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by Michelle Honda, Ph.D., D.Sc
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation has rapidly gained a bad reputation, but you may be surprised to learn that inflammation is among your body’s best friends. Inflammation works to stave off the constant bombardment of unwanted pathogens that are part of our everyday environment. Created by the cells and substances in our immune system, inflammation allows the body to ward off and defeat potentially harmful viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Inflammation operates much like the smoke alarms in our homes. Whenever we injure ourselves or cause a break or damage to our outer protective layer (the skin), our immune system sets in motion a series of defense mechanisms to clot the blood (to stop bleeding) and inflame the surrounding tissue (to destroy any bacteria that has seeped into the wound).
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Most people are fully aware of what their degree of pain is at any given time, and are usually aware of any degenerative diseases they may be currently dealing with. Because of this, it is not uncommon for people to shrug off their day-to-day aches and pains, or ignore the fact that they knowingly eat items that are unhealthy. The public at large is still in the dark when it comes to the repercussions of foods and other substances routinely eaten, as well as what may be manifesting throughout their body. A common area where many people do have some sense of concern is their medication intake. But while commercials do convey the problems of drug side effects, they do not offer any other options, so people remain at a loss for what else they can do to minimize their discomfort.
The Mystery Unraveled
For most people, the ways in which inflammation spreads and develops is clouded with mystery. It is this lack of knowledge and understanding of inflammation and its role in the disease process that led me to write Reverse Inflammation Naturally (ISBN 978-1-57826-680-7, Hatherleigh Press). In it, an explanation is provided not only for the pathways and processes that inflammation takes, but the myriad ways in which we enhance and reinforce inflammation in our daily lives. This knowledge enables us to quell and even reverse the spread of inflammation in the body by addressing the causes and making simple diet adjustments.
There are many facets to inflammation. The many different stages and specific types of inflammation are often associated with certain disease conditions and complaints, which, in turn, reveal much about a condition’s progression in the body. It is my hope that, by providing a better understanding of inflammation, individuals will be able to peer into their bodies on a cellular level, observing how their inflammatory/immune system silently harm and disrupt their optimum state of health. (Equally as important is an understanding of how certain drugs negatively affect the anti-inflammatory pathways and how they stop the liver’s ability to appropriately clean itself.)
How many times has it been said, “Nature holds the cure?”
Even the most troublesome inflammatory conditions that afflict mankind can be treated—and are being treated worldwide—with herbal medicine. The fact is that our biological needs can be met by our evolutionary environment. The plant kingdom is abundant with anti-inflammatory specimens, many of which are currently being used in the production of steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Natural restorative herbal remedies are beginning to see proper recognition for their place at the forefront of healthful supplements. Many of these plants and extracts show the complex and integrated ways in which an herbal remedy can work. The public at large is most interested in the causes of their conditions and what can be done to ease their pain. Yet traditional medicine often fails to provide this information.
Medications Compete with the Immune System
Too often, the first step taken to suppress inflammation is through the application of anti-inflammatory drugs. However, these substances not only obstruct the immune system itself; they are also composed of toxic chemicals, which the body must then work to eliminate. These medications are then removed from the body through the same pathways used for primary inflammation. Since detoxification follows the same pathways as inflammation, and these pathways are being obstructed by the medication to be eliminated, you end up with an immune system roadblock.
The Immune System: Key Player in the Inflammation Process
The important thing to understand when dealing with our immune system is that it is affected by nearly everything we do. Even the simple act of overeating suppresses our protective system while promoting an inflammatory response. In learning to control and reverse inflammation naturally, we must first learn how to help our bodies without disabling this system. Realize that physical illnesses, especially those that cannot be easily explained, are the result of multifaceted, neuroendocrine responses. In spite of the manner in which symptoms have manifested in the body, they are created by the mind, brain and body—together.
Illnesses Related to Inflammation
Conditions which have been dubbed “silent inflammation” are simply our immune system responding to various assaults throughout the body. Factors such as obesity, toxicity, and poor dietary and lifestyle habits all contribute to the action and reaction phases of our immune system. Examples of silent inflammation problems include heart disease and what is causing inflammation in the arteries, as well as cancer, autism (brain inflammation and best solutions), diabetes (insulin resistance and inflammation) and the related topic of obesity, including the leptin hormone (direct connection between inflammation of the hypothalamus). Other topics of interest include metabolic syndrome, asthma, allergies, sinusitis and candida and more.
Patient Case Histories
The catalysts for disease and illness presented in Reverse Inflammation Naturally are drawn from my own practice and experience in healing my patients. The causes presented are the ones most often to blame, and the recommendations and solutions offered are those that have shown to be the most effective.
Armed with the knowledge that one must treat the body as a whole if one is to achieve lasting health and wellness, the solutions I present are those that treat inflammation with natural medicine. Remain mindful of the fact that our health is integrally linked to the world around us. Let us not forget that these herbs and extracts have been used for food and medicine for as long as humans have occupied this earth. The use of plants as medicine and food has been passed down through the ages for our benefit, not our detriment. Natural based medicine is perfect for those individuals who have suffered at the hands of medication side effects in the past, or who have avoided seeking treatment for their ailments due to fear of the same. And, for anyone wishing to lower their medication dosage (or eliminate the need for it altogether), natural medicine provides a safe alternative, especially when there have been consistent complications in one’s current medication treatment plan.
Natural Supplementation for Reversing Inflammation
A well-rounded anti-inflammatory protocol will include foods that reduce inflammation, antioxidants, live enzymes, and anti-inflammatory supplements. The reversal process for healing and restoration significantly slows down when several vitamins and minerals are in very short supply, especially those required by the immune system and for performing body functions.
In Reverse Inflammation Naturally, I provide a number of diet and food suggestions for day-to-day eating that can more quickly reduce your inflammation. To help you get started, there are also recommended meal plans and juice and meal recipes.
So far, medical technology has not been able to keep up with the diet and lifestyle choices being made by the majority of people. Individuals are now facing the consequences of excess body fat and long-term permanent tissue damage. The fact is, when inflammation becomes accelerated and reaches the chronic stage, you have a steady progression towards a shorter life expectancy and prolonged illnesses as the immune system becomes increasingly compromised.
And that is where the holistic approach really shines. Because things aren’t always that simple; to achieve optimum results, the person and body must be treated as a whole. Regardless of what you may or may not know about physiology, our internal environment is a constant working miracle that is never separate from itself.
The information presented here is drawn from a number of sources, including the latest discoveries regarding anti-inflammatory properties found in foods, spices and herbs around the globe. My goal is to assist you in fully restoring your health and provide for any direction your future may take.
About the author:
Michelle Honda, Ph.D., D.Sc., is a practitioner of natural and preventative medicine and the author of Reverse Inflammation Naturally, Reverse Heart Disease Naturally, and Reverse Gut Disease Naturally. Visit Michelle Honda at .