January 24, 2017

5 Vaccination Myths

Exercising Your Right Whether or Not to Vaccinate

by Rob Fischer

Perhaps many reading this article are like me. We’ve grown up during the era of vaccinations and have never experienced any long-term negative complications from a vaccination. But now we’re hearing of a growing movement that is raising serious concerns about the health of vaccinating—especially vaccinating small children.

Why the sudden alarm about vaccinations? Aren’t vaccinations responsible for warding off massive outbreaks of diseases like polio, whooping cough, mumps, measles and rubella?

vaccine truth vs mythThe big question I’d like to focus on is whether individuals should have the right to choose whether or not to vaccinate themselves and their children. Do we have a moral obligation to vaccinate and be vaccinated? Does the government have the right to tell us who, how often, and against what diseases we must be vaccinated?

Let’s look at some of the major issues and then you decide.

Myth #1: Vaccinations Have Staved Off Massive Epidemics

Actually, although that is the widespread belief, it wasn’t the vaccines that brought about the dramatic reduction in these diseases, but improved hygiene, nutrition and sanitation. Polio, whooping cough, measles, mumps and rubella, for instance, were all in radical decline before the vaccinations were developed and administered.[1]

Many who adamantly support extensive immunization fear that non-vaccinated children will infect their children. This makes no sense logically or medically, since the purpose of a vaccine is to protect the individual and the spread of such communicable diseases.

In this regard, some refer to “herd immunity,” arguing that diseases simply can’t spread in a community where a high enough percentage of the population is vaccinated against them. But this is an old, unproven hypothesis that defies logic.[2]

Myth #2: Vaccinations Immunize a Person Against Disease

Everybody knows that by injecting weak or dead viruses, the body develops antibodies. But does this combat and protect you from the real virus? Actually, we now know that this only holds true temporarily—and, not always.

Furthermore, the World Health Organization (WHO) has admitted that “Children under two years of age do not consistently develop immunity following vaccination.” In fact, vaccinating can actually compromise their immune system.[3]

In a recent 2012 whooping cough outbreak in California, doctors discovered that the majority of children who contracted whopping cough had been vaccinated against it!

  • In fact, 81% of the children with whooping cough had received the full series of “immunizations” against the disease.
  • Another 11% had received only part of the whooping cough regimen.
  • Only 8% had not received any whopping cough vaccinations.[4]

immunization herd immunity Here is a perfect example of how the “herd immunity” hypothesis failed. The team of doctors who studied this whooping cough outbreak theorizes that the effectiveness of the vaccine wears off after several years. The truly disturbing part of this is that the drug maker Glaxo Smith Kline had never performed long-term studies to determine the on-going effectiveness of the vaccine.[5]

A similar 2014 outbreak of the mumps in Ohio revealed the same outcome. Individual infected with mumps included a large population of those vaccinated. Among 28 cases of the mumps, all had been “immunized” against the mumps except for one person.[6] Understanding this, the late Dr. Robert Mendlesohn, MD, in his book, How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor, asserted, “vaccinated individuals are 14 times more likely to contract mumps than unvaccinated.”[7]

If you think you are safe with the flu shot, think again. Four Canadian studies released in 2009 demonstrated that a seasonal flu shot increases the probability that one will contract H1N1 flu by 250%![8]

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the effectiveness of the influenza vaccine for the 2014-15 flu season is 19%.[9] In spite of this pathetic performance, the CDC still insists, “Getting a flu vaccine each year is the best way to prevent the flu.”[10] The flu vaccine really does increase your risk for serious pandemic flu illness!

While the flu virus is primarily spread through coughing, sneezing, or touching items contaminated by an infected person, “it is also possible for vaccine strain influenza to be transmitted by persons who have recently received live attenuated influenza virus nasal vaccines.”[11] This holds true for seven days or more following administration of the vaccine.

In other words, it is possible to contract a disease from a person who has been infected with it through immunization. In fact, government pamphlets warn, “Children who have been vaccinated should avoid close contact with people with severely weakened immune systems for around two weeks after being vaccinated.” Vaccine experts also warn that children “May have to stay away from elderly relatives for a few days after vaccination.”[12] The takeaway: the unvaccinated can become infected from the vaccinated.

Another problem is that viruses are constantly mutating. Antibodies developed against one virus will not be effective at warding off its mutant cousins.[13] One wonders whether vaccinating actually assists in the mutation and development of superbugs. Bacterium and viruses may be turning into strains that can no longer be controlled.

So we find that immunizing can actually lead to greater chances of contracting the disease for which one is being inoculated.

Myth #3: Vaccinations Are Safe

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The Art of Using Essential Oils

 

Have you ever had the experience of smelling something that causes you to relive an old experience? You actually feel the old feeling as if you were living it again — not just a memory. Maybe your heart races, or you feel hot all over.

When I was in college, I took a date to a Chinese restaurant. I ordered my favorite Chinese chicken salad, and subsequently spent most of the night kneeling in front of the toilet. For years, every time I smelled sesame oil my stomach would turn and I couldn’t eat. Interestingly, I could tolerate all the other ingredients: chicken, lettuce, green onions, and so forth. It was just the distinctive smell of sesame oil that caused nausea.

benefits of essential oilsOur sense of smell can have powerful effects on the body through our feelings and memory. The link occurs because you process smell in the hippocampus and amygdala, parts of the limbic system, or the “emotional brain” — the same area where memories are processed. This is the same part of the autonomic nervous system that controls blood pressure, heart, hormones, breathing, stomach, organs and so forth. Because of this, essential oils have the potential to have far-reaching effects on the body.

