Anti-Inflammatory Strategies–Achieving Homeostasis
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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.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20237962
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20528832
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21162648
 

Severe nasal reactions to medications, pollen, dander, foods, fragrances, and other environmental stimuli may occur as people age. These responses, often not a true allergic response, are termed vasomotor or nonallergic rhinitis (1), because they are not due to a typical “allergic” response.

Nonallergic rhinitis (“itis” as in inflammation) is associated with increased irritability, problems in focusing, sleep issues, and daytime sleepiness. Also individuals with rhinitis are at higher risk of getting asthma (2).

Hallmarks of nonallergic rhinitis include inflamed sinuses, drippy, congested nose, chronic sneezing or coughing. Nonallergic rhinitis is seen when inflammation occurs in the sinuses of the face, and the nasal membranes and blood vessels in the nose expand filling the lining of the nose with blood and fluids.

According to the Mayo Clinic specific triggers for nonallergic rhinitis also include (3):

Infections: Viral infections can result in nonallergic rhinitis due to postnasal drip and nasal discharge. Facial pain and sinusitis (inflammation and pressure in the sinus cavities of the face) may also be an unwelcome outcome.

Medications: Overuse of decongestant nasal sprays can cause rhinitis as can medications such as sedatives, beta blockers, antidepressants, oral contraceptives, erectile dysfunction drugs, blood pressure medications, aspirin, ibuprofen, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Environmental: Strong odors, such as perfumes or cleaning fluids, smoking, secondhand smoke, dust, can become a cause of nonallergic rhinitis.

Foods and beverages: Nonallergic rhinitis may occur when you eat, especially when eating hot or spicy foods. Drinking alcoholic beverages, such as beer and wine, also may cause the membranes inside your nose to swell, leading to nasal congestion.

Weather: Temperature or humidity changes can trigger the membranes inside your nose to swell and cause a runny or stuffy nose. Dr. Rohit Katial, Director of Adult Allergy and Immunology at National Jewish Health, Denver, CO states “Even cold air becomes more problematic as we get older” (1).

Stress and Exercise: Stress and exercise have been shown to induce inflamed sinuses.

Hormonal changes: Changes in hormones due to menstruation or pregnancy, or a autoimmune hormonal conditions.

The majority of inflammatory illnesses result from over production of pro-inflammatory (inflammation enhancing) cytokines, and other immune cellular factors. Our survival on earth depends on the ability of the body to rapidly generate appropriate inflammatory responses to “burn out” pathogens that threaten to destroy us.

The body must be able to modulate the amount of inflammation produced and decrease its intensity as the challenge is met. The key to health is immune homeostasis. We must generate enough of an inflammatory response to meet the threat, but in controlled amounts so that bystander tissues and organs are effected.

1) http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903480904576510302458640840.html
2) http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/874171-overview
3) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/nonallergic-rhinitis/DS00809/DSECTION=causes

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