Monthly Archives: June 2012
There are a multitude of diabetes myths still perpetuated and shared as “fact” even though they are blatantly false. Myths get perpetuated in odd ways. Case in point: the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) recently allowed Krispy Kreme donuts to sponsor a fundraising run. During the run, participants – many of whom have diabetes – ran a single mile, ate a dozen donuts, and then ran a mile back. The JDRF spokesperson defended this run by stating that “food doesn’t cause Type 1 diabetes.” Guess what? Studies done in Finland since 1991 prove she’s wrong!
I was blessed with Type 1 Diabetes in 1967 and have been researching it through life experience or active study ever since. I’ve studied the mainstream approaches to Diabetes control and have also studied and experimented with many natural wellness approaches. My desire is to help people with any form of Diabetes live life abundantly and realize that having Diabetes doesn’t mean their life is over. Following are a number of myths related to diabetes that need to be busted right now:
Myth #1: Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune condition that has nothing to do with food
Fact: While Type 1 Diabetes is indeed an autoimmune condition, autoimmune reactions are caused when the body secretes antibodies that attack cells of the body. Studies have connected dairy antibodies (antibodies the body produces to cow milk, not human breast milk) to an attack on the beta cells in the pancreas that secrete insulin. Countries having the highest intake of bovine dairy products (Sweden, Denmark and Finland) also have the highest incidence of Type 1 Diabetes in children. The connection cannot be denied. The studies found that children who were not given bovine dairy prior to the age of 7 months had significantly lower incidence of Type 1 Diabetes than those who were. My recommendation is to not give babies cow milk, cheese, ice cream or other dairy products prior to the age of 12 months. (Avoid soy, too, as other studies found that boys given soy formula had lower sperm counts as adults and that girls given soy formula developed breasts and began menstruating at an earlier age.)
The American Academy of Pediatrics Work Group on Cow’s Milk and Diabetes Mellitus issued this statement in 1994: “The evidence incriminating cow-milk consumption in the cause of type 1 diabetes is sufficient to cause the American Academy of Pediatrics to issue this warning, ‘Early exposure of infants to cow’s milk protein may be an important factor in the initiation of the beta cell destructive process in some individuals.’ and ‘The avoidance of cow’s milk protein for the first several months of life may reduce the later development of IDDM or delay its onset in susceptible people.'”
Having said that, let me add that dairy antibodies are not the sole causative factor of Type 1 Diabetes. Many other factors may be associated with Type 1 Diabetes, including viral infections, bacterial infections and some genetic factors. There is also some evidence that toxins in vaccinations may be associated with auto-immune over-stimulation that may contribute to Type 1 Diabetes. Genetic factors also play a role in whether or not a child’s body can counteract certain antibodies.
Myth #2: Only fat people get Type 2 Diabetes
Fact: I personally know several very thin, athletic people who have Type 2 Diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes is caused when the body develops insulin resistance, or when the body’s cells no longer absorb and use insulin as they should. Although insulin resistance is much more common in people who are overweight, thin people may also develop it.
The pancreas of most – not all – people with Type 2 Diabetes typically works as it should. It works so well, in fact, that it over-produces insulin in response to elevated glucose levels. The excess insulin in the blood stream causes the body’s cells to become “overwhelmed” by the excess insulin, which creates worsening insulin resistance. Please read my article, “The Top 3 Blood Tests Almost Everyone Should Request” for information about having your insulin level checked. Unfortunately, insulin is a fat-storage hormone, so excess insulin in the blood stream may make weight loss very difficult if it is needed.
There are multiple potential causes of insulin resistance, and every person with Type 2 Diabetes may have very distinct issues that led to their body’s resistance. The fact does remain, however, that people who are overweight and who eat diets which are extremely high in high-glycemic carbohydrates are much more likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes than those who are thin and who eat a more balanced diet. Luckily, many people with Type 2 Diabetes have reversed their insulin resistance and reduced or even eliminated their need for prescription medication simply by making a few simple lifestyle changes.
Myth #3: My doctor says I have “pre-diabetes,” which means I don’t need to make any changes
Fact: The prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes has become so high that a new term – Metabolic Syndrome – was developed for people who have the early stages of insulin resistance but who may not have highly elevated blood glucose levels. Those who are in the very beginning stages of insulin resistance, or “pre-diabetes,” often reverse insulin resistance by making simple lifestyle changes.
When I have clients whose blood work shows elevated insulin levels, I recommend the same regimen I recommend to people who have been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Placing a prefix before the word “diabetes” doesn’t mean there’s nothing to worry about, it simply means early intervention is needed.
Myth #4: People with Diabetes have to eat a very restricted diet
Fact: This myth floors me. People with any form of Diabetes need to eat a very nutritious diet, but not one that is severely restricted. I will admit that my research and personal experience with diet cause me to disagree with the typical regimen prescribed by the American Diabetes Association (ADA). The ADA encourages people with Diabetes to eat high amounts of carbohydrates and to avoid fats, stating that carbohydrates are essential for energy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a client come to see me and claim their dietitian is trying to kill them. People with Diabetes can eat carbohydrates, but I encourage them to primarily eat low-glycemic carbohydrates that don’t require large amounts of insulin. Insulin is a fat-storage hormone, so weight loss is often dependent upon eating in a fashion that allows the body to produce less insulin. Eating in this manner may also improve insulin resistance, as a lower amount of insulin in the blood stream may help the body’s cells not be “overwhelmed” by it. For more information on effective eating styles for controlling glucose levels, please read: Why Mainstream Diabetes Diets Often Fail.
The typical eating style I recommend for people with any form of diabetes is highly personalized to meet the physical and personal needs of each person. I typically encourage the use of low-glycemic carbohydrates in somewhat limited quantities. I basically encourage my clients to use a similar eating style to that which I use. Why? Because the eating style I use – which is not at all restrictive – allowed me to cut my insulin needs to less than a third of what they were ten years ago and to reduce my Hemoglobin A1C from 8.5% to a typical reading of 5.7%. Hemoglobin A1C is an “average” of blood glucose levels over a three-month period. “Normal” levels are said to be between 4.5 – 6.0%. I know people who are not diabetic who have higher A1C readings than I do. Not bad for someone who’s had Type 1 Diabetes for more than 46 years! (On a side note, I recommend asking your doctor to run an A1C after age 40 simply to establish a baseline that can be used to spot any changes.)
The program I recommend to people who have insulin resistance or full-blown Diabetes is always very personalized. Cookie-cutter approaches don’t work. I customize the approach to be suitable for anyone of any age and any body size, including pregnant women and children – with physician approval.
Myth #5: I had gestational diabetes, but I’m no longer pregnant so I don’t need to worry about it
Fact: The incidence of developing Type 2 Diabetes is significantly higher for women who had Gestational Diabetes. Those women obviously need to make careful dietary changes while pregnant in order to maintain normal glucose levels and protect their baby, but should consider continuing to consume fewer carbohydrates and lower-glycemic carbohydrates after giving birth. Making post-partum dietary changes may help improve insulin sensitivity and may reduce the likelihood of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
Note: None of these statements were evaluated by the FDA and none are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition. This information is shared for informational purposes only and should never be used to replace standard medical care. Always check with your physician before making any changes to diet or lifestyle, and never adjust medication or begin taking supplements without your physician’s recommendation.
Infant Feeding in Finnish Children <7 yr of Age With Newly Diagnosed IDDM. 10.2337/diacare.14.5.415 Diabetes Care May 1991 vol. 14no. 5 415-417.
Cow’s milk consumption, HLA-DQB1 genotype, and type 1 diabetes: a nested case-control study of siblings of children with diabetes. Childhood diabetes in Finland study group. 10.2337/diabetes.49.6.912. Diabetes June 2000 vol. 49no. 6 912-917
Infant feeding and the risk of type 1 diabetes. Am J Clin Nutr May 2010vol. 91 no. 5 1506S-1513S
There is a Cure for Diabetes, Gabriel Cousens, multiple references.
This post is a follow-up to Surprising Facts About the Common Cold. You may want to read that post before you read this.
I’m often amazed at how many people are affected each year by colds and flu’s that attack their depression immune system. So what can you do to protect yourself? Here are the steps I recommend to shorten a cold. Using these techniques have very successfully helped many people shorten the duration of illness and reduce the severity of their symptoms. Doing the following may help shorten the duration of a cold:
- The Obvious: Drink plenty of water, get plenty of rest, eat healthy foods (lots of fruits and veggies), and avoid sugar at all costs. A single teaspoon of sugar suppresses the immune system from two to six hours, so a single can of soda could potentially make you more susceptible to colds for up to 24 hours. It’s not worth it. Another tip that should be obvious is to please blow your nose, constantly if necessary, so that you don’t swallow infected mucous. Do I really need to say anything more? Another tip is to take at least 2000-5000 IU of Vitamin D daily to boost immunity and help prevent colds before they start. You can take higher doses while fighting a cold.
- Use a Neti Pot with Additives: I recommend using a Neti Pot twice daily to help clear congestion, reduce inflammation and eliminate virus-infected mucous from the sinus passages. You can increase the effects of a Neti Pot by adding two to three tablespoons of Colloidal Silver or 30-60 drops of Goldenseal Extract. Both of these additives can also be taken internally. (Read The Wonders of Goldenseal for more info on this great herb.) If you’ve never used a Neti Pot, please rest assured that it is not an unpleasant experience. When done correctly, you should feel next to nothing while using it. The trick is to keep your mouth open and make sure your head is pointed slightly forward. If you find yourself gagging, change your head tilt to correct this. Please ONLY use distilled water in your Neti Pot.
- Make Clove Tea to Soothe a Sore Throat: Cloves not only have an anesthetizing effect but are also one of the highest sources of antioxidants on the planet. (Antioxidants are known to lower infection rates from viruses and bacteria.) Make clove tea by putting one to two tablespoons of whole cloves in a tea strainer and allowing to seep in hot water for five minutes. (You can also put the cloves directly in the water and then scoop them out. They float, so scooping them out is relatively easy.) Add stevia to sweeten it if needed. This tea is a true blessing for a sore throat. The warmth is very soothing, the steam will help clear the sinuses, and the cloves work as an anesthetic to kill the sore throat pain. This tea is a perfect remedy for children, as they generally like the taste and will enjoy not having a sore throat. The fact the tea also makes the mouth numb is a minor inconvenience.
- Take Extra Vitamin C: The body uses Vitamin C to produce the white blood cells which are responsible for fighting viral infections. The recommended dosage of Vitamin C is typically 1000-5000 mg/day. Taking excess Vitamin C produces an “ascorbic acid” flush and causes diarrhea, but during a cold your body can absorb far more. Since getting sick, I’ve been taking an average of 25,000-65,000 mg in divided doses throughout the day and have not experienced the flush effect. This means my body is craving the Vitamin C and is using every single bit of it to fight this cold. During a cold, I recommend starting with 4000 mg/day and very gradually working up to 10,000 mg/day. (Note: I can tolerate higher amounts of Vitamin C because I receive intravenous Vitamin C in huge doses to combat autoimmune issues. Please don’t take the same dosage I take.) You can also use other immunity boosters, such as Zinc, Astragalus, Olive Leaf, Garlic, etc. Please follow the dosage recommended on the bottle.
