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Fibromyalgia Natural Treatments

Written by Dr. Rich Snyder and reviewed by Julie A. Cerrato, PhD, AP, CYT, CAP

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome that overall is characterized by diffuse pain and overwhelming fatigue that can be debilitating. The treatment of Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) involves an integrative treatment plan that involves treating

The treatment of Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) involves an integrative treatment plan that involves treating mind, body, and spirit. Find fibromyalgia natural treatments here.

Overview

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome that overall is characterized by diffuse pain and overwhelming fatigue that can be debilitating. There are several characteristics of the fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). They can include:

  • Significant joint and muscle pain. Health professionals have identified “trigger points” that are present throughout the body that can elicit pain in particular areas when mild pressure is applied. The affected person with FMS can complain of pain all over the body.
  • Significant fatigue, especially with moderate physical exertion. Some people report requiring days to recover from what some may consider to be only mild physical exertion.
  • The person can complain of being unable to get a good night’s sleep.
  • The person may complain of frequent headaches and may also suffer from depression
  • Recurrent abdominal pain, diarrhea and/or constipation which may be due to associated Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

What causes Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS)?

The specific cause of fibromyalgia is not known; however, the development of FMS has been typically thought to occur after a significant “stressor.” The stressor may involve a recent illness, including any recent physical or psychological trauma. For some people, the stressor can be as simple as taking an antibiotic that can alter the bowel flora and precipitate a flare of FMS. The role of Candida overgrowth needs to be considered as a significant contributor to the development of FMS.

There has been a lot of research done on the pain receptors in the body. These receptors may do more than just modulate pain; they may also have a role in the development of FMS but also autoimmune diseases/rheumatologic syndromes.

Is Fibromyalgia Syndrome an autoimmune condition?

No, Fibromyalgia Syndrome is NOT an autoimmune condition. Note, however, that FMS may occur on its own but can also occur in the presence of other autoimmune diseases.

What other medical conditions are associated with FMS?

Fibromyalgia can be strongly associated with many other conditions. They can include:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
  • Adrenal Fatigue (There is a very close relationship with this condition)
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease  (GERD)
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Interstitial cystitis (IC)
  • Depression

What are the conventional treatments for FMS?

The conventional treatments for FMS involves the use of prescription medication to reduce the pain and disability associated with this condition. Commonly prescribed medications include:

  • Pregabalin (Lyrica): This medication works by treating nerve and/or muscle pain and is indicated by the FDA for the treatment of FMS. This medication is usually dosed 75 mg twice a day with dose adjustments needing to be made if kidney disease is present. Side effects can include lethargy, weakness, swelling and allergic reactions.
  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta): This is a medication also used for the treatment of pain, including nerve pain. It has been used in the treatment of depression as well. Potential side effects can include drowsiness, easy bruising, decreased appetite and/or constipation.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants have also been used in the treatment of not only pain but also of depression.  Other antidepressants, including Fluoxetine (Prozac) and Sertraline (Zoloft), have also been studied not only for the treatment of depression but also for pain with fibromyalgia. The medications can have what is called “anticholinergic” side effects which can include dry mouth, constipation, and urinary retention.

Holistic Treatment & Evaluation

Developing a Holistic Treatment Plan for FMS

The treatment of Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) involves an integrative treatment plan that involves treating mind, body, and spirit. Only using  prescription medications is simply not enough for the treatment of this condition. The treatment plan includes correcting nutrient deficiencies, treating pain and inflammation, searching for underlying causes of FMS, evaluating for hormonal imbalance, as well as treating the person so she can get a good night’s rest.

Getting a Holistic Based Evaluation

If you have fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), you need a detailed and personalized evaluation. This means looking for and identifying any causes of inflammation and potential infections, including Lyme disease. In addition, you should ask your healthcare provider about the following:

  • Hormonal Analysis: Fibromyalgia can be associated with many hormonal imbalances, including decreased levels of the hormones by the adrenal gland (adrenal fatigue). These can include sex hormones. Low hormone levels can also contribute to fatigue and insomnia among others.
  • The testing mentioned above is a combination of blood, urine, and saliva testing.
  • Testing for nutrient deficiencies and toxicities: There are some personalized profiles, including hair analysis that should be considered.

Nutrition

Forming a solid nutritional plan is vital as those with FMS may be nutrient-depleted. The pain can be so debilitating that one may not feel like eating. It can be very difficult to eat three meals a day. If the food that one is eating is low in nutritional value and is high in Omega 6 content, this can promote further inflammation and pain. Without proper nutrition, your body will not be able to heal. Modifying your diet and supplementation of the correct nutrient deficiencies are key in the treatment of FMS. Your diet should have high antioxidant and high nutritional value.

Anti-Inflammatory Diet

A diet that is plant-based in nature and emphasizes fruits and vegetables and whole grains is necessary in the treatment of fibromyalgia. You want to as much as possible eliminate refined foods from your diet. Be aware of any food sensitivities that you may have that can exacerbate underlying inflammation and pain. Any food has the ability to stimulate an inflammatory response. One of the most common examples of this is gluten in celiac disease. On an anti-inflammatory diet, all possible sources of food sensitivities are eliminated and then reintroduced one at a time.

  • Another way is to have your blood tested for food sensitivities.
  • Be aware that different foods, even among fruits and vegetables, can have different degrees of inflammation. There is a great site at www.nutritiondata.com that has an  inflammatory index that can tell you the inflammatory power of the foods that you are eating. You want to focus on foods that have a high anti-inflammatory index.

Juicing for Fibromyalgia

Other Nutritional Recommendations:

  • Stay away from sugar: Sugar can be a potent source of inflammation. Eliminate this from your diet, and you can see a change in how you feel as well.  Sugar can also promote Candida overgrowth in the intestine which stimulates an inflammatory response via mycotoxins.
  • Juicing in the morning is a great way to start the morning and get a great anti-oxidant kick to start your day.

Intestinal Health

You read about the connection between Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS). Maintaining a healthy intestinal tract reduces total body inflammation and is very important in the treatment of FMS. This aspect in the treatment of FMS is not emphasized enough. The microflora of the intestinal tract plays such an important role in the modulation of the immune system. Altered gut flora can play a major role in your ability to absorb nutrients, and it can contribute to fungal overgrowth.

Supplements for FibromyalgiaProbiotics

These should be a mainstay in any inflammatory condition. They can normalize the bowel flora and replace the bad bacteria with the good intestinal microflora. Studies specific to their benefits in FMS have been mixed, but they do have an effect on immune system modulation and are often included in any anti-inflammatory regimen. In one review article from the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, the use of probiotics provided adequate relief in the treatment of diarrhea-predominant IBS.

Digestive enzymes

Consider the use digestive enzymes to help digest food completely which helps in absorption. The ability to maximally absorb nutrients can be affected in those with chronic inflammation.

Fiber

Don’t forget the importance of including fiber in your nutrition program. Not only is it  vital for overall bowel health but it can also “bind up” toxins in the intestine and help eliminate them from the body.

Supplements

Supplementing Naturally

There are different supplements that have a role in the treatment of Fibromyalgia Syndrome. Supplements can help increase energy to the cell and the body, reduce pain and inflammation, help you get a good night’s sleep, and provide nutritional value.

Supplements that Boost Energy to the Cell

D-ribose

There are studies concerning fibromyalgia that tout the energy boost of D-ribose. D-ribose increases the energy to all of the cells of the body, especially the muscle cells. Supplementing with D-ribose can provide your heart with the energy boost that it needs.

      • D-ribose commonly comes in capsule or powdered form. The powdered form is preferred as you can add it to your morning drink.
      • The recommended starting dose is 2500 mg. Increase by 2500 mg every few weeks to reach a maximum dose of 10,000 mg.
      • Even though ribose is a “sugar” it will not raise blood glucose levels. Higher doses than 10,000 mg can cause diarrheal symptoms in some people.

Coenzyme Q10 (Ubiquinone)

Replacement of this antioxidant can help improve fibromyalgia symptoms. It has been reported that those with fibromyalgia as well as other chronic illnesses can have lower than normal levels of ubiquinone in the body.

    • Begin with low doses at 50-100 mg daily and increase to twice a day after several weeks. Smaller doses taken during the day maximizes its absorption.
    • As ubiquinone can lower blood pressure, you need to closely monitor your blood pressure. If you have diabetes, monitor your blood glucose levels as ubiquinone can lower blood glucose levels as well.

Supplements that Help Boost Nutrition

Magnesium

The role of low magnesium levels in the body and its importance in inflammation, pain, and fatigue is being researched. In one review article, the authors noted lower levels of zinc and magnesium than in the control groups. Magnesium supplementation is necessary to help counteract the fatigue and pain associated with fibromyalgia. Certain medications, such as diuretics, can lower your magnesium levels. There are several ways to increase your magnesium intake:

  • Increase the amount of leafy green vegetables, seeds (sunflower and sesame for example) and nuts (almonds and Brazil nuts for example) which contain a lot of magnesium. You should strive to at least consume 600-800 mg a day.
  • If needed, magnesium can also be supplemented either orally or in a gel or oil formulation applied directly to the skin. Chelated magnesium is a form of magnesium taken orally without the heavy metals. This can be started once a day and increased to twice a day for a total dose of 400-600 mg. Note that very high doses of magnesium can cause diarrhea. Magnesium Malate is a form of magnesium that is very well absorbed.
  • An alternative is to apply Magnesium gel or oil to your skin once or twice daily. If you have been told that you have kidney problems, you may need to have blood levels of your magnesium level followed and limit your magnesium intake.

Vitamins for FibromyalgiaVitamin D

The role of Vitamin D deficiency in the development of fibromyalgia is being evaluated; however, in one research article it was noted that in evaluating over seventy-five patients who had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, over two-thirds had low or low-normal Vitamin D levels. The authors of this study also noted that occurred very frequently in those patients with depression and anxiety. Don’t forget that Vitamin D supplementation is vital for your overall bone and muscle health.

    • Ask your healthcare provider to measure a Vitamin D level, which is a simple blood test.
    • Begin Vitamin D3 at 1000 Units daily with food. Because it is a fat soluble vitamin, it is better absorbed with food.

Vitamin C

Remember that Vitamin C is an antioxidant; in terms of cellular health, because it is an electron donor, it helps to reduce oxidative stress and keep the cells in a reduced or natural state. We think that supplementation with Vitamin C may be beneficial. In one small study, 12 individuals with fibromyalgia were given a combination of 100 mg of Vitamin C and broccoli powder. They were closely followed over a period of one month. By the end of the month the participants in the trial reported an improved quality of life and reduced sensitivity to pain. Deficiency of this vitamin can directly impact adrenal health, and FMS can cause a lot of stress on the adrenal glands and is strongly associated with the development of adrenal fatigue, which is strongly associated with Fibromyalgia Syndrome.

    • The ester form of Vitamin C is better absorbed than other formulations.
    • Vitamin C at a dose of 2000 mg a day is a good starting dose.

Supplements that Relieve Pain and Inflammation

Bioflavonoids

Good antioxidant support is vital in the treatment of Fibromyalgia. Bioflavonoids are excellent antioxidants that can relieve pain and inflammation. Bioflavonoids that have been studied in the treatment of fibromyalgia include turmeric and quercetin. Quercetin may be especially effective as it has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic properties.

    • Turmeric can be taken as a 400 mg capsule daily or as a powder that can be sprinkled on each meal.
    • Quercetin can be taken as a capsule. Usual starting dose is 500 mg a day.

Wobenzym N

This is an enzyme supplement that is used in the treatment of inflammation and pain. Enzymes in this supplement include bromelain (from pineapple) and papain (from papaya).

  • If you have allergies to pineapples or papaya, do not take this supplement.
  • It is best taken on an empty stomach; be aware that you may need to take 6-12 tablets a day for an inflammatory response.

Morinda citrifolia (Noni)

This is a tropical plant from East Asia that has been used for many years. It has anti-inflammatory properties and can help in the treatment of pain.

    • Noni can come in capsule or juice form. If you take the juice form, begin at 1 ounce twice a day and increase slowly to 4-6 oz a day.
    • Some forms of Noni can have a high potassium content so if you have kidney disease you need to be mindful of this.
    • Extremely high doses of this may have an adverse effect on the liver, although this is controversial. The several ounces a day that we mention here is very low dosage of this supplement.

Supplements That Can Help You Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Melatonin

Melatonin is a natural hormone that is helpful in helping you achieve a good night’s sleep. In those with FMS, one research article points out that melatonin levels are lower at night when sleeping compared to someone who does not have fibromyalgia. Supplementation with melatonin may also help pain in addition to improving the quality of sleep.

    • Start at low doses of 1-2 mg each night before going to sleep each night and increase slowly.

Valerian root

This is an herb that can help you get a good night’s rest. There have been several studies examining the efficacy of valerian root in the treatment of insomnia. In one review, the authors concluded that while further study was needed, valerian root seemed to able to improve the quality of sleep without experiencing any significant side effects.

