15 Arthritis Supplements and Alternative Approaches – Do They Work?

massage-handMillions of dollars are spent every year on prescriptions help relieve pain and stiffness associated with arthritis. Are there more natural supplements or alternative treatments that can be equally as effective? Do these natural approaches actually help in alleviating symptoms and is it worth the cost or effort? Continue reading

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Edema – Natural Prevention and Treatment of Swollen Joints

EdemaWhat is Edema?
Edema is the medical term for swelling. Generally, edema is a response to injury or inflammation. The swelling occurs from leaking blood vessels which release fluid into the body tissues.  Increased fluid from the blood vessels allows more white blood cells to enter the area, and the white blood cells help to fight off the infection, but if too much fluid is released, too often or for to long, this can cause discomfort and may lead to permanent damage. What are the symptoms of edema? Does sitting at the computer for long hours cause edema? Are there natural treatments that are effective? How can it be prevented?
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Back Pain: Causes and Alternative and Natural Treatments

What Is the Anatomy of the Human Back?

Muscular System of the Human Back

The human back is made up of bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments. These parts make up the spinal column. The spinal column consists of 30 bones called the vertebrae. The spinal column helps hold up the upper part of the body. The back is an integral part of the human body (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases [NIAMS], 2013.


Why Do We Experience Back Pain?

back pain personBack pain can affect people of all ages and ethnicities. Back pain can be acute or chronic. Acute back pain usually lasts a couple of days and is generally treated by orthodox practitioners by Ibuprophen or other over-the-counter pain medications or  prescription drugs.  However, people can becoming addicted to pain medications especially with chronic pain. Chronic back pain normally occurs for more than three months. Older people are more susceptible to back pain because as they age, their bone strength decreases and muscles become less elastic and flexible. People who are overweight have more back pain due to the excess amount of weight the back has to support. Children who carry heavy backpacks for hours during the school day may experience back pain. Back pain can also affect people who live sedentary lifestyles, smoke often and have unhealthy diets (NIAMS, 2013).


Spine Disorders

What are the Primary Causes of Back Pain?

back pain- woman

Mayo Clinic (2014) provides a list of possible reasons for the cause or causes of back pain:

  1. Ankylosing spondylitis
  2. Fibromyalgia
  3. Herniated Disk
  4. Kidney Infection
  5. Obesity
  6. Osteoarthritis
  7. Osteomyelitis
  8. Osteoporosis
  9. Paget’s Disease of Bones
  10. Poor Posture
  11. Pregnancy
  12. Sacroiliitis
  13. Sciatica
  14. Scoliosis
  15. Spinal Fractures
  16. Spinal Stenosis
  17. Sprains and strains

How are Back Problems Diagnosed?

Acute back pain can be traced back to an injury or trauma. Chronic back pain is usually a symptom of an underlying disorder or illness. To receive an accurate diagnosis for the back pain, visiting a family physician may be the wisest decision.

Back Xray
The physician may take a look at your medical history along with your family history to rule out any genetic predispositions to back disorders. A thorough physical exam will be conducted. In addition, a few other tests may be performed. These tests include, but are not limited, to the following (NIAMS, 2013):

  1. Ultrasound imaging
  2. Bone Scans
  3. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  4. Computerized tomography (CT) scan
  5. X-ray


What is the Traditional  Treatment?

Cancer Exercise Treadmill To relieve acute and chronic back pain, traditional methods used by orthodox medical doctors or practitioners usually include:

  1. Hot and cold compresses to decrease swelling and pain.
  2. Medications such as Advil, Ibuprofen and muscle relaxants or prescription drugs to eliminate or reduce pain.
  3. Low impact exercises such as walking, climbing and swimming have been proven to increase muscle tone and decrease tension in the back.

Prescription drugs can be addictive and harmful to the body with long-term use.

Prescription Drugs Dilemma
What are Alternative Treatments?

Other non-traditional ways to ease back pain include the following:

  1. Chiropractic care. Back pain is one of the most common reasons that people see a chiropractor.
  2. Acupuncture. A practitioner of acupuncture inserts sterilized stainless steel needles into the skin at specific points on the body. Some people with low back pain report that acupuncture helps relieve their symptoms.Back Massage
  3. Therapeutic Massage.  If your back is caused by tense or overworked muscles, massage therapy may help. Massage can help stretch tight muscles and circulate the blood, relieving pain
  4. Yoga. There are several types of yoga, a board discipline that involves practicing specific postures or poses, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques. Yoga has been found to relieve stress and be effective in eliminating pain.
  5. Naturopathy  The use of natural methods and non-toxic remedies to improve or restore health is known as naturopathy. It includes herbal remedies, homeopathic remedies, change in diet, etc.
  6. Physical therapy and exercise are considered alternative and natural treatments. Exercise can be very effective in treating back pain. Research studies confirm that those with osteoarthritis or sciatica back pain are greatly relieved by a daily practice of physical therapy and exercises. Be sure to consult with your trusted health practitioner before starting new exercises.

