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General Health Category

The Coronavirus and How to Fortify Your Body Against It

March 21st, 2020

The corona virus has disrupted life as we know it and caused much concern and confusion. News reports are constantly updating us on the spread of the virus and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has closely monitored the situation since the coronavirus began spreading between people in America. The first confirmed person to person spread of this virus was on January 30, 2020. Previously all confirmed U.S. cases had been associated with travel to China.

Corona Virus

As of today, over 1,541,603 people have been infected worldwide and this number changes daily. While there have been at least 90,087 deaths, the vast majority of cases have not been classified as severe.  The elderly are particularly vulnerable, as they often have weak immune systems.  In addition to taking commonsense precautions such as hand washing, maintaining a strong immune system is very important, more now than ever.

Building Your Immune System

Becoming dehydrated weakens your immune system so be sure to drink plenty of water daily.  A vast majority of people are chronically dehydrated as they opt for more flavorful drink alternatives or consume caffeinated beverages and other drinks that act like diuretics and cause the body to expel water, further compromising the immune system and health over-time.  Lymphatic fluids, part of the immune system, make up four times the volume of blood and are designed to remove cellular waste products, including inflammation by-products from the body. Suffice it to say, to work properly and do its job of protecting you, your immune system needs the support of a continuous supply of water, so staying well hydrated is #1 in building and maintaining a strong immune system.  In addition, I recommend taking the following supplements:

Vitamin C – 2,000 mg/day
Zinc  – 50 mg/day
Vitamin A – 900 mcg/day

Vitamin D3 – 1,000 – 1,500 i.u./day

Elderberry Extract – 500 mg/day (increase to 1,125 mg day if you show symptoms of flu or virus.)

Pelargonium Sidoides Extract – (Commonly used for upper respiratory infections including bronchitis). P. Sidoides is marketed in the U.S. as Umckaloaba – 1 dropper full twice a day in 2 oz. of water or juice.

To learn more about the ingredients above, enhancing your immune system and taking precautions against the coronavirus, continue reading.

If you show symptoms of the flu or virus, be sure to contact your physician.

Coronavirus – Nothing New, But Some Types Can Be Severe

Coronavirus has existed for a while and both animals and humans have been infected. It is a kind of common virus that causes an infection in your nose, sinuses or upper throat. Most coronaviruses are not dangerous, but sometimes, more serious strains develop. In the past few decades, the SARS and MERS outbreaks were examples of serious cases.   In early 2020, following a December 2019 outbreak in China, the World Health Organization identified a new type, 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Scientists are still assessing how it spreads from person to person, but similar viruses tend to spread via cough and sneeze droplets.

But most coronavirus infections, in the past at least, have been mild and cause symptoms similar to the common cold. Although the concern for this new form of coronavirus, is that the symptoms and dangers can be severe for some people.

Symptoms of Coronavirus

  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea, vomiting

How Coronavirus Spreads:

It’s thought to have originally spread from an animal-foods market to humans. Now it’s known to spread from humans to humans. Scientists don’t know everything about how coronavirus is spread but it’s thought that it’s “likely that coughs or sneezes from an infected person may spread the virus.”

Fortifying Yourself Against the Coronavirus and Other Viral Infections

Maintaining a powerful immune system is the surest foundation of minimizing your chance of developing long and severe viral infections.

Naturally bolstering your immune system is the most you can do at this moment to fight the coronavirus, unless an effective vaccine is developed soon. And even in that case, many natural supplements have been shown to boost the effectiveness of vaccines.

Powerful Ways to Boost Your Immune System

It’s surprising to many people that sometimes the most effective and long-lasting ways of fighting infections have to do with natural methods.

Getting optimal amounts of immune-boosting nutrients and using herbs and other supplements to fight pathogens deeply boosts your body’s defenses and helps kill pathogens.

If you pour through research of the past few decades, you’ll find tons of cases of nutritional interventions effectively fighting the symptoms of stubborn “antibiotic-resistant” infections!

Boost Your Immune System, Fight Coronavirus

Coronavirus is another infection, similar to any other infection, that can be fought using immune-boosting practices. If fact, coronavirus is mentioned, along with other viruses,  in many studies that test immune-boosting methods.

Here are the methods that work and boost your immune system’s killing capacity in many ways.

1.  Astragalus

For at least 2000 years, Astragalus has been one of the most revered herbs in traditional Chinese medicine. Modern research has backed up its potential life-extending and strength-enhancing properties [1]

But most importantly to our conversation, astragalus is one of the most effective and straight-forward boosters of our immune systems. Research in humans has clearly indicated that astragalus boosts the number of many different types of immune cells (monocytes, neutrophils, and lymphocytes), and activates them to energetically kill pathogens [2][3]!

 2. Your Diet Should Be Mostly Whole (Unprocessed) Plant Foods

High blood sugar weakens your immune system response, causes immune dysfunction [4][5].

Eating plenty of fiber and antioxidants helps balance out your blood sugar levels and keep them within a normal healthy range. That’s why your diet should mostly consist of vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and fruit.  Avoiding excessive amounts of sugar in your diet is very important to maintaining a strong immune system.

All of these foods also help feed the good bacteria in your gut, which is critical for a healthy immune system [6].

3. Reishi

Reishi mushroom is another powerful immune-boosting tool. It’s a mushroom that has been shown to increase the number of immune cells in our blood and the amount of immune-stimulating cytokines (signals that activate immune cells)  [7][8][9].

Reishi may also help destroy biofilms – protective layers of mucus that pathogens hide inside of to protect themselves from being killed [10].

4.  Vitamin D

This sunshine “vitamin” is actually a hormone that boosts the amount of your antimicrobial peptides  (substances that help kill viruses and bacteria) [11]. Your immune cells produce these killing peptides.

Also, some studies have shown that vitamin D reduces the incidence of flu viruses and other infections [12][13].

Approximarely 42% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D, which humans synthesize from UV light. Now that most of us are sheltering in place, we’re probably getting even less vitamin D from sun exposure than before, so supplementing with vitamin D is important to strengthen the immune system, particularly of people whose Vitamin D levels are low. Vitamin D supplementation reduces the risk of respiratory infections, regulates cytokine production and can limit the risk of other viruses such as the flu.  A respiratory infection can result in cytokine storms – a vicious cycle in which our inflammatory cells damage organs throughout the body, which increase mortality for those with COVID-19. Maintaining healthy vitamin  D levels may potentially provide some protection for vulnerable populations.

5.  Zinc

Zinc deficiency leads to a weak immune system function because this mineral is involved in so many metabolic reactions in the body and helps create cytokines that the immune system uses to fight infection [14][15].

If you’re deficient in zinc, you won’t make as many immune cells as you should and your thymus gland, responsible for developing immune cells can actually shrink [16]!

Also, many studies have shown that zinc supplementation can shorten the duration of viruses and interfere with virus replication [17].

Researchers say to take 75 mg a day of zinc if you have virus symptoms [18].

6.  Vitamin C

Good, old-fashioned vitamin C is critical for immune health. Your immune cells use vitamin C as fuel for killing pathogens [19]. Extra vitamin C helps immune cells literally eat viruses and bacteria and also empowers the “oxidative burst” – (think of it as toxic bombs) that immune cells kill pathogens with [19].

Many studies have shown that vitamin C supplementation can reduce virus duration [20].

7.  Elderberry

This special berry can interfere with virus replication and has been seen to handicap influenza virus [21]. Elderberry has even been shown to bind to the outside of viruses and prevent them from entering host cells – those could be your cells [21]!

In one incredible study in humans, flu symptoms “were relieved on average 4 days earlier” in elderberry users compared to non-users [22].

8.  Pelargonium Sidoides 

Common names for pelargonium are “African geranium” and often marketed as “Umckaloaba” and “Zucol”.  There has been some evidence for effectiveness in treating bronchitis/acute respiratory tract infections due to Pelargonium’s direct antibiotic effect and host immune stimulation. [23].  It is not recommended for anyone with kidney or liver disease.

Common Sense Precautions – Hand-Washing = First Line of Defense

Like all viruses, the coronavirus can be spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Hand-washing is a first line of defense. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they release droplets of saliva or mucus. These droplets can fall on people in the vicinity and can be either directly inhaled or picked up on the hands then transferred when someone touches their face, causing infection. Because it is also flu season, it is always a good idea to take sensible precautions everyday including:

  • Stay at least 6 feet away from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Keep your hands away from your face and far from your mouth and nose.  Viruses don’t infect the skin.  They have to make it to mucosal membrane in your mouth or nose to cause an infection.
  • Wash your hands after touching any communal surfaces. Wash with soap and water then use a clean towel or air dry.  You may also use hand-sanitizer (60% alcohol).

The Power of Sleep
 When it comes to immune defense, never underestimate the power of sleep. These are uncertain and confusing times for everybody, and it’s normal if you are finding it harder and harder to sleep at night. But getting a good night’s sleep is more important now than ever, as research shows that poor sleep is associated with increased vulnerability to infectious diseases and viruses.  Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.

When you get a full night’s sleep (i.e., you go through all the stages of the cycle and reach deep sleep), your immune system gets the chance to produce and release cytokines, a type of protein that acts as a chemical messenger and is secreted directly into the tissues and bloodstream. Cytokines bind to immune cell receptors and trigger an immune response targeting infection and inflammation.

An overproduction of cytokines can result in an auto-immune disease like rheumatoid arthritis, where the immune system targets and promotes inflammation in healthy tissue. But when you don’t get enough sleep, and your body can’t secrete enough cytokines, you become more vulnerable to diseases.

When you get a full night’s sleep (i.e., you go through all the stages of the cycle and reach deep sleep), your immune system gets the chance to produce and release cytokines, a type of protein that acts as a chemical messenger and is secreted directly into the tissues and bloodstream. Cytokines bind to immune cell receptors and trigger an immune response targeting infection and inflammation.

An overproduction of cytokines can result in an auto-immune disease like rheumatoid arthritis, where the immune system targets and promotes inflammation in healthy tissue. But when you don’t get enough sleep, and your body can’t secrete enough cytokines, you become more vulnerable to diseases.

Sleeping also increases T cell production, which play an essential role in protecting you against viruses. T cells contribute to the body’s immune response when a potentially harmful foreign body enters the system. These immune cells recognize pathogens then activate integrins, which are a type of protein that allows T cells to attach to and tackle their targets. In fact, research has shown that quality sleep can increase your T cell’s ability to fight off infections.  In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep. If you have difficulty reaching deep rejuvenating and protective sleep, consider Akeso Health Science’s Sleep All Night supplement.

Use Your Tools
Now that you know how many great tools you have at your disposal, build an incredibly strong immune system and fend off the nasty viruses all around us!

To the Best of Health,

Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.
Chief Scientific Officer, Akeso Health Sciences

Corona Virus Updates & InformationCenters for Disease Control & Prevention

 

THE CHEMISTRY OF LOVE

February 13th, 2020

Valentines Day Chemistry of LoveWhat makes us attracted to one type of look and not another? Is there really such a thing as “Love at First Sight”?

Do chemicals within our bodies play a role in determining when, who and why we fall in love or get a crush that makes our heart flutter and our palms sweat?

Non-verbal signals very much play a role in both initial and continuing physical attraction.

For example, it is known that testosterone (T) levels can determine the level of lust in women as well as men. Though lust can be an overwhelming and exciting sensation, there may also be a downside. Recent research has shown that higher T levels in men causes them on average to have more sexual partners and increases their chance of remarriage. No such effect was shown in women.

Lots of neurotransmitters like norepinephrine, dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and vasopressin can cause both psychological and physical responses related to desire, love and commitment to a relationship.

For example oxytocin, a pregnancy hormone that induces uterine contraction and milk flow, is also known to bond mothers to babies, couples and increase intimacy. A study of new couples showed that after 6 months the couples with higher levels of oxytocin tended to remain together.

While oxytocin may keep a couple together, it may be dopamine that initially brings you together. A study at Stony Brook University looked at the brains of couples who had just recently fallen madly in love. The areas of the brain that were most stimulated were those areas known to be high in dopamine, a pleasure and addiction related neurotransmitter. A New York Times article titled “Dear, I love you with all my brain” may be very accurate, but I don’t think Valentine’s Day cards with brains all over them, instead of hearts, will be a big hit.

Norepinephrine, a stimulant neurotransmitter, may be why we get nervous and our palms sweat when in the initial stages of lust and attraction.

For some answers to fun and interesting questions like, “Is there really such a thing as love at first sight” or “What time of the month is your husband or boyfriend most attracted to you?” or “Is love similar to addiction?” check out this WebMD slide show. I think you will enjoy it.

WebMD:  Sex-Relationships & the Science of Love

 

Curt Hendrix M.S. C.C.N. C.N.S.

Quinoa – Amazing Superfood for Migraine Sufferers

January 29th, 2020

This amazing low-fat, high protein food could…

* protect against heart disease
* help to prevent type II diabetes
* help with migraines
* provide antioxidant protection
* Protect against breast cancer
*Protect against childhood asthma
* Prevent gallstones
* Provide all 9 essential amino acid (protein building blocks)
* Provide healthy levels of dietary fiber and magnesium

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is an ancient whole grain that has been recently rediscovered in the U.S.  The Inca’s once held the crop to be sacred, calling it the ‘mother of all grains’.

HEALTH BENEFITS

Quinoa contains more protein than any other grain; an average of 16.2  percent, compared with 7.5 percent for rice and 14 percent for wheat.  Unlike rice and potatoes, for which quinoa is an excellent replacement, it is a whole grain food source which results in many of the health benefits listed above.  Quinoa is gluten-free and high in protein content, which also makes it a wonderful choice for vegetarians.  Because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered a possible crop in NASA’s long-duration manned spaceflights.

QUINOA NUTRIENT PROFILE

High nutritional content of 100gms or half cup of cooked quinoa –

Magnesium: 17% of the Recommended Daily Allowance
Complete Protein: 4 grams
Fiber: 3 grams.
Manganese: 32% of Recommended Daily Allowance
Phosphorus: 15% of the Recommended Daily Allowance

It is also packed with minerals like Zinc, Iron, Copper, and Potassium along with B-Vitamins and Calcium. These tiny grains are also good for weight watchers offering a total of 120 calories, 21 gms of carbs and 2 gms of fat. Quinoa is also a source of Omega-3 fatty acids.

MIGRAINE SUPPORT

Quinoa is a good source of magnesium and riboflavin, which are also key ingredients in MigreLief dietary supplements.  These ingredients have been shown to help relax blood vessels, encourage energy production within cells and help to maintain normal cerebrovascular tone and function.  Magnesium is involved in more than 300 chemical reactions in the body. Studies show that many migraine sufferers have low levels of magnesium. Studies have also shown that many migraine sufferers have  a deficiency in mitochondrial (powerhouse in cells) energy right before an attack.  Mitochondrial dysfunction in your brain cells can make you more susceptible to migraines which studies show vitamin B-2 (Riboflavin) can help correct.

DIET

Both the glycemic index and the glycemic load of quinoa (these are measurements of how various foods can impact your blood sugar levels) are favorable as well, when compared to rice or potatoes.

A half cup of cooked quinoa contains only about 110 calories and with its fiber content makes it a good choice for those trying to watch their weight, as well

HOW TO COOK WITH QUINOA

Quinoa is typically simmered, as you would prepare rice. It’s often added to savory recipes, like salads, sautés, and soups. You can also serve it alongside grilled or pan-seared meats and fish.

