Today’s blog is all about inflammation and the natural management of… It’s a bit of a vague term, but inflammation lies at the root of EVERY chronic health condition and many acute illnesses/injuries, so it is really useful to know how to manage it. Though inflammation does have a role in the body (it is a normal process and essential), if excessive or prolonged it can be problematic.
Health Conditions linked to chronic Inflammation
- Arthritis (even osteoarthritis)
- Skin Conditions such as Eczema and Acne
- Reproductive Issues: Endometriosis, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, Infertility
- Autoimmune Conditions- such as Lupus, RA, Crohn’s Disease, Psoriasis
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Diabetes and Obesity/Weight Gain (Inflammation is a perpetuating factor in these- though not a direct cause)
- Neurodegenerative Conditions- such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, MS
- Depression (this surprises many people- it’s not all about Serotonin)
- Cancer – has roots in inflammation
- Tendonitis, Bursitis and other chronic injuries.
Medical Management of Inflammation
To manage inflammation- NSAIDs (Non Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs) are frequently prescribed. Whilst they may not be so worrysome for short term/immediate relief, over the long term they are associated with severe side effects:
The Cost of these NSAID associated side effects to our National Health System is huge! Therefore it frustrates me that if there are safe and effective natural anti-inflammatories out there- then why are we not using them more?
Natural Management of Inflammation
Most of the natural anti-inflammatory foods/herbs have been used by humans for hundreds of years- so they have a great safety rating! The sad thing is that most people aren’t even aware of them, when they could really improve quality of life. Hence this post! Here are just a few foods which collectively may help to quench excess inflammation:
What is important to understand is that there is not one single magic pill- though many people who come into the shop asking me for a supplement to reduce inflammation so they can swap their anti-inflammatory medicine for another pill! The truth is- the absolute best way to manage inflammation is by balancing your intake of ‘inflammatory’ vs ‘anti-inflammatory foods/herbs/supplements’ over the long term (hence the pic of Balancing Scales!) and I like to use the analogy below.
It needs to be a holistic approach. Every case is individual and sometimes it can take some patience and experimentation (especially when it comes to food intolerances). Treatment is tailored according to the condition and the person. The treatment for Crohn’s will be slightly different to the treatment for Arthritis, even though they will share commonalities. Certain anti-inflammatories are more effective for specific conditions as they seem to have an affinity for certain tissues/organs. This is where it helps to seek the advice of a qualified Natural Health Practitioner, such as a Herbalist or Naturopath.
In some cases, research shows that taking certain natural anti-inflammatories and improving diet/lifestyle could allow for a reduction in dose of NSAIDS (by at least half) or even allow you to come off them altogether – what a wonderful thing that would be. Of course it is best to consult with your doctor if you plan to do this, as they can work with you to monitor your progress and adjust the dose accordingly. It is entirely within your rights to request this (note it is also important to be aware of any herb-nutrient-drug interactions). Most natural therapists will gladly work alongside your GP to help best manage your condition.
* Note this is for information purposes and not intended to replace a professional consultation. Always seek advice if you have an existing health condition or are taking any medications *
Photo of scales (adapted by me): Original Andreas Praefcke (Own work (own photograph)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons