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Natural Awakenings Tucson

Inflammation is a Double-Edged Sword

May 30, 2014 11:30AM ● By David Rupley, Jr

Our body has an intricate web of strategies to maintain health and function, and one group of those strategies is the body’s inflammatory response. When we cut our finger, we expect it to bleed (increased blood flow), then clot and scab. It hurts (pain) and it will likely get hot and turn pink or red around the cut. These are all parts of that inflammatory response. Different cells in the blood have different jobs to fight infections and promote growth of tissue to repair the skin and associated issues.

When we get sick with a cold or an infection, we want the inflammatory response to be up to the task of fighting off the virus or bugs. The fever, mucous and less pleasant reactions that the body produces are ridding us of the bugs and returning homeostasis. Yet we hear from many sources that inflammation is the underlying issue of most chronic diseases and many of the autoimmune diseases.

So when is inflammation bad? One of the most common problems is heart disease. Elevated cholesterol is a marker of inflammation, like Band-Aids. The cholesterol adheres to the blood vessel wall at the site of some injury (inflammation), and these “Band-Aids” can break off and block the artery. Strokes, heart attacks and angina are evidence of injuries to the blood vessels and surgery just fixes the most active problem. Changing our diet and lifestyle works instead as a cure. Dr. Dean Ornish has done a study with early prostate cancer patients that reveal his lifestyle and dietary changes can reverse cancer and what we eat can even change our genes.

Arthritis is an inflammatory disease. The joints swell and hurt and sometime become hot. Even though calcium is the direct culprit, that is a response to the increased acidity that comes with an inflammatory response as the body tried to neutralize this. There can be foods that play a role with arthritis, but much of the difficulty is inflammation for minor injuries that become complicated without the natural support to combat inflammation. Diabetes, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s and IBS are all inflammation gone bad.

The reason people don’t hear a lot about food’s powerful healing effects has a lot to do with money. There is more profit in Coke and Pepsi than in broccoli. Then there is the issue of who is responsible for our health. Doctors can help in some situations, but it is important for us to become informed and advocate for our health.

David Rupley, Jr, M.D.(H) is a homeopathic and integrative physician and medical director at Coyote Healing Center. He was trained in psychiatry and has spent the last 10 years with an increasing focus on alternative and nonpharmaceutical approaches to health.