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Inflammation: The Body on Fire

Drs. Tom and Laura Gross, Mills River Family Chiropractic / ABC Learning Lab

Inflammation is a destructive and self-perpetuating process.In the last few years numerous reports have emerged suggesting some form of inflammation underlies most diseases.Over the last year we have seen the biggest Drug recalls in history and increased warnings on drugs people have been taking for years to ease their discomfort with a false sense of safety.A culture on drugs may make some people rich but it will not bring healing.When looked at from a biochemical perspective it was obvious and predictable that Vioxx, Bextra, Celebrex and other Cox-2 inhibiting drugs would cause adverse effects on cardiovascular health.Drug companies advertised directly to the public and misinformed many Medical doctors about the hazards of taking these drugs even though there was ample documentation less than two years after the release of the drugs.It has been estimated that Vioxx alone injured 139,000 and killed more than 25,000 to 50,000 Americans.

Many people have chosen to continue to take these drugs, in spite of more than doubling their risk of Heart disease and Stroke.People who use nutritional supplements to help ease their discomfort and heal their bodies are increasingly faced with incredibly powerful pressure to take food supplements off the market and make them available by prescription only.I will leave it up to my audience to decide whether or not you believe taking food supplements off the market would be done in a genuine effort to protect you or for some other motive.

Many food supplements offer naturally occurring anti-inflammatory and healing properties.Taking food supplements or drugs to reduce inflammation my ease discomfort and reduce the adverse effects of inflammation and it’s role in promoting disease…but may not address all the reasons people are inflamed.

Why do so many people have problems with inflammation?Either Health or Disease will exist in an internal environment that will allow them.What kind of internal environment are you developing and maintaining?In Deut 28:22 the Lord is referring to the adverse effects of disobedience when Moses said, “The LORD will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew, which will plague you until you perish.(NIV) There are supernatural and natural laws which govern our lives, whether we believe in them or not.

There are numerous environmental triggers to inflammation, which is, by design, an initial stage of healing.The following list represents some highly variable and modifiable inflammatory stimuli.Sin and Disobedience, Stress, Radiation, Oxidative stress and free radicals, Hypoxia (low oxygen), Injury, Bacterial cell walls (LPS) which can leak across your intestines into your body (Leaky Gut Syndrome), Food and environmental allergens, Viral infections, Consumption of Sugar and Bad fats, Over-consumption of Protein, Arachadonic acid metabolites (PG-E2), Nutrient poor processed food diet with insufficient phytonutrients, anti-oxidants, and essential fatty acids, Vitamin D deficiency.

The preceding environmental stimuli stimulate a rather complex vicious circle where pain and inflammation lead to more pain and inflammation.For those of you who like reading the scientific terms I offer the next paragraph.Please do not dismay if you feel lost.Look for the continuation of this article in the next issue of The Good Life where we will list the top natural anti-inflammatory contenders and how they work (in brief).

The environmental stimuli above activate a nuclear (cell nucleus/ DNA) transcription factor NF kappa Beta.New research suggests that inappropriate activation of NFkB is behind inflammation and many disease conditions.Activation of NFkB increases the expression of pro-inflammatory (increases inflammation) and anti-apoptotic (stops the natural death sequence of sick cells allowing them to promote local mischief) gene coding for the production of cytokines (IL-1, IL-6, TNF-a) , adhesion molecules, and pro-inflammatory enzymes (iNOS, Cox, Lipox) which if unrestrained lead to pain inflammation and deteriorating health.Worse yet, many of the by-products of pro-inflammatory genetic expression further activate NFkB setting up the vicious cycle of pain and inflammation spinning out of control.

With the recent concern over the safety of prescription and over the counter pain and anti-inflammatory medications, the use of a combination of natural nutritional supplements to safely reduce inflammation and activation of NFkB is an important option to have available as a legal choice.Please join us in the continuation of this article in the next issue of The Good Life where we will list and discuss a number of food supplements which have proven to be effective in reducing pain and inflammation and stopping this vicious cycle.

