Module One: Natural Pain Relieving Substances.
When we evaluate these various substances for there uses in natural approaches, especially in regard to the vitamins, minerals, other supplements and substances, and enzymes, it must be recognized that each of these substances plays an integral role in human nutrition. This means that they are a necessary part of normal health and thus can, and usually are, negatively effected by many conditions. I bring this up because it could be said that each of these substances may have an impact on pain relief, especially in an indirect manner. I have focused on those substances which are known to have specific ties to relieving pain. Please remember that each of these listed substances may have general effects on pain relief or may effect particular conditions.
Vitamin C is an incredible nutrient. It has many important qualities. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and is essential in human nutrition. Vitamin C is used extensively in the United States and is very popular. One of its primary roles and functions is in the formation of collagen, the main protein connective tissue substance in the body. Collagen is critical for the growth and repair of body tissue and cells. It is very important for healthy gums, blood vessels, bones, and teeth. Vitamin C also plays an important role as one of the primary antioxidants in the body countering the negative destructive effects of free radicals.
Vitamin C does many things within the body: It increases the absorption of iron and is needed for the metabolism of folic acid, tyrosine, and phenylalanine. It can help prevent cancer, protects against infection, enhance immunity, aid in the production of anti-stress hormones and protect us against the harmful effects of pollution and cigarette smoke.
Vitamin C is very important in a number of disease processes including atherosclerosis and high blood pressure. It can decrease cholesterol levels. Vitamin C promotes healing within the body, especially in the healing of wounds and burns, also in healing after surgery. Vitamin C protects against blood clotting and bruising as it reduces capillary fragility. It plays a role in the manufacture of certain nerve transmitters and hormones, especially in the production of anti-stress hormones. Vitamin C strengthens the immune system and aids in the prevention of many types of viral and bacterial infections. It also acts as a natural laxative, lowers the incidence of blood clots in the veins, reduces the effects of many allergy-producing substances, extends life by enabling protein cells to hold together and can reduce the risk of cataracts.
Vitamin C's actions are very impressive as a singular substance. Vitamin C works with and reinforces other antioxidants, especially Vitamin E. These two vitamins increase the actions of each other, thus having a greater effect on their antioxidant activity on free radicals.
The human body cannot manufacture Vitamin C. Because of this, it must be obtained daily from our diets or from supplementation. There is a lot of controversy in regard to the optimal amounts of Vitamin C necessary for general health needs and in the treatment of disease processes. This controversy has been going on for a number of years and it does not look like it will be resolved anytime soon. As an example, with serious diseases, such as Cancer, very large amounts of Vitamin C may be necessary as part of a natural protocol. However, many within the medical community would dispute this approach.
Scurvy is a disease caused by Vitamin C deficiency. It is characterized by poor wound healing, soft and spongy bleeding gums, edema, extreme weakness, and "pinpoint" hemorrhages under the skin. More common signs of lesser degrees of deficiency, including gums that bleed when brushed, increased susceptibility to infection, especially colds and bronchial infections, joint pains, lack of energy, poor digestion, prolonged healing time, a tendency to bruise easily, and tooth loss.
Sources: Vitamin C is found in a large variety of fruits and vegetables. Good sources include asparagus, avocados, beet greens, black currants, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, collards, dandelion greens, grapefruit, lemons, mangos, mustard greens, onions, oranges, papayas, green peas, sweet peppers, pineapple, rose hips, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes and watercress.
A number of herbs also contain Vitamin C. Included in this group are alfalfa, burdock root, cayenne, chickweed, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, hops, horsetail, kelp, peppermint, mullein, nettle, oat straw, parsley, plantain, raspberry leaf, red clover, rose hips, skullcap, yarrow and yellow dock.
There are many major conditions where Vitamin C is of value. Please note that I have underlined some of the disorders which have pain syndromes related to them: Asthma, allergies, atherosclerosis, auto-immune disorders, backache, cancer and chemotherapy support, candidiasis, capillary fragility, cataracts, cervical dysplasia, Crohn's disease, common cold, coronary artery disease, diabetes, eczema, fatigue, gall-bladder disease, gingivitis, glaucoma, hay fever, hepatitis herpes simplex, herpes zoster, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hives, immune function, infections, infertility, iron deficiency, macular degeneration, menopause, menorrhagia (heavy menstruation), mitral valve prolapse, morning sickness, multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis, Parkinson's disease, periodontal disease, peptic ulcers, peripheral vascular disease, preeclampsia, recurrent ear infection, rheumatoid arthritis, skin ulcers, sports injuries, urinary tract infections, wound healing and vitilego.
Ascorbic Acid is NOT the Best Form of C -- Mineral Ascorbates are Preferred!
Many people are under the false impression that Vitamin C is ascorbic acid. In truth, this is just one form of Vitamin C and it is not the form I recommend. Ascorbic acid is highly acidic (pH of 2 or 3) and can disrupt the sensitive pH of the body. The pH of the urine is lowered which is increasingly irritating to the kidneys and bladder, inducing a strong diuretic action, which results in a marked loss of valuable mineral from the body, and can cause diarrhea, flatulence, nausea, heartburn, stomach irritation, and can possibly lead to or irritate ulcers.
I prefer Vitamin C in the form of mineral ascorbates (calcium ascorbate, potassium ascorbate, magnesium ascorbate, etc.) which are pH neutral. This is the form of Vitamin C produced in animals who do manufacture their own Vitamin C. Only humans, the guinea pig, the monkey, the ape, and a type of bat cannot manufacture mineral ascorbates in the body. Mineral ascorbates are highly absorbable by our cells and therefore much more beneficial.
Precautions: There are many substances which can deplete Vitamin C in the body including alcohol, analgesics, antidepressants, anticoagulants, oral contraceptives, steroids and smoking. An important caution needs to be addressed when taking aspirin and Vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid, especially in large doses, can cause side effects such as listed above. (Lytle, Hanck, Creagan, Gupte, Werbach)
Vitamin B1, called Thiamine, is a water-soluble vitamin. Thiamine enhances circulation and assists in blood formation, carbohydrate metabolism, and the production of hydrochloric acid, which is important for proper digestion. Thiamine, also optimizes cognitive activity, brain function and its impact on mental attitude. It has a positive effect on energy production, growth, normal appetite, and learning capacity, and is needed for muscle tone of the intestines, stomach, and heart.
In general, B1 keeps the nervous system, muscles and heart functioning normally. Thiamine also acts as an antioxidant, protecting the body from the degenerative effects of aging, alcohol consumption, and smoking. It has mild diuretic effects. Thiamine can help fight air and seasickness. It can help relieve dental postoperative pain and aid in the treatment of herpes zoster. Thiamine can mimic the important neurotransmitter involved in memory, acetylcholine. As with all B vitamins, Thiamine is intricately involved with other B-vitamins in energy metabolism. Magnesium is required in the conversion of Thiamine to its active form.
Beriberi, a nervous system disease, is caused by a deficiency of Thiamine. In true deficiency, the symptoms can include mental confusion (and in severe cases, psychosis), muscle wasting, fluid retention high blood pressure, difficulty walking and heart disturbances. Other symptoms resulting from thiamine deficiency include constipation, edema, enlarged liver, fatigue, forgetfulness, gastrointestinal disturbances, heart changes, irritability, labored breathing loss of appetite, muscle atrophy, nervousness, numbness of the hands and feet, pain and sensitivity, poor coordination, tingling sensations, weak and sore muscles, general weakness, and severe weight loss.
Sources: The richest food sources of Thiamine include brown rice, egg yolks, fish, legumes, liver, peanuts, peas, pork, poultry, rice bran, wheat germ, and whole grains. Other sources are asparagus, brewer's yeast, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kelp, most nuts, oatmeal, plums, dried prunes, raisins, spirulina and watercress. Herbs that contain thiamine include alfalfa, bladderwrack, burdock root, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, eyebright, fennel seed fenugreek, hops, nettle, oat straw, parsley, peppermint, raspberry leaf, red clover, rose hips, sage, yarrow and yellow dock.
The principal use of Thiamine is to prevent thiamin deficiency, especially in diabetes, Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis, and other neurological diseases and to prevent and treat impaired mental function in the elderly, in Alzheimer's patients, and in epileptics being treat with Dilantin.
Conditions that Vitamin B1 can be used to treat and are supportive include AIDS, alcoholism, anemia, cancer, canker sores (mouth ulcers), Crohn's disease, diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, neuralgia and neuropathy, pain, Parkinson's disease, pregnancy-related illness and support, rheumatism and wound healing.
Precautions: There are different medications which can decrease the levels of thiamine in the body. These include antibiotics, sulfa drugs and oral contraceptives. (Lenot, Mazzom, Quinn, Charonnat, Werbach)
Vitamin B6, called Pyridoxine, Is involved in more bodily functions than almost any other single nutrient. It is an extremely important B vitamin involved in the formation of body proteins and structural compounds, chemical transmitters in the nervous system, red blood cells, and prostaglandins. Vitamin B6 is also critical in maintaining hormonal balance and proper immune function. It affects both physical and mental health. It is beneficial if you suffer from water retention, and is necessary for the production of hydrochloric acid and the absorption of fats and protein.
Pyridoxine also aids in maintaining sodium and potassium balance, and promotes red blood cell formation. It is required by the nervous system, and is needed for normal brain function and for the synthesis of the nucleic acids RNA and DNA, which contain the genetic instructions for the reproduction of all cells and for normal cellular growth. It activates many enzymes and aids in the absorption of Vitamin B12, in immune system function, and in antibody production. Pyridoxine is required for the proper functioning of more than 60 different enzymes. It plays a vital role in the multiplication of all cells and is, therefore, of critical importance to a healthy pregnancy and proper functioning immune system, mucous membrane, skin and red blood cells.
Vitamin B6 plays a role in cancer immunity and aids in the prevention of arteriosclerosis. It inhibits the formation of a toxic chemical called homocysteine, which attacks the heart muscle and allows the deposition of cholesterol around the heart muscle. Pyridoxine acts a mild diuretic, reducing the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, and it may be useful in preventing oxalate kidney stones, as well. It is helpful in the treatment of allergies, arthritis, and asthma.
