Chronic inflammation is linked to a multitude of diseases and disorders. It can make you feel miserable. It can also be silent while triggering or inflaming diseases you inherited. When you know you have chronic inflammation, you can make changes to help reduce it.
In our last article, we discussed a test that measures a chemical by-product associated with inflammation (thromboxane) to help you understand what’s going on in your body. In addition to being a marker of risk, this test has also shown that medications, dietary supplements, foods, and spices frequently taken to reduce chronic inflammation can lower thromboxane levels.
In this article, the second part of our inflammation series, we look at the substances that lowered inflammation in people who took the test. With this information and the help of your health care provider and/or dietician, you can find ways to reduce inflammation in your body.
Chronic Inflammation and the At-home Test
To review our last article, inflammation is a normal body process that helps you heal. But, when “acute” inflammation is unresolved and your body continues trying to heal itself, inflammation becomes “chronic.” So, chronic inflammation can stem from an injury or infection not healing. It also stems from your body reacting to your diet, lifestyle, or environment.
The test adapted by Gordon Ens, laboratory director of Inflammatory Markers Laboratory (IML), measures your body’s production of thromboxane, a signaling molecule that tells your body to heal. This test was designed to measure the “aspirin-effect,” or whether an aspirin regime is lowering thromboxane production and the risk of disease, particularly heart disease.
The test provides a score and a reference range for apparently healthy people with no obvious inflammation, people taking aspirin to prevent heart events, and people who may be producing an increased amount of thromboxane and therefore may be inflamed.
Since its FDA approval in 2008, the test has shown a variety of substances other than aspirin lower this score. While it’s not surprising that medications like statins cause the aspirin effect of lowering inflammation, other elements tested like cannabidiol (CBD), antioxidant glutathione, and intravenous Ultraviolet light treatments provide fresh insight.
It’s also worth noting that even if a regime of aspirin or medication is lowering your thromboxane production, levels may be lowered even further with the right foods and supplements.
“We have seen from case studies, including my own, that even if you’re on aspirin and you take dihydroberberine you can lower thromboxane,” Ens says. “Same with niacinamide and dihydroquercetin (taxifolin.) I take dihydroquercetin, dihydroberberine, and fish oil to lower my score (in addition to aspirin).”
Multiple studies have shown that if an aspirin regime doesn’t lower thromboxane production enough, a person who’s had a heart event is 350% more likely to have a second. Plus, most chronic diseases, allergies, depression, obesity, and even oral health are associated with elevated thromboxane levels.
That means keeping this chemical reaction low in your body helps prevent health issues, whether you've had a previous issue or not.
Medications, Foods, and Supplements Shown to Lower Thromboxane Production
- Aspirin, high and low doses.
- Glucocorticoid, steroid hormones.
- Nitric Oxide, a gas your body produces.
- Statins, lipid-lowering medications.
- NSAIDs, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Hydroxychloroquine, an immunosuppressive and anti-parasite drug.
- Methotrexate, a chemotherapy and immunosuppressive drug.
- Omega-3 fish oil
- Berberine, a chemical found in plants and trees.
- Curcumin, a plant chemical; the principal curcuminoid of turmeric.
- CBD, an active ingredient in cannabis.
- Polyphenols, naturally occurring organic compounds found in plants, herbs, and spices.
- Flavonoids, the largest group of polyphenols; plant pigments found in foods.
- Antioxidants, compounds that inhibit oxidations and fight free radicals. Our bodies make them, and we eat them in plants, eggs, dairy, and meat.
- Phenolic acid, a type of polyphenol found in plant seeds, skins, and leaves.
- Alpha-lipoic acid, a food-based antioxidant found in vegetables and some meat.
- Isoflavones, a type of polyphenol found in legumes, beans, fruits, and nuts.
- Tannins, organic substances found in skins, seeds, and stems of plants and trees.
- Quercetin, a plant pigment (flavonoid) found in plants and foods.
- Resveratrol, a natural phenol produced by plants to ward off fungi or disease.
Nutraceutical Spices & Foods
- Black pepper
You may certainly want to consider eating these foods and spices more often. Taking supplements made from these foods and spices is also worth discussing with your health care provider, since they can lower thromboxane production and inflammation.
Lifestyle, Diet and Exercise are Crucial to Reducing Inflammation
In addition to medications and nutraceutical agents, companies and individuals have used the test to determine that lifestyle changes can also lower thromboxane production significantly. These include smoking cessation, weight loss, reduced sugar consumption, habitual exercise, and healthy eating like the Mediterranean Diet.
“IML has demonstrated that we can show how quickly it has an effect once it’s in the body,” Ens explains. “A person can drop their score almost literally overnight.”
In such an instance, a woman who worked for IML stopped drinking soda daily, replacing it with water. She changed nothing else in her life, yet her test score dropped about 40%, he adds.
Unfortunately, our lifestyles and the things we consume also have negative effects, increasing our thromboxane production and inflammation almost immediately.
That’s why in the third segment of this series, we’ll discuss the importance of diet and exercise in keeping thromboxane levels and chronic inflammation reduced.
We’ll also share the personal story of our President and CEO Joe Brunner – how he got one of the lowest inflammation scores ever recorded, and the reason why his score didn’t stay that low.