Inflammation is a telltale sign that something isn’t right within the body. Inflammation is necessary to start the healing process but when it becomes chronic due to stress, disease or injury it becomes destructive and we need to try to reduce it either by allopathic or natural remedies.
Inflammation is oxidative stress and one of the ways we can measure it is by assessing levels of C-Reactive Proteins (CRP). When there is inflammation CRP levels are elevated.
What is Inflammation?
Comes from the Latin word, inflammatio, to set on fire) is the complex biological response of vascular tissues to harmful stimuli, such as:
- damaged cells (injury) indicated by elevated levels of cytokines
- Irritants. (allergies) Made worse by a diet too high in concentrates
It is a protective attempt by the organism to remove the injurious stimuli as well as initiate the healing process for the tissue
Note: Inflammation differs from infection which is caused by an exogenous(external) pathogen, while inflammation is the (internal)response of the organism to the pathogen.
In the absence of inflammation, wounds and infections would never heal and progressive destruction of the tissue would destroy the organism. However, inflammation which runs unchecked can also lead to a host of diseases, such as hay fever, atherosclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis in people and chronic pulmonary disease, arthritis etc in horses. It is Inflammation is normally tightly regulated by the body and can be classified as:
- Acute inflammation which is the initial response of the body to harmful stimuli and is achieved by the increased movement of plasma and leukocytes from the blood into the injured tissues. A number biochemical events create the inflammatory response, involving the local vascular system, the immune system, and various cells within the injured tissue
- Chronic inflammation or Prolonged inflammation, is characterised by simultaneous destruction and healing of the tissue over a long period of time. Chronic inflammation then becomes systemic placing a huge burden on the body leading to raised cortisol levels.
There are Two main Inflammatory Responses and they are:
Histamine Histamine acts on the body by combining with specific cellular receptors located on cells. There are four histamine receptors that have been discovered are
- H1 histamine recepter Found on smooth muscle, endothelium, and central nervous system tissue. Causes vasodilation, bronchoconstriction, smooth muscle activation, separation of endothelial cells (responsible for hives), and pain and itching due to insect stings; the primary receptors involved in allergic rhinitis symptoms and motion sickness Gingko and Devils’ Claw may help with this form of inflammation.
- H2 histamine receptor Located on parietal cells Primarily stimulate gastric acid secretion. ( prolonged stress in race horses and some high level dressage horses develop ulcers through this pathway)
- H3 histamine receptor Decreased neurotransmitter release: histamine, acetylcholine, norepinephrine, serotonin. Affects behaviour creating excessive reactivity in horses. (MAO) reuptake inhibitors like St John’s wort can reduce inflammatory effects in this pathway
- H4 histamine receptor Found primarily in the thymus, small intestine, spleen, and colon. It is also found in the bone marrow
Are found in virtually all tissues and organs. These are lipid mediators that act upon platelet, endothelium, uterine and mast cells, among others. They are synthesized in the cell from the essential fatty acids (EFAs). Omega Oil supplementation in combination with Devil’s claw, St John’s Wort White willow bark, Yucca Gingko and yarrow will enhance the anti-inflammatory effects.
There are three main prostaglandins
- Series-1 Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) via DGLA (anti-inflammatory)
- Series 2 Arachidonic acid (AA) (Pro-inflammatory)
- Series 3 Eicosapentaenoic acid(EPA) (anti-inflammatory
There are currently nine known prostaglandin receptors on various cell types. These receptors mean that Prostaglandins act on a broad range of cells, and have a wide variety of actions:
- cause constriction or dilation in vascular smooth muscle cells.
- cause aggregation or disaggregation of platelets
- sensitize spinal neurons to pain.
- constrict smooth muscle
- regulate inflammatory mediation.
- regulate calcium movement
- regulate hormone balance
- Control cell growth.
How Inflammation Affects the Body
With the onset of winter the requirements for supplements have changed to ones concerning joint mobility, age related arthritis and the residual effects of sub-clinical inflammation which leads to elevated levels of cytokines. Reducing overall systemic inflammation may help reduce the onset of degenerative diseases. Devil’s Claw and herbs like white willow bark can help reduce systemic inflammation.
