At Mab & Stoke, we have access to top herbalists, phytochemists, and sourcing experts. In this article series, we tap into their knowledge to bring you answers to some of the most common questions surrounding plant medicine. 

The expert: Kevin Spelman, Ph.D., herbalist and molecular biologist based in Ashland, Oregon

The answer: In short, all of them. There’s literally thousands of compounds in our medicinal, spice, and food plants. That makes them complex—and gives them the power to reduce inflammation by engaging multiple pharmacological targets (essentially receptors or enzymes in your body to which a substance or medicine binds when you take it) at once. 

On the other hand, some modern medicines go after a single target, blocking inflammation or pain in one specific receptor or enzyme. However, your body is intelligent and it will figure out a way to go around the block. When you can hit multiple targets at once, like you can with herbal medicine, you’re going to have a more robust anti-inflammatory effect.

To narrow it down, it is believed that shogaols and gingerols (found in ginger) and curcuminoids (found in turmeric) are stand-outs for helping to bring down inflammation and muscle soreness. Sprinkling ginger and turmeric in their ground form into food is worthwhile but in order to feel real relief, a supplement is a better bet because it will contain more milligrams per dose than you’d get from a few shakes of a spice. 

Cannabinoids (specifically CBN and CBG) could also be helpful for recovery. You can take these in a supplement like our Recovery Mab Sticks—but they can also be applied topically. In fact, since they’re lipid-like in nature, cannabinoids may be absorbed better applied in the form of a salve or cream compared to when they’re ingested. In this way, they could help reduce inflammation both locally and systemically (because some of the compounds could be absorbed into your bloodstream). Try rubbing our Recovery Cream, which contains these cannabinoids (combined with essential oils which help them to be absorbed into your skin) two to four times per day directly on the site of your injury.*

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.