NF-kappa B: How It Contributes To Your Pain


NF-kappa B or NF-kB is not a rock band. It’s a protein complex in our body that can be responsible for all kinds of mischief. It’s important if you are fighting viruses and the like, but when this system turns on and doesn’t turn off it sends you into a world of trouble. Let’s talk about why.

What is NF-kB?

NF-kB is the captain of your DNA expression. Just like a captain of a ship responds to wind conditions, the current of the sea, and the health of the crew, NF-kB responds to stress (physical or emotional), cytokines (compounds that cause inflammation and pain), free radicals (from car exhaust to cigarette smoke to trans fats in processed foods), and antigens (any food or substance your that causes your immune system to kick up).

It Turns Up the Heat

It is proinflammatory. That is a good thing when we need a fever to fight infection. Inflammation is an important part of the immune system and if it were absent we would need to live in a bubble to protect ourselves. The problem occurs when it turns on and doesn’t turn off. This is called chronically activated.

Like a Bad Record

Chronically activated NF-kB has been linked to cancer, inflammatory conditions (like joint pain, skin rashes or any situation that displays itself as ongoing redness and/or pain), and autoimmune diseases (diseases that cause the immune system to not recognize the body as something familiar and attacks it. Hashimoto’s, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, lupus, and even multiple chemical sensitivity…to name a few).

When you have a rock in your shoe your foot hurts. When you take the rock out it doesn’t. You would think that if a fight with your spouse, an allergic food, a virus, a toxin, or an injury, was taken away, resolved or healed, you would no longer have NF-kB reacting to those stressors. The sneaky part about NF-kB is that, without further activation of these stressors, it can create its own amplifying loop making NF-kB chronically elevated. That is very bad news because once this amplifying loop is activated it can express as chronic inflammation unless an active inhibitor is provided.

Stay cool,

Dr. Stacey


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