Love all, Trust a few, Do wrong to none.
(The Bard--William Shakespeare)

The text presented below is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

Antioxidants are of two kinds-- the ones found in our foods and the ones produced by the body. This class of compounds function in  slowing down the oxidative damage to our body. When the body’s cells use oxygen, those cells naturally produce “free radicals” that cause systemic damage (e.g., skin (the largest organ), other major organs, and tissues.) which tend to accelerate the aging process.

The primary Antiodixant Enzymes naturally produced by the body are superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and  glutathione peroxidase (GPx). Together, they repair oxidized DNA, degrade oxidized protein, and destroy oxidized lipids  which are fat-like substances that are a constituent of cell membranes.

What is Oxidative Damage?

Oxidative damage in our bodies is the result of oxidation, which is the reaction of products of oxygen with other molecules. Two familiar examples of oxidation are the rusting of untreated iron and the browning of a pear when exposed to air containing oxygen. This is why recipes for pies generally recommend brushing the pear slices with lemon or orange juice to prevent browning since the latter each containt d-limonene a good anti-oxidant.

At every instance in the natural process of oxidation (turning oxygen into needed
energy), our bodies produce molecules called "free radicals."  These substances
can cause damage to cells and DNA, but  their effects are generally neutralized
by being "mopped up" , as it were, by agents called antioxidants before they can
do harm.

Oxidative damage, which can be increased by a number of factors, accumulates in
every cell in our body. While our cells have natural defenses against oxidative
damage, they are not fully effective. Consequently, oxidative damage to cell membranes, genetic material (DNA) and proteins increases with aging. It has been proposed that this process may result in the death and dysfunction of cells, tissues and organs.

Molecules called free radicals are produced during normal cell processes involving oxygen. They are highly reactive oxidizing substances. They easily bind to and attack fats (lipids), carbohydrates, proteins, enzymes and DNA. Free radicals can interfere with the healthy functioning and reproduction of cells

Some researchers believe that this damage may be a key factor in the aging process. As such, scientists worldwide have been investigating how diets rich in antioxidants (anthocyanins, Vitamins C and E, CAT. to name a few) can slow aging, and of course limit the harm caused by this process.



In the search of an electron to mate with an unpaired electron to render the molecule stable, free  radicals  can be viewed as 'energy robbers' that weaken their targets (the nearest stable molecule) and also 'infect' them as it were with the robbing habit since once 'robbed' of their electron they in turn will seek to acquire stability by obtaining an electron from a neighboring stable molecule. As such, a chain reaction is set off causing cells to rob other cells of 'energy' (aka an electron or negative charge). This cascade of  'energy robbing' may eventually destroy the cell membrane, organelles in the cell, nuclear membrane, or the nucleus itself; and could lead to the destruction of neighboring cells, tissues, or  even organ systems.Even if a free radical does not steal an electron, it could impart a sufficiently large force (pull) on the target molecule to disrupt the workings of  neighboring atoms and molecules. Note that oxidation does not always entail the loss of electrons as in covalent boding. It essentially is an increase in oxidation number.

What causes free radicals? In a nutshell, living!

You cannot escape the formation of free radicals. One only can minimise their presence and intake substances rich in antioxidants, or their precursors (the substances needed for the body to create them) to lessen their impact on the body's defenses.

Breathing, eating, moving; and essentially just living places stress on the body. Any stress we place on our bodies can cause free radicals. Certainly polluted air, unsanitary foods and conditions, smoking, stressful events and unhealthy foods can cause free radicals; this includes even healthy activities, such as biking, running, and the like. Any stress on our muscles generates free radicals.   Almost any type of exercise will put stress on our body
Can you stop the chain reaction, or keep them from doing too much damage since they always will be there? Yes!

Give it what it wants, and the damages will be mitigated. How? Give the free radicals the extra electron they so desperately seek. What can supply this extra electron? Antioxidants.

Antioxidants are any substances that prevent or slow down the oxidation process. Free radicals cause oxidation and antioxidants prevent oxidation. Antioxidants work by donating an electron to a free radical so it becomes a stable oxygen molecule.

Note the two free radicals that have been formed in the image below:
In the diagramme above, the antioxidant offers an electron to each of the free radicals now rendering each a stable molecule.
When a free radical steals from an antioxidant, the cycle stops since the antioxidant does not become a free radical.
Are there any benefits to free radicals? Oh, yes!

