When I think medical buzzwords, ‘Inflammation’ is at the top of my list. I read about it constantly as new discoveries and information are always forthcoming. I have also worked to get my inflammation levels down, and have helped others successfully gain control over their inflammatory issues. But….
what is inflammation anyway –
and why does it matter in the grand scheme of your overall health and well-being? How do you know if you have it? What can you do about it?
To make it complicated, there are different types of inflammation, some good and some not so good. Go figure. When you have an injury and experience soreness afterward, say a stubbed toe for example, that is inflammation at work in your body. In this example it’s a good thing. What happens is that your body’s intelligent immune system is responding to a stimulus by sending out white blood cells and chemicals needed to make repairs. Your immune system is geared to fight against anything it believes to be harmful to your body. So, when you are having an ACUTE inflammatory reaction to an injury it is common to experience pain, soreness, redness, heat, and even temporary loss of function while your body is doing its’ job of repair. Your toe may swell a little, turn a variety of colors, be stiff and unyielding to movement, and it may even feel warm to the touch. All of this is generally normal and also generally very good. It is what we want our bodies to do.
Some examples of an ACUTE Inflammatory reaction are as follows:
- Acute bronchitis
- Infected ingrown toenail
- Sore throat from a cold or flu
- A scratch/cut on the skin
- Exercise (especially intense training)
- Acute appendicitis
- Acute dermatitis
- Acute tonsillitis
- Acute infective meningitis
- Acute sinusitis
- A blow.
The problematic version of inflammation is when it becomes chronic and is basically always ON in your body. In the above scenario you get a wound, your body does its work so it activates that inflammatory response but then when healing is complete, those inflammatory responses go back into waiting for the next injury. Inflammation should NOT always be ON.
One way to view this is to think of your inflammatory response akin to an army that is called upon in times of need. Armies ultimately do a good job, but in the process they may create havoc. So, if your army is on constant demand in the CHRONIC state of inflammation, it is that havoc that gets created where problems begin to present themselves, likely in the form of: asthma, allergies, autoimmune disease, heart disease, cancer and other diseases, depending on which organs the inflammation is impacting.
If your immune system mistakenly triggers an inflammatory response when no threat is present, it can lead to excess inflammation in your body. This is what is happening all too frequently for far too many people.
During my most inflamed state what I experienced mostly was constant pain and discomfort and dysfunctional fatigue. Think about how tiring it is to your body to be supporting the needs of a full army in combat action 24/7. It’s a huge energy drain.
There are a few different blood tests that can be run to determine your inflammation numbers. CRP, or C Reactive Protein, is a blood test marker for inflammation in the body. CRP is produced in the liver and its level is measured by testing the blood. CRP is classified as an acute phase reactant, which means that its levels will rise in response to inflammation.
Another test one can do is ESR (sed rate) test, which is a relatively simple, inexpensive, non-specific test that has been used for many years to help detect inflammation associated with conditions such as infections, cancers, and autoimmune diseases.
One of those self-help myth busters I’ve learned over the years is that to get a better coronary health picture, one must combine a cholesterol test with one of the inflammation tests listed above. High cholesterol combined with a low inflammation factor is not nearly as unhealthy as low cholesterol with high inflammation. Contrary to the belief so many of us have held for some time now, it is not high cholesterol that kills, it is high inflammation. THIS is why it is good to know where you stand, and how to remedy the situation.
There are numerous drugs on the market today to combat inflammation. I always find that this masks the inflammation but does not necessarily get rid of it. It makes more sense to go to the source of the problem and eliminate it from there. THIS is the whole premise behind Holistic Medicine.
Common causes of chronic inflammation are:
- An unhealthy gut
- Poor diet – too high in simple carbs/fat/sugar
- Environmental factors
- Psychological stressors
- Sedentary Lifestyle
- Sleep Deprivation
How does one go about addressing these issues – to get to the source?
You start at the top of the list and work your way down. You implement natural dietary and lifestyle changes that will help you meet the goal to eliminate inflammation from your body. In reading another blog article by Bobbi Kolonay, Holistic “Root Cause” Medical Paradigm, the Barefoot Doctors of China first address illness by looking at your diet. The first three, potentially four, if you look at your food from an organic/chemically processed viewpoint, items on the list above are all DIET related. That’s half the list, and half the battle!
There is supplementation that one can do and you can find suggestions in the articles linked below. Your core focus though should be in using those as complements to the dietary and lifestyle changes that you make FIRST. Additionally, many of the services offered here in our office are geared towards also being the perfect complement to those changes as well.
We’d love the opportunity to be the additional battalion you utilize to combat that rogue inflammatory responsive army that is alive and well, wreaking havoc in your body right now.
Links for more in-depth information: