What is Inflammation?

Why does inflammation occur?

Not many people realise that inflammation is actually a response of the immune system. Your immune system is your body’s way of defending itself against disease and injury. It often kicks starts into action when a threat to your wellbeing arises. If you get a virus like the common cold, you may get warm and tired. This is because your immune system is working overtime to kill any harmful bacteria, and wants you to rest so it can make you better more quickly.

But what does this have to do with inflammation?

Well, inflammation is how the body protects you when something has gone wrong. As when you get a cold and run a temperature, sometimes your immune system will act in a way that makes you feel worse for a little while. Sounds contradictory?

The reality is that by doing so, your body actually allows you to heal much quicker and more effectively. So if you injure a joint it might get inflamed. This can make the temporary discomfort worse, but the inflammation actually protects the joint whilst it heals from the trauma.

Your immune system is a clever part of your body, a way of encouraging recovery and preventing further damage. As a part of the immune systems response to health threats, inflammation can be a positive thing. Most of the time, when something becomes inflamed it is because your body is trying to prevent any further damage to your health..

At this point you might be wondering what the problem with inflammation is then. Why all the fuss if it is such a useful thing? Unfortunately, sometimes inflammation can cause more harm than good. Whilst your body tries its best to always work properly, sometimes it will behave in a way that may actually cause more harm than good. This is particularly a problem when it comes to inflammation.

If the injury or health concern that has caused inflammation to occur doesn’t heal properly, then the inflammation won’t calm down either. As long as the area affected is in poor health, inflammation will occur to protect it. For example, a worn down and damaged joint may cause inflammation. This inflammation around the joint will stay as long as it takes for the joint to regenerate itself and heal.

However, sometimes damage or wear and tear simply can’t be healed. So the joint is in poor health, and the inflammation is ongoing. This can cause more harm than good. This chronic inflammation is a key characteristic of degenerative joint diseases.

Arthritis and Joint Diseases

Degenerative joint diseases like Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis occur when joints suffer from wear and tear, and build-up of damage. These conditions are characterised by chronic inflammation of the joints, which can cause limited mobility and chronic pain.

In the UK alone it is estimated that about 10 million people are living with some form of Arthritis. 8 million of these will have Osteoarthritis specifically. This is the most common form of degenerative joint disease, affecting both the bones and the joint. Whatever form of Arthritis a person has, you can guarantee that chronic inflammation is causing them pain and limited mobility.

The main symptoms of inflammation in degenerative joint diseases concern the sensitivity and responsiveness of affected joints. When you pay attention to how joints look and feel it can be fairly easy to determine whether they are inflamed or not. One of the most obvious signs of inflammation of joints is swelling. A swollen, reddened joint that is unusually warm to the touch may be inflamed. With this comes tenderness and limitation of movement. The main constriction of Arthritis concerns movement. Overall, the joint will be difficult to move because of pain and swelling.

Anti-Inflammatory Herbs

When given a choice, most people would prefer natural therapies to chemical or artificial ones. Treating health conditions with natural products often is safer and healthier for body and mind. In past centuries natural herbal remedies were the obvious solution to a vast range of health problems. Of course, nowadays medical science has advanced dramatically. With most health complaints we can simply go to the doctor and get a prescription that will solve our health problems. Whilst this is all well and good, it seems that we have lost touch with the power of natural and herbal remedies.

Sometimes traditional medicines and therapies are just not enough. They can be intrusive, and may come with many side effects that will make you feel worse. NSAIDs, or Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, are commonly prescribed to people with Arthritis.

These anti-inflammatory medicines are helpful most of the time. However, they are notorious for having a huge range of unpleasant side-effects. In some cases taking NSAIDs can even lead to Stomach Ulcers. Clearly this is undesirable. NSAIDs, alongside many other painkillers and popular medicines, can potentially be harmful rather than helpful.

For those wanting to look for alternative treatment options, herbal remedies and therapy can be an obvious solution. Some herbs can be equally as effective as paracetamol or other popular medicines when taken regularly. Herbs are natural and safe for the body if taken properly. As a bonus, they are extremely nutritious and rich in helpful substances that your body needs. If you want to tackle inflammation in your joints naturally, then you need to look to herbal remedies.

One herbal aid well known for its anti-inflammatory benefits is Devil’s Claw. This herb is native to southern Africa, and has been used throughout history to treat liver and kidney problems, as well as fevers. As an ointment it can be applied topically to the skin to relieve common skin ailments like sores and wounds. When it was introduced to Europe in the 1900s, it became a popular remedy for heartburn and inflammation. To this day it is popular in Germany and France as an anti-inflammatory aid.

In several studies it has been noted that Devil’s Claw can ease the symptoms of Osteoarthritis. Namely, it can promote mobility and ease pain naturally and effectively. In one 4 month study involving over 100 people with Osteoarthritis, Devil’s Claw was found to be just as effective as leading pain relief medication. As a bonus, this study found that those taking Devil’s Claw experienced fewer side effects and needed less medication overall.

The next anti-inflammatory herbal remedy may be more familiar to you. Turmeric has won fans around the world due to its flavour and scent. This well-known spice is a popular culinary aid. But its popularity as a flavour adding ingredient for spicy dishes has caused its therapeutic benefits to be slightly overlooked. In fact, Turmeric is actually a highly potent anti-inflammatory herb that can relieve joint pain effectively and safely.

Turmeric’s benefits come from two substances it contains. These are curcumin and curcuminoids. These give Turmeric its heat as a spice, but also are anti-inflammatory. Turmeric has been compared in effectiveness to many NSAIDs. The beneficial anti-inflammatory uses of Turmeric have led to it being recommended for the treatment of Cancer and Cataracts, as well as Alzheimer’s.

Adding this spice to your cooking is a good way to get a regular dose of it in your diet. Although if you want to use it to treat Arthritis, it can be a good idea to take turmeric tablets as a supplement. This will provide you with a concentrated supply of the spice to really fight inflammation with.

One of the most popular herbal remedies in the world is Ginger. Ginger is considered by many to be a super food, capable of treating and curing a huge range of health conditions. Pretty much all of its benefits can be attributed to its potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. It is also rich in essential vitamins and minerals. Overall, this popular spice is an excellent herbal remedy for joint inflammation.

In scores of prominent studies it has been found that Ginger can rival many anti-inflammatory and pain relieving medicines for effectiveness. In the traditional Indian practice of Ayurvedic medicine, Ginger has held a prominent position.

In Chinese medicine and other alternative health practices, Ginger has long been recommended for many conditions. In recent years scientific studies and medical trials have looked at the foundations for the effectiveness of Ginger. It is known that this spice is able to prevent the formation of compounds that cause inflammation, tackling inflammation before it occurs.

It is known that taking Ginger daily for a few months can cause a reduction in pain experienced because of joint inflammation. Taking Ginger supplements is a popular alternative treatment method amongst Arthritis patients. However, fresh, raw, and cooked Ginger can all offer health benefits. Consider including Ginger more often in your diet. If you want to experience noticeable improvements in joint health then it is worth taking a supplement.

If you are a fan of herbal teas, then you will be pleased to know that these can offer you anti-inflammatory benefits too. Asides form Ginger tea, you can treat yourself to herbal teas containing Nettle or Liquorice. These can potentially help to relieve pain and promote mobility in inflamed joints.

Drinking Nettle tea regularly can reduce your dependency on NSAIDs, whilst Liquorice tea can promote stamina and mobility. Consider drinking a cup or two of these anti-inflammatory teas a day to naturally ease inflammation and promote wellness.