Exercise

You need to be very careful when designing an exercise program. Strenuous activity and/or high intensity exercise can actually be counterproductive in someone with fibromyalgia. This does not mean that you will not be able to tolerate any and all exercise regimens. It means that you need to be careful, start slowly, and find out what your own limits are and increase very slowly and carefully. Meditative-based exercises can be very beneficial for someone with fibromyalgia.

Yoga for Fibromyalgia

  • Yoga: Yoga is a great way to increase muscle endurance and flexibility. It is important to start slowly and work with a certified instructor to learn the right way to do each exercise. Yoga is especially effective if started in the early stages of this condition.
  • Tai chi is another great meditative-based exercise that should be incorporated into your regimen.
  • Muscle Resistance Training: Whether you are using free weights or machines, you need to start with very low weight and lower repetitions. You need to know your limits. A good rule of thumb is to exercise until you begin to experience mild fatigue, but don’t push beyond that point. If you do, again, it can be counterproductive and you can feel worse the next day.
  • In addition to the exercise regimen mentioned above, you should also consider seeing someone who is holistically trained in helping you regain more function and flexibility. This can include seeing a structural integration specialist, chiropractor, and/or specialist in osteopathic manipulation. In general, gentle myofasical/massage techniques are preferred as again you may not be able to tolerate a deep massage.

Mind & Spirit

Tai Chi for FibromyalgiaAn important aspect of healing with fibromyalgia is recognizing the connection between mind, body and spirit. The mental and emotional aspects of treatment cannot be ignored.

  • Daily meditation is vital to calm the mind and body.
  • Daily prayer can help relax the mind and body.
  • FMS is often associated with trauma, especially emotional trauma. Helping one to recover from emotional trauma is essential to recovery. Talking with a counselor or advisor can be very helpful.
  • The role of family and friend support cannot be emphasized enough.

Updated: November 2019

  • Armstrong DJ, Meenagh GK et al. “Vitamin D deficiency is associated with anxiety and depression in fibromyalgia.” Clinical Rheumatology. 2007 Apr;26(4):551-4.
  • Bramwell B, Ferguson S et al. “The use of ascorbigen in the treatment of fibromyalgia patients: a preliminary trial.” Alternative Medicine Reviews. 2000 Oct;5(5):455-62.
  • Bent S, Padula et al. “Valerian for sleep: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” American Journal of Medicine. 2006 Dec;119(12):1005-12.
  • Cordero MD, Cotain D et al. “Oral coenzyme Q10 supplementation improves clinical symptoms and recovers pathologic alterations in blood mononuclear cells in a fibromyalgia patient.”  Nutrition. 2012 Nov-Dec;28(11-12):1200-3.
  • Geenen R, Jacobs W et al. “Evaluation and management of endocrine dysfunction in fibromyalgia.” Rheumatic Diseases Clinics of North America. 2002 May;28(2):389-404.
  • Ki Cha B, Man Jung S et al. “The effect of a multispecies probiotic mixture on the symptoms and fecal microbiota in diarrhea-dominant irritable bowel syndrome: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.” Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. 2012 Mar;46(3):220-7.
  • Lucas HJ, Brauch CM et al. “Fibromyalgia–new concepts of pathogenesis and treatment.” International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology. 2006 Jan-Mar;19(1):5-10.
  • Teitelbaum J, Johnson C et al. “The use of D-ribose in chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia: a pilot study.” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2006 Nov;12(9):857-62.
  • Wikner J, Hirsch U et al. “Fibromyalgia–a syndrome associated with decreased nocturnal melatonin secretion.” Clinical Endocrinology. 1998 Aug;49(2):179-83.
  • Wilhelmsen M, Amirian I et al. “Analgesic effects of melatonin: a review of current evidence from experimental and clinical studies.” Journal of pineal Research. 2011 Oct;51(3):270-7.
  • Younger J, Noor N et al. “Low-dose naltrexone for the treatment of fibromyalgia: findings of a small, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, counterbalanced, crossover trial assessing daily pain levels.” Arthritis and Rheumatism. 2013 Feb;65(2):529-38.
Categories
Condition

Sore Throat Natural Treatments

This is a condition that is characterized by pain that may be caused by a variety of factors from drinking hot beverages, forceful use of voice such as screaming, or by an infection such as strep throat.

Sore throat natural treatments include rest, tea, vitamins, supplements and homeopathy.

Self-care Natural Remedies

  • Voice Rest: If your throat is sore, one of the best self care practices you can do is not speak.
  • Lemon tea with Honey: Make some tea by heating up water and using the juice of half of an organic lemon and add some raw, organic honey to soothe and nourish your throat.
  • Homeopathy: Lachesis remedy 30C 4x per day.
  • Homeopathy: Boiron Roxalia: Take as directed on package.
  • Supplement: Zinc Picolinate 50mg capsule daily to boost immune system
  • Vitamins: Vitamin C at least 2 grams every 3-4 hours or until bowel tolerance.
  • Iodine painting: Paint the sides of your neck with iodine and let it absorb.
  • Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat Tea: Take as directed on package.
  • Thayer’s Slippery Elm lozenges: Take as directed on package.

  • Earth Clinic, earthclinic.com/CURES/sore_throat35.html#CLOVES
  • Doctor Yourself , doctoryourself.com/vitaminc2.html
  • Vitamin C foundation, www.vitamincfoundation.org
Categories
Condition

Memory Problems Natural Treatments

Memory problems affect the ability to think, concentrate, formulate ideas, reason and remember. It is distinct from a learning disability insofar as it may have been acquired later in life as a result of an accident or related to an illness such as a stroke that affects a certain area of the brain.

Self-Care Natural Therapies

  • Nutrition: Eat brain food. This involves eliminating all processed foods from your diet.  It is also a wise idea to eliminate or reduce sugar as well. A sugared brain is an unhappy brain. Replace what you have let go of with an abundance of whole grains, lots of fish and vegetables.

  • Supplements: Zinc picolinate is necessary for a happy, functioning brain. Consider taking 50 mg once a day with food. Fish oil, specifically Cod liver oil. This can raise the necessary catecholamines in your brain to wake it up and help with cognition and focus quickly.

  • Herbal Remedies: Gotu Kola and Ginko Biloba are both well researched herbs that have been proven to assist in memory function. Take at least 120mg per day of Ginko biloba and 50 -250 mg of Gotu Kola for maximum cognitive benefit.

  • Logic Puzzles: Doing logic games like crosswords or Sudoku can train the brain and keep the neural pathways sharp. Consider doing one at least on a daily basis to keep your brain happily stimulated in a natural manner.

  • Homeopathy: Consider taking Bioplasma which is a combination of all 12 cell salts. This can assist in the assimilation of cellular nutrition, thus benefitting cognitive and memory function.

Professional Holistic Therapies

  • Kinesiology: An evaluation by an experienced kinesiologist may be able to identify hidden allergies or other concerns that may be contributing to cognition issues.

References

Categories
Condition

Dandruff Natural Treatments

Dandruff is a common scalp disorder that is the excess shedding of dead skin cells from the scalp that is usually accompanied by itching and irritation.

The following is information on dandruff natural treatments.

Self-Care Natural Treatments

  • Supplements – Zinc Picolinate 30mg and Evening Primrose oil 1000 milligrams per day

  • Herbal Medicine – Goldenseal 500 milligrams per day

  • Aromatherapy – Lavender and Tea Tree essential oil. Mix 10 drops of each into 2 TBSP of organic olive oil and rub into scalp, leave on for at least 20 minutes, then shampoo out.

Additional Self-Care Holistic Therapies

  • Nutrition – Increase greens in your diet to assist in alkalizing your system with wheatgrass juice or a green smoothie.

  • Apple cider vinegar hair rinse – 2 TBSP apple cider vinegar in 2 cups of warm water and soak hair/scalp. Leave on for at least 15 minutes for full benefit, then rinse.

  • Olive oil – Mix organic olive oil with 20 drops of Neem oil and soak scalp with mixture, wrap with a flannel cloth and leave on for at least 20 minutes, then shampoo as normal.

References

  • EarthClinic.com, earthclinic.com/CURES/seborrheic_dermatitis.html

  • Curezone, curezone.com/blogs/fm.asp?i=1771672

Categories
Condition

Hangover Natural Treatments

Hangover is a general term for a combination of symptoms one feels after the consumption of too much alcohol. It is usually characterized by a headache, lethargy, nausea, and possibly vomiting. It is your body’s reaction from the byproducts of the metabolization of alcohol that are considered toxic.

The following is information on hangover natural treatments.

Self-Care Natural Therapies

  • Moderation: Hands down your first self care treatment would be moderation with adequate water intake while consuming alcoholic beverages.
  • Coconut water: Your body becomes greatly depleted in minerals from drinking alcohol so replacement of these is paramount to feeling better. Drink fresh coconut water to quickly replace minerals.
  • Peppermint Tea: If nauseous, this will greatly help in reducing it. Sweeten with a little raw, organic honey as drinking can cause hypoglycemia which will contribute to your hangover.
  • Asparagus Extract: Boosts levels of key enzymes that break down alcohol after heavy drinking.
  • Homeopathy: Consider Nux Vomica remedy in 30C strength. Very good for toxicity.
  • Alka-Seltzer Gold: This is just a combination of minerals that will assist your body in alkalizing quickly that will greatly relieve some of the symptoms. Take 2 tablets every 2-4 hours. There isn’t any other medication in this form of Alka-Seltzer so it is completely safe. DO NOT SUBSTITUE any other form.
  • Water: Drink as much as you can possible tolerate as it is most likely you are dehydrated.

Professional Care Treatment

  • Kinesiology: A kinesiologiust can test for liver and spleen imbalances and strengthen if needed.

References

Categories
Condition

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Natural Treatments

Who doesn’t feel tired and out of sorts at times during the holidays? Late nights, a long to-do list and extra food and drink can do that to most anyone.

For some people, however, these feelings don’t end with the changing of the calendar year–and they aren’t just suffering withdrawal from too much of Great Aunt Phoebe’s fruitcake. They may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (also appropriately known as SAD).

SAD can perhaps best be described as depression triggered by the winter season (though some people can experience a similar phenomenon during the summer). Symptoms include feelings of depression, anxiety and fatigue along with the urge to oversleep and/or overeat. It tends to peak in December, January and February though it can strike any time from September to April in the northern hemisphere.

Seasonal Affective Disorder affects approximately half a million people a year with even more experiencing the milder “winter blues.” Seventy-five percent of sufferers are women and it commonly begins between ages 18 and 30. Risk factors include a family history and/or personal experience with depression or bipolar disorder as well as location (it’s very uncommon in people who live within 30 degrees latitude of the equator for example).

Seasonal affective disorder natural treatments include light therapy, supplementation, and environment modifications.

Self-Care Therapies

  • Bright light therapy (phototherapy)

    The dark increases the body’s production of melatonin which may lead to depression symptoms. Using a bright light can mimic sunlight and help reduce the amount of melatonin created. Typically it’s a specially designed fluorescent light box (10,000 lux) that is used for about 30 minutes a day while doing other activities.

  • Vitamin D Supplementation

    Our bodies create vitamin D when we spend time in the sun (without sunscreen) but often this naturally-occurring exposure is less during the colder, darker winter months. Some studies have shown improvement in people who have taken supplements while others have shown no change.

  • Negative air ionization

    Several studies have found people who used a high-density air ionizer (2,700,000 ions per cubic centimeter) for half an hour daily for several weeks showed an improvement in SAD symptoms. (Note those who used the low-density air ionizer (10,000 ions per cubic centimeter) did not experience as much relief.

Additional Self-Care Therapies

  • Time outdoors: For mild cases taking a walk or otherwise spending time outside (or even inside near a window) can be helpful.

Professional Care Therapies

  • For anyone not experiencing an improvement in symptoms with the above methods, it’s important to see a medical professional.

Precautions

Side effects from most of these treatments are minimal. Light therapy may cause eye strain and/or headaches and anyone taking medications that make them sensitive to light should consult with their healthcare provider before using a light box.

Excessive intake of vitamin D (more than 4000 units per day) can be dangerous and result in headaches, fatigue, weakness, nausea, vomiting and more.

Most importantly, keep tabs on symptoms. If they do not improve or resolve, seek help.

Summary

A more serious version of the “winter blues,” Seasonal Affective Disorder most often strikes during the dark months of winter when melatonin production increases and can cause symptoms of depression and anxiety. Fortunately there are a variety of treatment options available ranging from light boxes, vitamin D supplements and negative air ionization therapy to antidepressants when necessary.


  • Mental Health America: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
    nmha.org/go/sad
  • PubMed Health: Seasonal Affective Disorder
    ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002499/
Categories
Condition

Motion Sickness Natural Treatments

Reviewed & edited by Dr. Jeffrey C. Lederman, DO, MPH and Julie A. Cerrato, PhD, AP, CYT, CAP

Motion sickness is a disorder where one’s brain confuses visual and sensory stimuli, resulting in feelings of nausea and imbalance.

