Inflammation can have both acute and chronic effects, but there are natural approaches to limiting its strength.
Inflammation can make its presence felt in many different ways, whether it be pain, swelling, redness among others, but one can easily forget its prominence.
The Arthritis Foundation reported that there are more than 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions, citing it as “the leading cause of disability in America.” This can be supported by the fact that it affects several generations—more than 50 million adults and 300,000 children have some sort of arthritis. As a cause for concern, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that approximately 23.7 million U.S. adults that have doctor-diagnosed arthritis have it impacting their daily activities.1
Although combatting the ongoing threat known as inflammation may be intimidating to patients, practitioners can utilize natural alternatives, which are backed by scientific studies, to help make that process a bit easier.
Common Inflammatory Issues
Inflammation is a reaction that does not limit itself to one demographic—rather, it can impact an entire population.
“For men, one of the most common inflammation-related issues is of course inflammation of prostate,” stated Sylvie Beljanski, vice president of The Beljanski Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization in New York. “This leads to many uncomfortable side effects including problems urinating and, if left untreated, can develop into cancer. For women, researchers believe that inflammation caused by hormonal imbalance as they approach menopause may be the reason why women suffer 75 percent of all autoimmune disease.2 Similarly, in children, chronic inflammation can lead to a number of autoimmune diseases as well as stunted growth.”3
When trying to diagnose the root of the inflammatory problem, some companies also find it best to consider a common issue that occurs while engaging in physical activity: overexerting oneself. This problem has gained popularity as more consumers are hopping aboard the fitness train.
“When it comes to dietary supplements,” mentioned Ryan Sensenbrenner, senior marketing manager with Enzyme Science, Inc. in Florida, “we look at products for inflammation specifically from things like overexertion or while exercising. This is a trend that has accelerated with Baby Boomers, but also Millennials as well who are in very active stages of their lives.”
As practitioners know, pain is one of the more common symptoms that can be linked to a plethora of conditions. Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, author of various books including From Fatigued to Fantastic! and Pain Free 1-2-3 was in agreement, noting that it can be connected to inflammation too.
Unfortunately, it can even be a contributor to other diseases and conditions.
“Inflammation is a major cause of pain,” said Dr. Teitelbaum. “Anything that ends in ‘-itis’ is inflammation. This includes things such as arthritis. Inflammation is also being shown to be a major player in cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. It is also the key player in the rising epidemic of autoimmune disease. It [has] also been shown to play a major role in depression, which is becoming increasingly problematic in both adults and children. It is also a major player in the rising epidemic of asthma in children.”
Luckily for patients, there are multiple ways to help tackle the problem.
Natural Solutions & Delivery Methods
One natural approach to combating inflammation is by bathing in hot spring water, a process that is effective when mixed with minerals, especially since humans could be lacking them in their diets.
“With the general population being deficient in minerals traditionally provided through food, we do not always eat perfectly balanced meals and our agriculturally produced foods don’t always have enough minerals in them, as the ground has become depleted in many areas,” noted Brandon Price, president of Montana-based Medicine Springs, Inc. “Soaking in hot spring water, which is what Medicine Springs is, surrounds a person’s body with these essential and inflammation-reducing minerals and promotes healing. This can be beneficial for both chronic and acute inflammation.” How does this process work exactly? This is where chemistry comes into play.
“Magnesium,” Price continued, “is found in large quantities in hot springs and is a powerful anti-inflammatory as is sodium chloride. When a person’s body heats up while soaking in a bath or hot tub, the capillaries open up and allow the blood to blow to the surface of the skin. With the skin being in direct contact with this mineral rich water, the minerals can be absorbed directly into the body in the areas they are needed. This provides a very quick and effective relief from pain and inflammation.”
Magnesium’s strength has not gone unnoticed. In fact, according to Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, Medical Advisory Board Member with the Nutritional Magnesium Association, a magnesium deficiency can actually weaken the immune system, making the body more vulnerable to not only inflammation, but infection as well.
If patients are in search of natural ingredients as potential solutions, ayurvedic medicine could be a starting point.
“Two very well-known ingredients to fight inflammation include the herb curcuma, which has a long history of use in ayurvedic medicine, and alpha lipoic acid, which has many potential benefits in addition to reducing inflammatory markers,”4 said Beljanski. “Another effective natural anti-inflammatory remedy is omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids have been show[n] to [be] beneficial not only for heart health but also neurodegenerative diseases, depression and arthritis.”5
However, there have been endless debates in terms of active effect, such as with curcumin and turmeric.
