USE RED / YELLOW SPICES TO HELP SOLVE INFLAMMATION
CURCUMIN / TUMERIC, BERBERE, CINNAMON, CURRY,
SAFFRON, GINGER, CUMIN, MUSTARD, BOSWELLIA........
The craziest thing is that not only is inflammation being driven by the CRAPPY DIETS eaten by most Americans, but it's being driven by the drugs we take to compensate for said diets. For instance, SUGAR DRIVES BOTH INFECTION & DYSBIOSIS. But when we go to the doctor for either, we are given ANTIBIOTICS that cause the very problem(s) we are trying to correct. This is true of any number of drugs, including many NON-ANTIBIOTICS.
My goal is to see you get healthy, get to a normal weight, get off your drugs, GET OUT OF PAIN, and get your life back. It all starts with controlling inflammation. Not with NSAIDS or CORTICOSTEROIDS mind you, but with tangible lifestyle changes. Although EXERCISE is important, it is minimally so when compared to what you put in your mouth. WHAT YOU EAT is critical --- critical for controlling inflammation and feeding a healthy (anti-inflammatory) MICROBIOME. It's one more reason why figuring out how to get more anti-inflammatory spices into your diet is important for all of us --- especially if we are dealing with CHRONIC INFLAMMATORY DEGENERATIVE DISEASES, CHRONIC PAIN, AUTOIMMUNITY, a bad case of "THE LEAKIES," or any number of others.
ANTI-INFLAMMATORY YELLOW SPICES
According to a popular online encyclopedia, "Curcumin has been shown to inhibit certain epigenetic enzymes." Why is this such a big deal? Because due to EPIGENETICS, you can no longer blame most of your health issues on your genes. Some of the 'enzymes' mentioned are responsible for seriously ugly diseases, while others are simply part of the enzymatic cascade of compounds that make up the inflammatory pathways. As far as studies are concerned, if you go to PubMed and start looking at how much peer-reviewed (MAINSTREAM) research there is on Tumeric / Curcumin, you'll be amazed. I've seen reputable sources say that there are nearly 7,000 studies touting the benefits of this yellow spice. These studies have made it into some doctor's offices.
An email I received just yesterday from the Psychiatric Times carried a PDF Power Point presentation by expert on Bipolar Disorder, Dr. James Phelps (Curcumin: New Use for an Old Spice). Phelps stated that, "Accumulating evidence implicates inflammation as a critical mediator in the pathophysiology of mood disorders." That's right folks, even Depression is considered to be "inflammatory" (HERE) along with any number of "psych" disorders. To see a list of health-related issues that have been helped by Curcumin / Tumeric, HERE it is (if the health problem is related to inflammation, I promise that someone somewhere has done or is currently doing research on it with Tumeric / Curcumin).
One more thing you need to understand about Tumeric / Curcumin is that by itself, it is not absorbed well. This means that you can eat lots and lots of top quality product and get little or no real health benefit, unless...... Just remember to use it with pepper (black pepper), as this simple spice will dramatically boost Tumeric's bioavailability. Also remember that for those of you with NIGHTSHADE SENSITIVITIES, this could present a problem (Nightshades come into play with many of these other spices as well).
Berbere is a family favorite because of my ETHIOPIAN DAUGHTERS. After making two trips to Ethiopia a bit over five years ago, I came back with a love for Ethiopian food, which is seemingly all spiced up with Berbere, giving it a unique smell and taste. The way that almost all Ethiopian food is eaten is by using Injera (a spongy sourdough pancake-like bread made from Teff --- a GLUTEN FREE grain) to mop up the vegetable and meat dishes, which are often combined. If you've never tried Ethiopian cuisine, find a restaurant and go. Or better yet, make a friend with someone from Ethiopia (they are some of the most generous, genuine, and caring people I've ever been around) that might eventually be willing to cook you an authentic meal (you buy the food).
Studies have shown that of all the spices we've mentioned thus far, Cinnamon has the highest antioxidant capacity. And in similar fashion to the other spices we've discussed today, Cinnamon has powerful anti-inflammatory properties as well, which means it can prove helpful when dealing with all sorts of health-related conditions (HERE is a list) as well as helping to lower LDL CHOLESTEROL. It's also been shown to be a powerful weapon in the war against DYSBIOSIS --- particularly against YEASTS & FUNGUS. You could certainly add a bit of Cinnamon to the drink mentioned earlier, although I would absolutely not recommend that you consume Cinnamon in THIS MANNER, as it can be hazardous to your health.
The thing about all the spices discussed today (as well as any number I did not manage to get to) is that when used with common sense and moderation, you can't really go wrong. They are spices for Pete's sake, and have been used for millennia both for making food tastier as well as for medicinal purposes. However, if you are on certain drugs --- particularly blood-thinners --- ask your doctor. Or maybe just go and check online as your doctor is not likely to know (HERE). The internet is full of great articles about the safety profiles of herbs and spices, finding the best sources for quality products, as well as recipes for using said spices, which can be a helpful part of THIS PROTOCOL.
DEATH BY SCAR TISSUE (FIBROSIS)
HOW MANY OF YOU REALIZED THAT SCAR TISSUE IS AMERICA'S #1 CAUSE OF DEATH?
Although I use the term "Scar Tissue" with my patients because it's easy for them to understand and already holds certain connotations, the medical community uses the word "Fibrosis". No matter what anyone tells you, these are the same entities (HERE). And while Scar Tissue is responsible for any number of chronic pain syndromes (HERE), how shocking would it be to learn that it is America's number one cause of death as well? Enter Dr. Thomas Wynn.
Dr. Wynn is a respected and highly decorated senior researcher for the NIH. He is a microbiologist and director of their Immunopathogenesis Section. Although his primary specialty has to do with specific inflammatory reactions caused by specific kinds of PARASITES, his real area of expertise is researching the INFLAMMATION / FIBROSIS CONNECTION. According to the NIH website, Dr Wynn's job is to figure out, "the mechanisms of fibrosis." The reason for his quest is simple --- finding a compound that can be turned into a blockbuster drug for getting rid of Scar Tissue, but sparing normal tissue. What do we currently use right now? According to Wynn, "Although fibrogenesis [the genesis or 'birth' of fibrosis] is increasingly recognized as a major cause of morbidity and mortality, there are few—if any—treatment strategies that specifically target the mechanisms of fibrosis." Why is this important to know?
When Wynn uses terms like morbidity and mortality, he means disease and death. I've already mentioned some of the heavy-hitter diseases in the top paragraph, but as for death, can Scar Tissue really cause death? Not only does it cause death, it causes it on a scale grander than you could have ever imagined. Dr. Wynn minces no words when he states via his NIH bio that, "nearly 45 percent of all deaths in the developed world are attributable to fibroproliferative disorders." In other words, out of the 2,626,418 deaths that occurred in the United States in 2014, approximately 1,180,000 were the direct result of fibrosis.
The truth is, this number is probably low since the stats are two years old. Face it; people have not gotten healthier --- less inflamed --- over the course of the past couple of years. Secondly, if you understand the basics of the process, you have a better chance of saving yourself from the possibility / probability of a long, drawn out, and miserable death. You see, it's not so much that people are, as JT sang about almost three decades ago, 'DYING YOUNG', it's that people are dying after years --- sometimes decades --- of misery and suffering. It's a scenario that drug companies absolutely love because it usually means that people are on lots of drugs for a very long time (HERE).
If you are tired of being not only being BIG PHARMA'S lackey (Webster's: "servile follower"), but their lunch ticket as well, it might be in your best interest to understand a single paragraph written under Dr. Wynn's biography. We'll get there, but first you need to grasp a couple of essentials as we move forward.
WHAT IS FIBROSIS AND HOW DOES IT KILL YOU?
"The extracellular matrix (ECM) is the non-cellular component present within all tissues and organs, and provides not only essential physical scaffolding for the cellular constituents but also initiates crucial biochemical and biomechanical cues. Although, fundamentally, the ECM is composed of water, proteins and polysaccharides [long chains of sugar molecules], each tissue has an ECM with a unique composition and topology. Moreover, the ECM is a highly dynamic structure that is constantly being remodeled. Through these physical and biochemical characteristics the ECM generates the biochemical and mechanical properties of each organ, such as its tensile and compressive strength and elasticity, and also mediates protection by a buffering action that maintains extracellular homeostasis and water retention. Acute injury activates the fibrogenic machinery and induces wound healing.
In a healthy tissue, once the wound has been repopulated [with collagen and ECM], strict feedback mechanisms are initiated that ensure restoration of tissue. Under extreme conditions, such as repeated injury, these aberrant conditions promote chronic vascular remodeling and enhanced ECM crosslinking that eventually leads to aberrant fibrosis and an inability of the tissue to heal properly. This aberrant wound healing scenario is characterized by the altered mechanical stability and reduced elasticity that is typical of scarred tissue. In extreme cases, a chronic wound can also promote a tumor."
Did you catch all this? Scar Tissue is bad news that can lead not only to chronic pain, but to sickness, disease, and death. It does this by creating a microscopically "crosslinked" HAIRBALL-LIKE WEB OR NET of aberrant collagen and ECM. This web not only causes mechanical restriction, but THICKENED TISSUE IS WEAK as well as hypoxic, effectively acting to choke off the blood supply via entangling and then strangling the capillary beds, which causes low OXYGEN levels and pain, as well as an impaired ability to heal. The important thing to remember is that this process can occur anywhere in your body, including organs. But all of this begs yet another question --- what sort of "injury" or "insult" causes said fibrosis?
In his NIH bio, Wynn nibbles around the edges of this question by revealing that said "injuries" can occur in a variety of manner. "Fibrotic tissue remodeling is the final common pathological outcome of many chronic inflammatory and infectious diseases." In his scientific paper he goes on to spell it out in no uncertain terms. "Fibrosis is the end result of chronic inflammatory reactions induced by a variety of stimuli including persistent infections, autoimmune reactions, allergic responses, chemical insults, radiation, and tissue injury". In other words, his list covers the brunt of the THREE BULLET POINTS I dealt with recently. Of these, the easiest to control comes from the "chemical insults". The truth is, the average American is chemically insulting their body on an almost hourly basis via the garbage we continue shoving into our collective pie holes --- especially this time of year as the HOLIDAY SEASON is upon us.
The secret to stopping fibrosis is stopping inflammation. Wynn tells us why in his NIH bio. "When the wound-healing response is well organized and controlled, the inflammatory response resolves quickly, and normal tissue architecture is restored. However, if the wound-healing response is chronic or becomes dysregulated, it can lead to the development of pathological fibrosis or scarring, impairing normal tissue function and ultimately leading to organ failure and death." Death? Because the first step in "Death by Fibrosis" is the creation of an inflammatory response, the next question that needs answered is.....
WHAT IS INFLAMMATION?
Inflammation is difficult to address properly because it is needed for your body's normal, everyday, healing processes ("synthesis of extracellular matrix components like collagen is an indispensable and, typically, reversible part of all wound-healing responses"), but these processes can, and often do go plumb haywire ("normal tissue repair can evolve into a progressively irreversible fibrotic response if the tissue injury is severe or repetitive or if the wound-healing response itself becomes dysregulated"). Which brings us to still another question; how does the healing process get derailed to the point where it becomes pathological? Much of it revolves around the fact that everything you do is either driving or squelching normal FIBROBLASTIC ACTIVITY within the body.
WHEN INFLAMMATION BECOMES A PATHOLOGICAL PROCESS
CAN FIBROSIS BE REVERSED?
Because a pathological fibrotic process is, at least in most cases, a normal healing process gone out of control, stopping it can prove difficult. Everything that might be driving the process of inflammation must be addressed. But clicking the link shows that the medical community is, BY AND LARGE, not interested in dealing with inflammation's number one cause -- poor diets. They are far more interested in dealing with inflammation via drugs, or via some sort of yet-to-be-discovered drug that can break down Scar Tissue, while leaving the healthy tissue untouched. Unfortunately, Dr. Wynn reveals in his NIH bio that so far, this has proved to be a pipe dream. "Few—if any—treatment strategies specifically target the mechanisms of fibrosis." So what has the medical community done? They've simply moved upstream from dealing with fibrosis to deal with the cause of fibrosis --- inflammation. The conundrum here is similar to that seen in fibrosis --- that inflammation is a vital part of normal immune system function and intercellular communication, as well as being intimately involved in your body's minute-by-minute healing processes.
Don't get me wrong; suppressing various inflammation pathways is often quite effective --- at least as far as short term symptomatic relief is concerned (NSAIDS for instance). The problem is that the drugs that do this best have side effects that are often MUCH WORSE AND MUCH MORE FREQUENT than we have been led to believe by our doctors or the TV COMMERCIALS we all seem to trust so much. These drugs have an accumulative effect on the various cells, organs, and tissues in the body (particularly the heart, kidneys, and liver). And when we move up to the heavy-hitters that actually suppress the immune system itself, things have the potential to get downright ugly.
These "uglier" drugs include CORTICOSTEROIDS and the recycled chemotherapy drugs from the 1960's (TNF-α Inhibitors) whose generic names end with "mab" such as Humira or Remicade, or etanercept (Enbrel). I would never argue that this class of drugs does not work; they often work like magic. Just understand that their side effect profile can be rather severe due to the fact they are strenuously and aggressively suppressing one's own immune system (Solomon's study in Arthritis and Rhematology stated that, "there is concern that therapy with TNF inhibitors might predispose patients to adverse effects related to impaired immunity, including an increased incidence of infections and/or cancer." Here's my simplest take on the whole mess.
If you haven't already done it, change the way you eat. But please hear what I am saying. The point is not to suggest that AN ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET is going to solve all cases of fibrosis. It's to let you know that because it has the potential to dramatically aid most of you who try it in one way or another (it's the lowest of the low-hanging fruit), it's never a bad option for whatever ails you. But remember; diet is not the only way to get inflammation under control --- not by a long shot.
I've shown you SOME OF THE MIRACLES that can occur when people with chronic diseases and autoimmunity realize that they can actually start blocking the process of fibrosis by inhibiting inflammation at its source(s) (HERE). The end result is that they not only feel better, their body starts to work more like it should again. And while it might be tough (even impossible) to reverse fibrosis in say the heart, it is much easier to reverse the process in the musculoskeletal system. Because so many painful conditions have FIBROTIC FASCIA or FIBROTIC TENDONS as part of their pathology, dealing with them IN A MECHANICAL FASHION can often prove EXTREMELY EFFECTIVE. Part of this is because as opposed to organs, they are usually SUPERFICIAL ENOUGH to be accessible enough to treat.
REVISITING THE INFLAMMATION / FIBROSIS (SCAR TISSUE) CONNECTION AS THE SOLUTION TO CHRONIC PAIN AND CHRONIC DISEASERead Now
FOR THOSE STRUGGLING WITH CHRONIC PAIN AND / OR CHRONIC DISEASE
INFLAMMATION & FIBROSIS
THE FORMER ALWAYS LEADS TO THE LATER
"Nearly 45% of all deaths in the developed world are attributed to some type of chronic fibroproliferative disease [fibrosis]. Fibroproliferative diseases, including pulmonary fibrosis, systemic sclerosis, liver cirrhosis, cardiovascular disease, progressive kidney disease, and macular degeneration, are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality and can affect all tissues and organ systems. Despite its enormous impact on human health, there are currently no approved treatments that directly target the mechanism(s) of fibrosis. Damage to tissues can result from various acute or chronic stimuli, including infections, autoimmune reactions, and mechanical injury. Although initially beneficial, the healing process becomes pathogenic if it continues unchecked, resulting in substantial formation of permanent scar tissue. Pathogenic fibrosis typically results from chronic inflammatory reactions — defined as responses that persist for several weeks or months and in which inflammation, tissue destruction, and repair processes occur simultaneously." Dr. Thomas Wynn from The Journal of Clinical Investigation (Common and Unique Mechanisms Regulate Fibrosis in Various Fibroproliferative Diseases). The good news for those of you struggling with chronic pain or chronic illness is that the author goes on to say that there is an, "emerging paradigm that fibrosis is a reversible process."
- MECHANICAL CAUSES: This category contains things like POOR POSTURE, FORWARD HEAD POSTURE, WHIPLASH, SPORTS INJURIES, or many of the items found HERE.
- CHEMICAL CAUSES: This could be anything from exposure to chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, BPA, MEDICATIONS (even OTC medications), cleaning products / beauty products / pesticides / herbicides (HERE), CIGARETTES, lead, MERCURY, ALUMINUM, TOO MUCH ESTROGEN, GLUTEN or similar food sensitivities, along with too many others to even contemplate.
- STRESS: Stress can come in many forms. It can be either mechanical or chemical, but it can also be emotional. It can be dietary as well (usually ADDICTIONS to JUNK FOOD and CARBS). Stress can lead to ADRENAL FATIGUE, which can wind up throwing people into CENTRAL SENSITIZATION (FIBROMYALGIA is in this category). The end result is almost always some sort of SYMPATHETIC DOMINANCE.
Inflammation is the name given to the hundreds of chemical mediators that act as the body's cellular messengers for the purpose of healing damaged tissue. The body doesn't really care how the tissue injury occurred (or in many chronic cases, is ongoing), but will do what it takes to heal it by manufacturing and releasing the chemicals (inflammation) to do so. The thing to remember here is that while a certain amount of inflammation is needed, anything over that amount causes a wide variety of problems. Although the list of potential problems caused by unbridled inflammation are virtually limitless, one sticks out above the rest due to it's penchant for causing pain, sickness, disability, and death, all on a grand scale (the quote at the top shows that it causes almost half of all deaths). We are talking about Fibrosis.
I have shown you any number of times (HERE is the best example), that too much or too many of the chemical mediators needed to heal damaged tissue (INFLAMMATION) always leads to formation of the Scar Tissue that the medical community refers to as "FIBROSIS". Thus, it should be fairly clear that we are not only talking here about the SCAR TISSUE that I deal with all day long in my clinic as far as solving CHRONIC PAIN SYNDROMES is concerned. We are talking about the microscopic adhesions that form the foundation of virtually every single disease process you can name (and hundreds more you can't).
Bottom line, inflammation kills via a process of your body weaving microscopic webs that ensnare and entangle cells, tissues, and organs, preventing them from moving, gliding, or functioning biochemically as they should. For those of you who think I'm "whistlin Dixie," this post is for you. Follow along as I prove this to you this from the peer-reviewed literature of the past two or three months (all quotes are cherry-picked due to restraints on time and space). Which is exactly why you should be living an ANTI-INFLAMMATORY LIFESTYLE --- even if you are healthy. Especially if you are healthy! Taking your health for granted because you are free of symptoms today, can inhibit your body's ability to fight off or heal whatever life decides to throw at it tomorrow.
INFLAMMATION ALWAYS LEADS TO FIBROSIS
THE PEER-REVIEWED RESEARCH FROM THE PAST COUPLE OF MONTHS
WEED, INFLAMMATION, & FIBROSIS: The November issue of the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology carried a fascinating study called Cannabinoids, Inflammation, and Fibrosis, which compared the anti-inflammatory abilities of NSAIDS to WEED. The study revealed that, "Cannabinoids apparently act on inflammation through mechanisms different from those of agents such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). As a class, the cannabinoids are generally free from the adverse effects associated with NSAIDs. Their clinical development thus provides a new approach to treatment of diseases characterized by acute and chronic inflammation and fibrosis. Several cannabinoids may be considered candidates for development as anti-inflammatory and antifibrotic agents. Of special interest is their possible use for treatment of chronic inflammation, a major unmet medical need." As you wind your way through today's post, pay close attention to how many mainstream journals are running trials on various herbs, plants, and botanicals as alternates to pharmaceuticals.
GENERALIZED INFLAMMATION, FIBROSIS AND DISEASE: Less than a month ago, Fundamental & Clinical Pharmacology published a study called Purinergic Receptors: New Targets for the Treatment of Gout and Fibrosis. This study showed that, "Extracellular ATP [energy] release by activated or necrotic [dead or dying] cells may activate various purigenic receptors and especially P2X7R. P2X7R is known to regulate the activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome, which permit the release of IL-1β, a potent pro-inflammatory cytokine. The P2X7R/NLRP3 pathway is involved in many inflammatory diseases, such as gout, and in fibrosis diseases associated with inflammatory process, liver or lung fibrosis." Bottom line, researchers are looking for various compounds to be patented as blockers of this pathway that could be sold for huge profit at drugstores.
INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE: The October issue of Gastroenterology (Mechanisms, Management, and Treatment of Fibrosis in Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases) concluded that, "In the last 10 years, we have learned much about the pathogenesis, diagnosis, and management of intestinal fibrosis in patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Just a decade ago, intestinal strictures were considered to be an inevitable consequence of long-term inflammation... IBD-associated fibrosis was seen as an irreversible process that frequently led to intestinal obstructions requiring surgical intervention." Unfortunately, even though things are improving, this sort of fibrosis is still largely irreversible via medications (HERE). Case in point, a study from October's issue of the American Journal of Physiology Gastroenterology & Liver Physiology (Hydroxylases Regulate Intestinal Fibrosis....) which concluded, "Fibrosis is a complication of chronic inflammatory disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a condition which has limited therapeutic options." There were also several studies discussing various compounds to block the body's inflammatory pathways. Last month's issue of Crohn's & Colitis (Genetic Deletion of Tissue Inhibitor of TIMP-1 Alters Inflammation and Attenuates Fibrosis) revealed that, "Increased levels of tissue inhibitor (TIMP-1) have been detected in both inflammatory and fibrotic lesions in Crohn's disease.... Chronic inflammation and fibrosis were associated with an increase in TIMP-1."
