Keeping it simple, with the advent of the gasoline combustion engine and power plants, enormous amounts of lead and hydrocarbon entered earth’s atmosphere. Coal burning, nuclear waste venting, detonation of atomic warheads in the upper atmosphere – have combined to form a toxic plasma on the planet that inflames the body in a varieties of ways.
In the 1950’s, more inflammatory chemicals found their way into our environment. That was when scientists began putting their chemicals into the foods we eat, and governments started introducing fluoride and chlorination into water supplies – both inflammatory chemicals, that target the nervous system by excitation and degrade it at the same time.
Laboratory inflammatory markers
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The granddaddy of all deregulation acts was the repealing of vast portions of the Delaney Clause of 1958, that in its original form, prevented carcinogenic agents into the food supply. It was a zero tolerance policy for carcinogens.
During the 1980’s, and as a result of the De Minimus interpretation of the Delaney Clause of 1958, (a clause in the Food Additive Amendment to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act that states no substance that is known to cause cancer in animals of human beings at any dose level shall be added to foods), chemical companies were suddenly allowed to unleash a flood of newly researched chemicals onto the market, including texture enhancers, emulsifiers, flavor enhancers, artificial flavors and colors, hormones – a virtual free-for-profit, free-for-all.
From the corporate perspective it was the Gay Nineties. We saw stock markets swing wildly upwards in boom, bust fashion, as fortunes were made and lost inside of short time frames.
Meanwhile things were kicking into high gear for medicine and drug companies in the form of higher cancer, neurological, and cardiovascular disease rates. Offices filled as did health care coffers, insurance companies and hospitals… to the tune of billions.
Any M.D. practicing in this time frame will tell you things were booming during the late eighties into the late nineties. Today, medical offices cannot even keep up with their so-called quality of care standards because of the double whammy of too many patients and the onerous quantity of data entry required for insurance payment. The health care system has been monetized to the penny, while insurance reimbursement keeps the merry-go-round of peddling drugs spinning round. Ask any nurse, and they will tell you flat out – the system is broke.
We can describe the complex of inflammatory pathways involving cell-signaling enzymes like cyclooxygenase, cytokines, leukotrienes, prostaglandins etc., but to better understand it, we have to go back more than half a century to aspirin.
There were about one-quarter the chemicals we had during the 1970’s. Aspirin worked fine for most people, until an FDA patent for acetaminophen was issued in 1951. It was two years later that Sterling-Winthrop began selling the drug acetomenophen. At the time, aspirin and prescription pain relief medications were the principle drugs available, these two groups dominated the market.
The public wanted an over-the-counter alternative to aspirin that children could take. There was demand for an alternative to aspirin since it was not safe for people with ulcers. In 1955, Tylenol came onto the market.
It was promoted to parents as Tylenol, an elixir to give to children for pain and fever. By 1956 it was being sold abroad in England. It’s popularity exploded under the name acetaminophen in the mid 1970s to 1980s. By then, sales of aspirin had declined and new medications for dealing with inflammation made their way into the pipeline. This is where ibuprofen, popularly known as Advil came onto the scene.
The most popular of the NSAID’s – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – ibuprofen is known as a “COX 2 inhibitor” where COX stands for cyclooxygenase, The drug inhibits this enzyme, relieving the pain in the process. The COX enzymes convert Arachidonic acid, generated by the standard Americans high protein diet and high toxicological body burden, to prostaglandin H2. PGH2 is then converted by other enzymes to several other prostaglandins that are mediators of pain, inflammation, and fever. Then these are converted to thromboxane A2, which stimulates platelet clumping or aggregation, leading to the formation of blood clots. This alters circulation and gives rise to pain.
The exact mechanism of action of ibuprofen is unknown. What is known is that it interferes with the Arachidonic-acid pathway. Its pharmacological effects are believed to be due to inhibition of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) which decreases the synthesis of prostaglandins involved in mediating inflammation, pain, fever, and swelling.
Its anti-pyretic, fever relieving effects may be due to action on the hypothalamus, resulting in an increased peripheral blood flow, and vaso-dilatation. This causes subsequent dissipation of heat, bringing temporary relief. Inhibition of COX-1 is thought to cause some of the side effects of ibuprofen including gastrointestinal ulceration.
What you need to know about this drug are two things, that it relieves pain by inhibiting inflammation pathways, and that the prolonged use has been shown to cause gastrointestinal lesions and ulcers. The role of the individual COX chemicals in the analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and gastric damage effects of NSAIDs is uncertain, and different compounds cause different degrees of analgesia and gastric damage.
Ibuprofen, acetaminophen and Naproxyn are ok, provided you do not abuse them continuously for weeks or months at a time. Your risk of more serious problems increases when you mask deeper unresolved issues using drugs. Whether it’s a medical or a Holistic specialist you choose, you need to remember that inflammation is your body’s reaction to a foreign protein or chemical that your body can’t get rid of. The end result is most often fatigue, pain and stiffness, swelling and / or rash.
Consuming any type of pharmacological medication increases the likelihood of dehydration. Adequate water consumption is a must.
Curcumin To The Rescue
As an alternative to taking ibuprofen, curcumin is an Indian herb with powerful anti-inflammation effects. This bright yellow herb is a member of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae) A powerful poly-phenol like green tea. It has a longer track record than all NSAID’s, including aspirin. Its origins date back 4000 years.
Turmeric contains curcumin
Curcumin can be found in natural supplement form, often it is compounded with other herbs and vitamins – particularly vitamin C. In the keeping it simple paradigm, vitamin C is probably the most powerful, effective broad-spectrum anti-inflammatory and antioxidant supplement that exists. It is the most easily tolerated and has the safest of track records, being first discovered in the 1930’s by Albert Szent-Györgyi.
There are foods that are both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory. Briefly, foods that lower blood pH are inflammatory since they acidify the blood. These are mostly diet drinks, soft drinks, soda, coffee and the additives in these drinks. These include high fructose corn syrup, colorings, flavorings and caffeine. There are also refined carbohydrates that stimulate inflammatory pathways. These include bleached white flower, certain kinds of dairy, spicy foods, refined grains, GMO foods and cured meats chips, dips and party food.
On the other side of the coin are anti-inflammatory foods like avocado, olive oil, yogurt, nuts, fresh fruits and fresh steamed vegetables. Most herbs are anti-inflammatory including ginger, turmeric, cumin, rosemary and oregano, fennel, thyme – the list is long.
These herbs contain poly-phenol substances that dampen the body’s inflammatory cell signaling. You can buy them at the organic store, or you can grow an herb garden and use them fresh or dry them.
I will combine herbs in cooking, fill capsules with them to take orally, or make teas, tinctures and decoctions.