In our last post we talked about how traditional Western medicine likes to treat symptoms to make us feel better. That sounds pretty good, right? After all, isn’t that what we want most of all when we are hurting?
For urgent or short-term situations, treating the symptoms might just be the right course of action. But sometimes symptom relief is not the best answer because it doesn’t really address the cause of the problem.
Conventional medical care provides ACE inhibitors, beta blockers and anti-coagulants for hypertension and congestive heart failure. For high cholesterol, they give statins. For Type 2 Diabetes, they give metformin. Steroids are prescribed for systemic inflammation.
All of these drugs help to fight inflammation, or fight the effects of inflammation. But, they are not stopping the cause of the inflammation.
Taking powerful drugs to counteract inflammation without addressing the cause is just creating a circular problem. The chances are very high that if you combatting inflammation in this way, you will just start experiencing inflammatory related symptoms in another area of your body.
Inflammation is like a well-built fire—it burns hot and long. To effectively fight inflammation, you must stop adding fuel to the fire! Once you do that you can actually get the fire out. You can medicate all day long, but if you keep feeding the fire, it’s going to keep burning.
Here are some common fuels that keep the fire of inflammation burning. Check out the list and ask yourself, “How am I stoking the fire of my pain or illness?”
On top of that list, there are many people who have sensitivities to certain foods—without even knowing it. Common food sensitivities include:
While this may seem extreme, there are many experts who now say “all diseases start in the gut.” Drs. Murray and Pizzorno write, “problems related to the GI tract are among the most common symptoms experienced by patients… 70% of American households had at least one person with problems.” These symptoms are attributed to underlying problems with digestion, absorption of nutrients, inflammatory processes, even imbalances in gut flora.
Food sensitivities lead to leaky gut. The cells in the digestive tract are very tight, but they can become loose due to inflammation, irritation from a poor diet, illness, or aging. These tight junctions can no longer keep out large particles and allow food particles that are not fully broken down in digestion to pass through the gut wall into the blood stream.
Ideally, we digest our food and then absorb the nutrients. In the case of leaky gut, we ingest (eat) food and then prematurely absorb the particles before the process of digestion is complete.
The immune system recognizes these particles as foreign invaders and mounts a response. As long as particles are getting absorbed by your body prematurely, then the immune system stays on high-alert and elevated. This stress to the immune system can lead to multiple food sensitivities, inflammation and even auto-immune diseases if left unchecked.
Instead of stoking the fire of inflammation, your goal is to replace the fuel for inflammation with healthy foods and healthy lifestyle choices.
Focus on eating whole foods rather than processed. Berries, leafy green vegetables, onions, garlic (anything from the allium family), nuts and seeds, beans and lentils, herbs and spices all have a place in your diet. If you eat animal products, choose grass fed (and finished) beef, free range chicken, and wild caught fish.
It is possible to have a sensitivity to even healthy foods. If you have a sensitivity to any of these “healthy” foods, they’re not healthy for you, so avoid them!
Eat a rainbow of colors every day and you will help ensure you are getting the variety of nutrients your body needs. Your food rainbow should include blues and purples, reds, yellows and oranges, dark greens…not only is this nutritious, your plate looks good and is anything but monotonous!
Did you know that your body is about 60% water? It is essential that we keep our bodies hydrated. It’s amazing what drinking adequate water can do for chronic pain conditions! It also helps with memory, eyesight, and your overall energy levels.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on bottled water. Invest in a counter-top filter and you will have water that is just as good for you, tastes good, and doesn’t generate tons of plastic waste.
Our bodies are made to move! And moving is one of the best ways to reduce pain.
Philip Hunter, a renowned science and technology writer states, “Consistent evidence from 27 studies show that physical activity reduced mortality from breast and colon cancers… Physical activity might beneficially change the circulating levels of insulin, insulin-related pathways, inflammation, and possibly immunity.”
You don’t have to be a competitive athlete to get the anti-inflammatory effects of exercise. Start where you can and gradually increase your activity. Walk around the block. Park a little farther away from the door when you go shopping. Take the stairs. These are simple things we can all do to increase the amount we move our bodies.
If you’ve been dealing with chronic inflammation for a while, you need to do more than stop stoking the fire. The flames of inflammation will not go out on their own. You need to actually douse the flames.
You can do that by working with a registered orthomolecular health practitioner. In my practice I meet with clients for an intensive intake interview. This helps me to determine the right course of action for the specific needs of each individual.
While the specific recommendations may be different for you, some of the options for putting out the fire may include correcting fatty acid imbalances. That is the Omega 3/6 ratio, that in most American diets is really out of whack.
If not contraindicated by your medications, dietary restrictions, or epigenetics I may suggest anti-inflammatory herbs such as curcumin. The form that has been used in research trials is curcumin BCM-95.
A relative new comer in the fight against inflammation is CBD oil. Researchers have started to realize that we have cannabinoid receptors throughout our bodies. They can be especially found in the brain and in the gut.
Remember how Drs. Pizzorno and Murray said depression was seen in diabetics years before the diabetes diagnosis?
“The endocannabinoid system is a widespread neuromodulatory system that plays a role in the central nervous system development, synaptic plasticity, and the response to endogenous and environmental insults.”
Remember how we talked about leaky gut and its connection to an overactive immune system? If any of you have had issues with leaky gut, you know how hard it is to heal. Adding CBD oil to your protocol could help fight the inflammation there.
Here’s another fascinating fact: our bodies will actually create cannabinoid receptors in the cellular membranes. The technical term for this is transient receptor potential channels (TRP) and peroxisome proliferator activated receptors (PPAR’s). Basically, it means that we are designed to absorb cannabinoids. Early research is showing tremendous potential in their use to reduce inflammation and toxicity.
We have so many tools to fight the fire of inflammation. Considering the damaging and far reaching effects of inflammation, I think it’s critical to take steps to reduce it by using these tools.
Of course, before starting any supplementation—whether that is balancing omega fatty acids, curcumin, herbs or CBD oil, it is important that you talk with someone trained in orthomolecular medicine. This is especially true if you are taking any prescription drugs and if you already take herbs or other vitamin supplements. Drug nutrient interactions are actually very common. “Healthy” nutrients—even something as innocuous as magnesium or vitamin C can be contraindicated, meaning that they can create even more health problems for you than they cure.
Call me to set up an appointment to review your situation. Let’s get started on fighting the fire of inflammation now before it gets any hotter!