What Is Inflammation & How to Reduce It In Your Body
Inflammation is the body's natural healing response to some type of imbalance or trauma that has occurred.
An accident or injury can cause inflammation in the form of bruising or swelling as a natural healing response. However, inflammation in the form of common, everyday discomforts and health problems, is usually the result of "internal chaos" which has been allowed to manifest, primarily due to diet and lifestyle factors.
Inflammation is a sign of healing, or an indication that you need to support the process of healing in order to bring your body back into balance - a state known as "homeostasis".
Here, we reveal the main signs of prolonged inflammation that can creep up on you over time, what causes this to occur, and how by using the principles of self care, you can return your body back to good health and it's natural state of equilibrium.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is your body's way of letting you know that something is not right.
Your immune system is designed to naturally protect you from harmful free-radicals, bacteria, viruses and to heal damaged cells.
However, when this vital system of your body becomes overwhelmed or compromised and can't perform its job efficiently, it sends you a signal in the form of "inflammation" to let you know that it needs your support to get back on track and to allow the process of healing to take place.
The problem is that today's mainstream medical methodology only treats "symptoms", meaning it never gets to the true underlying cause.
This usually results in a 'merry-go-round' scenario of band-aid solutions, whereby the body only gets a temporary reprieve, but it never really properly heals. And this is why a more holistic approach is needed if you have inflammation in your body and really want to get back on track.
There are TWO main types of Inflammation:
1. Acute Inflammation - which tends to happen suddenly as a result of an accident such as a sprained ankle, burn or insect bite...and;
2. Chronic Inflammation - which is a more prolonged form of inflammation that creeps up on you and can lead to more severe health problems and diseases. Examples of chronic inflammation include, arthritis, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, back pain and even various forms of cancer.
Here, we want to primarily address chronic inflammation as this is generally a lifestyle condition that can be addressed by embracing self care and sound, natural health principles.
Examples Of How "Health Care" Diagnoses Inflammation
Interestingly, the labels given to many inflammatory medical conditions end in "itis", which has Greek origins meaning, “diseases characterised by inflammation”.
- Appendicitis - Inflammation of the appendix
- Arthritis - Inflammation of the joints
- Diverticulitis - Inflammation of the intestines, bowel or colon
- Conjunctivitis - Inflammation of the conjunctiva (the eye membrane)
- Dermatitis - Inflammation of the skin
- Encephalitis - Inflammation of the brain
- Gastritis - Inflammation of the stomach lining
- Hepatitis - Inflammation of the liver
- Pancreatitis - Inflammation of the pancreas
- Pneumonitis - Inflammation of the lungs
- Sinusitis - Inflammation of the sinuses
- Tendonitis - Inflammation of the tendons
- Tonsillitis - Inflammation of the tonsils
- Vasculitis - Inflammation of blood vessels, including arteries and veins
What Causes Inflammation?
Standard texts of pathology, define the process of inflammation as the manner in which the body seeks to wall off, heat up and burn out infective agents or foreign matter.
In other words, inflammation is your body's intelligence at work. It's the way that it attempts to kick start the autogenic self-healing system to defend itself from infective agents and to clear itself of chaos and stress.
So it is this "intelligence" that creates the fever, discomfort and dis-ease. And it is only when this intelligence is completely ignored or discarded that inflammation becomes a chronic health problem.
Common causes of inflammation include:
- Bacterial or fungal infections
- A poor diet riddled with preservatives and processed and refined foods
- Environmental toxins
- Prolonged periods of mental, emotional and physical stress
- A lack of physical movement and exercise
The body’s immune response kicks in only when harmful pathogens, organisms or ingredients invade the body regularly.
However, when the assault becomes overwhelming, the immune response is compromised, which is when the body’s second line of protection sets off the alarm - which is some form of inflammatory response.
How To Reduce Inflammation
As with virtually any dis-ease, for anyone who is ready to go down the "Fastest" path of healing, many chronic inflammatory conditions respond remarkably well to "fasting".
The reason fasting works is because your body diverts all of its available energy to the restoration and healing process when it is relieved from the rigours of constantly digesting food, which saps about 80% of your body's daily energy pool.
Learn more about this in our blog Fasting: What You Should Know
There are several different ways to fast, from water-only fasting, to juice fasting, intermittent fasting and raw mono diets.
The type of fast to choose, really depends on your current health situation, your goals and your access to supervision and support, particularly when it comes to using fasting as a protocol for healing chronic diseases and cancer.
As a general rule, most people who have mild forms of inflammation in the body, will experience beneficial results, even with basic time restricted eating i.e. Intermittent Fasting a few days a week, and/or with periodic multi-day raw juice fasting on fresh-pressed fruit, vegetable and green juices.
If the idea of a liquid only fast doesn't appeal to you, the next best thing would be to do a raw food "fast" incorporating a combination of fresh salads, juices and smoothies. Alternatively, a 14 or 28 day "fast" on raw fruits, vegetables and Pulse Sacred Meal is also a great way to go.
Generally, an extended multi-day fast is something that you would do to help heal a chronic inflammatory condition that has got out of hand, or as a longevity "insurance policy" a few times per year to help you avoid disease.
Intermittent fasting, however, is a smart lifestyle principle that you can practice several days per week, to keep your immunity strong and inflammation in check.
Learn more in our blog Intermittent Fasting: Health Benefits & How To’s
Foods And Natural Remedies For Inflammation
Mother nature provides an abundance of nourishing whole foods and pure essential oils that support the healing process, by getting to the root cause of the chaos that causes inflammation in the body.
