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Natural Health News and Articles

Aromatherapy and Pain Management

Aromatherapy, a form of therapy that uses scents and essential oils from plant extracts to relieve the body of discomfort and pain, has been used for thousands of years across many cultures and countries. Different types of aromatherapy have been used throughout history to manage both acute and chronic pain for centuries. Different types of aromatherapy are integrated in different ways. How you treat chronic pain will vary from how you treat acute pain and different aromatic extracts and plants are used for different ailments. Here is a list of common aromatics and their uses:

  • Chamomile – an essential oil with anti-inflammatory properties, it has been known to help with tension, headaches, migraines, menstrual cramps, and back pain. It is also known to be a digestive aid.
  • Lavender – an essential oil that is touted as being one of the best for pain management. It is helpful for muscle cramps and strains, headaches, neuralgia, nervous tension, and can help relieve mood swings.
  • Sandalwood – an essential oil that is considered to be one of the most valued for aromatherapy. It can soothe muscle tension, improve circulation, and help with the sciatica.
  • Sweet Marjoram – an essential oil that has potent sedative properties. It helps soothe muscle stiffness and cramps, improves circulation, and is used in treatment for Rheumatism and osteoarthritis.
  • Vetiver – an essential oil that helps detoxify tissue, balance the central nervous system, and can be beneficial for tension and depression.

Aromatherapy has been a major type of therapy for those diagnosed with MS and is also becoming a pain management option during labor and delivery. While most of the oils used in aromatherapy are strong, you can use them at home simply by dropping a few drops in your bath water or using them as an aid for massage.

If you are looking for pain management and don’t want to contaminate your body with chemicals, aromatherapy may be just the outlet that you are looking for.

Reference:

Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/naomi_king/7796400432/

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Natural Health News and Articles

Holistic Health in America [infographic]

Rising healthcare costs, distrust of pharmaceutical companies, and the “fix-it when illness develops” approach not working, is leading many Americans to look for more natural ways to maintain good health – not only their physical health, but mental and spiritual as well. A holistic health (a.k.a. complimentary and alternative medicine, integrated medicine) strategy is the choice many people are making for themselves and family. 4 in 10 U.S. adults have used a holistic health therapy in the past year. Women choose holistic therapies more often than men 43% women vs 33% men People living in the western United States choose holistic therapies most often.

  • Northeast 38%
  • Midwest 41%
  • South 33%
  • West 45%

People with higher levels of education make greater use of holistic therapies.

  • Less than high school 21%
  • High School Graduate or GED 31%
  • Some College-no degree 45%
  • Associate of Arts Degree 47%
  • Bachelor or Arts or Science Degree 50%
  • Masters, Doctorate, Professional Degree 55%

Holistic Health use by Age.

  • 18-29 years 36%
  • 30-39 years 40%
  • 40-49 years 40%
  • 50-59 years 44%
  • 60-69 years 41%

1 in 9 children used some type of holistic therapy. Children with a parent who uses holistic health therapies are twice as likely to do so as well. Therapies most commonly used.

  • Natural Products 18%
  • Deep Breathing Exercises 13%
  • Meditation 9%
  • Chiropractic / Osteopathic Manipulation 9%
  • Massage 8%
  • Yoga 6%

Therapies most commonly used among children.

  • Natural Products 4%
  • Chiropractic / Osteopathic Manipulation 3%
  • Deep Breathing Exercises 2%
  • Yoga 2%
  • Homeopathy 1%
  • Massage 1%

Diseases / Conditions for which holistic therapies are most commonly used.

  • Back pain 17%
  • Neck pain 6%
  • Joint pain or stiffness 5%
  • Arthritis 4%
  • Anxiety 3%
  • Cholesterol 2%
  • Head or chest cold 2%
  • Severe headache or migraine 2%
  • Insomnia or trouble sleeping 1%
  • Stress 1%

10 Most Common Natural Products Used Among Adults

  • Fish oil / omega 3 37%
  • Glucosamine 20%
  • Echinacea 20%
  • Flaxseed oil or pills 16%
  • Ginseng 14%
  • Combination herb pill 13%
  • Ginkgo biloba 11%
  • Chondroitin 11%
  • Garlic supplements 11%
  • Coenzyme Q-10 9%

* Adults 18 years of age and over in United States who used holistic health in the past 12 months

* Source: Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults and children: United States, 2007.

National health statistics reports; no 12. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2008.

