The heat is on
This week saw our hottest day of the year with some parts of the country topping 30 degrees Celsius!
“Ireland would be the greatest country in the world, if only we could put a roof on it”, we say, while praying for blue skies and sunshine. When it arrives, we’re not able for it.
When we seek it on holidays it’s grand, dipping in and out of the pool, lazing around under an umbrella, sipping chilled beers and cocktails. Trying to function normally with all that heat is a whole other story.
It drains our energy, reduces our mobility and makes us more irritable. For those that strip the clothes off and trade white skin for pink, it brings a fair share of pain.
If excessive heat outside the body is tough to live with, too much inside the body is even worse.
We call it inflammation. This word comes from a body part being “in-flamed” flame, of course, referring to the accompanying redness and heat sensation.
Whenever “itis” sits at the end of a condition, we have inflammation. Tendonitis – inflamed tendon. Colonitis – inflamed colon. Bronchitis, a respiratory condition, is inflammation of the lung’s bronchial tubes. These terms describe the presence of fluid that protects and heals.
The most common treatment for inflammation, or swelling, is anti-inflammatory medications as tablets, creams or gels. Ice can also be used to inhibit this natural response.
There are times when anti-inflammatories are necessary but, in very many cases, this approach can do more harm than good. Let me explain why that is.
Inflammation, or swelling, is caused by a fluid the body creates in response to physical damage or trauma. We call it the inflammatory response. It is part of the body’s defence mechanism and plays a role in the healing process. Anti-inflammatories, by restricting this, reduce the bodies capacity for self-healing.
You’ve produced this fluid yourself, many times. If you’ve ever burst a blister, you’ve seen it. It’s the clear liquid that seeps out. Don’t intentionally burst blisters, by the way. That watery substance is trying to protect you from infection while growing new skin to replace the damaged cells.
It’s quite an extraordinary process really, involving several stages to help cover all possible issues. It’s a bit like having a town centre rocked by an explosion / invasion and calling in the army, fire brigade, medics and builders to section it off, deal with intruders and repair the damage asap.
Stage 1 – Histamines are released triggering blood vessels around the affected area to widen and become more permeable. These changes allow more fluid, proteins and white blood cells to flood the injured site and do their important work. The extra blood and fluid causes swelling which makes it feel bigger, tighter, hot and sore. This soreness reminds us to mind this body part, while it heals.
Stage 2 – Clotting factors and enzymes seal off damaged blood vessels (if there are any) to prevent internal bleeding. Immune cells arrive to remove any damaged cells, gobble up viruses, bacteria and foreign material that could cause more harm.
Stage 3 – Specialised cells begin forming scar tissue to reconnect cuts or tears, a bit like the glue we now use on head injuries instead of stitches. Scabbing is what we call it on the skin.
Stage 4 – Growth of new cells and tissues to replace the old, damaged ones, in the same way that we repair a damaged wall with new bricks. This takes time, rest and good nutrition to provide the materials these cells are made of.
Long-term inflammation means that the body is trying to heal for months, or years and the root cause has not been identified or treated yet.
It can be present, even if you can’t see it. Swelling is more visible in a concentrated superficial area such as a sprained ankle, twisted knee, bump on the head or a blister. It’s less obvious when widespread through the body in the case of a viral infection or deeper inside with inflammation of organs or joints of the spine or hips.
Now that you see the importance of this natural phenomenon, it doesn’t make much sense to casually interfere with it, does it? Although, I did mention earlier that sometimes anti-inflammatories are a good idea.
If the function of an essential organ is severely affected by swelling, for example the brain after a severe bang on the head, or fluid in the lungs, then it is absolutely safer to reduce it. We need to survive if we are to heal. If a condition cannot be treated by any other means, then relieving the symptoms might give an individual some quality of life.
In most other cases, where there is no risk to our lives, our focus should be on supporting the healing process. This is done by allowing the natural inflammatory response, protecting the affected areas with supports or splints, removing any obstacles to healing such as infections, allergens, foods we are intolerant to. It also means treatment, rest, good nutrition and listening to what our body tells us it can safely do without numbing it with painkillers.
For most muscle and joint pain, identifying the over-tight, over-worked muscles and misalignment of bones is key. Hands-on treatment of these can restore healthy function. Inflammation will naturally subside when there is nothing to heal.
Many cases of rheumatoid arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome can be relieved by a change of diet. Certain food intolerances can trigger inflammation in the gut and the body throughout. Skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis can also be triggered by food intolerances. Dermatitis is a common reaction to chemical cleaning products or wipes.
Figuring out the root cause is paramount to finding the best treatment approach, rather than dealing with the symptoms. At Health Matters, we provide head-to-toe physical assessments and Bioresonance frequency testing for bacteria, viruses and intolerances to help identify the best course of action for you to get back to feeling comfortable and fully functional.
More on Highest Potential’s services, guided WellWalks, WellTalks, WellWorks workshops, meditations, books & prints, general health and wellness can be found on www.highestpotential.ie.