Category Archives: Nutrients

Do You Know the ABC…of Vitamins?

abc of vitaminsFunny enough, when we learn our ABCs we might say “A is for Apple, B is for Berry, C is for Cherry…but we don't learn about vitamins A, B or C until many years later, if at all. This means that we have only a hazy idea of how important they are to us or where they comes from or even what they are.

That stops here because today I want to fill in the gap left by our schooling and show you how important your ABC of vitamins really is.

What Are Vitamins Anyway?

Before we get to our ABC we need to clarify what vitamins really are.

Vitamins were discovered around 1900. One by one scientists found that there were unknown ingredients in food, something that was so important that animals and people die if it is missing from their diets.

Poor diets were found to lead to disease and death and one by one as the cases were studied the missing nutrient was found to be a vitamin.

Scientists found that there were several of these missing “somethings” and they then had to be given a name. The first name given was “vitamine” which was short for “vital amine” and then the letters of the alphabet were used so we ended up with A,B,C,D,E…all the way up to K.

Vital Amine?

And then the first major mistake was spotted! Vitamins were called “vital” meaning essential to life and that's correct but an “amine” is a member of the ammonia family and in a chemical formula looks like NH2 where N is for Nitrogen and H is hydrogen.

Problem is that vitamins are not amines so the very first step into Vitamin science was on quicksand and ended up with a quick correction.

A “political” correction was made – they kept the name and just knocked the final “e” of the word!

So now we call them “vitamins”.

Vital to Life

But food is vital to life – we know that without eating we get weaker, hungrier, lose weight and eventually lose consciousness and lose life.

Food supplies us with energy which we measure in calories and nutrients which we know as vitamins and other nutrients.

Scurvy is an interesting example of a disease we can get if we eat insufficient amounts of vitamin C. The disease was first described by Hippocrates who was writing hundreds of years B.C and yet 2,000 years later scientists were still unsure what the cause was. The cure was simple and had been proven many times and yet Doctors ignored the evidence.

And this was not a rare disease either as this quote from the Wiki shows “Between 1500 and 1800, it has been estimated that scurvy killed at least two million sailors ”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scurvy

And how to cure this awful disease? Easily according to Johann Bachstrom an 18th C Polish Pastor here is the cure…

“scurvy is solely owing to a total abstinence from fresh vegetable food, and greens; which is alone the primary cause of the disease ”

Which is of course, correct.

I could fill this entire blog post with similar cases, stories and proofs of how vitamins were found to cure disease.

And rather than do that I want to focus now on how much vitamin C we need – so we will look at a few numbers and see how they can help you know how much of the vitamins you need to not just avoid obvious disease but to healthy enough to thrive.

Not knowing this is why many people nowadays have scurvy – but more of that in a minute – we need some details to be able to use this information powerfully to boost our own health.

How Much and When?

We've seen that a major killer disease was found to be caused by a deficiency of a vitamin – in this case we are looking at vitamin C.

The next thing we need to know is how much vitamin C to use – how many milligrams of vitamin C do we need and does everybody need the same amount?

The surprising answer is that it all depends on where you live! Every government has a health and nutrition board that makes recommendations for the healthy functioning of its people.

Of course the people who get to sit on these boards are all Nutrition experts…oops that should be obvious but it does not quite work out that way. In fact the members of government committees are people who have the time and inclination for the paperwork and who are politically acceptable.

Very often the real experts don't fit into these requirements and the resulting recommendations show all the signs of official data they are out of date and ignore important scientific research.

In Canada, the US, UK, India and Australia – to mention the main English speaking countries the “Official” recommendations for daily vitamin C intake for an adult are…

Country Adult Dosage mg
Australia 45
Canada 90
India 40
United Kingdom 40
United States of America 60 to 95

 

In addition, just to show you that this is a political issue, there are values recommended by the World Health Organisation and the European Union which are 45 and 80 mg respectively.

Altogether then "Official" sources say that we should take an amount between 40 mg and 95 mg !

And remember we are only looking at vitamin C values, we will find a similar divergence of view with every other nutrient!

So who is right?

What is a person going to do here? Well the practical answer is,”Ask an expert!” and my definition of an expert is someone who is trained in Nutritional science and treatment and that answer will take you to people who use Nutrition with their patients.

That excludes the vast majority of Medical Doctors and includes Naturopathic Doctors and Nutritional Therapists and some Chiropractors and Herbalists.

It may surprise you that most Medical Doctors are not taught Nutritional Medicine but that reflects the situation. They are taught a lot of Drug Therapy and little to no Food and Nutritional Therapy.

Expert Opinion On Vitamin C

If my discussion on who is an expert does not quite convince you then let me refer you to the expert above all others on vitamin C; someone who is, you might say, the expert of experts…

And that is Dr Linus Pauling – yes the Linus Pauling with 2 Nobel Prizes. He recommended we take 2000 mg a day and that is what I take.

What I noticed in my time as a Nutrition student is that the more Nutrition people knew the more vitamin C they took. It was pretty common for us to take 4000 or 5000 mg a day and to do so for years.

I have taken these doses for decades now and have enjoyed almost perfect health.

A last word on the Official dosage.

