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Reduce Inflammation, Lower Stress

by Mary Beth Janssen

Stress reduction plays a significant role in quelling inflammation, which is why it is essential that everyone develops tools to help manage stress. Studies have shown how mindfulness techniques may be more effective in relieving inflammatory symptoms than other activities that promote well-being. They have been shown to reduce the expression of genes involved in the inflammatory process. 

No doubt, the mind-body connection is very important in managing inflammation: through a devoted practice to meditation, yoga and healing breathwork, one can bring the body, the mind and the emotions--in essence, the central nervous system--to a cooler, calmer and more balanced state. 

Consider anger, which is a “hot” emotion—the red face and heightened blood pressure that accompanies rage indicates an inflammation response. From a cell’s viewpoint, there’s no distinction between an inflamed emotion and inflamed skin from a sunburn. Whatever triggers the inflammation--internally or externally, emotional or physical--will trigger a response that will be the same or similar.

Fighting Inflammation with Food

An anti-inflammation diet is a front-line defense. After all, food is medicine. We nourish ourselves by converting the energy and information from our food into the biological intelligence of our body. To create and maintain a healthy mind-body physiology, our food must be nourishing, our digestive power strong, and our elimination efficient. 

Include a variety of colors in your plant foods, whether fruits or veggies. Try for local and in-season whenever possible. The deep pigments are dense in a variety of phytonutrients or healing compounds, vitamins, minerals, which, combined, have tremendous anti-inflammatory benefits. Organic herbs and botanicals have a place at this table also. And don’t forget the dark chocolate! Mindfully enjoy these foods in a state of gratitude and calm, which has an impact on how you digest your food.

Anti-Inflammatory Herbs and Supplements

Before trying any new anti-inflammatory treatment, even a natural one, it’s imperative that you consult with your physician. The type of inflammation determines the supplement and dosing.

Natural remedies are often potent medicine that can cause side effects and interact with other drugs. When they work, however, they may help reduce the dosing or the need to take prescription or OTC medications.

Some of the most effective evidence-based anti-inflammatory herbs, spices and supplements people may wish to try, depending on the cause of inflammation, are following, and please look for certified organic, wherever possible:

•    Omega 3 fatty-acids   

•    Curcumin, an active ingredient in turmeric

•    Ginger

•    Boswellia serrata or Frankincense

•    Zinc

•    Green tea

Bruce Lipton, PhD, said, “The moment we change our perception, we rewrite the chemistry of our body.” The more present you are in a relaxed state of awareness, the more able you are to modify your response to those stressors that initiate inflammatory processes. 

So the moral of the story here is that mindfulness is essential to become the witness to how our body “reacts” when stressed, and be able to shift, then “respond” from a state of relaxed awareness. If we can’t change the stressor, we can change our perception of it. This can quell the flames.

MARY BETH JANSSEN, CAyur, RYT, CMT, is president of the Janssen Source, wellness director for a large Chicagoland Health Care Organization, and certified Ayurvedic and mind-body health specialist for the Chopra Center for Wellbeing 

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