- Raises the cortisol set point making you more sensitive to pain
- This can make you hyper-alert with a reactive adrenal response.
- Sensitivity to touch which indicate a lower pain threshold.
- Lower dopamine and serotonin levels which affect levels of substance P.
- May develop insulin resistance evidenced through fat pads around the stomach.
- Magnesium being shunted way from the nervous system and excreted.
- Prolonged stress may lead to calcium deposits in the brain which oxidise to kill neurons. It can also lead to stomach ulcers in sensitive people.
- Chronic inflammation can affect blood and oxygen supply to the muscles meaning that there is increased tension throughout the body
So What can We Do to Protect Our selves from Chronic Inflammation?
- Avoid refined foods like white sugar, flour and in particular any processed foods with numbers on the labels.
- Avoid alcohol and high caffeine drinks like coffee coca cola.
- Avoid aspartame or any other artificial sweetners. Anything labelled sugar free.
- Avoid processed foods claiming to be fat free. These have artificial substances that provide a fat texture.
- Avoid poly unsaturated oils stored in plastic bottles as these are pro-inflammatory.
- Maintain a low inflammatory diet. Not too high in concentrates and proteins.
- Go back to drinking whole milk. Avoid low fat, homogenised or any milk that has been ‘tampered’ with.
- Ensure you get sufficient sleep. Sleep prior to 12.00 is always more restorative due to cortisol levels starting to raise after 3.00am.
- Reduce stress particularly in the evenings. Deep diaphram breathing will help cortisol levels thereby reducing pain levels.
- Maintain exercise levels to what is comfortable for you. Do not simply go to bed and expect immobility to somehow ‘cure’ the body. The body will heal itself more effectively if a full range of movement is maintained.
- Ensure there are sufficient fatty acids in the diet in the form of omega oils. These ideally should be bottle in dark glass or tin to prevent acryl imides form leaching into the oils. This leads to pro-inflammatory substances.
- Provide sufficient magnesium in the form of supplements as it will affect calcium movement and provide a buffer against stress. Additional supplements of magnesium will help address muscle tension through low levels of this mineral.
Natural Pain Relief and anti-Inflammatories
Sometimes all you need to break the cycle of pain, anticipation and reactive behaviour. If this doesn’t help then herbal supplements along with omega oils and magnesium will help reduce pain. Start by taking herbal remedies daily and commit yourself to taking them for at least a month. What we have found is that people will find after a week or two that the pain is reduced often totally absent. It is a slower more gentle way than allopathic analgesics.
- St John’s wort alters the perception of pain. (In other words raising the pain threshold which in turn lowers stress)
- Devils Claw as well as being an analgesic and anti-inflammatory also is sedating. We have found around 3ml twice daily to help with chronic pain
- Omega Oil act in two ways. One, they modulate the balance between prostaglandins 1 and 3 with 2 to have an anti-inflammatory effect. Two they restore the lipid layer around all cells to improve the exchange of nutrients and wastes through the cell walls. So what ever supplements you are feeding omega oils help improve the efficiency of absorption.
- Taking vitamin C (ascorbyl palmitate) in an Omega oil Smoothie will help restore any damaged cartilage by stimulating the production of collagen which then helps produce cartilage and then synovial fluid.
Smoothie Recipe that may help reduce inflammation
This smoothie should be taken in the morning to stimulate acetylcholine (energy neurotransmitter) production
Half a cup of yoghurt ( we use a full cream raw milk one)
half a cup of mango pulp or pineapple and fruit pulp
1 dessert spoon of Omega Oil Complex (this will help correct inflammatory prostaglandin imbalance)
1 tsp of cottage cheese ( sulphur based protein )
3ml Gingko extract
3ml Devil’s Claw
½ tsp ascorbyl palmitate (oil soluble vitamin C)
Tsp spirulina which provides amino acids (protein load)
1 dessertspoon lecithin granules ( flushed and clears arteries and is a precursor to acetylcholine)
Blend with a stick blender