Why do the officials get it so wrong? Part of the answer is politics and part is that they do not use Nutritional therapy on a daily basis with patients and simply do not base their recommendations on practical knowledge but on theoretical requirements about how much is needed for a white blood cell and how much is needed to help absorb iron in the diet and so forth.

Real practical advice for a adult seeking good health usually concludes with doses of 2000 mg upwards.

In the next post we look deeper into the ABC of Vitamins click here to read more.

Photo credits RubyGoes

The Rise of Detox and Its Role in Natural Therapies

detox and natural remediesThere is a large and rising number of Detox articles, diets and products nowadays so awareness and practise of detoxification is increasing. But to me a Naturopath using Detox as a normal part of everyday treatment, most of it appearing confused shallow and often totally wrong.

Time to ask some questions about detox and the first one is where does it fit when compared against Natural treatments and remedies.

Natural therapies have been all that we have had to turn to until relatively recently. So a little history may help put things in perspective follows.

It was the popularisation of antibiotics in the 20th Century that really “beat the drum” for drug based medicine, even though antibiotics had been used both in ancient Egypt and India and perhaps in other places too.

Mass markets were clamouring for products and a need for effective medicines to cope with injuries sustained in the Second World war. Added to that there was a Scientific mindset growing at the time that wanted to move on and move away from traditional choices.

The love for new things was such that even unhealthy practises like cigarettes were receiving popular and even professional support. Smoking was being popularised and Medical Doctors were recommending it as, “Good for the lungs”.

Our food choices were changing too. A whole world of technologically driven processed foods entered our stores and new appliances found their way into the home.

It was not just our medicine that was changing; a tide of change swept through Western and other societies and altered not just the practise of what we did but the underlying rational too.

A lot of this change was welcomed and many old methods abandoned happily. New understanding and research opened up new horizons even in staid subjects such as dietetics – what best to eat for our health.

Meals were then based on a rote formula like “Meat and 2 vegetables” and new data showed that this “default setting” was questioned by a, soon to be famous researcher, called Ancel Keys.

We are now into the 1950s and Public Health officials were looking at what large numbers of people were dying of. Blame started to accrue to smoking and many Doctors started to campaign on this issue. Decades were wasted and many innocent people died due to governments around the world resisting the unwelcome facts that so called “lifestyle” diseases were killing millions. Attention shifted to diet too and rightly or wrongly Keys pointed the finger of blame for the huge rise in deaths from Cardiac disease at the amount of cholesterol in the food.

All through this era Naturopathic Doctors were keeping their powder dry. None of the new drug discoveries or the diet changes impacted on their understanding of what a healthy diet was or on how the body heals. The tradition of Naturopathic medicine continued unabated in a low key way largely unheard of by the public.

But the public did hear from some renegade Doctors who ran into the facts that vitamins and some other food supplements are powerful enough to make a real difference to a seriously ill patient.

They heard from William Shute who pioneered the use of Vitamin E for Cardiac patients

They heard from Linus Pauling the Nobel Prize Winner who was a pioneer of the use of high dose vitamin C for various disorders.

And they heard from Abram Hoffer a trailblazer working with various nutrients such as Niacin.

Naturopaths did not really like this.

Pioneering Medical Doctors were not taking the whole caboodle from Naturopathy – they were picking and choosing the bits they liked and even paving the way for a new kind of therapy called Nutritional therapy that used a variety of vitamins, minerals and other natural substance found in food as medicines.

Hippocrates is always said to the “Father” of medicine but Medical Doctors pay no heed to his teachings and oppose and scorn Naturopaths who do follow them religiously.

The teaching of importance at this point is, “Let they food be thy medicine”. Food and diet is an absolute priority for Naturopathic Doctors and a matter completely ignored by Medical Doctors.

The new rebel Doctors pioneering vitamins came into the space between the medics and the Naturopaths and formed their own new kind of medicine called Orthomolecular Medicine, meaning medicine using the correct molecules – found of course in healthy foods.

Not drug molecules you understand but vitamin molecules. They pioneered Nutritional Medicine.

You'd think that this new take on the use of vitamins would delight the Naturopaths but they ignored it. They did not like the fact that the diet as a whole was not being optimised, they criticised vitamins being used “like drugs” and of course there were a lot of other Naturopathic techniques they knew that the new crowd did not know!

Not invented here? I think so!

Of course the old guard never invent anything; it is new people coming into the field not knowing what they are supposed to think that blunder into new discoveries.

Thanks to quite a lot of “blundering” we now have some distinct choices for somebody wanting natural treatment for a malady.

They can consult a Naturopathic Doctor or Naturopath; they can see a Nutritionist who may be trained in Nutrition and perhaps no other healing modality; or they could consult a Herbalist.

Other options are somewhat peripheral – acupuncture for example is part of traditional Chinese Medicine and is used when needed to boost the treatments of herbs and diet – it us not supposed to be a stand-alone therapy; homeopathy is not a natural treatment in my view but a different and less harmful way of using drugs. Osteopathy and Chiropractic can of course support someone in their healing journey but are both focussed on the muscles and joints and that is their strength and in a way their weakness.

