Natural Health News and Articles

Yoga for Ankylosing Spondylitis

Reviewed by Dr Jeffrey Lederman, DO

Ankylosing Spondylitis is a rare inflammatory condition that causes stiffness and pain in the spine and sacroiliac joints in the pelvis. Often characterized by a “bent forward” posture, Ankylosing Spondylitis usually occurs in males between the ages of 20 and 40.

Symptoms include worsening lower back pain in the absence of trauma, stiffness and a decreased ability to bend forward. Often, the pain initially comes and goes and then it worsens as the disease progresses. In later stages of the condition, the individual may notice very limited movement in the lower spine. Ankylosing Spondylitis can ultimately cause the spinal bones to fuse together, which can create a hunched posture and joint damage. The disease also can cause inflammation in other parts of the body, such as the eyes.

Because a top symptom of this condition is stiffness, it is important for an individual to stay active to maintain flexibility. Lack of movement, due to pain, stiffness or both, often causes the symptoms to worsen. An individual with Ankylosing Spondylitis should avoid high-impact activities, which may increase pain and inflammation.

Yoga provides a means for gentle movement that not only opens up stiff muscles and stalls further tissue degeneration but that helps create an overall condition of ease throughout the body. That sense of ease can lead to decreased pain and increased relaxation.

Yoga helps increase flexibility and range of motion in the spine, which can ease stiffness and pain in the back and improve physical strength and posture. Yoga is especially beneficial if the individual starts the practice during the early stages of the disease.

Yoga teaches the individual to pay attention to posture and alignment, not only when doing poses but throughout the day. This focus on being tall and straight may help prevent the spine from moving into a stiff, hunched position.

Another benefit of yoga for those with Ankylosing Spondylitis is that the practice can improve sleep quality. A regular yoga practice can help an individual sleep more soundly because the individual feels more grounded and has less pain. Those with Ankylosing Spondylitis often have trouble sleeping due to the discomfort of the condition.

Also, yoga’s meditative style can help ease emotional tension and stress, which often accompany the physical pain and reduced mobility of Ankylosing Spondylitis.

Melissa Gutierrez a yoga instructor and co-founder of SmartiesBodies adds, “An individual suffering from A.S. could benefit from the meditative aspect of yoga that helps one become more aware of the connection between mind and body. Instead of focusing on specific postures, one could focus on creating a movement practice based on fluid motion both internal (i.e. movement of the breath in the lungs and sensing other organ participation) and external (i.e. how do the bones feel and move?). Using this keen awareness is critical for maintaining healthy spinal function by distinguishing pelvic, sacral and lumbar participation. Doing so will help keep the A.S. sufferer safe in any asana and, more importantly, any challenge in daily life that may be compounded by the illness.”

Select poses from the Yoga Journal that may help alleviate symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis include: (Check with a medical profession before starting a program.)

  • Salabhasana (Locust Pose), which strengthens the muscles of the lower back and reduces lower back pain tendencies
  • Tadasana (Mountain Pose), which helps improve posture
  • Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose), which helps open the shoulders and upper chest
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog), which stretches the back, arms and shoulders

Yoga’s gentle poses can lead to increased range of motion, better posture, less pain and a healthier overall well-being for those with Ankylosing Spondylitis.


Written by Jessica Braun. She is a writer and an editor at WholesomeONE and can be reached at jessica.braun[at]wholesomeone[dot]com


Ankylosing Spondylitis symptoms [infographic]

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

This infographic created by  Healthline and discovered on Okay Fitness, exhibits the multitude of symptoms and areas that can be affected by Ankylosing Spondylitis.

Ankylosing Spondylitis



We all know how important a varied diet is to our overall health but sometimes even good eating habits can use a little boost. Fortunately that’s where supplements come in.

Supplements exist in a variety of shapes and sizes from pills and powders to beverages and bars. Contents run the gamut from vitamins and minerals to herbs and enzymes to fish oils, probiotics and more.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, use of dietary supplements increased by over ten percent from 42 percent in the late 1980s to mid 1990s to 53 percent by 2003-2006.

How It Works

Different supplements provide different benefits. Folic acid, for example, is important for pregnant women to take as it can lessen the chance of birth defects while calcium and vitamin D can help encourage bone health. Multivitamins which contain at least three vitamins are the most commonly taken supplement though many vitamins and minerals can also be purchased individually.

Supplements are not strictly limited to vitamins and minerals, however. Echinacea is an herb many swear by to help lessen cold symptoms and duration of illness. Fish oil can usually be found in a softgel tablet and may help with heart health. Probiotics may assist in improving digestive issues.


Benefits of supplements vary depending on the type and its designated purpose. It is important to note that the best way to meet daily nutritional needs is through a healthy diet featuring a variety of foods. When eating habits fall short, however, supplements can provide a useful nutritional edge.


Just because supplements can be purchased over the counter doesn’t mean buyers shouldn’t do their homework. Some can interfere with medications or increase the chance of bleeding.

Many are water soluble with extra amounts simply being excreted but a few exist that are not and can build up in the body to dangerously high levels. In addition, some foods like cereals and breads are fortified with extra vitamins and minerals so beware how much is being ingested through the daily diet before beginning supplementation.

Also, it’s important to keep in mind supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration in the same way over-the-counter medications are and are not intended to actually prevent or treat diseases. To ensure the supplement contains what it says it contains (and not harmful contaminants), look for the seals of approval from U.S. Pharmacopeia, NSF International or

If in doubt be sure to discuss use of supplements with a medical professional.


