So what exactly is chronic inflammation, and how do we know if we have it?
For starters, there is a difference between acute inflammation – which is great and protects us from bacteria, viruses etc when we have an accident or catch a cold – and chronic inflammation.
Acute inflammation is a life-saving mechanism. When we cut ourselves or get an infection our body mobilises the immune system to launch an attack – it’s why we get swelling, redness, pain and heat around a wound. Histamine is released to widen blood vessels to help get the white blood cells where they need to be as fast as possible. Histamine will also slow down any foreign substances like bacteria. Our blood will clot faster and something called ‘cytokines’ are released to create more inflammation to destroy bacteria and viruses.
Hmm, doesn’t sound great, but it literally saves our lives…
Chronic inflammation, however, occurs when our immune system is on high alert for months or years… . It is also the root cause of a shocking array of degenerative diseases – none of which we want! Basically, it’s a sign that all is not well.
And if unaddressed, it will just continue to cause pain and disease and can increase the various conditions that we have to deal with. And that’s very sobering!
“So why don’t we know more about it?” I hear you ask. Good question! And that’s the very reason why I’ve started this blog. The more I’ve learnt, the more I understand – and it literally breaks my heart to see people in so much pain or struggling with debilitating illnesses and not have a way of being able to help.
First then, a few basic facts.
We are biochemical beings
There are literally hundreds of biochemical processes happening in our bodies all the time and there is so much we can do to help ensure that they are functioning as effectively as possible.
But conversely, our bodies are bombarded on a daily basis by toxins and allergens, and our food has become so nutrient poor, that those biochemical processes can start to fail.
Disease can’t thrive in a healthy body
I find this so encouraging – inspiring – motivating! It’s very empowering to know that there is stuff we can do to help our bodies function well and that we can live without horrible diseases, no matter what age we are.
And the truth is that chronic illness isn’t an inevitable part of aging. How great is that!
It’s all about balance
Balance of nutrients, balance of lifestyle, balance of gut bacteria… And when the balance if off, then we’re not well. Simple as that.
Our genes play a part
While I’m no expert on genes it seems that chronic inflammation will likely look different in me than it would in you – and that’s down to genes, as well as lifestyle and nutrition. Which is why not everyone suffers from migraines, for example.
How do we know if we have it?
So, here we go for a list of diseases where chronic inflammation plays a key role – deep breath!
- Heart disease
When inflamed, the artery walls become ‘tacky’ so cholesterol starts to stick, when it otherwise wouldn’t. It is widely accepted that the root cause heart disease is chronic inflammation – not cholesterol.
Inflammation stops the body using insulin efficiently, so the body produces more insulin, which causes more inflammation…
“We now know that several cancers, including breast, prostate, colon, brain and lung cancer are related to inflammation…” Dr Russell L Blaylock ‘Natural strategies for cancer patients’ p 50
And “…inflammation increases the growth and spread of cancers” p214
And “Growing evidence indicates that one of the best ways to follow cancer growth is to keep an eye on the level of C-reactive protein, which is a measure of inflammation… The higher the level – that is, the greater the inflammation – the worse the prognosis.” p243
- Eye disease
- Age-related macular degeneration
Evidence shows that pressure in the eye might not be the major culprit in glaucoma – rather, an interaction between inflammation and excitotoxicity
- Gum disease
Gum disease is another sign of chronic inflammation and those with gum disease are more likely to also have narrowing of the arteries, which can affect both the heart and brain
- High blood pressure
Inflammation damages the walls of blood vessels and makes them stiffer, which raises blood pressure
Cholesterol doesn’t cause strokes – chronic inflammation does, as it leads to a buildup of plaque in the inner lining of arteries
- Neurological disorders
- Motor neurone disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
There is a link with chronic inflammation and excitotoxicity in all neurological disorders
- Hay fever
- Inflammatory bowel disease
Inflammation of the lungs, inflammation of the joints, inflammation of the skin, inflammation of the bowel…
- Autoimmune disorders
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system is overactive but has no-where to target – it starts attacking healthy tissues, causing chronic inflammation.
So how did we reduce our inflammation? One change at a time.
Want to understand more?
Check out this article by Dr Josh Axe called Chronic Inflammation at the Root of Most Diseases + How to Prevent!
Dr Russell L Blaylock MD has written a book called ‘Prescriptions for Natural Health’ (ISBN 978-1-63006-024-4)