So that is the therapeutic landscape or at least my take on it.

So where does detox fit?

It fits right in the middle of traditional Naturopathy.

Whether we look at traditional Chinese medicine used right across the Far East or Ayurveda and similar systems used in and around India or to the Naturopathy native to Europe and the West inspired by Hippocrates.

Naturopathy is based on a deep respect for the healing power of the body and assisted by the Naturopath as necessary using whatever works from modern science or from traditional techniques.

Detox is a part of all Naturopathic traditions used when patients needed it or as a seasonal therapy or as a maintenance therapy.

Detox has 2 faces; part of it is simple to understand and tends to be called “Cleansing” – an example of which is Colon cleansing, done with gentle fibrous ingredients such as psyllium or with enema techniques; the other more technical part of detox is much less understood even by Naturopaths and has much in common with a technique used in Toxicology used chelation.

This is the use of various chemicals that bond and bind to a poison such as molecules of heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and their like. The body has no use for these industrial pollutants and no way to detoxify or excrete them without help from a detox chemical.

As detoxification methods were further explored and the exact steps that the liver takes to detox pollution products in the bloodstream Naturopaths began to incorporate nutrients that played a key role in the detox process.

Detox then or at least this intensive and specialised part of it, came to resemble nutrition in that it was accomplished with a carefully assembled tool kit of vitamins, minerals and herbs and any other healing ingredients that the body needed such as spices and some foods.

We don't now have to wait for a seasonal cleanse or detox, we can use detox foods and nutrients in any meal we wish. Simply by using garlic or turmeric we can help ourselves detox.

In the light of a deeper understanding we can say that Detox is nutrition and nutrition is detox when they are both informed of the science detoxification pathways in the body and the natural and healthy ways of eating.

 

Osteoporosis: Are Your Bones Doomed To Crumble as You Age?

osteoporosis - posture changing with ageOsteoporosis is scary. We know that youngsters get stronger and longer bones as they age and this goes on to some extent right through our twenties. Round about age 30 though we reach peak bone mass and bone strength and our bones are expected to get weaker from then on as we continue to age.

This loss of bone mass and strength is called Osteoporosis and is often regarded as “normal”. And indeed a quick look around in any shopping centre shows a huge number of elderly people with walking sticks and frames if they are walking at all an not being pushed in a wheelchair.

These folk have a mix of disorders but Osteoarthritis and Osteoporosis would be prominent along with many other “age related” diseases.

My definition of normal is different because I am a Naturopath and regard bone loss and increased risk of fracture as simply a disease that can be healed with lifestyle adoptions and not something that has to be “lived with”.

In this article we'll look at what you can do to take your health into your hands and get it under control. We'll start with another definition of Osteoporosis and then move into the action points for you to consider adopting.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis or OP, is a progressive loss of minerals, strength and protein from our bones due to inadequate diet and activity.

It is a lifestyle disorder like diabetes and heart disease and like them can be addressed by going to the root of things and not by covering over the symptoms with pharmaceutical drugs.

Risk Factors For Osteoporosis

Those with a smaller stature are more likely to get OP and so are those from Caucasian families. But that just means that extra attention is paid to the diet and other lifestyle factors by those affected.

It is also a risk factor to have worked in industries or occupations that exposed you to heavy metals such as lead and cadmium. Sometimes just living in a polluted neighbourhood may be enough to get exposure. If you have heavy metal contamination that can be tested and treated pretty simply and is well worth doing.

Pharmaceutical medicines can also be risk factors. It is scandalous in my view that drug medicines taken to treat one condition often cause another but pharmaceuticals such as steroids, barbiturates, proton pump inhibitors, heparin amongst others are risk factors for OP.

If you take any of these it may be worth consulting your Physician to see if there are less harmful alternatives.

What We Can Do About Our Bones

Have you heard the Children's song…

”Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones
Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones
Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones
Now, hear the word of the Lord!”
etc.

                                                 Words here http://is.gd/0w2cKg

If people know anything about their bones apart from the incorrect notion that they get weaker with age it is that bones and dry and bones are white.


All wrong.


You get weaker – both in muscle and bone with lack of exercise not age and bones are pale yellow and are living organs with a blood supply so they are not dry either!
 

Bones are living adapting organs that respond to exercise by strengthening and respond to nutrients like any other of our organs. So we need to nourish them, just like we nourish our muscles, brains and skin.

The Stress Connection

A memory has stayed with me since the early days of my learning clinical nutrition back in the eighties.

A researcher was about to publish a research paper and gave us an early peek into the data his study had found. The study compared the top drugs for Osteoporosis with a particular bone strengthening “exercise”.
 

The exercise was way more effective than the best drugs and now I'll tell you what it was…
 

  1. The researcher showed us by standing so we could see him from the side.
  2. Then he lifted his heels off the ground a little – say half an inch, no more.
  3. He then let his body down to normal standing by letting his heels strike the floor.


That was it – stand up, lift heels off ground and then let them fall back onto the ground.

Why This “Foot Exercise” Works

Having read that you might wonder why this silly little move would work? Why would it beat the best drugs on the market?


