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Clearing Blocks: A Way to Improve Cosmetic Acupuncture
As a Five Element acupuncturist who teaches facial acupuncture classes nationally, I was surprised to learn that one of the basic principles I was taught in school is unfamiliar to most acupuncturists.
The Visual Error Scoring System: A Concussion Tool
Postural stability and oculomotor function are the most easily recognized physical indicators of neurologic motor dysfunction associated with concussions.
New Relationships, Old Trauma: AOM & Other Healing Strategies
Being in love is one the most beautiful and enjoyable experiences. Most of us are willing to pay almost any price to have that experience, and still often find it elusive or fleeting. Navigating the ups and downs of loving relationships are often challenging — even for the most psychologically balanced among us.
A Major Role in Back Pain: The Multifidus
Back pain affects roughly 80 percent of the population at one time or another and is one of the leading causes of doctor visits.
News in Brief
ACA Adopts New Governance Model; ACA 2017 Awards; CCA Helps Calif. DCs "Share the Love"; $1 Million to Help Advance the Profession; D'Youville Raises the Bar on Anatomy Education; ErRatum.
Balancing Spring Challenges
As the winter months come to a close and warmer spring weather appears, patients may begin to present with new challenging pattern presentations.
Universal Design: Principles & Practice
In many respects, universal design serves as the core of ergonomics. It's also a good tool to use when designing a return-to-work program for injured and/or ill patients. Let's take a closer look at universal design and why it should matter to you and your patients.
A Daily Strategy for Heavy-Metal Detox
In modern society, we are constantly exposed to heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. These heavy metals have no essential biochemical roles in our body, and conversely, can cause us a great deal of harm if they build up to toxic levels.
Is the New Medicare Reporting Exemption Right for You?
What you've heard is not a rumor – there will be exemptions for providers of Medicare patients, with no penalties assessed for offices that do not do Quality Payment Program (EHR, PQRS, MACRA and MIPS) reporting.
Why I Quit Doing House Calls
My father was a chiropractor who did house calls, so when I became a DC, I figured doing house calls was part of the job. My March article recalled my experience as a small boy, accompanying my dad while he went to patients' homes to treat them.
Taking the Chiropractic Message to the Press
"There is no better place on earth to have a news event," the National Press Club boasts, and it's easy to understand why: Every year, the 108-year-old Washington, D.C.-based organization hosts countless press conferences on the hottest topics impacting America and often the world.
An Integrated Approach to Chronic Pain
Findings from a unique Medicaid pilot project in Rhode Island involving high-use Medicaid recipients from two health plans were recently presented to the state's Department of Health, demonstrating stellar outcomes with regard to medication use, ER visits, health care costs and patient satisfaction.
Bill With Confidence: Learn What to Collect
Q: I am trying to understand what I may collect from my patient when there is insurance. Do I have to accept the amount allowed by the plan or may I collect up to my billed amount? Please note, I am not a member of any insurance plan.
Eczema & Acupuncture: A Sound Solution (Part 1)
Eczema affects approximately 3.5 percent of the global population and is one of the most common skin complaints seen by dermatologists.
Creating Good Business Buzz
What do patients really think about working with you? Rarely do you hear the whole truth. Those who improve may be candid in their gratitude.
Raditation & Your Smartphone: Is it Worth the Risk?
If radial arteries could talk (and in my experience they can to some extent), they would say, "Step away from the smartphone." At least that is the message I am receiving loud and clear as I feel the pulses of many patients.
Is It Time to Rethink Mental Illness? (Pt. 1)
Invariably, patients will ask their chiropractor about depression or various mental illnesses. Some practitioners will reflexively offer a cervical adjustment, suggest St. John's wort or contemplate a referral to a specialist.
An Unexpected Diagnosis: The Result of Lacking Communication
A couple years ago I had a case that showed me the importance of open communication between health practitioners. We need to show up with less fear, and let go of our judgments so we can do better for the patient.
Give Yourself the Digital Advantage
When you see this article in the print version of this issue and swear you read it already, don't be alarmed: you probably did. That's because by that time, the May issue will have been available online in digital format for three weeks.
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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