Inflamma-what? Are you Listening to Your Body?
Hi Tracy -
I’ve got a really basic question for you. I’m hearing all the time in the news and in stuff I read on the internet about inflammation. Inflammation in the body. What does that really mean? And what does it have to do with health? I thought inflammation is like when skin gets all red and scabby?
Confused and Curious
I help my clients to overcome a wide variety of issues, ailments, and diseases. And by far the most common challenge I see is chronic inflammation. You probably hear this term in the health media often now. But seldom is there an explanation given. As you ask, what IS inflammation? Why should you care?
Ultimately, chronic inflammation is at the root of almost every major disease in our society. Inflammation is our body’s natural response to injury. It’s why a cut or scrape gets hot, red, swollen, and oozy (quite ugly actually) before it heals with nary a mark. Isolated, targeted inflammation is healthy; it’s our body’s triage reaction. It’s required for healing. At a microscopic level, the white blood cells of our body secrete inflammatory chemicals (largely a family called cytokines) to communicate alarm throughout the body. They put the body into a stress mode that encourages repair. Ideally this happens only at a local level for a short time when there is true injury or trauma.
But what happens if the inflammation response gets triggered at the cellular level by our regular day-to-day life choices? Then it can manifest as any number of daily, bothersome symptoms such as headaches, tight muscles, achy joints, eczema, post nasal drip, depression, psoriasis, hypertension, brain fog, chronic fatigue, acid reflux, weight gain, insomnia, … The list is endless! These are often the very symptoms that many Americans simply pop a pill to overcome. But the pill usually doesn’t take away the root cause of the inflammation – just the outward expression of it. Sometimes inflammation is systemic (body-wide). Sometimes it manifests in a part of the body that is weak or was previously injured. Either way, it’s important not to ignore what our body is trying to tell us: our immune system is upset and something needs to change. If we want to maximize our vitality and avoid chronic disease (no matter what runs in your family!), we need to get to the bottom of chronic inflammation and eliminate the root cause.
Despite the myriad symptom combinations that can result in each unique body, chronic inflammation can only be caused by a surprisingly short list of insults: allergens, toxins, nutrient deficiencies, infections, and stress (emotional or physical). That’s it! And that’s what I help people to do: fit together the puzzle pieces to discover what’s holding them back from feeling fantastic every day. People are often amazed to discover that eczema or acne is being triggered by a particular food. Or arthritis in their knees and wrists is caused by an infection in the intestines. Or depression is caused by mercury. But while we’re on the discovery journey, we need to provide relief from inflammation, preferably without using a medication with harmful side effects. This year, I’m going to share a number of my secrets for helping people overcome inflammation naturally. This issue’s topic on curcumin is just the beginning – and one of my favorites!