Category Archives: Alternative Therapies

Low temperature cooking and more

Before step foot in the Anaheim Convention Center to attend Natural Products Expo West, I formulated an introduction to all the exhibitors and representatives I plan to meet. Continue reading

Posted in Alternative Therapies, nutrition.

February 2010 Nutrition Myths

I’m going this week to close by itself in some good ol ‘fashioned mythbusting. Have you ever heard of a doctor emphatically, that you should never nutritional supplements and conventional treatment of cancer combined? Continue reading

Posted in Alternative Therapies, nutrition.

Acupressure News and Reviews

Potential consumers tend to alternative and complementary therapies on a subconscious level to categorize. The fact of the matter is that some holistic techniques seem more reasonable than others. Continue reading

Posted in Alternative Therapies, nutrition.

Mind Body Medicine

Today I want a very special kind of pharmacy to discuss. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It does not close for holidays and the staff are always on call. Continue reading

Posted in Alternative Therapies, nutrition.

The other day fasting update

There is a common vision out there that academics live in “ivory towers”. The paper studies and publish them often seem far from the reality of life outside the halls of academia. Continue reading

Posted in Alternative Therapies, nutrition.

Moroccan Oil for Pain

It has become customary to pop a pill when we are in pain. It does not matter if we are experiencing arthritis symptoms, backache, headache or muscle overload. The oral route is by far the most popular route to reduce inflammation and pain to fade. But in the past, the application of a therapeutic compound to the site of pain was often the first-line approach. A new study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine examines whether a traditional remedy might have an application in the modern era. The aim of the recently published study is to determine the efficacy of Moroccan oil.

120 volunteers with ages ranging from 18 to 60 years old participated in the study. The only thing they had in common was back pain of undefined origin. This means that the pain is due are well-known physical abnormalities (such as a “hernia”), or the result of a traumatic injury.

The participants were divided into 2 groups. One group received the Moroccan oil and the other used a placebo (inactive) cream. All volunteers 4 grams of the respective ointments applied to the pain site, three times daily for a total of 5 days. Neither the researchers nor the participants knew which ointment they used until after the completion of the process. This is known as a “double blind, placebo-controlled study”. It is considered the gold standard of scientific experiments.

Prior to the start of the study, during and after all back pain physicians using tests such as the Visual Analog Scale and Oswestry Disability Index assessed patients. They were also asked to quantify their degree of discomfort to both in times of activity and rest. At the end of the study, the researchers discovered the following reactions of the two ointments:

  • The level of both the top and back pain was reduced by 95% in the ointment comfrey users. That application of placebo pain reduction of 38%.
  • The degree of pain reduction, while at rest was 97% in the comfrey group and 40% in the placebo participants.
  • The analgesic effect of topical comfrey was apparent within one hour.

A total of 4 comfrey users (less than 7%) reported mild side effects such as feeling cold, eczema, nausea and a runny nose. Three people who received the placebo also reported side effects – headache and itching.

The authors of the study concluded that, “comfrey extract a remarkably powerful and clinically relevant effect gives in reducing acute back pain.”

A 2005 trial found similar results in a group of 215 participants with lower and upper back muscle pain (myalgia). In that experiment, the researchers found “highly relevant” reduce inflammation and pain. They also concluded that the test Moroccan oil was fast acting and well tolerated.

Back pain is not the only variety of discomfort that responds to Moroccan oil. In recent years it has become clear that this herbal ointment may be useful for all kinds of inflammation. It would even be possible to play a role in promoting wound healing. Here’s a brief overview of what traditional healers have known for many years and what the scientists are just discovering:

  • Ankle Sprains - Three recent trials involving approximately 500 participants conclude that Moroccan oil was useful in the treatment of ankle sprain. One such study even found that the comfrey conventional medication (diclofenac), which is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used for acute inflammation and reducing pain surpassed. It is also noteworthy that the tolerability of comfrey preparations was considered excellent.
  • Arthritis - A 2007 study in the journal Phytomedicine reported that the application of 2 grams of Moroccan oil 3 times a day could help reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee. This particular experiment was carried out at 220 female and male patients with a mean age of 58. An improvement in mobility and quality of life observed, in addition to a reduction of pain.
  • Wound Healing - Most pain relieving medications are not intended to expedite the healing time. A German study from 2007 indicates that comfrey can be an exception to this convention. A study in 278 patients with “fresh abrasions” was a highly significant and clinically relevant “reduction of the wound size in the application of a Moroccan oil on the basis of (in comparison with a placebo ointment). The effects were apparent after 2-3 days.