“With curcumin, for example, the assumption in recent years has been that because of its poor bioavailability, it must require special delivery forms to cause any systemic anti-inflammatory effects,” explained Jeremy Appleton, ND, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs, SFI USA (Klaire Labs) in Nevada. “So we got into curcumin bioavailability wars, with phytosomes and adjuvants and nanoparticles and the like. There have been some great innovations there; I am not discounting them. I myself have written on that topic extensively. But we should also remember that turmeric has been around fighting inflammation effectively for thousands of years. Even turmeric that is not absorbed into the circulation directly can have a systemic anti-inflammatory effect, because it acts locally at the intestinal epithelium, the interface of our intestinal commensal microbiome and our gut-associated lymphoid tissue, the largest ‘organ’ of our immune system. Curcumin effects locally at the intestinal epithelium could modify systemic inflammation even if it isn’t absorbed. This is not to say there are not additional benefits from the delivery technologies; there certainly are. But ordinary turmeric is probably good too.”
Regarding the curcumin absorption troubles, Dr. Teitelbaum added that curcumin is the single most effective herb for combating inflammation; its absorption is the issue. “Turmeric is only 2 percent curcumin,” he said. “This means it takes 50 turmeric pills to get one pill of curcumin. Curcumin has very poor absorption. Research is showing however that by adding in the essential oil of turmeric, absorption is increased by approximately 700 percent. Because of this, by using the CuraPro form of curcumin, one pill replaces 350 turmeric pills or seven pills of pure curcumin. This is finally allowing us to get clinically effective levels in just two to four pills daily.”
If one is in search of a product that combines standardized botanicals, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, New York-based Patient One’s Enflamen is also an option—items like these have helped mold the market into what it has become today.
When practitioners seek products to help their patients, there are always two approaches that they can take: the traditional route, which accounts for prescription drugs, antibiotics and over-the-counter, and the natural side.
Of course, there are differences between the two—drugs brings in billions of dollars, but can come with consequences.
“2016 U.S. retail sales for adult and pediatric systemic analgesics/anti-inflammatory drugs has been estimated at $16.7 billion (Euromonitor),” said Dr. Appleton. “The most common pharmaceuticals used to combat inflammation are the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs function by inhibiting COX enzymes, which in turn modulate prostaglandin production. Common NSAIDs, both over-the-counter and prescription, include ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen, dicolofenac, etodolac, fenoprofen, etc. Use of these drugs, particularly long-term use, does not come without risk. Common concerns involve gastrointestinal discomfort and bleeding, ulcers and reduced kidney function.6,7 Notably also, a recent study published in the British Medical Journal associates NSAID use with a nearly 20 percent increased risk of heart failure.”8
Cheryl Myers, chief of education and scientific affairs at EuroMedica (Wisconsin) also does not feel that the marker for over-the-counter and prescription drugs will be going away anytime soon because of the fact that “consumers are becoming more aware of the health risks of over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen as well as prescription opioids.” She even mentioned that these topics have surfaced in the news, which could result in individuals seeking out safe and effective alternatives.
Interestingly enough, one of the few similarities between the pharmaceutical and natural options is their upward growth.
“We’ve seen many of the same growth trends in traditional medicine replicated within the natural industry,” noted Sensenbrenner. “Of course, with natural, we are more limited in the exact indications we can target when it comes to inflammation. When it comes to overexertion from exercise, or simply the occasional pains that can occur in the day-to-day functioning of our body, there is a significant role that natural products can (and should) play in maintaining wellness. Thankfully, consumers have many natural options at their disposal.”
With the upward trend in natural products comes one constant: age. Although patients are able to access a wide range of technology here in 2017, aging is still an inevitable process.
As a result, inflammatory issues can sometimes follow.
“In the United States and elsewhere,” mentioned Dr. Appleton, “interest in natural options to combat chronic inflammation is growing steadily. Supportive clinical evidence of efficacy has been driving this growth. One key factor is an aging population. Western lifestyles and dietary habits have also been implicated in an increase of chronic inflammatory conditions, which affects a younger demographic as well. “I have seen projections that the dietary supplement segment focused on inflammatory conditions may grow at rate of 10 to 15 percent in the coming years.”9
Diet & Research
Combatting inflammation levels can be gone about in several different ways, but it is imperative for one’s diet to be considered.