Good questions and here's why…


As we walk our hells are the first part of the foot to hit the ground. As it contacts the ground it makes what is called a “heel strike”. What happens with every heel strike is a shock wave travels not just through the foot but right up the legs and throughout the body.


The next bit is the interesting bit so read it very carefully…


The way that bones work is that they get stronger with shock and stress. So every heel strike makes the bones stronger and the shape of the bones will even change to make it even stronger to adapt to your movement and exercise.


Walking makes your bones stronger.


And so will the researcher's silly little exercise.


And so would skipping and lots of other walking, jumping and jogging exercises but only if you do not wear trainers.


No trainers?


No trainers because they cushion the feet and cut down the shock waves and stress and we don't want to do that.


Trainers are for professional athletes with special needs they are not for the average Jane who needs to exercise and get some shock and stress into her skeleton.

Is there a vitamin D connection?

There is another risk factor we face that can turn into an “Action factor” – something we can do to boost our health – and that is vitamin D. It is only in sunny climates that we can get enough natural vitamin D by our exposure to sunshine.

Northern latitudes such as Canada and the UK are at risk and lots of US citizens too unless you live in sunny Florida, Texas or Southern California, for example.

Even in sunny places we may not get enough sun exposure if we indoors too much or completely cover up due to fear of sunburn.

Best advice is to get a simple blood test of our vitamin D and then supplement with the needed dose of vitamin D3. Do take care that you see the actual amount of vitamin D and do not let yourself be told that your level is normal. Ideas of what is normal have changed a lot in the last few years and nowadays the normal level is much higher than it used to be.

A normal level is generally regarded as 50 to 60 ng/ml and anything below that needs fixing with daily D3 of say, 3000 iu tablets or capsules. In fact you can now get a D3 liquid with 5000 iu per tiny drop. You can even get a D3 spray so it is really very easy to get a daily shot of this vital vitamin.

In the Winter it is generally a good idea to increase your dose to make up for less sunshine. And preferably test again after a few months and see how you are doing.

Vitamin K

Another Vitamin we need for bone health and strength is vitamin K. This vitamin we can get from our food but eats lots of green leafy vegetables every day? Not many people do but that is where we find vitamin K so that means that most people should be on a good supplement and the best is vitamin K2. This is easy to take and may be in your daily multi – it is often included in quality multi-vitamin supplements. A daily dose of 100 MICRO grams – millionths of a gram is all need.


Note – those taking Warfarin are recommended to keep their vitamin K supplements at low levels of 100 micrograms. Higher levels may interfere with their anti-coagulant therapy.

How About Calcium?

We have to talk about Calcium at some stage.

There's a lot more in a bone than the mineral calcium – there are other minerals such as phosphorous, magnesium, sodium and bicarbonate as well as structures of collagen, blood vessels – but we do need around 1200 mg a day and most of us do not get it. So a supplement of calcium citrate is recommended or perhaps a mix of various forms of calcium glycinate, malate or a chelated calcium.

Please take note that Osteoporosis is not a calcium deficiency disease – we get oodles of calcium in our water and in milk and yet there is an epidemic of OP. Read on and get the full picture below…

And Magnesium…

I have recommended magnesium as an all purpose muscle relaxant, pain reliever and anxiety reducer but we need it for bones too. We can get plenty of magnesium from our diet but only if we eat plenty of green,leafy veggies…and do you do that?

Silica

Taking silica increases bone mineral density and increases the production of bone proteins. So it's great for healthy bones and as a bonus helps improve the look and health of our skin too!

O Yes And Boron Too!

The last mineral in my Anti-Osteoporosis list is a seldom discussed one called Boron. We need very little but it acts to balance minerals and to reduce inflammation and reduce the loss of calcium in the urine. Only a milligram or two is all we need.

Is there an Osteoporosis Diet?

To fight or fix Osteoporosis we need to oppose the inflammation in the blood stream and elsewhere in the body and act to alkalise the body.

The diet needs to be anti-inflammatory.

A whole grain plant based diet does that and it supplies a lot of the minerals and vitamins we need but it does it in a way that helps the body heal rather than in a way that triggers allergies and inflammation.

Crudely speaking foods may be put into either an inflammatory or anti-inflammatory group.

Inflammatory foods are meat, fish, eggs and dairy products

Anti-inflammatory foods are vegetables, fruits, whole grains, omega 3 plant oils and spices

So a whole grain based vegan diet seems to be the most anti-inflammatory diet which combined with specific OP fighting vitamins and minerals.

If a vegan diet seems too restrictive for you a Mediterranean diet with a strong emphasis of the anti-inflammatory foods and supplements is what I'd recommend.

Osteoporosis is not a disease of ageing or of calcium deficiency. It is a logical result of many years of eating the wrong diet and can be corrected with a few months of eating the right diet – a “plant strong diet” packed with super foods and boosted with powerful anti-inflammatory supplements such as vitamins C and D.

O yes and after one of your plant based meals – take a nice relaxed walk and enjoy yourself Now I'd love to know if OP has been a part of your life? Please comment and share this post if you feel it could help people you know… Thanks

Photo credits Certo Xornal

Rheumatoid Arthritis – a Natural Diet Based Treatment

shows the fingers of one hand of a rheumatoid arthritis patientRheumatoid Arthritis is a crippling disease that focuses on the small joints of the body such as those in the hands and wrists but which acts on many different tissues such as the white of the eye, the membrane around the heart and the lungs.

