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How to treat chronic inflammatory diseases with integrative medicine

We hear about it every day. The constant damage that inflammation and chronic diseases have on our bodies and on our health care system. Currently these diseases are the leading cause of death for those in the modern world; drastically impact our quality of life. The high cost of treatment for these diseases is crippling our healthcare system. Trillions of dollars are spent annually to treat these disorders with little relief experienced. Americans take over 30 billion doses of prescription or over the counter anti-inflammatories every year and yet the disease and death rates continue to climb. Sadly many of those diagnosed with these diseases will loose their battle.

According to the CDC (center for disease control) in 2016 these were the leading cause of death in the United States:

  1. Heart Disease
  2. Cancer
  3. Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease
  4. Accidents
  5. Stroke
  6. Alzheimers
  7. Diabetes
  8. Influenza and Pneumonia
  9. Kidney Disease
  10. Intentional Self Harm (suicide)

Globally speaking the WHO (World Health Organization) reports the leading causes of death to be:
1. Heart Disease
2. Stroke
3. Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease
4. COPD- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
5. Cancer- Lung, Trachea and Bronchial
6. Diabetes
7. Alzheimers
8. Diarrhea
9. Tuberculosis
10. Road Injury

Here is a brief list of other chronic inflammatory disease that also disrupt our quality of life and cost us millions in health care:

Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, lyme’s disease, IBS, Chron’s, Depression, Arthritis, High Cholesterol, Osteoporosis, Hepatitis

As you can see there is not much difference between what is killing Americans and what is killing the rest of the world. We are all human after all. Aside from accidents and suicide all other leading killers have one thing in common….INFLAMMATION!!!

So, if medications aren’t going to fix this than what can we do? First let’s look at the root cause of inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or invasion from pathogens. There are two types of inflammation, acute and chronic. Acute inflammation occurs when we injure ourselves with a cut, bruise, or twisted ankle. The normal response of your body is to respond to the injury with white blood cells causing swelling and redness to decrease mobility and allow the injured area to heal. Chronic inflammation (lasting at least 3 months) is the bodies natural response to extended exposure to toxins and pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, molds, fungus, allergens etc. When the body is chronically inflamed the plaque and cholesterol begin to form in the blood stream causing heart disease and strokes (coincidentally the leading causes of death!)

Given the fact that inflammation is a naturally occurring process it stands to reason that reversing inflammation can be a naturally occurring process. What the body needs in order to reverse inflammation is good fuel to run on, a calm mind, and a strong immune system. In this case prevention really is the best medicine and the best preventative medicine is an integrative approach to health.

Integrative Medicine (IM) is a way of combining many medical modalities to create a wellness plan that works for the individual. IM uses nutritional analysis, lab work, physical therapy, and emotional support to create a multi faceted approach to overall wellness. It teaches people how to live a healthier life by implementing healthy habits.

So, what immediate steps can be taken to improve this situation? Fortunately it’s not as difficult as one might think. The key to controlling inflammation and decreasing your susceptibility to disease is DIET AND LIFESTYLE CHOICES!!!!! The habits we have and the choices we make directly impact our health. So let’s take a look at 5 easy things to do to decrease inflammation in your life:

Eat more vegetables
Preferably organic but not always necessary. The goal is to have 70% of your diet come from vegetables, (real ones….not pizza sauce!) Not only will this simple shift reduce your systemic inflammation it will help save the planet!

Exercise moderately 

Nothing crazy! Walking, hiking, swimming, yoga, pilates, surfing, skiing, the list goes on but the goal is the same. Find something you like to do, preferable outside, and do it for at least 20 minutes, three times a week.

Find your favorite natural anti-inflammatory and work it into your daily routine.
There are many choices on the market for anti-inflammatories and all that information can make it hard to decide which one is for you. My advice is to get a simple allergy test and find out which one is the best for you or sample a few different ones and see what makes you feel good. My personal favorites are lemon or lime water (preferably in the morning), baking soda and water, turmeric tea, diatomaceous earth, alkaline water, and aloe.

Probiotics & Prebiotics
There is increasing evidence that digestion and immune function go hand in hand. One of the best ways to easily improve your digestion is to increase the amount of probiotics in your diet. Luckily there are some easy and delicious ways to do this. My favorites are sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled beets, and yogurt. There are many other foods high in probiotics so do your research and try them all. Prebiotic foods are important as they enhance the function of probiotics, therefor eating onion, garlic, asparagus, artichokes, and under ripe bananas can be a great addition to your daily diet.

Go ahead and cry about it!
We are in a sad state of affairs when it comes to physical and mental health, and there are plenty of valid reasons to cry about it. Somewhere along the lines some of us were told not to cry, that it showed weakness or something, but science is showing us that idea is incorrect. Tears are actually one of the best ways the body has to naturally shed cortisol (the inflammation causing stress hormone). So no need to hold back the tears, let em fly!

There are many other techniques for reducing inflammation. If you are interested in learning how to implement them into your daily routines contact me to set up your private coaching session or customized health

Dr. Randi Raymond

Founder, Eden Retreat Center