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Inflammation is a primary factor in myriad chronic health conditions – including heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s – but sometimes the symptoms are invisible. Jane Wolfe looks at natural ways to manage this stealthy potential killer

We all experience inflammation in our bodies, whether it’s a sore throat, an allergic reaction or an abscess, but not many of us are aware of of the extent to which inflammation can be detrimental to our health if left unmanaged. Our ignorance isn’t too surprising as it is only relatively recently that chronic inflammation has become recognized as the underlying cause of many chronic diseases. 

“Inflammation is our body’s immune response and natural defence mechanism against viruses, bacteria and damaged cells,” explains holistic lifestyle and skin health coach Holly Zoccolan. “It enables the body to remove these foreign invaders and heal itself. There are two types of inflammation: chronic and acute. Acute inflammation begins almost instantly and disappears after a couple of days, but chronic inflammation tends to persist for much longer than necessary – months or even years – and causes more harm than good.”

“Inflammation responds to any condition which is perceived as a threat, which is why emotional threats are related to by the HPA axis in the same way physical threats are”

It’s not only physical invaders to which the body responds in this way, emotional ‘insults’ can also affect the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis – the system which regulates the immune response, helping prevent it from overreacting and reducing damage from inflammation.

“Inflammation responds to any condition which is perceived as a threat, which is why emotional threats are related to by the HPA axis in the same way physical threats are,” points out naturopathic cardiologist Dr Decker Weiss. “Underlying factors as to how the threat is managed generally depends on its severity and how long it’s been going on. 

“Chronic stress to the system – which can be caused by factors including emotional abuse, physical stresses, infections, toxicity – can wear down the HPA axis, and as inflammation becomes more chronic, our central nervous and immune systems will decrease in efficiency. Eventually thyroid and sex hormones will also be negatively affected.”

Libby Limon, nutritionist with Link Nutrition, explains that inflammation plays a role in ‘pretty much’ every illness. “I wrote an essay on this ten years ago when I was doing my nutrition degree, and it has always stuck with me,” she explains. “Autoimmune diseases are the obvious ones, but everything from Alzheimer’s to heart disease, MS to arthritis – chronic inflammation has a major role to play.”

Spotting the signs
Clearly, it’s important to recognize symptoms of inflammation in order to resolve it, but unfortunately these aren’t always obvious or even visible – or they may not stand out to the sufferer as being red flags signalling a more serious condition. 

“Autoimmunity – from mild allergies to more serious conditions – are the outward signs,” says Limon. “But at the same time, subclinical inflammation – such as the inflammation that can trigger artery plaques forming in heart disease – would be completely silent.”

Zoccolan adds that symptoms to look out for with acute inflammation are pain, heat, swelling and redness. “Although if the acute inflammation is inside the body, the symptoms may not be as obvious. Symptoms related to chronic inflammation are fever, rashes, fatigue, mouth ulcers and swelling.”

Also watch out for any chronic problems from fatigue, mood issues and insomnia, to joint pain, gastrointestinal conditions, or infections such as Lyme disease, cautions Weiss.

Non-toxic solutions
He explains that to prevent any chronic disease, consumers need to be educated about how to recognize inflammation on an individual basis, and how to apply non-toxic therapies for recovery. “For example, patient A may have gas and bloating. If they use natural digestive support and look at their diet, they can recover. However, if they use antacids or acid blockers these can cause nutritional deficiencies and increase the risk of ulcers. 

“Patient B may have joint pain. If they use natural models – look at their diet and exercise – they can likely reduce pain and increase performance. However, if they block the pain with drugs like ibuprofen and acetaminophen they may feel better but the inflammation will continue and can accelerate into joint degradation and in some cases dementia. The difference here is resolving inflammation versus suppressing it.”

Turmeric is a fantastic anti-inflammatory; it is best to take in supplement form as it is poorly absorbed otherwise, and you need a high potency for therapeutic effects

Weiss suggests using a broad spectrum antiinflammatory like turmeric or quercetin, and then treating inflammation at its source with, for example, a specific formula for joint pain or gastrointestinal support for stomach and intestinal issues. In addition, he highlights Siberian ginseng and echinacea.

Limon also suggests turmeric, alongside omega-3 fatty acids. “I would recommend people take an omega-3 supplement on a daily basis – ideally 1.5-3g of EPA and DHA,” she says. “Turmeric is a fantastic anti-inflammatory; it is best to take in supplement form as it is poorly absorbed otherwise, and you need a high potency for therapeutic effects. It is better absorbed with fats, so taking it with an omega-3 is perfect anti-inflammatory supplement protocol.” 