ABDOMINAL ADHESIONS: Pirfenidone is an anti-fibrotic drug that works by down-regulating the production of growth factors and pro-collagen substances. In a study from August's issue of the Journal of Investigative Surgery (Effect of Pirfenidone on Vascular Proliferation, Inflammation and Fibrosis in an Abdominal Adhesion Rat Model), the authors started out by subjecting three groups of female rats to a model that is known to create abdominal adhesions. The rats were treated in various ways by the drug Pirfenidone. Not that I'm really interested in this drug, but we learned that, "Intraperitoneal administration of pirfenidone compared to oral administration was more effective in reducing tissue levels of inflammatory markers." Why did this matter to the authors? Because Inflammation always leads to Fibrosis! "Pirfenidone is an effective agent on the prevention of postoperative vascular proliferation, inflammation and fibrosis in scarred tissue." By the way, I get lots of questions about POST-SURGICAL SCAR TISSUE. The real question that needs to be answered as related to this particular bullet is whether it's in the ABDOMINAL WALL OR ABDOMINAL CAVITY.
SYSTEMIC SCLEROSIS A.K.A SCLERODERMA: Scleroderma is one of the Autoimmune Diseases my sister cured herself of (along with Rheumatoid Arthritis, something similar to Lupus, and two others --- HERE). It is an all over fibrosis, that causes a wide variety of pain syndromes and organ problems. Last month's issue of the American Journal of Physiology (Transforming Growth Factor β... Inflammation and Pulmonary Fibrosis) concluded that, "TGF-β signaling ["inflammation"] affects pulmonary abnormalities... that manifests three important lung pathological features: fibrosis, inflammation, and vascular remodeling." A study from the October issue of the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology (Th17 Cells and IL-17 Promote the Skin and Lung Inflammation and Fibrosis....) concluded that the TH-17 SYSTEM, "participates in the pathogenesis of skin and lung fibrosis by enhancing fibroblast proliferation and cytokine [inflammation] production." HERE is information about fibroblasts (scar tissue / collagen forming cells) as related to this subject. Not surprisingly, two weeks ago the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy (Intestinal Dysbiosis is Common in Systemic Sclerosis....) related it all to GUT HEALTH and something called DYSBIOSIS. "Recent evidence suggests altered microbiota composition, commonly referred to as dysbiosis, has been shown to induce and modulate systemic inflammation in rheumatic diseases and immune-mediated inflammatory diseases. In the field of rheumatology, intestinal dysbiosis has been associated with rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjögren’s syndrome and ankylosing spondylitis. In Scleroderma, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth [SIBO] is a well-described complication associated with GI dysmotility, GI discomfort, and malnutrition. Dysbiosis was more severe in patients with elevated serum markers of inflammation. We suggest that an aberration of the intestinal microbiota may contribute to the development of systemic inflammation and fibrosis." October's issue of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology (Glycyrrhizin Ameliorates Fibrosis, Vasculopathy, and Inflammation...) looked at the effects of licorice root as a solution to this problem. "Systemic sclerosis is a multisystem inflammatory and vascular disease resulting in extensive tissue fibrosis. Glycyrrhizin, clinically used for chronic hepatic diseases and itching dermatitis, modulates the pathological processes of inflammation, vasculopathy, and fibrosis in human diseases. These results indicate that glycyrrhizin ameliorates dermal fibrosis through the inhibition of fibroblast activation [fibrosis]."
METABOLIC SYNDROME: Metabolic Syndrome, more commonly referred to as Cardiometabolic Syndrome or Pre-Diabetes, is absurdly out of control here in America (HERE). Characterized by having two of seven distinct entities (HERE), this problem potentially affects all organ systems. The September issue of Obesity Science & Practice (Highly Purified Eicosapentaenoic Acid Ameliorates Cardiac Injury and Adipose Tissue Inflammation...) showed how PFGO (my clinic's number one selling product) can prevent both inflammation and fibrosis. "The present study has here shown that EPA attenuated adipocyte hypertrophy [fat cell growth] and inflammation in visceral fat [fat around organs] as well as fibrosis, diastolic dysfunction, oxidative stress and inflammation in obese rats. The beneficial effects of EPA on the heart are likely due to reduced cardiac oxidative stress and inflammation." The September issue of the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology dealt with the DIABETES DRUG Gemigliptin, saying that it, "ameliorated inflammation and fibrosis through suppression of oxidative stress." In a similar study from October's issue of Medical Hypothesis, a drug originally made from flowers (Colchicine) specifically for people who don't tolerate NSAIDS, was tested on people with Metabolic Syndrome. Authors concluded that, "it appears to exert an anti-inflammatory, anti-fibrotic, and immuno-modulatory effect". How effective are these and similar drugs at actually solving Metabolic Syndrome? Despite what these last two studies are saying, unfortunately not too (see previous link).
FULL-BLOWN DIABETES: Truth be known, for all intents and purposes, if you have pre-diabetes you are a functional diabetic. So it's no surprise to see that this month's issue of Pharmacology and Therapeutics dealt with the issue in a study called Cardiac Oxidative Stress in Diabetes: Mechanisms.... What is the mechanism for developing diabetes? In a study that addresses AGES, Vascular Complications of Diabetes....., we saw yet again that, "cardiac oxidative stress is associated with increased cardiac fibrosis and hypertrophy, and reduced cardiac performance and contractility, leading to severe cardiac dysfunction and potentially fatal cardiac events. It occurs under conditions of excessive synthesis of reactive oxygen species [FREE RADICALS]. The ensuing activation produces inflammation, fibrosis, and further oxidative stress, which itself causes DNA and membrane damage." The October issue of Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy published as study showing that one way to halt this damage was via a Chinese herb known as Dendrobium Officinale Kimura. The authors concluded that this herb, "possesses cardioprotective potential against diabetic cardiomyopathy, which may be due to the inhibition of oxidative stress, cardiac lipid accumulation, pro-inflammatory cytokines and cardiac fibrosis." Needless to say, there were several similar studies talking about inflammation and fibrosis the liver, lungs, and other organs as related to diabetes (HERE is my article on Fascia as related to Diabetes).
HEART: Bear in mind that a myocardial infarction (MI) is the medical way of saying "Heart Attack". Last month's issue of Arthritis Care and Research (Magnetic Resonance-Detected Myocardial Inflammation and Fibrosis in Rheumatoid Arthritis....) concluded that, "Myocardial dysfunction and heart failure are increased in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). These data suggest that MR findings indicating myocardial inflammation/fibrosis are correlated with RA disease activity and alterations in myocardial structure known to associate with precede clinical heart failure." The November issue of Inflammation published a study on inflammation and fibrosis as it relates to heart attacks, saying that, "Inflammation has been implicated in myocardial infarction. MDM2 associates with nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB)-mediated inflammation. MDM2 inhibition reduced cardiac dysfunction and fibrosis after MI." Just a couple of weeks ago, the British Journal of Pharmacology published a similar study called SITA Reduces Inflammation, Fibrosis and Preserves Diastolic Function...... In this study we saw that, "SITA positively interferes with inflammatory-related endothelial dysfunction and fibrosis... Myocardial levels of pro-inflammatory TNF-α, IL-6 and MCP-1 were reduced. The markers of oxidative and nitrosative stress were decreased. Moreover, increase of collagen deposition and activation of pro-fibrotic signaling, that lead to elevated myocardial stiffness, were attenuated by SITA." Last month's issue of the Journal of Biochemical and Molecular Toxicology carried research that dealt with a substance called Galectin (a group of proteins characterized by the way they bind to sugar) as it relates to monocrotaline (a toxic plant constituent that poisons livestock and humans through the ingestion of contaminated grains and other foods, which causes an array of heart problems). "Galectin-3 (Gal-3) plays a critical role in vascular inflammation and fibrosis. The role of TGF-β1 in mediating pulmonary vascular fibrosis is well documented; thus, we suspected that Gal-3 could be an important factor in TGF-β1-induced fibrosis in pulmonary fibroblasts." What are FIBROBLASTS? Click for the answer (blasts are "builders," thus fibroblasts build fibrous tissue. This is fine and is necessary for healing as long as there is not too much inflammation in the system, which always ends up causing fibrosis.
LUNGS / ASTHMA: This month's issue of the American Journal of Respiratory, Cell, and Molecular Biology published a study about the way that inflammation causes fibrosis after chronic UPPER RESPIRATORY INFECTIONS. "NFkB is a major controller of pulmonary fibrosis, a finding that has potentially important relevance to airway remodeling produced by repetitive viral infections" This is a huge deal once you understand how important NFkB really is. According to Wikipedia it's, "a protein complex that controls transcription of DNA, cytokine production and cell survival. NF-κB is found in almost all animal cell types and is involved in cellular responses to stimuli such as stress, cytokines, free radicals, heavy metals, ultraviolet irradiation, oxidized LDL, and bacterial or viral antigens. NF-κB plays a key role in regulating the immune response to infection." Another study from the same issue of the same journal looked at similar compounds concluding, "that the redistribution of SOD3 as a result of the R213G SNP protects mice from bleomycin-induced fibrosis and secondary pulmonary hypertension by improved resolution of alveolar inflammation." Interestingly enough, when researching this post I found numerous studies on the anti-inflammatory herb curcumin. Last month's issue of Inflammation carried a study which concluded, "Pulmonary fibrosis is associated with irreversible, or partially reversible, airflow obstruction and ultimately unresponsiveness to asthma therapies such as corticosteroids. Intranasal curcumin, an anti-inflammatory molecule, has been found effective in allergic asthma." Wow! Why has it been effective? "Curcumin significantly inhibited airway inflammation and pulmonary fibrosis. These results suggest that intranasal curcumin regulates airway inflammation and remodeling in chronic asthma." Another study with curcumin, this one from the November issue of Pharmacological Research (Curcumin Use in Pulmonary Diseases) revealed that, "Over the last several decades, the therapeutic properties of curcumin have slowly been elucidated. It has been shown that curcumin regulates transcription factors (NF-kB), cytokines (IL6, TNF-alpha), adhesion molecules (ICAM-1), and enzymes (MMPs) that play a major role in inflammation and cancerogenesis. These effects may be relevant for several pulmonary diseases that are characterized by abnormal inflammatory responses, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, acute respiratory distress syndrome, pulmonary fibrosis, and acute lung injury. Furthermore, some preliminary evidence suggests that curcumin may have a role in the treatment of lung cancer." speaking of Cancer as related to fibrosis (we already know Cancer is considered an "INFLAMMATORY DISEASE")........
CANCER: Because CANCER is running rampant in the United States, it pays to understand its link to inflammation and fibrosis. The November issue of Cancer Letters revealed how intimate the relationship via its title, G Protein-Coupled Estrogen Receptor Deficiency Accelerates Liver Tumorigenesis by Enhancing Inflammation and Fibrosis. Earlier this year, the Soviet journal Molekuliarnaia Biologiia (S100A4, A Link Between Metastasis and Inflammation) concluded that, "Chronic inflammation is acknowledged to be a hallmark of neoplasia - both in cancer initiation and metastasis progression [spreading to other areas within the body]. Here we summarise data suggesting that S100A4 is а trigger of the cascade events that establish an inflammatory milieu and provide a potent flame for primary tumour growth and especially for its metastatic dissemination. This protein is also involved in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases, fibrosis, and other disorders. Therefore, we suggest that S100A4 is a common pro-inflammatory factor involved in the pathogenesis of diverse diseases including cancer." This next study looks at the whole inflammation / fibrosis / cancer link as it pertains to a tropical flowering plant called Plumbago Genus. October's issue of Oncotarget revealed that, "Results shown that plumbagin increased survival rate, reduced liver congestion and inflammation, and remarkably diminished liver fibrosis and inflammation in the chronic liver injury model. Plumbagin may be a powerful drug candidate to protect the liver from acute and chronic damage by inhibiting inflammation and collagen production [fibrosis]."
OBESITY: OBESITY is yet another of those common health issues that falls under the category of "Inflammatory". Last month's issue of Scientific Reports (A High-Fat High-Sucrose Diet Rapidly Alters Muscle Integrity, Inflammation and Gut Microbiota...) concluded something we are already largely (no pun intended) aware of (HERE), "Abnormal muscle repair is defined by sustained muscle fibrosis, which interferes with the appropriate healing of muscle tissue. We show that intramuscular fat, fibrosis, and the number of pro-inflammatory cells increased by day three and was sustained across twenty eight days of high-fat high-sugar feeding compared to control-diet animals. This muscle wasting includes both intramuscular adipose [fat] accumulation and muscle fibrosis, and moreover, intramuscular fat and inflammatory cell accumulation is associated with the onset of insulin resistance. Adipose tissue lipid storage is altered with obesity, and adipose tissue fibrosis is considered a hallmark of metabolic alterations. Moreover, insulin resistance is reported to be a consequence of human adipose tissue fibrosis." Did you catch that? Read it again carefully if you didn't. Although intimately related to each other, Insulin Resistance occurs long before diabetes or even pre-diabetes (HERE). The important point to remember here is that not all fat is created equal (HERE). Because dietary fat can either drive inflammation or squelch inflammation, it would be interesting to see this study repeated with a wide variety of dietary fats. DO NOT BE AFRAID OF DIETARY FAT --- make fat your friend!
POST-SURGICAL DISC PROBLEMS: Earlier this year, an issue of the Annals of Neuroscience published a study called Experimental Model of Intervertebral Disk Mediated Postoperative Epidural Fibrosis. In this study, we learned that, "It is known that scar tissue is always formed as a physiological reaction to any surgical intervention in response to the surgical trauma. However, the intensity and duration of this process may be different and depends on many factors. Postoperative epidural fibrosis after lumbar discectomy is its most common and at the same time controversial issue. Epidural fibrosis has been described in 24-38% of patients with failed back surgery syndrome. Re-operations, aimed at scar resection are difficult and ineffective and have higher risk of complications. Data analysis shows that there are different inflammatory substances involved in formation of scar adhesions after spinal surgery, and various degrees of peridural fibrosis are detected. In addition, it is known that the tissue of degenerated nucleus pulposus can maintain a state of chronic inflammation in spinal canal and nerve roots, membranes of spinal cord and epidural adipose tissue, and it causes reactive changes therein which leads to development of scar adhesions [fibrosis]. Intervertebral disk tissue is avascular; it is formed separately from the immune system and possesses antigenic properties. The destruction of intervertebral cartilage triggers the cascade mechanism of cellular immunity, which leads to formation of anti-disk antibodies. Antigen-antibody complexes stimulate the production of pro-inflammatory substances (cytokines, prostaglandin) and proteolytic enzymes (proteases, collagenases) that induces progressive degeneration of the intervertebral disk and adhesions development with other structures of the spinal canal." Pay attention because in the same way that tissue from INJURED BRAIN is attacked as "foreign" once it's displaced into the bloodstream, so can the disc's inner jelly (NUCLEUS) be likewise attacked. In either case, the result is an AUTOIMMUNE REACTION. This is why the protocol I will show you at the end of the post can dramatically and often times rapidly help many of you struggling with disc issues.
SPINAL CORD INJURY: You need to know a bit about GLIAL CELLS for this bullet. A month ago today, Brain Research carried a study called Curcumin Inhibits Glial Scar Formation by Suppressing... Inflammation and Fibrosis. The authors concluded, "Spinal cord injury leads to glial scar formation by astrocytes, which severely hinders neural regeneration. Curcumin can inhibit glial scar formation. We found that curcumin and... could inhibit astrocyte activation through suppressing NF-κb signaling pathway, which led to down-regulate the expression of chemokines MCP-1, RANTES and CXCL10 [inflammation], thus reducing the inflammation in the glial scar. Curcumin reduced α-SMA (an important symbol of fibrosis) and inhibited glial scar formation by regulating fibrosis. This study confirmed that curcumin could reduce the expression of intracellular and extracellular glial scar components through dual-target regulating of both inflammation and fibrosis." Looks to me like you should be thinking about adding "The Yellows" (circumin, boswellia, tumeric, etc) to your nutritional regimen.
SCOLIOSIS: This amazing study done on fish (Unilateral Perivertebral Fibrosis Associated with Lordosis, Kyphosis and Scoliosis (LKS) in Farmed Chinook Salmon...) was carried in the October issue of Diseases of Aquatic Organisms. "Radiography and histology were used to quantify lordosis, kyphosis and scoliosis (LKS) and perivertebral fibrosis... The most frequent histological finding was unilateral perivertebral fibrosis that often resulted in separation or loss of myocytes [muscle cells]. Histology of other tissues revealed multifocal inflammation within muscle, peripheral connective tissues and myocardium. In this study, LKS was consistently and significantly associated with perivertebral fibrosis, suggesting that perivertebral fibrosis is an important process in the development of LKS." This is not surprising considering that farmed salmon is raised in warm waters and fed grain (both skew the fatty acid profile away from OMEGA THREE), while wild cold-water salmon are loaded with naturally occurring (anti-inflammatory) Omega-3 fatty acids. Cold water is what causes high Ω-3 fatty acid profiles. Could something similar be occurring in humans? Probably on some level. Considering that the average American is consuming about 1/30th the amount of Ω-3's they should be, it makes sense.
SHOULDER INJURIES: Less than two weeks ago, the Journal of Orthopedic Surgery and Research carried a study on shoulder problems. In it they concluded, "We hypothesized that a rat shoulder contracture model using immobilization would be capable of producing effects on the glenohumeral joint similar to those seen in patients with frozen shoulder. Infiltration of inflammatory cells was found in the synovial tissue until 2 weeks after immobilization. However, inflammatory cells were diminished and fibrosis was dominantly observed in the synovium and subsynovial tissue 3 weeks after immobilization. Our study demonstrated that a rat frozen shoulder model using immobilization generates the pathophysiologic process of inflammation leading to fibrosis on the glenohumeral joint similar to that seen in patients with frozen shoulder." Although I treat tons of SHOULDER PROBLEMS very successfully, I don't have the rapid (often times instant) results with frozen shoulders. By the way, the "official" name of Frozen Shoulder Syndrome is Adhesive (adhesion = fibrosis) Capsulitis (itis = inflammation). Thus, it's fibrotic change occurring deep down in the joint's ligamentous capsule.
MICROBIOME MODULATES BOTH INFLAMMATION AND FIBROSIS: On Pearl Harbor Day, the official journal of the American Heart Association (Circulation) carried a study called High Fibre Diet and Acetate Supplementation Change the Gut Microbiota and Prevent the Development of Hypertension and Heart Failure. The authors concluded that, "Dietary intake of fruit and vegetables is associated with lower incidence of hypertension, but the mechanisms involved have not been elucidated. We found that high consumption of fibre modified the gut microbiota populations and increased the abundance of acetate-producing bacteria. Acetate had similar effects and also markedly reduced renal fibrosis. Transcriptome analyses showed that the protective effects of high fibre and acetate were accompanied by the down-regulation of cardiac and renal Egr1, a master cardiovascular regulator involved in cardiac hypertrophy, cardiorenal fibrosis and inflammation." If you are interested in the relationship of one's MICROBIOME to inflammatory and autoimmune illnesses, as well as chronic pain, just follow the link.
BPA CAUSES BOTH INFLAMMATION AND FIBROSIS: BPA is a highly toxic chemical found in plastics, similar synthetics, the lining of food cans (huh?), and any number of other sources. Trust me when I tell you it's bad news (among other things, it's a hardcore XENOESTROGEN). This month's International Journal of Experimental Pathology confirmed this with a study called Inflammation, Oxidative Stress and Apoptosis Cascade Implication in Bisphenol A-induced Liver Fibrosis.... Authors concluded that, "Bisphenol A (BPA) is a key monomer in the production of plastics. Inflammation and oxidative stress are closely linked with liver fibrosis... In addition, there was inflammation, oxidative stress, reduction in glutathione [a powerful antioxidant] and apoptosis [cell death]. Thus, the mechanism by which BPA induced liver fibrosis seems to be related to stimulation of the inflammatory response..." This, folks, is downright freaky!
SLEEP APNEA: Most commonly the result of obesity, SLEEP APNEA is in the news again; this time in a study published in the November issue of the Journal of Biomedical Research (Chronic Intermittent Hypoxia Induces Cardiac Inflammation and Dysfunction...). The authors determined that, "Chronic intermittent hypoxia is considered to play an important role in cardiovascular pathogenesis during the development of sleep apnea. Chronic intermittent hypoxia disrupted normal arrangement of cardiac fibers and increased Sirius stained collagen fibers [fibrosis]. The expression levels of hypoxia induced factor (HIF)-1α, NF-kB, IL-6, and matrix metallopeptidase 2 (MMP-2) [inflammation] were significantly increased in the hearts exposed to chronic intermittent hypoxia. In conclusion, the left ventricular function was adversely affected by chronic intermittent hypoxia, which is associated with increased expression of HIF-1α and NF-kB signaling molecules and development of cardiac inflammation, apoptosis and fibrosis."