Acceleration and deceleration while traveling by car, train, sea, air, or by other means cause the inner ear (vestibular system) to sense motion, but the eyes inform the brain that things are stationary.

The resulting discordance causes one’s brain to conclude that one of the senses is hallucinating and that this hallucination is a result of ingesting poison. In response, the brain responds by inducing vomiting, to clear the supposed toxin.

Find Motion Sickness Natural Treatments here.

Overview

Motion sickness can affect any individual at any age. From a Western Medicine standpoint, there is no general trend as to why certain people are more affected by motion sickness than others. Some factors that can play a role in inducing motion sickness include genetics, anxiety, poor ventilation, and immediate movement after eating or drinking too much.

Doctors can treat the symptoms of motion sickness with over-the-counter or prescription medication, but they cannot actually cure the condition. According to Dr. Hamid Djalilian, director of Neurotology at the University of California Irvine, “Medication will blunt the effects but there’s no way to get rid of it.”[1]

If managed effectively with proper treatment, remedies, and nutrition, the symptoms associated with motion sickness can be prevented, subdued, or at the very least, addressed when they arise. When individuals travel for more than two hours, proactive measures should be considered.

Motion Sickness FeelingHow Does Motion Sickness Feel?

Common initial symptoms associated with motion sickness are nausea, headache, and general uneasiness. Symptoms may progress in severity and include vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, excessive yawning, inability to concentrate, excessive sweating and salivation, pallor (when one turns white), and severe distress.

How Motion Sickness Is Conventionally Treated

Conventional treatments include over-the-counter or prescription medication, and holistic remedies include dietary and herbal treatments. Common over-the-counter products used to treat and prevent symptoms associated with motion sickness include antihistamines like dimenhydrinate (Dramamine), and meclizine (Antivert and Bonine, for example). While the main side effect of these products is drowsiness, meclizine is much less sedating, making it a preferred medication. Nonsedating antihistamines like fexofenadine (Allegra) are not typically helpful in combatting motion sickness.

As for prescription medications, promethazine (Promethegan), scopolamine oral pills, and scopolamine skin patches (Transderm Scop) are potential options. The patch is placed on the skin area behind the ears, and each patch can assist in preventing motion sickness for up to three days. The main side effect for scopolamine is an irritating dry mouth side effect. Keep in mind that patients with glaucoma and other health issues should avoid using this drug, and that dimenhydrinate is a potential treatment for young children. Be sure to consult your physician prior to beginning any medication.

Holistic Healing for Motion Sickness

Various holistic healing modalities can help improve the symptoms of motion sickness and treat the actual condition. Although they come from different traditions, these healing practices share some common tenets, like that of the body being a self-healing system. With a focus on natural medicine and touch, these therapies aim to restore health and balance in the body and mind.

Acupuncture and Acupressure

As a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture supports the idea that our bodies, out of balance due to years of stress and unhealthy lifestyle choices, can be brought back to equilibrium through the practice of needling points on energy channels (located throughout the body) called meridians. Acupressure, or shiatsu, works with the same system of meridians and points but does not use needles. A shiatsu practitioner uses his or her fingers to hold down acupressure points on the body, therefore rebalancing one’s chi, or life force, to promote health.

AcupressureSufferers of motion sickness can also self-apply acupressure to key areas of the body.

  • P6 – Nei Guan – Inner Pass (Pericardium Meridian)
    Location: On the palmar side of the forearm, about two finger-breadths above (away from the hand) the wrist crease.
    Purpose: Treats stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting. Restores clarity to the brain and suppresses pain.
  • SJ 5 – Wai Guan – Outer Pass (San Jiao Meridian)
    Location: On the forearm, about two finger-breadths above the wrist crease.
    Purpose: Treats fever and headaches in infections of the upper respiratory tract, decongests, clears heat, and sharpens eyesight and hearing. *The previous point, P6, is often balanced with SJ 5.
  • SJ 17 – Yi Feng – Wind Screen (San Jiao Meridian)
    Location: Behind the ear, in the depression between the mastoid process and the lower jaw.
    Purpose: Sharpens hearing and corrects feelings of imbalance. This treats diseases of the ear. Nausea due to inner ear or motion sickness can also benefit from SJ17.
  • DM16 – Feng Fu – Palace of Wind (Du Mai Meridian)
    Location: On the back of the neck, one finger breadth above the midpoint of the posterior hairline.
    Purpose: Brings clarity to the brain, opens the senses, releases cramps, and treats severe neck headaches. DM16 is also a point that can treat dizziness and nausea associated with many imbalances.

AromatherapyAromatherapy

Aromatherapy uses the medicinal properties of essential oils drawn from plants and herbs to treat a variety of conditions ranging from skin disorders and infections to stress and immune deficiencies. Each essential oil emits a biofrequency that is sensed by the body. Imbalances in the body and symptoms associated with motion sickness can be “tuned” as the body responds to the oils with respect to its own biofrequency.Because of this specificity, each individual responds differently to an essential oil. Therapy is best when customized by testing essential oils and gauging the body’s response, however, some key essential oils universally assist in relieving motion sickness including peppermint oil, ginger oil, lavender oil and spearmint oil.

Peppermint, Spearmint, Lavender, Ginger Oils

  • At the onset of nausea or motion sickness, open a bottle of one of these essential oils and inhale the odor.
  • Or, using a combination of these essential oils, one may create their own mixture to inhale. According to a recent study, “Apart from the obvious benefits of utilizing each [essential oil’s] contribution to relieving nausea, the complex aroma produced will help prevent the unwanted side effect of conditioned aversion [to an individual essential oil].”[2]
  • Sucking on peppermints helps soothe stomach lining, relax stomach muscles, and ease cramping.

foot reflexologyReflexology

Reflexology, developed from an earlier European system called zone therapy, holds that the hands and feet have reflex areas that correspond to every part of the body, including organs and glands. These parts are affected by stimulating relevant reflex areas. Mainly, reflexology is used to create deep relaxation and to relieve stress and tension. The blood supply is improved by reflexology, and it promotes the unblocking of nerve impulses to harmonize and balance the body.

Because motion sickness is caused by imbalance of one’s inner ear, one can alleviate motion sickness by focusing on reflexology points of the ear. The main reflex centers related to the ears are on the base of the fourth and fifth fingers on the palm and sole of one’s hands and feet.

Pressure can be applied with the hands, or with a rubber or wooden instrument.

Useful website to find ear reflexology points

Useful website to find reflexology points

Holistic Lifestyle Changes

Preventative measures

Those who are susceptible can prevent motion sickness by putting themselves in a position where there is minimal motion. They should try to be in an area that is well ventilated and they should focus on a single point on the horizon. For short periods of travel, avoid drinking and eating, and move around as little as possible.

viewfromcarpassengerTravel Tips for Motion Sickness

If you have a history of motion sickness or might be susceptible to it, consider the following pieces of advice:

  • In a vehicle: Sit as close to the front of the vehicle as you can. If you are a passenger, pay attention to the scenery outside and in the distance. Sometimes, driving the vehicle (instead of just being a passenger) can help a lot.
  • On a train: Face forward and sit close to a window.
  • In an airplane: Request a window seat. Look out the window. The most preferable spot, where the degree of motion is lowest, is in a seat over the front edge of the wing. Open and direct the air vent to blow cool air onto your face.
  • On a ship: Choose a cabin in the middle of the ship, near the waterline. When on board the ship, go outside on deck and focus on the horizon.

Other tips:

  • Avoid heavy or acidic foods
  • Avoid smoking and avoid other people who smoke, do not drink excessive amounts of alcohol, and avoiding reading while on a vehicle.
  • Hydrate by drinking plenty of water and fluids
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Place your hand on the inside of the door or window and look at a point off in the distance while in a moving vehicle
  • Listen to music with headphones

Holistic Diet & Nutrition

There are several herbal and holistic remedies that can provide relief and comfort. These remedies focus on supplementing people with the nutrients they need in order to treat deficiencies and imbalances. Many holistic diet and nutrition products can be found at local health food stores and supermarkets.

gingerNutrition

Ginger is often recommended for preventing seasickness (Schmid et al. 1994), and is found to be better than dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) or placebo at combatting symptoms of motion sickness (Mowrey and Clayson 1982).[3] With the benefit of not causing drowsiness like other motion sickness medications, ginger helps to alleviate symptoms of nausea.

  • Pack some ginger snacks to bring with you: gingersnap cookies, ginger candy, and ginger ale all help to quell mild motion sickness. If you can’t locate any ginger ale that actually contains ginger, you can make homemade ginger ale with ginger syrup and seltzer water.
  • Make fresh ginger juice or a fresh infusion of ginger tea. Ginger tea can be made by putting one teaspoon of ground culinary ginger into a cup of boiling water, letting it steep for 5-10 minutes, and drinking as often as needed.

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamin B6

Nausea comes from different sources, and its possible that if you have significant amounts of nausea you may have a deficiency of Vitamin B6. Taking small doses (50 mg) of Vitamin B6 may treat feelings of nausea.

Magnesium

Furthermore, taking magnesium (100 mg) can help treat migraines associated with motion sickness, as magnesium prevents the muscle contractions that cause migraines.

Products & Equipment

sea bandsAcupressure Travel Wristbands

Travel wristbands (a.k.a. Sea bands) are bands that one wears around their wrists while traveling. They are made from cloth and they possess a plastic, circular button which is meant to be positioned over acupressure point L6 (or the Nei Guan point). By putting pressure on the point, travel wristbands can relieve motion sickness and nausea.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy nasal inhalers
The all-natural formulas in aromatherapy nasal inhalers come in two forms: ready-to-use or empty of oils. You can put your own essential oils into them to inhale, or you can purchase a ready-made complex formula of oils that combats motion sickness, like peppermint oil, spearmint oil, ginger oil, or lavender oil. Several companies offer aromatherapy nasal inhalers as the pure essential oils quickly combat dizziness and nausea that accompany motion sickness. These inhalers are natural, effective, and portable.

  • Peppermint oil
  • Spearmint oil
  • Lavender oil
  • Ginger oil

See “Aromatherapy” in Holistic Healing for Motion Sickness above.

Herbal Medicine

These three herbs provide soothing relief to stomach cramps and nausea. Keep these teas handy when traveling in order to combat motion sickness.

  • Chamomile
  • Peppermint
  • Ginger Tea

Reflexology toolsReflexology

Tools for the Feet, Hand, Head, and Body stimulate the internal organs of the body, helps blood circulation, relieve tension of the nervous system.

 

Updated: April 2014


Written by Nicole Kagan
Reviewed & edited by Julie Cerrato

  • 1 Workneh, Brooke. “FYI: What Causes Motion Sickness, And How Do You Cure It?.” Popular Science. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2014. www.popsci.com/science/news-articles/2012-12/fyi-what-causes-motion-sickness-and-how-do-you-cure-it
  • 2 What are Essential Oils?. (n.d.). Soothing Scents. Retrieved March 15, 2014, from soothing-scents.com/media/Medical_Use_of_Essential_Oils.pdf
  • 3 Bode, A. (n.d.). National Center for Biotechnology Information. The Amazing and Mighty Ginger. Retrieved March 10, 2014, from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92775/
  • Crohn’s Diease: A Scientific Approach May Cure You.. (n.d.). Crohn’s Diease: A Scientific Approach May Cure You.. Retrieved March 15, 2014, from www.scdiet.net/healingcrow/HealingCrow/www.healingcrow.com/dietsmain/crohn/crohn.html
  • How to Use Aromatherapy for Nausea. (n.d.). wikiHow. Retrieved March 10, 2014, from www.wikihow.com/Use-Aromatherapy-for-Nausea
  • Lian, Y. (2005). The pictorial atlas of acupuncture: an illustrated manual of acupuncture points. Marburg: Könemann.
  • Motion sickness. (n.d.). Retrieved from medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Motion Sickness
  • Motion Sickness-Treatment Overview. (2013, March 15). WebMD. Retrieved March 12, 2014, from www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/motion-sickness-treatment-overview
  • Navigate / search. (n.d.). AcuTake. Retrieved March 9, 2014, from acutakehealth.com/why-are-you-doing-that-point-pericardium-6
  • PEPPERMINT. (n.d.). HouseOfNutrition.com. Retrieved March 10, 2014, from www.houseofnutrition.com/peppermint.html
  • The natural choice for nausea relief. (n.d.). Why Seaband. Retrieved March 15, 2014, from www.sea-band.com/why-seaband/
  • What You Need to Know About Seasickness or Motion Sickness. (n.d.). Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved March 10, 2014, from my.clevelandclinic.org/healthy_living/travelers_health/hic_what_you_need_to_know_about_seasickness-or-motion-sickness.aspx
Categories
Condition

Osteoarthritis Natural Treatments

Written by Sandy Cho, MD and reviewed by Julie A. Cerrato, PhD

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a slowly progressive degenerative joint disease that commonly affects the middle-aged and elderly population. It is often referred to as “wear and tear” of the joints.

