Responsible Pain Relief

By Body, Mind

Responsible Pain Relief

The epic rise of opioid deaths, devastation to families and loved ones and over prescribing of all pain relievers has left us as a nation in limbo with how to deal with pain. This is especially true for those suffering with chronic pain due to arthritis, degeneration, diabetes etc. The following will detail the effects of medications as well as natural solutions which when taken regularly can be highly effective with minimal if any side effects.

Most people are aware of the dangers that opioids present but not as widely known or discussed is the danger that over the counter ibuprofen, Tylenol, aspirin and Alleve present. In the short term most people are able to take a few days worth of the above pain relievers with little to no negative effects. It is the long-term use/abuse that tends to create problems for the liver, kidneys, heart and digestive organs.

Let’s take a moment and clarify what each of these different medications do and how they work in your body.

Ibuprofen (aka Motrin, Advil): a non-steroidal anti-inflammation (NSAID) sold over the counter and widely utilized for pain, fever and inflammation

Side effects: Upset stomach, diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness and stomach bleeding.

Tylenol (aka acetaminophen): serves primarily as a pain reliever as well as fever reduction

Side effects: contains a significant warning for liver damage when consumed by people who drink 3 or more alcoholic drinks in a day, especially if consuming alcohol while taking the product.

Aspirin (aka Bayer): also a NSAID used to treat pain, fever and inflammation by reducing the enzymes that make prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are the chemicals that are released which cause the inflammation and pain. Additionally aspirin inhibits the function of platelets and produces an antithrombotic effect. This is the reason people will take a baby aspirin to reduce the chance of heart attack or stroke.

Side effects: gastritis, ringing in the ears, rash, kidney impairment, vertigo, dizziness, nausea, liver toxicity, gastrointestinal bleeding, ulcer and increased blood uric levels.

Unfortunately, most over the counter medications come with some risk and negative side effects. Fortunately there are natural products available that have minimal risk and can be quite effective. Consider the following:

Turmeric/Curcumin: Turmeric is the spice that gives Indian food its yellow color. Turmeric contains chemical compounds called curcuminoids, which have powerful anti-inflammatory effects as well as strong antioxidant properties. In order to achieve these benefits a supplement containing the correct dosage is necessary to achieve therapeutics benefits. The amount we use in cooking is insufficient to create a significant effect. Curcumin is not easily absorbed into the blood stream however taking black pepper with it increases the absorption.

Black pepper contains piperine, which is a natural substance that increases the absorption of the curcumin by 2000% percent.

Side effects: none despite numerous clinical trials

Boswellia: Boswellia is better known by its more common name, which is frankincense. Frankincense is an herbal extract derived from the boswellia serrate tree and is very effective in reducing inflammatory responses. Boswellia may interact with any other anti-inflammatory you may be taking so talk to you doctor before beginning. I would advise against taking boswellia if you are pregnant because it has been know to increase blood flow to the uterus and pelvis

Arnica: arnica is an herb grown mainly in Siberia and central Europe and is used to reduce inflammation and help with pain. It is available in a cream, gel and orally. Avoid if you are pregnant, have high blood pressure, IBS, ulcers or Chron’s disease.

Willow Bark: Often referred to as nature’s aspirin. Willow bark is bark that comes from several different varieties of the willow tree. It works primarily like aspirin in that it is a pain reliever and has been used for a very long time dating back to the time of Hippocrates. It does have some side effects that could pose a problem if you have sensitivity to aspirin. Post surgically it may slow blood clotting and as always avoid if you are pregnant.

Ice: ice is used as an anti-inflammatory and helps to reduce swelling especially after an injury. It causes the blood and lymphatic vessels to constrict. When your pain is due to an inflammatory response ice is very helpful in reducing your pain.

Acupuncture: Acupuncture has been increasingly used as an effective natural pain reliever with very low risk of any side effects.

No matter what method you employ to help with your pain I encourage you to talk to your doctor to assess your specific issues and possible risks. Whenever possible chose the path of least risk to achieve sufficient pain management. For your convenience we have a number of these reliable and vetted products in stock. If you are someone who suffers from chronic pain please be safe and mindful in whatever approach you take to manage your pain.

