In an earlier blog post, I developed a clinical picture of the ways in which inflammation presents itself to the clinician. If your patient presents with a cut on the hand, a broken bone, or a known food allergy, or the flu, it is easy to see that the inflammatory process is in action. Molecular signals from the environment have activated the immune system and inflammatory chemicals have been released locally (pus and redness around a cut) or systemically, meaning throughout the whole body (aches and pains, fevers, nausea).
Inflammation is one of those words so easily tossed around in medical parlance, yet it would appear that there is some confusion as to its meaning. Is inflammation a bad thing, one that should be avoided at all costs, or is it good? The answer is that it is both; it is essential for our health and safety, yet when unregulated and undisciplined, it can be a potent and unrelenting negative force on our cellular health. The following should clear the air on inflammation, and give a rationale as to why a balanced state of inflammation is essential for health and longevity.