According to Myers, the best whole foods that are able fight inflammation and free-radical damage do not create blood sugar spikes, weight gain or heart disease. Items that she recommends includes:
• Cold water fish
• Healthy, non-cured meats and whole fats, like olive oil or butter (not hydrogenated fats, like margarine)
• Fresh vegetables
• Apples, grapes, blueberries
• Green tea
• Dark chocolate
In terms of research, organizations such as The Beljanski Foundation work to spread information pertinent to inflammation that could help inflammation research down the road.
“Confronted with increased pollution and epidemics of cancer and other chronic diseases which are caused by chronic inflammation, the overall mission of The Beljanski Foundation is to study and share knowledge of effective non-toxic natural answers that work both alone and in synergy with traditional Western medicine,” said Beljanski. “The Beljanski Foundation has developed research programs with several high-profile institutions to rigorously assess the anticancer potential of two natural compounds discovered by Dr. Mirko Beljanski: Pao pereira and Rauwolfia vomitoria. These studies have led to several peer-reviewed publications demonstrating their efficacy. The Pao pereira plant extract causes apoptosis (programmed death of destabilized cells)10 while the Rauwolfia vomitoria has a similar effect by preventing replication of destabilized cells.11 The two extracts combined have been discovered to have a synergistic effect both with each other and with conventional treatments.”
Day to day, research in this field continues to evolve—studies show that traditional medication is taking a toll on the population, while natural medicine provides an alternative.
“With numerous studies now showing that anti-inflammatory medications cause 30,000 to 50,000 preventable deaths yearly, and that inflammation is playing a large role in illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, pain, the dramatic increase in autoimmune illness and even depression, there is a dramatic scramble to find new treatments,” Dr. Teitelbaum explained. “Unfortunately, standard medication is focusing on medications that are very expensive, usually over $25,000 per person per year. Sadly, these are also extremely toxic. Complementary medicine on the other hand has been exploring safe ways to rebalance the inflammatory system instead of poisoning it. These treatments can be both far more effective and lower cost, while also being much safer.”
1 Barbour KE, Helmick CG, Boring MA, Brady TJ. Prevalence of Doctor-Diagnosed Arthritis and Arthritis-Attributable Activity Limitation—United States, 2013—2015. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017 March 7. [Epub ahead of print].
6 Ković SV, Vujović KS, Srebro D, Medić B, Ilic-Mostic T. Prevention of Renal Complications Induced by Non- Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs. Curr Med Chem. 2016;23(19):1953-64.
7 Bideaut Russell M, Gabriel SE. Adverse gastrointestinal effects of NSAIDs: consequences and costs. Best Prac Res Clin Gastroenterol 2001;15(5):739–53.
8 Arfè A, Scotti L, Varas-Lorenzo C, et al. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and risk of heart failure in four European countries: nested case-control study. BMJ 2016;354:i4857.
9 Runestad T. Inflammation: A new condition-driven market making waves. New Hope Network. Available at: http://www.newhope.com/supplements/inflammation-new-condition-driven-market-making-waves. [Accessed 9/7/17].
10 Bemis DL, Capodice JL, Desai M, Katz AE, Buttyan R. β-Carboline Alkaloid–Enriched Extract from the Amazonian Rain Forest Tree Pao Pereira Suppresses Prostate Cancer Cells. Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology. 2009;7(2):59-65.
11 Bemis DL, Capodice JL, Gorroochurn P, Katz AE, Buttyan R. Anti-prostate cancer activity of a β-carboline alkaloid enriched extract from Rauwolfia vomitoria. International Journal of Oncology. 2006;29:1065-1073.
Healthy Take Aways:
• The Arthritis Foundation reported that there are more than 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions, citing it as “the leading cause of disability in America.”
• Two very well-known ingredients to fight inflammation include the herb curcuma, which has a long history of use in ayurvedic medicine, and alpha lipoic acid, which has many potential benefits in addition to reducing inflammatory markers.
• Numerous studies now show that anti-inflammatory medications cause 30,000 to 50,000 preventable deaths yearly.
For More Information:
The Beljanski Foundation, www.beljanski.org
Enzyme Science, Inc., www.enzyscience.com
Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, www.vitality101.com
Medicine Springs Inc., www.medicinesprings.com
Natural Vitality, www.naturalvitality.com
Patient One MediNutritionals, www.patientoneformulas.com
SFI USA (Klaire Labs), www.protherainc.com