KIDNEY INJURY AND / OR KIDNEY DISEASE: A few months ago, the journal Mediators of Inflammation published a study called TGF-β1/Smads and miR-21 in Renal Fibrosis and Inflammation. For the record, both the substances in the title would be classified as "inflammation". This study did as good a job as I've seen of showing that fibrosis is always the end-product of inflammation, and that it can be deadly. "A link between renal inflammation and fibrosis is well established. Renal fibrosis, irrespective of its etiology, is a final common stage of almost all chronic kidney diseases. Increased apoptosis [cell death] and inflammatory cell infiltration characterize the injured kidney. The importance of fibrotic diseases rises in a global awareness, as approximately 45% of all deaths in the Western world are related to various forms of fibrosis. Fibrosis develops in response to injury, when the normal wound-healing process is dysregulated and pathologically sustained. Excessive deposition of extracellular matrix (ECM) is a hallmark of all fibrotic diseases as ECM accumulation replaces functional tissue with a scar and this process alters organ physiological function and leads to its failure." I could have come up with dozens of other studies in this area of the kidneys, but we'll call it good with this one.
LIVER: Honestly, there were so many (hundreds) of studies linking Inflammation to Fibrosis in the liver, I am barely touching on this bullet considering I could have written volumes from what came out in the past weeks alone. Last month, the World Journal of Gastroenterology published a study that said, "Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is one of the most common comorbidities associated with overweight and metabolic syndrome. Importantly, NAFLD is one of its most dangerous complications because it can lead to severe liver pathologies, including fibrosis. The major risk factor that defines the prognosis of all chronic liver disease, including NAFLD, is fibrosis. It is becoming increasingly clear that these diseases are the result of the same underlying pathophysiological processes associated with metabolic syndrome, such as insulin resistance, chronic systemic inflammation and dyslipidemia." The February 2017 issue of Mathematical Biosciences and Engineering (yes, it's already out) stated in the first sentence of its abstract that, "Fibrosis is the formation of excessive fibrous connective tissue in an organ or tissue, which occurs in reparative process or in response to inflammation. Fibrotic diseases are characterized by abnormal excessive deposition of fibrous proteins, such as collagen, and the disease is most commonly progressive, leading to organ disfunction and failure" The September issue of the Journal of the Science of Food Agriculture looked at pomegranate juice's ability to stop or at least slow down both inflammation and fibrosis. "The high-fat, high sugar diet plus pomegranate juice group had significantly lower hepatic steatosis, ballooning, lobular inflammation and portal inflammation; lower hepatic pro-inflammatory and pro-fibrotic gene expression."
What does all of this mean to you, the patient who is struggling with CHRONIC PAIN or Chronic Illnesses, including autoimmune diseases or funky neurological problems? It means that you can't go another day without addressing your inflammation / fibrosis. Which raises the question of how best to go about accomplishing this. My suggestion is to start with the short, simple post I created for this very purpose. Consider it my Christmas gift to you since I'm providing it to you free of charge. It's easy to follow and cheap to implement (HERE IT IS).
THE INFLAMMATION, SCAR TISSUE, DEGENERATION CONUNDRUM: THE THREE HORSEMEN OF CHRONIC PAIN AND DISEASERead Now
THE THREE HORSEMEN OF CHRONIC PAIN
INFLAMMATION, SCAR TISSUE / FIBROSIS, AND DEGENERATION
STOP THE VICIOUS CYCLE OF PAIN & DISEASE
"When inflamed tissue is repeatedly agitated, the chronic exposure to an inflamed region can lead to chronic inflammation and excessive tissue breakdown and result in tissue degeneration. Inflammation may become disrupted and prolonged when the tissue is continually subjected to repetitive or forceful activities. This can lead to a vicious cycle of injury, local inflammation, systemic inflammation, fibrosis, and tissue degeneration. These subsequent changes result in pain, loss of motor function, and depression / anxiety. The systemic effects of exposure to inflammatory mediators should not be ignored." Cherry-picked from Michael Higgins' book, Therapeutic Exercise: From Theory to Practice.
- INFLAMMATION: Inflammation is the name of a group of chemicals (HERE) that allows your cells to communicate with one another. They are a vital part of any healing process. However, inflammation is another one of the many areas where too much of a good thing can become a bad thing ---- in this case a very bad thing. Inflammation comes in two flavors, local and systemic. A local inflammation is typically caused by some sort of local injury (a SPRAINED ANKLE for example) or INFECTION. A "SYSTEMIC INFLAMMATION" is inflammation running rampant throughout your entire body. The worse the systemic problem, the more likely you are to find an underlying LEAKY GUT. Be aware that Inflammation is the centerpiece of almost every chronic health problem you can name --- even many (probably most) that have been touted as "GENETIC".
- FIBROSIS / SCAR TISSUE: Fibrosis is a synonymous term for Scar Tissue (HERE). Although you will hear me use either (as well as the term "DENSIFICATION"), when speaking to patients I typically use 'Scar Tissue' for the simple reason that people are familiar with the word and tend to understand the concept better. SCAR TISSUE is tissue, which, instead of its cells lining up in a neat and orderly parallel fashion to each other, is tangled, wadded, and twisted --- sort of like the difference between well-combed hair and a hair tangle (HERE). Scar Tissue is very different than normal tissue in several major ways, including the fact that it is weaker, less elastic, and more pain-sensitive --- as much as a thousand times more pain-sensitive (HERE).
- DEGENERATION: Degeneration is exactly what it sounds like --- something is wearing out. It is important to understand that degeneration can happen to any organ, organ system, or tissue, in your body. It is also important to understand that no matter how often your doctor repeats it, birthdays are not automatically associated with degeneration. If we live long enough, sure; we're all going to go through some degree of the stuff. But the whole, "After all Mrs. Jones, you just aren't as young as you used to be" is for the birds --- even though it is a convenient scapegoat for virtually all health-related problems.
When your body is functioning properly, everything is right with the world. However, when any of these three bullet points get tipped out of balance (particularly the first), a "vicious cycle" begins, which feeds itself until you end up in debilitating pain. Or worse yet; six feet under (HERE). A vicious cycle is defined as, "a sequence of reciprocal cause and effect in which two or more elements intensify and aggravate each other, leading inexorably to a worsening of the situation." In other words, A causes B, but B causes A. It's a cycle that feeds itself, and the faster it turns, the faster it will turn. And as you will see, even though I refer to it as "Chronic Pain's Vicious Cycle," you'll see that this cycle goes way beyond pain.
Andrikkos is the author of the animated arrow below
- INFLAMMATION CAUSES FIBROSIS: I've previously provided tons of info on this phenomenon (HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE). Be aware, however, that inflammation is a critical part of the healing process. When it comes to the musculoskeletal system in particular, inflammation must sometimes be induced in small, local amounts via "HARSH METHODS" in order to stimulate healing processes.
- INFLAMMATION CAUSES DEGENERATION: A great example of this phenomenon is Tooth Decay (HERE). For decades, mainstream dentistry told patients that cavities were caused by the acid from bacteria. Not that this is not true on some level, but ultimately, it's inflammation that causes teeth (not to mention bones) to rot. But there's much more to it than that. The December 2004 issue of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences carried a study called Inflammation and the Degenerative Diseases of Aging, which spilled the beans about inflammation and degeneration. "Chronic inflammation is associated with a broad spectrum of neurodegenerative diseases of aging. Included are such disorders as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, ALS, all of the tauopathies, and age-related macular degeneration. Also included are such peripheral conditions as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, and myocardial infarction (heart attack). Chronically sustained at high levels, inflammation can seriously damage viable host tissue." The "damage" being referred to in the last sentence is ultimately one of two things --- fibrosis or degeneration --- or both. The point is moot, however, because....
- FIBROSIS CAUSES DEGENERATION: Think about it this way using ARTHRITIS or ADHESED FASCIA as an example. Arthritis (arthr = joint) + (itis = inflammation) will always, for any number of reasons, cause an inflexibility and lack of normal motion in tissues. How big of a deal is this? Think about it this way. After almost any kind of surgery, the nurses have the patient up and walking around while they are still groggy from anesthesia. Why is this? It has been known for decades that not only does lack of normal motion cause degeneration (HERE), but it does not take long for said degeneration to begin to set up like an unholy form of concrete.
- DEGENERATION CAUSES FIBROSIS: As joints deteriorate, they move worse. Worse movement causes more degeneration. That same lack of motion also happens to cause increasing amounts of Fibrosis. For instance, DJD causes joints to both thicken and stiffen, leaving the surrounding musculature and connective tissues weak and inflexible, which in turn causes more of the same.
- DEGENERATION CAUSES INFLAMMATION: Cellular death (known as apoptosis or necrosis depending on the context) causes the contents of cells to rupture into the interstitial fluid. Among other things, this causes the chemicals that we collectively refer to as "inflammation" to gain access to a method whereby they can be carried to other areas. One way to describe degeneration would be to say that there is increasing amounts of cellular death occurring. Thus, any time we have increased cellular death, whether due to age or injury, we are going to get a spike in local inflammation, and possibly even systemic inflammation.
What does all of this mean to you, the patient? It means that while Inflammation is the obvious driver of the process, the cycle can, to some degree, be driven from either of the other two corners of the triangle (Fibrosis or Degeneration). It is a true "Vicious Cycle". And in the triangular diagram above, it's even worse because we have three variables feeding each other instead of two. FYI, I used to think of this process in terms of being a more linear-looking loop, which is bad enough as it can also act as a vicious cycle. No matter how you choose to think of it, Inflammation always leads to Fibrosis, which always leads to Degeneration. Repeat.
If treating symptoms actually worked, you wouldn't be reading this post at 2:00 am with tears in your eyes. Sure, the "BIG FIVE" is going to help you with your pain.... But the relief is short-lived, coming with any number of brutal side effects, one of which is ADDICTION. Face it folks; if drugs worked, Americans would have the best health on the planet. But instead, according to our own government's statistics, even though we only make up about 3% of the world population, we consume 75% of the world's drugs (HERE). And you won't believe how bad our collective health really is. Overall, we rank consistently about thirtieth in the world. Despite all our fabulous technological advances in the field of medicine, there's only one way to solve this particular problem. Go to your toolbox and pull out the monkey wrench.
THROWING A MONKEY WRENCH
IN CHRONIC PAIN'S VICIOUS CYCLE
Fortunately for you, I'm into sharing DIY methods for regaining your health and getting out of pain (HERE'S ONE I made for solving back pain). It's all free of charge. That would be free as in "free" ---- no strings attached. I like giving people tools that they can use on their own, and that don't cost a lot of money to implement. The fact is, inexpensive (or free), uncomplicated, and rapid-acting, are exactly what most people are looking for as far as solutions to anything are concerned. And contrary to popular belief, it's possible to accomplish this with even some of the most stubborn health-related problems. But it has to be done properly.
Continually searching for pathology when your problems are "functional" is not going to do it (HERE). More doctor visits, tests, and medications, won't do it either. There is no magic bullet. What I've done for you is to lay some groundwork to provide a simple, generic solution that will help many, if not most of you on at least on some level. And the extra cool thing about it is that UNLIKE THE PRACTICE OF MEDICINE, the side effect profile of this protocol is almost non-existent. There's never been a better time than today to turn over a new leaf.
Using even some of the strategies found in THIS POST will allow you to start breaking the vicious cycle at all three corners. But most importantly, it deals with inflammation. If you can't at least put the breaks on the inflammation, you have little chance of truly improving your health and getting out of pain. It's the very reason that some of you reading this have not had the results you were hoping for with your chiropractor, therapist, or physician. Although there may be other things you need to do along the way, the bottom line is that you must break the cycle.
THE INFLAMMATION SCAR TISSUE CONNECTION
THE BEAT GOES ON
The first thing I want you to realize is that Scar Tissue is not all bad. Your body is going to heal an injury one way or another, and Scar Tissue is how this is accomplished. The key is how the Scar Tissue heals. In order to understand what I am talking about, you have to understand Inflammation. To show you how it all works, I am going to touch on some of the highlights of the pathology textbook I used in school (Basic Pathology: 4th Edition by Robbins and Kumar, 1987).
The second chapter of the book clearly shows the intimate relationship between Inflammation and the healing process. How do I know this? Honestly it's a no-brainer --- it's called Inflammation & Repair. "The inflammatory process... paves the way for repair of the damaged site." In other words, Inflammation is critical to the healing process. But it's also important to remember that Inflammation is not all the same stuff, and is not always your friend. Too much Inflammation (particularly "SYSTEMIC INFLAMMATION") can cause problems ("in some instances the inflammatory-reparative process may be harmful"). Remember that it's typically the "chronic" (long-standing) or 'whole body' inflammation that causes the CRAZY NUMBER OF HEALTH-RELATED PROBLEMS.
According to the text's authors, repair occurs most, "often by fibroblastic scar-forming cells." These cells are the FIBROBLASTS I have spoken of any number of times. Listen to their brief description of the dance that takes place between inflammation and repair.
"Although inflammation and repair are two somewhat distinct processes, they are closely interwoven in the response of tissues to injury. Inflammation dominates the early events and repair assumes major importance later. Nevertheless, repair begins early in the inflammatory response, although it reaches completion only after active inflammation has subsided."
What does this really mean? It means that if you are chronically inflamed, you will perpetually make Scar Tissue / Fibrosis (HERE). If you don't believe this is a big deal as far as both morbidity (sickness) and mortality (death) are concerned, take a look at these two quotes, the first from the website of pharmaceutical giant, Shanghai Genomics (R&D / Inflammation and Fibrosis), and the second from a podcast by Dr. William Wong, a naturopath with a Ph.D in Exercise Physiology (The Number One Cause Of All Disease, Fibrosis & Inflammation....). "Fibrosis remains the leading cause of death in the United Sates; approximately 45% of deaths are related to fibrosis, doubling the number of cancer related deaths." (HERE is the source for this insane statistic.) "Inflammation and fibrosis are connected to every major disease that takes down mammals." Robbins & Kumar would likely agree, going on to say that....
"Repair of destroyed cells therefore usually involves some connective tissue proliferation with the formation of a fibrous scar. Although the anatomical continuity of the of the tissue may be restored, such repair is obviously imperfect since it replaces functioning parenchymal cells with non-specialized connective tissue. Scarring diminishes the reserve of the organ or tissue involved."
In plain English; although the organ or tissue may look OK to the naked eye, Scar Tissue has wreaked its havoc. This 'havoc' is not only in the form of biomechanical dysfunction ("the loss of function can be explained on mechanistic grounds") or neuromechanical pain ("there is reason to believe that chemical mediators such as bradykinin and prostaglandins are also involved"), but in microscopic structural and functional damage to the organs as well. That's right, almost anything that goes wrong with an organ is related, at least to a large degree, to the process of Fibrosis (see previous link). The text book's authors go on to talk about some of the specifics of wound healing.
"Collagen content of the wound reaches normal levels by 60 to 70 days, at a time when the wound has recovered only 25 to 35% of its strength..... There is a progressive increase in tensile strength up to day 100, during which 70 to 90% of the strength of unwounded skin is achieved..... Both experimental and clinical observations indicate that severe protein depletion impairs wound healing."
This is an interesting quote on all levels. First we see that regaining the strength of injured tissue takes a significant amount of time (at least three months, although current research shows that it sometimes takes significantly longer). It also says that "skin" is only, at the very best, be 90% as strong as it was before the injury. While strong skin is certainly a plus, it is not the tissue I am interested in for this post. Strong skin is not nearly as big a deal as strong LIGAMENTS, FASCIA, MUSCLES, or TENDONS.
Newer research says that at the very best, scars in these particular tissues will only heal to 60-70% of normal --- a big reason it is always easier to re-injure said areas (i.e. SPRAIN AN ANKLE and it's always easier to sprain it again). And while I'm sure the "severe protein depletion" the authors are talking about here involves something more along the lines of starvation, the quote leaves something to think about for those who eat a vegan diet as opposed to something more akin to PALEO. What do others say about these "weakened" Scar Tissues?
- "When ligaments, tendons and muscles are torn, the body replaces a rather neat, organized network of a combination of yellow elastic, and dense white non-elastic collagen fibers, with a rather haphazard array of dense white connective scar tissue. This scar tissue will help hold bones together (aka: Joints), but doesn't have the same type and combination of strength and resiliency that the original connective tissue had...... Thus restricting range of motion and causing the patient to become more prone to re-injury. Break a bone and it heals. Strain or sprain soft tissue and it's like trying to glue a piece of plastic back together. It just never comes out as good as the original, is weaker and prone to breaking again." Dr. Todd Narson of Miami Beach Family and Sports Chiropractic (Why A Soft Tissue Injury Can Be Worse Than A Broken Bone). I knew Dr. Todd, as well as his sister, from our days at Logan.
- John Miller of Physioworks (Soft Tissue Injury? What are the Healing Phases?) talks of the "Remodeling Phase" of soft tissue injury, splitting it up into two different phases. "Your body does not magically just stop tissue healing at six week post-injury. Healing is a continuum. At six weeks post-soft tissue injury your healing tissue is reasonably mature but as you stretch, strength and stress your new scar tissue, it often finds that it is not strong enough to cope with your increasing physical demand. When your body detects that a repaired structure is still weaker that necessary, it will automatically stimulate additional new tissue to help strengthen and support the healing tissue until it meets the demands of your normal exercise or physical function..... Ongoing repair and remodeling beyond three months is referred to as the chronic phase and probably refers mainly to pain that lasts more than 3 months."
- And finally, from Brad Walker, widely know as the "Stretch Coach," we have Pulled Muscles, Scar Tissue and Re-Injury. "Scar tissue is made from a very tough, inflexible fibrous material. This fibrous material binds itself to the damaged soft tissue fibers in an effort to draw the damaged fibers back together. What results is a bulky mass of fibrous scar tissue completely surrounding the injury site. In some cases it’s even possible to see and feel this bulky mass under the skin. When scar tissue forms around an injury site, it is never as strong as the tissue it replaces. It also has a tendency to contract and deform the surrounding tissues, so not only is the strength of the tissue diminished, but flexibility of the tissue is also compromised."
WHAT ABOUT STEROIDS & SIMILAR DRUGS?
Let's head back to the text and see what the authors (both pathologists, Dr. Robbins from Harvard and Dr. Kumar from University of Texas) had to say clear back in 1987 about using corticosteroids for soft tissue injuries.
"There is evidence that steroids impair formation of.... mature collagen. Steroids seem to suppress virtually every step of the inflammatory reparative response."
Does anyone remember the article I wrote called IMMUNE SYSTEM SUPPRESSION: AMERICA'S NUMBER ONE MEDICAL THERAPY? In it I addressed both CORTICOSTEROIDS and NSAIDS (anti-inflammatory medications). If you are interested in seeing the four phases of soft tissue healing, it can be found HERE. Think for a moment about suppressing or inhibiting every step of said process(s) of healing. Oh, you might have suppressed some of the pain all right --- at least for the short term --- but you've just set the table for future problems. It's not like Robbins and Kumar are alone in this assessment.
Dr. John Kellett, author of Back Pain, Acute Soft Tissue Injuries, Mobilization, and Fibromyalgia from the October 1986 issue of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise said 30 years ago, "Steroids have a deleterious effect on collagen, and direct injection into collagen may produce a permanent reduction in tensile strength." If taken for injuries to the Connective Tissues, "steroids have no sound biological basis," because they "retard fibroblastic activity and may well delay healing. Corticosteroids have little part to play in the management of soft tissue injuries." To see why this is, take a moment to read about "CORTICOSTEROID-INDUCED DEGENERATION".
One year later, in a scientific paper called Acute Soft Tissue Injuries: A Review of the Literature, the renowned Dr. Kellett wrote of NSAIDS, "Use of these drugs, if given, should be restricted to a maximum of three days following injury. Any anti-inflammatory action lasting beyond this period would, theoretically, at least be detrimental since the repair mechanism (phase 2 of healing) is itself an inflammatory process. Little data exist to support the routine use of NSAIDs in athletes with acute pain syndromes (despite advertisements extolling their benefits)".
Yet despite everything we know, not only from our textbooks, but from dozens upon dozens of studies and scientific papers from peer-reviewed journals published in the three decades since (HERE is one from 2017), the medical community continues to push the very drugs that not only inhibit the healing of soft tissues at "every step," but actually destroys said tissues. Sometimes I wonder if doctors have a clue about the intimate relationship between Inflammation & Repair. Which brings us to a bit different sort of Inflammation --- Chronic Inflammation.
CHRONIC INFLAMMATION AND ITS
EFFECTS ON THE HEALING PROCESS
"There are some settings in which chronic inflammation is initiated as a primary process. Often the injurious agents are of low toxicity in comparison with those leading to acute inflammation. Three major groups can be identified. One, persistent infections. Two, prolonged exposure to non-biodegradeable material. And three, autoimmune reactions / autoimmune diseases."
- Persistent infections are either sub-clinical viral or bacterial infections (Epstein/Barr Virus for example, or a low grade infection IN THE MOUTH, or UNDERNEATH A ROOT CANAL), or various forms of DYSBIOSIS (MOLD, YEAST, SIBO, etc, etc, etc). The problem with persistent infections is that they are usually treated with the very thing that likely caused them in the first place --- ANTIBIOTICS. If you are interested in solving your infectious problem, you'll first have to figure out what it's going to take to get yourself off this class of drug (HERE is a good starting point).
- Prolonged exposure to non-biodegradeable material could mean any number of things. It could be a constant exposure to things like lead, ALUMINUM, MERCURY, or even PLASTICS OR OTHER ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS. The example that was given by Robbins & Kumar was inhaled silica particles. Interestingly enough, I have seen all sorts of ugly reactions (autoimmune) to the silica that leaks from breast implants (nope ladies, they're not worth it).
