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  • Treating Inflammation without Pharmaceuticals

  • Inflammation is an important immune system response to any number of things from a mechanical injury, to poisoning, to infection.

    This means that, as unpleasant as it feels, inflammation is normally your ally. It is your body destroying and removing dead and damaged cells, and clearing out whatever triggered the response, in order to get your body ready for healing.

    In a perfect world, inflammation follows an easily tracked process. That is:

    • Irritation: The original irritation that heralds the onset of inflammation.
    • Inflammation: The familiar swollen and painful redness around a wound or infection
    • Suppuration: The discharging of pus.
    • Granulation: The formation of granules of tissue to fill the space of the damaged area. These are eventually reabsorbed as the body finishes healing.

    The problems with inflammation arise when it is either extremely severe, from allergies, or when it becomes a chronic condition, such as in joint areas, or when a regular case becomes so severely inflamed that it triggers its own response, perpetuating the cycle indefinitely.

    There are a number of effective ways to treat inflammation without using drugs, which can be a bad option for anyone who is allergic to them, has a compromised liver or kidneys, or does not want to experience the side effects.

    Here are a few things to try:

    Ice

    Cooling an inflamed area will reduce blood flow and swelling, and calm the situation down temporarily.

    This can interrupt the self-perpetuating type of inflammation that is primarily active due to the positive feedback mechanism of serious inflammation. If you have an active infection or allergic reaction, however, this will only bring temporary relief.

    Deep Tissue Massage / Trigger Point Massage

    If you have chronic muscle inflammation in a seized muscle group, there is a tendency to build up scar tissues within those muscles, that make the muscle inflexible, and also keep it from relaxing again, leading to permanent inflammation and a continuing buildup of scar tissue.

    Deep tissue massage can break up this scar tissue and force the muscle to relax. This process is painful, and needs to be followed with regular icing and a follow up that may require repeating the procedure two or three times. This method tears the scar tissue in your muscles and gives your body a chance to reabsorb the tissue. This does increase inflammation in the short term,  while it destroys the underlying factors causing it, and can trigger the formation of new scar tissue again, so it’s very important to ice it constantly to keep the inflammation down until it heals.

    Sleep

    Your stress hormones stimulate your immune response, and with it, your inflammatory response. Anything that increases your stress, especially sleep deprivation, contributes to the severity of your inflammation.

    If you are experiencing chronic inflammation, start with getting enough sleep, and then eliminate other sources of stress from your life to give your body a chance to recover.

    Fasting

    Surprised to see this one? Fasting is not just a for religious gurus, but is actually a fairly important biological mechanic in mammals.

    Research from Yale Medical School has shown that fasting actively inhibits inflammation. The body has a complex reaction to short term food deprivation, which involves all of your body’s systems including the immune system. 

    Always speak to your doctor before beginning a fast to determine if it is safe for you. Also, never overdo it. To state the obvious, you need food to live.