Essential Oil Basics

Essential oils have been called “the life blood of a plant.” Oils are called “essential oils” when they are pure extracts of the plant. They are named “essential” because they bear the very essence of the flower, petals, peels, berries, leaves, bark, wood or roots from which they are derived. All substances can be broken down into an array of molecules and atoms, and essential oils are no different. Each essential oil can be broken down into a collection of different natural chemical constituents. These oils consist of a multitude of different substances:

  • Aldehydes
  • Fats (lipids)
  • Terpenes
  • Ketones
  • Alcohols
  • Phenols
  • Esters

Essential oils are used by plants in somewhat the same way they are by humans. Essential oils:

  • Fight infection
  • Contain hormone-like compounds
  • Initiate cellular regeneration
  • Work as chemical defense against fungal, viral, and animal foes

Each plant’s oils have a unique makeup as a result of the plant’s own physiology, natural environment, and its potential microbial invaders. Despite their plant origins, essential oils have a similar structure to some compounds found in blood and tissues. This allows them to be compatible with our own physiology and easily absorbed into the human body. Essential oils pass through cell membranes, then further on into the bloodstream due to their “lipophilic” nature (a structure in alignment with the lipid components of our cell walls).

When using essential oils to treat illness, it’s important to take the individual person into account. One may negatively respond to an oil that will help another. Thus, there is an art to their use. The way we heal from illness is correlated to our internal function, much more than to the chemistry.

For example, of a hundred people exposed to the flu virus, only about 30% actually get an illness. If your balanced immune system is functioning, you may not get sick in the first place. If you do, you will be able to overcome and fight the infection. Antibiotics are really for people with a suppressed or non-functional immune system. Essential oils can be an adjunct to helping your body function properly to prevent and treat illness.

Essential oils can protect us from microbes in many different ways. From keeping the space around us naturally microbe-free, to readying our immune system for defense, to actually destroying the microbes once they’ve entered our bodies.

The two primary effects happen through olfactory reactions, or sense of smell, and the chemical reactions from applying oils to the skin.

Besides the effects caused from the odor, as the oils are absorbed, each substance further affects the body through action on hormones, receptors, the immune system, and energy production. These are generally absorbed readily through the skin, but some are volatile, meaning they evaporate, so they are taken orally.

Essential oils absorbed through the skin go directly into the lymph system before they reach the blood, producing more immune system effects. Click to Tweet.

This also allows more regional application since the lymph system is more local. This is why topical essential oil application is done for more localized effects.

When oils are ingested through the intestines they go straight to the liver, which can affect detoxification mechanisms as well as energy production. From there, they have access to cells and blood, and then to the rest of the body.

Safety of Essential Oils

While quality oils are non-toxic and safe, they are highly concentrated. Because they can have powerful effects on the body, you only need very small amounts. This is not one of those, “If some is good, then more is better,” treatments. When ingesting them internally it is often better to put them into capsules.

Someone told a friend of ours to use a couple of drops of pure oil of oregano for her 4-year-old son’s sore throat. He had been in bed for 2 days and was quite ill. She didn’t know how to administer pure oil of oregano. So she told her son to open his mouth and she shook a few drops of pure oil out of the bottle onto his tongue. The child immediately turned red and went screaming down the hall, running around the house throwing up, gagging and crying.

The mom didn’t understand what all of the fuss was about. After all, it was just an oil from a spice she used frequently in her cooking, so she put a drop or two on her own tongue. She said her tongue instantly felt like it was on fire. She turned red, her eyes watered up and ran through the house screaming and gagging, and finally to the kitchen for a glass of water! She apologized to her son profusely! However, 15 minutes later her son was well, laughing and playing. He was fully and permanently recovered from his illness!

How Essential Oils are Used

Using essential oils is an art that takes some time to master. Oils are not like drugs, which primarily enhance or retard the body’s natural functions. Where there is dysfunction and the body is not able to compensate, the oils will not change it.

For example, a person with diabetes may be told that lavender and cinnamon oils help to regulate sugar. But if there is no change in diet and exercise oils will make little difference. Oils are best used as part of a program, especially in the case of chronic illness.

That said, it is important to understand how our medical system uses drugs:

  • To block or stimulate receptors in the body
  • To kill bacteria or viruses
  • To effect chemical reactions

But, essential oils work differently. Their aromas are a sensory experience, on top of the physiologic effects, which make them much more effective than just relieving symptoms. Click to Tweet.

Let’s look at some common ailments, and some simple regimens that can be useful for specific problems. These examples will provide some of the spectrum of the uses of essential oils.

