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Inflammation is All About Timing

August 18, 2018

Inflammation is one of the most misunderstood processes in our body. The majority of the time we think of inflammation as bad and that’s not necessarily wrong, however it’s not the full story.

Inflammation is a process that starts many steps before we feel or see anything. It is our natural response to injury. Injury is more than getting hit with something or twisting your ankle. Injury has to do with any event that creates a response from our bodies. This can include everything from lifting weights, to be a bee sting, to getting a cold, even our thoughts. When our body identifies a threat there is a series of complicated processes it goes through that ends with inflammation and repair. The key here is repair; inflammation is meant to end with repair. If the repair doesn’t happen then inflammation continues and this leads to chronic pain, and nothing being repaired. In even worse scenarios the inflammation can begin to work against our own bodies leading to serious conditions or diseases.

Inflammation Process

The inflammation process starts with some kind of injury. Your blood vessels then dilate allowing your body to flush the injured area with fluid, several types of white blood cells reactive proteins and additional oxygen rich blood. These fluids and cells quickly move through the vessel walls into the injured tissue and begin to swell the area. This is why the area of an insect bite or bruise becomes swollen and warm to the touch. As the white cells work on the damaged tissue Satellite cells enter the area to repair and replace damaged tissue allowing the inflammation to eventually subside.

There are two primary types of inflammation acute and chronic. Acute inflammation comes from specific damage to your body such as cuts, sprains, bug bites even bacteria or viruses. These are isolated events that your body mobilizes the inflammatory process to fight directly. This type of inflammation is a sniper, it finds its target and takes it out efficiency without doing damage to the surrounding area. The unwanted damage is isolated, destroyed and removed. This process is controlled by your immune system and the level of inflammation is well regulated until the damage is repaired.

If acute inflammation is a precise sniper, chronic inflammation is a nuclear bomb. The target is a large area and the damage is widespread. Chronic inflammation is caused by your immune system fighting your own body. Instead of identifying a specific threat, your immune system is overwhelmed and doesn't regulate itself. This leads to a perpetual green light for inflammation processes to continue constantly. Your immune system is overwhelmed because it is getting constant signals from your body that something is wrong. In this situation inflammation leads to unwanted conditions and diseases.

Inflammation and Disease

A well researched and documented path of inflammation leading to negative conditions or diseases is diabetes. Diabetes is caused by a buildup of sugar (glucose) in your bloodstream and your body isn’t able to process it effectively. When this happens your body produces large amounts of insulin to process the blood sugar.  Insulin is known as a trump hormone and too much of it circulating constantly throughout your blood stream leads to constant inflammation. This inflammation in turn causes your body to literally destroy itself causing blindness, kidney disease, nerve death and a host of other complications.

Diabetes is one of the more serious internal inflammation disease, however there are numerous others that also have damaging and painful structural effects, including;

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Gout
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica
  • Skin conditions (acne psoriasis)

    Along with general inflammation conditions (diabetes) and structural inflammation diseases (arthritis), there are organ and immune system inflammation conditions as well.

    Inflammation of the intestines and gastrointestinal tract is known as colitis , ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome. This is a debilitating condition that causes diarrhea, severe cramps and can lead to malnutrition. All of these conditions are characterized and driven by inflammation.
  • Inflammation is also link to a higher cancer risk
  • The heart can also become inflamed, known as myocarditis
  • Autoimmune disease is characterized by the body incorrectly viewing it’s own tissue as damaged and increasing general inflammation levels, leading to chronic pain in the form of Crohn's and Fibromyalgia.
  • Your brain can also cause inflammation due to stress

Inflammation isn’t all bad. When you exercise your body also goes through the inflammation process, identifying and removing the muscle tissue you damaged during your workout with stronger tissues. Bacteria, cuts, bruises, bites, fevers and even sun burns are all ways your body uses inflammation to heal and make itself stronger. The only time inflammation becomes a problem is when it doesn’t lead to repair.

The Problems with Chronic Inflammation Treatments

Treatments for inflammation depend on it being acute or chronic. For acute cases, like a sprain or fever, over the counter or prescription medications can do a good job of relieving the pain and inflammation. In chronic situations such as diabetes, or IBD, lifestyle and diet changes can be helpful.

