Friday, October 16, 2009


Most people have heard of inflammation. Most people probably think of it as something bad, something that causes pain and misery. There are whole aisles of anti-inflammatory medicines at the drug store, and Americans use a lot of them. In 2001, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) accounted for 70 million prescriptions and 30 billion over-the-counter doses. So, clearly inflammation causes a lot of problems in the body, so why is it there at all?

Inflammation is perhaps the chief way the body heals itself. Inflammation is the reaction created anywhere in the body where damage has happened. It attracts an increased blood flow (raising oxygen levels), increased presence of white blood cells, and increased nutrients. All of these are needed to clean up damage and/or attack foreign invaders. The body has a few self-limiting mechanisms to slow down or cancel inflammation (when the work is done), but it's not uncommon for inflammation to get out of control. When inflammation is out of control we get localized fever, pain, swelling, and redness. Some newer theories on how malignant tumors grow suggest that cancer cells high-jack the normal inflammation reaction to create a rich flow of nutrients and oxygen to stimulate cancer growth. So, inflammation is the classic good guy and bad guy.

A way to determine whether you have widespread inflammation affecting your health is to get a blood test. There is an inflammation indicator in blood called C-Reactive Protein (CRP for short). If it is elevated along with a decreased albumin level, then inflammation is present and some attention to bring it under control something to be desired.

One of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatories is the spice Turmeric. It is bright yellow in color and is one ingredient used in curry. To be better absorbed it should be taken with just a little bit of black pepper. Using Turmeric is completely safe, unlike all the NSAIDs. NSAIDs can be quite dangerous, as they all affect clotting and can create serious (and even life threatening) bleeding and other side effects. I have been using a teaspoon of Turmeric a day and do note that the aches and pains of my aging process are much reduced.

It is always important to locate the source(s) of inflammation whenever possible, but Turmeric can go a long ways to reducing the negative effects from inflammation. Try it and let me know how you see it working for you.

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