The Stages of Inflammation and Herbal Treatment

What are the stages of the Inflammatory reaction?

The inflammatory reaction is the combination of a number of overlapping reactions within the body. Although a lot of these occur simultaneously a certain order of events may be seen:

1. Tissue Injury

Tissue damage may occur from trauma such as a tackle, collision or from an awkward fall. However, quite commonly tissue injury is as a result of overuse, commonly known as microtrauma.

2. Release of Chemicals

When tissue cells become injured they release a number of chemicals that initiate the inflammatory response. Examples of these are kinins, prostaglandin, and histamine. These chemicals work collectively to cause increased vasodilatation (widening of blood capillaries) and permeability of the capillaries. This leads to increased blood flow to the injured site. These substances also act as chemical messengers that attract some of the body’s natural defense cells- a mechanism known as chemotaxis.

Although highly beneficial to the body’s defense strategies some chemicals also increase the sensitivity of the pain fibers in the area and so the area becomes painful.

3. Leukocyte Migration

Chemotaxis leads to the migration of certain white blood cells (leukocytes) to the damaged area. Two types of leukocyte are predominant in the inflammatory response- macrophages, and neutrophils. Neutrophils are first to the injured site and function by neutralizing harmful bacteria. Macrophages aid the healing process by engulfing bacteria and dead cells and ingesting them so that the area is clear for new cells to grow. They arrive at the injured site within 72 hours of the injury and may remain in the area for weeks after the injury.

 

shoulder jointTissue Healing
  1. Collagenization

Wound healing occurs towards the end of the inflammatory process.  However, the two processes overlap considerably. Macrophages work tirelessly to clear the damaged area and make space for the regeneration of new tissue. After a number of days fibroblasts (collagen producing cells) begin to construct a new collagen matrix which will act as the framework for new tissue cells.

  1. Angiogenesis

Once sufficient cleansing of the area has been achieved the damaged area begins to sprout new capillaries to bring blood to the region- this is known as angiogenesis or revascularization. When blood flow has been re-introduced to the area-specific tissue cells begin to regrow- for example in a muscle tear muscle cells will repopulate the area.

  1. Proliferation

The proliferation phase lasts up to 4 weeks. In cases where the injury sustained has been more severe the affected area may be composed of a mixture of specific tissue cells (such as muscle cells) and other tissue known as granulation tissue. If this granulation tissue is not removed it will remain and form scar tissue, which can lead to a decreased functional ability of the tissue.

  1. Remodeling

The stage of remodeling now occurs whereby the new cells mold into their surroundings to once again produce a functioning tissue. This process of remodeling can take months even years, altering the new tissue slowly. The new cells and protein fibers become arranged in a way that is best suited to the stresses imposed on the tissue. Hence when a tissue is healing it is important to stretch it in the correct direction so to optimize the strength of the new tissue.

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Pain is the unpleasant sensation associated with physical injury and several medical conditions. Pain is a complicated process governed by a number of chemicals or neurotransmitters, which are responsible for carrying pain signals to the brain. However, our bodies also produce several other chemicals that can be called natural painkillers. Serotonin, norepinephrine, endorphins, and enkephalins are some of the natural chemicals and neurotransmitters synthesized by our body that can work like analgesics or painkillers.  Manual therapy, which is the work I do, utilizes these natural hormones in the blood to heal.  I do this by MOVING the blood with my hands at DEEP levels w/o causing tremendous pain so that your body is aided in achieving balance.

Natural Pain Relievers

Aspirin is one of the most common painkillers that people usually take to get relief from pain. Manmade aspirin is derived from the WILLOW plant.  Painkillers like aspirin work by reducing the level of pain-producing chemicals that are found in our body. The same purpose can be achieved by using some herbs that can work excellently to reduce pain and inflammation without the side effects that are commonly associated with long-term use of painkillers. Here are some common herbal medicines that have been used for a long time to ease the pain and inflammation associated with several medical conditions.
Spearmint Oil
Spearmint is a herb of the mint family that is known for its medicinal properties. Spearmint oil is commonly used as a flavoring agent in confectionery, toothpaste, chewing gums and other pharmaceutical products. It has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, for which this herb has been in use for alleviating a number of ailments including fever, bronchitis, headache, and nasal congestion. Spearmint oil has strong anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties, and hence can be used for relieving pain as well.

Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil is highly valued for its analgesic, sedative, and anti-spasmodic properties. It can ease pain and inflammation by stimulating blood and oxygen flow to the affected areas. It is more commonly used to relieve headaches, as well as muscle and joint pain. Apart from providing relief in pain, this oil is widely used to treat respiratory problems, fever, diabetes, dental problems and skin care.

Peppermint Oil
Peppermint is another herb that belongs to the mint family. It is quite popular as a flavoring agent in confectionery, ice cream, and toothpaste. Peppermint is one of the oldest herbs to be used for medicinal purposes. Like spearmint oil, peppermint oil also has anti-spasmodic and analgesic properties and so can act as an effective natural pain reliever. It can be used to relieve abdominal cramps, headaches, and menstrual cramps. Apart from these, it is also used for alleviating conditions like indigestion, vomiting, nausea, nasal congestion, etc.

Meadowsweet
The meadowsweet plant is quite popular among herbalists as a natural painkiller that can work just like aspirin to reduce pain, but without irritating the stomach. Studies have revealed that meadowsweet can protect the stomach from ulcers and irritation and therefore, it is sometimes recommended for stomach ulcers. I have an Herb Pharm Tincture that combines Willow and Meadowsweet for a very good natural, pain relieving effect.

Ginger
Ginger is a common herb that can be used to ease both pain and inflammation. Ginger oil can provide substantial relief from painful arthritis and can improve blood circulation of the inflamed areas. Several studies have pointed out its effectiveness for rheumatoid arthritis pain relief. It can also alleviate the pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis without any serious side effects. And ginger is great for stomach pain.

Wintergreen Oil
Wintergreen oil is a natural analgesic that is most commonly used for joint and muscle pain. It has been approved by FDA (Food and Drug Administration) as an over-the-counter analgesic for external application. Like ginger, wintergreen oil has also shown efficacy in relieving arthritis pain due to its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.

These natural pain relievers can help to ease muscle and joint pain, stomach cramps, headaches, and even painful arthritis. Their external use is quite safe and is not associated with any major side effects. But consumption of certain herbs may be associated with side effects, especially in the long run, for which it is not advisable to ingest them without consulting an herbalist or healthcare professional.  I am a Master Herbalist. Apart from these natural oils, sometimes application of heat on the affected area can provide quick relief in mild to moderate pain. Heat application stimulates blood circulation and increases the flow of oxygen to the damaged area. Similarly, applying ice on the affected area can also be helpful in reducing inflammation and pain, as it works like a local anesthetic.

 

Disclaimer:  All of the great healing effects of the blood and herbs can be negated by eating too much fast food, wheat, sugar, and other junk food, cigarettes, and alcohol, as well as a sedentary lifestyle.  Your first line of action in any health program is diet and exercise.  And that will only change with an attitude change.  CHOOSE HAPPY and FREE!

In Good Health, 

Lisa T.

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