3 Tips to Help Control Inflammation

By Ellen Lenox Smith, Columnist

No matter what chronic illness or condition you may have, we all have issues with inflammation that can add to our pain levels. Inflammation not only causes fluid retention, but can bring on headaches, body aches, brain fog and even subluxations, especially for those of us living with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

Did it ever occur to you that something you are ingesting might actually be creating havoc in your body? There is a strong possibility that certain foods and medications may not be right for your system. 

Food Sensitivity

For years, I seemed to be having bad reactions to certain foods, so I began investigating what the problem was.

First, I started with a skin test. I was shocked when I was told everything came back normal, but I knew that just couldn’t be right. So I went to a dietician and had a food sensitivity blood test called the Mediator Release Test (MRT). It worked like magic. The test identified the foods that were not being metabolized correctly by my body, thus causing inflammation and a significant amount of discomfort and pain.

For me the biggest culprits were garlic, ginger and broccoli, but that doesn’t mean they’ll cause the same problems for you. Some people have trouble with nightshade vegetables, such as potatoes, peppers, tomatoes and eggplant.

After getting my test results, I have to admit it wasn’t fun having to “say no” to foods that I loved. But within a short time, weight from bloating was reduced, I could think clearly again, and felt an overall body change in the right direction.

Depending on your level of sensitivity, after avoiding the identified foods for a few weeks or even months, you might be able to successfully reintroduce the foods back into your diet. You should talk to a dietician first, though.

Drug Sensitivity

Another irritant to the body can be an unknown sensitivity to medication. Many of us have no choice but to depend on medications for our medical issues. However, as with foods, you could also be dealing with medication sensitivity.

It was a surgeon from Wisconsin who first educated me about a DNA drug sensitivity test that can identify, through a simple swab in the mouth, what isn’t safe for your body

At the time I was going to a hospital in Wisconsin for surgeries. They couldn’t find anything to help me with pain control, because I seemed to be reacting to everything they tried. I’d reacted badly to medications all of my life, and with a major surgery to face, my surgeon suggested we find out what I was compatible with.

The drug sensitivity test showed I was not able to metabolize aspirin or Tylenol, let alone any of the opiates. But there were two medications I could utilize for pain, and using them helped make the surgery successful.

The beauty of using this test is that you can use it for life. Each time a new medication comes into question, it can be determined in advance whether you are compatible with it. If not, it’ll show what can be substituted instead.

What a dream it would be if all babies had this test at birth to prevent the reactions many of us have had to live through! Imagine taking a new medication knowing it is good for you, will not cause inflammation, or increase the discomfort that raises your pain level.

Candida Infestation

The third thing that you might want to consider, if you suspect something is triggering your inflammation, is candida. We all have yeast in our system, but did you know it gets fed and increases if the body is taking in too much sugar and/or carbohydrates?

If you have tried to lose weight and feel like you almost starved yourself, but still get on a scale and see the pounds going up, then you might have a candida infestation. If you have foul gas, sugar cravings, brain fog, and a general increase of discomfort, candida may also be the culprit.

Your primary care doctor can order a blood test to confirm the presence of candida and there is medication that can eliminate the infestation from your body. For me, as soon as I took the first Nystatin pill at night, I woke up the next morning already seeing a weight loss and an improvement in my overall well-being, including a clearer head!

I hope these three suggestions are helpful. If you have another idea or suggestion, please let us know what that is! We need to pay it forward and help each other improve the quality of our lives.

Ellen Lenox Smith suffers from Ehlers Danlos syndrome and sarcoidosis. Ellen and her husband Stuart live in Rhode Island. They are co-directors for medical marijuana advocacy for the U.S. Pain Foundation and serve as board members for the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition.

For more information about medical marijuana, visit their website.

The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.