What you eat plays a vital role in both prevention and healing of inflammation.
As a staring point, it's important to minimise or better still, avoid, known inflammatory foods that essentially fall into four main categories:
- Processed Meats and Dairy products
- Refined Sugars and Grains
- Food Additives and Preservatives
- Industrial Vegetable Seed Oils
Next, it's important to ensure that you eat a wide variety of locally sourced, seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamins, minerals and enzymes, that will both help your body to naturally detox and deliver your cells the nutrients that they need to heal.
Fruits rich in citrus flavonoids like Vitamin C, will also help to reduce inflammation. Some of the best inflammation-reducing foods include:
Pineapple - rich in a group of protein-digesting, enzymes called bromelain, Pineapple not only aids digestion, but can effectively reduce many kinds of inflammation and swelling in the body.
Bromelain inhibits a variety of inflammatory agents and is a known compound that targets common inflammatory conditions, such as sinusitis, sore throats, arthritis and even gout!
Oranges - have over 170 different phytochemicals and more than 60 known falconoids, which are known to reduce inflammation, shrink tumours, inhibit blood clots and offer strong DNA protection.
Cherries - contain flavonoids, fibre, potassium and traces of vitamins A and C. Not only that, cherries are known to reduce pain in the body, so they are a "must-eat" food when in season, if you have any form of inflammation in your body.
Pomegranate - used in folk medicine to treat inflammation, sore throats and rheumatism for centuries in the Middle East, India and Iran. Pomegranates were used by the Greek philosopher, Hippocrates, as a paste for leg and eye inflammation.
Juniper Berries - have several anti-inflammatory properties that are known to help relieve pain and inflammation related to rheumatism and arthritis. Juniper pure essential oil is effective in treating muscle and joint pain/spasms when applied externally and can also help reduce intestinal pain when taken internally or in the in the form of tea.
Ginger - has strong nutrient and anti-inflammatory properties similar to that of bromelain
Turmeric - contains a component known as Curcumin, potent for ridding inflammatory conditions, better than cortisone and can reduce high levels of inflammation and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Onions - A potent anti-inflammatory food that can help protect against and ease bronchial inflammation and other chest congestions.
Beta-carotene is a carotenoid compound which gives fruits and vegetables their orange/yellow colour. It’s a powerful antioxidant, which shuts down free radicals that cause oxidative damage and stress, and has been shown in studies to be helpful for reducing the severity of inflammatory conditions like asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Foods that contain high levels of beta-carotene include:
- Sweet Potato
- Rockmelon (Cantaloupe)
- Capsicum (Peppers)
- Apricots (Dried apricots are even more concentrated in beta-carotene)
- Organic Soy
- Chia Seeds
A natural compound that has been embraced as an anti-inflammatory for thousands of years, colloidal silver is derived from an electro-magnetic process that pulls microscopic particles from silver into a liquid.
Colloidal Silver is known to help subdue inflammation, stimulate healing and is also effective at controlling infections, both internally and externally.
Since the earliest dynasties of Egypt, pure plant essential oils have proven to be extremely effective natural remedies for treating inflammation through aromatic use and topical application.
A few common essential oils that have known anti-inflammatory properties include:
Known as “The Mother of Essential Oils", Lavender Essential Oil can help ease inflammation due to infections and injuries, by helping to soothe and relieve muscle, joint and other body aches and pains.
Especially good for inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and muscle injuries, Eucalyptus Essential Oil is also a head-clearing, decongestant plant oil that supports the respiratory system, as well as acting as an analgesic (pain reliever).
Peppermint Essential Oil contains two key anti-inflammatory components, menthol and limonene and acts as an effective muscle relaxant. It can also reduce the inflammation of nasal passages, relieve muscle pains and calm spasms caused my cramps.
Rosemary Essential Oil is an effective remedy for reducing inflammation, as it stimulates circulation, increases blood flow to muscles, whilst decreasing swelling and soothing pain in the process.
How to Use Essential Oils for Inflammation
Due to their strength and potency, it is good practice to dilute essential oils with a "carrier oil" such as Fractionated Coconut Oil before being applied topically to the skin.
For joint inflammation, many of the therapeutic benefits of essential oils can be gained by incorporating them into massage oils, by adding them to hot bath soaks and using them in conjunction with warm/cold compresses.
Feed Your Emotions
There is a definite relationship between positive emotions and health, wellness and healing in the body.
In fact, recent studies highlight the inflammation lowering affects of emotions such as, enthusiasm, joy, determination, pride, relaxation and inspiration.
In addition to eating an anti-inflammatory diet, ensure that you're including these important lifestyle steps each day:
- Get clean, fresh outdoor air
- Drink clean fresh water (2 litres minimum)
- Spend 30-45 minutes in the morning sunshine (at least 3-4 times per week)
- Walk and move your body more
- Nurture and cherish your valued relationships
- Make time to follow your passions.
The Main Takeaway
Inflammation is your body's natural healing signal, that you have imbalances that should be addressed.
By reading these signs and taking positive dietary and lifestyle steps, you can gradually support your body back to a state of natural balance.
As we've highlighted here, there are many ways to support the removal of inflammation from the body. The key is to begin by doing the little things right, which include returning to a healthy, whole food based diet and embracing nature's principles of self care to encourage your body to remove the offending causes and to heal and repair.
Tolman Self Care Team.