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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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Menopause Treatment Pregnenolone May Reduce Inflammation

by Institute for Vibrant Living

 

Menopause is a life transition experienced by women as a normal part of the aging process.  Menopause is caused by declining hormone levels needed for fertility, marked by increased inflammation in the body, causing a host of side effects from time to time. Fortunately, pregnenolone, often called the “mother of all hormones,” is showing great promise as a menopause treatment that also may significantly reduce inflammation throughout the body.

Understanding the hormone pregnenolone and how it can help to relieve symptoms of menopause.

What is Pregnenolone?

Pregnenolone is a steroid-like hormone produced naturally by our bodies in the adrenal glands, liver, skin, brain, testicles, ovaries, and in the retinas of the eyes. Pregnenolone is a critical building block from which all other steroid hormones like DHEA, progesterone, testosterone, estrogen and cortisol are formed in the body. It is thought by much of the medical community to be the ultimate raw material.  It is produced in abundance not only in the adrenal glands but also the brain, spinal cord and throughout the body.  It’s commonly called an adaptogen that transforms itself into whatever hormone your body needs the most at any given time.

The Effects of Declining Pregnenolone

Unfortunately, as we age, production of this very important but obscure hormone begins to decline; along with it, the hormones our bodies need like progesterone, estrogen and testosterone. As a result, women begin to experience menopause and men start to feel the effects of waning testosterone.

As pregnenolone declines, inflammation increases throughout the body. Inflammation is normal and the natural way the body fights disease and repairs itself, but prolonged inflammation begins to damage your tissues, especially in the joints and organs. 

Increased inflammation also causes the unpleasant side effects of menopause, namely hot flashes, decreased vaginal lubrication, less interest in sex and even painful intercourse.

Many women report that while going through menopause they experience a decline in their ability to concentrate, sleep disturbances and mood disorders like depression or increased anxiety.  In studies dating back to the 1930s, these symptoms have been found to be relieved by restoring natural levels of pregnenolone.

Related:  Video Blog:  Hormones: IVL Explains the Different Types of Hormones

Pregnenolone as a Menopause Treatment

The research shows the benefits of restoring pregnenolone levels in the body is an effective menopause treatment.   Those who took supplements in various clinical trials reported less stress and anxiety, better sleep, a marked decline in hot flashes and an increased libido. Additionally, it also seemed to help reduce joint pain, lower cholesterol levels and may even be helpful for those battling addiction with fewer lapses reported. Most of this is credited to pregnenolone increasing the production of other hormones like estrogen and progesterone and reducing inflammation.

Numerous studies have also shown this critical hormone has a profoundly positive effect on cognitive function, especially improving memory.  Its anti-inflammatory properties are also showing to reduce one’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia, an added benefit beyond being an effective menopause treatment.

Dosage

There is no exact dosage specification for pregnenolone but the general recommendation is to start with one five-milligram tablet per day. Of course, you should always consult with your doctor before taking any new supplement to avoid unfavorable drug reactions. There is no safe recommended dosage for women who are pregnant or nursing.

 

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How Fish Oil Increases Joint Mobility

by Cindy Gray

Did you know there are over 300 joints in the human body?  Each one of those joints benefit from omega-3 fish oil sourced from oily fish or fish oil supplements. Here’s how!

There are many proven benefits of omega-3 fish oil for joints

The ends of the bones in the body are cushioned with cartilage, which buffers unyielding bones from jolts and shocks that are part of daily wear and tear. Synovial fluid also fills the cavities of joints, further reducing friction between the bone and cartilage. In a healthy joint, this works well, but inflammation, wear and tear, and loss of synovial fluid due to age can all lead to painful joints. Research now shows that the significant benefits of omega-3 fish oil for joints can help significantly reduce inflammation, and ease painful joints.

Causes of Joint Pain

Arthritis is a common cause of joint pain in older adults. Osteoarthritis in particular can limit joint mobility as the cartilage deteriorates, exposing the bone and making walking painful. It may be the result of advancing age, obesity or it may be triggered by injury. There are many studies underway to better understand the benefits of omega-3 fish oil for joints.

Unlike arthritis, which tends to be age-related, rheumatoid arthritis affects all ages. This autoimmune disease means that the body attacks its own tissue resulting in painful deformed joints. Gout is another type of arthritis caused when uric acid crystals form in the synovial fluid, inevitably causing excruciating pain.

