consumers are looking for products that deliver results. And while prescription and OTC (over-the-counter) drugs used to be the “go to,” research showing that they may do more harm them good has shoppers looking for a natural alternative.

“As evidence continues to mount regarding the adverse side effects of traditional anti-inflammatory and pain medications, particularly nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) and corticosteroids, people are seeking more natural solutions to support wellness and comfort,” said Tryggvi Stefánsson, COO of Algalif in Iceland. “In addition, while these types of drugs may help with acute and short-term inflammation, there are currently no medications that specifically target chronic inflammation.”

“Considering some of the many side effects of prescription and OTC pain relievers, it’s not surprising consumers are exploring other options, often products derived from food sources,” added Dan Murray, vice president of business development for Xsto Solutions, who has offices in New Jersey and Georgia. “As an example, our Cuvitus is a whole-fruit cucumber extract with scientific evidence supporting reduction in biomarkers related to pain and inflammation.”

While many associate inflammation with getting a cut or spraining an ankle, there are a number of causes of inflammation including chronic stress, obesity and just getting older. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute on Aging, while it is unclear to what extent acute or chronic inflammation influences the pace of aging, research does show that chronic inflammation does promote aging.

“Both the aging population and the diversification of the types of consumers using sports nutrition products have played significant roles in driving growth in the market for inflammation supplements,” said Stefánsson. “Numerous studies of astaxanthin have demonstrated its effectiveness for a variety of age-related challenges. Older consumers are particularly concerned about remaining active and avoiding aches, pains and inflammation. Similarly, a wide variety of consumers are looking for natural and nutritional support for optimizing health and supporting active lifestyles and workouts.”

“Since an effective anti-inflammatory helps combat chronic pain and also combats life-threatening systemic inflammation, the market for these products is huge,” added Capelli. “Most people over the age of 40 are experiencing one or the other of these forms of inflammation (or both), so an effective anti-inflammatory is a good idea for a huge segment of the population.”

Another category that deals with inflammation is sports nutrition—as athletic training can cause acute muscle inflammation. “Fitness and sports products that assist in recovery and reduction of post-game or post-workout discomfort is a growing arena,” explained Sam Michini, vice president of marketing & strategy for Georgia-based Deerland Probiotics & Enzymes.

“When acute inflammation strikes, such as discomfort after high-impact exercise, consumers look for an effective source of relief. Ingredients such as curcumin, Boswellia serrata and gingerols are ideal, as they contain specific natural compounds with proven ability to resolve acute inflammatory response,” added Shaheen Majeed, president worldwide for New Jersey-based Sabinsa. “Some will reach for a post-exercise, workout drink. Others take a daily regimen capsule or tablet. Sabinsa offers its curcumin in several different grades to suit varied solid and liquid applications.”

“Our ProHydrolase enzyme blend, when consumed with a whey protein supplement, encourages pre-digestion of the protein, allowing for the release of the full content of the essential amino acids for building muscle and improving muscle recovery,” Michini said. “A double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study showed that after nine days, those taking whey protein and ProHydrolase had significantly decreased levels of C-reactive protein, an indicator of inflammatory response, compared to the whey protein group.”

Xsto Solutions recently launched Cuvitus for temporary pain and exercise performance. “Cuvitus is the first ingredient specifically addressing the temporary pain and inflammation category for XSTO,” Murray said. “While still in the launch phase, we see significant interest in Cuvitus and this growing category.”


As the acute and chronic inflammation category continues to grow, research is discovering the benefits of a number of ingredients that can give consumers some relief. Among them include curcumin, Boswellia serrata, enzymes, astaxanthin and fucoidan.


Fucoidans occur naturally in the cell walls of brown seaweed and has anti-inflammatory properties. “Inflammation has been addressed by a variety of ingredients including minerals and land plant-based ingredients,” said Fitton. “Fucoidan addresses several aspects of inflammation at the same time, making it a safe, soothing and reliable anti-inflammatory.

According to Fitton, fucoidan is well known, and continues to be studied, for its profound anti-inflammation properties. Research demonstrates that fucoidan has potential benefits in addressing systemic and local inflammation through its ability to block selectin, reduce cytokine levels and inhibit inflammatory enzymes.

Marinova has been producing high purity, certified organic fucoidan extracts for the nutritional industry for more than 15 years. “The high purity Maritech organic fucoidan extracts that are used to address inflammation are supported by credible clinical evidence,” explained Fitton. “In particular, this evidence addresses systemic inflammation, gut inflammation and colitis, skin inflammation and osteoarthritis.”

Curcumin & Boswellia

According to Majeed, curcumin and Boswellia serrata are well-established ingredients that have long-standing traditional use that has been validated by modern science in preclinical and clinical investigations.

“Curcumin is perhaps the most important anti-inflammatory ingredient, with wide acceptance by the general public and by scientific and medical professionals. If you search curcumin in any research database, you will get hundreds of results involving the clinical studies on curcumin or its formulations,” he said.

“Not only can curcumin act as an anti-inflammatory agent, but it can also improve overall health through various mechanisms, such as the ability to improve tissue damage,” Majeed continued. “Ingredients with such added benefits are especially effective since they reduce inflammatory reactions and also rebuild the affected tissues.”

Sabinsa offers Curcumin C3 Complex, an extract derived from the rhizomes (roots) of the plant Curcuma longa, also known as turmeric. It is the foremost clinically studied natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, with a variety of health benefits. It is the gold standard for turmeric extracts, and it has self-affirmed GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status. In addition, C3 Reduct is a standardized extract obtained by hydrogenating the curcuminoids from the rhizomes of the Curcuma longa plant, which removes the yellow staining property. This gives important formulating advantages without sacrificing the product’s benefits, Majeed noted.

