Inflammation is a term that is much bandied about but what does it mean? OK let’s start at the beginning. The principal reason for “detoxing” is to substantially reduce poisons in the system. “Detoxing” reduces inflammation because it destroys FREE RADICALS. To grasp what these little rascals are about we need to examine, atoms, the building blocks of our Universe. Atoms consist of a nucleus, neutrons, protons and electrons. The number of protons (positively charged particles) contained in the atom’s nucleus determines the number of electrons (negatively charged particles) surrounding the atom. An Oxygen atom has 8 protons; that means there are 2 electrons in the inner shell and 6 in the outer which add up to the necessary 8. Electrons are very important because they are required for chemical reactions to take place, and to go on to form molecules, which are the next biggest structures after atoms.

Generally speaking, the bonds do not split, because that would leave an unpaired electron out in the cold. But sometimes bonds are weak, whilst toxins make them even weaker. When these weakened bonds split all hell is let loose as free radicals are created. A free radical is a crazed unpaired electron rushing off to link up with another. This makes the whole structure extremely unstable. Stability can only return when the single electron finds a mate and becomes a couple once again. This chain reaction wages war in a living cell and like a bush fire soon spreads to other cells. The human body comprises trillions of cells; free radical devastation soon spreads to other cells, destabilizing cell after cell. When metal is exposed to water it rusts. Free radicals act similarly. Like rusted metal the process is weakening, so cells break down completely. The cell membrane is damaged which in turn destroys the lipids that live within the cell itself. The name for this is lipid peroxidation. The powerful oxidative explosion lasts for no more than a Nano-second. The ensuing damage is called inflammation, and the inflammatory response arising from the split second oxidative reaction can persist hours after the actual event. What creates these toxins that give rise to the free-radicals? The worst offenders are heavy metals namely lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic and aluminum.  Another enemy on this particular battle-field comprises “POPs”. This translates as “Persistent Organic Pollutants”; these baddies don’t biodegrade. Worse still they tend to hang around in the atmosphere for a long time. They come in the form of pesticides, pharmaceuticals and other pollutants. DDT was banned many years ago, but provides a classic example of a “POP”. These chemicals leach into the soil; when crops are grown, the poisons have a means of entering the food chain. When we eat the produce, the result is inflammation!

Smoking, for example, exposes the smoker to substantial free-radical damage .This causes cellular injury as well as oxidative stress. Yes, we can off-set free radical damage by using anti-oxidants like Vitamins, A, C and E. They work because they produce the missing electrons that the crazed free-radicals are smashing through cells to find. Taking anti-oxidants is hugely important just as eating anti-oxidant rich foods like fresh fruit and vegetables. Yes, both measures reduce inflammation, but we need to go one step further. That means it’s essential we change destructive habits and make better lifestyle choices. To make this worthwhile it is also critical to remove the toxic free-radical inducers from our lives and from our bodies. The paramount way to reach this target is to “De-Toxify”. And that my friends is what “A Cat Has Nine Lives and So Do You (The Basics)” is all about.

If you suffer from an inflammatory “dis –ease” like asthma, peptic ulcers, rheumatoid arthritis, periodontitis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s Disease, sinusitis or much, much more, this “de-tox” is essential for you. If you go to your Dr. with an inflammatory condition, more than likely he or she will prescribe a NSAID, or a non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug. The idea is these medicines stop prostaglandins which are lipid based, hormone like substances. For instance aspirin is a NSAID. Prostaglandins contribute to inflammation, pain and fever. The question is are these drugs the real answer? The response is “no”, because such treatments address the symptoms and not the cause of the problem.  Besides many NSAIDs have serious side-effects which include heart attacks and strokes. Fever by the way is good not bad, contrary to popular understanding. Providing fever is controlled, it demonstrates the immune system is working optimally and is actually fighting “dis-ease”. This increased activity causes the rise in body temperature. When you suppress the temperature with an NSAID like aspirin or paracetamol the fever reduces but so does the immune response.

Of course it would be foolish to suppress all free-radical activity. If something exists it has a purpose. What we seek, however, is balance. Lack is dangerous, excess is hazardous but balance equates to good health and harmony. That’s where we all want to be.

Alister Bredee