Sunday, November 11, 2018

Causes of Inflammation

In our last blog about inflammation we examined the changes that take place in the body during chronic inflammation. This time, I am going to give you a laundry list of some general, common causes of chronic inflammation. The purpose is for you to recognize these causes of inflammation in your body currently. You have to know what is causing it if you want to remove the cause rather than treating symptoms.

Some causes of chronic inflammation

Gut Flora Imbalance
An imbalance of gut flora with too many “bad guys” producing toxins can create quite a reaction in your immune system.

A large part of the immune system is in the gut lining. This is called the gastrointestinal associated lymphatic tissues (GALT). 80% of the antibodies in your body are made here. This makes sense as the outside world has somewhat easy access into the digestive tract by way of hitchhiking in, on food and drink.

Bacterial population patterns in the human gut predict occurrence of a variety of chronic inflammatory diseases, so the health of our commensal intestinal bacterial flora is very important if we want to decrease inflammation in the body. Intestinal inflammation may lead to  leaky "tight junctions" between intestinal cells, which leads to bits of substances (antigens) getting past the tight junction barriers that should provide a protective barrier in the lumen of the gut. These antigens can cause antibody reactions and lead to inflammation in distant areas of the body and autoimmune disease.

Environmental Toxins
Examples are heavy metals (mercury and lead), light metals (aluminum), herbicides, pesticides, volatile organic compounds, biotoxins (mycotoxins from mold, toxins from algae).  Mercury is in our teeth and vaccinations, lead is in our water and some products, aluminum is everywhere as are herbicides and pesticides. Our homes are built with many toxic products and then we make these homes air-tight, which keeps all that bad air in. If we have a water leak in the house, we now have mold and bacteria growing in conjunction with the toxic building products soup. These toxins in our body can cause a tremendous amount of chronic inflammation.

Chronic Infections
Viral, bacterial, fungal or parasite infection - Examples are chronic Herpes or Cytomegalovirus infections, Candida, and Giardia. Many people have unfriendly guests taking up residence in their body and this adds to the inflammatory load when they get out of control.

Lack of Necessary Nutrients to Support the Body
Lack of necessary nutrients to support antioxidant and, or biotransformational systems. (due to inadequate diets or eating food grown in low nutrient conditions or grown, shipped, packaged or stored in manners that strip the food of their nutrients) Without adequate nutrients, our cells can not function. They are unable to build new healthy cells as needed or to operate normally including protecting the body from toxins from infections, or detoxing the body from the environmental toxins previously mentioned.

Poor Diets that Promote Inflammation
Diets high in sugar, bad fats, inadequate protein, eating low nutrient foods, chemical laden food (pesticides, herbicides, chemicals to keep food preserved or make it pretty). There are many toxins disguised as food in the standard American diet. This is a case where what should cure us and make us strong and healthy, actually adds to the chronic inflammation and malaise.

Food Allergens or Sensitivities
Eating foods you "react to" contributes to inflammation.

Lack of Sleep
Sleep is often neglected as being important. This is the time your body rests and is nourished back to health. This is when your cells rejuvenate themselves. This includes housekeeping for your brain. Sleep is  of utmost importance.

Lack of movement
Considering that exercise has been linked to many chronic diseases, I think we all know how important it is. Now we just need to all act upon this knowledge. Too little and too strenuous movement can cause inflammation, so  a happy medium is necessary.

Excess weight
Obesity goes hand and hand with inflammation and they appear to exacerbate each other. Any poundage you can loose when overweight will help decrease inflammation.

Smoking cigarettes, excessive drinking
They are both bad ideas and lead to inflammation and disease. 

Chronic stress eventually leads to dampening of cortisol and ramps up the immune system, causing inflammation. 

Next time we will look at how to decrease inflammation in the body. 

This post is an excerpt from "Herbal ABC's" with slight changes since it is taken out of context of the book. You can purchase this book from my website or at  (Amazon link below)

Look for my special super-duper holiday sale on these wonderful books, as they make great gifts for friends and family with an interest in herbs and health. I will send out an email with the discount link in another week. Look for it to arrive in your mail box.

Friday, November 9, 2018

How To Prevent a Second Civil War in the U.S.A., With A New Movement Called Bridging

I am receiving emails lately that are from people wanting to exterminate all the people in the other party. In fact the most recent email I received reminded me of things said about Jews when they were rounded up and put into concentration camps. Have some of us really come to this? I have friends in both parties and have always been nonpartisan myself. I hear about good ideas from people in both parties and actually find my friends from both parties usually want the same things as the "other side" but they are often not educated as to what the individuals in the other party really want. Each party focuses their attention on the radical outlying wings of the other party and they imagine that the whole party is like those radicals. Sadly, they often do not want to talk to, or know people in the other party, so their uneducated ideas about each other remain and the divide gets bigger.

