What is inflammation?

Inflammation is a complex biological response by tissues in response to something that is perceived to be harmful, such as bacteria or viruses, irritants, injury, or disease. Inflammation can manifest itself in many ways, such as the runny nose associated with allergies and hay fever. In this case, the body is generating excess fluids in an attempt to flush the irritant out of our noses. Another mild example is the reaction seen after receiving a small cut on a finger. The redness seen around the cut is due largely to the body’s immune system fighting a potential infection while at the same time encouraging a scab to form.

More serious diseases that have inflammation as a key component include arthritis, atherosclerosis, and even certain forms of cancer. We’ll talk more about these diseases, and how our products can help you deal with them.

Inflammation can be divided into two broad types. Acute inflammation is the initial, rapid response to a harmful stimulation, such as a splinter. Various cells rapidly arrive on the scene to isolate the problem area, remove pathogens and harmful substances, and to stimulate scar formation and healing. Acute inflammation rarely lasts more than a few days.

Chronic inflammation is essentially a persistent acute inflammation. Chronic inflammation is present when an area of the body is constantly being exposed to a harmful stimulation. In this case, the harmful stimulation could be a persistent foreign body, or even a normal part of the body that our bodies are mistakenly recognizing as foreign.

It is this latter category of chronic inflammation that most interests us. In other words, there are a number of “autoimmune” diseases in which the immune system believes a normal part of our body is actually foreign. The body is responding to a body part as if it were infected or somehow foreign. Examples of autoimmune disorders include the many forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Other chronic inflammatory conditions include various gastric diseases, such as celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease. Diseases of the brain, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, have a strong chronic inflammation component, as do heart diseases like atherosclerosis, lung diseases, such as asthma, and many others.

In summary, inflammation is a normal bodily response to a foreign stimulus. However, a “foreign” stimulus can actually be a normal part of the body that is either damaged, or which for some reason is being recognized by the immune system as foreign. It’s really a question of balance, and keeping the immune system active enough to respond to a problem, while simultaneously keeping it in check so that it does not overreact.