Dealing with inflammation and inflammatory conditions

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Pain is the number one reason people go to their doctors, and pain is usually the result of inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or infection, resulting in redness, swelling, warmth, frequently pain, and loss of function.

Inflammation is vital to the healing process of the injured tissue, as the circulatory system and immune system deliver what is necessary to the damaged site to fight infection and repair injured tissues. Controlling swelling at the time of an acute injury can do much to reduce pain, and the easiest ways to do this is to RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

Rest the injured tissue, ice it, put some compression on it by using a clean gauze pad and applying some pressure, and elevate the injured tissue above the heart. However, once the threat of infection is over, the inflammation response should stop by itself.

Chronic or systemic inflammation is an inflammatory immune response of prolonged duration that can last weeks, months or years, causing tissue damage, and is therefore a whole other issue entirely. Testing for C-reactive protein (CRP) is useful as a blood marker for inflammation, as it is commonly elevated in those that have various chronic inflammatory conditions.

Chronic inflammatory conditions are therefore systemic rather than local in nature, and it is possible that biochemical individuality may determine what kinds of tissues are affected in a particular individual. It is worth noting that primitive cultures that ate their traditional diet without consuming any "white man’s food", did not seem to suffer from chronic inflammatory diseases.

Tuberculosis became a problem only when they began eating white sugar, white flour products, canned vegetables and vegetable oil products. For more on this, read Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price.

Many disease states are as a result of chronic inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and tuberculosis for example. Chronic inflammation frequently results in chronic pain.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) are the number 1 over-the-counter drugs sold for inflammation and pain, but they are only a band-aid solution – they do reduce inflammation, but they don’t get at the cause of what is creating the inflammation in the first place. Therefore, rather than resolving the condition, the condition is being "managed".

Not only that, but NSAIDs are known to result in many adverse gastrointestinal issues including ulcers, GI bleeding, anemia, renal damage, and impaired wound healing. There are more deaths due to NSAID use than AIDS annually.

Generally our current diets are HIGHLY inflammatory, so it is no wonder inflammatory diseases are so prevalent. What would an anti-inflammatory diet consist of? Eat no refined polyunsaturated vegetable oils (omega 6 fatty acids promote the Cox 2 pathway, which equals inflammation – why take Cox 2 inhibitors when you can encourage the Cox 1 anti-inflammatory pathway through diet?).

Consume low-mercury fish and shellfish frequently, or take up to 4000mg of omega 3 fish oils a day. Make sure you eat some quality saturated fat (pasture-fed butter, whole milk or cream, eggs, meat or poultry) so that you can actually utilize the omega 3 fatty acids that you consume, and so you get adequate amounts of vitamin A.

Green leafy vegetables are frequently high in magnesium, which may help to relax muscles. Get yourself metabolically typed so you know what ratio of fats, proteins and carbohydrates you should be consuming. Sugar, and refined flour products are highly inflammatory because of the glycation they cause, and should be avoided at all costs.

Avoid caffeine. Another cause of inflammation are the toxins found in processed food, such as MSG, textured vegetable protein, soy lecithin, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, pesticides, colourings, flavourings etc.

After getting your vitamin D levels checked and if you are low, spend some time in the sun without sunscreen, so that your body can synthesize vitamin D. Sunblock also blocks vitamin D production, and low vitamin D levels are associated with inflammation. Do NOT let yourself burn however, as sunburns raise your risk of skin cancer.

Getting adequate dark time each night increases melatonin levels which reduces inflammation, as melatonin is a free-radical scavenger.

There may be some deeper seated causal issues as to why someone may be suffering from chronic inflammation, including adrenal fatigue, food sensitivities, candida albicans, parasites, mold, and/or heavy metal toxicity which may need to be explored if improving diet, sun exposure and dark time don’t work.

If, while searching for the cause of your chronic inflammation issues, you want some symptom relief without resorting to pharmaceutical drugs, try using tumeric and ginger.  Both these spices are natural Cox 2 inhibitors. The herb bosweilla, although not a Cox 2 inhibitor, also has anti-inflammatory properties.

Kava Kava has muscle relaxation properties, and can be especially beneficial when mixed with magnesium. Proteolytic enzymes containing enteric-coated trypsin and chymotrypsin combined with bioflavinoids and vitamin C seem to work as well as NSAIDs at controlling pain and swelling, as long as there is no underlying irritation in the GI tract.

Related tips:
Dealing with health issues
Essential Fats: Omega 3 to Omega 6 Ratio
Sugar – the disease generator
Processed food is taking over our supermarkets
Adrenal Fatigue

Chek, Paul, Oliver, Clifford, Remsen, Julie, Optimum Health and Fitness Through Practical Nutrition and Lifestyle Coaching Chek Institute, 2002.
Online at Inflammation – Wikipedia
Online at Chronic Inflammation – Wikipedia
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Bjarnason I et al. Intestinal permeability and inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis: effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs Lancet 1984:2(8413): 1171-1174.
Anjelkovic, Z
Disease modifying and immunomodulatory effects of high dose 1 alpha (OH) D3 in rheumatoid arthritis patients
Clin Exp Rheumatol. 1999 Jul-Aug;17(4):453-6
Timms PM et al. Circulating MMP9, vitamin D and variation in the TIMP-1 response with VDR genotype: mechanisms for inflammatory damage in chronic disorders? QMJ 2002; 95: No. 12, 787-796.
Van den Berghe, G. et al. Bone turnover in prolonged critical illness: effect of vitamin D The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism Vol. 88, No. 10 4623-4632, 2003. (This study shows how vitamin D can lower CRP markers)
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Ammon HPT et al. Mechanism of anti-inflammatory actions of curcumin and bosweillic acids J. of Ethnopharmacol. 1993:38:113-119.
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Tarayre JP et al. Advantages of combinations of proteolytic enzymes, flavonoids and ascorbic acid in comparison with non-steriodal anti-inflammatory agents Drug Res. 1977; 27(6): 1144-1149.

Copyright 2005-2007 Vreni Gurd

1 Comment »

  1. Greg Goodrich said,

    June 21, 2008 @ 11:36 am

    I have a metal plate in my head that often rings in my brain when i eat too much spaghetti. I believe the inflammation is somehow triggering either a movement in the plate or aggervating my sound receptors. The other day after eating some angel hair at the local restuarant I grabbed my head and screamed like a banshee, it was so painful.

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