Like osteoarthritis with which it is often confused it is an inflammatory disease and generally thought to be an systemic autoimmune disease like lupus.

Pharmaceutical treatment can only relieve pain and perhaps reduce inflammation but neither of these will stop or reverse the progression of the disease.

The joint damage of a Rheumatoid Arthritis ( RA) patient usually occurs symmetrically so if the joints of the left hand are affected then the right hand will be too; if the right wrist is affected the left wrist will be as well. This is quite unlike the case of osteoarthritis where we typically have a large joint such as the hip joint showing osteoarthritic damage on one side of the body only.

In addition people suffering from RA will show high cholesterol and triglycerides and anaemia and low levels of iron. The inner lining of their blood vessels will show damage from the inflammatory chemicals circulating in the blood and overall, RA patients have a 40% greater likelihood of death than the general public.

shows the hands of a rheumatoid arthritis patientRA patients also show a greater likelihood of suffering from food allergies and sensitivities – a fact that ties in with it being an autoimmune disorder.

Natural Treatment for RA

As a Naturopath the first thing to say is that it is the person that needs help and treatment and I do not treat RA or any other disease. This is not a quibble or semantic over correctness on my part but a fundamental difference in approach between Naturopathic and other approaches. In what follows I can therefore only give general hints and guidance because I do not have a particular person in mind and in my clinic.

The first requirement in Naturopathic Medicine is “First do no harm” so we will be working with diet, food supplements and gentle herbs and not using any chemicals that the body finds toxic – such as the majority or pharmaceuticals and quite a number of so called nutraceuticals.

We will also be paying special attention to food allergies and sensitivities and avoid them as much as possible. This not only helps us to obey our aim to do no harm but assists us to keep inflammatory responses to a minimum.

We already have an immune system damaging joint and other tissues so we do not want to add inflammatory foods to this situation. To do so would be like throwing petrol on a raging fire.

The diet has to be a low allergy anti-inflammatory selection of foods and drinks. In broad terms in will be vegan or lacto-vegetarian and focus on a high consumption of fresh vegetables, some fruit and healthy whole grains such as oats quinoa and barley.

No sugar, junk starches or soft drinks aka soda is included and perhaps not fruit juice either – at least not purchased. The diet would have to be worked with and modified over several weeks and months to tune it to have the best features of natural healing vitality with palatability and practicality.

Oils are an integral part of the diet and fresh coconut oil and olive oil add important factors of anti-inflammatory power and palatability – otherwise known as yumminess!

There's no reason at all that a powerfully healing diet needs to be anything other than delicious!

Natural Food Supplements for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Along with the diet we include a powerful selection of anti-inflammatory food supplements. As a starter we include a high quality multi-vitamin and multi-mineral then we add to that as required. In such an inflammatory picture I would start with a vitamin C dose of around 3 grams a day – divided into breakfast, lunch and bedtime doses of 1 gram.

The form of vitamin C may be basic ascorbic acid 1 gram tablets or could be a powder. Ideally you can source a vitamin C that is a combo ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbic acid and perhaps calcium ascorbate. Some find such a blend of different forms of vitamin C easier to tolerate and each has its own merits anyhow.

I would either test for leaky gut or just assume it to save the patient expense and then focus initial efforts on healing the gut.

This has at least 2 parts – one is to use special foods such as slippery elm and rice that work directly on the gut lining to heal it and to use nutrients such as L-glutamine and butyric acid which has powerful healing effects on the gut.

Working on optimising the gut flora is an important part of this strategy. Natural yogurt, use of sauerkraut and other probiotic foods help condition the gut so that pathogenic micro-organisms find it difficult to colonise and grow. Careful choice of foods such as apples, pears, artichokes, oats and others each of which contributes special sources of fibre to further condition the gut and optimise the micro-flora.

Vitamin D is likely to be very low and if needed a simple blood test can be done to find current levels. The old definition of normal is now considered to be inadequate so it is essential that the patient is not fobbed of by being told that the level is normal. The new normal level is usually taken as being above 50 ng/ml with many regarding 70 as a desirable target.

Herbs and Spices for RA

Turning now to herbs and spices for their contribution to this all round anti-inflammatory approach, we can start with

Andrographis – a well known Ayurvedic herb it is a powerful anti-inflammatory and helps deal with the damage done to the circulatory system by the inflammation.

Boswellia – another Ayurvedic favourite used in many cases of inflammation

Ginseng – optional but all forms of ginseng can be considered when the patient is exhausted and has suffered their ailment for several years. A gentle herb, ginseng is worth using for any long term illness to act simply as an all round tonic and rejuvenator.

Ginger more anti-inflammatory action here. Ginger tea can be made in a few minutes by boiling a few slices of ginger root in a pan. Sipped throughout the day with a little honey.

Turmeric – either as capsules or preparations of curcumin a particularly active agent has strong immunomodulating effects. Turmeric may be sprinkled over rice and other foods or taken as a capsule.

