3 Natural Pain Therapies

In my previous blogs on pain, I covered some natural interventions for managing arthritis and back pain. With the current opioid crisis and prescribing guidelines tightened for pain medications, consumers are increasingly seeking alternative options for pain relief. This Journal of the American Medical Association editorial outlined the CDC guidelines recommending nonpharmacological interventions before any pharmacologic ones. So in this blog, I’ll cover some non-traditional evidence-based modalities for managing pain. Mindfulness Meditation Did you know that the mind can provide a pain-relief effect without engaging the opioid receptors in the brain? This study showed that similar brain areas are activated during both mindfulness meditation and use of pain-modulators like opioids. These findings also demonstrated that mindfulness meditation reduces pain independently of opioid neurotransmitter mechanisms. Although more rigorous research is recommended, this systematic review of 38 ran...

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What To Do To Promote Healthy Weight Loss

In a previous blog on weight loss, I covered the importance of tamping down inflammation so your body loses its resistance to getting rid of that unwanted belly fat. In this blog, I’m highlighting some evidence-based tips on what to do to help you get off the rollercoaster ride of weight loss/weight gain. Intermittent Fasting There are no shortage of fad diets and recommendations on losing weight. And all of it looks like the plan for success on ‘paper’. But as you know, different diets work for different folks so most of it is trial and error (I’m speaking from years of experience!) Regardless of which eating plan you’re on to lose weight, intermittent fasting  (IF) is something one can do on ANY diet.  It’s simple and saves you time and money (who doesn’t want that?) So, what is intermittent fasting (IF)? It’s where you eat your meals within a short eating window (around 8-10 hours) and fast for the rest of the day. For example, if you have breakfast at 10am and finish dinner by 7pm ...

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Top Tips for Managing Back Pain

According to the CDC, lower back pain is the most common type of disability globally. In the US, one in four adults reported having back pain in the last three months. Lower back pain is classified based on the type and duration of clinical symptoms: acute (lasting less than 4 weeks), subacute (lasting 4-12 weeks) and chronic (lasting more than 12 weeks). What is alarming is that even with the lack of evidence to support its efficacy, almost 14% of insured patients who sought care for lower back pain were prescribed pharmacological drugs like opioids and/or benzodiazepines. These addictive narcotics and sedatives have severe consequences which can lead to overdose, mis-use and death (nearly 50,000 people died in the US from opioid mis-use in 2019). So in this blog, I’ll share some evidence-based complementary approaches for back pain that are non-invasive and non-pharmacological treatments. In this review of 45 clinical trials, participants exhibited significantly lower chronic back pa...

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Promoting Weight Loss by Demoting Inflammation

If you are like many Americans that struggle to lose excess weight, there’s comfort in knowing that you are not alone and all the odds are stacked against you. As our hormones decline with age, our food choices, the toxic environment and the sleep-deprived world we live in tell the cells in our body to hold on to the fat for dear life. In this series of blogs on weight, I’ll cover some evidence-based ways on what NOT TO DO and DO to boost weight loss without counting every calorie we eat and every step we take. I have personally tried just about every diet in the book and realized after many years that it’s not a one-diet-fits-all approach and that some diets will make you feel better where others will not. Because we live in a world full of gourmands and almost infinite food choices, it’s become even more complicated to know what works and what doesn’t. For example, I don’t do well with wheat and dairy but it took me many years of eating the Western diet to figure that out. You probab...

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Optimizing Sleep with Diabetes

If you are like a third of American adults, you are probably not getting enough sleep or quality sleep. When I was younger, I used to envy those who thrived on five hours of sleep (or claimed they did) but now, I wish I could sleep more so I can feel more vibrant during the day. If you have diabetes, proper rest is critical so in this blog, I’ll share evidence and tips on the importance of sleep in diabetes management.Did you know that lack of sleep (less than seven hours per night) can have the following negative impacts:Make you hungrier and more likely to reach for caloric foods that are high in sugar, fat and carbs. I remember the desperately needed pizza runs during college while studying/cramming through the night – which led to the “freshman 15”. Lack of sleep decreases hormones promoting satiety and/or increases hormones promoting hunger so you get a double whammy of eating more and not being satisfied.Studies have shown the impact of sleep deprivation on Increased insulin resi...

