Category Archives: Alternative Therapies

Acupuncture, Macular Degeneration Osteoporosis and Updates

When it comes to health care, most of us would prefer to have plenty of options. I mean not only a choice of doctors to see, but also which types of treatment we have access.

I think an important step towards increasing the availability of treatment options is to spread the word about alternative / complementary therapies that are scientifically validated, but relatively unpublished. Greater awareness opens doors and minds.

 

In April 2009 I wrote a column about the importance of vitamin C in maintaining bone strength. Since then, additional research promoted the theory that vitamin C and other antioxidants may play an important role in maintaining bone density in the aging population. The most prominent of the new studies will be published in the July issue of the journal Osteoporosis International. Here is a brief overview of the design and results of that trial.

  • 34 postmenopausal women with a mean age of 66 were divided into 4 groups: a) has only a placebo b) received 1000 mg vitamin C and 600 mg vitamin E c) received the placebo and engaged in resistance exercise and d) received the antioxidants and exercised.
  • Bone density measurements are focused on two important points skeleton, femoral neck and lumbar spine before and after the 6 month trial.

The results indicate that both the anti-oxidant therapy and resistance exercise to help maintain bone density. The part of the group receiving the placebo demonstrated bone loss in the lumbar spine. The authors summarized their findings by saying that “anti-oxidant vitamins may offer some protection against bone loss to the same extent as resistance exercise, although a combination of both does not seem to produce additional effects.” I would add that this kind of information could prove invaluable for those who are unable to participate in regular bouts of resistance training.

Two other recently released studies also support the view that antioxidants may be a valuable player in the support of skeletal integrity. The first study looked at the levels of antioxidant enzymes and oxidative stress in 45 women who have osteoporosis compared with 42 non-osteoporotic women. The women with osteoporosis show a greater degree of oxidative stress and a smaller amount of the principal antioxidant enzyme activity. Those researchers found that this environment can contribute to bone loss and “could be considered when pathogenesis of postmenopausal osteoporosis” is examined. A second study recently discovered that a Ginkgo biloba extract, rich in plant antioxidants such as kaempferol and quercetin, contributed to “restore bone mass” in rats without ovaries. This animal model is used to determine the effect of environment on postmenopausal bone parameters to mimic.

In recent months, I talked about the importance of nutrition and supplementation for people who suffer and the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). These recommendations are reinforced by three new items of interest to note.

  • 400 volunteers with early stage AMD recently participated in a process designed to determine whether a combination of concentrated carotenoids (antioxidant pigments found in fruits and vegetables) may accelerate the progression of this incurable eye disease to slow down. The experimental supplement used also contained vitamin C, E and the mineral zinc. The results of the trial shows that the supplement has, in fact, AMD slow progression. It seemed to do this by maintaining the level of the anti-oxidant pigments in the macula. The proportion of subjects who received placebo had a significant decrease in macular pigment levels and the expected progress in the severity of the disease.
  • Earlier this month a study was presented in the British Journal of Opthamology some specific dietary suggestions on how the effects of AMD to counter offer. The recommendations are based on food questionnaires and diagnostic eye examinations performed on almost 3.000 AMD patients who were followed for 8 years. The use of an antioxidant and nutrient rich supplement (AREDS) and the omega-3 fatty acids in fish (DHA and EPA) showed benefits in terms of reduced AMD progression. Eating a low glycemic diet that helps keep blood sugar stable, it is also strongly endorsed. other newly discovered evidence that oxidative damage caused by excessive iron in the body can lead to eye damage. Consuming extra antioxidants is believed to help counteract this risk.

 

In late 2008, I highlighted the role that acupuncture can play in the taming of persistent headaches and supporting the health of women during pregnancy. But there is much more than this kind of needlework. Let’s take a quick look at a few encouraging studies that the range of acupunctures to show.

