Inflammation, FRIEND OR FOE

What is it?

It’s red, it’s puffy, it’s painful and it’s hot to the touch!  Yes, that’s inflammation!! It’s what occurs when there is an injury to your body.  It’s a natural process and part of your immune system whereby certain components (cells) of the immune system are produced to begin the process of healing.

Outside of your body, it’s a friend. Inside your body, it’s an entirely different story. While we can’t see the signs as we do outside, the same conditions exist. But here is where it becomes a foe! And another set of problems arise.

What causes inflammation

Inflammation is a reaction to a stimulus, outside the body, it can be due to bacteria, chemicals, burns, viruses, fungi, chemicals, radiation.  Inside the body, it’s due to food or a drug.  How do we know we have inflammation inside our bodies?  Well…..

Inflammation inside THE BODY

Of course, you can’t see it as you do on your skin, but inflammation inside the body has the same process as outside the body. There is swelling, irritating compounds produced by what the invading factor does to cells, and frequently, pain.  Symptoms can include but are not limited to:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Joint pain and/or swelling
  • Brain fog
  • GERD aka gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Mental symptoms such as depression and anxiety 
  • Gas or bloating
  • Headaches

What to do

The best place to start is your GI (gastrointestinal) tract.  Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.”  So why not look at your diet? The most common ones, you probably already know, are gluten, nuts, seafood, dairy, alcohol, and sugar. You know these as food allergens but inflammation is a product of that allergy. Processed foods are another culprit in the inflammatory process, but actually, any food can cause inflammation if our body sees it as an enemy.

One great resource to check out which foods are good for you is “Eat Right for Your Type” by Peter D’Adamo, ND.  It’s an easy and educational read advising what foods are best for your blood type, which are neutral, and which are definitely a no-no.  It’s often surprising as to what foods a ‘type’ can eat or should not eat.  Other regimens, such as the Anti-Inflammatory Diet and the  Mediterranean Diet also offer advice and lists of foods to stop the process of inflammation.

We can also look to herbs for another great treatment for quelling inflammation. Curcumin (the active ingredient in tumeric), garlic, green tea, rosemary, ginseng, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, holy basil, and rose hips. You can ease these into your cooking or take them in supplement form. Know that although these botanicals are anti-inflammatory happy, they are not a license for still ingesting foods that can cause inflammation for you. The best cure is to omit those foods that are detrimental and include those that are healing

Ready for more?

Exercise!  For all the benefits that it offers, exercise also increases lymph flow which speeds along the removal of toxins produced by the inflammatory process.  The faster they are excreted, the faster you heal.

Pay attention to your liver! It’s the great detoxifier of your body. Herbs like milk thistle and dandelion, vegies such as artichoke, radish, beetroot are all loved by the liver! But once again, all of these are easiest to take in a supplement form as opposed to having this mammoth salad to eat every day! 

Lemon juice! It’s a fabulous detoxifier of the liver. I’m talking about real lemon juice, not the bottled concentrate. Add some to the water you drink every day and since it tastes so good, you will be drinking more, water that is!

So what if you ignore chronic inflammation?

Chronic, aka ongoing, inflammation will become a foe and cause greater and more serious problems. As the body responds to the inflammation, your immune system is challenged by the toxins (chemicals) produced by the damaged cells. Because of this, your immune system goes into overdrive and, BOOM, you have an autoimmune disease such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, Hashimoto’s hypothyroid disease, and many more as the body continues to function in a defensive mode.  

Taking it one step further

As always, it’s a good idea to check with a medical professional for any symptom that causes you concern.  The symptom list above could also be caused by other disease conditions, but no matter what, it’s a good practice to look to the foods you eat as the first step toward stopping inflammation. Considering it is such a detrimental condition, it is wise to do all we can to prevent it so that we can all live the vibrant and healthy life we all desire and deserve!

The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen.

Dr. Bonnie Wickwire is a board-certified naturopath and board-certified chiropractor with over 25 years of experience in the alternative medicine field. She has served as both physician and educator at the National University of Natural Medicine and the University of Western States both in Portland, Oregon, and also sustained a successful private practice while doing so. Her clinical specialty is gastrointestinal conditions as well as conditions in the musculoskeletal system of the body and how they affect the whole person. She is passionate about teaching the world the efficacy and strength of natural medicine and is confident she will continue to do so for a long time to come!