Inflammation: The Basis of all Disease?

Inflammation: The Basis of all Disease?

Author: Naturopath Kimberly Orbons, published 14th Oct 2016.


We have all heard of free radicals, from the skincare aisle to a range of longevity/self-help products; the benefits of antioxidants to reduce their damaging effect is across the board. But did you know that far beyond your skins surface your daily exposure to free radicals, chemicals and toxins may be affecting your inflammation and metabolism? Or that they may be buffered and even completely eradicated? The role of inflammation in your body is to trigger a healing response. But the number of chemical pathways and treatments can get confusing. Below are some of the heavy hitters for thyroid patients, common testing and treatment options you may require for metabolic, pain, inflammatory or general health support.


An imbalance of hormones in the human body may create inflammation and a broad variety of symptoms. Did you know many Thyroid patients are actually asymptomatic in the early stages?  Essential key nutrients for these inflammatory pathways may include Co Enzyme Q10, Iodine, methyl B12, methyl folate, zinc, selenium, Vitamin D3, chromium, SuperOxideDismutase and sulphoraphane. Whether your hormonal or general health issues are metabolic, autoimmune, hormonal or nutritional a good understanding, testing and treatment of these pathways are essential.









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If your inflammatory markers are borderline within range, particularly homocysteine (which we would like to see below 6, never allowing it to approach the danger zones of >15) there is a very high rate of disease risk. There are many inflammatory markers, but this marker is dependent on methylated/active nutrition. Homocysteine is a naturally occurring amino acid produced as part of the body’s detoxification processes. It is created when a protein called methionine is broken down. Methionine is good for you; homocysteine is a necessary and safe side effects, but only when controlled by the necessary cofactors.


It’s not just about strokes and blood clotting factors, this blood test can be used to predetermine if a person has or is developing a vitamin B12 or folate deficiency. The homocysteine concentration will often become elevated before B12 and folate serum testing come back as heart stethascopedeficient. Raised homocysteine is associated with a build-up of damaging free radicals. Oxidation can lead to heart disease, strokes, cancers, autoimmune diseases, vascular damage, cognitive impairment, neurological complications, congenital defects and pregnancy complications. Since it plays such a crucial role as a key marker for disease development and longevity, it’s also relevant to how we determine and assess health.


High levels can be a risk factor for:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Stroke from blood clots
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Dementia
  • A decline in memory, low concentration, poor judgment and lowered mood
  • Difficulty conceiving and / or increased risk of repeated early miscarriage (Did you know that approximately 20% of women that give birth to a child with a neural tube defect have abnormal homocysteine metabolism?)
  • Migraines
  • Other medical conditions including diabetes and low bone density: osteopenia and osteoporosis.


The complex metabolism of homocysteine needs certain cofactors. Deficiencies in vitamin B12, folic acid and vitamin B6 are associated with raised homocysteine levels. Other factors thought to raise levels are:

  • Low nutrient diet
  • Poor lifestyle; in particular smoking, increased coffee or alcohol intake
  • Some prescription medications for example proton pump inhibitors that block the production of gastric acid and digestive juices
  • Diabetes (tricky, it’s a risk marker for this AND maybe caused by it!)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Poor thyroid function.



9.RECOGNIZE-THE-SIGNS-OF-FATIGUEIron is essential for the production and regulation of thyroid hormones. Lacking oxygen for cellular metabolism is the number one effect on hypothyroidism; your Free T3 Thyroid hormones cannot produce much cellular energy if we do not have optimal ferritin, which is the iron stores within our cells.


“Increased ferritin levels can indicate inflammation, liver dysfunction and oxidative stress. I have seen ferritin levels increase with viral infections or colds, and will query this with patients if their ferritin is very high. Also consider haemochromatosis, the hereditary iron disorder.”  – LUCY HERRON, Founder & CEO of The Lucy Rose Clinic


Some common causes of above normal ferritin include:

  • Obesity
  • Inflammation
  • Regular daily alcohol intake
  • The most common cause of genetic-related elevated ferritin levels is the medical condition haemochromatosis
  • Ferritin levels can increase as a result of damage to your organs, such as the liver and spleen

Ferritin is referred to in the medical fraternity as an acute phase reactant. So when our cells and tissues suffer inflammation, ferritin levels can also go up. Your practitioner won’t just look at a serum Iron and Ferritin reading within normal ranges. In the presence of pain, inflammation symptoms or positive testing for inflammatory markers, a Ferritin reading of > 100 ug/l generally excludes iron deficiency. The normal medical range for Iron alone does not reflect the inflammatory state which is why Integrative Health Practitioners will often order multiple test to get a fuller picture for your treatment.


