TEST: Breaking The Cycle of Pain Part IV: Free Radicals and Inflammation

“Increasing evidence points towards an oxidative stress response responsible for increased pathophysiology of secondary dysfunctions in sickle cell patients (read entire scientific journal article here.)”

In SCD, the combination of ongoing hemolysis (rupture of rbcs), blood vessel blockage, and frequent infections creates an internal environment which is, simply put, toxic, and quite frankly, perpetuates the cycle of pain.

Free radicals are substances produced either by the body (from normal metabolic processes) or by external factors (such as X rays or pesticides) that can cause damage to the body, if not neutralized and removed promptly. This is also known as oxidative stress, and as the above quote indicates, oxidative stress plays a major role in the development of the crises seen in SCD.

While the body produces antioxidants to counteract or neutralize the effects of free radicals, in SCD, because of the continual rupture and disintegration of red blood cells (rbcs), chemicals, including heme and iron (which are also free radicals) are constantly being released, thus ultimately overwhelming the body’s antioxidant capacity. In addition, blockage of blood vessels by “sickled” cells can result in the body releasing “distress” chemicals which can actually worsen the situation….

Inflammation is the body’s response to injury, such as that produced by free radicals, as described above. Unfortunately, for different reasons, this attempt by the body to heal and to repair itself often results in an even more complicated picture in SCD patients.

So in SCD, you find this continual cycle of elevated free radical damage and inflammation going on, making them more prone to stress and thus to having crises. The key then, is to work on reducing both…significantly.

And just how do we hope to do that?

Answer: Increase the body’s ability to both combat free radical damage and properly regulate inflammation.

One way to combat free radical damage is to enhance (or strengthen) the body’s ability to rapidly produce large amounts of anti-oxidants, especially glutathione, the master antioxidant.

Omega 3 fatty acids (O3FAs) are not only some of the best nutrients for the brain and heart; they are also very potent anti-inflammatories as well.

And we are seeing some great results with them.

I love the fact that we have safe and effective tools in our arsenal :-).

Support Our Work Next, we will be looking at where most of this damage first occurs – the blood vessels, and how to restore them to health.