Inflammation – Are you in Flames?

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Inflammation is the body’s attempt at self-protection; the aim being to remove harmful stimuli, including damaged cells, irritants, or pathogens – and begin the healing process.

When something harmful or irritating affects a part of our body, there is a biological response to try to remove it, the signs and symptoms of inflammation, specifically acute inflammation, show that the body is trying to heal itself. The word inflammation comes from the Latin “inflammo”, meaning “I set alight, I ignite”.

According to Medilexicon’s medical dictionary, Inflammation is:

“A fundamental pathologic process consisting of a dynamic complex of histologically apparent cytologic changes, cellular infiltration, and mediator release that occurs in the affected blood vessels and adjacent tissues in response to an injury or abnormal stimulation caused by a physical, chemical, or biologic agent, including the local reactions and resulting morphologic changes; the destruction or removal of the injurious material; and the responses that lead to repair and healing. Facts on inflammation

  • Acute inflammation – starts rapidly (rapid onset) and quickly becomes severe.
  • Chronic inflammation – this means long-term inflammation, which can last for several months and even years.
  • Chronic inflammation can eventually cause several diseases and conditions, including some cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, periodontitis, and hay fever.

Chronic inflammation – this means long-term inflammation, which can last for several months and even years. It can result from:

  • Failure to eliminate whatever was causing an acute inflammation
  • An autoimmune response to a self antigen – the immune system attacks healthy tissue, mistaking it (them) for harmful pathogens
  • A chronic irritant of low intensity that persists.

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Examples of diseases and conditions with chronic inflammation include:

Chronic inflammation can eventually cause several diseases and conditions, including some cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, periodontitis, and hay fever. Inflammation needs to be well regulated.

Chronic inflammation

  • Causative agent – non-degradable pathogens that cause persistent inflammation, infection with some types of viruses, persistent foreign bodies, overactive immune system reactions
  • Major cells involved – Macrophages, lymphocytes, plasma cells (these three are mononuclear cells), and fibroblasts
  • Primary mediators – reactive oxygen species, hydrolytic enzymes, IFN-γ and other cytokines, growth factors
  • Duration – from several months to years
  • Outcomes – the destruction of tissue, thickening and scarring of connective tissue (fibrosis), death of cells or tissues (necrosis).

Sleep quality and duration impacts on inflammation risk

Scientists at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, found in a study that sleep deprivation or poor sleep quality raises inflammation, which in turn increases the risk of developing heart disease and stroke. The team gathered data on 525 middle-aged volunteers who had completed the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) questionnaire, which asked detailed questions about sleep quality and duration.

They tested the participants’ levels of various inflammatory markers, and then tried to see whether they could link them to quality and duration of sleep. The authors concluded:

“Poor sleep quality, and short sleep durations are associated with higher levels of inflammation.”

Why does inflammation cause pain?

Nociceptive pain

Specific receptors are stimulated for us to feel this type of pain. These receptors sense changes in temperature, vibration, stretch, and chemicals which damaged cells release. “Nociceptive” means causing or reacting to pain – the cause of the pain comes from outside the nervous system, and the nervous system reacts to it. “Non-nociceptive” means the pain comes from within the nervous system itself.

Somatic pain

This is a kind of nociceptive pain. The sensation is felt in muscles, joints, bones, ligaments, and on the skin. Musculo-skeletal pain is somatic pain. Pain receptors are sensitive to: stretch in the muscles, vibration, temperature, as well as inflammation. When there is a lack of oxygen there may be painful ischemic muscle cramps.

Somatic pain tends to be sharp and localized – touching or moving the affected area will result in more severe pain.

Visceral pain

This is a kind of nociceptive pain. Pain is sensed deep down in the body, in the internal organs and main body cavities, such as the heart, lungs, bowels, spleen, liver, kidneys, bladder, uterus, and ovaries. The nociceptors (pain receptors) sense oxygen starvation (ischemia), stretch, and inflammation. It is harder to localize visceral pain than somatic pain. The pain is usually described as a deep ache. Cramping and colicky sensations are examples of visceral pain.

Inflammation primarily causes pain because the swelling pushes against the sensitive nerve endings, which send pain signals to the brain. Nerve endings send pain signals to the brain all day long; however, it learns to ignore most of them, unless pressure against the nerve endings increases.

Other biochemical processes also occur during inflammation which affect how nerves behave, and cause pain.

Autoimmune disorders and inflammation

An autoimmune disease, also known as autoimmune disorder, is one where the body initiates an immune response to healthy tissues, mistaking them for harmful pathogens or irritants. The immune response triggers an inflammatory response too.