This gives us plenty to work with for a good three months. As the healing proceeds you need to reassess and treat what shows up. There may come a time before or after this initial 3 month period that the need for a detox arises. Gentle and slow colon cleansing would be a good place to start and for ideas and details on how to do that please see other posts on naturaldetoxblog.com

Photo credit fingers, hands

Joints Going Wrong: How To Heal Osteoarthritis

osteo arthritis of the kneeWe all get occasional joint pain. Maybe we play football or karate or go hill walking; we shrug it off and it heals. But as we age many get joint pain that does not seem to come from activities that we enjoy but from age itself.

Joints degenerate as much as any organ in the body and depend on our stewardship of our body for their health. So if we experience stiffness and pain or swelling around a joint we may have signs of Osteoarthritis also called Degenerative Arthritis.

And although many elderly people do have joint disease there are many others of the same age who are pain free and have no sign of joint problems whatsoever.

It is true that some of this “immunity” to arthritis may be down to the genes. There is evidence that siblings and twins have similar susceptibility to arthritis but there is much room for us to help boost the health of our joints by adopting a joint friendly diet and other lifestyle factors

How does OA start? Often it's with a Joint Injury

Osteopaths and Chiropractors have long explained stubborn joint problems by pointing to childhood injuries. Sometimes we fall as children – in my case I rolled down stairs as a baby and was apparently unharmed by it – and have no recollection of the accident at all.

Healing ususally happens automatically but sometimes it gets stuck “half way” and an incomplete repair of the joint occurs that may be pain free but which acts as a point of focus for decades to come.

And that joint may be a little stiff so perhaps you “allow” for it, maybe by changing your posture a little or your movements.

And so the original injury becomes part of your life even without pain and without you paying much attention to it, until a slip or minor accident triggers the joint and it becomes inflamed and goes into another “incomplete healing”.

This cycle of the joint getting inflamed and perhaps swollen and partially healing may go for a long time – perhaps leaving residual stiffness and no other sign of trouble. Other people will find that the damage gets worse and becomes an obvious problem with frequent pain, weakness and instability of the joint and swelling.

Received wisdom is that inflammation is a major feature in Rheumatoid Arthritis and not Osteoarthritis but inflammation is the driver in both. Too much attention is given to “pain relief” and not enough to healing and repairing the joints.

Yes pain relief is essential but is a short term measure and is often the only measure taken which results in pain relief becoming a long term even permanent part of coping with the disease.

As a starter it's essential to check that whatever medication you take does not contribute to making the problem worse.

This seems obvious to everyone but pharmaceutical steroid painkillers may impair wound healing and even cause Osteoporosis while pharmaceutical Non Steroidal pain killers may produce a range of damaging side effects to the gut, kidney and even cause heart attack and stroke.

So we won't be looking at pharmaceutical drugs for help in healing joint disease!

With a “cold” injury – that is an old injury the only way to heal it thoroughly is to go back to basics and do a complete investigation of the joint and surrounding ligaments and muscles.

All the movements have to be tested and the muscles too so a well trained Kinesiologist on your team is an asset. There will be unbalanced muscles and perhaps multiple issues around the joint that have built up over the years and they must all be cleared for a complete healing to take place.

Joint Nutrition Is Vital

Joints can only get the nutrition that the rest of the body gets. An injured joint may need extra sulphur, silica and vitamin C and if not in the diet, then they cannot be in the blood and get to the joint.

Even worse – joint spaces get nutrients not directly from the blood supply but from the tissues around them and this is powered by your movement. Unless there is plenty of movement the tissues will go “hungry” and be unable to heal fully.

Detox techniques like Epsom Salts Baths and Castor Oil Packs need to be used as long as the issue is unresolved. Laser or other deep tissue techniques may be a very effective part of the whole programme of treatments.

And a complete Body detox may be required in stubborn cases. That might sound like a lot of work and it is and it's why Osteopaths and Naturopaths really want to work on joint problems as soon as possible rather than years later.

If course the result of this deep healing approach is a life without the disability of an injured joint and that makes it all worthwhile.

Photo credit X ray

 

What You Can Do To Have Healthy Joints

X ray of shoulder joints and  ribcageWe worry about our health, about our heart health, about the chances of getting cancer and increasingly nowadays about getting dementia since we may have seen a relative sliding into Alzheimer's Disease as they aged. Seldom do we worry or do anything about the health of our joints and yet arthritis and other joint disease is at epidemic proportions.

Joints just don't get the attention they deserve even though we use them for every movement of the body. Even sitting still reading this article numerous joints in your rib cage are working as you breath and others in your ribs and arms as you scroll down the screen to read this article.

Joints are places where things happen; they are where 2 bones come together to allow and facilitate movement. When working well they are like well oiled hinges and they bring no attention to them selves. And when afflicted with a disease like arthritis we struggle to move, we push against stiffness and suffer pain as a consequence.

We all have good incentives to do what we can to keep our joints healthy and the good news is that all we do to boost our general health is going to help our joints too

So lets look at some lifestyle choices we can make and then see what part professional treatment can play in the health of our joints

Movement:“use it or lose it”

Never was that saying more truly used than about our joints. When we walk or exercise or do some gardening or housework we not only stretch our muscles we use our joints too and this helps lubricate them, and boost the health of the joints used.

