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Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
A Well-Kept Secret: 5 Element Acupuncture, Part II
Supervising acupuncture interns at a TCM college, it has always struck me how funny it is to hear the clinic manager tell the patients that the Five Element clinic specializes in treating emotions, as if patients with physical pain have no emotions!
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
Synergy Doesn't Happen in Silos: Acupuncture in Hospitals and Other Healthcare Settings
As acupuncture and traditional East Asian medicine continue to intersect and integrate with biomedical approaches, the conversation about integration expands and becomes richer.
Recreational Cannabis Use and TCM
Many people are drawn to cannabis for its effects physically, mentally and emotionally. Medically, cannabis has some legitimate uses, however the scope of this article is limited to the recreational use of cannabis.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
Will You Be an Amplifer or a Mute?
These times are changing, and changing quickly. There have been many challenges to this profession throughout the past few years. The challenge is to talk, then talk and talk some more about this medicine.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
Treating Beyond Pain
More often than not, when a patient presents to the office, it is for a pain complaint. Headache, neck pain, low back pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel... The pain is often the focus of the patient's mindset, and they don't often have any thought of what comes after the pain.
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
The Way We Are Designed: A Conversation with Gil Hedley, PhD
I was first introduced to the work of Gil Hedley by Tom DiFerdinando. He gifted me Gil's DVD series.
An Excerpt from TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics
This excerpt is reprinted with permission from Jamie Wu. TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics was released in 2014 by People's Medical Publishing House.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
The Need for a New Medical Model: A Challenge for Biopsychosocial and Ecopsychologica Medicine
Chinese medicine speaks of alignment between humans, heaven and earth. It is a complex view with a focus upon relationship. These are comprehensive ideas with no specific terms in contemporary medical practice.
The Dietary Supplement Research Dilemma
I do not care what the truth is, one way or another; I just want to know it. And when it comes to dietary supplements, the truth can be hard to find for a number of reasons.
Converting More Patients to Your Practice
In 2013 and 2014, the theme was "the money is in the list." This meant that if you had a big email list, you were really making some "cha-ching." Unfortunately, having thousands of emails doesn't equate to thousands of dollars in profit.
TCM Congress in Rothenburg is Largest in Western World
In the medieval town of Rothenburg, deep set within the Bavarian countryside in Southern Germany, the TCM Kongress Rothenburg each year draws around 1.200 participants from more than 40 different countries to attend the biggest TCM conference in the Western world.
There Really is No Room for Sexism
Recently, Matteo* (a transgender male) approached me during a break in an advanced shiatsu class in Berlin where he was one of two men in a group of 20 women. "Pamela. Don't forget to remind the translator to include male endings."
December, 2001, Vol. 01, Issue 12
Natural Anti-Inflammatory Supplements: Research Status and Clinical Applications
By James P. Meschino, DC, MS
Editor's note: Dr. James Meschino holds a masters degree in science with specialties in nutrition and biology. He is on the board of advisors of the Academy of Anti-Aging Research, and is the Clinical and Research Director for the RenaiSanté Institute of Integrative Medicine in Toronto.He is also an assistant professor in the division of Graduate Studies and Research at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC,) and a postgraduate faculty member of the American Council on Exercise (ACE). In recent years, scientific studies have demonstrated that many forms of arthritis and joint inflammatory conditions can be managed effectively through specific dietary and supplementation practices, in addition to joint mobilization; manipulation; muscle therapy; acupuncture; and exercise.1
Beyond the use of glucosamine sulfate as an effective intervention to halt joint cartilage destruction and help regenerate new cartilage in osteoarthritis cases, substantial clinical and experimental evidence supports the use of other natural health products, which demonstrate proven abilities to block inflammation, and reduce the signs and symptoms of arthritis and other joint inflammatory conditions. Studies indicate that many of these natural agents provide similar efficacy as conventional anti-inflammatory drugs, and are safer to use with respect to reported adverse side-effects.
