Anti-Inflammatory Strategies–Achieving Homeostasis
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An article in a recent trade publication opened with the following: “Charles couldn’t believe the intensity of the pain – and he had been shot during a tour in Iraq with the Marines. “I was lying in my sleeper and my big toe just went on fire. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. I thought I was going to pass out from the pain,” Charles explained. “My big toe was red, swollen and when I touched it, even a little, it hurt like hell”. Charles’ problem is that he suffers from gout.

 Gout is a type of arthritis that seems to run in families and results from the presence of crystals that form in the body. For example, during digestion and metabolism, the body produces uric acid which is eliminated via urine. Any uric acid that the body cannot excrete accumulates in the blood. For reasons not understood, about 30% of people with high levels of uric acid in their blood form needle-like, sharp urate crystals that end up in their joints and/or other parts of the body.

 Herbert Baraf, MD, Chevy Chase, MD, has a great analogy: “Imagine pouring packets of sugar into a glass of tea; can only hold so much in solution. And sooner or later, the sugar is going to start accumulating on the bottom of the glass.

 People with gout may go weeks or months without an attack, but when it flares up it can be excruciating and last for days. Over time, repeated attacks can eat into bone and cartilage, causing permanent damage to affected joints.

Inflammation

The presence of crystals triggers an intense inflammatory response and painful swelling the result of the body’s attempt to break down the crystals. Typically the crystals end up in joint cartilage, and for unknown reasons, especially the big toe.

gouty toe

In others, crystals settle in kidneys or the urinary tract, impairing their function or forming stones. White blood cells migrate into the joint spaces and fluids and the lubricating membranes that line the joints, the synovial membranes trying to eliminate the crystals. The immune cells attracted to the area release biological factors, cytokines and chemokines, into the surrounding area. This attracts more inflammatory cells with a result of redness, swelling and debilitating pain.

Certain immune factors are typically only in small amount in normal uninflamed joint fluids, but in individuals undergoing a gout attack (flare) the levels of the factors are significantly increased.

 Since inflammation is associated with many diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular health, it is not surprising to find that patients with gout are at higher risk of these diseases when compared to the general population.

 Summary:

Gout is caused by an overactive immune system using inflammation unsuccessfully to get rid of the crystals that are causing the discomfort.

Returning the immune system to balance, immune homeostasis, can result in a higher level of quality of life (QOL) for people with gout.

For years I have helped people promote  joint, digestive, energy and overall health.   Feel free to contact me DrHellen@DrHellenGreenblatt.info, use the form, or give me a call at 302.265.3870 (ET) and let us talk. Let me help you help yourself, it is  time!

www.nature.com/icb/journal/v88/n1/full/icb200999a.html
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Given all the current social, political and economic uncertainties, the holidays this year may be even more anxiety-producing and stressful than in the past. Past surveys have shown that 30-50% of people (and because of all of their responsibilities, especially women) experience heightened stresses during the holidays.

STRESS AND INFLAMMATION

Stress alters immune responses affecting our ability to fight infection and heal after injury. Inflammation is a necessary part of the immune response and is stimulated when the body is injured or exposed to pathogens or mutated cancer cells.

Short term stress stimulates the immune system by preparing it for a “flight vs. fight” response, but over a longer period of time stress results in negative imbalances of the immune system and increased inflammation. This becomes even a larger problem for people who are already in poor health or struggling with disease.

Poorly regulated  inflammation results in chronic diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, coronary heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and even cancers, so it is important that the body carefully regulate the amount of inflammation produced.

Inflammation is a two-way street. Stress causes inflammation and inflammation causes stress.  And when the holidays or daily activities increase stress, the amount of inflammation produced by the body increases as well.

stress-and-inflammation

There are biological markers in the blood that track differences in immune responses.   The longer and greater the stress, the more likely the body is to switch from a healthy, controlled inflammatory response to one that affects its ability to fight disease and healing processes.

CONTROLLING INFLAMMATION AND STRESS 

The net effect of an inflammatory response is determined by the body balancing its inflammatory and its resulting anti-inflammatory responses.

Especially during the holidays, the four best ways to help the body balance are:

Be physically active for at least of 2.5 hours total per week.

  1. Incorporate a daily immune balancing supplement into your diet.
  2. Eat a smart, healthful diet.
  3. Keep your weight under control.

Remember:  The better you take care of your immune system, the better it will take care of you.

