PAIN & INFLAMMATION: What Can Nature Bring To The Table Of Relief?

One of the most purchased products are ones designed to relieve pain and inflammation.  We experience both for a variety of reasons, but our nation is stuck in the middle of a crisis of opiate abuse. Opiates cover a pretty big variety of drugs, that range from legal like fentanyl, codeine and morphine to the illegal ones like heroin and opium.  You may recognize these from the trade names of Oxycodone, Oxycotin and Percocet to name a few popular ones.

The reason these are dangerous is that opiates manage pain by depressing our central nervous system.  So when they are abused and someone has become addicted, proper signals sent through the central nervous system can cause the key body systems to function at a very laxed state causing death.

When we have folks intentionally causing their own bodies harm to convince their doctor to prescribe more pain killers, leaves no doubt of the depth of the addictive qualities these drugs bring to the table.

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ARE THERE HERBAL ANTI-INFLAMMATORIES THAT “WORK”?

I’m going to cover 10 common herbs that have long histories of use for managing conditions that involve inflammation, redness, pain, swelling, muscle/joint injuries.

My first stop for these ailments should always be treated with RICE:

R – rest

I – ice

C- compression

E- elevation (depending on the location of the injury of course)

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List of Herbal choices:

  1.  Arnica: The flowers of this mountain dwelling plant are used in cream and gel form to apply topically to ease joint aches, prevent swelling and bruising at an injury site.  It also is available in Homeopathic pellets.  BOIRON GEL (click here), and BOIRON PELLET PACKS (click here)
  2. Boswellia: Is taken from the frankincense tree of Three Wise Men fame, this ancient remedy has been found to shrink the inflamed joint tissue that marks arthritis. (Click here)
  3. Bromelain: This pineapple based enzyme helps reduce inflammatory reactions resulting from injuries and arthritis and serves as a digestive aid too.  To fight inflammation it works best when taken on an empty stomach. (click here)
  4. Grape Seed: Is a powerful antioxidant that helps reduce swelling especially swollen ankles associated with circulatory difficulties and interferes with histamine, the inflammatory agent responsible for allergic reactions. (Click here)
  5. Devils Claw: The root of this vine is native to the Kalahari desert in southern Africa.  It most often is used for arthritis relief but has helped folks with lower back pain as well.  works best when taken 30 mins. before a meal. (click here)
  6. Calendula: Which widely grows as a garden flower, is from the marigold variety and is used in creams/lotions to prevent skin damage caused by sun and wind.  Also to soothe insect bites and inflammation caused from poison ivy, oak and sumac. This formula can be applied topically and taken internally as a Flower remedy (click here)
  7. Marshmallow root: Original source of the candy which no longer contains any actual marshmallow; it’s slippery nature allows it to coat and soothe irritated membranes in the mouth and throat. It works wonderfully to ease digestive inflammation and irritation too. (click here)
  8. Willow Bark:  Everyone is familiar with aspirin, which is a synthetic form of salicylic acid. Willow barks primary components, unlike aspirin, willow doesn’t cause stomach upset when used for headaches, toothaches or arthritic issues.  It’s pain relieving ability is powerful. (click here)
  9. Turmeric:  Has gained much popularity lately, it’s bold yellow orange color is familiar to anyone who has eaten curry as the primary anti-inflammatory herb in Ayurevedic medicine, turmeric is used to treat arthritis, bursitis and tenderness. It is another powerful antioxidant that supports healthier circulation and blood pressure issues too. (click here)
  10. Ginger root: Has long been considered and essential item for healers as well as cooks throughout Asia.  This well known spice has been employed as a remedy for arthritis and any inflammatory health ailments.  It is also great for settling nausea, indigestion, morning sickness, car sickness and great for settling stomachs when dealing with the flu. (click here)

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There are unique differences between incorporating the use of herbal remedies vs. prescription & over the counter remedies.  The herbal remedies assist the body with it’s built in healing processes whereas the prescription and over the counter remedies are designed to trick the body or mask the symptoms giving a false sense of relief and healing.

So the herbal remedies in some instances may take longer with use for the person to “feel” relief.  The best part is none of them carry addictive qualities or side effects from taking them.

If you’d be interested in a more unique personalized nutritional approach incorporating the use of herbs and orthomolecular application.  You can check out my services at http://www.jodibarnett758.com.

Healthfully yours,

Dr. Jodi Barnett N.D.