Most medical practitioners have failed to embrace these alternative anti-inflammatory agents, and tend to rely primarily on synthetic anti-inflammatory drugs as their principal approach to managing these problems.2 It is well documented that these nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) produce intestinal tract ulcers (with potential internal bleeding) in 10-30 percent of long-term users, and erosions of the stomach lining and intestinal tract in 30-50 percent of cases.3 As a result of these side effects, NSAID use is associated with 10,000 - 20,000 deaths per year in the U.S.4 Even the new COX-2 inhibitor drugs have only been reported to reduce intestinal tract damage by 50 percent, and their toxicity to the liver and kidneys is still under review.5
Anti-inflammatory drugs have been shown to accelerate damage and erosion of joint cartilage, advancing the osteoarthritic process. Conventional NSAIDs are also known to cause liver and kidney damage with long-term use.6 These and other statistics have lead certain esteemed investigators to conclude: "The epidemiological data highlight the importance of implementing acetylsalicylic acid (ASA)/NSAID therapy only when strictly necessary."7
Reducing Inflammation Naturally
The discovery that certain natural agents produce marked anti-inflammatory effects presents an opportunity for chiropractors and other natural health practitioners to add an important and effective adjunct to the management of these cases.
As such, a review of the physiological action and clinical studies, involving the use of proven natural anti-inflammatory herbal agents, enables practitioners to use these substances in a safe and responsible way, and thereby help patients eliminate or minimize their reliance upon more dangerous NSAIDs and other synthetic anti-inflammatory drugs. Experimental research reveals that the efficacy of many natural anti-inflammatory agents stems from their ability to modulate the activity of the enzymes, cyclooxygenase and/or 5-lipoxygenase.8 The pathophysiology of joint inflammatory conditions involves the conversion of arachidonic acid to prostaglandin series -2 (PG-2) by the cyclooxygenase enzyme. PG-2 synthesis is known to produce a pro-inflammatory effect, exacerbating joint inflammatory conditions. Accordingly, the conversion of arachidonic acid to leukotriene B4 (LTB-4), by the 5-lipoxygenase enzyme within white blood cells, is also known to contribute to inflammation. White blood cell count in normal synovial fluid is less than 100ml on average. However, cellular response rises to 800ml or more in osteoarthritis and much higher than this in rheumatoid diseases, implicating white blood cells in the T-cell-mediated inflammatory response in inflammatory joint conditions.9 As is the case with many synthetic anti-inflammatory drugs, the active constituents of anti-inflammatory herbs have been shown to block the activity of the cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase enzymes, inhibiting the synthesis of pro-inflammatory eicosanaoids of the PG-2 and LTB-4 series. These natural substances have been shown to reduce inflammation and pain associated with various types of arthritis and traumatic joint injuries. Unlike their synthetic counterparts, they have not been shown to cause erosion injury to the intestinal tract, accelerate cartilage destruction or produce liver and kidney toxicity.8 For these reasons, the following herbal agents can be considered viable alternatives to conventional anti-inflammatory drugs in a large percentage of arthritic patients and those suffering from other joint inflammatory conditions.
Effective Anti-Inflammatory Herbs and Supplements
Curcumin is the active anti-inflammatory agent found in the spice turmeric. It has been shown to inhibit the activity of the 5-lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase enzymes, blocking the synthesis of pro-inflammatory eicosanoids (PG-2, LTB-4). A large double-blind study demonstrated that curcumin was as effective as a powerful anti-inflammatory drug (phenylbutazone) in reducing pain, swelling and stiffness in rheumatoid arthritis patients. It has also been shown to be effective in the treatment of postsurgical inflammation. Other studies indicate that curcumin can lower histamine levels and is a potent antioxidant. These factors may also contribute to its anti-inflammatory capabilities.
For best results, practitioners should consider using a 95-percent standardized extract of curcumin derived from turmeric. As a singular agent, the daily dosage to consider is 400-600mg, taken one to three times per day. (Lower doses can be used as part of a combination formula containing other anti-inflammatory agents). Side effects are rare, but primarily include heartburn and esophageal reflux. As curcumin inhibits the cyclooxygenase enzyme system, it may reduce platelet aggregation and thus may potentiate the effects of anti-coagulant drugs. To date, no bleeding disorders have been reported with curcumin supplementation, but its concurrent use with warfarin or coumadin should be considered a contraindication.2,8,10,11,12,13,14
Boswellia -- In clinical studies, the gum resin of the boswellia tree (yielding 70 percent boswellic acids) has been shown to improve symptoms in patients with osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.12,13 Research indicates that boswellic acids inhibit the 5-lipoxygenase enzyme in white blood cells. As a singular agent, the usual dosage is 150mg, one to three times per day. (Again, lower doses are effective when combined with other natural anti-inflammatory agents.) Boswellia appears to have no important side-effects or drug-nutrient interactions of concern.15,16
White Willow Bark Extract provides anti-inflammatory phenolic glycosides, such as salicin, which have been shown to be effective in the treatment of arthritis, back pain and other joint inflammatory conditions. These phenolic glycosides are known to inhibit cyclooxygenase, blocking the production of PG-2, and exert a mild analgesic effect.
