Wellness Embodied Blog

Written by Suzanne Rath, Director. Having just completed 4 days studying Craniosacral Therapy & the Immune Response (Brisbane 2024) I could write for days about inflammation and its role in mediating many modern day illnesses and symptoms! We spent lots of time looking at the organs and cells of the immune system, strategies for calming the immune system down (in the case of dysregulation or autoimmune conditions), as well as allowing it to work more effectively. For the purpose of not boring you to death however, let’s break it down!

My Story With Inflammation.

Many people know that in 2013 I sustained a life threatening accident, when I was hit by a car while cycling home from work in Sydney. While the jaw fractures healed, the post concussion syndrome and associated symptoms (fatigue, anxiety, pain, lack of focus and concentration) took a longer period of time. In the midst of my prolonged recovery and drive to find the best healthcare team around me to help (note- this was a huge WHY for me having a multi-disciplinary clinic), I had multiple appointments with an Integrative Doctor. After multiple scans, bloods and cultures, he diagnosed me with a chronic inflammatory response syndrome. His theory was that I’d picked up something from the hospital as an inpatient, or during surgery. We weren’t able to find out what that ‘something’ was however, so it took time and a number of other treatments (namely Psychology, Physiotherapy and Craniosacral Therapy) for me to get back to the stage where I could work in private practice and function socially again.

Fast forward to owning Wellness Embodied. As part of our mission to treat the whole person, not just a body part, taking the time to understand each person’s unique and individual health journey, we are lucky to have a dual qualified Physiotherapist / Naturopath on our team – Catherine Lipsett-Moore. Several health management plans from Catherine (after a lot of blood tests, food and symptom diary analysis) have shown me strategies and dietary changes to help manage this pesky low grade inflammation that shows up in my system. How am I aware of it? Well firstly, there is a minor inflammatory marker in my bloods which continues to be elevated. And secondly, I used to feel inflamed every few weeks – lethargic, aching all over and flat mood! I notice a huge difference when I am aware of and implement all of the lifestyle factors needed to manage my inflammation – so it’s my goal that all of our clients get to this point too! UNFORTUNATELY, in spite of the many ‘simple online quick fix programs’ which promise otherwise, there is no one size fits all approach to managing inflammation – however, we hope to be able to case manage and get to the bottom of multiple causative factors of it in our clinics!

What Is Inflammation?

Inflammation is the body’s normal response to trauma. In the case of an injury or wound for example, it is essential for healing. Inflammation involves a huge and complex process of cellular activity. There’s cells which bring in platelets to start clotting, cells which kill viruses and other conditions by injecting them with poison, cells which engulf inflammatory cells and cells which tidy up the mess left behind by all of the above – that’s just to name a few! Our bodies are amazing healing machines but with so much happening, they don’t always get it 100% right! Inflammation persisting after a normal period of time has passed, is more of a problem. Chronic inflammation may be the residue of old trauma or a response to ongoing traumas. The last 60 years have seen a steady increase in chronic inflammatory diseases, with an estimated 60% of people dying worldwide from chronic inflammatory diseases such as stroke, respiratory disease, cancer, heart disorder, obesity, diabetes and more. Inflammation is also implicated in multiple conditions such as MS, allergies, chronic pain, mental health disorders and more. Conditions such as Mast Cell activation syndrome, Long Covid, tick borne illnesses can all be seen as examples of when the immune system’s response to inflammation is sub-optimal. It’s thought that a number of factors in our modern day lifestyles can drive inflammation, including pollution, microplastics, food quality, stress, quantity of exercise and more.

Signs Of Inflammation.

Signs of inflammation range from localised to diffuse. Localised, acute inflammation may occur with an ankle sprain for example – showing redness, swelling and tenderness, as the body works to heal itself. Chronic inflammation may be both localised and obvious, or diffuse and not so obvious. Low grade chronic inflammation can produce both emotional (e.g. anxiety, stress, depression) and physical (fatigue, pain) symptoms. Often these are not obvious and without a specifically diagnosed ‘disease’, fall under the radar for treatment. Essentially, chronic low grade inflammation can delay people from living their best lives – and living your best lives is something we are passionate about!

How We Can Help With Inflammation.

Firstly, for acute or chronic illness, it’s important to consult with your doctor to see how they can help medically. Our Allied Health treatments can both help to prevent you getting to this stage in many cases, or serve to assist with medical treatment. If you’re not actually medically unwell, have a physical injury, are struggling with your mental health, or just generally feel you’d like help to reach optimum health status, we have a number of services which can help, as per below and please note, these are listed in no particular order.