When whole, quinoa seeds have an outer husk coated with a natural substance called saponin. This protects the seeds from the birds. While the husk is already removed when you buy commercial quinoa, some of the saponin can remain. It’s rather bitter, so it’s important to rinse the quinoa well before simmering it.

Some Serving Ideas for Quinoa:

* Use quinoa as a side-dish replacing rice, potatoes or even pasta

* Many health food stores carry quinoa sourced pasta noodles

* With nuts and fruits, quinoa makes an excellent porridge

* Quinoa can be added to vegetable soups

* Use sprouted quinoa in sandwiches or salads instead of alfalfa sprouts

 

RECIPE – SWEET BREAKFAST QUINOA PORRIDGE

Quinoa Porridge with fruit

When slowly cooked in a mixture of water and milk with a little brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla, quinoa seeds become a rich porridge with a soft bite. If you’re a quinoa fan, it’s a lovely alternative to oatmeal in the morning.

You can easily adapt this breakfast quinoa to your personal tastes and dietary needs. For a softer rather than chewy quinoa, especially this sweet breakfast dish, adjust the seed-to-liquid ratio (add more liquid) until you find the perfect texture for you.

For a non-dairy breakfast, quinoa porridge is also delicious prepared with almond milk or coconut milk


Ingredients

1 cup water
1-1/2 cups milk (whole, low fat, almond, or coconut), plus more for serving
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1 cup quinoa , rinsed well
pinch salt
3 tablespoons brown sugar , plus more for serving
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup blueberries (or berries of your choice)
sliced almonds, walnuts or chopped toasted pecans , for topping

Instructions
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine water, 1-1/2 cups milk, vanilla extract or paste, rinsed quinoa, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat (stirring occasionally and watching carefully so it doesn’t boil over).
Reduce heat to low, cover with lid slightly vented, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in 3 tablespoons brown sugar and the ground cinnamon. Re-cover and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes, until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed.

Remove from heat and gently fold in blueberries. Serve, topped with extra brown sugar or maple syrup, warm milk, and nuts.

Enjoy quinoa for its taste and texture as well as its multiple health benefits.  You will be very pleasantly surprised and pleased to add it to your family’s diet.

~

 

 

 

 

Sweetness Without the Blood Sugar Impact?

December 3rd, 2019

New Study Offers A Zero-Glycemic Index Value Alternative to Table Sugar and Sugar Substitute

artificial sweeteners

Do you often find yourself craving something sweet after every meal or at the same time every day? You are not alone – 97 percent of women and almost 70 percent of men report experiencing sugar cravings frequently. These cravings respond to psychological and physiological triggers like lack of sleep, stress, and even certain nutritional deficiencies. Most of us know that when a sugar craving hits, resisting the urge to reach for the nearest cookie or soft drink seems close to impossible. However, the adverse health effects of a high-sugar diet have been well documented.

In a recent study published by the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN), researchers analyzed the effects of a new sweetener containing erythritol, stevia, and xylitol. Erythritol, xylitol, and stevia are naturally-occurring chemical compounds that have become popular sugar alternatives because of their sweet taste and low glycemic index. Other artificial sweeteners like aspartame and dextrose are also widely used in commercial foods and beverages to make them sweet without the added glycemic load.

For the past four decades, sugar substitutes have been a topic of heated debate. Critics of artificial sweeteners claim that there are a number of health problems – including cancer – associated with these chemical compounds. On the other hand, several health agencies, including the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association, have said that there is not enough evidence to dismiss sugar alternatives conditions as ineffective or dangerous.

In their study, Ng and colleagues took several blood samples of six healthy volunteers over the course of a month. Participants were asked to fast for 10 hours prior to the measurements and to drink either a dextrose monohydrate solution or an erythritol, stevia, and xylitol mixture. Their results showed a statistically significant difference between blood sugar levels 15 to 45 minutes after drinking the erythritol, stevia, and xylitol blood sugar beverage and the dextrose solution. In their analysis, the researchers found a blood sugar spike 15 to 45 minutes after drinking dextrose but no changes in glucose levels after ingesting the erythritol, stevia, and xylitol combination.

What Do These Results Mean?

Most people share a common love for sugar and sweets. When we eat sugar, the brain releases dopamine – a key player in the brain’s reward circuit. When dopamine is released, the body feels a pleasurable sensation similar to being “high.” As with other rewarding experiences, our brain is wired to want to relive it over and over again, creating a potentially addictive relationship between sugar and the brain.

The more often we eat sugar, the stronger the pathways that reinforce its relationship with the brain get. In fact, researchers have found that sugar activates even more neurons in the brain’s reward circuit than cocaine does, pointing out that “high-fat/high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way drugs do.” So, the reason why we keep reaching for that leftover cake or that tub of Oreos is not just because it tastes good, it’s also because it makes us feel good.

Sugar accounts for 10 to 25 percent of the calories that the average American eats every day. However, cookies, cakes, and candy bars are not the only foods loaded with sugar. Some brands of plain, low-fat yogurt can have a whopping 20 grams of sugar per serving, 80 percent of the daily recommended amount for women. Though it may seem hard to believe, sugar has actually made its way into 80 percent of packaged foods available at most grocery stores.

A high-sugar diet has been linked to several adverse health effects. A 2014 study of more than 30,000 participants showed that people with a high sugar intake also had a 38 percent greater risk of dying of a heart attack. Additionally, high glycemic foods cause a sudden rise in blood glucose and insulin levels, increasing the risk of diabetes, obesity, and some types of cancer.

Artificial sweeteners provide a sound alternative to added sugars because they produce the same comforting taste without the high glycemic load. In their 2019 study, Ng and colleagues found that the erythritol, stevia and xylitol combination didn’t raise blood sugar levels at all, making it an appropriate sugar substitute for diabetic and insulin-resistant individuals. Additionally, the authors suggested that an added benefit to their novel formula is the absence of a bitter aftertaste, which is an unappealing characteristic of several artificial sweeteners available today.

Please note;  In my experience, combining the stevia and erythritol without the xylitol gives you the same benefits without the potential side effects of bloating and diarrhea that many people experience with  xylitol.

To the Best of Health,

Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.

Pumpkin and Pumpkin Seeds for Healthy Eyes, Heart, Skin, Hair, Weight Loss & More!

September 30th, 2019

Commonly viewed as a vegetable, pumpkin is scientifically a fruit, as it contains seeds. Nutritionally it is more similar to vegetables than fruits. Pumpkin has a range of fantastic health benefits, including being one of the best-known sources of beta-carotene.

Eye Health:  Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant. It also gives orange vegetables and fruits their vibrant color.  The body converts any ingested beta-carotene into vitamin A.  Vitamin A is essential for eye health and helps the retina absorb and process light. One cup of pumpkin contains over 200 percent of most people’s recommended daily intake of vitamin A, making it an outstanding option for optical health.  Studies show that vitamin A can also strengthen your immune system and help fight infections. (1) (2)

High Antioxidant Content:  Free radicals are molecules produced by your body’s metabolic process. Though highly unstable, they have useful roles, such as destroying harmful bacteria.  However, excessive free radicals in your body create a state called oxidative stress, which has been linked to chronic illnesses, including heart disease and cancer. Pumpkins contain antioxidants, such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. These can neutralize free radicals, stopping them from damaging your cells.  Pumpkin may lower you risk of cancer. (3)  (4)

Heart Health:  Pumpkin contains a variety of nutrients that can improve your heart health.  It’s high in potassium, vitamin C and fiber, which have been linked to heart benefits.  For instance, studies have shown that people with higher potassium intakes appear to have lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of strokes which are both risk factors for heart disease. (5)

Weight Loss:  Pumpkin is rich in fiber, which slows digestion and keeps you feeling fuller longer.  It is low in calories as it is 94% water and contains only 50 calories per cup (245 grams).