Research also shows that when curcumin and boswellia are used together, they have anti-inflammatory benefits. “Curcumin and boswellia in combination have anti-inflammatory benefits. Curcumin is a potent COX-2 inhibitor, whereas boswellic acids are 5-LOX inhibitors of arachidonic acid pathway, so the combination of COX-2 and 5-LOX inhibitors are ideal for inflammation management. An investigation into whether supplementation with curcumin and boswellia extract for three months could affect plasma levels of markers of oxidative stress, inflammation, and glycation in 47 healthy male master cyclists was conducted by researchers. There was a positive effect observed on glycoxidation and lipid peroxidation in healthy male athletes.1

Boswellin is Sabinsa’s standardized, powdered extract from the gum resin exudates from Boswellia serrata tree. Boswellic acids have the unique property to block two pro-inflammatory enzymes: 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO) and human leukocyte elastase (HLE). It contains four major boswellic acids, of which acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid (AKBBA) is the most potent anti-inflammatory agent. According to Majeed, boswellia extract is clinically shown to be safe and effective in the management of arthritis, an inflammatory condition.


According to Michini, protease enzymes work long-term to support the function of the cardiovascular system and joints. These enzymes work by degrading specific proteins, such as fibrin, associated with the formation of blood clotting and inflammation.

“Deerland’s offerings in this area are Serrazimes, a blend of proteases shown to break down protein substrates; this exclusive proteolytic enzyme system is designed as an enzymatic alternative to serratiopeptidase and may be used as a systemic protease to support immune, cardiovascular or musculoskeletal health,” Michini said. “And Nattozimes, a proprietary blend of protease enzymes matching the fibrinolytic activity of nattokinase.”


Astaxanthin is another powerful ingredient to help fight inflammation. According to Capelli, inflammation manifests in many ways, and a broad-spectrum anti-inflammatory is necessary to combat the variety of its causes. “Astaxanthin has been documented to effectively reduce eight different inflammatory markers in a totally safe manner,” he explained. “This is very different from prescription and OTC anti-inflammatories—most of them target a single inflammatory marker and end up throwing our bodies totally out-of-whack and causing all kinds of side effects, many of them life threatening!”

Algae Health Sciences is responding to this increase in demand by offering clinically-validated AstaZine Astaxanthin in more new forms. The company now has water-dispersible powders and emulsions, beadlets, oleoresins, powders, and Algae Health Sciences the first producer in the world to figure out how to produce an organically certified astaxanthin product, according to Capelli.

Stefánsson noted that Algalif has been producing natural, quality astaxanthin ingredients since 2014. “Astaxanthin has been shown to be a superior antioxidant, partly based on the fact that unlike other antioxidants such as beta carotene, selenium and vitamins C and E, astaxanthin does not become pro-oxidant within the body,” he said.

“Astaxanthin is a potent anti-inflammatory ingredient. It blocks COX-2 enzymes, and affects the COX-2 pathway,” Stefánsson continued. “The COX-2 enzyme is largely responsible for inflammation. Astaxanthin produces similar results as other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) do, without the common adverse effects of these medications.2


There are a number of challenges in the inflammation category including stability, bioavailability and bioactivity, Majeed noted. “The research is in the direction to improve the potential by combining two or more ingredients with potential in a single formulation,” he explained. “The various components or conditions which can improve the stability, bioavailability and bioactivity of the active ingredients are being investigated.”

In addition, it often takes longer for consumers to see the effects of dietary supplements as opposed to prescription medication and OTC drugs. “The challenge for natural products is to deliver the benefit in a short period of time. We are sometimes at a disadvantage to OTC products that only address the symptoms,” said Murray. “It generally takes time for a supplement to improve the underlying condition but it provides better long-term health.”

“Prescription and OTC anti-inflammatories work quickly. You can get results for acute inflammatory conditions (pain) quickly, so consumers like them,” added Capelli. “But across the range of prescription and OTC anti-inflammatories, they all have side effects.”

Challenges aside, the inflammation category is on the rise. With consumers taking their health into their own hands and the rise of the weekend warrior, there’s no telling where the category can reach.

“The category remains in a state of growth. This is concurrent with global consumer interest in overall health and wellbeing,” concluded Fitton. “We expect to see further interest in plant-based, certified organic ingredients that are well supported by credible clinical evidence.” NIE


1 Chilelli et al. 2016. Curcumin and Boswellia serrata modulate the glyco-oxidative status and lipo-oxidation in master athletes. Nutrients. 8:745.

2 Lee SJ, Bai SK, Lee KS, Namkoong S, Na HJ, Ha KS, Han JA, Yim SV, Chang K, Kwon YG, Lee SK, Kim YM. Astaxanthin inhibits nitric oxide production and inflammatory gene expression by suppressing I(kappa)B kinase-dependent NF-kappaB activation. Mol Cells. 2003 Aug 31;16(1):97-105. PubMed PMID: 14503852.

For More Information:

Algae Health Sciences, www.algaehealthsciences.com
Algalif, https://algalif.com
Deerland Enzymes & Probiotics, www.deerland.com
Marinova Pty Ltd., www.marinova.com.au
Sabinsa, www.sabinsa.com
Xsto Solutions, www.xstosolutions.com

Albion Minerals®