Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

A clinical herbalist reveals his 5-step guide to minimize inflammation

This is how to reduce inflammation in the body

Photo of William Siff, founder of GoldThread Tonics and author of The Plant Medicine Protocol
GoldThread Tonics / GoldThread Tonics

If you’re one of the 40% in the United States who suffer from inflammation, you’re probably fed up with the body pain, chronic fatigue, and insomnia that is associated with the condition. Some just live with it. Others try Western Medicine.  Some come across traditional medicine as a last resort. And while different people find different results with each of these options, many come to realize that a natural approach was the very thing they were missing.

No one knows this better than Clinical Herbalist William Siff, who gave me an exciting sneak peek into his new book, The Plant Medicine Protocol. As the founder and formulator of Goldthread TonicsSiff is one of the most sought-after clinical herbalists in the world. His research has been groundbreaking for minimizing inflammation, boosting energy, building immunity, and improving digestion.

If you do suffer from chronic inflammation, you should always consult with your healthcare professional before making any changes. But for many, the results of introducing medicinal plants into daily food can be immediate and cumulative, and it could be life-changing for many who struggle with the crippling effects of inflammation.

Man sitting down after a run.
Simon Reza/Unsplash / Unsplash

What is inflammation?

Inflammation in the body is a part of the healing process. When you get injured or infected with some kind of bacteria, inflammatory cells travel to the spot to help your immune system fight them off. Unfortunately, sometimes inflammation can stay long after the danger is gone.  This is called chronic inflammation. If you have inflammation, you may experience redness, swollen joints that are warm to the touch, joint pain, and stiffness. Read on to learn how to reduce inflammation using Siff’s 5-step plan.

Bitter Greens Spread from William Siff's book, "The Plant Medicine Protocol"
GoldThread Tonics

Siff’s 5-step plant protocol

Five steps are at the heart of his new book, taking wisdom from Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda. This method isn’t necessarily about cutting things out of your diet, although eating healthy, getting exercise, staying hydrated, and sleeping well will increase the effectiveness of this treatment. Instead, it’s about adding things and increasing your exposure to plants that produce phytochemicals, which are what give plants their vibrant colors, flavors, and aromas. Medicinal plants contain a higher concentration of these because they are closer to their wild origins. The more of these compounds that you consume on a regular basis, the better your health will be.

Step one: Culinary

The first step in Siff’s plan is to introduce herbs, spices, and bitters into your diet. You may be familiar with many of these already because these foods are the building blocks of many cuisines. Here are a couple of the many herbs, spices, and bitters that Siff recommends in The Plant Medicine Protocol.

  • Black Pepper
  • Bitter Melon
  • Ginger
  • Chives
  • Turmeric

Step two: Nutritives

The Western Diet often neglects nutritives, which are chock-full of essential vitamins, minerals, trace elements, and antioxidants. They play a huge role in our physiological health, and that’s why adding them to your diet is the next step. Siff notes that these foods are often packaged as “superfoods,” even though cultures across the globe see them as commonplace as potatoes. Be sure to check out the full list in The Plant Medicine Protocol.

  • Acai berries
  • Alfalfa leaf
  • Jujube dates
  • Nori
  • Sea vegetables

Step three: Demulcents

Demulcents are known for their soothing, cooling, and moisturizing properties. These plants are full of water that can prevent all kinds of GI tract issues, such as leaky gut. Siff writes that the easiest way to add demulcents into your diet is to rehydrate with them in your water first thing in the morning. Here are a few to try:

  • Slice of fresh Aloe Vera
  • Chia Seeds
  • Licorice Root
  • Manuka Honey
  • Olive Oil

Step four: Nervines

Next, Siff recommends that you begin adding nervines into your day. These medicinal plants are perfect for those hectic moments when you feel pulled in every direction or can’t sleep. Typically, they are taken through herbal teas like chamomile or peppermint. Other times, it’s a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil in a diffuser. When inhaled, nervines help you produce neurotransmitters that help you relax or shift your state of consciousness. The first category of nervines that Siff shares are fragrant relaxants, followed by nervine calmatives. In the list below, I’ll share just a few essential oils. Be sure to check out The Plant Medicine Protocol for the others.