Healthy Skin:  Pumpkin is great for the skin for many reasons.  Studies show that carotenoids like beta-carotene can act as a natural sunblock. (6)
Once ingested, carotenoids are transported to various organs including your skin. Here, they help protect skin cells against damage from harmful UV rays (7).
Pumpkin is also high in vitamin C, which is essential for healthy skin. Your body needs this vitamin to make collagen, a protein that keeps your skin strong and healthy. (8).
Moreover, pumpkins contain lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin E and many more antioxidants that have been shown to boost your skin’s defenses against UV. (9) (10)

One cup of cooked pumpkin (245 grams) contains:

Calories: 49
Fat: 0.2 grams
Protein: 2 grams
Carbs: 12 grams
Fiber: 3 grams
Vitamin A: 245% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
Vitamin C: 19% of the RDI
Potassium: 16% of the RDI
Copper: 11% of the RDI
Manganese: 11% of the RDI
Vitamin B2: 11% of the RDI
Vitamin E: 10% of the RDI
Iron: 8% of the RDI
Small amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, folate and several B vitamins.

When making pumpkin dishes… Don’t throw away the seeds!

PUMPKIN SEEDS ARE POWER SEEDS

Pumpkin seeds were discovered by archaeologists in caves in Mexico back in 7,000 B.C.  North American Indian tribes were the very first to observe the dietary and medicinal properties of pumpkin seeds.  The nutrition in pumpkin seeds improves with age; they are among the few foods that increase in nutritive value as they decompose. Pumpkin seeds stored for more than five months increase in protein content. They can be consumed raw or toasted, plain or tossed in salads and other fresh or cooked dishes.  Containing a variety of nutrients ranging from magnesium to copper, protein and zinc, pumpkin seeds are extremely healthy and are a good source of B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 and folates), magnesium, iron and protein.  100 grams of pumpkin seeds contains about 30 grams of protein. They are the most alkaline-forming seed.

PUMPKIN SEED BENEFITS

Heart Healthy:  Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of healthy fats, fibers and various antioxidants that are beneficial for the heart.  The high levels of essential fatty acids help maintain healthy blood vessels and lower unhealthy cholesterol in the blood.  Pumpkin seeds contain phytosterols, compounds that have been shown to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol.

Healthy Sleep:  Pumpkin seeds contain Serotonin, a neurochemical which promotes health sleep.  They are also high in Tryptophan, an amino acid that further converts into Serotonin in the body, to help you get a good night’s sleep.

Prostate Health:  High in zinc these seeds are useful for promoting men’s fertility and preventing prostrate problems. The oil in pumpkin seeds alleviates difficult urination that happens with an enlarged prostate.  Pumpkin seeds also have DHEA (Di-hydro epi-androstenedione) that helps reduce the chances of prostate cancer.

Stabilize Blood Sugar – Pumpkin seeds help improve insulin regulation in diabetics and decreases oxidative stress. These seeds are a rich source of digestible protein that helps stabilize blood sugar levels.

Hair Growth:  Pumpkin seeds consist of cucurbitin, a unique amino that may be responsible for hair growth. They also contain vitamin C that also plays a crucial role in hair growth. Apply pumpkin seeds oil on scalp to see the results or just consume a handful of them daily.

Bone Protection:  High in zinc, pumpkin seeds are a natural protector against osteoporosis, since zinc deficiencies can lead to higher rates of osteoporosis.
Pumpkin seeds are a good source vitamin E; they contain about 35.10 mg of tocopherol per 100 g.

Other benefits:  According to studies, pumpkin seeds prevent calcium oxalate kidney stone formation.  These seeds reduce inflammation and counter arthritis pain without the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs.  They are also used in many cultures as a natural treatment for tapeworms and other parasites.

Take advantage of the abundance of pumpkins during the fall season and give your health a boost. Enjoy these healthy pumpkin recipes.

 

PUMPKIN PIE SMOOTHIE

Tastes like pumpkin pie in a glass and will satisfy all your pumpkin cravings.  It combines pumpkin purée with almond butter, milk, delicious spices, and honey. It’s an excellent source of filling protein and fiber, plus it provides eye-helping beta-carotene. (Can’t get enough pumpkin?

Ingredients:

1 cup low-fat milk
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp almond butter
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp maple syrup or honey
4 ice cubes

Directions:  Blend ingredients together, and enjoy! Serves 1.

 

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HEALTHY PUMPKIN MUFFINS (No Flour, Sugar Free, Oil Free, Dairy Free Gluten Free)

Healthy pumpkin muffins are a better-for-you alternative to traditional pumpkin muffins or pumpkin bread.
Gluten free, sugar-free, oil free, and dairy free. Your taste buds will love the healthy fall flavors.

Prep Time – 20 min
Cook Time – 20 min
Total Time – 32 mins
Servings: 14 muffins
Calories: 123  calories

 

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats (toasted & ground) * 9.3 ounces
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats (toasted, 2 Tbsp reserved for muffin tops) * 2.8 ounces
1 1/8 cups pumpkin puree * 10.7 ounces
2 large eggs (lightly beaten)
6 tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
3/4 cup canned coconut milk or dairy milk (full fat, skim or 1 %,)
2 tsp real vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
3 ½ tsp pumpkin spice (or 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/8 tsp allspice, 1/8 tsp ground cloves, and 1/4 ground nutmeg)
½ cup walnuts, raisins, dried cranberries, or chocolate chips (optional)

Instructions
Preheat oven to 325. Place all oats on a baking sheet and toast until lightly browned, stirring once (about 4 to 6 minutes).
Let cool to room temperature. (If you are in a hurry you can skip this step and use plain old-fashioned oats, however the toasting adds flavor.)
Place 2.5 cups of oats in a food processor and blend/pulse until they reach a rough, flour like consistency.
Combine pumpkin puree, eggs, maple syrup, milk, and vanilla. Mix to combine.

Add both ground and unground oats to wet ingredients and allow to sit for 10-20 minutes (this allows the oats to soak and soften).
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until just incorporated. (The batter will be very thick.)

Optional: Fold in approximately 1/2 c walnuts, raisins, chocolate chips, or dried cranberries.

Scoop batter into muffin tin, lined with muffin wrappers (makes 12-14 muffins). Fill the muffin tins 7/8 full.
Bake at 350 for about 23 – 25 minutes, a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin should come out clean and the top of the muffin should feel firm.
Recipe Notes
Use parchment muffin liners or lightly spray liners lightly with oil to make the baked muffins easier to remove.

 

GREAT PUMPKIN SOUP

Ingredients
1 small pumpkin
1 onion
3 to 4 cloves of garlic (minced)
1.5 cups of vegetable broth
1.5 cups of coconut milk
1/4 tsp turmeric
Pinch of sea salt and black pepper
Olive oil (to brush on pumpkin flesh)
Pumpkin seeds and fresh rosemary (to garnish)

Instructions
1. Preheat your oven to 375°F before cutting your pumpkin in half. Spoon out the strings and seeds, saving the seeds for roasting.

2. Using olive oil, brush the flesh of the pumpkin and place the halves skin-side up on a baking sheet. Bake for approximately one hour — a fork should be able to pierce the skin. When cooked, allow to cool.

3. On your stove top, saute garlic and onions until translucent — then add turmeric to toast slightly.

4. Add all remaining ingredients (pumpkin flesh, broth, coconut milk, salt and pepper) and bring to a simmer.

5. Once incorporated, use an emulsion blender to create a smoother consistency and continue cooking for 10 to 15 minutes.

6. When ready to serve, garnish with rosemary and pumpkin seeds. If you’d like to roast your own, simply toss seeds in olive oil and salt, baking for around 40 to 45 minutes, or until crispy and golden.

Enjoy!

