Understanding Chronic Inflammation

With the term inflammation getting a lot of buzz these days, it’s important to understand the difference between normal inflammatory response and chronic inflammation– a harmful process that is linked to many health issues.  There is a lot you can do to address chronic inflammation, such as eating dark green leafy vegetables, fatty fish and turmeric, a common spice used in Indian cooking. Turmeric is full of antioxidant compounds called curcuminoids, there is growing evidence that one, curcumin, provides powerfully anti-inflammatory effects.

Adding curcumin to your tool box to support healthy inflammatory response

Inflammation is a common health term that is generating a lot of buzz these days. But inflammation can have a positive or negative impact on your heath, so it is important to understand the difference between normal inflammatory response, which is part of the body’s natural healing system, and chronic inflammation, an ongoing and harmful process, that is increasingly linked to health issues from digestive disorders to cancer.

So, how do you know when you are experiencing normal versus chronic inflammation? Think of it like this: normal inflammatory response is your body’s internal emergency system. When you have an injury or infection, white blood cells are released into the blood to boost blood flow to an area in the body that is affected and often causes redness and warmth at the site. Think about what happens when you sprain an ankle or receive an insect bite. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is when this system does not automatically shut down as it should. When this response continues after an initial injury or infection, it can attack healthy tissues and organs in the body. A growing body of evidence suggests that it may be a root cause for many diseases and is certainly linked to diseases such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes.

Symptoms of chronic inflammation include a number of things such as fatigue, joint pain or stiffness, rashes, and abdominal pain among other things.1 Chronic inflammation is likely prompted by an imbalance in your immune system, but it can also be triggered by exposure to irritants such as industrial chemicals or pollution.

Addressing inflammation

The good news is that there is a lot you can do if you suspect you might have chronic inflammation.  And anti-inflammatory diet is a good first step. Foods like blueberries and blackberries, dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, beets, fatty fish with DHA and EPA omega-3s and astaxanthin, and even red wine and dark chocolate in moderation can help.  All these foods are rich in antioxidants that bind themselves to the harmful free radicals produced by chronic inflammation.

Another essential tool in the anti-inflammatory tool box is turmeric. Commonly used in Indian cooking, it is the spice that creates the yellow color in curry, and it also has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal properties.  Turmeric contains antioxidant compounds called curcuminoids, the most important and well-studied of which is curcumin.2 An increasing number of studies now show that curcumin has powerful anti-inflammatory effects, and it is even proving to be more effective than anti-inflammatory drugs, without causing side effects.3,4,5 Ultimately, it is now thought that curcumin can support healthy inflammatory response on a molecular level.6

While curcumin shows much potential in the support of healthy inflammatory function, which may be instrumental in promoting overall wellness as we age, there are still many questions about how this compound works. Scientists are only just beginning to explore the molecular mechanism of actions of curcumin on a cellular level, but some of the findings are intriguing. A 2015 study in Biomedical Reports looking at the effects of curcumin on gene expression of L-02 cells suggests that “curcumin is capable of developing physiological reactions and functions by regulating the gene expression and affecting its signal transduction pathway.7   A more recent study in 2017 looked at the effect of a proprietary natural supplement blend of Lactobacillus fermentum extract, burdock seed (artigenin) zinc, alpha lipoic acid, papaya enzyme and  an enhanced absorption bio curcumin complex, that demonstrated a reduction the gene expression of inflammatory markers and quality of life in healthy voluneers.8

Clearly, curcumin is an important nutrient to include in a healthy balanced diet. The problem is it is difficult to get enough curcumin from eating turmeric. Many studies have focused on a dose of 1 g daily so the best way to get this amount is to take curcumin in a dietary supplement. And to make sure you get a product that delivers on the promise of curcumin, make sure it is a natural curcumin with 95% curcuminoids (Curcuzen-95%) from raw turmeric and that the ingredient has been authenticated with the state-of-the-art 14 carbon dating method to ensure its identity and purity.

Be well,

Mohamad Rafi Ph.D., founder of Princeton Vitamins

References

  1. WebMD. What is inflammation? https://www.webmd.com/arthritis/about-inflammation#1 
  2. Gunnars K. Ten Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin. Healthline. July 13, 2019. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric
  3. Jurenka JS. Anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a major constituent of Curcuma longa: A review of preclinical and clinical research. Alternative Medicine Review. 2009 June;14(2):141-153.
  4. Lal B et al, Efficacy of curcumin in management of chronic anterior uveitis. Phytotherapy Research. 1999 June; 13(4):318-322.
  5. Takada Y et al. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents differ in their ability to suppress NF=kappaB activation, inhibition of expression of cyclooxygenase-2 and cyclin D1, and abrogation of tumor cell proliferation. Oncogene 2004 Dec. 9;23(57):9247-9258.
  6. Chainani-Wu N. Safety and anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin: a component of turmeric (Curcuma longa). Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine. 2003 Feb;9(1):161-168.
  7. Mingzhie Z et al. Effects of curcumin on gene expression profile of L-02 cells. Biomedical Reports. 2015 Jul;3(4): 519-526.
  8. Mikirova NA, Kesari S, Ichim TE, Riordan NH. Effect of Infla-Kine supplementation on the gene expression of inflammatory markers in peripheral mononuclear cells and on C-reactive protein in blood. Journal of Translational Medicine. 2017 Oct. 20;15(1):213.