by: Dr. Craig A. Maxwell
The number of people living with some type of chronic pain condition is staggering. Millions of people worldwide depend on some type of over-the-counter pain reliever to combat the pain of arthritis or other inflammatory condition on a daily basis! In a world proud of its modern medicine, how can this be? In this article, we’ll discuss chronic pain and inflammation and what you can do to get it under control.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is not always a bad thing. It’s your body’s way of defending and repairing itself after a trauma or infection. When your body is injured, it first releases a group of chemicals (histamines, leukotrienes, and pro-inflammatory prostaglandins) that cause the blood vessels to dilate and expand. This causes the injured area to become swollen, red, and hot to the touch.
Soon after the injury is sustained however, the healthy tissue surrounding the injured area begins releasing anti-inflammatory hormones (prostaglandins PG1 and PG3) to help fight inflammation and promote healing. Once the injury is healed, it is up to the proteolytic enzymes to tell the immune system that their job is done.
During the healing process white blood cells digest damaged tissues and cells so they can make way for new cells to arrive. In a person with a balanced immune system, the inflammatory process is short and kept in check. In a person whose process is out of balance, however, chronic pain and inflammation can result.
What Causes Chronic Inflammation?
Chronic inflammation is caused by an over-reactive immune system, which is most commonly triggered by food, environmental factors, stress, trauma, intestinal parasites, chronic candida infection, leaky gut syndrome, and obesity.
Let’s take a closer look at these factors in detail:
Food is often overlooked as the cause of illness and chronic inflammation. The Standard American Diet is loaded with preservatives, chemicals, additives, and artificial sweeteners that can send the immune system into overdrive, causing wide-spread inflammation. If you have arthritis or any other type of chronic pain condition, eating a diet high in processed foods will only make the problem worse.
Also, foods such as eggs, organ meats, dairy products, and beef are high in a compound called arachidonic acid, which can trigger the body’s inflammatory response. Another food group to avoid when living with chronic pain is nightshades. Nightshades include potatoes, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, pimentos, eggplants, and tomatillos. Though they are low in the alkaloid substances that can make chronic inflammation worse, certain sensitive individuals may benefit from removing these foods from the diet.
Furthermore, food allergies can also trigger chronic pain and inflammation. The two most common food allergies that trigger a chronic inflammatory response is dairy allergy and gluten intolerance.
Dairy allergy isn’t the same thing as lactose intolerance. People with lactose intolerance are unable to digest the sugar found in milk, which can lead to intestinal symptoms such as gas, bloating, and abdominal pain. In someone with a milk allergy, however, the body responds to milk and other dairy products as though it were a foreign substance invading the body. This causes chronic inflammation and makes pain conditions worse.
Gluten intolerance is an inability of the body to digest the protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and some oat products. When a person with gluten intolerance eats this protein, the body responds by attacking the intestines, causing chronic inflammation and malabsorption of nutrients.
- Environmental Factors
Chronic inflammation can often be caused by environmental factors that trigger an autoimmune response. These factors include inhaling cigarette smoke, excessive alcohol consumption, exposure to toxic household cleaning products, cosmetics or other chemicals, and exposure to solvents and preservatives in flooring, carpeting or mattresses.
Stress is often called ‘the silent killer’ because of its ability to slowly destroy and shut down your body’s defense mechanisms. Chronic stress is a leading contributor to adrenal fatigue because it interferes with the regulation of the hormone, cortisol. The theory is that too much cortisol in the body causes tissues to become desensitized to the hormone, leading to a chronic inflammatory response.
Whether you’re carrying around a little or a lot of extra weight around the middle, it can lead to chronic inflammation. Studies indicate that extra body weight increase levels of a fat-derived protein called angiopoietin-like protein 2 (Angptl2). This protein collects in fatty tissue and increases inflammation, which can lead to chronic pain.
Patients with fibromyalgia often describe a car accident or other major physical trauma that preceded the development of chronic, widespread pain. According to studies, patients who sustained a neck injury during a fall or accident were 10 times more likely to develop fibromyalgia within a period 1 year.
