Many people have had inflammation before. Some may argue that every adult suffers from inflammation at least once in their life, and probably much more often. Inflammation can actually affect almost every area of our body: inflammation of the gums, inflammation of the gastric mucosa, skin inflammation, inflammation of the colon, conjunctivitis, cystitis, sinusitis - are just a few examples of inflammatory diseases.
If a child falls and scrapes their knee, an adult quickly rushes over and applies something to the wound “so that it doesn’t become infected” – but what exactly is inflammation, why do organs or wounds become inflamed and how should one be treated? At best, prevent inflammation or fight it? We would like to clarify this and more in this article.
What is inflammation?
In short, inflammation is a biological protective reaction in which the body's white blood cells protect us from infections caused by bacteria, viruses and foreign substances. Depending on the duration, inflammation can be acute or even become chronic.
The inflammation is also commonly referred to as inflammation (Latin inflammatio). Inflammation can be classified by the classic inflammatory symptoms, such as redness, overheating, swelling and pain. In addition, with most inflammations there is also a functional limitation, such as movement or well-being.
According to a further definition of the term, it can be said that any immune reactions in the body can be described as inflammation. This already suggests that our immune system and inflammation are closely linked.
It is also interesting to know that the medical terms for inflammation are formed by adding -itis to the Greek name for the inflamed anatomical structure - so if your doctor has ever told you a complicated-sounding word with the ending -itis, then it is he spoke of inflammation.
But how does inflammation actually occur in our body?
What causes inflammation in the body?
Inflammation is nature's way of protecting us from infections and foreign substances. The overall purpose of the inflammation is to ensure that the threat is contained, warded off and the damage is then eliminated.
In our body, the blood vessels in the threatened structure of the body expand so that this region is better supplied with blood. The expansion of the blood vessels, the better blood circulation, is caused by the messenger substances interleukin-1 and prostaglandin I2 in our immune system.
The immune system recognizes a danger and threat to our body and our health in good time, which is why it reacts with these messenger substances in order to address the threat. The expansion of the blood vessels also causes the typical symptoms of red swelling, pain and overheating. The vasodilation allows more blood plasma and immune cells to reach the tissue, making it easier to combat the potential threat.
Inflammation can be health-preserving and protective as well as harmful.
Should you prevent inflammation or allow it?
Our immune system is our body's defense system and it basically fights harmful pathogens and cells so that we don't get sick but stay healthy. This is necessary, valuable and health-preserving.
This complex network, which consists of various actors, is our protector and in most cases helps us to avoid becoming seriously ill due to inflammation.
If, for example, there is an injury, an infection or a foreign body in our body, our body's inflammatory immune reaction is to be encouraged and should only be interrupted under medical supervision. In most cases, this “good” inflammation should be allowed.
If we take a closer look at the connection between our immune system and inflammation, we also find examples of inflammation that should be avoided.
The good and helpful inflammation
A clear example of a “good” inflammation, which each of us has probably experienced on our own body, is the cut. For example, if we cut our finger, we have broken through the natural protective layers of our skin, blood comes out and potential pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria, can penetrate the open wound unhindered. There is danger.
The area around the cut therefore becomes red, swollen and painful. The blood vessels have been dilated by interleukin-1 and prostaglandin I2 so that other messenger substances and white blood cells can begin healing the wound so that the cut does not become a problem for our health. The messenger substances prostaglandin E2, prostaglandin I2, bradykinin and other kinins ensure the feeling of pain in the cut so that we can immobilize and protect the affected part of the body, for example our finger. This increased metabolic activity creates the familiar feeling of warmth in and around a wound through cytokines such as interleukin-6 through the production of prostaglandin E2. Wound healing has begun and the immune system works to ensure that the wound does not become infected and that it is adequately protected from “invaders”.
In this example, it is a health-preserving inflammation that protects our body and is necessary to prevent the cut from becoming infected.
The harmful inflammation
Inflammation is not always helpful or useful for our body, such as in the case of an allergy. If someone has hay fever, the person's immune system reacts excessively to the substances from the hay, other grasses and pollen that are in the air and triggers an immune reaction - an actually harmless and harmless substance is fought by our immune system, which leads to leads to a variety of symptoms that affect people's health without fulfilling any useful purpose.