- Autoimmune diseases have become a raging epidemic here in America (HERE). "In these diseases, autoantigens evoke a self-perpetuating immunologic reaction that results in several chronic inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis." See the previous bullet point.
Their list is fine, but it is missing the boat as far as at least one critical aspect of inflammation is concerned. It completely fails to account for diet. For instance, peer-review has shown us that certain foods (GLUTEN, FOR INSTANCE) are heavily associated with autoimmunity of all sorts, and that sugar itself is massively inflammatory (HERE). Secondly, Inflammation and Autoimmunity are a two-way street. The quote above makes it look like Autoimmunity causes Inflammation, when the opposite is just as (or even more) likely. And finally (I just wrote about this THE OTHER DAY), the very same inflammation that is associated with musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction is also responsible for most disease processes, including the heavy hitters like DIABETES, CANCER, and HEART DISEASE.
What should you do about Inflammation? As far as 'Acute Inflammation' is concerned; for minor injuries, let it ride. I usually think about trying to control acute inflammation like I think about trying to control FEVER (which is actually one of the five cardinal signs of Inflammation). Don't try and squelch it unless the injury is really severe, and then only in a very careful and specific manner that does not inhibit the healing process (HERE). As for dealing with Chronic Inflammation, it's potentially a bit tougher. But if you value your health, you cannot choose to neglect it.
Should you fail to address your Chronic Inflammation, solving your CHRONIC INFLAMMATORY DEGENERATIVE DISEASES or AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES could prove extremely difficult --- maybe even to the point of impossible. But it is possible if you follow the proper steps. For instance, HERE and HERE are very cool testimonials from women who kicked severe Autoimmune Diseases using nothing more than diet --- after being told they would live the rest of their young lives in misery, getting progressively worse until they were virtually debilitated. I've actually created a protocol that gives struggling people a place to start researching (HERE). Don't forget to check out our FACEBOOK PAGE while you are at it.
INFLAMMATION & FIBROSIS
INFLAMMATION'S RELATIONSHIP TO THE MICROSCOPIC SCAR TISSUE THE MEDICAL COMMUNITY CALLS "FIBROSIS"
Although I have shown you in several different posts that Inflammation leads to Scar Tissue / Fibrosis (HERE, HERE, HERE , and HERE are some that come immediately to mind), I'm going to play this game a little differently today. Today I am going to show you, using studies from peer-reviewed journals from the past few months (many are from the past week) just how intimate the relationship between Inflammation and Fibrosis really is.
Pay attention because although some of these quotes contain a fair bit of technical jargon, you can read between the lines to understand their point. You are going to see that this topic of Inflammation and Fibrosis covers a lot of ground. And believe me when I tell you that if I wanted, I could literally have come up with thousands of similar.
There it is folks. Although we know that Inflammation-induced Fibrosis is destroying lives like there's no tomorrow, the medical community continues to scratch their collective heads as far as what to do about it. Sure, NSAIDS and CORTICOSTEROIDS are popular in our society, but we found out a long time ago that these are not all they've been cracked up to be. They destroy the immune system instead of making it healthier.
"Cigarette smoke exposure in mice resulted in respiratory bronchiolitis with fibrosis in surrounded alveoli. The presence of areas of interstitial and alveolar fibrosis in peripheral parenchyma often accompanied the bronchiolar changes. Macrophages from smoking mice elaborate M2 cytokines [Inflammation] and enzymes, which can promote TGF-beta expression [Inflammation], collagen deposition [Scar Tissue], and fibrosis in the surrounding areas." Cherry-picked from the abstract of the March, 2015 issue of PLoS One (Smoking p66Shc Knocked Out Mice Develop Respiratory Bronchiolitis with Fibrosis but Not Emphysema)
CIGARETTE SMOKE is absurdly Inflammatory. Inflammation leads to Fibrosis, and sooner or later, Fibrosis is going to kill you, in this case probably in a slow and miserable fashion.
"Several inflammatory diseases including scleroderma and atopic dermatitis display dermal thickening, epidermal hypertrophy, or excessive accumulation of collagen [Fibrosis]. Strikingly, injection of recombinant soluble LIGHT [an Inflammatory marker from the TNF Family] into mice, either subcutaneously or systemically, promoted collagen deposition in the skin, and dermal and epidermal thickening [Fibrosis]. We reveal an unappreciated activity of LIGHT on keratinocytes and suggest that LIGHT may be an important mediator of skin inflammation and fibrosis in diseases such as scleroderma or atopic dermatitis." Taken from the abstract of the March, 2015 issue of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology (The Tumor Necrosis Factor Superfamily Molecule LIGHT Promotes Keratinocyte Activity and Skin Fibrosis)
According to December's issue of Pediatrics (Atopic Dermatitis: Skin-Directed Management) more than 10% of American children have atopic dermatitis, otherwise known as Eczema. Like all these "Inflammatory" problems we are mentioning today, medical options are limited. I realize your doctor will give you some sort of Cortisone-based cream. But if they are willing to be brutally honest with you, they'll tell you it makes it worse in the long run --- and that doesn't even begin to deal with side-effects --- the majority or which are severely UNDER-REPORTED.
"These findings suggest that IGFBPrP1 acts as an initiator of liver fibrosis by inducing inflammation, HSC activation and Extracellular Matrix deposition [a hallmark of Fibrosis] through the ERK1/2 pathway." The conclusions of a study from the January, 2015 issue of Hepatology International (Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein-Related Protein 1 (IGFBPrP1) Contributes to Liver Inflammation and Fibrosis Via Activation of the ERK1/2 Pathway)
Bottom line is that living the HIGH CARB LIFESTYLE will eventually earn you fatty and fibrotic liver.
"This study aims to investigate the histopathological changes secondary to the administration of Ankaferd Blood Stopper® (ABS) [a Turkish plant-based drug] into the auricular cartilage. The ABS group had significantly higher level of fibrosis, necrosis, foreign body reaction, inflammation, and cartilage degeneration, compared to the controls.... significantly increased fibrosis and necrosis in the auricular cartilage." From the January, 2015 issue of the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine (Unpredicted Effects of Ankaferd® on Cartilage Tissue).
Should we be surprised that a drug has the side-effects of both Inflammation and Fibrosis (among other things)? Of course not.
"Radiation therapy is a cornerstone in nasopharyngeal cancer treatment. However, it can induce acute and long-term adverse effects, such as acute mucositis [Inflammation] and late submucosal fibrosis" From this week's issue of the American Journal of Rhinology & Allergy (Nasal Cytological Changes as Late Effects of Radiotherapy for Nasopharyngeal Cancer)
It's not news that the VERY TESTS that physicians use to diagnose Cancer, actually cause Cancer. Neither is it news to anyone that even though it's used as a treatment for cancer, therapeutic radiation itself is a major cause of cancer as well. We know that CANCER is in the family of "INFLAMMATORY DISEASES". Now we see that "Radiation Therapy" causes both Inflammation and Fibrosis. Again; knowing what we know, no one is too surprised. HERE, have another Twinkie.
"The pathological change of kidney in diabetic nephropathy is represented by hypertrophy, inflammation, and renal fibrosis. These results demonstrate that Oryeongsan [an herb used in Chinese Medicine] has protective effect against renal proliferation, fibrosis, and inflammation. Therefore Oryeongsan may be specific therapies targeting renal dysfunction leading to diabetic nephropathy." From the February, 2015 issue of BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine (Oryeongsan Suppressed High Glucose-Induced Mesangial Fibrosis).
Wow; certain herbs can actually protect against the Inflammation and Fibrosis that come about as the result of BLOOD SUGAR DYSREGULATION --- one of those things that most who are deeply involved in the SCAM KNOWN AS EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE (including the FDA) don't want you to know about.
"Secondary lymphedema in humans is a common consequence of lymph node dissection (LND) to treat breast cancer. A peculiar characteristic of the disease is that life-long swelling often precipitously appears several years following the surgical treatment, often due to an inflammatory stimulus. In order to clarify the role of fibrosis in secondary lymphedema initiation, we chemically increased fibrosis in rodent tissues with bleomycin... We found that bleomycin injections exacerbated fibrotic matrix deposition, reduced wound closure, and impaired the ability of the lymphatics to regenerate and reduce the swelling. The findings demonstrate that fibrosis reduces the lymphatic capacity to functionally regenerate and prevent the chronic appearance of lymphedema." Cherry-picked from the abstract of this week's issue of the American Journal of Physiology. Heart and Circulatory Physiology (Fibrosis Worsens Chronic Lymphedema in Rodent Tissues).
BREAST CANCER is not only an epidemic in this country, it's not typically caused by what you have been led to believe the medical community says it's caused by (HERE). Once you understand that Bleomycin is an ANTIBIOTIC, and you begin to understand how Anti-inflammatory Drugs and Antibiotics work to suppress the Immune System (HERE), you can begin to appreciate this drug's wide ranging side effects --- including Inflammation and Fibrosis as well as cancer (HERE).
"Myocarditis is a critical inflammatory disorder which causes life-threatening conditions. No specific or effective treatment has been established. Administration of the DPP-4 inhibitor remarkably suppressed cardiac fibrosis and reduced inflammatory cytokine gene expression in EAM mice." From this week's issue of PLoS One (A DPP-4 Inhibitor Suppresses Fibrosis and Inflammation on Experimental Autoimmune Myocarditis in Mice)
When people die from heart disease, the reality is that they are usually dying of Fibrosis of the heart (HERE). And despite everything you have been led to believe, the therapies we are currently using are not nearly as effective as what TV COMMERCIALS and your doctor have have told you. Great example of this are STATIN DRUGS and DIABETES DRUGS. The problem with giving a specific chemical --- even if it's "natural", such as DPP-4 Inhibitor above ---- is that it tends to throw your body out of HOMEOSTASIS, setting off a chain-reaction of side-effects. It's why so few of these types of drugs pan out in the long run.
"For over 50 years, it has been recognized that immunity contributes to hypertension. Recent data have defined an important role of T cells and various T cell-derived cytokines in several models of experimental hypertension... Cytokines [various forms of Inflammation] released from these cells, including interleukin-17, interferon-γ, tumor necrosis factorα, and interleukin-6 promote..... increased renal fibrosis. Recent experiments have defined a link between oxidative stress and immune activation in hypertension....." From this week's issue of Circulatory Research (Inflammation, Immunity, and Hypertensive End-Organ Damage)
Hypertension (HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE) is rampant in America. I could tell you that it's another one of those Inflammatory (FREE RADICAL) problems that leads to Fibrosis, but you already guessed that after looking at the abstract.
The point is this; if you are not grasping the fact that Inflammation will kill you via a process that restricts normal movement and normal function of your body, right down to the cellular level, odds are great that living a healthy life right up until the very end, is not in your stars. For about 90% of you reading this, THIS POST will effectively address your health problems. The rest of you are going to need some help from someone who understands FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE / FUNCTIONAL NEUROLOGY.
SCAR TISSUE REMODELING AND INFLAMMATION
AND THE POTENTIAL HARSHNESS OF BREAKING THROUGH FASCIAL ADHESIONS
"Inflammation, like the kind caused by Rheumatoid Arthritis, can lead to pulmonary fibrosis, or permanent scarring of the respiratory tissues." From the website Everyday Health (How Rheumatoid Arthritis Affects the Lungs)
"Four million Americans suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks one's colon and intestines and leads to high levels of inflammation and digestive difficulties. Often, as a result of the constant inflammation, the intestines will form fibroids, or masses of cells that try to reinforce the intestinal walls to protect from further immune attack. This fibrosis is driven by the chronic inflammation but does not always work as the body hopes it will. Frequently, fibroids in the intestines can lead to large amounts of scar tissue that prevent the intestines from being as elastic as they once were and can narrow them, making digestion and elimination difficult or impossible." From the June 19, 2023 issue of Medical Daily (Intestinal Bacteria Revealed As Major Cause Of Irritable Bowel Disorder And Fibrosis)
"Intestinal fibrosis is a complication of inflammatory conditions affecting the small and large bowel and often results in serious clinical consequences. Intestinal fibrosis is common in chronic intestinal inflammation as typically observed in both forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis." From a 2010 issue of Fibrogenesis and Tissue Repair (First International Summit on Fibrosis in Intestinal Inflammation: Mechanisms and Biological Therapies)
"Probably your own death will be caused by your last inflammatory response. Inflammation destroys, dilutes, or walls off the injurious agent and sets in motion the limited powers of the body to heal itself. Inflammation and repair can and do themselves damage the body. Generally, good tissue has been (and is being) destroyed, and there will be some evidence of healing (scarring)." Cherry-picked from Medial Pathologist Dr. Ed Friedlander's 'PathGuy' site from a lecture titled Inflammation and Repair
"The term fibrosis describes the development of fibrous connective tissue as a reparative response to injury or damage. Fibrosis may refer to the connective tissue deposition that occurs as part of normal healing or to the excess tissue deposition that occurs as a pathological process. When fibrosis occurs in response to injury, the term 'scarring' is used." From Medical News, What is Fibrosis?
"Scars are areas of fibrous tissue (fibrosis) that replace normal tissue after injury. Thus, scarring is a natural part of the healing process. ....Every wound (e.g., after accident, disease, or surgery) results in some degree of scarring. Scar tissue is composed of the same protein (collagen) as the tissue that it replaces, but the fiber composition of the protein is different.... This collagen scar tissue alignment is usually of inferior functional quality to the normal collagen alignment." Wikipedia
By definition, Chronic Pain is pain that has lasted more than three months. If you go to any of our posts that discuss the three phases of soft tissue healing (HERE, HERE, or HERE), you'll find that all of the actual "healing" of a soft tissue injury (Phase I & II) occurs within the first month (anything after that is considered to be "remodeling" as opposed to healing). In an article called Acute -vs- Chronic Pain, the world-famous Cleavland Clinic reveals that, "Chronic pain is pain that persists despite the fact that the injury has healed." On a practical level, it means that even though the WHIPLASH ACCIDENT that Dave was in occurred four decades ago (HERE), it is not odd to discover that he has had pain and restriction ever since (despite being a Chiropractic patient).
Another thing we learn in the article from Cleavland Clinic is that even though their list of things you can do for your pain is quite long, their top five is based totally on symptomatic relief (NSAIDS, Acetaminophen, NARCOTICS, LOCALIZED SHOTS, and Nerve Blocks). There are a couple of things that we can glean from this list. Firstly, these five do nothing to actually address any sort of underlying issue, no matter what that issue may be. Secondly, four out of the five (narcotics are the odd man out on this list) have to do with getting rid of Inflammation. When it comes to dealing with pain, there are two kinds of Inflammation that you have to be familiar with.
- ACUTE (LOCAL) INFLAMMATION: This is a local event that occurs largely within the first 72 hours of the initial injury (Phase I of the healing process) via Macrotrauma (one big event where the tissue sustains a force which is beyond its capacity to elast or compress), or Microtrauma (repetitive / overuse-type issues). Inflammation is the collective name of a group of chemicals made by your Immune System, and are responsible for the initial redness, swelling, heat, pain, and diminished function, that are all associated with the injury. These are proteins which, in this phase, act as messengers to bring about healing. Although Inflammation is not synonymous with swelling, it has the ability to attract fluid to the area and cause swelling. According to the IAAF's position paper, Soft Tissue Damage and Healing: Theory and Techniques, after an injury, "Edema [swelling] and anoxia [a complete lack of tissue oxygenation] result in cell damage and death within the first 24 hours, and the release of protein breakdown products from damaged cells leads to further edema, tissue hypoxia [diminished oxygenation], and cell death [sometimes you'll see this called 'Apotosis']. Edema and joint swelling, with or without pain, is associated with a reflex inhibition of spinal activation of skeletal muscle. Phagocytosis [specialized cells that engulf and devour things deemed "bad" by your Immune System] then begins to rid the area of cell debris and edema." Even though we don't really like or enjoy it, Acute Inflammation is vital for your injured soft tissues to heal properly.
- CHRONIC (SYSTEMIC) INFLAMMATION: Chronic Inflammation is similar to Acute Inflammation in that it is largely related to the same (or at least very similar) Immune System chemicals being released by the body. The difference is that you do not have one specific area (i.e. the area of injury) doing all the releasing, and the process is ongoing / continual. It is a process that happens --- at least initially --- largely due to crappy lifestyle choices (SMOKING, lack of EXERCISE, POOR DIETS, too many REFINED CALORIES, etc, etc). Dr. Brent Bauer, of the Mayo Clinic recently said in an article he wrote for their site (Buzzed on Inflammation). "Chronic inflammation, also known as low-grade or systemic inflammation — can play a more puzzling and long-lasting role in the body. Consider the vast array of autoimmune disorders — such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and polymyalgia rheumatica — where the body's immune system mistakenly initiates an inflammatory response even though there's no apparent inflammation to fight off. Chronic inflammation plays a more obvious role in diseases such as asthma and the inflammatory bowel diseases ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease...... Research indicates that heart disease, clogged arteries, stroke and bacterial endocarditis may be linked to oral health. Although more study is needed to confirm this possible link, some scientists believe that bacteria from gum disease can enter the bloodstream and make its way to the heart. Chronic bladder inflammation due to repeated urinary infections or cystitis may increase risk of a squamous cell bladder cancer. In some areas of the world, this type of cancer is linked to chronic inflammation caused by infection with a parasite." Wikipedia states that, ".....inflammatory processes result in multiple chemical and food intolerances, autoimmune diseases and many other symptoms and diseases". Just remember that Chronic Systemic Inflammation is extremely detrimental to your body's ability to heal a soft tissue injury. HERE and HERE are some links showing the relationship between Chronic Inflammation and Scar Tissue formation.
To see a slightly more detailed picture of the difference between Chronic and Acute Inflammation, just click HERE.
The point here is not to provide you with yet another post showing the health problems associated with INFLAMMATION, as I have previously given you dozens (click the link for some of the most relevant). The point is to show you that even though the same Immune System chemicals are involved in both processes (Chronic Inflammation and Acute Inflammation), the two are extremely different from each other in almost every conceivable way.
WHY INFLAMMATION ALWAYS MATTERS
IF YOU ARE INFLAMED, THE DOGS ARE ALREADY AT YOUR THROAT
To be brutally honest with you; a failure to deal with Chronic Inflammation means that the odds of any doctor being able to help you get rid of your pain is greatly diminished. Be grateful that I haven't left you out in the cold in this area. HERE is a DIY Page for getting rid of Inflammation. But again, that is not what I really want to talk to you about today.
In order to get rid of your Chronic Pain --- particularly if it was caused by some sort of injury --- you may have to go back and start at the beginning. Allow me to explain. If you looked at any of my articles on the three phases of healing, you'll quickly notice that the first phase of healing lasts up to three days, the second phase lasts no longer than a month, and the third phase might last as long as two years, although most studies say a year or less. What does this mean for those of you who, like Dave whom I mentioned earlier, are dealing with injuries that occurred in the distant past? It means that you are going to have to do something radical enough to start the healing process over (HERE). The SCARRED FASCIA is going to have to broken down to the degree that the first phase of healing is re-initiated (HERE). Listen to what I said in in one of my posts.
"When it comes to treating these areas of Fibrosis and Microscopic Scar Tissue, you are either breaking them or you aren't. To be considered an 'effective' treatment, it has to cause what's known in the peer-reviewed literature as Tissue Deformation. The treatment is either over the therapeutic threshold for soft tissue deformation or it's not. Let me put it to you another way; no matter how much sub-threshold treatment you get for problems that are the result of hardcore Scar Tissue and Fibrosis, you aren't going to see the results you want because the treatment is just that ---- sub-threshold. It's below the level of Tissue Deformation required for physiological changes to occur. It's sort of like the old cliche; a whole lot of nothing is still nothing."
This is why I suggest that you "EMBRACE THE BRUISE". For real true-to-life CHRONIC PROBLEMS --- musculoskeletal problems that have lasted beyond a year or two --- you will likely have do deal with underlying Scar Tissue and FASCIAL ADHESIONS. If you don't, your relief will be no more long-lasting than what you get with the drugs mentioned at the top of the post or HERE. And don't fool yourself; just because your pain only started 3 months ago, does not mean that the injury itself isn't "chronic". It could very well be that old intramural "soccer injury" that happened back in 1999 is finally catching up with you.
PROBLEM SOLVING -vs- CHIROPRACTIC MAINTENANCE
Because proper alignment and motion of the spine works hand in hand with the nervous system (HERE and HERE), I am a fan of periodic "Chiropractic Maintenance" --- occasionally having your spine adjusted despite the absence of pain or overt disease. Let me share with you, however, what Chiropractic Maintenance is not. It's not getting adjusted over and over and over again for the rest of your life because you hurt; and the only thing that seems to relieve your pain (albeit it never lasts long) is adjustments. When I talk to patients who get great results from their adjustments --- but those results don't last more than a few days (or sometimes a few hours) --- I can assure you with 100% certainty that their problem has a significant Inflammatory and / or Scar Tissue component to it. You want to get better? You'll have to deal with both. HERE is what it looks like in my clinic.
THE POTENTIAL FOR A HERXHEIMER REACTION
Although you may never have heard of it, this paragraph pertains to those of you who may be dealing with Chonic Inflammation or Illness due to a "Hidden" (sometimes called "Occult") Infection. Certain microbes have an affinity for Fascia. If you have a Biofilm (a colony of microbes) growing on your Fascia, breaking said Fascia could release an overload of their toxins into your system. No, it's not going to kill you. However, it could make you feel tired, sluggish, give you a headache, or even on rare occasions, make you feel "Flu-like" for a day or so. While not an everyday occurrence, you can learn more about Herxheimer Reactions by GOING HERE.