1. Mild Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.

We’re excited to have launched Hyperbaric Oxygen therapy Cairns, located at our flagship clinic on 80-86 Abbott Street. Our Mild Hyperbaric Oxygen therapy machines go to pressures of 1.5 and 2 ATM respectively, or the equivalent of 5 and 10 metres underwater. Once in the chamber, you breathe 98% oxygen, effectively flooding your body with an oxygen supplement for health and wellbeing. It’s said that pushing oxygen into the plasma, where it doesn’t normally live, has an anti-inflammatory effect. Studies have been performed on a huge range of conditions – from Cerebral Palsy, to injury healing, traumatic brain injuries and more, with some people receiving upwards of 80-100 sessions. An initial assessment is essential prior to receiving mild Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and this can be made by calling (07) 4231 9777. Once this is completed and this is deemed an appropriate tool to support your recovery and/or wellness journey, single sessions or packs for maximum value, can be booked through our online Wellness Living portal.

2. Psychology.

The feedback loop between mental health and chronic inflammation is well known. Cortisol, a known stress hormone, is essential for helping us to get out of bed, however an overload of it can keep us in a constant heightened loop. If we are in a loop of being often in ‘sympathetic’ (fight or flight), it keeps us from the parasympathetic state of rest and digest. This parasympathetic state is essential to help dial down inflammation and allow our bodies time to heal. Apart from diagnosed mental health conditions, our Provisional Psychologists can help you if you have ongoing intrusive thoughts, worries, fears, difficulty with interpersonal relationships and much more. Having somebody to talk to and strategies to manage your mental health is essential for physical health too! Call us to arrange an appointment on (07) 4231 9777 or book online.

3. Occupational Therapy.

Overwhelmed with the many things you feel you should be doing to manage your health? Maybe you’re having issues with sleep, planning your day, stress management and more? You may have a chronic inflammatory condition or disorder such as MS or stroke and need some advice on strategies to make your living situation better – whether through aids and appliances, or tools which you can use to pace and plan better. Occupational Therapy is concerned with all aspects of your daily life – from how you function at home, in the community and in work, to how your living situation integrates with your mental and physical health. Our Occupational Therapists take a broad look at all aspects of your current health status and work with you on individualised plans to make your life a bit easier. A life with more ease can lead to less stress and improved well-being, which will help that inflammation. Call us to arrange an appointment on (07) 4231 9777 or book online.

4. Physiotherapy.

When it comes to acute and chronic injury healing, Physiotherapists have an excellent understanding of the role of inflammation – including how to manage it in the early stages of injury and optimise your healing journey. Some of the many strategies we use include:

  • Decreasing pain through joint mobilisations, needling, taping, bracing and more.
  • Stimulating improved healing through shockwave therapy.
  • Restoring normal function, movement, strength and balance through advice and specifically chosen rehabilitation exercises.

Call us to arrange an appointment on (07) 4231 9777 or book online.

5. Exercise Physiology.

Exercise Physiologists are highly specialised in medical exercise prescription- whether for rehab of recent injuries, or management of chronic diseases which may present with inflammation. Call us to arrange an appointment on (07) 4231 9777 or book online.

6. Naturopathy.

Of course, as I mentioned above, diet is a huge part of both inflammation management and cause. But what diet to follow? There’s so many ‘one size fits all’ approaches online, but I believe there’s no substitute for an individualised plan for your needs. Our Cairns Naturopathy consults are a 2 stage process, where the first appointment involves a comprehensive medical and health history, including review of any test results you may already have. After this visit, our Naturopath will send you away to complete a diet diary (on which you can also list any symptoms you are having during the week), as well as any additional tests which you may need. She then creates a custom, comprehensive plan for how you can improve your health through specific dietary and lifestyle changes. While she may recommend some supplements or herbal remedies, there truly is no way to out supplement a bad diet. Knowing what you’re eating and drinking and observing how this interacts with your symptoms and blood results over a time period is an objective and comprehensive way to make sure you’re not wasting money on supplements and dietary changes which aren’t suited to your individual needs- so that you can crack that inflammation from within!

7. Recovery Equipment.

Our flagship clinic at 80-86 Abbott Street is equipped with a suite of recovery equipment, including contrast baths (hot/ ice), infra-red sauna and Normatec leg, hip and arm compression garments. The compression garments help both athletes and members of the general public with swelling reduction, pain and improved circulation, in 30 minute or 60 minute blocks. Ice baths have been well documented for their role in helping to reduce inflammation and improve resilience. Meanwhile, infrared saunas are purported to reduce inflammation through deep penetration of the body tissue- enhancing circulation and bringing essential nutrients to injured areas. Bookings for our suite of recovery equipment can be made through our online Wellness Living portal.

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