For more great recipes, visit BrenDid .com

5 Facts You Need to Know About Joint Pain

September 27th, 2019

Joints are the places on the body where two or more bones meet. Humans have three main types of joints: synovial, cartilaginous, and fibrous. Synovial joints are freely movable, meaning that they allow you to extend, rotate or pivot the bones to which they are connected. Some common examples of synovial joints are the knee, elbow, wrist, and knuckle joints.

Cartilaginous and fibrous joints provide little to no range of motion; the fibers that connect the bones on your skull are examples of fibrous joints. Cartilaginous joints can be found in between the vertebrae or connecting the pubic bones. When we talk about joint pain, we are typically referring to synovial joints.

Synovial joints, as the name suggests, are surrounded by a membrane filled with synovial fluid. Synovial fluid is a viscous liquid that keeps joints lubricated, but too much of it can trigger inflammation and pain. More often than not, join pain occurs when there is a buildup of synovial fluid caused by normal wear and tear, an injury or an autoimmune condition.

Joint pain can be chronic or temporary, mild or severe, and it can happen for several different reasons. These are five important facts that everybody who experiences joint pain should know.

 

Joint Pain

Joint pain can be caused by a variety of factors

The most prevalent cause of joint pain is arthritis, which is not a disease in and of itself, but an umbrella term used to describe inflammation and pain in one or more joints. Arthritis is extremely common; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in every four American adults suffers from some type of arthritis. As of this year, arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States.

There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, and while it is usually more common among older adults (especially women), people of any age or gender can develop it. The two most frequent forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

OA, sometimes called degenerative arthritis, happens when one or more joints break down as a result of normal “wear and tear.” OA is the most common type of arthritis in middle-aged and older adults and tends to affect the hands, knees or hips. Symptoms of OA include pain, swelling, stiffness, and tenderness in or around the affected joints.

RA is an autoimmune disease that happens when the immune system attacks the joints and other parts of the body by mistake. When a person has RA, their immune system constantly activates an inflammatory response that causes the joints to swell and become extremely tender and painful. While most types of arthritis cannot be cured, certain medications, lifestyle changes, and natural supplements have been shown to help ease the symptoms and manage their pain.

But arthritis is not the only responsible for joint pain; other factors and conditions that may cause pain in or around the joints are:

  • Bursitis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Gout
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Injuries
  • Lupus
  • Lyme disease
  • Polymyalgia rheumatica
  • Some types of infections
  • Tendonitis
  • Whipple disease

Medications can help ease joint pain

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers that reduce inflammation and relieve pain and discomfort. Common NSAIDs that you’ve probably seen or even used yourself before are ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), and aspirin. These medications can help with mild to moderate joint pain and even arthritis.

When OTC medications aren’t effective, your doctor may want to take a more serious approach. Injections are usually the second line of treatment for moderate to severe pain that doesn’t respond to drugs because they allow the medication to penetrate directly into the joint.

Depending on the type of injury and the location of the pain, your doctor may decide to inject hyaluronic acid, corticosteroids, stem cells or platelet-rich plasma. The downside to injections is that the effect is temporary, so the pain generally returns within a few months.

But long-term use can cause serious side effects

Just because OTC medications are available without a prescription doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be careful when you take them. Experts advise never taking NSAIDs for more than ten days without consulting a healthcare professional because extended use has been shown to:

  • Increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke
  • Cause headaches and dizziness
  • Develop stomach ulcers or cause stomach bleeding
  • Cause heartburn
  • Increase blood pressure
  • Damage the liver and kidneys

Nutritional Options

Supplements with proven benefits for joint pain include boswellia, hyaluronic acid,

Boswellia – A tree that produces a resin known to have anti-inflammatory properties and therapeutic benefits for joint pain/arthritis, rheumatism and gastrointestinal disorders. Of all the boswellia species, Boswellia Serrata is the most commonly used in herbal extracts and research.  (100 mg / day)

Hyaluronic Acid –  Is similar to a substance that occurs naturally in the joints.  It works by acting like a lubricant and shock absorber in the joints and helps the joints to work properly.  Hyaluronic acid helps in both initiating early inflammation for recovery and stopping the natural inflammatory response from going overboard.  (150 mg / day)

Ginger –  Recent research studies have shown that ginger can help reduce inflammation in people with arthritis and joint pain. Ginger contains more than 200 substances in its oils, which is why it has so many different uses. It has been used medicinally for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine in India and has anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer and antioxidant properties. Ginger has been known to be beneficial for arthritis sufferers because it blocks the formation of inflammatory compounds (prostaglandins and leukotrienes) and also has antioxidant effects that break down existing inflammation and acidity in the fluid within the joints.  (600 mg / day)

Feverfew  – Traditionally used for joint pain, feverfew  is more commonly used in migraines.  This herb can protect the joint against inflammatory changes. It can reduce the symptoms of arthritis like pain in the joints, restricted movements, swelling in the joints, redness of the skin overlying the joint, and stiffness.  (50 mg / day)

Boron – The element boron plays an important role in theintegration of calcium into the joint’s cartilage, which helps prevent joint deterioration and arthritis pain. Research shows people with lower boron concentrations in their bones and synovial fluid experience higher rates of arthritis than those with higher levels. (10 mg / day)

Physical therapy can give you some of your mobility back

When medications simply aren’t cutting it – but you are not ready for major surgery yet – it may be time to consider other options for relieving your pain. Physical therapy (PT) is a fantastic drug-free alternative for managing arthritis and other conditions that cause joint. The principal benefit of PT is that it can help you relieve stiffness and pain by gently strengthening the affected joint and surrounding areas.

PT uses a combination of tailored exercises and therapeutic approaches like ultrasound, massage therapy, and hydrotherapy to help people recover from injuries, manage conditions like RA or OA, and improve balance.

During a PT session, a licensed professional, called a physical therapist or physiotherapist, will assess your condition by asking you to perform a series of movements. Then, they will create a personalized routine and teach you exercises that you can do at home to improve your range of motion. In many cases, PT can help people avoid surgery and significantly improve their quality of life.

PT is often prescribed by doctors, but in some states you can go to a physical therapist by yourself without a referral. Most health insurances cover all or most of the costs of PT.

Lifestyle changes can minimize pain

Natural approaches to pain management are becoming more and more popular because people want to avoid the side effects of painkillers. Here are three lifestyle changes that will help you maintain function and keep your pain at a minimum.

Hot and cold therapy

Applying heat and cold to your joints is the simplest (and cheapest!) treatment to relieve joint pain, and you can do it from the comfort of your own home. Heat is an effective home remedy for treating stiffness because it promotes blood circulation and relaxes the muscles, and cold reduces inflammation and temporarily alleviates pain.

Apply heat to the affected area by taking a long, warm bath or by laying a heating pad or electric blanket over the affected area. Cold treatments can be done by placing a gel ice pack on the painful joint, but remember to protect the skin with a towel or a cloth to avoid injuries. Do not apply cold for more than 8 minutes at a time.

Losing weight

Losing even a couple of pounds can significantly improve joint pain according to experts. In fact, one research study published in 2005 found that losing only one pound can ease up to four pounds of pressure from your knees. This means that if you lost just five pounds you would be removing 20 pounds of weight from your knee joints!

Swimming

Everybody knows that physical activity is important for improving your overall health and reducing your risk of developing a chronic condition like heart disease or type 2 diabetes. Regular movement also helps to maintain flexibility in your joints. However, when you have an achy joint exercising is usually the last thing on your mind and weight-bearing exercises such as running and walking can be damaging.

The good news is that low-impact exercises such as aquatic activities are both gentle on the joints and extremely effective at soothing pain. The buoyancy of water reduces impact while making you work harder than you would on land, which means that you can burn more calories.

Swimming on a heated pool can also provide some much-needed relief. Remember to bring a flotation device if you are going to work out the deep end of the pool if you get tired or want some extra support.