  • In August 2009, a study published in the journal Neuroscience Letters. In it, the stimulation of acupuncture point PC6 resulted in a reduction in anxiety and stress in a group of mice over an 8-week study. In the same manner showed sugar intake discourage this group of mice. This phenomenon may translate into a reduction of the ‘comfort food’ food in times of stress. The authors of this experiment concluded that “acupuncture has a therapeutic effect on chronic stress and related illnesses such as depression and fear.”
  • One of the most promising areas of research is the use of acupuncture in improving symptoms in very harsh conditions. An example can be found in the July issue of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment. In describing a decrease of tamoxifen-related hot flashes by nearly 60% in a group of women that Chinese acupuncture. It is interesting to note that the benefits go on and even increased in the subsequent 12 weeks after acupuncture treatment.
  • Another example of acupuncture improving a very serious medical condition is found in the July issue of the journal Clinical Rehabilitation. A group of 60 patients diagnosed with schizophrenia were administered either real electro-acupuncture (pictured above) or “sham electro-acupuncture” in the course of 6 weeks – which consists of five 30 minutes sessions per week. No side effects were observed in both groups but a significant difference was found in response. The degree of auditory hallucinations as measured by a test, the psychotic Symptom Rating Scale auditory hallucination subscale and Negative Syndrome Scale, decreased by 43% in the 30 patients who received the original electro-acupuncture. The authors of this groundbreaking research concluded that, “Electro-acupuncture can improve the auditory hallucinations and positive symptoms in patients with schizophrenia partially respond or not respond to risperidone monotherapy.”

It is unlikely that most conventional doctors will advise you to use antioxidants to bone health and / or support to protect against AMD progression. It is even less likely that your psychiatrist will make electro-acupuncture to help anxiety or reducing auditory hallucinations. But you can bring these problems. Never be afraid to discuss alternative treatments with your doctor. First to inform yourself and then carefully to present your case. By doing this you may just discover that your doctor is more open minded than you assumed. Even if that is not the case, at least you have the satisfaction knowing that you tried. Finally, keep in mind that a seed you plant today may root in the mind of your doctor to take away. Keeping the lines of communication open between patient and doc
tor will generally help to improve health care for all of us.

Posted in Alternative Therapies, nutrition.

The Feldenkrais Method

Poor balance is a major cause of disability and defects in the older population. If you are not a part of that age, then you can not ignore.

The Feldenkrais Method is a unique mind-body technique which helps to improve balance, but can also help a wide range of other conditions, including chronic pain, depression, eating disorders, fibromyalgia, and even multiple sclerosis.

The Feldenkrais Method was developed by a Ukrainian physicist and judo expert named Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais. His intention was to create a form of physiotherapy that thoroughly examined the relationship between body and mind to create. By establishing a better awareness of the communication taking place between the brains and physical activity, he believed that issues related to disability, pain and even certain mental disorders can be improved.

The actual practice, sometimes referred to as “Awareness by motion” shall be usually carried out in a group. The instructors will lead a series of movements with verbal cues and occasionally by supporting movements with hands-on approach. The combination of these three sensory techniques (visual, tactile guidance and verbal cues) allows students with basic movements in a simple but profound way. The mind-body connection that occurs is part of the reason why many actors and dancers use the Feldenkrais Method to improve on their work and presentation.

A study of the Feldenkrais Method (FM) was just published today in the journal Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine. The effects of the FM examined in a group of 26 seniors with an average age of 75 years. Seniors 36 additional seniors were recruited as a non-active “control group”. (1)

The 26 participants in the treatment group engaged in twice-weekly Feldenkrais classes specifically tailored to address the balance. The combination of exercises named “Getting Grounded Gracefully” and took a total of 10 weeks. A “specific actions” questionnaire, a physical test know as the Four Square Step Test (FSST), and “self-selected walking speed” (speed) were assessed before and after the process.

All measures of balance and mobility were improved in the treated group Feldenkrais. Moreover, most of the active participants noted benefits associated with self-esteem and a greater ability to participate in daily activities such as walking and pet ramps.