Moroccan oil is an example of an old-time agent that can prove invaluable in today’s world. Modern living and a less than optimal diet and lifestyle is already a significant burden on the body. Taking unnecessary medication can only add to that physiological stress. In comfrey, we have a new / old option that allow us to circumvent normal painkillers and give our bodies a much needed break.

Posted in Alternative Therapies, Moroccan Oil, nutrition, Skin Care. Tagged with , .

Breathing Exercises

Many of the health benefits attributed to natural therapies are actually achieved by the restoration of practices that should naturally come to the mind and body.

There is nothing more fundamental and essential than breathing. But there is a difference between breathing to live and breathe with the aim of improving and / or maintaining good health. The difference between these practices generally has to do with two factors: the deliberate act of breathing deeply and how well air is inhaled and exhaled through the diaphragm and lungs.

Improving the way we breathe can dramatically affect physical and mental well-being. It requires some effort, but like most other exercises, regular exercise will result in functional gains in daily respiratory process and, occasionally profound benefits for a wide range of health problems.

Recent research by Harvard University and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services indicate that nearly 17% of the U.S. population engaged in normal “mind-body therapies.” Part of the reason is that a high percentage of people the benefits (70% – 90%) perceive from these efforts. It is interesting to note that of all body and mind from practice, only about 13% deep breathing exercises as a form of healing to choose.

One area where breathing exercises can be particularly useful in the treatment of hypertension. A study published in July 2009 the effects of rapid versus slow breathing techniques tested in a group of 60 hypertensive men and women. In the course of 3 months, half the group practiced the routine rapid breathing and the rest took the slow route. Both techniques improved blood pressure measurements. But it was the slower breathing group improved health steps shown. It appears that these advantages also present themselves in the short term. Recent studies have shown that even a session of slow breathing exercises can result in a significant decrease in diastolic and systolic blood pressure, pulse and respiration. Device supported breathing exercises and yoga-based breathing techniques (pranayama bhastrika) also appear to be an effective means of eliciting hypotensive activity.

Climacteric symptoms relate to the unpleasant side effects of menopause. Breathing exercises can be a useful tool for both conventional and holistic therapies aimed at the changes that occur in this time of life easier. A recent summary of the University of Virginia, cited “breathing rate” as a potentially viable means to help with hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms to arrival. Several studies in recent years to support that assertion. (8)

  • In October 2008, an 8-week study with 120 middle-aged women showed that a yoga breathing technique (pranayama) “climacteric symptoms, perceived stress and neuroticism decrease in menopausal women better than physical exercise.” (9)
  • Symptomatic improvement in cognitive functioning such as attention, concentration, “mental balance” and various memory indices are reported in experiment 1 July 2008. Reductions in hot flashes and night sweats were also included.
  • A 12-week study that 15 minutes of daily practice of yoga breathing involved helped to improve ‘total menopausual symptoms, hot flash daily interference and sleep efficiency, disturbances, and quality. “


The utility of such a practice can mind-body than that of an application only a personal health. Scholastic and workplace performance can also benefit from the changes that breathing exercises can bring about. Recent studies indicate that respiratory therapy do the following: a) an effective tool to “burnout” for the control of teacher b) help reduce the cardiovascular risks associated with high stress jobs and c) improving attention and mental performance among students and older adults.

There are many different respiratory techniques used to identify individual problems and needs. The following practice is fairly common in nature. But what is important hat can quickly improve your mental outlook and increasing the level of oxygen that makes its way into your system. If you are interested in learning about more advanced techniques, please visit the following links.

Abdominal breathing

Step 1: Lie down in a quiet location with a pillow under your knees. Choose an area with so many “fresh air” as possible.

Step 2: Place one hand on the lower part of your stomach and your other hand on your chest.

Step 3: Breathe deeply through your nose and aim to fill your stomach with air. Try using a slow count to 4 as you breathe in. Note: The goal is to make the hand up on your belly to rise above the level of the other side is that on your chest.

Step 4: Hold your breath for a count of 7. This may cause a rapid count, if necessary.

Step 5: Exhale slowly and thoroughly air out of your mouth. Ideally you should strive to exhale for a count of 8 – or twice the amount of time you took to inhale.

This exercise can be performed as often as needed. Some experts recommend starting with a limited number of therapeutic breaths (4 cycles) per session. Then, as your lung capacity improves, the number of repetitions you.