Keep Moving

Joint pain can make even the simplest of activities challenging.  Holding a joint still to protect it or to avoid pain can make moving more difficult and put pressure and stress on other parts of your body.  For example, a painful knee can cause you to walk in a way that affects other parts of your body, such as your feet, back and hips.  You must keep moving however, to maintain flexibility and joint health. Taking dietary supplements and incorporating the above mentioned tips into your daily routine can go a long way towards keeping active by protecting and lubricating your joints, improving mobility and promoting comfort.

CBD, CBD, CBD, OMG!

September 23rd, 2019

Unless you have been living on a remote tropical island (and if you are I am jealous),  it is unlikely that you have not been exposed to the nonstop hype and claims about CBD being a cure for every illness known to men or women– So I felt a need to put this huge and growing topic into perspective for my readers.  In other words, what we do and do not know, and whether or not there is a rational approach for most people.

WHAT WE DO AND DO NOT KNOW ABOUT CBD
The two compounds thought to be potentially therapeutic that occur both in cannabis (marijuana) and hemp which are two different plants,  are THC ( tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). Chemically speaking, CBD and THC are almost identical, however, once they enter the body they interact with receptors that produce different effects.  THC causes the “high” feeling associated with recreational marijuana but CBD does not.  CBD is associated with the myriad of unsubstantiated claims being made. THC containing products in excess of .3% are medically and legally restricted. CBD containing products with less than .3% THC are available in most states. The long-term effects of THC and CBD are not well known but the safety of CBD at least in the short term looks good.

CBD elements in Cannabis, Hemp oil, medical marijuana, cannabinoids and health.

It wasn’t until the last couple of years that CBD-infused products began popping up nearly everywhere, from skincare products to dog treats, gummy candy and everything in between.  If you’ve strolled around the supplement aisle at your local grocery store or pharmacy lately, you’ve maybe noticed something that wasn’t there before: the cannabis leaf – the quintessential imagery used to depict marijuana – stamped across dozens of products. Aptly named “alternative care,” balms, creams, and oils are sold as a natural solution to easing anxiety, alleviating body aches, and more.

According to CBD aficionados, there is almost no ailment that this supposedly miraculous elixir can’t cure.  But in an era where millions of people are more inclined to believe what they read on social media, we should ask ourselves: can we truly believe that a plant-derived oil promotes hair growth, prevents cancer, improves cholesterol, and manages anxiety or chronic pain– all by itself?

In 2018 a prescription drug containing CBD was approved for the treatment of two rare drug-resistant forms of childhood epilepsy and seizures;  Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.  However,  the dose of this drug is 500 mg a day which is about 100 times higher than the CBD in every product being marketed to consumers and the 500 mg dose in the prescription drug is just for kids.

Dr. Paul Pacher of the NIH and president of the International Cannabinol Research Society stated,  “Consumers are participating in one of the largest uncontrolled clinical trials in history and we really have no idea what it is they are taking… It’s scary.”

Currently there is a huge and growing list of claims being made for CBD.  All are mostly anecdotal except for the previously mentioned 500 mg dose for children with epilepsy.  There are only a handful of human trials studying CBD and they are very conflicting and provide no evidence that can be relied upon. Coupled with the fact that these claims are illegal in addition to being unsubstantiated, CBD  may very well lead to riches at least in the short term for the companies selling these products and making these illegal claims.  Keep in mind that the health benefits are still questionable for the consumers of these products.

Upon reading this article, no doubt hundreds of people will email me stating CBD works for them…  so I will respond in advance to those emails. To be clear, my position on CBD right now is that there is no good science showing it does anything to treat all of the health conditions for which it is being touted. Could my position change if more and better science is published? Absolutely! But only time will tell.

THE POWER OF THOUGHT
It is important to understand the power of the brain and positive thinking on people’s ability to accurately judge the health benefits of drugs or supplements they are consuming. The placebo effect is very real and powerful! For example in many clinical trials measuring the pain reducing effects of drugs, up to 50% of people taking the placebo pill (which contains no drug medication) claim noticeable improvement in their pain levels. Additionally many of the CBD products being sold are combined with other ingredients like menthol or peppermint oil which may be yielding the benefit and not the CBD.

Mislabeling of CBD products is a real issue with some products having much less CBD than stated on the label or others having much higher amounts than the allowable .3% of THC.  It’s a bit like the wild west, so be cautious.

SUMMING UP CBD

1- No good science yet exists documenting any of the anecdotal and illegal claims being made

2- A strong possibility of placebo effect exists.

2- Questionable levels of CBD and THC in some products.

3- The dose of CBD being sold to consumers is close to 100 times less than the dose proven effective for children’s seizures. Trying to take 100 times more would cost over $1000 a month with no guarantee of any benefits.

I am perfectly willing to get behind and support CBD if and when quality scientific data exists for specific claims.  But until then, count me out!  ….even if I get hundreds of emails asking why Akeso doesn’t offer a CBD product

To the Best of Health,

Curt Hendrix, Chief Scientific Officer
Akeso health sciences LLC

Akeso Health Sciences

 

Chronic Pain and the Opioid Epidemic

September 16th, 2019

September is Pain Awareness Month, and  a good time to discuss the current opioid overdose crisis that is going on in the country and  various non-addictive options.

If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, you’ve probably heard about the recent opioid epidemic. In 2017 alone, more than 70,000 Americans died of opioid-related drug overdoses – a 45% increase from the previous year. The opioid epidemic has become such a big problem, that in 2017 the U.S Department of Health and Human Services declared it a public health emergency and proposed a 5-point strategy to address the crisis that’s still in action.

Synthetic (man-made) opioids are prescribed to manage pain after surgeries and are also sometimes prescribed to patients who suffer from chronic or severe pain. However, since the 1990s, illicit opioids manufactured by illegal pharmaceutical laboratories have also become a popular recreational drug.

Common drug names and brand names of opiods include; Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Pseudoephendrine, Morpine, Fentanyl, Codeine, Methadone, Buprenorphine, and Tramadol to name a few.  The main problem with these drugs is that they are highly potent and extremely addictive; one of the most powerful synthetic opioids, fentanyl, is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. In the United States, more fatal drug overdoses are caused by fentanyl and other synthetic opioids than any other types of drugs.

Opiod Bottles

 

Where Do Opioids come From?

Though most opioids used today are made synthetically, natural opioids (called opiates) are derived from the opium poppy plant. Experts believe that the use of opiates as pain relievers and sleeping aids date back thousands of years to around 3,400 B.C.

In the 1700s, the British empire began exporting Indian opium to China, which caused a serious addiction crisis among Chinese people. The Opium Wars occurred in the mid-19th century as a result of the Chinese government’s decision to ban opium use within its borders and the British empire’s efforts to keep smuggling it into Chinese territory.

During the late 19th century, researchers were able to isolate the specific compound of the poppy plant that provides pain relief and makes people high – they named it morphine after Morpheus, the god of dreams. Later on, heroin, the synthetic derivate of morphine, was offered as a cough suppressant and a non-addictive alternative to morphine. Years later heroin would be proven to be even more dangerous and additive than morphine.

In 1914, the Harrison Narcotics Act in the US banned the recreational use of opioids and made them available by prescription only. By 1986, the World Health Organization recommended opioids only as a last resort painkiller and advised medical professionals to look for non-addictive treatment options for pain.

What Are the Effects of Opioids on the Body?

When opioids enter your system, they activate a series of receptors – called opioid receptors – in different parts of the body including the brain, the gut, and the spinal cord. Activated opioid receptors stop pain signals from reaching the brain, which means that while they don’t fix the root cause of the pain, they keep your brain from realizing that it is there.

Anyone who takes opioids, either for medicinal or recreational reasons, is at risk of developing an addiction. Opioids are extremely addictive for a couple of different reasons; for example, they temporarily keep you from feeling physical pain. They also release dopamine and endorphins, aka the “happy neurotransmitter,” which create a sensation of relaxation and well-being for a short amount of time. Once the effect of opioids wears off, the brain starts craving those pleasurable feelings all over again, which leads many people to misuse or abuse their prescriptions.