Related:  Top Foods to Help Ease Chronic Joint Pain

Benefits of Omega-3 Fish Oil for Joints

Research has shown that certain foods help relieve painful joints, namely oily fish and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil contains two different types of fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).  Both demonstrate the significant benefits of omega-3 fish oil for joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis.

Although doctors do not yet fully understand why omega-3s help relieve painful joints, research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that omega-3 produces resolvin, a powerful anti-inflammatory compound that helps to relieve arthritic joints.

Other benefits of omega-3 fish oil for joints include relieving morning stiffness and reducing tenderness in the affected joints. Unlike NSAID medications, fish oil does not cause unpleasant side effects such as kidney problems, stomach ulcers and tinnitus.

Numerous clinical trials have shown the benefits of omega-3 fish oil for joints, making it a safe, affordable and effective treatment for all types of joint pain; as well as supporting a healthy heart, helping to lower cholesterol and maintain mental acuity. Check with your doctor if you are on medications or blood thinners before taking fish oil supplements, and choose a high quality omega-3 supplement from a safe and sustainable source. 


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Discover Five Healthful Benefits of Dancing

by Institute for Vibrant Living

In the world of reality television, dancing programs have become a popular choice for many viewers.  Fortunately, this extends beyond the couch, as many people have begun taking dance classes or dancing with a favorite partner in their spare time.  

The many benefits of dancing make it a worthwhile activity for an individual, a couple, or a group.

While dancing makes for a fun and enjoyable activity, people may not realize that it also provides a host of benefits for physical and mental health.  Here are five healthful benefits of dancing:

1.  Promotes Weight Loss

On average, dancing burns approximately 240 calories an hour for a person weighing 150 pounds; but calories burned can increase or decrease, depending on how fast or slow the dance style.  While the tango comes in at less than 200 calories per hour, one hour of swing dancing burns up about 350 calories.  Aerobic dancing burns even more calories and a study published in The Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that dancing is as effective for weight loss as cycling or jogging.

2.  Lifts Spirits

One of the best benefits of dancing is its ability to lift the spirits as evidenced by research.  One study looked at the effects of dancing on people suffering from depression.  Subjects who participated in an upbeat group dance showed fewer depressive symptoms and reported more energy than people who did not participate.

3.  Lubricates Joints and Enhances Flexibility

Dancing keeps the joints lubricated, which helps relieve stiffness.  Ballet and modern dance also help increase flexibility which soothes joint pain and post-exercise soreness.  People can experience similar benefits by doing gentle yoga or performing simple stretches at home.  

4.  Improves Heart Health

By raising the heart rate, dancing is a beneficial activity for people at risk for cardiovascular disease.  An Italian study showed that people with a history of heart failure who engaged in waltzing improved heart and blood vessel function, breathing, and overall quality of life, as much as people participating in moderate exercise programs.

5.  Boosts Brain Function

Related:  Prevent Alzheimer's Disease with Exercise

A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that dancing and other forms of aerobic exercise may enhance memory and prevent the development of dementia that comes with aging.  This happens because aerobic exercise prevents loss of brain mass and even reverses it in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory.

In addition to being festive and fun, dancing offers a number of advantages to the health.  Benefits of dancing include weight loss, improved mood, better flexibility, heart health, and brain function.  As if that weren't enough, studies show that dancing helps improve balance, posture, and energy levels in adult subjects.  A dance class also offers the ideal opportunity to make new friends and social connections.

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Battle Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with Two Red Superfoods

by IVL Products

Modern life comes with jam-packed schedules, making people more tired than ever.  While occasional fatigue is normal, chronic fatigue is not, especially when severe.  If people experience debilitating physical and mental fatigue that lasts for more than six consecutive months, they may have chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS.  Additional symptoms associated with CFS include poor memory, headaches, sore throat, and pain in the muscles or joints.   

Watermelon contains an array of nutrients that may benefit people with chronic fatigue syndrome.

Cause and Treatment

Experts have yet to identify a lone cause, but some think chronic fatigue syndrome may develop from a number of triggers including immune disorder, infection, stress, trauma, or toxins.  While there is no known cure for CFS, treatment involves a number of strategies including cognitive-behavioral therapy, moderate exercise, sleep management techniques, and good nutrition.  A wholesome diet may help prevent or relieve symptoms of CFS.  Two red fruits in particular offer many benefits.

