The WHOLE Truth about Inflammation

How to Effectively Reduce Inflammation

Achy back, sore knees, stiff neck, joint paint. Whether it’s getting out of bed, warming up on the range, post-workout soreness, physical trauma, or the infrequent joint flare-up, we’ve all experienced pain and inflammation. It’s commonplace to pop a couple Advil and go on with your day, but there’s compelling evidence to suggest that those NSAID’s (Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory’s) like Advil and Tylenol may actually be doing more harm than good. The risks of taking over-the-counter pain reducers are proving to be a detrimental “band aid” in the fight against acute, and increasing chronic inflammation. Additionally, the war against inflammation goes well beyond that of short-term relief and stems into the potentially fatal disease states that chronic inflammation can create.

Pain and inflammation are associated with many common maladies, such as headaches, arthritis and menstrual problems – and consider that on any given day, an estimated 20 percent of Americans suffer from back pain (1). In fact, in golfers, it’s more like 50%. That’s a staggering statistic considering the popularity of the sport. An estimated 30 million Americans take over-the-counter drugs daily to deal with pain and inflammation. On an acute, or short-term basis, inflammation is a good thing. It is our body’s natural immune response to destroy foreign pathogens and heal damaged tissues. Scrape your elbow, twinge your back, eat some bad food, get a cold, inflammation to the rescue. The problem is, we’re always inflamed. Be it physical trauma, emotional stress, poor nutrition, excessive alcohol, weakened immune system, etc., too much inflammation for too long can be a very bad thing.

The Dark Side of Inflammation

The cover story from the February 2004 edition of TIME magazine was on inflammation, calling it “the Secret Killer”.  The reason this subject received such attention is that high levels of inflammation are associated with virtually every chronic disease including diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, but also muscle and joint pain that many professional and recreational athletes (yes, even golfers) experience.

Without getting too in-depth about the actual inflammatory processes, it’s important to understand that this natural defense mechanism creates not only chemicals to help heal damaged tissue, but specialized antibodies, custom made to target specific kinds of bacteria and viruses (4). This is an evolutionary response to a stressor not only in humans, but in all animals alike. The problems begin when, for whatever reason, the inflammatory process persists and becomes chronic, leading to more serious problems, as recognized by researchers and doctors, like heart disease and asthma.

A simple blood test that serves as an excellent measure of systemic (chronic) inflammation looks at the body’s production of C-reactive Protein (CRP), a molecule produced by the liver in response to an inflammatory signal. Too much sugar, alcohol, work stress, sickness, and you can bet those CRP levels are elevated beyond what would be considered normal and healthy. In fact, a group of researchers at Brigham and Women’s by 1997, had demonstrated that seemingly healthy middle-aged men with the highest CRP levels were three times as likely to suffer a heart attack in the next 6 years as were those with the lowest CRP levels. That’s a damn good reason to be pro-active about keeping your inflammation levels low, and not just by taking NSAID’s (4).

Masking Pain

NSAID’s have been the prescription of choice from medical doctors for reducing inflammation. These short-term solutions have now been shown to actually hamper the healing process by completely wiping out the first phase acute healing process our body naturally undergoes. With these anti-inflammatory drugs, pain may be reduced, but there is research to suggest that there are some more potentially dangerous side effects, not only in moderate to larger doses, but from long-term use as well.  Side effects include ulcers, constipation, heartburn, nausea, rash, headache, kidney failure, liver toxicity – the list goes on. To make matters worse, there are over 16,000 deaths per year from NSAID’s, just from the gastrointestinal side effects. Additionally, and as if risk of dying isn’t bad enough, taking these drugs can actually deplete essential nutrients from the body, potentially creating more problems down the road. (1,2)

What’s the Solution?

The solution is two-fold: 1) Take control by identifying the stressors (sources of inflammation) and work to reduce them through nutrition and lifestyle, and 2) Start supplementing with what have been referred to as “Nutraceuticals”, a term used to describe the combination of the words nutrition and pharmaceutical and describes products, that act like drugs, without the unwanted side effects associated with drugs.

Note from my soapbox:

For all the baby boomers out there with the “fix-me” mentality, I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but you’re going to have to fix yourself. Because a shitty lifestyle and a handful of Advil aren’t going to cut it – that is if you want to live healthier and longer.