Unlike ASA, naturally occurring salicin (salicylic acid) does not irreversibly inhibit platelet aggregation, reducing the potential for a bleeding disorder. White willow extract has been shown to be slower acting than ASA, but of longer duration in effectiveness. The usual dosage is 20-40mg of salicin, one to three times per day. (Note that 100mg of white willow extract at a 15 percent standardized extract of salicin content yields 15mg of salicin per dosage. A lower dosage can be used as part of a combination formula containing other anti-inflammatory agents.)
Side-effects are rare, but primarily include nausea, headache and digestive upset. Contraindications may include conditions where ASA is contraindicated, including gout; diabetes; hemophilia; kidney disease; active peptic ulcer; glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency; and possibly asthma. However, the salicin content in a single dosage of white willow extract is very low compared to the content of ASA (e.g., 15mg vs. 320mg ); thus, these conditions may not be absolute contraindications for the use of white willow bark extract. It is important to realize that besides salicin, white willow extract contains other phenolic glycosides, which are also known to possess anti-inflammatory properties.8,17,18,19
Ginger Root Extract contains oleo-resins that have shown clinical benefit in the management of various arthritic and muscle inflammation problems, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and myalgias. The active constituents in this regard are gingerols (oleo-resins), which inhibit the cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase enzymes. The usual dosage is 500mg, one to three times daily, standardized to a five-percent gingerol content. (A lower dosage can be used as part of a combination formula containing other anti-inflammatory agents). Side-effects are rare, but include heartburn and digestive upset. It should not be given to patients with gallstones. It may also induce a mild anticoagulant effect (by inhibiting cyclooxygenase enzyme in platelets), therefore it should not be taken concurrently with warfarin of coumadin. However, there are no reports of bleeding disorders with ginger supplementation and no adverse drug - nutrient interactions have been reported in the scientific literature to date.2,8,14,20,21
Bromelain contains anti-inflammatory enzymes that have the proven ability to suppress the inflammation and pain of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, sports injuries, and other joint inflammatory conditions. Bromelain has been shown to inhibit the cyclooxygenase enzyme, inhibiting the synthesis of PG-2. Bromelain also helps to break down fibrin (fibrinolytic), thereby minimizing local swelling. The usual dosage is 400mg, one to three times per day (a lower dosage can be used as part of a combination anti-inflammatory formulation). Bromelain may inhibit platelet clotting and is a known for its fibrinolytic properties. Therefore, it may potentiate the effects of anticoagulant drugs such as warfarin and coumadin, and should not be recommended in these cases.2,8,14,22,23,24
Quercetin is a bioflavonoid compound that blocks the release of histamine and other anti-inflammatory enzymes at supplemented doses (minimum 100-1500mg per day). Although human studies with arthritic patients are lacking at this time, anecdotal evidence is strong for this application, as is experimental research investigation. There are no well-known side effects or drug-nutrient interactions for quercetin. 14,25,26,27
Devil's Claw contains the anti-inflammatory agent harpogoside. Devil's claw has demonstrated efficacy in the management of low back pain and is used traditionally as an anti-inflammatory by numerous southern African tribes. The usual dosage is 100-400mg, one to three times per day (a lower dosage can be used if part of a combination anti-inflammatory formula). The only consistently reported side-effect is mild digestive upset on rare occasions. It is contraindicated in patients with active gastric ulcers (may increase gastric acid secretion) and in patients taking warfarin or coumadin (due to its anticoagulant effects).8,14,28,29
The body of evidence supports the use of natural anti-inflammatory agents as viable alternatives to synthetic drugs or as a means to help patients lower their requirements for conventional anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical agents. A number of quality-oriented companies manufacture single and combination natural anti-inflammatory supplement products that meet the above dosage and standardized grade criteria, along with dietary changes to lower arachidonic concentrations, support joint cartilage synthesis and promote the formation of anti-inflammatory eicosanoids (e.g., PG-1 and PG-3). Massage therapists may consider discussing the use of these herbal and accessory nutrients with clients suffering from arthritis and other inflammatory joint conditions.
Click here for previous articles by James P. Meschino, DC, MS.
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