  • Frankincense
  • Lavender
  • Sandalwood
  • Rose
  • Jasmine

Step five: Adaptogens

Last but certainly not least, introducing adaptogens will give you the extra boost you need to adapt to prolonged stress and restore your physiological balance. These are the real “superfoods” that often come with fantastic legends in ancient cultures. These medicinals will strengthen your immune system, reduce inflammation and cortisol levels, increase sleep quality, and boost fertility, among other things. Here’s a couple to consider adding to your daily routine:

  • Alma Berries
  • Holy Basil
  • Goji berries
  • Korean Ginseng
  • Astragalus Root

The Plant Medicine Protocol Book Cover

Consistency is more important than perfection

Every day comes a new opportunity for you to show up for yourself and pursue healing through your food. To help with that, Siff has added a whole bunch of delicious drink recipes in The Plant Medicine Protocol, such as a Sparkling Rosemary Limeade or the Blue Poppy-Seed Sleep Elixir. Siff writes that consistency is more important than perfection when it comes to following his protocol. His method is very customizable, so you can go as fast or slow as you want to.

As soon as you begin, you might find what thousands have already discovered—results are immediate and cumulative. If you want to banish inflammation, low energy, poor immunity, and bad digestion for good, you can learn all about William Siff and his methods in his new book, The Plant Medicine Protocolwhich will hit the bookshelves in October.

Editors' Recommendations

Sarah Joseph
Sarah is a lover of all things outdoors. With a bright sense of adventure and a heart for the mountains, she is always…
5 ways to measure body fat percentage and why it matters
How to measure body fat percentage
Man standing on a body fat scale.

Medical, scientific, or research settings yield the most accurate measures of body fat. However, if staying active and fit is important to you, and you don’t have access to research facilities, you’ll want more achievable ways to measure fat. 

Understanding your body fat percentage can help you live a healthier life. Your sex, age, and body type are all critical factors contributing to your overall body fat and your diet and exercise regimen. Too much or too little body fat can lead to different health issues, so a fuller awareness of what’s happening in that area is important.

Read more
Experts reveal how to find a workout you will actually stick to this year
Tips and tricks for finding a workout you actually like
two people doing lunges outside

Your best friend still swears by CrossFit, but the 10-class pass you purchased in 2016 still has nine classes left—a coat rack. Your favorite marathon involves Netflix. You may share tons in common with people who live for these workouts, but a love of the same exercise is not one of them.

Still, you may want to start a workout routine this year. Fitness instructors and other experts always reiterate a version of the same line: The best workout is one you like because you’ll stick with it. The problem? You haven’t found one you like, despite tons of advice from family and friends. Your “trial and error” phase always seems to end in an error. Experts suggest trying again.
“More exercise can help avoid plateaus and bring health improvements such as cardiovascular health, increased energy levels, enhanced mood, stress reduction, better sleep, and weight management,” says Margaret Barschow, M.Ed., the founder of MARGO’S Low-Impact Health Club. “Setting a goal to exercise more is a positive commitment to one’s overall well-being.”
Barschow and a pair of other trainers shared tips for finding a workout routine you like and crushing your goals.

Read more
5 benefits of healthy fats and which ones you should be eating
Foods high in fats that aren't necessarily bad for you
A pitcher of avocado oil beside a sliced avocado on a wooden board.

Healthy eating is not only about getting the right vitamins, minerals, and fiber; it is also about eating the right types of fats. Unfortunately, the subject of healthy fats can be confusing because there are many kinds of fats in various foods we eat in our daily diets.

We need certain amounts of these different fats for our bodies to function correctly. The trick is to balance these out so that we are getting more beneficial fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, and less of the more harmful ones, such as saturated fats.

Read more