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Inflammation and Chronic Disease

Heart, Inflammation | July 17, 2019 | Author: Naturopath

Inflammation, dementia, heart disease, diabetes

Inflammation and Chronic Disease

We need inflammation, without inflammation wounds would not heal and pathogens become major infections. Inflammation is a response by the body to injury and is needed to initiate healing. It is the way the body notifies the immune system of foreign microbial invasion by bacteria or viruses; trauma has occured or potential noxious substance has entered the body. But inflammation can also be involved with some serious health conditions. When the physological response becomes chronic or inappropriate, damage to health can occur, such as autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid, lupus etc), heart disease and stroke.

Inflammation is recognised generally as acute or chronic.

Acute inflammation

This is when the body responds with inflammation to tissues damaged due to such things as trauma, bacterial attack or harmful compounds. The response is usually strong and immediate with symptoms only lasting a short time. Inflammation processes a harmful stimulus and begins the processes for healing. Macrophages are immune cells which live in tissues and organs. They coordinate inflammatory reactions in the body and monitor tissue activity, converting information. This information results in the various immune systems cells releasing substances known as inflammatory mediators. They dilate blood vessels (redness and swelling), increase blood flow (transport immune cells) and irritate nerves to send pain signals to the brain.

Signs of acute inflammation can be redness, heat, swelling, pain and loss of function, or there may be no symptoms at all. The body may also respond to inflammation by becoming fatigued or feeling listless.

Common acute inflammatory conditions include bacterial or viral infections, burns or any trauma causing physical injury. 

Sub-acute inflammation is time after an acute inflammatory response and usually last between 2 – 6 weeks. The injury/damage will either be resolved or become a chronic inflammatory condition.  

Chronic inflammation

This is considered long-term, slow resolving inflammation which may last for months or even years. The cause of the injury and how well the body is able to resolve or over-come the damage, influence the level and consequence of chronic inflammation.

Causes of Chronic Inflammation

There are a number of causative factors.

Invading pathogen has not been eliminated. This could include bacterial, fungal, protozoa and parasites which have resisted death from our own body’s defences.

Environmental toxic exposure. Compounds absorbed from the environment in which the body is unable to eliminate through normal detoxification. This might include house hold mould, smog, cigarette smoke, car fumes, workplace and industrial chemicals (cleaning solutions, asbestos, silica, coal etc.).

Re-occurring infection or acute inflammation. Muscular and skeletal inflammation and viral infections, for example, which continue to infect the body. 

Auto-immune disease. This is an aberrant immune response against the body’s own healthy cells. Examples of an autoimmune disease include diabetes, celiac disease or rheumatoid arthritis

Inflammatory and biochemical inducers from endogenous illnesses.

  • Mitochondrial dysfunction/diseases.  Mitochondria are the energy-producing components of the cell. They are responsible for processing oxygen and converting the substances from the food we eat into energy. Diseases of the mitochondrial are long-term and often inherited, or genetic disorders where the mitochondria fail to produce enough energy for the body to function properly. Mitochondrial dysfunction can occur due to other diseases or disorders of health. This can include Alzheimer’s disease, muscular dystrophy, diabetes, cancer and Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Risk Factors

  • Age - healing slows as we age
  • Obesity - is an inflammatory disease in itself
  • Diet - some foods contribute to inflammation
  • Stress
  • Sleep disorders
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Smoking - toxic exposure

Impact of Chronic Inflammation

Chronic inflammation can be a pathway to major health disorders. The World Health Organisation (WHO) positions chronic diseases as the biggest threat to human health and chronic inflammatory diseases are the most substantial cause of death in the world. These include diabetes, respiratory disease, heart disorders, stroke, cancer and obesity.

Specific chronic inflammatory diseases such as Cardiovascular disease, joint disease (arthritis’s), allergies and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) are the most prevalent diseases in the world. Chronic inflammation is connected to these diseases.

