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Inflammation is Not the Enemy

It's the body's healing response.

"One great error which has blinded the minds of medical men in observing the true principles of science of medicine is in confounding symptoms of disease with the disease itself.

Thus, a man has a bit of dirt in his eye, perhaps a bit of sharp sand blown on his cornea by the wind; he cannot displace it himself - what occurs?

The eye begins to inflame, and looks read and angry; inflammation comes on and the eye looks diseased. But is this disease?

No; it is only the symptom produced by the bit of sand - the sand, in fact, is the real disease, and the inflammation is nothing more than an effort of nature to get rid of the bit of sand.

The inflammation (i.e., the falsely-called disease) in short is a conservative process.

It proceeds somewhat as follows: the blood rushes to the spot where the bit of sand is imbedded with such force that the blood-vessels around it are completely clogged up, or blocked up with red blood-corpuscles.

You might as well have sent a whole army of red-coated cavalry at a gallop to pass at full speed along the Strand, or through Temple Bar blocked up by an omnibus, - they cannot do it, they are stopped by the narrowness of the street, which becomes more and more narrow, till it ends in the omnibus blocking up the gateway.

They come to a dead stand, although the soldiers in the rear are still pressing on. The crush becomes so severe that the soldiers in advance are at last so jammed up that they perish.

It is somewhat similar with the red blood which is hammed up all round the bit of sand - the blood perishes, and the parts immediately around the bit of sand die also: being dead, they lose all hold of the living parts, they decay and drop off, but in doing so they bring away the bit of sand, and thus rid the eye of the source of irritation. The hole is then filled up by new and living structure, and the eye is perhaps no worse for the process.

But the whole thing illustrates what we should call the wonderful processes of disease" (Braithwaite).

The truth about inflammation, is that it is a conservative and regenerative process.

Inflammation is not the enemy, it's the body's healing response.

It's not out to harm you, or cause disease. It's there to repair the damage done to tissue from a harmful external input.

The tissue damage happens FIRST, followed by the inflammatory response (i.e. healing response).

Tissue damage (cause). Inflammation (effect).

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Braithwaite, W., Braithwaite, J., & Trevelyan, E. F. (1843). The Retrospect of Practical Medicine and Surgery (Uniform American ed). Adee & Estabrook.

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