Monthly Archives: June 2014

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.

Using Forskolin to Build Big Mass

Forskolin, is found within nature in the herb coleus forskohlii. It’s not new and has been long known to be an effective fat burner, but recently has been found to have anabolic benefits as well. It boosts the loss of fat by using a natural enzyme, adenylate cyclase. This enzyme kicks basically increases the cyclic AMP, or cAMP which causes the cells to break down the fat from cells and make it available for fuel rather than storage. This also stimulates the thyroid. With the higher levels of cAMP protein kinase is activated. Protein kinase has been shown to activate lipases, which are involved in the breakdown of triglycerides. Triglycerides are key in forming fat, so this is preventative rather than a maintenance routine.

Even more impressive is that because of the anabolic properties it promotes the building of muscle tissue giving this supplement a great 2 for 1 benefit. Burning fat while building lean muscle is optimizing the fat burning machine. It’s a wonderful cycle.

The enzyme adenylate cyclase can also assists in producing testosterone. A study from the University of Kansas recently discovered that adding 500mg of 10% extract to men’s supplemental routine for 12 weeks resulted in significantly more lost body fat and higher levels of testosterone than the control group who were given a placebo. As we know, more testosterone in men’s systems is beneficial especially as they age. Put simply, more testosterone equals more muscle mass.

There’s potential for a lot of additional benefits as well. It’s a vasodilator, meaning it widens blood vessels. Wider blood vessels means lower blood pressure. It can also reduce pressure within the eye, making it a possible glaucoma treatment.

One of the most overlooked aspects of supplements is how they make you feel. This is an all natural supplement found in nature. There’s none of the fat burning side effects like racing heart, or excessive sweating that we’ve become accustomed to. Using 20mg to 50mg of forskolin 3 times a day to increase levels of cAMP mimics calorie restriction and exercise. These benefits are happening whether you’ve changed anything about your routine or not. Once someone starts adding regular exercise and actual calorie restrictions on top of a regular regiment of forskolin the opportunity to see significant changes in body fat percentages and an increase in lean muscle mass is quite high.

Posted in 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.

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.