Red Apples

Red apple skins are a rich source of the antioxidant, quercetin.  This potent flavonoid helps fight free radicals that can cause cell damage and disease, and it raises energy levels by enhancing the immune system and increasing the number of mitochondria in cells. 

Studies on trained athletes show that treatment with quercetin supplements can boost endurance.  Another study from the University of South Carolina at Columbia tested the endurance of somewhat-active college students on an exercise bicycle.  After taking 500 mg of quercetin twice a day for one week, cycling endurance improved as well as lung function in all students.  The lead author of this study indicated the results might be good news for people suffering from energy-draining conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome.

Related:  Magnesium Deficiency and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Watermelon

While tomatoes offer a rich source of lycopene, scientists at the South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory (SCARL) in Lane, Oklahoma have shown that watermelon offers even more.  This powerful antioxidant and others in watermelon help fight harmful free radicals that contribute to disease.  Nutrients like vitamin B6, vitamin B1, magnesium, potassium, and L-citrulline found in watermelon also help people with CFS by boosting energy levels by as much as 23 percent.

Conclusion

A nutritious diet helps prevent a wide range of health problems.  Additional red superfoods that may help prevent or relieve symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome include tomatoes, strawberries, cherries, and raspberries.  In addition to whole fruits and vegetables, people with CFS should add lean poultry, wild fatty fish, whole grains, nuts, and seeds to the shopping cart.  It helps to eliminate processed foods and sodas and drink plenty of pure, clean water.  People with CFS shouldn't smoke, and they should limit consumption of alcohol.   

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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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Three Antioxidants for Anti-Aging

by IVL Products

Extending our life spans to enjoy more of those “golden years” is the goal of almost all societies. There are never ending studies being conducted in hospitals, clinics and research laboratories around the globe to find the most effective anti-aging products that will turn back the clock. 

Anti-aging compounds called antioxidants neutralize free radicals to preserve the longevity of cells, and thus our lives.

The Three Anti-Aging Amigos

What are the best anti-aging compounds that should be in your diet?  Vitamin C and E are widely known as powerful free radical erasers, but there are other lesser-known compounds that are quickly rising to the top of the list of most powerful antioxidants.

Resveratrol

This polyphonic compound is found naturally in peanuts, grapes, red wine and many berries.  Since resveratrol is easily absorbed and metabolized by the human body, it can quickly begin neutralizing cell damaging free radicals. 

Research is showing that resveratrol significantly helps to slow down the spread of certain cancers, cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. In animal studies for years, and now in human studies, resveratrol has been shown to reduce the narrowing of blood vessels lessening the risk of heart attacks (the number one killer of men and women in this country!) and strokes.

Most of its anti-aging benefits come from resveratrol’s anti-inflammatory response in the body. Chronic inflammation has long been linked to diseases of the cardiovascular system, the gums, joints and other organs.

Related:  For Healthy Aging: A Toast to Resveratrol

Astaxanthin

This is a carotenoid pigment found in trout, microalgae, yeast, crab, lobster and is highly concentrated in Pacific salmon. It is what gives the fish flesh its pinkish hue. New research over the past decade has been slow because it is very expensive to obtain, but the medical community is finding out that this is one very powerful antioxidant!

Astaxanthin (pronounced asta-ZAN-thin) is a potent anti-inflammatory and pain blocker. It reduces the inflammatory compounds that are the source of many chronic diseases and works like prescription analgesics (pain relievers) but is completely natural.  It is especially effective at suppressing levels of C reactive protein, a known cause of heart disease.

Some researchers theorize that astaxanthin is highly concentrated in Pacific salmon to give them the muscular endurance to swim upstream when they migrate.  It improves blood flow to muscles and reduces the amount of oxidative stress they suffer when working hard and helps increase endurance.

Finally, when applied topically, astaxanthin helps smooth out wrinkles and diminish age spots.

CoQ10

Coenzyme Q10 helps converts food into energy and is found in almost every cell of the human body.  The reason CoQ10 is as important as an anti-aging compound lies in its ability to lower blood pressure, help control blood glucose levels and neutralize free radicals ravaging cells.

Studies have shown that patients who took CoQ10 after a heart attack were less likely to have another one and had less chest pain than those who did not take it. Smaller studies involving people have also shown it to lower blood pressure.