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Top 10 Essential Oils

 

The use of essential oils is based in a practice called aromatherapy. Aromatherapy uses volatile (quick to evaporate) aromatic plant oils to bring about spiritual, emotional and physical well-being. Essential oils provide healing in many ways including:

  • Strengthening the immune system
  • Penetrating cell walls to deliver nutrients and oxygen
  • Neutralizing free radicals with antioxidant properties
  • Killing bacteria, viruses and fungi[1]
  • Detoxifying cells in the body
  • Passing the blood-brain barrier to treat neurological issues
  • Increasing ozone and negative ions in the air
  • Raising the frequency of the human body. This fights disease and brings balance the physical, emotional, and spiritual health.[2]
  • Acting on the central nervous system. Oils can relieve depression, anxiety, and stress and also bring focus and alertness.
  • Bringing relief to pain and inflammation

Essential oils are not the same as fragrance or perfume. They are naturally potent medicines with constituents based in chemistry. Made of hydrocarbons and oxygenated compounds, essential oils have the potential to be as powerful as pharmaceutical drugs. This is why safely using these powerful and effective oils is so important!

There are three primary and safe methods of essential oil use:

  • Inhalation
  • Topical
  • Internal

Inhalation of Essential Oils

The inhalation of oils is most effective on the central nervous system. When inhaling essential oils, the volatile molecules become a vapor. This vapor travels to the top of the nasal cavity and meet the olfactory mucous membrane. The olfactory membrane has thousands of sensory receptors to:

  • Identify the smell.
  • Convert the smell to an electrical charge.
  • Send the frequency to the olfactory bulb.

Inhaling Essential Oils CanThe olfactory bulb then sends those charged impulses to different parts of the brain, including the limbic system.

The limbic system includes parts of the brain that control emotional and psychological responses. Once the charge reaches the limbic region, it stimulates the hypothalamus and continues to the autonomic nervous system or pituitary gland. Once the charge reaches the autonomic nervous system, it can affect body functions such as heart rate and digestion. Its effects on the pituitary gland can initiate hormonal activity in the body.

Through the process of inhalation, essential oils have the capacity to:

  • Heal emotional trauma
  • Stimulate memory
  • Enhance focus and learning
  • Decrease stress levels
  • Balance hormones
  • And much more!

The entire process from inhalation to response from the brain takes place in a matter of seconds![3] The oils also reach the bloodstream during inhalation via the nasal mucosa and the alveoli in the lungs. Certain oils, eucalyptus for example, can also have a direct effect on the lungs.

When inhaled, eucalyptus acts as a natural anti-inflammatory and expectorant. Click to Tweet.

Inhalation can be performed using an essential oil diffuser or an inhaler. Another way that essential oils enter the body is inhalation through the nose or mouth. Diffusers are also an excellent way:

  • To neutralize odors
  • Kill airborne bacteria and viruses
  • Increase ozone in the air

I recommend using ultrasonic diffusers. They are the most effective at creating a fine mist of aromatic molecules. This inexpensive diffuser from NOW is a great introductory diffuser for a great price!

Applying diluted essential oil to the skin through a body oil or lotion is also a great way to incorporate the benefits of both inhalation and topical application.

Topical Use of Essential Oils

Topical application quickly gets the oils into the bloodstream by bypassing the digestive system. When applied to the skin, essential oil molecules pass through dermis of the skin, into the capillaries and then into the bloodstream.

Essential oils can be quickly absorbed through the feet. The feet contain bundles of nerve endings. These nerve endings act as neuroelectrical pathways to different organs throughout the body. Applying oils to the corresponding points on the feet allows healing to reach the particular affected organ.

For example, if you are nauseous, then apply peppermint to the stomach and intestinal locations on the feet.

To induce sleep and relax your mind, apply lavender to the brain’s location on the big toe. Click to Tweet.

Applying certain essential oils, such as peppermint, close to the chest or face of a small child is strongly discouraged due to risk of bronchospasm. Applying essential oils (always diluted) to their feet instead is a great, safer way for small children to get the topical benefits of essential oils.

Foot reflexology chart description

Using a reflexology or vita flex chart gives you a visual mapping of where to apply the oils on the feet to treat a particular organ. Other great application points are:

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Choosing Cancer Treatment: Natural or Conventional?

by Amanda Box, N.D.

There are three words that no one ever wants to hear in their lifetime: “You Have Cancer…”

It is, in fact, a death sentence for millions across the globe each year. This unapologetic disease invades a person’s body, often times with no manifestations or symptoms.  It can silently spread far beyond the ability of medical intervention to come to the rescue. Thousand are left with no hope, no options, and no future other than an impending death.  No wonder those three words are so frightening to hear!

Though the medical field has advanced and made headway in cancer treatments, it typically uses the same mode of action.  It becomes a “War on Cancer” as most treatments are aimed at seeking out and destroying cancer cells. This is a war well fought and it deserves credit for the many lives that it has saved.

However, the flip side is that these treatments often cause many casualties, as well.  Many cancer treatments carry the warning that they may cause other forms cancer and can only delay death instead facilitating healingCancer causing cancer treatment? Sounds a bit like a tongue twisting oxymoron; yet, it’s true.

Chemotherapy drugs and radiation can mutate healthy cells into cancer cells. And because these treatments also suppress the immune system, these cancer cells have a better chance of multiplying and, therefore, establishing another area of cancer in the body.

Choosing a Cancer Treatment

Even with all the advances in medicine, it is strange to note that most chemotherapy drugs used today are the same toxic blend of chemicals that have been used since the 1970s.  Yes, chemo kills cancer cells and this is why it is a chosen mode of treatment.  The same is true of radiation. Radiation and chemo battle against cancer cells, but many healthy cells are also destroyed in the process.