We may need to push hard to strengthen a muscle but gentle movement is all we need to exercise a joint.

When treating patients in my Osteopathy clinic I used to teach a simple routine where we go through all the major joints of the body and perform slow circular movements. Starting with the head and then moving to the shoulders, hips, knees and ankles it takes just 2 or 3 minutes and feels good as you both gently stretch the muscles around the joint and feed “exercise information” to your body and brain.

The movement may be dance, skipping, yoga – whatever pleases you – it does not have to be”exercise” – anything that gets us in motion will do the job.

Joints and muscles are feeding position and speed data to the brain like a satellite or rocket sends back telemetry data to ground control. This is vital to our well being and interrupting this flow of data from our joints deprives the brain of what it needs to function properly just like eating a junk diet deprives the body of minerals and vitamins that it needs to do all its work of healing and detoxing properly.

Diet: “We are what we eat”

The phrase “We are what we eat”, seems to be as old as the hills and is often taken to be a folksy way to nudge us into following advice like “Eat your greens!”. Well the phrase is not just a metaphor it is a literal hard scientific truth. We are made of what we have for breakfast, and lunch and dinner…and whenever else we eat too! And what we drink as well!

When it comes to our health we really do have the power to choose and to make our bones and joints strong and healthy. So what choices are best? The science for the last several decades whether in the shape of The China Study or in any of dozens of other major studies comes back with the advice to eat what the researchers call,”a plant based diet”.

This is not the same as a Vegetarian diet or a Vegan diet though. A diet of so called “Breakfast” Cereals, toast, coffee, Bagels and microwaved ready meals might well be vegan but would be a junk food diet none the less.

I know plenty of Vegetarians whose diet is similar to the above and whose dinner plates are rarely graced with the sight of Broccoli or Kale or other healthy greens. This is their choice of course and in our culture the food we eat is not culturally determined as it is in many countries but is there from individual decisions.

A Plant Based Diet means a wholefood diet, preferably organic, and examples may be found in the Mediterranean Diet and the Diet in rural Japan. In both there is a variety of vegetables, fruit (more so in the Mediterranean diet, which is part of why I think it is better) and small amounts of bread, fish and meat.

From detailed research I've seen I'd advise a vegetarian or vegan version of the Mediterranean diet as the healthiest diet for our joints and for general health too. It has a wide range of plant nutrients including mineral and vitamins; there is plenty of protein and Olives and nuts and seeds provide all the healthy oils we need.

Joint Supplements: “Every little helps”

But what do we do when we get joint disease? The time to change the diet was 5 years ago before we got soreness and pain in and around the joints and your diet will affect your health going into the future but right now what food supplements can we take as extra healthy plant medicines for your joint issues?

Pain usually comes from inflammation in the body so we need to give the body as much anti-inflammatory support from diet and supplements as we can. So after getting meat out of the diet we can add omega 3 oils to it. These are plant oils – the only reason fish oil has omega 3 oils in it is that fish either eat plants with omega 3 oils or eat smaller fish that eat plants! There's no point eating fish and exposing yourself to hazards from mercury pollution and much else besides if all you want is to get a good supply of omega 3 oil.

The richest source of omega 3 oil is flax and the best way to get it is to mix powdered flax seeds into your meals or smoothies. Eating flax seeds is fine but your body cannot get at the oil inside the seeds.

Budgies and other birds can, we can't!

And pouring flax oil on salads is OK if you can be certain that it is fresh and safe but after using flax oil for some years I doubted that it was as fresh as I wanted, so I shifted to using flax seed powder. This is safe and stable for months and has been tested in medical trials and proved effective.

Other anti-inflammatory supplements include vitamin D to boost bone strength and taking enough vitamin C. The latter not only strengthens collagen that gives our bone its strength but also strengthens the tendons and ligaments around the joints. Bones, tendons and ligaments are all made of collagen and all are “powered” by vitamin C. The mineral Silica helps too but vitamin C is primary.

You'll hear a lot about other supplements like glucosamine sulphate and chondroitin but they have a mixed record when put to the test. What is probably happening is that we need sulphur and if we are deficient they can fill that gap. A better way to get sulphur may be to either include onions and garlic in your diet or to use a garlic pill or else supplement with MSM, full name – Methyl Sulphonyl Methane which seems to work rather better.

Treatment: “If it ain't broke don't fix it”

This phrase is used a lot by engineers but it fits in with the Hippocratic rule of “First do no harm”. That implies that treatment by an Osteopath or Chiropractor should be minimal and gentle and treatment from Surgeons avoided if at all possible.

The first line of treatment is to gently move the joint and find out where there is pain or limitation. As much as is reasonable the joint needs to be moved around its normal arc and doing so will help drain the area of any inflammatory build up and bring fresh blood to the area to help heal the pain and or damage.

A massage around the joint is extremely helpful because it relaxes the muscles around the joint and reduces pressure and again helps circulation. Using a good oil will relax the muscles and I routinely use Olive oil – slightly warmed up but any oil will help relax muscles and take pressure off the joint.