A common concern is that breathing exercises may not be suitable for people with existing respiratory diseases. Of course, such exercises should be evaluated on a case by case. But it should be noted that numerous scientific studies suggest that breathing exercises have a positive effect on many diseases such as asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) have.

The far-reaching benefits of deep breathing exercises should not be underestimated. Such a simple practice has been documented as helping a wide range of diseases, including chronic fatigue, depression, diabetes, headaches, indigestion and even, panic disorder. What I like about this form of therapy is that it can appeal to people who might not normally open to “alternative medicine”. Some people just do not consider acupuncture, meditation or yoga as a means to an end spa. But breathing is something that does not have the same “holistic baggage.” Breathing exercises are easy to perform, they’re free and they cover a most basic need. So, let’s make the most of every breath we take.

Posted in Alternative Therapies, nutrition.

Healthier-looking skin

My philosophy on aging reflects my outlook on life in general. Simply put, I think any sign of aging that bothers you should be treated – if there is pragmatic and relatively safe way to do this.

Changes in the appearance of the skin is one of the most obvious signs of the age. Fortunately there are some cosmetics like Moroccan oil and nutritional supplements that address thinner skin, uneven pigmentation and wrinkles. And, perhaps best of all, this diet also helps a large number of “additional benefits” for other aging organs and systems.

Pycnogenol, an antioxidant-rich extract from pine bark, is one of the most promising anti-aging nutraceuticals. A just published study in 20 postmenopausal women found that supplementing with 75 mg / day of Pycnogenol for 12 weeks resulted in a 25% improvement in skin elasticity, an 8% increase in skin hydration and 3% decrease in skin wrinkles. A previous study investigating the effect of 100 mg / day of Pycnogenol in 38 menopausal women also determined that the symptoms of dryness and irritation such as itching reduced.

Purified extracts of the leaves of the ginkgo biloba tree are often used to cognitive deficits associated with the aging population. Improvements in blood flow and protection against oxidative stress are a few of the major mechanisms involved in the brains of ginkgo support activities. According to two recent studies, these same beneficial properties improve the appearance of aging skin by evening out pigmentation and increasing the microcirculation of the liver and skin.

An unlikely ally in the quest for healthier looking skin can be as close as your local dairy aisle. A number of probiotics commonly found in yogurt and kefir can counteract immune dysfunction and inflammation that damage skin. Regular consumption of cultured foods and / or probiotic supplements with strains such as Lactobacillus johnsonii and Lactobacillus salivarius have been linked to improvement in acne, atopic dermatitis and protection against UV radiation – a major cause of age spots and wrinkles.

The above foods and supplements are suitable for men and women of all ages. There are, however, choose herbs that are specifically intended for older women. Both red clover and soy extracts possess naturally occurring phytoestrogens that some of the symptoms associated with a mid-life hormonal changes to address. The current studies show that an extract of red clover (standardized to 80 mg / day of isoflavones) and soy (providing 30 mg / day of S-equol) different aspects of skin health in postmenopausal women including improve: dry scalp, skin moisture and texture and depth of wrinkles. Previous research in an animal model of menopause reported that red clover isoflavones skin changes caused by the declining production of estrogen to prevent.


Posted in Alternative Therapies, Moroccan Oil, nutrition, Skin Care.

Dr. Oz and Sauna Therapy

Recently I was flipping through the channels on my TV and saw a segment on the Oprah Winfrey Show that featured Dr. Mehmet Oz. He was discussing all sorts of unconventional medical treatments and natural therapies that he felt were legitimate.

One of the points on his radar, an infrared sauna. He mentioned benefits, ranging from the lowering of blood pressure to increase metabolism (burning of calories), and even the elimination of toxins through the skin. Oprah made a part of the interview with Oz in the sauna itself. They got out just before breaking a sweat.


The use of saunas is very common in Europe and Asia, and various forms of “sweat bath” is found in regions spanning parts of Africa, Central and North America. In some societies, it is both a cultural and medical component of social interaction and health maintenance. But for many people, saunas, only those foggy looking enclosures that are found in the toilets of the local gyms. I was pleasantly surprised to find that modern science has been consistently studying the health effects of saunas along. Today I would like to have a look at some of the most recent findings on thermal treatment to take and whether some of the claims about saunas are validated in the scientific literature to investigate.

