Category Archives: pain relief

Two Weeks From a Broken Foot to Dancing in Heels

There is a myth that time and immobilization are the only ways to heal broken bones. I disagree. It is very possible to heal broken bones more rapidly using changes in lifestyle, eating habits and supplementation. I know because I’ve done it more than once. For more information on broken bones, please read Five Myths About Broken Bones and Fractures.

Before I dive into my personal story of supporting a broken bone, please note the story I am sharing is purely my own. The techniques I used were appropriate for the type of break I had and its location.Surgical Boot
They were also based on years of professional expertise. Although many of these techniques could be used by anyone with a broken bone, please discuss them with your orthopedic doctor and a natural health consultant before using them. As always, this information is shared for educational purposes only, was not evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness.

Three weeks ago I broke the fifth metatarsal of my left foot in a motorcycle incident. Thankfully, it was an “incident” and not an “accident.” In spite of the broken bone, I was very fortunate. So was the driver who caused the incident, as my break prevented me from chasing him down and giving him a piece of my mind.

The orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed the break said the bone would take six to eight weeks to heal, I would need to wear a “boot” for that entire period, and my lifestyle would need to drastically change. None of those options appealed to me. I knew he was wrong, but I politely refrained from telling him that – with God’s grace – I would get that bone healed much more rapidly. I was determined to wear heels with the little black dress I was wearing to my 30th high school reunion. That gave me 2.5 weeks to heal the broken bone and walk without a limp. I was on a mission!

How the Body Works to Heal Broken Bones

When a bone is broken, the body immediately sends a multitude of resources to repair the damage. Healing broken bones is a truly miraculous process. Within minutes, the body creates a cushion of blood between the pieces of the broken bone. The blood quickly begins coagulating to hold the bones in place. The body also causes the surrounding tissues to swell in an attempt to immobilize the bone and force the area to be used less. In the hours that follow, the coagulated blood allows new blood vessels to grow within the gelatinous “scab” that lies between the areas of broken bones. The new blood vessels carry specialized blood cells that create a network of collagen and which work to destroy and carry away the damaged bone. Eventually, this network crystallizes some of the collagen cells into bone crystals which are used to create new layers of bone. The process does take time, but is a truly miraculous combination of physiology and chemistry. Most experts agree that it takes six to eight weeks to completely heal a bone. Luckily, the outside of the bone heals first, which strengthens the bone so that the interior is not as vulnerable. When the outside of the bone is healed, the bone will appear solid on X-rays, but it may take longer for the interior of the bone to fully heal and repair itself. The area surrounding the break may swell for several months as the body continues sending resources to the area to heal it.

It is possible to support the body’s efforts to heal broken bones. Providing the extra nutrients that are needed to form the new tissues and bone cells can sometimes decrease the healing time. There are also lifestyle changes that support new bone growth, and eating styles that provide further support. Since most breaks also cause strains, sprains and damage to surrounding tissues, muscles, ligaments, tendons and nerves, there are other ways to support the healing of those tissues.

My praise report is that a follow-up X-ray taken two weeks after I initially broke the bone showed the bone is healed. That doesn’t mean the internal structure of the bone is completely restored, but is truly miraculous. Even my osteopath was impressed! I still have pain from the ankle sprain that occurred with the break, but the area surrounding the break is no longer painful and it no longer hurts to walk. My left leg consistently swells up to my knee, but even that decreases a bit every day. I occasionally wear a wrap to keep the swelling to a minimum. I did wear heels to my reunion and did dance in them, but I confess I switched to flats after a few dances as a purely practical matter. Every woman there wished she could have done the same.

Following is a description of the things I did to support my body’s efforts to heal the broken bone more rapidly. Please note that the break I incurred was a “closed” fracture that did not require surgery or a cast, so the break required minimal medical intervention. Breaks requiring surgery and more in-depth medical intervention will obviously need more patience and have a longer period of healing.

