The function of the endothelium involves inflammation and it’s where healing comes from.
In a new video, integrative oncology and metabolic medicine expert Dr. Thomas Lodi explains just the function of the endothelium and just how vital it is. The endothelium is a “spatially distributed organ.”
It is the inner cell lining of all blood vessels and lymphatics. On an average person, it weighs around one kilogram and has a surface area of about 4,000 to 7,000 square meters.
According to Dr. Lodi, the function of the endothelium is multi-fold. “It is the only thing that is ever in touch with the blood. The endothelium is a very important part of the body that no one ever talks about. It is where inflammation comes from and therefore, it is where healing comes from. Inflammation is how the body heals; it is not a bad thing unless it is chronic inflammation,” he said.
When we think or see inflammation, we somehow know that something is wrong. It is a normal reaction, but inflammation is, in fact, a crucial part of the immune system’s response whenever we are injured or have an infection.
It is our body’s way of “signaling the immune system to heal and repair damaged tissue.” Inflammation is also the body’s way of saying that it needs protection from “foreign invaders” aka viruses and bacteria. Without it, wounds and infections could progress into life-threatening hazards.
This kind of inflammation is called an acute inflammation. The telltale signs include redness, swelling, heat, maybe some pain and at times, loss of function. When this happens, white blood cells come to the rescue to promote healing.
Prostaglandins also stimulate creation of blood clots to heal damaged tissue. Pain and fever are normal parts of the process. The inflammation should subside once the body has healed.
All the work of the body attempting to maintain homeostasis happens in the Endothelium
On the other hand, an inflammation that goes on for too long and that happens even when there is no disease or infection to fight is called chronic inflammation. This is the “bad” kind of inflammation. It has been linked to cardiovascular diseases, stroke, autoimmune disorders and even cancer.
Chronic inflammation happens when there is a “perceived internal threat” and the white blood cells swarm and attack internal organs or healthy tissues and cells, since they have no actual virus or bacteria to fight off. Chronic inflammation can be avoided by maintaining a healthy lifestyle—balanced diet, regular exercise and minimal exposure to environmental hazards.
Dr. Lodi added, “The endothelium plays a critical role in peripheral vascular disease, strokes, heart disease, diabetes, kidney failure, tumors, metastasis, blood clots and severe viral infections. All the work of the body fighting these things is taking place in the endothelium.”
Endothelial cells aid “vascular relaxation and contraction.” They also release enzymes that help the body “control blood clotting, immune function, and platelet adhesion.”
Endothelial dysfunction has been linked to the development of atherosclerosis—a condition wherein the arteries are narrowed and hardened because of plaque build-up around the artery wall. As a result, blood flow is disrupted, and this can lead to a stroke or a heart attack.