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In this article we’ll look at the two types of inflammation – acute and chronic – and natural ways that can help to combat it. Inflammation is your body’s immune response to injury. It’s your body striving to defend itself against foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses, to heal itself after an injury and to repair damaged tissue.
When you get a scratch or a splinter for example, white blood cells rush to the scene to start healing the injury and ingest any germs, damaged or dead cells, and fight off foreign bodies. Typical symptoms of this type of inflammation include swelling, redness, warmth, pain, and loss of mobility or function.
Your natural remedies
The RICE method is particularly helpful for foot or leg injuries (e.g. a twisted ankle).
- Rest: avoid using the injured limb as far as possible
- Ice: apply ice wrapped in a thin towel to the injured area; keep the ice on the area for 20 minutes and wait 40 minutes before re-applying.
- Compress: use an elastic wrap around the injury to control swelling
- Elevate: to help reduce swelling raise the injured limb slightly above the level of your heart
Chamomile tea has been used for centuries as a natural pain killer and relaxant. You can also mix one to two drops of chamomile essential oil into a carrier oil (like sweet almond oil) and apply directly to inflamed injuries to treat swelling, redness and pain.
Calendula is a versatile, anti-inflammatory herb that can be made into a cream, ointment, gel or tea and is safe for the elderly and children to use. Women trying to fall pregnant, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid using calendula as it promotes menstruation.
This condition, often going unnoticed for a long period, can have devastating effects on your health. It may be related to serious diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease, according to Dr. Tanya Edwards, director of the Center for Integrative Medicine.
Chronic inflammation can be caused by a malfunctioning, over-reactive immune system, or it may possibly be your body trying to fight off an underlying health problem. Underlying health problems are often due to an unhealthy lifestyle.
Your risk of chronic inflammation is increased by being overweight, an unhealthy diet and little or no exercise. Smoking, stress, an existing heart condition or family history of heart disease and long-term infections all exacerbate the risks.
Making healthy lifestyle changes go a long way in treating this harmful type of inflammation.
Your natural remedies
Focus on a healthy diet. Add to your diet:
- Animal-based Omega-3 fat (found in salmon and supplements like krill oil)
- Leafy greens (such as spinach and kale)
- Blueberries (very high in antioxidants)
- Fermented vegetables (like pickles, olives and sauerkraut)
- Shiitake mushrooms (contain compounds that discourage inflammation)
- Garlic (anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and antioxidant)
- Trans fats (found in margarine, fried food and baked goods)
- Refined sugar, grains and processed fructose
- Foods cooked at high temperatures (particularly in vegetable oil)
- Oxidized cholesterol (rancid cholesterol as found in overcooked scrambled eggs)
Exercise regularly and try to lose weight. Anything over a waist size of 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men indicates possible inflammation. You should always do your utmost to lose weight.
Stop smoking and find a healthy outlet for stress. Your options are abundant; meditation, yoga, cycling, hiking, gardening, drawing or crocheting, to name a few.
A Golden Milk remedy
Turmeric, known as the “spice of life” in India, has many beneficial properties. Turmeric contains curcumin, a widely researched bioactive ingredient of this fragrant spice, known to promote health and protect against a variety of illnesses.
Since turmeric is not used very often in Western cooking, a really easy and delicious way to get a healthy dose of it is by sipping on golden milk. This beverage is excellent for fighting inflammation and here is the all-important recipe:
Firstly, you need the golden paste that is the base ingredient for the milk.
- ½ cup organic turmeric powder
- 1 cup water
- 1.5 teaspoons black pepper
- 5 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
- In a stainless steel pot cook the turmeric, water and pepper until a thick paste forms, about 7 – 10 minutes
- Remove from heat and whisk in the oil until thoroughly blended
- Store in a glass jar with a lid for up to two weeks in the refrigerator
Now that you have golden paste it’s time for golden milk.
- 1 teaspoon golden paste
- 2 cups coconut milk
- ⅛ teaspoon vanilla essence (optional)
- Raw honey or stevia, to taste (optional)
- Pinch of cinnamon (optional)
- Gently heat the paste with the coconut milk, being careful not to boil the mixture
- A whisk helps to blend the ingredients well
- Add the optional ingredients as per your preference
One last tip: wear an apron when making this recipe, and don’t let your pot boil over; turmeric will stain any clothing or countertop it comes into contact with.