COX-2 inhibition is a misguided approach to regulating inflammation.It is important to realize that we literally could not survive without the COX enzymes.The reason drugs were developed to inhibit COX-2 is because this in-turn inhibits Prostaglandin E-2 (PGE2) which is a promoter of inflammation.The precursor of PGE2 is dietary fatty acids and the COX enzymes merely convert the fatty acids that we eat into pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory compounds.COX-2 is activated during injuries, either mechanical or chemical.If COX-2 acts to convert the essential fatty acid, Arachadonic Acid, into PGE2 the result is increased inflammation and possibly allergies as well.Arachadonic Acid, although essential for health, is abundant in junk food, meat and dairy and most of us have way too much of it in our diet and therefore incorporated into our bodies.In a very real sense we are what we eat.If we give our bodies sub-standard materials it will make a sub-standard body.

The ideal ratio of essential fatty acids Omega-6 to Omega-3 is 1:1.Arachadonic Acid is an Omega-6.It is estimated that the average American has a ratio of 10-25:1 in favor of Omega-6, with many cresting at 40:1 or higher.This dramatically increases the likelihood of problems with inflammation and allergies.It has been said that any ratio over 4:1 will promote disease in the body.Due to the fact that, on our continent, Omega-6 oils are abundant, even in “good” food, and since these oils become incorporated into cell membranes, in order to reverse this destructive trend it is important to supplement Omega-3 oils and purposefully include them in your diet.Eating fruits, vegetables, raw nuts, omega-3 eggs, deep water wild fish, wild game and grass fed meats, in addition to taking an EPA and or DHA supplement, will begin to reverse this trend.Additionally, avoid cheap omega-6 oils such as corn and safflower oils and sharply reduce junk foods and keep grain fed meats and dairy to a minimum.

Once we have stopped pushing our bodies towards inflammation, we can select from the many food supplements which offer naturally occurring anti-inflammatory and healing properties.Taking food supplements or drugs to reduce inflammation my ease discomfort and reduce the adverse effects of inflammation and it’s role in promoting disease…but may not address all the reasons people are inflamed.

Quality EFA supplementation with GLA, ALA, EPA and especially DHA have been shown to alleviate the pain, inflammation and disability associated with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Chron’s disease and psoriasis.In addition to optimizing COX-2 function through an improved omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, Multivitamin /Multimineal supplementation has been shown to reduce C-Reactive Protien. Vitamin D deficiency has been named as an epidemic with widespread use of sunscreen and indoor jobs.Vitamin D supplementation has been shown to dramatically reduce musculoskeletal pain in a large percentage of patients.Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are the building blocks to cartilage and have been shown to help people with osteoarthritis.Chondroitin sulfate also provides protection for your heart.Proteolytic (protein digesting) Enzymes if taken on an empty stomach have been shown to be anti-tumor, anti-metastatic, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, anti-edematous and analgesic.Proteolytic enzymes are especially effective for trauma induced inflammation and are commonly available in multiple enzyme formula’s and often contain Bromelain, Papain, Pancreatin, trypsin and alpha-chymotrypsin.

There are a myriad of herbal medicines, with centuries of use, for decreasing pain and inflammation that studies are suggesting are much safer and possibly as effective as pharmaceutical NSAIDS and COX-2 inhibiters.Harpagophytum procumbens, or Devil’s Claw as it is known, is safe and moderately effective for osteoarthritis of the hip and knee and for low-back pain.Recent data suggests it is safer and at least as effective as Vioxx. Willow bark has shown a dose dependent analgesic effect against low-back pain with benefits beginning in the first week of treatment. Boswellia serrata has been shown capable of reducing pain and swelling while increasing joint flexibility and walking distance.

NF-kappa Beta, the major intracellular amplifier of inflammation which we learned about in the first part of this article, can be inhibited with the following; Curcumin, lipoic acid, green tea, rosemary, bee propolis, resveratrol and a legume extract called phytolens.

I suggest in attempts to reduce inflammation, first and foremost, stop doing things that promote it!For heaven’s sake if you have been a smoker, STOP it now.Stop eating partially hydrogenated and saturated fats.Stop eating the neurotoxic “flavor enhancers” Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), and it’s many hidden names (Hydolyzed Vegitable protein, natural flavors, etc.) and Aspartame. Reduce omega-6 rich foods.Supplement as above adding anti-oxidants.Breathe well, exercise, eat fresh fruits and vegetables, drink purified water and get plenty of rest.

Mills River Family Chiropractic offers cutting edge techniques in the detection and safe, natural correction of the specific and individualized causes of inflammation.If you or your loved ones need help overcoming inflammation and receiving healing, please consider the resources available in our clinic.