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White Willow Bark - Nature’s Aspirin for Joint Pain Relief

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to the National Health Institute (NIH), approximately 11% of the population is suffering from some form of pain, from mild or occasional to chronic or severe. That’s about 25.3 million Americans!  Many of those aches are in the joints, and a reason that sends millions of people to their doctors for relief.  For those seeking more than the traditional drugs and narcotics prescribed, white willow bark is proving to be a safe and effective way to bring joint pain relief.

What Is White Willow Bark?

White willow bark comes from the bark of white willow trees. It has been used in Chinese and European medicine for centuries and the earliest settlers in this country learned of its pain relieving properties from Native Americans.

White willow bark is often called nature’s aspirin due to the pain-relieving compound found in the bark called salicin. 

How White Willow Bark Provides Joint Pain Relief

When salicin is ingested, the body converts it to salicylic acid, which lowers prostaglandin levels. Prostaglandins are long-chain hydroxyl fatty acids produced naturally by the body and can be found in the lining of the stomach, the intestines, the uterus and all smooth muscles throughout the body.  They help regulate body temperature, control inflammation and vascular permeability. They are also responsible for uterine contractions during birth and the cause the painful cramps some women experience while menstruating.  Too many prostaglandins circulating in the body, especially the joints, causes pain. 

The salicin in white willow bark is similar to aspirin and in addition to pain relief can help reduce inflammation in the joints and reduce fevers.  Several studies have actually shown it to be as, or more effective at relieving pain, than aspirin.  It does take longer to bring pain relief but typically its effects last longer, making it a good alternative for those seeking joint pain relief who do not want to be popping synthetic drugs all day.

Related:  The History of Nature's Aspirin for Lower Back Pain

Besides joint pain relief white willow bark can also be taken for:

Dosage

If you would like to try white willow bark, the recommended dosage is 300 mg in capsule form twice a day with a meal. Just be sure to purchase a product that is standardized to 15 percent of the active ingredient salicin.

White willow bark is for adults only. There is no safe dosage determined for children. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not take it either. Always consult with your doctor before taking any supplement to avoid unfavorable drug reactions. Those who are sensitive or allergic to aspirin should not take white willow bark supplements.

Side Effects:

With any medication or supplement there is the possibility of side effects. Fortunately white willow bark side effects tend to be mild but include:

  • Upset stomach (nausea)
  • Ulcers
  • Vomiting
  • Skin rash
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Kidney or stomach inflammation

Natural Pain Relief

Most people will experience some degree of joint pain in their lifetime. If you are looking for an alternative to traditional pain relievers for joint pain relief, consider taking a white willow bark supplement. 

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How Fish Oil Increases Joint Mobility

by IVL Products

Many Americans take fish oil supplements because they are known to help prevent heart disease, enhance the look and health of skin and hair and even bring relief from the symptoms of depression.  Another good reason to pop those pills is the benefits of omega-3 fish oils for joints.

What are the benefits of omega 3 fish oil for joints?

What Is Omega-3?

Omega-3 fatty acids are called essential fats because the body cannot make them and must rely on getting them from diet. Omega-3 fats are special because they are an integral part of cell membranes throughout the body. They affect the function of cell receptors in these membranes and provide essential compounds for making hormones that regulate blood clotting, the contraction and relaxation of artery walls and help to control inflammation. They are also crucial to the binding of receptors in cells that regulate genetic function.  This is what makes them helpful in preventing heart disease, stroke, keeping your eyes moist, your skin soft and supple and your hair strong and shiny.

The key compounds in omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and are found in several types of foods. They are most abundant in fish, specifically cold-water “oily fish” like:

  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Herring
  • Tuna
  • Halibut
  • Cod
  • Trout

Other foods with omega-3 fatty acids include walnuts, flax seeds, olive oil and green leafy vegetables.

Related:  Could Fish Oil One Day Take the Place of Statin Drugs?

The Benefits of Omega-3 Fish Oils for Joints

Joint pain is largely caused by inflammation of the cartilage and tissue in the joint, leading to stiffness and decreased range of motion.  EPA and DHA have been shown in clinical studies to reduce inflammation, and to a lesser degree ALA, by decreasing the presence of inflammatory markers like IL-10 and TGF beta.

In petri dish studies, when omega-3 fatty acids were incorporated into the cartilage cell membranes of joints they appeared to decrease the enzymes that degrade cartilage and inflammatory cytokines. An “over expression of cytokines” by the immune system causes inflammation to the body beyond what is needed, essentially attacking healthy cells and destroying them.

Fish Oil Supplements

It is difficult to get enough omega-3 fatty acids through diet alone. Taking a fish oil supplements is an easy way to incorporate enough into your daily diet so you don’t get burned out eating fish for every meal.

For adults choose a fish oil supplement with 30% or more EPA and DHA in addition to eating fish and plant foods rich in omega-3s. Be sure to consult with your doctor before adding any new supplements to your diet to avoid unfavorable drug interactions.  Then you’ll be on your way to enjoying the benefits of omega 3 fish oil for joints!

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Top 5 Supplements to Heal Your Joints

by Health News

Arthritis is a common condition affecting over 52 million people in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This painful condition is caused by inflammation and stiffness in the joints. Despite it being such a widespread disease, there is no cure for arthritis, which leads many sufferers to seek natural arthritis treatment. 

natural arthritis treatment

Here are 5 of the most effective supplements considered the best forms of natural arthritis treatment available:

Boswellia

Boswellia has been used for centuries in folk medicine to reduce inflammation. The plant resin is extracted from the trees which grow in the dry mountains of Africa, India and the Middle East. Scientific trials show that boswellia is effective in treating osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, tendonitis and bursitis by reducing inflammation. In an eight-week randomized double-blind trial on 30 patients suffering with osteoarthritis of the knee, the participants given boswellia extract reported reduced knee pain and swelling. They also had improved mobility and longer walking distance than those who received a placebo, showing that boswellia should be considered an effective natural arthritis treatment.

