Suggestions for Chronic Pain and Inflammation

Pain is a very complex phenomenon that combines information from the nervous system with emotions, thoughts and social context.  Pain is also highly individual and subjective and can be related to depression, anxiety, diet and stress.  There are also many conditions that cause for chronic pain.  These include but are not limited to: rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, irritable bowel disease, fibromyalgia and chronic headaches.  The pathophysiology of chronic pain is complicated,  not wholly understood and also differs dependent on the individual and thier underlying condition. Therefore, I am not going to get into these details  in this post.  However, I am going to offer some alternative suggestions for pain management.

1. Food Sensitivities

A food sensitivity is different than a food allergy. Individuals with food sensitivities have DELAYED reactions to specific foods that are triggered by IgG antibodies.  In an IgG reaction the IgG antibodies attach themselves to a food antigen creating a antigen antibody complex. If present in high amounts these complexes can accumulate in cells and can lead to inflammation, in turn promoting pain or disease.  Many naturopathic doctors and some medical doctors can run tests to measure your levels of IgG in regards to various different foods. Additionally, special diets can also help to identify specific foods that may be causing an IgG reaction.  If you have IBS, IBD or any other condition associated with inflammation discuss the possibility of food sensitivities with your naturopathic doctor.

2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT helps individuals to identify and develop skills to change negative thoughts.  It also encourages a problem solving attitude and involves homework to keep track of thoughts and feelings associated with pain. CBT has been shown to be effective in alleviating jaw pain, migraine headaches, and in rheumatoid conditions.

3. Trans cutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS machine)

The TENS machine produces an electric current that stimulates the nerves over or around the area of pain.  It has been shown to be effective for some individuals in helping to control acute and chronic pain by either interfering with the pain response or by desensitizing the nerves involved in pain signalling. It is best to try the TENS machine with your ND, MD or physiotherapist to explore if this method of pain management is of benefit to you.  If so, you can purchase one from some drugstores or online and use frequently at home.

4. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a procedure that involves the stimulation of specific point on the body be inserting fine needles into the skin.  According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture corrects the imbalance of qi, or vital life force, that flows through us and thereby promoting wellness.  In a review article of 24 studies, acupuncture has been shown to have a 70% efficacy in treating pain compared to placebo.  Both naturopathic and traditional chinese medicine doctors can administer  acupuncture in Ontario.

5. Supplements

There are various supplements that have been shown to be effective in managing pain and decreasing inflammation.  However, appropriate and effective supplementation is based on the individual and their underlying conditions.  Talk to your naturopathic doctor about what supplements would be best for you.

  1. Van Delmen AM, Fennis JF, Bleijenberg G. Cognitive Behavioral group therapy for irritable bowel syndrome, effects and long term follow up. Psychosom Med 1996;58:508-514.
  2. Dworkin SF. Behavioral and educational modalities. Oral Surg Oral Med Pathol Oral Radiol Endod 1997;83:128-133.
  3. Arathuzik D. Effects of cognitive-behavioral strategies on pain in cancer patients. Cancer Nurs 1994;17:207-214.
  4. Johnson M, Martinson, M (2006). “Efficacy of electrical nerve stimulation for chronic musculoskeletal pain: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials”. Pain 130 (1): 157–165. doi:10.1016/j.pain.2007.02.007
  5. 5. Reichmanis M, Becker RO. Relief of experimentally induced pain by stimulation oat acupuncture loci: a review. Comp Med East West 1977;5:281-288.
  6. Photo Creds: thediarymom.blogspot.com, http://www.istoppain.com, http://www.building-muscle101.com, http://www.supplementfarmer.com
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Healthy Heart: Tips for Healthy Cholesterol

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Cardiovascular Disease is a class of diseases that involves the heart or blood vessels.  Two of the most common causes of cardiovascular diseases are atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries) and hypertension (high blood pressure).  In this article I will focus primarily on ways to prevent atherosclerosis, however many of these diet and lifestyle tips will also encourage healthy blood pressure levels.

Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, is most commonly due to fatty materials such as CHOLESTEROL. Cholesterol, a fat like substance, is important in many bodily functions, however having too much cholesterol can lead to many adverse effects.  There are two main types of cholesterol: low density lipoprotein (LDL) and high density lipoprotein (HDL).  LDL cholesterol is known as “bad cholesterol” as too much of it can build up in your arteries, narrowing blood flow to the brain and heart, and therefore INCREASING your risk of a heart attack or stroke.  HDL is known as “good cholesterol” as it may aid in preventing LDL from sticking to your artery walls, helping to DECREASE your risk of heart attack and stroke.  The ratio between LDL and HDL cholesterol is very important, and it is best to aim for low LDL and high HDL.  Total Cholesterol (TC) is your LDL + HDL + triglycerides (fat).  Total cholesterol levels should be under 200mg/dl.

