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The word inflammation is thrown around very often today. We constantly hear the word inflammation from medical Doctors and in medical broadcasts. However, many people do not have their pulse on what inflammation actually means and how it specifically relates to them, and their overall health.

Simply put, inflammation is our immune system’s natural innate response to specific harmful stimuli. The inflammatory response is designed as a self-protection method. It is an incredible involuntary and self-regulating innate mode of healing. The acute inflammatory response can typically be seen with redness in a localized area. It can be swollen. It can be sore and hot to the touch. This type of inflammation serves as protection that we are more accustomed to recognizing as a response to an acute injury. This varies greatly from an ongoing and prolonged trigger or sensitivity resulting in Chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is more internal, often making it less visible externally. The symptoms can have a profound effect causing extreme prolonged conditions of discomfort. While it can affect you in various joints in the body, it can also be detrimental systemically. This can wreak havoc on multiple systems and be felt in many different areas simultaneously.

As an example, Acute inflammation from a fall and injury to the knee will show the symptoms with which we are familiar. The knee may be red, swollen, and hot to the touch. It can be sore all around the local area. Varied applications of cold and heat may abbreviate the healing process. Chronic inflammation has varied symptoms that are often more difficult to diagnose. Someone suffering from arthritis may have multiple joints that ache. They are often better predictors of the weather than our weather forecasters. The outside climate, especially when it is damp and cold, can exacerbate the already inflamed and aching joints. This inflammation is more systemic. It can affect multiple joints. Sometimes it can feel like it is moving from joint to joint. Other times it can feel as if numerous joints are aching and screaming for attention at the same time.

I often treat patients who experience brain fog. They feel like their head is clouded inhibiting a clear thought process and may even cause noticeable decline in memory. This is a common side effect from certain types of chemotherapy treatments. It is often referred to as ‘chemo brain.’ The necessary chemotherapy drugs in addition to being harsh on the immune system, also have a side effect of causing systemic inflammation. Acupuncture is tremendously successful in helping support the immune system, ridding the body of inflammation, and lifting the brain fog.

In chronic Gastrointestinal illnesses, people often experience flare ups of symptoms. Abdominal bloating, cramps, constipation, and diarrhea are a real struggle. In many cases IBS or irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease and Colitis often stem from systemic inflammation. Many of the medications prescribed will help for a fleeting time. Unfortunately, they often stop working as your body gets accustomed to them. Steroids are frequently prescribed during flare ups when it may be necessary to get the symptoms under control quickly. However, long term steroid use actually fosters an increased environment of inflammation, thereby causing more frequent flare ups. It can become a vicious cycle. It is essential to get to the source of the condition and eliminate the inflammation and symptoms entirely for long term healing.

Many people who suffer from allergies, asthma, and chronic respiratory issues suffer from inflammation in the Lungs. This can be seen at every age, from young childhood through geriatric, even with Emphysema and COPD. Both weather and nutrition have an impact here as well. I often see patients who have excessive sniffling, runny nose, and wet coughs that are worse in the morning. This is often a result of the inflammation settling when they are sleeping overnight and not moving. The congestion accumulates rather than dissipating as they move around. These people benefit tremendously from Acupuncture, as well as the Himalayan Salt Caves at AcuZen Wellness Center. By simply relaxing in the salt cave and breathing in the salt, the benefits to the lungs are outstanding. The more consistently they come to the salt cave, the better they feel.

A study published in Nature identified neurons that have an anti-inflammatory response all along the signaling pathway when signaled via Acupuncture. They looked at Cytokine storms causing inflammation which may be triggered by a multitude of causes, including cancer treatments. Acupuncture combined with Electric Stimulation on specific Acupuncture points, sends an immediate signal to reduce the cytokine storm, thereby alleviating the inflammatory response. It had a noticeable change on the vagal-adrenal axis. This signal regulates the release of Dopamine. This modulatory neurological feedback from Acupuncture and electric stimulation has been scientifically proven to be remarkably effective and incredible at reducing the inflammatory response. The studies show that Acupuncture alleviates inflammation in multiple systems including the immune system, the endocrine system, the respiratory and digestive systems.

In addition to Acupuncture, nutrition guidance can be immensely helpful. Food as medicine can both help, or hinder your intentions. An anti- inflammatory diet is helpful when consisting of leafy green veggies, fruit, especially berries, fish, healthy fats like avocado, and even dark chocolate! Inflammatory foods including dairy, sugar in both food and drinks, as well as overly processed foods can be detrimental and exacerbate inflammatory markers and symptoms. It is a good idea to stick to a maximum of five ingredients when reading packaged nutritional labels, as well as in recipes. Turmeric combined with black pepper, which is key for its absorption, is an excellent superfood that is incredible at reducing systemic inflammation.

We do not get to choose our genetics and our overall health. But we certainly have the ability to do our part and make positive and lasting changes. You now have a clearer understanding of what inflammation is, and how it affects you in the short and long term. Incorporating Acupuncture for anti- inflammatory conditions is essential. It can change both your acute discomfort, as well as alleviate your chronic symptoms in the long term. What are you waiting for? The sooner you start, the faster you will see results!