Osteoarthritis tends to affect commonly used joints such as the hands and spine, and the weight-bearing joints such as the hips and knees.

Osteoarthritis natural treatments involve reducing inflammation and providing nutrition to bones and joints. Reducing total body acidity is a must as acidosis can worsen bone health.

Overview

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a slowly progressive degenerative joint disease that commonly affects the middle-aged and elderly population. Be aware that young people can also be affected by this condition. It is often referred to as “wear and tear” of the joints. It is characterized by breakdown of the cartilage (the tissue that cushions the ends of the bones between joints), bony changes of the joints, deterioration of tendons and ligaments, and various degrees of inflammation of the synovium (joint lining).

About 27 million Americans are living with osteoarthritis, the most common form of joint disease. It is a main cause of disability in older people. Osteoarthritis tends to affect commonly used joints such as the hands and spine, and the weight-bearing joints such as the hips and knees.

What are the signs and symptoms?

  • Joint pain
  • Stiffness in the morning or after a period of inactivity
  • Limited range of motion or decreased function of the joint
  • Swelling may be present
  • Cracking noise with joint movement may be present
  • Very advanced cases of osteoarthritis can cause significant pain and difficulty walking, especially OA of the hips and knees

What causes osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis occurs when the joint cartilage breaks down often because of mechanical stress or biochemical alterations. There is also a component of free radical damage, oxidative stress, and worsening inflammation that also significantly contributes to worsening damage to the joint. Specific risk factors include the following:

  • Age: People age 65 or older are at greatly increased risk
  • Obesity: The excess weight the person needs to bear on his/her joints adds extra stress on them
  • Excessive Joint loading: Manual labor, athletes, etc. In many cases, a person’s occupation or athletic activities require repetitive motions (such as repeated knee bending) that predispose the person to degenerative joint disease in later years
  • Trauma: Fractures, ligament injuries
  • Altered joint anatomy: Developmental hip dysplasia, dislocation due to trauma, unequal leg length, bowlegs, rheumatoid arthritis, gout
  • Deposition diseases: These can cause the cartilage to be stiffer and include hemochromatosis, Wilson’s disease, Gaucher’s disease
  • Genetic disposition or family history of osteoarthritis
  • Acidic, high-inflammatory diet

What are conventional treatments for osteoarthritis?

Acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are initially prescribed for the treatment of OA. Gastrointestinal bleeding is a concern with long-term use of NSAIDs. If an NSAID is to be used, safety is an important issue, especially in the elderly. The risk of NSAID-induced kidney and liver damage is increased in older patients and in patients with preexisting renal or hepatic insufficiency. Thus, it is important to monitor renal and liver function.

Another common class of medications prescribed for the treatment of OA includes narcotics or narcotic-like medications. These medications have the potential to cause significant side effects, including constipation, lethargy and confusion, and depression of the respiratory drive. They are not good long-term solutions for the treatment of pain due to OA.

Topical drugs may be applied directly on the skin over the affected joints. These medicines include capsaicin cream, lidocaine and diclofenac gel.

Intra-articular injections of corticosteroids can be helpful, but more than three to four injections per year is not recommended.

Surgery becomes an option for severe cases in which the joint has serious damage, or when medical treatment fails to relieve pain and you have major loss of function. Surgery may involve arthroscopy. If the joint damage cannot be repaired, you may need a joint replacement.

Nutrition

Juicing for Fibromyalgia

Part of a holistic treatment plan for OA includes a diet that is anti-inflammatory and alkaline in nature, as well supplementation with key nutrients and minerals for building your bones and promoting joint health.

Alkaline Diet: A typical modern American diet is high in Omega 6 and low in Omega 3 oils which increases the body’s inflammatory load. Increased inflammation is a significant contributor to the development of OA. Animal protein, in particular can be very inflammatory; the animal protein is processed by the body into hydrogen ions. The greater the number of hydrogen ions, the greater the total body acidity. The bone is a buffer for the continued acid load, in addition to the buffers in the blood and in the cells. Alkaline mineral salts, such as magnesium and calcium, are drawn from your bones into the bloodstream to buffer the excess acid that is built up on a daily basis. This weakens the bone over time and increases the risk of developing arthritis and other bone conditions such as osteoporosis.

An alkaline-based diet is rich in fruits and vegetables. An alkaline-based diet consists of foods high in antioxidant value that not only counter inflammation, oxidative stress, and acidosis but also provide significant nutrients that most of us are lacking.

Supplements
Supplements for Fibromyalgia

Many over-the-counter nutrition supplements have been used for treatment of osteoarthritis. Among the most widely used are glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate, calcium and vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids. To ensure safety and avoid drug interactions, consult your doctor or pharmacist before using any of these supplements. This is especially true when you are combining these supplements with prescribed drugs. Adding the right supplements to your treatment plan is important for not only providing nutrition to your joints (yes, your joints need nourishment as well) but also reducing inflammation that can help reduce pain and restore function.

Supplements That Provide Nutritional Support to the Bone and Joints

Vitamin D

Being deficient in Vitamin D is associated with the development of worsening hip and knee pain. Given that millions of people are deficient in this important vitamin, supplementation is vital. The usual recommended dose is 1000 units of Vitamin D3 taken with food to enhance absorption. Remember that your healthcare provider can measure levels of Vitamin D3 and adjust the amount you need to take.

Vitamins for Fibromyalgia

Vitamin C

Remember that Vitamin C is an antioxidant; in terms of cellular health, because it is an electron donor, it helps to reduce oxidative stress and keep the cells in a reduced or natural state. In one study, it was felt that Vitamin C may have a role in preventing osteoarthritis of the knee.

    • The ester form of Vitamin C is better absorbed than other formulations.
    • Vitamin C at a dose of 2000 mg a day is a good starting dose.

Vitamin K2

Vitamin K2 is very beneficial for bone health. It helps in maintaining the integrity of the bones and joints. It is integral in preventing calcium loss from the bone. It also helps to maintain the health of the blood vessels by preventing calcium influx into the blood. It also is very likely to be helpful in the treatment of osteoarthritis. One study demonstrated that joints that were affected with advanced OA were associated with lower levels of Vitamin K2.

Trace Minerals

Be aware that in addition to Vitamins C, D and Vitamin K2, that trace minerals are also important for bone health. These include Boron, Selenium, Zinc, Manganese, and Magnesium.There are several good supplements out there that are good for bone health.

Supplements that Reduce Inflammation and Lessen Pain

Glucosamine and Chondroitin

A large clinical trial called the Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT) that examined whether or not Glucosamine/Chondroitin together were effective in treating the pain associated with knee arthritis and if they could be used to treat the structural damage associated with OA was conducted. The authors concluded that these supplements were as effective as NSAIDS in treating pain. They also found that that they provided benefit for those experiencing moderate to severe pain. Another study concluded that chondroitin and glucosamine also helped reduce joint knee swelling. Glucosamine and chondroitin can also reduce total body inflammation, including lowering C-reactive protein levels.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)

The use of this supplement, especially when used in combination with Glucosamine and Chondroitin, has been shown in studies to reduce the pain of osteoarthritis as well as help restore clinical functioning. In one clinical trial, the effects of 3 grams of MSM taken twice a day compared to placebo demonstrated a significant improvement in pain and clinical functioning.

Arnica Montana

Arnica montana may be especially effective for the treatment of knee and hand osteoarthritis. It has been demonstrated for reducing inflammation of the joints. The application of Arnica topically to the hands or knees can be very effective in reducing pain and inflammation.

Avocado-Soybean Unsaponifiable (ASU)

Several clinical studies have demonstrated the efficacy of ASU for the treatment of OA, especially hip OA which can be especially debilitating. In one study, approximately 400 patients were randomized to be given either 300 mg of ASU or placebo and followed over a three-year period. The authors felt that the ASU helped to reduce the joint space narrowing in the hip, meaning that it helped to reduce the degree of structural damage when compared to the placebo group.

Curcumin

The main ingredient of the commonly used spice turmeric, this antioxidant can help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with OA. It helps to reduce inflammation by reducing certain cellular pathways of inflammation, including Nf-KappaB. Another inflammatory pathway that Curcumin can inhibit is the cyclooxygenase enzyme, which is the same enzyme that is inhibited by NSAIDS. Curcumin also has other potential effects including improving heart health and has anti-cancer properties as well.

Antioxidants

The use of antioxidants are important in reducing inflammation and combating the free radical load and oxidative stress that can accompany osteoarthritis. Consider adding a supplement high in antioxidant value to your daily regimen.

Devil’s Claw

This herb has also demonstrated effectiveness for the treatment of OA. In one study examining Devils’ Claw in the treatment of hip and knee OA, the authors noted the effectiveness in reducing pain and improving joint mobility.

Omega-3Omega 3 fish oil

Supplementation with Omega 3 fish oil can decrease the inflammation and reduce the pain associated with OA. In one study, the use of Omega 3 fish oil and glucosamine together markedly showed a decrease in stiffness and pain compared to those who just received glucosamine.

  • A good anti-inflammatory dose is at least 3-4 grams a day to start and slowly increase to a maximum of 7-8 grams.
  • As this supplement can thin the blood, if you are on any blood thinners, you may wish to start at a lower dose and increase upwards.

Morinda citrifolia (Noni)

This is a tropical plant from East Asia that has been used for many years. It has anti-inflammatory properties and can help in the treatment of pain due to osteoarthritis.

  • Noni can come in capsule or juice form. If you take the juice form, consider beginning at 1 oz twice a day and increase slowly to 4-6 oz a day.
  • Some forms of Noni can have a high potassium content so if you have kidney disease you need to be mindful of this.
  • Extremely high doses of this may have an adverse effect on the liver, although this is controversial. The several ounces a day that we mention here is very low dosage of this supplement.

Boswellia extract

This is an herb that has anti-inflammatory properties, especially in the treatment of arthritis. It can help maintain the structural health of the joint cartilage.

Ginger

Ginger may provide significant pain relief for osteoarthritis. Its effects appear to be attributable to inhibition of the pain pathway involving cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase. Effective doses range from 170 mg ginger extract 3 times per day to 250 mg 4 times per day.

Note that there are many formulations that combine many of these important supplements that can reduce pain and inflammation. There are also wonderful bone and mineral formulations that can provide the nutrients to the bones that are so desperately needed in OA.

In addition to proper nutrition and supplementation discussed above, exercise in its different forms provide much benefit to those struggling with osteoarthritis. Furthermore, proper devices, fittings, and adjustments to one’s needs provide a wealth of support and ease.

Exercise

Weight loss and exercise are very beneficial in osteoarthritis. There is a longitudinal association between obesity and osteoarthritis of the knee in men and women, although obesity is a greater risk factor in women. Excess weight puts stress on your knee joints and hips and lower back. For every 10 pounds of weight you lose over 10 years, you can reduce the chance of developing knee osteoarthritis by up to 50%. The goals of an exercise program are to maintain range of motion, muscle strength and general health. For instance, those with osteoarthritis of the knee should be taught quadriceps-strengthening exercises and should be encouraged to perform them every day.

You can further manage how osteoarthritis affects your lifestyle by making small modifications each day. These include the following:

  • Properly position and support your neck and back while sitting or sleeping.
  • Adjust furniture, such as raising a chair or toilet seat.
  • Avoid repeated motions of the joint, especially frequent bending.

Aquatherapy

Participating in a water-based exercise program can be very beneficial if you have OA. Exercising in the water is not only rejuvenating, but as it reduces the wear, tear, and constant pounding on the joints, it is an ideal choice, especially if you are suffering from arthritis or have difficulty walking. If you have a pool at home, just walking in the water for five minutes a day can help improve strength and mobility in your muscles and joints. Going to your local YMCA or YWCA or using the pool at your local gym may be an option. Check to see if there is an aquatic-based exercise program in your area. It is not difficult to develop on your own.

Assistive Devices

Many people with osteoarthritis of the hip and knee are more comfortable wearing shoes with good shock-absorbing properties or orthoses. Others also find the support of assistive devices such as braces or a walking cane helpful as they can help with performing daily activities.

You might want to work with a physical therapist or occupational therapist to learn the best exercises and to choose arthritis assistive devices. An occupational therapist can determine whether the patient needs assistive devices such as a raised toilet seat. In addition, special splints can be designed to stabilize or reduce inflammation of particular joints, such as the first carpometacarpal joint or the base of the thumb.

Bodywork

Other beneficial therapies include spa (hot tub), massage, acupuncture, osteopathic and chiropractic manipulation which can help to relieve pain, improve mobility, and keep your body in alignment. These therapies can help to improve total body flexibility. Remember OA can alter how you move and walk. Perhaps you favor one hip or one knee over the other. Over time this can completely disrupt your back and hip mechanics and cause your body to go out of alignment. These therapies can be invaluable in that regard.