White Willow Bark

Another natural anti-inflammatory herb is white willow bark. It contains acetylsalicylic acid which has similar attributes to aspirin but does not irritate the stomach lining. Research so far on white willow bark as a natural arthritis treatment has shown inconsistent results. However, a 2001 study on 78 osteoarthritis patients by Phytotherapy Research concluded that white willow bark showed moderate pain-reducing effects.

Turmeric for natural arthritis treatment

Commonly used in curries, this yellow spice from the ginger family has many medicinal uses in India. As well as a digestive aid, it is claimed to reduce pain, inflammation and stiffness in those suffering from rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. The active agent in turmeric is curcumin, which blocks inflammatory cytokines and enzymes, thereby reducing inflammation and pain. Studies show that taking 50 mg of turmeric up to four times a day provides long-term improvement in pain and inflammation for chronic arthritis sufferers.

Related:  Ginger for Muscle and Joint Pain Relief

Hyaluronic Acid

Another common natural arthritis treatment is hyaluronic acid which is naturally found in the synovial fluid of joints. Clinical trials continue to show that supplements of hyaluronic acid can be an effective solution for treating arthritis.

Devil's Claw

Finally, Devil's Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) is an herbal plant from South Africa which contains harpagoside, a natural anti-inflammatory. It is frequently used as a natural arthritis treatment as it has been shown to decrease joint pain in sufferers. Devil's Claw taken as a 2% powder can be a natural alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for arthritis sufferers, as well as reducing back pain and other painful inflammatory conditions.

Many of these natural painkillers and anti-inflammatory supplements are combined in formulas for natural arthritis treatment and are well worth considering as a safe alternative to prescription drugs for treating painful swollen joints.

30 Days to Rethink How You Take Supplements

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Three Herbs for Prostate Health

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Nine out of ten men over the age of 60 experience problems with their prostate, the small walnut-shaped gland that manufactures seminal fluid.  The most common condition that men develop is an enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in medical terms.  While it doesn't cause prostate cancer, an enlarged prostate presses on the urethra, which can affect urine flow.  Doctors prescribe medications to treat an enlarged prostate and sometimes recommend removal, but many men take advantage of natural intervention with three herbs for prostate health. 

Saw Palmetto

Saw palmetto is one of the most well-known herbs for prostate health.  Part of the palm family, saw palmetto gets its medicinal qualities from its berries.  Many cultures have used the dark brown berries for centuries to treat various urinary and reproductive health problems.  

Several clinical trials have compared the effectiveness of saw palmetto for BPH against a commonly prescribed drug, Proscar.  A review of these trials featuring nearly 3,000 male participants showed that men using saw palmetto experienced an improvement in urinary tract symptoms of 28 percent, an improvement in peak urine flow of 24 percent, and an improvement in general urine flow of 43 percent.  Men who took Proscar experienced similar outcomes, and both treatments proved more beneficial than placebo.   

RelatedMen's Vitamins--The Best Prostate Health Available Naturally

As yet, scientists don't know how saw palmetto works to reduce BPH symptoms.  Some believe it inhibits the enzyme, 5-alpha-reductase, which converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, a hormone associated with the development of BPH.

Pygeum Bark

This medicinal herb comes from the bark of the Prunus africana tree native to mountainous regions of sub-Saharan Africa.  Traditionally South African tribal communities powdered the bark and made it into a tea for treatment of genital and urinary problems.  In modern times, people use pygeum bark to treat various health issues including BPH.  A review study analyzing 18 trials with over 1,500 participants looked at the effect of pygeum bark on general BPH symptoms. Participants taking pygeum experienced a significant improvement of symptoms overall as compared to participants who took placebo.

Stinging Nettle

Part of the nettle family of plants, stinging nettle can be found in Asia, Europe, North Africa, and North America.  The medicinal properties in its leaves provide relief for a variety of health problems from joint pain to allergies.  Many studies have shown that stinging nettle in combination with other herbs like saw palmetto may relieve general BPH symptoms.  Scientists aren't sure how stinging nettle works to relieve symptoms, but active ingredients might influence hormones present in the male body or work directly on prostate cells.

Many people prefer a natural route when it comes to managing or preventing illness.  Numerous studies have shown the benefits of herbs for prostate health.   Because herbs can interact with medications and cause side effects in some people, it is wise to always check with a health care provider before engaging in a supplementary regimen. 

28 Superfood Recipes for Everyday

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Menopause Treatment is About More than Replacing Estrogen

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Menopause is a transition in a woman's life associated with a number of unpleasant symptoms.  While many people blame hot flashes, night sweats, and other side effects on a lack of estrogen, all female hormones diminish at this time.  Consequently, menopause treatment involves more than merely replacing estrogen.

Menopause Treatment is About More than Replacement Therapy

By the time menstruation stops, levels of estrogen are diminished by 75 to 90 percent, testosterone has lessened by up to 50 percent, and the female body has essentially stopped producing progesterone.  While hormone levels aren't entirely depleted, they fluctuate and vary from woman to woman.  Fluctuations continue to cause uncomfortable symptoms, sometimes over several years.

