Evidence Based

How To Lower C Reactive Protein (CRP) Naturally

Written by Biljana Novkovic, PhD | Reviewed by Ana Aleksic, MSc (Pharmacy) | Last updated:
Jonathan Ritter
Medically reviewed by
Jonathan Ritter, PharmD, PhD (Pharmacology) | Written by Biljana Novkovic, PhD | Reviewed by Ana Aleksic, MSc (Pharmacy) | Last updated:

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Exercise can lower high CRP levels

CRP is a marker of low-grade inflammation and stress that increases your risk of chronic diseases. Read on to find out how to keep your CRP levels at bay naturally.

How To Lower C Reactive Protein (CRP) Naturally

Taking into account that CRP reflects chronic stress levels, it is not surprising that a balanced lifestyle and activities that can help us counter/reduce stress have beneficial effects on CRP levels.

1) Exercise

Regular physical activity was shown to reduce CRP levels in several studies [1].

In an analysis of 20 studies involving 1,400 patients with coronary artery disease, CRP levels were found to be reduced after exercise. Among those studies, higher CRP concentrations or poorer fat profiles before beginning the exercise were associated with greater reductions in CRP [2].

The amount of exercise needed to lower CRP levels is relatively modest. The total energy expenditure needed is estimated to be just 368 – 1,050 calories/week [3].

CRP level in healthy people and those with cardiovascular disease will decrease following twenty weeks of training with the intensity of 75% maximum oxygen consumption on ergometer bike [4].

Small-sided games (SSG) or cycling (CYC) training were both effective at improving CRP in sedentary, middle-aged men [5].

However, CRP levels can also increase post-exercise when the exercise is stressful and causes tissue damage. The amount of production of CRP depends on the duration, intensity, type of exercise and the distance traveled by an individual. CRP increases more in exercises with more distance traveled [4].

CRP level in aerobic exercise increases more than in anaerobic exercise [4].

The exercise of all-out intensity and relatively short duration, no matter what type, does not elicit a significant change in CRP for the 1-hour to 5-hour period of rest following the exercise [6].

After a marathon (42.195 Km) CRP levels were unchanged, they increased by 3.4X the next day, and after four days were back to original levels [7].

On the other hand, CRP level after an ultra-marathon (200 km) increased 40 times and it remained at the same level up to six days after the race [7].

2) Weight Loss

Weight loss and fat reduction were shown to reduce CRP levels [1].

Intentional total body fat mass reduction was associated with significant reductions in CRP in obese adults with osteoarthritis [8].

The odds of achieving desirable CRP levels more than doubled with intentional 5% loss of total body weight and fat mass [8].

Some studies suggest that global, rather than regional, fat loss are better predictors of change in inflammatory burden [8].

Other studies indicate that fat stored in the abdomen and thigh muscles are associated with higher levels of CRP independent of total fat mass, suggesting that greater reduction of fat in these regions may be associated with greater improvement in CRP levels [8].

3) Balanced Diet

The quality of diet was independently and significantly associated with lower CRP levels, showing that diet is associated with systemic inflammation [9].

Diets high in dietary fiber and rich in fruits and vegetables are associated with lower CRP levels, while consumption of a Western diet, a diet high in fat, sugar, and refined grains can elevate CRP levels [9].

In one study, participants received a 45% fat 1,000 Kcal Mediterranean-like meal (monounsaturated 61% of fat) or a Western-like (saturated 57% of fat) meal. The Mediterranean-like meal resulted in a 2-hour post-meal decrease in CRP [10].

4) Alcohol in Moderation

Light alcohol intake rather than abstention or abuse is associated with lower CRP levels [1, 11].

Not surprisingly, red wine intake was associated with decreased CRP [12].

Among women, moderate wine consumers had significantly lower levels of CRP than women who drank no or little wine [13].

Combined consumption of white wine and extra-virgin olive oil also decreased CRP in chronic kidney disease patients [14].

However, the association between alcohol and CRP concentration appears to be mediated primarily by the alcohol itself and was independent of the type of alcoholic beverage consumed [15].

5) Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, and Meditation

Yoga, Tai Chi, and Qi Gong are exercise therapies that integrate moderate physical activity, deep breathing, and meditation to promote stress reduction and relaxation, which beneficially influence the immune system and overall health [16].

7 to 16 weeks (1 – 3 hrs weekly) of these “mind-body therapies” cause significant improvements in CRP levels, especially in individuals with disease [16].

Evidence suggests that yoga may help decrease inflammatory mediators including CRP [17].

When long-term expert hatha yoga practitioners and novices were compared in a study, expert practitioners had lower CRP levels [18].

An 8-week regimen of yoga in addition to standard medical therapy significantly reduced CRP levels in patients with heart failure [19].

A gentle form of tai chi in patients with type 2 diabetes who were also obese decreased CRP levels [20].