This immune reaction is harmful and not necessary for our health. Chronic inflammation and autoimmune diseases in particular often puzzle science and are the focus of modern research.
Specific causes of inflammation
The potential triggers and causes of inflammation are numerous. It can be said that a stimulus that overwhelms our physiology triggers inflammation. Such overwhelming stimuli can be physical or mechanical in nature (friction, impact, pressure, injury), thermal stimuli such as UV radiation or chemical stimuli such as poisons or acids.
Allergens and autoallergens can also cause chronic inflammation, such as rheumatism or autoimmune diseases. Common triggers of inflammation are of course also classic pathogens, such as viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites.
- Mechanical stimuli (friction, pressure, injury)
- Thermal stimuli (UV radiation, burns)
- Chemical stimuli (acids, alkalis, poisons)
- Bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi
- Actually harmless substances (pollen, grass, etc.)
Immune system and inflammation
Our immune system is our body's defense system and it fights harmful pathogens and cells so that we don't get sick. In the case of wound injuries, it also helps to keep further harm away from us through the formation of inflammation and the distribution of messenger substances.
The immune system is a complex network that consists of various players: this is why, under certain circumstances, not only healthy and helpful inflammation can occur, but also the “bad” inflammation already described, such as autoimmune disease or rheumatism and allergies. We can only control this to a limited extent and can only address it preventively through a healthy diet and support of the immune system.
We would like to explain in more detail why it makes sense to support our specific immune system in the following section.
Specific immune system – the acquired protection
Our specific immune system is not innate, but is only acquired through external influences and through confrontation with our environment and its pathogens after birth. When our body comes into contact with a potential pathogen, such as a virus or bacteria, our body uses certain defense mechanisms to specifically ward off and fight the pathogen.
Our immune system basically remembers the characteristics of the pathogen and can fight it off even more efficiently when it comes into contact again. The so-called T cells and B cells, a certain type of white blood cell, play an important role in our specific immune system. This lifelong learning of our immune system is a factor in why our immune system can sometimes make mistakes and unnecessarily trigger an immune reaction that is actually not necessary.
That's why it makes sense for many reasons, especially in the case of chronic inflammation and immune diseases, to strengthen our immune system. On the one hand, this protects you from potentially necessary inflammations, as well as from unnecessary, “bad” inflammations, which should be avoided under medical supervision.
Colostrum to prevent inflammation
One way to preventively protect yourself from inflammation or to strengthen your immune system is colostrum .
Colostrum is the first substance that is released to the newborn after pregnancy by a mammal, for example a woman or a female cow. In liquid form, colostrum is produced by the female mammary glands and contains concentrated and valuable ingredients in the form of antibodies, proteins, vitamins, amino acids, and much more
Colostrum therefore supports the immune system in a completely natural way, because it is one of the most original supply mechanisms in mammalogy, the biology of mammals.
The unique “first milk” is the first strengthening food of every mammal to make the new living being resistant and able to survive. The positive effects of colostrum on human health have been scientifically proven for a long time and are particularly diverse in their scope.
In addition to supporting our immune system through the immunoglobulins (antibodies) contained in colostrum, colostrum also has an antibacterial effect and can neutralize free radicals that could trigger inflammation.
Colostrum extracts are not a medicine or dietary supplement, but a very special kind of food that can originally support our health and immune system through its natural effectiveness. We make use of Mother Nature's evolutionary genius.
The antibodies (immunoglobulins) contained in colostrum and the numerous other nutrients and active ingredients support our immune system throughout our lives and can protect us from unpleasant inflammation.
Colostrum has an antioxidant effect and strengthens the immune system on aerztezeitung.de, January 18, 2008, last accessed on June 25, 2019
Przybylska, J.; Albera, E.; Kankofer, M.: Antioxidants in Bovine Colostrum , April 2007
R. Pakkanen, J. Aalto: Growth Factors and Antimicrobial Factors of Bovine Colostrum. In: International Dairy Journal. 7 (5), 1997, pp. 285-297