If you’ve ever had tennis elbow, tendonitis, an infection, or any condition that ends with “itis”, you are no stranger to inflammation. Inflammation is a natural part of any physical healing process. It occurs when your body releases chemicals that protect you from foreign substances. Unfortunately, sometimes your body triggers inflammation when there is nothing to fight off, causing damage to its own tissues. Inflammation can affect almost any part of your body. Common inflammatory conditions include arthritis, bursitis, infections,asthma, colitis, and when combined with high cholesterol levels, inflammation can be a risk factor for heart attacks and stroke.
Your doctor can screen you for inflammation with a blood test called high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP). It will indicate whether or not you have elevated levels of inflammation in your body, but the test can’t tell you where.
There are a number of lifestyle changes you can make to decrease inflammation, including quitting smoking, exercising (but not too much), getting enough sleep, and reducing stress. In addition, diet can play an important role in reducing inflammation. A group of hormones, called prostaglandins are responsible for the regulation of inflammation in your body, some of which increase inflammation, and others that reduce it. You can affect this hormone system through the kinds of fats you eat.
To reduce inflammation, eat more olive oil and Omega 3 fats, such as salmon, sardines, ground flax seeds and flax seed oil, and walnuts. Also, increase your daily amounts of dark vegetables and whole grains. Eliminate all foods that have “partially hydrogenated” anywhere on the label, as well as polyunsaturated vegetable oils, margarine, saturated fats, and vegetable shortening. A good rule is to avoid or read the label of any highly processed or prepackaged foods, as they are likely to contain the kinds of fats that contribute to the inflammatory process.
In Chinese medicine, inflammation is considered a warm or hot condition, and is usually accompanied by pain and other uncomfortable symptoms. This heat may show up as the sensation of feeling hot, thirst for cool drinks, restlessness or irritibility, sleeplessness, night sweats, and even constipation.
There are a number of ways to cool the inflammation and resolve your symptoms. Through acupuncture, the use of herbs, dietary therapy, and lifestyle changes, Chinese medicine can help calm the inflammatory process, relieve your symptoms, and promote healing. If you’re suffering from an inflammatory condition, think about acupuncture..