41 Proven Natural Remedies and Treatments for Arthritis

Arthritis.jpg

This is a guest post from the Editor-in-Chief of Well-Being Secrets, Helen Nichols: https://www.well-beingsecrets.com/arthritis-natural-remedies-and-treatments/

By Helen Nichols

Arthritis is one of the most prevalent diseases in the United States.

In fact, there are more than a hundred different kinds of arthritis, making it the most common chronic illness in the U.S. alone.

As it is such a strikingly common ailment, there are also a staggering number of prescribed medications that are given to people who suffer from arthritis; unfortunately, many of these medications only mask arthritis pain and discomfort and do very little actually to help mend the disease itself.

That is precisely why so many people are turning to natural remedies to help deal with arthritis.

Here, we have compiled a list of more than 29 various natural remedies that are tried and true at helping not only to cope with the pain but also potentially to assist in the process of healing your body from the painful disease.

What is Arthritis?

To understand better how some of the natural remedies can best work for your body, it is important to learn a little more about what exactly arthritis is, and how it affects your body.

While arthritis is a common disease, it is actually not thoroughly understood.

As stated, arthritis isn’t just only a single disease, but it is more of an informal way to describe joint disease or pain as a whole, which is why there are over a hundred various types of arthritis and other joint-related health conditions.

While developing arthritis becomes increasingly common as we get older, it has no bias in who it affects.

Anyone, regardless of sex, race, or even age can develop it, and over 300,000 children and 50 million adults have some form of arthritis.

Diagnosis

People begin questioning if they have arthritis when they first start feeling pain in their joints.

This, of course, is a huge red flag.

There are many common arthritis symptoms to note.

Some of these include, but are not limited to: pain, swelling, decreased the range of motion, and stiffness in the joints.

Many of these symptoms tend to appear and recede, and they can range from being very mild to moderate and painfully severe.

Many of the symptoms can stay the same for many years before they start to progress and worsen.

The most severe forms of arthritis tend to result in a number of other debilitating issues like chronic pain, which can hinder your ability to do even the most simple of everyday tasks like climbing stairs or even walking.

And arthritis can lead to permanent changes in your joints, many of which may even be physically visible.

And there are certain kinds of arthritis that can affect not only your joints, but other areas of your body like your eyes, heart, skin, kidneys, and lungs.

Arthritis can easily be diagnosed with a simple visit to your healthcare provider.

You will be guided through a series of tests including a physical examination, possible blood tests, and some imaging scanning to help ascertain what type of arthritis may be affecting your body.

If you are diagnosed with arthritis, you may be referred to a specialist or a rheumatologist if you are needing a bit more care, if your arthritis is inflammatory, or if your diagnosis of arthritis is unclear or uncertain.

Specialists can help you in a number of ways.

For example, orthopedic surgeons may be needed for any form of joint surgery or replacements.

A rheumatologist may be required if you are needing help to manage more complicated cases of arthritis, such as inflammatory arthritis or gout.

And, if your arthritis tends to affect you in only a certain area, you may need the assistance of specialists like a dentist, a dermatologist, or an ophthalmologist.

While a team of specialists can prove effective in helping you better understand your arthritis, as well as providing you with some great tips to help you manage it, there are things that you can do to help you deal with the pain and discomfort associated with arthritis; and, best of all, they are all-natural!

Three Main Types of Arthritis

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis plagues more people than any other form of arthritis.

Osteoarthritis most commonly affects older adults, due to the strain that we put on our bodies over the years; essentially, our joints become overused.

While this tends to happen as we age, other factors can lead to the development of osteoarthritis, such as obesity or joint damage from injuries.

Any joints of your body that support extra weight, like your hips, feet, knees, and your spine, are usually the most common places where osteoarthritis will set in.

Typically, it takes several years for osteoarthritis to be felt; sometimes, however, it can come on quite quickly, and you will simply feel a significant amount of pain in your joints.

As we age, we begin to lose our body’s natural shock absorber, cartilage.

Cartilage is the slippery substance which covers the ends of our bones, and, over time or with extra pressure, it begins to break down.

As cartilage begins to wear away and/or become damaged, even the slightest movement can become incredibly painful.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis depend mainly on what joint(s) are affected.

The most common symptoms, however, are aches and pains, trouble with simple daily tasks like climbing stairs or getting dressed, morning stiffness which tends to last for less than thirty minutes, pain when you are walking, and feeling very stiff after taking a rest.

Your joints will also typically feel warmer to the touch and swollen and more difficult to move, and you may experience the inability to enjoy a wide range of motion.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, meaning that your immune system begins to attack various areas of your body, specifically your joints.

This can lead to painful inflammation that can lead to pretty severe joint damage if it is left untreated.

While at present, researchers are not quite sure exactly what it is that causes rheumatoid arthritis, many believe that your immune system may become overactive following an infection by a virus or bacteria, and it starts to attack and wreak havoc on your joints, eventually spreading to other areas of your body, as well.

Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can either begin quite suddenly or more slowly and much more gradually; there truly is no set standard.

Symptoms also tend to be much more severe with rheumatoid arthritis than most other types.

Many people have noted that their first symptoms included feeling stiffness and pain, and swelling in the wrists, hands, knees, elbows, ankles, shoulders, feet, neck, and jaw.

Rheumatoid arthritis typically will affect more than one of your joints, and usually in a symmetrical pattern.

Additionally, roughly 1 in 5 individuals who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis also will begin to see lumps develop on their skin.

These lumps are referred to as rheumatoid nodules, and they will develop around areas of your body that tend to experience the most pressure, like your heels, elbows, and knuckles.

Other symptoms may include feeling stiff when you awake in the morning, and that stiffness will last several hours or the majority of the day.

Many also feel tired more than they should, and they have a decrease in appetite and may experience weight loss, as well.

Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation of both your skin and your joints.

Psoriasis can lead to white and red, raised patches of skin that become inflamed and scaly.

This tends to occur mainly on the tips of your knees and elbows, your scalp, your navel, and areas around your anus and genitals.

On average, only between 10%-30% of individuals who have psoriasis will end up getting psoriatic arthritis.

Psoriatic arthritis usually will appear between the ages of 30 and 50 (though children have been diagnosed with it), and it is equally common in women and men.

Psoriatic arthritis can lead to swelling of your fingers and toes, and often people have noted that their fingernails become discolored and pitted.

On average, it will tend only to affect one joint or a few, but not your entire body.

Natural Remedies

Those who suffer from the aches and pains that are associated with arthritis can understand just how incredible it is to find relief from the pain.

No longer do you have to reach for your prescription bottles!

Following these simple tips can significantly assist you in feeling relief from the pain, while also being able to prevent its onset.

You will find yourself, in turn, being able to experience a happier, fuller life that is free from the pain of arthritis and aching, swollen joints.

Move Your Body

When you are in pain, it becomes tempting to want to lie down and rest.

Unfortunately, that is the exact opposite of what your body needs when it comes to maintaining joint mobility.

Even going for a simple walk to the mailbox or around the house can be enough to keep your joints moving.

Be sure always to speak with your healthcare provider, physical therapist, or another arthritis specialist to be able to find your proper level of activity, as well as what are some of the top activities that you can easily incorporate into your healthcare regime.

Sit and Meditate

Mindfulness and meditation have been substantially proven to help those who suffer from arthritis cope with their pain on a deeper level, by activating various areas of their brains that are known to respond to pain.

There are a number of guided meditations that can be found on various websites and apps.

However, the simplest way to practice mindfulness meditation is to find a comfortable sitting position, close your eyes, and pay attention to your breathing.

If a thought comes to your mind, allow it to pass, and simply return your focus to your breathing.

You will be astounded at the benefits that you will receive once you truly get the hang of mindfulness meditation.

And remember to stick with it; it may seem like a simple process, but true results can only be gained with practice.

Fish Oil

There have been countless studies that have found that the consumption of fish oil can greatly relieve your body from joint pain and stiffness.

The fatty acids found in pure fish oil have been widely acclaimed for the benefits that they provide, particularly for their soothing properties for the inflammation that is so common in arthritis.

To receive the benefits of fish oil, you will want to opt to consume regularly oily fishes like salmon and trout or take fish oil supplements.

Hot & Cold Therapy

Before you undertake any kind of physical activity that you know is going to leave you with achy joints (like yard work or sewing, for example), you may want to plan ahead and take advantage of some hot and cold therapy.

To experience the benefits, all you need to do is hold a cold or a hot compress over any areas of your joints that tend to be the most affected by pain.

Cold packs are used to assist your body in calming inflammation as it flares up, and hot packs are used to relieve joint pain and stiffness by improving the flow of blood in your body.

Lose Extra Weight

There has been a tremendous amount of research that has shown that those who suffer from arthritis and are overweight or obese tend to experience significantly more pain than those who are at a normal weight for their build.

When you carry excess weight, you are adding extra pressure to the joints of your body like your knees and your hips, which is why when you lose it, you will minimize that pain.

Get Some Rest

As previously noted, the movement is crucial to minimizing your arthritis pain.

However, it is equally as important not to overexert yourself, and to get the rest that you need.

Be sure that you find the time to vary your daily schedule by doing the activities you want or need to accomplish, and then find some time to rest in between.

Pop Probiotics

Probiotics are great for you because they contain the highly beneficial bacteria that exist naturally in your body’s gut.

Countless experts claim that such bacteria can greatly assist in your body’s management of inflammation

Since inflammation is the sole cause of arthritis stiffness and pain, taking probiotic supplements can help your body to ward it off, which can help to ease the painful symptoms that are associated with arthritis.

Sulfur

Sulfur contains MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) which has been shown to help reduce inflammation in your joints while also assisting in repairing and rebuilding your body’s tissues.

MSM has been proven in multiple studies to help to lower significantly functional impairment and pain.

Some of the foods that contain high levels of sulfur are garlic, onions, cabbage, and asparagus.

Bone Broth

Bone broth provides a multitude of benefits for your body, including being the finest all-natural source of collagen.

Collagen boosts the amino acids glycine and proline that help your body repair and rebuild its connective tissue.

Bone broth is also widely lauded for supplying your body with glucosamine and chondroitin sulfates, both of which are antioxidants that can assist in lowering the inflammation and joint pain associated with arthritis.

Making bone broth is also incredibly simple.

Just place some animal bones of your choice into boiling water (the amount of broth you want, i.e. enough for a bowl or a larger batch) and then throw in some of your favorite vegetables.

Some great veggie options are celery, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and green beans, as they are low-calorie and nutrition-packed.

You may also toss in some healthy options like apple cider vinegar, turmeric, or even ginger.

Don’t add noodles, however, as those extra carbs negate the nutritional value of the soup.

Allow your bone broth to simmer for as long as you like, but keep in mind that the longer it simmers, the more nutrients are released which will result in a deep, rich color and flavorful broth.

It has even been advised to boil your bone broth for upwards of 24 hours really to receive the most benefits.

Antioxidant Foods

One excellent tip is to pack your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables that are filled with antioxidants, vitamins A and C, anti-inflammatory compounds, potassium, fiber, digestive enzymes, and magnesium.

Some of the top sources of foods that contain the most antioxidants are berries, leafy greens, melons, cruciferous veggies, pineapple, papaya, and avocado.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Many naturopathic physicians swear by using apple cider vinegar for a multitude of health ailments, including arthritis.

Apple cider vinegar contains all of the essential acidic content that our bodies need to maintain and restore the balance within our digestive system, while also avoiding the build-up of calcium.

One important point is that not all apple cider vinegar is the same.

You should always choose unprocessed, organic, and raw apple cider vinegar.

This type of apple cider vinegar is significantly richer in the acids and enzymes that give apple cider vinegar its health benefits.

You will also note that this type of apple cider vinegar tends to contain floating residue.

This residue is referred to as the “mother,” and it accumulates naturally and is the key to your body’s being able to absorb those beneficial nutrients and enzymes.

To get the fastest relief, you should take at least a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar at least three times a day.

If you are not a big fan of the strong flavor, mix in a little bit of honey to offset it.

