Category Archives: omega 3

Top Seven Natural Pain Relievers

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

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

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

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

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.

MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane)

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.

Omega 3

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!

Important Facts About Chia Seeds

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.