A deficiency of Vitamin B6 may be recognized by anemia, convulsions, depression, glucose intolerance, impaired nerve function, eczema or seborrhea, headaches, nausea, flaky skin, a sore tongue, and vomiting. Other possible signs of deficiency include acne, anorexia, arthritis, conjunctivitis, cracks or sores on the mouth and lips, depression, dizziness, fatigue, hyperirritability, impaired wound healing, inflammation of the mouth and gums, learning difficulties, weak memory, hair loss, hearing problems, numbness, oily facial skin, stunted growth, and tingling sensations. Carpal tunnel syndrome has been linked to a deficiency of Vitamin B6 as well. Lack of Vitamin B6 greatly affects pregnancy and plays a critical role in brain chemistry because it is involved in the manufacture of all amino acid neurotransmitters (e.g., serotonin, dopamine, melatonin, epinephrine, norepinephrine, etc.)
Sources: Almost all foods contain some Vitamin B6, however, the following foods have the highest amounts: brewer's yeast, carrots, chicken, eggs, fish, meat, peas, spinach, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and wheat germ. Other sources include avocado, bananas, beans, blackstrap molasses, broccoli, brown rice and other whole grains, cabbage, cantaloupe, corn, plantains, potatoes, rice bran, and soybeans. Herbs that contain B6 include alfalfa, catnip and oat straw.
Vitamin B6 is one of the most utilized and valued nutritional supplements. It in fact plays an important role in over 100 conditions. The most common conditions that Vitamin B6 impacts are: Asthma, atherosclerosis, autism, canker sores, cardiovascular disease, carpal tunnel syndrome, chemotherapy support, depression, diabetes (prevention and diabetic complications), epilepsy, fibrocystic breast disease, high cholesterol, immune enhancement, kidney stones, morning sickness (from pregnancy), osteoporosis, and premenstrual syndrome.
Precautions: Vitamin B6 should not be taken by any person taking levodopa for treatment of Parkinson's Disease. (Bernstein, Werbach)
Vitamin B12, called Cyanocobalamin or cobalamin, is another water-soluble vitamin. It is needed to prevent anemia, by regulating the formation and regeneration of red blood cells. It helps in the utilization of iron. This vitamin is also required for proper digestion, absorption of foods, the synthesis of protein, and the proper metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. It aids in cell formation and cellular longevity. In addition, Vitamin B12 prevents nerve damage, maintains fertility, and promotes normal growth and development by maintaining the fatty sheaths that cover and protect nerve endings. Vitamin B12 is linked to the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that assists memory and learning. It needs to be combined with calcium during absorption to properly benefit the body. Vitamin B12 promotes growth and increased appetite in children, increases energy, relieve irritability, improve concentration, memory and balance.
Vitamin B12 works well with folic acid in many body processes, including the synthesis of DNA, red blood cells and the myelin sheath that surrounds nerve cells and speeds the conduction of the signals along nerve cells.
A Vitamin B12 deficiency can be caused by malabsorption, which is most common in elderly people and in those with digestive disorders. The main deficiency of Vitamin B12 is Pernicious anemia. Other deficiency symptoms can include an abnormal gait, chronic fatigue, constipation, depression, digestive disorders, dizziness, drowsiness, enlargement of the liver, eye disorders, hallucinations, headaches, inflammation of the tongue, irritability, labored breathing, memory loss, moodiness, nervousness, neurological damage, numbness, palpitations, pernicious anemia, pins and needles sensations, ringing in the ears, and spinal cord degeneration. Usually, a deficiency of Vitamin B12 affects the brain and nervous system first.
Strict vegetarians must remember that they require Vitamin B12 supplementation, as the vitamin is found almost exclusively in animal tissue. Although people adopting a strict vegetarian diet may not see signs of the deficiency for some time as the body can store up to five years worth of Vitamin B12, deficiency signs will eventually develop.
Sources: Vitamin B12 is found in all foods of animal origin. The largest amounts of Vitamin B12 are found in brewer's yeast, clams, eggs, herring, kidney, liver, mackerel, milk and dairy products and seafood. While Vitamin B12 is not found in many vegetables; it is available from sea vegetables, such as dulse, kelp, kombu, nori, and from soybeans and soy products. It is also present in the herbs, alfalfa, bladderwrack and hops.
Vitamin B12's uses are appropriate for many conditions. These include Aids, Alzheimer's disease, asthma, atherosclerosis, bursitis, Crohn's disease, depression, diabetes and diabetic neuropathy, high cholesterol, impaired mental function in the elderly, infertility, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, pernicious anemia, tinnitus, and vitilego.
Precautions: Anticoagulants arid anti-gout medications may inhibit absorption of Vitamin Bl2. (Hanck, Hieber, Dettori, Bruggemann, Werbach)
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin and is an antioxidant that is important in the prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease. It improves circulation, is necessary for tissue repair, and is useful in treating premenstrual syndrome and fibrocystic disease of the breast. It promotes normal blood clotting and healing, reduces scarring from some wounds, reduces blood pressure, aids in preventing cataracts, improves athletic performance, and relaxes leg cramps. It also maintains healthy nerves and muscles while strengthening capillary walls. In addition, it promotes healthy skin and hair, and helps to prevent anemia and retrolental fibroplasia, an eye disorder that can affect premature infants. It is very important to immune function, especially in providing protection during times of stress and chronic viral illness. Vitamin E helps retards cellular aging due to oxidation, supplies oxygen to the body to give more endurance, protects the lungs against air pollution by working with Vitamin A. It can alleviate fatigue, prevent thick scar formation externally, accelerate healing of burns, lower blood pressure and help alleviate leg cramps.
As an antioxidant, Vitamin E prevents cell damage by inhibiting the oxidation of lipids (fats) and the formation of free radicals. It protects other fat-soluble vitamins from destruction by oxygen, and aids in the utilization of Vitamin A and protects it from destruction oxygen. It retards aging and may prevent age spots as well. Vitamin E is also important for healthy reproductive systems in both men and women.
Vitamin E deficiency may result in damage to red blood cells and destruction of nerves. Signs of deficiency can include infertility, menstrual problems, muscular weakness, neuromuscular impairment, poor coordination, shortened red blood cell life span and breaking of red blood cells, spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) and uterine degeneration. Low levels of Vitamin E in the body have been linked to both bowel cancer and breast cancer. Epidemiological links have been identified between the increase in the incidence of heart disease and the increasing lack of Vitamin E in the diet due to our reliance on over-processed foods.
Vitamin E is actually a family of eight different but related molecules that fall into two major groups: the tocopherols and tocotrienols. Within each group, there are alpha, beta, gamma, and delta forms. Of all eight of these molecules, it is the alpha-tocopherol form that is the most potent.
Sources: Vitamin E is found in the following food sources: cold-pressed vegetable oils, dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Significant quantities of this vitamin are also found in brown rice, cornmeal, dulse, eggs, kelp, desiccated liver, milk, oatmeal, organ meats, soybeans, sweet potatoes, watercress, wheat, and wheat germ. Herbs that contain Vitamin E include alfalfa, bladderwrack, dandelion, dong quai, flaxseed, nettle, oat straw, raspberry leaf, and rose hips.
The principal use of Vitamin E is as an antioxidant. Through this function, it provides protection against heart disease, cancer and strokes. Vitamin E supplementation is useful in a long list of health conditions, including AIDS, alcohol-induced liver disease, allergy, anemia, angina, arrhythmias, atherosclerosis, autoimmune disorders, cancer, capillary fragility, cardiomyopathy, cataract, cervical dysplasia, diabetes, dysmenorrhea, eczema, epilepsy, fibrocystic breast disease, fibromyalgia, gallstones, hepatitis, herpes simplex and zoster, immunodepression, infections, inflammation, intermittent claudication, lupus, macular degeneration, menopausal symptoms, multiple sclerosis, myopathy, neuralgia, neuromuscular degeneration, osteoarthritis, Parkinson's disease, peptic ulcers, periodontal disease, peripheral vascular disease, pregnancy, premenstrual syndrome, Raynauds, disease, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, seborrheic dermatitis, skin ulcers, ulcerative colitis and wound healing.
Precautions: If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, rheumatic heart disease or an overactive thyroid conditions, do not take more than doses recommended by your health care professional. With blood thinning medications do not take more than 1200 IU per day. (Kryzhacovskii, Werbach)
Vitamin K is needed for the production of prothrombin, which is necessary for blood clotting. It is also essential for bone formation and repair; it is necessary for the synthesis of osteocalcin, the protein I bone tissue on which calcium crystallizes. Consequently, it may help prevent osteoporosis.
Vitamin K plays an important role in the intestines and aids in converting glucose into glycogen for storage in the liver, promoting healthy liver function. It may increase resistance to infection in children and help prevent cancers that target the inner linings of the organs. It aids in promoting longevity.
A deficiency of this vitamin can cause abnormal and/or internal bleeding.
Vitamin K exists in three forms. Vitamin K1 and K2 occur naturally; Vitamin K3 is synthetic.
Sources: Vitamin K is found in some foods, including asparagus, blackstrap molasses, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, dark green leafy vegetables, egg yolks, liver, oatmeal, oats, rye, safflower oil, soybeans, and wheat. Herbs that can supply Vitamin K include alfalfa, green tea, kelp, nettle, oat straw, and shepherd's purse.
The majority of the body's supply of this vitamin is synthesized by the "friendly" bacteria normally present in the intestines.
Precautions: Antibiotics increase the need for dietary or supplemental Vitamin K. Antibiotics, which kill both "friendly" and "bad" bacteria, interferes with Vitamin K production in the body. Large doses of synthetic Vitamin K taken during the last few weeks of pregnancy can result in a toxic reaction in the newborn. (Hanck, Werbach)
Calcium is vital for the formation of strong bones and teeth and for the maintenance of healthy gums. It is also important in the maintenance of a regular heartbeat and the transmission of nerve impulses. Calcium lowers cholesterol levels and helps prevent cardiovascular disease. It is needed for muscular growth and contraction, and for the prevention of muscle cramps. It may increase the rate of bone growth and bone mineral density in children and adults. This important mineral is also essential in blood clotting and helps prevent cancer. It may lower blood pressure and prevent bone loss associated with osteoporosis as well. Calcium provides energy and participates in the protein structuring of RNA and DNA. It is also involved in the activation of several enzymes, including lipase, which breaks down fats for utilization by the body. In addition, calcium maintains proper cell membrane permeability, aids in neuromuscular activity, helps to keep the skin healthy, and protects against the development of pre-ecl ampsia during pregnancy.
Calcium protects the bones and teeth from lead by inhibiting absorption of this toxic metal. If there is a calcium deficiency, lead can be absorbed by the body and deposited in the teeth and bones.
Calcium deficiency can lead to: Aching joints, brittle nails, eczema, elevated blood cholesterol, heart palpitations, hypertension, insomnia, muscle cramps, nervousness, numbness in the arms and/or legs, a pasty complexion, rheumatoid arthritis, rickets, and tooth decay. Deficiencies of calcium are also associated with cognitive impairment, convulsions, depression, delusions and hyperactivity.