There are many factors that affect high cholesterol, including genetics.  We cannot change our genes but we can modify diet and lifestyle to encourage a positive cholesterol ratio, lower total cholesterol levels and decrease our risk of heart attack or stroke.

Listed below is some dietary advice that can significantly benefit your lipid profile!

What to Avoid

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Saturated Fats and Trans Fats: High total cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol is linked with a diet of saturated fats and trans fatty acids.  Saturated Fats come from animal fats, fatty cuts of red meats, high fat dairy such as cheese, ice cream and 2% or higher milk. Trans Fats are found in margarines, fried foods and commercially baked goods such as donuts, cookies and cakes.  Also, packed freezer foods such as microwave dinners, pop tarts and frozen pizza products often contain high amounts of trans fats. As a general rule, it is best to avoid processed and packaged foods.

What to Eat

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1. Fish: Consumption of fish has been shown to produce favorable effects on the lipid profile. It is best if fish is consumed twice a week, and is most beneficial if eaten baked or broiled. Frying fish decreases the amounts of healthy oils found in fish that are so very advantageous to your health.

2. Raw Almonds and Walnuts:  Eating 84g/day of almonds or 68g/day of walnuts has been shown to reduce total and LDL cholesterol. Interestingly enough, eating nuts frequently is shown to reduce heart disease by 30-50%.

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3. Olive Oil: Can reduce LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol, encouraging a desirable lipid profile.  It is advised to eat olive oil uncooked, by adding on top of salads, soups or breads as frying olive oil changes the chemical structure and reduces its healthy properties.

4. Coconut Oil: This oil is high in saturated fats, HOWEVER, new research is emerging showing that coconut oil may in fact decrease LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol. Of added benefit, some research is beginning to show that a diet high in coconut may improve cognitive function.

5. DO NOT OVER EAT! Having more weight on your body significantly increases your chances of heart disease.

Sources

1. JF, Anand SX, Valdiviezo C, et al. Update in atherothrombotic disease. Mt Sinai J Med 2004;71:197-208

2. Bucher HC, Hengstler P, Schindler C, et al. N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in coronary artery disease: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Med 2002;112:298-304.

3. . Abby M, Noakes M, Belling GB, Nestel PJ. Partial replacement of saturated fats with almonds or walnuts lowers total plasma cholesterol and low density lipoprotein cholesterol. Am J Clin Nutr 1994;59:995-99.

4. . Fraser GE. Nut Consumption, lipids and risk of a coronary event. Clin Cardiol 1999;22 (7Suppl):III 1-III15.

5.  Cullinen K. Olive oil in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia. Med Health R I 2006;89:113.

6. Freeman LR, Haley-Zitlin V, Stevens Granholm AC. Diet-induced effects on uronal and glial elements in the middle-aged rat hippocampus. Nutr Neurosc,vol.14, no.1, pp.32-44, 2011.

7. Granholm AC, Bimonte-Nelson HA, Moore, AB, Nelson ME, Freeman LR, Sambamurti K. Effects of a saturated fat and high cholesterol diet on memory and hippocampal morphology in the middle-aged rat. J Alzheimers Dis, vol.14, no.2, pp.133–45, 2008

8.Nevin, K, and Rajamohan T. Beneficial effects of virgin coconut oil on lipid parameters and in vitro LDL oxidation. Clinical Biochemistry, Volume 37, Issue 9, September 2004, Pages 830–835. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clinbiochem.2004.04.010

9. L, Villareal DT, Weiss EP, et al. Calorie restriction or exercise: effects on coronary heart disease risk factors. A randomized controlled trial. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 2007;293:E197-202.

10.. Prousky, Jonathan, ND. “Hypercholesteremia” In: Principles & Practices of Naturopathic Clinical Nutrition. Pp68-74, 2008 CCNM Press: Toronto

Photos Courtesy of:

FreedigitalPhotos.net: Human Heart with stethoscope by dream designs

FeedDigitalPhotos.net:Carp Background by Vlado

FreedDigitalPhotos.net:Selection of Cakes by Grant Cochrane

FreedDigitalPhotos.net:Bottle of Olive Oil with Olives by m_bartosch