Inflammation is associated with a wide range of chronic and acute diseases.
What do heart attacks, snoring, eczema, arthritis, Crohn's disease, lupus, MS, bursitis, and swollen gums all have in common? These extremely diverse health conditions all have a significant common factor-inflammation.
Inflammation is associated with a wide range of chronic and acute diseases. It is an immune response of tissues to injury, disease, allergens, and toxins. When injured, our bodies release chemicals including histamine, bradykinin, and serotonin, which cause blood vessels to leak fluid into the affected tissues, resulting in localized swelling. This inflammatory response helps isolate the foreign substance from further contact with body tissues. Swelling, redness, heat, and pain are the four key signs of inflammation.
Medical doctors usually prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen. But increasing concerns related to the serious side effects of using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as stomach ulcers, kidney damage, and deterioration of joint tissue) have led those suffering painful inflammatory conditions to seek and find effective, safe, and natural anti-inflammatory products. According to recent medical and pharmaceutical research in Brazil, Korea, Germany, Denmark, the US, and UK, a range of naturally derived substances shows great therapeutic promise in several inflammatory diseases.
Cool the Heat of Inflammation
Evaluating and choosing the best natural source anti-inflammatory depends on the specific inflammatory condition, but the primary arsenal of remedies to combat a range of inflammation includes ginger, turmeric, boswellia, bromelain, glucosamine sulfate, omega-3 essential fats, N-acetyl glucosamine, and slippery elm, fenugreek, and devil's claw root.
A spice loved by many cultures around the world, ginger's most active and aromatic chemical compounds are called gingerols. Ginger has been reported to offer significant improvement in cases of arthritic inflammation and pain by inhibiting the body's pro-inflammatory responses.
A member of the ginger family, turmeric is a bright yellow spice used in Indian curries. Turmeric has long been used for its medicinal properties in Ayurvedic traditional medicine. It is used topically, orally, and by inhalation. Curcumin is the primary active anti-inflammatory component of turmeric. Numerous studies on the safety and effectiveness of curcumin show it to contain antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antifungal properties. Like ginger, it exerts its anti-inflammatory activity by inhibiting the enzymes and prostaglandins that play a role in inflammation.
Boswellia has been found to be specifically useful for reducing inflammation associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis as well as back pain and some chronic intestinal disorders.
The primary active compounds responsible for the anti-inflammatory activities of Boswellia, known as boswellic acids, are derived from the Boswellia tree bark's gummy resin. These acids appear to interfere with the chemical reactions that promote inflammation. Boswellic acids also prevent inflammatory white blood cells from infiltrating damaged tissue.
Extracted from the pineapple plant, bromelain is a proteolytic (protein-digesting) enzyme shown in numerous European studies to successfully reduce inflammation and pain associated with arthritis, joint, and connective tissue injuries as well as in tissue repair in patients following surgery.
Several recent studies comparing glucosamine sulfate to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs suggest that glucosamine may be as effective in easing arthritic pain and inflammation as the NSAIDs-without the negative side effects. A Chinese study of individuals with osteoarthritis of the knee found that participants taking l,500 mg of glucosamine sulfate daily experienced similar reductions in symptoms as those participants given l,200 mg daily of ibuprofen. The glucosamine group tolerated their supplementation much better, however. In addition, a Belgian study published in the Journal of Rheumatology (1999) showed that
glucosamine not only relieved painful symptoms, it actually slowed the progression of rheumatoid arthritis.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The natural anti-inflammatory effects of the omega-3 fats can be found most abundantly in salmon, salmon oil, flaxseed, and flaxseed oil. Omega-3 fats prevent the body's production of prostaglandins, which lead to inflammation. Omega-3 fats also protect against heart disease through the anti-inflammatory effect. Eating fish rich in omega-3 fats two or more times per week is associated with a 40-percent reduction in risk for rheumatoid arthritis.
N-Acetyl Glucosamine (NAG)
This naturally occurring amino sugar has shown remarkable potential in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases. Acting to soothe and repair damaged, inflamed tissue in the bowel, NAG is especially helpful to those with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
Slippery Elm, Fenugreek, Devil's Claw Root
More good news comes from a British study on the antioxidant effects of herbal therapies used by patients with inflammatory bowel disease. A research team investigated the usefulness of a variety of herbs including slippery elm , fenugreek, and devil's claw root. They concluded that all of these herbs had a beneficial effect and merited formal evaluation as alternative therapies in inflammatory bowel disease.
Anti-Inflammatory Foods and Moods
When it comes to inflammation, it's not only what we eat, but also what we think that makes a difference. One remarkable study showed that even a mild case of the blues can increase blood levels of interleukin-6, an inflammatory protein that increases the risk of inflammatory conditions and heart attacks.
Eating a diet rich in wild fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, and seeds is the best way to prevent inflammatory conditions. Berries, especially blue-berries and cranberries, provide polyphenolic protection against sight-damaging inflammation and oxidative stress. Cherries (the tarter the better) are another inflammation-fighting food. Limit or eliminate red meat, alcohol, hydrogenated fats, refined sugars, and flours.
Keeping inflammation free is another good reason to eat well and keep a positive attitude.