Sunday, November 25, 2018

How to Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation is the root of many disease processes, but it is an important part of our healing mechanism. How we keep it within healthy limits is what we will examine here.

An antiinflammatory Lifestyle


Start With the Basics

• Moderate Exercise
• Clean water
• Clean air
• Organic, fresh food
• Sunshine
• Restful sleep
• Reflection/Prayer/Meditation

An Antiinflammatory Diet

Morning hydration is important to start the day off right since you become dehydrated at night. Consider a glass of water, waiting for you beside your bed. Most people start off with a cup of coffee which dehydrates them even more. A 16 oz glass of water first thing is a better choice for your first morning beverage.

A healthy diet has lots of dark green leafy vegetables as well as other colorful vegetables and fruits. Eating vibrantly colored food means you are eating a diet high in polyphenols. Polyphenols provide antioxidants to help decrease inflammation. Polyphenols have been shown to decrease a variety of inflammatory disease processes.  I would stress that fresh, raw food should also be eaten at every meal. So make sure you include salads and fresh uncooked fruit as often as possible. They provide nutrients you do not always get in a cooked meal.  Don't forget to include a healthy source of protein which means grass fed animals with room to roam, healthy seafood (getting harder to find) or a mix of complex carbohydrates and legumes.

The Gastrointestinal Chapter of my book "Herbal ABCs book" has a review of a general healthy diet that will help decrease inflammation. A low carbohydrate diet is often useful for "O" blood types and sometimes for other people who are having gastrointestinal inflammation. Carbohydrates in the diet should be complex carbohydrates. These can be healthy for many people, but simple sugars are generally inflammatory.

What we don't eat is as important as what we eat. Remove any food sensitivities, allergens and unhealthy foods from the diet. Elimination diets are a good method to find offending foods. Reducing your intake of fried fatty foods is also helpful.

Supplementing Key Nutrients

Additionally, supplementing basic nutrients may be necessary  to support the diet. Supplements to lower inflammation might include omega 3 fatty acids, B vitamins, vitamin D,  vitamin C, and magnesium. Additionally, supplements that support the bodies biotransformational (detox) system can be key in keeping inflammation under control. Glutathione is an important factor in making sure this detoxification system is well oiled. Supplements that either replace glutathione such as acetyl glutathione or those that help support healthy glutathione levels such as cysteine or alpha lipoic acid can also be beneficial. (More to come on glutathione.)

Healing the Gut

Heal the gut with gut healing herbs such as Calendula, Marshmallow, Turmeric and Chamomile. You can also see the digestive System chapter of "Herbal ABC's" for more ideas on herbs to heal the gut. 
Calendula officinalis
Matricaria chamomilla

Eradicate Infections

Bacteria can increase or decrease inflammation depending on who you feed in your large intestine. Think about increasing biodiversity of good gut bacteria. Support healthy gut bacteria with  water soluble fiber and use fermented foods or if you can't make or get fermented foods, add a variety of probiotics to the diet. The idea is to enhance biodiversity in the large intestine. (There are times when probiotics and prebiotics or certain types of probiotics can be contraindicated such as in d-lactic acidosis and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth - also called SIBO.)

Infections outside of the gastrointestinal tract also increase general body inflammation. This can be acute or chronic infections, and include examples such as herpes, cytomegalovirus, various parasites or smoldering dental bacterial disease. These have to be addressed to regain health.

Remove Environmental Toxins

Make sure your toxic load is low. Remove yourself from water-damaged environments that have toxins such as mycotoxins, bacterial inflammagens, volatile organic compounds or other hazards. These substances will use up all your antioxidants, stress out the biotransformational system and leave you inflamed. Examine your environment for possible sources of these and other toxins such as a water-damage in a building, off-gassing from flooring materials, off-gassing furniture , paints, propane or natural gas appliances, tainted water from natural or human additives, tainted food (from growing, processing, packaging or shipping), lead/mercury/aluminum (in paint, water pipes, mercury amalgams, cookware, jewelry, tableware, toys), food packaging/containers, dry cleaning, cleaning products, toxins brought into the home on your shoes (leave them at the door), flame-retardant products, etc. Please go to the Environmental Working Group for more ideas on where you will find toxins in your environment.