Graphic adapted from: Johanna Bendell, MD, with thanks.
www.psychcentral.com/holidays/
www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20047544
www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2006/12/women-stress.aspx
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Our heart is “simply” a large muscle that continuously pumps oxygen-rich blood throughout the body supplying cells, tissues and organs with life-giving oxygen and nutrients. The cells of the body release carbon dioxide and other gases as a by-product of producing energy. These gases are removed from the blood as it circulates through the lungs.

A heart attack results when blood is blocked from getting into the arteries that feed the heart. If not treated rapidly, parts of the heart muscle may die from lack of oxygen. After a heart attack, danger signals released by dying cells trigger inflammation which in turn attracts immune cells into the area to clear dead cells and tissue debris.

The high numbers of inflammatory immune cells stick to the plaque, increasing the risk for another heart attack. The body tries to heal itself by transforming the damaged heart muscle cells into scar tissue. Because scar tissue is hard and not flexible, a badly scarred heart cannot pump blood efficiently.

For any sort of healing, the body has to produce the right amount of inflammation. There has to be sufficient inflammation for the healing process, but not so much that excessive scarring occurs. Depending on how much scar tissue forms, congestive  heart failure may result due to the inability of the heart to pump normally.

Our cells produce cholesterol which is essential for a wide range of biological functions. The body has to manufacture the right amount of cholesterol and which has to go to specific parts of the body.   If too much cholesterol is produced over many years, cholesterol plaque builds up in the arteries resulting in atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is triggered by lifestyle issues that cause uncontrolled inflammation such as high blood pressure, smoking, poor dietary choices and excessive weight.

Plaque deposits narrow the passageways of arteries and block the flow of blood in vessels that feed the heart itself. The plaque may eventually harden, burst and release blood platelets that form clots in an attempt to stop the bleeding. The blood clots may cause even more blockages in the arteries, obstructing blood and oxygen flow and causing more heart damage. An artery to the heart which is blocked may result in a heart attack; a blocked artery in or leading to the brain results in a stroke.

 What is a Heart Attack?

 

In Summary:

1) Acting fast at the first sign of heart attack symptoms can save lives and limit damage to the heart. Heart attack treatment works best when it’s given right after symptoms occur. If you think you, or someone else is having a heart attack, even if you’re not sure, call emergency services immediately.

2) Current therapies for atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease do not target inflammatory cells. Maintaining the body in immune homeostasis, immune balance, may help the body support healthy heart and cardiovascular function.

www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/heartattack
www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Inflammation-and-Heart-Disease_UCM_432150_Article.jsp#.V7un7mf6vcs
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Last week I talked with a young local Asian-American business owner who shared with me that he was “a little fatigued and stressed out”. I suggested that if he took steps to getting his immune system in balance, that since our physical and emotional well-being is dependent on homeostasis, he would feel much better.

He basically replied that, “he spends half the year in Florida, has a lot of friends that are “into” nutrition, he exercises and that he didn’t need any more information, thank you”.

Nothing like a person with an open mind, but unfortunately too many people think in this narrow way.  We all know individuals that eat nutritiously, exercise 5-7 days a week and watch their weight but they still do feel “off”.  Their fingers, elbows or knees hurt, they can’t eat everything they would like, or they have other health issues despite their “great” life style.

Nutritional Recommendations:

The evidence is strong that due to the hundreds of phytonutrients, plant nutrients, in fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, whole grains and olive oil, that plant-based foods are important for our health. A broad variety of these phytonutrients are suggested since they appear to affect a wide-spectrum of biological functions. The consumption of plant-based foods influences the health of cells, blood pressure, risk of certain cancers, immune, dental, urinary, liver and gut health.

An additional dietary recommendation is to consume fish or fish oil 2-3 times a week for their omega-3 fatty acids. This “good” fat has multiple uses in our body, but the body cannot produced these fats by itself; we need an outside source.

Studies involving hundreds of thousands of people suggest that omega-3s reduce the risk of fatal heart disease, improve the flexibility of blood vessels, lower blood pressure and reduce immune inflammation. [Note: It is controversial whether omega-3 supplements are as beneficial as eating fish; in fact, they may cause certain health issues.]

Role of the Immune System

When the body is threatened by pathogens or cancer cells, or has been injured, the body responds with short-term inflammatory responses, acute inflammation.

Immune cells flood the area to destroy invading foreign organisms or cancer cells, or to start the healing process after trauma. If the body cannot get rid itself of the infection, or if it over-responds with excessive levels of inflammation, the immune response may become chronic, or long-term.

