Offering a unique reference point on alternative medicine and complementary therapies.

Aches & Pains

Broccoli Prevents Osteoarthritis?

A compound found in broccoli has been found to slow down and prevent the progress of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and usually affects hands, knees and hips. This condition destroys the cartilage between joints, causing swelling and pain. Osteoarthritis is sometimes referred to as wear and tear. According to Arthritis Research, more than 8.5 million people in the UK suffer with osteoarthritis, and the annual cost to the NHS is around £5 billion. The standard treatments include strong anti-inflammatory pain-killers and surgery, such as knee and hip replacements. The most common causes are wear and tear due to ageing and obesity, which is a growing problem. The cases of knee arthritis have been forecast to reach over 8 million by 2035, from 4.7 million in 2010. The good news is that an everyday vegetable can help to reduce the risk of developing this condition. Broccoli contains sulphoraphane, which works by blocking the enzymes and interferes with the inflammatory process associated with osteoarthritis. Sulphoraphane is released when eating vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage and broccoli. Researchers from the University of East Anglia propose that eating 100g (a handful) of broccoli every day can help to prevent the disease and possibly even slow down the progress of osteoarthritis. The added benefit of adding this vegetable to your diet, is the subsequent weight loss, which can further reduce the risk of developing osteoarthritis. So, its worth swapping the odd portion of potatoes with a serving of broccoli.  ...

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Music therapy for pain relief

There have been a few studies highlighting the benefits of music on general health ranging from depression to cardiac health, but new research has found that music could help people persistent pain. The researchers found that listening to music resulted in patients feeling more relaxed and generally feeling better. So can you really use music therapy for pain relief? 41 per cent of people benefitted from listening to their favourite songs. Pop music was the most effective followed by classical then rock and indie. Lloyds Pharmacy which undertook the study is piloting the recommendation across selected store throughout the UK. This is good news for the many people who suffer with general pain most days, such as neck ache, headaches, back and joint pain. This treatment potentially provides a safe alternative to strong painkillers, some of which are highly addictive. The results found that listening to music had the greatest impact on younger people, as 66 percent of people aged 16 to 24 claiming that it helped with their pain management. Pain can also be managed in a number of ways such as natural medicine (homeopathic and herbal remedies), nutritional supplements or exercise. Listening to music provides a great additional tool to natural pain relief measure. Engaging your mind with music can also help alter your sense of time so you worry less about what’s happening in the moment,” says Dr. Bradshaw, a research assistant professor at The University of Utah Pain Management Centre. “Listening to favourite music is excellent for that because it can involve both thoughts and feelings. No matter how anxious you may feel, if you can get absorbed in the music this can help with your pain. Choose music you like and know well, humming or singing along can help you engage in listening and distract you from your...

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How to keep your bones healthy

How to keep your bones healthy

Osteoporosis is a degenerative illness of the bones that is becoming more common than before, affecting more than 2 million people in the U.K. This condition causes the bones to become weaker and increases the risk of fracture, especially in old age. But how should we keep our bones healthy? There are a number of reasons for this, ranging from poor diet, lack of regular exercise, family history through to side effects of medication. Women generally have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis than men. One in three women and one in twenty men are affected by this condition. This is partly due to the fact that women generally have smaller bones than men and during menopause, the ovaries stop producing oestrogen, which helps to protect the bones. Several medications can cause osteoporosis or weaker bones. The long term use of steroids, such as prednisolone and beclomethasone can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis. Medications such as omeprazole and lansoprazole, which are used to lower stomach acid, have been reported to decrease levels of calcium. There is some good news! Osteoporosis is a condition that can be easily prevented and managed. Although this does require you to do some work! Your diet is very important in keeping your bones and joints healthy. Eating the correct foods (and avoiding the bad foods) can really make a big difference. Excess alcohol, salt, sugar and caffeine consumption can all lead to lower calcium levels.  Taking the correct supplements and regular exercise also helps to strengthen your bones and joints. Regular exercise helps to strengthen the bones and joints and can help to prevent osteoporosis in later life. While cardiovascular exercise such as running or jogging is important, weight bearing exercises like weight training are essential for keeping your joints and bones strong and healthy. High doses of calcium supplements are not the answer to treating osteoporosis. Calcium supplements that are prescribed by G.P’s have been linked with an increased risk of heart attacks in a study published in the British Medical Journal. While calcium is important, other minerals such as magnesium, boron, and zinc also play an important role in bone health. Homeopathic remedies can also help your body to absorb calcium...