Limon recommends Link Nutrition’s new Turmeric Curcumin, which provides 95% curcuminoids, liposomal curcumin and black pepper (piperine) to enhance absorbability.

Anti-inflammatory diet
Diet plays a crucial role in developing or avoiding inflammation, and there are certain foods that should be bypassed. “Some of the main inflammatory foods we need to avoid are refined sugars, refined carbohydrates, trans fats, processed foods, MSG and alcohol,” Zoccolan says. “Gluten has also been linked to the inflammatory response within our body.” 

Foods we should be consuming to assist in decreasing inflammation include fresh fruits and vegetables. “At least five servings per day as well as healthy fats such as avocados, extra virgin olive oil and chia seeds. Herbs and spices such as turmeric, basil, chilli, garlic, ginger and rosemary are excellent anti-inflammatory additions to your meals.”

Zoccolan recommends practicing relaxing modalities such as meditation and yoga to reduce inflammation. “Your lifestyle – including stress, a poor diet and lack of exercise – all have a role to play in the development of chronic inflammation,” she adds. “An imbalance in your gut bacteria can also lead to chronic inflammation by the development of IBS and other digestion problems.”

Limon agrees it’s important to recognize that modern lifestyles will most likely cause levels of sub-clinical inflammation in the body. “Some saturated fats, grilling of food, environmental toxins, hormones, abdominal belly fat, oxidative stress are all risk factors pushing the body towards an inflammatory state. However, there are lots of things that we can do to bring balance back to the body in terms of its inflammatory levels.” 

As well as eating a diet rich in antioxidants, fruits, veg, herbs, spices, etc, and healthy fats to help the body move to an anti-inflammatory state, Limon recommends intermittent fasting as another way to trigger the body to regulate inflammation levels. 

Some saturated fats, grilling of food, environmental toxins, hormones, abdominal belly fat, oxidative stress are all risk factors pushing the body towards an inflammatory state

“Intermittent fasting is my number one recommendation for people to do at least some of the time. Most will get some benefit from fasting just 13 hours overnight (so if you eat dinner at 6.30pm-7pm you’d eat breakfast at 8am) which is easy for most people. If you can stretch to 14-16 hours the effect will be enhanced, although more isn’t necessarily better. It’s important to listen your body and find your ‘sweet spot’ – where you may feel hungry, but you don’t feel like you can’t concentrate or are tired.”

Weiss advocates health food retailers as the tip of the spear in preventing and reversing inflammation. “My first thought is to keep doing what you are doing, which is promoting a healthy diet, appropriate and eclectic exercise, and prevention through supplementation. This mission needs to be protected legislatively as well as with education. The next is to educate the public one-to-one and in group work such as webinars and live lectures. Lastly, I think we need to constantly empower people using any and all methods so they know who they are on an individual basis.”

View from a store
Sarah Inman, a naturopathic nutritional therapist and part of the Appleseeds Health Store team, explains that the store’s customers don’t usually directly ask for
anti-inflammatory support but usually come in for a condition or symptom, often being unaware that inflammation is a part of it or a potential cause. “Many may have seen a doctor and exhausted that route, but currently we’re seeing customers who aren’t getting conventional medical help so are reaching out in desperation for, in some cases, acute inflammatory support. 

She says that currently a large proportion of customers are asking for joint support and the secondary stages of colds or flu, such as bronchitis or sinusitis that they can’t shake off.

Turmeric/curcumin is the store’s go-to anti-inflammatory product. “For more acute issues high strength curcumin can be very effective, but long-term turmeric supplementation has also had fantastic feedback from consumers – especially for joint conditions – and has created repeat custom. 

“We also sell a great deal of fish oil – a fantastic way to support a wide range of conditions and potentially reduce inflammation by lowering the individual’s omega 3:6 ratio. This is often a product that sells itself and is again a repeat buy for many.

Many may have seen a doctor and exhausted that route, but currently we’re seeing customers who aren’t getting conventional medical help so are reaching out in desperation for, in some cases, acute inflammatory support

Getting the immune system functioning well is also something the store strongly promotes to indirectly reduce inflammation, says Inman. “We therefore start by looking at gut health, so recommend probiotics and functional foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha and apple cider vinegar. We sell these in vast quantities and get fantastic feedback and repeat purchases.”