Estrogen

Often referred to as the "female hormone," estrogen is made up of three hormones:  estrone, estradiol, and estriol.  After menopause, production of estrogen from the ovaries greatly diminishes causing symptoms like fatigue, headaches, hot flashes, joint pain, memory problems, and mood swings.

Progesterone

Working with estrogen, progesterone plays an important role in menstruation and pregnancy, which is why production is so low after menopause.  Symptoms experienced with reductions in progesterone include anxiety, headaches, irregular heartbeat, mood swings, muscle weakness, and vaginal infections.

Related:  Take Control: Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer with Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Testosterone

In women, testosterone helps play a part in sexual development, fertility, and maintenance of the reproductive system.  Because levels are naturally low, many women do not notice when they drop during and after menopause.  A reduction in testosterone can reduce sexual desire, libido, energy, and have negative effects on mood.

Natural Menopause Treatment

Healthy menopause treatment addresses all three of these diminishing hormones and more.  Several natural methods help:

  • Maca is an adaptogenic herb.  While it does not contain hormones, it promotes a healthy endocrine system, which helps encourage hormonal balance.
  • Studies show that bioidentical progesterone cream helps correct hormonal imbalances, which often eliminates or reduces hot flashes and other symptoms.
  • Black cohosh is a phytoestrogen herb that resembles a weaker form of estradiol. One study of 704 women showed that black cohosh completely relieved menopausal symptoms in 49 percent of the subjects, and 37.8 percent of women experienced significant relief.
  • Arginine is an essential amino acid that encourages blood vessel elasticity, which increases circulation and reduces hot flashes.

These methods make up just one facet of natural menopause treatment.  A nutritious diet, getting adequate sleep, daily exercise, and other healthy lifestyle choices also contribute to a woman's wellbeing in menopause and beyond.

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Drink Water To Ease Chronic Back Pain

by Health News

Drinking plenty of water could significantly improve your chronic back pain. Since the body is comprised mainly of water (75%) keeping hydrated is essential for all aspects of your health. It has a specific role to play in easing back pain because water cushions cartilage and helps keeps joints lubricated.

Here’s how water comes into play in back pain relief: Between every two vertebrae there is a disk that is essentially a “shock absorber” to protect our backs from injury. Water is squeezed out of our disks as we go about our normal activities. The disks will rehydrate during the night and at times during the day, but only if there are adequate levels of water in the body.  A disk that doesn’t rehydrate will eventually flatten and slip out of alignment, creating the perfect storm for chronic back pain. Water also flushes waste products out of the joints. A healthy, well hydrated joint can move freely and without pain.

Related: Give Your Body What it Craves: Water

The best way to prevent dehydration is to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty. Symptoms of dehydration include excessive thirst, fatigue, muscle weakness, headaches and body aches and pains. Professional opinions vary as to the amount of water you should drink, but most holistic health practitioners recommend that you ingest 64 ounces in the course of the day.    

Of course, water alone won’t wash away your chronic back pain. It is also important to adapt a back-friendly lifestyle that includes plenty of exercise, a nutritious diet, adequate rest and stress management. 

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Look Beyond NSAIDS For Inflammatory Arthritis Pain Relief

by Cindy Gray

More than 33 million Americans take NSAIDs every day to cope with the moderate to severe pain associated with inflammatory arthritis. While they may provide temporary relief, NSAIDs come with potentially serious side effects, and in some cases may even worsen the inflammation they are prescribed to relieve.

NSAIDs work by suppressing prostaglandins, which are lipids produced by the body to deal with injury. The body produces two types of prostaglandins, those that cause inflammation and those that fight inflammation. Unfortunately, NSAIDs suppress BOTH types of prostaglandins so the medications have the potential to do more harm than good.

It is important to note that NSAIDs are powerful drugs and they affect many organs in the body including the heart, kidney and liver. The gastrointestinal side effects are so well-documented that in 2009 the FDA ordered all manufacturers of NSAIDs to list the dangers on the product labels. Problems range from mild stomach upset to potentially fatal stomach bleeding and ulcers.

Related: Natural Anti-Inflammatory Supplements vs. NSAIDs

Many people risk the serious side effects because they think NSAIDs are their only option for pain relief, but there are many natural remedies that can ease the pain of inflammatory arthritis.  Millions of Americans use nutritional supplements to deal with arthritis symptoms.

Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements can speed the formation of new cartilage and help block enzymes that harm cartilage. A study conducted at Montreal Hospital found that patients who take supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin have less pain and inflammation. Arnica Montana, often called “mountain daisy” for its bright yellow flowers, has been used for centuries to treat joint pain. It is available in capsule and powdered forms online and in natural health stores.

Talk to your holistic health practitioner to determine the supplement formation and dosage that best suits your needs. Treat your back pain the natural way and avoid the harmful side effects of NSAIDs.   

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Natural Ways To Treat Lower Back Pain

by IVL Products

Almost everybody suffers from a bout with back pain at some point in their lives, but for some people it is daily fact of life. Millions of Americans spend their lives coping with back pain and the quest for relief often sends them to traditional medical practitioners who may view prescription drugs or even surgery as the first choices for treatment.

Fortunately there are alternatives to prescription drugs and surgery. Here are some simple tips to treat back pain naturally and safely:

WALK IT AWAY: A daily walk strengthens stretched out ligaments in the lower back and reduces them to their normal position. Ligaments are stretchy bands of tissue that hold one bone to another to help keep the joints stable and strong. Invest in a pair of good walking shoes and get moving.

DON’T HEAD TO BED: Although some holistic health practitioners might recommend bed rest for a few hours after an acute injury, too much time in bed can worsen back pain. It’s been shown that lying in bed for prolonged periods of time can cause lower back ligaments to slacken, which impedes their ability to keep joints in place.

