Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) is among the many proteins that induce tumor cell death. It also regulates the immune cells in the body. Due to its pro-inflammatory activity, certain medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis stem from the actions done by TNFα.
Enbrel is an injection that is used to decrease TNFα and treat symptoms caused by the previously mentioned irregularity in the protein. However, use of this injection is associated with certain side effects, with some people reported to have developed a rare and fatal type of lymphoma. Blood cells are also lowered upon use of Enbrel, and this can be life-threatening as well since these cells help the body fight off infections.
There are some natural sources that can help reduce TNFα and relieve inflammation and other conditions. That said you should always speak with someone in the medical field so you can have an expert opinion regarding these suggestions as nothing on this list will have the same effect as Enbrel. I repeat no naturally supplement is going to have the same effect as a prescription such as Enbrel. Due to this if you are in need of the medication please consult with a healthcare professional rather than trying to self medicate without guidance:
- Ashwagandha: The Indian medicinal system Ayurveda lists ashwagandha (or Indian ginseng) as among its important herbs. Its benefits include remedying physical weakness and impotence, enhancing mental performance, and minimizing fatigue and stress. The herb contains anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antistress, and antitumor properties, and it exerts positive effects on the cardiopulmonary, central nervous, and endocrinal systems. Being an adaptogen, ahshwagandha shields the body from the toils wrought by stresses from various sources. It also suppresses intercellular TNFα, preventing the negative effects that are caused by it. The herb can be purchased in extract, tablet and powder forms, with the latter usually added to beverages and consumed prior to sleeping.
- Cat’s Claw: A vine that is prominent in Peru for remedying problems in digestion, arthritis, and many other health problems thanks to its antioxidant content. As published in the July 2000 study at Free Radical Biology & Medicine, cat’s claw showed potent TNFα-inhibiting properties through immunomodulation, and this is attributed to be the herb’s primary mechanism for fighting off inflammation. Aside from that, cat’s claw helps with the repair of damaged DNA, cleanses the intestinal system, and stimulates the immune system for better defense against diseases. Supplements in capsule form are available in many health stores, while its dried bark can be steeped into tea for a different method of intake.
- Cherries: Anti-inflammatory plant compounds called phenolics are available in both tart and sweet cherries. Anthocyanins, a flavonoid that gives many fruits their color, is the main kind of phenolic found in cherries. In fact, the darker the color of the cherry, the more anthocyanin it has. The said flavonoid blocks enzymes that actively participate in the production of prostaglandins, or compounds that trigger inflammation. This action is similar to how anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen work. Tart cherries have greater amounts of anthocyanins, phenolics, and other nutrients. Regular intake has been associated with a reduction in TNFα, and lower risks of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Researchers during the 2012 American College of Sports Medicine conference presented a study with promising findings regarding tart cherry. For three weeks, they had 20 female participants with osteoarthritis drink tart cherry juice on a daily basis. After the said period, their inflammation was decreased in a rather significant amount. Women with the higher levels of inflammation prior to the start of the study experienced greater impact on the juice compared to the other participants. The potent kind of tart cherries are the ones that are canned, juiced, or dried, and these are usually found in a farmer’s market. Another good thing with tart cherries is that they have fewer calories and sugar than sweet cherries.
- Coenzyme Q10: Also known as CoQ10. It is an antioxidant that is created in the body and is required for the proper function and maintenance of cells. It also helps in the digestion of food and other functions in the body, and remedies body ache, fatigue, high cholesterol levels, and eye-related problems. An article published in 2007 at The Fifth Conference of the International CoQ10 Association publication demonstrated CoQ10’s anti-inflammatory efficacy through the reduction of TNFα response. Do take note that medications that lower levels of blood sugar and cholesterol adversely affect the amount of CoQ10 in the body. Side effects associated with the intake of more than 100mg of CoQ10 include mild insomnia, nausea, and headache. Even though the body creates CoQ10, external sources are needed to reinforce its amounts or to address deficiencies due to aging or other disorders. Aside from taking supplements, organ meats are among the best food sources of CoQ10. Broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, and legumes are non-animal alternatives for vegetarians.
- Devil’s Claw – The southern African plant was used primarily for the treatment of blood and stomach disorders, and as a painkiller during pregnancy. It has earned global renown for showing promising effects against inflammation and the pains that come with it thanks to its anti-inflammatory content called harpagoside. The hooked herb is available in health stores in the form of dried roots that can be brewed into tea. Alternatively, capsules and tablets containing devil’s claw are sold as supplements.
- Magnesium: Magnesium Research had a published study in September 2004 wherein low levels of magnesium are found to be related with higher levels of TNFα. The mineral is abundant in the body, as it is required in many processes that help maintain good health and proper production of energy. Magnesium deficiency not only leads to an elevated TNFα, it also causes a slew of other health problems like fatigue, numbness, coronary spasms, and even seizures. Conversely, maintaining an adequate level of magnesium in the body lowers stroke risk and type 2 diabetes, strengthens bone structure to protect against osteoporosis, and keeps TNFα levels in check. Almonds, cashews, peanuts, and spinach are the best sources of magnesium, followed by soy products, bananas, potatoes, avocadoes, raisins, and apples.
- Olive Oil: Dishes in the Mediterranean region make extensive use of olive oil, and it is said that it is because of this that the population in those areas are healthier. There are different kinds of olive oil, but the “extra virgin” variant is touted to be the best due to its 100% natural extraction method. This kind of olive oil has a certain flavor and aroma that must meet the expectations of the International Olive Oil Council before it can be certified as a true extra virgin olive oil. This certification is visible on the oil’s packaging, making it more expensive than the other kinds of olive oil. Teeming with vitamins and healthy fats, extra virgin olive oil also contains antioxidants that actively destroy the triggers of inflammation, making it a more reliable remedy than over the counter medicines with risky side effects. Extra virgin olive oil can be consumed directly with a teaspoon every day, spritzed on vegetables or meals, and used on cooking but only with low heat. Its benefits are reduced when subjected to hotter cooking temperatures.
- Omega-3: Omega-3 is part of the most crucial nutrients the body needs in order to stay in top shape. Many published studies have attested to the oil’s incredible health benefits, from strengthening the cardiovascular system, maintaining mental acuity, to preventing cancer. On the other hand, a deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids lead to an increase in the growth of cancer cells and in the occurrence of other serious medical conditions. Its potent anti-inflammatory properties stem from the formation of lipid mediators, and the inhibition of eicosanoid production. These two actions diminish the production of TNFα. Good sources of omega-3 include canola oil, flaxseed, and soy products, milk, yogurt, almonds, chia and pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, walnuts, eggs, and seafood such as carp, clams, cod, halibut, herring, mussels, and salmon.
- Turmeric: A spice with a variety of uses that date back to the ancient times. Turmeric contains curcumin, the component that gives the spice its unique golden color and its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Not only does it impede the effects of TNFα, curcumin also suppresses its production, and relieves pain that commonly occurs with conditions that are linked to TNFα. Many dishes make use of turmeric, with curry being the most popular. The dried root form of the spice can either be steeped into tea or blended into a smoothie. Black pepper is known to enhance turmeric’s bioavailability, leading to better health effects even with just small doses.
Have you used Enbrel before? Have you tried any of the alternatives mentioned above? Do you have any other kind of alternative that you would like to share? Do tell us in the comments below.