Many factors contribute in the cause of inflammation, and quite a few are readily manageable.

For starters, look to your bowel.

Dysbiosis - unfriendly germs in our bowel.

Over the half century, we are more likely to have DYSBIOSIS at times. This is an imbalance between our favorite intestinal germs and some of those less kindly disposed towards us.

This can be tested for by stool analysis. The latest and greatest method for this is using DNA probes rather than trying to grow and identify the germs. See for example uBiome site.

These unfriendly germs release poisonous materials.

Our bowel is pretty good at keeping such material at bay, but the “mucosal barrier” can become compromised. The toxins then absorbed, are taken in the Portal vein blood to the liver.

The immune system cells in the liver (Kupffer cells) react as though we are being invaded by living germs. They release chemical messengers such as interleukin 6 and a general alarm goes out to the body.

Our body's immune system is now on red alert.

This is one cause of inflammation tendency, or silent systemic inflammation, and therefore of inflammatory diseases.

People now talk about this chronic activation of the innate immune system as responsible for lots of "degenerative" diseases, as well as the inflammatory ones.

Compromised mucosal barrier ( Leaky gut ) treatment

The lining of our bowel, like our skin, is the first line of defense. This commonly becomes damaged (“LEAKY GUT”) by poisons, allergies, Monilia (thrush,) constipation and alcohol. These factors in the cause of inflammation, can all be managed (dealt with here in reverse order....)

Apart from toxic materials from bacterial activity mentioned above, partly digested and undigested food fragments also enter the bowel wall, where specific antibodies against them form immune complexes with them.

These immune complexes circulate in the blood stream and increase inflammation if they manage to leave blood capillaries and enter tissues, before the reticuloendothelial system removes them from our blood.


In one study¹, the leaky gut took from 4 days to 2 weeks, to recover when alcohol was stopped.

This was in people without cirrhosis or obvious malnutrition from their alcoholism, who...

"almost invariably had higher intesinal permeability than controls."


At one time it was common practice in our society, to line everyone up once a week for a dose of castor oil or epsom salts. Mercifully this is out of fashion, but I expect was based on experience of benefit. Colonic irrugation and preparations such as Picolax are the modern equivalent.

Severe constipation due to disease blocking the bowel, can lead to (“stercoral”) ulceration even. The bowel wall presumably becomes leaky with less severe blockage.


Long standing, chronic constipation is best treated without harsh purgatives – Leafy green vegetables, psyllium (Ispaghula) husks, pure water (not chlorinated) and extra exercise are good starters.


Candida albicans (Monilia) and C. glabrata can breach the bowel mucosal barrier, contributing another cause of inflammation.

Candida has a very complicated relationship to our immune system, even leading to a non specific immunosuppression state (as in a great number of infections caused by viruses, bacteria, protozoa and fungi.)

We are best doing without antibiotics when not dangerously ill. Antibiotics kill a lot of intestinal germs, leaving a good place to live (a“biological vacuum”) happily taken up by Monilia.

Monilia can be treated by herbs such as marigold (Calendula) and oregano,
caprylic acid, and drugs such as fluconazole.

You can replace some of the thirty species of friendly intestinal germs. You will see names such as Lactobacillus, acidophilus and Bifidobacteria. I think OMX ( Ohhira mountain fruits extract ) is one of the best.

Most probiotic supplements have 1 or 2 strains, but OMX has 12...

Bifidobacterium breve ss. breve
Bifidobacterium infantis ss. infantis
Bifidobacterium longum
Enterococcus faecalis TH 10
Lactobacillus brevis
Lactobacillus acidophilus
Lactobacillus bulgaricus
Lactobacillus casei ss. casei
Lactobacillus fermentum
Lactobacillus helveticus ss. jagurti
Lactobacillus plantarum
Streptcoccus thermophilus

This reduces the concern that supplementing some of the 30 odd species of friendly bacteria, may muscle out some others.

Another valuable option is Saccharomyces boulardii, a yeast rather than a bacterium. Recommended dose for leaky gut is 500 - 1000mg daily to start, reducing to half that.

This comes under various trade names, SB FlorActiv in Australia.

Syntol is also good.

Food and chemical intolerance

Food intolerance can damage the lining of our intestine and even produce bowel symptoms (irritable bowel syndrome.)

The damage happens when tiny amounts of undigested and partly digested food get past the mucosal barrier. They then meet cells of our body's immune system which are specifically sensitized to that particular food residue.

This combining of food antigen and antibody or sensitized immune cell, is a cause inflammation locally in the bowel wall.

The inflammatory process causes damage, which then allows bacterial endotoxin to cross the bowel wall and enter the portal vein circulation.