Supplements Used to Heal Broken Bones

Following is a list of the supplements I took. These supplements may have drug interactions and are not recommended for some conditions, so please check with a health practitioner before using. Please let your doctor know you are taking them. Please also note I do not recommend taking this many supplements at once for extended periods of time. I had an acute situation requiring intervention, so I gave my body what it needed. Now that I know the bone is mostly healed, I have stopped taking most of these supplements.

  • White Willow Bark:  A natural pain reliever and anti-inflammatory with few side effects. I only needed it a few days. NSAIDS are known to slow bone healing, so I was determined to avoid them. I am happy to say I didn’t need them. The White Willow Bark helped reduce pain during the first few days following the break.
  • Whole Food Calcium Combination:  Bones need calcium. I used a calcium that was derived from food and is very easily absorbed. The supplement I used contains multiple other ingredients known to improve bone strength and improve calcium absorption.
  • Magnesium:  To improve calcium absorption, provide mineral support to the tissues and relax the muscles in my ankle.
  • Trace minerals:  To provide the extra minerals my body needed to heal the bone.
  • Selenium:  For additional mineral support. Selenium is known to work synergistically with calcium to strengthen and build bones. It is also a powerful antioxidant, and I wanted to ensure my body had plenty of antioxidants to help repair my damaged cells.
  • Liquid silica:  An essential component of bone tissue. I debated between taking Collagen and Silica. I opted for the Silica because it benefits a broader range of tissues.
  • Homeopathic Arnica: A powerful anti-inflammatory known to be very effective for reducing swelling and bruising. Arnica is one of my favorite supplements for soft tissue trauma. I used the 1M strength because it’s one of the strongest available.
  • Homeopathic Symphytum Officinale: The homeopathic form of Comfrey. I continue taking this one to support the continued healing of the internal bone structure. I used the 1M strength.
  • Proteolytic Enzymes:  Powerful anti-inflammatories that support healing in every way possible. The enzymes are typically used to reduce pain and swelling, but the enzymes also support the body’s production of collagen, which is then used for bone healing.
  • Comfrey Tea: Another name for Comfrey is “bone knit.” It is known to greatly speed bone healing. The FDA claims Comfrey should not be used internally, but they based that recommendation on flawed studies. Please note Comfrey can cause liver damage when incorrectly used. I took a carefully calculated dosage and do not recommend that others use it internally. I also made Comfrey compresses to use externally on the break, but confess that was such a bother and so messy I only did it a few times. Had my break been more severe, I would have used the compresses more frequently.

Lifestyle Changes to Heal Broken Bones

  • Careful Exercise:  The type of break I had allowed me to very carefully exercise in an adapted manner. Even severe breaks benefit from mild exercise or from gently moving the toes and fingers that extend from the cast. When I broke my ankle 25 years ago, I wiggled my toes several times a day in the beginning and rode an exercise bicycle after the bone had firmed. I was able to get out of my cast in four weeks instead of six. Exercise stimulates blood flow to the region and is known to speed healing. However … you must discuss exercise with your doctor and physical therapist before trying it. Excess exercise could be devastating to the healing process and could do more harm than good.
  • Sleep:  Having a broken bone is exhausting. The body will pull energy from every available system and use it to heal broken bones. Getting extra rest and plenty of sleep is imperative to helping the body heal itself.
  • Ionic Foot Baths:  Ionic foot baths are known to ionize calcium and other minerals in the blood stream, making it easier for the healing bone to absorb them. Ionic foot baths are also known to help the body eliminate toxins, which can also speed healing.
  • Prayer:  Studies have proven prayer speeds healing. The speed of healing I experienced could only have happened with divine intervention, so I felt prayer needed to be mentioned. Other techniques such as meditation and positive visualization can also help speed healing.

Dietary Approaches to Support Bone Healing

The best way to support the body during bone healing is to eat a diet high in natural minerals that can very easily be absorbed. During the healing process, I increased my intake of dark leafy greens and other veggies. I also increased my consumption of fermented veggies and water kefir so that my body had more probiotics and enzymes to use for healing. Beyond that, I continued eating a very clean diet void of chemical additives so that there were no toxins to slow the healing process.