Epsom Salt

An effective and popular home treatment for arthritis is the use of Epsom salt.

Epsom salts are loaded with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and with regular use, they have been noted to help significantly with decreasing the joint pain and stiffness that is caused by arthritis, in addition to helping to decrease inflammation, thus warding off muscle cramps and pain.

There are a few different ways that you can use Epsom salt to help you cope with painful arthritis symptoms.

The first is to mix some cinnamon powder with honey and add in some Epsom salts to make a soothing paste; then, rub the paste onto the areas of your body that are causing you pain.

Another tip is to add about two cups of Epsom salt to your bath and soak in the water for at least 30 minutes.

Doing this two or more times a week can help to lower pain and inflammation.

If you have certain health problems like kidney or heart disease, excess magnesium from using Epsom salt might result in cramps, nausea, and abnormalities.

High-Fiber

Having a diet that is rich in fiber is great for your body in a number of ways.

It can help you to control your appetite and has been proven to be beneficial for your digestive health while also helping to decrease your risk for developing various other health-related complications and diseases, including arthritis.

Some of the foods highest in fiber include fruits and vegetables, legumes and beans, and nuts and seeds (notably flax seeds, walnuts, and chia seeds).

Visit Your Chiropractor

Regular visits to your chiropractor have been linked to a lot of benefits when it comes to alleviating the pain that is often associated with arthritis.

Your chiropractor will best be able to determine what the treatment is that your body needs, depending on the acuteness and overall severity of your arthritis.

Chiropractic treatments and adjustments that are aimed specifically at treating arthritis can include but are certainly not limited to, osteopathic manipulation in your lower back and/or neck, massage therapy, spinal manipulation, relaxation therapy, and training in biofeedback.

All of these can be combined to assist your body in better being able to manage and control arthritis pain.

Get a Massage

It is clear why so many people who suffer from physical pain turn to massage to receive relief.

Massage plays a vital role in releasing the energy, pain, and blockages that may be stored in your muscles.

A good deep tissue massage can work wonders in providing you with relief.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is also been widely regarded as being effective in reducing arthritis pain.

Many chiropractic and massage therapy offices now provide their customers with a variety of holistic services to help alleviate some of the pain associated with arthritis; these can include herbal treatments, nutrition recommendations, and of course, acupuncture.

Proteolytic Enzymes

Proteolytic enzymes are known to assist your body with digestion by providing your body with the essential enzymes that are produced by your digestive organs to metabolize the foods you consume.

Some of the most notable enzymes include papain, bromelain, trypsin, and chymotrypsin (the latter two are produced by the pancreas).

You can get proteolytic enzymes from tropical fruits like papaya (that contains papain), and pineapples (that contain bromelain).

Proteolytic enzymes have been noted to have a multitude of anti-inflammatory benefits, due to their assistance in improving your immune system and your gut health.

Research has also shown that proteolytic enzymes can decrease the swelling and pain that are associated with arthritis, while helping to increase overall mobility, and warding off infections by controlling your body’s inflammatory response.

Ginger

Ginger boasts a variety of chemicals that have many beneficial anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.

There have been a number of research studies conducted on ginger that suggest that it can significantly decrease the pain that is often associated with arthritis, while also improving the overall health of your gut and digestive system.

According to a report published in the Journal of Medicinal Foods in 2005, the ginger extract derived from the plant species Alpinia galanga and Zingiber officinale is known to be able to repress the induction of various genes (including the inducible enzyme cyclooxygenase, chemokines, and encoding cytokines) that are all involved in the inflammatory response.

Research has also suggested that ginger can mimic the relief that is often caused by taking NSAIDs, the most commonly-used drug for arthritic pain relief.

It appears that ginger works by warding off the pain-causing chemicals that are a part of your body’s natural inflammatory response, and it does so free of any of the side-effects that typically appear with the use of prescribed medication.

You can opt to use raw ginger, lightly cooked ginger, or powdered ginger on your foods, or simply make a tea to drink.

To make your own tea, you only need to simmer a few slices of ginger in a couple of cups of boiling water for about 15 minutes, or you can buy some ginger tea bags at your local grocery or health food store.

Turmeric

There are over a hundred active components that have been isolated from turmeric.

Some of these are special substances that are located in the volatile oils in turmeric, like curcumin, dihydro curcumin, turmerone, demethoxycurcumin, and 5′-methoxycurcumin.

The most active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which is one of the most powerful all-natural anti-inflammatory compounds in the world.

The benefits of turmeric for those who suffer from arthritis are the slowing of periarticular joint destruction, reduction in edema and swelling, and also in joint inflammation.

There have also been a tremendous number of research studies conducted on turmeric, many of which have found that it boasts substantial pain-killing benefits for those who suffer from inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.

It should be noted, however, that large amounts of turmeric can act in a manner similar to that of a blood thinner, and can potentially lead to an upset stomach, as well.

If you are currently taking blood thinners, have gallbladder disease, have an upcoming surgery, or are pregnant, you should avoid turmeric to be safe.

Turmeric has also been shown to lower your blood glucose level.

If you are taking any form of oral anti-diabetes medications, you should be sure to monitor your blood glucose level closely, in order to prevent it from dropping lower than is safe while you are taking turmeric.

Boswellia Essential Oil

Commonly referred to as Indian frankincense, Boswellia is a potent herbal supplement that has tremendous inflammation-reducing benefits.

Boswellia is found in many varieties and of various concentrations, including therapeutic-grade oils which can be directly massaged into your skin where you are in pain.

In fact, Boswellia is considered to be so powerful that its effectiveness often compared to that of common NSAID pain relievers.

You can easily make your own home remedy by combining a few drops of pure frankincense oil with a type of carrier oil such as coconut oil, and then apply the cream to the skin over any joints that are in pain.

Some other essential oils that are useful for arthritis pain and that can be combined to create your own healing cream are turmeric, orange, lavender, ginger, peppermint, and myrrh.

Alfalfa

Alfalfa contains a lot of useful minerals such as sulfur, calcium, sodium, magnesium, iron, chlorine, silicon, and potassium, as well as vitamins like vitamin C, K, and E.

Alfalfa also is known to help cleanse and purify your blood, aid your body in blood clotting, ease bouts of morning sickness, and of course, relieve the pain that is associated with arthritis.

The best way to use alfalfa to help you to cope with your arthritis is to add it to tinctures, herbal teas, or food.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is commonly referred to as an all-natural remedy for treating a number of various pains and illnesses, including but not limited to arthritis pain.

As arthritis is an autoimmune disease, our immune system attacks our joints which can cause bone loss, swelling, pain, and inflammation; consuming cinnamon can provide your body with a natural sense of significant pain relief, free of all side-effects.

It is the chemical composition of cinnamon that makes it such a useful healing remedy for those who suffer from arthritis.

This is due to the fact that cinnamon contains a chemical referred to as “cinnamaldehyde,” which boasts a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that can help to reduce joint inflammation.

To receive cinnamon’s benefits, boil a cup of water and then add a tablespoon of honey and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon; allow it to steep for at least 5 minutes.

Strain, and then drink it twice a day, once in the morning and once at night.

You can also receive similar benefits by sprinkling cinnamon on the foods that you enjoy like yogurt, oatmeal, and rice.

You can even opt to make a paste mixture by combining some cinnamon and honey and then massaging it over areas that are causing you pain.

Be sure never to consume more than 11 mg of cinnamon a day, as there may be some side effects from consuming too much, such as increased heart rate, blood thinning effects, and upset stomach or stomach ulcers.

Cherries

Recently, a team of researchers from Boston University Medical Center learned that eating more than 10 cherries a day could help protect those who suffer from gout and arthritis.

This effect is mainly due to anthocyanins in cherries.

While all cherries have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties because of their anthocyanins, more tart cherries boast the highest levels.

Cherries can also help to stave off painful inflammation for arthritis sufferers because of their high magnesium and potassium content, both nutrients which act as natural painkillers.

The good news is that pretty much any kind of cherry will do: fresh, frozen or even jarred, all types are loaded with helpful nutrients to help you cope with arthritis pain.

Add Comfrey

Comfrey is a medicinal herb that has been proven to help cope with arthritis pain and discomfort.

One of the best attributes of comfrey is that it is a wonderful addition into virtually any topical treatment for arthritis, providing users with substantial pain relief benefits.

Mind Your Mental Health

Recent research will show that those who suffer from arthritis, most notably RA, and who additionally show symptoms of anxiety and/or depression are, in fact, far more likely to have significantly more poor health outcomes and a reduced response to treatment than those who don’t suffer from anxiety and/or depression.

It is these compelling results that are driving some of the top researchers to press for routine mental health assessments in those who are being treated for arthritis.

Stop and Smell the Roses

Sweet-smelling scents such as lavender are lauded for their ability to alter one’s perception of pain.

In fact, researchers in Japan explored the hypothesis that lavender can help to reduce levels of cortisol (aka the stress hormone), which can, in turn, help you feel both less pain and far more relaxed.

While lavender isn’t the only scent that can help you reap such rewards, some others you may want to take advantage of are peppermint, rosemary, and marjoram.

One great way to enjoy these scents is to craft your very own at-home pain-relieving aromatherapy treatment.

Just add a tablespoon of the dried herbs of your choice to a ¼ cup of vegetable oil, and smell as often as you like!

Wash Your Dishes

While this tip sounds far-fetched, when you think about it, it really does make sense in helping to relieve some of your arthritis pain.

You dip your hands in hot water to relieve the pain and stiffness of your joints while also relaxing your muscles, and the exercise of washing the dishes can help to keep your fingers and hands more mobile, as well.

Make a Heating Pad

Heating pads can work wonders in relaxing your body while also warding off some of the pain in your joints.

If you don’t have one on hand, you can easily craft one out of items you probably already have.

To start, fill a cotton sock (be sure never to use any kind of synthetic fiber, because they can easily melt when they are heated) with any kind of uncooked rice that you may have in your cupboards.

Tie it together or sew it, and then microwave it on high for about 2 or 3 minutes.

Allow it to cool a bit before placing it on your body.

If you want, you can even add some essential oils or dried herbs to the rice to incorporate an aromatherapy effect, as well!

Homemade Capsaicin Cream

Capsaicin cream is a top over-the-counter pain reliever for both back pain and arthritis.

Capsaicin cream helps by reducing the levels of a chemical compound in your body that is called “substance P,” that can transmit pain signals to your brain.

You can easily make your own capsaicin cream by combining a couple of dashes of ground cayenne with about 2 or 3 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil.

Then just apply it with gauze to painful areas and swollen joints at various times throughout the day.

Be sure to do this on unbroken skin only, and take note that the first couple of times that you use the cream you will feel a burning sensation; however, those areas will begin to desensitize after about a week.

And always take care to avoid using the cream around your eyes, mucous membranes, and your mouth.

Chamomile Tea Poultice

Chamomile tea is a great anti-inflammatory agent that can help to ease the pain of arthritis.

To craft your own chamomile tea poultice, you should brew up a strong batch of about four chamomile tea bags in about a cup of hot water, cover it, and allow it to steep for about 20 minutes.

Remove the tea bags, squeezing them into the brew as you do, and then soak a clean cloth in the tea mixture and apply it to painful areas.

Borage

Borage is a plant that is used to make medicine.

All parts of the plant can be highly beneficial, yet it is the oil of the seed that helps in treating arthritis.

Borage seed oil is loaded with essential fatty acids that can help to regulate your body’s immune system while helping to ward off joint inflammation.

It has been estimated that borage seed oil contains high levels of two different types of polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acids: linoleic acid (LA), and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).

GLA is essential for ensuring that your body maintains both joint function and that of your overall cell structure.

To get the most benefits from borage seed oil, you will want to massage it directly onto the skin of the areas where you are feeling the most pain, swelling, and tenderness.

You can also opt to drink directly one teaspoon of oil each day to receive its benefits.

Be sure never to ingest raw seeds or the plant itself because proper testing has not been conducted to ensure its overall safety.

Never consume or use borage seed oil if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as this could lead to cancer, liver disease, or birth defects.

