The Many Benefits of Healthy Inflammation
Embracing inflammation may sound counter-intuitive in a wellness world where anti-inflammatories are one of the most common remedies. As with every process in the human body there is a reason and balance for every function, and inflammation is no exception. Short term, healthy inflammation is essential to maintain balance within our body, while long term, chronic inflammation can lead to imbalance and potential health problems. Each day, we should be tending to our body’s natural balance and noticing where we may be experiencing too much inflammation, and making appropriate adjustments.
Inflammation is very normal and even essential for our body to function at its best. There is an incredible balance within our body called “homeostasis”. Homeostasis is this harmonious and predictable equilibrium of everything working together for the common physiological good. A gentle push and pull, an equal give and take, an innate ebb and flow - this balance within our body relies on a healthy inflammatory response to maintain that equilibrium! When we exercise heavily, it’s natural for our energy and stress hormones to rise, our blood pressure to increase, and our digestive system to slow. Without a predictable and gentle inflammation response to these otherwise very stressful changes, we may not be able to fully recover from the simple act of going for a run. But when kept in check, our body has a perfect balance of inflammatory processes that can meet our needs without getting too out of control.
What are the benefits of healthy inflammation?
Short-term inflammation protects our cells and tissues from excess damage. Inflammation is a first alert for our body to respond to something, and this means signaling our immune system or nervous system, for example, to be alert and at the ready.
When maintained and supported over time, inflammation modulation will enhance our ability to move and exercise as we age, and protect our muscles and joints from experiencing a hyper-increased level of rampant inflammation. For example, daily gentle exercise will help our body naturally adapt to a healthy inflammatory response, rather than inconsistent, intense bouts of (stressful) exercise which can result in a more acute inflammatory response.
Inflammation in the short term is needed to help our body recover from any stressor, be it physical, environmental or even emotional. It is the necessary first step to any recovery.
How can we support a healthy inflammatory response long term?
Inflammation can be triggered by several things, including emotional stress, physical stress and body trauma, food inputs that we may be sensitive to, environmental triggers like allergies, and sometimes genetic factors or auto-immune conditions. The goal is to keep inflammation in check. Therefore to support a healthy inflammation response, daily intentional habits tend to be those most effective in these areas.
If stress is high for you, work towards supporting your stress response through daily practices that work best for you such as meditation, gentle exercise, herbal supplements, or tea rituals with products like our Relax tea or Chamomile Vanilla Manuka Honey tea. Read more about the Ayurvedic Approach to Managing Stress here.
If you have a high level of physical stress on your body from exercise or an active job or lifestyle, then taking time each day to intentionally calm that physical inflammation can be very helpful. This includes practices such as epsom salt baths nightly, gentle stretching, or local compresses on areas of your body that are sore or overworked.
Adjust your diet to remove foods that cause your body distress. These may be foods that make you feel bloated, upset your digestive system, cause redness or breakouts on your skin, or even foods that you notice give you headaches. These are all signs of excess inflammation, and the more we can remove these triggers, the better.
Try taking turmeric throughout the day. Turmeric in Ayurveda is a food spice, and readily consumed in so many delicious ways. Although it is touted as an “anti-inflammatory”, it is more accurately described as an “inflammation modulator”. It does not discourage inflammation in your body, but rather helps to control inflammation to a healthy level while also providing so many other benefits to other areas of the body. Learn more about the many benefits of Turmeric here!
Want to try turmeric yourself? Turmeric Active is an excellent choice if you want to gently support your active lifestyle. Using whole root turmeric along with warming ginger, soothing nettle and a touch of sweet licorice root, this delicious blend is a daily tonic for the whole body with a supportive nod to the many benefits of maintaining healthy inflammation.
Author: Lindsay Kluge
Herbal Educator, Pukka Herbs US
Lindsay is a clinical herbalist and nutritionist with a passion for bringing plants and people together. Through her work as a teacher and practitioner, she is passionate about helping people feel empowered in their health through community organic gardening, health education, and connection with nature. She has worked in clinical practiced with naturopathic doctors and MD’s alike, bridging the gap between alternative and conventional medicine to bring comprehensive, research based botanical medicine to her local communities. With an undergraduate degree in horticulture and a Masters in herbal medicine, plants are Lindsay's love language. She currently serves as the herbal educator for Pukka Herbs in the US, and teaches clinical nutrition at her alma mater, the Maryland University of Integrative Health. She is a guest lecturer at herbal medicine schools and conferences throughout the US.
MS Herbal Medicine
Years of Experience:
10+ years as a clinical herbalist and nutritionist practitioner