- Intestinal Parasites
When most people think of intestinal parasites, they picture Third-World countries and war-torn conditions. That’s only half the picture. It may surprise you know that it is estimated that over 50% of the United States population is infected with some type of intestinal parasite. Intestinal parasites can cause a wide variety of symptoms, including chronic pain and inflammation, particularly in the intestinal tract. Parasitic infection can also lead to leaky gut syndrome, which can cause the immune system to overreact.
- Chronic Candida Infection
Another cause of chronic inflammation is chronic candida infection. A diet rich in refined grains and sugars, excessive alcohol consumption, chronic use of antibiotics and NSAID pain relievers can cause candida yeast to overgrow in the gut, leading to widespread pain and inflammation. Chronic candida overgrowth can also lead to leaky gut syndrome.
- Leaky Gut Syndrome
Leaky gut syndrome is often overlooked by conventional medicine. In a person with leaky gut syndrome, the lining of the gut is more porous than it should be, which allows undigested food particles and waste matter to leak out into the bloodstream, causing chronic inflammation.
To test for leaky gut, candida, and parasites, I recommend the Doctor’s Data Comprehensive Stool Analysis x 3 DD Kit, which evaluates for parasites, all strains of yeast, leaky gut, dysbiotic bacteria, digestive enzymes, digestion capability, and even a count of all probiotics!
Natural Treatments for Chronic Pain and Inflammation
Despite all the factors that can lead to chronic pain and inflammation, there are plenty of natural treatments to combat it. Oftentimes, chronic inflammation is simply the result of ignorance of the cause. Now that you’re aware of what could be causing your chronic inflammation and pain, you can fight back with natural remedies.
- Dietary Changes
You are what you eat and if you’re in pain, you need to know the right foods to eat (and which ones to avoid). First, cut the junk from your diet. Get rid of the soda, toss out the brightly-colored candy and cereal, and drive past the fast food restaurant. Instead, invest in your health with a whole-food diet lifestyle.
Stock up on plenty of nutrient-rich vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Anti-inflammatory foods such as broccoli, garlic, cayenne pepper, turmeric, avocado, olive oil, and coconut oil should be a main staple in your diet.
For added benefit, cut gluten, lactose, and nightshade foods from your diet for a period of one month. The process may be daunting at first but it could mean the difference between being doubled over in pain and feeling better than you have in years!
If you feel you don’t have the time or energy to deal with a complete elimination diet, I recommend the Alcat Comprehensive Wellness 1-Kit, which tells you exactly what foods and chemicals you are sensitive too, and how severely.
- Lifestyle Changes
Lifestyle changes are just as important as the food you eat as many environmental factors can contribute to chronic inflammation.
- Quit Smoking – This goes without saying. If you want to live a long, healthy, pain-free life, you need to quit smoking.
- Reduce Alcohol Intake – A couple of drinks here and there won’t do any harm but excessive alcohol consumption can mess with your immune system and liver, causing chronic pain.
- Cut the Chemicals – Household cleaning products, detergents, and cosmetics are hidden dangers to your health. Inhaling them can cause hormonal disruptions that lead to chronic inflammation. Switch to organics.
- Exercise – Chronic pain sufferers often avoid exercise but moving your muscles and joints can help ease pain. Take it slowly with a walk around the block, a quick swim or a gentle yoga class.
- Reduce Stress – No matter how busy your schedule, take time to cultivate a hobby or learn to meditate to reduce your stress levels and keep chronic pain at bay.
No matter how healthy your diet, a body suffering with chronic inflammation and pain needs optimum nutrition to heal and get back in balance. For my patients, I recommend a specific regimen of formulas designed for chronic pain sufferers.
Diamond Nutritional’s Foundation Vitamin
Are you already taking a multivitamin? It could be making your chronic inflammation worse. How’s that? Many store-bought vitamins contain dangerous additives and preservatives. What’s worse is most commercial supplements are synthetic versions of what’s found in nature.
Diamond Nutritional’s Foundation Vitamin is a whole-food vitamin designed for maximum absorption with no dangerous chemicals.