MORE ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN INFLAMMATION, PAIN, AND FIBROSIS
Renowned pain researcher and owner of Los Angles' "Medicine House," Dr. Sota Omoigui, is doing some rather cuttingedge things in his pain clinic. Don't get me wrong; he uses any number of hardcore prescription drugs to treat people with a wide array of pain syndromes --- many of the same PAIN SYNDROMES I see in my clinic. However, he freely provides tons of valuable information on his website, and writes about treating pain with things like IV Nutrient Therapy, ANTI-INFLAMMATORY HERBS & DIET, Hypnosis, Acupuncture, OXYGEN THERAPY, SPINAL DECOMPRESSION THERAPY (he spoke extensively on his site about ASYMPTOMATIC DISC HERNIATIONS), Biofeedback, Meditation, and even CHIROPRACTIC. If you pay attention, you'll see that a huge thrust of his practice is an attempt to get rid of Inflammation.
Back in 2007, the medical journal Medical Hypothesis published a three-part series of articles by Dr. Omoigui on the link between INFLAMMATION and CHRONIC PAIN called The Biochemical Origin of Pain --- Proposing A New Law of Pain: The Origin of All Pain is Inflammation and the Inflammatory Response (A Unifying Law of Pain ).
Listen to what Dr O says in his article.
- Inflammation can exist without structural damage that is visible with our current imaging technology.
- Structural damage will result in inflammation and the inflammatory response.
- Inflammation and the inflammatory response will produce structural damage.
Do you see the vicious cycle here? Tissue Damage causes Inflammation, and Inflammation caused Tissue Damage (HERE). And while it spins in a big circle it causes Chronic Pain. My goal with patients is to break the cycle in both spots, taking care of TYPE II PAIN in one fell swoop. You can see that simply giving people PAIN MEDS without addressing the underlying cycle is an exercise in futility. But let's take this a step farther --- What do you think he means by "Structural Damage"? If you look at the list of health problems directly caused by Inflammation (HERE), you'll quickly see. However, I want to talk for a moment about one that's not on the list (or in his paper) --- SCAR TISSUE. Most particularly FASCIAL ADHESIONS.
The link between Microscopic Scar Tissue (Fibrosis) and Inflammation is not a new one. This fact becomes all to apparent if you look at any Pathology Textbook. There are any number of studies that bear this out. Here are a few.
"Macrophages [a type of White Blood Cell] are found in close proximity with collagen-producing myofibroblasts and indisputably play a key role in fibrosis. They produce profibrotic mediators [Inflammation] that directly activate fibroblasts [cells that build Scar Tissue]........ Macrophages also regulate fibrogenesis by secreting chemokines [Inflammation] that recruit fibroblasts and other inflammatory cells. This review will illustrate how macrophages function as the master "regulators" of fibrosis." Cherry picked from the abstract of Macrophages: Master Regulators of Inflammation and Fibrosis in the August 2010 issue of Seminars in Liver Disease
"Fibrosis of the kidney is caused by the prolonged injury and deregulation of normal wound healing and repair processes, and by an excess deposition of extracellular matrices [Fibrosis]. Despite intensive research, our current understanding of the precise mechanism of fibrosis is limited. There is a connection between fibrotic events involving inflammatory and non-inflammatory glomerulonephritis, inflammatory cell infiltration, and podocyte loss. The current review will discuss the inflammatory response after renal injury that leads to fibrosis......." From a 2010 issue of Kidney International (Mechanistic Connection Between Inflammation and Fibrosis)
"Fibrosis in response to tissue damage or persistent inflammation is a pathological hallmark of many chronic degenerative diseases. By using a model of acute peritoneal inflammation, we have examined how repeated inflammatory activation promotes fibrotic tissue injury." From the January 2014 issue of Immunity (Interleukin-6 Signaling Drives Fibrosis in Unresolved Inflammation)
"Fibrosing conditions occur when organs or tissues develop excessive fibrous tissue, which can interfere with the normal function of the organ. Examples of diseases in which inflammation or fibrosis play a prominent role include lupus, cystic fibrosis and scleroderma." From an article on Smart State: South Carolina Centers of Economic Excellence (Inflammation and Fibrosis).
"Inflammation is a biological response intended to protect the organism from infections, injuries and other harmful stimuli. The inflammatory response can produce an excessive accumulation of leukocyte, which can lead to asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, septic shock and various other diseases. Tissue fibrosis and abnormal organ function can also occur during the inflammation response if there is an over-production and deposition of collagens. Fibrosis remains the leading cause of death in the United Sates; approximately 45% of deaths are related to fibrosis, doubling the number of cancer related deaths. Liver and kidney fibrosis are two common fibrosis diseases that are caused by excessive inflammation in the respective organ Heart muscle fibrosis also known as cardiac fibrosis is a result of coronary heart disease and an irregular thickening of heart valves." From the website of drug developer, Shanghai Genomics (R&D / Inflammation and Fibrosis)
Look; I could have gone on here indefinitely, but I think you get the point. Fibrosis (Scar Tissue) is intimately related to Inflammation both systemically and locally. Did you happen to catch the fact that no matter which disease process it's part of, Fibrosis is America's #1 cause of death? In essence, while "Local Inflammatory Response" causes a local buildup of Fibrosis, if the Inflammation is systemic, figuring out which organs or tissues are going to get hit is a grab bag, as it could be any of them --- or even all of them.
BREAKING THE VICIOUS CYCLE
fortunately for you, I've created a DIY PAGE (actually pages) for this purpose. Oh; you certainly may require some ADVANCE TESTING / FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE, but this is a starting point for nearly everyone dealing with Chronic Pain or Chronic Disease. When it comes to solving chronic pain and / or chronic disease --- fixing either requires the same dietary approach --- an approach geared at greatly diminishing your levels of Systemic Inflammation.
I want to take a moment and mention a critical area that Dr. O's article failed to mention --- GUT HEALTH. I am more convinced with each passing day that Gut Health is the hidden key to figuring out the Inflammation puzzle. What's more related to Inflammation than our national over-consumption of sugar and refined carbs (HERE)? Certainly not much. We know beyond the shadow of a doubt that this Inflammation is going to result in Scar Tissue and Fibrosis being laid down in one or more of the body's many tissues (HERE). And although Dr. O does not specifically deal with "Structural Changes" in the Fascia, I believe that it is not a leap to say that it's implied.
"Activation of motor nerves that travel from the spinal cord to the muscles [Fascia] results in excessive muscle [Fascia] tension. More inflammatory mediators are released which then excite additional pain receptors in muscles [Fascia], tendons and joints generating more nerve traffic and increased muscle [Fascial] spasm."
Never forget that Fascia is not only the most abundant Connective Tissue in the body, it happens to be the most pain-sensitive as well. Add that to the fact that Dr. Chan Gunn, the legendary neurologist from the Great American Northwest (Seattle / Vancouver) says that this Scar Tissue has the potential to be over 1,000 times more pain-sensitive than normal tissue (HERE) --- particularly if exposed to Chronic Inflammation. It's exactly what makes Fascial Adhesions the perfect vehicle for CHRONIC PAIN'S PERFECT STORM. Oh; and if you are into the Wikipedia debate between Scar Tissue and Fibrosis, I have PART I and PART II.
SIGNS OF AN INFLAMED BODY
If you are one of the 99.9% of the population who thinks they know what INFLAMMATION is, but probably don't; take a moment to click the link and at least begin to look at some of the titles of the posts listed. Although the cardinal signs of Acute Inflammation are Rubor, Dolar, Calor, Tumor, and Functio Leasa (Redness, Pain, Heat, Swelling, and Loss of Function), this is not what we are talking about today. Acute (local) Inflammation is what happens when you bang your finger with a hammer, or sprain your ankle. Today we instead want to deal with Chronic Inflammation. Because almost every health problem imaginable is tied to Chronic Inflammation, wouldn't it be helpful for you to be able to determine whether or not Inflammation is a problem for you? Here are some of the signs of Chronic Inflammation in no particular order. The more of them you have, the worse your levels of Chronic (systemic) Inflammation.
- PAIN: Some current studies put the number of Americans dealing with Chronic Pain of some sort at 100 million, or one in three of our citizens. This is why I would argue that the number one sign of Chronic Inflammation is pain. This could be pain almost anywhere, so I am not going to mention a lot of specifics. If you want specifics, go HERE. As a side note, many people consume mass quantities of meds meant to work against Inflammation. HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE are a few of the reasons which, at the very least, these sorts of medications should be used with extreme caution.
- YOU WEIGH MORE THAN YOU SHOULD: That's right folks; OBESITY is considered an "Inflammatory" problem as well. Which makes sense when you look at the next bullet point.
- BLOOD SUGAR ISSUES: Most health problems start with people living the HIGH CARB LIFESTYLE. On top of this, sugar itself is extremely inflammatory (HERE). The problem is that so many people seemingly get away with eating crappy diets and copious amounts of sugar when they are young. If you think that you can go on seemingly cheating your body's physiology, just go to a class reunion (I have to be careful here because honestly, AT MINE everyone looked great).
- ALLERGIES: Allergies are an inflammatory problem that originate --- as many inflammatory problems do --- with a LEAKY GUT. It's always fun to watch people go PALEO for their weight, and be amazed because it "cured" their ALLERGIES as well.
- DEPRESSION: If you are DEPRESSED, you are probably inflamed. You see, we now know that DEPRESSION is another of the long list of problems which is considered "inflammatory".
- LETHARGY / FATIGUE / SLUGGISHNESS: These problems could be mental or physical. Either way, the likely culprit is that something somewhere is driving inflammation in your body. Oh; and don't simply tell me that your problem is the result of SLEEP APNEA or FIBROMYALGIA. If you click the links you'll quickly realize that these are inflammatory problems as well.
- MESSED UP BOWEL HABITS: Do you have CONSTIPATION? What about diarrhea? Has anyone ever suggested you have IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME? If you are dealing with bowel issues, you are inflamed (and likely have Dysbiosis). By the way, I could easily have added things like bloating and gas to this bullet point as well.
- DYSBIOSIS: DYSBIOSIS comes in many different forms, but is almost always caused by ANTIBIOTICS (or things with Antibiotic-like properties --- see the next bullet point).
- YOU ARE TAKING LOTS OF DRUGS / MEDICINE IN GENERAL: I don't have to tell you that Americans take a lot of drugs or that these drugs have lots of crazy side effects (HERE). As crazy as it sounds, most drugs are actually inflammatory. On top of this, MOST HAVE ANTIBIOTIC PROPERTIES that can leave you with Dysbiosis as well.
- WRINKLES, RASHES, ACNE, & OTHER SKIN PROBLEMS: Are you dealing with SKIN PROBLEMS such as Psoriasis, ACNE, rashes, itching, or others? The likely culprit is Inflammation.
- CHRONIC ILLNESS / CONSTANT ILLNESS: Are you sick all the time? Is your nose always runny? Do you have a constant cough? Is your IMMUNE SYSTEM weak? Are you dealing with the things on any of these lists (HERE, HERE, HERE or HERE)? If so, you are likely inflamed. The cold, hard truth is that even many (maybe most) things that everyone is told are "GENETIC" (HIGH CHOLESTEROL or CAVITIES for instance) are usually caused by Inflammation.
- LACK OF DESIRE FOR SEX / INABILITY TO CONCEIVE: If you have no real interest in SEX, whether male or female, you are almost certainly inflamed. Yes; Inflammation causes / contributes to female issues such as ESTROGEN DOMINANCE. It also causes LOW T in men. And for the record, these two problems mentioned here can affect either sex. As for INFERTILITY and Inflammation, just click the link.
- BAD HABITS: Do you SMOKE? Do you have a SUGAR / CARB ADDICTION? Do you drink too much alcohol? Would you rather sit around and watch TV than get out and do SOMETHING PHYSICAL? Are you TOO CLEAN (or HERE)? These are things that you could and should change (HERE).
If you have the signs of Inflammation, it's time to figure out what could be driving it. Because without sleuthing this out, it will be tough to figure out how to solve it. Some of the best solutions I've found are HERE. Sure, you might end up having to do some specialized testing or treatment. But if you are looking for a foundational starting point to change your life, click the link. Oh, and if you are one of those people who has not LIKED US on Facebook, why not stop by and give us some love. It takes all of two seconds and helps important messages like this one reach more people.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SCAR TISSUE AND CHRONIC INFLAMMATION
"Tissue repair. Following inflammation, injured tissue is usually replaced by new cells and extracellular materials, with undamaged surrounding cells proliferating and migrating to fill the void. Although some tissues can grow back quite efficiently, complex organization is seldom matched in the regenerated site. Gaps are quickly filled by collagen fibers. A mass of collagen which replaces tissue that has been destroyed is known as a scar. Scars in other organs also exist as firm masses of collagen in which normal organ function cannot occur. For example, cirrhosis of the liver represents extensive replacement by collagen of damaged liver cells." Cherry-picked from a lesson on "Inflammation" found on the website of Southern Illinois University Medical School's Histology Class.
"Estimates from various disease-specific registries suggest that chronic inflammatory and fibrotic disorders affect a large proportion of the world's population, yet therapies for these conditions are largely ineffective." From the first sentence of the abstract of a January 2013 study found in The Journal of Pathology (Inflammation, Wound Repair, and Fibrosis: Reassessing the Spectrum of Tissue Injury and Resolution).
"Inflammation and fibrosis are fundamental aspects of two rheumatic diseases - lupus and scleroderma - each having pathobiologic pathways relevant to many other diseases characterized by inflammation and fibrosis such as arthritis, heart disease, pulmonary fibrosis and chronic kidney disease." The opening sentence from the Medical University of South Carolina's Center for Inflammation and Fibrosis Research.
"Inflammation and fibrosis are connected to every major disease that takes down mammals." From The Number One Cause Of All Disease, Fibrosis & Inflammation & How To Prevent It Naturally --- a November 21, 2012 podcast by Dr. William Wong on Extreme Health Radio.
- INJURY OR INSULT: Whenever there is ENOUGH INJURY to cause cellular death (this could be due to physical trauma, smoking, poor diet, chemical exposure, a sedentary lifestyle, alcohol or drugs -- prescription or recreational, infections, etc, etc), the contents of the deceased cells are ruptured into the fluid around them. This causes an almost instantaneous Immune System response that is linearly related to the severity of the injury / insult. The body ratchets up its healing process accordingly, of which one of the first aspects is.......
- ACUTE INFLAMMATION: Acute Inflammation is different from Chronic Inflammation and is characterized by the classic (Latin) signs of Rubor (redness), Dolar (pain), Calor (heat), Tumor (swelling), and Functio Laesa (loss of function). Although few realize it, almost immediately the body begins the process of.....
- SCAR TISSUE FORMATION: Scar Tissue formation is also known by its "official" medical term of Fibrosis. Fibrosis is tissue, which, instead of the fibers being strong, elastic, and aligned in a parallel fashion; is clumped, twisted, and knurled into a tangled wad. One of the chief purposes of Scar Tissue is to prevent infection from running rampant by walling it off and keeping it confined to a specific area. The problem is that because of advanced medical care and things like ANTIBIOTICS, we don't really worry about acute infections any more.
Scar Tissue or "Fibrosis" is not only different than normal tissue mechanically (it's weaker and less elastic), it's different neurologically as well. Nerves can get entrapped in Scar Tissue causing hypoxia (lack of oxygen), irritation, and even outright compression. And this is just for starters. As you might imagine, none of this is good; and the longer it goes on, the greater the chance of having the pain "locked" into your brain via a form of Chronic Pain that is said to be "CENTRALIZED". If you are interested in the specifics of this process from beginning to end, take a look at our COLLAGEN SUPER-PAGE.
Please understand that for the most part, these three steps represent normal physiology. Let me repeat. When you injure yourself, these steps are what are supposed to happen --- period. I can hear you asking the the question which this statement begs. "If Scar Tissue / Fibrosis and Inflammation are normal aspects of the body's healing process, why should we be concerned one way or another about either of them?" I am so glad you asked. Let's begin to unpack this by looking at a quote from one of the thousands of medical journals.
Here is where lies the problem. I can assure you that Chronic Inflammation leads to Fibrosis in much the same way that Acute Inflammation does (HERE). Chronic Inflammation leads to diverse problems over time such as fibrotic heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, and intestines. In fact, the paper mentioned above, while specifically dealing with neuro-degenerative diseases (MS, MD, etc) mentions "Chronic Inflammation" several times. Here's another one.
"Fibrosis in response to tissue damage or persistent [chronic] inflammation is a pathological hallmark of many chronic degenerative diseases. By using a model of acute peritoneal inflammation, we have examined how repeated inflammatory activation promotes fibrotic tissue injury. In this context, fibrosis was strictly dependent on interleukin-6 (IL-6)....... Thus, IL-6 causes compromised tissue repair by shifting acute inflammation into a more chronic profibrotic state through induction of Th1 cell responses as a consequence of recurrent inflammation." This study, from the January 2014 issue of Immunity (Interleukin-6 Signaling Drives Fibrosis in Unresolved Inflammation) kicks around the word "chronic" a number of times. What is IL-6? IL-6 (Interleukin 6) is one of the many chemicals made by the Immune System that we refer to collectively as "Inflammation". Furthermore, it is responsible for lots of bad things that go on in the body. Off the top of my head I will give you two (OSTEOPOROSIS and DEPRESSION / IBS). Allow me to show you yet another example proving just how serious this issue really is.
The April 2012 issue of Frontiers in Immunology published a study called Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms of Chronic Inflammation-Associated Organ Fibrosis. The study's abstract starts out by saying that, "Organ fibrosis is a pathological condition associated with chronic inflammatory diseases. In fibrosis, excessive deposition of extracellular matrix (ECM) severely impairs tissue architecture and function, eventually resulting in organ failure". Did you catch that? Forget about CHRONIC PAIN for a moment; this study says that Chronic Inflammatory Diseases are associated with fibrosis of one's organs. Bottom line; fibrosis kills --- slowly and painfully (HERE).
What causes the Inflammation that leads to fibrosis (Scar Tissue) throughout the body? When we are talking about the folks who see me for severe pain caused by FASCIAL ADHESIONS, it's invariably some sort of traumatic or repetitive injury, or postural situation over time (also, sometimes people are fooled --- HERE) . However, there are any number of other factors that can drive Inflammation in the body as well. Some of the more common are BLACK MOLD, DYSBIOSIS, poor GUT HEALTH, SUGAR, metals (MERCURY & ALUMINUM are two of the biggies), etc, etc, etc. OBESITY is a unique situation that both creates and is created by Inflammation. And lest we forget, GLUTEN is massively inflammatory for many people --- particularity Caucasians of Western European descent.
A 2009 issue of The Journal of Immunology (Novel Role of Tissue Transglutaminase (TG2) in Chronic Inflammatory Diseases) had something to say about this. Transglutaminases are enzymes that allow us to break down wheat protein, otherwise known as Gluten. In people with Celiac Disease (not to mention numerous people who do not have Celiac Disease --- HERE), the body makes anti-Transglutaminase antibodies. In other words, not only is the body attacking Gluten as though it were a foreign invader (HERE), it's attacking the enzyme that helps break down Gluten as well. The study mentioned at the top of the page revealed that, "Tissue transglutaminase (TG2) has a critical role in the pathogenesis of chronic inflammatory diseases." Not that I have time to get into it today, but Gluten is arguably the single biggest factor in developing AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES (HERE is a list of A.I. diseases). And how about this for a "fun fact"? The "Modern Pantry" website sells Transglutaminase for kitchen use. Listen to what they say about TG. "Transglutaminase (TG), aka Meat Glue, is a natural enzyme that has the ability to glue protein-containing foods together. When raw meats are bound with TG, they typically have the strength and appearance of whole uncut muscles."
The truth is, however, most people who are in severe Chronic Pain are not necessarily concerned about "diseases". In other words, they don't really care that their heart is fibrosing, they just want their NECK to stop hurting. The thing you have to remember is that in many ways, these two problems should be addressed in a similar fashion. if you want to get to the root of your problem --- whatever your problem may be --- you need to address Inflammation. There's no way around it. Listen to what Dr. Rick Loos of San Diego's Torrey Pines Chiropractic has to say about the link between CHRONIC NECK PAIN, SCAR TISSUE, and INFLAMMATION.
"Chronic neck pain can be explained by starting with scar tissue, or what we call Fibrosis. Fibrosis is scar tissue that develops inside of your body, on muscles, tendons or inside of a joint capsule. Fibrosis always occurs at the end stage of inflammation, or swelling. While scar tissue on the outside of the body doesn’t cause any problems, on the inside, like in your neck, it can lead to chronic pain and even future re-injury. Fibrosis works like glue. The problem with fibrosis is that it isn’t all neat and perfect, like a band-aid. It’s a big mess. The scar tissue grabs the connective tissue and the surrounding muscles, wrapping it all up together into a three dimensional blob. It happens because your body is trying to protect the injury and anchor it somehow, so you don’t injure it again. That’s a good thing, of course, but once you heal not all of it goes away. The problem is some of the fibrosis sticks around. (Pun intended.)"
