This Ancient Healing Practice Drastically Reduces Inflammation
Recent scientific discoveries suggest a new approach to managing inflammation. Will it be effective at dealing with an issue believed to be at the root of all diseases?
Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autoimmune disease — are just a few of the conditions in which inflammation is known to play a major role. Though it is the body’s natural process to rid itself of waste products, excessive inflammation can wreak havoc on multiple systems.
In a new approach, scientists suggest they may have found a way to go beyond current treatments that seek to stop inflammation, often without lasting effects. The new research focuses on targeting immune cells called macrophages to help with the cellular clean-up necessary to fully resolve inflammation.
“Science shows — which is great — ‘we need to get in there, help manipulate the macrophages and clean up the lymph outside the cells…’ Great idea! But Ayurveda would say ‘let’s do that by going upstream,’ and treat the upstream cause of that inflammation versus trying to put out the fire with fire trucks in which the fire is sometimes too big for the fire trucks,” Douillard said.
Ayurveda has traced the upstream issues causing inflammation to several key factors.
“Inflammation is a double-edged sword right? It happens in a natural way, the body has to plan for that, but it also can be excessive, and that stems from the Ayurvedic perspective from a weak and broken-down digestive system,” Douillard said.
“So, if you don’t break your proteins and your fats down the way you should… (it) will go undigested into your digestional tract, they’ll be too big to get into your blood and feed you, according to the studies, and find a way to get into the lymphatic system, which lines your intestinal tract. It creates extra weight around your belly, it creates inflammation, and that’s inflammation in the lymph. Remember, the lymph system is trying to do three basic things: one carry the trash out, number two carry your immune system, and number three carry good, broken-down fats to every cell of your body for baseline energy. So, inflammation is going to cause fatigue and tiredness, and it can cause a compromised immune system.”
Another cause of inflammation seen as pivotal by Ayurveda has to do with our exposure to light.
“We have a daylight deficiency in our culture and getting out in the sun is critically important because that produces antioxidants in our cells that prevent inflammation. So, if you don’t get outside you’re going to be inflamed. One of the best, biggest mitigators for oxidative stress and inflammation is the sun. 70 percent of the sunlight that we see outside is called infrared light, which penetrates our skin several inches and activates the production of energy in the mitochondria, but it also activates an antioxidant and the name of that antioxidant is called melatonin, which is the number one mitigator for inflammation,” Douillard said.
What else, besides getting outside, can we do to mitigate inflammation?
“One of the things that we all know, but don’t maybe do as well as we could, is eating organic and organic foods are important because when you eat conventional foods that have pesticides on them — those pesticides kill the microbes in your mouth that make enzymes that help you digest the food properly, like the wheat and dairy,” Douillard said.
“Processed foods have a similar impact on the body. Now there are foods for the lymphatic system — anything that is like a berry or a cherry, or a beet, or cranberry — anything that would turn your beautiful white shirt red and stain it, is going to be an antioxidative food that’s going to help support lymphatic drainage because the antioxidants work through your lymphatic system. All the leafy green alkaloid foods are very good for your lymphatic system as well,” he said.
“Stress is a big factor — techniques like meditation, yoga, and breathing techniques are all powerful stress-reduction techniques — but the body was designed to handle stress and mitigate inflammation. But when you have nothing but stress coming in, and no pulling back the bow and becoming calm — I call it the eye of the hurricane — and that’s the goal of Ayurveda is to learn how to live in the eye of the storm, and that is where inflammation doesn’t exist.”
While Douillard commends western scientists for their advances in understanding the underlying mechanisms of inflammation, he believes that when it comes to treating the root causes, 5,000 years of Ayurvedic science has gotten it mostly right.
Stimulating This Nerve May Reduce Chronic Stress in the Body
A flurry of new research has been pointing to one nerve that just may be the key to true health and wellbeing.
The vagus nerve, which comes from the Latin word for “wandering”, is the longest and most complex nerve in the human body, traveling from the brain stem all the way down to the colon.
Dr. Donese Worden is a Naturopathic Medical Doctor who has been closely following the research. “The vagus nerve is like an information superhighway, and it goes back and forth from the brain to the organs, and now we know it communicates with the microbiome,” she said.
“It specifically really works on talking to the heart, the lungs, the gut, and the brain. And the feedback goes both ways. So when we’re upset about something, if you feel hungry, you’re short of breath, your heart is beating fast, it’s because of that information traveling back up to the brain from the nervous system saying ‘something is up and we need to take care of it.'”