Related: The Incredible Benefits of Nordic Walking

MONITOR YOUR MOVEMENTS: When you are suffering from lower back pain you should avoid movements that displace the sacroiliac joint. Don’t bend over from the waist or do sit-ups with your knees straight. Be mindful of motions that stress lower back muscles.

HOLD BACK ON THE HEAT: You should never use heat immediately after suffering from back strain or other injuries. Heat expands ligaments which can create instability. Ice reduces inflammation and swelling which gets to the root of back pain. Ice also numbs sore tissues which is very soothing.

Back pain, like many other chronic conditions, is often the result of bad habits that are developed over the years. Poor posture, lack of exercise, poor nutrition and unresolved stress can cause or aggravate back pain. Make lifestyle choices that support your overall health and your back will thank you for it.  

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Why You Need Yoga for Lower Back Pain

by Cindy Gray

Yoga has many health benefits, both physically and mentally. It incorporates a gentle range of effective stretching techniques which can be beneficial for reducing lower back pain while helping to strengthen back muscles, lowering stress, improving circulation and balancing mood.

Yoga can ease lower back pain and improve inflammatory arthritis of the hands

Yoga principles are a form of exercise, but they are the opposite of aerobic exercises. This means that yoga can be practiced by all ages and abilities, even those in pain. Two key areas of physical health that can be eased with regular yoga exercises are inflammatory arthritis and lower back pain.

Yoga for Inflammatory Arthritis

The Journal of Rheumatology reported the results of a study on patients who had inflammatory arthritis of the hands. They found that those who practiced yoga as a therapeutic treatment had a greater range of movement in their fingers. They also reported less pain and tenderness in their arthritic finger joints than those who did not practice yoga.

Yoga for Lower Back Pain

A study of 25 patients suffering from lower back pain found that yoga provided significant benefits. After a six month trial period, 80% of those participants who practiced yoga reported reduced lower back pain compared to 44% of the study group who were given medications instead. 

Over time, just 12% of the yoga practitioners suffered an acute episode of arthritis pain while 56% of the medication group suffered a serious arthritis episode.

Related: Yoga and Natural Supplements for Back Pain Relief

Yoga and Muscle Strength

The more physical form of yoga known as Hatha Yoga relies on learning controlled breathing techniques, Pranayama, while holding complex body postures. Yoga increases muscle strength as you practice positions and movements. As weak muscles and misaligned posture are the main cause of lower back pain, it makes sense that practicing postures that strengthen the muscles, particularly in the lower back, will reverse the unnatural muscle stretching and reduce back pain.

Other yoga positions strengthen abdominal muscles which, together with back muscles, maintain a healthy muscle network that supports the spine. When these muscles are toned and conditioned they can significantly prevent or reduce lower back pain.

Stress may be another cause of back pain, causing shoulders to be hunched and muscle to be misaligned. Yoga includes stretching and relaxing techniques which reduce that tension and alleviate the lower back pain it causes.

With the additional benefit of improved blood circulation, yoga stretches the lower back, lowers stress and strengthens muscle tone to align the body and reduce or prevent lower back pain. As it also improves mobility in those with inflammatory arthritis of the hands, it’s never too late to consider joining a yoga class to improve your physical and mental health.

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Why You Need to GAG for Natural Arthritis Treatment

by IVL Products

One of the undeniable signs of aging is that joints become painful as they succumb to years of wear and tear. With few effective drugs on the market, osteoarthritis sufferers are increasingly turning to natural arthritis treatment for relief. Here’s how they work.

GAG supplements are a natural arthritis treatment to help replace cartilage in joints

Most of the joint cartilage is made up of water (70-80%) with the remainder being elastic collagen fibers, chondrocytes and proteoglycans. Collagen is a particularly important component of the joint cartilage as it provides cell strength and structural integrity to hold the joint firmly but flexibly together while being worked.

Chondrocyte cells contained in the cartilage produce proteins known as proteoglycans which are linked to glycosaminoglycans, or GAGs for short. These important chondrocytes build and repair the collagen fibers and proteoglycans using glucose to maintain the worn cartilage.

Unfortunately chondrocyte cells stop building and repairing damaged joint tissue as we reach adulthood, meaning that those joints have to provide a lifetime of movement and wear. The cartilage between the bones in the joint eventually begins to wear. With less cushioning, the bones begin to grind painfully together during exercise or movement. This is what causes the pain of arthritis.

Related: Video Blog: What Causes Arthritis Pain?

Natural Arthritis Treatment from Dr Weil

Dr Andrew Weil offers a number of suggestions to help reduce arthritis pain and provide natural arthritis treatment. Losing weight and reducing strenuous activity that puts additional stress on worn joints is a good way to start. Instead, take up swimming, cycling and light weight training to keep muscles strong without putting undue strain on painful arthritic joints.

Dr. Weil recommends dietary changes to reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Lower inflammation by eating turmeric, ginger, flaxseed and plenty of oily fish, or take omega-3 fatty acid supplements. Don’t neglect those 5-a-day portions of organically grown vegetables and fruits as a good source of antioxidants which help reduce tissue damage from free radicals.

Finally, top up those joints with supplements of glucosamine sulfate which is used to manufacture glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) in the cartilage. Take a supplement of chondroitin to increase synovial fluids and protect the cartilage. A supplement of evening primrose oil provides gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) to reduce inflammation.

This natural arthritis treatment is very easy to implement. It is proven to help prevent painful arthritis and reduce the inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, safely and naturally.