References

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skins Diseases. (2013). Handout on Health: Back Pain. Back Pain. Retrieved September 21, 2014, from http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Back_Pain/default.asp#3

Mayo Clinic. (2014). Definition. Back Pain: Symptom. Retrieved September 21, 2014, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/back-pain/basics/definition/sym-20050878

 

 

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This articleHang Pham, MBHA Health Educator is written by Hang Pham. Hang Pham is a Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance Health and Wellness Educator. Hang Pham was born in Hoc Mon, Vietnam. She came to America in 1994, becoming a U.S. citizen in 2011. Hang graduated from Seaside High School with diploma and received her AA in General Studies from Monterey Peninsula College in 2011. She received her BA in Collaborative Health and Human Services from California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) in 2012. In addition to working as a volunteer staff with the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance, she currently works as a Clerical Aid in the Human Resources Department of Salinas City Hall. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.


Disclaimer:  
The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.

Can Aloe Vera Prevent and Treat Skin Cancer?

The latest  buzz is that aloe vera can help prevent and treat skin cancer. Is this true or rumor? What does research say about aloe vera?

Benefits of Aloe Vera

HISTORY OF ALOE VERA
Aloe vera can be traced back to ancient Egyptian times. The leaves contain a clear gel that can be used as an ointment and the green part of the leaf can be used to create a juice or a dried product that can be ingested orally.  Throughout history, it has been used topically to heal wounds, soothe skin conditions, and to aid in constipation when ingested orally as a laxative.  Aloe vera has also been ingested for a variety of other conditions including diabetes symptoms, asthma, epilepsy, and osteoarthritis.  It’s been used as a cream to heal and relieve osteoarthritis pain, burns, sunburns, and psoriasis and can be found in over-the-counter skin products.  But what does scientific research say about aloe vera?

sunburn man

USING ALOE VERA TO HEAL THE SKIN
Multiple studies have been conducted, primarily with mice, on the effects of aloe vera on healing the skin such as a study by V. Thamlikitkul  and others, published in the 1991 Siriraj Hosp Gazzette,  showing that aloe vera is effective as an ointment in relieving and soothing pain and inflammation.

Reuter and other researchers conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial compared the anti-inflammatory effect of 97.5% pure aloe vera gel to 1% hydrocortisone and a placebo gel. They concluded that the if the aloe vera gel, was applied under an occlusive bandage for 2 days following UV exposure, it significantly reduced inflammation compared to placebo gel or 1% hydrocortisone in placebo gel, but was less effective than 1% hydrocortisone cream. The authors suggest that aloe vera gel might be useful for the treatment of inflammatory skin conditions.

Aloe Vera
Choonhakarn and others conducted a randomized, double-blind clinical trial evaluated the effectiveness of a prepared 70% aloe vera gel for the treatment of oral lichen planus infections compared to the base gel alone and reported a significant improvement of symptoms in the aloe vera group.

ALOE VERA AND CANCER
A few studies have been conducted on the effects of aloe vera and cancer. Many studies have been used with human skin cells in a laboratory or mice,  such as the 2007 study led by M. Saini, “Anti-tumor activity of Aloe vera against DMBA/croton oil-induced skin papillomagenesis in Swiss albino mice,”  from the Journal of Environmental Pathology Toxology and Oncology.  This study showed that aloe vera might be helpful in reducing or treating cancer in mice but the researchers concluded that more studies are needed.
Laboratory

Researcher Popadic,  and others, from the University of Belgrade School of Medicine found that Aloe vera and its constituents inhibit the process of skin cell production that accompanies skin cancer in a laboratory study. The researchers tested Aloe-emodin, (a part of Aloe), with human skin cells – keratinocytes – after being treated with radiation. Once radiated, keratinocytes will typically develop in the form skin tumors.  The researchers found that the Aloe-emodin was significantly beneficial in stopping the progression of tumor formation after radiation by the sun. Further research is needed.  No clinical research using human beings has been conducted.Blood Test

Chen, and other researchers from the China Medical University found anticancer effect was greater with Emodin, as compared with Aloe-emodin and Rhein. But Aloe-emodin was observed having stronger cell repair abilities with the cells that hadn’t  yet become cancerous. The researchers found that Aloe Emodin and Rhein stopped tumor progression and caused cancer cell death.