It should also be avoided if you have bleeding disorders, as it can lead to an increased risk of bleeding and bruising, as well.

Get More Magnesium

Magnesium is essential if you are seeking to treat your arthritis as deeply as possible.

Magnesium is vital to your body, yet it can’t make it on its own.

Interestingly, the nutrient is utilized in over 300 biomechanical responses that occur throughout your body.

It can also help to relax completely your muscles and your nerve endings, thus leading to a sense of relief from stiffness and pain while also helping to mineralize your bones.

Magnesium can be taken in a number of different ways, such as via supplements, diet, or even as an oil (applied directly on the skin); you can also opt for a combination of some or all of these methods best to suit your needs.

Olive Oil

The extra virgin olive oil contains a number of unique compounds that boast astounding abilities to stave off inflammation.

There has been significant research that suggested that those who suffer from arthritis and take 4 tsp of extra virgin olive oil every day for 3 months noticed a drastic overall reduction of pain and stiffness in their joints.

Extra virgin olive oil also contains essential omega-3 fatty acids that are highly regarded for their abilities to fight swelling and inflammation.

There are several different ways to take advantage of the incredible benefits that extra virgin olive oil has to offer.

One of the easiest ways is to begin incorporating it into your meals.

It goes wonderfully on salads and sandwiches; just be careful not to heat it too much, as high temperatures can destroy the beneficial qualities in the olive oil.

Extra virgin olive oil is also great for massaging directly onto your skin to help relax sore muscles and aching joints; you can also add some essential oils, to create your own personalized massage oil!

Dandelion Greens

Dandelions are famous for their incredible health benefits; their leaves, in particular, have potent anti-inflammatory properties.

Dandelion greens can prevent interleukins (members of a more broad accumulation of cytokines that can change the behavior of your body’s cells) from triggering further inflammation.

Dandelions are also packed with all-natural calcium that is essential to ensure the health of your bones.

And, dandelions are loaded with vitamins A and C, both of which can help your body repair damaged tissue naturally.

Not to mention the fact that dandelions also contain linoleic acid, which is a fatty acid that helps to keep inflammation at bay and also regulates your body’s immune response.

You can make a tea from the leaves of fresh dandelions, just eat them raw in a salad, or add some extra virgin olive oil to them to receive multiple health benefits!

To make the tea, just boil a cup of water with about 3 teaspoons of raw dandelion greens or 1 teaspoon of dried dandelion greens, let it boil for a few minutes, and then strain the water into a mug to drink and enjoy!

Blackstrap Molasses

Blackstrap molasses boasts high levels of magnesium, calcium, and potassium, which makes it a top solution for helping to treat arthritis symptoms, while also benefiting your bone health.

The nutrients found in blackstrap molasses are valuable in regulating tension in your nerves and muscles and strengthening your bones at the same time!

To take advantage of these benefits, simply stir a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses into a cup of warm water and drink once a day.

Or you can opt to eat a tablespoon of molasses directly once in the morning to help relieve symptoms.

Many people swear by this method and claim that it can take arthritis pain away in as little as 20 minutes.

It should be noted, however, that blackstrap molasses can have a laxative effect, so it is best to use it only as is comfortable.

White Willow

White willow bark has been used throughout history as a trusted medication, as it boasts tremendous anti-inflammatory properties while also providing incredible pain relief.

The active ingredient in white willow bark is salicin, and its effects are strikingly similar to those of an NSAID, making it the perfect all-natural way to alleviate pain and swelling.

There are several ways to take white willow bark, but perhaps the most common way is just to eat it directly.

White willow bark is usually dried, so you can chew it on a regular basis to ward off the pain.

You can also purchase white willow bark powder, which is a great option as well because there are a lot of different ways to use it.

For example, you can add it to boiling water, and strain and drink it, or even use it as a mouthwash.

The power can also be mixed with a bit of water into a paste and rubbed directly onto the skin.

You can even add white willow bark powder to food and eat it, or make a tea out of it.

Eucalyptus Oil and Peppermint Oil

Eucalyptus and peppermint oils can help to alleviate some of the most common painful symptoms of arthritis, due largely to their analgesic and pain-relieving properties.

When used together, eucalyptus and peppermint oil provide you with a cooling and relaxing sensation that can greatly reduce your overall pain and discomfort, while also giving you a nice, soothing experience.

Making a combination to keep on hand is simple; just blend 5-10 drops of eucalyptus oil and 5-10 drops of peppermint oil into about 1-2 tablespoons of a carrier oil of your choice (extra virgin olive oil and grape seed oil are great options).

Use the mixture as often as you need by simply rubbing it directly onto your sore, achy joints.

If you make too much, you can easily store it by placing the oil mixture into a dark glass bottle and putting it in a cool, dark place.

Juniper Berry Tea

Only recently was it discovered that juniper berry contains a component called “terpinen-4-ol” that provides some great benefits in helping you cope with arthritis.

Terpinen-4-ol works by suppressing a type of white blood cell known as a monocyte that responds to any sign of inflammation in your body.

If consumed on a daily basis, juniper berry tea may help to reduce inflammation in your body, thanks to that component.

Making the tea is very easy; just add a tablespoon of dried juniper berries to a mug, and cover them with boiling water.

Allow the tea to steep for about 20 minutes, strain, and then enjoy two times a day!

This tea tends to be pretty bitter, so you may need to add some honey.

If you are nursing or pregnant, you may want to chat with your healthcare provider before drinking juniper berry tea, just to be on the safe side.

Golden Raisins and Gin

Gin’s flavor is actually derived from juniper berries, and golden raisins require sulfides during their processing to gain their signature color.

Sulfides are often found in both chondroitin and glucosamine, both of which are highly recommended for treating arthritis.

To reap the rewards of gin and golden raisins, you can easily make a concoction by placing a cup of raisins into a container and pouring ½ cup of gin over them.

Cover with a towel and store in a dark place until the majority of the gin has evaporated (roughly 10-14 days).

Eat nine raisins each day, and you will notice dramatic results in a couple of weeks.

Pectin and Grape Juice

Pectin is a water-soluble carbohydrate located in a plant’s cell walls, giving the fruit its firmness as it begins to ripen.

Researchers have speculated that pectin can help to renew your synovial tissue, making it more elastic and lubricated, and thus leading to more pain-free mobility.

Grape juice has been noted to reduce inflammation, and combining the two can lead to substantial and beneficial results in the long run for those who suffer from arthritis.

For best results, mix a tablespoon of liquid pectin into a glass of grape juice and drink 1-2 times a day for two to three weeks.

Stinging Nettle

Stinging nettle has long been used, both internally and topically, to help in warding off the inflammation that is associated with arthritis.

Stinging nettle extract has been noted to help lessen inflammation so significantly that it is as effective as an NSAID.

You can find stinging nettle supplements in your local health food store or online.

Bee Sting Therapy

Bee sting therapy (also referred to as bee venom therapy) is a technique that has been used for many centuries to help treat a wide variety of ailments, including arthritis.

Bee sting therapy is typically given via herbal acupuncture, and the process is simple and painless.

Basically, bee venom is extracted and then diluted, and is administered to different areas of your body where you experience the most aches, pains, and stiffness.

People who have completed bee sting therapy have noted that they felt fewer tender and swollen joints, and significantly less morning stiffness, as well.

Conventional Treatments

If your arthritis is mild to moderate, some conventional treatments that you may want to consider are the following:

Exercise

You should always work closely with your healthcare provider to develop an exercise routine that can help ward off the aches, pains, and stiffness of arthritis without harming your body.

You will want to ensure that you choose a plan that can help you increase the strength, endurance, and stability of your muscles that surround your joints, as this can greatly help to decrease your symptoms.

Some good exercises that are gentle, yet effective, are swimming, Pilates, and walking.

While you should strive to use exercise to help care for your joints if you ever experience any pain you need to cease the exercise and either rest or move onto something else.

Cold and Hot Packs

You can find significant relief from your joint swelling and inflammation by alternating cold and hot packs.

Heat eases the stiffness, while cold relieves any muscle spasms.

If you have poor circulation you should not use a cold pack, and heat should be warm, but never too hot.

There is a wide array of prescription and over-the-counter medications that are usually recommended by healthcare providers to help cope with pain.

Some of these may include, but are not limited to:

  • Acetaminophen: Helps to relieve pain, but will not help to reduce inflammation for those with mild to moderate arthritis.
  • NSAIDs: Can help to reduce pain and inflammation in affected areas, and are available over-the-counter or via a prescription (they tend to be stronger, and may have side-effects if used for long-term relief).
  • Tramadol: Only available via prescription, tramadol is an analgesic that can provide pain relief but not relief from inflammation. Also tends to have fewer side-effects than other prescriptions, and is usually used only for acute symptoms on a short-term basis.
  • Pain creams: There is a wide variety of gels and creams that can be purchased over-the-counter that will provide you with fast pain relief. They tend to work best on smaller joints like your fingers and knees.

Severe Arthritis

  • Cortisone Shots: Cortisone may be injected into your joint (or joints) to help relieve the severe inflammation and pain. This must be done by your healthcare provider.
  • Strong Painkillers: Stronger medications may be given to you to help you cope with severe pain. There are usually side-effects, however, especially if you have a dependency issue, so you should certainly talk with your healthcare provider.
  • Visco Supplementation: This is used for arthritis in your knees only. The process consists of several injections of derivatives of hyaluronic acid (Hyalgan, Synvisc) and can aid in providing you with pain relief by cushioning your knee joints.

Surgery

  • Arthrodesis: Permanently fuses your bones together within a joint in order to promote and increase your stability, while also reducing your pain. As your joint will be fused it will be able to hold weight, but there will no longer be any flexibility. An arthrodesis is usually a good option for those who have severe pain, but who can’t get a joint replacement surgery for whatever reason.
  • Arthroplasty: Removes the joint surfaces that are damaged, which are then replaced with a prosthesis made of both metal and plastic that can last upwards of 20 years. Knees and hips are the most common joints that need to be replaced, though other joints are certainly often replaced, as well.
  • Debridement: Cleans the area surrounding the joint by removing loose pieces of bone and cartilage so as to reduce inflammation and pain. Typically, debridement is done arthroscopically, where only miniscule incisions are made in your joint, and an incredibly small camera is then inserted to let your surgeon look at the area that he or she is operating on.
  • Osteotomy: When a joint replacement surgery is not an option (specifically in younger patients) an osteotomy is usually done. This surgery realigns your bones to help reduce the stress that is placed on areas of your joints that are already damaged.
  • Synovectomy: A synovectomy is a surgery that requires removing the synovial lining (the connective tissue that lines the interior surface of the capsules of your synovial joints and tendons) if it is inflamed and tends to cause you excessive pain.
  • Tendon repair: If the joint damage and inflammation are severe enough, they may have caused your tendons around your joints either to become significantly tighter or even looser. When this happens, a tendon repair surgery is usually required, in order to help to repair the tendons that surround that joint; this will provide it with substantially more movement, stability, and flexibility, while also helping to ward off some of the inflammation and pain.

When to See a Doctor

If you or someone you love starts to experience any of the aforementioned symptoms associated with arthritis, it is imperative that you make an appointment with your healthcare provider as soon as you can.

The earlier you can get to your doctor and receive a proper diagnosis, the sooner you will start to see relief from the pain and discomfort, and you can also ensure that your symptoms do not get worse.

Your healthcare provider will additionally be able to create a game plan for you that may include the best natural remedies and healing techniques for your specific needs, and can also get you a referral to a specialist if need be.

If you already have arthritis, it is important to continue your visits to your healthcare provider on a regular basis to ensure that you are following up with everything that you need to do in order to help treat, cope with, and even heal from arthritis symptoms.

If you ever find that your symptoms get worse, you need to go to your doctor as soon as you can to find out what can be done to help you.

Conclusion

There are so many wonderful natural remedies for helping to cope with arthritis pain and inflammation.

Feel free to try different variations and options to see which ones work the best for your specific needs, but remember always to follow up and double-check with your personal healthcare provider to ensure that what you are doing is safe for your ailment.

