Inflammation in today's society is the major cause of disease. Chronic and acute inflammatory processes are what most doctors treat in their clinic for patients with almost all disease processes, whether it is acute from trauma or injury or whether it is chronic from the dietary and lifestyle regime. It is a problem that is of epidemic proportion. Today's article is going to talk about the herbal management of both chronic and acute inflammation.
Inflammation was first described by the ancients as the four hallmarks, redness, swelling, pain and heat. Inflammation is a process where the body releases certain sensitive cell markers to cause an inflammatory process to occur. Examples of chronic inflammatory diseases are psoriasis, Crohn's disease, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, allergies, asthma, atherosclerosis, cancer and diabetes, just to name a few. The basic process of inflammation can begin with some sort of tissue injury, whether it is physical, chemical or biological. Once the injury occurs the damaged tissue sends out signals to bring in further response for the body to heel. These signals recruit more inflammatory processes and it becomes a cascade effect.
DIET: The major source of inflammatory mediators in diet come from eating foods that are high in linoleic acid. Linoleic acid or inflammatory mediated foods such as corn, sunflower and safflower oil, as well as oils including trans-fatty oils and margarines all contribute to an inflammatory process. In addition, white sugar, white flour and hard fats also contribute to the inflammatory process. In addition, foods that are high in sugars or high glycemic index foods add to inflammatory mediators as well. The shape in which our body we inhabit adds to inflammation such as obesity, lifestyles we choose such as a sedentary lifestyle versus an active lifestyle, smoking, and intake of extra amounts of refined foods also add to the inflammatory profile.
HOW CAN WE HELP OURSELVES? Help can be generally characterized by the intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds and deep sea fish that are not farm raised. In addition, fermented dairy products high in probiotics such as acidophilus and other probiotics help to regulate the immune system. It has been said that the gut is the largest intelligent portion of our immune system that we have.
Specifically, marine Omega-3 fatty acids and utilization of deep run cold water fish in our diet, red wines in moderation and olive oil such as the Mediterranean diet suggests also reduces inflammatory mediators. Particularly fatty fish such as tuna and salmon properly prepared not fried, but baked or boiled, are very beneficial in reducing chronic inflammatory conditions.
Weight loss and physical activity also reduces inflammatory mediators and it has been shown that gentle general exercise can reduce the ability of the body to be in the inflammatory spiral of disease.
Fatty acids perhaps are the most important and those fatty acids if you are not able to take in fish on a regular basis, fatty acids such as EPA and DHA from fish oils and GLA from Evening Primrose, Borage oil and black current seed oil are all very beneficial in reducing inflammatory mediators. They can help conditions such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease and they are also powerful in regulating rheumatoid disorders and they are potent Cox II inhibitors that are safe and will not cause any harm to the individual. In addition, they also have been shown to help atopic eczema and other skin conditions.
It has been known that turmeric is a potent Cox II inhibitor and it also slows down problems dealing with irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's syndrome and other duodenal gastric ulcers.
quercetin and related flavonoids are plant related and present in citrus fruit and particularly the white part of the citrus fruit. quercetin impedes several steps of the inflammatory mediated Cox II enzymes and by also affecting other inflammatory processes in the body. In addition, there is improvement of interstitial mobility in the gut with quercetin and it is a tremendous way in which we can reduce allergies and immune responses to allergens particularly of an inhaled variety.
Other studies showed that bromelain, papain and other bioflavonoids were extremely good for patients with chronic prostatitis. bromelain, papain, trypsin and rutin have been used in Germany for many decades to reduce bruising in the elderly and to reduce the incidence of strokes. They are extremely beneficial in helping the condition of inflammation including prostatitis, arthritis and cancer related diseases. Other botanicals are good such as skull cap, ginger, devil's claw and cat's claw. They all are effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis and back pain, and ginger is particularly effective in reducing nausea.
In conclusion understanding that anti-inflammatory natural processes can be employed by each individual to reduce the inflammatory index in their body by proper nutrition in diet, exercise and weight loss greatly reducing the inflammatory burden while increasing the anti-inflammatory foods and nutraceuticals will often create a large window of opportunity for those with specific treatment strategies. Essentially inflammation in today's society is a major cause of disease.
If you would like further information, do not hesitate to make appointment at Zephyrhills Chiropractic and Acupuncture. You can read about us on the web at www.floridachiropracticandacupuncture.com and our local phone number is (813) 782-9564
George A. Forster, DC, AP, NMD
Doctor of Chiropractic
Naturopathic Medical Doctor
Past President of the American Chiropractic Thermographic Society
Past Chairman of the ICA College of Thermography
Continuing Education Lecturer for Life Chiropractic College