- Use Elderberry Extract: Elderberry Extract is one of the strongest anti-viral ingredients known, yet it is 100% natural and will not react with any prescription medications. It is known to very effectively and very quickly kill viral cells. Some expert estimate that 1000s of deaths could have been prevented if Elderberry Extract were distributed during the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. It is a powerful antiviral that works very quickly. It is very easy to take, tastes good, and is safe for children.
- Use an Immunity-Boosting Combination Supplement: Instead of taking 40 different pills every day, take a combination supplement designed to boost immunity. A few of my favorites that can be easily found in health food stores include: 1) SystemWell by Nature’s Way: SystemWell helps protect and improve cellular health, digestive immunity, respiratory immunity, systemic, lymphatic and circulatory immunity. It’s a great product and works well. 2) Full Spectrum Immunity Defense: This is a heavy-hitter containing 18 of the top immunity-boosters known. It is a powerful combination of vitamins, minerals and herbs. I highly recommend it! The dosage can be increased based on need, which is nice.
- Use Monolaurin: Monolaurin is potent antibiotic and antiviral. It is a simple fatty-acid that is present in breast milk and is considered to be one of the components responsible for boosting immunity in breast-fed babies. It is also present in extra virgin coconut oil and a few other vegetable oils. Monolaurin is one of my “can’t live without” supplements, mainly because it’s so darn effective! It is also perfectly safe, having no known interactions with other supplements or prescription medications. The bottle recommends taking three to six 600mg capsules daily, but many MDs who prescribe Monolaurin recommend using higher doses at the beginning of a cold.
- Use Proteolytic Enzymes: Proteolytic enzymes help by reducing the inflammation that contributes to congestion and irritated nasal passages. They also help kill viruses. Most viruses have cell walls that are made of proteins. Using a proteolytic enzyme containing high amounts of Protease (which digests protein) on an empty stomach will work to destroy the cell wall of virus cells, thereby killing them. The most important part of proteolytic enzymes is to always take them on an empty stomach, at least 30 minutes before eating or two hours after eating. If you take them with food in the stomach, the enzymes will help digest the food and will not get into the blood stream to work their magic. The company Enzymedica makes what I consider the best product in the business for combating viruses: ViruStop 2x. I highly recommend it! The best of the best in terms of a mainstream proteolytic enzyme that functions as an anti-inflammatory is Wobenzym. Wobenzym is also useful for inflammatory arthritis, bursitis, and other joint issues, and is used in Germany as part of a cancer treatment.
- Cook Up a Healing Soup: I don’t want you slaving all day in the kitchen, but tossing handfuls of anti-oxidant rich veggies into the crockpot/slow cooker with lots of mineral-rich veggie broth, meat of choice (or not), and immune-boosting spices can do wonders for a cold. It’s also easy to digest, allowing your body to dedicate more energy to healing than to digestion. As you sit and sip, the vapors from the soup will help clear out your nasal passages and the warmth will soothe your throat. Herbs and spices that are known to boost immunity include: garlic, oregano, turmeric, sage, basil, ginger, cayenne, rosemary, and many others. Ginger is especially nice because it opens blood vessels, allowing the body’s own defenses to circulate more easily. See my next hint for another potential use.
- Take an Anti-Virus Bath: Taking a bath is a simple way to help your body eliminate toxins and viruses. It is also wonderfully soothing, so why not take advantage of it? Here’s my favorite blend for baths: 1-inch (grated) of ginger root to increase circulation, warm you up and help you sweat out the virus; 10 drops of tea tree oil to boost immunity and help pull toxins out of your system; 2 cups of Epsom salts to increase your magnesium and to soothe aches and pains (See Why You Need More Magnesium for more info); 3-4 drops Eucalyptus oil as a decongestant; 2 cups Apple Cider Vinegar to help your body expel mucous. Add everything to the tub while the water is running, and then sink into the warmth and think positive, healing thoughts for 20 minutes. You’ll feel better immediately and will sleep like a baby! You can repeat part of this process in the morning by putting 30-40 drops of Eucalyptus oil on a washcloth and placing it on the shower floor to inhale while you take a hot shower, or by using Aura Cacia’s Eucalyptus Shower Tablets. Eucalyptus is a wonderful decongestant that is also known to be antiviral and to boost the body’s immunity. For more bath info, read: Create a Detoxification Bath Using Common Ingredients.
Ok … you obviously can’t do every single one of those. Since several of you have already asked, following is a list of what I’m doing on a daily basis to combat this cold. Please note that what’s right for me may not be right for you. Please consult a trained professional before taking any of the supplements mentioned, and please note that I have extremely high tolerance to some of these supplements and therefore take higher doses than what is typically recommended. The fact my cold is moving through incredibly rapidly and is diminishing quickly is testimony to the fact that these things truly work:
- Nightly detox bath
- Drinking high amounts of water, green tea and an immunity-boosting tea
- Eating lots of soup loaded with a rainbow of veggies and lots of dark, leafy greens; completely avoiding grains, dairy and all sugars. (Eating 100% organic, non-processed foods will also reduce your body’s toxicity and boost immunity.)
- Taking high doses of Vitamin C, Goldenseal (60 drops four times daily for five days; then 30 drops three times daily until symptoms subside), Monolaurin (900-1200 mg four times daily). During the first few days, I used Agricept (10 drops in one ounce of water) every two hours.
- Drinking lots of probiotic-rich coconut water kefir every day
- Using a neti pot with goldenseal tincture and colloidal silver twice daily
- Light yoga daily
- I broke down and got an antiviral IV from a functional medicine MD. If you have access to a doctor who offers IV therapies, I highly recommend these when you come down with a cold or flu. The IV contains vitamins, minerals, glutathione (a natural amino acid that is an antioxidant, immunity booster and detoxifier). The antiviral IVs are a great way to get rid of a viral infection quickly. I felt better within an hour and will get another one tomorrow to help protect me when I fly to LA on Friday.
