August 28, 2009
The Huffington Post
Dr. Robert A. Kornfeld
What happened the last time you felt pain in your body? Did you reach for an ibuprofen or go to your doctor for a prescription drug? If so, you may have suppressed your single most essential bodily function for healing. Too often we think of inflammation as something to get rid of and instead choose to medicate our pain, swelling, or stiffness with drugs like Advil or Celebrex in an attempt to relieve the discomfort. However, what you might not know is that inflammation is, in fact, a critically important defense mechanism.
Inflammation works in two main ways: primary and chronic. The primary pathway works on detoxification and repair. This is a symptom-less pathway when it is efficient. Every day when you walk, exercise, eat, or breathe the body needs to cleanse and eliminate the build up of toxins and repair any cellular injury that has occurred. When primary inflammation is hard at work, you will not experience any pain or even be aware it is occurring.
When the primary pathway of inflammation falls short, then the secondary pathway steps in. Secondary inflammation, or what you may know as chronic inflammation, is a pathway of protection. It protects your cells from rapid destruction by allowing the tissue to change and adapt to the on-going stress in the area and can cause pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of function that signals to us that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. This is when most patients will self-medicate or come to the doctor for help. Unfortunately, when chronic inflammation remains for long periods of time and is not addressed adequately, it will cause the expression of genes that lead to degenerative conditions such as coronary artery disease, arthritis, cancer and others.
While in many cases, anti-inflammatory medications are prudent and potentially life saving in patients with certain conditions such as cardiovascular disease (for example aspirin has been shown to prevent heart attacks) and auto-immune inflammations (when treated with anti-inflammatory medications, these patients can experience improved quality of life), it is still very common for doctors and patients to take a rather cavalier attitude toward prescribing and consuming these medications. It is important to note that anti-inflammatory medication is not without side effects. One problem is that in suppressing inflammation, the medicine is disabling the body’s ability to detoxify, repair, and protect itself.
Anybody on a prescription anti-inflammatory medication is required by their physician to take periodic liver function blood tests. Why? Because the drugs are suppressing not only the chronic inflammation which causes pain, but also the primary pathway of inflammation, which, as you know is responsible for detoxifying our cells. When the liver is unable to detoxify expediently, then the cells of the liver will become damaged. The result? Liver toxicity. Other common side effects such as internal bleeding and drug interactions must be closely looked for.
*Here are just a few suggestions for reducing chronic inflammation:
1. The primary pathway of inflammation is built primarily from Omega 3 fatty acids. Taking supplements rich in these natural nutrients assists the body in having a more profound primary inflammatory response and at the same time, it minimizes the chronic inflammation responsible for pain and suffering. (Nordic Naturals – 1000 mg 3x a day containing a minimum of 300 mg EPA and 200 mg DHA)More…