Sources: Calcium is found in milk and dairy foods, salmon, sardines, seafood, and green leafy vegetables. Food sources include almonds, asparagus, blackstrap molasses, brewer's yeast, broccoli, buttermilk, cabbage, carob, cheese, collards, dandelion greens, dulse, figs, goat's milk, kelp, mustard greens, oats, prunes, sesame seeds, soybeans, tofu, watercress, and yogurt.
Herbs that contain calcium include alfalfa, burdock root, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, chicory, dandelion, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, flaxseed, hops, horsetail, kelp, lemongrass, mullein, nettle, oat straw, parsley, peppermint, plantain, raspberry leaves, red clover, rose hips, yarrow and yellow dock.
Heavy exercise can hinder calcium uptake while moderate exercise promotes it. Female athletes and menopausal women need greater amounts of calcium than other women because their estrogen levels are lower. Taking calcium with iron reduces the effect of both minerals.
Precautions: Calcium may interfere with the effects of verapamil, a calcium channel blocker prescribed for heart problems and high blood pressure. Calcium supplements should not be taken by persons with a history of kidney stones or kidney disease.
Magnesium is a vital catalyst in enzyme activity, especially the activity of those enzymes involved in energy production. It assists in calcium and potassium uptake. A deficiency of magnesium interferes with the transmission of nerve and muscle impulses, causing irritability and nervousness. Magnesium supplementation can help prevent depression, dizziness, muscle weakness and twitching, PMS, and also aid in maintaining the body's proper pH balance.
Magnesium is necessary to prevent the calcification of soft tissue. This essential mineral protects the arterial linings from stress caused by sudden blood pressure changes, and plays a role in the formation of bone and in carbohydrate and mineral metabolism. With Vitamin B6, magnesium helps to reduce and dissolve calcium phosphate kidney stones. Recent research has shown that magnesium may help prevent cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and certain forms of cancer, and it may reduce cholesterol levels. It is effective in preventing premature labor and convulsions in pregnant women. Magnesium combined with Vitamin B6 may prevent calcium oxalate kidney stones.
Magnesium deficiency includes confusion, insomnia, irritability, poor digestion, rapid heartbeat, seizures, and tantrums. Often, a magnesium deficiency can be synonymous with diabetes. It is considered that magnesium deficiency are at the root of many cardiovascular problems. It may cause fatal cardiac arrhythmia, hypertension, and sudden cardiac arrest, as well as asthma, chronic fatigue, chronic pain syndromes, depression, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, and pulmonary disorders.
Sources: Magnesium is found in most foods, especially dairy products, fish, meat, and seafood. Food sources which have magnesium include apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, blackstrap molasses, brewer's yeast, brown rice, cantaloupe, dulse, figs, garlic, grapefruit, green leafy vegetables, kelp, lemons, lima beans, millet, nuts, peaches, black-eyed peas, salmon, sesame seeds, soybeans, tofu, watercress, wheat, and whole grains. Herbs that contain magnesium include alfalfa, bladderwrack, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, dandelion, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, hops, horsetail, lemongrass, licorice, mullein, nettle, oat straw parsley, peppermint, raspberry leaf, red clover, sage, yarrow and yellow dock.
Precautions: Alcohol and diuretics can decrease the levels of magnesium.
Copper has many functions. It aids in the formation of bone, hemoglobin, red blood cells, and works in balance with zinc and Vitamin C to form elastin. It is involved in the healing process, energy production, hair and skin coloring, and taste sensitivity. This mineral is also needed for healthy nerves and joints.
An early sign of copper deficiency is osteoporosis. Copper is essential for the formation of collagen, one of the fundamental proteins making up bones, skin, and connective tissue. Other possible signs of copper deficiency include anemia, baldness, diarrhea, general weakness, impaired respiratory function, and skin sores. A lack of copper can also lead to increased blood fat levels.
Sources: Copper is found in cookware and plumbing. Copper is found in many foods including almonds, avocados, barley, beans, beets, blackstrap molasses, broccoli, garlic, lentils, liver, mushrooms, nuts, oats, oranges, pecans, radishes, raisins, salmon, seafood, soybeans, and green leafy vegetables.
Precautions: Excessive intake of copper can lead to toxicity, which has been associated with depression, irritability, nausea and vomiting, nervousness, and joint and muscle pain. (Bhathene, Werbach)
Selenium's principal function is to inhibit the oxidation of fats. It is a vital antioxidant, especially when combined with Vitamin E. It protects the immune system by preventing the formation of free radicals, which can damage the body. It has also been found to function as a preventive against the formation of certain types of tumors. Selenium and Vitamin E act synergistically to aid in the production of antibodies and to help maintain a healthy heart and liver. This trace element is needed form pancreatic function and tissue elasticity. When combined with Vitamin E and zinc, it may also provide relief from an enlarged prostate. Selenium supplementation has been found to protect the liver in people with alcoholic cirrhosis.
Selenium deficiency has been linked to cancer and heart disease. It has also been associated with exhaustion, growth impairment, high cholesterol levels, infections, liver impairment, pancreatic insufficiency, and sterility.
Sources: Selenium can be found in meat and grains, depending on the selenium content of the soil where the food is raised. It can be found in brazil nuts, brewer's yeast, broccoli, brown rice, chicken, diary products, dulse, garlic, kelp, liver, molasses, onions, salmon, seafood, yeast, tuna, vegetables, wheat germ and whole grains. Herbs that contain selenium include alfalfa, burdock root, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, fennel seed, fenugreek, garlic, ginseng, hawthorn berry, hops, horsetail, lemongrass, milk thistle nettle, oat straw, parsley, peppermint, raspberry leaf, rose hips, uva ursi, yarrow, and yellow dock.
Precautions: Excessive selenium levels can cause arthritis, brittle nails, "garlic-like" breath, gastrointestinal disorders, hair loss, irritability, liver and kidney impairment, a metallic taste in the mouth, pallor, skin eruptions, and yellowish skin. (Van Rij, Jameson, Werbach)
Other Supplements and Substances
To begin a discussion of glucosamine (as well as chondroitin sulfate and MSM), we first have to look at the joints of the body and the cartilage within them. Our joints are structures which provide the various bones of our bodies attachment points and transitional junctions from one bony segment to another. Joints make movement possible by allowing motion between these bony segments. The joints of our bodies, depending on where they are located and what their purpose is, consist of a number of functional units: Cartilage, a joint capsule and cavity, synovium and synovial fluid, tendons, ligaments, etc. In regard to glucosamine, we need to look specifically at cartilage and its components. Cartilage, which is made up of collagen (fibers), proteoglycans, water and chondrocyte cells (which produce and maintain cartilage), is a major component of our joints. It works as a supportive mechanism within the joints, acting both as a cushion and shock absorber while allowing easy motion to occur over its smooth surfac es.
Glucosamine is a natural substance that is found throughout the human body, especially in the cartilage and connective tissues of our joints. Glucosamine is essentially a modified sugar molecule, made from glucose (a sugar) and from the amino acid glutamine. It is a critical component of cartilage health and resiliency. It is produced by the chondrocyte cells within the cartilage of our joints. It is a precursor to the production of GAGs (glycosaminoglycans - modified sugars), which are also manufactured by chondrocytes and help retain water within the cartilage. It is a major component of hyaluronan (found in the proteoglycan portion of cartilage), which helps provide a chemical linkage between sugars within cartilage and gives fluid within the joints lubricating ability. Unfortunately, glucosamine production decreases as we age, cartilage destruction and degeneration, typically to a point where the joint is unable to keep pace or replace the cartilage being lost. This is why replacement of glucosamine in t he body is so important!
There are essentially three forms of glucosamine: Glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride and NAG (N-acetylglucosamine). From a general replacement standpoint, glucosamine is what is needed and all three forms provide this. But there are important differences between these three. Most of the studies performed to date have looked more at glucosamine sulfate rather than the other two versions, although it appears that glucosamine hydrochloride is just as effective, possibly more so.
Glucosamine sulfate can be used for natural treatment of the various forms of arthritis, especially osteoarthritis. While glucosamine sulfate provides pain reduction and resolution, it is not considered specifically as a "first line" pain reliever. It appears that its pain relieving capabilities are from its effects as an anti-inflammatory. Reducing those chemical agents and enzymes which contribute to the inflammatory response.
While there are food sources that contain glucosamines within them, it is usually not bioavailable nor could they provide the necessary dosages which are required to achieve a therapeutic response. From this standpoint, the only viable alternative is the use of supplementation. In clinical and animal studies, the amount of supplementation needed to achieve a therapeutic response ranged from 1500 to 2000 mg per day in divided doses.
Precautions: Some glucosamine sulfates utilize salt (sodium chloride) as a stabilizer. If you are on a restricted salt diet for any reason, use the glucosamine hydrochloride form which does not contain salt.
Chondroitin sulfate is another major component of cartilage and other connective tissue. In cartilage it it part of proteoglycan and is integral to the production and makeup of the GAGs (glycosaminoglycans) that are so important to cartilage health. It is also present in the lining of blood vessels and the urinary bladder. Chondroitin sulfate is made up of repeating chains of sugar and like glucosamine sulfate, in the joints of the body it slows and stops the breakdown of cartilage and stimulates its repair. It decreases in the body as we age, and in the joints, decreases with cartilage degeneration and destruction.
The major source of chondroitin sulfate is from animal cartilage, such as cow (bovine), shark or whale cartilage. As with glucosamine, the only viable way of getting therapeutic dosages of chondroitin sulfate is through supplementation. In the United States, this can only be done with oral supplementation, while in Europe, injectable forms are also available.
There is a certain level of controversy surrounding the bioavailability and usage of chondroitin sulfate. Some of the clinical studies have presented opposing conclusions in regard to chondroitin sulfate's absorption and usage within the body and its uptake into the joints. Part of this controversy stems from the apparent molecule size of chondroitin sulfate, especially as compared with glucosamine. The other aspect of this controversy is from the brands and types of chondroitin sulfates used in the clinical studies themselves. These different brands had varying concentration levels and purity of chondroitin sulfate which in turn may have effected the clinical outcomes. Regardless of this controversy, it does appear that chondroitin sulfate is a valuable tool in certain conditions, especially arthritis and the pain associated with it. In my practice, I have arthritic patients who have used only glucosamine, others that have utilized only chondroitin sulfate, while another group has taken a combinations of th ese two substances. I have found that all of these patients achieved decreased pain levels and improved joint mobility, however, the group taking the combination of chondroitin sulfate with glucosamine achieved the best results.
