Patients suffering from acute inflammation suffer from pain, redness, heat, swelling, and often loss of function. Patients with chronic inflammation often manifest no obvious symptoms, which may be the most dangerous kind of inflammation as over time it robs patients of their health and longevity. Because inflammation plays such a critical role in medicine, we invited Dr David Leisheid to share the latest science in our understanding of pain and inflammation.
Dr David Lescheid, who holds a PhD in molecular biology and protein chemistry, is a naturopathic physician, and was a professor at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, where he taught physiology, microbiology, infectious disease, as well as clinical care.
Forms Of Inflammation
Recently we have recognized three forms of inflammation: acute, chronic and now para or meta inflammation. Acute inflation occurs when we are injured or infected, or when there is a major change in metabolism or homeostatic stress. Acute inflammation generates heat, redness, and pain. It also gives the signals that produce the fever response and makes us feel that we do not want to eat.
The second form is termed chronic inflammation, representing one of the main drivers for chronic disease. This disorder underpins asthma, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. Indeed, we are starting to recognize that long Covid may also have chronic inflammation as a foundation. A third type of inflammation is also recognized which is termed para-inflammation, or sometimes meta-inflammation, which is associated with altered long-term changes in our metabolism. This third type is a low-level smoldering kind of inflammation.
Many metabolic systems are affected by low-level chronic inflammation. For instance, our ability to control blood sugar levels to maintain our weight will be affected. Chronic inflammation can also cause persistent fatigue and impact sleep patterns. It changes bone, even our brain, and our microbiota. Chronic inflammation is also a major contributor to anxiety disorders, depression, and mental health.
Impact Of Inflammation
Inflammation touches multiple parts of the super-system. Included are the nervous system, the endocrine system, and the immune system. Inflammatory responses that occur across all of those.
The Gut and Inflammation
The lining of our intestinal tract is only one cell thick, but it's very important for signaling. The barrier is also important for protection. If that barrier gets leaky, then some of the things that usually stay inside our intestines, such as lipopolysaccharides from the gram-negative bacteria, also called endotoxins, enter the bloodstream and cause inflammation. Evidence now points to an epithelial barrier dysfunction, or leaky gut, as being the cause of chronic inflammation.
The Extracellular Matrix
Another big discovery about inflammation concerns the micro-environment of the extracellular matrix, and the communication between them. If this communication is interfered with by environmental toxicants or environmental pollutants, you can trigger an inflammatory response. In fact, there is evidence showing that the extracellular matrix is a very important part of controlling inflammation.
Natural Products That Improve Inflammation Probiotics and dietary therapy vitamins help patients recover from the side effects of drugs. Natural health products work effectively alongside conventional medicines, so they can have a drug sparing effect. Meaning the patient can use a smaller dose of the drug to achieve the same therapeutic effect.
The Positive Aspect Of Inflammation The immune system’s inflammatory response works to help fight off infection. Indeed, as a response to injury and trauma, you need acute inflammation to help heal stress fractures, tendon tears, and soft tissue injuries.
Many of the benefits of inflammation occur during the “resolution” phase. If you block the resolution phase through the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, you block the benefits of inflammation.
Role Of Mitochondria Signals from the mitochondria move outside the cell and can influence what is around the cell, the microenvironment. This plays an important role in inflammation. The microbiota and the mitochondria communicate, so there is constant cross-talk with each other. This is a valuable and important concept to think about because it supports gut health and emphasizes the role of our microbiota in understanding and controlling inflammation. That’s why its important to support mitochondrial health through supplements including CoQ10, carnitine, taurine, vitamin D, and different vitamins.
Mitigation Approaches To mitigate the chronic inflammatory response in patients start with detoxification. Hydrate properly to make sure that the toxins are flushed out of your body on a regular basis. Be sure they engage in mild to moderate exercise.
The list of supplements to counter inflammation include the following: turmeric or curcumin and omega three fats, as well as boswellic acid, and ginger all help to control inflammation. Antioxidants are also useful. Many of these various natural health products are supported by good evidence in treating inflammation. Finally, use probiotics to ensure that the patient’s flora are in good shape.
"Chronic inflammation underpins asthma, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. Indeed, we are starting to recognize that “Long Covid” may also have chronic inflammation as a foundation. A third type of inflammation is now termed para-inflammation, or sometimes meta-inflammation. This is a low-level smoldering kind of inflammation and is associated with long-term changes in our metabolism.”
Dr David Lescheid
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