In a previous first article, we explained what inflammation was and how it affects overall health (understanding inflammation and pain while aging). The inflammatory processes, although necessary, are as closely related to pain as it is for joint problems, tendonitis, muscle inflammation, back pain, sciatic nerve, blackthorn injuries or others. Thus, common anti-inflammatory medications are often used in cases of temporary or chronic pain. The use of anti-inflammatory medications can very often cause side effects like stomach problems or allergies. They can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and kidney problems.

Inflammatory problems are also linked to weight gain, certain skin problems (psoriasis and eczema), allergies, obesity, diabetes and insulin resistance, digestive problems, asthma, and nerve degeneration. Might as well say that chronic inflammation promotes or is linked to health problems throughout the human body.

More specifically for body weight, an unbalanced diet leads to abnormal fat accumulation. This fat accumulates in the organs or in the intestine. The presence of this fatty mass in inappropriate places attracts certain warriors of the immune system (the macrophages) by thinking that they will be able to remove this invader. Unfortunately, this causes inflammation which makes it easier to store fat and thus creates a vicious cycle. The increased presence of abdominal fat and excess fat in general, causes mild systemic inflammation that promotes the implantation of abdominal fat. This vicious cycle is the basis of what is called the metabolic syndrome. The process can be promoted, among other things, by poor diet, lack of physical activity, lack of sleep and chronic stress.

Likewise, wear and tear on the joints will lead to the development of osteoarthritis, along with inflammation, and this inflammation will reduce the repair of cartilage. For many health facets, reducing pain and inflammation by using an anti-inflammatory, accelerates the healing processes.

Well-documented natural approaches to reducing inflammation include diet, omega-3s, gut microbiota health, turmeric, and devil’s claw extracts. We can categorize passive anti-inflammatory drugs (not acting on a specific receptor) as food, omega-3 and the intestinal microbiota, and active anti-inflammatory drugs as turmeric and quality extracts of devil’s claw.

We have already discussed the components of the anti-inflammatory diet in the article on osteoarthritis (Osteoarthritis, a few tips). Omega-3s (ex: fish, flaxseeds) are essential for the production of molecules that reduce inflammation in the human body and, conversely, omega-6s (animal fat) allow the production of pro- inflammatories. Thus, if we consume too much omega-6 compared to omega-3 (which is the case for the majority of the population in North America), our body will tend to produce pro-inflammatory molecules which will promote the development of inflammation. In the same way, a good diversity, a good balance of the intestinal microbiota promotes a good balance of the immune system and tends to reduce the inflammatory processes. This is due to the fact that 70% of the cells of the immune system are present in the intestinal wall. These cells will produce pro or anti-inflammatory messengers, depending on the composition of your microbiota (bacteria in your gut). A healthy, diversified diet promotes this balance, which can be positively influenced by taking probiotics.

As for turmeric, an active anti-inflammatory, its effectiveness is linked to high doses and/or to specialized formulas allowing greater bioavailability (up to 2.5 g per day). The anti-inflammatory properties of curcuma (the active ingredient), have given encouraging results in animal models with ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, pancreatitis and also cancer. In humans, a recent study on osteoarthritis of the knee (2014), involving 367 patients, demonstrated positive results. Pay attention, however, to the origin and quality of the products on the market.

The other natural active anti-inflammatory; the most scientifically documented anti-inflammatory, supported by the highest number of quality clinical studies, is the harpagoside (the active ingredient) from devil’s claw. A meta-analysis from the University of Toronto concluded that it was effective after analyzing 12 quality clinical studies. However, the amount required to enable its beneficial effects is very high. It is a 4 to 5 gram equivalent of a quality extract containing 40 mg of harpagosides and 40 mg of the family of related molecules (80 mg of harpagosides). Unfortunately, Health Canada allows the marketing of non-standardized extracts by granting health claims starting from the equivalent of 600 mg of the plant (from 10 to 15% of the dose necessary to have efficacy). Not all natural health products approved in Canada are equivalent.

As for Vitoli® Joints, a natural anti-inflammatory and painkiller, it contains the most concentrated extract, derived from patented technology, double standardization, at the doses required to be effective (80 mg of harpagosides), from devil’s claw. It also contains the Provitol® Complex, an exclusive olive polyphenol extract that facilitates the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effect. It is a unique formula, among others, that is very effective for chronic pain.

Do not hesitate to ask us questions about pain and inflammatory processes, it is always a pleasure to help you.