Conditions which may be helped with chondroitin sulfate include arthritis (especially osteoarthritis), atherosclerosis, high cholesterol and kidney stones.
Precautions: Nausea may occur at very high doses (more than 10 grams per day).
MSM stands for "methyl-sulfonyl-methane" and is from the sulfur family. It is an organic form of sulfur and a metabolite of DMSO (dimethy-sulfoxide - [[blank].sup.*]DMSO will be discussed in the section on topical pain relievers). MSM occurs widely in nature, being found in both plants and animals, and plays an essential role in human nutrition. Sulfur is a trace element stored within every cell of our bodies. Its highest concentrations are found in our muscles, bones, joints, skin, hair and nails. It is necessary for the production of collagen, the primary constituent of cartilage and connective in the body. In connective tissue, it provides the disulfide bonds between the proteins which hold the connective tissue together.
The major sources of sulfur, and thus MSM, are from the foods which contain sulfur. Included in this large group are many fruits and vegetables. Examples are: Brussels sprouts, corn, garlic, legumes, onions, peppers and tomatoes. Other sources of MSM include soybeans, fish, meats, eggs, whole grains and wheat germ.
MSM is also found in a group of sulfur amino acids that include methionine, cysteine, cystine, taurine and glutathione. There are also other substances which contain sulfur. Examples of some of these include: Vitamin B1, biotin, alpha lipoic acid, coenzyme A, insulin, glucosamine and chondroitin. As you can see, we can obtain MSM from many foods, it is however, lost in the processing of foods.
Conditions which may be helped with MSM include allergies, arthritis (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, etc.), asthma, cancer, colitis, constipation, diabetes, heartburn, inflammation, muscle soreness, muscle cramps, pain, parasites, skin and hair conditions.
Precautions: Essentially none.
Essential Fatty Acids
Our society, especially here in the United States, has an ongoing war going against fat. There is a general assumption that all fats are bad for us, however, this is incorrect. The fact is, there are "good fats" and "bad fats." The "good fats" are called. Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) and are critical to our health. EFAs are the fatty acids which cannot be produced by our bodies and must be taken in through our diets. EFAs are basic building blocks in our bodies and makes up fats and oils. Essential fatty acids are found in high concentrations in the brain and throughout the body. Every cell needs EFAs. They are critical for the repair and rebuilding of cells as well as the production of new cells.
Our bodies use EFAs to produce prostaglandins (hormone-like substances that act as chemical messengers and regulate various body processes). Essential fatty acids are very important to the health of our joints, providing basic nutrients and fulfilling vital roles for the cartilage and synovial fluid. EFAs are very valuable, both directly and indirectly, in controlling pain, inflammation and swelling.
There are two categories of essential fatty acids: the Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Of these two, Omega-6 fatty acids include linoleic and gamma linoleic acids. Omega-3 fatty acids include alpha-linolenic (LNA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Sources of these essential fatty acids can be found in many types of oils. For the Omega-6 group, sources include raw nuts and seeds, legumes and unsaturated vegetable oils (such as borage oil, grape seed oil, primrose oil, sesame oil and soybean oil). For the Omega-3 fatty acids, sources include cold water fish (such as salmon and tuna), fish oil and other vegetable oils (such as canola, flaxseed and walnut).
Even though we can get the needed essential fatty acids from our diets, the best way to get specific therapeutic doses of these critical fatty acids is through supplementation. This becomes very important when you are addressing disease processes and for general health and prevention since you can control the amounts you get day-to-day. A number of companies produce both singular and combinations of these essential fatty acids for your use.
EFA's have positive effects on a great many disorders and conditions. This is especially true for cardiovascular diseases and related disorders. There are many conditions in which essential fatty acids can prove beneficial for and effective in treating. These include: Acne, alcohol-related disorders, anti-aging, arthritis (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.), asthma, atherosclerosis, attention deficit disorder, cancer, candida, cardiovascular disease and related-disorders, cholesterol reduction, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, eczema, hair loss, high blood pressure, hypertension, infertility, menstrual cramps, multiple sclerosis, pregnancy, premenstrual syndrome, prenatal development, psoriasis, reduce risk of blood clot formation, skin disorders, triglyceride reduction, weight loss and weight changes. Essential fatty acids are critical to prevention of many diseases and for maintaining general health.
Precautions: Essentially none. You may want to increase your intake of Vitamin E to help prevent peroxidation of these sensitive fatty acids in the body. Many supplements already contain added E so be sure to check your supplement labels.
Water is an underrated resource; one that we take for granted on a daily basis. Our bodies are made up mostly of water (approximately 2/3) and yet many of us do not replenish this critical fluid each day. Why does this happen when water is abundantly available and accessible? Sadly, too many of us have replaced drinking water with other fluids such as coffee, tea, and soda pop.
Water is critical to our very survival. Drinking eight, eight ounce glasses of water each day is necessary to ensure that we maintain optimum health. Water is necessary to perform so many functions within the human body that naming them all is impossible. Some examples of the actions of water is its necessity for most chemical reactions, the transportation of nutrients and waste products, for digestion and absorption of nutrients, for maintaining our body temperature, for proper circulatory function, etc.
Water is critical to the proper functioning of the body. We must keep hydrated. Dehydration need not be a full blown clinical state. Even low levels of fluid decrease can lead to clinical problems. Dehydration can cause dysfunction in the systems of the body. An example is in the musculoskeletal system - the bones, muscle and joints of our bodies. Without adequate water to our muscles and joints, we create an environment in which they cannot function properly. This can lead to pain within those involved muscles and joints. In my practice, I have found that immediate hydration over the first 24 hours can prove invaluable in reducing pain levels in many conditions, especially those involving arthritis, sprains, strains, tendonitis, bruises, etc.
SOD (Superoxide Dismutase)
Superoxide Dismutase is an important enzyme whose usefulness is derived from its antioxidant capability; specifically with the neutralization of the free radical superoxide (superoxide is one of the most damaging free radicals found in nature). SOD, because of its capability, is vital for cellular health, especially as it pertains to protecting and reducing the rate of cell destruction. As with many protective compounds within our bodies, it decrease as we age. This translates to loss of its protective strength as the blood levels decrease.
There are two varieties of SOD available. They are a Copper/Zinc SOD and a Manganese SOD. These two substances act upon cells in two different ways. Copper/zinc SOD works on and protects the cytoplasm of the cell. This is important because much of the free radicals (damaging agents) is produced in the cytoplasm by metabolic activity. Manganese SOD works within the cell to protect the mitochondria (a mitochondria is a cells energy producing mechanism and also contains genetic information).
Sources of SOD include broccoli, barley grass, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and wheat grass. It is also found in the majority of green plants.
SOD can be used in anti-aging applications, arthritis (osteo and rheumatoid arthritis), cancer and as an overall anti-oxidant.
Precautions: Make sure that the SOD you are taking is enteric coated. This coating protects the tablet from being broken down in the stomach, so it is broken down and absorbed in the small intestine.
There are three different categories of enzymes in this section: Digestive, food and metabolic enzymes. While these enzymes are derived from a variety of sources and perform many different functions; they also share many similar actions and functions at the same time. This is especially true in regard to their pain relieving capability. It is important to remember that these enzymes will come from both external sources (food) and internal sources (body chemicals, body structures and organs). The majority of these enzymes are also available in supplement form, which may be absolutely necessary for you to bring their levels up within the body. We will begin with some basic definitions and classifications.
Important note: You will find a basic overlap of the enzymes types named in the following classifications, even though they will be found under different categories. This is due to their origins, from external food sources versus coming from inside the body. Don't let this confuse you. Our interest is in how these enzymes can work within our bodies to provide either direct and/or indirect pain relief.
Digestive enzymes: This group is also known as the "Pancreatic Enzymes." These enzymes are those that are secreted within our bodies, from the mouth, stomach, small intestine and pancreas. The enzymes of this group include the following: Amylase, chymotrypsin, lipase, pancreatin, protease and trypsin. There are approximately 22 enzymes within this group, some which are very prominent and others that play lesser roles. We will focus on the main ones listed above.
Food enzymes: This group are also known as the "Plant Enzymes." These enzymes are present in all raw foods and are critical for proper digestion of our food. As you can tell from the name, these enzymes actually enter our body as part of the food sources that we are consuming. Examples of these enzymes would be papain and bromelain from pineapple. They can also be taken as supplements, as mentioned earlier.
Metabolic enzymes: This group of enzymes is enormous with literally hundreds of thousands of them found within the body. These enzymes are critical to the functions and actions of the millions of biochemical reactions taking place in our bodies every day. Examples of the functions that these enzymes perform include helping the blood to coagulate, eliminating carbon dioxide from the lungs (from respiratory enzymes), assisting the removal of waste from the kidneys and liver, etc. Examples of these enzymes include SOD and catalase.
Enzymes are vital to our lives, without them we would perish very rapidly. They are active all the time, performing a multitude of chemical functions and activities that are necessary for normal performance. Enzymes work at every level in our bodies, from the cellular level (in individual cells) through the various systems (gastrointestinal system). We take in enzymes each time we eat. Our whole foods contain many different enzymes. These plant enzymes initiate digestion of our food stuff, proteins, carbohydrates and fat digestion. Internally, our bodies produce enzymes to finish these breakdown processes and fuel millions of biochemical reactions.
The following is a brief description of the enzymes that have been previously listed. Remember, these are only a small group of the many enzymes working within us.
1. Amylase: Found in the saliva, pancreatic and intestinal juices. It breaks down carbohydrates. Different types of amylase (such as lactase, maltase and sucrase) break down different sugar types.
2. Bromelain: Found in the pineapple and papaya fruits, it aids in the breakdown and digestion of protein.
3. Cellulase: Found in many raw foods, it is used for the digestion of soluble fiber into smaller Units.
4. Chymotrypsin: This is a digestive enzyme is found in the intestinal juices. It helps to break down and digest proteins.
5. Lipase: Found in the stomach and pancreatic juices helps digest fat. It is also found within fats in foods.
6. Papain: Found in the pineapple and papaya fruits, it aids in the breakdown and digestion of protein.
7. Pepsin: Is a proteolytic enzyme found within the stomach. It aids in the digestion and breakdown of protein.
8. Protease: Found in the stomach, pancreatic and intestinal juices. It helps break down and digest protein. Included in this group is the proteolytic enzyme pepsin.
