The word 'inflammation' comes from the Latin word 'inflamatio' to inflame or to set on fire. The term inflammaging was originally coined by Italian Professor Claudio Franceschi in 2000 to describe the premature ageing caused by chronic (persistent) inflammation, the fuel that flames the fire of today's chronic degenerative diseases.
You hurt your finger. It immediately turns red, becomes warm and starts swelling. Pain serves to alert you to the problem. The swelling puts pressure on nerves to force you to keep your finger still. The redness is increased blood flow, carrying the repair team to the site of injury.
These are the characteristics of the fire associated with acute inflammation, vital to the healing process. BUT, what happens when orders to the immune system team are unclear? The immediate threat may be over, but they never get firm command to retreat and recover. The team keeps on working in low gear and inflammation turns from friend to foe, becoming chronic.
The renegade fire of chronic inflammation has been linked to all modern-day chronic diseases. These include osteoarthritis, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, metabolic syndrome, obesity, diabetes, cancer, accelerated and premature ageing, dementia, depression, Alzheimer's, autoimmune disease, even autism.
A taste of holistic, integrative treatment options
Food as medicine:
Top anti-inflammatory foods to include in your healthy eating plan: complex carbohydrates, whole, raw and superfoods; unprocessed, organic, unrefined, fresh, plant-based and high fibre foods. Buy organic, at a farmer's market, or even better, grow some of your own in your wellness food garden!
Use coconut oil, olive oil, nuts, grapeseed oil, avocadoes for omega 6 and 9 fatty acids, and more omega 3 essential fatty acids from flaxseed, and fish like sardines, mackerel, pilchards, trout and wild salmon. Include pre- and probiotics to heal and aid digestion, restoring the balance of healthy bacteria in your microbiome, the tiny universe in your gut.
Nutriceutical (nutri-=food; -ceutical = medicine) food
- A daily comprehensive antioxidant in one combination of simple elegance and synergy.
- Calcium and magnesium (always together) in the correct ratio and in amino acid chelate form.
- Omega 3 in the form of fish oil to supply EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
Herbal remedies: anti-inflammatory help from nature:
Recipe for inflammation, colds, flu, fever, sinusitis, muscle aches and pains, joint pains: Mix a pinch each of dried (or fresh) ginger, cinnamon, turmeric in a small glass of warm water, with raw honey to taste - drink regularly for fast relief.
Some other useful herbs: Boswellia serrata, Ginkgo biloba, Arnica, bromelain, papain, Devil's claw, liquorice root, white willow bark, yarrow, black pepper, rosemary, basil, cardamom, chives, cloves, garlic and parsley.
Use essential plant oils in a carrier oil (such as almond) to use for massaging sore and aching limbs or muscles, or to put a few drops, undiluted into your bath, with a handful of Epsom salts – e.g. thyme, rose geranium, bergamot, fennel.
Exercise, sleep, relax: Regular, moderate, enjoyable exercise (swimming, walking, dancing, yoga) reduces inflammation. Your body replenishes, recovers and refreshes during sleep.
Chill out: Manage your stress triggers, especially inflammatory thoughts! Stress gives only one command: we are in a war-zone! Most of us are not even aware that this is the constant command we give our bodies, because we are so used to being all tensed-up. Your daily youthful living regime must include practical stress management, meditation and deep relaxation.
Your mind and body as a holistic entity: Our body is an orchestra composed of talented musicians, the conductor being your own mind. They work together to create the symphony that is our health. Send a clear command to the brain, heart and immune system troops: then sit back and enjoy how well your body responds to this amicable conversation, it's only wish and prime.
Holistic: Treating the whole person - body, mind and soul, rather than only the symptoms of the disease. Integrate: to combine and assimilate into functional wholeness. A medical doctor with an integrative, holistic approach, will treat the symptoms of illness by selecting from many natural remedies that restore physiology and function and then addressing the underlying mind-body cause.
Written by Dr Arien van der Merwe
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