There are creative and positive thinkers talking about bipartisanship thankfully. (Things were not always this divided.) However, some would thwart such attempts. I am now getting emails that seem to want to take us into a a very ugly space, even though the two main party leaders are talking about bipartisanship. I received an email today that said, "Naive thoughts of bipartisanship will quickly fade. "Sharp knives" will replace kumbaya in no time." Additionally, the email quoted another person saying, "Those that remain in the "other" party are "bad people." They went on to say we are in a civil war. I have been ignoring these emails trying to divide people as I thought they would disappear, but that is not the case.  I feel I should share a wonderful, creative, bipartisan solution that could make these dismal ideas fade away. It involves putting aside the emotions that are leading people to this divide and using critical thinking to examine each others and our own ideas.

I think this new movement is going to sweep through our nation and I am hoping sooner, rather than later. We do have the ability to create our future. Which future would you like? Do we want civil war or do we want to take a few hours of our day and learn more about each other? Preventing a civil war seems worth the time to at least take the step to learn more. I actually think bipartisanship can work. It is simply a matter of some of us (We know there are some people who will not want to do this and that is okay. It only takes a few of us to get the ball rolling. ) taking some time to actually examine our own ideas and other peoples ideas in a well thought out manner. Seeing the ideas anew and without the emotions attached allows us to critically examine them with an open mind and heart. When we do this there will be some surprised people.  

There is an organization that has formed to use education as a way to bridge this divide between the republicans and democrats. They are called Bridging.Online. You can invite them to your area as they are happy to come talk to people. I listened to them on this podcast from Jefferson Radio and found they had an uplifting point of view and it is my belief they are starting a new movement that could take hold very fast.

What will you learn from them - Critical thinking and getting beyond the left and the right. I suggest you listen to their podcast and take a look at their website or go to their facebook page.

We create our reality by focusing on what we want to happen. Creating bridges is a good point of focus and a good place to put our energy.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Inflammation as The Root of Much Evil

I am sharing some important information about inflammation with you. It is from my new book, "Herbal ABC's" with a few changes since it is taken out of context from the rest of the book. Inflammation underlies most of the chronic diseases people are expressing in their bodies today. I am going to share some some of the basic concepts regarding chronic inflammation, and causes of inflammation. We will examine changes you can implement to decrease inflammation. This information will be broken up into 2 or 3 blogs to keep it easier to assimilate.

Inflammation is involved with health issues in all bodily organ systems and is involved with many chronic disease processes and may well be the root of most disease. The topic of inflammation and anti-inflammatories is extremely important.

What is Inflammation
Inflammation is the body’s process of protecting and  healing and is a natural defense response to irritation such as an injury or noxious stimuli like pathogens (such as viruses, bacteria or parasites) or toxins. Inflammation comes about as part of the immune system’s activity. It is vital for clearing infectious pathogens from the body and helps wounds to heal. Inflammation in small amounts comes and goes as a  necessary part of healing. However, excessive or chronic inflammation is not healthy and usually indicates your body is either under continued assault in some manner or that your body is not able to react in a normal manner to remedy the inflammatory reaction. If the process does not resolve on its own, it is necessary to evaluate the reason for the inflammation and remove or treat the underlying cause. In cases where inflammation is life threatening, it must be addressed immediately. Chronic inflammation that is not attended to can turn into atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, obesity, autoimmune disease, cancer and neurodegenerative disorders to name a few diseases associated with inflammation.

Chronic Inflammation
In chronic inflammation, there is either constant input inducing inflammation, or your body’s reaction to protect and heal may not be working well, or both can be taking place at the same time.

The constant input can be from a continuous viral, bacterial or parasite infection. The infection might be low level and you might not even realize you have it. Chronic inflammation could also be a reaction to heavy metals such as mercury or from the continuous bombardment of volatile organic compounds in a new building, herbicides in the park or one of many other environmental toxins. When an overabundance of pathogens and toxins continue to drain our reserves, eventually the body simply runs out of supplies to protect itself. A continual state of toxicity from one or more causes is often the source of chronic inflammation.

There are various reasons the body might not be able to respond appropriately. There may not be enough of the appropriate dietary nutrients to support production of enzymes that are necessary for the biotransformational (detox) system to remove toxins. The body needs nutrients to make anti-inflammatory cytokines (the body makes both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines) as well as antioxidants to protect the body from the reactive oxygen/nitrogen species. There may be a genetic alteration that decreases the ability to biotransform toxins to a lesser or greater degree, or individual genetics might alter the immune system to make a person more susceptible to certain pathogens and  toxins. A lack of antioxidants can also stress this system as it will result in an increase in reactive oxygen /nitrogen species that add to inflammation. Although, this is a simplistic view, you can get an idea of how chronic inflammation can take hold. In chronic inflammation the mechanisms to shut down inflammation are not working well, there is disrupted homeostasis and chronic disease ensues.