1) Take Control

Preventative medicine is the name of the game; and that means acknowledging that our bodies are reacting negatively (by becoming inflamed, i.e., sickness, disease, obesity, etc.) to our environment, both internally and externally. These stressors include: lack of sleep, poor nutrition/dieting, too little or too much exercise, and financial burdens, to name a few. In our fast paced society, it’s not uncommon for people to feel like slowing down is unproductive, yet this is the very thing that most of us need to restore homeostasis, or balance within our body.

“For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.”  ~Lily Tomlin

Ways to Decrease Chronic Inflammation:

  • Minimize refined sugar and flour consumption.
  • Rotate foods daily – Steak on Monday, don’t eat again until Friday.
  • Sleep 8 hours/night (from 10pm to 6am).
  • Eat organic and local fruit and vegetables.
  • Eat humanely raised meats that eat grass and not grains.
  • Slow down and breathe deep.
  • Get your finances under control.
  • As my father-in law would say, “Love the one’s your with”.

As if this article isn’t already long enough, I’ll spare you the details. Obviously, you’ve heard this all before, but it would be irresponsible for me to leave these out, as these seemingly simple ways to reduce physical, emotional and dietary stress, are the same principles I live by and use every day to help my clients reach their health-related goals. For more info about each, please refer to my website: www.bodysystemsaz.com

2) Use Nutraceuticals

While you’re busy cleaning up your lifestyle to fight against chronic inflammation, you may still need that short-term “fix” to get you through your golf round or back in the office or playing field. There is ample reputable research on the healing properties of herbal-based supplements for helping the body’s natural defense mechanism and promoting healing without the associated damages from over-the-counter drugs. Here’s a list of natural herbs and enzymes you should know about:

1. Proteolytic Enzymes: These are nutrients that directly address swelling by breaking down excessive proteins (fibrin) produced when acute injury and surgery occur, but can also be beneficial to fight built up, long-term joint inflammation by reducing “clotting” tissue and improving blood circulation. These enzymes include Nattokinase, Papain, Bromelain, Serratiopeptidase, Indian gooseberry and Rutin.(3)

2. Boswelic Acid: Specifically combats inflammation via the LOX pathway where it develops. These acids were found to deter the formation of enzymes that can lead to inflammatory disorders such as bronchial asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. This tree gum resin also has the ability to fight against “bad fats” (Omega-6 fats) that Westerners are overloaded with in their processed food-rich diets.

3. Curcumin: A powerful antioxidant, Curcumin is known for its extremely effective anti-inflammatory properties. In some studies it was shown to be a stronger anti-inflammatory than aspirin and ibuprofen - and without the potential GI side effects. Curcumin has also been credited with several other health benefits, including: immune system regulation, lowering histamine/improving allergies, antimicrobial, GI protection & gut health support, cardiovascular protection, brain protection and liver protection (5).

Other herbal anti-inflammatories include ginger and turmeric and are often coupled with nutrients that help support muscle tissue health, such as calcium and magnesium, as well as Vitamin C from Camu Camu berries – a potent antiviral, antioxidant and immune system booster.

Products I Recommend?

Acute Phase Healing:

 

Joint Task Force PX is an excellent product for reducing pain and inflammation within the first 72 hours of injury. Featuring premium-grade proteolytic enzymes, targeted herbal extracts, and essential minerals.

Order HERE

 

 

Short and long-term inflammation treatment and prevention:

 

 

An excellent Anti-Inflammatory Formula that I have personally tested and continue to use is from Windhawk™ Balanced Naturals™. I personally know the owners and have nothing but trust and respect in their dedication to producing the very best products possible.

 

 

*Contact me for supplement ordering information: ben@bodysystemsaz.com

 

It’s becoming clear that inflammation is much more than just the result of a splinter, and is in fact, a major contributor to the world’s most lethal diseases. The way that we’ve treated inflammation in the past, thru heavy NSAID’s use has been shown to potentially cause more harm then good, and should be given some second thought.  Instead, we should acknowledge that we have control over how our body responds to stress and for those bumps, bruises and back strains we always have herbal remedies that are safer and more effective for short-term relief and long-term health.

 

References:

 

1)   New England Journal of Medicine, 1999.

2)   http://www.charlespoliquin.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/Article/647/The_Shocking_Truth_about_Inflammation.aspx

3)   Windhawk™ Balanced Naturals™: Research Summary

4)   The Fires Within. TIME Magazine. February, 2004.

5) www.Charlespoliquin.com