Updated: March 2019


References

  • Bruyere O, Reginster JY. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, and the two in combination for painful knee osteoarthritis. Drugs Aging. 2007;24:573-580.
  • Cledd DO, Reda DJ et al. Glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and the two in combination for painful knee osteoarthritis. New England Journal of Medicine. 2006 Feb 23;354(8):795-808.
  • Debbi AM, Agar G et al. Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane supplementation on osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized controlled study. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2011 Jun 27;11:50.
  • Felson DT, Anderson JJ, Naimark A, Walker AM, Meenan RF. Obesity and knee osteoarthritis. The Framingham Study. Ann Intern Med. 1988;109:18–24.
  • Googs R, Vaughn-Thomas A et al. Nutraceutical therapies for degenerative joint diseases: a critical review. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2005;45(3):145-64.
  • Gruenwald J Petzel E et al. “ Effect of glucosamine sulfate with or without omega-3 fatty acids in patients with osteoarthritis.” Advances in Therapy. 2009 Sep; 26(9): 858-71.
  • Hochber MC, Clegg DO. Potential effects of chondroitin sulfate on joint swelling: a GAIT report. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage. 2008;16 Suppl 3:S22-4.
  • Ishi Y, Noguchi H et al. Distribution of vitamin K2 in subchondral bone in osteoarthritic knee joints. Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology and Arthroscopy: 2012 Oct 16. (Electronic Publication)
  • Jager C, Hrenn M et al. “Phytomedicines prepared from Arnica flowers inhibit the transcription factors AP-1 and NF-kappaB and modulate the activity of MMP1 and MMP13 in human and bovine chondrocytes.” Planta Medica. 2009 Oct;75(12):1319-25.
  • Kim LS, Axelrod LJ et al. Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in osteoarthritis pain of the knee: a pilot clinical trial. Osterarthritis and Cartilage. 2006 Mar;14(3):286-94
  • Laslett LL, Quinn S et al. Moderate vitamin D deficiency is associated with changes in knee and hip pain in older adults: a 5-year longitudinal study. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. 2013 Apr 17. (Electronic Publication)
  • Lequesne M, Mahey C et al. Structural effect of avocado/soybean unsaponifiables on joint space loss in osteoarthritis of the hip. Arthritis and Rheumatism. 2002 Feb;47(1):50-8.
  • Li LC, Lineker S, Cibere J, Crooks VA, Jones CA, Kopec JA, Lear SA, Pencharz J, Rhodes RE, Esdaile JM. Capitalizing on the teachable moment: osteoarthritis physical activity and exercise net for improving physical activity in early knee osteoarthritis. JMIR Res Protoc. 2013 May 9;2(1):e17.
  • Manek N, Lane N. Osteoarthritis: Current Concepts in Diagnosis and Management. Am Fam Physician. 2000 Mar 15;61(6):1795-1804.
  • Maheu C, Cadet C et al. Randomised, controlled trial of avocado-soybean unsaponifiable (Piascledine) effect on structure modification in hip osteoarthritis: the ERADIAS study. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. 2013 Jan 23. (Electronic Publication)
  • Messier SP, Loeser RF, Miller GD, et al. Exercise and dietary weight loss in overweight and obese older adults with knee osteoarthritis: the Arthritis, Diet, and Activity Promotion Trial. Arthritis Rheum. 2004;50:1501-1510.
  • Peregoy J, Wilder FV. The effects of vitamin C supplementation on incident and progressive knee osteoarthritis: a longitudinal study. Public Health Nutrition. 2011 Apr;14(4):709-15.
  • Ross SM. “Osteoarthritis: a proprietary Arnica gel is found to be as effective as ibuprofen gel in osteoarthritis of the hands.” Holistic Nursing Practice. 2008 Jul-Aug;22(4):237-9.
  • Shakibaei M, John T et al. Suppression of NF-kappaB activation by curcumin leads to inhibition of expression of cyclo-oxygenase-2 and matrix metalloproteinase-9 in human articular chondrocytes: Implications for the treatment of osteoarthritis. Biochemical Pharmacology. 2007 May 1;73(9):1434-45.
  • Shehzad A, Ha T et al. New mechanisms and the anti-inflammatory role of curcumin in obesity and obesity-related metabolic diseases. European Journal of Nutrition. 2011 Apr;50(3):151-61.
  • Shen CL, Hong KJ, Kim SW. Effects of ginger (Zingiber officinale Rosc) on decreasing the production of inflammatory mediators in sow osteoarthritic cartilage explants. J Med Food. 2004;6:323-328.
  • Tammareddi K, Morelli V, Reyes M. The Athlete’s Hip and Groin. Prim Care. 2013 Jun;40(2):313-33.
  • Wegener T, Lupke NP. Treatment of patients with arthrosis of hip or knee with an aqueous extract of devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens DC.). Phytotherapy Research. 2003 Dec;17(10):1165-72.

Categories
Condition

Sinusitis Natural Treatments

Written by Sandy Cho, MD

Sinusitis is inflammation, or swelling, of the tissue lining the sinuses. When sinuses become blocked and filled with mucus, organisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi can grow and cause infection.

There are two different types of sinusitis – acute and chronic sinusitis.

There are several self-care sinusitis natural treatments such as herbal medicine, supplements, and chiropractic care.

Overview

What is Sinusitis?

Sinusitis (rhinosinusitis) is inflammation, or swelling, of the tissue lining the sinuses. In a homeostatic state, sinuses are filled with air. However, when sinuses become blocked and filled with mucus, organisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi can grow and cause infection.

Different types of sinusitis exist, including:

  • Acute sinusitis: A sudden onset of cold-like symptoms such as runny nose, nasal congestion, and facial pain that does not go away after 10 to 14 days. Acute sinusitis typically lasts 4 weeks or less.
  • Chronic sinusitis: A condition characterized by symptoms of sinus inflammation that last 8 weeks or longer.

Common causes of sinusitis:

  • Common cold
  • Allergic rhinitis (swelling of the lining of the nose)
  • Regular exposure to pollutants such as cigarette smoke
  • Nasal polyps (small growths in the lining of the nose)
  • Deviated septum (shift in the nasal cavity that may restrict or block the passages of the sinus)
  • Tooth infection

What are the Signs and Symptoms?

Symptoms of sinusitis include:

  • Facial pain/pressure: Pain, tenderness, swelling and pressure around your eyes, cheeks, nose or forehead
  • Congestion/cough
  • Nasal congestion
  • Thick, green, or yellow nasal discharge/postnasal drainage
  • Reduced sense of smell and taste
  • Fever
  • Pain in jaw/teeth

What are conventional treatments?

Treatment for sinusitis depends on the severity and/or cause. If you have a simple sinus infection, your health care provider may recommend treatment with decongestants. Use of nonprescription decongestant nasal drops or sprays (some may contain steroid) may also be recommended. These medications are generally taken for only a few days at most. Otherwise, they can cause the return of more severe congestion (rebound congestion).

If you suffer from severe chronic sinusitis, oral steroids might be prescribed to reduce inflammation, usually only when other medications have not worked.

Antibiotics will be prescribed for any bacterial infection found in the sinuses (antibiotics are not effective against a viral infection). An antihistamine may be recommended for the treatment of allergies. Antifungal medicine may be prescribed for a fungal sinus infection. Immunoglobulin (antibodies) may be given if you have certain immune deficiencies.

If antibiotics and other medicines are not effective in opening the sinus, surgery may be necessary. Also, if there is a structural abnormality of the sinus such as nasal polyps, which can obstruct sinus drainage, surgery may be needed.

Self-Care Natural Treatments

Most cases of acute sinusitis are caused by viruses that also cause the common cold. Thereby, self-care techniques are usually effective in speeding recovery and easing symptoms.

  • Warm moist air may alleviate sinus congestion. Use a humidifier as adding moisture to the air may help prevent sinusitis. Be sure the humidifier stays clean and free of mold with regular, thorough cleaning.
  • Apply warm compresses to your face by placing warm, damp towels around your nose, cheeks, and eyes.
  • Saline nose drops or saline nasal sprays can be helpful.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids such as water will help dilute mucus secretions and promote drainage. Avoid beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol, as they can dehydrate you. Alcohol can also worsen swelling of the sinuses.
  • If you smoke, refraining from doing so is highly recommended.
  • Sleeping with your head elevated will help sinus drainage, reducing congestion.

Nasal Irrigation: Nasal irrigation is a simple, inexpensive treatment that is well-tolerated, effective, and could help minimize antibiotic use and subsequent microbial resistance. Nasal irrigation with a hypertonic solution facilitates the removal of mucoid secretions. Irrigation with a 5% saline solution produces better mucociliary clearance than with either 3 or 0.9% solutions. Irrigation with a 5% saline solution 1 to 3 times a day has been suggested to relieve a variety of sinus and nasal symptoms. It also results in reductions in nasal histamine concentrations for up to six hours after administration.

Supplements

Ascorbic Acid, also known as Vitamin C, lowers histamine levels in the blood. In a clinical trial, subjects received either ascorbic acid solution or placebo sprayed into the nose three times a day. After two weeks, the majority of subjects treated with ascorbic acid solution had a decrease in nasal secretions, blockage, and edema, compared to the controls (74% vs 24%, respectively).

Bromelain is a proteolytic enzyme complex from pineapple, it has commonly been used in sinusitis as an anti-inflammatory and mucolytic agent. A clinical study found children with acute sinusitis demonstrated faster symptom recovery with bromelain compared with standard treatment. Oral dosage is typically 500-1,000 mg/day.

Herbs

An array of different herbs can help improve immunity and reduce the symptoms of sinusitis.

  • Goldenseal can strengthen the immune system and in fact, relieve symptoms of sinusitis. It can be taken in capsule formor a tincture of it can be diluted with warm water and used as a nasal rinse.
  • Chamomile, ginger, or peppermint: teas made from any of these herbs can clear mucus from the sinuses and provide relief.

Chiropractic Care

The various treatments of chiropractic medicine can help people with sinusitis, improving their breathing, their postnasal drainage, their sense of smell, and ability to sleep. Manipulative therapy which consists of adjusting joints to their proper alignment allows the body to return to proper functioning and therefore, to heal. Moreover, a specific nasal technique which involves inserting small balloon-like tools into the nasal cavity and gently inflating them can expand the openings of the sinus.

Nutrition

The focus of diet in sinusitis is avoiding certain foods that can exacerbate the symptoms of sinusitis. It has been suggested that dairy, wheat, and corn promote a globular than planar mucus, disable sinus drainage, and promote antigen exposure, all of which make sinusitis worse. Therefore, avoid these food products.

Updated: October 2013


  • Braun JM, Schneider B, Beuth HJ. Therapeutic use, efficiency and safety of the proteolytic pineapple enzyme Bromelain-POS in children with acute sinusitis in Germany. In Vivo. 2005;19:417-421.
  • Helms S, Miller A. Natural Treatment of Chronic Rhinosinusitis. Alternative Medicine Review. 2006;11(3):196-207.
  • Homer JJ, Dowley AC, Condon L, et al. The effect of hypertonicity on nasal mucociliary clearance. Clin Otolaryngol Allied Sci. 2000;25:558-560.
  • Krouse HJ, Krouse JH. Complementary therapeutic practices in patients with chronic sinusitis. Clin Excell Nurse Pract. 1999;3(6):346-352.
  • Podoshin L, Gertner R, Fradis M. Treatment of perennial allergic rhinitis with ascorbic acid solution. Ear Nose Throat J. 1991;70:54-55.
Categories
Condition

Insomnia Natural Treatments

Reviewed & edited by Dr. Jeffrey C. Lederman, DO, MPH and Julie A. Cerrato, PhD, AP, CYT, CAP

Insomnia is medically defined as the inability to obtain the proper rest needed for adequate functioning throughout the day[1]. Insomnia may often present as a symptom of an underlying medical condition, be traced back to lifestyle habits, mental or emotional disturbances, or linked to a disruption in the body’s circadian rhythm — the natural 24-hour clock that has been observed in humans, plants, animals, and cyanobacteria.

The following provides information on insomnia natural treatments.

Overview

Insomnia is experienced differently by those suffering from the condition, but it is marked by the inability to feel sufficiently rested, regardless of the amount of sleep acquired during the night. In some individuals, insomnia and its symptoms follow a night of restless tossing and turning but for others, insomnia sets in despite six or seven hours of sleep.

Unfortunately, insomnia can affect individuals at any age. It is estimated that 30%-50% of the population is affected by insomnia at some point in their lives, and 10% suffers from chronic insomnia.[2]

There are many medical conditions that can cause insomnia like Sleep Apnea and Restless Leg Syndrome.  These diagnoses often go undiagnosed for many years and a discussion initially with someone who can monitor your sleep may lead to a discussion with a medical clinician for further testing.

sleep deprivedHow Insomnia Feels

Common symptoms of insomnia include difficulty in falling or remaining asleep throughout the night, feelings of exhaustion throughout the day, an inability to focus, feelings of anxiety or of being “on edge,” intestinal distress, tension headaches, and dizziness.