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Three Natural Arthritis Treatments in Your Kitchen

by Cindy Gray

Arthritis is a very common disorder that causes pain, stiffness and limited mobility in the joints.  Inflammation is the source of discomfort and often requires strong non-prescription and prescription pain relievers. However, there are several natural arthritis treatments that can be found in your kitchen.

Ginger

Many cultures around the globe have been using ginger in variety of medicinal ways. The root of the plant is where its many health benefits are contained. In addition to adding a spicy kick to many dishes, helping alleviate nausea, and being a rich source of antioxidants, ginger has powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

Research conducted in 2001 found that ginger oil reduced knee pain in participants diagnosed with osteoarthritis.  The journal Arthritis published a study that compared the effectiveness of ginger extract to medications like cortisone and ibuprofen for arthritis suffers.  The ginger extract was as effective in reducing cytokine production (a substance produced by the body with inflammatory effects, linked to arthritis pain).

That’s good news for those who want to avoid the unpleasant side effects of cortisone (aka betamethasone) like depression, seizures, muscle weakness and sleep problems, just to name a few.

If you are eating fresh ginger, two or three tablespoons grated into your dish are a correct amount for most people.  Taking ginger in capsule form (100 to 200 mgs) is the best way to reap the benefits of ginger as a natural arthritis treatment.

Turmeric

Turmeric is another natural arthritis treatment in your kitchen, and is a probably on your spice rack. Turmeric is not as widely used in the U.S., but is a staple in Chinese and Indian diets for its taste and many health benefits.

Related: Turmeric - The Natural Cancer Fighter in Your Curry

Curcumin, the main compound in turmeric, is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Like ginger, clinical studies comparing it to regular drugs for pain relief showed turmeric to be as effective for pain relief, but without the unpleasant side effects of OTC and prescribed medications.  In addition to being an anti-inflammatory, turmeric is an abundant source of antioxidants that help neutralize cell damaging free radicals.

Adding turmeric to your diet by taking a supplement is the best way to get maximum benefits.  Take a 300-milligram capsule with the meals to reduce pain and inflammation due to arthritis.

Pineapple

Sweet, juicy exotic pineapple is proving to be tough on inflammation and a powerful pain reliever.  Bromelain, an extract from the fruit’s stem, has been shown to be an effective anti-inflammatory that helps reduce pain and joint swelling.

Pineapple has actually been used in Hawaii and other tropical cultures as an effective treatment for sore throats and digestive issues.  Besides tasting delicious, pineapples are also rich in vitamin C and calcium. The digestive enzymes it contains are called bromelain and the source of the fruit’s anti-inflammatory effects.

For natural arthritis treatments, taking bromelain in capsule form is best. There is no standard dose, but in general, from 80-320 milligrams of the extract taken two or three times a day could offer pain relief without side effects.

Natural Relief

Using natural arthritis treatments makes dealing with arthritis pain and discomfort much more manageable without having to suffer the side effects of many prescription drugs.  Always be sure to consult with your doctor before taking any supplements to avoid unfavorable drug interactions and to get the best dosage for you.

Vibrant Living Challenge. Free 30-Day Challenge Download

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Two Time-Tested Knee Pain Exercises

by Health News

If you suffer from chronic knee problems you may be naturally inclined to do less exercise to keep the pain at bay. However, the best treatment for achy knees can actually be using them more by doing some special knee pain exercises.

Exercise strengthens the muscles around the knee joint which decreases stress on the knee and protects from strain or injury, according to the Chairman of Rehab Medicine at Cornell Hospital. However, you must use good technique and form when exercising for knee pain.

Knee pain exercises can help strengthen supportive leg muscles.

Exercises to Avoid if you have Knee Pain

Avoid lunges, deep squats, hurdler’s stretches and full arc knee extensions if you suffer from knee pain. These knee pain exercises can put unnecessary strain on the knee joints.

Secondly, never bend your legs so far that the knee sticks out beyond the toes as it puts intense pressure under the kneecap. Instead, build up knee muscle strength with the following knee pain exercises, working up to more repeats as you strengthen those weak knee muscles.

Knee Pain Exercise One

This knee extension exercise should be done when sitting on a chair with your back straight and feet placed firmly on the floor. Fold a towel and place it under your knees for extra support, then gradually lift the right leg, extending it to a horizontal position and hold. Count to three then bend the knee, lowering the foot to the floor again. Repeat with the left leg, using a controlled motion. Build up to 10 leg extension exercises per leg. You should notice the upper thighs working hard to perform this knee pain exercise. That shows that these muscles are being strengthened with the effort of the exercises.

Related: Yoga and Natural Supplements for Back Pain Relief

Knee Pain Exercise Two

Once you have mastered the basic knee extension exercise, add ankle weights. You can buy ankle weights that fix around the ankle with Velcro. Start with two pound weights and increase over time to five pound weights. Use caution and listen to your body.

For this knee pain exercise you need to sit on a high work bench or sturdy table with your legs dangling freely. Lift the right foot with the weight up through 90 degrees until the leg is in a horizontal position. Hold for a count of three and then steadily lower the leg. Repeat with the left leg. Work up to 15 knee extension exercises for knee pain for each leg to build muscle strength and reduce those painful knees.

You’ll find a variety of extra knee pain exercises which will all help ease painful knee joints by building supportive muscle over time. 

