The role of inflammation in chronic illness
There was a period of my life where I had spiraled into the depths of chronic pain, illness, and fatigue. (You can learn how I overcame it HERE)
During that time, I had an eye-opening conversation with my then rheumatologist.
After having lamented in his office yet again over how much pain I was in, and how severely fatigued I was, and asking if there was anything else I could do, he leaned toward me and placed a hand on my shoulder. He then said “you’ve made good progress Lacey.” He then continued suggesting to me that maybe it was time to accept that this may very well be my new “normal” and that I should start getting used to it.
However, I couldn’t accept that as my life.
I decided to take back my power and take control of my life...because I knew in my heart and in my nerd brain, there was a way to reverse my myriad of symptoms...even if no one else believed it.
So I went looking for answers elsewhere… and I stumbled the Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM).
And that’s when everything changed.
Functional Medicine believes...
Functional medicine essentially took me back to my love of biochemistry and physiology, this appealed to my nerdy tendencies.
And learning everything I could and applying Functional Medicine principles to my own life, I was able to resolve all the dis-ease in my body.
And the number one key to healing my body was cooling the flames of my systemic inflammation!
But what is inflammation? How is it related to pain?
A quick short answer is that inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or a foreign invader and pain is the result of Inflammation.
However, let’s take a more in depth look at inflammation:
Inflammation is a byproduct of the immune system’s activation. It’s hallmark component of the body’s first line of defense, known as the innate immune response.
Inflammation is needed to remove harmful material and to begin the healing process.
It stimulates the second line of defense of the immune system, the adaptive immune system, to clean up the mess from the injury or infection and complete the healing process.
The same immune system is activated for tissue injury (a cut or bruise) versus a food or environmental allergen, versus a foreign invader such a as a viral, bacterial or fungal infection.
The body does not distinguish between various immune activating stimuli.
While inflammation plays an important role in our bodies -- if we are constantly turning on the inflammatory cascade (especially with the food we eat), our immune system starts to get out of control causing excessive inflammation in our bodies.
This turns the acute inflammation response into a chronic immune response. Since the body has a difficult time turning off the response, as a result healthy tissue becomes damaged.
The most common manifestations of chronic inflammation in our bodies include:
A few specific examples of tissue damage caused by chronic inflammation include:
Rheumatoid and Osteo arthritis
Ulcerative colitis or Cohn’s Disease
Asthma associated COPD
Kidney disease from lupus or diabetes
However, you don’t have to wait until the damage is done to slow or reverse this process!