Many people are surprised to hear I am available to assist with temporary ailments and do not limit my practice to chronic conditions. If you are struggling with a cold, flu or other short-term challenge, please consider scheduling a 15-minute phone consultation. Feel free to email me or call 317.489.0909 to schedule.
Please consult a medical professional if your cold persists, if you have an extremely high fever, or if you develop a severe cough. As always, none of these statements were evaluated by the FDA and none are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition. Please check with your personal health practitioner before making any changes to your health regimen. I hope you feel better soon!
Many myths exist about colds, flu’s and other illnesses that strike during the winter. In an attempt to clarify some of the false beliefs, I thought I’d share a few facts about common viral challenges. After reading this post, please also read Top 10 Ways to Shorten the Duration of a Cold.
Here are a few facts about the common cold:
- Most people who eat the Standard American Diet (SAD) get 4-12 colds per year. People who eat a healthier diet get fewer colds because their body can easily resist the virus. You don’t get sick because you’re exposed to a virus; you get sick because your immune system is too weak to fight the virus. If you got sick every time you were exposed to a virus, you would have a cold 365 days a year, or would at least get sick every time you visited Walmart. You only get sick when your immune system is impaired. It’s just that simple.
- The most common type of virus that causes the common cold include various strains of Rhinovirus. These viruses cannot survive more than three hours outside of the human body and typically enter through the nose. You “catch cold” when you inhale someone else’s cold virus, rub your nose after shaking hands or touching something that is contaminated with the virus, or by inhaling it off of a phone. Obviously, frequent hand washing, use of a natural hand sanitizer (find recipes here), and practicing “safe coughing” are all methods to help protect yourself and others. Please note that you must wash your hands at least 20 seconds to thoroughly kill viruses, but that it is NOT necessary to use an antibacterial soap. (Read my post on Triclosan here.)
- A cold is a virus and therefore can NOT be treated with antibiotics. It must run its course. You can shorten the duration of a cold by strengthening your immune system. Taking an antibiotic during a cold does nothing more than create more antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Please don’t.
- Once in the body, a typical cold incubates in eight to ten hours. You may start to feel the first tiny twinges of a sore throat or a runny nose the same day you’re exposed. The maximum effects of the viral infection are typically felt within 36-72 hours.
- Cold symptoms last anywhere from three days to three weeks. Again, the duration of a cold is primarily dependent upon how strong your immune system is and what you do to strengthen your immunity while you’re sick. People who take evasive measures often shorten the duration of a cold by more than half, so it’s worth it to do everything you can! Taking evasive measures will also help lessen the severity of your symptoms. If your cold symptoms seem overly severe, please contact your health professional immediately. The presence of excess mucous is a breeding ground for bacteria. This makes it somewhat common for bacterial sinus infections to follow a simple cold. Using the tips I’ll share in tomorrow’s post will help protect you, but please seek medical advice if your symptoms are severe.
- A cold commonly progresses through five stages: 1) You get a scratchy throat and then wake up feeling as if your throat is on fire. You may also feel very tired; 2) Your nose starts pouring, but at this point the discharge is probably clear. You may not have have much appetite and are beginning to feel the effects of the virus more; 3) You develop a horrible headache, may or may not have a fever, may ache from head to toe; and are still exhausted; 4) You become very, very congested and the discharge from your nose may become thick and yellow or green. Color is NOT an indicator of infection. It is actually perfectly “normal” to have thick, green discharge during a cold; 5) You develop a cough and may sneeze frequently.The stages of a cold may occur simultaneously or may appear throughout a span of two to seven days. You may not experience all of them.
Many people are surprised to hear I am available to assist with temporary ailments and do not limit my practice to chronic conditions. If you are struggling with a cold, flu or other short-term challenge, please consider scheduling a 15-minute phone consultation. Feel free to email me or call 317.489.0909 to schedule.
Now you’re ready to read The Top 10 Ways to Shorten the Duration of a Cold. Feel better!
One of the most common problems I hear is “I ache from head to toe,” or “I have constant pain.” This is heartbreaking because chronic pain affects quality of life, may cause impaired sleep and is one of the leading causes of depression. If you have chronic pain, please work with a medical professional to determine and address the cause of your pain instead of merely treating the symptoms. In this post, I will discuss lifestyle changes and therapies that are proven to reduce and eliminate pain. I’ll discuss my favorite supplements for pain in my next post.
I’ve mentioned much of what I discuss in this post in other posts. Instead of mentioning the title of every post that is pertinent to this post, I’ve merely provided a link including certain words. Click the link to view the post.
Most pain is caused by inflammation, so the most common natural and pharmaceutical pain relievers focus on reducing or preventing inflammation while others work to prevent the production of chemicals in the body that cause inflammation. The most important phase of eliminating pain is to IDENTIFY THE CAUSE. This is a step that many mainstream practitioners kind of skip, opting instead to prescribe pain relievers that mask the symptom but don’t address the cause of the pain.
Lifestyle Techniques for Reducing Pain
The following lifestyle habits and techniques can be used to reduce pain:
- The Old Stand-Bys: We all know we should get enough sleep, drink plenty of water and eat healthy food, but each of these lifestyle habits can have a profound effect on pain. I recommend getting at least seven hours of sleep each night, although many people with chronic pain feel better if they get eight to ten hours. I also advise drinking at least half your body weight in ounces of purified water on a daily basis. Dehydration will increase pain, so staying hydrated can have a direct impact on pain levels. Eating whole foods and avoiding processed foods will decrease the toxic load on your body. Many people find their pain levels dramatically decrease when they switch to a predominantly organic, whole food eating style. It is also very effective to follow an eating style that includes anti-inflammatory foods and avoids inflammatory foods.
