anti-inflammatory agents


[an-tee-in-flam-uh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee, an-tahy-]
Anti-inflammatory refers to the property of a substance or treatment that reduces inflammation. Anti-inflammatory drugs make up about half of analgesics, remedying pain by reducing inflammation as opposed to opioids which affect the brain.

Steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Many steroids, specifically glucocorticoids, reduce inflammation or swelling by binding to cortisol receptors. These drugs are often referred to as corticosteroids.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), alleviate pain by counteracting the cyclooxygenase (COX) enzyme. On its own COX enzyme synthesizes prostaglandins, creating inflammation. In whole the NSAIDs prevent the prostaglandins from ever being synthesized, reducing or eliminating the pain.

Some common examples of NSAIDs are: aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. The newer specific COX-inhibitors although probably sharing a similar mode of action are not classified together with the traditional NSAIDs.

In addition to medical drugs, many herbs have anti-inflammatory qualities, including hyssop, ginger, Turmeric, Arnica montana which contains helenalin, a sesquiterpene lactone, and willow bark, which contains salicylic acid, a substance related to the active ingredient in aspirin. Cannabichromene, one of the many cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant, has been shown to reduce inflammation.

On the other hand, there are analgesics which are commonly associated with anti-inflammatory drugs but which have no anti-inflammatory effects. An example is paracetamol, called acetaminophen in the U.S. and sold under the brand name of Tylenol. As opposed to NSAIDS, which reduce pain and inflammation by inhibiting COX enzymes, paracetamol has recently been shown to block the reuptake of endocannabinoids, which only reduces pain, likely explaining why it has minimal effect on inflammation.

Some are concerned about the long term usage of NSAIDs as they cause gastric erosions which can become stomach ulcers and in extreme cases can cause severe haemorrhage resulting in death. The risk of death as a result of use of NSAIDs is 1 in 10,000 for young adults aged 16-45. The risk increases tenfold for those over 75. Other dangers of NSAIDs are exacerbating asthma and causing kidney damage.

Possible benefits on Alzheimer's disease

Clinical studies have shown that a prolonged intake of certain anti-inflammatory (non-steroid) drugs has a positive effect on Alzheimer.

Helminthic Therapy

Helminthic therapy is the treatment of autoimmune diseases and immunological disorders involving inflammation. by means of deliberate infection with a helminth or with the ova of a helminth. Helminthis are parasitic worms, or nematodes, such as Trichuris suis or hookworms. Helminthic therapy is currently being studied as a promising treatment for several (non-viral) auto-immune diseases including Crohn's disease, and Ulcerative colitis.

The therapy involves inoculation of the patient with specific parasitic intestinal nematodes (helminths). There are currently two closely related treatments available, either inoculation with Necator americanus, commonly known as hookworms, or Trichuris Suis Ova, (TSO) commonly known as Pig Whipworm Eggs.

There is early research suggesting that Helminthic Therapy may also be effective against disorders involving inflammation that are not caused by immunological disorders.

Helminthic therapy has emerged from the extensive research into why the incidence of autoimmune diseases and allergies is relatively low in less developed countries, while there has been a significant and sustained increase in autoimmune diseases in the industrialized countries.. Current research and available therapy is targeted at, or available for, the treatment of Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) as well as Multiple Sclerosis, Asthma, Eczema, Dermatitis, Hay fever and food allergies. Please see Helminthic therapy for information regarding those conditions.

Ice treatment

Applying ice to a tissue injury has an anti-inflammatory effect and is often suggested as an injury treatment and pain management technique for athletes. Practitioners of Chinese medicine, on the other hand, contend that ice is only useful for 24hours or so after acute trauma. After which time ice becomes counterproductive to healing, as cold inhibits local blood circulation.

Anti-inflammatory foods

Due to concerns over the gastric problems caused by NSAIDs researchers are turning to more natural solutions to dealing with the problem of inflammation. One ingredient with a great future potential is capsaicin, a naturally occurring ingredient in chili peppers. Studies have shown some success in the control of pain and inflammation when capsaicin is applied topically.

Others advocate the consumption of anti-inflammatory foods as a means of controlling inflammation. Anti-inflammatory foods include most colorful fruits and vegetables, oily fish and certain nuts, seeds, herbs and spices such as ginger. Those following an anti-inflammatory diet will avoid refined oils and sugars, and show a preference for anti-inflammatory foods in their meal choices. Tobacco may have some anti-inflammatory effects, see Smoker’s Paradox. In some conditions, dietary omega-3 fatty acids lower inflammation, see Essential fatty acid interactions.


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