There are literally hundreds of autoimmune diseases, and nearly all of them have inflammation as one of the signs, examples include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis – there is inflammation in the joints, tissues surrounding the joints, and sometimes some other organs in the body
  • Ankylosing spondylitis – there is inflammation of the vertebrae, muscles, ligaments, and also the sacroiliac joints (where the spine and hips meet)
  • Celiac disease – there is inflammation and destruction of the inner lining of the small intestine
  • Crohn’s disease – the gastrointestinal tract becomes inflamed. Inflammation is most common in the ileum (small intestine), but may occur anywhere in the GI tract, from the mouth to the anus
  • Fibromyalgia – often a set of symptoms related to another autoimmune disorder, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. There is pain in various parts of the body. Location and even the existence of inflammation is unclear
  • Graves’ disease – one of the signs is goiter; when the thyroid gland is inflamed. Exophthalmos, inflammation of the muscles behind the eyes. Grave’s dermopathy, inflammation of the skin, usually the shins and the top of feet (uncommon)
  • Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis – the role of inflammation is unclear. Experts used to think that the disease was mainly caused by inflammation within the alveoli (tiny sacs within the lungs). However, treatments to reduce inflammation are often disappointing. Therefore, although there is inflammation, its impact on the disease is a mystery
  • Lupus – there can be inflammation in the joints, lungs, heart, kidney and skin
  • Psoriasis – there is inflammation of the skin. In some cases, as in psoriatic arthritis, the joints and tissue surrounding the joints may also become inflamed
  • Type 1 Diabetes – inflammation in various parts of the body are likely if the diabetes is not well controlled
  • Addison’s disease – inflammation of the adrenal glands. The stress to the body caused by this disease can also lead to inflammation elsewhere
  • Vaslculitis – refers to a group of disorders in which inflammation eventually destroys blood vessels, both arteries and veins
  • Various allergies – all allergies have inflammation. Asthma has inflammation of the airways, in hay fever the nose, ear and throat mucous membranes become inflamed, people who are allergic to bee stings may have serious life-threatening inflammation which affects the whole body (anaphylaxis)
  • Vitamin A deficiency – inflammatory responses are much more likely if the person is deficient in vitamin A.

The disorders mentioned above are just a tiny example of the hundreds of autoimmune disorders which have inflammation as one of their signs.

Some herbs have anti-inflammatory properties

Harpagophytum procumbens – also known as devil’s claw, wood spider or grapple plant comes from South Africa and is related to sesame plants. European colonists brought devil’s claw back home to treat arthritis,fever and pain. According to the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, Devil’s Claw has diuretic, sedative and analgesic properties.

Hyssop Hyssopus – from the plant family Lamiaceae, is added to eau de Cologne and Chartreuse (liqueur drink). It is also used to color some spirits. Hyssop is mixed with other herbs, such as liquorice for the treatment of some lung conditions, including inflammation. Beware of the essential oils of hyssop, as they can lead to life-threatening convulsions in laboratory animals.

Ginger, also known as ginger root, is the mass of roots (rhizome) of the Zingiber officinale plant. It is used as a medicine or a spice. Jamaican ginger was the traditional medical form of this root, and has been used as a carminative (to treat gas or wind) and a stimulant. It has been used for hundreds of years to treat dyspepsia,constipation, colic, other gastrointestinal problems, as well as rheumatoid arthritis pain.

Researchers from Michigan Medical School reported that ginger supplements were found to reduce the markers of colon inflammation. Chronic colon inflammation is associated with a higher risk of developingcolon cancer. They added that ginger supplements may help prevent colon cancer.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) – also a plant of the ginger family. Current research is looking into the possible beneficial effects of turmeric in treating arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and some other inflammatory conditions. Curcumin, a substance found in turmeric, is under investigation for the treatment of several illnesses and disorders, including inflammation.

Other treatments for inflammation

Fish oil (Omega-3) – scientists form Ohio State University Center for Clinical and Translational Science reported on a study in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity that the daily consumption of fish oil, omega-3 reduced both inflammation and anxiety in a group of young healthy people.

Green tea – researchers from the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center found that regular green tea drinking enhances bone health and reduces inflammation in postmenopausal women. They added that Tai-Chi appears to have the same beneficial effect.

Tart cherries – sports scientists found that tart cherries have powerful anti-inflammatory properties which may help millions of Americans who suffer from joint pain and arthritis. The team, from Oregon Health & Science University even went as far as saying that “(tart cherries) have the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food”. They believe that tart cherries could help patients with osteoarthritis manage their pain effectively. Twenty females aged from 40 to 70 years drank tart cherry juice twice a day for three weeks; they all suffered from inflammatory osteoarthritis. At the end of the three weeks there were significant falls in levels of key inflammation markers.

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Remember to talk to us before commencing any detox or diet program. You may end up doing more harm than good AND it may be a waste of your time and money as its not tailored specifically to your needs, your body and your DNA.

Click here to watch this interview with detox specialist on people who detox without guidance p. 03 96621311 or email Reducing the Toxic Load Reducing the toxic burden with dietary and lifestyle modification is fundamental to detoxification. Improving gut barrier function is another way to limit dietary toxins reaching organs like the liver and kidney. Areas of toxic load to consider:

  • Diet and lifestyle (recreational, medicinal, environmental and occupational).
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  • Gastrointestinal (dysbiosis, microbiome, digestion, elimination, gut integrity).

Regulating Cellular Detox Capacity The capacity of each cell to detoxify depends on a range of factors including nutritional status, substrate availability, enzyme modulation and stimulation, alkalinity and even receptor stimulus. Neutralising Reactive Toxins – Avoiding the “Healing Crisis” Phase 1 biotransformation creates reactive intermediates to prepare a toxin for conjugation. Glutathione is an important cellular antioxidant to help protect tissues from free radical damage. Research indicates that green teas antioxidant ability may involve activation of the antioxidant enzyme (AE) gene. Lipopolysaccharides (LPS), associated with dysbiotic bacteria and gut permeability, can activate liver Kupffer cells and are associated with “detox reactions”. Taurine has been shown in animal studies to reduce LPS related liver activity. Supporting Toxin Elimination In addition to cellular excretion, toxins must also be eliminated from the body and not reabsorbed. Major eliminative organs include the liver (via bile and the gallbladder), the gastrointestinal tract and the kidneys .Alkalinity plays a role in cellular toxin excretion (phase III) and kidney elimination of conjugated toxins. Metagenics Detoxifications Programs – which one are you? Different People Have Different Detox Needs- Even the Healthy Ones! Metagenics Detox Programs enables us to tailor a program specifically for your needs. Metagenics offers five different structured detoxification programs to enable:

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