Functional Medicine – Chronic Inflammation
Chronic inflammation can be seen in many common diseases such as chronic pain conditions, arthritis, autoimmune disorders to name a few.
There are three primary causes of inflammation: trauma to the tissues, toxicity causing damage to tissues, and nutrient insufficiencies that create weaker tissues, and therefore cause tissue breakdown. When tissues breakdown many chemicals are released, such as prostaglandin, leukotrienes, substance P, prostocycliens, and histamine. These chemicals trigger nociceptors, which are the nerves that cause pain.
When cell membranes are damaged, the lipids in the cell membrane are released, creating the arachidonic acid cascade or the creation of series 2 prostaglandins. This causes the release of white blood cells to sterilize the area, and macrophages to clean up the debris. The pro-inflammatory effects of prostaglandin 2 can be balanced and neutralized by the anti-inflammatory effects of prostaglandins 1 and 3. The balance of the prostagladins depends on the content of the cell membrane damaged. If the cell membranes are high in arachidonic acid, trans fats and omega 6 fats, the balance will be towards prostaglandin 2 and therefore inflammation. Arachidonic acid is found in red meat dairy and shellfish. Trans fats, which are biological poisons, can be found in fried foods, and omega 6 fats which can be pro or anti inflammatory can be found in vegetable oils. The omega-3 fats are purely anti-inflammatory and are found in cold water fish and seeds. The average American currently ingests 97 percent Omega 6 fats and only three percent omega-3 fats.
The process of chronic inflammation occurs as follows: when a cell membrane becomes damaged, the phospholipids of the cell membrane are released, the macrophages and the white blood cells are called in. The macrophages will eat up the debris, the white blood cells will release hypochlorite to sterilize the area. This chemical will further damage adjacent cell membranes causing the release of more membrane phospholipids causing a feed forward process. This continues until series 1 and 3 prostagladins counteract the series 2 prostaglandins. Therefore it is very important to have cell membranes that have a high content of prostaglandins 1 and 3, which come from Omega 3 fats. This is the reason why 100 million Americans experience pain every day, and 34 million suffer from chronic pain.
Inflammation creates pain and produces nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a mitochondrial poison. It poisons the mitochondria by blocking the cis-aconitase enzyme & the conversion of citric acid to cis-aconitinic acid and therefore causing fatigue. Pain and fatigue are the number one reasons people seek medical care.
Today’s pain control practices cause 16,500 people to die from nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs per year and more than 100,000 are hospitalized at cost of more then $22,000 per hospitalization.