Freeze Away Inflammation With Cryotherapy - by Bulletproof Staff

Bulletproof blog image.jpg

Guest Blog by Dave Asprey's Bulletproof staff (https://blog.bulletproof.com/freeze-away-inflammation-with-cryotherapy/)

Cryotherapy has been around in one form or another for ages: exposure to frigid air, cold-water immersion, or just applying ice to sore muscles. The ancient Romans would take plunges in frigidarium baths and the Nords would crack open icy lakes for a winter swim.

Here in modern times, cryotherapy is popular with elite athletes, celebrities, and biohackers alike. Health claims range from increased immunity to shinier hair, and more and more “cryosaunas” are popping up for personal use.

How much is hype and how much is science? Let’s take a look at what cryotherapy is and the evidence for how it works.

What is cryotherapy?

Technically “cryotherapy” could refer to any kind of cold exposure that improves performance. But it’s mostly whole body cryotherapy (WBC) that’s been in the news for claims that it can boost metabolism, increase endurance, and even help reverse depression.

WBC involves short exposure to extreme cold via a cryochamber – a human-sized tank filled with liquid nitrogen-cooled air. Exposure can vary from 2-3 minutes in temperatures that plummet to -130°C (-266°F). Another method is to take an ice bath for up to an hour in water temperatures of about 19°C (66°F).

On the surface, cold therapy works wonders for speeding up healing. When you apply ice to swollen muscles, the cold constricts blood vessels and reduces blood flow to the area, and pain, swelling, and inflammation decrease. The original idea behind WBC was similar: expose the body to cold to reduce inflammation. It turns out WBC does that and a lot more.

Cryotherapy curbs pain and inflammation 

Dr. Toshima Yamaguchi started using cryotherapy to help his patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) as far back as 1978. News of the therapy spread and quickly became popular with elite athletes in the NFL and NBA. They use it to help lower inflammation and decrease pain, acutely and over time. Cryotherapy triggers anti-inflammatory norepinephrine release that reduces short-term pain from injuries [1].  It also makes intensive physical therapy more tolerable for chronic pain from conditions like fibromyalgia, chronic back pain, and osteoarthritis. [2]

The cool thing about cryotherapy is that it can decrease inflammation while simultaneously stressing your body enough to keep your cells on their toes. Low doses of physical stress from a cold plunge can elicit an adaptive response and strengthen your immune system by increasing white blood cells and immune cells; your bolstered immune system can then kill viruses and fight off tumor factors. [3,4,5]

Short bursts of cold therapy may also increase the antioxidants glutathione and superoxide dismutase, which help support liver and immune function, optimize cellular function, and protect against oxidative stress. [6]

Muscle soreness and recovery

Chronic low-grade inflammation is bad, but the inflammatory response you experience after exercise is actually a good sign that your body is in tissue repair mode. As your muscles become engorged with blood and a pro-inflammatory response rushes the area, anti-inflammatory cytokines hit the scene to keep your immune system in check.

This process of inflammation, tissue repair, and anti-inflammatory mediators ensures that you recover optimally and that your muscles heal and grow. Which is why some studies suggest that icing too soon after exercise actually slows your recovery post-exercise. So what about all of those elite athletes who swear by cryotherapy? Turns out the benefits may vary depending on the timing of your cold therapy.

If you interrupt your body’s pro-inflammatory response with cold therapy immediately after exercise, you may actually reduce the benefits from exercise and inhibit performance. [7] Instead of icing right away, waiting about an hour post-exercise (aka after the peak pro-inflammatory process) may improve performance and recovery. [8] In fact, WBC performed within 48 hours of an elite race (but not within an hour of the race) increased recovery, speed, and power in athletes by 20%. [9]

Collagen, the protein behind strong cartilage, joints, skin and hair, also ramps up production after cryotherapy, and collagenase, an enzyme responsible for rapid collagen breakdown, slows down. [10] While cold therapy is boosting collagen production, it’s also inhibiting the stress hormone cortisol, which works to break down collagen and can disrupt your healthy blood sugar and sleep patterns. [11]

Increased fat burning

The idea behind cryotherapy and increased fat burning is simple: the body responds to extreme cold by increasing your metabolism to heat up your body, which in turn burns fat through a process called cold thermogenesis. Cryotherapy can increase your metabolic rate by up to 350%. [12]

Long-term mild cold exposure can also increase brown adipose tissue (BAT), a type of fat that is beneficial to humans. [13] Unlike other types of fat, brown fat increases metabolism, burning energy and glucose to generate heat. [14] In one study, BAT was highest in volunteers that slept in mild cold, 19°C or 66°F, which means you can boost your metabolism by cooling your room at night – a practice that may also improve sleep.

Better mood and a better night’s sleep

Cold exposure produces feel-good endorphins and increases production of norepinephrine. [15] Norepinephrine is a hormone and neurotransmitter involved in your sleep-wake cycle and has profound effects on energy, focus, mood and sleep patterns. This may be because of norepinephrine’s role in neurogenesis – the production of new neurons in the brain – which links to improved mood and memory. [16]

The rise in norepinephrine along with a decrease in cortisol supports a healthy sleep-wake cycle. [17, 18] It’s also possible that the rush of endorphins and subsequent feeling of relaxation is why so many people claim that cryotherapy is their new sleeping drug of choice.

Cold water immersion at 57°F (14°C) for 1 hour increased norepinephrine 530% and dopamine, another feel-good neurotransmitter, by 250% [19]. You can get similar effects from whole-body cryotherapy sessions at -250°F 2-3 times a week.

You don’t have to join a cryosauna or have a frozen lake nearby to get the benefits of cryotherapy. In many cases, lowering the temperature in your bedroom at night and cold bursts in the shower may help balance neurotransmitters and balance mood, while ice baths 1-hour post-exercise may help speed recovery and increase endurance. If you’re just getting into cryotherapy, you can start slow with this simple protocol. Definitely worth a try!

 

 

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18382932

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10832164

[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10735978

[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2211456/

[5] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16870097

[6] http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0046352

[7] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26174323

[8] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/sms.12074/full

[9] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3233540/

[10] http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJM197401032900101

[11] http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s004210050065

[12] http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s004210050065

[13] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3726172/

[14] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14715917

[15] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17993252

[16] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17511617

[17] http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s004210050065

[18] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2812689/

[19] http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s004210050065

 

 

The Facts About Cryotherapy vs. Ice Baths

With the introduction of whole body cryotherapy to the U.S. in 2011, more and more pro sports franchises and college athletic departments are flushing ice baths in favor of cryotherapy. Why? Let's dive into the key differences between whole body cryotherapy and ice baths:

Ice Bath: Your body is submerged in icy water for 15-20 minutes, during which your body attempts to keep the skin’s surface from freezing by sending warm blood from the core to the peripheral tissues. When the body can no longer heat enough blood, the cold begins to penetrate tissues and muscles and blood viscosity thickens, resulting in stiff muscles and tendons.  Overexposure can result in muscle tissue damage and even hypothermia in severe cases.

Whole Body Cryotherapy: Your body is in a dry, cold air sauna for 3 minutes. When your skin receptors sense the sudden change in temperature, your brain realizes it cannot fight this extreme cold so it shunts blood supply to the extremities in order to protect the body’s core temperature.  As the blood recirculates through the cardiovascular system, it is cleansed of inflammatory enzymes and toxins and replenished with oxygen, nutrients and red blood cells.  Upon exiting the chamber, your body undergoes rapid vasodilation, sending the enriched blood back to the peripherals and brain.

Thus, Cryotherapy is:

Quicker: Whole body cryotherapy is 3-minute session vs. an ice bath for 15- 20 minutes of bath time (plus prolonged warm-up time).

Cleaner: No more sharing with other bodies, sweaty or otherwise!

More comfortable: Painless, invigorating dry cold air vs. shocking, penetrating and painful cold ice water.

More effective: Systemic cleansing and enrichment of blood vs. systemic cooling of muscles and connective tissues.  What this really means to you is:

  • Releases endorphins--You “feel” good
  • Increases collagen production--Your skin “looks” good
  • Accelerates metabolic rate--You “burn more” calories
  • Enriches blood--You “elevate” your well-being—naturally!

Football Injury? Here's How To Return To The Field

UT football hurdling.jpg

Are you dealing with an injury as we head into the playoffs? Determine what type of injury you have, then seek the appropriate therapy treatment to return to the field! It is 'Win or Go Home' time and your team needs you!

Some Common Sports Injuries

Sprains. Injuries to ligaments, the fibrous connective tissues that connect one bone to another. In first-degree sprains, the ligament is stretched; in second-degree sprains, some fibers are torn; in third-degree sprains, most or all of the fibers are torn. In general, first-degree sprains produce only pain and swelling, second-degree injuries are often accompanied by weakness and bluish discoloration due to bleeding, and third-degree sprains produce severe weakness and decreased mobility.

Strains. Injuries to muscles or tendons, the fibrous tissues that connect muscles to bones. Commonly known as muscle pulls, strains also come in first-, second-, and third-degree varieties. Like sprains, strains are usually caused by a misstep or fall that places excessive force on a tendon or muscle, so that fibers are stretched or torn.

Tendinitis. Inflammation of a tendon, often caused by overuse or poor body mechanics. Pain is the major symptom, but warmth, swelling, and redness may occur. The pain is typically most severe at the start of exercise; it eases up during exercise, only to return with a vengeance afterward.

Fasciitis. Inflammation of the layer of fibrous tissue that covers many muscles and tendons. Overuse is often to blame. A common example is plantar fasciitis, inflammation of the sole of the foot, which plagues many walkers and runners.

Bursitis. Inflammation of the small, fluid-like sacs that cushion joints, muscles, or bones like miniature shock absorbers.

Arthritis. Inflammation of a joint (arthritis) or the membrane that surrounds it (synovitis). Like bursitis, joint inflammation often occurs without being triggered by exercise, but both problems can also result from overuse or trauma. Pain and swelling ("water on the knee," for example) are common symptoms.

Dislocations. Dislocations occur when bones slip out of their proper alignment in a joint. A deformity is often visible, and the joint is unable to move properly. Although some athletes attempt to realign (reduce) a dislocation themselves, it should be done by a physician or highly experienced trainer or therapist.

Muscle cramps and spasms. Unduly strong and sustained muscle contractions that can be very painful.  Stretching will help relieve cramps; hydration and good conditioning help prevent them.

PRICE it Right!

PRICE is the tried-and-true protocol for dealing with injuries and is an acronym for: Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

Protection. Injured tissues must be protected against further injury.

Rest. Injured tissues need time to heal. It's an obvious principle, but once you're hooked on exercise you may be tempted to ignore it. Don't!  Rest selectively and pursue alternative sports/exercise.  Injuries can often be blessings in disguise, forcing you to diversify your workouts and acquire new skills.

Ice. It's the cheapest, simplest, yet most effective way to manage many injuries. Ice is an excellent anti-inflammatory, reducing swelling and pain. For best results, apply an ice pack for 10 to 15 minutes as soon as possible after an injury. Repeat the ice treatment each hour for the first four hours, then four times a day for the next two to three days. Protect your skin with a thin cloth.

Compression. Pressure will help reduce swelling and inflammation. In most cases, a simple elastic bandage will suffice; it should be snug but not too tight. Remember that swelling may develop slowly hours after your injury, so you may have to loosen your wrap.

Elevation. Enlists the force of gravity to drain fluid away from injured tissues, reducing swelling, inflammation, and pain. You can simply prop your injured limb up on a pillow above heart level.

Therapies to Speed Your Recovery

If you have a major injury — or if your nagging woes don't clear up — get help.  Primary care physicians can handle many exercise-induced problems, but more difficult issues require orthopedists, physical therapists, massage therapists and chiropractors.  You can also speed your recovery through innovative, natural therapies that activate your body's natural healing mechanisms.

Cold Laser Therapy.  Cold laser therapy has been used for years to speed recovery, because it activates cellular healing and regeneration.

Whole Body Cryotherapy.  Cryotherapy works at the cardiovascular level, prompting the body to cleanse the blood of inflammatory enzyme and toxins, and replenishing the blood with oxygen, nutrients, anti-inflammatory enzymes and red blood cells.

