Inflammation is a normal, healthy immune response to infection or injury. It is a natural body protection that helps bring blood and defensive protection and healing to the area. This includes white blood cells and other various chemicals that protect you from infection and foreign substances.
However, inflammation can become chronic due to different factors. These factors often involve infections but can also include poor diet, stress, lack of exercise, or exposure to environmental toxins. In some instances, this normal defense system continues an inflammatory state longer than needed when there are no invaders left to fight – or even wrongly causing it to begin with.
In this mode, your body’s normally helpful immune system causes damage to the surrounding tissues. This situation can be at the heart of many of the pain-causing conditions we have – or even becoming a more intense chronic inflammation.
If you suffer from an inflammation-related condition, such as arthritis, neck and back pain, or tendonitis, there may be nicer, natural nutrients that can help instead of drugs. We are not “anti-drugs” but they do tend to have some nasty side effects. Adding anti-inflammatory herbs to your health regimen may help you manage your pain without the side effects.
Although they are not as fast-acting as standard pain medication, such herbs may significantly diminish your pain when used regularly. (This is especially true when combined with daily exercise and the practice of relaxation techniques, both of which can provide pain reduction).
Keep in mind that anti-inflammatory herbs do not heal the cause of the inflammation itself, despite their pain-easing effects. Furthermore, addressing the cause of chronic inflammation is essential for working your way toward optimal health. Inflammation is not only known to generate pain, it can be a signal for chronic diseases that need attention.
What is an Autoimmune Disorder?
Many people have never heard of an autoimmune disorder, but there are plenty of people walking around that are afflicted with them. There are many different kinds of autoimmune disorders and none of them have a cure. Worse still, some of them can be fatal.
An autoimmune disorder is a condition you get when your body starts attacking healthy parts of your body. There is not always one specific cause and, sometimes, doctors can’t find any clear cause at all. However, it is often set off by an infection. As we said, your body attacks the infection. Once the infection goes away, your body somehow gets confused and continues to attack your body,as well.
Autoimmune disorders come in many different forms. Some affect only the skin. Some, like SLE(Lupus), affect the skin as well as internal organs like the heart and kidneys. Others are limited to the brain or nervous system. What they all have in common is the body’s attack on itself. Without proper treatment, the body can completely destroy itself.
Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s Disease
There has been quite a bit attention lately given to the possible effects inflammation can have on age-related neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease (Joseph, Shukitt-Hale, & Lau, 2007). It is not just these degenerative diseases but, possibly, many other illnesses and conditions. Chronic inflammation places stress on the body – as well as the degenerative effect that they have.
There is a steady stream of new evidence of the dangers of inflammation coming out. This is especially true of the processes involving aging. Fortunately, right on the heels of these discoveries, is the additional increase in knowledge about natural answers. Nutrient compounds, derived from fruits and vegetables, are strengthening in evidence that they may lower the risk of developing age-related neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. These findings further the idea that a diet rich in fruits, herbs and spices may contribute to the reduction of inflammation and be preventive against related diseases.
The inflammatory response is a complex cascade of steps that includes:
- An activation of white blood cells,
- The release of immune system chemicals such as complement and cytokines, and
- The production and release of inflammatory mediators and prostaglandins.
Inflammation may be acute, chronic or relapsing-remitting depending on the disease course. Most conventional treatments for autoimmune disease, including corticosteroids, work by reducing or suppressing inflammation.
Many herbs also possess anti-inflammatory (also known as antiphlogistic) characteristics. Herbs can be used as the sole therapy in autoimmune disease or as complementary corticosteroid-sparing therapies allowing patients to take smaller doses or shorter courses of corticosteroids. Treatment protocols today often rely on both alternative and conventional treatment options in a discipline known as integrative medicine.
Herbal Medicine’s Anti-Inflammatory Herbs
Herbal medicine relies on active plant chemicals with biological properties. Many conventional medicines are synthetic compounds designed to mimic the action of plant chemicals. For instance, the heart medication, digoxin, is derived from the foxglove plant. In herbal medicine, active chemicals are extracted from the plant parts (stems, seeds, roots, or leaves) that are the richest sources. The active chemicals can be quantitatively measured and prepared in the form of capsules, tinctures, teas, tonics, oils, or poultices.
Other herbs known to reduce inflammation include ginger, turmeric, boswellin, bromelain and other herbs in our Inflammation formula. Curcumin is the best anti-inflammatory but is poorly absorbed so it doesn’t get to give its best effort. However, we have two greatly improved absorption forms called Theracurmin and Meriva – with up to 45x more bio-availability!
The medicinal effects of various plant and herb chemicals all have different properties as they go about their business of reducing inflammation. For example: herbal spice components reduce inflammation by influencing arachidonic acid metabolism and also the secretion of lysosomal enzymes by macrophages. They also inhibit the secretion of collagenase, elastase and hyaluronidase. This helps control the release of pro-inflammatory mediators such as eicosanoids.
Cytokines are chemicals that modulate the immune response. High levels of cytokines cause many of the detrimental consequences in autoimmune disease. Many plant chemicals have effects on at least one of the following cytokines: interleukin-1 (IL-1), interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and interferon (IFN).
Allopathic medicines might be the gold standard in today’s modern medical set ups, but the use of herbs goes back in history as pharmacognosy, which has ancient roots and is an important branch of pharmacology.
In addition, most modern anti-inflammatory drugs are not stomach friendly and definitely not friendly on the consumer’s pocket – especially when they have to be used for a longer period. So giving Mother Nature, and anti-inflammatory herbs, a chance at healing is definitely worth considering.
Don’t keep taking herbs a secret from your doctor! Herbs shouldn’t be added to a healing protocol without first consulting with one’s integrationist physician. In addition to herbal anti-inflammatory properties, some herbs also have sedative and spasmolytic properties. This could interfere with the effects of other medications or cause undesirable side effects. It is best to check first.
And, finally, our Infla-Mazing Plus relief formula answer.
Antoine Al-Achi, Anti-inflammatory Herbs, U.S. Pharmacist, March 15, 2004.
Kenneth Proefrock, Latest Updates in the Botanical Treatment of Autoimmune Diseases, Southwest Conference on Botanical Medicine 2003.
K. Spellman, Modulation of cytokine expression by traditional medicines: a review of herbal immunomodulators, Alternative Medicine Review, June 2006; 11(12): 128-50.