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Health Benefits of Vitamin K

Vitamin K is known as such because of its German name, Koagulations-vitamin. This may give you a clue as to one of its major roles in the body, namely, blood clotting (coagulation). Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning that the body is able to store it in adipose (fat) tissue and in the liver. However there are lots of benefits of vitamin K. Deficiencies in vitamin K take a while to develop and may take some time to correct. Aside from helping to blood clot, vitamin K plays a large role in bone-building and maintenance of a healthy skeletal system and there is some evidence that it may be particularly important for post-menopausal women to maintain good bone health. What is Vitamin K and What Does it Do? The important actions of vitamin K were overlooked for a long time as scientists concentrated on other vitamins and minerals that people were more likely to become deficient in. However, in recent years the research has been filling in the gaps in our knowledge of what vitamin K is and what it does. We now know that this fat-soluble vitamin is essential to bone health and circulatory health as it helps regulate calcium deposition in the body, preventing calcification and hardening of the arteries and maintaining the density of bones alongside vitamin D. Vitamin K Deficiencies For most people, developing a vitamin K deficiency is pretty unlikely as this fat-soluble vitamin is found in a number of foods such as broccoli, kale and spinach,  and because bacteria in our guts actually make the vitamin which we then absorb through the intestinal wall. Severe dysbiosis (an imbalance in bacteria in the gut) and the use of antibiotics can decrease the synthesis of vitamin K, however, so it is important to be able to spot early warning signs of vitamin K deficiency such as bleeding from the gums and nose and slow clotting at the site of even minor cuts. Without appropriate treatment, those whose vitamin K deficiency continues are at risk of internal bleeding, leading to anaemia and other problems, and loss of bone density causing osteoporosis and a higher risk of fractures and bone...

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Alternative Treatments for Back Pain

Alternative Treatments for Back Pain

Back pain is an issue that plagues many people. Did you know that an astonishing 80% of all people in the UK will bring up their posture or their back issues to their GP at some point? That is an astounding figure that could be much lower if more people were aware about alternative treatments. Here, we will explore more about alternative treatments for back pain.   Yoga One of the main alternative treatments for back pain is yoga and stretching. One of the largest studies conducted showed that those with moderate pain could manage their issues with on-going yoga and stretching workouts because the exercises involve the strengthening of the core muscles. Massage Therapy One of the best short-term natural remedies for back pain is massage therapy. Once again, studies have shown that when combined with stretching, massage is one of the most cost effective cures for sub-acute and chronic non specific low pain. Diet Many people are unaware that the food we eat can affect pain, which is why it is essential that we make sure we take the right supplements. Nutrition and pain have been linked for a long time. According to a 2005 report published in the British Medical Journal vitamin D supplements may lead to a clinical improvement in back pain symptoms. Other studies have shown that vitamin B12 and magnesium supplements also have an effect. Omega 3 oils are also effective natural ways to reduce inflammation and pain. Anti inflammatory herbs When faced with inflammation,a lot of us will just take ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory drugs .However, in 2007, white willow bark and devil’s claw were proven to both have chemical compounds, which were found to possess anti-inflammatory properties.Therefore, there are alternative solutions. If you are taking regular medication, please consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking herbal medicines. Herbal medicines should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation. Homeopathy Homeopathic remedies such asRhus Tox, Arnica, Ruta Grav and Kali Carb are regularly prescribed for back pain. Homoeopathic remedies are prescribed on the individuals specifics symptoms. These remedies, if correctly prescribed can be very effective at reducing back pain. As you can see from the above,there are many alternative treatments for back pain. This...