There is early evidence that oral aloe vera may reduce the risk of developing lung cancer. Further research is needed in this area to clarify whether it is aloe itself or other factors that may cause this benefit.  One study conducted in Italy in 2009, tested 240 patients using aloe vera with chemotherapy for people for lung cancer, bowel cancer, or stomach cancer. researchHalf the patients took liquid aloe vera three times a day in combination with standard chemotherapy treatment. In this study the cancer was controlled or shrank for a time in 67% of patients who had the combined aloe and chemotherapy treatment and in 50% of patients who had chemotherapy alone. Researchers said that patients using aloe vera had a better quality of life and that they had fewer chemotherapy side effects such as numb fingers and fatigue.  More research is needed under more controlled settings.

Aloe Vera

WHAT ARE THE NEGATIVE SIDE EFFECTS OF ALOE VERA? 
Does ingesting aloe vera have negative side effects?  No studies have shown negative effects of using aloe vera on the skin.   However, aloe vera, when digested, has a laxative effect and is effective for relieving constipation, but it can be the cause of diarrhea.

Some countries approve of injecting aloe vera. Injecting aloe vera is illegal in the USA an UK and can have serious side effects.

Aloe Vera Extract

A two-year National Toxicology Program (NTP) study on oral ingestion of non-decolorized whole leaf extract of aloe vera found clear evidence of carcinogenic activity in male and female rats, based on tumors of the large intestine.   According to the NTP, from what is known, they cannot predict that these findings are relevant to humans. The researchers concluded that more research and information is needed, including to determine how individuals use different types of aloe vera products, and the potential risks to humans.

Research Woman

Although aloe vera appears to be a promising alternative treatment for a variety of ailments, researchers agree that more controlled studies are needed to determine its effectiveness, both as a topical ointment or when ingested. The majority of research has been with skin cells and with laboratory animals, and therefore, researchers cannot accurately predict its effectiveness on human beings.

REFERENCES

Chen YY, Chiang SY, Lin JG, Yang JS, Ma YS, Liao CL, Lai TY, Tang NY, Chung JG. Emodin, aloe-emodin and rhein induced DNA damage and inhibited DNA repair gene expression in SCC-4 human tongue cancer cells. Anticancer Res. 2010 Mar;30(3):945-51.

Choonhakarn C, Busaracome P, Sripanidkulchai B, Sarakarn P. The efficacy of aloe vera gel in the treatment of oral lichen planus: a randomized controlled trial. Br J Dermatol. 2008;158(3):573-77.

Popadic D, Savic E, Ramic Z, Djordjevic V, Trajkovic V, Medenica L, Popadic S. Aloe-emodin inhibits proliferation of adult human keratinocytes in vitro. J Cosmet Sci. 2012 Sep-Oct;63(5):297-302.

Reuter J, Jocher A, Stump J, Grossjohann B, Franke G, Schempp CM. Investigation of the anti-inflammatory potential of Aloe vera gel (97.5%) in the ultraviolet erythema test. Skin Pharmacol Physiol.2008;21(2):106-10.

Saini M, Goyal PK, Chaudhary G. Anti-tumor activity of Aloe vera against DMBA/croton oil-induced skin papillomagenesis in Swiss albino mice. J Environ Pathol Toxicol Oncol. 2010;29(2):127-35.

Thamlikitkul V, Bunyapraphatsara N, Riewpaiboon W, Theerapong S, Chantrakul C, Thanaveerasuwan T. Clinical trial of aloe vera Linn. for treatment of minor burns. Siriraj Hosp Gaz.1991;43(5):313-316.
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This article is written by Jean Voice Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University. Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.  Images used in this article are free public domain from Pixabay.com or Publicdomainpictures.net

Disclaimer: The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.

20 Ways to Fight Inflammation

WHAT IS INFLAMMATION?

Inflammation ProcessInflammation is an immune response. It is the body’s natural and automatic way to protect itself and fight off injury, infection, and disease. The body’s immune cells collect in an area of concern in the body through the blood stream.  Then the blood vessels increase blood flow at the site and it becomes warm, swollen, sometimes reddish in color.  This is experienced as discomfort, pain or tenderness.  Inflammation is a natural part of healing.  Chronic inflammation, however,  is another situation. Something has gone wrong in the body’s mechanism, resulting in continuous inflammation.

Inflammation and Chronic Disease

WHY IS CHRONIC INFLAMMATION SERIOUS?

