Integrative Approach To InflammationIntegrative Approach To Inflammation
    Integrative Approach To Inflammation

    What is inflammation? Are natural anti-inflammatories as effective as anti-inflammatory drugs in the relief of inflammation, and how do they work?

    DR BERNARD BROM REPLIES: Inflammation in the body is recognised as one of the primary underlying causes of a lot of illnesses, with constant inflammation causing havoc throughout the body. All around the body, these inflammatory fires which keep burning do a lot of damage. This has resulted in the use of anti-inflammatory drugs becoming very popular. Part of the problem is that we often think of anti-inflammatory drugs and natural anti-inflammatory products in the same sort of way, and this creates the expectation that they have to work in the same fashion. This is not only a problem with natural anti-inflammatories but with other comparable natural products too. Whether it is a natural anti-cancer treatment or a natural antibiotic, it is a misconception to think it will work like a drug.

    The fact is that any anti-inflammatory drug is seriously toxic. It is estimated that annually approximately 20 000 Americans die of anti-inflammatory poisoning; 100 000 end up in hospital with bleeding ulcers. Mortality and morbidity are closely related to many drugs for the simple reason that drugs are powerful, and because of this they can have serious side effects. A drug is used for its toxic effect on the body to inhibit the inflammation. On the other hand, with a natural product like curcumin you may get some mild side effects like diarrhoea if you take a very large dose, but it’s not going to kill you. One has to be careful in understanding the difference.

    An Integrated Approach to Inflammation

    The body itself has both inflammatory components and a whole range of anti-inflammatory mechanisms. It needs them because, if you cut yourself, inflammation at the site of the cut is part of the healing potential. Inflammation occurs in order to heal that area but after a while that inflammatory process has to be stopped. Inflammation has to be controlled. So, natural anti-inflammatory agents work to support the body’s own natural anti-inflammatory processes. For example, a natural product like curcumin is not used to block a biochemical process, but to enhance the body’s way of dealing with inflammation. So, they’re not working in a toxic kind of way, they’re working in a supportive way.

    So, when I say natural products, I’m thinking, ‘How do I support health?’ Well, to support health, I need what the body uses to support health. There’s no deficiency of a drug in the body, but there are deficiencies of natural products: vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, all of these are used by the body to combat inflammation. If you look at the liver detox processes, phase 1 and phase 2: phase 1 needs nutrients, and phase 2 needs nutrients in order for the liver to function properly. So what the body needs is nutrients, readily available in all the foods we eat.

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