Just as they can damage your tissues, they also can harm bacteria, viruses, and other harmful substances that enter your bloodstream. As such, free radicals constitute your immune system's defense line. By extension, remember that too much of a good thing also could prove harmful, so be wary of how much of any nutrient you intake.
Free Radicals
The Relationship between Therapy for Traumatic Injuries and Oxidation:

The primary nonpharmacologic treatment of acute traumatic injuries is RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. This acronym has been expanded recently to PRICE, with "P" standing for protection:

PRICE Treatment for Acute Soft Tissue Injury

RICE or PRICE therapy essentially functions in decreasing both plasma exudation and blood flow.

How does this relate to oxidation? In a manner of speaking, tissue damage promotes blood vessel expansion which, in turn, facilitates an onrush of blood and plasma to the affected area; this liquid permits more oxygen to come into contact with the injured area. The oxygen interacts with the surrounding molecules via oxidation. In a manner, the oxygen rapidly heats up or burns the surrounding cells with which it interacts; ergo the warmth one feels in inflamed tissue.

Some Nitty Gritty for Those Who Might Be Interested...  Just a Bit of Nitty Mind You; Not Too Much

The Itty Bitty Nitty Gritty:

When inflammation occurs, chemicals from the body’s white blood cells are released into the blood or affected tissues in an attempt to rid the body of foreign substances. This release of chemicals increases the blood flow to the area and may result in redness and warmth. Some of the chemicals cause leakage of fluid into the tissues, resulting in swelling. The inflammatory process may stimulate nerves and cause pain.

The onset of inflammation causes chemicals from the body’s white blood cells (WBC) also known as leukocytes (leuko means white; cyte means cell)  to be released into the blood of affected tissues in an attempt to rid the body of pathogens, other foreign substances, or irritation caused by excess plasma. A class of leukocytes known as the granulocytes plays a key role in this process. The word inflammation is from the Latin inflammare for to set on fire, given that phagocytes-- cells that can engulf particles such as pathogens (bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc.), aged red blood cells, foreign matter, and the like—furnish an odixative burst directed toward the foreign matter thereby effecting a temperature increase.The principal phagocytes include the neutrophils, macrophages, and monocytes (mononucleatd white blood cell).

Inflammation is a protective attempt by the organism to remove the harmful stimuli and then initiate the healing process. Without inflammation, wounds and infections would not heal; ultimately leading to the death of the organism. In the same vein, continued inflammation can lead to conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, and a host of other conditions.

In some diseases, the body’s immune system (defense system)  triggers an inflammatory response when there are no foreign substances to fight off. In these diseases, the body’s normally protective immune system causes damage to its own tissues (also known as an autoimmune response);.the body responds as if normal tissues are infected or somehow abnormal.

Visual Indication of Inflammation was first described by Aulus Cornelius Celsus (Aurelius Cornelius) in his treatise De re Medicina. Today, medical students memorise the four letters below as a mnemonic device to remember the four cardinal indicators of the condition.

R, D, T, C for Rubor (redness), Dolor (pain), Tumor (swelling), and Calor(heat/warmth)

Mnemonic Device: D,C,T,R for Doctor sans the letter O

Loss of function--Laesus Functionis-- is also an indicator of  inflammation. However, in the medical industry the condition is referred to as functio laesa. To date, the origin of the term's use still is disputed.


1Birgitta Agerberth, Jehad Charo, Joachim Werr, Berit Olsson, Farah Idali, Lennart Lindbom, Rolf Kiessling,
  Hans Jörnvall, Hans Wigzell, and Gudmundur H. Gudmundsson The human antimicrobial and chemotactic
  peptides LL-37 and  -defensins are expressed by specific lymphocyte and monocyte populations
  Blood, Nov 2000; 96: 3086 - 3093.

2Ferrero-Miliani L, Nielsen OH, Andersen PS, Girardin SE (February 2007). "Chronic inflammation:
  importance of NOD2 and NALP3 in interleukin-1beta generation". Clin. Exp. Immunol. 147 (2): 227–35.
         doi:10.1111/j.1365-2249.2006.03261.x. PMID 17223962

3Lopez-Garcia E, Schulze MB, Fung TT, Meigs JB, Rifai N, Manson JE, Hu FB. "Major dietary patterns are
  related to plasma concentrations of markers of inflammation and endothelial dysfunction." Am J Clin Nutr.
2004 Oct;80(4):1029-35.

P = Protect the area from further injury using a splint, sling, crutches, brace(s),
      cane, walker, etc.
R = Rest the injured part to promote tissue healing
I  = Ice  the injured part (cryotherapy)
C = Compress the injured area (an example is use of an elastic bandage)
E = Elevate the injured part above the level of the heart

please click on the Back Button to return to the previous page
please click on the Back Button to return to the previous page