WHAT IS INFLAMMATION?
Inflammation is a way for our bodies to protect us from outside invaders. It is an immune response to help remove pathogens, damaged cells, and toxins from our body and helps initiate the healing process. 1 Inflammation is a process necessary for our health, but like an overprotective mother, inflammation can sometimes cause long term damage while trying to keep you safe.
There are two types of inflammation in the body: acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is a response to damage caused by an injury, bacteria, or poisonous substances. It happens very quickly and can become severe quickly. For example, if you’ve ever fallen on your knee, gotten up, and noticed a large, warm, and red bump appearing, that’s the wonders of acute inflammation at work. This form of inflammation usually lasts for a few days. 2
Chronic inflammation can cause pain and aches, fatigue or insomnia, depression, anxiety, digestive disorders, weight gain or loss, and can increase the prevalence of infections. It is associated with increasing age (possibly due to increased free radicals), increasing weight and fat stores (fat cells can release proinflammatory proteins), diets high in saturated fats and sugar, smoking, high stress, and poor sleep.
Chronic inflammation is the more dastardly of the two. While acute inflammation shows up quickly, does what it thinks is best, and then goes away, chronic inflammation shows up and stays for months to years, decreasing your quality of life and in some unfortunate cases, causing death. 60% of all Americans have one chronic condition related to inflammation and 1 in 8 live with 5 or more chronic conditions. In fact, 3 out of 5 people in the world die from chronic conditions related to chronic inflammation like stroke, chronic respiratory diseases, heart conditions, cancer, obesity, and diabetes! 2
While we hate that you are in pain after falling off your bike, it’s obvious that the inflammation we need to focus on is chronic inflammation. So, is there anything you can do to help mitigate the effects of chronic inflammation on your life? Absolutely; lifestyle changes and proper supplementation.
1. LIFESTYLE CHANGES
Chronic inflammation can be the result of our chronic habits. Our body’s inflammatory system is designed to help and we can help decrease any confusing or mixed signals we are sending it.
2. PROPER SUPPLEMENTATION
There are many ingredients that can help not only alleviate our pain, but also decrease our body’s overzealous chronic inflammation. These ingredients may have varying effects and many lack research. Below are three of the top best-studied and most effective ingredients you need to supplement when looking to decrease inflammation and improve your quality of life.
Turmeric Root Extract 95% Curcumin
Turmeric is an Indian Spice that does way more than flavor a dish. The distinct golden color comes from the main active ingredient curcumin. Curcumin has long been used in traditional Eastern medicine as an anti-inflammatory supplement and…they were right. Studies show that curcumin may be able to suppress inflammatory proteins and thus provide prevention and therapeutic benefits against chronic inflammatory conditions including neurodegenerative diseases and cardiovascular disease. 3
Alzheimers is a neurodegenerative disease that is associated with the build up of beta-amyloid proteins in the brain. These proteins clump together and disrupt the brain’s cell signals. 4 Research in mice has shown that curcumin can help reduce the oxidative stress placed on the brain and inflammation that may help mitigate neurodegenerative symptoms.
Inflammation plays a major role in cardiovascular disease including contributing to plaque build up and heart damage following a heart attack or surgery. Research has shown that administration of curcumin can help reduce inflammatory damage to the heart and blood vessels following a cardiac event. 3
Boswellia Serrata Extract
Boswellia serrata is an ancient herb that has potent anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic effects, particularly against osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disorder that affects 27 million people in the US and is the leading cause of disability and impaired quality of life in older people worldwide. 5 This extract has particular benefits for osteoarthritis, joint pain, and joint immobility.
Boswellia serrata can inhibit an enzyme known as 5-LOX. 5-LOX helps create a molecule known as leukotrienes from omega-6 fatty acids. These leukotrienes are believed to be involved in both acute and chronic inflammation. 6 Thus, boswellia supplementation can help reduce inflammation that causes pain and stiff joints. Research has shown that when treated with boswellia serrata extracts, individuals with osteoarthritis experienced improvements in joint pain, stiffness, and mobility! 7
Cat’s claw is a well-named vine derived from the Amazon River. Cat’s claw is traditionally used to treat arthritis, bursitis, immune disorders, and chronic fatigue. It is believed that Cat’s claw works via limiting chronic inflammatory responses. 8
Chronic inflammation can impact our joints, destroying vital tissues and reducing our ability to replace it. Cat’s claw is a potent scavenger of free-radicals that can damage tissue and lead to joint degeneration. 9 Further, Cat’s claw can help promote IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor) despite suppressive signals. This means that Cat’s claw may help decrease cartilage and joint degradation and increase cartilage growth and repair! 10
- Chen, L., Deng, H., Cui, H., Fang, J., Zuo, Z., Deng, J., Li, Y., Wang, X., & Zhao, L. (2017, December 14). Inflammatory responses and inflammation-associated diseases in organs. Oncotarget. Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5805548/.
- Pahwa, R. (2021, September 28). Chronic inflammation. StatPearls [Internet]. Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/.
- Aggarwal, B. B., & Harikumar, K. B. (2009, January). Potential therapeutic effects of curcumin, the anti-inflammatory agent, against neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic, autoimmune and neoplastic diseases. The international journal of biochemistry & cell biology. Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2637808/.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). What happens to the brain in alzheimer's disease? National Institute on Aging. Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-happens-brain-alzheimers-disease.
- Vishal, A. A., Mishra, A., & Raychaudhuri, S. P. (2011). A double blind, randomized, placebo controlled clinical study evaluates the early efficacy of aflapin in subjects with osteoarthritis of knee. International journal of medical sciences. Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3198257/.
- Byrum, R. S., Goulet, J. L., Griffiths, R. J., & Koller, B. H. (1997, March 17). Role of the 5-lipoxygenase-activating protein (FLAP) in murine acute inflammatory responses. The Journal of experimental medicine. Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2196234/.
- Sengupta, K., Alluri, K. V., Satish, A. R., Mishra, S., Golakoti, T., Sarma, K. V. S., Dey, D., & Raychaudhuri, S. P. (2008, July 30). A double blind, randomized, placebo controlled study of the efficacy and safety of 5-Loxin®for treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee - arthritis research & therapy. BioMed Central. Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://arthritis-research.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/ar2461.
- Akhtar, N., & Haqqi, T. M. (2012, June). Current nutraceuticals in the management of osteoarthritis: A Review. Therapeutic advances in musculoskeletal disease. Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3400101/.
- Sandoval, M., Charbonnet, R. M., Okuhama, N. N., Roberts, J., Krenova, Z., Trentacosti, A. M., & Miller, M. J. S. (2000, August 24). Cat's claw inhibits tnfα production and scavenges free radicals: Role in cytoprotection. Free Radical Biology and Medicine. Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0891584900003270?via%3Dihub.
- Miller, M. J. S., Ahmed, S., Bobrowski, P., & Haqqi, T. M. (2006, April 7). The chrondoprotective actions of a natural product are associated with the activation of IGF-1 production by human chondrocytes despite the presence of IL-1β - BMC complementary medicine and therapies. BioMed Central. Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://bmccomplementmedtherapies.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6882-6-13.