Monday, November 8, 2010

Is Inflammation Good or Bad?

by Glen Depke

I continually hear people talk about inflammation like it is a disease. If you are wondering this yourself, I want you to know right now that it is not. The reality of inflammation is that it is a part of the healing crisis that is leading you to wellness, as long as your body has the strength and balance to complete this healing process.

I was explaining to a client in my office the other day, how happy I am that both of my knees were inflamed. I shared that I was a weekend warrior and played in a game of flag football. My 46 year old knees that have had many other challenges in the past were pushed to a point of stress and damage. Thankfully my bodily processes created inflammation as a response to this damage and my knees are on their way to recovery in the healing crisis.

Let’s briefly discuss the different types of bodily inflammation.

It is first important to understand the different types of inflammation. There is acute inflammation that is the initial response to injury. There is the immune system response that occurs when cells of the immune system are activated in response to the antigens released during acute or chronic stages of inflammation. We then have chronic inflammation which involves the release of interleukins 1, 2 and 3. Over the years with my clients, I find that this chronic inflammatory response is activated by severe stress or alcohol abuse. Stress is such a significant challenge in this chronic inflammatory response.

What should you do with inflammation? It is first helpful to understand what type of inflammation you are dealing with.

If you have acute inflammation the one choice you can make that is a substantial benefit is to soak that area in cold water. For my knees, I fill a bath with the coldest water possible and I sit in this for 20 minutes. I know you may be thinking that you could not possibly deal with the cold water, but after about 30 seconds your body adapts to the temperature and you will gain comfort even in the cold water. I recommend cold water vs. icing the inflamed area because ice can stop the healing crisis without restoration of the tissue in the area. Understand that you do not want to remove acute inflammation; you want to assist your body in moving through the process.

From a supplemental aspect; during acute inflammation I often suggest a homeopathic from Germany called AB No. 11. The indication of use for this is any inflammation that is not accompanied by fever. This is not a cure for inflammation, this is simply another way to assist in your bodies healing crisis. In my mind, a must for any inflammatory response is the use of enteric coated proteolytic enzymes. The one I use in my office is another German product called Marcozymes. These enzymes are designed to survive the acid bath of the stomach with eventual breakdown in the more alkaline environment in the small intestines. From here they will be released in our blood where the enzymes can control inflammation by breaking up inflammatory debris and initiate tissue restitution. If you are looking for rapid healing, proteolytic enzyme use is remarkably effective. It is important to note that these special enzymes are to be taken away from meal time or just before bed. I cannot talk about supplements without also mentioning the benefit of omega 3 fatty acids such as fish oils to aid in the inflammatory response. The omega 3 supplement that we use in our household that I also recommend to my clients is krill oil.

Recognize that the immune response inflammation can be a part of the acute or chronic stage of inflammation. If this is due to the acute response I would recommend the same as above. If the inflammation is long term and the underlying cause of the inflammation is not resolved you may also want to support your immune function. You could review last week’s post, “It’s Cold and Flu Season” to get further information on supporting your immune system function.

Once you get into the chronic inflammatory response, I often find this to be tied into adrenal function. Understand that your body’s natural anti-inflammatory is the hormone cortisone. Cortisone is not a stand-alone hormone and is actually converted from the hormone cortisol. Yes, this is the same hormone we produce when we are under mental, emotional or physical stress. Due to poor functioning adrenal glands, many individuals to not have proper bodily function to initiate the body’s pro and anti-inflammatory response. At this point it is of utmost importance to assess your adrenal function and create the balance needed for your adrenals to do their job. To address this adrenal function you could call our office at 949.642.2094, to schedule a complimentary phone consult to understand adrenal insufficiency. You can also click through the links on our website to gather further information.

There are many other herbs and supplements used to assist with inflammation but this is what I see work consistently in my office with my clients.

Follow these tips to deal with any inflammatory response but most importantly recognize that inflammation is very positive for your body, when your healing crisis is allowed to initiate and finish the job.

If you have any questions or comments please post these below and I will answer them personally.


  1. Hey Glen,
    I would just like to add my personal experience with the cold water bath. I threw out my lower back and tried the cold water bath. It worked better and faster than the usual hot/cold treatment. I was up and around with barely a twinge in my back. The results were excellent, simple and effective. Thank you, Glen!

  2. Thank you for sharing Diane!

    I remember the first time I did this...I got out of the tub feeling like I was 16 again. I still use this for any injury or fatigue.