9. Trypsin: Is found in the intestinal juices. It helps break down and digest proteins.
Enzymes can found in many different foods, from both plant and animal sources. In the plant group, raw sources are best and include the majority of fruits and some vegetables.
Conditions in which enzymes can prove valuable to prevent, reverse and treat include the following: Acne, allergies, arthritis, asthma, healing broken bones, bruises, cancer, candidiasis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, fibroids, gallbladder disorders, gastric disorders (gastritis, ulcers, etc.) , headaches, herpes, hyperactivity syndromes (ADD), insomnia, intervertebral disc disorders, intestinal disorders, kidney stones, menopausal symptoms, mental disorders, osteoporosis, parasites, premenstrual syndrome, seizures, skin disorders, sprains and strains, tendonitis and weight problems. This is not an all inclusive list either. Enzymes can, and do impact most all conditions and diseases to some degree or another.
Precautions: Whether changing our whole food eating patterns to increase the enzymes we get each day or through supplementation, it is important to know what type of enzymes you need and the dosages. This is especially important when you have a diagnosed disease or condition. In regard to pain control, it is very important to utilize the services of a health care professional who understands and utilizes enzyme therapy in the treatment of pain and its related conditions.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and are critical to life. There are 22 amino acids of which eight are considered essential. Essential amino acids are those that cannot be produced in the body and therefore must be supplied daily through the diet. For the body to utilize the various amino acids, they must all be present and in the correct amounts. If any amino acid is not present in the sufficient amounts, it can in turn effect the other amino acids uptake and usage. For our purposes, we will specifically be addressing just two amino acids out of this group in this section. They are: DL-phenylalanine and tryptophan (in its available over-the-counter form called 5-hydroxy-tryptophan). This is because of the evidence available in regard to their pain relieving capabilities. It is important to remember that the other amino acids, especially the essential forms, are all important for general health and in addressing diseases and conditions within the body. All of these amino acids may impact pain w ithin the body, in both indirect and direct ways.
DL-phenylalanine, also known as DLPA, is a form of one of the eight essential amino acids, phenylalanine. DLPA is made up of the basic amino acid phenylalanine and combinations of equal parts of two forms within its makeup; the synthetic form (designated the D-form) and the natural form (designated the L-form). It is from the combination of these two forms that it gets the designation of "DL." There is also an "L" form available commercially. Both the "D-form" and the "DL-form" have the capability of to act as pain relievers.
DL-phenylalanine acts on the central nervous system within the body. It can decrease pain, aid in memory and learning and can suppress the appetite. In regard to pain, DLPA works in producing and activating endorphins within the body. Through this, it can assist the body in reducing pain. DLPA can be very useful for chronic pain and can become more effective over time.
Conditions that DLPA can help with include chronic pain, especially with neck pain, low back pain, back pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, migraine headaches, postoperative pain, leg and muscle cramps and neuralgia. Other conditions that it can be effective for include depression, menstrual cramps, obesity, Parkinson's disease and schizophrenia.
Precautions: Phenylalanine and DLPA should not be taken by pregnant women and people who have PKU (phenylketonuria -- an inborn error of metabolism in which phenylalanine is not converted in the body into tyrosine with devastating results). Phenylalanine may cause a rise in blood pressure and should not be taken by those with cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure or hypertension without first consulting a doctor.
Tryptophan is one of the essential amino acids and is a critical precursor for the neurotransmitter serotonin (serotonin is necessary for normal sleep, the transfer of nerve signals from cell to cell and for our mental health status). Tryptophan is necessary for the production of Vitamin B1 (thiamine). Tryptophan can reduce pain sensitivity, provide mood stability, reduce anxiety and tension, reduce depression and can help with appetite control. It may also help with migraine headaches, hypertension, vascular disorders, addiction disorders (such as alcoholism) and nausea.
In 1989, because of problems relating to a, bad batch of tryptophan, the FDA caused all tryptophan supplements to be removed from store shelves. In the last year or so, another form of tryptophan has become available. It is called 5-hydrozy-tryptophan (5-HTP) and is the first stage of tryptophan's biochemical breakdown in the body. It is derived from the African botanical Griffonia simplicifolia and therefore is available as an over-the-counter supplement which great news for the general public! We again have access to supplemental tryptophan.
Natural sources of tryptophan include bananas, brown rice, cottage cheese, fish, milk, meats, peanuts and soybeans. For specific usages, as in the treatment of particular conditions or as a sleep aid, use the 5-hydroxy-tryptophan supplement form in dosages ranging from 50 to 150 mg twice daily.
Precaution: It is not advisable to supplement 5-HTP in dosages more than one gram (1,000 mg) per day. Because of the conversion to serotonin, supplementation of 5-HTP can cause drowsiness especially at higher dosages.
There are many herbal substances which can impact pain. Some of these will impact the pain directly, while others work in an indirect fashion (i.e. on inflammation, muscle spasms, sprain and strains, bruises, etc). Herbs have been used medicinally for centuries to treat a large variety of maladies. Until the advent of "modern medicine," herbal therapies were the mainstay treatment for disease in many cultures. The scientific knowledge base for herbals is incredibly extensive and there are a number of excellent texts that deal with this subject in depth. Information has been gathered over literally centuries. In recent years, herbs have been the subject of many clinical trials. Herbs have amazing properties and capabilities, many of them medicinal and pharmacological in nature. Because of these incredible capabilities, herbs are an area that I highly recommend for study. There are many types and varieties of herbs available commercially and they come from around the globe.
For this section, I have included a mixture of the different herbs that are available. However, due to constraints of space, I have listed only 20 different herbs. Please remember that we are only skimming the surface here and that there are literally hundreds of herbs which have medicinal value for a number of medical conditions. In this regard, the capability of herbal therapies to resolve and impact these diseases and conditions can, in turn, decrease and resolve pain. Some herbs that are discussed in this section will crossover into the homeopathic section. These will be noted with each herb that this is true.
Arnica is a well known perennial plant that has been used medicinally for hundreds of years in internal as well as external (topical) preparations. There are various species that have been used medicinally with perhaps the most well known being Arnica montana (scientific name). Arnica has been used in both herbal and homeopathic preparations for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.
Conditions that Arnica can be used for include: Arthritis, bronchitis and cough, the common cold, inflammatory conditions (skin, mouth, pharynx, joints, muscles, etc.), as a mild analgesic, blunt injuries, etc.
Precautions: Arnica has the potential for negative qualities which have led some authorities to recommend that it not be taken internally. From a toxicology standpoint, Arnica is considered poisonous. This occurs only with overdoses which can irritate mucous membranes, and cause stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting. At very high doses, Arnica can cause gastroenteritis, dyspnea and cardiac arrest/palsy. These problems usually only happen when Arnica is wild crafted (picked directly from nature), formulated and/or used by those that do not understand its dangers and usage.
In most commercial preparations, the dosages are typically low and are safe to consume orally, especially with the homeopathic preparations. For safety reasons with taking Arnica orally, it is always advisable to seek the advice of a health care professional. This is especially true if you have a diagnosed conditions, and a history of cardiovascular disease, hypertension or other heart-related problems.
Black Cohosh, scientific name, Cimicifuga racemosa, has purported estrogenic effects through the binding of estrogen receptor sites and its effects on other female hormones. It has been used traditionally in the treatment of dysmenorrhea, dyspepsia, rheumatisms, premenstrual syndrome and menopausal climacteric complaints (hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, etc).
Other conditions in which Black Cohosh may also prove valuable include: Asthma, coughs, high blood pressure and snake bites. It is part of the nervine group of herbals and has proven anti-spasmodic effects to smooth muscle. In this regard, it can prove to have indirect pain relieving effects.
Precautions: This herb should not be taken during pregnancy as it may induce miscarriage and premature birth. Overdose may cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headache, nervous system and visual disturbances and increased perspiration. However, no health hazards or side effects are known when properly administered or used in designated therapeutic dosages.
Blue Vervain contains a number of chemical agents, one of which is verbenalin (a glucoside). Verbenalin has moderate parasympathetic properties and works on the sensory nerves leading to the brain, providing a tranquilizing sensation to the mind, where there is restlessness and agitation. Because of this, it can be useful as a sleep aid for those suffering from insomnia and is known as the "natural tranquilizer." Blue Vervain stimulates nerve endings, blood vessels and the salivary glands. It can reduce fevers and colds. It can also be used as an expectorant and is helpful with coughs, pneumonia and asthma.
Blue Vervain has definite analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity. In this capacity, it has been used for hundreds of years as part of folk medicine. It has a general calming effect on the nervous system and by normalizing this system, can reduce pain.
Blue Vervain can be helpful for arthritic conditions, asthma, anxiety, bronchitis, colds, convulsions, coughs, digestive conditions, fevers, flu, headaches, hyperactivity, indigestion, insomnia, lung congestion, muscle and spinal pain, nervousness and nervous conditions (restlessness, etc), pain, pneumonia, seizures, and sore throat.
Precautions: As with all herbs, caution must be taken not take too much within 24 hours.
Boswellia is a tree that is found in dry, hilly areas of India. Its common name is Salai guggal. Boswellia has been historically used in Ayurvedic medicine in India. It has been recommended for a variety of conditions including arthritis, diarrhea, dysentery, pulmonary disease and ringworm.
Studies have shown that boswellic acids, one of the active components of Boswellia, have an anti-inflammatory action. Boswellia inhibits pro-inflammatory mediators in the body. For this reason, it is used in many conditions in which there is an inflammatory component. Boswellia tends to be well tolerated by the stomach, unlike traditional NSAIDs.
Conditions that Boswellia may prove valuable in are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and bursitis.
Precautions: Boswellia is generally safe. In very high doses and overdoses, it may cause diarrhea, nausea or a skin rash.
Burdock, known scientifically as Arctium lappa, is widely found in Europe and Asia and has a long history of usage in these areas. Burdock has been used for a wide range of activities, including antipyretic (fever reducing), antimicrobial, antitumor, and as a diuretic and diaphorectic (promoting perspiration). It has historically been used as a blood purifier to clear the bloodstream of toxins.
There are a variety of conditions that Burdock has uses for including: Fever, infection, cancer, fluid retention and kidney stones. Other ailments include colds, gout, rheumatism, stomach ailments, psoriasis and as a laxative. In chinese medicine, burdock is used with a combination with other herbs to treat colds, sore throats and tonsillitis. Burdock is also useful for cankers, boils, abscesses, etc.
Precautions: Burdock has a small potential to cause an allergic skin reaction in those sensitive to Burdock. In rare occasions, Burdock root tea poisoning has been documented.
