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Chronic Inflammation: Ways to Cool Down Disease

by Nancy Russell, M.D.


Inflammation in the body presents in many ways. These inflammatory conditions can set up shop in every part of the human body. In the bones and muscles, it is called arthritis, bursitis, or tendinitis. In the digestive tract, it is gastritis, diverticulitis or colitis. On the skin, it is dermatitis or folliculitis. The suffix “-itis” is shared by these conditions and many more including gingivitis (gums), cystitis (bladder), plantar fasciitis (feet). 



Inflammation can be acute, from an infection or after a cut or injury, or the chronic variety, which can be a hidden cause of disease mediated by the immune system. The immune system detects foreign invaders called antigens with antibodies.

Immunoglobulin M or IgM antibodies go in first, figure out the weak points of the invader to assess how to attack and/or eliminate them. IgA antibodies protect the lining of the body in the nose, sinuses, digestive tract and other mucous membranes. IgE antibodies respond to environmental challenges. If the antibodies say the problem is self, them they stay at rest. If the antibodies answer is other or invader, the battle begins. 



In acute inflammation, millions of white blood cells go to the area of the injury, whether it is a cut, burn, bite or scrape; the area becomes swollen, red, hot and painful. These are all signs that the immune system is doing its job. This type of inflammation is protective and a natural part of the healing process. But if inflammation goes on too long, if it becomes chronic instead of acute, all that healing hyperactivity can eventually damage the tissues of the body. In the mouth, a long-term buildup of bacteria can stimulate constant inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) which is chronic, cell-damaging inflammation that studies show is a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, pregnancy complications, Alzheimer’s disease and pancreatic cancer. So brush and floss your teeth daily for prevention of this type of inflammation. 



In the respiratory tract, chronic inflammation can become asthma, easily inflamed airways that swell and clog with mucous. In the intestinal tract, chronic inflammation can take the form of inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. In the arteries, the immune system responds to cholesterol as a foreign invader. White blood cells rush to the cholesterol and stick to the cholesterol, inflaming the artery lining and forming plaque. This process of inflammation can lead to heart attacks, strokes and other circulation problems. 



What causes all this inflammation that you can have control over is as follows. 

Nutritional deficiencies such as too little omega 3 fatty acids or too little zinc can weaken the immune system. Other sources of limiting the immune system full function is sleep deprivation, ongoing stress, hormonal imbalances, digestive difficulties and cellular toxicity. By addressing these real causes with real cures, you can optimize the functioning of your immune system, prevent it from overreacting, and stop chronic inflammation from undermining your health. 



The anti-inflammatory diet consists of eating mostly whole, fresh foods, grass fed meats, use extra virgin, organic olive oil or coconut oil, cage free eggs, plenty of vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds and drink plenty of water. Other tips for reducing inflammation include: reducing negative thoughts as they decrease natural killer cells, reduce stress and depression, be optimistic, express your anger in a healthy way, and ask for help if you need it. 



For acute inflammation from an injury, use natural remedies such as resting and elevating the area, ice, compression, elevation and use enzymes between meals, arnica creams and curcumin products. Other helpful herbs for more chronic inflammation can be boswelia, willow bark and cherry. Acute and chronic inflammation can be reversed, in many cases without over the counter anti-inflammatory or prescription drugs. For more assistance in this area, consult a functional medicine physician or practioner. 

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Nancy Russell, M.D. has been a holistic Internal Medicine physician in the Kansas City northland for over 30 years at 5140 N. Antioch Road in Kansas City, MO.


Her phone number is 816-453-5545 and website is where you can get more information. Dr. Russell is board certified in holistic medicine and is a member of the American Holistic Medical Association and a prior board member.

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