Prolonged insomnia can lead to inner ear disturbances such as tinnitus, or persistent migraines. Long-term insomnia is also linked with an increased risk for heart disease, certain types of cancer, and automobile related accidents. Moreover, insomnia can be both a symptom and a sign of an underlying medical condition.

How Insomnia is Conventionally Treated

Treatment for insomnia may be sought through a psychologist, physician, counselor, or social worker. Because of insomnia’s complex nature, treatment will vary from individual to individual. Conventional treatment often suggested by physicians includes the use of prescription drugs. Some commonly prescribed drugs used to treat insomnia include Ambien (zolpidem), Lunesta (eszopicilone), Rozerem (ramelteon), Sonata (zaleplon), and Silenor (doxepin).

However, prescription pills, along with over-the-counter sleep aids, should not be taken unless a doctor is consulted and a full seven to eight hours of sleep is possible or individuals may potentially experience morning grogginess and other side effects. Many of the conventional sleeping medications may only be prescribed temporarily, as they can be habit forming.

Struggling with insomnia is extremely difficult and the frustration, anxiety, and feelings of helplessness that insomnia brings can push even the strongest personality to their breaking point. The good news for insomnia sufferers is that there is hope beyond temporary medication. There are many holistic therapies available for treating insomnia that can help improve your health and well-being.

Holistic Healing for Insomnia Sufferers

A holistic approach to treating insomnia focuses on the individual and not just the symptoms. Holistic therapies address the mind, body, and emotions. This multi-prong approach is effective for treating insomnia because insomnia’s root can often be traced back to emotional disturbances, stress, and/or depression. By treating the whole person and not just the symptoms of sleep deprivation, holistic and natural therapies provide a comprehensive approach for handling insomnia and renewing a natural sleep cycle. Some of these holistic therapies include Behavioral Therapy, Relaxation Techniques, Acupuncture and Acupressure, Yoga and Meditation, and Biofeedback.

cbt-diagramBehavioral Therapy

One of the most effective behavioral therapies for insomnia is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, otherwise known as CBT-I, addresses sleep habits, scheduling patterns, and thoughts and emotions that may be keeping you from much needed restorative rest. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy works through several techniques in which a CBT-I clinician will document sleep assessments, have the individual record a sleep journal to track sleep patterns and habits, and provide information on techniques like Sleep Restriction Therapy, Stimulus Control, and Sleep Hygiene. Each of these techniques are designed to help reprogram the brain and negative sleep patterns that have developed over time. One of the major benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the self-empowerment it provides, especially when it comes to relapse prevention. While CBT-I will take time and effort, rewards include gaining valuable knowledge and key practices that can help combat against recurring insomnia.

  • Sleep Restriction Therapy is a controversial step of CBT-I, since it initially involves the restriction of sleep. Although it is counterintuitive, it is a significant and effective component of CBT-I. It involves controlling time in bed based upon the person’s sleep efficiency in order to restore the homeostatic drive to sleep.[5]
  • Stimulus Control aims to associate the bed with sleeping and limit its association with stimulating behavior. People with insomnia are instructed to go to bed only when they are tired, limit activities in bed to sleep and sex, get out of bed at the same time every morning, get up and move to another room when sleep-onset does not occur within ten minutes.[6]
  • Sleep Hygiene  aims to control the environment and behaviors that precede sleep. Go to the Holistic Lifestyles section for more on Sleep Hygiene.

Relaxation Techniques

Individuals suffering from insomnia often have an impaired ability to relax. The mind races, the body is restless, the breath is irregular, and a continual series of mental and physical irritations prevents the onset of sleep. Relaxation techniques specifically designed to soothe tight muscles, increase regular respiration and clear the mind are particularly useful to stave off insomnia. Common relaxation techniques include deep abdominal breathing, meditation, and exercises that will relax each muscle group before bed and during the night.

  • An effective breathing technique is the square breath. Sitting or laying down in a comfortable position, inhale for three breaths, hold the breath for a count of three and exhale to a count of three. Repeat this square for 3-5 cycles. Other breathing exercises stem from Yogic Pranayama and can be learned from a Yoga practitioner.
  • Visual meditation techniques include closing the eyes, thinking of a peaceful object or scene, visualizing its detail and taking calming breaths for 3-5min. Guided meditation with audio tapes or an instructor, are also highly effective for insomnia.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation techniques help an individual to relax each muscle group before sleep. To begin, tense a single muscle group (i.e. hands) for 5 seconds. After 5 seconds, release the tension in that muscle group, allow the muscles to go limp, and exhale. Hold this relaxed pose for 15 seconds and then proceed on to the next major muscle group.

Acupuncture_Female-foreheadAcupuncture & Acupressure

Founded on the concept of removing blockages in mental, physical, and emotional life force and energy, acupuncture is the science and art of restoring the balance of natural energy to the body. Developed within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this form of therapy has proven useful in alleviating numerous conditions and disorders. Similarly, acupressure promotes physical, mental and emotional healing. As insomnia oftentimes reflects a disturbance to the body’s natural sleep cycle called the circadian rhythm, acupuncture and acupressure are highly effective forms of treatment to restore sleep.

  • Acupuncture
    The ancient Chinese practice of acupuncture uses very thin needles inserted into specific reflex points of the body to stimulate nerves, muscles, and connective tissues associated with a host of disorders. In regards to insomnia treatment, acupuncture triggers a sequence of messages to the brain that subsequently increase amounts of certain chemicals (like serotonin) that play a central role in sleep promotion and relaxation.The flow of energy in the body is often blocked at certain points along energetic channels called meridians. Acupuncture stimulates points along these channels to remove the blockages and allow for muscle relaxation, enhanced respiration, pain relief and the onset of sleep.
  • AcupressureAcupressure
    A needle-free variation of acupuncture called acupressure can also be used to treat insomnia. Acupressure targets the same reflex points on the body as acupuncture, but delivers treatment via finger pressure rather than penetrating the skin with needles. It is believed that acupuncture and acupressure work to adjust the body’s natural circadian rhythm, making it a gentle and ideal form of treatment for all ages, including the elderly. Commonly used pressure points to aid in relaxation and induce sleep can be found at the base of the neck, along the shoulder blades, between the eyebrows, and directly below both sides of the ankle bone.

Yoga+MeditationRestorative Yoga & Meditation

The mind-body practices of Restorative Yoga and Meditation work hand-in-hand with holistic therapies like Biofeedback and relaxation techniques.

  • Yoga
    Yoga works to renew the body’s natural flow of energy while also conditioning the body to create fresh energy through various postures. Practicing yoga also trains the mind to focus on present moment awareness, similar to a key aspect of relaxation techniques that aid in the treatment of insomnia. Adopting a daily practice of at least 20 minutes of yoga can help restore circadian rhythm and promote relaxation and sleep acquisition.
  • Meditation
    A regular meditation practice is wonderful for self-healing and particularly useful in the treatment of insomnia and its related issues. Meditation works by stilling the thoughts in the mind through the practice of several techniques such as focusing on breathing, chanting, and practicing detachment from outside influences while sitting in a relaxed comfortable position for a period of time. The ability to enhance sensations of peace and calm within the mind is one of the forefront benefits of meditation. Reduced levels of stress and a greater flow of energy are additional meditation benefits that work at combating insomnia.

biofeedbackBiofeedback

Biofeedback is a non-invasive way to monitor your body’s relaxation levels and in turn, mentally manipulate your heart rate, blood pressure, and other physiological responses. Utilizing biofeedback as a holistic treatment of insomnia subscribes to the belief of “mind over matter.” In a typical biofeedback session, sensors are attached to the patient to record the presence of muscle tension, heart rate, breathing rate, and hand temperature. The visual, and sometimes audio, recording of the fluctuating physiological responses helps the patient to recognize and become familiar with their stress and subsequently practice relaxation techniques to alter their responses accordingly.

In a Biofeedback session, a patient may notice sweaty palms, increased heart rate, and faster breathing when asked to recall an unpleasant situation. In doing so, the patient will witness the rise and fall of stress levels in their systems by releasing their muscles and taking slow, deep breaths while watching the monitor. This mental recognition allows the insomnia sufferer to have greater control over their bodily stress responses, empowers the patient, and teaches them relaxation practices to employ as they seek sleep in the comfort of their own bedtime routine.

Holistic Lifestyle Changes

Holistic lifestyle changes are extremely powerful when taking action to relieve insomnia. By following sleep hygiene practices, creating and adhering to a routine daily schedule, and employing tried-and-true holistic therapies such as aromatherapy and blue light therapy, the active education of sleep is possible without the aid of medication.

  • bedroomSleep Hygiene

    Sleep hygiene, one of the main components taught under Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, can be adopted independently of Behavioral Therapy to provide simple, effective methods to reduce sleep disturbances and promote sound sleep.

Common aspects of sleep hygiene include:

  • Only using your bedroom space for sleep and sexual activity.
  • Avoid reading, watching television, or eating in your bedroom
  • Avoiding naps during daytime hours
  • Adjusting the light and sound of your bedroom to be more conducive to sleep
  • Adding 20 minutes of exercise to your daily routine
  • Avoiding tobacco, caffeine, and alcohol in the evenings
  • Avoiding a heavy meal before bedtime. It is best to finish dinner a few hours before sleep and to avoid foods that would cause indigestion.
  • Creating a bedtime routine that induces relaxation. A hot bath, a cup of warm milk, or twenty minutes of meditation are all ideal relaxation techniques to establish as a pre-bedtime routine.
  • Routine Behaviorclock

    Another lifestyle modification to try includes creating and sticking to a regular routine. By establishing a set bedtime and a set wake up time, the body is able to synchronize with its natural circadian rhythm. It is vital to maintain this regular routine throughout the weekends as well as during the workweek, and be patient while the body and mind work to discover an optimal bedtime and wake time. Once a regular routine is set, it will be possible to make changes as need be by slowly adjusting the time schedule over the course of 15-minute increments.While attempting to set the bed/wake time may be initially difficult remembering to always wake up at the same time is critical.  There may be nights initially that one may have little or no sleep.  Eventually, one will get tired earlier so that the bedtime will come earlier.

  • Environmental Stimuli Inhibition

    For some, insomnia follows an inability to block out noise or light from their surroundings. Eye masks, earplugs, and white noise machines all work wonders in eliminating sound and light distractions that may be keeping an individual awake. If suffering from sleep apnea and insomnia, a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) Machine may greatly ease symptoms and allow normal respiration while sleeping. The main focus of environmental stimuli inhibition is to create a quiet, peaceful, and dark bedroom atmosphere that will be conducive to a full night’s rest. For more tips on how to create a sleep promoting environment, visit Sleepfoundation.org

  • aromatherapyAromatherapy

    Aromatherapy, or the use of essential oils, has a long-standing history as aiding in sleep therapy. Essential oils such as lavender, ylang-ylang, patchouli, valerian, and naroli are all renowned for their ability to ease tension and induce relaxation. The healing properties of essential oil rapidly interact with body systems connected to emotion, nervous system, body temperature, and appetite. You can apply a few drops of the essential oil to your pillowcase, add the oils to a diffuser in your bedroom, or combine a few drops into a warm bath before bedtime.

Holistic Diet & Nutrition

In addition to making schedule changes and practicing sleep hygiene techniques, there are also several diet and nutrition modifications that can be made to promote better sleep. There are a host of wholesome foods that contain melatonin, a naturally occurring chemical that has been found to help induce sleep. Alternatively, there are also caffeinated foods and beverages that should be avoided as when seeking to improve insomnia

green teaEliminate Sources of Caffeine

  • An important dietary change that can help combat insomnia is to eliminate sources of caffeine that prevent the body from resting peacefully. Green tea offers an alternative option to coffee. While green tea still contains some caffeine, it has L-Theanine that modulates caffeine metabolism so the tea is less stimulating to your nervous system than coffee but equally comforting[3]. If coffee is a must, be sure that it is only consumed in the morning, or at least a full eight hours before bedtime. Other sources of caffeine to avoid after lunchtime include soft drinks, chocolate, and tea.

Nutritious Sleep

The addition of certain foods to your diet can help induce or sustain much needed sleep for proper daily functioning.

  • Tart Cherry Juice

    One of the most delicious dietary additions is the consumption of tart cherry juice to induce sleep. Recent studies have shown that tart cherry juice has an effective impact on aiding insomnia sufferers to sleep[4]. The science behind tart cherry juice’s effectiveness on sleep acquisition is related to its high levels of melatonin.According to Dr. Apovian, author of The Overnight Diet and Director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at Boston University School of Medicine, “Antioxidant-rich tart cherries are one of the world’s best sources of melatonin. Tart cherry juice concentrate, available in health food stores or online, has been shown to reduce insomnia and improve the quality and duration of sleep. Remember that it is a liquid concentrate; it must be diluted before using it.”

