Inflammation is a local response to cellular injury that is marked by capillary dilation, leukocytic infiltration, redness, heat and pain. It serves as a mechanism initiating the elimination of noxious agents and of damaged tissue.
Inflammation is also coincidental, causal and can further irritate the following degenerative diseases: arthritis (rheumatoid and osteo), multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, immune deficiency, heart disease and arteriosclerosis, periodontal disease, diabetes type II, hepatitis, inflammatory bowel disease and some forms of infertility.
However, when functioning properly, inflammation plays an important role in immune response and protection of cells. Inflammatory responses can include tissue swelling, anti-histamine reaction, destruction of damaged cells and production of new cells.
Inflammation is the body's first defense against infection, but when it goes awry, it can lead to heart attacks, colon cancer, Alzheimer's and a host of other diseases
Most of the time, inflammation enables our bodies to fend off various disease-causing bacteria, viruses and parasites. The instant any of these potentially deadly microbes slips into the body, inflammation marshals a defensive attack that lays waste to both invader and any tissue it may have infected. Then just as quickly, the process subsides and healing begins.
Biochemistry of Inflammation
The cell signals inflammatory response through a series of biochemical signals. NFkB is released and results in the expression of several pro-inflammatory proteins such as COX2 and iNOS. These two proteins result in the release of NO2 and prostaglandins, a hormone-like substrate that acts primarily on the joints, skin and eyes. These two proteins play a vital role in inflammation controlling the intensity and duration of pain, fever, swelling and heat of an affected area.
Simultaneously, a series of cytokines are released. (Cytokine is the general term for the large group of proteins released by the cell in response to an antigen, a bacteria or virus.) Some pro-inflammatory cytokines include interleukin-2, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and interferon-gamma.
In the process of destroying microorganisms, the inflammation response can also affect healthy cells. Every once in a while, the inflammation response doesn't shut down on cue. Sometimes the problem is a genetic predisposition; other times smoking or high blood pressure keeps the process going. In any event, inflammation becomes chronic rather than transitory. When that occurs, the immune system can react against itself, causing autoimmune inflammation and other health imbalances. After time, unchecked inflammatory response can lead to a number of serious conditions.
Chronic inflammation can destabilize cholesterol deposits in the coronary arteries, leading to heart attacks and potentially even strokes. It chews up nerve cells in the brains of Alzheimer's victims. It may even foster the proliferation of abnormal cells and facilitate their transformation into cancer. In other words, chronic inflammation may be the engine that drives many of the most feared illnesses of middle and old age.
Making matters worse, it appears that many of the attributes of a Western lifestyle—such as diet high in sugars and saturated fats, accompanied by little or no exercise—also make it easier for the body to become inflamed.
Below is a list of conditions that can result in specific areas in the human body by unchecked chronic inflammation:
In 2000 researchers concluded that patients who take Celebrex, a prescription drug originally designed to treat inflammation in arthritis, are less likely to develop intestinal polyps—abnormal growths that can become cancerous. Now there are dozens of clinical trials of Celebrex, to determine if the medication can also prevent breast cancer, delay memory loss or slow the progression of other neurodegenerative disorder.
Millions of Americans today are taking Aspirin to prevent heart attacks. Evidence is growing that it may also fight colon cancer and Alzheimer's by reducing inflammation in the digestive tract and the brain