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Vitamin K Supplements

Vitamin K Supplements

Who’s at Risk of Vitamin K Deficiency? There are many people who could benefit from vitamin K supplements. People on restricted diets are thought to have a higher risk of deficiencies of vitamin K due to lower food intake and poorer variety of foods, as well as malabsorption issues and possible interaction with medications. People who have problems absorbing nutrients from their foods are at particular risk of vitamin K deficiency, with caution warranted in the following conditions: Gallbladder or biliary disease Celiac disease (severe gluten allergy) Crohn’s disease Cystic Fibrosis Leaky gut syndrome Other risk factors for vitamin K deficiency include the use of blood-thinning medications such as Coumadin (warfarin), liver disease, serious and/or extensive burns and long-term haemodialysis. In addition to problems of vitamin K insufficiency when long-term antibiotics and anticoagulants are used, cholesterol-lowering drugs that work by reducing fat absorption may also impair absorption of vitamin K. Newborns and Vitamin K Injections It is still common practice in a number of countries, including the US, Canada and Great Britain, to administer vitamin K injections to all newborns to reduce the risk of a rare but fatal vitamin K deficiency complication of bleeding in the brain. Breast milk contains little of the vitamin and babies are not normally born with high circulating levels, nor do they have the intestinal bacteria to synthesise vitamin K themselves. Babies with mothers who took anti-seizure medication during pregnancy or who were born prematurely are at particular risk of vitamin K deficiency. Supplements may be provided for mothers on such medications for two weeks prior to their due date. Vitamin K and the Menopause Prior to the menopause, circulating oestrogen has a beneficial effect on bone density in women. Post-menopause, levels of oestrogen fall and the body finds it harder to maintain good bone health, causing an increased risk of osteoporosis and fractures. With vitamin K being so important to the incorporation of calcium into the bones, there is some suggestion that postmenopausal women can benefit from supplements of the vitamin when they have risk factors for osteoporosis. The research remains somewhat divided on the potential benefits of vitamin K for younger athletes, both male and female, with some studies suggesting that...

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Glucosamine: The New Aspirin?

Glucosamine: The New Aspirin?

This nutritional supplement is commonly used to help arthritis and joint pains. New research has found that glucosamine can have a much more influential affect on general health. This latest research indicates that this supplement could have a similar protective action similar to aspirin, but without the risk of side effects such as stomach ulcers that are common with aspirin. The study involved analysing 77,500 people over the age of 50. The results found that those taking glucosamine were 13 per cent less likely to die over a period of 8 years than those who did not take the supplement. The results also indicated that those people taking glucosamine had a 13 per cent less chance of developing cancer and 41 per cent less risk of respiratory disease than the other group. There has recently been an array of studies that have backed the use of aspirin in the prevention of a range of cancers, although this is not yet conclusive. The same is also true of glucosamine. This study does not indicate that glucosamine can prevent cancer and any claims of this nature should be avoided. Sarah Williams from Cancer Research UK commented, “This is an interesting study, but it can’t tell us for sure if the glucosamine supplements themselves were responsible for the difference in death rates, or whether it could be explained by something else. For example, people who take supplements might have generally healthier lifestyles than people who don’t.” “This kind of research will need to be repeated in other large groups of people to know more about any effects of glucosamine supplements on our health.” More studies are required to verify these claims on glucosamine, but there seems to a benefit to taking this...

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Health Benefits of Bromelain