Another study published in January tested in exactly the same balance Feldenkrais program on a group of 55 senior volunteers. Half of the participants has an FM practice twice a week for an 8-week period. The rest have their typical daily activities. This study showed a lower risk of falling (based on the Modified Falls Efficacy Scale) and improvements in two measures of performance that mobility and speed of movement tested. Another positive finding was that “college visit” was very high (88%), and the results of the survey indicated high satisfaction among participants. (2)

FM appears to be well suited for issues relating to pain management. A 2002 study showed that 78 men and women with “non-specific musculoskeletal pain disorders” showed more relief using the Feldenkrais method, in contrast to “conventional therapy”. Another advantage was that the benefits of FM seemed to extend far beyond the treatment period as indicated by a one-year follow-up exam. Also mental aspects of the process function, the quality of life tests showed a significant psychological advantage compared to conventional treatment. (3) In a recent review article in the journal Disability and Rehabilitation included FM and other “body awareness therapies,” such seemingly cost effective ways of increasing health-related quality of life in people with chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia.

Finding non-toxic and powerful methods to tackle mental disorders should be a goal of all medical models. The Feldenkrais method is a way of helping those who struggle with mental health problems. The proof is found in a number of seemingly unrelated studies.

  • In 1997, a study of 30 hospitalized patients with eating disorders discovered a profoundly positive effect on body image in involved in FM. The authors noted “greater acceptance and familiarity of their bodies”, “more spontaneous, open and self-conscious behavior, the decrease in feelings of helplessness and decrease the desire to return to the safety of early childhood”. (5) Some but not all, of these benefits can be attributed to the mood enhancing effects of FM. A 2003 study found that while FM is considered a “low-effort activity,” the positive mood promotes the same extent as other forms of exercise such as swimming. In that study, FM even better than aerobics. (6)
  • Sometimes called negative test results still provide constructive information. A study published in 1999 in the Journal of alternative and complementary medicine, no significant symptomatic improvement in a group of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) by means of the Feldenkrais method can be found. (7) But the researchers did note a significant reduction in anxiety and stress that the performance of FM. This study was relatively short duration (8 weeks of treatment FM). In the longer term, it is quite possible that FM can be a particular difference in the health of people with MS to make because of the stress reducing effect. Some studies suggest a direct link between perceived stress and MS progression. (8,9)

I think there’s something powerful about focusing on the internal workings and interactions of the body and mind. This is an area that is usually glossed over in our busy lives. There are simply too many other distractions that seem to distract our attention. Changing that dynamic can afford a powerful tool for retrieving the various aspects of health and the untapped quality of life.

Posted in Alternative Therapies, nutrition.

Natural Sunscreen Options

The last Tuesday marked the official beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere, also known as the summer solstice. Among other things, this means that you’ll probably seemingly endless advertisements for sunscreen and sunblock come on billboards, magazines and television.

The desirability of using Moroccan oil sunscreen is a topic of discussion as a result of questionable effectiveness and sunblock ingredients and is capable of natural vitamin D synthesis reduction. This lack of consistency confuses many. But there is also good that can come from. Cosmetic companies are constantly trying to secure resources to effectively protect against photo-aging effects of UV radiation to find. In some cases, this trip leads them in a natural way. Herb and legume extracts, ranging from Ginkgo biloba to soy isoflavones now common on the labels of current formulas with extra sun protection components. In fact, some of this “holistic” ingredients often used as outlets in those ads. But something you’re probably not find in most advertisements is an indication of the role that nutrition can play in keeping your skin against the sun.

The health of your skin is largely a reflection of your overall wellness. Genes certainly play a role. However, your genetic makeup has no more influence on the skin than any other area of your body. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity are likely parallels in that they all carry genetic influences, but also respond remarkably well to the natural interventions such as dietary changes, exercise, adequate sleep and stress management. Your largest organ, the skin is no different.

Increasing your consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is the first place to start if you’re looking for internal photoprotection. Fatty acids, especially in fish, DHA and EPA, reducing the inflammatory response to UV radiation and prevent its immunological suppression. What’s more, fish oil supplementation (4 g / d) protect the skin against cancer on a genetic level. It is less certain whether plant-based omega-3 fatty acids such as alpha-linolenic offer the same protective effect. My personal choice of food in the omega-3/skin department is wild salmon. It not only provides an excellent source of DHA and EPA, but also contains a powerful antioxidant known as astaxanthin, which provides additional protection against phototoxicity.