A vicious circle can develop, as the damage allows more allergenic undigested food to cross the barrier, perpetuating the inflammation

Iatrogenic leaky gut - from medical poisons, such as NSAIDs

Sorry, I meant medical prescription medications - just a slip of the tongue.

This is a bit unfair really. They are very valuable if used as rescue medications for very short periods - a few days.

Long term continuous use is madness. They very frequently cause silent ulceration of our gut, not just leaky gut.

They are a factor in the cause of inflammation not settling down, at the same time as reducing some of it's effects.

The COX 2 inhibitors aren't much better.

Chlorination of drinking water

Hypochlorous acid, hypochlorite and chlorine are used by our white blood cells, to kill bacteria.
Sodium chlorite acidified with citric acid is used to kill germs in our body.

Chlorine in drinking water may increase inflammation in our body. See book.... “Coronaries/cholesterol/chlorine” by Joseph M. Price MD

Too much fat also causes inflammation

There is growing support for the hypothesis that obesity is a pro inflammatory condition. Fat cells produce lots of adipokines (chemical messengers,) which induce activation of the immune system and so are another cause of inflammation in our body.

Dr Garry Egger uses the term metaflammation (metabolically triggered inflammation.

I have a personal theory on this, that the reason for this is toxins which are stored in fat cells because they are fat soluble.

High GI index foods, post prandial dysmetabolism, cause of inflammation

That's a mouthful, of mashed potato perhaps - without the nuts.

Almonds, pistachios or peanuts may save you. Eating a meal with nuts, lean meat or oil and vinegar, counteracts the effect of high glycaemic index foods in the meal. They slow the digestion down, so blood sugar and free fatty acids don't spike so high.

The last mentioned spike can overwhelm our metabolic capacity, leading to oxygen free radicals being produced and inflammatory substances being released.

An excellent article on glycemic load of common portions of foods is at

Germs in joints or at least in body tissues

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests have demonstrated desoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) signatures of various germs in the synovial fluid of inflamed joints.

The Road Back Foundation is a good resource for help on the use of antibiotics for inflammatory arthritis.

Iron overload increases inflammation

This factor operates across a broad range of arthritides, from osteoarthritis  to pseudogout to rheumatoiod disease.

In testing, two figures are important - the ferritin and the transferrin saturation.
The first is the storage form of iron and measures total iron load.
The second is how much iron transporting protein is free and available to take up iron. Iron is dangerous stuff and one needs a healthy reserve capacity in transporter protein.

Any male with rheumatics could well have iron studies blood test done.

It is easy to treat - donate blood.

Breakdown of oral tolerance, Th1/Th2 balance

Our immune system has a continual job throughout life, maintaining ability to recognize one's self v. invading foreign chemicals or organisms.

Work with experimental arthritis in animals has shown feeding type 2 collagen can reduce the inflammation, by inducing oral tolerance. See the introduction and discussion parts of an interesting paper on this².

There are a number of "arthritis cures" available based on this work, but I have no experience of using them.

T helper lymphocytes are involved in lots of inflammatory conditions. Imbalance can be caused by such factors as zinc deficiency, and can be part of the cause of inflammation.

T helper 17/regulatory T cell balance

This paper3 is a readable up to date discussion.

Australian Lifestyle Medicine Association

Their site is worth watching for upcoming events.

Urinary organic acid analysis

This testing is very much more delicate than the same test used for checking newborn children.

Inborn errors of metabolism detected in neonates cause very abnormal levels, easy to measure.

Here they are measuring concentrations in the normal physiological range, with very sophisticated liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry equipment.

Here they are measuring many things, including the effects of abnormal germs in your bowel. It is a test that is likely to be of great value to anyone with any chronic illness, as well as sorting out the cause of inflammation in your joints.

Metametrix were the pioneers in this field.

More on cause of inflammation - your immune system.

From cause of inflammation back to home pain page

References for page on cause of inflammation

1. Ingvar Bjarnason et al, The Lancet 28/1/1984 leaky gut alcoholism

2. C Porporatto et al The biocompatible polysaccharide chitosan enhances the oral tolerance to type II collagen
Clin Exp Immunol. 2009 January; 155(1): 79–87.

3. The Microbiota and Epigenetic Regulation of T Helper 17/Regulatory T Cells: In Search of a Balanced Immune System


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Arthritides are these joint inflammatory diseases. Pseudogout is a crystal induced arthritis with calcium pyrophosphate crystals instead of urate as in gout. Rheumatoid "disease" rather than arthritis because it affects lots of tissues - not just joints.

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