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Three Natural Arthritis Treatments

by IVL Products

While medical science continues to search for an effective cure for arthritis, many sufferers are finding the relief they need in natural arthritis treatments. Three different substances are known to provide pain relief naturally for those suffering with joint pain and arthritis. Best of all, these all-natural substances reduce pain and inflammation without the nasty side effects caused by pharmaceutical drugs such as NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

Three natural arthritis treatments hold the key to joint pain relief

White Willow Bark

White Willow Bark is an ancient natural remedy used for safe and effective pain relief. The active ingredient salicin in converted by the body into salicylic acid. It lowers inflammation and counters pain in a similar way to aspirin, but without the adverse side effects of stomach bleeding. White willow and bark hyaluronic acid are the main ingredients in natural arthritis treatments that offer safe relief from inflammation. 

Boswellia Serrate

Boswellia has been shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers have found that formulas containing Boswellia Serrate can provide natural pain relief for arthritis. Extracted as a resin from Boswellia Serrata trees, it works by improving circulation and blocking the formation of leukotrienes which cause pain and inflammation in arthritic joints. It works particularly well in conjunction with white willow bark and cherry fruit extract, making it an excellent natural treatment for arthritis by trickling pain relief constantly.

Related: Boswellia Extract Is An Effective Therapy For Osteoarthritis

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid preparations are known to decrease arthritis pain and improve joint mobility, particularly in those suffering with osteoarthritis in the knee joint. It is thought to work as a natural arthritis treatment by changing the synovial fluid viscoelasticity and by lowering inflammation in the joint.

These three natural substances work together synergistically in scientifically balanced joint formulas. Natural treatments may combine these natural anti-inflammatory pain relievers with ginger root powder to create highly effective natural arthritis treatments.

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Get the True Strains and Sprains Facts

by IVL Products

The terms strains and sprains are often used interchangeably, but in medical jargon they actually refer to different injuries. In simple terms, a sprain is damage to ligaments while a strain refers to muscles. Both sprains and strains injuries are likely to occur during sports activities.

Sprains and strains relate to different parts of the body

What are Strains?

A strain is often referred to as a “pulled muscle.” It is caused by lifting heavy objects, overstretching during exercise or tearing as the muscle suddenly contracts. It is a very painful condition with sudden onset. As well as straining muscles in the hamstring (back of the thigh), other common strains occur in the neck or back muscles.

Strains also refer to damaged tendons and fasciae. Tendons, fasciae and ligaments are all made of collagen and are strong and stretchy. Their different names refer to which parts of the body they connect. Tendons (also called sinews) connect muscle to bone and withstand tension. Fasciae are fibrous tissues wrapped around a muscle or organ.

Strains fall into three categories in terms of severity:

  • Grade-1 strain causes some inflammation, swelling and mild discomfort
  • Grade-2 strain is characterized by swelling, severe inflammation and possibly discoloration or bruising due to hemorrhaging
  • Grade-3 strain is the most severe and may disguise a fracture or more serious injury, which may need surgery. A doctor should be consulted if you feel you have a Grade-3 strain

How do Strains and Sprains Differ?

Each year over 600,000 people reported ankle sprains in the U.S. alone. A sprain refers to damaged ligaments, which are fibrous bands of tissue connecting bones. Ligaments stabilize joints and help prevent excessive movement within the ankle, wrist, thumb and knee joints.

Related: Natural Relief for Chronic Joint Pain

A sprain occurs when a joint is stretched beyond its normal capacity and you may hear a “pop” as the joint is sprained. This usually occurs during exercise or sports activity. Ligaments in the joint are torn or over-stretched when you suddenly change direction, land awkwardly, receive a sudden blow or collide with a solid object. Ouch!

A Grade-1 sprain is when a ligament is painfully overstretched or torn but does not cause any instability within the joint itself. There may be bruising, pain and swelling but the joint will still bear weight

A Grade-2 sprain is more serious tearing of the ligament accompanied by moderate pain, swelling and bruising. It may be difficult to support a person’s weight. An x-ray is recommended to check whether a fracture also occurred.

A Grade-3 sprain is when there is a complete rupture of the ligament in the joint. It causes immediate loss of function and severe pain and swelling. The patient will not be able to apply any pressure or weight to the affected limb may require surgery.

How to Treat Strains and Sprains

If you suffer from strains and sprains, follow our advice for RICE therapy. This includes resting the injury, applying ice, using a compression bandage and elevating the injured limb.

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A Devil of a Natural Arthritis Treatment

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Osteoarthritis is a disabling and painful condition that affects an estimated 27 million Americans. It is caused by joint cartilage wearing away and allowing the bones to rub together during natural movement. There are several supplements available that can provide a natural arthritis treatment to enhance the quality of life for those suffering from this debilitating condition. One that appears to be the most effective is the strangely named Devil’s Claw.

natural arthritis treatment devils claw

Devil’s Claw is the common name for the plant Harpagophytum Procumbens, also known as the Grapple Plant for its tenacious hooks or claws on the fruit. The tuberous root of this South African desert plant contains a beneficial substance, harpagoside, which that has been used for centuries for brewing into an herbal tea for medicinal purposes. Not only is it used as a natural arthritis treatment, it is also used to treat gastrointestinal conditions.

Research into Devil’s Claw has found it to be extremely effective as a natural arthritis treatment. A double-blind placebo-controlled study organized by Phytomedicine compared Devil’s Claw to the pharmaceutical drug Diacerhein. The drug was developed specifically to treat osteoarthritis of the hip.

Related: Yoga and Natural Supplements for Back Pain Relief

After eight weeks, 50-70% of those taking Devil’s Claw reported less pain and improved mobility. The test showed that Devil’s Claw was more effective in treating the arthritis pain than the pharmaceutical drug and did not cause the unpleasant side effect of diarrhea that Diacerhein produced.

