Pop quiz: when you experience inflammation you are supposed to apply ice, right? It might surprise you to learn that the correct answer is: not necessarily. Many of us experience inflammation daily from old injuries, arthritis or simple wear-and-tear. It’s this everyday inflammation we want to talk about today rather than acute inflammation that might occur due to a recent injury. So you might be asking, if the age old rule to ice inflammation doesn’t always apply, what are the new rules?
Let’s break it down. According to eastern medical traditions, there are two types of inflammation: hot and cold. Each has its own set of symptoms and treatments.
This is the type of inflammation that we commonly think of when we think of inflammation. The primary indicators for hot inflammation are swelling, redness and a pulsating feeling in the affected area. Think hot flowing lava.
To address hot inflammation we have to cool it off. Here’s the run down:
- Apply ice. Icing is great for pain management but is not really affective for long term healing so apply ice for 10 minutes with a 20 minute break then ice again for 10 minutes, if necessary. Limit this to only two intervals of 10 minutes.
- Douse the flame from the inside out. Cooling foods are crucial to putting out the fire of chronic hot inflammation. Raw foods, Aloe Vera and green drinks (I will make this clickable for the green drink recipe) can all help manage or even reverse hot inflammation.
- Take the cooling with you. An application of a cooling balm like our Comfy Comfrey Salve can help quench with fires of inflammation as you move through your day.
Chronic inflammation often takes this form as it settles itself into your body. Symptoms of cold inflammation include creakiness, stiffness and a pale color to the affected area. Imagine this type of inflammation a frozen river and you’ll see why cold inflammation requires remedies that increase circulation and lubrication.
- Thaw it out with a little warmth. Hot water bottles, heating pads, flax seed pillows (learn how to make your own here) and warm baths can all help get the cold out and ease pain.
- Warming up from the inside out increases overall circulation and aids in healing. Try foods seasoned with turmeric and cayenne pepper to heat things up.
- Fish oil or flax, chia or hemp seeds all increase your body’s natural lubrication to oil up those creaky joints.
- On the go? Apply a warming balm like our Spicy Arnica Salve to get the blood pumping and free up movement.
When To Do What
Trust your own senses. Feel the area with your hands. Do you feel heat or coolness? Take a look. Is the area red or pale? Listen to your body and follow its advice. Who knows your body better than you do?
A Note on the Weather
If you think that your knee is more accurate for predicting the weather than your local meteorologist, you just might be right. Some studies suggest that changes in the barometric pressure could increase pressure in a painful joint. Don’t quit your day job for a career as a weather person but do listen to your body when bad weather is in the forecast.