Copyright © 2012 WholesomeOne. All rights reserved.

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Treatment

Biofeedback for Migraines

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

Biofeedback appears to be especially effective in relieving migraine pain. This relaxation technique uses special equipment to teach you how to monitor and control certain physical responses related to stress, such as muscle tension.

Experts theorize that biofeedback‘s success is related to stress. Many of the ailments it has proven effective for are triggered or worsened by stress so learning to control it is key.

Biofeedback can focus on one or more techniques depending on the issue in question. Electromyography (EMG) biofeedback revolves around muscle tension, temperature or thermal biofeedback measures skin temperature, neurofeedback or electroencephalography records brain wave activity, galvanic skin response training uses the amount of sweat on the skin and heart rate variability biofeedback involves controlling the heart rate.

Sensors are placed on various parts of the body depending on the problem and type of biofeedback. These sensors then give responses from a monitor box in the form of a changing sound, varying brightness or line on a computer screen. The person undergoes a series of mental exercises that affect the feedback.

Biofeedback can be useful at home. A variety of biofeedback options are available with many types of monitors along with audio and/or visual programs.

One of the main benefits of biofeedback is the ability to become more attuned with the body. Many people prefer treatment without using medications while others have found drugs haven’t successfully addressed their problem. Biofeedback can be a viable alternative to explore in these situations.

The Mayo Clinic states, “Biofeedback appeals to people for a variety of reasons:

  • It’s noninvasive.
  • It may reduce or eliminate the need for medications.
  • It may be a treatment alternative for those who can’t tolerate medications.
  • It may be an option when medications haven’t worked well.
  • It may be an alternative to medications for some conditions during pregnancy.
  • It helps people take charge of their health.”

It has shown success in helping a variety of physical ailments including headaches. It has also been useful in emotional issues such as anxiety, stress and depression.

  • May Clinic, Biofeedback: Using your mind to improve your health, http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/biofeedback/basics/definition/prc-20020004
  • Gilmore B, et al. Treatment of acute migraine headache. American Family Physician. 2011;83:271-280.
    Hildreth C, Lynm C, Glass R. Migraine Headache. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2009;301(24):2608.
  • The Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, aapb.org
  • National Institutes of Health—Biofeedback, nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/news-articles/002241.htm

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Treatment

Herbs for Migraines

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

Herbs are commonly used to provide relief from migraines. Feverfew and butterbur are remedies for a migraine in either preventing them or reducing their severity. Seek the advice of a health professional to see if these treatments are right for you.

Feverfew

Feverfew is an herb with anti-inflammatory properties. A study shows that feverfew extract of 6.25 mg three times a day decreased migraine attacks by nearly half.

The primary active ingredient in feverfew can be found in some other plants such as artichoke, sunflower, lettuce, spinach, and ginkgo biloba.

Feverfew action appears to affect a wide variety of physiologic pathways. Some of these mechanisms include inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis, decrease of vascular smooth muscle spasm, and blockage of platelet granule secretion.

Feverfew supplements are available fresh, freeze-dried, or dried and can be purchased in capsule, tablet, or liquid extract forms.

Feverfew supplements with clinical studies contain a standardized dose of parthenolide. Feverfew supplements should be standardized to contain at least 0.2% parthenolide. Parthenolide is central to the biological effects of feverfew.

Butterbur

Butter (a.k.a. Petasites hybridus root) is an ancient plant which has been used for medical and edible purposes.

50-75 mg twice a day have demonstrated significant reduction in migraine frequency. The mechanism by which butterbur may reduce migraine includes inhibiting the inflammatory effect of chemicals like leukotrienes and prostaglandin E2 in the pain pathway.

Another mechanism of butterbur may be its ability to function as a natural beta blocker whose action results in the normal flow of blood to the brain. This helps control blood pressure and spasmodic capillary action, which can also contribute to the onset of migraine headaches.

When purchasing butterbur products, be sure to choose a brand labeled PA-Free. This means the product was processed to remove potentially harmful, toxic chemicals found in the butterbur plant known as pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA). The special butterbur extract is prepared by having all liver-toxic alkaloids removed.