- Stay Engaged: Many people who suffer from chronic pain often do not have the energy or the emotional desire to engage in social activities. Staying involved can not only help decrease depression associated with your pain, but can also help diminish the pain. The simple act of having fun can increase the brain’s production of serotonin, a chemical that is directly related to pain relief. If necessary, force yourself to get out of the house and engage in a fun activity at least once a month. Once you begin having fun occasionally, it will become very obvious how much better you feel when you do. If it’s easier, invite people over to your house instead of going out … and don’t even think about how your house looks or how clean it is … I promise your friends don’t care and won’t notice.
- Massage: Getting a massage is a wonderful way to relax muscles, eliminate toxins and relax. Although it is a treatment that many consider “pampering,” it does have a proven physiological effect that helps diminish pain levels. Find a licensed massage therapist who is proficient in therapeutic massage. Most people benefit most from two to three sessions per week, but even a single session can provide relief.
- Identify Food Sensitivities: One of the most common but least discussed symptoms of food allergies and sensitivities is joint and muscle pain. If you have a food sensitivity and eat the offending food, your body creates antibodies that wind up circulating in the blood stream. These antibodies are highly inflammatory and may cause muscular pain and joint pain. I personally know that if I eat dairy, my knees hurt like crazy. I’ve helped many patients and clients identify food allergies who found their chronic pain disappeared once they stopped eating foods they were allergic to. Unfortunately, most mainstream doctors don’t associate muscular pain (or fibromyalgia) with food sensitivities.
- Visualization/Meditation/Prayer: The simple act of taking time each day to “decompress” and relax can be very helpful in controlling pain. Many people also find that visualizing themselves leading a pain-free life and engaging in activities that pain prevents them from enjoying is very helpful. For those who have a spiritual foundation, prayer that focuses on healing and grace is known to help.
- Very Gentle Yoga, Tai Chi, or Water Exercise: The key words for these helpful forms of exercise are “very gentle.” Yoga and Tai Chi are forms of exercise that help maintain flexibility, provide relaxation, and help increase the release of mood-lifting serotonin in the brain. (Recent studies have found that people with fibromyalgia and other forms of chronic pain also have low serotonin levels.) Many yoga centers offer classes that are specifically designed for people with chronic pain. Finding Tai Chi classes may be more difficult, but there are many videos on YouTube that provide instruction. I am always happy to see more fitness centers offering water-based exercise classes for folks with chronic pain. Exercising in a swimming pool can be very helpful. It is very low impact and the buoyancy of the water often makes movement easier for those with chronic pain. The most important factor in any exercise technique is to modify the movements to fit your personal abilities. Exercise should not hurt. Choose movements that come easily and don’t try to force yourself to accomplish movements you cannot. The following resources may be helpful: – Body Wisdom Media: Tai Chi for Beginners
– Yoga for Pain Relief: Simple Practices to Heal Chronic Pain
– Yoga for Fibromyalgia (A book on gentle, chair-based yoga)
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT): EFT was discovered by a psychologist who had an interest in acupuncture and acupressure. He discovered that the body and the mind could be positively affected by this technique which combines gentle tapping on acupressure points with the use of affirmations. I use it in my practice and have had people describe it as “magical.” It is wonderfully effective for negative emotional states, food cravings, addictions, etc., but is also very effective for relieving pain. The technique is so simple that it is easily learned by children. I know several parents who taught EFT to their children who suffer from frequent headaches, nightmares, etc. The beauty of EFT is that it can be effective for emotional and physical issues. It is very useful for pain. To learn more about EFT and download free manuals to learn the technique, I recommend visiting any of the following sites: – Free EFT Manual
– Free Manual from EFTfree
– Basic Steps to Emotional Freedom
Alternative Therapies to Reduce Pain
The following alternative therapies are known to be very effective for reducing and eliminating pain:
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture is an ancient art, but it is gaining new popularity among mainstream medical practitioners because it is so effective. It is also gaining new popularity because multiple studies have proven that it works. Many people with chronic pain report immediate results from a single acupuncture treatment and experience a prolonged decrease in or elimination of pain after receiving multiple treatments. The needles used are similar in size to a human hair, so most people experience zero on the insertion of the needles. Acupuncture can be used to decrease inflammation and improve nerve flow, each of which may be helpful in decreasing and preventing pain.
- Hypnosis: Hypnosis has gotten a bad rap due to its popularity as a stage show. What you’ve seen on Vegas stages has nothing in common with a hypnosis session delivered by a certified practitioner. During a hypnosis treatment, you are fully aware of everything that happens and cannot be “programmed” to do something you don’t want to. (Such as walking around quacking like a duck.) Certified hypnotists work to help the right side of your brain communicate more clearly with the left side. They also help you access and control subconscious thought patterns. Hypnosis can be used to help diminish someone’s perception of pain. It is a good option for someone experiencing pain due to a physical cause that cannot be controlled, but please be aware it will not address the physical cause of the pain. Hypnosis can also help eliminate stress and depression related to pain.
There are many other lifestyle habits and alternative treatments that are known to help relieve pain, but I’ve covered the ones I consider the most effective. What techniques do you use?
This post is a follow-up to my post on Natural Lifestyle Approaches for Relieving Pain. Everyone has times when they experience pain. Sometimes the pain is short-lived, sometimes it becomes chronic. My encouragement for anyone with chronic pain is to use the tips shared in the post I mentioned above along with the pain relievers shared in this post while working with a practitioner to determine and address the cause of the pain.
As always, none of the statements made in this post or any others on this site were evaluated by the FDA and none are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition. Please consult with your health practitioner before starting to take any supplement or before making major changes to lifestyle or diet. Please also note that pregnant women should never take any supplements unless recommended by a trained professional. Please always follow doses recommended on the bottle and do not take any supplement in a dosage higher than that recommended.