Those with high cholesterol tend to have low levels of CoQ10 in their bodies. Though sufficient research has not been done to link this to improving cholesterol levels there has been some studies done showing taking it with prescription statins reduces the pain associated with statin treatment and restores normal cholesterol levels in the body. 

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Seeing Red for Anti-Aging

by Institute for Vibrant Living

This getting older business has me seeing red.  No, not because I am angry about it, but because there are a host of red foods that should be in everybody’s anti-aging diet plan.

With the passage of time, our bodies undergo many changes—sometimes it can seem for the worst.  As youth fades, we begin to develop wrinkles, possibly suffer insomnia, our eyesight may decline, our muscles can weaken, and we are at an increased risk for many diseases.  In order to maintain good health, a diet rich in red can help keep these physical problems at bay. The best part is that these foods are sweet, healthy and readily available in grocery stores, restaurants, and farmer’s markets everywhere. 

Stave off the signs of aging with sweet, delicious fruits that are red in color and powerfully good for you!

Tomatoes

Often a salad staple, you might be surprised to learn tomatoes are actually a fruit. Lycopene is a powerful compound that has shown time and time again in research studies to be a powerful cancer fighter.  In addition to lycopene, tomatoes provide the body with powerful antioxidants like vitamins C and A.  The choline in tomatoes helps cells stay strong by supporting membrane structure and it aids in the transmission of nerve cell impulses.  This means less cognitive decline and loss of sensation in the fingers and toes.  The alpha-lipoic acid in tomatoes helps the body convert glucose to energy, keeping diabetes at bay and giving the body a boost of energy.

Raspberries

Sweet and delicious, raspberries may seem delicate, but in reality they are a superhero food.  Loaded with vitamin C, and E, they have been shown to inhibit tumor growth and protect your peepers from UV ray damage, a common cause of vision loss as we age.

Raspberries are also full of polyphenols, compounds that keep your memory sharp and reduce inflammation that can damage the brain, joints and organs over time.

Strawberries

What’s not to love about strawberries? With more vitamin C than an orange, a few of these every day on a regular basis and you will be loading up your bloodstream with a powerful “bioavailable food” that has a host of health benefits.

Bioavailable foods like strawberries are readily absorbed by the body and can be used to stave off disease, boost immunity and reduce inflammation days after you eat them.  With age comes more illness, joint pain, sun damage to the skin and wrinkles. Strawberries contain compounds to inhibit cell tumor growth, lower cholesterol, and reverse UV damage while boosting collagen production to keep skin smooth and firm.

They also taste delicious and can enhance any dish from a salad to smoothie or dish of ice cream.  The more you love strawberries, the more they will love you back.

Related:  What Are The Health Benefits of Bing Cherries?

Cherries

They come in many colors, but choose the dark red type in your anti-aging diet. Why?

Dark red cherries have melatonin in them that can help with insomnia, a common problem as we age. They are also full of anti-inflammatories that help reduce joint pain from arthritis, and relieve painful gout symptoms.

Endurance athletes have long been drinking tart cherry juice to ease muscle soreness after training. When daily life has your back aching, throw back a glass to ease the pain.

Cherries have been shown to help reduce belly fat, something that becomes stubborn and hard to get rid of the older you get, and they are known to significantly reduce your risk of developing colon cancer.

Tart cherries have the most health benefits, but even the sweetest varieties are a foe to the ravages of Father Time.

Cranberries

Cranberries should not be reserved for consumption only at Thanksgiving. These berries are nutritional all-stars with health benefits that you could be benefiting from when you eat them year-round.

It’s long been known that cranberries relieve the symptoms of urinary tract infections. Now the medical community knows why. They are rich in proanthocyanidins (PACs) that protect the lining of the bladder and gastrointestinal tract (GI). 

Compounds in cranberries have been shown to kill the stomach bacteria linked to stomach ulcers and they trigger apoptosis, tumor cell death. This makes them a powerful weapon to have in your cancer prevention arsenal.

Seeing Red

When it comes to a balanced and effective anti-aging diet, seeing red is a good thing. Tomatoes, raspberries, strawberries, cherries and cranberries provide so many antioxidants and essential vitamins and minerals that not eating them is sheer madness!

 

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Six Benefits of Cherries

by IVL Products

Sweet delicious cherries are great for more than just a snack or baking into a pie. They are also an effective treatment for insomnia and could help to improve your health in many other ways, too.