Have you ever had a broken bone? What did you do to support its healing?

Twenty Surprising Facts About Vitamin D

Vitamin DThe following facts about Vitamin D may surprise you:

  • Vitamin D is a hormone, not a vitamin. (This post refers to it as a “vitamin” because that is the common terminology used.)
  • Vitamin D is a powerful anti-inflammatory
  • 90-95% of Vitamin D is produced by the skin through sun exposure
  • The natural form of Vitamin D the skin produces is Vitamin D3 
  • The Vitamin D that is added to milk and other products is Vitamin D2, which is not well absorbed
  • Vitamin D is fat-soluble, meaning the body stores it 
  • Experts estimate that 1 billion people worldwide are deficient in Vitamin D
  • Vitamin D regulates more than 200 genes in the body
  • Grass fed beef contains Vitamin D3; mainstream beef does not
  • Vitamin D is a powerful immune booster
  • Studies proved 2000 IU/day is more effective than flu shots at preventing the flu
  • Vitamin D is known to protect against Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriasis, Multiple Sclerosis, and over 800 different cancers
  • It is very difficult to get adequate D3 through the diet
  • Ten to thirty minutes of unprotected sun exposure is the best way to boost levels
  • Pregnant women need twice as much Vitamin D as other people
  • Dark-skinned people typically do not produce Vitamin D well and are often deficient
  • The best test to check Vitamin D levels is the 25-hydroxy-vitamin D test
  • The 1,25-dihydroxy-vitamin D blood test is very inaccurate and may return false levels if D levels are low
  • The ideal range of D in the blood is 50-75 nmol/L. Higher and lower amounts may cause or worsen health challenges.
  • Deficiencies in Vitamin D have been connected to depression, inflammatory conditions, cancer, fatigue, digestive disorders, metabolic disorders, weight gain, headaches, bladder disorders, and much more

Do you take Vitamin D? I generally recommend starting with 2000-5000 IU of Vitamin D3 per day. Check your blood levels every three months, adjusting the dose as needed. The goal level of Vitamin D should be 50-75 nmol/L.

If you do not have a doctor, you can order a home test kit at: Vitamin D Home Test Kit

My passion is helping people improve their health by identifying and correcting nutritional deficiencies and other causes of illness. I have helped thousands of people improve their health, reverse symptoms and reduce their need for medication. If you are ready to improve your health, please contact me to schedule a consultation.

Why You Need More Magnesium

Experts estimate that 80% of the US population is deficient in Magnesium, a very basic mineral that is essential for good magnesiumhealth and which is used by every system in the body.

A lack of Magnesium in the body may cause any of the following: 

  • muscle cramps
  • heart palpitations
  • headaches and migraines
  • fatigue
  • constipation
  • muscle weakness
  • digestive disorders
  • impaired pituitary and thyroid function
  • PMS
  • kidney problems
  • insulin resistance and/or hypoglycemia
  • insomnia
  • depression
  • vertigo
  • problems swallowing
  • muscle aches
  • tremors and shaking
  • anxiety or over-excitability
  • muscle twitching and tics
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • osteopenia and osteoporosis
  • kidney stones and heel spurs
  • coronary spasms
  • atrial fibrillation
  • dizziness
  • memory problems
  • numbness in extremities
  • worsening of asthma symptoms
  • water retention
  • high blood pressure
  • loss of appetite or nausea
  • and many more 

The problem with these symptoms is that many are very vague and most could be caused by a wide variety of other issues. Unfortunately, it is extremely rare for a medical professional to consider a magnesium deficiency and act accordingly when faced with symptoms that indicate one. Additionally, plasma levels of magnesium measured during blood tests are very inaccurate because only 1% of magnesium in the body is stored in the blood. The majority of magnesium in the body is stored in the tissues, making blood tests almost worthless. We live in a society where mainstream physicians are taught to place more weight on blood test results than on symptoms, which makes it even less likely that a person exhibiting multiple symptoms of magnesium deficiency will be given magnesium. (There is a blood test that is more accurate, the ionized magnesium test, but it is not widely available.)

