Inflammation is a double-edged sword. It is an essential part of our immune system and the ways in which our bodies deals with acute injuries or infections. But chronic inflammation will wreak havoc on our systems and cause a wide range of diseases if it is left unresolved.
Some of the most prevalent and chronic diseases of today are marked by chronic inflammation. “Chronic low-grade inflammatory state is a pathological feature of a wide range of chronic conditions, such as metabolic syndrome (MetS), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and [cardiovascular disease] CVD.” (Minihana)
Chronic inflammation creates an environment which promotes disease and causes damage to our body’s tissues. Over periods of time, it may even lead to the development of tumors and cancer. “The permanent presence of inflammatory proteins maintains an environment in which tumour cells can proliferate.” (Hunter)
Inflammation is also a cause of many cases of chronic persistent pain partly through the secretion of proteins called cytokines. Cytokines are proteins which initiate inflammation as well as reduce it. But if the injury never fully heals the body stays in a state of chronic inflammation, and thus pain.
Chronic stress is known to increase inflammation and also increase our risk of serious heart issues. It is my belief that when inflammation is reduced, we experience this partly as stress relief, and vice versa – when we lower our stress levels, we reduce our inflammation.
Luckily, acupuncture is a valuable non-pharmacological treatment for the reduction of chronic inflammation. Research has shown that when acupuncture is performed many processes take place in our bodies which reduce inflammation, such as the release of pain-reducing endorphins and anti-inflammatory cytokines. It can also relax our nervous system and balance our stress response!
So therefore it is my personal belief that acupuncture can potentially have a tremendously positive effect on our overall health by reducing chronic inflammation and stress. For this reason, I believe that people should get regular acupuncture as a means for preventing chronic pain, stress, and disease which may result from long-term inflammation. Then we can shift our perspective from one focused on disease and pain management, to one which is focused on the promotion of health and vitality, so that we can live our lives and passions to the fullest!
References and research:
Hunter, P. The inflammation theory of disease. EMBO reports 13, (2012) 968–970; 9 October 2012; DOI:10.1038/embor.2012.142
Hansel, A. Inflammation as a psychophysiological biomarker in chronic psychosocial stress. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 35 (2010) 115–121.
Lim, H-D. Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Acupuncture Stimulation via the Vagus Nerve. PLoS ONE 11(3): e0151882. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0151882
Minihana, A., et al. Low-grade inflammation, diet composition and health: current research evidence and its translation. British Journal of Nutrition (2015), 114, 999–1012. DOI:10.1017/S0007114515002093
Wirtz, P. Psychological Stress, Inflammation, and Coronary Heart Disease. Curr Cardiol Rep (2017) 19:111 DOI 10.1007/s11886-017-0919-x
Zijlstra, F. et al. Anti-inflammatory actions of acupuncture. Mediators of Inflammation, 12(2), 59/69 (April 2003)