“We recommend individual diet and lifestyle advice as part of the customer experience,” she adds. “We discuss the importance of including vegetables and fruit as a large part of the diet, keeping blood sugar levels stable through wholegrains, reducing high-carb foods, eating healthy fat such as omega-3 oils through flax, hemp, walnuts and fish, and for meat-eaters the importance of getting organic grass-fed meat.

“We also educate customers on fibre, getting enough fluid through water or herbal teas, sleep quantity and quality and relaxation, suggesting regular exercise and activities such as yoga, meditation and mindfulness, often directing people to local practitioners or classes.”

 

FSC Turmeric 500mg with Bioperine®

FSC
Tel: 0800 083 0356
E-mail:  [email protected]
www.fscsupplements.com

Turmeric has been used in Asia for thousands of years and is a major part of Ayurvedic medicine. It was first used as a dye and then later for its medicinal properties. In this formulation Bioperine® is added to make the Organic Turmeric even more effective. As with all FSC supplements, FSC Turmeric 500mg with Bioperine® is made in the UK with the finest ingredients and based on widely recognised scientific evidence of their health qualities.  Suitable for Vegetarians and recommended to take one to three capsules with food. 

 

BetterYou Turmeric Oral Spray

BetterYou
Tel: 01226 814030
E-mail:  [email protected]
www.betteryou.com

Harnessing the power of turmeric has never been easier or more effective. BetterYou’s innovative turmeric formulation ensures a greater uptake of the three active curcuminoids. The scientifically proven method of coating the curcumin molecules dramatically enhances solubility and absorption into the bloodstream. Suitable for diabetics, coeliacs and for use during pregnancy, each daily dose of four sprays delivers 1300mg of equivalent turmeric root. Using natural, vegan-friendly ingredients, the award-winning natural orange flavoured oral spray is delivered in packaging made from carbon negative, plant-based plastic, which is also 100% recyclable.

 

Powerful Natural Anti-inflammatory & Antioxidant

Curcumin 3
HealthAid Ltd
Tel: 020 8426 3400
E-mail: [email protected]
www.HealthAid.co.uk

HealthAid Curcumin 3 sourced from India, is standardised in its purest and concentrated form providing 95% of active curcuminoids, combined with the highest quality of Piperine extract. Piperine, the active ingredient in black pepper enhances the serum concentration and bioavailability of curcumin by inhibiting hepatic & intestinal glucuronidation, the main detoxification pathways in the body. HealthAid Curcumin 3 helps support naturally inflammatory response for overall wellbeing. This nutritional supplement is ideal especially for those who wish to maintain a healthy digestive system, those with swollen joints, with inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and suffer with pain caused by general inflammation in the body.  Curcumin 3 retails at £15.49 for 30 tablets. Contact HealthAid Ltd on 020 8426 3400 for purchase and stockist information or visit www.healthaid.co.uk.

 

Nature’s Answer Omega-3 Black Seed Oil

Kinetic Natural Products Distributor
Tel: 08450 725 825
E-mail:  [email protected]
www.kinetic4health.co.uk

One serving gives you 1150 mg of essential Omega-3 fatty acids, including EPA and DHA, from deep sea fish sourced from the cold, clear waters of the Pacific ocean, together with 15 mg of the unique Thymoquin™ Black Seed Oil (Nigella Sativa Oil). While many other companies use solvents or heat that can diminish the quality of the oil the black seeds in Nature’s Answer Omega-3 Black Seed Oil undergo a gentle cold-press extraction process that does not involve the use of any solvents or heat and retains the Holistic Balance™ of the seed providing a superior Black Seed Oil standardized for 3% Thymoquin™.

 

Lamberts® Bromelain 1000 GDU (Enzyme Activity Level)

Lamberts Healthcare Ltd
Tel: : 01892 554313
E-mail:  [email protected]
www.lambertshealthcare.co.uk

Lamberts®  Bromelain is one of the highest strength products available and provides 1000 GDU’s (gelatin-dissolving units) per tablet. This is a measure of how active this naturally sourced enzyme really is and is therefore more relevant than the weight of bromelain.  Bromelain is a protein digesting enzyme extracted from the stem of fresh pineapples which has traditionally been used as an aid to digestion. However, more recently, research has shown that some bromelain can be absorbed and have useful activity within the body. It is sometimes recommended to be taken alongside glucosamine.