  • Melatonin

    Melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone that is released into our bloodstreams at night, can be an effective sleep aid when taken orally. In addition to foods like tart cherry juice and walnuts, you can purchase over-the-counter melatonin supplements as a sleep aid. As always, be sure to consult your physician before taking any supplements to clear any potential drug interactions.

  • Valerian Root

    Another dietary supplement that can help to promote sleep is valerian root. It has sedative properties and promotes a sense of calm and well-being. Valerian root has been used throughout centuries to aid in relaxation and is a common ingredient in conventional holistic sleep aids. As always, consult with your physician before taking this and any other sleep supplements as some drug interactions are possible.

  • Tryptophan Foods

    Another nutritious, delicious way to prevent insomnia is to include foods that contain tryptophan at dinner time. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that does not naturally occur in our systems. When ingested through food sources that contain this amino acid, tryptophan works in the body to produce niacin and serotonin. Both niacin and serotonin aid in the regulation of sleep cycles. Common sources of tryptophan include cheese, chicken, turkey, fish, nuts, milk, soy, and tofu.

Products & Equipment

  • Aromatherapy

    Numerous aromatherapy products and equipment are available to aid in the treatment of insomnia. For aromatherapy, an essential oil diffuser is a commonly used method. Diffusers come in different forms; some are candle-lit and others are electric. As the diffuser is activated and heats up, the water will steam and release the essential oil into the air. You will want to breath deeply and slowly to take in the essential oil molecules that are released through the diffuser. If you prefer a simpler approach to aromatherapy, there are many candles and oils you can incorporate into your bedroom.

  • sleep eye maskEnvironmental Stimuli Inhibition

    As mentioned earlier, there are many innovative products on the market today that work to create a more conducive sleeping environment in your bedroom. Eye masks, ear plugs and sound machines can all assist in promoting a serene sleeping environment and rest. Additionally, sound reducing machines, air purifiers, and NightWave Sleep Assistant may offer protection against environmental stimuli. The NightWave Sleep Assistant incorporates light effect with deep breathing exercises to deliver powerful sleep assistance.

Community Resources

Living with insomnia does not have to become a lifetime of insomnia. From aromatherapy to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to adjustments in diet, schedule, and mindset, an array of treatment options exist that can bring relief and rest. Insomnia sufferers can take heart in the knowledge that there are many actions to take today for a good night’s rest tomorrow. If insomnia persists, there are numerous resources available for treatment including therapists, holistic providers and sleep centers.

  • Sleep therapists are trained medical professionals who utilize Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in the treatment of insomnia. They include psychologist and psychiatrists who are highly trained to uncover the root cause or causes behind a case of insomnia.
  • There are also many holistic health providers trained in various forms of holistic therapies that treat insomnia. They include acupuncturists, Ayurvedic practitioners, massage therapists, and meditation or yoga instructors.

National Sleep Centers

Community resources and social support provide a much-needed avenue of encouragement for insomnia sufferers Sleep centers are available nationwide to conduct a host of assessments and sleep studies and enable insomnia sufferers to better understand their natural sleep rhythms and potential insomnia triggers. Led by specialists and physicians, a local sleep center will be able to provide a deeper understanding of the insomnia‘s root cause, provide a care plan, and oversee the recommended course of treatment. A list of national sleep centers can be found at Sleepfoundation.org.

Updated: March 2014


Written by Kristin Accorsi
Reviewed & edited by Julie Cerrato

  • 1. medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Insomnia
  • 2. emedicinehealth.com/insomnia/article_em.htm
  • 3. lef.org/magazine/mag2006/jan2006_report_theanine_02.htm
  • 4. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3133468/
  • 5.  Spielman, AJ; Saskin, P; Thorpy, MJ (1987). “Treatment of chronic insomnia by restriction of time in bed”. Sleep 10 (1): 45–56. PMID 3563247
  • 6. Morin, CM; Bootzin, RR; Buysse, DJ; Edinger, JD; Espie, CA; Lichstein, KL (2006). “Psychological and behavioral treatment of insomnia:update of the recent evidence (1998-2004)”. Sleep 29 (11): 1398–414. PMID 17162986
  • sleepmanagement.md/SleepDisorders/Insomnia.aspx
  • helpguide.org/life/insomnia_treatment.htm
  • nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/news-articles/002332.htm
  • mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/valerian/faq-20057875

Categories
Condition

Ankylosing Spondylitis Natural Treatments

Written by Dr. Rich Snyder

Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory disease that affects the joints (called the sacroiliac joints) in the lower back in between the spine and pelvis.

It is an inflammatory arthritis that particularly affects younger people, predominantly males, between the ages of 20 and 40.

Therapies can include a change in diet, adding supplements and exercise. The following provides information on ankylosing spondylitis natural treatments.

Overview

What is ankylosing spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory disease that affects the joints (called the sacroiliac joints) in the lower back in between the spine and pelvis. These joints over time often become swollen and inflamed. One potential complication of this condition is that the spinal bones can fuse together.

How do I know if I may have ankylosing spondylitis?

This is a form of inflammatory arthritis that particularly affects younger people, predominantly males, between the ages of 20 and 40. Common symptoms include worsening lower back pain in the absence of trauma; others include stiffness, and decreased ability to bend forwards.

  • In the early course of the disease, the pain can be intermittent and comes and goes. The pain can often be intense enough to awaken someone from sleep.  Physical activity and exercise can often help alleviate the pain.
  • As this condition progresses, it can involve all or part of the spine. You may notice severely limited movement in the lower spine.
  • If ankylosing spondylitis affects the mid-back (or the thoracic spine), you may not be able to fully expand your chest because the joints between the ribs are involved.

Are there any other health conditions associated with ankylosing spondylitis?

In addition to the spine, other organs of the body that can be affected by ankylosing spondylitis include the eyes, aorta, and the lungs. Remember that because this is an inflammatory condition, body areas other than just the spine can be involved.

How is this condition diagnosed?

In a young person, low back pain is often a self-limiting condition that gets better with conservative measures. In someone whose back pain still persists with some of the symptoms described above, it can and should be a red flag that further evaluation is needed.

  • There are some physical examination tests that your healthcare provider can do that can strongly suggest this condition is present. One of them is called the Schober’s test which is a measure of how well you can bend forward. Remember that with ankylosing spondylitis, movement, especially bending forwards can be extremely limited.
  • Imaging studies can be strongly suggestive of this condition. Your healthcare provider may discuss with you obtaining an X-ray of your lower back and pelvis. An MRI can also be done as a more specialized confirmatory imaging test.
  • There is a special kind of blood test called HLA-B27; this test is often positive in someone with ankylosing spondylitis.
  • This condition can often be dismissed by healthcare providers in the early stages because the symptoms are often intermittent. You know your own body better than anyone else. It is important to find a practitioner who will listen to you.

What are some common medications used in the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis?

Many of the medications commonly prescribed in the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis work by suppressing the immune system.  They are often prescribed by a rheumatologist, who is a medical specialist trained in the evaluation and management of inflammatory conditions. Examples include:

Methotrexate: This medication is often given once a week and the dose is increased slowly.

  • If you are on this medication, your healthcare provider will need to monitor your blood count, liver function and kidney function through routine blood work as these processes can be affected by this medication.
  • Because this medication can disrupt folate metabolism, folic acid usually needs to be supplemented.

There is a class of agents called biologic agents. One example is adalimumab (Humira). This medication inhibits a potent pro-inflammatory protein called Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF). This is an injection that strongly suppresses the immune system.

  • This medication can increase your risk of getting cancer; in addition, it can also increase the risk of developing autoantibodies and the risk of acquiring other immune related syndromes.
  • If you are ill or have an infection, this medication should be held because it can interfere with your body’s ability to fight off the infection.
  • This medication and other medications that suppress your immune system increase the risk of developing infections.

Nutrition

Your intestine is the one of the main keys to fighting and reducing total body inflammation. Forming a solid nutritional plan is vital: one of the best nutritional plans for fighting inflammation is the anti-inflammatory diet.

Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Foods can be a source of inflammation, especially for people with food sensitivities. Because the etiology of ankylosing spondylitis is not known, you want your nutrition plan to be as inflammatory free as possible. This is a diet similar to other diets, including the DASH diet and Mediterranean diet in that it has a focus on fruits and vegetables which in general are non-inflammatory.

  • One of the main differences in this diet is that you are looking to eliminate foods that may potentially be the cause of food sensitivities, or foods that have the ability to stimulate inflammatory responses. One of the most common examples of this is gluten in celiac disease. On an anti-inflammatory diet, all possible sources of food sensitivities are eliminated and then reintroduced one at a time.
  • Another way is to have your blood tested for food sensitivities.
  • Be aware that different foods, even among fruits and vegetables, can have different degrees of inflammation. There is a great site at www.nutritiondata.com that has an  Inflammatory index that can tell you about the inflammatory power of the foods that you are eating. You want to focus on foods that have a high anti-inflammatory index.

Other Nutritional Recommendations:

  • Stay away from sugar: sugar can be a potent source of inflammation. Eliminate this from your diet, and you can see a change in how you feel as well. Remember that Candida can also promote Candida overgrowth in the intestine which can also promote inflammation as well via the production of  mycotoxins.
  • Juicing in the morning is a great way to start the morning and get a great anti-oxidant kick to start your day.

 Supplements

Many of the supplements below help normalize immune function and bowel flora as well as reduce inflammation and pain.

Probiotics: These should be a mainstay in any inflammatory condition. They can normalize the bowel flora and replace the bad bacteria with good intestinal microflora. Studies specific to their benefits in ankylosing spondylitis have been mixed, but they do have an effect on immune system modulation and are often included in any anti-inflammatory regimen.

Fish Oil

Omega 3 fish oil

A Western diet is high in Omega 6 and is pro-inflammatory. Changing your diet to reduce Omega 6 (which can be done with an anti-inflammatory diet) and supplementing with Omega 3 fish can help reduce inflammation and pain. In one study from 2006, the use of Omega 3 fish oil markedly showed a decrease in disease activity in patients with ankylosing spondylitis.

  • A good anti-inflammatory dose begins at least 3-4 grams a day to start and slowly increased to a maximum of 7-8 grams.
  • As this supplement can thin the blood, if you are on any blood thinners, you may wish to start at a lower dose and increase the dose slowly.

Wobenzyme N

This is an enzyme supplement that is used in the treatment of inflammation and pain. Enzymes in this supplement include bromelain (from pineapple) and papain (from papaya).

  • If you have allergies to pineapples or papaya do not take this supplement.
  • It is best taken on an empty stomach; be aware that you may need to take 6-12 tablets a day for an inflammatory response.

Turmeric

Turmeric

It is a great anti-oxidant that can reduce inflammation and pain. It can be taken as a 400 mg capsule daily or as a powder that can be sprinkled on each meal.

  • In one study, Turmeric was as effective as an analgesic in controlling post-operative pain.

Tart cherry extract

Specifically Montmorency tart cherry extract is excellent for decreasing pain and inflammation.

  • It comes in tablet or liquid form. Many prefer the liquid form and good maintenance dose is 1 ounce twice a day of the liquid formulation.

Anti-inflammatory formulations

There are some good, natural pain formulations that contain many potent herbs that are great for reducing pain and inflammation in one capsule. Examples include curcumin (the main ingredient in Turmeric), Boswellia extract and Devils claw. Examples of these formulations include Arthrocin and Zyflamend.

Magnesium

Magnesium deficiency can promote inflammation and pain. For sore muscle and/or joints, the use of Magnesium gel or oil applied directly to the area can promote healing and reduce inflammation and increase joint and muscle mobility and flexibility.

Morinda citrifolia (Noni)

This is a tropical plant from East Asia that has been used for many years. It has anti-inflammatory properties and can help in the treatment of pain.

  • Noni can come in capsule or juice form. If you take the juice form, begin at 1 ounce twice a day and increase slowly to 4-6 oz a day.
  • Some forms of Noni can have a high potassium content, so if you have kidney disease you need to be mindful of this.
  • Extremely high doses of this may have an adverse effect on the liver, although this is controversial. The several ounces a day that we mention here is very low dosage of this supplement.