Soft Tissue Work.  Sports Massage Therapists, Airrosti practitioners and some Physical Therapists perform the role of breaking up scar tissue, restore function, improve mobility (helping stretch muscles and regain range of motion).

Chiropractors. Primarily concerned with structural integrity of your spine and joints, Chiropractors can help realign and balance your high-performing body.

Your body is amazingly resilient and has the capacity to self-heal, provided you give it the appropriate time and attention.  Pay the right PRICE and seek the right help to get back on the field as quickly as you can!

Resources:

Harvard Health Newsletter

Sports Injury Clinic

Can You REALLY Freeze Yourself Fit?

CryoFacialFrosty.jpeg

Can you really freeze yourself fit?  Or freeze the pain that burdens you?

The Dallas Mavericks did when they won their NBA Championship in 2011, calling it their “secret weapon.”

Usain Bolt did during his quest for gold in 2012, using it to relieve a back injury.

LeBron did—and still does—calling it his “secret to longevity.”

Michael Phelps did and won numerous Gold Medals.

Floyd Mayweather did and scored numerous KO’s and boxing championships.

Cristiano Ronaldo does and scores numerous soccer goals.

Jordan Spieth does and wins numerous PGA golf tourneys.

The Denver Broncos do and won a Lombardi trophy.

Even nationally acclaimed orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who repairs the knees of elite professional athletes, does it—and he even endorses it.

And now countless college athletic departments and pro sports franchises are installing these in the training facilities, having realized the competitive advantage it gives their athletes.

So I tried it, and now I can play with my sons again.  At half-a-hundred years old, I could not do what I most loved doing—playing sports with my sons.  I was becoming the old man who couldn’t. After dealing with shoulders that couldn’t throw without pain, I am now once throwing with my sons.

Imagine you are playing your favorite sport again . . . you are moving without pain . . .you are sleeping without tossing . . . you are focused and energetic . . . you are burning more calories from an increased metabolic rate . . . you are even getting compliments about your younger looking complexion.  That’s what I experienced for myself.

Is it the Holy Grail?  No, it’s a divine chill called whole body cryotherapy (WBC).

What is WBC?  Quite simply, WBC is a Rheumatologist-invented, research-proven cold therapy which stimulates your body’s pain and inflammation fighters.  Chill in a cold air sauna for 3 minutes, and your body activates its natural restorative process.  The results are relief from pain and inflammation, accelerated muscle recovery, boosted energy levels and vitality, increased metabolic rate, enhanced complexion and overall elevated well-being.  In a word, it's G-E-N-I-U-S.

Champions chill for one reason—it works.  Now you, too, can thrive again just by chilling!

5 Natural Remedies For Joint Pain

Joint pain.jpg

Do you reach for the Ibuprofen when your joint pain first flares up? You should probably consider natural remedies, especially if you're concerned about side effects or interactions with other drugs. Here are 5 natural remedies to fight inflammation and relieve your pain.

Nutritional Remedies for Joint Pain

We blogged about this important tool to fight inflammation (Top 9 Natural Inflammation Fighters), because nutrition is one of the most important weapons in your arsenal. You need to pay attention not only to those foods you should avoid, but as importantly to those foods that fight inflammation. Additionally and probably obviously, adequate hydration is also critical. Electrolytes including sodium and potassium assist the body fight inflammation (sodium supplies nutrients and water to cells, while potassium assists in flushing toxins and other wastes out of cells).

Supplementation To Reduce Inflammation

Our members are experiencing relief by adding some key supplements to their diets: turmeric (curcumin), proteolytic enzymes, omega-3 and omega-6, chondroitin and glucosamine, ginger, coconut oil and chia seeds.

R&R: Take To The Bath For Pain Relief

Relieving stress as a root cause of inflammation helps both the mind and body. One great relaxation method is soaking in an epsom salt bath. High in magnesium and sulfates, Epsom salts are easily absorbed through the skin to provide quick relief as they lower inflammation, reduce muscle spasms and relax tense areas.

The Right Exercise--The Right Way

Swimming and other aquatic activities "promote flexibility and strength without high impact," says Mark Karadsheh, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at the William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, MI. A 2014 review in the journal Physical Therapy found that exercising in water reduces pain and improves physical functioning in people with osteoarthritis of the lower limbs. Meanwhile, a 2015 study from The Netherlands found that a 45-minute aquatic circuit training session helped relieve the pain of knee osteoarthritis.

Natural Therapies Fight Inflammation

Research is showing how natural therapies activate our bodies systemic pain and inflammation fighters. Cold therapies like whole body cryotherapy (What Is Cryotherapy), light therapies light cold laser therapy (How Does Cold Laser Help), and compression therapies like NormaTec compression therapy (How Does Compression Therapy Help) have been research proven and widely adopted. Read the links to learn how these amazing therapies can help you!

Sources:

Dr. Axe

Healthline

The Arthritis Foundation

 

What You Should Know About Cold Laser Therapy

Laser knee.JPG

Doctors have been leveraging the power of laser therapy for healing and injury rehab for decades, so why are you just now hearing about it? Ever heard of the pharmaceutical lobby? For those who are looking for natural therapies and just now discovering cold laser therapy, here are 5 things you should know about it:

1. Cold Laser Therapy Reduces Pain and Inflammation With No Side Effects

When cells are stressed, nitric oxide (NO) inhibits oxygen consumption by mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase. This reduces production of ATP and causes oxidative stress leading to increased inflammation and reduced production of ATP. Laser light displaces NO from cytochrome c oxidase thereby reducing inflammation and restoring ATP production, helping tissues heal more quickly. This interaction triggers a biological cascade of events that leads to an increase in cellular metabolism and a decrease in both pain and inflammation. Unlike medications, laser therapy reduces pain without undesirable side effects.

2. Cold Laser Therapy Can Be Used For Acute and Chronic Injuries

Treating acute conditions with laser therapy is particularly effective when it is administered as soon as possible following the injury. The faster the inflammation is reduced and the healing process can begin, the better.

With chronic conditions, laser therapy is used most often to help combat persistent pain and inflammation. Cold laser is especially well-suited for treating chronic conditions because it so effectively relieves pain and inflammation.

3. Treatment Protocols Are Doctor-designed For Each Specific Condition/Injury

Although laser sounds high-tech, you cannot just "shine the light" and be healed.  Doctors have designed protocols for each specific injury/condition, and each protocol uses laser probes in four different areas to accomplish four specific objectives: 1) activate cellular repair and regeneration at the injury site; 2) stimulate lymph nodes to reduce inflammation and edema; 3) de-activate trigger points; 4) initiate analgesia via spinous process to relieve/reduce pain.

4. Cold Laser Therapy Activates Your Body's Natural Recovery Mechanisms

Laser light is used to stimulate the cells in your body that repair tissue, reduce inflammation and relieve pain. In biological terms, this photo-therapy (like photosynthesis in plants) reduces oxidative stress which causes cell death, and enables your cells to increase ATP production (which produces cellular energy).  When cells can produce ATP, the result is cellular repair and regeneration.

5. Cold Laser Therapy Treatments Are Quick and Painless

Laser therapy sessions usually last 10-20 minutes depending on the size, depth, and acuteness of the condition being treated. For people with packed schedules, these fast and effective treatments are a benefit.

6. Cold Laser Therapy Treats Many Conditions

  • Muscle/tendon strains and ligament sprains
  • Back and neck pain
  • Joint pain/osteoarthritis
  • Nerve pain (e.g. from disc injuries)
  • Post-operative recovery
  • Wounds and burns

Now that you've "seen the light" regarding cold laser therapy, which road would you prefer to travel: the natural therapy route that activates your body's systemic healing, or the pharmaceutical road with it's many potholes?

References

Hamblin MR, Demidova TN. “Mechanisms of low level light therapy.” Proc. of SPIE Photonics. 2006; 6140: 614001-01-12. doi: 10.1117/12.646294

Kingsley JD, Demchak T, Mathis R. “Low-level laser therapy as a treatment for chronic pain.” Frontiers in Physiology. 2014; 5(306): 1-3. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2014.00306

How Does Compression Help Injury Recovery?

NormaTec - MensFitness article.jpeg

If you've had an injury, then you've heard of the acronym RICE.  This is the common prescription proven to facilitate healing of musculoskeletal injuries and stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.  While all of these components are essential for tissue repair and injury recovery, some of them have been enhanced to make the recovery process even faster.

Rest and elevation can not be improved with technology, but technology has greatly enhanced cold therapy and compression therapy. We've already written extensively about Whole Body Cryotherapy as the most effective cold therapy (Top !0 Reasons to Try Cryotherapy), because cryotherapy is a vital component of how we get athletes back on the field.

Today we will dive into Compression therapy, and specifically NormaTec Compression therapy. Combine a physician bio-engineer + technology and the result is active, pneumatic pressure that creates a pumping effect at the injury site to provide several health benefits.

How Does Compression Therapy Accelerate Injury Recovery

NormaTec Pulse Compression employs compressed air to massage your limbs, mobilize fluid, and speed recovery with a patented NormaTec Pulse Massage Pattern.  The pulsating effect that mimics the body's natural muscular movements provides the following injury recovery benefits:

  1. Less swelling - Inflammation and swelling are not only uncomfortable, they can also inhibit the healing process. Compression therapy is proven to help reduce swelling, especially in combination with cold therapy.
  2. Less edema - Excess fluid buildup can also slow down the healing process and inhibit range of motion. Compression combined with elevation can help reduce this excess fluid in the body.
  3. More nutrients - Compression helps stimulate the flow of lymph fluid, which carries vital nutrients, to the damaged tissues surrounding the injury. Lymph fluid is also important for removing waste from cells and body tissues, an important function during the tissue regeneration process.
  4. More oxygen - Compression helps improve blood flow, thereby enhancing the delivery of oxygen to damaged tissue.
  5. Faster tissue repair - The combination of reduced swelling and delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the injury site enables more quicker tissue repair and injury recovery.

If you are trying to recover from an injury, you can greatly reduce your recovery time with cryotherapy + NormaTec compression therapy. There is no reason to let an injury sideline you longer than absolutely necessary--and now, with these technologies, necessary is much shorter!

Cold Laser Therapy For Injury Recovery

Do you have an acute or chronic injury keeping you off the field?  Unfortunately, injuries are a natural consequence of training, competing . . . or even just life. When people come to us to accelerate their recovery from injury, we always use Cold Laser Therapy + Cryotherapy.

Cold Laser Therapy: How It Works

The combination is so effective because cryotherapy works at the cardiovascular level (http://championcryotherapy.net/what-is-cryotherapy/), while cold laser therapy works at the cellular level.  The cold laser is a safe, non-invasive, drug free accelerator for recovery of injuries with a treatment that is simple in science and application: Light is used to stimulate the cells in your body that repair tissue, reduce inflammation and reduce pain. In biological terms, this photo-therapy (like photosynthesis in plants) reduces oxidative stress which causes cell death, and enables your cells to increase ATP production (which produces cellular energy).  When cells can produce ATP, the result is cellular repair and regeneration.

Cold Laser Therapy: Benefits

What does all this mean to you?  Here are the resulting benefits of cold laser therapy:

  • ANTI-INFLAMMATORY ACTION: Laser light reduces swelling, leading to decreased pain, less stiffness, and a faster return to normal joint and muscle function.
  • RAPID CELLULAR HEALING: Laser light accelerates cellular reproduction and healing.
  • QUICKER WOUND HEALING: Laser light stimulates fibroblast development and accelerates collagen synthesis in damaged tissue.
  • REDUCED FIBROUS (SCAR) TISSUE FORMATION: Laser light reduces formation of scar tissue, leading to more complete healing, with less chance of weakness and re-injury later.
  • INCREASED VASCULAR ACTIVITY: Laser light increases blood flow to the injured area.
  • STIMULATED NERVE FUNCTIONS: Laser light speeds nerve cell processes, which may decrease pain and numbness associated with nerve-related conditions.

