Inflammation – it’s what we most readily associate with a sprained ankle, a bad back, or an infection from a bite or cut.
Often we simply reach for the Ibuprofen and think nothing more about it.
But inflammation has a more sinister side, increasingly being viewed as the single biggest culprit behind most modern day illnesses. In fact, numerous studies demonstrate the connection between inflammation and serious ailments like obesity and heart disease.
So when is inflammation bad news, what causes it, and what can be done to tackle its damaging impact on the body?
Luckily there’s a number of simple routines you can do every day to keep on top of inflammation and stop it getting a foothold in the body.
They’re quick, easy and best of all they only take a minute to do.
Good and bad inflammation
There’s two sides to inflammation.
The good side is when it is triggered by the immune system to fight infection or protect damaged tissue.
The bad side is when it is triggered unnecessarily because the immune system fails to distinguish between itself and external pathogens.
The good side is great – crucial for healing wounds and a useful mechanism in the body’s defences.
The bad side can be calamitous – with the immune system in overdrive, excessive inflammation can result in the body attacking its own tissues, ultimately leading to autoimmune disease, if left unchecked.
The curse of chronic inflammation
As we’ve discussed, acute inflammation is a vital immune response, kick-started within a few minutes to a few hours, resulting in swelling and pain. This shows that the body is repairing itself, with the inflammation going away as the tissue heals.
However, the onset of chronic inflammation is much more insidious, slowly and subtly taking hold, leading to progressive tissue damage and autoimmune diseases.
There are many markers of chronic inflammation such as:
- Frequent headaches
- Digestive problems
- Brain fog
- Joint pain
- Weight gain
- Gum disease
- Low mood
Stress and inflammation
The main cause of chronic inflammation is stress.
The stress hormone cortisol plays a positive role in regulating the inflammatory response, yet chronic stress can dampen the hormone’s ability to work, leaving inflammation unchecked.
Alongside this, chronic stress seems to increase the production of certain inflammatory white blood cells that fight infection. When the trigger is stress rather than actual infection, these are distributed around the body or focused in areas of historical trauma, causing muscle tension and pain.
This unbalanced immune system, responding to unabated inflammation can stimulate or worsen most chronic conditions including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, autism, dementia, depression, allergy, asthma and especially autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, thyroid disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.
How to prevent inflammation
Chinese medicine dictates that it’s surely better to treat the signs of underlying inflammation as it occurs, rather than wait until it develops into something more complicated and damaging.
‘If minor health problems do not develop, major health problems do not develop’ – Dr Stephen Chang
Here at Hayo’u we draw on the profound wisdom of ancient Chinese medicine to help solve the health and beauty concerns that arise from modern living.
Katie, our founder and Chinese medical practitioner, has distilled the essence of thousands of years of Chinese wisdom into one-minute rituals that are simple and easy to do every day.
These rituals, when practised daily, will help tackle inflammation, and keep you on the path to wellness.