 

Purifying – Lemon Pie – CBD moisturiser

PURA VIDA ORGANIC
Tel: +385 1 2028 900
E-mail:  [email protected]
www.puravida-organic.com

A luxuriously soft moisturising cream. Prevent breakouts, reduce oily skin and leave your skin looking matte. Have you heard of CBD skincare? CBD can prevent the formation of new breakouts and keep them under control by balancing the production of sebum, leaving your skin free of excess oil, feeling fresh, and giving it all the nourishing and hydrating it needs. Simplify your skincare routine and experience the power of CBD with this Cosmos Organic Certified, vegan, handmade moisturiser.

 

Inhalo DSI dry salt inhaler

World Foods Brand Management ltd
Tel: 01782 366080
E-mail:  [email protected]
www.wfbm.co.uk

A healthy respiratory system is key for fighting infection and natural salt therapy has for centuries been used to improve lung health
Inhalo DSI have brought this valuable therapy into the 21st Century with the first truly portable salt mine. Studies carried out with Inhalo bronchial inhaler on Asthma and COPD patients has shown dramatic improvements in outcomes while the nasal inhaler is providing significant relief to allergy sufferers. Inhalo DSI is featuring in National press and health titles through 2020

 

Weleda Arnica Collection 

Weleda UK LTD
Tel: 01159 448200
E-mail:  [email protected]
www.weleda.co.uk

Arnica is a highly prized natural anti-inflammatory, understandably popular with sports professionals and amateurs alike. Ease aches and pains with Weleda’s famous medicinal Arnica Massage Balm, made with organic arnica – for relief of backache, rheumatic and muscular pain, stiffness, cramp, bruising, sprains and minor sports injuries. This vintage health hero inspired an entire arnica collection, which today includes a soothing Arnica Muscle Soak, Arnica Cooling Gel, non-medicinal Arnica Massage Oil for everyday fitness, Arnica Bumps & Bruises Skin Salve or Spray, and Arnica 6X Tablets – a whole range of products in different forms for a variety of fitness and first aid needs.

 

SerraEnzyme™

Wholesale Health Ltd
Tel: 01606 889905
E-mail:  [email protected]
www.wholesalehealthltd.co.uk

Discover the world’s bestselling Serrapeptase range from Good Health Naturally. Originally derived from the friendly bacteria living within the gut of the silkworm, Serrapeptase is now processed naturally in a laboratory through a fermentation process making it 100% vegetarian and vegan friendly.   This powerful enzyme safely dissolves and digests inflammation and dead scar tissue in the body – the main cause of many major diseases. As the driving factor behind painful symptoms, swelling, and redness in the body, it’s essential to remove the inflammation for healing to occur.   SerraEnzyme™ is available in 80,000IU and 250,000IU and comes in tablet and capsule form. 

 

Adaptogen CBD – Using the power of ancient plants for the modern day

Wunder Workshop
www.wunderworkshop.com

We have combined five of nature’s most potent ingredients to create a powerful daily wellness ritual. This blissful blend of potent feel-good plants aims to soothe you to the core. These are drops for deep dreams and clearing away clouds of drizzle. Mucuna pruriens, also known as “velvet bean”, an aphrodisiac and tension reliever, used in Ayurveda. We’ve also included our organic Superior Ashwagandha, another highly regarded Ayurvedic plant that acts as a potent adaptogen that may help balance our response to physical and emotional stress. The blend contains Wunder Workshop’s CBD and organic Turmeric extract. Plus black pepper to improve bioavailability, increasing this purposefully crafted blend’s potential.

 

SYNAPTAID

World Foods Brand Management Ltd
Tel: 01782 366080
E-mail:  [email protected]
www.wfbm.co.uk

SYNAPTAID is a first-of-its kind supplement for supporting brain function and combating processes known to cause ‘cognitive impairment’.  The ‘brains’ behind SYNAPTAID is Dr John Briffa, a practising medical doctor, journalist and author with 30 years’ experience in natural medicine. SYNAPTAID contains a blend of 8 botanicals and nutrients, each of which has a role to play in supporting and assisting memory, concentration and mood.  Just one of SYNAPTAID’s active ingredients is Lion’s Mane. This medicinal mushroom has several supporting actions in the brain, including boosting ‘nerve growth factors’ that can stimulate regeneration of brain cells. Lion’s Mane has been found to significantly improve brain function in individuals suffering from ‘cognitive impairment’ in just a few weeks.

 

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About the Author

Jane Wolfe

Deputy Editor
Natural Products News deputy editor Jane Wolfe re-joined NPN in 2013 having previously worked for the magazine as a sub and freelance journalist from its Steyning beginnings.

Articles by Jane Wolfe
Jane Wolfe
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