Cold laser therapy: Who can benefit

With over 400 randomized clinical trials supporting it's efficacy, Cold Laser Therapy (also Low Level Laser Therapy, LLLT), has been research proven to be safe, painless and effective in treating both acute injuries and chronic pain of various kinds: muscle strains, ligament sprains, back painneck painarthritisplantar fasciitis and other musculoskeletal conditions

Not only are these therapies highly effective, but the beauty is that they are natural therapies that activate your body's recovery systems.  The combination of cryotherapy and cold laser therapy has allowed us to cut recovery time in half for many of our customers, so if you want to get back on the field or return to what you love to do, then you should consider this natural, drug-free route to recovery.

Is Inflammation The Key To Aging?

Elders golfing.jpg

Often we discover a great source of wisdom/research that we feel we must share.  This article was originally published by Deepak Chopra, Special to SFGate on Monday, July 10, 2017 (http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/chopra/article/Is-Inflammation-the-Key-to-Aging-11276864.php).

By Deepak Chopra, MD, William C Bushell, PhD, Ryan CastleDavid Vago, PhD, Mark Lambert, Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D.

Ten years ago researchers began to focus on inflammation as a link to disease. They stood out in that they did not emphasize the acute redness and swelling that accompanies the site of a wound or burn as it heals, which is known as acute inflammation. Rather, they discovered clues were leading to something more subtle – a low-grade, chronic inflammation that has few if any overt symptoms. This kind of everyday inflammation has now been linked to an overwhelming majority of serious lifestyle disorders, including hypertension, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and most cancers. What was an intriguing trend ten years ago is now being recognized as major global epidemic, all the more dangerous because it is invisible.

We encourage you to read the first post we wrote last week in order to gain more basic knowledge about chronic inflammation. Going past lifestyle disorders, chronic inflammation may be the key to aging. In addition, numerous inflammation-related genes have been linked to susceptibility to most age-related diseases, such as those mentioned above. The chemical markers in the bloodstream that serve to indicate inflammation are associated with the aging body and cellular death. Already some gerontologists are floating the idea that inflammation may be the largest contributor to aging. If this turns out to be right it will greatly simplify a complex subject, because two aspects of aging have traditionally made it very hard to grasp medically.

First, the deterioration of the body over time is not a straight line but an unpredictable set of changes that look different in everyone. Second, no single process can be pinned down as “aging” by itself. The common signs of aging, such as losing muscle strength, defects in memory, and moving more slowly - not to mention medical conditions like arthritis and dimmed eyesight – are related to many different processes and don't appear in every elderly person. In fact, there are at least a few cases where these changes are at least temporarily reversed; there are even people who get stronger and have better memories as the years go by. Chronic inflammation has the possibility to simplify this scenario, in part by exploring the common factor that so many seemingly unrelated aging processes share.

Another connection with aging is centered on the immune system. When you were young, your immune system was very specific, precise, and targeted as it met invading pathogens (i.e., bacteria and viruses). This precision sets human beings apart from lower rungs on the evolutionary ladder where immunity is very general and diffuse. Instead of being precise, a diffuse immune system sends the same chemicals in various doses to spots of injury and disease. There is no precise targeting. As we age, our immune system loses the precision of youth, and because inflammation is the most general type of response to pathogens, the body begins to indiscriminately secrete inflammatory chemicals that injure its own cells rather than healing them. If this goes on long enough, damaging feedback loops are set up that turn diffuse immunity into a pattern. This exacerbates the damage to cells throughout your body, accelerating cellular death. This complex syndrome has been labeled "InflammAging." The glia cells in the brain that normally nurture and support nerve cells can instead attack nerve cells in bouts of neurology-inflammation.

Chronic inflammation takes years or even decades before visible damage or disease symptoms appear. This means that to reverse the process individuals must dedicate significant time. No one can do that without turning anti-inflammation into a lifestyle that feels as easy and natural as their present lifestyle. The most basic changes involve going down the list of things that create inflammation and doing the opposite instead. The result looks something like the following:

  • A balanced lifestyle without extreme changes.
  • Good sleep.
  • A natural whole foods diet.
  • Paying attention to everyday activity, including walking and standing.
  • Reducing stress.
  • Absence of emotional upset, anxiety, and depression.
  • Solid family and community support.
  • Feeling loved and wanted.
  • A calm, unconflicted mind.

Nothing here is a surprise, but the distinction lies in understanding these changes are not just positive in some general way, they could literally save your life. It would appear that stress is extremely important because our response to everyday stress directly leads to stress on cells, and stressed cells produce the biochemicals that indicate inflammation. It is now well known that psychosocial stress may also significantly exacerbate many forms of disease pathology, including psychological disorders like anxiety and depression. Stress can actually produce chemicals that are toxic to nerve cells in the brain, such as cortisol. It has been theorized that the most serious form of depression, Major Depressive Disorder, could be considered an inflammatory disease.

This and other clues relate to aging, in that it takes smaller stresses to agitate older people, and they recover from them more slowly. What if this is the result of longstanding inflammatory feedback loops? There are numerous psychosocial causes for increase inflammation in the elderly, and there are age-specific types of depression. Being able to trace these conditions to a single cause would be very beneficial.

If stress and inflammation are the joint villains in aging and disease, the top priority in making lifestyle changes should be anti-stress. It is ironic that millions of people who willingly undertake improving their diet and exercise put a low priority on everyday stress, enduring routine pressures at home and work. In an exciting development, a growing body of literature has suggested systematic forms of mental training associated with meditation practice, good diet and sleep habits, and daily exercise, may improve clinical outcomes through an anti-inflammatory mechanism. It has been suggested previously that specific forms of meditation practice can indeed engage and modulate vagal tone through what has been coined, the “relaxation response” - a volitional state in which physiological recovery from psychosocial stress is facilitated. Much progress has been made in the last decade to identify potential neuroanatomical and network- based physiological changes due to mindfulness and other styles of meditation training.

We've outlined the main points of a new picture of aging and disease. Research is ongoing, and by no means do aging researchers all agree on inflammation as the root cause of aging. For one thing, inflammation, being necessary for the healing response, is a beneficial process as well as a harmful one, and discriminating between the two is complex. Second, the presence of inflammatory markers in the bloodstream, some would argue, is a symptom of stressed, dying cells, not the cause. However these issues resolve themselves in the future, the damaging effects of low-grade chronic stress are indisputable already. More in-depth research into the complex systems of the body and its inflammatory response are needed to determine these surprisingly fundamental questions.

A lifestyle aimed at countering inflammation has been described in detail in the book, Super Genes, and is a central part of the upcoming book by Deepak Chopra and Rudy E. Tanzi, The Healing Self. There you will find an in-depth discussion as well as a lifestyle program that addresses this vital topic.

Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. Chopra is the author of more than 80 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His latest books are Super Genes co-authored with Rudy Tanzi, Ph.D. and Quantum Healing (Revised and Updated): Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine.  www.deepakchopra.com

William C BushellPhD, Biophysical Anthropology, MIT is the Director of Research at ISHAR and has been researching mind-body phenomena for over three decades, focusing on the field of consciousness studies around the world as a biological, medical, and psychological anthropologist affiliated with Columbia, Harvard, and MIT.

Ryan Castle, Executive Director of ISHAR, specializes in research analysis and whole systems integration. He is an advocate for open-access science and multidisciplinary approaches.

David Vago, PhD, is Research Director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center; Associate professor, department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation; Associate professor, department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences; Research associate, Brigham & Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School

Mark Lambert, Project Manager and Director of Innovation for the Center for Bioelectronic Medicine, Karolinska Institute, and supported Dr. Kevin Tracey as Chief of Staff for the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research.

Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D. is the Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard University and Vice Chair of Neurology at Mass. General Hospital. Dr. Tanzi is the co-author with Deepak Chopra of the New York Times bestseller, Super Brain, and an internationally acclaimed expert on Alzheimer disease. He was included in TIME Magazine's "TIME 100 Most Influential People in the World".

What You Must Know About Cryotherapy

Are you just hearing about cryotherapy for the first time? Considering whether this natural therapy would help you with your aches and pains? Here are the most important things you must know about cryotherapy.

What Is Cryotherapy and How Does It Work?

Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) is a research-proven, doctor-designed cold therapy that activates your body’s natural pain and inflammation fighters.  Knowing our bodies are designed to systemically heal themselves, a Japanese Rheumatologist designed cryotherapy in 1978 to activate those natural healing systems.  How? You simply chill in a cold air sauna for 3 minutes, and your body activates it's restorative process.  The cold air causes blood to flush from the skin surface, muscle tissue, and joints to the vital organs.  Your body's cardiovascular system naturally eliminates toxins and replenishes the blood with oxygen, nutrients, red blood cells and anti-inflammatory enzymes. The end result is relief from pain and inflammation, accelerated muscle recovery, boosted energy levels, increased metabolic rate and enhanced complexion.

The Benefits of Cryotherapy

Dr. Joe Tatta, a chiropractic doctor and author of the book Heal Your Pain Now,explains that "Whole-body cryotherapy is a treatment that has been used for decades in sports medicine. It is known for its anti-inflammatory, anti-analgesic, and antioxidant effects to decrease inflammation, speed recovery, and prevent excessive exercise-induced inflammation and soreness." According to the experts and those who use cryotherapy, the real benefits are relief from pain and inflammation, accelerated recovery after a workout, and reduced healing time after injury or surgery.

Does Cryotherapy Really Work?

There have been very few randomized clinical trials completed in the U.S. since cryotherapy migrated over here in 2011, so according to most doctors will tell you the current research is inconclusive.  However, if you talk to professional athletes--whose careers depend on their ability to recover--or speak to those using cryotherapy to manage their chronic pain, you will hear about the efficacy of cryotherapy.  High school, college and professional athletes are trading out ice baths for cryotherapy because it's more effective, it's quicker (only 3 minutes), and it's much more comfortable!

Is Cryotherapy Safe--And Will It Hurt?

Those with healthy bodies who get cryotherapy at a clinic/spa with professionally trained recovery specialists and medical directors face little if any risk.  Provided you do not contra-indicate (those with heart conditions, untreated high blood pressure, diabetes, pregnancy and/or Reynaud's can not use cryotherapy), then the only risk you face is cold burn on your skin.  And that risk is near zero provided you do not take a cryotherapy session with damp skin/damp clothes.

Additionally, cryotherapy is just a 3-minute treatment in a stand-up, cold air sauna.  The air is certainly cold (-200 degree F), but because it is dry air it does not penetrate beyond skin level. Unlike an ice bath, which is quite long (15-20 minutes done properly), uncomfortable and penetratingly cold, cryotherapy users describe the cold sensation as "invigorating."

Should You Try Cryotherapy?

If you are dealing with chronic pain/inflammation, or desire to accelerate your recobvery in pursuit of athletic goals, then it takes just 3 minutes in a cryotherapy session to see what all the talk is about.  Do you have 3 minutes?

Does Cold Laser Therapy Work?

Cold Laser Therapy - Too Good To Be True?

Cold Laser Therapy (aka Low Level Laser Therapy and Photobiomodulation) appears too good to be true because it seems to do many things, but it's primary effect simple and profound: It reduces oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress is accepted as the underlying trigger for most diseases and degenerative conditions. It is also a component in the inflammatory phase of acute and chronic injuries. Extensive research during last two decades has revealed that oxidative stress can lead to chronic inflammation, which in turn contributes to chronic diseases including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, neurological disorders and pulmonary diseases.

The use of visible and near-infrared (NIR) light for reducing pain, inflammation and edema, has been known for almost forty years. The effects of photobiomodulation, as it is known scientifically, are photochemical – just like photosynthesis in plants. With the correct dosage (requires the correct power, frequency and application time), light reduces oxidative stress and increases ATP (cellular energy). This in turn improves cell metabolism and reduces inflammation. Light is absorbed at the cellular level, targeting the cause of inflammation by reducing oxidative stress.

Cold Laser Therapy - Benefits

The ultimate benefits include tissue repair and regeneration, reduced pain and inflammation, reduced scar tissue formation, and accelerated healing time from injury.  Cold laser therapy is indeed too good--but not too good to be true.  If you have doubts, then listen to these testimonials.