Cayenne has been used medicinally for centuries. The Cayenne plant is very closely related to bell peppers, jalapenos and other peppers. This "hot" fruit is helpful for a variety of conditions. Cayenne contains a number of chemical compounds. One group are the capsaicinoids, of which capsaicin is one of its chief components. It is well known as a circulatory tonic (improve circulation).
Cayenne can be used both internally and externally as a topical agent. Internally, Cayenne is used for gastrointestinal disorders (stomach aches, stomach cramping and pains, gas, etc.), loss of appetite, dyspepsia, diarrhea, alcoholism, malaria fever, yellow fever and other fevers. It can be used as a preventive and prophylactically for a number of cardiovascular conditions including arteriosclerosis, stroke and heart disease. Cayenne's topical aspects will be discussed under the section on Topical Approaches.
Precautions: Very high doses of Cayenne taken internally, especially at the higher heat units (100,000 plus) and over an extended period of time, may cause ulcers or gastritis.
Chamomile is one of the best known cure-alls and has been used medicinally for many years. It is a bitter tonic with many proven properties. These include its actions as an antispasmodic (muscle relaxation), anti-inflammatory and for its sedative effects. The other proven actions of Chamomile include its effects on gastrointestinal complaints, antibacterial, and antimycotic (anti-fungal) effects. The traditional role of Chamomile is as a bitter, including its stimulating effect on the liver. Chamomile has shown to have antitumor effects and this aspect is being researched for cancer treatment. It also promotes wound healing.
Conditions in which Chamomile can be useful include bronchitis, canker sores, common colds, coughs, diarrhea, eczema, gingivitis, inflammatory conditions, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia, liver and gall bladder conditions, loss of appetite, peptic ulcer, wound and burn healing, etc.
Chamomile has anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic effects, especially in the gastrointestinal system. In this regard, it can have pain relieving effects in an indirect fashion.
Precautions: Rare allergic reactions have been reported. Persons with allergies to ragweed, aster and chrysanthemum should avoid use of Chamomile.
The medicinal parts of Devil's Claw are derived from the dried tubers and roots from this plant that grows in Namibia and South Africa. Devil's Claw has been used as a folk remedy by Africans for a variety of diseases, especially for rheumatism. The major chemical component of Devil's Claw is harpagoside which is believed to be responsible for its anti-inflammatory effects. Devil's Claw acts as an appetite stimulant and has choleretic (stimulating bile production), and analgesic effects. It may also reduce blood pressure and decrease heart rate.
Conditions in which Devil's Claw can prove beneficial include arteriosclerosis, arthritis, heartburn, indigestion, joint pain, rheumatoid arthritis, liver and gallbladder complaints, and loss of appetite.
Precautions: Caution should be taken if stomach or duodenal ulcers are present. Devil's Claw may irritate or aggravate these conditions by its promotion of stomach acid.
This plant is common in all of Europe and the medicinal part if the dried herb. English Horsemint has carminative (reduces gas and bowel pains) and stimulant effects. In Europe, English Horsemint has been used for all kinds of pain, especially headaches.
English Horsemint has been used for digestive disorders and arthritic pains. No known precautions are known in regard to the proper usage and with therapeutic dosages.
Feverfew is known botanically as Tanacetum parthenium and is a member of the daisy family. It is found all over Europe. Feverfew has a long history, even being mentioned in Greek literature as a remedy for inflammation and menstrual discomfort. The active compounds in Feverfew are known as sequiterpene lactones. Of this group, the most important is parthenolide, which is critical for therapeutic interventions. It may impede or slow down platelet aggregation, prostaglandin synthesis and the release histamines.
Conditions in which Feverfew can prove effective are aches and pains, allergies, arthritis, fever, migraine headaches and rheumatic disease.
Precautions: Feverfew is not recommended during pregnancy. It may cause mild gastrointestinal upset.
Chestnuts have been used in folk and traditional medicines for centuries. Horse Chestnut has been used as a traditional remedy for arthritis and rheumatism. Horse Chestnut has been found to decrease venous capillary permeability and tonifies the circulatory system. It can improve edema and chronic deep vein incompetence. The bark of the Horse Chestnut has been found to possess anti-inflammatory activity.
Conditions in which Horse Chestnut can prove effective are eczema, superficial and deep varicose veins, leg pains, painful injuries, sprains, bruising and pain syndromes of the spine, phlebitis and thrombophlebitis, hemorrhoids, spastic pains before and during menstruation. It has also been used for arthritis and rheumatism.
Precautions: Horse Chestnut has the potential to be toxic and has the capability to be a very dangerous herb, thus it must be used with caution. In fact, the FDA has declared Horse Chestnut to be unsafe. Depending on which source you study, horse chestnut should not be taken internally or it can be taken safely in specific therapeutic doses. Usually Horse Chestnut is included in a "vein tea" formula along with other herbs and is in a small dose.
Kava Kava has been receiving a lot of media attention over the last year or so. Kava has a number of interesting properties that have been clinically proven. Its scientific name is Piper methysticum and it comes from the South Pacific. There are many varieties of the Kava plant with both black and white grades available. There are a number of chemical compounds which contribute to Kava's medicinal effects. These are called Kavalactones or pyrones. Kava has a demonstrated anti-anxiety effect. It also has an analgesic effect thought to come from "non-opiate pathways."
Conditions in which Kava can help include anxiety states, insomnia, menopausaul symptoms, nervousness, obsessive-compulsive disorders, pain syndromes (headaches, neck pain, back pain, toothache and others), panic disorders, premenstrual tension, stress relief and temporomandibular syndrome.
Precautions: Excessive usage can lead to a skin disorder characterized by a scaly rash and eye irritation. Do not take if you have Parkinson's Disease, are severely depressed, pregnant or nursing. Caution needs to be taken if you are concurrently taking other medications that have similar effects. As with all calming/sedating herbals, use caution if you will be operating heavy machinery.
Licorice, scientific name, Glycyrrhiza glabra, has been used medicinally for literally centuries, especially in the Chinese culture. It is grown in many areas of Europe and Asia. Licorice is produced from the harvested roots of the plant. As with most plants, licorice contains a number of valuable chemical compounds. One of its prominent chemicals is the glycoside glycyrrhizin. Licorice is an expectorant, anti-ulcerogenic (ulcer reducing), antibacterial, antiviral, anti-arrhythmic (normalizing heart rhythms), anti-inflammatory and as an anti-arthritic. It may also have anti-spasmodic effects to muscle. In cases with elevated or high blood pressure, that are not diagnosed as hypertensive, the DGL (deglycyrrhizinated) form of Licorice may be taken with a doctor's monitoring.
Conditions in which Licorice can help treat include arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, canker sores, chronic fatigue syndrome, cough, eczema, fibromyalgia, gastritis, heartburn, indigestion, herpes simplex, peptic ulcer disease. It may also have value in the treatment of SLE (Lupus).
Precautions: Licorice should not be taken during pregnancy. Excessive licorice intake can cause hypernatremia (sodium increase and retention), edema (fluid retention), and an increase in blood pressure leading to hypertension. Patients with preexisting renal disease (kidney), hepatic disease (liver -- especially with chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis and cholestatic diseases of the liver) or cardiovascular disease are contraindicated from taking licorice.
Known scientifically as Paeonia officinalis, Peony is a perennial plant which grows wild in South Europe and is cultivated in other areas around the world including Portugal, Hungary and Asia Minor. It is used as an antispasmodic, diuretic and a sedative. In folk medicine Peony root has been used for neuralgia, migraines, epilepsy and whooping cough.
Conditions in which Peony can be used include ailments of the respiratory tract, asthma, fissures, gout, eclampsia and rheumatoid arthritis.
Precautions: When used with proper administration of therapeutic dosages, Peony can be safe and effective. However, the Peony plant can be poisonous and should not be used without medical supervision. Over dosage can cause vomiting, colic and diarrhea.
Rosemary is a perennial shrub which is cultivated worldwide. Its scientific name is Rosmarinus officinalis. It is used widely as a culinary spice. Medicinally and in folk medicine, rosemary leaves have been used effectively in Europe and China to treat headaches and stomach pains. The major chemical component is a volatile oil from the leaves. It has been found that this oil contributes the calming and soothing effects to tense muscles and nerves. It has been shown that Rosemary is an antispasmodic, mild analgesic, carminative, diuretic, digestive remedy and nervine. Rosemary is also a powerful antioxidant which indirectly can hasten healing in the body and help prevent free radical damage resulting from inflammation or other effects from injury.
Conditions in which rosemary may be of value in treating include circulatory problems, high blood pressure, liver and gallbladder problems, loss of appetite and Rheumatism. Topically is can increase blood flow to an area and act as an analgesic.
Precautions: Over dosage of Rosemary's volatile oil can cause vomiting, spasms, kidney irritation. Caution should be taken if pregnant.
Skullcap has been used as an antispasmodic, anti-epileptic, antibacterial, diuretic and can promote the flow of bile. It is one of the best herbs to treat nervous disorders from insomnia to hysteria. It is an excellent nervine, is very calming and soothing to the nerves and has been used as a sedative. Skullcap has an interesting history in regard to pain relief. In some cultures, it is strongly recommended for the relief of headaches and related pains.
Conditions in which Skullcap can be used include alcoholism, convulsions, coughs, epilepsy, headaches, hysteria, indigestion, insomnia, nervous diseases, nervous tension, neuralgia, pain, restlessness, rheumatism and stress.
Precautions: When used with proper administration of therapeutic dosages, Skullcap can be safe and effective. Overdoses may cause vomiting and diarrhea.
Turmeric, known by the scientific name Curcuma domestica, is a perennial which comes from India and is also cultivated in southern Asia. The roots and rhizome of the plant are used medicinally. Turmeric has a long history of usage in Indian Ayurvedic medicine. In Ayurvedic and folk medicine, Turmeric has been used for a variety of disorders including dyspeptic disorders, diarrhea, fever, dropsy, bronchitis, colds, worms, kidney inflammation and cystitis. Other uses have included headaches, flatulence, upper abdominal pains, colic and amenorrhea. It can also be used externally for bruising, eye infections, inflammation of the oral mucosa, inflammatory skin conditions and infected wounds. Turmeric also provides antioxidant protective benefits.
Conditions in which Turmeric is used include atherosclerosis, bursitis, inflammation, liver and gallbladder complaints, loss of appetite, rheumatoid arthritis. Other uses include amenorrhea, colic, flatulence, headaches and upper abdominal pains. It can also be used externally for bruising, eye infections, inflammation of the oral mucosa, inflammatory skin conditions and infected wounds.
