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We all know it best by redness, swelling, and pain. But contrary to popular belief, inflammation isn't caused by red blood cells. It's actually primarily caused by white blood cells, which means inflammation is an immune response.
It is very helpful for fighting bacteria and viruses and healing and "cleaning up" damaged parts of the body. It starts when chemicals from your body's white blood cells increase the blood flow to the area of injury or infection. Some of the chemicals may even cause fluid to leak into your tissues, resulting in swelling, which is the primary source of pain. Sometimes the inflammation is so deep and low grade that it's almost impossible to feel, but that's exactly the type most deadly.
There are also many different types of inflammatory pathways that can be activated depending on the root cause of the inflammation. These pathways can be taken into consideration when looking to reduce inflammation with various treatments and medicines. For example, the C-reactive inflammatory protein (CRP) is more active in those with hypertension and heart disease where as the Ig inflammatory antibody is more present in those with an infection.
Yes and no. On one hand, without inflammation, minor cuts and scrapes would risk being deadly. But, on the other hand, too much inflammation for too long promotes cancer, heart disease, cognitive decline, allergies, arthritis, obesity, loss of energy and more problem conditions. While there is more to the story, acute inflammation is generally helpful and chronic inflammation is generally destructive.
The most common acute causes of inflammation are infection and injury. Many types of chronic inflammation are caused by poor dietary choices, sedentary lifestyle, underlying auto-immune diseases, toxins & chemicals, poor blood flow, and stress.
Most of the time, you don't want to impede acute inflammation as it's a protective and healing mechanism against disease and injury. Acute inflammation may at times need to be reduced, however, especially if it's in a unfavorable place and/or out of control. As for chronic inflammation, since it's at the root of almost every chronic disease, it's best to be avoided.
When attempting to reduce inflammation, it's further important to note that you can either try to reduce the action of the pro-inflammatory components (that which causes redness, swelling, heat and pain) or increase the action of the pro-resolving inflammation factors (that which speeds up tissue healing and repair).
ACUTE INFLAMATION: Rest, Ice, Compression & Elevation (RICE). NSAIDS. Corticosteroids. Herbs. Various hands-on tech modalities, like infrared light, Marc Pro, cryotherapy and even massage.
CHONIC INFLAMMATION: Reduce sugar and refined carb intake, exercise, less exposure to nightshades and allergens, lose some fat if overweight, manage stress healthily, rid your body of toxins and chemicals, less exposure to EMFs, herbs like ginger and turmeric and compounds like humulene (found in black pepper and cannabis) and eat more paleo and Mediterranean diet foods rich in anti-inflammatory and low histamine nutrients.
Inflammation is much like stress, a little bit here and there is actually good for a healthy body and life. But too much for too long, well, that's when we start to have a problem. Monitoring and managing inflammation should be a top 3 (or even the #1 most important) health goal for everyone. Not just for the benefit of having less pain, but for extending your time on this earth while improving the quality of how you live.