Cherries are more than delicious; they also provide a natural insomnia treatment and lots of antioxidants.

Types of Cherries

The two main types of cherries grown in the United States are sweet or tart (also known as sour) cherries.  The biggest sweet cherry producing states are California, Oregon and Washington. Tart cherries are grown mainly in Michigan, Utah and Washington.

Cherries are in season during the summer months so now is the time to load up on these tasty little bite-sized snacks. Doing so could help improve your health in a number of ways, one of which is as an insomnia treatment.

Tart Sleeping More Soundly

Researchers at Louisiana State University published results from a study that found drinking tart cherry juice twice a day for two weeks significantly increased sleep time in older adults diagnosed with insomnia. They experienced around 90 minutes more sleep than normal!

Tart cherries, specifically the Montmorency kind, are a natural source of melatonin, a hormone crucial to regulating our sleep cycles.

Tart cherries also have a small amount of tryptophan, an essential amino acid and precursor to the release of serotonin, also a critical hormone for helping you sleep. Researchers speculate that the tryptophan from tart cherries helps keep it in the body longer, and helps to prompt the synthesis of serotonin. 

Related Sleep tips: Steps to Better Sleep

Cherries To Your Health

Eat then and drink them!  Cherries have more health benefits than just helping you sleep better.  They are packed with the antioxidants, anthocyanins and bioflavonoids.

Anthocyanins have been shown to be particularly effective in reducing the risk of cardiac disease, improving brain function, and reducing cognitive decline.  They are also thought to help lower the risk of developing colon cancer.

Bioflavonoids are sometimes called vitamin P and are powerful antioxidants that support healthy cell formation, suppress weak cells from forming, and have an anti-carcinogenic effect.  They are also helpful in preventing cardiac disease, stroke and slowing down Alzheimer’s.

Athletes can benefit from drinking tart cherry juice, as it has been shown to reduce muscle pain and soreness.  In studies, those who were diagnosed with the disease reported significantly less pain after drinking tart cherry juice post exercise.

Cherries and cherry juice are best known for their ability to relieve gout.  Their anti-inflammatory properties help relieve swelling.  They also inhibit the formation of uric acid crystals, which form in the afflicted joints and cause pain and swelling.

Choose Cherries

If you are seeking a safe, very healthy and natural insomnia treatment, then try adding a couple of glasses of tart cherry juice to your diet to help greatly increase the amount of shut-eye you get every night.

So, if you are keeping score, cherries can help:

  1. Increase your intake of antioxidants
  2. Insomniacs get more sleep
  3. Relieve painful gout symptoms
  4. Reduce your risk of colon cancer
  5. Ease the aches and pains of fibromyalgia
  6. Lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke

I’ll sleep to that!

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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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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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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.

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Well Rounded Cause of Shoulder Pain

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Do you spend hours slumped over a keyboard or sitting hunched at a desk? Do you drag a heavy bag around on your shoulder wherever you go? Then you have everything you need to develop serious shoulder pain and lower back pain. Research by Ohio State University showed that shoulder pain is the most common medical complaint, followed by lower back pain and neck pain.

Rounded shoulders and poor posture cause shoulder pain

Shoulder pain and back pain can be extremely troublesome, affecting mobility, sleep patterns and overall quality of life. Researchers have found that shoulder pain is not necessarily caused by repetitive arm movements, or by long periods of sitting, but by our actual posture and arm position when seated. Here are some classic postures that can gradually put the whole spine out of alignment:

  • Sitting slumped in a chair while watching TV
  • Sitting round shouldered at a desk for hours at a time, with arms reaching forward (the classic keyboard position)
  • Reaching forward or stretching to deal with youngsters
  • Spending hours talking with the phone trapped between the shoulder and neck
  • Doing workouts on the biceps and chest without compensating with strengthening back exercises
  • Carrying heavy bags on one shoulder while using the free hand to reach and open doors
  • Leaning on one leg while waiting or commuting on a bus or train

All these positions add further stress to the body in ways that nature never intended, inevitably causing acute or chronic shoulder pain.

The Real Cause of Shoulder Pain

After being forced out of alignment for many years, the shoulder joint can be extremely vulnerable to injury. The joint is supported by muscles in the shoulder area and lacks a supporting girdle of sturdy ligaments to keep it stable under duress.

