Volume 9, Issue 4

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 26 of 31 | # 48| Page 27 What is Inflammation? How to Control & Reduce It Naturally Inflammation. A word that can strike fear into the hearts of many and make you instinctively flex your fingers. While inflammation has definitely caught our attention, especially as we age, our associations with inflammation as the "bad guy" may be overstated. Is there a place for this perceived foe in our everyday lives? Is there such a thing as good inflammation? Read on for the whole story about how inflammation works in the body, and how to manage it well. What is Inflammation? The truth is, inflammation is a good thing in some cases. It can be a great sign that your immune system is coming to the rescue after an injury or an infection. Inflammation means your white blood cells are marching into the area to fight infection and get the healing process underway. Inflammation is also a way that your body defends itself against harmful bacteria and viruses. Did you know that fever is an inflammatory response? The word inflammation stems from the Latin word inflammare, which means "to set on fire." Many microbes that cause illness survive and thrive when your body is at normal temperature, but a fever raises your temperature and creates an environment where it's difficult for those harmful microbes to survive. So fever is a sign that the body is doing its job to tackle some kind of challenge. Types of Inflammation Acute Inflammation Swelling and fever are examples of acute inflammation at work. This type of inflammation serves a distinct purpose in helping you recover. Some temporary pain or soreness can remind you to take it easy and rest, or even stay off that ankle after a bad turn. (We're looking at you, weekend fitness warrior!) Think of acute inflammation as having 3 phases: • Inflammation activates—responding to an issue such as injury or foreign bacteria. Cells release key molecules that act as "flares," and the body responds by sending oxygen, nutrients, and immune cells. • In the restore phase, the work of healing is carried out. Tissue repair begins, and new cells and blood vessels are formed if needed. • The last phase is to recover—preparing for the next round of work. The area of injury has re-stabilized and immune cells rebalance. The system resets and gets ready for the next challenge. Chronic Inflammation Chronic inflammation is different. This type is when your body stays in a perpetual state of activation, and your immune system continues to deliver white blood cells. Your body acts like it's under constant immune threat, and it continues to fight in the form of inflammation. Chronic inflammation can last for weeks or even months. Experts are still learning why chronic inflammation occurs. Think of inflammation like having a garden that you want to keep well hydrated. If you turn your sprinkler on for a short time each day to water your garden, you've created a nice, manageable cycle of addressing and resolving the problem of dryness as it arises. But what if you left your sprinklers for two weeks straight, 24/7? Then you would have quite a mess on your hands. This is similar to what happens in your body with inflammation and why balance is necessary. You wouldn't want to shut off inflammation altogether, because then your body would be missing a key function (think not watering your garden at all). But you'd also want to avoid a prolonged, unnecessary response that doesn't turn off. Symptoms of Inflammation As mentioned above, soreness, swelling, and fever are common symptoms of acute inflammation, and show that the immune system is doing its job. Symptoms of long-term inflammation can be trickier and may even be undetectable (it's sometimes even called "silent" inflammation). Check in with your healthcare provider if you're having lasting issues, such as fatigue or feeling generally unwell. It's possible to run tests to look for certain types of proteins that help show whether you may need extra inflammation-balancing support. By Charlotte Traas, New Chapter® Director of Education & Board Certified Master Herbalist

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Abby's - Volume 9, Issue 4