The best oil by far is Castor Oil. It should only be used on the skin and for Castor Oil Packs and never taken by mouth. But massaging the oil on is easy and can be and should be done for as long as needed. Using a Castor Oil pack is good advice but does involve quite a time and much good can be had just by directly rubbing the oil on the skin above and below the joint.

Other ways to encourage relaxation is to use the minerals Magnesium and Potassium. Any good supplement will do but the absolute best is to use the Celloids range of minerals by Blackmores called PPMP.

By all logic PPMP should not be anything like as effective as it is but it is the nearest to a “Cure all” that I have ever found and is superb to help pain, muscular spasm and anxiety amongst many other issues.

Some healing technologies can be used as well. Cold laser can be very useful in dealing with hard to get at lesions. Ultrasound may play a role as well. Used as part of a holistic approach any non-invasive therapy can be helpful. Overall the strategy to work on Joints is to restore normal function and movement with anti-inflammatory diet, supplements and gentle hands on treatments.

Used appropriately these tactics can heal just about any joint problem whether the cause is arthritis, gout or accidents. And if a particular joint is stubbornly refusing to heal then some extra diagnosis is needed to find out if a nutritional or other factor is involved.

Trace mineral analysis may provide the needed info or “Muscle Testing” by a Qualified Kinesiologist may be needed to hunt down the confounding issue.

The body does heal itself but needs us to do some extra detective work sometimes. To get some details on the kind of diet recommended in the research on plant based diets the The China Study CookBook may be helpful.

Feel free to share your experience of joint problems below or on my Facebook page.

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Wheat Nutrition

field of wheat in Southern SwedenWheat has been grown and used since at least 9,000 BC and use of the wild grain has been dated as far back as 23,000 BC. And although we mostly think of wheat as a Western grain and staple – the Western version of Rice basically, Wheat is also an oriental grain coming from the arc of countries known to scholars as the Fertile crescent. Looking a a map you can see these countries arc from Egypt through Palestine and Israel to Syria, Turkey and Iraq.

Genetically wheat is a complex grain with some types having 2 sets of chromosomes like Einkorn Wheat and others having 4 sets – like Durum and Emmer while others have even 6 sets of chromosomes like Common Wheat and Spelt Wheat.

What this means is that farmers and plant breeders have a rich resource to use to select breeds that for example have a higher yield or a shorter stalk

Wheat Nutrition

Like any whole food wheat has a range of proteins, fats and starches along with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Much of that is lost when the grain is ground and “refined” into a processed and somewhat depleted food – so much so that Governments mandate the partial replacement of some of the nutrients lost in the milling.

That being the case the use of whole grains is advisable on a routine basis with the “white” flours being used only occasionally for particular recipes.

As a protein wheat has around 12 grams per 100 grams and beats other staple foods such as maize/corn, rice and potatoes and comes second only to Soy beans 13 grams per 100 gms.

The precise amount of protein will vary by variety of wheat with Khorasan Wheat coming in at 12 to 18 grams of protein per 100 gm.

Speaking of which…

Khorasan Wheat is also called Oriental Wheat although really all wheat is oriental since it originated in the Near East probably in Turkey.

Kamut is a particular variety of Khorasan wheat and is actually trademarked to protect its integrity and use. It is grown organically and is known as a high energy wheat from its high content of both protein and of valuable fatty acids. It is also rich in the anti-cancer mineral selenium and in manganese and magnesium.

These health properties have not gone unnoticed. One study looked the effects of switching people between using Kamut or standard wheat in pasta, bread etc. Two groups of people were used and they were then switched after 8 weeks. The results were remarkable in the Kamut group – Cholesterol went down for total cholesterol and LDL, blood glucose levels was reduced by 7%. Their anti-oxidant levels improved as did blood markers of inflammation. Added to that, the researchers found increased levels in the blood of magnesium and potassium for the Kamut group. http://is.gd/3BUKVg

 

Einkorn Wheat is an ancient variety of wheat that originated in Turkey and although spread through much of Europe is now a speciality crop mostly used by health conscious folks whi find it easier to digest than standard wheat. Like all wheat it has gluten but the form of the gluten seems less problematic and it may be possible for those with wheat allergies to tolerate Einkorn. And while it may be possible for thise with heat allergies to tolerate Einkorn and other ancient strains of wheat research eveidence so far warns those with Celiac disease to regard them all as hazardous. So Einkron may be the ancient wheat of the Pharaohs but if you are following a Gluten free diet then the best advice is to avoid it!

Emmer Wheat To be continued…(soon)!

Spelt Wheat

Wholegrain Rye To Boost Your Health!

fields of ryeRye is most at home in Central, Eastern and Northern Europe where it's rich and hearty taste is most appreciated. But it can be found worldwide in bread and grain mixes and even in whisky and rye beer.

When ground to a flour it can be made into pumpernickel,sourdough and crisp breads. Bread making is facilitated by its gluten content which is high enough to make baking easy but is lower than in wheat flour.

Rye may be a good alternative to wheat bread and wheat pasta for those sensitive to wheat, although those with full blown coeliac disease will still need to avoid it.

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