That round-shouldered posture gradually causes the muscles in the front of the shoulder to shorten. At the same time, muscles between the shoulder blades and behind the shoulder joint are forced to stretch and lengthen. This enforced stretching and weakening of these muscles is prime for a final jolt or strain to cause seriously injury, causing nagging or intense shoulder pain.

Preventing Shoulder Pain Naturally

Step one in dealing with shoulder pain is being aware of the cause. Next you need to concentrate on exercises and posture to keep your body in alignment. Practicing daily exercises to stretch the shoulders and back using a foam roll can help correct and strengthen those shoulder muscles. Yoga is also an excellent way to expand and stretch the chest and shoulder area.

Finally, look critically at your working position, whether it is at an office desk, on the phone or hunched over a kitchen stove. Consciously stand tall and straight with your shoulders back to relieve that muscle strain and avoid unnecessary shoulder pain in later life. 

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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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Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

by Health News

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder in which the body mistakenly attacks the tissues in our joints.  In the U.S. alone, over 1.5 million people have RA, and it is three times more likely to occur in women than men. Knowing what rheumatoid arthritis symptoms feel like is critical so you can begin treatment immediately to slow down the progression of the disease in its earliest stages, and control the associated pain and limited mobility.

Learning about rheumatoid arthritis symptoms

Where and Which RA Symptoms Appear First

People experience the early symptoms of RA differently but, in general the first signs of the disorder are:

Fatigue – feeling unusually tired can occur weeks or months before any other symptoms of RA surface. It often comes and goes and can feel like depression or general ill health

Joint Stiffness – the feeling of stiffness is usually followed by tenderness and then pain when moving the afflicted joint; or even while at rest.  People often experience joint stiffness first in their hands.

Joint Pain and Tenderness – the discomfort can be felt while using your joints or even while you are at rest. Many RA sufferers first feel the tenderness in their fingers, ankles or wrists.

Swelling and Warmth – the inflammation that is the source of pain for RA sufferers causes joints to swell and feel unusually warm to the touch.

Numbness and/or Tingling – the inflammation caused by RA can put pressure on nerves.  In addition to the numbness and tingling sensation, cracking or squeaking noises can be heard when moving the joints. This is damaged cartilage grinding against bone.

Because the early symptoms of RA can sometimes mimic those of other diseases, a correct diagnosis can often be delayed. The sooner you seek treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, the better.  By addressing the symptoms when they first appear, you can slow down the progression of the disease and preserve joint tissue and mobility.

How Rheumatoid Arthritis Affects the Body

When the immune system begins to function improperly, it will often attack the synovial membrane, which is a thick swath of tissue covering the joints. It generally starts in the fingers, wrists, toes, ankles and knees; and if not treated right away, it can begin to damage surrounding joint tissue.

Related: Relieving Pain Without Drugs

As the tissue of the joints is destroyed, the body’s inflammatory response kicks in. Short bursts of inflammation are how the body rids itself of foreign agents and heals damaged tissue, but prolonged inflammation causes pain and swelling.

As the disease progresses, joints begin to thin; the cartilage, bone, ligaments and tendons begin to weaken, causing deformities, especially in the fingers.

Early Detection and Treatment

About one third of most cases of RA are diagnosed between 30 and 70 years of age, with the majority of those being diagnosed in their 40s.  Being aware of the earliest signs and symptoms, especially if you have a family history of the disease, is critical to begin treatment.   

The longer RA goes untreated, the more irreversible damage it does to the joints. By reducing inflammation with prescriptions, over the counter drugs and even natural remedies, you can keep flare ups at bay. A flare up is when the symptoms appear suddenly, they can last for days or even weeks, then they may dissipate and even disappear temporarily.

At the first sign of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, don’t wait! Seek medical attention quickly and begin treatment right away.

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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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Alternative Arthritis Treatments for Joint Tenderness

by Health News

Approximately 350 million people worldwide have some form of arthritis, a group of conditions that typically cause pain and swelling in joints.  While many claims have been made about the effectiveness of alternative arthritis treatments for relieving joint tenderness, two in particular appear to show promise.

Acupuncture and massage make promising arthritis treatments for joint tenderness.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been used in some parts of the world to relieve joint pain for more than 5,000 years.  It is a treatment in which ultra-thin needles are inserted into specific points of the body, triggering energy flow (or qi) to promote healing.  While many people worry about the treatment's potential for discomfort, insertion by skilled practitioners usually proves painless.