The body is not supposed to be “overheated” for extended periods of time.  When the body is in a state of chronic inflammation, it is essentially being attacked, and slowly begins to die.  This can be a very serious situation, if neglected.  Chronic inflammation is a primary cause of all degenerative diseases, including heart disease and cancer.

WHAT ARE INFLAMMATORY DISEASES?

CPB - Chronic Pulminary BronchitisInflammation is the “itis” in all of the “itis” diseases, such as:

  • bronchitis
  • arthritis
  • tendonitis
  • bursitis
  • cephalitis
  • dermatitis
  • colitis
  • diverticulitis
  • meningitis
  • gastroenteritis
  • gingivitis
  • folliculitis
  • hepatitis
  • layringitis
  • pancreatitis
  • osteoarthritis
  • peridontitis
  • polyneuritis
  • retinitis
  • rhinitis
  • sinusitis
  • spondylitis
  • tonsilitis
  • vaginitis
  • vasculitis

and many, many more.

Inflammation DiagramWHAT ARE SYMPTOMS OF CHRONIC INFLAMMATION?

  1. bloating & passing gas
  2. belching
  3. burning skin
  4. dark circles and bags under the eyes
  5. itchy ears and eyes
  6. diarrhea
  7. constipation
  8. cramping
  9. joint pain or stiffness
  10. muscle spasms, twitching
  11. fatigue
  12. memory problems
  13. rash, hives, acne, cysts, boils
  14. scaly, rough skin
  15. cough or sore throat
  16. stuffy nose or runny nose
  17. loss of appetite
  18. fever or chills
  19. headache
  20. puffiness, edema, water retention

TESTING FOR INFLAMMATION

If you believe that you have inflammation, you might want to get tested. The first test you should know about is called the C Reactive Protein test. There are two CRP tests:
CRP Test Results
1) The specific test that MUST BE REQUESTED to provide information about inflammation and cardiac risk, is the H.S.C.R.P. test. This is a high-sensitivity cardiac reactive protein test.

2) Another test used is the consisting of CRP and IL-6 tests and TNF (tumor necrosis factor), interleukins -1 beta and 8. If you are concerned and want accurate test results, ask your doctor specifically for these tests by the complete and full name.  Other similar tests might not provide the information you need or might be misleading.

STOPPING CHRONIC INFLAMMATION IS CRITICAL TO WELLNESS

Joint InflammationWhy is chronic inflammation so common in our society today?  There are different types of inflammation. There is the swollen, painful, visible inflammation, such as when one sprains an ankle or if one has an infected tooth or gingivitis. There also is a silent killer. This is inflammation of a different sort, inflammation deep within the cells of the body. We often do not realize this inflammation exists, as we are experiencing general flu-like symptoms of discomfort that don’t seem to disappear, therefore, many of us are unknowingly experiencing chronic inflammation and are not taking measures to stop it.

If  inflammation is diagnosed, such as in the case of arthritis, medical doctors will often prescribe a life-time of NSAIDS or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, to reduce or stop inflammation in the body. Most doctors today, combine this treatment with a change in lifestyle and diet. This is because many research studies have shown that a change in lifestyle and diet can dramatically reduce and eliminate inflammation.  Research has also shown that certain foods increase inflammation in the body such as trans fats commonly found in commercially processed packaged foods. Food additives and chemicals also increase inflammation.   Below are some supplements and lifestyle changes that have been known to be effective in stopping or reducing inflammation.  Always work carefully with your trusted health practitioner to determine which diet and healthy living plan is best for you.

20 Cures for Inflammation20 REMEDIES TO REDUCE CHRONIC INFLAMMATION

  1. zinc
  2. fresh fish and fish oil
  3. vitamin D
  4. probiotics
  5. organic, no GMO foods
  6. allergen-free diet
  7. limit oils to only coconut or palm oil
  8. no trans fats
  9. exercise regularly
  10. yoga and deep breathing
  11. meditation
  12. biofeedback
  13. massage
  14. no microwave
  15. basic greens
  16. omega-3 fatty acids
  17. spices – ginger, rosemary, turmeric, oregano
  18. no refined sugars
  19. antioxidants
  20. electrolyzed water

RESOURCES
Inflammation Research Foundation

From Fat to Chronic Inflammation

Chronic Inflammation and Late-Life Decline 

Chronic Inflammation – International Wellness Directory

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Jean E. DartThis article is written by Jean Voice Dart,  M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University.
 Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.”  She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance.  The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3  nonprofit health and wellness education organization.  For more information about  the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.


Disclaimer:  The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.