Friday, April 12, 2013

More Thoughts on Inflammation

I have written a few times about the benefits of a diet that is high in anti-oxidant foods and supplements. Anti-oxidants get rid of the dangerous free-radicals in our bodies and to which our immune systems react and create inflammation. Removing or reducing the free-radicals tones down the response of the auto-immune system so also reduces the inflammation.

Psoriasis lesions (spots, patches etc) are inflammation of the skin. Arthritis is inflammation in the joints. Research has shown that those of us who have these conditions don't only have inflammation in those areas, that inflammation can show up almost anywhere within the body, hidden away where we don't see it. This hidden inflammation can only be seen on X-Rays and other imaging devices that can see inside the body, unless they show up as lumps. I have such a lump on my left Achilles tendon, which can give me very bad pain if I wear shoes that press on it or if I knock it on anything.

There is a proven connection between psoriasis and various other conditions aside from arthritis, like diseases of the heart or liver. Some of them are not only conditions that make life uncomfortable, some of them are potentially lethal, so we should do all that we can to reduce the problem and its effects on our lives.

I don't mean that we must jump headlong into the latest unpronounceable product brought out by the drug companies; the drugs that they offer almost always have side-effects, some of which can be worse than the conditions that they are supposed to be treating. I mean that we must do our best to stop dumping unhealthy food into our digestive systems. Most junk food is inflammatory, so stop eating it. Sodas are highly inflammatory, find something more healthy to drink, like filtered water and herbal teas, without loads of sugar or other bad ingredients. It is OK to have these things occasionally but many people live on nothing but junk food.

I know that I have a heart condition. I have had an irregular heartbeat from about the same time that my psoriasis and arthritis appeared about 30 years ago. If I allow my blood pressure to get too low then I feel the irregular rhythms in my chest and know that I must eat or drink something to get my pressure up and the rhythms regular again or I may soon be on the floor. I need to look after my heart but am not prepared to live like an invalid or on drugs.

I can see the obvious signs of inflammation on my skin and my tendon but I can't see it anywhere else that it may be in my body. Other than having X-Rays, I have to find another way to judge how I am doing with my fight against inflammation that could be damaging my internal organs. I use the condition of my skin for that purpose.

Topical creams and lotions have obvious benefits in treating the skin lesions from the outside and getting rid of itches, redness and scaling. They can even reduce the inflammation in the layers of the skin, to make the lesions disappear completely. What they cannot do, though, is to remove any inflammation elsewhere in the body. That has to be treated from within. My tactic has developed over the years to one of treating as much as possible from the inside through diet, with some support from topical treatments on the outside.

If we treat only what we see on the surface then the other locations of inflammation, like the heart, liver and joints, are going untreated and will eventually present insurmountable problems.