Dr. Rick summed it up pretty well; Inflammation and Scar Tissue are huge factors in in a wide variety of PAIN SYNDROMES. One of the things that separates my practice from others, is the emphasis I place on understanding and getting rid of fibrosis (Scar Tissue). If you are one of those people trapped on the MEDICAL MERRY-GO-ROUND, start by watching some of our VIDEO TESTIMONIALS or creating your own EXIT STRATEGY from chronic pain and chronic illness.
WHAT CAUSES IT AND HOW BEST TO DEAL WITH IT?
The "disease" we call DEPRESSION is rampant in this country. But is Depression really what you have been taught that it is, and are drugs the only way of dealing with this common problem? I say "common" because according to Dr. Tom Insel who is head of the NIMH (a branch of our government's National Institutes of Health), "antidepressants were the second most commonly prescribed medications, right after drugs to lower cholesterol. About 254 million prescriptions were written for them, resulting in nearly $10 billion in costs." Although these statistics are over three years old, I can assure you that both numbers above (254 million / $10 billion) are dramatically higher now than they were then.
I also want you to note that in the quote above, Dr. Insel talks not only of antidepressant medications, he mentions STATIN DRUGS for controlling HIGH CHOLESTEROL. This is interesting, as High Cholesterol is a health problem that is known to be highly influenced by one's level of "Inflammation". In fact, not only are dozens of diseases known to be caused by INFLAMMATION (HERE is a list of some of them), Depression and High Cholesterol are both on that list. And in the same way that Statin Drugs rarely get to the root cause(s) of High Cholesterol, neither do Antidepressants get to the root of Depression. Much of this probably has to do with the fact that numerous studies tout Depression's insane numbers of false positives (positive diagnosis of Depression, even though the patient does not meet the published criteria for the disease).
Case in point, a study done at Johns Hopkins that was published in a 2013 issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics (Clinician-identified Depression in Community Settings: Concordance with Structured-interview Diagnoses). The authors determined that according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the DSM) only about 1/3 of the study's 5,639 participants that had already been diagnosed with Depression, actually met the criteria. For those over 65, accuracy dropped to a jaw-dropping 14%. Unfortunately, we already know how the vast majority of these folks were treated. As the study itself says, they "were prescribed and used psychiatric medications". The study's conclusions stated that, "Depression overdiagnosis and overtreatment is common in community settings [GP's offices] in the USA." What are most of these doctors missing? Is Depression simply a chemical imbalance in the brain that can be easily solved by prescription, or is there a bigger boat that is being missed here?
Firstly, if you want to understand what Dr. Smith and others are really saying, you will have to have a cursory understanding of INFLAMMATION. It is worth your while to spend a bit of time in study. Secondly, I have repeatedly shown you that Cytokines are one of many Immune System chemicals that are collectively known as "Inflammation". Unfortunately, I find that even though the medical community banters the term "Inflammation" around on an every-day basis, few seem to have any real idea what it means, and fewer still are sharing these implications with their patients. Covering (or at least attempting to cover) symptoms with drugs is how things are done here in America. Medicating patients is simply too easy and too lucrative to do anything else. What people need to understand, however, when looking at some of this research is that Depression has moved from the realm of being 'hypothesized' as an inflammatory condition, to one that is well-known to be inflammatory. Although I am not always the biggest fan of "EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE" let me give you some proofs.
Just one short year ago this month, Dr. Michael Berk's team of a dozen elite Australian researchers published a paper in BMC Medicine called So Depression is an Inflammatory Disease, but where does the Inflammation come from? Listen to their summary. "The identification of known sources of inflammation provides support for inflammation as a mediating pathway to both risk and neuro-progression in depression. Critically, most of these factors are plastic, and potentially amenable to therapeutic and preventative interventions. Most, but not all, of the above mentioned sources of inflammation may play a role in other psychiatric disorders, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism, and post-traumatic stress disorder."
By the way, what were some of the causes of Inflammation that the title of the paper leaves us wondering about? Just the usual suspects. STRESS, CRAPPY DIETS, PHYSICAL INACTIVITY, OBESITY, SMOKING, LEAKY GUT SYNDROME ("Altered Gut Permeability"), ALLERGIES, Dental Problems (dental problems are a huge cause of chronic infections), Problems Sleeping, and Vitamin D Deficiency, were a few that were mentioned. All of this is important to know because along with Depression, CANCER, HEART DISEASE, DIABETES, ARTHRITIS, ASTHMA, ALLERGIES, ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE, Obesity (see link above), and just about every other major health problem you can name off the top of your head are being touted as "inflammatory" (caused by Inflammation). But I regress. Let's talk for a moment about some of the specific research strongly linking Depression to Systemic Inflammation.
- DEPRESSION IS MUCH MORE COMMON IN PEOPLE WITH INFLAMMATORY ILLNESSES: I just mentioned a few of the problems that are considered 'inflammatory'. A 2010 study published in the medical journal Biological Psychiatry (A Meta-analysis of Cytokines in Major Depression) not only said that Major Depression occurs in up to 20% of the population, but that there were, "significantly higher concentrations of the pro-inflammatory cytokines in depressed subjects compared with control subjects..... and strengthens evidence that depression is accompanied by activation of the Inflammatory Response System."
- THE MORE SYSTEMIC INFLAMMATION YOU HAVE, THE GREATER YOUR CHANCES OF BEING DEPRESSED: A November 2010 study in the British Journal of Psychiatry (Association of High-sensitivity C-Reactive Protein with De Novo Major Depression) followed a group of women for ten years, then correlated the levels of C-Reactive Protein (CRP --- a blood marker for Systemic Inflammation) with developing "de novo" (new) Depression. The study concluded that, "CRP is an independent risk marker for de novo major depressive disorder in women. This supports an etiological role for inflammatory activity in the pathophysiology of depression." By the way, the study of the causes of disease is called 'etiology'.
- DEPRESSION CAN BE INDUCED BY CAUSING SYSTEMIC INFLAMMATION IN HEALTHY CONTROLS: A study published thirteen years ago --- in a 2001 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry ---- concluded that, "Mild stimulation of the primary host defense has negative effects on emotional and memory functions, which are probably caused by cytokine release." (The 'emotional responses' they specifically listed were "significant increase in the levels of anxiety and a depressed mood".) By the way, the term 'host defense' is describing the Immune System. It is critical to remember that Inflammation is an Immune System response. It is also important to remember that the stimulation in this experiment was 'mild'. Not surprisingly, instead of discussing things people could do to help their own cause, the authors let us know that they were all about the drugs, when they stated that, "cytokines represent a novel target for neuropsychopharmacological research." Again; figure out how to (temporarily anyway) cover the symptom without addressing underlying cause of that symptom.
- THE TREATMENT OF HEPATITIS OFTEN CAUSES DEPRESSION: Chronic Hepatitis C is often treated with Interferon --- a powerful Immune System chemical in the Inflammation family. A meta-analysis of numerous studies on this topic, published in the August 2012 issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (Interferon-Induced Depression in Chronic Hepatitis C: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis) revealed that one in four persons treated with Interferon, developed Depression ("One in 4 chronic hepatitis C patients who start interferon and ribavirin treatment will develop an induced major depressive episode".)
- FIXING DEPRESSION LOWERS LEVELS OF CYTOKINES: A 2011 meta-analysis of 22 studies published in the November 2011 issue of Neuropsychopharmacology showed that on some level, Cytokines are directly related to Depression. The study concluded that, "the possibility that inflammatory cytokines contribute to depressive symptoms and that antidepressants block the effects of inflammatory cytokines on the brain". The implication here is that SSRI's have an anti-inflammatory effect on the brain. While this may certainly be true to some degree, it is critical to remember that Antidepressant medications carry some brutal side effects; not the least of which are sexual (HERE). HERE and HERE are a couple of recent studies on the dangers of Anti-inflammation medications.
As you can begin to see, Depression is not simply an "imbalance". It often has a physical / tangible cause. If you want to better understand the common drivers of Inflammation, I would suggest that you go back and read Dr. Berks' list that I gave you earlier in the paper. This is good news for many of you, because like Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) stated in 1988's classic movie, Predator, "If it bleeds, we can kill it."
Just knowing that there are steps you can be taking to help your cause is incredibly empowering. If you want to figure out how to begin to squelch Inflammation where it lives, I wrote THIS POST just for you. For those who are interested, I created a SERIES OF POSTS showing how most disease (Depression included) is really just one big thing, manifesting differently in different people. For example, people who are depressed frequently have IBS.
GUT HEALTH AND INFLAMMATION
MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU EVER DREAMED
- INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE (Crohn's and others)
Stop for a moment and think about this list. Not only are all these considered to be "Inflammatory Conditions," I have shown you that they can frequently be dealt with by restoring Gut Health. This is why "Alternative Healers" have been telling their patients for decades (probably centuries) "Heal the Gut, Heal the Body". The doubly cool thing is that when you look at this list, you quickly realize that the phrase, "and Heal the Mind" could have easily been tacked on to the end of the phrase as well. It is always refreshing to see a true scientist tackling these topics, as opposed to a "half-cocked, dimwitted, back cracker" like myself (a description from an email I received awhile back).
I want to leave you with a few quotes from the posts that were found in various articles on his homepage at the time I wrote this. Below is from a post about EPIGENETICS. "The health of your gut flora (the interacting trillions of bacteria of a couple of hundred different species that make up the pound of bacteria that you carry primarily in your large intestines) is more important than your genetics to your overall health. Thus, your health is a result of diet, gut flora adapted to your diet and exercise. Everything else, your genetic risks, environmental toxins, etc. are of only minor impact. I am trying to paint the big picture of how the food that you eat and your gut flora interact to determine your health, by which I mean whether you get sick, become obese and/or bloat with gas." In other words, there are factors that can turn genes on or off. Diet, Inflammation, and Gut Health are three of the biggest. This means that you are not as controlled by your genes as you have always been led to believe.
A number of years ago, I told you that 80% OF THE IMMUNE SYSTEM IS FOUND IN THE GUT. Furthermore, I showed you that the Gut is responsible for a wide variety of functions that up until recently, no one knew much about (HERE). I even showed you how things like SEX DRIVE and Obesity are intimately linked to your Gut Flora (OR LACK THEREOF). Listen to what Dr. Ayers says about the relationship between something called DYSBIOSIS (too many bad bacteria, not enough good bacteria) and a wide range of different health problems. "Recent studies have demonstrated the role of gut bacteria in producing nutrients, vitamins and neurotransmitters.... Chronic change of gut flora in this way leads to obesity. Other types of dysbiosis contribute to infections, cancer, autoimmune disease, allergies, food intolerances, gas and bloating." Trust me when I tell you that his short list is the tip of the iceberg.
This quote is cherrypicked from a post that Dr. Ayers did on SUPERBUGS --- bacteria that become resistant to ANTIBIOTICS. "Persistent use of an antibiotic will spread resistance to a particular antibiotic through the gut flora, facilitated by antibiotic resistant plasmids..... Hospital staff would be expected to be natural repositories for multiple resistance genes, especially if they are exposed to any antibiotic (or pharmaceutical.) Mixing megatons of bacteria in the guts of billions of people with tons of antibiotics, and still more in sewage treatment plants and agriculture, is bound to produce bacteria with every type of multiple antibiotic resistance plasmid imaginable. But that is not the biggest problem, since fingering the commercial use and misuse of antibiotics ignores biggest exposure of bacteria to antibiotics. It ignores the fact that most popular pharmaceuticals, NSAIDs, statins, anti-depressants, anti-diabetics, etc., also have substantial antibiotic activity. Most of these pharmaceuticals started out as phytoalexins and then were found to also have pharmaceutical activity. Pharmaceuticals are just repurposed natural antibiotics. When you take an aspirin or Metformin or a statin, you are taking an antibiotic. When you take a pharmaceutical, you are selecting for multiple antibiotic resistance plasmids in your gut flora and you may be making the next superbug." Did you catch that? Not only do Antibiotics cause Antibiotic Resistance, but so do NSAIDS, STATINS, ANTIDEPRESSANTS, ASPIRIN, and DIABETIC DRUGS, not to mention others.
Dr. Ayers is a true believer in natural health. His three daughters were DELIVERED AT HOME, and his wife (a nurse) was a La Leche League leader and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant for well over two decades. Listen to what he not only says about mother's milk, but the importance of BACTERIAL TRANSFER IN DELIVERY. "Milk is a baby's first prebiotic and a major function of mother's milk is to prevent adult gut bacteria from inflaming a newborn's gut, before the gut is sealed up and a new immune system is developed. Formula companies scurry to get parents hooked on their expensive substitutes that promise ease of use and nutritional equivalence, but the sad truth is that these artificial milk substitutes undermine baby gut flora with tragic results. Even in the rare cases where mothers are not able to breastfeed their babies, there is a safe alternative, donor milk banks.... Breast milk is nutritive for the newborn, but it also establishes the baby's gut flora. It is the quality of the gut flora, which species of bacteria, that determines if a newborn will thrive or die. If the baby is delivered by Caesarian, then her first gut flora will resemble the nursery staff. If she forces her way out the old fashioned way, her first flora will resemble her mother's vaginal flora." When I think of how far off this track modern medicine has gotten, it frankly ticks me off --- especially when it comes to our babies and children.
WHAT IS INFLAMMATION?
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SUGAR AND INFLAMMATION
"One of the biggest offenders of inflammation is ingestion of sugar. By sugar I mean table sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, turbinado sugar, honey (even raw), maple sugar, corn sweetener, dextrose, glucose, fructose and any other word that ends in an "ose", barley malt, rice syrup, liquid cane sugar, concentrated fruit juice and others. Don't be fooled by the name organic when it applies to sugar. Sugar is sugar, organic or not." Dr. Nancy Appleton from an article called The Relationship between Sugar and Inflammation.
"What are the biggest culprits of chronic inflammation? Quite simply, they are the overload of simple, highly processed carbohydrates (sugar, flour and all the products made from them)...." Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Dr. Dwight Lundell from his article, Heart Surgeon Speaks Out on what Really Causes Heart Disease.
The problem is, virtually no one truly understands Inflammation. Oh, they certainly think they understand Inflammation. But as far as really grasping the severe, debilitating, and deadly consequences of having inflammatory markers coursing through your blood stream. 24/7/365.... Nope. Unfortunately, far too many people think of Inflammation in terms of "Local" Inflammation --- redness, swelling, heat, and tenderness. While this is certainly true when talking about that ankle you rolled over while playing basketball in the driveway with your son last evening, it is as far as the east is from the west when discussing "Systemic" Inflammation --- Inflammation that has essentially taken over every nook and cranny of your body.
"Inflammation" is the collective name we give a group of Immune System chemicals which are used by cells to communicate with each other. Although for the most part, these chemical compounds are vital and necessary for good health and the healing process, too much of any of them can cause problems --- serious problems. When these Inflammatory messenger compounds are released into the blood stream, the body sends white blood cells and other Immune System cells to attack and destroy the source of the Inflammation. There is usually collateral damage as the body ends up damaging its own tissues in its response. One of the hallmarks of this damage is that the body will often replace normal healthy tissue with fibrous connective tissue (can anyone say "SCAR TISSUE"?). The tissues that tend to be damaged the most in this process are those with the least ability to regenerate (heart, nerve, and muscle tissue are probably the 'Big Three').
Some of the chemical compounds that you will see associated with Inflammation include, kinnins, substance P, histamines, thrombin, plasmin, cytokines (this one is huge), chemokines, IFN, TNF, IL (Interleukins), Ig, leukotrienes, prostaglandins, eiconsanoids, etc, etc, etc. Not only are there dozens of others, but new ones are being discovered and added to the list on a regular basis.
As levels of Inflammation continue to rise, your potential for serious health problems goes up as well. Inflammation is not only at the heart of the most heavy-hitter health problems of the westernized world (HEART DISEASE, DIABETES, and even CANCER), but things like OBESITY and most AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES (HERE'S a list) are also considered to be "Inflammatory" as well (HERE and HERE are more complete lists). In other words, if you fail to understand what Inflammation is really all about, and how to deal with it properly (HERE), you will never get to the root of your ill health. And all the medical intervention on the planet will only prolong a debilitated and painful life (HERE).
SUGAR AND INFLAMMATION
Dr. Nancy Appleton has been writing books, lecturing, and doing research on the role of sugar's relationship to ill health since the mid 1970's. I keep a copy of her "141 REASONS SUGAR RUINS YOUR HEALTH" in my lobby. This very short article gives you very specific ways that sugar destroys your health --- then backs each reason up with peer-reviewed scientific research. She does a great job of explaining why as little as "two teaspoons" can set off problems in your body. Dr. Appleton goes on to explain that just a little bit of sugar has the ability to dramatically alter your body's normal ratio of minerals.
Because one of the chief purposes of minerals is to act as catalysts for the chemical reactions taking place in your body, mineral imbalances will alter the way these reactions take place, leading to ill health, pain, lack of energy, inability to heal properly, etc, etc, etc. One of the chief chemical reactions that is affected by sugar is digestion. When the body is not digesting proteins properly, "this protein gets into the blood stream as partially digested protein, or polypeptides". Your body sees these 'too large' protein molecules as foreign invaders and begins mounting Immune System responses against them in the form of antibodies and Inflammation. When this this happens with Wheat Protein (GLUTEN) --- something that is extremely common today --- the result is not only Gluten Sensitivity, but a wide array of Autoimmune Diseases (HERE is some of what we know about this process). This is called LEAKY GUT SYNDROME (the medical community will refer to it as "Increased Intestinal Permeability"). The end result is even more Inflammation. And, "depending on where this partially digested protein goes in the body, the inflammation can set in any organ or tissue".
As you might guess, the more sugar we consume, the more our Immune System is affected. You can now start to see why practically every disease process you can name is being tied back to UNCONTROLLED BLOOD SUGAR. This sugar drives a wide array of inflammatory processes in your body. And as I have already shown you from previous links, this Inflammation causes pathological alterations in your physiology (body function). Alter your body's ability to function at the cellular level and you have chronic sickness and disease. By the way, one of the reasons that so many people still have Diabetes even though they have lost a ton of weight and cut back their sugar / starch consumption to near zero, is because there are hidden sources of Inflammation they have yet to be dealt with.
Inflammation is only one of the many ways that sugar can affect you, but it is a biggie. Once you have studied this post and learned what Inflammation is and what drives it, it is now time to start controlling it. While the medical community is interested in accomplishing this via a wide range of drugs and medications (ANTI-INFLAMMATORIES and CORTICOSTEROIDS are two of the more common), these present their own unique sets of problems. This is mostly due to the fact that no matter how many of these drugs you take, you are not changing your physiology, but rather covering the most overt symptoms. Fail to address the root issue (HERE), and sooner or later you end up in an early grave. To learn more about getting healthy and staying that way, HERE are a number of posts I have written on the topic.
PUTTING OUT THE FIRE IN YOUR BODY
How do doctors go about treating Inflammation or inflammatory problems / diseases? Mostly they prescribe drugs that cover the symptoms without addressing the underlying cause(s) of those symptoms (inflammation). Very often, the drugs that are used are chosen for their anti-inflammatory effects. If you know anything about this class of drugs, you realize that it can be problematic, with numerous serious side effects (HERE). But what other problems do these drugs present as far as dealing with Chronic Inflammatory Degenerative Diseases are concerned? I'm glad you asked.
WHAT IT TAKES TO SQUELCH THE FIRE
All of this begs the question of how to best go about removing (or at least reducing) excess inflammation from our bodies? True reduction of inflammation and inflammatory processes in your body is not something your doctor can do for you. It's something you are going to have to do on your own. I've broken it down for you into a few easy-to-understand steps; steps that if you follow, you could very well see a huge reduction of your symptoms ---- even if you are dealing with the dreaded MUPS.
- CHANGE YOUR DIET / CONTROL BLOOD SUGAR: You knew it was coming and probably suspected it would be at the top of the list. You were right. Failure to strictly regulate your blood sugar can set off a cascade of health-related problems --- even if you are not yet "officially" Diabetic (HERE). On top of that, you may need to go GLUTEN FREE as well as figuring out it there are foods you might be eating that are driving inflammation (just click the link). If you really want to begin understanding how and what you should be eating, read THESE POSTS.
- DRINK MORE WATER AND DRINK ONLY WATER: WATER will help you put out the fire. I am not opposed to you making an anti-inflammatory tea to drink either. This could be a Green Tea base, with lemon, CINNAMON, Turmeric, Circumin, Ginger, etc, etc, in it. Whatever you do, stay away from the soda --- And please don't be fooled by DIET SODA.
- EAT YOUR VEGGIES: If you spend any amount of time on this site, you'll never mistake me for a vegetarian / vegan (HERE). However, your diet should be based on vegetation. In fact, Dr. David Seaman's RULE OF THUMB as far as reducing inflammation is, "Eat vegetation or animals that ate vegetation". It is important to remember that grain is not vegetation. And finally, remember that even though we talk about FRUITS & VEGETABLES, these should never be used synonymously.
- GET SOME EXERCISE EACH AND EVERY DAY: I get it. There are a few of you reading this post who, for whatever reason, cannot exercise. Key word here; "few". Find something you can do and do it. HERE are some posts you should read prior to getting started. If you've been injured or are struggling with Chronic Pain, THIS POST will have some ideas for you.
