Suffering from chronic inflammation? Ann Carey Tobin, MD shares three all natural herbs to try via Holistic Health.
Acute inflammation is an effective, albeit somewhat unpleasant, mechanism for self-healing. It maintains tissue homeostasis (balance in the body systems), and serves as an adaptive repair response to insults to the body. When faced with infection, toxins and other bodily injuries our healing system releases pro-inflammatory molecules. These biochemical messengers dilate blood vessels, mobilize white blood cells, and trip off other cascades of biochemicals that result in the fever, warmth, swelling, redness and tenderness of the healing process. Fortunately, when all goes well, this process modulates itself through the release of anti-inflammatory messenger molecules that turn off the inflammation.
One of the hottest topics of research in disease is inflammation that does not turn off–chronic inflammation. It is considered a leading culprit in chronic disease. A continuous flooding of inflammatory chemicals results in a persistent immune response, and often obvious damage to tissues and organ systems; such as seen in arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and asthma. It can also be an insidious, “silent” process manifested in such diseases as cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome and diabetes, obesity, autoimmune disease, dementia, osteoporosis, and cancer.
Inflammation is involved in all three phases of the development of cancer: initiation, promotion and progression. In addition, cancer will cause inflammation. Considering the significant role of inflammation in this frightening disease it is fortunate that there are some well-researched and safe botanicals that are demonstrating anti-inflammatory qualities. In addition, they appear active at the various phases of cancer prevention and development.
Turmeric a root, is known as a healthy food and spice, long used as a medicinal in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine practices. Research demonstrates that turmeric is a potent antioxidant and increases the activity of glutathione. It serves as an anti-inflammatory that suppresses the activity of NF-κB , down regulates COX-2, and inhibits 5-LOX and TNF-α–all pro-inflammatory messenger molecules intimately involved in the genesis and progression of cancer. In nearly 100 human clinical trials turmeric is demonstrating direct anti-cancer activity by modulating tumor growth cell factors and turning on tumor suppressor genes that tend to “go into sleep mode” * as we age. In addition, preliminary data seems to indicate that it may allow for reduction in chemotherapy or radiation doses, while protecting normal tissue. Note, however, at this point the advice is to avoid concomitant use of turmeric with the chemotherapeutic agents Adriamycin and the cyclophosphamides.
Boswellia serrata is another Ayurvedic herb. Much of the research on this botanical is focusing on the active principle of a gum resin, abbreviated as AKBA. Boswellia is also demonstrating activity against the pro-inflammatory molecules of 5-LOX and NF-κB. In addition, it has been shown to significantly support expression of messenger molecules that suppress tumor growth. Recommendations for the therapeutic use of Boswellia include using a product that utilizes AKBA in its formula.
Resveratrol is a phytonutrient found in grapes and other berries. It demonstrates antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Resveratrol appears to exert its effects at multiple levels by inhibiting various enzymes that synthesize pro-inflammatory mediators, and inducing the expression of messenger molecules that are anti-inflammatory and suppress tumor formation. It also suppresses genes that promote tumor formation. To optimize the therapeutic benefit of resveratrol look for a trans-resveratrol product, and consider combining it with quercetin.
Triggers for inflammation include those already mentioned, as well as other products of modern living, such as inappropriate nutrition, lack of exercise, poor stress management, environmental toxins/chemicals and obesity. While it is a blessing that we have allies from the natural world to help us on our journey, it is still vitally important that the foundations of an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle be given priority.