Inflammation: Savior or Silent Killer?

In pharmacy, we used to teach that inflammation is our natural body response to offenders and to tissue damage.

It is the first step towards repair. Without it, no wound would heal and no microbial invasion would be properly dealt with.

Inflammation is our body attempt to deliver blood, nutrients and immune fighting cells to an infected or damaged area in order to initiate and manage the repair and renewal process. It is our God-sent gift to restore Homeostasis, our stable and constant body system balance.[1]

But, this is not the message we hear nowadays. Today, inflammation is a villain, a tissue destroyer and a disease generator. What went wrong?

As always, balance is the key. Too much of the good thing is not always better. In our modern life, offenders are everywhere, internal and external offenders that trigger our body into an unnatural everlasting inflammatory state which, in turn, wrecks havoc with our health and wellbeing.

Dangers of Chronic Inflammation

Inflammation: Savior or Silent Killer? - About IslamInflammation is believed to be an underlying cause for almost every chronic disease: insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes[2], heart and circulatory problems, food intolerances, digestive complains, dementia, and Alzheimer disease[3].

Inflammation is also believed to trigger DNA damage in body cells[4], and long-term inflammatory reactions can open the gate to cancerous cell growth. Studies have shown significant correlation between chronic inflammation in the bowel and the increased risk of colon carcinoma.[5]

Other research show association between chronic inflammation and tissue damage, allergic reactions, autoimmune disorders, and probable loss of organ functions[6]. It is also well documented that the longer the inflammation goes on in our body, the higher the risk of associated damage.[7]

What Makes this Blessed Savior Turn into a Silent Killer?

What initiates and nurture this chronic inflammatory state in our body? And how can we regain control over it?

As I mentioned earlier, inflammation is a natural process that our body initiates when faced with a menacing trigger like virus and bacterial infection, burn, or skin injury. This natural benign inflammatory process is short lived. It subsides as soon as it gathers enough body ‘resources’ to initiate the healing process.

Yet, the real problem arises if this inflammatory state and its resources slow down yet keeps going on a silent low level like a slow cooker burning on a stove. In this case the inflammation goes chronic, and could even remain un-noticed for years.

Research attributes the cause of this ongoing inflammatory process to compromised immunity[8]. Our immune system works through highly complex and sophisticated mechanisms that maintain the critical balance between attacking and destroying foreign menacing threats on one side and identifying and protecting its own body cells and tissues on the other.

As our immunity should initiate attack and inflammatory reactions against any offending signals, it should, most importantly, turn off the alert and withdraw its ‘army’ after the threat is over. Only then the inflammatory reaction subsides and homeostasis is restored.

But, when the offenders are all around us, attacking us from external as well as internal sources, our immune system gets overwhelmed and even confused. It initiates the attack for no valid reasons and fails to withdraw its troops when the war comes to an end.

Root of Modern-day Chronic Inflammation

As we can see, compromised immunity and chronic inflammation go hand in hand. Both result from a variety of external as well as internal factors.

1- External sources:

  • Empty calorie foods and junk unhealthy fake foods.
  • Pollution and synthetic chemicals in our environment, cosmetics, and food supply.
  • Various bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections.
  • Sedentary lifestyle and poor exercise levels.
  • Electromagnetic radiation from our electronic devices, PC, mobiles, and microwaves…

2- Internal sources:

  • Chronic ongoing stress.
  • Poor digestion that results in non-digestible residues lingering in our intestines.
  • Uncontrolled, bottled, or poorly expressed emotions.
  • Non-stop mental chatter.

7 Ways to Combat the Silent Killer

Inflammation: Savior or Silent Killer? - About Islam

As we can see, many of our lifestyle choices contribute to our inflammatory burden. A resolution, thus, should arise from a holistic perspective that targets our whole body, mind, heart, and soul. Only then, our immune system will restore its natural function switching from an attacking pro-inflammatory mode to a more peaceful resolution.

Here are seven ways to withdraw the attacking troops and turn off the simmering flame:

1- Proper dietary choices:

Controlling body inflammation through natural foods and herbs nourishes our immune system, tempering down its un-needed flare up while boosting immunity when needed. This critical balance can only be achieved through whole natural foods and herbs. They seem to have some form of inherent intelligence that knows exactly what is needed to be done.

Eat more fresh raw vegetables and fruits especially green leafy vegetables, cabbage family, and berries to insure good supply of antioxidants, phytonutrients and fibers. Add omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. These come from cold water fish, seeds and nuts.

Probiotics are healthy bacterial flora that naturally lives in our intestine and helps us boost immunity, balance digestion, and synthesize many vitamins. They are abundant in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, home-made pickles, sauerkraut, and kimchee.

And, here are herbs that help modulating and counteracting inflammatory reactions in our body: Basil, thyme, rosemary, licorice, ginger, turmeric, fenugreek, and medicinal mushrooms like maitake and reishi [9]. Include them in your food as much as you can.