While there is no substitute for a healthy diet, supplements can be useful for a variety of purposes including providing a nutritional benefit and addressing a specific issue like building stronger bones or fighting a cold.


  • Dietary Supplements: What you Need to Know from the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements
  • Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know from the FDA


Hydrotherapy is the use of water to revitalize, augment and restore health. Hydrotherapy is a generic term for any type of therapy that involves the use of water to treat illness, manage pain, or relieve stress. Taking a shower or bath are the simplest forms of hydrotherapy and others would include sauna therapy, whirlpools, wraps, and foot baths.

How it Works 

By increasing the blood circulation in the body by using different temperatures it will stimulate the immune and nervous systems to assist in the healing of injured or tight muscles, energize the whole body and relax the mind. The temperatures utilized are important.

The alternation between hot and cold water will stimulate circulation, lessen pain, speed recovery time, and eliminate waste products from the body. Depending on what temperatures are utilized you could choose what outcome you experience. For instance, cold hydrotherapy is known to invigorate the senses and enhance the mind, while using hot hydrotherapy it is known to augment relaxation and encourage sleep.


There are many benefits to each specific type of hydrotherapy, but in general one can expect to experience:

  • Relaxation of muscles (if using hot hydrotherapy)
  • Reduction of pain
  • With increased circulation will come the better elimination of wastes


If you are pregnant it is advised not to take hot baths. If you have any heart condition it would be wise to check with your doctor prior to engaging in this healing modality. Please be mindful that hot hydrotherapy treatments can lower blood pressure and should be limited to no longer than 15-20 minutes at a time.


Hydrotherapy is a wonderful way to relax muscular tension, ease pain and enhance the elimination of wastes from the body. It is a relatively economical way to engage in a healing modality right in your own home for the cost of some water and any additives you may choose to use like Epsom salts, aromatherapy or bath teas, all of which enhance the hydrotherapy experience.


  • The Complete Book of Water Healing by Dian Buchman
  • Hydrotherapy: Simple Treatments for Common Ailments by Clarence Dail and Charles Thomas
  • Hydrotherapy for Health and Wellness: Theories, Programs and treatments by Richard Eidson


Vitamins are wonderful adjuncts to complement your natural lifestyle. They can fill any nutritional deficiencies that you may not be fully obtaining from your diet resulting in greater energy and feelings of well being.

How it Works

Vitamins work by replenishing deficient nutrients in the body that one may not be getting from nutrition.


Vitamin deficiencies can cause great disruption in the body. For instance, a deficiency of just vitamin B6 and Zinc can cause a condition called pyroluria which interferes with protein metabolism, dreaming, mental balance and much more. All that caused by just simple deficiencies of only 2 vitamins!


Consuming too much of any vitamin can also be just as harmful as having a deficiency. It is wise to consult with someone trained in nutritional response testing, who may be able to assist you in which nutrients would be most beneficial for your body. We are all unique, and should be treated as such. What the label states or what the recommended daily allowance recommends may not be correct for you.


Vitamins are a wonderful tool to add to your holistic wellness plan. Much should be taken into consideration when choosing which vitamins to take, and this challenge can be greatly lessened by obtaining the assistance of a professional nutritionist.


  • Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis Balch
  • Orthomolecular Medicine for Everyone by Abram Hoffer and Andrew Saul

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.


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.


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 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.


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.



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 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.


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



Juicing is the process that includes extracting juices and vital nutrients from vegetable, fruit, and plant sources.  The process results in a nutrient-rich drink that is easily consumed and digested for optimum use of vitamins and food performance.

How It Works

Juicing requires the use of a quality juicer that is designed to extract only the juice from its source.  It is generally a mechanical operation that will result in a complete separation of juice from pulp, skin, flesh, and seed.  Different combinations of vegetable, fruit, and plant juice are combined to create high-energy health drinks that are free of preservatives, colors, and additives.


One of the many benefits of juicing is the ease of digestion into the system.  While the body can utilize vegetables, fruits, and plants efficiently in their whole form, eliminating the extra bulk from the source ensures that the body can use the nutrient rich juice to its highest capacity.

It also has a convenience factor when produced in advance for busy schedules.   Preparing juice mixes is easy and can provide quick on-the-go nutrition and energy for busy lifestyles.

Juicing can make getting nutrition more palatable for those that are prone to food sensitivities by eliminating the texture, flesh, and skin components of the source.  These are often the components responsible for digestion issues or distaste.  Juice mixes can be combined with nutritional powerhouses such spinach and kale while being made more palatable by adding flavorful components such as apple, banana, and strawberry.


While juicing can provide quick delivery of nutrients and vitamins, it can also provide large quantities of natural sugar.  It is important that those with diabetes or other sugar-based conditions use discretion when introducing juicing into a diet.

Juicing can give a quick natural energy boost to aid in workouts and daily routines, however as with any quick delivery method of energy there can be a “crash” associated with it as well.  Without the pulp and body of the juice source, the body can digest the energy source much quicker resulting in a natural depletion of energy.

Juicing can treat an array of illnesses, diseases, and common ailments.


Juicing can be a healthy alternative to sports drinks, nutrition supplements, and artificial energy sources.  Juicing combinations can treat an array of illnesses, diseases, and common ailments.  It can also be used to increase the nutritional value of diet and provide supplementation for those who may otherwise forgo eating healthy fruits, vegetables, and plants.






  • How it Works
  • Precaution