Thursday, October 22, 2009

How to Treat Inflammation

Big Pharma is now making a push that cholesterol lowering medications should be used in anyone with signs of inflammation.  The Jupitor study (NEJM.  VOl 359; 2008) looked at the use of Crestor (a statin drug) in “healthy” individuals who had elevated laboratory tests showing inflammation (via a blood test known as the CRP test).  The use of Crestor was reported to decrease CRP by 37%.  Inflammation has been thought to be the underlying cause (or one of the underlying causes) of a wide variety of illnesses including heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.   The CRP test is a well-accepted laboratory measure of inflammation. 

Unfortunately, inflammation is occurring at epidemic rates in our society.  I routinely check my patients for inflammatory markers and I am amazed at the numbers of patients suffering from elevated inflammation markers and inflammatory diseases.

What are the signs of inflammation?  Pain, swelling, and redness are the most common signs.   A bloated abdomen, fatigue and even brain fog can be related to inflammation.  You can see that inflammatory conditions can cause a wide range of problems.  

Why do so many suffer from inflammation?  I have no doubt that diet is the main cause.  Eating a diet full of refined foods markedly increases your chances of developing inflammation.  The Standard American Diet (SAD ) ensures your body will be deficient in vital nutrients which prevent and heal inflammatory conditions.  Obese patients suffer from more inflammation as compared to non-obese patients.  Finally, failure to drink adequate amounts of water worsens any inflammatory condition. 

So, what can you do if you have signs of inflammation?   A recent study showed that Vitamin C reduced CRP by 25% versus placebo (Free Rad. Biol. and Med.   46;2009).  The authors of this study claimed that the effect of vitamin C was similar to those of statins. 

I say, take your vitamin C (2-5,000mg/day), drink adequate amounts of water and eat a diet full of unrefined foods.  This is an inexpensive way to treat or avoid getting an inflammatory condition.   Furthermore, this therapy is virtually free of adverse effects.      


  • At October 27, 2009 at 8:04 PM , Anonymous Dave Smith CES said...

    Hello Dr. Brownstein,

    I have enjoyed this article and the one on Iodine. I am a private personal trainer in the Seattle area that focuses on a holistic approach to health and fitness so i really appreciate it when a member of the medical community promotes "natural medicine". I believe most of our conditions today are "lifestyle" based and as such we have "chosen" to suffer from our ailments.

    One area that I work in a lot is in nutrition guidance and in writing a blog and articles for my clients and those interested I came across an interesting fact regarding inflammation and diet. Omega 6 fatty acids are directly involved in airway constriction, inflammation, blood vessel constriction, blood clotting, pain ,etc.. All functions that are necessary for our body to function properly. Omega 3 fatty acids, on the other hand, are directly involved in the opposites; blood vessel dilation, anti-inflammatory effects, decrease in pain, airway dilation, etc.. The other side of the coin, so to speak.

    Here is the part that I find interesting as a fitness proffesional, the ratio of omega 6 fats to omega 3 fats in our diet should be 1:1, thus balancing each other out. Typically though our diets have a 16:1 ratio, thus causing our bodies to lean excessively toward the painful, inflammatory effects of the omega 6 fatty acids.

    By balancing these out, eliminating omega 6 rich fats and adding omega 3's into our diet it can have profound effects on those systems.

    Thank you for writing on these topics with a more holistic approach to health.

    Dave Smith CES

  • At November 1, 2009 at 3:19 PM , Blogger Dr. David Brownstein said...

    Thanks for commenting Dave,
    One thing to keep in mind--we do get too many BAD omega 6's in our diet from refined vegetable oils. We do NOT get enough good omega 6's in our diet. Therefore, we have relative deficiency of good, healthy omega 6's in our diet.
    Food for thought!


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