This post is about anti-inflammatory meds and anti-inflammatory foods, but first I want to share a fable…humor me plz:
Remember the story about the wind and sun arguing over who was more powerful, and the wind said he would prove it by blowing a man’s coat off?
The wind tried and tried, but the man only felt cold and miserable and hung on to his coat tighter.
Then the sun shined and warmed the man who soon felt so comfortable that it would be silly to wear a coat in this lovely weather…so he voluntarily took it off.
Now, ‘they’ are saying ‘anti-inflammatories’ are bad for you.
Okay, cool story bro. The alternative wellness community has known for some time that NSAIDs have a few worrisome issues, and that tylenol is hard on the liver, and may even impair emotional intelligence with prolonged use.
So we use them very sparingly, if at all.
However – the mainstream health community is jumping right past Advil and Tylenol, and instead, want to limit their consumption of anti-inflammatory food supplements like turmeric, garlic, flaxseeds and chia seeds.
As if holistic, food-based anti-inflammatories are the same as over the counter meds (they’re NOT).
Two side notes here:
1. Inflammation is protective in nature, and has a positive role to play in the body. For example, a fever feels gross, but it’s our body’s way of combatting an internal threat. A swollen joint or aggravated cut is aiming to protect that body part from further damage.
In both cases, the feeling of inflammation is also information from the body saying, hey buddy, there’s a problem going on here, don’t ignore it.
2. Inflammation is understood to play a role in MOST major chronic illnesses, and so it stands to reason that reducing inflammation is generally a good thing.
If you simply take away your body’s ability to create inflammation (by taking anti-inflammatory drugs), you may be staving off an immediate issue…BUT:
In the long run, you’re mucking up the gears, because your body is intelligent and doesn’t just randomly decide to become inflamed. (Really, it doesn’t. If your doc told you that, I’m sorry – for both you and your doc.)
There’s a ROOT CAUSE somewhere, even if it’s not immediately apparent.
Advil and Tylenol are like the North Wind’s approach. They work by inhibiting your body’s ability to respond to a potential threat with inflammation.
Analogy time! Somebody shook the beehive…now what?
Imagine a beehive full of agitated, angry bees.
What if you decide to solve the problem by plugging up the hive entrance with whatever you can find (let’s say a bottle of pills).
Are they gonna be any less angry, now that they’re trapped in there?
It’s a temporary “fix” at best.
Instead – what if you were able to…..look around and change something in the environment that was making the bees angry in the first place?
Maybe the tree their hive is in is being trimmed by a landscaping company, and the vibration of the chainsaw is making them angry?
Oh, but they’re not even cutting that branch, why should that matter?
No – everything is connected. It DOES matter.
When an individual’s internal ecosystem becomes weakened—whether due to poor nutrition, toxicity or other factors—it changes the function of the microbes that are naturally present in the body, producing disease. In other words, microorganisms only become pathogenic after environmental factors cause the host’s cellular “terrain” to deteriorate.
Advil and Tylenol have their place (i.e. occasional use for acute issues!), but it’s absurd to put them in the same category as garlic, turmeric, and other food-based supplements.
Ideally, food is medicine – but that doesn’t mean we should start fretting about our excess broccoli intake or micromanaging our fruit consumption.
There’s a HUGE difference between masking symptoms (pun intended, for those of you who are still enamoured of wearing a scrap of cloth over your faces in public) – and shifting the environment in which the symptom manifests.
Illness does not exist in a vacuum.
This is a key thing to understand, whether we’re talking about the immune system or behavioral patterns in relationships.
A hundred years ago, we used to understand that sometimes, taking an ill person to the seaside or the mountains to get better actually worked.
Not because there’s some magic cure in the mountain air or sea spray, per se – but because changing one’s environment changes our symptoms – how they manifest, and which tools we may access for treating them.
Foods, relationships, sunshine, water, air quality, time outside, time with loved ones, stress (or lack thereof) – all of these contribute to how our bodies handle immune system challenges in real, tangible ways.
Now, we have so much more information and data to solve the mysteries of our health and wellbeing – but too often, we’re just focused on removing symptoms and don’t bother thinking about the environment which manifested them.
If we don’t look critically at the lifestyle, habits, and choices that led to our illness – how can we expect to remain healthy? Nothing changes unless we do.