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August 11, 2010

Inflammation

by Kristina Amelong 

Inflammation is a protective mechanism; an attempt by the body to remove harmful stimuli and to initiate the healing process. However, as our bodies create repeated inflammation due to daily exposure to a variety of toxins, this chronic inflammation creates a variety of problems in itself. Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, hay fever, and atherosclerosis are some of the conditions brought on by unrelenting inflammation.

Because inflammation can be a significant problem for many of us, we are continuously in search of solutions. Generally I might recommend treatments such as fish oil, enzymes, Boswellia, licorice root, Echinacea, dietary changes, coffee enemas, exercise, and rest. However, recently while enjoying a sailing excursion on Madison's Lake Mendota with a friend of mine who is an RN in a cardiac intensive care unit, I learned of a new solution to dangerous inflammation which is being embraced by the medical community.

In a medical emergency, when one's heart stops and is restarted, there is an inflammatory response in the brain caused by the unmediated restoration of blood flow after 6 to 10 minutes of inactivity. This inflammation is generally fatal.

The new solution to acute inflammation in the brain is called therapeutic hypothermia, in which the patient's body is iced to lower his or her temperature by about 6 degrees and a coma is induced for up to 24 hours. This process limits inflammation and can allow a person to return to a healthy life after the heart has been inactive for up to 20 minutes.

In my ongoing search for solutions to chronic inflammation, I am interested in learning how I might be able to translate this technique that addresses acute inflammation into a more broadly applicable solution.


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