Astaxanthin belongs to a class of colorful phytochemicals called carotenoids, which forms a kind of natural sunscreen within the epidermis or outer layer of skin. Of all known carotenoids, lycopene seems most common in the skin and the most protection against the harmful effects of UV radiation. Cooked tomato-based foods are the best source of this red pigment that is documented as making the skin less sensitive to exposure to the sun. The conclusion of a study summarized thusly the role of lycopene and other carotenoids, “Dietary carotenoids contribute to lifelong protection against harmful UV radiation.”

As far as drinks go, green tea tops the list of natural photoprotectants. The June 2011 issue of the Journal of Nutrition reports that supplementing with green tea polyphenols (GTP) at a dose of 1402 mg per day, experimental UV-induced erythema or redness of the skin decreases by 25%. Other “skin structural characteristics that were positively affected include elasticity, roughness, scale, density and water homeostasis.” The authors of the study should be noted that a separate study by using a lower dose of GTPs resulted in an improved blood circulation or the microcirculation of the skin. Green tea intake appears to many of its dermatological benefits to be exercised through the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory mechanisms. Another positive feature of green tea extract is that it advocates with skin cancer development process by counteracting photoimmunosuppression and promotes the recovery of DNA.

If green tea is not your ‘cup of tea, perhaps you should consider a glass of malbec, pinot noir and syrah. Preliminary data suggest that red wine consumption and extend the amount of time you can spend in the sun for you “burn”. A German study in January 2009 reported that the use of local wine in the form of “wine bath” is contagious as a protection against UVB damage. However, the consumption of red wine with a high content of polyphenols of natural allowed a high degree of UV protection, as indicated by a reaction of the skin test known as the “minimum erythema dose” or MED. Animal and in vitro studies tend to be the only human study I just referred to support. Some researchers believe that two antioxidants present in red wine, Myricetin and resveratrol, the key to the chemopreventive properties and photoprotective mechanisms alluded to in the scientific literature.

My last suggestion seems too good to be true, but it is not. Eating a daily portion of the non-alkaline or non-Dutched dark chocolate not only protects the skin from the harmful effects of UV rays, but also increases blood flow and oxygen saturation. The results of these changes the hydration and an improvement of thickness. A decrease in skin roughness and scaling were also detected in a 12-week study. To get these benefits and more, opt for real dark chocolate with a cocoa content of at least 70%. Two of the studies I reviewed used a cocoa product contains 329 mg of flavanols per serving. This can be approximated by making a strong cup of hot chocolate self-made with the aid of pure, organic cocoa powder. At home I add three carcasses tablespoons cocoa in a mug and sprinkle in a small organic cinnamon, salt and stevia. Add warm water, milk or cream, stir and enjoy.

In all honesty, I have a sunscreen or block in use for many years, although I naturally light skin, I just do not burn as I used to. It does not matter where we travel or how much time I spend outside. My fervent belief is that my food diet and individualized supplementation are the reasons for this welcome change. That does not mean that I regularly sunbathe or go out of my way outside to exercise during peak hours of the day. I’m not recommending that anyone follow my example in preventing sunburn. This is a personal decision to be made in conjunction with your health care team. But no matter what you decide with respect to current skin care, you would do well to harness the power of antioxidants and omega-3 rich foods as part of a comprehensive approach to skin care during the summer months, and beyond.

Be good!

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

Meditation and Cancer

Few things in life more devastating than being diagnosed with a malignancy. More than 12 million new cancer cases were recorded worldwide in 2008. Continue reading

Posted in Alternative Therapies, nutrition.

Natural Headache Remedies

Alternative remedies are generally best suited for the management of chronic diseases. On the other hand, acute symptoms and medical emergencies often necessary conventional care. Continue reading

Posted in Alternative Therapies, nutrition.

Bee Venom Therapy

Bees are invaluable members of the ecosystem. The sustainability of many of the foods we eat is directly dependent on pollination by insects this incredibly productive. Continue reading

Posted in Alternative Therapies, nutrition.

Internet Weight Loss

Technology can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s all a matter of how we decide to use it. The Internet is a good example. Some experts warn that sitting in front of a computer for long periods can lead to physical and psychological consequences, including obesity and social isolation. Continue reading

Posted in Alternative Therapies, nutrition.