Chronic inflammation is abnormal and damages previously healthy tissues and organs. This sort of unlimited inflammation results in autoimmune diseases, diseases in which the body’s immune system turns on the body.  Conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, lupus, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, hepatitis and asthma can result from such run-away inflammatory responses.

Knowledgeable individuals know that nutrition plays only an initial role in staying healthy. Good nutrition is the foundation upon which to build health, but it is NOT ENOUGH; it is the immune system that governs one’s health and must be optimized.

The Importance of a Balanced Immune System

Immune balance, immune homeostasis, is tightly regulated by the body. It allows the organism to respond to infection, cancer cells and injury with the right amount of inflammation.  Any imbalances, either too much stimulation, or too little, results in immune disorders and health issues.

The key to good health and healthy aging is keeping the immune system in balance.

    Scales Immune Reponses Partial

Dr.Hellen’s major passion is helping people to enjoy life at its fullest. She may be contacted by using this form, at: drhellen@drhellengreenblatt.info or feel free to call:  302.265.3870 (ET, USA).

  

nutrition.ucdavis.edu/content/infosheets/fact-pro-phytochemical.pdf
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Strokes are the third leading cause of death in the United States with a person dying every four minutes.  Strokes happen at any age, but the risk of having one doubles each decade after the age of 55.  Additionally 53% of stroke survivors may end up permanently disabled.

Active neurons, brain cells, require a constant flow of oxygen and nutrients which are supplied by blood vessels. A mere 60 second interruption of blood flow may result in the death of two million brain cells. Such events probably account for the significant number of disabilities experienced by stroke victims.

What Exactly is a Stroke?

87% of all strokes occur when blood flow is blocked by a blood clot in an artery in the brain. This type of “brain attack” is termed an ischemic stroke and if blood flow is not restored quickly enough may lead to significant damage or death of brain cells.

A second type of stroke, the hemorrhagic stroke, results from the rupture or leakage of weakened blood vessels in the brain. Blood spills into and around the brain triggering significant inflammatory and other immune responses as the body tries to “clean up” the blood. Even though only 15% of all strokes are hemorrhagic, they are responsible for about 40% of all stroke fatalities.

[Some individuals experience a quick, temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain, a “mini-stroke”. These transient [momentary] ischemic attacks, TIAs, result in no permanent injury to the brain, yet should serve as a warning of a possible future stroke.]

Identify a Stroke and Save a Life.

Identifying quickly whether a person is having a stroke can save their life or prevent them from a lifetime of disabilities.  Stroke is largely treatable – but time matters. Every second counts in getting help. The faster people are treated, the more likely they are to recover without permanent disability.

The symptoms to look for make up the letters B_E_ F_A_S_T. *

BALANCE:   Is the person experiencing a loss of balance?

EYES:         Has the person lost full or partial vision in one or both eyes? Is their vision blurry or double?

FACE:         Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

ARMS:        Have the person raise both arms up — does one arm drift downward?

Are they experiencing weakness in one or both arms?

SPEECH:   Is the person’s speech slurred or having difficulty finding words?

Can they repeat a simple phrase without sounding slurred or  strange?

TIME:     Time is of the essence! Getting help fast is key to preventing brain loss or death.

If they have any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately, even if the symptoms disappear. The faster a stroke victim gets to the hospital, the better the chance of a successful recovery without life-limiting or even fatal results.

(The American Heart Association advises the public to NOT take aspirin during a stroke, since ruptured blood vessels may bleed even more.)

 Stroke and Inflammation

When stroke occurs, the nerve cells in the affected part of the brain die and immune cells rush into the area to clean up the dead cells.

This inflammatory response is essential to forming new nerve cells and for repair and healing, but uncontrolled inflammation can lead to further damage to the brain. As is always the case, immune homeostasis, the right balance of inflammatory responses, is needed for a rapid and complete recovery.

 

A Personal Note:

Through the years, many whom I have advised to balance their immunological responses, have recovered at a significant level after their stroke. Of course, their recoveries may have been coincidental to immune re-balancing, but it certainly is prudent to strive for immune homeostasis, immune balance, when healing.

 

Dr. Hellen is available at 302.265.3870 (EST, USA) for discussions as to the role of immune homeostasis for optimum health.  There is no charge for the first 30 minutes of the consult.  She may be contacted at: drhellen@drhellengreenblatt.info, or use the contact form. 

