April 30, 2021
By Christine Cheng,R.Ph. and Fred Cheng, R.Ph.
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injuries (such as cuts and wounds), infections and unhealthy dietary habits and is meant to protect the body in the acute stage. However, if the inflammation is left unchecked, it can become a chronic problem that presents as ongoing pain & discomfort. Most of us have heard the lingo associated with the inflammatory process (e.g., prostaglandins, leukotrienes, etc), but it is likely we have not heard about how the body normally returns to its normal, healthy status (i.e., homeostasis). Although research has been ongoing for many years, it is finally coming to the forefront that some of the molecules involved in “cleaning up the mess” left by the acute inflammatory response are called Specialized Pro-resolving Mediators, or SPMs.
SPMs are a group of molecules in the body that work together to stop the inflammatory process, return the body to homeostasis, and promote tissue repair. The majority of SPMs are produced naturally in the body from unsaturated fatty acids such as eicosapenteanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). It is important to note that EPA and DHA have physiological benefits that are beyond their function as substrates for SPMs. Also, supplementing with EPA and DHA may not necessarily increase the levels of SPMs in the body as there are limiting steps involving enzymes and co-factors. Clinical research has revealed many conditions associated with a deficiency in SPMs. The list is long and includes cardiovascular disease, arthritis, asthma, metabolic syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, endometriosis, peripheral artery disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Before SPMs were isolated and brought to the supplement market, the only way to manage inflammation was to try to stop the initiation of inflammation. Popular products that work in this way include curcumin and ibuprofen (along with other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories). These anti-inflammatories can be a powerful tool in reducing pain and improving quality of life. But, for those who find that their inflammation is not resolved even when they have tried every anti-inflammatory possible, it may be time to rethink the issue and target the other end of the inflammatory process, i.e., the resolution side of things. This is where SPMs come in play. Thus far, METAGENICS® is the only company to bring this science to market in their SPM ACTIVE product. The suggested dose is just 2 softgels a day. Be aware that as with any new technology, SPMs are a more expensive option.
We always promote non-drug or non-supplement methods of helping your body heal. If you or someone you know is fighting a chronic inflammatory condition, always start with a review of the diet and lifestyle habits to make sure you are providing your body with the nutrients it needs and not more toxins to deal with. Come talk to one of our Integrative Pharmacists to see if “super powerful molecules” may be beneficial for you.
Christine and Fred Cheng are a passionate, charismatic sister-brother pharmacist team at their unique, family-operated Pharmasave stores in Cloverdale and Steveston, B.C. They specialize in natural remedies and compounding for both human and veterinarian use. Find them on Instagram and Facebook! Everything mentioned in their article is available InStore.
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