The Good and Bad Inflammation
Feb 02, 2023
Did you know that inflammation can actually be good for you? But before we get into that, let’s talk about inflammation in general. Inflammation occurs when your body detects an “offending” agent like bacteria, viruses, or toxins. If one of these are detected, our immune system is turned on, which sends out the “first responders”: inflammatory cells and cytokines. These cells then recruit other types of inflammatory cells to get rid of the offending agent and start healing any injured tissue. Now, if our body does not get the message the offending agent has been taken care of, our body will continue to send out these inflammatory cells even when there is no actual danger. This is what results in the “bad” inflammation: chronic inflammation. An example of this is with autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). With RA, inflammatory cells and substances are released and target joints. Our body doesn’t get the signal to stop sending out the inflammatory cells, creating severe damage to joints (Cleveland Clinic, 2021). To complicate matters, our body releases cortisol to help get rid of the inflammation and if inflammation persists, more and more cortisol gets dumped out until the system fails. This failure can lead to weight gain, bone and muscle loss, insulin resistance (think diabetes), depression, increased pain, and brain fog, just to name a few. This is why we try to reduce or even eliminate chronic inflammation through dietary changes, exercising, losing weight, and taking certain supplements (Hannibal, et al., 2014). As a side note, this is why we work with the functional medicine company, Biogenetix, and offer the 21-day metabolic clearing kit—to help clear that chronic inflammation!
Now for the “good” news. Some inflammation is actually helpful to our bodies. Acute inflammation is considered “good” inflammation. Acute inflammation is when our bodies first detect that offending agent or sudden damage to the body, such as getting a cut. To help heal the cut, the body sends out those inflammatory cells to the injury and the body starts the healing process. This is basically what happens when we use PRP (platelet-rich plasma) to help repair injuries to joints, tendons, and/or ligaments. We concentrate platelets and other cells important for injury repair and put it right at the site of the injury. So, we actually want acute inflammation with procedures like PRP, which can be super effective, especially in areas where we don’t have great circulation to begin with. If you want to read more about PRP, check it out here or here.
Inflammation: What is it, causes, symptoms & treatment. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.).
Hannibal, K. Chronic Stress, Cortisol Dysfunction, and Pain: A Psychoneuroendocrine Rationale for Stress Management in Pain Rehabilitation. (2014)
Category: Functional Medicine, Inflammation