Obesity 

Underlying etiological factors in the development of obesity-related chronic diseases are long-term imbalances of oxidative and inflammatory stress, leading to tissue damage, dysfunction and ultimately death.
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Resolving inflammation

Inflammation is normal. It is a mechanism by the body to signal all is not as it should be. It indicates infection, injury or malfunction. This allows the body to send in forces to resolve the problem. A robust inflammatory response is the firsts step towards healing.

Symptoms of pain and fatigue of chronic inflammation can interfere with day to day tasks and contribute to poor sleep and low mood.

There are many areas of the body which may be dealing with inflammation at the same time, and as we age resolution of injury and inflammation can be harder and take longer. There are some nutrients which can help with modulating immune responses, but more specific therapies may be needed for certain health conditions – such as diabetes and heart disease.

Healthy microbiome

In healthy humans, the microbiome within the gut exist in a state of mutually beneficial symbiosis, offering many valuable functions for human health. Short-chained fatty acids produced from the breakdown of complex carbohydrates offer an anti-inflammatory action, vitamins, hormones and neurological signaling molecules (serotonin for example), are derived from microbial bioactive metabolites, for example.

Irregular bowel habits (constipation and loose bowel motions), pain, bloating, nausea, halitosis and gas can be obvious symptoms the terrain and inhabitants in the digestive tract are not in a balanced state (dysbiosis).

More serious chronic inflammatory conditions such as obesity and insulin resistance, autistic-like behaviour, neurol inflammation, colitis and anxiety-like behaviour have improved by use of microbial modulation.

Poor and irregular eating habits, medication (antibiotics, proton pump inhibitors etc), stress, obesity, toxin exposure, and pathogen load (bacteria, fungi, protozoa) can result in inflammation.

An unhappy digestive track can influence mood and cognitive function, skin health and energy levels, but also contribute to autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, atopic asthma, inflammatory bowel disease and bowel cancer.
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Prebiotic and probiotic and therapies to support the microbiome include:

Antifungal/antimicrobial. To reduce the pathogenic load. Oregano oil, wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) and Berberine found in - Phelodendron amurense are suggestions.
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Garlic. Various studies have shown compounds from garlic are able to perform many immune-supporting functions. These include: antiparasitic, anticancerogenic, immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory. As well as improving hyperglycaemia and dyslipidaemia, cardiovascular diseases, infectious disease, allergy and autoimmune disorders.
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Antioxidants to protect. Vitamin C

Fibre – Helps support healthy bowel function and probiotic growth. Linseeds, psyllium, slippery elm, guar gum and inulin.

Probiotics. Live and functionally strain specific probiotic (specific to condition) to re-establish a healthy composition of the microbiome. Check with your doctor or naturopath for the right probiotic for you.
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Fish oil. Omega 3 fatty acids in clinical trials have shown beneficial anti-inflammatory action from supplemental intake on multiple disorders associated with inflammation.
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Herbs for inflammation

Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

Boswellia (Boswellia serrata)

Herbs for Immunity

  • Echinaces
  • Andrographis
  • Elderberry
  • Olive leaf
  • Astragalus
  • Garlic

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Choose a healthy diet and lifestyle to support your body to aid the reduction of inflammation. Reduce food intake, remove known allergens and foods which aggravate. Stop smoking. Reduce or eliminate alcohol. Prioritise nutritious food. Practice good sleep hygiene.

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References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279298/

Chronic Inflammation https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/

Immune biomarkers for chronic inflammation related complications in non-cancerous and cancerous diseases. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28674756

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15612-mitochondrial-diseases

The role of the gut microbiome in systemic inflammatory disease https://www.bmj.com/content/360/bmj.j5145

The gut microbiome: Relationships with disease and opportunities for therapy https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6314516/

Understanding how omega-3 dampens inflammatory reactions https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170823093831.htm

Immunomodulation and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Garlic Compounds https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4417560/

Partially hydrolysed guar gum accelerates colonic transit time and improves symptoms in adults with chronic constipation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24711073

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