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Inflammation occurs in the body when it has experienced injury or infection. Affected tissue may swell, redden, feel warm and tender, and feel varying degrees of pain. Environmental toxins, free radical damage, trauma, and drug overuse can also cause or exacerbate inflammation. Finding the exact source of inflammation may not be easy as the body often exhibits "referred pain" – inflammation may show up in an arm when it is the shoulder or neck that is causing the inflammation.

Both internal and external organs and tissue can become inflamed. Bacterial infection may cause internal inflammation, but allergies, arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and various gastrointestinal ailments can also be the cause. Injury, allergies, and infection are often the causes for external inflammation. Tooth abscesses, carpal tunnel, and autoimmune diseases are a few common ailments where inflammation occurs.

Because inflammation not only affects overall health and well-being, but also can be a harbinger or prelude to more serious ailments, such as cardiovascular disease, nurturing and nourishing the body are vital. Foods high in flavonoids, such as blueberries or spinach, can be useful in inflammation reduction. Onions, which contain quercetin, are also beneficial in inflamed conditions. Fresh pineapple, which contains bromelain, and fresh papaya, which contains papain, can help reduce swelling and inflammation. All green foods and drinks help nourish the body. Coconut water is also thought to aid in relieving inflammation. Refined sugar, however, can increase the inflamed condition.

Many complementary and alternative medicine modalities can be quite beneficial in inflammation. Homeopathic injections are being used to treat inflammation pain. Acupuncture can increase the flow of chi relieving the blocks inflammation causes. Rolfing and myofacial release can also remove the blocks that cause inflammation. Biofeedback and meditation can aid in stress reduction, often a source or contributor to inflammation.

A number of herbs can also be useful in inflamed conditions. HC 041234-453 explores the benefits of a combination of Korean red ginseng (Panax ginseng; Araliaceae) roots, white mulberry (Morus alba; Moraceae) leaf water extract, and banaba (Lagerstroemia speciosa; Lythraceae) leaf water extract in the treatment of systemic low-grade inflammation in type 2 diabetics. Aloe (Aloe vera; Liliaceae), bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus; Ericaceae), and boswellia (Boswellia serrata; Burseraceae) are also among the many herbs that have been found to decrease inflammation.

Lori Glenn,  Managing Editor