A big scary factor in inflammation and antioxidants is the risk of triggering abnormal cellular behaviours, or cancer. Sea vegetables may play a role in lowering risk of oestrogen-related cancers, including breast cancer. Since cholesterol is required as a building block for production of oestrogen, the cholesterol-lowering effects of sea vegetables may play a risk-reducing role in this regard. However, more interesting with veg1respect to breast cancer risk is the apparent ability of sea vegetables to modify aspects of a woman’s normal menstrual cycle in such a way that over a lifetime, the total cumulative oestrogen secretion that occurs during the follicular phase of the cycle gets decreased. For women who are at risk of oestrogen-sensitive breast cancers, sea vegetables may bring a special benefit in this regard.
To understand many of the anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anticoagulant, antithrombotic, and antiviral properties of sea vegetables, you need to look no further than their sulfated polysaccharides. Sea vegetables’ sulfated polysaccharides are associated with anti-viral activity which blocks the replication of herpes simplex (cold sores virus). They can decrease the tendency of blood platelet cells to coagulate and form clots and have also been shown to help lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol and to improve cardiovascular health in this way.


C-reactive protein (CRP) is a non-specific test used to detect inflammation if there is a high suspicion of tissue injury or infection somewhere in the body, but the test cannot tell where the inflammation is or what condition is causing it. CRP is not diagnostic of any one condition, but it can be used together with signs and symptoms and other tests to evaluate an individual for an acute or chronic inflammatory condition

digestionFor example, CRP may be used to detect or monitor significant inflammation in an individual who is suspected of having an acute condition such as:


The CRP test is useful in monitoring people with chronic inflammatory conditions to detect flare-ups and/or to determine if treatment is effective such as




EDITED KIMKimberly Orbons 

Adv Dip Naturopathy, Adv Dip Western Herbal Medicine

Head Naturopath Kimberly Orbons is passionate about encouraging and empowering each person to facilitate their own good health with Nutrition, Herbal Medicine and preventative lifestyle management. Using a combination of diagnostics and symptomatology to identify the different metabolic processes contributing to disease allows her to treat the root or cause of poor health, providing relief of symptoms and long term recovery.

Kimberly believes it is extremely important to build a personalized healing plan, taking all the complexities of a patient’s health and illness into consideration. Her consults have a strong focus on client care and treating each patient as an individual, and may therefore co-ordinate with other medical treatments. The goal is to establish each patient’s ability to live in the best possible state of health, naturally. Her mentors in clinical practice include Founder Lucy Herron, Dr. David Brownstein, Naturopath Angela Hywood and Dr. Sarah Wine. Since achieving her qualifications in 2007 she has extensive clinical experience, and also 3 years managing the natural health sections and seminar within pharmacy.

Kimberly works closely with our CEO Lizzy Herron, our naturopathic consultants and all The Lucy Rose clinical staff to ensure our patients are provided with the best and most up to date health services and quality health advice. She has actively contributed to our online media, patient guidelines, patient support and informational services for the past 3 years and enjoys providing excellent free to access health data to patients across Australia daily.


References & Recommended Reading:

Functional Health Screening, pathology testing for inflammatory markers


Superoxide dismutase–applications and relevance to human diseases. Noor R, Mittal S, Iqbal J. Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Life Sciences, Aligarh Muslim Unviersity, India.

Superoxide dismutase: an emerging target for cancer therapeutics. Hileman EA1, Achanta G, Huang P. Department of Molecular Pathology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.

Lab Tests Online, C-Reactive Protein –

Lab Tests Online, Cortisol –

Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests (2010.), 4th edn., Mosby Elsevier, Missouri