Blog | Assessing Inflammation with These 3 Lab Markers

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Assessing Inflammation with These 3 Lab Markers

BySarah Axtell, ND October 28, 2021

I use laboratory assessment a lot in my practice to help prevent disease and identify the root cause of a health condition. We know that inflammation is at the root cause of most chronic diseases. Here are 3 common lab markers of inflammation:

  1. Homocysteine– this is an amino acid, produced as an intermediate compound through a cellular processed called methylation. Homocysteine should ideally be converted into harmless compounds with the help of B12 and folate. Genetic mutations (MTHFR defect) and/or B12 or folate deficiencies can cause homocysteine to accumulate in the body and cause inflammation, notably in the heart, brain, and bones. Elevated homocysteine causes oxidative stress, leading to damage to the lining of our blood vessels. Elevated homocysteine is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and osteoporosis. To address elevated homocysteine, I recommend the following:
    • Green leafy vegetables- 2 cups/day (good source of folate)
    • Methylcobalamin (bioavailable form of B12)
    • Methylfolate (bioavailable form of folate)
  2. hsCRP (High Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein)– CRP is a marker found in the blood that increases in response to inflammation. Our livers make this protein in response to immune cells’ production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Elevated hsCRP is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Research shows that “healthy” people whose hsCRP results are high normal or elevated have 1.5-4x the risk of having a heart attack compared to those whose hs-CRP are at the low end of normal range.
  3. ESR (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate)– ESR measures how quickly erythrocytes, or red blood cells, separate from a blood sample that has been treated so the blood will not clot. Elevated inflammation will cause red blood cells to clump together and settle faster, thus resulting in a higher ESR. ESR is useful in diagnosing and monitoring certain autoimmune diseases that can cause joint pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatica, and ankylosing spondylitis.

Diet is one of the most powerful ways you can reduce inflammation to thus reduce musculoskeletal pain, excess weight, and also your risk of chronic disease, such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s. For more on an Anti-Inflammatory Diet see here.

Turmeric is another effective way to reduce inflammation. Here are the top 5 reasons to include turmeric in your diet everyday.

Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.


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