Is this really the best route?  Wouldn’t naturally supporting the body’s own immune system to fight cancer without destroying otherwise perfectly healthy cells be a better idea?  Most oncologists will disagree with me, and I’m certainly not here to convince people to go against their doctor’s recommendations or argue statistics. There are parents who have gotten their children taken away from them because they didn’t follow their doctor’s recommendation for cancer treatment and sought alternatives instead. I personally find this ludicrous! It only solidifies my belief that the pharmaceutical industry has its hands in the government’s pockets!  Either way, cancer treatment remains extremely controversial and often times very dangerous territory.

natural supplements to boost immunity during cancer treatmentMy belief is that information is power and we should be given the opportunity to choose our mode of treatment, if mainstream cancer treatment, alternative, or both.  I am not here to judge one’s choice and I have often asked myself what I would do if one of my children or I were diagnosed with cancer. It is a decision that should never be taken lightly. Although I am not 100% sure what my decision would be if given the dire circumstances of cancer, I know I would never turn my back on the wonderful natural remedies and treatments I have come to know throughout the years. The wonderful thing about natural remedies is that even if one chooses a more mainstream approach such as chemotherapy or radiation, many natural approaches can also be adhered to alongside or following these treatments to provide the body with support and proper nourishment.

Boosting Immunity During Cancer Treatment

Many who are diagnosed with cancer are unaware of natural treatments that can either complement their existing regime or help to lessen the many side-effects of most conventional cancer treatments. However, it is also important to note that many natural supplements cannot be combined with conventional treatment because they can work against each other. For example, cleansing and detoxing can be dangerous and even possibly life threatening during chemotherapy treatment.  However, detoxing after chemotherapy is complete can be helpful in eliminating the excess damaging toxins that chemo can leave in the body.

Using natural methods to boost the immune system during conventional cancer treatments can also be extremely beneficial. Although treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can shrink tumors and kill cancer cells, they don’t facilitate the healing that needs to occur in your body even after the cancer is killed. This is why natural supplements can be so helpful; they facilitate the body’s own healing and restoration process!

If you or someone you know is undergoing cancer treatment, please take note.  Secondary infections during cancer treatments are very common and can be life threatening. Keeping the immune system as strong as possible during cancer treatments can help prevent secondary infections, prevent cancer recurrence, and encourage your body to heal from the damage of both the cancer and the side-effects of treatments.  

We all have cancer cells in our bodies, yet we most of us don’t get full-blown cancer because our immune system destroys these cells before they get a chance to multiple and grow.  This is why keeping our immune system strong and healthy is so vitally important, especially when undergoing treatments like radiation and chemotherapy that are known for creating cancer cells as a side-effect.

There are a lot of natural supplements that boost the immune system.  However, not all of them combine well with conventional cancer treatment.  Below are some of the best and also safest supplements to take while undergoing cancer treatments to boost the immune system and promote overall health.[am4show guest_error=’noaccess’]

Vitamin D

Adequate vitamin D in the blood is crucial for strong, healthy immune system.  Without enough vitamin D, our killer cells cannot do their job!  Unfortunately, most people are vitamin D deficient because we have been taught to shun the sun, even though it gives away an endless supply of vitamin D. However, 20 minutes a day of sun exposure is healthy and is a fantastic way to build your vitamin D levels!  Supplementation is extremely helpful, as well. I recommend 35 IU per lb of body weight. Monitor your levels via blood work and shoot for levels between 70-100 ng/ml for cancer treatment.  There are mounds of studies that support the evidence that vitamin D can prevent and help fight cancer.

Vitamin C

vitamin c and chemotherapy together_3Intravenous vitamin C is a method of interest in mainstream cancer treatment.  This is because studies performed by the University of Kansas showed that intravenous vitamin C combined with chemotherapy did three important things:

  • Increased the effectiveness of killing cancer cells by chemotherapy.
  • Protected healthy cells from damage from chemotherapy drugs.
  • Lowered the side-effects and toxicity of chemotherapy drugs.

This is fantastic news for those looking for a way not to only prevent the side-effects from their mainstream cancer treatment, but to enhance its effectiveness!  I recommend inquiring with your doctor about administering vitamin C alongside your chemotherapy.

Intravenous vitamin C shows much greater results than supplementation in pill form.  However, if you do take a pill form I recommend taking the fat soluble form of vitamin C called Ascorbyl Palmitate.  Because it is fat soluble rather than water-soluble, it stays in the body much longer.

Mushrooms

Many different mushrooms have some pretty incredible anticancer and immune boosting properties.  Eastern medicine has used these mushrooms for thousands of years for treatment of cancer and many other ailments. Maitake, Shiitake, Reishi, and Turkey Tail are the most commonly used mushrooms for cancer and immunity.

Though you can eat these mushrooms, they can be difficult to find.  I recommend using them in supplement form as they concentrate the medicinal aspects of these mushrooms into a pill making them more effective. RM-10 from Garden of Life and Host Defense’s Comprehensive Immune Support are both fantastic mushroom blends for cancer treatment and prevention.

Curcumin

Curcumin is the main active component of the spice turmeric.  It is a powerful antioxidant and has shown positive results in lab experiments in its ability to both kill cancer cells and prevent them from growing.