 * Thanks to nyp.org
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www.heart.org
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www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v18/n12/abs/nn.4146.html
www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/04/15/stroke-treatment-to-fight-inflammation-could-harm-recovery

One of the major complaints that people have is that “they are always tired”. “They just do not care anymore, they are just too tired.” [Kindly view a post that is relevant to this subject: Depression, Anhedonia and Run-Away Inflammation.]

In the past, scientists thought that there was a blood-brain barrier that “isolated” the brain from the actions of the immune system. They labeled the brain “immune privileged”; because studies suggested that a healthy brain had few, if any inflammatory cells in it. Only when there was a brain infection did scientists think that immune cells migrated into the brain.

Researchers failed to take into account that chronic inflammatory diseases are associated the brain. For example conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, liver disease, and rheumatoid arthritis may result in a lack of social interest, feelings of being unwell and unremitting fatigue—all which are governed by brain function.

Inflammation is activated when the body encounters pathogens and cancerous cells. The inflammatory response is a primary means by which the body will destroy these threats. Inflammation is basically a controlled “burn”.  Firefighters will often have a “controlled burn” in a forest to get rid of dead trees and limbs.  They strive to keep the fire limited to a specific area.  Sometimes however firefighters are unable to control the fire and acres of forest are burned in error.

Similarly, once immune cells have taken care of a threat to the body, for example cancer cells, pathogens, etc., it is essential that the immune system “turn” down the inflammatory “flame”. Chronic, unnecessary inflammation leads to many autoimmune diseases that destroy their own organs, such as diabetes, Crohn’s bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, and lupus

Inflammation is all about location, location, location. If one has inflammation in the insulin-producing cells that control blood sugar, the person may get diabetes. If their intestines are inflamed they may suffer from Crohn’s.  If there is too much destruction and inflammation of nerve cells, they may suffer from multiple sclerosis.

Let us hypothesize that an individual has two trillion immune white blood cells and that half of these cells are out of control and producing too strong an inflammatory response. This inflammation is destroying previously healthy tissues and organs.  Since the body is always striving to balance inflammation, the other half a trillion of cells are working towards lowering the amount of inflammation and destruction that is going on in the body

Each of these cells is expending a trivial amount of energy trying to accomplish its task, but a tiny amount of energy multiplied by two trillion cells is a great deal of “wasted energy”. Is it any wonder why these people complain of being tired?

Individuals who have been diagnosed with autoimmune conditions have higher levels of inflammatory cytokines, immune messages, than people without disease. In heart failure patients, significant fatigue is associated with poor recovery and a higher risk of death. Patients with high levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines, molecules that decrease inflammation, recover more fully and rapidly than patients with high amounts of inflammatory cytokines. When patients are treated for their heart problems, their cytokine levels begin to resemble the cytokine ratios of healthy individuals, and their energy returns.

In mice with liver inflammation, immune cells from the liver travel to the brain and trigger other specialized immune cells called microglia releasing a biochemical that attracts more inflammatory cells into the brain, which in turn produces more inflammation.

In individuals with multiple sclerosis, a nervous system disease with a major inflammatory component, patients had less fatigue when they took anti-inflammatory medications.

The association of appropriate levels of inflammation with a healthy brain and high energy reserves is clear; the key is being in immunological balance. Once individuals balance inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cells they typically regain their energy and focus.

Aren’t you tired of being tired all the time? Don’t wait any longer. Contact Dr. Hellen to talk bout enhancing your quality of life.  There is no fee for consulting with her for the first 30 minutes.  She may be contacted by using this form or at: 302.265.3870 (ET, USA).

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25905315
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Without the ability to produce inflammation we die.  The inflammatory response is the main weapon that the immune system uses to protect us from infection, keep cancer cells from growing out of control, and help tissues heal when they are damaged.

However, one has to have the right balance of inflammation to be healthy.  We need enough inflammation to protect us, but  too much of an inflammatory response leads to increased risk of developing diseases such as irritable bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, lupus, and diabetes.

The mind as well as the body is negatively affected by run-away inflammation. Emotional problems such as depression, spikes of high or low moods (bipolar disorders), or schizophrenia are accompanied by uncontrolled inflammation.

Genes control the amount of inflammation that the body produces. When “inflammatory” genes are turned on, up-regulated, immune cells produce cytokines, inflammatory immune messengers, along with biological compounds such as C-reactive protein (CRP).

LONELINESS AND ANHEDONIA

Loneliness and feelings of isolation are linked to an increased risk of chronic disease and death and are associated with increased levels of inflammation.

Some depressed individuals experience anhedonia, a condition in which they   lack motivation and do not enjoy  life.  These people find no joy in food,   spending time with their family or friends, concerts, or activities that others find pleasurable.

