How to Test and Measure Inflammation

Inflammation can occur in the body in several forms: Acute and Chronic. Acute Inflammation is your body’s natural response following an injury or an infection. As the injury or infection resolves itself, so does the inflammation. Chronic Inflammation is when your body continues to send those inflammatory cells when there is no threat or danger. This type of inflammation is harder to spot and, if left untreated, can lead to life-threatening diseases and illnesses.

Since chronic inflammation works as a slow drip and is hard to spot, it’s important to test your body and measure levels of inflammation before it leads to potentially life-threatening diseases.

This month, Dr. Gray and her team are focusing on How to Test and Measure Inflammation in their 2023 Inflammation Series.

How to Measure Inflammation

There are three different types of blood tests that are commonly used to detect markers of inflammation: Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR), C-Reactive Protein (CRP), and Plasma Viscosity (PV). Each of these tests measures an increase in protein in the blood in order to detect if there is inflammation.

An ESR blood test takes a sample of blood and mixes it with a chemical to stop the blood from clotting. The test measures the rate at which the red blood cells gradually fall to the bottom of the tube and leave a clear liquid plasma on top. If certain proteins that detect inflammation cover the red blood cells, they will fall more quickly. This causes a high ESR rate and can indicate there is inflammation in the body. It’s important to keep in mind that ESR values are specific to age and gender, increase steadily with age, and are often higher in women than in men.

A CRP blood test is another common way to measure inflammation. It can identify high levels of chronic inflammation, like those seen in major infections of diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus; however, the test is not sensitive enough to pick up low-grade inflammation.

The difference between a CRP test and an ESR test is a CRP can measure the level of one specific protein, whereas an ESR takes into consideration many proteins. CRP tests are often recommended over ESR when it comes to detecting acute inflammation in patients with undiagnosed conditions because the test is more specific and sensitive.

The conditions in which the ESR test monitors can also be monitored by the PV test, although it is more difficult to perform and is not as commonly used. PV tests are more sensitive and more specific when it comes to monitoring the levels of rheumatoid arthritis

BrainSpan Testing for Inflammation

While some chronic inflammation can be tackled with medications, it’s important to take the steps necessary to promote a healthy lifestyle to try and prevent inflammation. Nutrition plays a key role in regulating inflammation, and the Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio is one of the most important dietary factors. 

Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that the body can not produce on its own, so they must be obtained from dietary sources. Both fatty acids are important for maintaining optimal health, but when the ratio becomes too imbalanced, it can lead to chronic inflammation. The ideal ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 is 1:1. Unfortunately, the typical diet has an Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio of 16:1-18:1, which is far too high and increases the risk of inflammation. To reduce inflammation and improve overall health, it is important to reduce Omega-6 intake.

Reducing Omega-6 in the body is important to maintain a healthy balance and ensure our bodies are working properly. Too much Omega-6 can lead to chronic inflammation which can lead to a variety of health problems such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, dementia, achy joints, and autoimmune diseases.

At Restore, we are using the BrainSpan test to determine the Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio and also to understand the current status of brain health. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for this condition, supplements can be helpful in reducing inflammation and its associated symptoms. 

  • Fish oil supplements are a popular choice for reducing chronic inflammation. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil have anti-inflammatory properties and can reduce inflammation and improve overall health. 
  • Turmeric contains curcumin, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory and can help reduce pain and inflammation while improving cognitive function, heart health, and digestion. 
  • Ginger contains a compound known as gingerols, which has anti-inflammatory properties.

The Bottom Line

Testing inflammation is often used to help diagnose diseases. While these tests can indicate that something is going on, further tests may be needed to clarify exactly what it is a make a diagnosis. Monitoring inflammation with tests can help determine how active the disease is and how the body is responding to treatment. It’s important to keep in mind that while these tests are a useful marker for monitoring activity and the response to treatment as the levels fall quickly once the inflammation is receding, these tests can not distinguish between acute and chronic inflammation.

Dr. Gray, along with many others, has added Whole Body Cryotherapy into their routine due to its ability to alleviate chronic inflammation and the many potential health benefits it can deliver. Whole body cryotherapy can reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, by reducing the body’s inflammatory response. 

Questions about testing and measuring systemic inflammation and developing a plan that makes sense for you? Dr. Gray is working with a limited number of people on her proven Inflammation program.   To learn more, email Dr. Gray directly at drgray@restorehlc.com

Did you miss last month’s blog that focused on What is Inflammation and Why Does it Matter? Check it out here!

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