- Chronic Pain & Wellness
- Chronic Pain & Wellness
The Ins and Outs of Inflammation
At the root of inflammation is the body’s ability to protect itself. It’s a biological “take control and protect” reaction. It is at the heart of our immune system. Our body’s ability to deploy super quantities of specialized repair cells including macrophages and mast cells that signal other cells to react, while alterations in the production of certain chemicals is initiated – inflammation in its first response is actually a good thing.
However, if this inflammatory response doesn’t shut off, more whole-body reaction begins. This causes a change in lymphatic and liver function, not to mention our mental state and overall sense of energy. All of this creates a buildup of toxicity on both a mental and physical level. Now you have joints that frequently ache, low energy, poor sleeping cycles. Inflammation is now not a good thing.
This is the cycle that begins. In other words, inflammation is the body’s way of protecting our vital systems. Think of it like the airbag that deploys a moment before total impact to protect you from flying out the window. Certain forms of inflammation actually keep us from dying when we catch a cold or cut our finger. It is a profound cascade of sorts that both allows us to stay healthy but can make us sick in the same instance. Ultimately, it depends on the body’s unconscious reaction to stress and how it both turns on and turns off the reaction that causes inflammation.
In MELTing, we describe this inflammatory response as being initiated by the Autopilot, scientifically called the Autonomic Nervous System. Unlike traditional schools of thought that might describe the primary response to be within the brain, the reality is the body is responding first, the Central Nervous System (brain) is only responding to a peripheral (body) signal. The Autopilot is a system housed under the Peripheral Nervous System or body nervous system. This concept I believe has been a part of ancient movement arts such as yoga, meditation, and any hands-on therapy techniques regardless of a scientific explanation being necessary. Not just in the mind, but in the body we can resolve stuck stress on every level whether it shows itself as a mental, physical, chemical, or emotional stress, our body can handle stress and return back to balance if the Autopilot is functioning efficiently.
So back to the science…
When inflammation comes and goes, the body is telling you it’s trying to manage stress on every level it comes in. But when inflammation becomes chronic, it’s the body’s inability to efficiently repair, protect, support, and remain in balance that keeps us in an unhealthy, depressed, bloated, puffy, inefficient state.
Enzymes are a big part of the inflammatory process. They demolish damaged tissue so other cells and chemicals can create repair. Finally, in an efficient way the body senses the job is done… and the signal to continue to send an army into battle is changed into a response to retreat and return to base. This response only occurs when the body’s repair regulator is able to return the body back to balance once a stress reflex has occurred. The repair regulator is housed within the Autopilot. It is one of three regulators that are monitored for efficiency and balance.
Lots of things cause our body to set off the inflammatory parade from genetics to our environment and habits. Smoking, UV rays, pollution, allergies, and most importantly hormone and metabolism and our organ state (from nutrition to how we utilize a water molecule) are all players in our ability to stay balanced and efficient.
Our organs are constantly working to remain efficient even if we smoke or eat crap like processed foods. This constant assault on our body’s Autopilot sends our body into an inefficient, unbalanced state. Intervention on a conscious level is essential in returning a chronically inflamed system back to a state of balance.
There are many levels of chronic inflammation from simple body ache to autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. It has been linked to cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. Chronic inflammation in blood vessels causes deadly clotting leading to a heart attack. Many autoimmune disorders are in fact the body’s self-healing mechanism gone haywire. Our own inflammatory immune response actually begins to assault healthy connective tissue cells found within and around joints, nerves, muscles, organs, and bones. This attack can turn connective tissue cells into pain receptors. It’s like the attack of zombies turning everyone else into zombies! The cells don’t die, they turn into torture cells that signal pain to our brain!
Now there are many different types of symptoms that can arise from inflammatory responses. It can be in the form of a headache, acid reflux, cramps, and even depression. In more extreme circumstances its severe joint pain, arthritis, heart attack, or even death.
Research has shown that sometimes a wound that doesn’t heal properly and is chronically inflamed can even become skin cancer! There are many researchers who are basing their studies on skin cancer in the science of the body’s self-defense/healing mechanism and how it works. I have simply taken this science and applied it to the understanding of what I know to be the Autopilot system.
By now, I hope you are thinking, “Sue! Is there a way to help my Autopilot and restore regulator stay balanced so that I can help keep chronic inflammation out of my body?!” Yes, I know there is a way because I not only help myself keep inflammation out of my body, I show others how to do it… and it works.
So how do we improve our body’s Autopilot to stay regulated and balanced? There are many ways we can indirectly reduce inflammation and boost your body’s natural healing potential.
Here are some of my top tips to help you support your body:
- Drink small amounts of water throughout the day
- Eat water-filled foods like fruits and veggies
- Sleep in a pitch-black room
- Go to bed and get up at about the same time every day
- Meditate to help your body turn off your stress response
All of these things will indirectly help your body’s Autopilot. And, of course, MELT techniques directly affect the Autopilot and rebalance the neurological system that functions to keep our body balanced and efficient. MELT quiets the stress reflex as a way to both reduce inflammation and improve Autopilot functionality and performance. If you’ve already done the Rebalance Sequence with a soft MELT roller or done a Hand or Foot Treatment, you’ve already sensed these changes for yourself.
About the author
Creator of the MELT Method®
Sue Hitzmann, MS, CST, NMT, is a nationally recognized somatic-movement educator and manual therapist. Her decades of practice, research, and study of anatomical science and alternative therapies... View Articles