The fight against chronic inflammation
CBD oils, gels and creams for pain, arthritis and inflammation are growing in popularity at the moment. Along with anti-inflammatory diets, many have joined the battle against chronic inflammation. Is this merely hype or is it actually based on true scientific evidence?
Regrettably, the battle with inflammation is real and doesn’t just concern those suffering from arthritis. Other factors, such as stress or environmental pollution, can trigger the body’s inflammatory response. It isn’t always easy to recognise that your body is struggling with chronic inflammation or for it to be diagnosed. Despite this, inflammation shouldn’t be taken lightly.
The risks from chronic inflammation
Over recent decades, scientific studies have shown that chronic inflammation may be linked to various health conditions and diseases. In fact, it is estimated that chronic inflammation is a cause of up to 20% of cancer cases. Additionally, despite the fact that chronic inflammation isn’t a specific cause of Alzheimer’s disease, sufferers tend to have increased inflammatory markers. There is evidence to suggest that inflammation may speed up and increase the severity of cognitive deterioration.
Diseases and health conditions that may be linked to inflammation include:
- Heart disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
We look at the latest scientific research to find out more about what chronic inflammation does to your body. How do you fight inflammation and why are more people turning to CBD oil for help?
What is inflammation and how does inflammation become chronic?
How does the body use inflammation
The body uses inflammation as a way to protect itself from injury, infection or illness. The immune system naturally responds to any perceived threats when it detects something that isn’t part of your body. In order to deal with this threat, your body will trigger its immune system. However, this can actually cause damage to your own tissue. By trying to protect the whole body, the immune system believes that stopping the spread of the threat is worth damaging itself.
What is inflammation?
If you were to hit your finger with a hammer, your body would react by increasing the blood flow to the damaged area. Immune cells then move into the tissue from the bloodstream to get rid of the threat and allow new cells to grow. When this occurs in a part of your body that you can either feel or see, you will be able to experience inflammation. You may feel pain, swelling, heat and possibly reduced movement. This action is organised in the body by inflammatory molecules.
When your immune system is working properly, it can sense danger. It knows when and where inflammation needs to be switched on to help to protect you. When the threat has been resolved, a healthy immune system senses this and produces natural, anti-inflammatory compounds. This will enable your body to call off the fight and return to normal.
What causes chronic inflammation?
Problems arise when the immune system stops working properly. We constantly receive different signals from all around us. Food, our own bodies and even the air that we breathe can tell our immune system that it needs to carry on fighting. Chronic inflammation may start from a specific point in the body, such as the digestive tract in sufferers of Crohn’s Disease. Alternatively, it may occur throughout the body, in the form of low level, systemic inflammation in fat cells caused by obesity.
What damage does chronic inflammation cause?
When our immune system is functioning properly, inflammation helps our fight against infection and heals our bodies. The danger occurs when we begin to suffer from chronic inflammation. Our immune system then changes from looking after us to being the cause of our destruction. The cells of our body and therefore overall health suffer because of non-stop bombardment by unstable and defensive molecules.
Scientists have only recently discovered the link between chronic health conditions and inflammation. Studies are still ongoing and there remains a lot to be learned. However, there is mounting evidence connecting inflammation with heart disease and cancer. Here is what we understand about the contribution of chronic inflammation to these diseases.
How might chronic inflammation lead to cancer?
A healthy immune system responds to a threat by producing molecules that will then destroy damaged cells or viruses. At the same time, cells are encouraged to divide and replace any that are damaged. Problems arise when the process doesn’t stop. Unstable molecules can cause damage to healthy cells and lead to mutations in DNA. The combination of DNA mutations and an increase in cell replication provide the ideal conditions for the development of cancer.
How do antioxidants help?
A popular supplement used to prevent cancer is an antioxidant which can halt or slow down damage to cells caused by these unstable molecules. However, studies have found that these supplements don’t necessarily make us live longer and may potentially cause harm. Rather than relying on antioxidant supplements, it may be better to fight inflammation and thus prevent damage to start with.
How might chronic inflammation lead to cardiovascular disease?
In the past, the simple definition of heart disease was that fats carried through the bloodstream collected, causing arteries to clog. Nowadays, scientists describe hardening of the arteries as chronic inflammatory disease. In fact, there is a strong link between inflammation and heart disease. One of the most effective ways of assessing the risk of a heart attack is to take a blood test for inflammation.
Inflammatory molecules attract immune cells rich in cholesterol to the artery tissues. As a result of chronic inflammation, the cholesterol that gathers in these cells causes dangerous substances to build up in the arteries.
What can you do to lower your risk of heart disease?
Medical advice for those at greater risk of having a heart attack is to take aspirin daily. There is, however, a high possibility of severe internal bleeding. Aspirin is an anti-inflammatory medicine. It stops the body producing the substances that regulate inflammation. Research suggests that CBD oil may also have anti-inflammatory properties.
How could CBD fight inflammation?
If you believe you are suffering from chronic inflammation, it is recommended that you gather as much information as possible. Scientists are currently researching the ways in which cannabidiol or CBD can effectively combat inflammation. Studies have found that this natural substance may have many anti-inflammatory properties.
- By inhibiting the enzyme responsible for production of the compound that controls inflammation, CBD may effectively relieve muscle soreness and inflammation
- CBD might protect joints from damage caused by inflammatory arthritis, by reducing the body’s production of inflammatory cells
- CBD may stimulate the body to reduce production of inflammatory molecules while increasing the amount of antioxidant defences. This has the potential for therapeutic benefits for Alzheimer’s disease, ulcerative colitis and multiple sclerosis.
These are some of the reasons why CBD products are being incorporated into an anti-inflammatory routine.
Treatment for chronic inflammation
Users have found that CBD may complement your anti-inflammatory lifestyle. To get the best results, combine with other ways to control inflammation.
- Increasing vegetables, fruit and whole grains in your diet
- Taking omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish
- Doing low-impact exercise, such as yoga or cycling
A good place to start to deal with chronic inflammation is to identify what might be causing the inflammation. You may find that simply changing your diet or routine could impact your levels of inflammation.
You should always speak to your doctor if you are considering using CBD to combat inflammation, particularly if you are currently taking prescription medicine.