- Vitamin A – 7,500 IU
- Vitamin C – 500 mg
- Vitamin D3 – 500 IU
- Vitamin E – 100 IU
- Vitamin K – 50 mcg
- Thiamine – 25 mg
- Riboflavin – 25 mg
- Niacin – 25 mg
- Vitamin B6 – 38 mg
- Folic Acid – 400 mcg
- Vitamin B12 – 500 mcg
- Biotin – 200 mcg
- Panthothenic Acid – 150 mg
- Calcium – 100 mg
- Iodine – 113 mcg
- Magnesium – 200 mg
- Zinc – 10 mg
- Selenium – 100 mcg
- Copper – 1 mg
- Manganese – 2.5 mg
- Chromium – 200 mcg
- Molybdenum – 25 mcg
- Potassium – 50 mg
- Choline Bitartrate USP – 50 mg
- Inositol – 50 mg
- Mixed Tocopherols – 50 mg
- Lipoic Acid – 25 mg
- N-Acetyl-Cysteine USP – 25 mg
- Rutin – 25 mg
- Lutein – 3 mg
- Boron – 1.5 mg
- Lycopene – 1 mg
- Vanadyl Sulfate Hydrate – 1 mg
Diamond Nutritional’s Ultra Probiotic Formula
Since up to 70% of your immune system is located in your gut, it’s important to give it the support it needs. Low cut bacteria can lead to chronic allergies, inflammation, pain, and intestinal discomfort. Adding a good quality probiotic supplement to your diet can reduce this inflammation and cut down on allergic response.
For my chronic pain sufferers, I recommend Diamond Nutritional’s Ultra Probiotic Formula. Unlike other probiotics, which only contain 1 or 2 active cultures in a low-dose capsule, each packet of Ultra Probiotic Formula contains 225 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) complete with six unique probiotic strains to populate your gut fast and heal the effects of leaky gut syndrome and chronic candida infection.
These strains include lactobacillus plantarum, lactobacillus acidophilus, bifidobacterium lactis, lactobacillus salivarius, lactobacillus casei, and bifidobacterium bifidum.
Diamond Nutritional’s Balanced Omega Formula
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the relief of chronic pain and inflammation. Is the ultimate anti-inflammatory supplement. If you’re already taking a fish oil supplement, consider this: Most people need 1,000-4,000 mg. of combined EPA/DHA depending on the condition they are treating and with chronic inflammation; I recommend supplementing on the high side. Most products may say they contain 1,000 mg. or 1,200 mg. on the front label but on the back, the EPA and DHA may only add up to 300 mg. or so. The rest are nothing but fillers!
So if you take 1-4 capsules of your favorite store-bought omega-3 1,000 mg. capsules, you’re only getting 300-1,200 mg. of DHA/EPA. Commercial omega-3 fatty acid supplements are so diluted, you’d have to take double or triple the recommended dosage. This means you’re throwing money away!
Also, if burping and indigestion are a problem with your fish oil, it’s because yours is not molecularly distilled to remove heavy metals and impurities. Ours are. With Diamond Nutritional’s Balanced Omega Formula, you won’t have to worry about tasting it again once it’s gone!
Prescription steroids such as Prednisone and over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen can cause serious gastrointestinal side effects and make conditions like leaky gut syndrome worse. To combat inflammation naturally, I recommend Diamond Nutritional’s Inflamments Formula. This all-natural dietary supplement contains holistic anti-inflammatories including skullcap root, bee propolis, turmeric root extract, and Graminex pollen extract.
Turmeric is a common kitchen spice that has worked as a powerful anti-inflammatory and permeable gut repairer for hundreds of years. Skullcap is especially beneficial to chronic pain sufferers because of its ability to inhibit prostaglandin E2, the pro-inflammatory hormone your body is producing in excess. Bee propolis and Graminex contain powerful antioxidants to stabilize an overactive immune system.
Arthritis, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, and chronic fatigue syndrome and chronic inflammatory pain conditions that affect millions of people worldwide. Now that you know the cause and cure for these conditions, you can finally get back to being the healthy, pain-free person you were born to be!