Cryotherapy vs. Inflammation: Freeze the Cause of Disease

Brenda in cryosauna.jpg

Inflammation is a healthy body response to stress, but chronic inflammation causes diseases.  Abundant medical research now focuses more on addressing chronic inflammation, to both prevent and treat health conditions. You'll understand how cryotherapy works once you understand how inflammation causes disease.

How inflammation causes diseases

When we get hurt, the body triggers an immune response where the body sends a crew of immune cells and calls blood vessels to action to repair the damage and start the healing work: that’s the inflammation process. This process remains activated as long as it takes for the body to repair the damage (e.g. for a cut the body needs to stop the bleeding, regenerate tissues, scab and heal).  Interrupting the mission of inflammation would eventually lead to a body that never heals itself.

When the body is unable to regulate the immune response, problems arise.  What started as a healthy mission turns into its own enemy and becomes chronic inflammation.  Eventually, chronic inflammation causes diseases and conditions such as allergies and asthma, arthritis, eczema, heart problems and cancer, to name a few. Contrary to its initial purpose, inflammation causes diseases because it reduces autoimmune reactions, destroys cells, causes muscle tension and compresses nerves and damages tissues.

How cryotherapy can help

Whole body cryotherapy was developed in 1978 by Dr. Yamauchi, a Japanese rheumatologist, after he discovered how effectively sudden cold exposure relived his rheumatoid arthritis patients pain and inflammation.

The genius of cryotherapy is in it's simplicity: the cold air so rapidly cools the skin that the mind activates "survival mode," whereby the body protects it's core temperature through peripheral vasoconstriction and redirection of the blood supply to the core.  The cardiovascular system has a natural cleansing/replenishment process during which it removes inflammatory enzymes and toxins, and replenishes the blood with oxygen, nutrients, anti-inflammatory enzymes and red blood cells.  After the short 3-minute cryo-session, this replenished blood is released back to peripheral tissues where it goes to work to combat inflammation.

The fact that chronic inflammation causes diseases is well recognized and accepted, although the reasons for its presence is still open for discussion. Stress, lifestyle, environment chemical stimuli, nutrition all some factors that lead to excessive inflammation.  

With the trend towards non-pharmaceutical therapies that activate your body's natural healing mechanisms, perhaps it's time to dip your toe into cryotherapy--especially since it takes only three minutes to receive so many health benefits!

    How To Recover From Sports Injury

    "What's the best way to recover from my injury?" is a question we get asked all the time.  This obviously depends on the injury, and since we are not doctors we always recommend you get a professional diagnosis.

    Here are some of the most common injuries for which doctors send their patients to us:

    Some Common Sports Injuries

    Sprains. Injuries to ligaments, the fibrous connective tissues that connect one bone to another. In first-degree sprains, the ligament is stretched; in second-degree sprains, some fibers are torn; in third-degree sprains, most or all of the fibers are torn. In general, first-degree sprains produce only pain and swelling, second-degree injuries are often accompanied by weakness and bluish discoloration due to bleeding, and third-degree sprains produce severe weakness and decreased mobility.

    Strains. Injuries to muscles or tendons, the fibrous tissues that connect muscles to bones. Commonly known as muscle pulls, strains also come in first-, second-, and third-degree varieties. Like sprains, strains are usually caused by a misstep or fall that places excessive force on a tendon or muscle, so that fibers are stretched or torn.

    Tendinitis. Inflammation of a tendon, often caused by overuse or poor body mechanics. Pain is the major symptom, but warmth, swelling, and redness may occur. The pain is typically most severe at the start of exercise; it eases up during exercise, only to return with a vengeance afterward.

    Fasciitis. Inflammation of the layer of fibrous tissue that covers many muscles and tendons. Overuse is often to blame. A common example is plantar fasciitis, inflammation of the sole of the foot, which plagues many walkers and runners.

    Bursitis. Inflammation of the small, fluid-like sacs that cushion joints, muscles, or bones like miniature shock absorbers.

    Arthritis. Inflammation of a joint (arthritis) or the membrane that surrounds it (synovitis). Like bursitis, joint inflammation often occurs without being triggered by exercise, but both problems can also result from overuse or trauma. Pain and swelling ("water on the knee," for example) are common symptoms.

    Dislocations. Dislocations occur when bones slip out of their proper alignment in a joint. A deformity is often visible, and the joint is unable to move properly. Although some athletes attempt to realign (reduce) a dislocation themselves, it should be done by a physician or highly experienced trainer or therapist.

    Muscle cramps and spasms. Unduly strong and sustained muscle contractions that can be very painful.  Stretching will help relieve cramps; hydration and good conditioning help prevent them.

    PRICE it Right!

    PRICE is the tried-and-true protocol for dealing with injuries and is an acronym for: Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

    Protection. Injured tissues must be protected against further injury.

    Rest. Injured tissues need time to heal. It's an obvious principle, but once you're hooked on exercise you may be tempted to ignore it. Don't!  Rest selectively and pursue alternative sports/exercise.  Injuries can often be blessings in disguise, forcing you to diversify your workouts and acquire new skills.

    Ice. It's the cheapest, simplest, yet most effective way to manage many injuries. Ice is an excellent anti-inflammatory, reducing swelling and pain. For best results, apply an ice pack for 10 to 15 minutes as soon as possible after an injury. Repeat the ice treatment each hour for the first four hours, then four times a day for the next two to three days. Protect your skin with a thin cloth.

    Compression. Pressure will help reduce swelling and inflammation. In most cases, a simple elastic bandage will suffice; it should be snug but not too tight. Remember that swelling may develop slowly hours after your injury, so you may have to loosen your wrap.

    Elevation. Enlists the force of gravity to drain fluid away from injured tissues, reducing swelling, inflammation, and pain. You can simply prop your injured limb up on a pillow above heart level.

    Therapies to Speed Your Recovery

    If you have a major injury — or if your nagging woes don't clear up — get help.  Primary care physicians can handle many exercise-induced problems, but more difficult issues require orthopedists, physical therapists, massage therapists and chiropractors.  You can also speed your recovery through innovative, natural therapies that activate your body's natural healing mechanisms.

    Cold Laser Therapy.  Cold laser therapy has been used for years to speed recovery, because it activates cellular healing and regeneration.

    Whole Body Cryotherapy.  Cryotherapy works at the cardiovascular level, prompting the body to cleanse the blood of inflammatory enzyme and toxins, and replenishing the blood with oxygen, nutrients, anti-inflammatory enzymes and red blood cells.

    Soft Tissue Work.  Sports Massage Therapists, Airrosti practitioners and some Physical Therapists perform the role of breaking up scar tissue, restore function, improve mobility (helping stretch muscles and regain range of motion).

    Chiropractors. Primarily concerned with structural integrity of your spine and joints, Chiropractors can help realign and balance your high-performing body.

    Your body is amazingly resilient and has the capacity to self-heal, provided you give it the appropriate time and attention.  Pay the right PRICE and seek the right help to get back on the field as quickly as you can!

    Resources:

    Harvard Health Newsletter

    Sports Injury Clinic

    8 Steps To Prevent Sports Injuries

    Because we help people recover from their injuries, we get asked this question all the time: "How can I prevent sports injuries?"

    According to our medical director, Harvard Medicine, Johns Hopkins Medicine and EXOS, here are the top 8 things you can do to prevent injuries:

    Exercise Prehab (Warm-up): If you're going to invest time training, then you need to invest time in what is called "prehab." To get started, use Floor Y's and T's to help protect your upper body, mini band walks for your lower body, and pillar bridges for core stability.

    Movement Prep (Dynamic stretching): Movement Prep prepares your body for movement. It’s a series of innovative and dynamic movements that increase your core temperature, prepare your nervous system for physical activity and strengthen your body.  Try these!

    Proper exercise technique: Does this need further explanation?  How many friends do you know who've injured their backs or shoulders with improper lifting techniques?  Or head injury from poor tackling form?  You must practice perfect form to prevent injuries.

    Proper protective gear: My cycling coach once told me, "If you have a $10 dollar head, buy a $!0 helmet." 'Nuff said.

    Proper hydration and nutrition: Just as you cannot drive a race car without high-octane gas, you cannot drive your body without proper fuel.  Think in these terms: Refuel, Rehydrate, Rebuild.  Ideally you should consume a smoothie, energy bar, piece of fruit, and/or sports drink immediately following a workout or race, with a carbohydrate:protein ration of 2:1 (~0.8 gram of carbs per kilogram of body weight and 0.4 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight). To learn more, read "The New Science of Recovery Nutrition."

    Adequate rest and recovery: Probably the most important AND neglected aspect of injury prevention. Youth should get at least 9 hours of sleep, while adults need at least 8 hours of sleep.  Recovery is a topic unto itself and in addition to what's been discussed also includes myofascial work (rolling), cryotherapy, compression therapy, massage therapy and chiropractic.  Read this!

    Cross-train and use variety of exercises/motions to reduce repetitive/stress injuries: Change up your workouts, include multi-planar exercises and build diversity into your routine to limit the stress to ligaments, tendons and joints created from single sport/workout regimen.

    Stretching/Cool-down: After reviving the engine to red-line, spend 5 minutes at the end of your workout to cool down.  During this time, perform static stretches to enhance your flexibility and range of motion.

    Sources:

    EXOS Performance

    American Academy of Pediatrics

    Johns Hopkins Medicine

    Recovery for Ironman

    Matt Dixon, IRONMAN Master Coach (and author of The Well-Built Triathlete) is known as the "recovery coach" for the importance he places on restoring your body between workouts. Our friends at Life Time Fitness' Experience Life magazine put together this Q&A with Dixon; we think it offers the best bang for your buck in terms of recovery education. 

    Experience Life: In your book, you discuss the "four pillars of performance." Can you explain what they are and why they’re important?

    Matt Dixon: The four pillars of performance are: endurance training, recovery, nutrition, and functional strength. This explanation is a driver to retain a more balanced approach to training and performance. By shifting the training emphasis away from simply training, and placing equal emphasis on all four of the pillars, we enable athletes to retain a logical and smart decision-making process in their daily life.

    The four pillars are really an educational tool to help athletes gain and retain a strong vision and framework of decision making as they undergo their own journey of performance. Too many highly motivated athletes are driven only by accumulating training hours and lose sight of the big picture of performance evolution.

    I believe in aiming to make complex areas of performance simple, so by teaching athletes to focus on the four pillars, this ensures that the essential areas such as recovery, eating and fueling well, and maintaining a specific functional strength program, will never become afterthoughts. Instead, they become a part of the comprehensive plan.

    The beauty of this approach is that is provides athletes with a basic fallback to allow perspective when making daily decisions. I find this helps achieve the magic word of performance evolution: consistency.

    Each of these pillars relates to each other and can have great positive impact if practices are put into place—as well as negative results if ignored or approached incorrectly.

    Are all four of these pillars essential and equal—or can you make fitness gains without giving your body time to recover from training, for instance?

    Any successful long-term performance evolution should absolutely include focus on all four pillars of performance.

    As individual performance improves, the required focus becomes greater, since the marginal gains become tougher to achieve. While there are plenty of athletes who have improved or achieved solid results while compromising one or more of these areas, this doesn’t mean that any of them are not essential; many short-term gains have ended in future roadblocks of performance, or even declines, due to insufficient focus on one or more of the areas.

    There is nothing revolutionary about this, yet athletes consistently struggle to make smart decisions and apply required focus on these areas. The result is typically either declining or plateaued performance over time, or a lack of results relative to effort put in.

    It’s important to understand that shifting one’s lens to truly focus on all pillars of performance does not equate to a short cut to success or less work. Triathlon is a challenging sport that rewards hard and consistent work. The key is to make this effort effective, and ensure that athletes are able to achieve long-term results and rewards, and continue to improve year after year. My record of athlete development is an area I am very proud of, and am sure that a strong part of the reasons of our success is the commitment to both specific and progressive workload, as well as a heavy emphasis on our four pillars of performance.