Following are my favorite choices for natural pain relievers. Some of these can be very easily found in any drugstore, while others may require a visit to a health food store. I’ve provided links to an example of each product so that you’ll know what to look for in stores. (I often find that Amazon has the lowest prices on supplements, including ones that can only be found in doctor offices.) Please work with a practitioner to determine which of these is the best option for you. I will provide examples of situations appropriate for each supplement, but each person is wonderfully unique and needs to find the supplement or combination of supplements that is best suited to their physiology, lifestyle and habits.
Magnesium is a muscle relaxer that is known to provide fast relief to many types of pain, including simple muscular pain, headache pain (stress headaches, especially), etc. This would be my first line of defense against many types of minor pain, especially since it is readily available, works fairly quickly, and because 80% of the US population is deficient in Magnesium. I recommend taking 200-400mg at the first sign of discomfort. Although higher doses can be taken, be aware that higher doses may cause diarrhea, especially if other supplements you take contain magnesium. When purchasing a magnesium supplement, please do not purchase one whose primary ingredient is magnesium oxide, as that form of magnesium cannot fully be absorbed by the human body. For more information on magnesium, including information about choosing an effective magnesium supplement, please read my post: Why You Need More Magnesium and How to Get It.
Arnica is a homeopathic remedy or topical cream/gel/lotion that has been used for centuries to relieve inflammation. It is such a powerful anti-inflammatory that many mainstream surgeons now recommend their patients use homeopathic arnica orally before and after surgery. The nice thing about homeopathics is that they typically have no interaction with other medications or supplements. When using the oral form of arnica, tiny pellets are placed under the tongue 3-5 times per day at least 10 minutes before or after eating. (Homeopathics should also not be used within an hour of brushing your teeth, as mint can block their receptors.) Topically, arnica cream or gel can be amazingly helpful for muscle aches and injuries and bruises, but should not be used on open wounds. My favorites include Hyland’s Arnica Montana pellets or Boiron’s combination packet of Arnica Gel & Pellets. Please note that the Arnica Montana herb is highly toxic, but that it is perfectly safe to use in homeopathic form because the quantities used are so tiny. The tiny amounts are enough to stimulate healing but are not enough to cause problems.
Proteolytic enzymes are one of my favorite healers. They are powerful anti-inflammatories which also have the ability to help the body eliminate extra tissue growth and any undigested food molecules that wind up in the tissues due to leaky gut or other digestive disorder. Proteolytic enzymes are used in Germany to battle cancer along with other natural therapies, but this therapy is not yet recognized in the US. (Please don’t use this therapy for cancer treatment without the express consent of your medical professional.) I recently spoke with an osteopathic surgeon from an osteopathic center in Indianapolis that is known world-wide for its success in treating osteopathic issues. This MD shared that he is using proteolytic enzymes instead of cortisone injections to treat his own knee pain due to the damage caused by cortisone injections, but that he cannot legally recommend proteolytic enzymes to his patients. (That’s another issue for another blog post.) The bottom line is that proteolytic enzymes bring incredible relief to many because they are known to reduce inflammation and to help the body repair damaged tissues. They can also be helpful in reducing the size of some forms of fibroid tumors. I have a friend who suffered from debilitating bursitis pain for years and who tried every remedy – mainstream and alternative – under the sun, but who found relief in less than two days after trying proteolytic enzymes. The trick to using proteolytic enzymes is that they MUST be taken on an empty stomach. If they are taken while food is in the stomach, the enzymes will digest the food and will never reach the bloodstream. This means they must be taken at least half an hour before eating or at least two hours after eating. The nice thing is that they are effective when taken once per day, so splitting the dosage is not necessary. In my opinion, Wobenzyme is the best on the market. There are many others available, but Wobenzyme contains professional grade enzymes in the highest quantity and includes the highest combination of enzymes. I typically recommend that people start with three tablets per day. If three tablets don’t work to bring complete relief, I then recommend they take six per day, gradually working up to as many as 12 if needed.
Curcumin is the active ingredient and most easily absorbed form of Turmeric, a spice that is commonly included in curry blends. Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory but also has other health benefits. It is known to be a powerful liver cleanser and is also often used as a remedy for MRSA. (Again, please consult a professional if you have MRSA, as it can be deadly.) Because Curcumin is a spice, it can typically be used in conjunction with prescription medications, but should not be used by anyone taking Coumadin or Warfarin and should not be used in conjunction with large doses of aspirin or NSAID pain relievers. Curcumin has been shown to be a powerful anti-oxidant and to increase cellular levels of glutathione, a naturally produced anti-oxidant. In other countries, curcumin is used to treat tumors, but please see my comment above related to using it in conjunction with cancer therapies. People with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Chron’s disease often find curcumin to be beneficial. Curcumin is also showing promise as a potential treatment for Alzheimer disease, although further studies are needed. I recommend using 400-600mg of curcumin one to three times daily for best results. Please note that taking curcumin in excessively high doses has sometimes been shown to cause liver damage. As with all things, moderation and following the dosage recommendations on the bottle is best. My favorite brands of curcumin include: Jarrow Curcumin 95 and Nature’s Bounty Curcumin.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a natural form of sulfur that is known to be a powerful anti-inflammatory and which the body uses to repair connective tissues in joints. It is also a powerful cellular detoxifier which many people use when they’re doing a detoxification regimen. (On a side note, please note that people with sulfa allergies can take MSM without worry. The chemical form of sulfur used in sulfa drugs is very different and bears no resemblance to the chemical form of sulfur in MSM.) MSM is especially helpful for those battling arthritis or anyone suffering from tendon damage or muscular damage. I personally found MSM to be a lifesaver when I damaged tendons after I wrecked my motorcycle. MSM helped my body repair damage that doctors said couldn’t be repaired. I’m very thankful for that. I recommend starting with a dosage of 3000mg per day. Some people find they require higher doses. If you need a higher dose, work up very gradually to avoid a strong detoxification side effect and do not exceed 9000mg/day. As with any supplement, find the lowest dose that’s effective for you and don’t take more than is needed. My favorite OTC brands of MSM include: Doctor’s Best OptiMSM and Nature’s Way MSM. I find that taking MSM as a powder dissolved in water or in capsule form is best. MSM is also effective used in a cream applied topically.
