Natural Therapies for Arthritis

Arthritis is a common condition which can manifest as stiffness, pain or swelling in a joint. People often notice these symptoms in their fingers and knees, but any joint in the body can be affected. There are many natural therapies that can manage the symptoms as well as or even better than anti-inflammatory pain relievers.

1) Acupuncture can reduce musculoskeletal pain by 50% after a single treatment. Patients are often able to sleep better, too, after receiving acupuncture.

2) Exercise as tolerated. When people are in pain, they tend to stop using the body part that is causing trouble, which backfires by increasing stiffness. Low impact exercises such as swimming, cycling, yoga, and tai chi have all helped arthritis sufferers.

3) Physical therapy. A physical therapist can prescribe corrective exercise and apply therapeutics such as ultrasound and electric stimulation, as well as manual therapy techniques.

4) Massage not only feels good, it reduces pain, and increases circulation and range of motion.

5) Weight loss, if indicated. If someone needs to lose 50 lbs, it can be daunting. But studies show that if people lose just 2 lbs, their knee pain diminishes (and overweight is the #1 cause of knee degeneration).

6) Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Animal products are pro-inflammatory, so a mostly vegetarian diet is best. Sugar, alcohol, and processed foods are the most important things to eliminate.

7) Specific foods that have been shown in scientific studies to reduce arthritis pain are soy, fennel, celery, parsley, nuts, apples, and whole grains (the type you have to cook on a stovetop, not whole grain bread).

8) Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant. The recommended dose is 300 – 400 mg per day. Runny bowel movements may occur with more than this dosage. Take magnesium before bed if pain keeps you awake at night. Magnesium is also useful for treating restless legs syndrome.

9) CBD oil is anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-relieving). It comes in a wide variety of doses, so be sure you know how much the product provides. It is also best taken at night because it can cause drowsiness.

10) The following supplement regimen comes from the Textbook of Natural Healing, edited by Joe Pizzorno. These nutrients reduce pain and can also reverse joint degeneration.

Vitamin C 1,000 – 3,000 mg per day
Glucosamine sulfate 500 mg 3x per day
Niacinamide 500 mg per day
Vitamin E 600 IU per day
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) 50 mg per day
Vitamin B5 (dexpanthenol) 12.5 mg per day
SAMe 400 mg 3x per day
Zinc 45 mg per day
Copper 1 mg per day
Boron 6 mg per day

A multivitamin/mineral pill or fortified protein powder can provide many of these
nutrients in a convenient form.

Don’t give up on your healthcare program before it’s had time to work. Try your chosen therapies for at least two months to allow your body to adjust. And remember that consistency is key to getting good results.

Reducing EMF Exposure

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Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are areas of energy that surround electronic devices. Your body has electrical and magnetic fields so it can conduct nerve and muscle impulses. Because of this conductive potential, EMFs generated by electronics are attracted to the human body and affect people by increasing voltage beyond the optimal range. These invisible currents provide a low-level, ongoing stress to the body and can result in mild symptoms such as headaches and fatigue, or can be associated with more serious diseases such as cancer.

Most of the EMFs in your home are generated by WiFi and cordless phones. Baby monitors, fluorescent light bulbs, electric blankets, cordless toothbrushes, and even hair dryers contribute to excess energy that disrupts our metabolism. To limit your exposure to these harmful fields, follow the suggestions below.

– Unplug any device that is not in use. An item that is plugged in but not turned on, such as a lamp during the day, will generate an electromagnetic field.

– Create distance between yourself and electronic devices. Anything with a transformer, such as a digital alarm clock, should be kept at least two feet away from the body. Six feet is the recommended distance to sit when watching television, especially if using an old cathode ray version.

– Do not sleep with a phone in the same room. These devices generate EMFs even when they are turned off.

– Consider going low tech. Incandescent light bulbs and landline internet create weaker fields than their newfangled counterparts. Think twice about using a cordless shaver.

– Use an EMF shielding device if you have low immunity or are very sensitive. Products are available to work with phones, computers, routers and household wiring.

If you choose to take a break from electronic communications for a day or a weekend, consider spending time in nature. The earth’s electromagnetic field is one that resonates in harmony with human body. It is the only EMF where more exposure is a good thing.