When Are Opioids Prescribed?

Painkillers like Vicodin or OxyContin are prescribed to patients who suffer from chronic or severe pain. Prescription opioids can help relieve painful headaches like migraines, pain resulting from accidents, surgeries, toothaches, and are sometimes prescribed to cancer patients to manage pain during or after treatment.

Back Pain

What Are Some Non-Addicting Alternatives for Pain?

Almost everybody has experienced some sort of extreme pain or discomfort at some point or another. Maybe the worst pain you’ve ever experienced was when you fell down and broke your ankle, or perhaps you suffer from excruciating chronic pain every day. But regardless of its origin, there’s one thing that’s for certain: being in pain is no laughing matter.

When doctors prescribe opioids, they are intended to be used only for a short period of time; as we mentioned before, prescription painkillers don’t treat the underlying cause of pain, and they only block pain signals temporarily. This means that taking opioids for will not make your pain go away forever, and you will still feel it once the effect wears off.

Many people believe that only people who use illegal drugs can develop an addiction, but the truth is that anybody who takes opioids, legally or illegally, is at risk. In fact, according to a poll conducted by the National Safety Council, nine out of every 10 painkiller users are not concerned about developing an addiction, even though research suggests that 80% of heroin users first became addicted to prescription painkillers.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that 80% of people who take prescription painkillers will become addicted or transition to heroin, but it is important to know and understand the risks involved with taking these potent medications.

Whether you suffer from chronic pain or you are getting over a painful injury, these are a few effective non-habit-forming alternatives to opioids that you can try for managing your pain. However, remember that it is always best to consult your doctor before you start any new type of treatment.

 

NSAIDs

NSAIDs, also known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are the most prescribed pain relievers in the world. Some of the most popular types of NSAIDs are ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen and they are typically offered over-the-counter or by prescription depending on the dose.

NSAIDs reduce pain by blocking some of the chemicals that trigger inflammatory responses in the body. These types of medications are usually effective in people who have arthritis, joint pain, muscle pain, tooth pain, and back pain. The chronic use of NSAIDs however, can lead to side-effects such as kidney or liver damage, stroke, bleeding, ulcers, and increased cardiovascular risk. Over use of OTC drugs for migraine sufferers can also lead to “rebound headaches” or medication overuse headaches.

 

Physical Therapy

When your pain is so unbearable that it keeps you from living your life, taking painkillers might seem like the only option. However, taking pain relievers without addressing the root cause of the pain makes for a dangerous precedent. In addition to being potentially addictive, painkillers can cause a number of side effects that will ultimately make the cure worse than the disease.

Some of the most common sources of pain (e.g. post-surgical or post-trauma pain, arthritis, lower back pain, and muscle aches to name a few) can be managed and even resolved with a combination of medications and physical therapy.

Physical therapy is a type of treatment that aims to preserve, recover or enhance movement and physical function. During the course of several physical therapy sessions, an expert will help you regain strength and reduce pain by performing hands-on exercises and teaching you pain management strategies. People with any of these problems can benefit from physical therapy:

  • Arthritis
  • Back pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • COPD or cystic fibrosis
  • Fractures
  • Paralysis
  • Post-surgical pain
  • Sports-related injuries
  • Sprains
  • Stroke or other neurological conditions

 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

When you are in constant pain, it can feel like you’ve lost control of your life. In fact, 30 to 50% of people who suffer chronic pain also have depression or anxiety, and to make matters worse, research has shown that depression seems to worsen pain. But the connection between depression and chronic pain seems to be even more complex; depression and anxiety have also been shown to cause chronic pain in some individuals.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that can help you reprogram how you think about and experience pain. This type of therapy is based on the notion that our thoughts (cognition) influence our actions (behaviors) and physical sensations, so by modifying the way that we think, we can also change what that we feel or how we respond to pain. The primary goal of CBT is teaching you strategies to cope with your pain so it doesn’t take over your entire life.

CBT has been proven effective for many people with chronic headaches and migraines, arthritis pain, and fibromyalgia among others.

 

Natural Options

Let’s be honest, when we are in pain we want it to stop, and we want it to happen fast, so our first impulse is almost always to reach for the medicine cabinet. However, it is important to remember that the long-term use of medications can lead to side effects. The following are natural ingredients that have been proven effective for reducing inflammation and relieving pain:

Turmeric: Derived from the Curcuma longa plant, turmeric has been used for thousands of years in Eastern medicine as a natural anti-inflammatory agent. The key chemical in turmeric is curcumin. Studies have shown that curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties and modifies immune system responses. It has been known to beneficial for sufferers of arthritis and cystic fibrosis.

Ginger:  Recent research studies have shown that ginger can help reduce inflammation in people with arthritis and joint pain. Ginger contains more than 200 substances in its oils, which is why it has so many different uses. It has been used medicinally for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine in India and has anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer and antioxidant properties. Ginger has been known to be beneficial for arthritis sufferers because it blocks the formation of inflammatory compounds (prostaglandins and leukotrienes) and also has antioxidant effects that break down existing inflammation and acidity in the fluid within the joints.
Boswellia extract: also known as Indian frankincense, Boswellia extract is a known natural anti-inflammatory and analgesic that has shown to be very beneficial for patients suffering from arthritis.

Feverfew: This fantastic plant was once dubbed the “medieval aspirin” because of its ability to reduce fever. Feverfew is a popular herb known to be beneficial for migraine, and arthritis sufferers. Scientific studies have shown feverfew helps to maintain normal cerebrovascular tone and function by inhibiting platelet aggregation (clumping together of blood platelets) and the release of serotonin from platelets and polymorphonuclear leukocyte granules. It has also been shown to inhibit pro-inflammatory prostaglandin synthesis and the release of arachadonic acid. Each of these phenomena is associated with migraines.

Prescription opioids are not the only way to manage pain. Safer alternatives like CBT, physical therapy, and natural remedies can help you ease your pain and improve your quality of life. However, as always it is important to talk to your doctor about your symptoms and your options. If your doctor prescribed opioids to help you deal with your pain, it is important to pay attention to his or her recommendations and only take them for the recommended amount of time.

To the Best of Health,

 

The MigreLief Team at Akeso Health Sciences

Fruit Infused Water – A Great Way to Stay Hydrated and Beat the Heat

August 30th, 2019

 

Recipes Fruit Infused WaterSummer is in full swing and with rising temperatures comes the need for everyone, especially migraineurs to stay well hydrated.  Helping to prevent migraines is only one of the benefits to drinking plenty of water.  Water helps with controlling calories, energizing muscles, and keeping your skin looking good.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, water helps keep your body temperature normal, lubricates and cushions joints, protects your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues, and gets rid of wastes through urination and perspiration.

Your body needs more water in hotter climates, on hotter days and when your more physically active.  If you think you are not getting enough water, carry a water bottle with you throughout the day. Choose water over other beverages when eating out and freeze water in a freezer safe bottle for icy cold water all day long.  To jazz it up a bit, make your own fruit infused water.

Fruit Infused Water

Making your own fruit-infused waters is a great alternative to drinking sugary sports drinks and sodas with additives and dyes. Fruit infused water doesn’t really require a specific recipe. You can experiment by making small or large batches and adding as much or as little fruit as you would like to increase flavor and sweetness.  Let your concoction stand for 2 to 8 hours then enjoy!  Popular fruits:  raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, mango, pineapple, oranges, lemons, limes, and cucumbers.Popular herbs:  mint, basil and rosemary.  Slice strawberries but keep other berries whole and press lightly with a spoon to release some of the flavors.  Add your favorite ingredients to a 1/2 gallon pitcher of water, cover and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.  Or make by the glass.