Health Benefits of Bromelain

Bromelain is a natural anti-inflammatory enzyme that is found in pineapples. This natural enzyme has been used for centuries in Central and South America to treat indigestion and reduce inflammation. It is found in the juice and stems of pineapples. This enzyme helps to break down proteins, which in turn helps to digest proteins. This is why eating pineapples can help to digest a protein rich meal. Research has found that bromelain is not fully broken down in the digestive tract. This means that this enzyme can work throughout the body. Bromelain has many health benefits and is frequently prescribed by doctors throughout many parts of Europe.   Health Benefits Digestive Aid. Bromelain can help in breaking down proteins, which can help the digestive process. This enzyme is usually a component of Digestive Enzymes that are produced by many nutritional companies. Bromelain, along with lipase, amylase and papian helps to break down food into nutrients that the body can use for energy and other health processes. A lack of these enzymes can lead to undigested food passing through to the large intestine which causes fermentation. This leads to undesirable and often embarrassing effects of bloating, flatulence and diarrhoea.   Anti-inflammatory. This natural enzyme can help to reduce inflammation following an injury, post surgery or from arthritis. Bromelain has been found to be as effective as many conventional ant-inflammatory medications in various small clinical trials. Although the test groups have been relatively small, the results are encouraging, and deserve a larger testing platform. Bromelain has been found to be effective in reducing the pain and swelling from sports injuries.  Some studies have found this enzyme to speed up healing time after surgery and injuries.   Sinusitis. Studies have shown that Bromelain may help in reducing sinus pain, congestion and improve breathing. The German Commission E (a guide for the safe prescribing herbal of herbs) approves the use of Bromelain for the treatment of sinusitis and nasal swelling following ear, nose and throat surgery.   Asthma / Bronchitis. Bromelain has been found to be effective in the reducing the symptoms of asthma and chronic bronchitis. This enzyme has been found to reduce the thickness of mucus, which can be helpful in...

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Health Benefits of Copper

Health Benefits of Copper

The financial value of copper is constantly on the increase, but this essential mineral also (and more importantly) has many health benefits ranging from the production of blood cells to the formation of bone. This mineral is required for production of red and white blood cells. so what else are the health benefits of copper? Copper is not as popular a supplement as zinc or iron but it is a mineral that is involved in many essential processes in the body. Copper is not made naturally in the body so it needs to be taken in the diet. Copper is required for: Bone health. Copper is required for the formation of both inner and outer bone. This mineral can be used as part of a treatment for osteoarthritis. Heart and circulation. This mineral plays a role in maintaining a healthy heart. Controlling cholesterol levels. Studies have found that copper can reduce levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol. Brain stimulant. The levels of copper need to be in the correct balance as too much can be unhealthy for the brain. Iron absorption. Copper helps the body to absorb iron. This is essential in preventing anaemia, weakness, tiredness, dizziness and mental fatigue. This is a good example of how minerals work together in health processes. Cellular health. Copper is required for cellular respiration. Every cell in the body contains a substance called mitochondria. These mitochondria are responsible for producing cellular energy and respiration (removing toxins). Copper is essential for the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which produces energy. Thyroid health. A healthy copper balance is required for a healthy functioning thyroid gland. It is important not to take too much copper or zinc as excessive doses of one mineral can cause low levels of the other. Antioxidant. Copper has antioxidant properties that help slow down the ageing process, and can help to prevent illnesses such as arthritis and diabetes. Collagen. Copper is required for the formation of collagen, which is an essential protein in the make-up of bones, skin and connective tissue. Arthritis. The potential benefits of copper in the treatment of arthritis are well known as copper bracelets and jewellery are very popular. Many naturopaths recommend drinking water from a copper...

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Essential minerals: The benefits of magnesium

The health benefits and the actions of magnesium have been well documented recently. I have talked to various nutritional experts who are using more magnesium supplements in their practice in recent years. The updated RDA (recommended daily allowance) is 375mg a day. According to data produced by Lamberts Healthcare 72% of women and 42% of men in the UK fail to consume enough magnesium.  Read on for more about the heart benefits of magnesium… These numbers are quite staggering although they make sense once we look at some of the signs of magnesium deficiency. Many common health conditions can be attributed to a lack of magnesium in the diet. Magnesium deficiency can cause:         Muscle Cramps         Migraines         Fatigue         Weak bones……osteoporosis         PMS symptoms         Hypertension         Insomnia         Constipation         Mild Depression As you can see these symptoms are very varied, which indicates that magnesium is involved in many bodily processes and underlines how important it is to us.  The good news is that magnesium is found in many foods, although not all of this can be absorbed.   Foods that contain high amounts of magnesium:         Flax seeds         Whole grains         Brazil nuts         Spinach and other green leafy vegetables         Okra         Mung beans   Refined foods such as white rice, white flour and white bread have considerably less magnesium than whole foods. A diet high in refined and processed food will inevitably lead to magnesium deficiency as well as other health conditions. Magnesium supplements area available in many forms, but the organic forms (citrate, gluconate, malate) are generally better absorbed. The daily dose can vary between 150mg to 600mg a day, although higher doses should be taken under the supervision of a nutritionist. Mild side effects of magnesium supplementation include loose stools, which usually only lasts for a few days. This is because magnesium has a detoxifying action on the body. If you are taking higher doses, you should split the dose throughout the day to maximise absorption. We hope you enjoyed our health article “essential minerals: The benefits of...