- REDUCE STRESS: Some of the bullet points on this list would count as stress reduction. Stress creates ADRENAL FATIGUE, which in and of itself can produce Chronic Pain and weight gain --- both signs of Inflammation. It also leads to a situation known widely as SYMPATHETIC DOMINANCE, where the fight-or-flight adrenaline-producing part of your ANS (autonomic nervous system) gets turned up way too high.
- HAVE MORE SEX: It seems that every statistic I see on sexual frequency of married couples is worse (that would be lower) than the one before it. A bit over a decade ago, married couples were intimate on average 132 times per year. Three years ago that number had dropped by about 20%. The latest study I saw was saying it's now 85 times per year. With the collective health of our nation being what it is, I'm not surprised. If you are having problems in this area (or simply wanting to improve things), take a few minutes to read THESE POSTS.
- CLEAR YOUR BODY OF TOXINS: Toxicity comes in many forms, including ESTROGEN, CHEMICALS, METALS, HERBICIDES, MEDICATIONS, etc, etc. Learn what it takes to get this junk out of your body and then do it (HERE). And for those who are interested in an extremely simple and totally free way to both alkalize your body and help rid it of cancer-causing free radicals, take a look at THIS POST.
- UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF GUT HEALTH: 80% of your entire Immune System is found in your digestive tract (HERE). Inflammation is an Immune System response. Until you grasp the significance of the old saying, "heal the gut, heal the body," solving your health issues could prove elusive (HERE). I would suggest that many of you will need to address CHRONIC INFECTIONS, including those being caused by your DENTAL WORK.
- MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT: Unless you have some sort of underlying disease process such as a THYROID PROBLEM, ANEMIA, or others, this one will take care of itself if you follow the points in this list. If you are doing all the right things and cannot lose weight, there is something being missed.
For a much more comprehensive on solving your own health issues, make sure to take a look at THIS POST. I would never suggest that it is the solution to everything. However, it has some cool ideas and should provide you a starting point.
THE DESTRUCTIVE AND DEADLY
EFFECTS OF INFLAMMATION
Inflammation is the common denominator of many chronic age-related diseases such as arthritis, gout, Alzheimer's, and diabetes. But according to a Yale School of Medicine study, even in the absence of a disease, inflammation can lead to serious loss of function throughout the body, reducing healthspan — that portion of our lives spent relatively free of serious illness and disability. A recent issue of Eurekalert discussing a study from the October issue of Cell Metabolism called, "Canonical Nlrp3 Inflammasome Links Systemic Low-Grade Inflammation to Functional Decline in Aging"
This is interesting when considering the recent study on quality of life and longevity. The bottom line was that even though people are living on average much longer than they used to, their health and quality of life are much lower --- particularly in those later years. I'm not surprised. Much, if not most of this has to do with Inflammation. The problem is, when I talk to my patients about Inflammation (including many healthcare providers), I find that few really understand what it is. This despite the fact that the word is used almost ubiquitously in the media and in healthcare.
INFLAMMATION is the collective name given to a group of several dozen chemicals made by your Immune System. Although these chemicals are necessary --- even vital ---- for health and healing, they can be driven to excessive levels by a wide variety of things including cruddy diets, smoking, food sensitivities, parasites, heavy metal toxicity, low grade infections, etc, etc, etc. Now we can add one more thing to the list --- birthdays. It seems that the older we get, the more "Background Inflammation" is created by our Immune Systems. This helps contribute to a host of inflammatory disease processes that are specifically associated with aging, including DEGENERATIVE ARTHRITIS, OSTEOPOROSIS, DIABETES, ALZHEIMER'S, PARKINSON'S, Dementia, Cataracts, GOUT, THYMUS DEGRADATION, and numerous others.
Although the point of the study concerned developing drugs to down-regulate the "Immune Sensor Nlrp3 Inflammasome" (their latest specific culprit in the aging process), my advice makes more sense. Start right now with a simple program designed to squelch inflammation at its source. Then follow and refine this program your entire life. For more information on how to proceed, HERE, HERE, and HERE are wonderful places to start.
MORE ABOUT INFLAMMATION
Everything is Inflammation. Dr. Jay Robbins at a recent Standard Process seminar on WHOLE FOOD NUTRITION, explaining how virtually all health problems start with Inflammation.
Several years ago my wife picked out a book for me that was languishing in the bargain bin of a St. Louis book retailer. The book, by Dr. Floyd Chilton, was called Inflammation Nation. Although I took exception to much of the book (his diet information is often times horrendous; particularly the information concerning Grains and Gluten, his promotion of margarine (TRANS FATS), his promotion of DIET SODA, as well as comparing SATURATED FATS to trans fats, were all way off base --- more on this topic can be found HERE), Inflammation Nation was a home run as far as helping Joe (or Jolene) Six Pack understand what Inflammation is and why it is something to be avoided if you value your health or the health of your family. On the back cover of his book, Dr. Chilton lists a few of the more well known Inflammatory Diseases (diseases whose known cause is Inflammation). His list includes....
- ALLERGIES: HERE is some general information on Allergies. Be aware that Allergies are intimately related to another "Inflammatory Disease" --- LEAKY GUT SYNDROME.
- ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE: Click THIS LINK to learn how Flu Shots drive enough Inflammation to cause Alzheimer's Disease.
- ARTHRITIS: There are nearly 200 different kinds of Arthritis.
- ASTHMA: I wrote a WHOLE SERIES on Asthma a couple of years ago.
- ATHEROSCLEROSIS: This is the 'official' name for hardening of the arteries. And yes, it is the result of Inflammation.
- ATOPIC DERMATITIS: The name you know this problem by is "hives".
- CANCER: For the record, this includes both breast cancer and cervical cancer. More on CANCER.
- CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE: This covers a lot of ground, including CHOLESTEROL ISSUES. Suffice it to say that Inflammation is the culprit.
- CELIAC DISEASE: Celiac is an AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE of the Small Intestine. The thing you have to remember here is that although 1 in 100 Americans have Celiac, about 1 in 3-5 Americans have other forms of GLUTEN SENSITIVITY --- and most of it is NEUROLOGICAL.
- CHRONIC BRONCHITIS: Inflammation of the breathing tubes.
- CHRONIC HEPATITIS: Inflammation of the liver.
- CHRONIC JOINT DISEASE: Could be categorized with Arthritis (DJD is one example of this).
- CHRONIC KIDNEY FAILURE: Often brought on by ---- yep; you guessed it..... Anti-inflammatory medications.
- CHRONIC PANCREATITIS: Miserable stuff --- an Inflammation of the pancreas that frequently results in cancer.
- CHRONIC THYROID DISEASE: There are at least 60 million Americans with THYROID PROBLEMS --- most of them Autoimmune.
- CIRRHOSIS OF THE LIVER / FATTY LIVER: The number one reason for these is not alcohol, but OBESITY, which is itself an Inflammatory problem.
- DIABETES: For years I have been trying to tell anyone who would listen that BLOOD SUGAR DYSREGULATION is the number one health problem facing Americans today. You do not even have to have full-blown DIABETES for this to be a problem.
- ECZEMA: Not only is this Inflammatory, it is almost always an indication of Autoimmune Food Sensitivities as well (number one on the list are our old friends Gluten and Dairy).
- EMPHYSEMA: Yes; smoking is massively Inflammatory, and this is only one of the many ways that it will manifest.
- HAY FEVER: You want to cure Hay Fever / Allergies? Read THIS POST.
- INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE: This covers a lot of ground, including some on this list. By the way, it is critical to understand that 80% of your entire Immune System is FOUND IN THE GUT.
- LUPUS: This is the disease that everyone associates with Autoimmunity. HERE is a list of others that are common.
- OSTEOARTHRITS: This is also known as DEGENERATIVE ARTHRITIS.
- PSORIASIS: HERE is a great picture of the problem in a post about the Cause and Cure of all disease.
- PSORIATIC ARTHRITIS:
- RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS: This is one of the thousands of Autoimmune Diseases. Forget the anti-cancer (chemotherapy) drugs that doctors use to treat this. There are better methods that actually get to the source of the Inflammation.
- SCLERODERMA: Another of the many Autoimmune Diseases. This one affects your skin as well as several organ systems.
- SINUSITIS: This is a chronic CONGESTION and Inflammation of the SINUSES. Although usually treated with ANTIBIOTICS, this is one of the worst things you could do (HERE).
- ULCERATIVE COLITIS: Ulcers in the Colon. Not fun stuff. Again 80% of your Immune System is found in THE GUT. Without understanding this, you are sunk as far as all of these problems are concerned! IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME could fall under this category as well.
That is one heck of a list! But the truth is, it could be longer ---- much longer (look at the lists on PREVIOUS INFLAMMATION POSTS, and you'll see things that did not make Chilton's list). Make sure to come back for part II of this post, which will be about finding answers to Inflammatory Health Issues. As you might guess, the solution is finding ways to squelch the Inflammation. By the way, the book I recommend for helping squelch Inflammation is not Inflammation Nation. Instead, read IT STARTS WITH FOOD. Once you understand that ALL DISEASES are essentially related to each other, this post will make much more sense.
AND THE RELATIONSHIP TO SICKNESS, PAIN, AND DISEASE
Inflammation comes in two distinct forms, chronic (Systemic) and acute (Localized). Acute Inflammation is characterized by the Latin terms Rubor (Redness), Dolar (Pain), Tumor (Swelling), Calor (Heat), and Functio Laesa (Loss of Function). These are the things that happen when you sprain and ankle, burn your leg, put your low back out of place, or hit your thumb with a hammer. A certain amount of acute inflammation is a good thing, as it is actually necessary for healing. The problem, however, is not so much the Acute Inflammation that occurs in our bodies, but the CHRONIC SYSTEMIC INFLAMMATION that most of us are carrying around with us 27 / 7 / 365.
Chronic Inflammation is the collective name given to a group of Immune System chemicals that are released by your body in response to tissue damage. When these chemicals are driven to abnormally high levels --- usually due to damage from dietary and lifestyle factors (CRAPPY DIETS, poor exercise choices (too much or too little), SMOKING, heavy drinking, sedentary jobs, DRUGS & CERTAIN MEDICATIONS (ANTIBIOTICS are the worst), emotional or physical stress (HERE), etc, etc); bad things happen ---- really bad things. Before we cover some of the more common disease processes that are driven by Inflammation, it might prove helpful to see the names of some of these immune system chemicals.
- C3 and C5a
- Factor XII
- Substance P
- Membrane Attack Complex
- Cytokines (As you'll soon see, extremely common. This family contains numerous immuno-modulaters made up of proteins. These proteins carry messages between cells that regulate immune system responses. The most common of these are interleikins (IL) and interferon (IFN).
- Chemokines such as MCP-1 and MIP-1β
- Certain kinds of Immunoglobulins (IgA, IgE, IgF, IgG, etc, etc) (These are what are seen in ALLERGIES, Sensitivities, and Intolerances --- usually to food, although other things can be involved as well.)
- Growth Factors of All Sorts, including what's found on THIS LIST.
- IFN-y (Interferon Gamma)
- Various forms of TNF (Tumor Necrosis Factors)
- A wide array of Interleukins (IL- 6 and IL- 1 are both common culprits)
- Prostaglandins (PG)
- Nitric Oxide (NO)
- Too many others to list --- this list grows every day
Your doctor will continue to treat the symptoms of your various inflammatory health problems (DIABETES, MIGRAINES, THYROID PROBLEMS, ADD / ADHD, OBESITY, etc) without ever touching on --- or even mentioning the root causes. The problem is that not dealing with the underlying cause(s) of Systemic Inflammation frequently leads to AUTOIMMUNITY ---- the process whereby your Immune System begins making antibodies against, and attacking its own cells, glands, organs, nerves, joints, muscles, and other tissues.
As Leaky Gut Syndrome repeatedly damages the intestinal lining and the "MICROBIOME" (one's flora) becomes progressively dysbiotic, the Gut is increasingly unable to perform its two main functions. Number one, digestion suffers. It is easy to understand that if you damage the lining of the Gut, you will not be able to break down and absorb nutrients in a proper manner (you might end up with CONSTIPATION or IBS symptoms as well). But number two could be even bigger. The second way that Leaky Gut Syndrome destroys health is by destroying your Immune System. You see, 80% of your entire Immune System is found in your Gut (HERE). This means that problems in the Gut are going to affect your overall health --- usually in a big way!
As your Immune System continues to attack the foreign invaders that are pouring through the sieve that has become your intestinal lining, your body becomes more and more reactive. Before long, it starts attacking itself in almost every conceivable fashion. This is why I have always said that Autoimmune Diseases are like Lay's Potato Chips ---- you can't have just one. They tend to swarm around like a pack of hungry wolves. Once your system is "Autoimmune", you are just as likely to have several Autoimmune Diseases as you are to have only one (HERE is a list, and HERE is a common mechanism).
Be aware that the underlying Inflammation has probably been smouldering for years --- or even decades before a named disease process actually becomes visible to the point where doctors can actually put a name on it (one reason that MUPS is one of medicine's biggest dirty little secrets). I have created a list of some of the more common Disease Processes that are intimately related to Inflammatory Processes. Many of these are also of the Autoimmune Family as well (see previous link). Just remember that any time you see the word "itis", it is the Greek word for Inflammation (Arthr--itis, Burs--itis, Gastr--itis, etc, etc, etc).
A FEW COMMON HEALTH ISSUES AND DISEASES RELATED TO INFLAMMATION
- ACID REFLUX: Otherwise known as GERD, the combination of food sensitivities (particularly GLUTEN), high pH (not enough strong stomach acid), and H. Pylori (HERE), are the known cause of gastritis and upper digestive tract ulcerations (Great information about your body's ACID / ALKALI BALANCE).
- ACNE: Although I've written about Acne as it pertains to Gluten (HERE, there is ample evidence that it is a distinctly "Western" problem, caused largely by inflammation (HERE and HERE)
- ALLERGIES & SENSITIVITIES: These can cause both Chronic and Acute Inflammation (HERE), and are highly related to the "HYGIENE HYPOTHESIS".
- ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE: Chronic Inflammation kills brain cells. Sugar is one of the most inflammatory substances you can put in your body (HERE). Alzheimer's is essentially "Diabetes" of the brain (HERE is an interesting post on the subject).
- ANEMIA: Inflammation (certain Cytokines) decrease red blood cells via diminished EPO production (EPO carries oxygen and is often used by cyclists as a PED or Performance Enhancing Drug). HERE is some information on Anemia.
- ANKYLOSING SPONDYLITIS: Inflammation in the form of TNF α and IL-1 cause the body to create immune responses against its own joints. Along with several others, it's associated with the HLA-B27 antigen (HERE).
- ASTHMA: Now thought to be an Autoimmune Disease, according to the New England Journal of Medicine, the incidence has exploded to approximately 7% of our population. HERE is more information on the subject.
- AUTISM: Autoimmune / Inflammatory cytokine responses are heavily related to GUT HEALTH and can cause abnormal development of the brain. AUTISM information.
- ARTHRITIS, INCLUDING RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS: Autoimmune inflammatory cytokine responses attack and destroy both the joint surfaces and fluid that lubricates them (HERE and HERE). Be aware that even though degenerative osteoarthritis was until recently, believed to be simply due to wear and tear (HERE), we now know that Inflammation plays a huge part in it's pathogenesis (HERE).
- CANCER: Yes, it's true. CANCER is one of the "Inflammatory Diseases" as well. It is critical you understand that sugar is cancer's FOC (FOOD OF CHOICE).
- CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME: Chronic inflammatory responses cause scar tissue in the form of FASCIAL ADHESIONS & TENDINOSIS of the wrist. This compromises the integrity of the nerves in the region. More information HERE. By the way, there are an increasing number of experts who believe that CTS is a form of Peripheral Neuropathy (more in a moment).
- CELIAC DISEASE: Chronic inflammatory immune responses to wheat protein as well as the enzymes that break it down and digest it, cause damage to the Gut (HERE). And for those who still believe the old line that just because you don't have CD you can't have Gluten Sensitivity, HERE, HERE, and HERE are some posts to show you otherwise.
- CROHN'S DISEASE: Chronic inflammatory immune responses cause severe damage to the Gut (HERE), and is heavily associated with both Gluten Sensitivity and IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME. Although issues with GUT HEALTH do not always cause "gut" problems, they are always related to Inflammation (HERE).
- CONGESTIVE HEART FAILURE / HEART ATTACK: Inflammatory responses have been implicated in all forms of heart disease and cardiovascular events, including HIGH CHOLESTEROL and Myocardial Infarctions (MI).
- DENTAL PROBLEMS / CAVITIES / GUM DISEASE: Read a quote taken from Web MD.
"In one recent study, people with serious gum disease were 40% more likely to have a chronic condition on top of it. Over time, inflammation and the chemicals it releases eat away at the gums and bone structure that hold teeth in place. The result is severe gum disease, known as periodontitis. Inflammation can also cause problems in the rest of the body." For more about dental issues both as the result of inflammation as well as causing occult inflammation, HERE and HERE are the posts.
- DEPRESSION: DEPRESSION and all sorts of other mental problems, are known to be heavily influenced by Inflammatory mediators. HERE is a post specifically on this topic.
- ECZEMA: Chronic inflammatory response drives the immune system to make antibodies against one of the enzymes that breaks down Gluten (HERE).
- FIBROMYALGIA / ADRENAL FATIGUE: Inflammatory reactions attack muscles, fascia, tendons, etc, causing inordinate amounts of pain. Thought to be Autoimmune and aggravated by food sensitivities and nutritional deficiencies. More information HERE and HERE.
- FIBROSIS / SCAR TISSUE: This one hits close to home. Inflammatory cytokines irritate tissue (MUSCLES, LIGAMENTS, and FASCIA --- and even with TENDONS) that has been compromised via traumatic (WHIPLASH, SPORTS, etc), or repetitive / postural injury (DEGENERATIVE ARTHRITIS, FHP, etc). The result is that FIBROSIS (the fancy doctor's word for SCAR TISSUE) has become America's #1 cause of death (HERE). All of this is due to the fact that inflammation always results in Fibrosis (HERE).
- GALL BLADDER PROBLEMS: Strongly related to Leaky Gut Syndrome, inflammation attacks the bile duct and causes excess cholesterol production (an inflammatory problem of its own). Many researchers throw Appendicitis in this category as well, as many believe it to be an Autoimmune Disease. HERE is a cool post on liver function.
- GUILLIAN-BARRE SYNDROME: An Autoimmune attack on various parts of the nervous system --- frequently triggered by chemical toxicity or VACCINES.
- HASHIMOTO'S THYROID DISEASE: This is Autoimmune Hypothyroidism due to the body making antibodies against its own thyroid. Much more information HERE.
- INFERTILITY / SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION: Although these problems are in no ways identical to each other, they can both have similar roots. The number one cause of INFERTILITY in America is PCOS. We now know that large numbers of cases of SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION --- probably the majority --- have their roots in Inflammation as well (HERE).
- CERTAIN KIDNEY PROBLEMS: Kidneys can be damaged, or even destroyed by restricted circulation caused by Inflammatory Cytokines.
- LUPUS: Autoimmunity induced by Inflammatory Cytokines attacks the various Connective Tissues of the body.
- MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS: When exposed to Inflammatory Cytokines, some people develop an Autoimmunity to the nerve's "Meylin Sheath". HERE is some interesting information on MS.
- NEUROPATHY: This covers a lot of ground, including things like RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome), Diabetes, and even CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME. Inflammatory Compounds attack both Connective Tissues and the Neurovascular Bundle, irritating nerves. More on NEUROPATHY.
- OBESITY: As crazy as it sounds, OBESITY is considered to be an inflammatory condition. Obesity and BLOOD SUGAR DYSREGULATION are two sides of the same coin. The abstract of a six year old study done at Harvard University's medical school stated that, "A chronic state of inflammation often accompanies the accumulation of excess lipid [fat] in adipose tissue and liver [fatty liver], evidenced by changes in both inflammatory cells and biochemical markers of inflammation. These changes can be seen in the involved tissues and systemically, in terms of elevated circulating levels of inflammatory markers."
- OSTEOPOROSIS: Yep; believe it or not, OSTEOPOROSIS is now being specifically related to Systemic Inflammation. HERE are the studies (there are a bunch).
- PANCREATITIS: Inflammatory Cytokines cause cellular injury and death in the Pancreas. Again, anything that ends in "itis" is inflammatory. Pancreatitis is a debilitating problem that frequently ends in Pancreatic Cancer.
- PSORIASIS & PSORIATIC ARTHRITIS: Chronic Inflammation of both the liver and gut leads the body to Autoimmune responses that effect the skin and joints.
- POLYMYALGIA RHEUMATICA: This is characterized by Autoimmune attacks against muscles and fascia ---- caused by Inflammatory Cytokines (HERE).
- SCLERODERMA: Sclero (hardening), Derma (skin). Inflammatory Cytokines cause Autoimmune responses to certain Connective Tissues resulting in scarring and hardening of botht the skin and in some cases, organs.
- VASCULAR ACCIDENTS / STROKES: This could be lumped into the Congestive Heart Failure / Heart Attack section above. Although all sorts of things get the credit for this (i.e. HIGH BLOOD CHOLESTEROL --- itself a reaction to inflammation) the truth is that this class of disease is caused by high levels of inflammatory markers coursing through the body. HERE is the information on hypertension (High Blood Pressure), which is also thought to be Inflammatory.