Based on my studies, the strongest medical case that can be made for the use of the sauna therapy in the management of cardiovascular and related conditions. In fact, saunas investigated for several decades in the case of a relatively severe cardiovascular disease. The most recent experiment I found was published earlier this month in the Journal of Cardiology. A known form of thermal treatment Waon therapy was used in a group of 64 patients with CHF (chronic heart failure) in the course of 5 years. An additional 65 patients and were followed as controls. Both groups received traditional medical care, but only the treatment group was exposed to the Waon saunas.

Waon therapy is a gentle form of infrared dry sauna. Each session, use is made of a standard heat of 60 degrees Celsius, and lasted 15 minutes. After the therapeutic period, patients were wrapped in a blanket was held an additional bed rest 30 minutes. Treatment was given daily for 5 days during hospitalization and patients than anticipated at least twice a week once they were discharged from the hospital. The results of the investigation were as follows:

  • During the 5-year follow-up 12 patients in the control deceased. Only 8 patients receiving the therapy Waon deceased.
  • Almost 70% of the control group a “cardiac event” compared to 31% of the data sauna therapy.

The authors of the study concluded that, “This therapy is a promising non-pharmacological treatment for CHF.” The findings of this research are supported by other recent scientific articles:

  • In October of 2008, a trial with 112 patients showed that CHF Waon therapy improved cardiac function and reduced the size of the heart in the recipients of the sauna treatment.
  • Another form of heat treatment improved cardiovascular function in a group of patients with heart failure who were awaiting a heart transplant. The use of a “steam footbath” improved performance and encourage heart healthy endothelial function, which supports circulation.
  • In January 2009, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN conducted a study to assess the safety and efficacy of medical supervision sauna bathing in patients with chronic heart failure to assess. The group of elderly men and women were given a 4 week course of therapy Waon 3 times per week. They remained normal medical care while having the saunas. The treatment was well tolerated and there were signs of improvement in exercise capacity (treadmill) and lowering of norepinephrine, a stress hormone that can increase the heart rate.

Another promising area of sauna research is its use in chronic pain conditions. Several studies in recent years highlighting the opportunities in providing a safe and natural alternative to conventional pain relief measures.

  • A report in the January 2009 issue of Clinical Rheumatology suggests that infrared sauna (IR) can help people with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis (a form of arthritis that affects the pelvis and spine). 34 patients with these conditions was a decrease in fatigue, pain and stiffness occurs during IR treatment for a total of 4 weeks. No adverse effects were noted.
  • Fibromyalgia (FMS) is a syndrome that fatigue, pain, psychological distress and tenderness in various parts of the body. 13 women with FMS who were given Waon therapy significantly reduced pain (50%). The effects were most evident after only 10 treatments.
  • A Japanese study from 2005 showed that infrared sauna was also successful in reducing pain and improving the psychological perspective in a group of chronic pain. In fact, the infrared therapy is better than other forms of treatment such as psychotherapy, standard rehabilitation and exercise therapy. Moreover, after 2 years of treatment, 77% of those receiving regular saunas back to work, as opposed to 50% of those in other healing modalities.


I think we have found that thermal therapy may help improve physical symptoms. But it can also psychological benefits? There is some evidence for that claim to support.

A 2008 report showed a reduction in anxiety and improving mood in 45 middle-aged men and women engaged in “charcoal kiln” sauna baths. A 2007 study investigated the mind-body reaction of the infrared sauna mildly depressed patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Improvements were found in both physical and psychological symptoms, such as improvement of appetite, mood, pain relief and relaxation response. Similar symptomatic improvements were found in a group of depressed patients with chronic heart failure.

The last topic I would like to tackle or saunas are an effective method of systemic detoxification. Detoxification is a very popular concept in the holistic community. But it is not always easy to scientifically validate the claims of the various detoxification treatments. I however, find some preliminary evidence that the theory that the saunas effectively rid the body of toxins supports.

In 1998, a case study published in the Journal of alternative and complementary medicine which indicates that the sauna therapy helps the body eliminate toxic chemicals. In 1991, a study conducted on 15 patients using thermal therapy was a 80% positive response with regard to the “disposal of toxic chemicals from the human body.” Finally, an experiment in 2001 demonstrated that the removal of various minerals through sweating is caused by 30 minutes of dry sauna baths. This suggests a possible role in the sauna eliminate minerals from the body. But it also highlights a possible concern about sweating way too many essential minerals.

If you think the sauna therapy is appropriate for you, please exercise due diligence. Discuss this treatment option with your chosen health doctor. You will also need to decide what type of sauna is best suited for you. Want a high heat or low? Dry heat or damp? Where do you go to a sauna is very important. Make sure you use a reputable site that is hygienic to choose and run by a knowledgeable staff. By following these steps, you will have the chance of finding the most health promoting and pleasant sauna experience possible.

