Thursday, March 31, 2011


Inflammation is a process by which the body's white blood cells and chemicals protect us from infection and foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses. In some diseases, however, the body’s defense system (immune system) inappropriately triggers an inflammatory response when there are no foreign substances to fight off. In these diseases, called autoimmune diseases, the body's normally protective immune system causes damage to its own tissues. The body responds as if normal tissues are infected or somehow abnormal.


Inflammation is associated with a host of diseases like cardiovascular disease, crohn's disease, colitis and arthritis, and many of them are life threatening. Said pathologist Ed Friedlander, M.D., "Probably your own death will be caused by your last inflammatory response ... Whole body inflammation, formerly a popular term used especially by surgeons for the patients who they could not save, is going out of fashion in favor of multiple organ failure."

Chronic inflammation can affect your organs:
- Inflammation of the heart (myocarditis): Shortness of breath or fluid retention
- Inflammation of the small tubes that transport air to the lungs: Asthma attack
- Inflammation of the kidneys (nephritis): High blood pressure or kidney failure
- Inflammation of the large intestine (colitis): Cramps and diarrhea
Inflammation may also be associated with general "flu-like" symptoms including:
- Fever
- Chills
- Fatigue/loss of energy
- Headaches
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle stiffness
Pain may not be a primary symptom of the inflammatory disease, since many organs do not have many pain-sensitive nerves. Treatment of organ inflammation is directed at the cause of inflammation whenever possible.


One of the safest, low-risk and cost effective things you can do is to modify your lifestyle and dietary choices. This means eating a variety of anti-inflammatory foods, dietary supplements and limiting or avoiding all together the pro-inflammatory foods. Exercising and quitting smoking help in the fight against inflammation and disease. Avoiding "Pro-inflammatory" foods increases your leverage against the insidious disease process of inflammation.

Pro-inflammatory foods include sugar, soda, alcohol, bread and red meat. Trans-fats, which are found in many snack foods, fried foods, crackers, candies, baked goods, cookies, vegetable shortening, some margarines, salad dressings and many processed foods, are particularly problematic. Studies have found that eating Trans-fats increases systemic inflammation, which is a risk factor for heart disease.

The conventional pharmaceutical solution for treating inflammation can be costly and very high in risk. Many medications designed for this purpose have been pulled from the market because of serious fatal side effects including Vioxx and Bextra. These medications are synthetically derived COX-2 inhibitors, which have been highlighted in the media lately because of their link to heart problems, Celebrex and even over-the-counter Aleve, have also been linked to increased heart attacks and stroke.

The following comes from an article written by Thomans M. Newmark and Paul Schulick in May of 2000 and appeared in CBS Money Watch. They point out the importance of cox-2 inhibition and the perils associated with synthetically derived forms of this enzyme. They underscore the importance of herbal COX-2 inhibition.

"Both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times have recently proclaimed the revolutionary promise of COX-2 enzymatic inhibition. The Wall Street Journal described the inhibition of this enzyme as a future milestone in preventative medicine. The Times reported that COX-2 inhibition reduced arthritic inflammation and menstrual pain, and appears to "prevent" cancers of the colon, esophagus, skin and bladder.

What is this important COX-2 enzyme, and how can it be safely inhibited or kept in check? The COX-2 enzyme is naturally created in every one of us. It controls the creation of a hormone-like substance that causes "inflammation." And not just the common inflammation many experience in a knee or shoulder, but also inflammation throughout the body, even in the brain of an Alzheimer's sufferer. Scientists now have convincing evidence that the unchecked activity of this enzyme is responsible for many forms of cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer's disease.

Amazingly, this fundamental cause of many of our most threatening diseases was only recently discovered, and drug companies immediately began the race to come up with pharmaceutical substances to inhibit the enzyme's devastating effects. Research scientists around the world supported this effort to create synthetic COX-2 inhibitors, and there was a wonderful, and surely unexpected, side benefit of that research. The scientists tried to find plant compounds and herbs to synthetically copy or mimic, and they identified many traditional herbs that contain natural and safe COX-2 inhibits. The very process to create synthetic COX-2 prescription drugs has also led to the discovery of herbal alternatives that are naturally available, without prescription.


It is important to understand how the enzyme works to create threatening disease conditions. The full name of the COX-2 enzyme is "cyclooxygenase-2," and its name contains the first clue as to how the enzyme works. Cyclooxygenase has the job of "oxidizing," or burning, a fat in the body called "arachidonic acid." This fat is an omega-6 fatty acid, one which occurs naturally in all of our cell membranes or walls. Picture the COX-2 enzyme as a "spark plug" that ignites this fat and cooks up inflammatory substances. Simply put, the enzyme is the spark, the fat is the fuel, and the flame of inflammation is the end result.

While we need that fire to help our bodies defeat enemies like bad bacteria and respond to trauma and injury, sometimes the fire burns too hot or gets out of control. When that happens we can be casualties of "friendly fire." We can develop some forms of cancer and arthritis, and our very brain neurons can get overheated and die."

Scientists have discovered many traditional herbs and "Super Fruits" that can safely inhibit the COX-2 enzyme. Those "Super Fruits" and herbs include Acai, Mangosteen, green tea, ginger, turmeric, holy basil, chamomile, Chinese goldthread, barberry, Baikal skullcap, hu zhang (Japanese knotweed), rosemary, hops, feverfew and oregano. A blend of the appropriate extracts of these herbs, if sufficiently concentrated, may offer substantial relief from the "fires" of COX-2 inflammation and the related diseases, without the side effects of synthetic drug inhibition. And the even better news is that when these botanicals inhibit the COX-2 enzyme, many of them also powerfully balance platelet aggregation (thus helping to prevent strokes and heart attacks) and heal ulcers. This is the genius of nature, and why cultures for thousands of years have obtained healing benefits from extracts of these botanicals.

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