What Role Does Inflammation Play in Immune Health?

The Immune System is the body’s mechanism for protection and self-healing. Part of the job of the Immune System is to respond to harmful stimuli; and it provides the mechanisms for destroying damaged cells and fighting off toxins and harmful pathogens. Inflammation is an integral part of Immune System functioning as it provides a means for isolating damaged tissue to begin the process of self-healing. By expanding blood vessels around an injury, nutrients and immune repair cells can more effectively reach their target location and begin the healing process. This also leads to swelling, which helps to segregate the damaged area from the surrounding healthy tissue.  Ideally, once healing begins, the inflammatory process begins to subside. But this isn’t always the case.  

Occasionally, the inflammatory process doesn’t resolve as it should.  This might manifest in slower than desired recovery from regular exercise stress or delayed recovery from minor injuries. In other cases, the injury to tissue may be ongoing, causing a chronic inflammatory state.  For example, wear and tear on joint cartilage can cause inflammation as the body attempts to repair the expanding damage as the cartilage thins. In these instances, inflammation can become chronic and can impact the overall immune response.  

Maintaining a healthy inflammatory response is critical to overall health.  Fortunately, there are some natural ingredients that can help modulate the inflammatory response.  One of these is curcumin.  Curcumin is the most bioactive component in turmeric and has been clinically researched quite extensively regarding its benefits in helping to curb the inflammatory response. Curcumin exerts its effects mainly through its action in reducing the production of pro-inflammatory substances responsible for perpetuating inflammation.  

An additional benefit to curcumin is its strong antioxidant capacity.  It is known that inflammation can promote the release of reactive oxygen compounds (ROS), causing oxidative stress.  These ROS can in turn initiate a cell signaling cascade that enhances pro-inflammatory gene expression, thus perpetuating the inflammatory response.  This dual action of curcumin makes it an ideal supplement ingredient for general immune system maintenance and support of healthy inflammation.   

One challenge affecting the optimal functioning of curcumin in the body is its poor absorption and rapid metabolism. Numerous production processes have been incorporated to help overcome this challenge, resulting in ingredients that can be consumed in much lower doses than standard 95% curcumin with equal or better results.  A more recent concern affecting the use and effectiveness of curcumin is the use of synthetic curcumin or preparing the ingredient from substandard turmeric species.  Curcumin suppliers interested in providing high quality curcumin will often employ additional testing, such as Carbon-14 testing to ensure that only natural turmeric from Curcuma longa is used to produce their ingredient.  Companies such as Stratum Nutrition supply a general 95% curcumin ingredient, Curcumin95 as well as an enhanced bioavailability curcumin, BIOCURC®, both of which are derived from natural, Carbon-14 tested turmeric, ensuring an exceptional quality ingredient.