Individuals with anhedonia experience persistent brain inflammation, among other biological events and typical treatments for depression are often not helpful.

BRAIN REGIONS COMMUNICATE WITH ONE ANOTHER

Different parts of the brain communicate with one another as they control a person’s response to pleasure and rewards such as social interactions, food and sex.  Reacting positively to these stimuli motivates one to repeat them in the future.  The ability of these regions to communicate with one another is called “connectivity”.

Individuals with low connectivity have increased inflammation and deeper feelings of anhedonia.  High CRP (an inflammatory marker) levels were also correlated with the inability to experience pleasure.

One of the medications used for individuals suffering with anhedonia is infliximab.  This medication is prescribed for patients with inflammatory conditions such as bowel disease and arthritis.  Additionally, administrating cytokines, immune messengers of inflammation, changes the reward-related regions of the brain.

DOPAMINE
Dopamine, which is produced brain cells, is strongly associated with the brain’s pleasure/reward regions. Dopamine helps us feel enjoyment and motivates us to participate in or continue to engage in activities that give us pleasure.

Decreased production of dopamine is associated with heighted inflammation and decreased connectivity between the pleasure centers of the brain. Administering inflammatory cytokines over a long period of time may lead to decreases in dopamine production.

THE LINK BETWEEN PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND DEPRESSION

Every time muscles contract, they release anti-inflammatory molecules that help the body balance the amount of inflammation it produces.  Additionally, exercise activates the brain’s pleasure centers. The evidence shows that there is a strong link between physical activity and mental and physical health.

Regular physical activity decreases one’s risk of depression.  Researchers tracked individuals that experienced their first heart attack and had been physically active for 10 years prior to the event. Heart attack survivors who exercised for years prior to the event had a 20% lower risk of developing depression compared to individuals that had not been physically active.

Also, people who had become physically active before their first heart attack had a better protection against depression compared to those who had been active at one time,  but then became inactive.

SUMMARY

Increased inflammation has been associated with depression and other negative emotional states.  Maintaining the body’s balance of inflammatory and anti-inflammatory responses helps support healthy emotional responses.

Dr. Hellen’s major passion in life is helping people to enjoy life at its fullest. She may be contacted by using this form, at  drhellen@drhellengreenblatt.info, or at:  302.265.3870 (ET, USA).

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Delirium is an under-reported condition that may affect up to 56% of older individuals after surgery, patients that have been heavily sedated for a length of time, burn, cancer, and patients on ventilators for long periods. Patients experience vivid hallucinations that may be part of a vicious cycle if doctors attempt to control the delusions with larger amounts of sedatives; the medications may disorient and confuse the patient even more.

The delusions and accompanying cognitive issues can persist for months after patients leave the hospital and can lead to a misdiagnosis of dementia, rather than delirium. [Dementia develops gradually and gradually worsens, while delirium may be of sudden onset.]

Delirium is associated with excessive inflammation in the brain resulting from triggering specialized immune cells the microglia. If stimulated over a long time, the cells release inflammatory cytokines, molecules that damage nerve cells and contribute to damage and break down of the capillaries in the brain, the blood-brain barrier.

C-reactive protein, CRP, is one measure of inflammation. CRP levels were measured in elderly surgical patients who had ended up with complications such as delirium, cardiovascular issues, or infection. The levels of CRP in their blood were predictive as to how fully they recovered.

A recent study measured the levels of 12 different inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines in older patients undergoing surgery. Those having episodes of delirium had consistently high levels of inflammatory cytokines as compared to patients that did not have high levels of cytokines. Similar results were seen in patients that developed delirium after procedures such as open-heart surgery and hip fracture repair.

Conclusion

In order for the body to heal after it is hurt, or to fight an infection successfully, a delicate balance of cytokines, immune messages are required. Too little of an inflammatory response and the individual may not survive an infection. Too much of an inflammatory response and healthy tissue is destroyed. Homeostasis, balance, is what the body strives for every moment.

Dr. Hellen would be pleased to provide guidance to helping enhance your quality of life.  She may be contacted by using this form or at: 302.265.3870 (ET, USA).

 

www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/06/the-overlooked-danger-of-delirium-in-hospitals/394829/
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For over two decades I have noticed that individuals in immune homeostasis, immune balance, are on fewer medications or no medications than their cohorts, and the majority of them look and feel 10 years younger than other people their age. Comparing photos of how these individuals look now with photos as how they looked 10-20 years ago, it is amazing how great they look! Their youthfulness is especially apparent when I compare these photos to those of individuals that have not made the effort to control inflammation.