Moxibustion

Sometimes, practitioners use a technique called moxibustion, in which the tip of the inserted needle is wrapped in an herbal mixture called moxa.  Made from mugwort, a small spongy herb, the moxa is ignited to generate heat to the acupuncture point and speed healing in the body.

Acupuncture Research

Research on acupuncture for pain and joint tenderness has shown good results, making it one of the most promising alternative arthritis treatments.

  • Research published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine looked at 204 patients with chronic pain.  Following treatment with acupuncture, 74 percent of the patients experienced significant relief for more than three months.
  • A study from China showed that 20 sessions of traditional acupuncture or electro-acupuncture (sending pulsating electrical currents through the needles) reduced joint tenderness in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
  • A German study examining 304,674 people with osteoarthritis of the knee showed that those who received 15 sessions of acupuncture in combination with standard care experienced less pain and stiffness than people receiving standard care alone.  Results lasted for three months after the acupuncture treatment.

Massage

Many people take advantage of massage to relieve anxiety and soothe sore muscles, but according to research, it also makes for one of the better alternative arthritis treatments for relieving pain.

Related: Managing Chronic Joint Pain on a Day-to-Day Basis

Massage Research

A study in 2006 examined 68 adults with osteoarthritis of the knee.  Researchers found that people who received two sessions of Swedish massage for eight weeks reported less pain and stiffness and better range of motion than people who did not partake in massage.  Another study in 2006 examined 22 adults with arthritis of the hand or wrist.  Participants received four weekly therapeutic massages and were educated how to self-massage tender joints at home.  All experienced reduced pain and anxiety and better grip strength as evidenced by pre-therapy and post-therapy testing.

With a pill for nearly every medical condition, often accompanied by unwanted side effects, many people are turning to alternative methods of treatment.  Offering promising results in scientific studies, acupuncture and massage give people with arthritis an alternative to NSAID pain relievers or stronger oral medicine for the relief of joint tenderness.

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Shoulder Pain Exercise for Improved Function

by Cindy Gray

An achy shoulder can be debilitating, impairing the simplest of tasks.  One commonly affected area is the rotator cuff, the part of the shoulder responsible for circular motion.  People experiencing pain in the rotator cuff will usually feel it in the front or outside shoulder, and pain worsens when lifting or raising the arm.  Nighttime pain is common, and it may interfere with sleep.

Shoulder pain exercise helps eliminate pain and restore function

What can I do to relieve shoulder pain?

While applying ice and taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) help provide temporary relief, shoulder pain exercise offers the best option for restoring permanent, pain-free function.

Like an angel's wings, shoulder blades should lie flat against the back, at rest or at work.  Yet, many people tend to shrug shoulder blades forward while sitting, driving, or working on a computer.  When it becomes second nature, this posture weakens the shoulder joint and may lead to dowager's hump down the road by strengthening the curve in the upper back.

Angelic Shoulder Pain Exercise

To restore proper shoulder posture, imagine sliding the tips of angel wings down and deep into the back.  To make your body follow suit, stand up straight, bend arms at a 90-degree angle with the elbows close to the body, and turn palms up (skyward).  Keeping them close to the body, move the elbows back (shoulder blades will feel firm against the back).  Allow the forearms to drop to your side, and maintain the posture.  Getting into the habit of assuming this posture throughout the day ─ while sitting or standing ─ helps keep shoulder and back pain at bay. Tip:  Instead of a 10 and 2 o'clock position while driving, try positioning hands, palms up, at 7 and 5 o'clock for better angel wing posture.

Related: How Exercise Helps Fight Stress

More Shoulder Pain Exercise Options

For another easy shoulder pain exercise, try leaning over and facing the floor, allowing arms to dangle.  Starting small and getting larger, draw circles in the air with the affected arm.  Repeat this exercise 5 to 10 times per day, but always stop if you experience pain.

People also make use of rubber tubing to exercise the shoulder.  Stand next to a closed door with the affected shoulder nearest the door.  Loop the rubber tubing around the knob, and bend the arm at a 90-degree angle.  Holding the tubing, pull the band across the abdomen, doing one set of 10 repetitions.  Do this exercise daily, and as shoulder pain diminishes, increase the number of sets.