Anti-Inflammatory/Anti-Aging Strategies
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Exercise is essential for workers such as firefighters and paramedics that have physically-and emotionally-demanding jobs, and is mandated by most departments.

According to a study by the University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, 30% of the strains and sprains that firefighters and paramedics experienced, happened as they were working out. Seventeen percent of injuries, and almost half of time off work for injuries, were caused by strains and sprains resulting from workers carrying individuals.

Pain and inflammation “feed one another”. Pain triggers more inflammation and inflammation  leads to more pain. It is not clear how the body senses pain, nor biochemically, the exact events that lead to the sensation of pain. We know however, that pain signals from our back or limbs travel along nerve cells to the spinal cord and up to the brain, and that inflammation in the spinal cord and brain is either the direct cause of pain, or a major contributor to pain sensations that we experience.

When muscles and tissues are injured, immune cells respond by entering the area and releasing cellular factors (e.g., cytokines) that will up-regulate inflammation as a way to help the body heal.

However, it is as important for the body to decrease its inflammatory responses after a challenge is met, as it is to increase the response in the first place. Decreases in inflammatory responses, down-regulation, result from the production of different amounts of anti-inflammatory cytokines and their ratio to pro-inflammatory cytokines that cause inflammation. It all about the appropriate balance of immune responses, immune homeostasis.

(Please watch for the next posting discussing natural methods of helping the body achieve immune homeostasis, and recover, and heal faster.)

The immune system is responsible for helping the body heal itself after illness or injury, and to defend the body against attack from pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and molds, and cancer cells that multiply too rapidly.

In some overly sensitive people however, the immune system may mistakenly view harmless substances, allergens (e.g., peanuts, pollen, dust mites, pet dander), as putting the body at risk of infection.

In response to an attack, the immune system produces large immune molecules called antibodies, immunoglobulins, along with smaller immune co-factors to help in the fight.

Individuals with allergies tend to have higher levels of immunoglobulin E (IgE), a class of antibody. IgE attaches tightly to special immune cells called mast cells. They are found in the skin and linings of the intestine, eyes, and nasal passages. Mast cells play a pivotal role in host defense, inflammation, and tissue repair.

Mast cells are pre-loaded with inflammatory factors. At the body’s next exposure to the allergen, the allergen binds to the IgE, like a key going into a lock, and triggers the release of mast cell biochemicals such as histamine, and small immune factors such as cytokines.

A number of studies suggest that men and women with allergies are at a lower risk of developing glioma, a brain cancer. Gliomas are among the most common and most rapidly growing brain tumors. Men and women with moderately higher levels of IgE, compared to clinically normal individuals, had statistically significant lower probabilities of developing gliomas.

However, as is usually the case in biology, more is not always better. Individuals with significantly elevated levels of IgE were not at a lower risk for developing malignant gliomas.

Look for future postings on the role of inflammation and cancer. Any search will reveal that inflammatory responses play major roles at different stages of tumor development. Since the relationship of inflammation, cancer, and immunological responses are under study, it is best to let the body do what it does best, and that is protect us from illnesses.

To optimize health, immune homeostasis, immune balance, is essential.

A recent guest post on by Sophie Lee expressed her frustration and anger at physicians who dismiss her reports of pain with her severe bouts of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). She repeatedly hears, “it isn’t really serious” “you will just have to live with it, etc.  [ ].

I just do not get why conventional “wisdom” is that IBS is not an inflammatory disorder. Perhaps pain is possible without inflammation, but that would be atypical. My contention is that if the immune system was in homeostasis, autoimmune disease would either not occur, or it would be limited.

For years I have been questioning “experts”, how is it that IBS is categorized as an autoimmune* disease, yet you claim there is no inflammatory response in the gut?

Current research supports my contention. Recent studies are providing evidence that low levels of inflammation, along with immune mast and other immune cells, are found in the small and large intestines. Mast cells are typically associated with allergic reactions such as runny noses, watery eyes, swelling, and excessive mucous. The mast cells in the intestines appear to be involved in immune homeostasis, in helping the immune system balance.

Interestingly, many of the immune cells found in the gut are in close proximity to nerve cells. .. “Cross-talk” between these cells may explain the pain and other symptoms that individuals experience, and support the hypothesis of a brain-gut axis event in IBS.

It is time for individuals that have “tried everything”, to give their bodies a chance to heal naturally. The immune system has caused the problem, and the immune system can be gently guided to down-regulate overly active responses.

The key to greater comfort may be as simple as helping the body return to immune homeostasis. I hold a patent in the area of immune homeostasis and gut health, and numerous anecdotal reports suggest that balancing immune inflammatory responses makes a major difference in the quality of life of such individuals. Additionally there is a published clinical report by Mark Morningstar, DC, Grand Blanc, MI supporting the relationship between immune homeostasis and healthy bowel function.

One has everything to gain by letting one’s own body rebalance and limit inflammatory responses.

*The immune system mistakenly attacks “self”, the body’s own healthy tissues.,803,035.PN.&OS=PN/6,803,035&RS=PN/6,803,035

A properly functioning immune system protects the body against infections by bacteria, viruses, fungi and other pathogens, and helps it heal. When our bodies detect a threat, or a stimulus that is “perceived” to be a threat, it orchestrates a delicate but highly aggressive immune inflammatory response to meet that threat.

There are two initial phases of immune responses:

  • Innate/early phase — a “built-in” or “automatic” response that is prepared at all times to defend the body against infection and cell mutations, such as those seen in cancers, and
  • Acquired– a more “educated” immune response that takes time to evolve in response to a specific trigger.

Inflammation is a complex event during which immune cells migrate into an area in response to various immune factors. These messages, such as cytokines, are used to to communicate and coordinate an organize attack against pathogens, or to help the healing process. After the threat has been resolved, other immune cells come in to carry away dead organisms and cells, and start the repair process.

A well-balanced immune system, a system in immune homeostasis, will mount enough of an inflammatory response to eliminate the threat, and then go on to repair damaged tissues. However, problems may arise if the immune system continues to generate an inflammatory responses after a challenge has been met —when inflammatory responses do not lower in intensity.

In such cases, the immune system is “over-responsive”; it is unbalanced, out of homeostasis. An over-active immune system leads to conditions where the body starts to destroy its own healthy tissue (e.g. diabetes, thyroid, lupus, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, etc.) or it may lead to allergies and chemical sensitivities, or poor healing.

Many people have the mistaken impression that “boosting” immune function at all times is useful. This is simplistic. People with autoimmune conditions, such as those mentioned above, are already “over responding”. The last thing they need is to further “boost” their immune response, increase their autoimmune responsiveness.

Another example of “boosting” immune response is artificially increasing the level of natural killer (NK) cells within the body. NK cells often make up part of the body’s “early response”. “Boosting” numbers of certain white cells is unnatural and may cause other difficulties due to excessive numbers of these cells.

Increased levels of NK cells, as well as autoimmunity, have been associated with women who have difficulty conceiving. Women who have experienced spontaneous abortions and miscarriages, have higher than normal levels of NK cells.

Additionally, other types of specific immune cells, for example those that play a role in protecting the body from infection, may promote miscarriage and premature births, when they are at higher than normal levels.

The lesson here is that all of our immune cells and their components have to be balanced, or in a state of homeostasis, for our body to naturally heal and protect itself.

There are a number of simple steps that one can take to return the body to homeostasis, including using recovery proteins, exercise, smarter food choices, and maintenance of healthier weights.