What Is Inflammation?
We hear a lot about inflammation in the natural health world, especially concerning healthy lifestyles and avoiding things that cause inflammation. But, what is inflammation precisely, and is it always "bad"?
Inflammation is your body’s natural response to harm. A cut gives us an easy example of this immune response. The first and most noticeable thing that happens when your skin is cut or scraped is that platelets (a type of blood cell) and fibrin (a protein) get together to form a clot and plug the hole to stop the bleeding.
Once the wound is safely clotted over, blood flow can carry on under the scab allowing the rest of the healing process to commence. Along with oxygen and other nutrients, your blood carries a type of white blood cell called a macrophage to the site of the cut.
Macrophages destroy bacteria, clean up dead cells, secrete or attract inflammatory cytokines, and produce growth factors to help repair the wound.
With cuts and scrapes or other kinds of tissue damage, other white blood cells and proteins are involved along with the macrophages. All together, these cells cause a build-up of fluid which leads to swelling.
They also cause neighboring capillaries to become more permeable, allowing traffic to flow more easily and giving all these busy cells access to the tissues that need repair. This increased blood flow causes the redness and pain we call inflammation.
This process also happens in tissues damaged by a virus; this is the cause of a sore throat when you have a cold or a stomach ache when you have a digestive bug.
Many things can cause skin inflammation. For example, sunburn and heat rash are states of inflammation caused by heat. Rashes, redness, swelling, and peeling or scabbing caused by allergic reactions or infections are also states of inflammation.
Because inflammation is a part of your body's natural immune response, you generally want to allow your system to get on with it and deal with the problem that caused the inflammation in the first place.
But, there are times when you need relief from pain, itching, or other symptoms, or perhaps the inflammatory condition is ongoing, as with autoimmune diseases.
When looking for topical relief of inflammation, it's worth considering CBD products.
CBD has shown promising anti-inflammatory properties in scientific studies.
Research has shown the complexity of our body systems, including our skin. For example, we've recently discovered that our skin has its own endocannabinoid system.
The cutaneous endocannabinoid system carries out many elaborate functions of the skin, and cannabidiol can play a role in healing and protecting your skin.
Because cannabinoids have initially shown promising results in treating skin conditions with few adverse effects, they are being studied more and more as possible remedies for several inflammatory skin conditions.
Scientists studied how CBD reacts with the processes of allergic contact dermatitis and found it successfully suppressed the inflammatory reaction with no toxic effects. It reduced inflammation by slowing the actions of pro-inflammatory proteins and cytokines.
In another study, CBD slowed the activity of specific white blood cells and T helper 17 cells and inhibited the release of various inflammatory cytokines.
The effects of CBD on psoriasis include effects on T helper cells, but in this case, instead of slowing the action of a T helper, CBD acts on the expression of two different T cells, Th1 and Th2.
Th1 is a pro-inflammatory immune cell, whereas Th2 is anti-inflammatory. Often both Th1 and Th2 are needed at different times in the healing process. Sometimes an imbalance of the two occurs, leading to a stalled healing process. When used topically, both CBD and THC caused Th1 to convert to Th2, leading to reduced inflammation (and restored Th1/Th2 balance). They also helped the overproduction of keratinocytes(the cells that make up most of the outer layer of skin), which is a chief symptom of psoriasis.
Through these studies and many others, it appears that CBD often works with your body to restore a healthy balance to skin cells and immune cells.
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