With Gratitude,

Are You Hydrating Enough?

By Body, Mind, Spirit

Are You Hydrating Enough?

August is fully upon us and with it the blistering hot, dog days of summer are here. With rising temperatures and intense humidity we also see an increase in issues related to dehydration. The dangerous thing about dehydration is it has a way of sneaking up on you and you will feel its effects before you realize it. Generally people are thoughtful and remember to hydrate if they are going to play a sport or mow the lawn but most are not nearly as diligent in their day-to-day hydration practices.

More often than not people rely on thirst as their indication that they are dehydrated and as a result do not consume an adequate amount of water. The problem is that thirst is a poor indicator for the body’s need for water because by the time you are thirsty you are already significantly dehydrated.

Obviously dry mouth and increased thirst are signs that you are dehydrated but so is fatigue, dry eyes or blurred vision, lack of sweating, dizziness, cramping, dark urine and light headedness. In severe cases rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, fainting, confusion and anger can all be indicative of dehydration.

So how much water do you need? The amount depends on your weight, heat exposure and medications you may take. There is considerable debate as to whether you should drink approximately ½ your body weight or by multiplying your body weight by 2/3. Personally I think that if you are somewhere in between and add a dose of common sense you’ll be fine. In addition add 12 ounces for every 30 minutes of a work out. If you take a dehydrating medication add an additional 12 ounces. Equally important is to not over hydrate. When you drink too much water you will dilute the sodium and electrolytes in your body, which can create a whole of other problems.

Everyone needs to be concerned with dehydration but children, older adults and people with chronic illnesses are especially vulnerable. Older adults naturally have a lower volume of water in their bodies and are more likely to take medications and have conditions that result in dehydration. Young children become dehydrated very easily especially with vomiting and diarrhea.

So, if you are on the dry side of hydrating I encourage you to take a look at where you can do better to wet your whistle. It is a simple critical component of self-care that is easily remedied and immediately effective.

Drink up!

With Gratitude,

What’s The Matter with Me?

By Body, Spirit

What’s The Matter with Me?

Check out the list of the following symptoms to asses if any apply to you. While all of the symptoms are related to many disorders they are also associated with low levels of vitamin B12. In order to accurately discern whether your B12 levels are low or you are suffer from some other issue a simple blood test is in order and your doctor can easily do this for you.

Low levels of B12 can lead to:

  1. Weakness, tired, lightheaded
  2. Heart palpitations/shortness of breath
  3. Constipation/diarrhea/loss of appetite/excessive gas
  4. Tingling in hands and feet/difficulty walking with ease
  5. Vision Loss
  6. Pale skin/smooth tongue
  7. Depression/ memory loss or behavioral changes

Low levels of B12 can be cause by a variety of issues but it is often the inability of our body to absorb the vitamin that is generally the root cause. Those individuals who are susceptible to any gastrointestinal disorders or have had gastrointestinal surgery are at a higher risk, as are older individuals, vegetarians, pregnant and lactating woman as well as those who suffer from pernicious anemia. Pernicious anemia is an autoimmune disease that affects the gastric mucosa resulting in atrophy, which in turn through a series of steps inhibits normal B12 absorption. Tingling in the hands and feet is a hallmark symptom of Pernicious anemia.

From a dietary standpoint the best sources of B12 include eggs, cheese, milk and milk products, meat, fish, fortified breakfast cereals, shellfish, poultry and some soy based products. B12 is a water-soluble vitamin so it is hard to overdose on it because what ever is not needed is generally excreted in your urine. Some of the side effects from taking B12 can include headaches, itching, anxiety or nervousness and in severe case uncontrolled movements.

I’m often asked if it is better to use the injectable form or take the oral supplements. This is entirely dependent on the state of your gastrointestinal system. In the case of pernicious anemia taking an oral supplement would be of little value because the atrophy of the stomach wall does not allow it to be absorbed therefore an injection is the best option. If you are able to digest and absorb properly then an oral supplement is fine. If you have assessed a need for B12 it’s important that you let your physician know before you begin to take it to ensure there are no issues with any other medication you are taking.

As with any medication, vitamin or supplement be certain that you have a need for it before beginning and if you do so taking it regularly will give you the best results.

With Gratitude,