In most cases, inflammation is the body’s response to another process rather than a disease or illness in its own right. Inflammation is a result of the body’s own natural immune response and is usually caused by the increased presence of plasma and white blood cells in the affected area. This response involves the vascular systems as well as the autoimmune response and is a necessary part of the healing process, but can cause serious problems when the inflammation becomes chronic or is extreme in its duration or extent. Inflammation is usually categorized as either acute or chronic and treatment for the condition is dependent in part on the cause of the inflammation and its acute or chronic status.
There are five main symptoms of inflammation. These occur in both chronic and acute cases and are distinguishing characteristics of the condition. Not all symptoms are present in all cases of inflammation. The five primary symptoms are:
• Reduced function
In most cases of inflammation, pain, swelling and reduced function are the most important symptoms and create the most difficulties for patients with the condition.
Typically, acute inflammation is the result of an injury or pathogenic substance that affects the body negatively. In these cases, the movement of white blood cells and plasma to the affected site or to combat the substance in the bloodstream is a necessary part of the immune system response to infection and injury. While medications are available to reduce the swelling and inflammation caused by the body’s reaction to pathogens or injuries, they typically are intended to reduce the pain and not to eliminate the inflammation caused by this helpful and necessary immune response.
In some cases the body’s reaction to pathogens or other stimuli is far more extreme and prolonged than necessary. This is especially true in cases where the pathogens cannot be eliminated by the immune system or in cases where another factor is preventing the immune response from fully addressing the infection or combating the injury. Arthritis, atherosclerosis and diverticulitis are among the most common types of chronic inflammatory diseases. These illnesses can potentially be serious or life-threatening if the inflammation is not properly controlled and treated. The effects of chronic inflammation typically are of long duration and become worse over time if left untreated.
Moringa and inflammation
The moringa plant is well known for its therapeutic effects in both modern medicine and traditional practice. Formally known as Moringa oleifera, this versatile and nutritious plant is currently the subject of intense scrutiny by the medical establishment to determine its utility in treating and preventing a variety of diseases. One of the most promising uses for moringa extract is in the treatment of various types of acute and chronic inflammation. A 1996 research study published in Pharmaceutical Biology demonstrated the anti-inflammatory properties of moringa extract in the treatment of both acute and chronic forms of inflammation. The moringa extract was ingested by laboratory rats as a treatment for both edema and carrageenan-induced inflammation; while the results for the acute inflammation were markedly better than those obtained for the chronic variety, both types of inflammation were significantly reduced by the treatments in the course of the study. Side effects were minimal due to the exceptionally low toxicity of moringa even at high dosages.