A decrease in CRP was also observed in older depressed participants receiving an SSRI (escitalopram) when they also practiced tai chi [21].

In cancer patients, medical qigong lowered CRP levels, reduced the side effects of cancer, and improved the quality of life [22, 23].

A practice of mindfulness in faculty with elevated CRP lowered their CRP levels. Although not statistically significant, at 2-months the CRP level was one mg/ml lower – a change which may have clinical significance [24].

In IBD patients attending a workshop for breathing, movement, and meditation had a significant decrease in CRP by week 26 [25].

Both walking meditation and walking exercise reduced CRP levels in depressed elderly [26].

6) Sexual Activity

Men who were sexually active with a partner (more than once a month) were less likely to be in a higher CRP category five years later than men who weren’t. Yet, a higher frequency of sex (i.e., 2 – 3 times a month or once a week or more) was not related to CRP for men [27].

Women with sexual partners had significantly lower CRP at midcycle, and higher CRP at other phases; in contrast, sexually-abstinent women had little cycle-related change in CRP [28].

7) Optimism

Inflammatory markers including CRP were increased in pessimism [29].

Lower self-rated health was associated with elevated CRP even among apparently healthy individuals [30].

Poor self-rated health was significantly associated with elevated CRP levels in women [31].

8) Vitamin A, C, D, K Sufficiency

Food/nutrients that return our body’s natural balance and reduce inflammation have beneficial effects on CRP levels.

Blood vitamin C concentrations were found to be associated with lower CRP levels in both men and women, primarily among non-smokers, non-overweight women and postmenopausal women [32].

Supplementation with Vit C + Calcium + Iron reduced CRP and oral pathogens in a rural population with periodontitis [33].

Elevated CRP was associated with vitamin D deficiency in the urban elderly [34].

Elevated CRP was associated with vitamin A deficiency [35, 36, 37].

CRP was elevated in vitamin K deficiency in older men and women [38] and young adult women [39].

9) Vitamin E

Several studies showed a significant reduction in CRP levels in vitamin E-treated individuals [40].

In one study, participants who regularly ingested more than 78 mg vitamin E/d, had 22% lower CRP levels compared to those who were not exposed to any vitamin E supplementation [41].

Vitamin E-coated dialyzer can reduce CRP levels in hemodialysis patients [42].

10) Niacin

Niacin has been shown to reduce CRP levels and cardiovascular risk in patients with high cholesterol and triglycerides [1, 43]. Not all studies recorded significant effects though [44].

Lower dose extended administration of niacin can be used safely to decrease CRP successfully in non-ST elevated acute coronary syndrome (NSTE-ACS) patients. A study shows that at the 3rd day CRP levels were similar between the groups; but 1 month later, CRP levels were significantly lower in the niacin group of patients [45].

Niacin significantly decreased CRP levels when added to simvastatin therapy, compared to simvastatin alone [46].

11) Folate

Folate can decrease CRP levels [1].

A higher concentration of folate in the blood was associated with lower CRP concentration in pregnancy [47].

Folate had beneficial effects on CRP levels in patients with metabolic syndrome [48] and reduced CRP levels in overweight and obese women [49].

12) Carotenoids

High beta-Carotene was related to low CRP in several studies [50]. In one of these studies, an increase of 2 mg/L in CRP was associated with a 1.3% decrease in β-carotene in middle-aged women [51].

Preterm infants supplemented with carotenoids had lower CRP [52].

Study participants who received astaxanthin had lower CRP at Week 8 [53].

Higher blood alpha-carotene and beta-carotene concentrations were significantly associated with lower CRP in Japanese men [54].

13) Selenium

The relationship between high CRP and low blood selenium was significant for well-nourished patients [55].

Selenium supplementation significantly decreased insulin levels and CRP in patients with diabetes and heart disease [56].

Selenium administration decreased CRP in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) [57].

Selenium supplementation in pregnant women with gestational diabetes had beneficial effects on glucose metabolism, CRP levels, and biomarkers of oxidative stress [58].

Selenium and coenzyme Q supplementation decreased CRP and reduced cardiovascular mortality in the elderly [59].

14) Magnesium

A systematic review indicates that higher dietary magnesium intake is significantly associated with lower CRP levels. The potential beneficial effect of Mg intake on chronic diseases may be, at least in part, explained by inhibiting inflammation [60].

Oral magnesium supplementation decreased CRP levels in apparently healthy subjects with prediabetes and low magnesium [61].

Smoking causes a significant increase in CRP concentration, associated with a decrease in magnesium concentration [62].

15) Chromium

In women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), taking chromium for 8 weeks led to a significant reduction in CRP [63].

16) Calcium + Aspirin

Consumption of calcium supplement plus low-dose aspirin resulted in a significant decrease in CRP levels in pregnant women at risk for pre-eclampsia [64].

17) Polyunsaturated fatty acids

Higher intake of total polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) was associated with lower CRP levels. In this particular study, n-6 PUFAs were most beneficial [65].

