Inflammation: the Good, the Bad and the Painful

By Katie Tallent

Massage therapists have a built in compassion bone.  We listen to what ails our clients and love partnering in their healing.  We offer our hands, hearts and knowledge.  Imagine waking up on a morning no different than today, looking into the mirror before work or school and discovering one side of your face is paralyzed; expressionless, flat, with a sense of heaviness and numbness.  A friend of mine, Jonathan Shuffield, had a similar experience recently and recognized his symptoms immediately as Bell’s Palsy; a condition he battled 13 years prior.  It is caused by the same virus as chicken pox and shingles.  An inflammation of the cranial nerve VII causes pain behind the ear and sensitivity to sound along with the inability to taste food.

7 days into his journey Jonathan reflects on the choices that brought him to such a humbling fight with his own body:

“I have been a horrible offender against my body for years, even decades.  I refused to hear the gentle nudges, “Jonathan, you’re working too hard, your blood pressure is rising.” “Jonathan that food will make you sick, I can’t process the sugar like I used to.” “Jonathan, you are going to get sick if you don’t slow down.” It kept knocking, BANGING on my door and I kept moving, like a petulant two year old determined to do what I wanted.  My body has tried to give me numerous wake up calls. I have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and a litany of other smaller issues.  Did I stop to listen to my body? Nope, not for a second.”  (to read more:

Perhaps Bell’s Palsy is not the battle you or I may fight.  It could be the lifelong daily struggle of rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia.  Inflammation in our body wreaks havoc, causing pain and dysfunction and ultimately a lack of quality of life where we should have fullness of life.  What our body is brilliantly designed to do, protect and heal, becomes our enemy.  Admittedly I have abused my own body and shown a lack of respect for its systems, beautiful healing abilities and ultimately its sanctity.  Jonathan’s struggle causes me to reflect and his action inspires me.

4 Ways we can acknowledge our bodies as sacred: 

  1. Protecting ourselves against stress by setting healthy relationship and work boundaries.
  2. How we move, both actively with exercise and passively with therapeutic massage-
  3. How we breathe, through meditation and prayer.
  4. And what we eat is as important as what we don’t eat.

3 Foods which increase inflammation:

  1. Sugar is sugar!  Your body sees very little difference between refined sugar, sugar in the raw and raw cane sugar.  Even if it is labeled as natural or organic, our bodies process it the same.
  2. Gluten plays hide and seek!  Remember that research is your best friend.  Gluten can be found in the most unexpected places under the guise of natural flavorings and anti-clumping agents in products such as shredded cheese.  Even when you order that grilled chicken breast at a fast food restaurant you may encounter this inflammation encourager.
  3. Beef, it’s what’s NOT for dinner!  Red meat and processed meats contain the compound Neu5Gc.  Our bodies produce an antibody to this agent producing long term, underlying inflammation.  This is where heart disease and cancer run rampant.

Now that I have criticized your eating habits please accept these alternatives to promote your own health and wellness!

4 Foods which fight Inflammation:

 1Turmeric and Ginger

Creamy Turmeric TeaChá contra a constipação: água gengibre ralado (uma colher de café) cravinho casca de limão  pau de canela e no final de ferver: algumas gotas de limão e mel para quem quiser

1 cup almond milk

½ tsp turmeric

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp honey

¼ tsp ginger

Directions: Heat the almond milk in a microwave, stir in the spices and drizzle the honey on top. Enjoy!

2.  Fatty Fish, being from Alaska you can probably guess my favorite!

Moroccan SalmonSwitch the sugar for honey and cinnamon!! Caramelized Salmon by pinchofyum #Salmon #Healthy

½ cup low-fat plain yogurt

Juice of 1 lemon

1 Tbs olive oil

3 cloves garlic smashed

1 ½ tsp ground coriander

1 ½ tsp ground cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

4 6oz salmon filets

Combine ingredients for marinade adding salmon filets and let rest for 30 min in refrigerator.  Remove salmon from marinade and blot off excess yogurt.  Heat grill med-high, cook turning once.  4-6 min per side. (Olive oil and garlic also fight inflammation)

Also add to your weekly diet:Natural and Alternative Home Remedies for Bell’s Palsy

1. Nuts are packed with antioxidants helping your body fight off and repair damage caused by inflammation in as little as 6 weeks.  Be a hippie and make homemade granola!

2. Tomatoes and Tai Chi have been shown to reduce stiffness, fatigue and pain.  Rx: twice a week for 2 week and you will see a difference.

Tell us!  What foods will you add to your diet to reduce inflammation and what foods will you kick to the curb?

I encourage you to following this link and watch the video blog by a friend, who has inspired and taught me much though his experience.  I hope his story will inspire a thirst for knowledge in your work also, for people suffering from inflammatory illness.

Special thanks to Jonathan Shuffield for his video blog and “Self is Sacred” blog contribution.


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