In the last two years, two schools of thought have dominated the debate as to why our immune system is prone to play such a destructive role as we age and what we can do about it.
On one side is Dr. Michael Karin, Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology at the University of California in San Diego. He, along with his peers, believes that inflammations are a natural part of the life cycle. It is our body gradually shutting itself down in our post reproductive years and making room for the next generation. The only way to prevent it is to create drugs that trick the body into living longer by suppressing its inflammatory processes. Since we have yet to develop those drugs, they propose a healthy diet of COX-2 inhibitor drugs and pain relievers.
On the other side of the equation is Dan Buettner, whose arguments appear in the recently published Blue Zone Studies. According to his study, reported on Dateline NBC, inflammation is symptomatic of how we live, the foods we eat and the lifestyle we choose. What causes inflammation to go awry has less to do with evolution and more to do with the accumulative effects of diet, physical work, injury and stress. The solution? According to Buettner, the simplest thing that people can do immediately to reduce inflammation and the risk of chronic diseases is drink herbal tea.
He points to the people of Ikaria, Greece who have the lowest rates of inflammatory-
Why herbal tea? For two reasons, Buettner argues. One is the ritualistic manner of its consumption. It requires an attentiveness that, say, getting a double shot of espresso doesn't. There is a level of relaxation and inward focus that exists simply by the act of its enjoyment. The second is the anti-inflammatory properties that go into a fresh, organic herbal tea (not a box of depleted herb dust found at the grocery store and enhanced with additives and sweeteners). Fresh herbal teas are loaded with natural anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds which are activated by the boiling water. They naturally thin your blood, thus reducing high blood pressure, while cleaning and detoxifying the cells of toxins and waste - which aggravate inflammations. What's more, they reduce the body's acidity levels, which discourages both inflammations and disease.
The key, he and others argue, is to find a good medicinal tea like Homegrown's Inflama-Tea or any number of their medicinal blends and incorporate them into your life.
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East End News is a news agency that publishes health related stories. Located in Portland, Maine and founded in 1998.