 

Dr. Jessica Needle practices at Optimal Health Center in Palm Desert, CA

 

 

Neurotransmitters- Health & Balance

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You may be one of the millions of Americans who has longstanding problems with mood, sleep, concentration or weight. Or you may have a medical condition that seems difficult to diagnose or treat, such as brain fog, fibromyalgia or panic attacks. If any of the preceding applies to you, consider testing your neurotransmitters to determine if a biochemical imbalance underlies your symptoms.

Neurotransmitters are chemicals that relay signals between nerves and convert electrical impulses into action. They are produced from amino acids and work widely throughout the body, affecting processes such as pain perception, appetite and heart rate. When out of balance, symptoms can occur, ranging from mild forgetfulness to serious illnesses like epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease.

Neurotransmitters can be divided into two types – excitatory and inhibitory. Excitatory neurotransmitters stimulate the brain and other organs. They include epinephrine, noradrenaline and glutamate. When these neurotransmitters dominate, they can cause anxiety, ADHD and high blood pressure. Inhibitory neurotransmitters are calming. Some examples are serotonin, GABA and glycine. When they are low, depression, carbohydrate craving and addiction may result.

The anti-depressant medications Prozac and Zoloft work to maintain the level of serotonin available to receptor nerve cells. These drugs are successful in treating the symptoms of depression in some people, but not in others. If an individual has dysfunction utilizing serotonin, the drug is more likely to be effective than if the symptoms arise from a different chemical pathway. Checking neurotransmitter levels allows your healthcare practitioner to personalize a plan that corrects your specific imbalances.

Medication is not always necessary for treatment. Since neurotransmitters can be depleted by stress, poor diet, high sodium intake, alcohol consumption and caffeine use, addressing these contributory factors is of utmost importance. Nutritional supplements also play a role by providing your body with the raw materials it needs to produce neurotransmitters, such as vitamin C to support the adrenal glands and vitamin B6 for making melatonin.

Neurotransmitters are tested using a urine sample. You will be given the supplies you need to collect the sample at home and mail it to the lab for analysis. The results will be sent to your doctor, who can then devise a plan to address the root cause of your discomfort rather than mask the symptoms.

Written By Dr. Jessica Needle

Natural Allergy Treatments

By Jessica Needle, ND

Are you suffering from the itchy eyes, scratchy throat and stuffy or runny nose from seasonal allergies?  Before you reach for the Claritin, try these natural remedies to relieve the symptoms.

Remove mucus-producing foods from your diet.  This includes dairy products, especially aged cheese such as cheddar, parmesan and Gouda.  Wheat and the protein gluten, which is also found in barley and rye, can produce excess mucus, as can bread and pastry products made from refined flour.  Avoid alcohol, sugar and processed lunch meats. And while fruit is generally a healthy snack, bananas can trigger your mucus-producing cells to go into overdrive.

Drink nettle tea.  Nettle is a plant with a mild taste and its leaves contain iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium.  The mechanism by which nettle works to reduce allergy symptoms is currently being researched. Nettle may affect the system of prostaglandins, chemicals which can cause inflammation and pain in the body.

Take quercetin.  Quercetin is one of the plant pigments called flavonoids and it acts as nature’s antihistamine.  It is also an antioxidant, a substance that stops cellular damage. Quercetin is found in large amounts in green tea and buckwheat.  When taken as an oral supplement, it is often combined with bromelain, a pineapple enzyme that increases absorption of quercetin.

Use essential oils.  A few drops of essential oil can be added to a pot of boiling water for steam inhalation to open the nasal passages and prevent infection.  The oils recommended for allergy relief are peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus and lemon. Add some to your humidifier and be sure to get enough sleep to allow your body to heal.

Weight Management: Success vs. Frustration

 

How should you pick a diet? How should it be implemented?

Many people are interested in losing weight to look better, become healthier, and increase their lifespans. While I see many patients who would like to drop a few pounds, I seldom put anyone on a specific weight loss diet. To increase the odds of success, I provide guidance about the benefits of whole foods over processed foods, suggest foods that will reduce inflammation in the body, and test for food sensitivities so people can choose the proper foods for their individual physiology. I view losing weight as a byproduct of good health, rather than as end unto itself.Read More »

Health Benefits of Cinnamon

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is well-known as an aromatic spice that people enjoy adding to oatmeal and baked goods. Less well-known is the fact that it can also be used therapeutically to improve several common health conditions including high blood sugar, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Dr. Needle is a regular contributor to Desert Health News

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Jessica Needle, ND practices at Optimal Health Center