Too many older individuals suffer from chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, cognition deficits, Parkinson’s disease, lung, kidney, and bladder problems. Over the years there have been numerous studies associating chronic (long-term) inflammation with the development of mutating cells and cancers. However because of the time it takes to do longevity studies it is difficult to prove that limiting inflammation makes a difference in how well people age.

Just this month, a team of scientists from Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan and the Newcastle University’s Institute for Ageing in the UK published a study of the immune status of over 1500 individuals ranging in age from 100-115 years.

The study group was divided into two: centenarians, 100-104 years of age, and semi-supercentenarians aged 105 and above. The result was that these long-lived individuals had lower levels of inflammation as compared to the general public.  

Dr. von Zglinicki, one of the investigators, said, “Centenarians and supercentenarians are different – put simply, they age slower. They can ward off diseases for much longer than the general population… it’s only recently we could mechanistically prove that inflammation actually causes accelerated ageing in mice…This study, showing for the first time that inflammation levels predict successful ageing even in the extreme old….”

Dr. Yasumichi Arai, the first author on the study said, “Our results suggest that suppression of chronic inflammation might help people to age more slowly…However, presently available potent anti-inflammatories [medications] are not suited for long-term treatment of chronic inflammation because of their strong side-effects. Safer alternatives could make a large difference for the quality of life of older people.

As I have pointed out for decades, controlling the delicate balance of inflammatory responses, i.e., achieving immune homeostasis, makes all the difference in one’s youthfulness and quality of life.

P.S.  My post of May 20, 2013 also discusses the role of inflammation in longevity.

Please contact me directly if you would like to learn simple approaches to making a difference in your health.
http://www.ncl.ac.uk/press.office/press.release/item/scientists-crack-the-secret-of-the-centenarians
http://www.ebiomedicine.com/article/S2352-3964(15)30081-5/fulltext
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26265203
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26263854

 

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a disease in which the tiny air sacs or “alveoli” that make up the lungs become inflamed and are gradually replaced by scar tissue (fibrosis).  As the amount of scar tissue increases, the lungs stiffen and are unable to transfer oxygen from the lungs to the blood stream. This results in the brain and other organs becoming oxygen deprived.

As  IPF progresses, day-to-day activities such as walking short distances, climbing stairs, dressing, or even talking on the phone become a problem because the person cannot catch their breath (dyspnea).  The person feels as if they are suffocating and may require supplemental oxygen.

Advanced idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis makes people more susceptible to getting and fighting infections.

The term “ idiopathic” suggests that clinicians do not know what causes the disease.  Lung inflammation may be triggered by infection with pathogens, airborne hazards, or certain types of medical treatments.  Exposed to these types of challenges, the immune system boosts its inflammatory response to attack the pathogens and remove hazards or damaged tissues.  In a vicious cycle, the uncontrolled inflammation results in greater lung damage.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis may be considered an inflammatory autoimmune disease.  Autoimmune (meaning against oneself) conditions result from the body’s overactive, defensive, inflammatory reactions to an immune challenge.  The  body’s own immune cells mistakenly attack and destroy previously healthy by-stander tissues or organs, very much like a forest fire damages healthy trees.

The body responds to injury by forming scar tissue, made mainly of the key protein collagen. Pulmonary fibrosis results in inflammation and scarring that occurs again and again.  It is an imbalance between the build-up of scars, and the breakdown of collagen that is needed for tissue repair.  In IPF, lungs with old scar tissue is found layered over old damage, while fresh scarring is seen over more recent damage.

 Lung damage in IPF patients is due to imbalances between inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines, immune messengers generated in response to substances or circumstances that initiated the lung damage in the first place.  Imbalances of cytokines results in more and more fibrosis.

Individuals with IPF may find that if they are able to control the amount of inflammation produced by their immune systems, if they can stay in homeostasis, balance,  their quality of life may change for the better.

Please contact Dr. Hellen if you wish her assistance in changing your quality of life. There is no fee for her services.  She may be contacted by using this form or at: 302.265.3870 (ET, USA).

 

www.coalitionforpf.org/cytokine-functions/
www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/ipf
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26132817
www.immuneworks.com/autoimmune-lung-diseases/idiopathic-pulmonary-fibrosis-ipf-treatments
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26150910
faculty.ksu.edu.sa/hadilalotair/Chests%20Library/IPF.pdf

 

 

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