Learn about immune system response and the role of inflammation in health and illness.

How Do We Get Sick?

Our bodies are remarkably complex. To function normally, they have to regulate literally trillions of cells in a balanced state (often referred to as homeostasis). Research studies suggest that turmeric compounds could help you maintain and restore a healthy balance. (iii.1-3)

Figure III.1: Inflammation and the Immune System

Inflammation and the Immune System (iii.3-6)

A Balanced Body is a Healthy Body

We maintain homeostasis by staying within a set of general ranges of predefined normal levels. So, for example, part of staying healthy means keeping normal levels of blood sugar, body temperature, and blood pressure(iii.1-3)

Thousands of physiological controls are organized into systems (e.g., respiratory function, nervous, and hormonal/metabolic) that work together to stay within these healthy ranges. These systems regulate how each area of the body functions and how they interrelate with other organs. (iii.1-3)

For the most part, all systems maintain balance at the cellular level by using biochemical and electrical signals. Relying on this vast network of internal sensors, our body systems continuously detect and respond to both external and internal conditions. (iii.1-3)

Healthy Immune System Responses Restore Balance

Cells encounter physical and chemical stimuli that put stress on our body systems every day. This stress can interfere with tightly controlled homeostasis and cause disease. Fortunately, we have natural defenses. Our immune systems normally respond quickly to these stressors and help get things back in balance. (iii.1-3)

Acute Inflammation is a Normal Immune System Response

Stressors that threaten homeostasis can be acute, persistent, or both. The body responds to these stressors in biochemical ways that attempt to repair or otherwise restore balance and function at the cellular, organ, and systemic level. (iii.3-6)

Inflammation is part of the body's immune system response. The harmful scenarios that trigger inflammation are not limited to physical trauma, and include: (iii.3-6)

The purpose of acute inflammation is to quickly localize and get rid of infectious or toxic substances as well as defective and or injured cells. This limits harmful effects and helps the body get back to normal. Acute inflammation involves many complex, coordinated steps, but the main ones include: (iii.4-6)

Figure III.2: Acute Immune System Response to Stressors

Acute Immune System Response to Stressors

What Causes Unhealthy Chronic Inflammation?

In general terms, chronic inflammation develops when the acute inflammation process becomes dysfunctional. What can make our immune systems stop working effectively? Some of the most common causes include: (iii.457)

It's clear that these causes have a common characteristic — they chronically stimulate the immune system's acute inflammatory response. When the normally beneficial acute response never ends, the inflammatory proteins and cells remain. Thus, the state of temporary inflammation becomes a chronic condition. (iii.4-5)

Why is Chronic Inflammation Dangerous?

Chronic inflammation leads to increased susceptibility to the same stressors that caused the inflammation in the first place. Worse, it often creates an internal environment that leads or contributes to more serious and/or systemic diseases. Some of these chronic diseases both cause and add to the chronic inflammatory environment, such as: (iii.45)

When this happens, restoring balance becomes even more difficult. (iii.45)

Both internally and externally. (iii.3)
Referred to as ischemia(iii.4)

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