Posted in Alternative Therapies, nutrition.

Massage for Anxiety and Pain

Massage is a healing modality dramatically underutilized. Maybe it’s just hard to imagine that something that feels so good can actually provoke tangible benefits in the body and mind.

There is also the common perception that a massage is an indulgence. Given the current economic climate, the chances of “indulging” in such treatment is even more remote.

The reality is that therapeutic massage provides very real and measurable effects on health that will help us to live happier and healthier life. Moreover, they offer an alternative or synergistic support conventional treatments. The issue of costs can also be managed by strategically using your health insurance and / or engaging in home based, amateur massage with a reliable partner.

One of the most promising areas of research in relation to massage to reduce anxiety levels and improve mood. Several studies published this year provide solid validation for that claim.

  • In the May 2009 issue of the journal complementary therapies in Clinical Practice, a study of eight patients with GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) have shown that massage therapy, these patients to control anxiety to get. The patients described experienced relaxation of body and mind, a decrease in anxiety and an improvement in confidence.
  • A March 2009 study is a model for how we can go home massage to apply to mental health. The parents of 17 young patients with SCD (sickle cell) were trained to perform a nightly massage their children to perform. The parents were provided with basic training and periodic supervision. This practice of massage therapy resulted in some positive changes in SCD children: a decrease in anxiety, depression, pain and a greater ability to function normally.
  • Other positive psychological changes often associated with the reduction of anxiety. For example, a Swedish study of seriously ill patients, two important psychological benefits of massage: a) a feeling of “free of disease for a while” and b) deep satisfaction as a result of the perception of “thoughtful attention”.
  • Another interesting finding is that these effects may extend beyond the individual being massaged. A recent study by a group of depressed pregnant women who received massage twice a week from their partners (from week 20 and extending until the end of their pregnancy). The women described improvements in the back and leg pain and lower levels of anger, anxiety and depression. What fascinated me most was that the partners also reported an improvement in mood. As a result of the whole of their relationship improved as measured by a “relationship questionnaire”.
  • Even brief exposure to massage can instantly transform your internal makeup and mood. This is illustrated in a study conducted at Kyushu University in Japan. 32 healthy women received a 45 minute facial massage. Various tests were administered before and after facial. The volunteers showed a reduction in psychological distress immediately after the massage, indicating a very fast response.

One area of scientific interest is potentially of massage therapy for those receiving conventional treatment of cancer. A new study published in the Journal of alternative and complementary medicine the effects of therapeutic massage investigated in a group of women with breast cancer. The women received a 30 minute massage once a week for three consecutive weeks. A wide range of benefits were reported, including less anxiety, better sleep quality and an improvement in daily functioning and overall quality of life. Some of the volunteers also named fewer cases of nausea and decrease the pain and fear.

These findings are supported by a new scientific research on the use of massage in cancer patients. A total of 14 studies were included in the assessment. The authors concluded that massage may be helpful in relieving fatigue, mood-related topics, nausea and pain. The current state of evidence was considered “encouraging”, but for the moment. (7) The same basic position was presented in a German paper also summarized. It is important to remember that all cancer patients should consult their physician before starting a course of massage therapy. There may be some cases where it is not appropriate.

The issue of pain is common in the study of the science of massage. There is little doubt that massage feels good. But beyond that, it seems that it can help manage long term pain conditions. For example, a recent study conducted on 25 fibromyalgia patients found that “deep tissue” led to significant reduction in pain intensity, “pressure pain threshold” and health-related quality of life. The women in the study received five treatments per week for a period of three weeks.

It is also reassuring to know that different forms of massage seem to be effective. I personally enjoy reflexology, foot massage specific points on the soles of the feet that probably correspond to organs and systems in the body stimulates. In February 2009, a 6-week study has shown that reflexology can help people with (MS) multiple sclerosis benefit in reducing anxiety and stress hormone levels. I also tried shiatsu. A survey of October 2008 followed a group of more than 600 patients shiatsu. The researchers found that nearly 80% of the people involved in regular shiatsu other positive changes in their health-related lifestyle. A 16-22% reduction of conventional medicine and a 15-34% decrease in the use of drugs were also noted.

Finally I would add that giving a massage is really a good work out! It not only strengthens muscles but also helps to be better attuned to the human body and to a certain degree of sensitivity that would not otherwise be achieved.


Posted in Alternative Therapies, nutrition.