Inflammation – Is It Affecting You?

by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP

In my time as a practitioner, it’s been interesting for me to watch the changing trends in medicine. At one time there were many who doubted me when I talked about eliminating gluten from the diet – many, many women who took this one simple step saw some amazing changes – their thinking became clearer, energy returned, and pounds disappeared. As a functional medicine practitioner, I’ve been carefully following the research on inflammation – in the past few years there have been studies suggesting that chronic inflammation lies at the root cause of many health issues which women ask me most about – osteoporosis, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and the skin disorder, psoriasis.

In fact, many of the complaints and diseases we as a culture associate with aging can be attributed to chronic inflammation. Could it be that this is why some 75 year old women need the assistance of a walker and others are able to slip into a pair of sneakers and walk with ease? At Women to Women we’ve been talking to women about inflammation and it’s effects on disease and on aging for a long time. More importantly, we teach women how to identify and control inflammation to maintain good health. The very issues most women are concerned about have root causes in inflammation.

Inflammation can present in so many different ways? How do you know if you have inflammation?

The list below are symptoms which can be associated with low grade chronic inflammation:

  • Skin outbreaks
  • Diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Body aches and pains
  • Weight gain
  • Swelling
  • Dry eyes
  • Stiffness
  • Congestion
  • Frequent infections
  • Fuzzy thinking

We all need a small amount of inflammation in our bodies to maintain good health – this is known as acute inflammation. For instance, with an allergic reaction or infection, our bodies are programmed to respond, identifying the infectious or dangerous substance and responding to repair any resulting damage. When our bodies are working smoothly and properly, the release of these pro-inflammatory compounds when needed is done easily and efficiently. When the threat has been addressed, anti-inflammatory compounds are released and our bodies return to a balanced state.

When the body’s pro-inflammatory immune cells continue to be stimulated, chronic inflammation arises. When these excess immune cells continually circulate in our systems, they can damage healthy areas such as joint tissue (which could lead to arthritis), blood vessel linings (which could lead to atherosclerosis), pancreatic tissue (which could lead to diabetes), and on and on.

Many women first feel the effects of inflammation during their perimenopause and menopausal years. These times of major hormonal shifts seem to have a profound effect on inflammation for some women. This could explain why women suffer more than men with autoimmune diseases. Estrogen tends to be an anti-inflammatory agent.

At Women to Women, we know that certain dietary and lifestyle changes will help calm some inflammation. There are also a wide range of dietary supplements which can help as well. Omega-3 fatty acids – more commonly known as fish oil – can help calm inflammation. There’s testing available which helps us put each woman’s individual pieces together – helping us develop a plan of care to keep inflammation at bay.

What’s interesting to me is that conventional medicine doesn’t have a diagnosis or test available to determine the cause of chronic or systemic inflammation. Just recently there’s been talk from conventional medicinal world about fish oil. What this means to me is that we’re in the process of a medical revolution – when understanding about certain functions and disease states in the human body is changing.

The good news is that we have much information about inflammation right here at Women to Women. The great news is that we also have solutions. Time proven solutions!

For more information, please refer to our many informative articles about inflammation.