What is an inflammatory process and how does it start in our body?


Calor, rubor, tumor, dolor et functio laesa ... No! They are not mythological characters, but they are the typical symptoms of the inflammatory process known since classical antiquity.

Inflammation is in fact a physiological response implemented by our body to counteract the action of pathogenic microorganisms (such as viruses, bacteria, protozoa ...) or physical and chemical agents and has the aim of identifying and eliminating the harmful agent and remove the damaged components of the tissue promoting healing.
This is what happens in ACUTE INFLAMMATION which, as the term itself says, has an abrupt and rapid onset and is manifested by those typical symptoms with a somewhat difficult name:

- Calor: heat caused by the increase in the local temperature as a consequence of the increased vascularization;

- Rubor: redness linked to the increase in blood in the affected area;

- Tumor: swelling due to the accumulation of fluid following the increased permeability of the blood vessels;

- Pain: easy to guess, i.e. the soreness caused by compression and stimulation of the nerve endings due to edema;

- Functio laesa: reduction of the functionality of the affected body part.

In fact, we speak of angio-inflammation precisely because it is the blood vessels that undergo most of the changes that are fundamental to allow the migration of fluids, proteins, neutrophils and macrophages from the blood to the site of tissue damage.

In this way the white blood cells, the sentinels of our body, together with the chemical mediators of acute inflammation (TNF-α, IL-1, IL-6) can reach the affected site, establishing and maintaining the inflammatory process aimed at blocking the advance of the pathogen, repairing tissue lesions in a short time and restoring the normal functionality of the organism.
It is these chemical mediators of inflammation that cause temporary symptoms such as loss of appetite, fever, muscle pain, headache that we usually find in seasonal ailments or flu, or local swelling and pain if the inflammation is due to trauma.

Usually the inflammation resolves with complete healing, but in some cases there may be chronicity due to the body's inability to completely eliminate the phlogogenic agent.

Thus we speak of CHRONIC INFLAMMATION or Histoplogosis where even repeated episodes of acute inflammation can cause chronicity causing irreversible tissue damage, with reduction or loss of function of the affected area.

This is what happens in chronic inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, neurological diseases, cancer ...

Sometimes this kind of inflammation also occurs due to the inability of our immune system to distinguish self from "non-self", causing what are called autoimmune diseases.

HOW CAN AN INFLAMMATORY STATE BE CONTRASTED?

Needless to say, continuous stress, poor nutrition, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, cigarette smoking, incorrect posture are among the factors that most expose us to this type of problem, therefore a correct lifestyle is always at the basis of physical but also mental well-being of each of us.

Usually to reduce inflammation and especially to prevent it from becoming chronic, drugs such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are used which work by reducing the synthesis of prostaglandins, mediators of inflammation, and acting as antipyretics and painkillers.

Other widely used drugs are cortisone drugs (steroidal anti-inflammatories) which play a very important role in the treatment of allergic reactions or autoimmune diseases.

For some time, however, efforts have been made to find anti-inflammatories of natural origin that can support traditional medicines, and which at the same time have no side effects.

In this sense, many studies have been directed to Moringa oleifera.

HOW DOES MORINGA INTERVENE IN THE REGULATION OF THE INFLAMMATORY PROCESS?

A little bit all the parts of the plant show analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antipyretic activity.
Chemical inflammatory mediators such as IL-1 and TNF-α stimulate the production of prostaglandins responsible for acute inflammation.
Several studies [1] have shown that Moringa oleifera is able to act simultaneously on two fronts:

- reducing the production of TNF-α, IL-6 and IL-8 in response both to the presence of bacteria and to the presence of macrophages stimulated by cigarette smoke;

- acting at the DNA level by inhibiting the expression of the RelA gene, active during inflammation;

In this way it is able to alleviate the typical symptoms of an inflammatory process.


It has also been seen that particular leaf extracts [2] show an analgesic efficacy similar to indomethacin, a NSAID usually used for the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

The antipyretic action [3] of the plant is also attributable to the leaves, not surprisingly it has been used for centuries in traditional Ayurvedic medicine.

The bioactive molecules present in the plant that contribute to the anti-inflammatory property are many: tannins, phenols, alkaloids, flavonoids, carotenoids, β-sitosterol, moringin, moringinin, β-sitostenone which, together with the extraordinary richness in vitamins, essential nutrients and antioxidants make it particularly suitable to support our immune system in the fight against inflammation.

It is an extraordinary plant that never ceases to surprise us and perhaps the ancients were right to call it TREE OF LIFE!

 

 


[1]: An ethyl acetate fraction of Moringa oleifera Lam. inhibits human macrophage
 cytokine production induced by cigarette smoke.
[2]: Analgesic effects of methanolic extracts of the leaf or root of Moringa oleifera
on complete Freund's adjuvant-induced arthritis in rats.
[3]: A Review of the Phytochemical and Pharmacological Characteristics of Moringa oleifera