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

Joints & Muscles

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.  ...

Read More
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...

Read More

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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More

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...

Read More
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...

Read More

Massage: A Natural Painkiller!

A massage is usually interpreted as a luxury and something to help people relax. Scientists have now discovered that a massage has a deeper effect than to just relax muscles. Research has found that it reduces inflammation at a deep molecular level. This has the same effect as pain killing drugs and is often referred to as a natural painkiller These results were published in edition of the journal Science Translational Medicine. Massages offer the added benefit of promoting the growth of new mitochondria in cells. Mitochondria are present in every cell and are responsible for producing energy. They contain enzymes that are involved in the cells metabolic actions. Scientists conducted the study on healthy volunteers, who had exhausted themselves on exercise bikes. They then performed a massage on one of the volunteer’s legs. The volunteers had a biopsy sample taken from both legs before exercise, immediately after a 10 minute massage and again after two and half hours. The results of this study found that massage reduced the effect of cytokines and promoted the growth of the mitochondria within the cells. Cytokines are cell signalling molecules that stimulated by the immune system and cause inflammation. Dr Mark Tarnopolsky, lead researcher at the Department of Paediatrics and Medicine at McMaster University in Canada said, “The potential benefits of massage could be useful to a broad spectrum of individuals including the elderly, those suffering from musculoskeletal injuries and patients with chronic inflammatory disease”. He went on to say that therapies such as massage, osteopathy and chiropractic treatment could be available in regular medical practice. We hope you found our article on massage as a natural painkiller useful. Please let us know by rating it...

Read More
Tai Chi Reduces Osteoarthritis Pain

Tai Chi Reduces Osteoarthritis Pain

A team of reviewers have found that Tai Chi is an effective non-drug way to help people cope with the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis.  The team reviewed nine randomised clinical trials (RCT’s) that involved over 250 patients who suffered with osteoarthritis pain. The results of this review suggested that Tai Chi is effective at improving physical movement and reducing pain and joint stiffness. The reviewers did however say that they would have liked to review more trials to underline the effectiveness of this martial art on osteoarthritis. Tai Chi is a form of martial arts that evolved from Taoist monks in ancient China. It has been described as a moving form of yoga and meditation. The movements in Tai Chi are performed slowly, softy and gracefully with smooth and even transitions between each movement. The main aim of this martial art is the meditative effect on the body. Another important aspect of Tai Chi is to harmonise the circulation of energy (chi) within the body. This healthy circulation keeps the body healthy and free of disease. The flow of this “chi” is similar to the concepts in acupuncture and other oriental therapies. The exercises performed in Tai Chi can help to improve posture, reduce tension and stress and help to achieve relaxation. We hope you found our article on how Tai Chi can reduce osteoarthritis pain useful. Please let us know by rating it...

Read More
Arnica – The Must Have Home Remedy

Arnica – The Must Have Home Remedy

Arnica Montana is the most popular natural remedy that is in use today. Most people recognise this remedy, even if they have no knowledge of natural remedies or homeopathy. This is partly due to the positive results that people have with Arnica, and that many pharmacies now regularly stock this remedy. The positive effects of this natural remedy have also been documented in many popular lifestyle magazines. This remedy is usually one that is kept at home or in the handbag. Arnica is an amazing remedy for general bumps and bruises, and the homeopathic form is safe for the whole family. It is an ideal remedy to keep in the first aid kit, as Arnica can reduce bruising after accidents and falls. Arnica is used by many well known people, such as sports men and women, actors and many well known celebrities. This amazing remedy is usually the first natural remedy that people try before using other complementary therapies and remedies. Arnica is used both as a herbal remedy and as a homeopathic remedy. Arnica tablets or pills are usually the homeopathic form, and the cream, lotion or oil is made from the herbal tincture. Both of these types of Arnica (the homeopathic and herbal) are used to reduce bruising, inflammation and swelling that accompany an injury. How can Arnica help me? The following is a basic range of benefits that this remedy can offer: ·        Bruises following an accident or fall. ·        Post surgery recovery. ·        Sports Injuries ·        Strains and sprains ·        Wound healing ·        Post dental surgery ·        Reduce inflammation ·        Post pregnancy to reduce inflammation ·        Arthritis There are many different preparations of Arnica that areavailable. Arnica cream, oil, ointment, lotion or tincture should not beapplied on broken skin (cuts and grazes) as it can cause irritation. You canapply Arnica on bruises and sprains up to four times a day. The homeopathic form of this remedy is usually available in the6c and 30c potencies. For first aid, I would recommend the 30c potency as it will work faster than the 6c. For first aid conditions such as a fall or injury, you can take one dose every 30 minutes for up to 6 doses, then one dose four times a day for up to...

Read More

Natural Supplements for Muscle Cramps

Muscle cramps can be very uncomfortable and painful. This condition is very common and is caused by muscles going into involuntary spasm due to a shortage of oxygen and build up of lactic acid. Muscle cramps can affect anyone, from the elderly, pregnant women, athletes through to young children and there are available supplements for muscle cramps. As you can see there is not set pattern on who can develop this condition. The top tennis player, Rafael Nadal, recently suffered witha severe muscle cramp after a strenuous match at the US Open 2011. In this case,I would suspect the cramps were a result of strenuous exercise and possibly dehydration causing a deficiency in sodium. As yet nobody knows the exact reason why muscle cramps occur, but one explanation could be an imbalance in the minerals that control muscle contraction and relaxation. These essential minerals are magnesium,calcium, potassium and sodium. Other possible causes are strenuous exercise (without adequate stretching) and wearing high heels. Some prescription medications can cause muscle cramps. Drugsused to lower blood pressure such as diuretics can lead to electrolyte imbalances causing muscle cramps. Health supplements can help to rebalance levels of minerals in the body. Other natural supplements work by reducing inflammation and pain. Homeopathic remedies can help to reduce pain and prevent cramps from occurring. Magnesium is the main supplement for preventing musclecramps. This mineral works by relaxing the muscles. Magnesium is available in many forms but the citrate form is the one that’s better absorbed. Doses canvary, but a recommended dose is 200mg twice a day, with food. Calcium is a very popular supplement, but it is usually available as calcium carbonate. Our bodies find this form quite difficult to absorb. High doses of calcium carbonate can contribute to the development of kidney stones.  You should look for calcium citrate, which is sometimes combined with magnesium. These supplements actually work very well together, as the absorption of calcium is improved with magnesium. The recommended dose of calcium is 500mg twice a day. Most people get enough sodium in their diet through salt,but potassium is sometimes deficient. Good food sources of potassium are bananas, dairy foods, vegetables, whole grains, brown rice, dates and apricots.If you can...

Read More