Antioxidants are a bit controversial when it pertains to them being taken alongside treatments like chemotherapy. Some experts believe that antioxidants can lower chemo’s effectiveness, while others have seen their amazing ability to lower levels of pain and fatigue. I personally believe the benefits of antioxidants far out way the unproven possible negative results.  

In my opinion, the strongest and most effective curcumin on the market is Europharma’s Curamed. One pill of Curamed is the equivalent to ten pills of typical curcumin.  I personally take it daily for immune system support, cancer prevention, and also for its amazing ability to quell inflammation in the body.

Supplements for Side-Effects

natural supplements for cancer treatment side-effectsUnfortunately, most conventional cancer treatments are packed with side-effects:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Hair loss
  • Pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • And the list goes on

Finding natural ways to help combat these often incapacitating side-effects can greatly improve the quality of life of one going through these treatments.

Ginger

Ginger is a fantastic herb for nausea that is very safe and effective.  It can be taken alone, or alongside prescribed anti-nausea medications. A recent study showed that cancer treatment patients who drank a high protein drink with ginger twice a day were less nauseous and required less anti-nausea medication. I recommend pill form as it is the easiest form to taken and generally the most effective.

L-Glutamine

I remember the first time someone told me that the Mayo Clinic had recommended they take L-Glutamine during their chemo. I had never heard of this recommendation before, but I was thrilled that a natural supplement was being suggested to help those undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

I later found out that cancer lowers levels of glutamine in the body as does chemotherapy treatments.  Supplementing with glutamine during cancer and chemotherapy has protective properties against damage to the stomach lining, the heart, and our brain. Often times, chemotherapy’s toxic chemicals can damage those parts of the body and l-glutamine provides protection from those toxic effects!

No matter what path you choose in treating your cancer, whether conventional or alternative, you can always incorporate nature’s best remedies into your plan of action.  Whether it’s reducing nausea, protecting your body against chemotherapy’s toxic effects, or boosting your immune system, there are effective and safe natural treatments and solutions at your disposal.  

Take advantage of what nature has to offer! Cancer is not something to be taken lightly and using every cancer treatment means necessary, both natural and conventional, is commendable in your journey to health and restoration!

 

 

Amanda BoxAmanda Box is a Traditional  Naturopath and a graduate of Clayton College of Natural Health. She’s been in the health and wellness industry for over 12 years and currently practices naturopathic consulting in the Kansas City, Missouri area.  Her passion is helping others achieve wellness of the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. If you don’t have a good local naturopathic practitioner to turn to for your personal needs, Amanda does phone consultations! She can help you with weight loss, detox/cleansing, acute and chronic illnesses, skin and body care, grocery shopping, pantry overhauls, and more! Visit her blog “My Life in a Healthnut Shell” at http://amandabox.blogspot.com/ for contact info.

 

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Natural Relief for Joint Pain

Do you struggle to get out of bed in the morning because of stiffness?  Do your knees ache?  Maybe the simple task of writing a letter is just too painful.  These aches and pains are not normal and should never be overlooked.

Arthritis is often in the headlines and gets a lot of attention as the primary reason for most joint pain. However, there are many other possible causes of your muscle pain, joint stiffness, and joint popping. These other contributors may not get as much press, but they can be just as common in contributing to joint pain.

Our joints, unfortunately, can be quite susceptible to both damage and inflammation.  They can also be affected by something as ambiguous as hormonal imbalances in the body.  Because of the different possible causes, there is no one size fits all prescription for joint pain.  Simply put, not all joint pain is created equal. But, finding the root issue is truly the first step towards freedom and pain relief!

joint painSome of the common and less talked about reasons for joint pain include:

  • Hormonal changes (thyroid, adrenal, menopausal, etc.)
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Gout
  • Carpal tunnel (wrist joint pain specifically)

Getting a Diagnosis

When you are unsure of the cause of your joint pain, it is wise to make a trip to your doctor or practitioner’s office for blood work and a physical evaluation.  But before you go, it is wise ask yourself these questions to help diagnose the problem.

  1. When did the pain start?  Did anything specific happen in your life happen during this time period like an injury or change in job or family life?
  2. Does the pain change with the weather or seasons?
  3. Is there anything causing significant stress in your life?
  4. What is your family’s health history?

The answers to these questions can help point your doctor in the right direction in diagnosing the problem.  Many times we overlook or are unaware of possible causes that may be quite clear to our doctor or practitioner.

Knowing if you have underlying health issues that are affecting your joints is important to prevent unnecessary treatments and drugs.  True healing cannot occur by only medicating the symptoms.  Plus, you may see other health problems resolve when the true problem is corrected.

For example, if you have a thyroid issue, then you don’t want to address the joints, but rather the root thyroid problem. In this particular situation, isolating the joint pain with treatment isn’t a long-term solution. It would only inhibit healing where the body truly needs it: the thyroid.

Again, doctors and other health practitioners are trained at interpreting both your symptoms and lab work.  This is why it is important for you to be very clear about everything you’ve been feeling, both emotionally and physically. Stress alone is known to be a common culprit of joint pain. If lowering your stress is the answer, then why waste your money on expensive drugs?

It might even be helpful to keep a pain symptom chart for a few weeks.

