How to tame chronic inflammation

In medicine, we now understand how chronic inflammation damages healthy tissue and sets us up for deeper diseases. Many diseases, such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune issues and cancer, have their beginnings in chronic inflammation.

Healing chronic inflammation with natural treatments will make you feel better and decrease your risk of developing many other serious diseases.

Inflammation is a natural process that is designed to promote healing in damaged tissue throughout the body. It is meant to help us heal acute events, such as trauma or infection. The problem occurs when the inflammatory process won’t stop, and begins to damage healthy cells and tissue. Some signs of chronic inflammation are joint or muscle pain, allergies, gingivitis, digestive problems, poor circulation, and swelling or water retention in the legs, feet and hands.

You may be thinking that the use of anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin should be a good way to reduce chronic inflammation and prevent other diseases. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen are good at temporary pain relief but extract a high price for that comfort.

Using NSAIDs puts you at risk for heart attacks, strokes, gastrointestinal bleeding and kidney problems. More studies are showing that NSAIDs also directly damage joints, perpetuating the cycle of chronic inflammation. Fortunately, there are many other ways to stop pain and chronic inflammation before it can steal away your health.

Below are three ways that you can improve the inflammatory state in your body. Some of my patients get quick results with these options, reducing their pain levels significantly. The key is to give it time; the changes can be subtle at first.

Let your food be your medicine. Eliminate grain flours, refined sugar and refined foods from your diet. Keep a pain or symptoms journal, and rate your pain levels daily. The changes can be subtle, so noting how you feel can help you look back and see your progress.

Take natural anti-inflammatories. This supports a healthy inflammatory response. My favorite is curcumin from turmeric. Be sure to get one of the highly absorbable forms, such as Meriva, A few other herbal inflammation fighters are boswellia, ginger, garlic and devils claw.

Rebuild your gut. This is a process that requires several steps to create a healthy gastrointestinal tract. If you have been using NSAIDs regularly then this step is crucial to regaining your health. These steps include rebuilding the mucus lining, eliminating the wrong flora such as yeasts and re-introducing the healthy bacteria or probiotics that should be there.

I regularly see natural medicine decrease chronic inflammation and begin the healing process in even the worst cases. Many of these treatment ideas are not new but have been around for thousands of years.

That provides a good safety reference. Treating the root causes of why the inflammatory process goes rogue can stop your pain and take your state of health to a whole new level.

drnancy@durangonaturalmedicine.com. Nancy Utter is a naturopathic doctor who works in Durango with people of all ages and varying illnesses.