Inflammatory conditions

Inflammation is a normal response to an injury, allergy or infection. It is the body's way of dealing with trauma or a threat such as an infection. As part of the inflammatory response the body releases pro-inflammatory chemicals that deal with the problem. When the threat has been dealt with, these same processes release anti-inflammatory chemicals to return things to normal for healing to begin at the affected site. In order for this mechanism to work properly the body must be able to distinguish between 'self-cells' and 'non-self cells', so its does not mount an attack on itself. However, if our immune system is in some way unbalanced, there is a risk of chronic inflammation developing somewhere in the body. Chronic inflammation arises when the immune response has not completely turned off and remains active in the background, like slow-burning embers. These pro-inflammatory cells circulating in the body have the potential to damage body parts such as the mucous membrane of the gut, various organs, or the delicate lining of blood vessels. Various foods or substances may fan these embers from time to time and provoke a more acute inflammatory response. Bowel and skin disorders are good examples of this pattern. There is a growing understanding within medical circles that inflammation lies at the root of many conditions and in fact, most chronic ailments are underpinned by inflammation.

Listed below are symptoms commonly associated with chronic inflammation

  • aches and pains
  • stiffness
  • swelling
  • skin rashes
  • congestion (sinuses, throat)
  • dryness of the eyes
  • indigestion/bloating/diarrhoea
  • weight gain/obesity


Certain herbs act to reduce inflammation in a safe way, hence their value in treating a wide range of disorders. However, in many cases of chronic inflammation, dietary changes are also necessary as some foods may be causing a low-grade reaction in the gut. You will see that our immune system and our digestive system are very interlinked and both have a role to play in the inflammation process. For more about Digestion click here. For more about the Immune system, click here.

Design: Alan Davis