  • Does pain occur after a particular activity?
  • When did the joint stiffness first occur?
  • Did the pain come suddenly or over time?
  • Has the pain intensified or moved to any other joints?

Once you know the true cause, it is time to weigh your options and minimize any joint damage.  In most instances, a doctor will offer you some sort of prescription medication to remedy your ailment.  However, most prescription drugs for modifying joint pain also hail a plethora of harmful side-effects, including:

  • joint pain drugs side effectsLow white blood cell count (increasing your risk of infection)
  • Serious birth defects
  • High blood pressure
  • Bone marrow toxicity

You can take other more natural, safe and effective treatment steps to remedy joint pain. Below, I will help you navigate through the possible contributors to joint pain and their natural remedies.

Hormonal Changes and Joint Pain

Hormonal shifts and fluctuations in the body can contribute to joint pain.  If the hormonal imbalance isn’t addressed, then the side-effect of joint pain can be quite common.  This is because as we age, hormone levels can drop. This is especially common in women.  Hormone induced joint pain can be caused by:

  • Low thyroid function (hypothyroidism)
  • Adrenal fatigue
  • Menopause

Hypothyroidism and Joint Pain

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid is not producing an adequate amount of thyroid hormones for the body, which can cause:

  • Weight gain
  • Intense fatigue
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • And even intense joint pain

It can often be difficult to distinguish between pain associated with hypothyroidism and rheumatoid arthritis.  This is again is why getting a proper diagnosis is so important.

Joint pain from hypothyroidism can manifest in the neck, shoulders, knees, and smaller joints of the hands and feet. Click to tweet this.

However, pain relief can be relieved once the thyroid is in proper balance again.  There are naturally sourced prescription thyroid medications called Amour and Nature-throid.  You may have to specifically request these natural replacements since the synthetic versions are typically prescribed.

Others with a more mild thyroid condition find great relief from thyroid boosting supplements.  These supplements generally contain iodine and l-tyrosine, which are both important for thyroid function.  My favorite supplement is Europharma’s Thyroid Care.  However, there are several other wonderful formulas on the market.  Check your local health food store for their recommendations.

Adrenal Fatigue and Joint Pain

One of the most under-diagnosed yet common health issues today is adrenal fatigue.  Although it is becoming more accepted amongst medical professions, some doctors have stated that there is no such thing as adrenal fatigue. I strongly disagree. Adrenal fatigue is a result of an overstressed body.  Some have even deemed it The Stress Syndrome.

When your body is under prolonged or chronic stress, your adrenals will continuously produce cortisol and adrenaline.  Going long stretches without sleeping and using caffeine as a source of energy are also contributors to adrenal fatigue.  This constant release of stress combating hormones eventually leaves the adrenals depleted and fatigued.  This in turn causes a state of constant fatigue.

In persons with adrenal fatigue, weak muscles can also result.  Many of the muscles affected are in the legs.  The basic job of these muscles is to stabilize our joints.  When our joints aren’t held stable, pain results.

Tweet: Those with adrenal fatigue typically battle knee, ankle, and foot pain. Lower back pain is also quite common. Click to tweet this.

Resolving adrenal fatigue is not a quick fix.  You must be dedicated to both eating well and finding ways to safely combat the stress in your life.  The basic steps in overcoming adrenal fatigue are:

  • Lowering carbohydrate intake
  • Eliminating white sugar completely
  • Eliminating caffeine intake
  • Increasing protein intake
  • Getting adequate sleep (8 hours a night minimum)
  • Taking a quality multivitamin and adrenal supplement (I recommend Europharma Adrenaplex)
  • Finding a safe and effective stress outlet (prayer, meditation, yoga, etc.)
  • Exercising, as well, is essential!

I personally battle adrenal fatigue and suffered many of the symptoms, including joint pain.  I am now pain free and have far more energy.  It is worth taking the time towards recovery!

Menopause and Joint Pain

Studies have found that lower levels of estrogen in the body can aggravate joint pain.  This is especially common during menopause as estrogen levels begin to plummet.  Some women have pain relief once they’ve completed menopause and their hormones have settled.  However, many women have found substantial relief with natural hormone replacement therapy and estrogen mimicking supplements.

Since estrogen increases the risk of certain cancers, it is always best to follow your doctor’s guidelines closely and take the lowest dose needed to reduce your symptoms.  Bio-identical hormones are becoming quite popular and are much safer than the synthetic versions.  Bio-identical estrogen creams and patches are the most common forms of administration.

Many women have also found relief by taking estrogen-like supplements such as black cohosh and flax. These supplements do not actually contain estrogen, but have substances that act like estrogen in the body. These can be purchased at your local health food store and are far less expensive than bio-identical estrogen.

Gout and Joint Pain

Technically referred to as a form of arthritis, gout affects millions of people leaving them miserable and in severe pain.  The good news, however, is out of all the joint issues, gout seems to be the easiest to treat!

Gout is inflammation in the joints from an accumulation of uric acid crystals.  It can cause intense pain and inflammation and often affects the big toe.  Treating gout naturally involves:

  • Avoiding uric acid producing foods
  • Consuming foods that neutralize uric acid

Foods high in purines break down into uric acid in the body thereby increasing the occurrence of gout.  Common foods with high purine levels include:

  • Seafood
  • Red meat
  • Beer
  • Soda
  • Asparagus
  • Organ meats

If you’re battling gout, then try to avoid these foods are eat them very sparingly.