    What are the benefits of recovery?

    The simplest benefit of recovery is that it enables you to maximize the results of your training.

    Many athletes and coaches make the mistake of thinking of recovery as a short cut or a route to do less. But the truth is that properly integrated recovery enables you to do more training that will yield positive results. Instead of viewing recovery as laziness or a short cut, I encourage athletes to view it as a part of the plan that allows more work.

    The benefits of properly integrated recovery are that you can create an incredibly consistent training approach that maximizes the results from your hard work and enables you to arrive at your races both fit and prepared to perform.

    I think athletes should remember that our goal is not simply fitness; it is about preparation to race well. That subtle shift in focus can evolve the athlete’s relationship with recovery and how powerful of a tool it can become.

    What does "recovery" mean?

    Recovery is not "taking time off." In fact, some of my athletes seldom have a complete day of no exercise. I segregate recovery into three main areas:

    Training recovery encompasses building lower stress training or breaks into the architecture of the training plan. Beginning at the 10,000-foot view, this can be season breaks, multiple days of recovery and rejuvenation, or simply workouts that are design to facilitate recovery from the harder foundational sessions.

    Lifestyle recovery includes the all-essential sleep and downtime, nutrition, fueling, hydration, and other life activities that can help, such as meditation or naps. Post-exercise fueling—or the lack of it—is one of the major contributors to poor endurance performance, and hence a massive component of recovery.

    Recovery modalities include, if I am being cute, the "recovery you can buy." In other words, modalities are all of the secondary recovery tools, such as massage, compression gear, and foam rollers, which can be important, but pale in importance when stacked against training and lifestyle recovery.

    With this established, it becomes clear that there is no single recipe or strategy for recovery, as individual athletes require different amounts of these different types of recovery. This is why recovery needs to be established as a part of a program, and a strong pragmatic mindset needs to be retained.

    If you are keen for some rules of thumb, I like to get in front of fatigue with shorter and more frequent mini-blocks of recovery. I typically have athletes take two to three lighter days of lower-stress training about every 10 to 14 days. Some athletes bounce back after a single day; others require two to three days.

    One thing that we know is least effective is to load for three continuous weeks, then spend an entire week recovering from the efforts. This classic build-build-build-recover schedule makes little sense and is certainly not the most effective method of designing a training plan.

    How important is it to listen to your body, versus setting an arbitrary recovery schedule?

    The key is setting the mindset and education. Once athletes shift their relationship with the recovery process and its role in the training process, they can make less emotional decisions and actually track and listen to their body. This has wider implications than simply understanding when it is time to rest.

    With the advent of so many training "tools," such as GPS and power meters, many of today’s less-experienced athletes have poor self-regulation and poor understanding of how they feel during and following the workout. We call this "athletic IQ"—a term coined by coach Gerry Rodrigues of Tower 26 training. Development of your athletic IQ is a powerful tool for all athletes to have.

    Why do some people fail to embrace the need for recovery?

    It takes courage to recover. Nearly all athletes fight a natural emotional battle with the concept of recovery. Nearly all athletes know how to train hard, yet few can truly embrace recovery with the same vigor. Hence, a lack of confidence is the typical reason athletes skip recovery.

    It is easy to understand how this occurs. The first piece of the puzzle is the relationship that most athletes establish with recovery. They tend to view it as a time of laziness or decline, instead of viewing it as a performance booster and facilitator of more effective work.

    The other reason recovery fails is a lack of understanding of how to effectively apply it. Remembering the three areas of recovery—training, lifestyle, and modalities—many athletes simply don’t know how the recovery recipe is woven together, and end up only focusing on the easily accessible and fancy modalities, while missing out on the foundational lifestyle and training recovery protocols.

    Does recovery mean less training?

    Quite the reverse. It means more training that is more effective.

    To think that recovery equates to less training is to set a very short term and myopic lens on the overall training plan. Just retreating to a slightly wider lens and viewing training over a week, or a few weeks, let alone a month, is an easy way to see how recovery is a key part of the overall plan. Unfortunately, too many coaches and athletes make immediate decisions for today, even if it means a negative impact on tomorrow. This is a lack of smart discipline.

    Does recovery mean sitting at home on the couch watching TV?

    In the same way that "training means exercising.' You may choose to include some TV time in your recovery, but this would be a slither of the recovery puzzle.

    As mentioned previously, recovery is made up of training recovery, lifestyle recovery, and recovery modalities. All three play a role in the training approach, and cannot be discussed without consideration of the roles the others play.

    What are the biggest mistakes people make during recovery?

    If we consider recovery periods being lighter workouts, or multiple days of lighter workouts, the biggest mistakes include:

    Going too hard: Shifting emphasis mid-session and evolving the session into a workout that is tougher than anticipated. Many athletes struggle with too small of a divergence in intensity and load between easy workouts and key foundational sessions.

    Under-fueling: Many athletes fail to follow proper fueling protocols on lighter sessions and days, and certainly fail to eat enough daily calories to maximize recovery. They tend to fall into the old trap of "calories in, calories out," which doesn’t work for training athletes.

    Filling up the day: I see many amateur athletes filling the free time with lighter or shorter workouts with other chores and activities, but still fail to sleep and rejuvenate. You don’t want to remove a training stress, and simply replace it with a different life stressor.

    What is the difference between overtraining and under-recovering?

    Over-training occurs through repeated chronic poor practices—either too much load, or under-recovery from the load. The term "over-training" is thrown around too much in our sport; it’s very challenging for athletes to drive themselves to over-training.

    On the other hand, many athletes tend to under-recover, which I view as an athlete failing to maximize the yield from training. They are failing to train and yield positive adaptations, either from too much training load, or a failure to properly recover due to poor fueling, rest, sleep, or any other component.

     

    Cryotherapy Relieves Chronic Pain?

    Could whole body cryotherapy relieve your pain and inflammation?  Since the days of Hippocrates, athletes, warriors and everyday people all over the world have used cold (cryo) for health benefits.

    American researchers have been studying the potential health benefits of whole body cryotherapy (WBC) since its arrival to the U.S. in 2011, but WBC was developed in 1978 by a Japanese rheumatologist to treat his rheumatoid arthritis patients.  The genius of cryotherapy is it's natural and simple application: Patients are exposed to extremely cold (-175F to -202F) air for three minutes, which triggers a physiological response that activates the body's natural cardiovascular cleansing and replenishment.

    Dr. Christina Lasich, M.D. wrote, "The analgesic (pain-relieving) effects of cryotherapy are related to three specific changes in the body. First, the nerve signal transmission is slowed. Reducing the amount of nerve signals getting through to the brain might relieve pain in some individuals. Second, nor-epinephrine levels increase after cold immersion. This stress-induced chemical reduces pain sensitivity as a protective mechanism in times of life-or-death situations. 1 And lastly, cryotherapy can reduce pain intensity and frequency by reducing inflammation. All of these potential benefits can be measured in the lab, but how does cryotherapy measure up in the real world."

    She continues, "Arthritic joints, frozen shoulders, muscle injuries and other types of painful conditions have all been found to benefit from cryotherapy.2, 3, 4 People with these conditions experience less pain and are able to return to normal activities sooner. How much cold is necessary and for how long are still questions being worked out. Not everyone has access to expensive cold air chambers, but a little cold could go a long ways towards helping those with chronic pain."

    Don't you think pursuing a natural therapy that takes only three minutes is worth the try?

      Sources:

      http://www.healthcentral.com/chronic-pain/c/240381/159043/cryotherapy/

      1. Scand J Clin Lab Invest. 2008;68(2):145-53
      2. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2013 Jan;94(1):9-16
      3. Sports Med. 2010 Jun 1;40(6):509-17
      4. Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2006 May-Jun;24(3):295-301

      How Does Cryotherapy Reduce Inflammation?

      howdoescryotherapyreducepainandinflammationchampioncryotherapy.jpg

       

      You've probably heard about how professional athletes are flocking to whole body cryotherapy (WBC) to accelerate their recovery and help them perform at their maximum thresholds.  But were you aware that cryotherapy was developed by a Japanese rheumatologist to treat his patients suffering from Rheumatoid arthritis?

      CRYOTHERAPY REDUCES INFLAMMATION

      How does cryotherapy reduce inflammation?  As with many discoveries, the genius is in the natural and logical approach.  Cryotherapy simply activates your body's natural pain and inflammation fighters by tricking the brain.  As you chill for 3-minutes in a dry, cold air cryosauna, the air so rapidly cools your skin that your brain signals the circulatory system to shunt blood supply to the extremities in order to maintain core temperature.  This activates your cardiovascular system's natural cleansing process (removal of inflammatory enzymes and toxins) and replenishment process (restores oxygen, nutrients, red blood cells and anti-inflammatory enzymes).  After the 3-minute cryotherapy session your super-charged blood is now released to your extremities and brain.  Those anti-inflammatory enzymes, nutrients and red blood cells nourish inflamed joints, connective tissues and muscles, bring relief from pain and inflammation.

      CRYOTHERAPY RELIEVES PAIN

      As we discussed in a prior Blog post, you need not fill your body with pharmaceuticals to find relief from pain and inflammation.  Our bodies have an amazing capacity to self-heal, so the trick is to find natural foods, natural supplements, and natural therapies which activate those self-healing mechanisms.

      Cold therapies like whole body cryotherapy, light therapies like low level laser therapy (LLLT), soft tissue therapies like HyperIce vibration and massage therapies all activate your body's self-healing mechanisms--without any side effects.

      You can find relief from chronic pain and inflammation without pharmaceuticals.  Treat your body naturally--you deserve it!

      Sources:

      Nature: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep18525

      For podcast click here: http://traffic.libsyn.com/foundmyfitness/cryotherapy_solocast_1.mp3

       

       

       

      Cryotherapy for Skin Care?

      cryotherapyforskincarechampioncryotherapy.jpg

      Does cryotherapy really enhance skin complexion?  Demi Moore and many other celebrities have credited whole body cryotherapy as the secret to their youthful complexion.  To understand how, let's begin with some basic understanding.

      First, most skin care products are focused on stimulating collagen, which is the protein behind strong cartilage, joints, skin and hair.

      Second, your skin is the largest organ of your body and a barrier of protection from the environment.  Comprised of several layers, the dermal (middle) layer is supported by an intricate collagen matrix that gives skin its strength and resilience. As we age, collagen production slows down and the collagen matrix in the skin is not as ‘tight’ as it used to be, leaving the skin more vulnerable to damage from the elements (sun, stress) as well as fatty deposit build-up in the dermal layers causing cellulite.

      So how does cryotherapy affect your skin?  As you step into a cryosauna, dry cold air (-175F to -202F) chills your skin for 3 minutes.  Your body responds to this cold by shunting blood supply from your extremities and to your vital organs in order to maintain core temperature.  During this vasoconstriction process, your body's cardiovascular system naturally eliminates toxins and replenishes the blood with oxygen, nutrients, red blood cells and anti-inflammatory enzymes.

      Once you step out of the cryosauna, your body immediately sends the oxygen- and nutrient-enriched blood back to peripheral tissues (vasodilation), including your skin cells.  Even though there is no damage to the skin from being exposed to the cold air, the body still attempts to “repair” the outer layer of skin.  Essentially, this physiological response activates your body's natural restorative process to accomplish two things::

      • Boost collagen production;
      • Reduce damage from oxidative stress.

      So while cryotherapy is boosting collagen production, it’s also inhibiting the stress hormone cortisol and the collagen-attacking enzyme collagenase from breaking down existing collagen.  The result is visibly tighter skin, reduced appearance of cellulite and enhanced complexion.

      This does not happen overnight from a single session, but routine cryotherapy treatments can help rejuvenate the collagen matrix, improve your skin’s resilience and reduce the appearance of cellulite and fatty deposits at the skin’s surface.

      Come discover for yourself what so many others are experiencing: youthful, beautiful skin and many other benefits including reduced pain and inflammation, accelerated recovery from exercise, and increasing metabolic rate and energy levels, and elevated overall well-being.

       

      http://collagencomplete.com/increase-collagen-production/

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14705809