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INFLAMMATION: Friend or Foe?

When you suffer from a medical condition – like a virus, bacteria, toxic chemical, or from some type of an injury – your body triggers your immune system. Your immune system then sends out inflammatory cells that either trap the bacteria (or germs) or start healing the injuries. This inflammation is your friend.

However, inflammation can become a foe and cause more serious problems. Your immune system goes into overdrive causing an autoimmune disease such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis, or hypothyroid disease as your body starts to function defensively.

There are two types of inflammation:

  • Acute inflammation: A reaction that happens suddenly, such as cutting your finger. When this happens, inflammatory cells rush to the injury and start this type of inflammation that causes tenderness, swelling, heat and flushed skin.
  • Chronic inflammation: This occurs when your body keeps sending inflammatory cells even when there isn’t any outside danger. For example, with rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory cells attack joints causing a chronic inflammation that comes and goes. It can result in severe damage and this type of inflammation is harder to identify and might cause stomach and chest pain, severe exhaustion (e.g., lupus), high fever (e.g., tuberculosis), skin rashes (e.g., psoriasis), and even an HIV infection, to name a few.

Some diseases resulting from chronic inflammation include:

  • Alzheimer’s
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Heart Disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Infections that go untreated
  • Alcoholism
  • Obesity

How can we treat inflammation when it becomes our enemy?

As noted above, Inflammation can be your friend or your enemy. Inflammation is not inherently good or bad, states Martin A. Lee, author of Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana – Medical, Recreational, and Scientific.

“You need inflammation to fight an infection or deal with a mosquito bite, whatever it might be,” he explains.

Inflammation is part of your body’s natural immune response, but it’s only intended for the short term. If a cut develops an infection, the area becomes inflamed, and your body heals itself. Once you heal, the inflammation goes away.

Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, stays around for the long term and can be very damaging & painful. Controlling chronic inflammation is one of the best ways to control disease and improve your health.

Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut,” which is why inflammation is often controlled by looking at our diet. The most common culprits could be gluten, nuts, seafood, dairy, alcohol, and sugar. These are all food allergens and inflammation is the product of those allergies.

Processed foods are another bad actor in the inflammatory process, but actually, any food can cause inflammation if our body sees it as an enemy.

Many people look to herbs as a great treatment for quashing inflammation. Curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric), garlic, green tea, rosemary, ginseng, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, holy basil, and rose hips have all been shown to have some benefits in reducing inflammation. You can cook with these or take them in supplement form.

Exercise is also beneficial. For all the benefits that it offers, exercise also increases lymph flow which speeds the removal of toxins created by inflammation. The faster toxins are excreted, the faster you heal.

What about CBD?

Pain is the most common human medical affliction and the major reason people seek medical care. The annual healthcare costs for pain are over $300 billion, which is greater than the costs of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes combined. According to a landmark report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, “There is conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids are effective for the treatment of chronic pain in adults.”

Cannabis products have been used since ancient times for conditions like joint pain, migraine headaches, neuropathic pain, and even convulsions, to name just a few. Modern science supports what our ancestors knew. The recently discovered endocannabinoid system (ECS) controls inflammation – a major source of pain. Triggering certain receptors in the ECS, it only makes sense that cannabinoids may help reduce pain and inflammation.

CBD is a cannabinoid — a compound that comes from the cannabis plant. However, unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD does NOT contain any hallucinogenic effects or deliver the “high” that some get from THC. CBD won’t cause an overdose, even if you take a higher dosage due to the fact that there are so few cannabinoid receptors in the lower brain-stem. CBD won’t slow down your breathing or affect your heart rhythm. According to the World Health Organization, which is extremely cautious about declaring that a drug or supplement is safe, hemp-derived CBD products will not kill you. CBD is a safe and effective cannabinoid, and even if you do develop some side effects, these are generally very mild and short-lived.

The research is still evolving but “there’s a strong possibility that CBD has anti-inflammatory effects based on studies being done…” says Kevin Boehnke, PhD, research investigator at the University of Michigan Medical School’s Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center.

It is worth pointing out that lab and animal studies have yielded intriguing information about CBD’s potential for treating inflammation. In addition to studies showing a benefit for treating arthritis, other recent studies suggest the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD may be much larger, including lowering cancer-related inflammation, inflammation related to prediabetes, and corneal inflammation caused by eye injuries.

If you plan on using CBD, it’s always a good idea to speak with your healthcare provider. If you need help determining what CBD products would be best in your particular health situation, please speak with one of the Certified CBD Advisers at MelaMed Premium CBD. They will be glad to help you select the best product for your specific needs.

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