Instead, beginning consuming more water to flush out the uric acid to reverse gout.  Increase consumption of cherry juice, as well.  Cherries contain compounds that block the reabsorption of uric acid and instead increase uric acid excretion via the urine.  They also contain anthocyanins, which are anti-inflammatory.  I’ve seen amazing results when people eliminated uric acid producing foods and begin drinking cherry juice on a daily basis.  It is simple, inexpensive, and extremely effective at treating joint pain caused by gout!

Carpal Tunnel and Joint Pain

Carpal tunnel is a painful condition that primarily affects the wrist.  It is typically brought on by years of repetitive movement and affects women three times more often than men.  There is also a less common, yet similar syndrome in the ankle called tarsal tunnel.

Carpal tunnel joint pain is caused by inflammation or pressure on the medial nerve.  This nerve controls sensation to the thumb and first three fingers.  Over times it can progress to severe pain, numbness in the fingers and thumb, and an inability to grip objects.

Carpal tunnel can be properly diagnosed using several physical tests.  Once diagnosed, a wrist-brace or even surgery may be suggested.

However, many have found pain relief from natural supplements and vitamins in quelling the pain of carpal tunnel.  Acupuncture is also a great alternative that can bring significant relief.

Some of the most common supplements for carpal tunnel include:

  • B6 – Studies have found a possible correlation between B6 deficiency and carpal tunnel.  A typical dose for carpal tunnel is 50 mg 2-3 times a day. (1)
  • Arnica – A homeopathic used typically for trauma, swelling, and bruising.  Arnica has also shown to improve carpal tunnel swelling and pain.  Follow the dosing directions on the bottle.
  • Systemic Enzymes – These enzymes help tremendously with tissue swelling.  It may take a few weeks to see results so stick with it.  A great brand to purchase is Wobenzym.
  • Curamin – The base of this product is curcumin, which is the active component of the herb turmeric.  The makers of Curamin use a specialized extraction process making their curcumin 20X stronger than your typical curcumin product.  They also blend it with other anti-inflammatory ingredients like boswellia making it quite possibly the best natural anti-inflammatory on the market.  I have personally heard the testimonies from happy customers.  The formulator of the product personally told me that a double dose could be used in the beginning to put out the fire of inflammation.  After 3-7 days, you can begin weaning down to a maintenance dose that works for you.

Although joint pain is really quite common, it doesn’t have to be normal.  You aren’t doomed to suffer from joint pain!  Finding balance in your body with the use of natural supplements and a healthy diet can prevent and even quell that unnecessary joint pain.

Do you suffer from joint pain?  What do you think is the contributor to that pain?  What steps do you plan to implement in eliminating that pain?

 

Amanda BoxAmanda Box is a Traditional  Naturopath and a graduate of Clayton College of Natural Health. She’s been in the health and wellness industry for over 12 years and currently practices naturopathic consulting in the Kansas City, Missouri area.  Her passion is helping others achieve wellness of the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. If you don’t have a good local naturopathic practitioner to turn to for your personal needs, Amanda does phone consultations! She can help you with weight loss, detox/cleansing, acute and chronic illnesses, skin and body care, grocery shopping, pantry overhauls, and more! Visit her blog “My Life in a Healthnut Shell” at http://amandabox.blogspot.com/ for contact info.

 

(1) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1949298/

 

Parkinson’s Disease: The Mystery, the Myth and the Magic

By Dr. Richard A.DiCenso

THE MYSTERY

Despite its prominence in contemporary literature and the text book symptoms, diagnosis and “standard of care” treatments, there’s a lot of myth and misinformation floating around about this disease.

Plus, most of the authoritative answers are written in medical language that you need a medical degree to understand. You shouldn’t be confused about Parkinson’s simply because you didn’t go to medical school.

Parkinson’s is a condition that has been known about since ancient times. It is referred to in the ancient Indian medical system of Ayurveda under the name Kampavata. In Western medical literature it was described by the physician Galen as “shaking palsy” in AD 175. However it was not until 1817 that a detailed medical essay was published on the subject by London doctor James Parkinson.

The publication was entitled “An Essay on the Shaking Palsy.” This established Parkinson’s disease as a recognized medical condition. The essay was based on six cases he had observed in his own practice and on walks around his neighborhood. The essay was intended to encourage others to study the disease. Some 60 years after it was first published, a French neurologist by the name of Jean Martin Charcot did exactly that. Charcot was the first to truly recognize the importance of Parkinson’s work and named the disease after him.

Much has been learned about the disease yet much remains a mystery. The symptoms are progressive and degenerative and tend to be more common in older individuals. It is understood that a dopamine deficiency in the brain is at the root of the matter, yet why this initially occurs is less clear. It wasn’t until the 1960s that that the chemical differences in the brains of Parkinson’s patients were identified. The low levels of dopamine cause the degeneration of nerve cells in part of the brain called the substantia nigra. It was this discovery that lead to the first effective medicinal treatment of the disease. In the 1960s, the drug Levodopa was first administered to treat the symptoms and has since become the “gold standard” in medication.