2- Stop the offenders:

Avoid chlorinated water and plastic-bottled water especially if it sits in hot weather for long. Avoid or at least minimize your intake of junk processed foods and food laden with additives and preservatives. Re-evaluate your house cleaning products, cosmetics and personal hygiene products. Are they safe enough for you to use?

Try to minimize your exposure to electromagnetic radiation by following safety measures like using shielded computer monitors and TV screens, using speaker phone or headset instead of direct mobile contact, using the wired phone line whenever possible, keeping your wireless router out of your bedroom, and unplugging electric devices close to your bed before retiring.

3- Touch the ground:

Our earth has an amazing supply of free electrons. It is through this ground natural and gentle electric energy that we dispose of excess positive charges that accumulate over time in our bodies and trigger the inflammatory burn out. Studies show that this amazing ground energy balances our system, boosts our vitality, heals our chronic pains, normalizes our body functions, and greatly reduces tissue inflammation.

4- Get quality sleep every night:

Quality sleep is essential for the health of our body and mind. Studies show that sleep helps you restore and rebuild your nervous and immune systems. Growth hormone is secreted by the pituitary gland during your deep sleeping stage. This hormone helps regenerating your body. And, at night, the pineal gland in our brain secretes the hormone melatonin, a powerful antioxidant that protects and restores healthy cells and neurons during the night rest.

5- Start moving:

As our modern life is becoming more and more sedentary, our immunity is suffering. Physical exercise as simple as gentle walking is proven to improve your physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. By ensuring your daily dose of movements, you help boosting your immunity, strengthening your heart, improving your mental functions and clarity, and even uplifting your mood.

6- Acknowledge and properly express/release your emotions:

Emotions are emotions… just that. They are not good or bad in themselves. They are here to tell you something. You need to listen and acknowledge them as they are to be able to release them and transmute them into whatever you choose.

Keep a journal for venting out, re-arranging your thoughts, and exploring your deep heart whispers. Surround yourself with active supporting community, and, most importantly, find true meaning in your life… your true purpose and goal. When your life has a valuable meaning and this meaning in strongly connected to your creation and to your Creator, you’ll find it easier to understand wisdoms behind life challenges and turmoil.

7- Manage your stress and reduce your mental chatter:

Unfortunately, stress became an integral aspect of our modern-day living. We need to constantly remind ourselves to slow down, pause, renew our intentions, and re-orient our direction. With all the technological advancement of our modern time, we work more and more with our mind.

This mind needs to relax. My preferred relaxation tool is breathing. Just take few minutes to focus on your breath. Simply tune into and connect to your breathing cycles.

This simple act helps you silence the chatter, get centered and balance both your psychological being and your physiological body. And what could be a better breathing regulator than reciting our Holy Qur’an? It is amazing how you feel afterwards. The Qur’an is of Divine origin, its un-matchable words, meanings, melody and rhythms create the prefect equilibrium and harmony for our body, mind, heart, and soul. Allah says:

“And We send down from the Qur’an that which is a healing and a mercy to those who believe.” (Qur’an 17: 82).

 

This article was first published in 2009 and is currently republished for its importance.

References:

  • [1] Alessandri AL, et al. 2013. Resolution of inflammation: Mechanisms and opportunity for drug development. Pharmacol Ther. pii: S0163-7258(13)
  • [2] Xu, H. et al. 2003. Chronic inflammation in fact plays a crucial role in the development of obesity-related insulin resistance. J Clin Invest. ;112(12):1821-30.
  • [3] Weil, A. 2013. Anti-Inflammatory Diet & Pyramid. Retrieved from:http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART02012/anti-inflammatory-diet
  • [4] Federico, A. et al. 2007. Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress in human carcinogenesis. Int J Cancer;121(11):2381-6.
  • [5] Shacter E & Weitzman, S.A. 2002. Chronic inflammation and cancer. Oncology;16(2):217-26, 229
  • [6] Alessandri AL, et al. 2013
  • [7] Shacter E & Weitzman, S.A. 2002
  • [8] Marcelle Pick. 2011. Inflammation. Retrieved from: http://www.womentowomen.com/inflammation/whatischronicinflammation.aspx
  • [9] Guido Masé. 2013. Talking to Fire: Botanical Immunomodulation. Plant Healer magazine.
About Amira Ayad
Amira Ayad is a natural health consultant and a holistic nutritionist. She holds a Master Degree in Pharmaceutics; and a PhD in natural health. She is a Board Certified Holistic Health practitioner by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP) and a Registered Orthomolecular Health Practitioner by the International organization of Nutrition Consultants (IONC). She published 2 books: Healing Body & Soul, in 2008; and, The True Secret, in 2011. Amira teaches Biochemistry & Body Metabolism at The Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Toronto, Canada.