Star Spangled Frit Infused Water – Red, White & Blueberry

Ingredients:  1 pint of blueberries, 1 pint of strawberries, and a pineapple.
Cut pineapple with star cookie cutter and combine in a pitcher with strawberries and blueberries for star-spangled beverage.  You can infuse water or mix fruit with white sangria or lemonade for a festive punch.

Mango-Ginger Water
This is a delicious drink that boosts your metabolism, acts a natural pain reliever for migraines to menstrual cramps, aides in digestion and boosts your memory.
Ingredients:  1 inch Ginger Root, peeled and sliced + 1 cup Frozen Mango (or fresh)
Drop into a pitcher of water and cover with 3 cups of ice.  The ice is important to hold down the ingredients to help infuse the water.  Chill 1-3 hours and enjoy!

OTHER GREAT FRUIT AND HERB COMBINATIONS FOR FLAVORFUL WATER

Ginger-Lemon-Mint Water
1 lemon slice, 2 sprigs mint, slice of fresh ginger (2 oz)

Strawberry-Lemon-Basil Water
4-6 strawberries, 1/2 lemon sliced, and a small handful of basil, scrunched.

Blueberry Orange Water
2 mandarin oranges, cut into wedges, handful of blueberries.
Squeeze in the juice of one mandarin orange and muddle the blueberries to intensify flavor.

Raspberry-Lemon
1 cup of raspberries and 1/2 lemon sliced.

Mango-Pineapple
1 cup cubed mango and 1 cup cubed pineapple.

Cucumber-Lemon
Cucumber slices and lemon wedges.

Rosemary-Grapefruit Water
1/2 grapefruit sliced, several springs of rosemary.

Lemon-Jalapeno-Cilantro Water
1 lime sliced, 1 halved jalapeno, and fresh cilantro to taste.
Cover and let sit over night in the refrigerator.

Watermelon-Mint-Lime Water
1 lime sliced, 2 sprigs mint, 1 cup watermelon chunks.

Watermelon-Mint Water
1 cup watermelon chunks and 2 sprigs mint.

 

 

 

Many stores carry various “Infusion Water Bottles” but any container may be used.

 

Fruit infused water bottles

 

 

AUGUST BRINGS RISING TEMPERATURES & MIGRAINES – Hot Tips to Stay Cool & Migraine Free

August 10th, 2019

step-into-the-light-summer1There are several weeks of summertime left to enjoy so don’t get stuck in the dark riding out a migraine or headache. August brings extreme heat but also a last chance to plan summer activities and vacations. As schedules change, and temperatures rise so do migraine triggers such as barometric pressure, disrupted sleep patterns, stress and dehydration. Some triggers you can control or avoid and some you can not. There are many things you can do to ease through August if you are a migraine sufferer.
KEEP  FAST-ACTING MIGRELIEF-NOW ON HAND AT ALL TIMES.MigreLief-NOW New bottle FINAL
First of all, for those times when you need help most, keep MigreLief-NOW close by so you can take 2-4 capsules at the first sign of discomfort.  (For children’s dosages age 2-12, see back of bottle).  Keep “NOW” in your car, purse, or suitcase for emergencies if you leave town or are merely on the go.  And for those of you who are back to work or off to school already, keep MigreLief-NOW at your office, or in your school backpack.  Remember, MigreLief-NOW is different than the  daily maintenance formulas… It is an on-the-spot dietary supplement taken “as needed” to provide immediate nutritional support when you need it most… NOW!  (Migraine Formulas-Overview Pdf)

As summer shifts toward fall, for many, August is not a time to grab a last minute vacation but rather a time to endure the extreme heat. The majority of the U.S. suffers hot, sticky August nights and while it’s great for the crops heading toward early harvest, sleeping can be particularly uncomfortable and trouble for migraineurs.

While a lot of people have central air to mitigate the heat, many people have either inadequate air conditioning or none at all.  For several areas of the U.S., August is a rainy season fraught with extremely uncomfortable levels of humidity.  At 90 degrees, anything over 70% humidity is considered extremely uncomfortable and can be deadly for asthmatics.  For those sensitive to barometric-pressure change migraines, the rising and falling humidity of August can make one feel as though they are on a migraine roller-coaster. Migraineurs often feel in August that, around the clock, they either have a migraine or are anticipating one at any moment.

Headache Prevention for Outdoor Enthusiasts
As a basic outdoor strategy, be sure to wear dark sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat. Also, staying hydrated is key to avoiding light and heat related headaches. Humidity is really tough to control out of doors, but following some of the suggestions made in preventing barometric pressure and altitude headaches is good general advice for those who will be out in the humidity as well.

The barometer drops rapidly just before a storm, and your blood vessels may react to that, trying to equalize the pressure.   Many sufferers recognize this fact and even find themselves watching the weather channel to know when to anticipate a summer storm migraine.

Strategies for barometric pressure headaches
Some migraineurs have reported that lying down in a dark room can ward off the pressure headache, but if you are or want to be an outdoor enthusiast, you have to figure out other ways to deal with it.  The good news is there are gadgets that can help you. If you are one who prefers gadgets over devices and apps, Newspring  Power International Company, Ltd. offers a fishing barometer designed to check the barometric pressure at specific locations.

The application for migraineurs is that you can set the device for up to six places where you might wish to go for the day, and program it to warn you when a storm is approaching any of those places. If you prefer a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant), there are several smart phones and tablets which have barometric sensors with free apps that will send you alarms when pressure reaches the danger zone for you.

Other remedies:

A de-humidifier can mitigate some of the indoor humidity. Also, keep blinds drawn to keep the house cooler.

Keep from exerting yourself as much as possible, especially out of doors, and plan your shopping-musts around the cooler parts of the day.

Cook smart – use your microwave instead of the stove, prepare cool, summer meals involving salads and yogurt products. Don’t succumb to fast foods or snack foods, but have on hand foods that you can put together quickly.

If you sleep under a fan, avoid colds, sinus problems, neck pain that can trigger migraines by covering your neck as you sleep. Keep a towel or light, children’s blanket just for draping over your neck while you sleep.

If you feel yourself getting overheated, wet your skin and lie down in front of or underneath a fan. Putting off your shower till the heat of the afternoon is a good idea for refreshing yourself.  Of course one nice idea is simply getting away to cooler climates in August.

MORE HOT TIPS TO STAY COOL!

  • – Soak a t-shirt in the sink in cool water (not cold or chilled water), wring it out, put it on and sit in the shade or in front of a fan. (You may want to save this one for when you’re alone, unless you’re going for that ‘wet t-shirt’ contest!)
  • – Fill a plastic spray bottle with water and freeze over night. You will have a cool mist that lasts for hours.
  • – Soak your feet in cold water. The body radiates heat from the hands, feet, face and ears, so cooling any of these will naturally cool the body.
  • – Wear light colors darker colors will absorb the sun’s rays and be warmer than light or white clothing, which reflects light and heat.
  • – Minty fresh use mint scented or menthol lotions and soaps to cool your skin.
  • – More alcohol just the rubbing alcohol please! Put some rubbing alcohol on a damp washcloth and hold it on the back of your neck and sit near a fan. The evaporative effect can feel 30 degrees cooler.

FROZEN GRAPES:  To stay cool, try this naturally sweet frozen treat. 

These frozen bites always stay icy, but not frozen solid. They must be eaten as soon as they are removed from the freezer before they thaw completely.

1. Wash and dry green or red grapes.
2. Place in sealable plastic bag.
3. Keep in freezer for 2 hours or until frozen.
4. Fill a bowl with several ice cubes and place the bag in the bowl to keep cool while you enjoy!

Again, remember to keep MigreLief-NOW on hand in times of trouble and take 2-4 capsules at the first sign of discomfort.  Children between the age of 2-12, should take exactly 1/2 the adult dose.
Enjoy the remainder of your summer and stay cool!

Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.

 

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