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Tips for Managing Pain: Arthritis

According to the CDC, an estimated 78.4 million adults will have some form of physician-diagnosed arthritis (one in four of the population) by the year 2040 with about 35 million adults reporting arthritis-attributed activity limitations. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage that caps the bones in your joints is degraded whereas in rheumatoid arthritis, the membrane that protects and lubricates the joints is inflamed which leads to joint erosion. I’ll share some movement tips and herbs for managing the discomfort and pain associated with arthritis in the first blog of this series. Also, check out my earlier blog on natural options to manage pain. Movement Strength Training Regular exercise and movement can alleviate arthritis pain, decrease stiffness of joints, improve flexibility and may help you reduce your prescription or over-the-counter medication. Although the thought of exercising when in pain may not be appealing, it is a necessity for maintaining healthy weight and lubricating our...

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Managing Mood with Diabetes

Managing diabetes is no easy task – it requires making concerted changes to your daily routine including diet (what to eat and avoid), exercising and moving more and eliminating bad habits (smoking, excess alcohol and disruptive sleep). These changes can be mentally draining and one of the reasons why people living with diabetes (Type 1 or 2) are at increased risk for anxiety, stress and depression. So in this blog, I’ll share some evidence-based self-care tips to keep your spirits up while managing diabetes. Aromatherapy Essential oils have been widely used for centuries for managing stress, anxiety and depression and are effective due to their ability to access the area of the brain that impacts mood. Research indicates that smells are first processed by the olfactory bulb in the nose which has direct connections to the areas of the brain that are associated with emotion and memory (the amygdala and hippocampus). Also, this study demonstrated the efficacy of lavender oil on sleep qua...

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Heart Disease Fighting Foods

As mentioned in my previous blog, cholesterol is just one factor in a comprehensive approach to managing risks for heart disease. Lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, alcohol, smoking, and toxins/pollution have a significant impact on our vascular health. So in this blog, I will highlight some superfoods that you can incorporate into your diet to keep your arteries in tip-top shape.  Avocados and avocado oil Avocados are nutrient dense and packed with healthy, monounsaturated fat. In this study, participants who ate an avocado daily had significantly lower levels of oxidized LDL (the kind that clogs up your arteries). Avocado oil is mild so it doesn’t impart flavor to the food and comes with a high smoke point (over 500F) so it’s a great option for cooking and stir-frying all types of food. I no longer use olive oil for frying as the high cooking temperature can damage the oil. In general, the safest way is to stir-fry the food in water or some broth and then add in oil towards th...

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Best Exercises for Diabetes & Pre-Diabetes

If you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, you’ve probably heard from your physician about the importance of a good diet and regular exercise. Consistent body movement (which goes beyond walking to the fridge) will help boost energy, better manage blood sugar levels, reduce insulin needs, manage stress, improve your mood and promote better sleep. If you’re like me and have glucose management issues, the temptation to sit on the couch after a long day is often overcome by my uplifted mood and energy level after a brisk walk or workout. So here are some of the best exercises to engage in. Aerobic dance Dancing not only provides a physical workout but boosts your memory with the mental work required to remember steps and sequences. Have you tried Zumba? It’s a form of dance that’s a fun way to increase physical activity, lower blood sugar and reduce stress. In this study, a 16-week Zumba dance class program improved markers of health and fitness in Type 2 diabetic or overweight women. Here’s a...

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Mastering Diabetes Naturally

I have been listening to the Food Matters Total Wellness Summit online and one of the interviews was with the two authors of the New York Times bestselling book Mastering Diabetes. Cyrus Khambatta and Robby Barbaro have degrees in nutritional biochemistry and public health (respectively) and are both Type 1 diabetics with firsthand experience on the nutrition protocol they researched and found to be optimal for reversing insulin resistance. Based on their research, the authors promote a primarily plant-based diet with emphasis on whole foods with nominal good fats. Here are the highlights: Key contributing factors for diabetes in the western world, especially for Type 2 diabetes:There is a lot of misinformation and also too much information that is conflicting which breeds apathy for the consumer and lack of motivation to make changes. It’s important to note that both forms of diabetes (Type 1 or 2) are unified by insulin resistance.The American living environment is not set up for suc...

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