by Nicole Murray, L.Ac.

While talking to my friend June here in the clinic last week, she mentioned that she’d like to get more information about inflammation. Here’s a primer for her and for the rest of you that are dealing with acute or chronic inflammation.

Classic signs of acute inflammation are heat, redness, pain and swelling. There is also reduction in function.

Web MD defines inflammation as “a process by which the body’s white blood cells and chemicals protect us from infection with foreign substances, such as bacteria and viruses.”

Medline Plus explains: The inflammatory response (inflammation) occurs when tissues are injured by bacteria, trauma, toxins, heat, or any other cause. The damaged cells release chemicals including histamine, bradykinin, and prostaglandins. These chemicals cause blood vessels to leak fluid into the tissues, causing swelling. This helps isolate the foreign substance from further contact with body tissues. The chemicals also attract white blood cells called phagocytes that “eat” germs and dead or damaged cells. This process is called phagocytosis.

In other words, inflammation is a protective response to an infection or foreign body-a way to fight off an attack. So it’s a good thing.

Until… the process becomes uncontrolled, causing destruction of healthy tissue.

There are dozens of inflammatory disorders, occurring when the normal process goes haywire.  Some occur when the immune system mistakenly triggers inflammation where there is no infection-these are known as autoimmune disorders. Then there are disorders where the body overreacts to an injury or trauma (think of an anaphylactic response to a bee sting).

We will publish lots in the future about inflammatory disorders; we just wanted to explain it in general terms.

Until we write more on the subject though, check out this article from Web M.D. that lists anti-inflammatory foods.

CNN also published good basic guildelines on what to eat and what not to eat.

Eat well, be healthy, and get acupuncture! We know that acupuncture reduces inflammation, no matter the cause.

Sources cited: http://www.webmd.com/arthritis/about-inflammation http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000821.htm