Immune Dysfunction and Inflammation

From the perspective of good health, balance between immune system activation and tranquility is essential.  Inflammation is an activation of the immune system, and is the body’s normal response to a wide variety of triggers.  Your immune system is constantly on guard to protect you from bacteria, viuses and parasites that would otherwise kill you.  We are all familiar with the three main symptoms of inflammation:  pain, swelling and redness.  In normal health the immune system becomes activated in response to germ invasions and injuries and then returns to its state of lower alert.

In chronic inflammation the balance of immune molecules is changed in a way that endlessly continues an unwanted inflammatory response.  We now know that chronic inflammation is linked to many diseases and health disorders, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer, and the list is growing.

Autoimmune diseases are special cases of immune system dysfunction in which the immune system attacks the body as if it were foreign.  Familiar examples of this are child onset diabetes, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.  In these illnesses, the normal immune reactions are turned on and do not turn off when they are no longer appropriate.  This immune over-activation causes extensive damage.

Inflammatory diseases cannot be separated from the context in which they developed.  We know from research that there are genetic factors that contribute to immune problems.  But science is also clear that  there are also non genetic causes of inflammatory problems, such as digestive imbalances, toxic insults and nutritional inadequacies.  Genetics influence susceptibility to internal and external triggers of inflammation.  They do not give you immune problems.  Immune problems result from the complex interactions among all your body's systems.  Only some of the factors that contribute to chronic inflammation have been identified.

The thing that triggers inflammation is itself not the problem.  Rather the problem is the immune systems being out of balance.

My approach to people with chronic inflammatory problems or illnesses, including heart disease and hypertension,  is to look for things that can be done to reduce the overall challenges to their immune system and their health.  Because the immune system is  intimately related to the digestive system, detoxification, and the emotions,  we always address removing toxins from the environment, reducing stress through mind body techniques, optimizing nutrition, testing for digestive health imbalances, and avoiding known triggers and allergens.

Antinflammatory nutrients
Elimination Diet
Illnesses known to be proceeded by inflammation
Natural interventions to lower C Reactive Protein
Article on Inflammation and Cancer Oncology 2002 link
Food Allergies:  Why you Crave the Foods that Make you Ill