Harvested Health LLC

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ALPHA LIPOIC ACID: Versatile Antioxidant

alpha lipoic acidUNIVERSAL VERSATILE ANTIOXIDANT

 

This is one of those antioxidants that is so versatile and beneficial for so many different body responses everyone should incorporate it into their daily supplement routine.
What is Alpha Lipoic Acid?   A potent antioxidant that serves multiple roles in our health.  It is essential for the production of energy, can be beneficial at helping with type 2 diabetes and nerves disease.  It has also been used to treat liver disease such as hepatitis.
It is also known as lipic acid and thioctic acid, it has equal portions of 2 molecules known to our biochemists as R and S isomers.  Most of ALA functions and benefits appear to come from the R form.
It functions as a cofactor in glycosis and the Krebs cycle, cellular processes that break down food molecules to produce energy, (which is why we are designed to get hungry to eat, the body needs energy at a cellular level) and it functions as an antioxidant and helps the body to recycle vitamins C and E and glutathione.
According to Lester Packer, PhD, of the University of Southern California, Alpha Lipoic Acid is the “universal antioxidant” because of its myriad activities.  The body converts some ALA to dihydrolipoic acid and even more potent antioxidant.   It also serves as a precursor to glutathione, which is the most powerful antioxidant made by the body.
Numerous studies have shown that supplementing with alpha lipoic acid can improve insulin function and may also lower blood sugar levels.  Considerable research has shown that it improves nerve pain and numbness related to diabetes.  Recent researchers have studied the benefits of alpha lipoic acid for other nerve disorders such as sciatic pain.
Other Helpful Benefits:
Liver: alpha lipoic acid restores the liver’s glutathione levels and promotes recovery.
Burning mouth syndrome:  Some 1.3 million Americans suffer from burning mouth syndrome.   ALA supplements can reduce symptoms of this painful condition,  In one study, 42 women were followed and 18 men with the burning mouth syndrome.  They were given either 200 mg of ALA or placebos 3 times daily for 2 months.  Nearly all of the patients on ALA showed improvement compared to placebo and 75% benefited substantially with some experiencing complete recovery.
Weight loss:  ALA has potential benefits in appetite control & weight loss.
Mental sharpness: a combination of alpha lipoic acid and acetyl L carnitine can lead to greater physical energy for some and mental sharpness according to studies.  Both nutrients are involved in how cells break down food to make up energy.

 

  • Overall Benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid:
    Encourages energy production.
    Supports blood sugar levels already within the normal range.
    Protects the liver.
    Supports the cardiovascular system.
    Supports nerve cell health
    Supports the nervous and glandular systems.
    Enhances the efforts of other antioxidants.
    How It Works:
    Most antioxidants are either water- or fat-soluble. Alpha lipoic acid is both, making its protective powers available to all cells in the body. Subsequently, ALA is often called the universal antioxidant, and it can protect the integrity of the cell membrane as well as offset cell stress. ALA protects the cell membrane and promotes mitochondrial activity to keep your body and its tissues young. It also helps support the body’s natural removal of toxins. ALA directs calories away from fat production and toward energy production. Each capsule provides 250 mg alpha lipoic acid.
    Ingredients:
    Alpha lipoic acid and turmeric root.
    Recommended Use:
    Take 1 capsule with a meal twice daily.

If you’d like a more personal approach and help with your health, here’s what I do, I help strengthen the nutritional elements within your body, so your body has what it needs to fight illness and heal itself.

You can go to: http://www.mkt.com/harvested-health-llc for a list of my services.

Healthfully yours,

Jodi Barnett N.D.

QFA Clinician, Orthomolecular Nutritionist

Harvested Health LLC

http://www.facebook.com/harvestedhealth

http://www.harvestedhealth.mynsp.com (high quality herbs/supplements and Essential Oils)


Oh My Aching Back….

aching backA Study conducted in April, 2006 which appeared in the Journal of Surgical Neurology laid out some positive suggestions that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils might be beneficial in treating neck and back pain.  This study made me super excited because the fish oil supplements for obvious reasons provide a “safer alternative” to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and opioids used for chronic pain sufferers which bring with them a whole host of complications down the road associated with long term use, (i.e. chronic constipation, physical addiction, reduced liver function.)

Their study consisted of 250 peeps with nonsurgical neck or back pain, all of which were taking NSAIDs.  For the 1st two weeks, patients received a daily dose of EPA and DHA of 2.4 grams.  Thereafter, participants were to cut the amount in half and reduce their NSAID usage over the next one to two weeks.  One month into the study, surveys were sent to study participants.  This is what the survey showed:

  • half of the patients had stopped taking any NSAIDs for their pain (59%)
  • 60% noted an overall improvement in their pain
  • 60% reported less joint pain
  • 80% were satisfied with their improvement
  • 88% would keep taking fish oil supplements

One of the main authors of this study, Joseph Maroon, MD states, “our study adds to the numerous previously published studies showing the health benefits of omega-3 EFAs , which include blood clot prevention, pain reduction, immune system boosting and healthy blood vessel dilation”.

So….. in conclusion….. if you are struggling with back /neck issues, maybe even circulation issues, why not give fish oils a valid try?  Please note that this study was a one month study, so expecting to take it for a day or two and if you don’t notice remarkable improvements, taking the stance that it doesn’t work for you, isn’t giving it a fair chance.  Remember that the distinct difference between using an Orthomolecular approach which is what you are doing when you incorporate supplements into your daily health maintenance routine, it’s not an over night bandage.  They are designed to begin to feed your body what it has been nutritionally deficient in, and for many peeps, those deficiencies have been off kilter for a good chunk of time.