- OTHERS: HERE is another list of Inflammatory Problems, as well as a list of autoimmune diseases that are also known to be inflammatory in nature (HERE). The truth is, almost every single problem you can name is being tied to Inflammation. The field of EPIGENETICS has made us realize that this is actually true for most of the diseases that we used to scapegoat off on our family.
ATTACKING INFLAMMATION AT ITS SOURCE
Several months ago, I wrote about the cause and cure of practically all kinds of sickness and disease. A small but growing body of mainstream physicians are starting to come around to the way that the "Alternative Practitioners" have been thinking for decades. According to Dr. Mark Hyman, author of The Blood Sugar Solution, Inflammation is the root of all kinds of disease process. Just listen to his words from a 2010 blog about healing Autoimmune Diseases.
INFLAMMATION IS A “HOT” TOPIC IN MEDICINE. It appears connected to almost every known chronic disease — from heart disease to cancer, diabetes to obesity, autism to dementia, and even depression.
Where is the best place to start? How about looking at the importance of an ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET --- my favorite being PALEO. For some of you, getting out of pain and returning to health might take a bit more than just changing your diet. For an incredible generic protocol for taking control of inflammation, take a look at THIS SHORT POST.
JOURNAL 'PRACTICAL PAIN MANAGEMENT'
PROMOTES DR. DAVID SEAMAN'S ARTICLE
'AN ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET FOR PAIN PATIENTS'
I must say that this issue's (November 2012) cover caught me off guard. It said 'Anti-Inflammatory Diet', and is shown as a collage of vegetables and herbs. Needless to say, I was surprised at the cover's topic. But my jaw hit the floor when I realized that the article was written by one of the Chiropractic profession's most well-known and respected nutritional lecturers, DR. DAVID SEAMAN of Florida. I have attended a couple of Seaman's weekend seminars, and his material is not only excellent, but is extremely relevant to anyone --- practitioner or patient --- who deals with chronic pain in any fashion.
It's always nice to be vindicated / validated. I have been promoting an Anti-Inflammatory Diet for almost the entire time I have been in practice (I am nearing the beginning of my 22nd year). Although the article was essentially material that Seaman (a Chiropractic Neurologist) has been writing about in the Chiropractic Journals seemingly forever, it's nice to see that this critically important message is finally making its way to mainstream medicine. Who better to get the message to than pain doctors. And who benefits the most? If the medical profession actually takes Seaman's message to heart, patients in CHRONIC PAIN will often see life-changing differences when they clean up their diets!
WHAT IS INFLAMMATION?
Although most of the general public thinks that swelling and INFLAMMATION are synonymous terms (they seem to always be used in tandem), this could not be farther from the truth. Although 'Inflammation' attracts swelling to it locally, it is actually the word we give to a group of normal Immune System chemicals. Just remember that when these chemicals get out of balance (i.e. there are too many of them in the blood stream), there will be hell to pay as far as health problems are concerned. Just how big a part does Inflammation play in the poor health of such great numbers of Americans? Listen to what Dr. Seaman writes under the header, "What is Chronic Inflammation?".
"Low-grade chronic inflammation is now known to be a driver of most chronic degenerative diseases"
- Disc Injuries, Slipped Disc, Disc Herniation, and Disc Rupture (HERE)
- Heart Disease and virtually all forms of Cardiovascular Problems (HERE)
- Skin conditions including Eczema and Psoriasis (HERE)
- Most Autoimmune Conditions (HERE)
- Arthritis & Fibromyalgia (HERE & HERE)
- Asthma (HERE)
- ADD, ADHD, Depression, and various forms of Dementia (HERE & HERE)
- Neurological Conditions (HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE)
- Female Issues (HERE & HERE)
- Cancer (HERE)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease / Leaky Gut Syndrome (HERE & HERE)
- Diabetes, Insulin Resistance, Hypoglycemia, and other Blood Sugar Regulation Problems (HERE)
- Obesity (HERE)
Interestingly enough, I have seen statistics saying that although we spend more on healthcare dollars than any country in the world both per capita and grossly (we have 3% of the population and take almost 2/3 of the world's pharmaceuticals), we rank at or near the bottom of the world as far as CHRONIC INFLAMMATORY DEGENERATIVE DISEASES are concerned. Just look at the lists in the link. It's easy to see why Inflammation is such a huge deal. But let's cut to the chase. What does Dr. Seaman say about which foods to eat and which foods to avoid? Although this article did not come right out and say it, I can tell you what he recommends for his patients (he says it over and over at his seminars). It is an extremely easy-to-remember rule of thumb. "Eat vegetation or animals that ate vegetation". And don't forget ---- grains (corn -- everyone's favorite 'vegetable' -- included) are not considered to be "vegetation". What Dr. Seaman's is essentially recommending here is a PALEO DIET. This becomes more clear when you look at his lists below.
CLICK HERE TO SEE HOW CHRONIC INFLAMMATION CAUSES
FIBROSIS (MICROSCOPIC SCAR TISSUE) AND CHRONIC PAIN
DR. DAVID SEAMAN'S LIST OF.......
CHERRY-PICKED QUOTES FROM DR. SEAMAN'S INFLAMMATION AND DIET ARTICLE
"Recently, it has been shown that patients are more likely to suffer with musculoskeletal pains and tendinopathy if they also have metabolic syndrome ---- which, is, in part, treated by adopting anti-inflammatory dietary changes"
We know from the scientific literature that the vast majority of Tendinopathies are TENDINOSIS. Although Tendinosis is certainly not considered an inflammatory condition in and of itself, systemic inflammation can contribute to its development.
"Low grade chronic inflammation is now known to be a driver of most chronic degenerative diseases. It is important to understand that low-grade chronic inflammation is not associated with an obvious infection or injury (i.e. acute inflammation) and does not predictably resolve [on its own]."
Just look at the list from earlier in the article. Shocking. And Inflammation is said to be a causal factor in all of them.
"[Inflammation] can generate pain in somatic tissues such as joint, muscle, disc, ligament, tendon, fascia, or epineurium [the fascia-analogous membrane that surrounds nerves]"
I have specific pages on MUSCLES, TENDONS, LIGAMENTS, FASCIA, and DISCS. I have written extensively about the fact that these tissues generate pain in the Deep Soma (HERE).
"Germane to the topic of this paper, it appears that nutrition is likely a key determining factor that generates the tissue 'flavor' of inflammation and, thus, pain expression."
This is a no-brainer you learned in grade school. You are what you eat. However, it is critical that you not miss what Dr. Seaman implies here. Although many people love blaming all their problems on poor genetics, Inflammation is one of the factors that makes up the field we know as EPIGENETICS.
"'Dietary Injury' [is] a term that may be helpful to appreciate how diet can cause chronic inflammation and pain. Dietary injury should be viewed as a cumulative and chronic event, such that monotherapies with nutritional supplements or medications are unable to counteract the 'hits' delivered by a pro-inflammatory diet.... But in making unhealthy lifestyle choices, an individual's body is transformed into a 'state' of chronic inflammation. The patient may not feel this transformation until an obvious clinical sign or symptom is present."
I have said it repeatedly. Supplements are just that --- supplementary. There is no way to correct a crappy diet simply by taking more supplements. The same can be said of medications. Deal with inflammation at the source because trying to cover the vast array of Inflammation-induced symptoms is a losing battle --- a battle that will eventually take your life, and leave you miserable in the process. More on MONOTHERAPIES.
"Diet is most important because the chemistry of the diet is reflected in the chemistry of the cells."
No explanation needed. Again, you are what you eat.
"The reduction in Omega-3 fatty acid intake adds to the inflammatory / painful state because Omega-3s convert to mediators that resolve inflammation and reduce pain. these mediators are derived from EPA and DHA."
This is a good place to mention the importance of EPA and DHA. They are the active ingredients of Omega Three Fatty Acids, and while abundant in High Quality Fish Oils, are found in only limited amounts in Flax Seed Oil. Your body is not efficient at converting Flax to EPA and DHA. This is why Flax Oil is not a substitute for PHARMACEUTICAL GRADE FISH OIL. By the way, PGFO is our number one selling supplement and has been for years. Why do people take it? Believe it or not, not because it is good for their health. They take it because they feel better --- less pain.
"The overconsumption of Omega-6 fatty acids leads to a change in cell membrane anatomy..... chronic joint pain is the diet-derived outcome"
Trans Fats create what the renowned Dr. Janet Lang calls "Stupid Cell Membranes". When Trans Fats are incorporated into cell membranes, the membranes not only get terribly inflexible, they let things into the cell they should not, and keep things out that should be let in. This is a component of numerous illnesses ---- including DIABETES.
"And while red meat is often impugned, studies have demonstrated that the consumption of lean red meat does not lean to post-parandial [post-meal] inflammation [like carbs do], and the substitution of lean red meat for carbohydrates had a blood pressure lowering effect in hypertensive men. While often touted as a healthy anti-inflammatory food, whole grains may contribute to low-grade chronic inflammation. It is known that lectins from all grains, and gluten from wheat, rye, and barley, can disrupt the Gut Barrier integrity and allow the absorption of dietary and bacterial antigens... Gliadin from gluten is known to stimulate enterocyte production of zonulin, which disrupts intestinal tight junctions and can lead to systemic inflammation."
This is nothing less than a clinical description of LEAKY GUT SYNDROME, which the medical community refers to as 'Increased Intestinal Permeability". Although up until about 15 years ago, the medical community denied the existence of Leaky Gut Syndrome, there are now nearly 10,000 peer-reviewed medical studies on the subject. GUT HEALTH is the foundational principal for healing all sickness and disease.
I salute you Dr. Seaman for working so hard to take this message to a wider audience for the benefit of humanity! I would also like to applaud Dr. Forest Tennant, editor in chief of PPM for having the gumption (albeit with a disclaimer of sorts) to run an article by a chiropractor in a medical journal. Hopefully your readers (MD's running pain clinics) will take this message to heart.
SYSTEMIC (WHOLE BODY) INFLAMMATION
PUTTING OUT THE FIRE!
- Dolar (Pain)
- Calor (Heat)
- Rubor (Redness)
- Tumor (Swelling)
- Functio Laesa (Loss of Function)
Although inflammation can remain in a local area (I stub my toe, the toe gets red and inflamed), they can invade the blood stream and have a systemic (whole body) effect as well. Although doctors do not typically educate their patients about this important little tidbit of information, these chemicals that we refer to collectively as "inflammation" (prostaglandins, leukotrienes, thromboxanes, cytokines, chemokines, certain enzymes, kinnins, histamines, eicosanoids, substance P, tumor necrosis factors, interleukins, along with dozens of others) are being touted by the medical community as the primary cause of a whole host of physical ailments (HERE is a list).
It is not that Inflammation is a bad thing in and of itself. These chemicals that make up "Inflammation" are actually your body's normal response to tissue damage. In the correct amounts, these chemicals are crucial not only to healing properly, but to insure immune system responses to various attacks or injuries to your body.
However, as these chemicals become increasingly elevated systemically (think of high histamine levels that people try and control with anti-histamines), they drive the body's Immune System Response to higher and higher levels causing scads of major health problems ---- including obesity. This is because Chronic (long term) Inflammation is characterized by destruction and healing in the affected tissue ---- at the same time! Some of the other problems that Inflammation is known to cause includes;
- Disc Injuries, Slipped Disc, Disc Herniation, and Disc Rupture (HERE)
- Heart Disease and virtually all forms of Cardiovascular Problems (HERE)
- Skin conditions including Eczema and Psoriasis (HERE)
- Arthritis & Fibromyalgia (HERE & HERE)
- Asthma (HERE)
- ADD, ADHD, Depression, and various forms of Dementia (HERE)
- Neurological Conditions (HERE)
- Female Issues (HERE)
- Cancer (HERE)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease / Leaky Gut Syndrome (HERE)
- Diabetes, Insulin Resistance, Hypoglycemia, and other Blood Sugar Regulation Problems (HERE)
- Obesity (HERE)
Whoa!!! That is a whale of a list! Simply put; inflammation causes pain, ill health, and eventually, death. It also happens to be part of the UNIVERSAL CAUSE / UNIVERSAL CURE of most disease --- even many of those that you doctor has been trying to pawn off on BAD GENETICS. Trying to get healthy or get to a normal weight without addressing underlying "Inflammation" is a game that you can never win. Oh, you might think that you have everything under control for awhile, but eventually the problem(s) will return.
Now that you have a basic understanding of inflammation; the questions should become: How did I get it in the first place (HERE'S A SELF-TEST)? And maybe more importantly; How do I get rid of it or prevent it? Since there are no drugs that safely lower the over-abundance of inflammatory chemicals in the body (HERE or HERE); how can you go about lowering Inflammation yourself?
I can answer this question in one word, "Lifestyle". A diet of processed food, JUNK FOOD, and SODAS; with little or no fresh FRUITS & VEGETABLES, will seriously elevate your levels of systemic (whole body) inflammatory chemicals. CIGARETTES, obesity, lack of exercise, and CONSTANT STRESS, will cause these levels of inflammatory chemicals to climb even further. On the other hand.....
A lifestyle of CONTENTMENT, EXERCISE, WHOLE FOODS, and supplementing with Omega Three Fatty Acids (PHARMACEUTICAL GRADE FISH OIL is our #1 best-seller for ten years in a row) will help keep inflammatory chemicals in check, and often help reverse the associated disease processes as well as the pain and symptoms that go with. Even though our medical community is slow to admit it (HERE), a growing body of scientific research is showing us that in regards to our overall health and well-being, drugs are usually not the best solution (HERE), nor are they the safest solution (HERE). It comes back to common sense, lifestyle, diet, and exercise. Ah…… but you already knew that.
CHRONIC INFLAMMATION, CHRONIC INFECTIONS,
TOXICITY, & FOOD SENSITIVITIES
When your body is exposed to infection (BACTERIAL, ORAL, VIRAL, PARASITIC, YEAST / FUNGUS, MOLD, etc -- or a DYSBIOTIC GUT), partially digested food particles, toxins, chemical irritants, HEAVY METALS, etc; it mounts an immune response against whatever it perceives as a threat. Some of you may be eating the cleanest diet on the planet, but if you have an underlying problem causing Systemic Inflammation, AUTOIMMUNITY, & LEAKY GUT SYNDROME, you are probably starting to realize why you can't lose weight and keep it off, or why you have so many health problems despite your best efforts.
The good news is that I have given you a generic template for solving most of these problems. HERE is is --- free of charge with no strings attached. No, it's not a magic pill. Yes, it will require some work and effort. The coolest thing about it is that it shows you how to break the sugar and carb addictions that are holding you back. Does it work? In many cases it works like magic (HERE).
SYSTEMIC INFLAMMATION & LEAKY GUT SYNDROME
IS INCREASED INTESTINAL PERMEABILITY A HALLMARK OF CHRONIC DISEASE?
INFLAMMATION is a group of chemicals that makes up part of your body's normal immune system response, as well as having a propensity to attract fluid (swelling) to it. The group of chemicals that make up inflammation have funny sounding names like prostaglandins, leukotrienes, thromboxanes, cytokines, chemokines, certain enzymes, kinnins, histamines, eicosanoids, substance P, as well as dozens of others.
In normal amounts, these chemicals play a critical role in immune system response and tissue healing. However, when there is too much of these chemicals coursing through your body, sooner or later there will be big problems to deal with. If you simply review the medical literature, you will find that inflammation is at the root of …
- Disc Injuries, Slipped Disc, Disc Herniation, and Disc Rupture (HERE)
- Heart Disease and virtually all forms of Cardiovascular Problems (HERE)
- Skin conditions including Eczema and Psoriasis (HERE)
- Most Autoimmune Conditions (HERE)
- Arthritis & Fibromyalgia (HERE & HERE)
- Asthma (HERE)
- ADD, ADHD, Depression, and various forms of Dementia (HERE & HERE)
- Neurological Conditions (HERE)
- Female Issues (HERE, HERE & HERE)
- Cancer (HERE)
- Diabetes, Insulin Resistance, Hypoglycemia, and other Blood Sugar Regulation Problems (HERE)
- Obesity (HERE)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease / Leaky Gut Syndrome (HERE & HERE)
The last on the list may be the most important. This is because 80% of your Immune System is found in your gut (digestive tract --- HERE). This means that problems that disrupt gut health can dramatically affect your whole body's overall health.
When the gut becomes inflamed, the “tight junctions” between the cells become lose. This means that partially digested food particles or undigested food particles, waste products, microbes, or molecules that are supposed to be too large to fit through the openings, are absorbed (or reabsorbed) into the bloodstream. Unfortunately, the body does not like this, and reacts against these particles by creating immune system responses (antibodies) against them.
Be aware that you will probably never hear your doctor talk about Leaky Gut Syndrome. And if you go to sites like Pubmed or other medical research databases, they will, at least in older studies, have little to say on the subject. However, if you research “Increased Intestinal Permeability” a new paradigm begins to take shape ---- particularly concerning Autoimmune Diseases which affect at least 60 million, and possibly as many as 100 million Americans or more. Let us look at just one of these studies.
In an October 2006 issue of the prestigious British Medical Journal, a team of doctors published a paper called, Alterations in Intestinal Permeability. Some of the things that came out of this paper included... “The goal of this review is.... most importantly [to determine] the relevance of abnormal [intestinal] permeability to disease. In this context, we will also present an emerging paradigm regarding the genesis of autoimmune diseases and describe the data that supports this from the perspective of both human disease and animal models..... Increased intestinal permeability is observed in association with several autoimmune diseases. It is observed prior to disease and appears to be involved in disease pathogenesis. For decades a variety of pathological states have been associated with abnormal permeability..... However, in several autoimmune conditions it appears that increased permeability is a constant and early feature of the disease process.” Oh, one other conclusion of this study; “epithelial permeability of the gastrointestinal tract can be evaluated in a site specific manner”. What does this mean? There is actually a brand new blood test that can be run to determine whether or not you have Increased Intestinal Permeability / Leaky Gut Syndrome.
If you want to understand how Leaky Gut Syndrome is intimately related to almost every disease process known to man, visit THIS POST.
To learn more, visit some of my websites:
- ENDOGUT: ENDOGUT is my best post for learning about the relationship between the Endocrine (Hormonal) Systems, the Immune System, and Gut Health.
- DESTROY FIBROMYALGIA: Fibromyalgia is being heavily linked to both AUTOIMMUNITY & LEAKY GUT SYNDROME. Interestingly enough, the anti-inflammatory medications that are most commonly prescribed for Fibromyalgia have been linked to Leaky Gut! For more information, visit DESTROY FIBROMYALGIA.
- THYROID EPIDEMIC: One in ten Americans has a Thyroid Problem. It has been estimated that over 90% of these problems are Autoimmune (Hashimoto's or Graves --- HERE). If your doctor does not understand the link between Gut Health, Autoimmunity, Leaky Gut Syndrome, and Thyroid Disease.........
- BRAIN-BASED THERAPY, MISSOURI: Find out more about the neurological links to numerous Metabolic Diseases. Visit BBTMO.
Is our medical community truly concerned with gut health? Are you joking me? True 'Gut Health' is so far removed from the average doctor's thought process, that most are completely unaware of this entire issue. They prescribe millions upon millions of acid blockers that cause HYPO-CHLORHYDRIA. The average child is given multiple prescriptions of antibiotics ----- every single year. This is DESTROYING NORMAL GUT FLORA, and causing overgrowths of inflammation-causing "bad bacteria" ---- a process referred to as DYSBIOSIS. In fact, I am not sure if I could think of a more detrimental combination than lots of antibiotics (kill off your good bacteria and let the bad bacteria begin to get a foot hold) and lots of sugar and starch (this is the food of choice for these bad bacteria).
If you want to understand this issue a little bit better, you need to check out the transcript of the talk I delivered to the Rotary Club last month ----- THE NUMBER ONE HEALTH PROBLEM FACING AMERICANS TODAY. If there is one thing that I can promise you, if you read it, you will be shocked!
There are so many things that you can do to avoid Inflammation, but they almost all come down to you and what you are willing to do to change your life (HERE). What do you do when the medications no longer work? And those of you suffering already know that there are no good medications to deal with Leaky Gut Syndrome! CORTICO-STEROIDS are incredibly powerful, but have an array of side effects that is equally powerful. NSAIDS are bad for your heart, liver, and kidneys (remember the Vioxx debacle?). Even low doses of the so-called "safe" anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen are known to multiply your chances of Kidney Failure (see Risk of Kidney Failure Associated With the Use of Acetaminophen, Aspirin, and Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs from the December 1994 issue of NEJM). It's time to take responsibility for your health. I'm sorry, but your doctor is not going to make you healthy. That is up to you.
Dr. Schierling completed four years of Kansas State University's five-year Nutrition / Exercise Physiology Program before deciding on a career in Chiropractic. He graduated from Logan Chiropractic College in 1991, and has run a busy clinic in Mountain View, Missouri ever since. He and his wife Amy have four children (three daughters and a son).
Brain Based Therapy
Can You Help
Cardio Or Strength
Cold Laser Therapy
Death By Medicine
Degenerative Joint Disease
D's Of Chronic Pain
Evidence Based Medicine
Gluten Cross Reactivity
Ice Or Heat
Jacks Fork River
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Number One Health Problem
Platelet Rich Therapy
Post Surgical Scarring
Re Invent Yourself
Rib And Chest Pain
Scar Tissue Removal
Sleeping Pills Kill
Stay Or Go
Stretching Post Treatment
Tensegrity And Fascia
The Big Four
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
Whole Body Vibration