As the huge list of symptoms indicates, magnesium is necessary for the proper functioning of every body system. A deficiency can have devastating consequences. Magnesium is the most prolific mineral in the body and is responsible for almost 400 different biochemical reactions in the body. A short list of the body functions magnesium directly influences include:

  • Allows the body to absorb calcium and to place it where it belongs 
  • Essential for the production of energy
  • Essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats
  • Relaxes muscles so they remain flexible
  • Essential for the activation of B vitamins
  • Helps build bone and keep it flexible enough to not shatter
  • Helps maintain a normal electrical flow of nerve impulses in the heart
  • Essential for hormone balance (especially during PMS and menopause)
  • Essential for initiation over 300 different enzyme reactions essential for health
  • Essential for proper digestion
  • Essential for the production of key brain chemicals
  • Essential for normal kidney and liver function

Obviously, you need magnesium. If you eat a standard diet, drink alcohol, or drink coffee, you are probably magnesium deficient. Many people are magnesium deficient because of digestive disorders and malabsorption. (Please read Top Six Ways to Maximize Digestion for tips on improving digestion.) 

It is possible to maintain adequate magnesium levels by eating high levels of dark leafy greens, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds on a daily basis. If you’re eating well and don’t have absorption problems, you’re probably not deficient. If you don’t eat well, drink alcohol or can’t get by without your daily cup of java, you need to be getting supplemental magnesium other ways. (Coffee and alcohol sap the body of magnesium very quickly. It is not unusual for alcoholics to have anxiety and sleep disorders as a result of their magnesium deficiency.)

Drinking a daily Green Drink is a wonderful way to get sufficient magnesium and other essential nutrients. If you don’t care for the taste of green drinks (which taste like grass, to be blunt), try Green Vibrance Capsules by Vibrant Health. It is one of my favorites and is one I use frequently.

If you prefer to increase your magnesium using supplements, do NOT take Magnesium Oxide. It is a form of oxide that your body cannot absorb. It is worthless. Read labels and make sure whichever supplement you purchase does not contain magnesium oxide. Most people do best taking 200-800 mg of magnesium on a daily basis. I recommend starting with 200/day and very gradually working up (not exceeding 1200 mg) until your symptoms disappear. Having loose stools is a good indicator that you’re taking too much. If you develop diarrhea, take less magnesium.

I recommend doing or using the following to increase magnesium levels, in conjunction with a healthy diet:

  • Take a very warm bath three times weekly with 2-3 cups of Epsom salts in the bath. Your skin will absorb the magnesium, eliminating the need for it to be absorbed through the digestive system.
  • Use Magnesium Oil:  Magnesium oil is not an oil, but has an oily feeling due to the high concentration of magnesium in the liquid. Note that it is necessary to use high doses of magnesium oil in order to receive a high amount of magnesium. Most oils need to be used in doses of eight sprays, three times daily.
  • Take Magnesium Glycinate:  Magnesium Glycinate is one of the more easily absorbed forms of magnesium. The magnesium molecule is bonded with glycine, which is an amino acid. The human digestive tract is maximized to absorb amino acids, and glycine is known to improve digestion, so the combination of the magnesium and the glycine greatly increases the absorption levels. The amount of glycine absorbed is minimal, so please do not use magnesium glycinate instead of a glycine supplement if you need supplemental glycine.

My passion is helping people improve their health by identifying and correcting nutritional deficiencies and other causes of illness. I have helped thousands of people improve their health, reverse symptoms and reduce their need for medication. If you are ready to improve your health using a holistic approach, please contact me to schedule a consultation.

As always, none of these statements were evaluated by the FDA and none were intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition. Check with your medical practitioner before starting or stopping any supplement or medication.

References:

Yu ASL. Disorders of magnesium and phosphorus. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 120.

Rakel D, ed. Integrative Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007.

Natural Lifestyle Approaches for Relieving Pain

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?