Precautions: Stomach complaints may occur with extended use or with over dosage.
Valerian, scientific name Valeriana officinalis, is a widely distributed perennial found in North America, Europe and Asia. There are three distinct chemical compounds associated with Valerian: A volatile oil, a small number of alkaloids and a group of esters called valepotriates (which are considered the most important chemical group in valerian). Valerian is another herb which has long been used historically for a host of medical problems including digestive disorders, liver problems, nausea and nervous conditions. It has definite sedative effects and is an anti-spasmodic (muscle relaxant).
Conditions in which valerian can be used include colic, epilepsy, fainting, headaches, hysteria, insomnia, lack of concentration, menopause, mental strain, muscle cramps, neuralgia, nervous cardiopathy, nervousness, nervous stomach, neurasthenia, premenstrual tension, restlessness, sleeping disorders, stress, uterine spasticity, and tonicity.
Precautions: Valerian is generally safe, but caution should be used if other central nervous system depressants are concurrently used.
White Willow Bark
White willow bark comes from the white willow tree. The bark is used medicinally and contains its active chemical constituents. White willow bark is the original source of salicin, the forerunner of aspirin, though weaker in activity. It has been used down through the ages a combat pain of many different types, including rheumatism, headaches, fever, arthritis, gout and angina. The usage of White Willow is mentioned in ancient Greek and Egyptian texts. It has analgesic properties, antipyretic, disinfectant and antiseptic properties.
Conditions that White Willow Bark include arthritis (especially osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis), bursitis, fever, headaches and pain syndromes throughout the body.
Precautions: Stomach complaints can occur large and/or extended doses. Caution needs to be taken if ulcer disease is present.
Wood betony, scientific name is Betonica officinalis, has been used for over 400 hundred years for a large variety of maladies. Its acts as an astringent, bitter tonic, disinfectant, expectorant, nervine, sedative and tranquilizer. It may have hypotensive actions. In folk medicine is has ben used as an anti-diarrheal and a carmative.
Conditions that wood betony can prove useful include aches and pains, anxiety, asthma, bronchitis, coughs headaches, nervousness and neuralgia.
Precautions: Avoid during pregnancy as this herb may act as a uterine stimulant.
Homeopathy has been in use for over 200 years and is used worldwide. In Europe and Britain, it has been integrated as a mainstream therapeutic approach, while in the United States it is regaining popularity and usage. Homeopathy is a therapeutic method which is based on the "Law of Similars." The Law of Similars is the fundamental principle of homeopathy and basically states that a parallel action or similarity of action can be achieved between the toxic potential of a substance and its therapeutic action. In layman's terms, this means that "like cures like." Essentially, by taking a particular homeopathic substance in a tiny dose, a substance that can cause or create the same symptoms that the person is experiencing, you will in fact relieve the patient's symptoms and resolve the condition. Please note that I am stating this simplistically, and that defining all the aspects of Homeopathy can easily encompass a book. It achieves its response by using medically active substances at weak or infinitesimal doses .
Homeopathic doses are made by successive steps of diluting or attenuating a base substance into a weaker and weaker dose to achieve specific potency levels. The dilutions are called "Homeopathic Potencies." There are two levels of dilution. One level is the centesimal scale in which are one part of a substance is diluted with a hundred parts of distilled water or ethyl alcohol. This process is repeated again and again to achieve the specific dosage. The centesimal scale is most common in the United States is represented by the letter "c." The other level is the decimal scale in which dilutions are sequentially diluted at one part to ten part ratio. This scale using the letter "x" to identify it. The greater the dilution, the greater the potency, thus a 6c is less potent that a 30c. Homeopathy remedies are very individualized, with the treatment protocols based on the individual's symptoms and needs. As with the herbal section, there are some homeopathic remedies that use plant and/or herbs, however, the ther apeutic approach and dosages are very different. As with herbal medicine, Homeopathy is an excellent natural-based approach to complaints and disease.
In this section, we will be listing homeopathic substances that can relieve pain. The different substances have been drawn from a variety of sources and then verified through the "Homeopathic Materia Medica." I have listed ten substances here. As with the herbal section, there are numerous other homeopathic substances and remedies which can cause direct and indirect pain relief. For more information on Homeopathy, please see the Recommended Reading List at the back of this book.
Agar, also known as Aga, goes by the scientific names Agarcius muscarius and Amanita muscaria. This substance is a fungi (mushroom/toadstool) that grows in Europe, Asia and United States. Agar has been used by medicine men in the past as a hallucinogen and in ritualistic ceremonies. It has been used in folk medicine for headaches and nervous twitching. This fungi is highly toxic (See Precautions), and should only be harvested by knowlegable professionals.
Conditions in which agar have proved helpful are anxiety, alcohol poisoning, fever, headaches, joint pains and neuralgia. It also has hallucinogenic qualities.
Precautions: As with many mushrooms, this drug is highly toxic. Signs of poisoning can include dizziness, vomiting, abdominal pain and muscle cramps. Severe overdoses can lead to confusions, coordination problems, maniac attacks, unconsciousness, coma and death. Please realize we are discussing a huge intake of this substance to create the overdose levels (from 10 grams to over a 100 grams). In homeopathic dosages and preparations, this substance is therapeutically safe.
Belladonna, also known as the "Deadly Nightshade," is scientifically known as Atropa belladonna. This is another plant whose poisonous properties are well known and yet has been well utilized in both herbal and homeopathic medicine. It has an interesting background in folklore, especially in regard to its use in witchcraft, magic and as a hallucinogen in ritualistic ceremonies. The poisoning aspects of belladonna are very similar to the symptoms of scarlet fever and it is from this that homeopathy created a remedy. As with Agar, belladonna is highly toxic, and should only be harvested by knowlegable professionals.
Conditions in which belladonna can be used for a variety of complaints including arrhythmia, cardiac insufficiency, ear ache, fever, gastrointestinal and bile duct pain, headaches, liver and gallbladder complaints, menstrual pain, muscle pain, muscle cramps and spasms, nervous heart complaints, organ muscle relaxation, teething pain and vascular congestion.
Precautions: This is a poisonous substance and precautions need to be taken with its usage. In properly administered homeopathic dosages, for the appropriate complaints, belladonna is safe. Overdoses can lease to hallucinations, delirium, manic attacks and exhaustion. Fatal doses depends on the atropine content, asphyxiation can occur with 100 mg of atropine which corresponds to 5 to 50 grams of belladonna. Please realize that the homeopathic dosage is very tiny and is not toxic.
Bryonia alba, also known called white bryony and wild hops, is a perennial found in Europe and England. This is another plant that is extremely poisonous. If an accidental poisoning occurs, it can cause violent vomiting, extreme inflammation and diarrhea, leading to death usually in a matter of hours. Bryonia has displayed antitumoral effects, acts as a purgative and can have a strong hypoglycemic affect.
Conditions in which bryonia is used include acute and chronic infectious diseases, backache, body aches, cough, diarrhea, diuretic, dizziness, emetic, fatigue, fever, flu, gastrointestinal disorders, headache, joint pain, liver disorders, lumbago, metabolic disorders, migraine headache, pain from broken bones, respiratory tract disorders, rheumatism and sore throat.
Precautions: This drug is highly toxic when freshly harvested. Over dosage can cause vomiting, bloody diarrhea, colic, kidney irritation, paralysis, collapse, and in some conditions, even death. Bryonia administered in homeopathic doses is considered safe for use.
Buttercup, scientifically known as Ranunculus acris and bulbosus, indigenous to northern Europe and the United States. The different types of the buttercup family have been medicinally in folk medicine for neuralgia and rheumatism.
Conditions in which buttercup is used include blisters, bronchitis, chronic skin conditions, gout, headaches, influenza, meningitis, neuralgia (especially intercostal neuralgia and herpes zoster), pleural pain and rheumatism.
Precautions: Not to be taken during pregnancy. Extended use topically can cause blistering to the skin that are difficult to heal. Internal usage can cause irritation to the gastrointestinal tract, colic and diarrhea. This usually only occurs with usage of freshly harvested plants. The homeopathic preparations are sate for use.
Causticum is derived from a preparation made of caustic, slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) and potassium bisulphate. This particular remedy was invented by Dr. Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy.
Conditions in which causticum is used include constipation, cough, cramps, cystitis, facial paralysis, indigestion, joint pain, laryngitis, muscle cramps and pain, rheumatism, sore throat, urinary incontinence and retention.
Precautions: Safe in homeopathic doses.
Cell salts, also called "tissue salts," were discovered by Dr. W. H. Schuessler, M.D. in 1873. He isolated 12 mineral compounds which he called "cell salts." It was Dr. Schuessler's belief that if the body became deficient in any of these important minerals, an abnormal or disease condition could occur. He found that cell salts could be very effective in the treatment of various diseases and maladies. This was the beginning of Dr. Schuessler's "biochemic system of medicine." Over the intervening years, the biochemic theory concerning the use of minerals as therapy has become better understood and very helpful as a treatment modality. Dr. Schuessler believed that the 12 cell salts contained all the active ingredients used by traditional homeopathy. Because of this, I have included the cell salts in the homeopathic section.
All of the cell salts have value in the treatment of pain, both as singular remedies and in combination. Cell salts can be useful as an antispasmodic, for arthritis, back pain, bruises, bursitis, burns, cancer, coccyx pain, colic, cramps, ear pain, eye pain, face pain, foot pain, gout, growing pain, head pain, headaches, heart pain, injuries, joint(s) pain, leg pain, low back pain, menstrual pain, migraine headaches, muscular pain, neck pain, nerve pain, neuralgia, rheumatoid arthritis, sciatica, sprains and strains, stomach ache, teeth and trauma pain. In addition to the pain syndromes, cell salts can be used to treat practically every type of disease. Cell salts deserve serious study and attention. In my practice, I have utilized them in difficult cases with excellent results. For further information, see the Recommended Reading List at the end of this book.
The following are the 12 cell salts, including their abbreviations, and an example of a pain syndrome that they can help resolve.
Herb paris, known scientifically as Paris quadrifolia, is indigenous to Europe and parts of Russia. This plant, also called "one berry,' is another plant which is poisonous. There have been documented incidents over a century ago in which children were poisoned after mistakenly eating the fruit of Herb Paris, thinking that it was blueberries.
Herb Paris is helpful for headaches, migraines, neuralgia, nervous tension, dizziness, palpitations.
Precautions: This drug is considered poisonous. Symptoms of poisoning, after ingesting the berries, include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, miosis (contraction of the eye pupil) and headache. In homeopathic dosages, it is safe.
