Patients (and many health care professionals) must remember that inflammation is part of the healing process. Sometimes reducing inflammation is necessary, but not always.
NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are taken to alleviate pain caused by inflammation. They counteract the COX (cyclooxygenase) enzyme, which synthesizes prostaglandins which create inflammation. If prostaglandin synthesis can be blocked, pain is either eliminated or reduced.
Acetaminophen (paracetamol, Tylenol) can reduce pain associated with inflammatory conditions, but have no anti-inflammatory effects. They may be ideal for those wishing to treat just the pain, while allowing the inflammation to run its course.
Corticosteroids – these are a class of steroid hormones naturally produced in the cortex (outer portion) of the adrenal gland. They are synthesized in laboratories and added to medications.
There are two sets of corticosteroids:
- Glucocorticoids, which are produced as a reaction to stress, and are also involved in metabolizing fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Synthetic glucocorticoids are prescribed for inflammation of the joints (arthritis), temporal arteritisdermatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, systemic lupus, hepatitis, asthma, allergic reactions, and sarcoidosis. Creams and ointments (topical formulations) may be prescribed for inflammation of the skin, eyes, lungs, bowels and nose.
- Mineralocorticoids, which regulate our salt and water balance. Medications with mineral corticoids are used for the treatment of cerebral salt wasting, and to replace missing aldosterone (a hormone) for patients with adrenal insufficiency.
Herbs and Vitamins have anti-inflammatory properties
Bromelain: is a powerful enzyme found in the most delightful tropical fruit, pineapple.
Eating pineapple can provide you with some bromelain, especially if you juice the hard stem and drink it on an empty stomach. Juicing pineapple in a combo with aloe, ginger and turmeric (see below) is a powerful of anti-inflammatory pain relief remedy.
Bromelain can also be found on its own as a supplement.
Boswellia: also known as Indian frankincense, Boswellia serrata has long been recognized in Ayurvedic medicine for its anti-inflammatory benefits. Today scientists studying extracts of boswellia report that it can switch off key cell signalers and pro-inflammatory mediators known as cytokines in the inflammatory cascade.
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 developing colon 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.
A high-quality daily multivitamin/mineral complex. Though many studies have examined the impact vitamins such as folic acid and the other B’s have on our tissue function and levels of inflammation, the role these vitamins play remains unclear. There is, however, a clear connection between higher blood levels of certain nutrients and lower risk of health conditions caused by inflammation like arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and insulin resistance. Along with the benefits of folic acid, other B vitamins, and EFA’s as described above, vitamin D also has known anti-inflammatory effects, and vitamins C, A, and E are widely celebrated as powerful antioxidants, countering the effects of free radical damage.
Foods that cause and reduce inflammation
Foods that inflame
Try to avoid or limit these foods as much as possible:
- refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries
- French fries and other fried foods
- soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages
- red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)
- margarine, shortening, and lard
Foods that combat inflammation
Include plenty of these anti-inflammatory foods in your diet:
- olive oil
- green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collards
- nuts like almonds and walnuts
- fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines
- fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges
Relax and rest more
Your body is hard at work repairing and restoring your glorious cells while you sleep. Most doctors recommend 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. If you’re cutting corners in the snooze department, you’re cheating your immune system, which means it needs to kick into high gear in an effort to keep you well (hello, inflammation).
Stress goes hand in hand with a lack of sleep and a laundry list of demands from daily life. Unfortunately, when you’re stressed out all the time, you’re also producing more of the hormone cortisol—inflammation’s BFF. It stands to reason that you can easily reduce chronic inflammation by focusing on stress reduction, whether it’s through more sleep, yoga, meditation, long walks, less technology, or a much needed vacation.
Reduce toxins in your food and household products
Your body’s alarm system goes off when you absorb toxic chemicals and pesticides through your digestive tract and your skin. Cut down your exposure by eating organic foods whenever possible and choosing non-toxic cleaning products.
Click on this post titled “Natural Remedies to Reduce Inflammation“. I wrote this a while ago and it is a great companion post to this one.