Fish Oil, or an Omega 3 supplement, is a well-known anti-inflammatory with multiple health benefits. Anyone who does not eat fish at least three times per week probably needs an Omega 3 supplement. We are inundated with Omega 6 oils – which are known to be inflammatory – in our diet, so I tend to recommend people supplement with Omega 3s. Omega 3s can be obtained from seeds, nuts, fish and algae. If you wish to take an Omega 3 supplement, I recommend: Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega or Carlson Labs Very Finest Fish Oil. Fish oil supplements are one supplement I strongly advise against purchasing in a drug store, as purity is very important. You don’t want to take one containing high mercury levels or which contains high levels of radiation. It’s worth it to spend a little bit of extra money on this particular supplement.
White Willow Bark
White Willow Bark is what aspirin was made out of in its earliest days. White Willow Bark is very high in salicylic acid, the pain reliever in aspirin. White Willow Bark is my personal go-to herb for occasional headaches and minor muscle aches that were not relieved by a glass or water or magnesium. Many women find it very helpful for menstrual cramps. It is also effective for relieving low-grade fevers, although I feel fevers below 102 degrees should not be treated, as they are the body’s defense against illness. However, White Willow Bark should not be used by anyone taking a prescription blood thinner (Coumadin, Warfarin), nor should it be given to children with a fever due to the danger of Reye’s Syndrome. Beyond that, it has few prescription drug interactions. Follow the dosage recommended on the bottle. Typically, the dosage can be repeated 3-4 times daily. Some people experience a bit of stomach upset with White Willow Bark. If you do, I recommend taking it with food, but that is not necessary if you don’t experience stomach upset when taking it. My favorites include: Nature’s Answer White Willow Extract (liquid) and Nature’s Way White Willow Bark Capsules.
What are your favorite all-natural pain relief supplements? Please share!
I found an amazing buy today in a location that surprised me. While cruising through Costco with my hubby, we found a 32-ounce back of organic Chia Seeds for $6.89. For those who are familiar with chia seeds, you know that price is amazing. If you don’t have access to a Costco, you can also purchase chia seeds here: Two Pounds Chia Seeds.
I grabbed a bag and began using my new stash of chia seeds as soon as I got home. While pondering what to make first, it occurred to me that not everyone is familiar with chia seeds. This blog will hopefully change that. If you can make it to the end, you’ll find my favorite recipe.
The Latin name for chia seeds is Salvia hispanica. Please note: This variety of salvia is NOT the salvia that became a popular drug a few years ago due its hallucinogenic effects when smoked. (If you purchase chia seeds, you may want to explain this to your teenagers.) Chia seeds are, however, the same seeds that are used on Chia Pets. The seeds make great grass seed, too.
Chia seeds began being cultivated over 5000 years ago in Mexico. They were a dietary staple of the Mayan and Aztec cultures. “Chia” is actually a derivative of the Mayan word for “strength.” One Aztec legend claims Aztec warriors could survive for days on a very tiny amount (about a tablespoon) of chia seeds soaked in water. Modern-day athletes often find that chia seeds improve endurance and strength and help boost the effects of workouts. I find this very easy to believe, because the nutrient content of chia seeds includes extremely high quantities of the following nutrients:
- Omega 3 fatty acids: Chia seeds are known for having strong anti-inflammatory properties, primarily because of the high amounts of omega 3 fatty acids they contain. One of the amazing things about chia seeds is that they provide a form of Omega 3s that does not have to be converted for use in the body, and the seeds are easily broken down during the digestive process. Many people rely on flax seeds as a vegetable source of Omega 3s, but the omega 3s in chia seeds are much more easily absorbed and do not need to be converted to be absorbed. The omega 3s in flax seeds must be converted before they can be absorbed by the human body, and the only way the essential fatty acids in flax seeds can be released for absorption is if the seeds are ground. Whole flax seeds pass through the digestive tract intact, providing little more than fiber. Chia seeds, on the other hand, have a seed casing that is easily broken down by the digestive process, allowing all of the nutrients in the seeds to be easily absorbed. The seeds also provide significant amounts of fiber. It’s a win-win! Ad additional advantage chia seeds have over flax seeds is that chia seeds can be stored up to two years in an air-tight container without having the oils in the seeds go rancid. The oils in flax seeds go rancid very quickly if the seeds are not refrigerated.
- Calcium and other essential minerals: Ounce for ounce, chia seeds have 500% more calcium than milk (in a much more absorbable form) and also contain significant amounts of phosphorous, iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, strontium, and other minerals. Because chia seeds are so easily digested and absorbed, some people consider them a “superfood” that is a viable alternative to multivitamins when combined with a green drink. Their large content of highly bioavailable calcium and strontium also make them a viable option for improving bone density.
- Protein: Chia seeds are 20% protein, providing a complete protein containing all the essential amino acids the body requires but cannot manufacture for itself. This means that eating chia seeds by themselves provides a sustainable form of protein. Four tablespoons (two ounces) of dry chia seeds provides 8 grams of protein, which is a full serving. The protein in chia seeds is very easily absorbed. For that reason, chia seeds are often recommended to anyone needing additional protein in their diet, including children, pregnant women, and anyone recovering from surgery or trauma. Chia seeds have also recently become a popular food for body builders.
