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Stop Treating Responses

I feel sorry for inflammation as it is almost always seen and treated as the enemy rather than what is actually is – a symptom. It is the same with a multitude of hormonal imbalance issues including a very high proportion of hypo- and hyper-thyroid problems.

Inflammation is a normal response by the immune system when it is combatting something – it is desirable. The problem starts when whatever the body is fighting that is promoting the inflammatory response continues leading to a chronic inflammatory response. Then the inflammation itself becomes a problem in itself as a perpetual inflammatory response itself is damaging. So using an anti-inflammatory is not always bad but only when being used in conjunction with an intervention that is addressing WHY the body is perpetuating this inflammatory response.

There are numerous conditions that are associated with inflammation including:

  • allergies

  • asthma

  • autoimmune diseases

  • coeliac diseases

  • hepatitis

  • IBD (inflammatory bowel disease)

With each of these conditions inflammation is a part of the problem and so they are often treated with drugs that mediate or reduce inflammation itself as opposed to addressing why the inflammation is there in the first place.

Another example of downstream problems being treated rather than the problem causing them in the first place is with thyroid issues. We know that 90% of hypo-thyroid conditions are caused by an autoimmune problem (spot autoimmune in the bullet points above?) and Graves (hyper-thyroid) is also an autoimmune problem, yet practitioners almost always treat the thyroid itself even though we know that it is not a thyroid issue. The other 10% (of which most people believe they are part of) is caused by poor T4 to T3 conversion, iodide receptor competition, or mineral insufficiencies. So people end up on thyroid medication such as thyroxine (T4) for life rather than addressing why they have a problem.

Similarly, hormonal imbalances lead to people being given hormone replacement therapy when hormones themselves are secreted in response to a stimulus – change or influence the stimulus and change the hormonal response. For example when women go through menopause this can cause big changes as their primary estrogen production switches from their ovaries to the adrenal gland. If a woman is highly stressed at this age as often can be the case (often teenage kids, homes, careers, elderly parents etc) then the adrenals can’t adequately replace the estrogen as the adrenals are pumping out cortisol and are already struggling to keep up. But rather than work with the individual to help identify and reduce stressors where possible the easiest thing to do is give them a pseudo-estrogen (often derived from horses) to prop the body up in the hope that it rebalances itself down the line.

When working with people who have such inflammatory issues, hormonal imbalances, thyroid issues etc we endeavour to dig out the underlying drivers for these symptoms. If you take one thing away from this little half rant hopefully it will be this – start questioning whether medication is just managing a problem, if it’s the case that you are having to take it consistently (months, years, lifetime) then the answer is likely yes. Start questioning whether you are happy with treating a symptom, or rather why people are only treating your symptoms and not delving deeper and taking the time to figure out why your body is doing what it’s doing.

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