Exercise

While physical activity and exercise can help in the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis, it does not mean that you will be able to tolerate any and all exercise regimens. Activities such as swimming and aqua-therapy, where there is not as much direct pressure placed on the back are preferred over running or jogging.Yoga for ankylosing spondylitis

  • Yoga: Yoga is a great way to increase back flexibility as well as decrease pain in ankylosing spondylitis. It is important to start slowly and work with a certified instructor to learn the right way to do each exercise. Yoga is especially effective if started in the early stages of this condition.
  • In addition to the exercise regimen mentioned above, if you have ankylosing spondylitis you should also consider seeing someone who is holistically trained in trying to help you regain more function and flexibility in your lower back. This can include seeing a structural integration specialist, chiropractor, and/or a specialist in osteopathic manipulation.
  • Agarwal KA, Tripathi CD et al. “Efficacy of turmeric (curcumin) in pain and postoperative fatigue after laparoscopic cholecystectomy: a double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled study.” Surgical Endoscopy. 2011 Dec;25(12):3805-10.
  • Basar S, Uhlenhut K et al. “Analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity of Morinda citrifolia L. (Noni) fruit.” Phytotherapy Research. Jan;24(1):38-42Edavalath M. “Ankylosing Spondylitis.” Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. 2010 Jul;1(3):211-4.
  • Hemarajata P, Versalovic J. “Effects of probiotics on gut microbiota: mechanisms of intestinal immunomodulation and neuromodulation.” Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology. 2013 Jan;6(1):39-51.
  • Kuehl KS. “Cherry juice targets antioxidant potential and pain relief.” Medicine and Sports Science..Medicine and Sports Science. 2012;59:86-93.
  • Smith JP, Bingaman SI et al. “Therapy with the opioid antagonist naltrexone promotes mucosal healing in active Crohn’s disease: a randomized placebo-controlled trial.” 2011 Jul;56(7):2088-97.
  • Sundstrom B, StalnackeK et al. “Supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids in patients with ankylosing spondylitis.” Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology. 2006 Sep-Oct;35(5):359-62.
  • Younger J, Noor N et al. “Low-dose naltrexone for the treatment of fibromyalgia: findings of a small, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, counterbalanced, crossover trial assessing daily pain levels.” Arthritis and Rheumatism. 2013 Feb;65(2):529-38
  • Youssef AA, Al-Deeb AE. “A double-blinded randomized controlled study of the value of sequential intravenous and oral magnesium therapy in patients with chronic low back pain with a neuropathic component.” Anesthesia. 2013 Mar;68(3):260-6.

Updated: May 2013

Categories
Condition

High Cholesterol Natural Treatments

Written by Dr. Rich Snyder

Cholesterol is a fatty material made by the liver. It is essential for human life. However, cholesterol levels that are very high or cholesterol that is “inflammatory” increases your risk of heart and vascular disease.

High cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease through the formation of a cholesterol plaque over time.

The treatment of high cholesterol includes modifying your diet to a more plant-based one as well as increasing your fiber intake, incorporating supplements that normalize your cholesterol levels and reducing inflammation.

The following provides information on high cholesterol natural treatments.

Overview

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fatty material made by the liver. It is one of the basic building blocks of the cells in your body. It is a vital component of the cell membrane that helps protect the cell and maintain its integrity and viability. Cholesterol is also important for the production of certain vitamins, such as Vitamins A, D, E, K (called fat–soluble vitamins). It is also needed for hormone production; this includes cortisol and sex-related hormones. We not only produce cholesterol in our bodies, but we also obtain it from the foods that we eat.

Why or when is cholesterol bad?

Cholesterol, in and of itself, is not bad. It is in fact essential for human life. However, cholesterol levels that are very high or cholesterol that is “inflammatory” increases your risk of heart and vascular disease. High cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease through the formation of a cholesterol plaque over time as pictured above.

Are there different ways of looking at cholesterol?

When taking a holistic view of cholesterol, there are three different aspects that need to be considered:

  • Recognizing the different types of cholesterol
  • Understanding the nature of the cholesterol molecule itself: is the molecule small and dense (increased inflammation risk) or light and fluffy (negligible inflammation risk)
  • Recognizing that cholesterol can exist in an oxidized state or a natural/reduced state
  • It is important that you and your healthcare provider review all of these factors when looking at your cholesterol levels.

What are the different types of cholesterol?

  • The HDL, or High Density Lipoprotein, is called the “good cholesterol.” In general, the higher the HDL levels, the better.
  • LDL, or Low Density Lipoprotein, is considered to be the “bad cholesterol.” In general, it is thought that the lower the LDL levels, the better in terms of reducing the risk of heart disease.
  • Triglycerides are another form of fat that is in the bloodstream. Very high levels, which can be seen with diabetes and alcohol abuse, are a risk factor for heart disease.
  • VLDL, or Very Low Density Lipoprotein, is a form of cholesterol that is also helpful in determining your heart risk. In general, the higher this number, the higher your risk of heart disease.

What do you mean by the nature of the cholesterol molecule and inflammation?

A number does not tell the whole story when it comes to cholesterol levels and determining their risk for heart and vascular disease. If you look at LDL, for example, there can be small dense particles which are thought to be more of a risk for the formation of a plaque or atherosclerosis in comparison to the larger fluffy and light particles which are non-inflammatory.

Inflammation also refers to whether the cholesterol is in a natural or “reduced” state or “oxidized” or inflammatory state. Be aware that all of the cells in our body exist in a natural or reduced state. In the setting of chronic inflammation, the cells become oxidized. This generates the formation of free radicals. This also changes the nature of the cholesterol in the cells, particularly the blood vessels, and causes them to be more inflammatory and hence, more likely to form a cholesterol plaque.

How do I know if I have high cholesterol?

There are ways to measure cholesterol numbers in the blood as well as more specialized blood testing to tell you the nature of the cholesterol profile.

  • On traditional blood work, the LDL, HDL and triglycerides levels are part of a standard lipid profile.
  • If your LDL is > 160 and you have heart disease or you have several risk factors for heart disease, this is considered to be a high number.
  • If your HDL number is < 40, it is considered to be too low.  Lower levels of HDL are risk factors for heart disease.
  • Triglyceride levels > 150 are considered to be high.

How do I know if I have abnormal cholesterol?

This is again looking not just at the number, but also inflammatory risk for cholesterol.

  • On a regular lipid profile, additional testing, including looking for certain markers such as apolipoprotein B and lipoprotein A levels, are important markers for how “atherogenic” the cholesterol particles may be.
  • There is a specialized test called the VAP or Vertical Auto Profile test that can tell you the nature of the LDL or HDL molecules that you have. If, for example, the VAP test reports that your cholesterol is larger and fluffier in nature, they are less likely to be inflammatory with lesser risk for inflammation. This is an example of a personalized test that can really help you to determine your risk for heart disease.
  • Your healthcare provider should also test for “inflammation.” In particular, blood tests, including the erythrocyte sedimentation rate and high sensitivity C-reactive protein need to be checked. The higher the level, the more likely the cholesterol is inflammatory and increases the risk of plaque formation and heart disease.

What are conventional treatments of high cholesterol?

The traditional treatment of high cholesterol levels includes the prescription use of medications. Commonly prescribed drug classes of medications used to lower cholesterol include the statins, Zetia (Ezetimibe), bile-acid resins, and Niacin.

Statins: These are medications that inhibit the formation of cholesterol. Studies have demonstrated that this class of medications has decreased the risk of heart attacks and is heart-protective for someone with risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure and diabetes. Potential side effects of this class of medications include elevated liver enzymes (as can be measured in the blood), muscle pain or myalgias. It may also affect memory and may cause memory problemsCaution: Statins can deplete the body of ubiquinone (Coenzyme Q10), a potent anti-oxidant that is important not only for maintaining a healthy heartbut also for maintaining cellular health.

  • Supplementation with ubiquinone is recommended when taking this class of medications.
  • Ubiquinone can also decrease the risk of developing myalgias when taking statins and can also help in the treatment of myalgias once they begin.

Zetia (Ezetimibe): This medication blocks the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine. It can be prescribed to be used in conjunction with statin therapy for the treatment of high cholesterolCaution: Because this class of medications inhibits cholesterol absorption, it can also affect the absorption of key fat-soluble vitamins, including Vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Bile acid resins: This medication also is used to block the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine. It can also affect the absorption of key fat-soluble vitamins, including Vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Niacin: This is used in the treatment of low HDL to raise their levels. This medication has been known to cause flushing as a side effect and aspirin is often needed to be given prior to taking a dose of Niacin. There are extended release forms of Niacin that do not have this effect.

Fenofibrate: This class of medication is used to treat high triglyceride levels. They have similar side effects to the statin class of medications, including affecting the liver and causing myalgias. Caution: If a statin and fenofibrate are taken together, this can dramatically increase the risk of developing liver problems and significant muscle pain and muscle damage. In some cases, the muscle damage can be significant enough to cause kidney failure.

Nutrition

DASH Diet

One of the most important changes necessary in the treatment of abnormal cholesterol is changing your diet.  A diet higher in fruits and vegetables is recommended. Did you know that the new Food Pyramid recommends five to seven fruits and vegetables each and every day? One of the well-studied diets is the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. The DASH diet not only lowered blood pressure, the risk of developing other complications of high blood pressure and diabetes, it also helped in lowering cholesterol.

This diet advocates the consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It emphasizes reducing foods high in polyunsaturated fats as well as significantly reducing the amount of meat-based protein in the diet. Notwithstanding the chemicals, toxins, food additives, antibiotics that may have been used in the preparation of the meat, high animal protein intake increases total body inflammation, which plays an important role in the development of high cholesterol.

Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean diet

Another diet that has been extensively studied in the treatment of high cholesterol is the Mediterranean diet. Like the DASH diet, this diet stresses the consumption of fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats, particularly promoting the use of olive oil over butter. Eating fish, especially salmon twice a week is recommended for its high Omega 3 content. Much research has been done advocating the many benefits of the Mediterranean diet, especially for its heart protective effects.

The basic conclusion that can be drawn is that a plant-based diet can reduce not only your inflammation levels, but also can help normalize your cholesterol levels.

Supplements

Coenzyme Q10 (Ubiquinone)

Replacement of this antioxidant is necessary to help improve blood vessel health. This is vital to take, especially if you have been prescribed a statin-based medication.

  • When starting, begin with small doses at 50-100 mg daily and increase to twice a day after several weeks. Smaller doses taken during the day maximizes its absorption. Monitor your blood pressure closely. If you have diabetes, this nutrient can also help lower your blood glucose levels so they need to be monitored as well.

Fiber

If your diet is low in fiber, a fiber-based supplement is recommended. Remember that fiber can bind the cholesterol in the intestine and prevent its absorption. Examples of commonly used fiber supplements can include a psyllium-based fiber supplement like Metamucil or more of a soluble-based fiber like Glucomannan fiber.

Garlic

This is excellent for helping to maintain the cholesterol in the natural or “reduced” state. It decreases the inflammation of “cholesterol plaque.”

  • Aged garlic extract can be taken in capsule form starting at 400-600 mg a day. As garlic is a natural blood thinner, be careful if you are on prescription blood-thinning medications such as aspirin, Plavix, or Coumadin.

Fish OilOmega 3 fish oil

Omega 3 fish oil can not only help in lowering triglycerides, it is important for maintaining the health and pliability of the blood vessels as well as tremendous for reducing inflammation. You can start at 2000 mg a day and increase slowly to a maximum of 4-5 grams a day. Be aware that Omega 3 fish oil can thin the blood, so you may need to decrease your dosage if you are taking any blood thinners.

Phytosterols

These are plant-based compounds that can be used in the treatment of high cholesterol. They can be taken independently or can be part of other formulations as well. An example of a plant-based sterol is beta-sitosterol. This can be taken once to twice daily, depending on the formulation chosen.

Red Yeast Rice

This is a natural form of the statin medications, and is used by many in the treatment of high cholesterol. There are several caveats when taking this supplement you need to be aware of:

  • Do not take prescription statins if you are taking this supplement.
  • As with the statin medications, liver tests (blood work) need to be monitoredand myalgias can occur with this supplement as well.
  • It is recommended to begin at a dose of 600 mg daily and slowly increase over the course of several weeks to a maximum dose of 1200 mg twice a day. You should be under the care of a health care provider when taking this supplement.

TurmericTurmeric

Turmeric is a great anti-oxidant to lower cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation. It can be taken as a 400 mg capsule daily or simply by sprinkling a little Turmeric powder on each meal. It does have a blood thinning effect so be aware if you are on other blood-thinning medications as mentioned above.

Exercise

Our bodies were meant to move. Beginning an exercise regimen is crucial  to help in lowering cholesterol levels.

Walking thirty minutes four times a week has benefits of not only improving endurance, but also strengthening the heart as well as helping you lose weight. Other forms of exercise include jogging, biking, swimming and aquatic-based therapy.

Yoga for High CholesterolExercising in the water is not only rejuvenating, but as it reduces the wear, tear, and constant pounding on the joints, it is an ideal choice, especially if you are suffering from arthritis or have difficult y walking. Depending on your health issues, it is recommended that you see your health care practitioner to develop a personalized exercise regimen that matches your likes and limitations. Don’t forget to include muscle resistance training into your exercise regimen.

Yoga and tai chi represent a form of exercise that improves muscle strength and flexibility and does not require the use of expensive equipment. As mentioned above, they are great forms of exercise that can help improve cholesterol levels.

Updated: June 2019


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