- Fiber: One ounce of chia seeds contains 11 grams of fiber, which is about 1/3 of what most people require for good digestive health. Increased fiber intake is also often recommended to anyone trying to lose weight. An added benefit for weight loss is that one ounce of chia seeds contains 12 grams of carbohydrates. This makes chia seeds an extremely low glycemic-index food that impacts blood sugar very, very slowly. For me personally, I can eat a large amount of soaked chia seeds without seeing any increase in blood glucose levels and without requiring any insulin. Some diabetics report including chia seeds in any meal containing carbohydrates because the chia seeds help to delay the impact the carbohydrates have on blood sugar.
- Antioxidants: Chia seeds are loaded with antioxidants. They have more antioxidants per ounce than blueberries, providing 844 ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) per ounce. Antioxidants are known to fight free radicals and slow the aging process, so eating high amounts is always advised.
- Vitamins: Chia seeds contain significant amounts of all B vitamins, significant amounts of Vitamin C, and also contain high amounts of the fat-soluble vitamins E, D and K.
- Water: Although dry chia seeds do not contain any water by themselves, they are capable of absorbing up to 20 times their weight in water, and they absorb it very quickly. This is helpful for anyone struggling with dehydration, as they can drink the soaked seeds and know the water will reach their large colon for absorption. Their ability to absorb large amounts of liquid also provides ample opportunity for experimentation making drinks and puddings. More on that in a bit. They make a great gel that has a variety of uses. To make a “pudding,” I typically blend three to four parts liquid to one part chia seeds by volume. Simply add more or less liquid to control the thickness of the blend. (A quick and easy pudding can be made by blending 3/4 cup chocolate hemp milk with 1/4 cup chia seeds and allowing to soak for 10-20 minutes. Delicious!)
- Energy: I guess this isn’t a nutritional content topic, but most people find that eating chia seeds provides solid energy that doesn’t fade. Their nutritional content helps maintain stable blood sugars and provides plenty of protein and nutrition to keep a body going. I highly recommend!
You now know how wonderful chia seeds, so let’s talk about how to incorporate them in your daily meals. Please start with very small amounts if you have never tried Chia seeds before or if your diet does not contain high amounts of protein. Their high protein content can create some issues (diarrhea, bloating) if people start with too much too quickly. I also don’t recommend chia seeds to anyone with diverticular disease, as their tiny size easily fits into inflamed pockets.
By themselves, they are a bit crunchy and have a very slight nutty flavor. (Their flavor is so slight they are virtually unnoticeable when added to dishes or beverages.) They make a great addition to smoothies and taste wonderful sprinkled over salads, stirred into yogurt or cottage cheese, etc. Following are some unique ways to add them to common foods:
- Sprinkle them over sandwiches (they are especially delicious in any sandwich containing almond or peanut butter)
- Stir into protein drinks
- Add to ice cream when making home made ice cream
- Add to coffee beans before grinding to get a few of the health benefits without adding much taste to the coffee
- Add them to salsa: they help prevent salsa from becoming “watery” as the juice leaks out of the tomatoes and add a nice texture to salsa
- Sprinkle them over pizzas
- Sprinkle over cucumber salads
- Stir two tablespoons (or more based on your taste) into 16 ounces of fruit juice and allow to “gel” for ten minutes – this makes a drink called “Chia Fresca” that is very popular in Mexico and Central America. Several companies now make chia drinks that can be purchased in health food stores. The ones made by Mamma Chia are my favorites. (Their high carbohydrate content is somewhat offset by the chia seeds, but diabetics should consume them cautiously.)
- Stir into hummus or any dip or spread
- Stir a tablespoon or two into a 16-ounce glass of lemonade or other flavored drink
- Mix one teaspoon of chia seeds with 1/4 cup water and use as an egg substitute
- Grind and substitute for up to 1/4 any flour
- Add to sauces you’re using to brush over meat while it cooks
- Add to meat marinades
- Grind and use in place of flour or bread crumbs in meatloaf
- Add to pancakes (this is especially delicious if you soak them in fruit juice first)
- Sprout the seeds and add to salads (or cover a terra cotta head … your choice)
- Add to oatmeal or other hot cereal
- Add to granola and include while making
- Blend with butter and honey for a delicious spread for toast or bagels
- Add to soups or to slow cooker masterpieces
- In all honesty, I haven’t found any dish that can’t have chia seeds added successfully … have fun experimenting!
Here’s my favorite breakfast “pudding” blend. I love this because I can toss the jar in the car on my way to work and munch on the pudding throughout the day. It’s delicious, filling and very energizing!
Protein-Packed Chia Pudding
In a quart-size Mason jar, blend the following:
- 24 ounces (3 cups) purified water or milk substitute of choice (You can also use regular milk, but I prefer not to)
- 1 scoop protein powder of choice – use flavored or unflavored based on choice. My favorite is Vibrant Health PureGreen Protein in either vanilla, chocolate or berry.
Blend well and then add 1 cup of dry chia seeds. Stir and then shake the jar well. Allow to soak for five minutes and stir well. Stir again after ten minutes. If you want to enjoy the pudding immediately, allow it to soak 10-20 minutes. I blend mine at night and let it soak overnight. That way it’s ready to go as I walk out the door in the morning. Since I don’t use any ingredients that can spoil, I don’t refrigerate the pudding overnight, but do refrigerate it once I get to work.
If you would like to receive additional information about ways to improve your health using simple dietary changes, please feel free to schedule a consultation. You may email me or call 317.489.0909 to schedule.
Have you tried chia seeds? What did you think? Please share your experiences and thoughts.