Inflammation is a complex biological response of body tissues to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants, and is a protective response involving immune cells, blood vessels, and molecular mediators. Inflammation is a popular topic in functional medicine. Inflammation is not inherently a “bad” thing. When regulated and under control, it’s an essential component of immune system function and is a necessary process within the body. Inflammation is what heals injured ligaments and tendons, fights off infections, and repairs cellular damage. The process is highly regulated by our bodies.
Problems arise when inflammation is not regulated, not under control, when it becomes chronic and spreads throughout the body. Chronic inflammation is recognized as problematic in all areas of medicine. The problem is that in general, specialists are focused on treating the effects of inflammation on the area of the body in which they specialize, rather than addressing the root cause of a systemic problem.
These days, it’s not uncommon to have multiple diagnoses of chronic illnesses. One person might have four “separate” conditions; for example, diabetes, high blood pressure, inflammatory bowel disease, and asthma. These are all reflections of an underlying inflammatory process; it is the root of chronic disease. In functional medicine, we look at this underlying cause and instead of trying to control symptoms with medications we ask “why is there so much inflammation, and what can we do to stop the inflammatory process before it starts”.
So, what causes chronic inflammation? Usually, it’s a combination of issues, but many of them are diet and lifestyle-related. Causes and contributing factors can include: a poor diet, unrecognized food sensitivities (especially gluten and casein), exposure to toxins, nutritional deficiencies, medications, chronic stress, insufficient or excess exercise, insufficient sleep, low-grade infections, and gut imbalances, just to name a few. Needless to say, this is a complex issue. In our practice, we use state-of-the-art technology in the LivingMatrix to help identify patterns leading to chronic inflammation. We take an extensive history to get to know you, in the context of your life, and target the key changes you can make to reduce your inflammation.