Recommended Dosage of Devil’s Claw as a Natural Arthritis Treatment

Devil’s Claw is available in capsules, powder, liquid and tincture. The adult dosage of Devil’s Claw for treating joint and arthritis pain, according to Dr. Andrew Weil, is 600 to 1200 mg three times a day. It is safe at these levels, but no studies have yet been conducted to confirm the effects of its use in the long term. However, it should be avoided by anyone with stomach problems such as ulcers, or those taking diabetic medications, as it can lower blood sugar levels.

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Why Sulfur May Be the Answer for Chronic Back Pain

by IVL Products

It may smell a bit like rotten eggs, but sulphur is the eighth most common element in the human body, and is found in almost all of our tissues. Despite this fact, there is no recommended daily allowance of sulfur provided by the government or health agencies, which could be a contributing factor to chronic back pain.

Look to sulfur for relief from chronic back pain.

About 70% of American adults have reported experiencing lower back pain, according to national health surveys.  When the pain persists for 12 weeks or longer and is more than a dull ache that sticks around long after the initial incident, it’s diagnosed as chronic back pain. The symptoms can be milder one day, and more severe the next, but they are always present.  This has led some in the medical community to believe that a dietary deficiency could be contributing to the problem.

Sulfur’s Role in the Body

Many of our biological processes depend upon sulfur to work correctly. It helps maintain the integrity of the cell walls and produce collagen and essential protein that makes up the support bands beneath our skin. Sulfur is also needed to produce connective tissue, keratin (the key component in hair and the outer layer of our skin) glucosamine and chondroitin, which are part of our cartilage, the crucial cushioning tissue between the bones in our joints.

Sulfur also plays a critical role in keeping our metabolism humming along efficiently. When we become sulfur deficient, our metabolism becomes defective, damaging muscle and fat cells; this can lead to becoming glucose intolerant. When that happens, there is a number of muscular and skeletal disorders that can result, such as inflammation and chronic pain.

Upping Your Sulfur Consumption

Getting more sulfur in your diet is important, whether or not you are suffering from chronic back pain.   Adding the supplement MSM to your daily diet could help alleviate chronic pain. 

Related: White Willow Bark For Safe And Effective Pain Relief

MSM stands for methyl sulfonyl methane and is a naturally occurring sulfur compound found in human, animals and plants. It can be made manufactured into pill form or even a topical gel to help provide the correct daily dosage.  To date, MSM has proven to be non-toxic.

How Sulfur Can Help Relieve Chronic Back Pain

MSM has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce the pain of inflammation in joints and muscles.  For this reason, it is often used to treat a variety of discomforts such as:

  • Leg cramps
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Constipation

One of the ways MSM relieves chronic back pain and other disorders is by inhibiting the transmissions of pain impulses along nerve fibers.  This helps to reduce inflammation that could be compressing a nerve, and reduces muscle spasms, contributing to lower back pain.

Sulfur in MSM also has the ability to dilate blood vessels for improved circulation, bringing more nutrients to speed up the healing of damaged tissue. What’s more impressive is MSM’s potential to make cell membranes more permeable, letting the body’s own natural painkillers into damaged areas.

By reducing inflammation, enhancing blood flow to more flexible cells to allow for faster healing, MSM could play a big role in not only relieving chronic back pain, but also with the loss of joint mobility from arthritis.

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Natural Treatment for Arthritis

by Cindy Gray

A History of an Ayurvedic Natural Arthritis Treatment

Joint pain is a common complaint in this country affecting approximately one-third of the adult population. The most likely cause of painful joints is arthritis, and either rheumatoid (RA) or osteoarthritis (OA).  Clearly, finding a natural arthritis treatment is an attractive option for many sufferers.  

Natural treatments for arthritis can include Ayurveda.

A Natural Alternative Treatment

Ayurvedic medicine offers natural arthritis treatments that have shown to be highly effective in modern medical studies. This is good news for those who wish to manage their joint pain, but are wary of the side effects of prescription drugs, such as the possible increased risk of heart attacks, stroke, or drowsiness and constipation.

In addition to NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like aspirin and ibuprofen, real relief can be found using Indian frankincense. Also known as Boswellia serrata, it has a centuries-long history of use for aromatherapy and in religious ceremonies.

Indian frankincense has also been used in Ayurvedic medicine for relief from joint pain. Clinical trials by western medicine researchers have confirmed its effectiveness in relieving discomfort and helping to restore mobility to stiff joints by alleviating inflammation.

How Does Indian Frankincense Work?

It is believed that Indian frankincense helps to relieve arthritis pain by inhibiting the formation of leukotrienes, which cause inflammation in the body. This inflammation destroys joint tissue leading to pain and stiffness that becomes progressively worse over time to the point of being debilitating.

Four acids found in Boswellia resin (scientific name for Indian frankincense) are most likely responsible for the herb’s anti-inflammatory properties by suppressing 5-lipoxygenase or 5-LO, the enzyme that produces leukotriene.

Related: A New Strategy To Successfully Prevent Rheumatoid Arthritis

In a study published by Phytomedicine all 30 participants suffering OA-related knee pain reported a decrease in their pain and improved knee flexion; and the ability to walk farther with less discomfort after taking doses of Indian frankincense extract.

While results published in the Journal of Rheumatology about a research project involving the use of Boswellia extract for those with rheumatoid arthritis were not as dramatic, researchers concluded that it still may be an effective therapy because of the drug’s ability to interfere with the autoimmune disorder that causes RA.