Agosti R, Duke RK, Chrubasik JE, Chrubasik S. Effectiveness of Petasites hybridus preparations in the prophylaxis of migraine: a systematic review. Phytomedicine 2006;13(9-10):743-6.
Dall’Acqua S, Viola G, Giorgetti M, Loi MC, Innocenti G. Two new sesquiterpene lactones from the leaves of Laurus nobilis. Chemical & pharmaceutical bulletin 2006;54 (8): 1187–1189.
Gilmore B, et al. Treatment of acute migraine headache. American Family Physician. 2011;83:271-280.
Hildreth C, Lynm C, Glass R. Migraine Headache. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2009;301(24):2608.
NINDS Migraine information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Schoenen J, Jacquy J, Lenaerts M. Effectiveness of high-dose riboflavin in migraine prophylaxis. A randomized controlled trial. Neurology. 1998 Feb;50(2):466-70.
Vaughan T. The role of food in the pathogenesis ofmigraine headache. Clin Rev Allergy. 1994;12:167-180.

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Treatment

Supplements for Migraines

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

These 5 supplements have shown to benefit migraine sufferers.

Riboflavin

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) is a water-soluble vitamin, which means it is not stored in the body. Therefore, it needs to be replenished in the body every day. Riboflavin is important for body growth and red blood cell production. It is also required for energy metabolism, such as the metabolism of carbohydrates.

Studies show a deficit of mitochondrial energy metabolism may play a role in migraine pathogenesis. Therefore, riboflavin has been investigated as a treatment and/or prevention for migraine.

Studies have found significant reductions in headache frequency with daily pharmacologic doses (400 mg) of riboflavin.  Furthermore, riboflavin was demonstrated to be a safe and well-tolerated alternative in migraine prevention and treatment. It even reduced the number of abortive anti-migraine tablets (ie. Ergotamines, triptans) used in migraine sufferers.

Magnesium

Magnesium is another important mineral to add to your treatment plan. Magnesium deficiency is a major contributing factor to the development of migraine headaches and many of us are deficient in magnesium.The recommended amount of magnesium is 600-800 mg a day, in divided doses throughout the day. Taking it in this manner maximizes its absorption.While there are many different oral forms of Magnesium, one form that be extremely beneficial for migraine sufferers is Magnesium Threonate. This is because it is able to penetrate the brain unlike other forms of Magnesium.

Ginkgolide B

Ginkgolide B is an herbal extract derived from Ginkgo biloba. It is used not only for the acute attack of migraine headaches but is also extremely beneficial for the prevention of migraine headaches.In one study, patients with a history of migraine with auras when given  the combination of Gingkolide B, Coenzyme Q 10 and Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) demonstrated not only a decrease in the frequency of migraines with aura but also their duration.

Coenzyme Q10

Supplementation with Coq10(Ubiquinone) has demonstrated to decrease the frequency of migraines headaches.Because ubiquinone can have a blood pressure-lowering effect, it is recommended to begin at low doses. Begin at 50 mg twice a day and increase slowly over the next few weeks.

Omega 3 Fish Oil

Adding Omega 3 fish oil can help  in the prevention of migraines, especially in adolescents and young adults. In one study, Omega 3 supplementation decreased the recurrence of migraines in adolescents.Begin at a dose of 1000-2000 mg a day. This can  be slowly increased to 3-4 grams a day. As Omega 3 fish oil can thin the blood, talk with your healthcare practitioner if you are taking blood-thinning medications such as Coumadin.

Seek the advice of a health professional to see if these treatments are right for you.

Agosti R, Duke RK, Chrubasik JE, Chrubasik S. Effectiveness of Petasites hybridus preparations in the prophylaxis of migraine: a systematic review. Phytomedicine 2006;13(9-10):743-6.
Dall’Acqua S, Viola G, Giorgetti M, Loi MC, Innocenti G. Two new sesquiterpene lactones from the leaves of Laurus nobilis. Chemical & pharmaceutical bulletin 2006;54 (8): 1187–1189.
Gilmore B, et al. Treatment of acute migraine headache. American Family Physician. 2011;83:271-280.
Hildreth C, Lynm C, Glass R. Migraine Headache. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2009;301(24):2608.
NINDS Migraine information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Schoenen J, Jacquy J, Lenaerts M. Effectiveness of high-dose riboflavin in migraine prophylaxis. A randomized controlled trial. Neurology. 1998 Feb;50(2):466-70.
Vaughan T. The role of food in the pathogenesis ofmigraine headache. Clin Rev Allergy. 1994;12:167-180.

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Natural Headache Remedies

The team at Dr. Axe, a site that advocates food as medicine, produced this excellent infographic on natural headache remedies.

Natural Headache Remedies