Inflammation: friend or foe?

Inflammation can be both a good thing and a bad thing, which can be tricky to understand. Here’s why:

Simply put, inflammation is your immune system’s response to damage or injury. When the body detects harm, it sends specialized immune cells to the damaged area that cause pain, redness, and swelling. Harm can range from infection (#coronavirus), physical injury (sprained ankle), or environmental (pollutants, processed foods, etc.).

In the short term (aka “acute phase”), inflammation is a good thing. Pain prevents us from further injuring the area, and the redness and swelling is the result of increased blood flow that brings nutrients and cells to the area to promote healing. Once the threat is neutralized and damage is resolved, the body returns to normal.

The problem arises when we experience long term (aka “chronic phase”) inflammation. The immune system continues to react to a perceived threat of harm, and in doing so, it starts to damage otherwise healthy cells. This is when inflammation becomes harmful to the body and leads to chronic pain and disease.

Think of inflammation like a house on fire. Your immune system calls the fire department, they arrive and make a big fuss – blocking off the street, blaring their lights and sirens, and drenching the whole house with water. It’s a necessary disruption to the neighbourhood, and once the fire is put out, the fire department leaves, the damaged house can be rebuilt, and the neighbourhood returns to normal.

Chronic inflammation is like a fire that has been burning for a long time and has gotten out of control. The flames spread from house to house, smoke pollution impacts people for miles, and the neighbourhood struggles to keep up with its normal activities.

To get this fire under control, we have to do three things:

  1. Stop feeding the fire – identify and treat the cause of inflammation. It might be a low-level infection like SIBO or candida, stress, poor diet, or exposure to toxins.
  2. Call in reinforcements – typically we use anti-inflammatory supplements to help put out the fire.
  3. Rebuild and repair – provide your body with the tools it needs to heal.

Signs you might be living with chronic inflammation include pain, depression, indigestion, insomnia, fatigue, eczema or if you have a chronic health condition like autoimmune disease. There are also lab tests that we can order to identify the presence if inflammation and its cause.

Book your appointment to identify and address the cause of chronic inflammation, and put out the fire so that we can rebuild and repair the body.

 

 

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