In several studies, omega-3 fatty acids reduced the concentrations of CRP [66, 4].

A high omega-3 diet significantly reduced CRP in older people [67].

Docosapentaenoic acid, a long-chain omega-3 acid, was associated with lower CRP [68].

18) Fiber

High dietary fiber intake is associated with lower CRP levels [69, 70].

Cereal fiber intake lowered CRP in women [71].

A 5-week high dietary fiber intake of oat bran, rye bran, and sugar beet fiber can reduce the low-grade inflammatory response measured as CRP [72].

Intervention with dietary fiber or fiber-rich food produced a slight, but significant reduction of CRP level among overweight and obese adults [73].

19) Probiotics

A multispecies probiotic supplement (containing L. acidophilus, L. casei, L. rhamnosus, L. bulgaricus, B. breve, B. longum, S. thermophilus, and fructooligosaccharide) for 8 weeks in diabetic patients resulted in a decrease in CRP and an increase in blood total GSH [74].

20) Coffee

Higher coffee consumption was associated with lower CRP [75, 76].

Coffee consumption was associated with lower CRP among overweight/obese postmenopausal women [77].

One study found that CRP concentrations were progressively lower with increasing levels of coffee consumption in men, but not in women [78].

Another study showed that significantly lower levels of CRP were observed in the group of > or = 1 cup/day than in that of < 1 cup/day in Japanese women [79].

21) Green Tea

Green tea extract reduces inflammatory biomarkers including CRP [80].

Green tea consumption in a multi-ethnic Asian population was associated with lower CRP concentrations [81].

Green tea catechins in the blood were shown to be weakly to moderately associated with lower CRP [82].

NOTE THAT: one study showed that hot tea consumers had lower levels of CRP compared to non-consumers of both sexes, whereas iced tea consumers had significantly higher levels of CRP compared to non-consumers [83].

22) Resveratrol

Wine polyphenols quercetin and resveratrol, dose-dependently suppress CRP production [84].

Sicilian red wine consumption was shown to reduce CRP levels [85].

23) Cocoa & Dark Chocolate

Cocoa flavanols reduced CRP concentration in obese adults at risk for insulin resistance [86].

Dark chocolate reduced CRP levels in women [87], and patients with diabetes and elevated blood pressure [88].

A J-shaped relationship between dark chocolate consumption and CRP was observed; consumers of up to 1 serving (20 g) of dark chocolate every 3 d had CRP concentrations that were significantly lower than nonconsumers or higher consumers, suggesting that regular consumption of small doses of dark chocolate may reduce inflammation [89].

24) Cannabis

Recently active cannabis smokers among adults age 20 – 59 years old, had generally lower CRP levels than US community residents of the same age who had never smoked cannabis [90].

Another study found that the prevalence of elevated CRP (> 0.5 mg/dl) was significantly higher among non-marijuana users than among past, current light or heavy users [91].

25) Botanical Extracts – Others

Milk thistle extract (Silybum marianum) significantly reduced CRP levels by 26.83% in type 2 diabetes patients [92].

Thirty days of pomegranate extract supplementation resulted in a significant decrease in CRP in overweight and obese individuals [93].

Aged garlic extract showed favorable effects on CRP in several studies [94].

Indian gooseberry (Phyllanthus emblica) extract decreased CRP levels after 12 weeks of supplementation in overweight and obese adults [95].

2-month treatment with Ginkgo biloba decreased CRP in metabolic syndrome patients [96].

A citrus polyphenolic extract of red orange, grapefruit, and orange reduced CRP levels [97].

26) Melatonin

Local melatonin application in patients with diabetes and periodontal disease resulted in a significant decrease in CRP [98].

Melatonin decreased augmented circulating levels of CRP in obese rats [99].

A Note about Drug Treatments for High CRP

Cyclooxygenase inhibitors (aspirin, rofecoxib, celecoxib), platelet aggregation inhibitors (clopidogrel, abciximab), fat-lowering agents (statins, ezetimibe, fenofibrate, niacin, diets), beta-adrenoreceptor antagonists, as well as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors (ramipril, captopril, fosinopril), reduce CRP [100].

Antidiabetic agents (rosiglitazone and pioglitazone) also reduce CRP levels, while insulin is ineffective [100].

Learn More About CRP

This post ends our four-part series about CRP. Read the other parts to learn about:

Irregular CRP Levels?

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About the Author

Biljana Novkovic

Biljana Novkovic

Biljana received her PhD from Hokkaido University.
Before joining SelfHacked, she was a research scientist with extensive field and laboratory experience. She spent 4 years reviewing the scientific literature on supplements, lab tests and other areas of health sciences. She is passionate about releasing the most accurate science and health information available on topics, and she's meticulous when writing and reviewing articles to make sure the science is sound. She believes that SelfHacked has the best science that is also layperson-friendly on the web.

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