Acute cases usually take a short period of time to clear up and react well to medications, however for chronic issues using these same kinds of medications, known as NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can become problematic. NSAIDs such as  Aleve® or Motrin® are commonly used as over the counter treatments for acute inflammation and pain. For chronic inflammation and pain, prescription drugs such as Celebrex, Cataflam and Voltaren are routinely used my millions of Americans. All of these medications do relieve pain and inflammation, however both the prescription and non prescription NSAIDs showing significant negative side effects when they are used regularly for long periods of time. In 2005, the FDA warned that taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen increased the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. The FDA then took the unusual step of strengthening their warning 2015. If you take any of these medications on a regular basis you could be putting yourself at major risk. The FDA's report outlined the following;

  • Heart attack and stroke risk increase even with short-term NSAID
  • Risk may begin within a few weeks of starting to take an NSAID.
  • The risk increases with higher doses of NSAIDs taken for longer periods of time.
  • The risk is greatest for people who already have heart disease
  • People without heart disease may also be at risk

These findings alone are alarming, however that doesn't include the other negative conditions that are also associated with long term or high levels of NSAID use, including;

  • Increased risk of heart failure
  • GI Track Damage, Ulcers and internal bleeding
  • Higher Risk of kidney failure
  • Allergic reactions
  • Dangers for children and teenagers - liver disease

The FDA could not recommend an alternative and goes on to say that if chronic pain is an issue taking the drugs is better than having a low quality of life - even if risk factors significantly increase. This might seem like the FDA is being overly conservative since millions of people take these drugs everyday, however only 10 years before this study was published one of these drugs lived up to this warning. Vioxx, a popular NSAID was pulled from the market in 2004 after it was found to be the cause of 140,000 heart attacks in patients. Vioxx was only available on the market for 5 years which makes the number of heart attacks associated with it even more concerning.

As a way to minimize the potential negative side effects patients have been advised to take the lowest dosage possible and take breaks from using the medication if possible based on their pain level. The patient is now playing a balancing act between pain from inflammation AND long term health problems.Even worse you don't know if you got it right until it's too late.The right question to ask is how do I reduce pain and inflammation without the chance for long term negative side effects? Fortunately, researchers, doctors, patients and lawmakers are finding new treatments in ancient places.

CBD Oil for Inflammation

CBD oil is derived from the industrial hemp plant. Hemp does not contain the mind altering compounds found in marijuana, however it does contain cannabinoids that have been used for thousands of years as therapies for a number of conditions and diseases, including inflammation. As recent law changes have made hemp more accessible,  researchers have been able to conduct more studies on how these cannabinoids work with our bodies. One of the most impactful cannabinoids is CBD. Cannabinoids are naturally created by our bodies and work within our internal endocannabinoid system(ECS). The discovery of the ECS is relatively new, however its role in regulating many functions within our bodies has already been documented.

By introducing an outside source of cannabinoids, especially CBD to our bodies the ECS begins to auto regulate processes within our bodies, specifically those processes responsible for inflammation and pain. Equally as important CBD oil is non toxic at high doses, meaning it fights inflammation without the problems associated with NSAIDs.

CBD has been recently studied for the treatment of inflammation, pain and spasms from multiple sclerosis in humans, and may have significant benefits against diabetic complications and atherosclerosis according to the National Institute of Health. Additional studies have shown that CBD oil had therapeutic benefits for various inflammation related health problems, including;

  • Diabetic nerve damage
  • Lung Inflammation
  • Pancreatitis
  • Intestinal and colon inflammation
  • Chronic pain from inflammation and nerve pain
  • Diabetic nerve damage
  • Reduce cell inflammation caused by cancer treatments
  • Chronic inflammation

How to Take CBD Oil

Taking CBD oil is simple compared to synthetic medications. There isn't a fear of serious side effects and the dosages are easier to manage yourself. Even if you were to take too much, the most common negative side effect is slight nausea and drowsiness. CBD products are required by law to have virtually no THC, the compound that creates the mind altering high in marijuana, so you don't need to worry about being high or having your mental state affected. Since CBD comes from industrial hemp it is available without a prescription and can be ordered online. CBD has only recently been available due to the 2014 Farm Bill and due to its growing popularity there are numerous new companies bringing products to the market. It can be difficult to choose a good source or the form you want to use. You can choose from oils, topical creams, edibles, mouth sprays, and even vapor products. Each form has benefits and drawbacks and choosing one over the other often depends on what you want to gain. How you take your CBD is based on personal preference and what you are trying to accomplish.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent medical or legal advice in anyway. Before taking any supplements you should consult with your doctor.

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