Are you fed up with constantly juggling different remedies for your health problems? When we’re at a loss as to what is causing recurrent symptoms, it’s usually something totally unsuspected silently stirring there at the root of the problem. Chronic inflammation is one of those things we don’t tend to consider – it’s a perfectly normal and necessary protective function of our bodies, healing wounds and fighting bacterial infections – yet more and more of us are discovering the sort of trouble it can cause.
The pain and discomfort we feel while our bodies are fighting an infection or injury is usually the result of the white blood cells and protein (cytokines) sent by our immune systems to heal the damage. It means our body is doing it’s job. But when inflammation persists after the job is done, it can cause all sorts of problems. An increasing body of research points to a link between inflammation and common health complaints and it is even attributed to life threatening illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, alzheimer’s and cancer. In fact an entire field of cancer research goes back as far as 1863 when German pathologist, Rudolf Virchow, discovered the association.
Luckily there are an abundance of anti-inflammatory foods, natural supplements and proactive lifestyle choices we can make to get rid of, and prevent, the causes of chronic inflammation. The first step is recognition. Here are some signs that might suggest an inflammatory problem:
As with most symptoms, there are several health conditions that could cause these problems and it’s always best to see a doctor. If you suspect chronic inflammation you can ask your GP for a CRP test. *The liver produces a type of acute phase protein known as C-reactive protein (CRP) and the level of this increases in the blood when there is inflammation in the body. Increased levels of CRP may prompt the doctor to perform other tests. They can also use the test to monitor how the body is responding to treatment for an infection or a long-term illness that causes inflammation.
You can reduce inflammation by making changes to your diet and lifestyle, one step at a time. The Complete Guide to Nutrients by Dr Michael Sharon, has a comprehensive list of anti-inflammatory super-foods. Here are my favourite, though I recommend you keep a copy of the book so you can refer to the complete list.
Garlic and onions
These are rich in bioflavonoids, in particular quercetin which has been reported to possess strong and prolonged anti-inflammatory properties.
The purple-black skins contain anthocyanins, important antioxidant flavonoids with an anti-inflammatory effect, which explains the practice of sipping hot blackcurrant syrup for sore throats in folk medicine.
Elder contains an abundance of active ingredients such as flavonoids, alkaloids and glycosides, which have many beneficial effects, particularly anti-inflammatories.
Elm / Slippery Elm
Decoctions are used mainly to soothe inflammations of the throat, stomach, intestines, urinary tract and lungs.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) is considered the most beneficial of the omegas. It is the best source for the body’s own production of beneficial prostaglandins that also help reduce inflammation. As such, EPA is considered very helpful in heart disease and inflammatory conditions like arthritis, and is the reason why heart patients and arthritics are often advised to eat fish instead of meat. **available as an easy swallow capsule, Super Omega, from Cygnus Books**
The fruit has strong anti-inflammatory effects and can be used as a general tonic; it improves digestion and is beneficial for conditions such as colds, arthritis and fevers.
The juice is beneficial to internal inflammations, such as stomach and kidney inflammations and sore throats.
Extracted from Huperzia serrata, a type of moss also called Qian Ceng Ta. The whole herb has been traditionally used in China for thousands of years to treat inflammation.
Turmeric was traditionally used by both Indian and Chinese systems of medcine to treat inflammations. The curcuminoids in turmeric have been found to have unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. **available at Cygnus Books as an easy swallow capsule – Super Bio-Curcumin® – a patented formula with up to 7 times greater absorption **
© Dr Michael Sharon
Let’s not forget ginger which has long been used as a traditional anti-inflammatory medicine. Studies show that gingerols, the beneficial nutrients found in ginger, actually reduce arthritic pain and swelling. It’s also said that ginger has an inhibitory effect on pro-inflammatory compounds such as cytokines.
Dr Christine Bailey, author of The Juice Diet, recommends drinking a Lemon Ginger Refresher every day. Here’s the quick and easy recipe from her book:
1 glass of hot filtered water
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2-inch knob of ginger root, finely sliced
1. Add the lemon juice and ginger to the glass of water.
Allow it to seep for 5 minutes before drinking.
I hope that, equipped with this information, you’re feeling motivated and determined to take control of whatever symptoms may be bothering you. I wish you good health and every happiness.
*information sourced from the Boots website and medically reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on 21st January 2013.