Inflammatory cytokines can increase production of reactive oxygen species and reactive oxygen species can increase the production of inflammatory cytokines. So you can get a vicious circle going on here. Luckily there are anti-inflammatory cytokines that kick in to decrease inflammation if everything is working correctly.

When oxidative stress starts to accumulate, inflammation in the tissue is increased, which can overwhelm the antioxidant system.

Chronic damage to cells leads to constant repair and replacement of cells. When there is constant, excessive inflammation and creation of reactive oxygen species over a long period of time, the ability to repair and replace cells can become compromised. In chronic inflammation the immune system and  reactive oxygen species overwhelm the antioxidant system.

In chronic inflammation, a person may  feel inflamed all over. There may be joint pain that comes and goes or a person may feel tired, and lack strength. Cytokines can affect the brain and cause a person to be forgetful, have trouble finding words, or trouble paying attention. (If not remedied this can become the beginning of a variety of various disease processes.)

Inflammation effects our mitochondria. Mitochondria are called the power-house of our cells as they supply energy for the cells of the body. Chronic inflammation damages mitochondria. This leads to a lack of energy and lowers the bodies ability to heal.

In my next post we will look at some causes of chronic inflammation.

This post is an excerpt from "Herbal ABC's" with slight changes since it is taken out of context of the book. You can purchase this book from my website or at  (Amazon link below)

Look for my special super-duper holiday sale on these wonderful books, as they make great gifts for friends and family with an interest in herbs and health. I will send out an email with the discount link in a few weeks. Look for it to arrive in your email box.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Cinnamon Caused Edema (swollen ankles and legs) In Patient

A recent article in The Journal of American Board of Family Medicine presents a case of edema from taking Cinnamon to treat diabetes. An adult man was taking 1000 mg of cinnamon powder daily (this is similar to about 2, tightly packed double-ought capsules) when he got edema. The edema resolved after he stopped taking the Cinnamon. The authors warned that "Physicians should be aware that consumption of cinnamon bark powder could cause fluid retention and possibly worsen congestive heart failure." 

This man was a part of a type 2 diabetes clinical trial and started the trial with  trace (a small amount) amount of edema. (It is not normal to have edema and may have been the beginning of congestive  heart failure at this point, since he was diagnosed with it 16 months later.) He took 1000 mg of the powder daily and one week after starting the study, he presented with rapidly increasing leg swelling. His treatment was immediately stopped. He presented with no abnormal heart sounds you would expect with congestive heart failure but did have 4+ pitting edema to the knees on both sides of the body. His kidney, liver, and urine tests drawn on that day were normal. Five days after stopping treatment with the cinnamon bark powder, swelling improved back to the trace of edema he started the study with. The patient developed congestive heart failure over the next 16 months. 

The researchers evaluated the coumarin dose in the cinnamon to see if it was above the .1 mg/kg that may theoretically cause liver dysfunction (which can cause edema). It was found to have 5 mg per daily dose which was under the daily dose thought to be an issue.

Therefore the researchers theorized that the cinnamon bark powder may have caused edema through mechanisms that are similar to drugs called thiazolidinediones or glitazones that are used to lower insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes. One of the most common side effects of thiazolidinediones is peripheral edema and 5% of patients using them develop peripheral edema. This percentage can increase up to 18% if used with other antidiabetic drugs. T
he constituent cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon bark powder activates peroxisome proliferated activated receptors with some similarity to thiazolidinediones. Cinnamaldehyde has been shown to cause enhancement in insulin sensitivity and fatty acid β-oxidation and energy uncoupling in skeletal muscle and adipose tissue. Data also suggests that cinnamon in its water extract form (the form studied) can act as an activator of both peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors α and γ, and have been suggested in the pharmaceutical world as an alternative to the thiazolidinedione peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ activators.

So, my take home on this is to be weary of having anyone with even a trace of edema take cinnamon and be especially concerned about anyone with overt edema taking cinnamon. Additionally, it would be good for anyone using cinnamon regularly as a medicine or as a food flavor to be aware new edema or increased edema could be related to their cinnamon intake. 

I will be presenting an article in a few weeks that examines Cinnamon in detail, as I know many of you probably want to know more know about it. We will look at the various types of Cinnamon on the market and what we know about safety and use. I notice the data available online is quite confusing. I plan to clarify it a bit for you.