Monk's-Hood, known scientifically as Aconitum napellus, grows in Europe, Russian and central Asia. It contains the chemical substance "aconite,' which is a deadly poison. This potent poison has been used in times past for hunting and by assassins. In homeopathic medicine it has proven very valuable for fevers and inflammations.
Conditions in which monk's-hood is used include arthritis, fever, gout, inflammation, migraine headaches, myalgia, muscular and articular rheumatism, neuralgia (especially trigeminal and intercostal types), pain, pleurisy and skin inflammations.
Precautions: Monk's-Hood is highly toxic and extremely poisonous. With the exception of homeopathic preparations, administration of this drug is prohibited. Because of its potential for harm, use only under the care of a homeopathic physician.
The pulsatilla plant is part of the Ranunclulaceae family and goes by a number of different names: Meadow anemone, pasque flower and wind flower. This is a perennial plant that grows in many parts of Europe. In ancient times, the pulsatilla plant was used extensively for a wide variety of maladies, especially inflammations and ulcers. It has a number of wide ranging actions and has been called the "Queen of Homeopathic Remedies."
Conditions in which pulsatilla can be useful include back pain, bronchitis, constipation, cough, dyspepsia, earache, eye inflammation, fever, flatulence (gas), gastric upset, headache, hayfever, indigestion, insomnia, joint pain, labor pain, migraine headache, neuralgia, painful menstruation, pharyngitis, sciatica, sore throat, teething, toothache and varicose veins.
Precautions: Not to be taken during pregnancy.
Yellow jessamine, known scientifically as Gelsemium sempervirens, is a climbing plant found in the southern United States. Gelsemium is poisonous in large dose. It has vasodilatory, hypotensive and bronchodilatory effects.
Conditions in which yellow jessamine are used include fever, gastric disorders, headaches, heartburn, inflammation, influenza, migraine headaches and neuralgia. It has also been used for infectious states.
Precautions: With proper administration of homeopathic doses, no adverse reactions are likely. Possible side effects from overdose can include heaviness of the eyelids, double vision, difficulty moving the eyeball, dryness of the mouth and vomiting. Potential poisoning through over dosage exists, so caution should be taken.
Natural medicine has a long history of using natural substances externally on the body for a variety of maladies. This has been especially true of "folk medicine" and folklore over the centuries. Many cultures worldwide have examples and remedies that use plants and herbs topically, typically with excellent results.
This section will discuss ten different substances that can be used as topical agents. With exception of DMSO, all are "natural" substances. DMSO has been included in this this book because it has amazing therapeutic properties. Some of the substances have been discussed previously in other sections. If this is the case, a notation is made to refer to that specific section for further information.
For the general information on Arnica, please see its listing in the Herbal Section.
Arnica is an excellent topical that can be used for a number of conditions externally. As noted previously, Arnica has been used in both herbal and homeopathic preparations for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.
Conditions that Arnica can be used topically for include: Arthritis, blunt trauma, bruises, contusions, inflammatory conditions of the skin, muscle and joints, joint pain.
Precautions: Topically, Arnica has no known negative qualities.
The scientific name for Calendula is Calendula Officinalis. It is commonly known as Marigold. Calendula is grown in Europe, Asia and in the United States but has almost worldwide distribution. Folklore uses of Calendula date back literally centuries. Calendula has antimicrobial, antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, antiphiogistic (inflammation reducing) and vulnerary (wound healing) actions. It has a stimulating effect on the immune system, inhibit tumors and can have an inhibitory effect on the central nervous system. It has been used as a topical agent for a variety of conditions, especially to promote wound healing and reduce inflammation.
Conditions that Calendula is used for topically include antifungal, bee stings, burns, dry skin, eczema, inflammation (of muscles, joints and skin), muscle pain, sunburn and wound healing.
Precautions: Essentially none from topical usage. There is a low potential for skin sensitization with frequent usage.
For general information on Cayenne, please see its listing in the Herbal Section.
As previously noted, Cayenne has been used medicinally for centuries. In regard to its topical usage, the chief chemical compound, capsaicin, has proven to be very effective for a variety of conditions.
Conditions in which Cayenne can be used externally as a topical agent include arm and spine pain, arthritis, chronic low back pain, frostbite, joint pain, muscle pain, muscle spasms, rheumatic conditions and sore throats. Side effects: Blistering to skin, allergic reaction to skin and burning from being placed accidently in sensitive areas such as the eyes.
Precautions: Potential side effects with topical use can include allergic skin reactions, blistering of the skin and burning if the cayenne is accidently placed in sensitive areas such as the eyes.
Cloves have a long history of medicinal use that continues through this day. Perhaps the main component of cloves is the oil that is extracted from its flower buds and fruit. Cloves have a distinct smell and taste, one you won't forget once you have experienced it. It is used as an antibacterial, antifungal, antihistamine, antiseptic and antispasmodic. Cloves are best used as a topical agent for its analgesic properties.
Conditions in which Cloves can be used externally as a topical agent include antiseptic, dental analgesic, fungal infections, inflammation of skin and mucous membranes, local anesthetic, muscular pain relief, ringworm infections, skin antibacterial and toothaches.
Precautions: Caution should be taken when using Clove oil on mucous membranes as it can be an irritant.
DMSO is an amazing substance, even though it is not specifically considered a "natural" one. DMSO, chemically known as dimethylglycine, is a by-product of wood processing in paper manufacturing. It is an oily substance with a garlic-like odor. It is an excellent solvent and has found many commercial uses in this capacity in industrial settings. It is widely used in antifreeze, paint thinners and as a degreaser. For all of this "industrial" capability, DMSO also has incredible value as a therapeutic agent in the treatment of a variety of maladies. DMSO is traditionally used topically, although it can be administered intravenously by a doctor specializing in its use. DMSO is very rapidly absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream. A common side effect with DMSO use is the "taste" of it within the mouth that is experienced soon after applying topically.
Conditions in which DMSO has be used externally as a topical agent include acne, arthritis (osteroathritis, rheumatoid arthritis and other arthritic variants), back pain, blunt trauma, bone pain, burns, cancer, contusions, headaches, herpes, keloids (scars), joint pain, musculoskeletal problems (including spinal, pelvic, extremity, joint, muscular injuries and pain), sciatica, sinusitis (placed topically just inside the nostrils), skin ulcers, sports injuries, sprains and strains. DMSO may also have potential usages for cystitis, infections, mental disabilities, neurological disorders, scleroderma and urinary problems.
Precautions: This product should never be taken orally. It should not be used by children. Intravenous administration should only be performed by a qualified doctor and with caution.
Eucalyptus, scientifically known as eucalyptus globulus, is another is one of those substances that has a history of usage that extends back literally centuries. It can be used both internally and externally for a variety of ailments. The chief component of eucalyptus is a volatile oil which contains the chemical cineole. It is grown in many subtropical areas of the world including Europe, Africa, Asia and America.
Conditions in which eucalyptus can be used externally as a topical agent include anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, coughs, joint pain, muscle pain, neuralgia, rheumatoid arthritis, sinusitis and wound healing.
Precautions: Use caution if using eucalyptus oil on infants and small children. Avoid application to the face as it may cause a glottal or bronchial spasm leading to asphyxiation.
Garlic, scientifically known as Allium sativum, is a well known and popular perennial that is cultivated worldwide. Garlic has many used, both medicinally and nutritionally. One of the main substances, within garlic that is believed to be responsible for its pharmacological activity is chemical "allicin." Garlic is known for its positive effects on atherosclerosis, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Externally, garlic has been used for a wide variety of ailments in folk medicine including muscle pain, neuralgia, corns and warts.
Conditions in which garlic can be used externally as a topical agent include antibacterial activity, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, arthritis, muscle pain, neuralgia, otitis media, rheumatoid arthritis and sciatica.
Precautions: On rare occasions, frequent topical applications may lead to allergic skin reaction.
Lavender, scientifically known as Lavandula spp., has many different species within its family. Lavender has a long history of use in folk medicine, being a popular remedy for a wide range of conditions. It is considered an anti-spasmodic, circulatory stimulant, general tonic, antibacterial, analgesic, carminative and antiseptic. Topically, lavender is applied as a liquid from a decoction or oil.
Lavender can be used externally as a topical agent for arthritis, asthma, bronchial spasm, cough, eczema, headaches, insect bites and stings, joint pain, migraine headache, muscle pain, muscle spasms, neualgia, rheumatism and sunburns.
Precautions: Essentially none for topical usage.
Peppermint is a well known perennial cultivated in Europe and the United States and is scientifically known as Mentha piperita. Peppermint has a long tradition of use in both Eastern and Western natural medicine, in which both the plant and its oil have been utilized. It is considered an antibacterial, antispasmodic, antiseptic and has carmative effects. It has been used for a variety of gastrointestinal disorders (nausea, indigestion, heartburn, etc.), colds, flu, sore throats, toothaches and cramps. The volatile oil, especially with topical use, has been found to have localized analgesic properties. It is very complex, with more than 100 chemical compounds found within it. The primary component is menthol and its derivatives.
Peppermint can be used externally as a topical agent for arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, cough, fever, headaches, inflammation (joints, muscle and skin), itching, joint pain, menstrual pain, muscle pain, muscle spasms, neuralgia and rheumatism.
Precautions: Use caution if using eucalyptus oil on infants and small children. Avoid application to the face as it may cause a glottal or bronchial spasm leading to asphyxiation.
Wintergreen is another of the perennial plants which is scientifically known as Gaultheria procumbens. It is indigenous to North America and Canada. Wintergreen and its volatile oil have been used both internally and externally for a variety of ailments. It is considered a carmative, tonic and antiseptic. The main chemical component is methyl salicylate, which is structurally similar to aspirin. This helps explain the volatile oil's analgesic properties.
Wintergreen can be used externally as a topical agent for arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, cough, fever, headaches, inflammation (joints, muscle and skin), itching, joint pain, menstrual pain, muscle pain, muscle spasms, neuralgia, pleurisy, rheumatism, sciatica.
Precautions: Potential for contact allergies exists with topical administration.
There are dozens of other natural substances that can be used topically to treat pain directly or some aspect of pain causing conditions. Examples include black pepper, chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine sulfate, Japanese mint, larch, MSM, onion, scotch pine and spruce. All substances that can be used topically to address pain should be evaluated and integrated in to a pain management program.
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|Publication:||Aspirin Alternatives: The Top Natural Pain-Relieving Analgesics|
|Date:||Jun 1, 1999|
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