ApresFLEX as a Natural Arthritis Treatment

Promising results were shown in a clinical study that tested the effectiveness of a trademark blend of Boswellia serrata known as ApresFLEX when compared to another form of the drug 5-Loxin.  The study involved 60 participants with OA knee pain.

In the 90-day, double blind, randomized, and placebo-controlled study (meaning neither participants nor researchers knew who received the drugs or the placebo) those who received the placebo reported no significant relief in their joint pain. However, those who received the 5-Loxin and ApresFLEX reported significant improvements in joint pain and increased mobility.

What was especially significant was that those who received the 100 mg dose of ApresFLEX reported improvements to their OA symptoms in as little as five days, two days earlier than those who received the other Boswellia serrata extract!

With so many undesirable side effects associated with many prescription drugs, a more natural arthritis treatment like ApresFLEX offers a promising new way to address the pain and limited joint mobility of the disease more swiftly with fewer health risks.

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Four Secrets to Lower Back Pain Relief

by IVL Products

Affecting sedentary people as well as accomplished athletes, lower back pain does not discriminate.  Nearly all people experience it at some point in their lives.  Sitting for long periods or participating in activities that involve running, jumping, or vigorous movement all put strain on muscles in the lower back.  Fortunately, four easy steps help provide lower back pain relief if practiced regularly.

Four easy steps help provide lower back pain relief if practiced regularly

1.  Sit properly.  To keep undue stress from lower back muscles, do not sit on the edge of a chair.  Instead, sit all the way in for complete back support.  Limit time spent crossing the legs, and try to sit with at least one knee above the hips.  A soft footstool helps. 

2.  Take advantage of cushions.  Place a cushion behind the lower back, and look for one that promises anatomical support.  Use the cushion for any chair or car seat.  Try placing a thin cushion under the thighs while sitting to take further pressure off the lower back.

3.  Use proper sleeping position.  Approximately 2/3 of people with chronic back pain have trouble sleeping.  The best position to prevent and relieve lower back pain is sleeping in the fetal position on the right side.  While placing the left leg over the top of the right helps some people even more, others place a soft pillow between the knees for enhanced relief.  In addition to helping curb back pain, laying on the right side also improves digestion and promotes healthy bowel movements.

4.  Stretch your body.  Stretching is a key activity for healthy joints and muscles, particularly muscles in the lower back.  Exercises that stretch and lengthen the hamstrings help most when it comes to lower back pain relief.  To garner the benefits of stretching, people might sign up for a local yoga class or confer with a certified trainer or Pilates expert for stretching exercise ideas.  Individuals new to stretching should remember to start slowly and proceed at your own pace. 

Related: Stretching is Good for Seniors

More Activities for Lower Back Pain Relief

In addition to the four secrets mentioned above, people with lower back pain might try these activities to bring relief:

  • Massage
  • Aerobic Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Acupuncture
  • Deep Breathing
  • Core Exercises
  • Hydrotherapy
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Seven Exercises for Strains and Sprains Prevention

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Each year, many Americans experience strains or sprains, and those who face greater risk include athletes, overweight individuals, and people who have experienced these injuries in the past.  Strains are caused by physical overexertion or overstretching, and they affect the muscles or tendons.  Sprains result from trauma to a joint, and they affect one or more ligaments. Symptoms for both injuries include pain, swelling, bruising, and impaired range of motion. While the main form of treatment is RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation; and an ounce of strains and sprains prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Performed regularly, seven exercises help prevent the occurrence of strains and sprains.

For strains and sprains prevention, try stretching and flexibility exercises.

Stretching and Flexibility Routine for Strains and Sprains Prevention

Performed each morning, this exercise routine helps boost circulation to wake up muscles and joints and improves flexibility.

Begin by standing straight, with feet hip-distance apart.

  1. Drop the head gently to one side.  Keeping the shoulders straight, move one ear toward the shoulder.  Move the head gently to the other side, and repeat.  Roll the head forward slowly toward the chest, and through to the other shoulder.  Repeat in the opposite direction, but do not roll the head backward.
  2. Shrug the shoulders up and down gently 10 times.  Roll each shoulder gently forward 10 times and backward 10 times.  Roll both shoulders together forward 10 times and backward 10 times.
  3. Hold one arm straight out in front of the body.  Move it across the chest, using the opposite arm to pull it gently into the chest and down slightly toward the armpit to stretch the shoulder.  Repeat with the other arm.
  4. Hold the arms out to the side at shoulder height.  Move them in small forward circles, gradually widening with each rotation, and then back down to small circles.  Repeat the cycle with backward rotations.
  5. With eight repetitions in each position, start with the right leg and move it forward, backward, to the outside, and crossed over to the inside.  Repeat with the left leg.
  6. Hold the right foot out in front slightly.  Point and flex several times.  Rotate the ankle clockwise five times and counterclockwise five times.  Repeat with the left foot.
  7. Stand with knees bent slightly and hands resting on the thighs.  Move the right heel forward and flex the foot to straighten the right leg.  Bend forward slowly until you feel a gentle pull in the right calf and hamstring.  Hold for eight seconds, and switch sides.

Related: Ginger For Muscle And Joint Pain Relief?

More Strains and Sprains Prevention Suggestions for Athletes

To further prevent athletic strains and sprains, people should:

  • Always wear shoes that fit properly.
  • Warm up before sports, including practice.
  • Wear recommended protective equipment.
  • Do not participate if in pain or experiencing excessive fatigue or if you are sick.
  • Remember to drink plenty of pure water every day: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
  • Also, take healthy internal oils such as flax seed oil, olive oil, etc.  Another supplement to take as an internal lubricant is aloe vera juice or gel.