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Do painkillers cause headaches?

Do painkillers cause headaches?

The national health watchdog, NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) has warned that taking too many pain killers such as paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen can make the brain more sensitive to pain. This results in the sufferer being more prone to headaches! So the tablets that are supposed to be treating your headache can actually cause further headaches. So do painkillers cause headaches? The news gets worse: People often get into a vicious cycle…as the headaches get worse, they take more painkillers and the pain becomes even more debilitating. The good news is that there are complementary treatments for headaches that don’t have these side effects. The NHS spends over £470million on painkiller prescriptions that contain paracetamol, aspirin, codeine or ibuprofen. Not all of these prescriptions are for headaches, as these drugs are used to treat general pain too. These painkillers are also sold over the counter, and heavily marketed for treating headaches and migraines. Apart from causing “rebound” headaches, painkillers that contain codeine can be addictive, and should only be taken for a maximum of three days. Professor Martin Underwood who helped draw up the guidelines, said “We have effective treatments for common headache types. However, taking these medicines for more than ten or 15 days a month can cause medication overuse headache, which is a disabling and preventable disorder.” He continued to explain the side effects, “Patients with frequent tension-type headaches or migraines can get themselves into a vicious cycle, where their headaches are getting increasingly worse, so they take more medication which makes their pain even worse as they take more medication.” Dr Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive of NICE said that too many people were not being given a correct diagnosis by their doctors. Headaches can be treated with various complementary therapies, such as acupuncture, homeopathy, aromatherapy and relaxation techniques. Nutritional supplements can also help to treat headaches and migraines. Chronic headaches or headaches lasting a few days with no improvement need further investigation by a doctor. We hope you found our article “do painkillers cause headaches” useful. Please let us know by rating it...

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Boost Your Calcium Levels

Boost Your Calcium Levels

Calcium is an essential constituent of bones and teeth, and is important for maintaining healthy gums. This essential mineral is also important for maintaining a healthy heartbeat, blood clotting and is required for muscle contraction. As you can see, calcium has a number of various bodily functions. Read on to find out more about how to boost your calcium levels…e Other health benefits of calcium are: Lowers blood pressure Preventing bone loss and osteoporosis Prevents muscle cramps Helps to keep skin healthy Strengthening nails Calcium is widely available as a supplement, but you need to be careful when choosing which type you take. The most common form of this mineral is calcium carbonate. This is the most widely used and cheapest form, although it is not all good news. Calcium carbonate is the most difficult type for the body to absorb, and can result in kidney stones. A more friendly form of this mineral is calcium citrate, which is easier to absorb and will therefore have a greater action on strengthening bones. The recommended dosage is between 1000mg to 1500mg, depending on the type of calcium that you take. It is better to take smaller doses throughout the day, rather than one large dose, as the body cannot absorb the large doses. Calcium levels can be increased by taking other nutrients. Magnesium is very important for helping calcium absorption. You should aim to buy a calcium supplement that also contains magnesium. The amino acid, Lysine, is required for calcium absorption. It is found in various foods such as cheese, eggs, milk, fish and potatoes. Calcium can also cause a decrease in the absorption of iron and zinc. You should leave an interval of at least two hours between these supplements. Calcium is found in various foods. Most people are aware that milk and dairy foods are a good source of calcium, but many other foods are also good sources: Dark green leafy Broccoli Almonds Soya beans Tofu Plantain Cabbage Yoghurt We hope you found our article “boost your calcium levels” useful. Please let us know by rating it...

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