Inflammation is the body’s immediate response to damage to its tissues and cells by pathogens, noxious stimuli such as chemicals, or physical injury. Acute inflammation is a short-term response that usually results in healing: leukocytes infiltrate the damaged region, removing the stimulus and repairing the tissue. Chronic inflammation, by contrast, is a prolonged, dysregulated and maladaptive response that involves active inflammation, tissue destruction and attempts at tissue repair. Such persistent inflammation is associated with many chronic human conditions and diseases, including allergy, atherosclerosis, cancer, arthritis and autoimmune diseases.

The processes by which acute inflammation is initiated and develops are well defined, but much less is known about the causes of chronic inflammation and the associated molecular and cellular pathways. These chronic inflammatory states do not seem to be caused by the classic instigators of inflammation: infection and injury. Instead, they seem to be associated with the malfunction of tissue: that is, with the homeostatic imbalance of one of several physiological systems that are not directly functionally related to host defence or tissue repair. Regardless of the cause, inflammation presumably evolved as an adaptive response for restoring homeostasis.

The response to triggers is the production of a variety of inflammatory mediators, including chemokines, cytokines, vasoactive amines, eicosanoids and products of proteolytic cascades. If the event is successful the inflammatory cascade will be reversed, there appear to be a number of events that can trigger long term inflammation including obesity, allergy, loss of tolerance and toxic compounds.

The restoration of a non-inflammatory state can be assisted by the application of various lifestyle modifications including dietetic changes and the judicious use of selected micronutrient and bacterial compounds.

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References

  1. Nature 454, 427 (24 July 2008) | doi:10.1038/454427a; Published online 23 July 2008
  2. Nathan, C. Points of control in inflammation. Nature 420, 846–852 (2002).  View Abstract
  3. Brinkhaus B, Hentschel C, Von Keudell C, et al. Herbal medicine with curcuma and fumitory in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial. Scand J Gastroenterol 2005 Aug;40(8):936-43. View Abstract
  4. Hardin SR. Cat’s claw: an Amazonian vine decreases inflammation in osteoarthritis. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2007 Feb;13(1):25-8. View Abstract
  5. Yin WH, Chen JW, Tsai C, et al. L-arginine improves endothelial function and reduces LDL oxidation in patients with stable coronary artery disease. Clin Nutr 2005;24(6):988-97. View Abstract
  6. Gylling U, Rintala A, Taipale S, et al. The effect of a proteolytic enzyme combinate (bromelain) on the postoperative oedema by oral application. A clinical and experimental study. Acta Chir Scand. 1966;131(3):193-196. View Abstract
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