Chronic Inflammation – Steroids Or the Nutritional Approach? You Choose!

In previous articles I covered both acute and chronic inflammation, and described how inflammation was cleverly designed to help protect and heal our bodies against injury or invasion.

I went on to explain that it’s become increasingly common for people to be in a permanent inflammatory state, and how this is damaging our health in quite serious ways.

Major disease states, such as cardiovascular, arthritis and even Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as a long list of other diseases, including bronchitis, eczema, migraine, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease and many more, all have chronic inflammation driving them.

Conventional Treatments

When we present to our Medical Doctor with arthritis, for example, we may be given non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

However, not only do these drugs NOT address the CAUSE, but they also damage the stomach lining (gastric mucosa), and lead to gastritis, peptic ulcer and haemorrhage. NSAIDs also alter kidney function and can cause sodium and fluid retention, leading to raised blood pressure. Raised blood pressure, in turn, causes damage to our blood vessels and is heavily implicated in Alzheimer’s Disease.

We may also be offered, in more severe cases, Steroidal drugs, such as prednisolone. These again do not address the CAUSE, and long-term use may imbalance our hormones and nervous system axis.

This hormonal and nervous system imbalance is caused by the suppression of the HPA axis, which is a neuro-endocrine system comprising the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands. These three glands control our hormones, as well as nervous system activity, and use of energy in the body. They therefore regulate many bodily processes such as the sleep cycle, the ability to deal with stress, and the immune system, among others, so long-term steroid use can suppress the immune system, and lead to fatigue, depression and anxiety.

If you are experiencing such symptoms, you should see your health care provider for recommendations on the appropriate course of action. Please note you should NOT stop taking any Doctor-prescribed medication, especially steroids, without first referring to your Doctor.

Some anti-inflammatory drugs have been withdrawn due to serious side effects, such as increased risk of heart attack. Vioxx was one of those.

A Nutritional Approach

It’s best to work closely with a nutritional therapist or a nutritionally aware medical practitioner. If you’re in the UK, you’ll be able to find a qualified practitioner at http://www.bant.org.uk

Together you could address a variety of possible causes of the chronic inflammation, including:

  • Wheat, which causes damage to the gut (leaky gut)
  • Allergens
  • Pathogenic bacteria
  • Incomplete digestion (lack of enzymes and/or hydrochloric acid)
  • Dysbiosis (imbalance of bacteria in the gut)
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Lack of nutrients (e.g. essential fatty acids, vitamin D and others)
  • Leaky gut
  • Restoring adrenal gland function
  • Restoring blood sugar balance
  • Increasing antioxidant intake if appropriate
  • Normalising cytokine synthesis (cytokines are the master controllers of the immune system)
  • Normalising Nuclear Factor Kappa B synthesis

Your nutritional therapist or nutritionally aware medical practitioner will be able to recommend a suitable diet, and might recommend some of the following types of supplements:

  • Proteolytic enzymes (e.g. bromelain and papain, and Serrapeptidase).
  • Antioxidants, including Pycnogenol
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid, calcium pantothenate or magnesium pantothenate)
  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Zinc
  • Magnesium
  • Klamath Lake Blue Green Algae (AquaSource)
  • Deglycerrhized liquorice (Solgar provide a deglycerrhized version of liquorice)
  • Essential Fatty Acids, such as GLA, EPA and DHA
  • Curcumin
  • Vitamin D
  • Berry Power

Before taking any supplements, always check first with your healthcare advisor, and do not stop taking prescribed medications without your Doctor’s advice.