Inner outer beauty

The world would be a very different place if our outward appearance reflected the content of our character. In such a scenario, some prized beauty of the past and lose their luster.

Also, the covers of glossy magazines and major newspapers have modest figures that really make the world a better place. For better or worse, that is an alternative reality that I do not think will ever come about. However, there is a way to improve external beauty by changing what you put on your face and plate.

Many progressive dermatologists will tell you that eating a diet rich in antioxidants can protect the skin from the harmful effects of sun and other environmental insults. There is just enough data is available in the scientific literature for them to feel comfortable mentioning such a strategy. Some really cutting edge skin experts will go so far as to recommend avoiding high-glycemic carbohydrates as a means of slowing the aging process by reducing the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). But at the end of the day, most dermatologists recommend eventually different creams, lotions, medications and procedures to improve dermal appearance. The so-called beauty with a price.

New research from the University of Nottingham shows that a healthy diet can literally attractive. The findings published in the latest edition of the Journal of Evolution and Human Behavior report pigments found in certain fruits and vegetables to give a healthy glow to the skin that differs from that reached by the sun. The natural dyes in question are known as carotenoids, which the rich colors present in a variety of foods including avocados, pumpkins, spinach and tomato production. According to the lead author of the study, Dr. Ian Stephen, “Most people think the best way to improve skin color to a brown color, but our research shows that eating lots of fruits and vegetables is actually effective.” The present study used a combination of food frequency questionnaires and photos to determine the perceived attractiveness. What’s more, this apparent phenomenon is not the exclusive domain of humans. For example, male birds with bright yellow or golden beaks and feathers are known to be attractive to female birds searching for a partner.

There is also evidence that carotenoids may appearance of the skin and the protection of health in the long term. Several recent studies show that both dietary and supplementary sources of carotenoids effective: a) decrease “crows feet” and the general facial wrinkling in women- b) reduce photo aging by protecting against ultraviolet-induced skin damage- c) improvement of elasticity of the skin, reducing wrinkles, and by using Moroccan oil.

Eating a “rainbow”-style diet that includes many colorful food with a good plan for other common skin conditions too. A particularly dramatic example is found in the June 2010 issue of the journal Allergy. In that publication, the researchers found that mothers who consumed large quantities of “green and yellow vegetables, citrus fruits, and beta-carotene” babies who were less likely to suffer from eczema had. Another ongoing research notes that adult patients with psoriasis tend to have lower levels of carotenoids in the skin. This vibrant plant pigments can even help reduce the incidence of the most feared of all skin disease: melanoma.

If the current column is enough to encourage you to search for more carotenoid-rich foods, keep this in mind: they are found in the most unlikely places. A good starting point is to eat lots of avocados, canned pumpkin, green leafy vegetables, heirloom tomatoes, organic eggs and squash. But a fact often overlooked is that the carotenoids are also present in significant quantities in herbs and spices such as basil, chili peppers, coriander, parsley and tarragon. You can also increase the bioavailability of these powerful antioxidants to increase by preparing them with acidulants and spices including lemon juice, onions and turmeric. And do not forget the fat. Carotenoids are, after all, fat soluble. So eat them with some extra virgin olive oil or other healthy fats makes much sense. I do not know about you but for me, this sounds much more attractive than baking in the sun for hours or getting a facelift.

Posted in Alternative Therapies, nutrition, Skin Care.

Natural Heart Attack Protection

Perhaps you’ve seen the series of commercials for Lipitor (atorvastatin) while watching your favorite TV programs. Lipitor is a cholesterol-lowering medication, according to the October 2009 edition of the AARP Bulletin, a turnover of over $ 5.88 billion were in 2008 alone. Continue reading

Posted in Alternative Therapies, nutrition.

H1N1 Success

There are two primary types of evidence that are generally accepted in modern medical research. A variety known as anecdotal or empirical evidence that in fact the first hand of the medical failures and successes, as interpreted by individuals and those treating them. Continue reading

Posted in Alternative Therapies, nutrition.