Enhance The Biotransformational (detox) System

Enhance biotransformational (detox) capacities to remove toxins from the body. This can be done by supporting the liver in general and by specifically supporting any biotransformational enzyme system that is not working up to par. Enhancing glutathione is one of the more important aspects of supporting the detoxification capacity of the body. Turmeric and Milk thistle both assist in healthy glutathione levels and removal of toxins.  Saunas are helpful for removing toxins if they are traditional saunas or infrared saunas with low electric and magnetic fields that do not use toxic glues and/or chemically treated wood to make the sauna.

Support the Parasympathetic System (The Rest and Digest part of the Nervous System)

Enhancing the parasympathetic nervous system helps decrease inflammation. It has been shown that stimulating the vagus nerve and enhancing acetylcholine cools down inflammatory cytokines and decreases inflammation in the body. One of the simplest ways to do this is to breathe deeply and slowly. Meditation, prayer, Qi gong, breathing exercises and anything that creates a joyful sense of peace and relaxation will enhance parasympathetic tone in the body.

Specific Antiinflammatory Herbs

I thought you might like to have some ideas of herbs to use as acute antiinflammatories for areas of the body where we most often have acute reactions. Most of the ideas I have given you are for long term use to lower over-all inflammation in the body.

Skin: For the skin, I think of oatmeal as a wonderful topical herb and almost everyone has it in their kitchen. Look for the directions on how to use it as an oatmeal bath in my book, Herbal ABC's.

Respiratory Tract: In the mouth, throat and nasal passages, I would have to say that warm salt water is my first go-to treatment to reduce inflammation and edema. This inexpensive and easy to use treatment is often neglected and I can't stress how useful it is. For acute inflammation from infection, irritation or allergies, I always use salt water first to decrease the inflammation, edema and pain. An herb that I like to use for acute respiratory situations is Yarrow. This astringing herb acts as a wonderful antiinflammatory, diaphoretic, and antimicrobial. It should not be used long term or I would use it for chronic cases also. Both the salt water and a tea of Yarrow can be either gargled, swished around the mouth or snorted up the nostrils. They will both decrease the redness swelling and pain associated with inflammation. Add some salt to the Yarrow tea and you can use both treatments at one time.

Digestive Tract: For acute inflammation I would suggest Peppermint, Chamomile, or Licorice. Peppermint and Chamomile also help remove gas and decrease the pain associated with gas. I will often use either Peppermint or Chamomile and add some licorice to the tea also. Make sure you read about the side effects associated with Licorice. Not everyone can use this wonderful herb.

Some general antiinflammatory herbs, supplements that I like to use in my own life as part of my food, as a tea or supplement is as follows: 

Green tea (great antioxidant and a nice change of pace rather than coffee), Licorice (especially helps people who have low blood pressure, thirsty, static shocks and pee a lot.) Turmeric (I add this to a lot of my food as it makes a great flavor in many foods, but not so great as a tea.), Milk thistle (An amazing herb that benefits almost everyone and supports mitochondria.) These are all some power-hitters when it comes to lowering inflammation. Licorice has side effects and should not be used by everyone. Read up on Licorice before using it.

These are just a few ideas. There are many antiinflammatory foods and herbs. I have 39 different herbs listed as antiinflammatories in "Herbal ABCs". Each has their own special properties and actions to give them their own unique abilities.    

A Word Of Wisdom

Living a non-inflammatory life can sometimes be difficult to maintain or even costly in our current world. However, the cost of not living this way also needs to be examined.  It is helpful to set up our schedules and prioritize our lives in a way that allows for us to rest, eat well, live well and support ourselves.  The other option is to find ourselves spiraling into one of the many inflammatory diseases.  Ultimately, health and a radiant mind can be had by keeping inflammation under control.    

Learn More About Herbs

I currently have a super-duper holiday sale on these wonderful books, as they make great gifts for friends and family with an interest in herbs and health. One book is 15% off and two or more are 25% off until December 15th, 2018 - Only at my website and only available in the U.S.A. 

For additional information on Biotransformation (detoxification) And Inflammation:
Broccoli and Biotransformational Detox