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Holistic Living Articles & Resources

CONTROLLING INFLAMMATION AND WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO OVERALL HEALTH


WHAT IS INFLAMMATION?

The word inflammation in Latin means “to ignite or set alight”.  Put simply, inflammation can be described as our body’s natural response to any injury or agitation of our tissues.  On a deeper level, the inflammatory response “sets alight” a plethora of cellular wonders designed to protect and heal the area.

ACUTE INFLAMMATION
There are two types of inflammation.  The first one is acute inflammation.  The word acute is synonymous with words like serious, critical or dire.  In medical terms it is often used to describe a more immediate or localized response.  Acute inflammation is the protective process that the body uses when presented with harmful stimuli, by rushing extra plasma and leukocytes from the bloodstream to the injured tissues.  In addition to the cells in the injured area the immune and vascular systems work swiftly together to achieve the important task of initiating healing.

CHRONIC INFLAMMATION
The second type of inflammation is chronic inflammation.  This type of inflammation is used to describe a pathology that is prolonged in the biological response systems which is why it can be a simultaneously protective and negative action in the body.  Prolonged inflammation in an area actually begins to change the type of cells present and destroy the tissue.
 
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO CONTROL THE AMOUNT OF INFLAMMATION WE HAVE?
Acute inflammation in tissues can be remedied by applying ice or from taking a drug like aspirin or ibuprofen.   In a normal healthy person acute inflammation is mild and fast to heal therefore it isn’t the kind of health threat that is the case with chronic inflammation.

Chronic inflammation can be brought on by something in the body going wrong during acute inflammation and never recovering from initial agitation.  It can also begin from stress, poor diet, viral infection, autoimmune reactions and foreign or non-degradable pathogens.  Chronic inflammation is almost like getting a car stuck in first gear.  What should be a simple process to heal a tissue goes all screwy and then just stays in a stagnant state.   As mentioned before in this article, chronic inflammation changes the cells in an area into predominately macrophages.  While these cells are strongly defensive to the body, the toxins that they release are invading and destructive to the tissues.

On the moderate scale you may develop depression, muscle loss, aches, pain and fatigue.  However, there are many serious disorders associated with developing chronic inflammation; see below.  Inflammation is so synonymous with disease in fact that it could be said if inflammation didn’t exist than either would disease. 

·         Alzheimer’s
·         Anemia
·         Arthritis
·         Asthma               
·         Autism
·         Auto inflammatory diseases
·         Autoimmune diseases
·         Carpal Tunnel
·         Celiac Disease
·         Congestive Heart Failure
·         Crohn’s Disease
·         Eczema
·         Fibromyalgia
·         Fibrosis
·         Inflammatory bowel diseases
·         Lupus
·         Multiple Sclerosis                            
·         Rheumatoid arthritis
 
Whether referring to acute or chronic inflammation (a swollen finger from slamming in door or systemic takeover of inflammation in one of the body’s many systems and types of cells) there are many inexpensive, proactive and self-sufficient things one can do to prevent the potential health threats of unchecked inflammation.

WHAT DO I DO TO ELIMINATE THE PRESENCE OF INFLAMMATION IN THE BODY?
Most people know by now if you have an acute injury such as a muscle sprain, overexertion or injury that icing the area is recommended.  But have you ever thought about why this works?  Cold causes vasoconstriction which is the narrowing of the blood vessels.  With this narrowing the effects of inflammation in an area are pushed out and away from the initial site so that everything can begin going back to normal quicker.  It is the difference between letting a bunch of drunken people stumble out at their leisure, when a bar is closing, or actively kicking them all out at once so you can clean up and go home.  Taking ibuprofen or aspirin will also induce an anti-inflammatory clean up party.  These tactics are time tested, safe and effective for acute inflammation.  However  if things are more serious and turning into chronic inflammation land, then icing your body all day or overly relying on medicines that will eventually harm your organs isn’t a long term solution to controlling inflammation.  The following holistic methods are safe and effective solutions for dealing with chronic inflammation.

#1 Diet
Many people don’t realize that the foods we eat will either cause more inflammation in the body or help eliminate it.  Now that more people are starting to wake up to this fact, there are many wonderful  resources out there on how to follow an anti-inflammatory diet.   Here is a link to a wonderful resource on this subject by Dr. Andrew Weil.   I have a cookbook that he helped write that I really love because it follows the “food as medicine” principle but he holds so much pertinent knowledge on this valuable and extensive website.  Diet is so important in controlling inflammation that the majority of people that have switched to an anti-inflammatory diet, report that straying from it for even a few days causes a noticeably adverse difference in their health.


#2 Herbal Support
By either cooking with these a lot or just taking them in supplement form the following herbs are all powerful anti-inflammatories.  The beauty of these herbs is that they are all safe and gentle enough to be taken regularly for long term with no secondary adverse side effects and you won’t build up a tolerance like most pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories.
 
  • Cayenne
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Cinnamon
  • Garlic

#3 Regular Exercise and Massage Therapy
Both regular exercise and massage therapy shake things up in our muscles/tissues and increase circulation.  By first stirring up trapped toxins and inflammation from their long time hiding spots and then flushing them out with better circulation, we can give our bodies the extra push needed to eliminate inflammation when it has become stagnant and stuck.


THE PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING!
Many people that feel unwell, never equate this to a state of chronic inflammation present but it is so much more common than people think.  This makes understanding what inflammation is and how to control it long term, an extremely important subject to taking care of oneself in modern times.  Whether you suffer from constant pain, aches, depression or one of the diseases listed in this article; making a proactive effort to learn about and control inflammation in the body will make you feel 100 times better.  Don't just listen to me write it, try it out and see for yourself!
 

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