Inflammation seems to be a hot buzzword these days. Even more so would be the seemingly endless list of “anti-inflammation” pills, creams, and tonics out there. So what is inflammation and why do we need three million different product to quell this apparent plague.
First let’s examine what inflammation actually is.
“Inflammation is part of the complex biological response of body tissues to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants, and is a protective response involving immune cells, blood vessels, and molecular mediators. The function of inflammation is to eliminate the initial cause of cell injury, clear out necrotic cells and tissues damaged from the original insult and the inflammatory process, and initiate tissue repair.” – Wikipedia.org
All that sounds important right? It is. Without the inflammatory cascade your body wouldn’t have made it past its first birthday. When a tissue becomes damaged, your body sends in markers to repair the damage or attack a pathogen. This is opens up the capillaries to the damaged area, perfusing the area with blood. The inflammatory cascade begins taking care of business, healing whatever tissues are in need.
The problem is when the body can’t turn it off or is overproducing the inflammation response. Chronic inflammation is the causative factor, or the product, of the vast majority of known diseases. Your body is stuck in “high alert” which can eventually damage the heart (which will produce further inflammation of its own). Those inflammatory cells love to chew on joints causing arthritis and other soft-tissue related conditions. The agents may even spread to the brain, which is a suspected component of Alzheimer’s (see last month’s article). Bone, nerve, joint, heart, brain, kidney, liver conditions etc. nearly all revolve around chronic inflammation.
None of this sounds fun, does it? But look around you. We as a nation are getting sicker every day and we are currently approaching last place among industrialized nations in terms of health. In large part, our diets and habits are feeding the inflammation faster than any medical doctor, chiropractor, nutritionist, chemist or personal trainer can keep up with.
How can you beat it? I’m so glad you asked!
You probably know what you need to do. But I’ve hounded the diet, exercise, and get adjusted thing enough lately. Let’s discuss what you can put in your fridge, spice rack, or medicine cabinet that can help.
Turmeric is a readily available spice that has immense health benefits. The active agent in this tasty root is called curcumin. This substance has shown in several studies to reduce inflammation, ease the symptoms of different forms of arthritis, and in several lab studies it has been able to block the growth of some tumors.
Other inflammatory conditions, such as colitis and stomach ulcers, have also been shown to benefit from turmeric in preliminary studies.
Curcuminoids have also been shown to have a very positive effect on the brain. Reducing the inflammation levels in the brain has very large dividends in the long run. Reducing risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. To accomplish this though, the curcuminoids must be bound to a vehicle that can cross the blood brain barrier (the brains shield from unwanted substances). The preferred vehicle is black pepper. So be sure to find a turmeric that says “bound with black pepper” on it.
Side note: Turmeric supplements can be in liquid, powder or pill form. The drinkable kind are a usually a little unpleasant in my opinion.
Dr. W.C. Verch runs Carolina West Clinic of Chiropractic, 1112 Calhoun Street, Newberry, you can reach him at 803-597-5099.