THE MYTH

Since the 1960s, research has continued to progress at a rapid rate. Despite the fact there is still no cure (The Myth), the symptoms can now be effectively controlled and reduced in severity. The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation was established in America in1957 to assist sufferers and to fund and promote further research. Many other foundations assisting the cause have been established in the following years.

A notable recent addition is the Michael J Fox Foundation, named after the much-loved television and movie actor. The foundation has been very public about its goal of developing a cure for the disease within this decade. Since its inception in 2000, it has succeeded in raising over 90 million US dollars. But it has made no more progress than for any of the other autoimmune, chronic degenerative and “incurable diseases” we posture to pursue within the convention model of what we know, what we think we know, or what we believe to be true.

Progress on all fronts is gaining momentum. Hope for the future of the “Shaking Palsy,” it seems, is decidedly solid, particularly in light of new information (almost 30 years old) that holds the promise of a paradigm shift in the fields of Neuroscience, Brain Chemistry and Quantum Physics.

Hope is a powerful thing. Without hope for a better future, no matter what the affliction, the will to live is lost and recovery is impossible.

Imagine, then, being told by your doctor that you have a progressive and degenerative disease that robs you of the ability to control your own body. A disease for which there is no cure.

This is the reality for those diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Hope is offered in the form of medication such as Levodopa. Levodopa acts to restore levels of dopamine in the brain. Remember, the perceived mechanism, the lack of dopamine, is the primary reason believed to be the cause for the symptoms associated with the condition.

Consequently, many have sought hope in alternative treatments. Parkinson’s disease has been a recognized ailment in virtually all cultures since ancient times. Many of these ancient treatments are becoming popular in the west and are increasingly validated by western medicine.

Ayurvedic medicine

Alternative PD treatmentThis has been practiced in India for 5000 years. Parkinson’s symptoms are mentioned in ancient text under the name Kampavata. Ayurvedic medicine is a comprehensive system placing equal emphasis on diet, exercise, meditation, massage and herbs. One such herb, Mucuna Puriens, is gaining attention in conventional circles as its effects mimic synthetic Levodopa, with fewer side effects.

Broad beans

Australian researchers discovered that broad beans, also known as fava beans, are an extremely effective natural source of L-dopa. The highest concentration of L-dopa is found in the pod, so they are most effective when consumed whole.

St John’s Wort

Dopamine influences positive feelings in the brain, and since dopamine levels are low in Parkinson’s patients, depression is often a symptom. St John’s Wort is an herb that has been used in Europe for many years. It has been proven to be effective in alleviating depression and insomnia.

Botulinum toxin A

One of the obvious manifestations of Parkinson’s is uncontorllable movements know collectively as Dystonia. Dystonia is characterized by involuntary sustained muscle contraction resulting in repetitive movements, twisting and/or abnormal postures. Most people know of Botulinum Toxin (BTn) injections as a treatment for wrinkles; however, the true wealth in this chemical treatment is its overall effectiveness in the management of dystonia and other movement disorders when in a weak solution.

The indications for its use are expanding and now include treatment of tremor and pain, both of which are common symptoms associated with Parkinson’s. For most patients with these symptoms, BTn injections provide significant but variable relief of the symptoms that lasts for weeks to months (an average of 3 months). However, repeated injections are required to sustain benefit over long periods of time.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

This has been shown to have an effect on the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. However, it is unclear whether it actually slows the disease or simply temporarily alleviates symptoms. The drawback is the massive dose required.

The effective dose is approximately 1,200 milligrams a day, well above the 60 to 90 milligrams recommended by many alternative therapy advocates.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture has bee used for centuries in China to correct energy disturbances in the body. It has become a popular method of treatment for Parkinson’s sufferers the world over. So far, there are no placebo-controlled studies that show acupuncture can treat the motor control symptoms of the disease, but there is some evidence that it can assist with sleep disturbances. There is much anecdotal evidence to suggest that it may be effective in increasing feelings of well-being and relaxation.

Massage

While not treating the Parkinson’s symptoms directly, massage can help reduce some of the discomfort associated with muscle stiffness that is commonly experienced by patients.

Alternative treatments for many diseases come and go. Some become fashionable for a short while only to be discredited and discarded. Others accumulate a growing body of scientific and popular support. It is to a large extent simply a matter of trial and error.

Nonetheless, each of these “alternatives” has as its foundation and primary goal to mimic synthetic Levodopa, with fewer side effects.

THE MAGIC

As a physician with almost 37 years of experience in clinical practice, I have had the opportunity to treat hundreds of patients with this dreaded disorder. I’ve lectured to support groups, to the Parkinson’s Association and treated the wife of the President of the local Parkinson’s Society with great success.

One of the reasons for this success is that I don’t perceive Parkinson’s as a Disease, but rather a SYMPTOM of a fundamental imbalance or deficiency rooted in areas that conventional exploration has avoided.

This simple strategy involves looking at things nobody else is looking at in ways that nobody else is looking at them in order to address the cause of the SYMPTOM rather than treating the effect of the imbalance or deficiency, i.e., the SYMPTOM.

ONE POSSIBILITY

In order to explore possible causes for the low levels of dopamine causing the degeneration of nerve cells in part of the brain called the Substantia Nigra, we must always begin with the question, “WHY”?

In order to answer this initial question we must explore the mechanism of normal function, what’s involved in it and what could possibly alter its normal behavior.

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