Medically reviewed by, Russell Braun RPH
Most people know that inflammation is a process that causes redness and swelling. It is your bodies way of trying to protect you from infection and repair damage. Sounds like a pretty important process doesn’t it? If that is normal inflammation what is neurogenic inflammation? How can neurogenic inflammation affect you?
To understand neurogenic inflammation you need to first understand what normally causes inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s way to fight against invaders or injury. Therefore, it promotes healing and is normally triggered by your immune system. Many things can trigger inflammation by your immune system such as:
- Plaque in arteries
- Toxins in your GI tract
Scientist are starting to detect a link between the nervous system and how it can affect the immune system. It is believed this may be one of the reasons for immune system dysfunction like is seen with autoimmune disorders.
1. What Are The 5 Classic Signs Of Inflammation?
Inflammation can be identified by these 5 signs.
- Loss of function
Normal healthy inflammation only affects the area where injury of infection occurred. When other areas become inflamed, this can lead to problems. In fact chronic inflammation causes many of the most deadly diseases in society today.
2. What Is Neurogenic Inflammation?
The word neurogenic means caused, controlled by or arising in the nervous system. Normally your nerves are just responsible for sending and receiving signals between the brain and your body. At the nerve endings signals are relayed by using chemicals such as:
However, when things go wrong nerves start to stimulate inflammation in places that are not injured or being invaded.
Neurons that carry impulses back to the brain from the body normally cause neurogenic inflammation. These are also known as afferent neurons. As a result these neurons release chemicals that interact with postcapillary venules. Consequently, postcapillary venules are the cells that line the neurons and it is where immune cells can get into nerve endings. When the venules become leaky from improper signals from the nerve, more immune cells can move in. Subsequently, this leads to neurogenic inflammation.
3. What Causes Neurogenic Inflammation?
Damage to neurons is what typically will lead to neurogenic inflammation. This could be caused from things such as:
- Spinal cord injury
- Brain injury
Damaged neurons release chemicals such as cytokines. Cytokines are chemical messengers that send out signals. They signal to white blood cells and other immune system components that damage has occurred. Consequently, this type of signaling from nerves has been seen in diseases including:
In addition, chemicals that lead to inflammation include calcitonin gene related peptide (CGRP) and substance P. As a result of their release these chemicals cause smooth muscles to relax. When blood vessels to relax it can lead to more inflammation.
4. Can Neurogenic & Classic Inflammation Happen Together?
Neurogenic inflammation can exist at the same time as classic inflammation. In fact, the only difference is that neurogenic inflammation does not require any invading bacteria or virus to trigger it. Instead peripheral nerves can be trigging inflammation inappropriately.
Therefore, things that can trigger nerves may lead to neurogenic inflammation. Unfortunately, many toxic stimuli from things in your environment can directly cause this. In that case the neurogenic inflammation is a response to a danger signal your body is sensing in your environment. Common triggers could include:
- Noxious smells
- Chemicals released due to cell damage
These triggers can lead to numerous diseases as a result of ongoing neurogenic inflammation. In fact, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and migraine headaches have both been shown to have a neurogenic inflammation component.
Research has also found another component of neurogenic inflammation. The refer to it as neurogenic switching. This occurs when impulses that are generated and sent to the central nervous system (CNS). However, they get mixed up and responses are sent to other parts of the body. Subsequently, this leads to inflammation where no insult or injury had occurred.
Again, toxic chemicals especially when inhaled in the lungs have been shown to have this type of neurogenic switching potential.
5. How Is Neurogenic Inflammation Treated?
A few different approaches have been use for the treatment of neurogenic inflammation. These strategies have focused on prevention with magnesium, vagus nerve stimulation, and substance P.
First of all, did you realize an estimated that 75% of the population is deficient in magnesium? Also, magnesium is involved in nearly 300 chemical reactions in the body. Subsequently, magnesium has been shown to be a vital to our health and well being.
Because of these facts, studies have been done on rats with low magnesium levels. A very important finding was that low magnesium levels can lead to neurogenic inflammation.
Therefore, magnesium may be useful for neurogenic inflammation. This is despite the fact no human studies have been done. Because of all the other health benefits of magnesium.
Also, the chances of being deficient are high, while the downside seems small. However, several different salt forms of magnesium are available. Click below for information on two of the most popular forms.
The vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve. As a result, it controls much of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for “rest and digest” functions. Stimulation occurring during neurogenic inflammation is thought to be due to the sympathetic nervous system. This system is said to be responsible for our “fight or flight” response.
Consequently, stimulating the vagus nerve is thought to send calming and anti-inflammatory signal. This is done via the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Also, there are ways to manually stimulate the vagus nerve, which may be a good idea for sufferers of neurogenic inflammation.
Capsaicin which is a topical product that comes from chili peppers. It has been shown to help with neurogenic inflammation in the skin or joints. It helps to stimulate nerves and affects a chemical called substance P. This is thought to be involved in the stimulation of pain sensation.
Capsaicin would only be a treatment option for neurogenic inflammation affecting the skin and joints.
Calcitonin Gene Related Peptide (CGRP)
Six CGRP blockers have been approved by the FDA since 2018. These drugs are used when neurogenic inflammation leads to migraine. They are thought to help prevent the blood vessels in the brain from relaxing. This relaxation can be caused by neurogenic inflammation.
You may see commercials on television and social media for the drugs listed below. They are all brand only with no generic available. This means they are all very expensive. Again, these would only be a useful treatment for neurogenic inflammation that leads to migraine.
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Botulism toxin, also known as botox, has also been shown to be an effective treatment for neurogenic inflammation. Botox is believed to prevent pain associated with neurogenic inflammation. One factor holding botox back from being more widely studied for neurogenic inflammation is site of injection.
Botox is normally injected under the skin. As a result, its effects are normally confined to the area around the injection. Unless the neurogenic inflammation is taking place under the skin botox may not be a viable option.
Natural Inflammation Reducers
You may not know that eating a healthy diet is anti-inflammatory. Also, eating junk food is very inflammatory. That is why we created two guides for you on how to reduce the effects of inflammation. The first is natural ways to incorporate 24 proven natural inflammation reducers. The second details the strongest OTC anti-inflammatories.
Click here to get Dr. Jason Reed’s exclusive list of medication questions you MUST ask your doctor, for FREE!
Share your story
Do you suffer from neurogenic inflammation? Also, please share how you have dealt with it? Chime in below with your comments and thoughts.
Maroon Joseph, et al. Natural anti-inflammatory agents for pain relief. Sure Nerol Int. 2010:1:80.