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Here are some of my professional recommendations for some fish oil supplements that I trust and USE in my practice:

Krill Oil with K2:  (you can click on the highlighted link and it will take you right to the source)

 Benefits:
Supports cardiovascular system and brain function.
Provides joint and skin support.
Is a natural source of astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant carotenoid.
Provides omega-3 essential fatty acids (EPA and DHA).
May support already-normal-range cholesterol levels.
How It Works:
Antarctic Krill provides a highly bioavailable source of EPA and DHA, essential omega-3 fatty acids (EFAs). EFAs are vital to the health of the cell membrane and also contribute to cardiovascular, brain and structural system function. They provide joint and skin support and may help support cholesterol levels already within the normal range. Krill is also a natural source of astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant carotenoid. Krill oil also contains phospholipids, which bind to the omega-3 fatty acids, improving their absorption in the body. These phospholipids provide strength and elasticity to the cell membrane, helping to keep toxins out and let nutrients and oxygen in. Vitamin K2 provides added support for the cardiovascular system and bone health.
Ingredients:
20 mcg vitamin K (25% of Daily Value), plus krill oil, fish oil, EPA, DHA and astaxanthin.
Recommended Use:
Take 1 capsule with a meal one or two times daily.

Super Omega-3 EPA:  ( you can click on the highlighted link and it will take you right to the source)

Benefits:
Promotes brain health
Encourages healthy circulatory function
380 EPA / 190mg DHA per capsule
Supports the cardiovascular system
Bolsters cell membranes
Lemon oil for improved taste
How It Works:
Omega-3 fatty acids are one of four basic fats that the body derives from foods. While many of the other fats are harmful, omega-3s benefit the body and are especially good for the heart. Super Omega-3 EPA is a source of two fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Supportive but not conclusive research shows that the consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. The body uses omega-3 fatty acids as one of the primary components of cell membranes. Omega-3s are also beneficial to the structural system and to the skin. Super Omega-3 EPA softgels contain approximately 1,000 mg fish oil, with a ratio of 33:16 EPA to DHA (380 mg EPA, 190 mg DHA) per softgel. It also contains lemon to significantly reduce the aftertaste from fish oil and to reduce gas. (Contains fish such as anchovy, sardine and mackerel.)
Ingredients:
Eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid.
Recommended Use:
Take 1 softgel with a meal two or three times daily.

For my Vegetarians who won’t take fish oil products…..

Flax seed oil Liquid:  ( click on the highlighted link and it will take you right to the source)

 Benefits:
Aids in the construction of healthy cell membranes.
Keeps saturated fats mobile in the bloodstream.
Maintains already-normal stickiness of blood platelets.
Plays a vital role in the production of prostaglandins.
Helps maintain cholesterol levels already in the normal range.
Stimulates immune activity.
How It Works:
Several scientific studies show that consumption of omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs) can benefit the heart. Flax Seed Oil  provides EFAs, including linoleic acid.

Fatty acids are termed “essential” because the body cannot manufacture them. Flax seed oil contains twice as much omega-3 essential fatty acids as fish oil products, without the fishy aftertaste.

The body produces prostaglandins—precursors to hormones and other compounds. Some of these initiate beneficial reactions while others produce negative effects. An improper balance of EFAs in the diet can lead to increased production of the “bad” prostaglandins. Flax Seed Oil Liquid provides the ideal ratio of omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 EFAs required to maintain the necessary balance between good and bad prostaglandins.

EFAs from flax also support the structural integrity of cellular membranes, offering associated benefits to the cardiovascular and nervous systems.
Ingredients:
Flax seed oil from cold-pressed flax seeds, rosemary leaves, mixed tocopherols, ascorbyl palmitate and citric acid.
Recommended Use:
Take 1 teaspoon three times daily.

This also is available in soft gel form as well: ( click the highlighted link and it will take you right to the source.

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We need these essential fatty acids for multiple reasons, and protecting the neurological function is but one health benefit, keeping our blood free flowing so the platelets don’t get sticky is another, supporting our immune system another.

I will be posting more articles directly related to why we have become a society that screams FATS are bad, and the direct correlation of a variety of health issues that are becoming common as a result.  So if you want to be sure you don’t miss these other posts. Please be sure to follow my blog, and/or become a follower of http://www.facebook.com/harvestedhealth.

Thank you for taking the time to read, follow and share…..

Healthfully yours,

Jodi Barnett N.D. (Doctor of Naturopathy)

QFA Clinician, Orthomolecular Nutritionist,

Harvested Health LLC.

To see what services I offer go to http://www.mkt.com/harvested-health-llc

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Resources:

Maroon, J. et al, “3Fatty acids (fish oil) as an anti0inflammatory: an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for discogenic pain”. Surgical Neruology. April 2006: Vol 65, Issue 4: 326-331.