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Three Natural Supplements to Reduce Inflammation and Pain

As a Garland chiropractor, I am always looking for new ways for our patients to control chronic pain. The first and most important method is by keeping your spine and joints aligned through gentle chiropractic adjustments. Our centrally located clinic makes this easy by offering most commercial insurance plans as well as affordable self payment rates. We also recommend a regular routine of stretching and exercise. But when that just isn’t enough, you might need a little help.

Although reaching for an over the counter drug might be temping, certain medications can cause stomach upset and long term use can create liver inflammation. Therefore it makes sense to consider a few natural options. First let’s explore what causes pain and then we’ll discuss those natural supplements.

Pain and inflammation

An underlying cause of pain, whether in soft tissues or joints, is inflammation. Generally, inflammation occurs when the body reacts to protect itself from injury. It releases chemicals from white blood cells to fight off foreign substances in the affected area. The chemical release increases blood flow that induces warmth and redness in the injured tissue. Swelling comes from chemicals leaking fluids. All of this activity is to help the injured area, but when nerves are stimulated or pressured by that activity, you get pain.

Joints face a double whammy when an injury occurs. Along with the release of inflammatory substances, the presence of those additional cells crowded into the joint results in irritation, swelling in the lining, and, over time, cartilage can wear-down causing a loss in the bone’s natural end cushion. That causes more pain.

Obviously, is is important to reduce. But as always, we recommend this be done in a manner that’s as natural and healthy as possible. Here are three natural supplements considered to be top-of-the-line when it comes to inflammation reduction.

Turmeric

The turmeric plant, a perennial herb related to the ginger family, grows in Indonesia and India. When the dried turmeric root is ground up, it becomes the yellow spice so popular in Indian curry. It’s also used as a food coloring. Think about mustard’s nice golden color. That yellow color comes from curcuminoids, and curcumin is an important turmeric chemical. Curcumin is an anti-inflammatory, modifying immune system responses by blocking the cytokines and enzymes responsible for inflammation. This is why turmeric has been an herbal medicine in India and Asia for ages.

image of turmeric tea with ginger
Because of that anti-inflammatory property, turmeric powder is often added to smoothies, teas, or sauces when people are seeking to alleviate inflammation. However, curcumin only comprises between 2% to 5% of the turmeric, and although the dried spice is great for general health, it’s not really effective when it comes to treating specific inflammatory disorders. Medical experts recommend supplements, and they usually suggest that people take 400-600 milligrams (mg) three times a day or 1,000 mg once a day for it to be effective.

Clinical trails have proven that curcumin in supplement form works to reduce inflammation. It provides long-term easing of pain and joint function in people suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee. Other studies have shown reduced joint pain and swelling for people with rheumatoid arthritis. One of our favorite turmeric supplements is Standard Process Turmeric Forte. This powerful herbal combination is stocking at our clinic and is a patient favorite.

If you’re taking blood thinners, are pregnant or about to undergo surgery, talk to your doctor before taking turmeric.

Ginger

Ginger is a lovely, exotic-looking flowering plant that’s been a popular digestive and nausea folk remedy for centuries. The root is often used for cooking and some people enjoy its fragrant taste. Since anti-inflammatory turmeric is related to the ginger family, it makes sense that ginger, too, displays anti-inflammatory properties. Current studies show it to be beneficial in treating pain and function in both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, affecting some inflammatory activities at a basic cellular level. It actually decreased pain from osteoarthritis by 30% and reduced disability up to 22%. Its natural anti-inflammatory compounds function much as inhibitor drugs specifically developed to combat pain and inflammation function.

Ginger is also an antioxidant and has anticancer properties. With all these excellent properties, it’s believed to offer a good boost to a person’s overall immune system. The recommended dosage for daily supplements of ginger is 100 to 224 mg. However, just as with turmeric, its best to have a doctor’s approval before taking any supplement. Ginger shouldn’t be taken in conjunction with certain medications, such as blood-thinning warfarin (Coumadin).

Fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids)

How does fish oil fight inflammation? Researchers identified G protein-coupled receptors, a family of proteins that bind to different fatty acides. One specific receptor was found on immune cells involved in inflammation. This receptor not only binds to omega-3s, but it shuts down most inflammatory pathways!

image of a salmon with omega 3s
Wild fish contain higher levels of fatty acid than farm-grown fish. Those with the highest levels, ranging from 1.1% to 1.8%, are salmon, albacore tuna, sardines, herring, lake trout, and mackerel. A second group with slightly lower levels from 0.4% to 0.6% are catfish, river trout, and halibut. The first group, especially, is outstanding as an anti-inflammatory food because the fish are full of omega-3 fatty acids. How much should you eat? You’ll get the most benefit from the first group if you eat four-ounces two to three times a week. To get the same benefit from the second group requires two or three 8-12 ounce servings weekly.

Including fatty acids in your diet will help lower your potential for a number of inflammation related diseases; however, not everyone likes fish. The good news is that fish oil supplements are available. There’s no official dose recommendation for how much fish oil to take when you’re fighting arthritis inflammation. However, one study indicated 1,200 mg of omega-3s daily is just as effective for reducing pain as taking ibuprofen. Since various fish contain different amounts of omega-3s, it’s important to focus on the amount of omega-3s you consume rather than the number of fish oil capsules you take.

Because more than 3 grams of fish oil in a day could cause risks, a doctor should help determine the quantity you take.

There you have it:

Three anti-inflammation supplements that help ease your unwanted pain. There are more, to be sure, but these three are proven effective and they’re all natural. The staff at Texas Spine & Wellness can assist you in developing a regimen of diet, exercise, and the appropriate supplements to help you like moving again

Call our office at (972) 840-2520 We’re here to make your life healthier!

How Sleep Deprivation Impairs Immune System Functions

To avoid sleep deprivation, doctors recommend at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night. That’s just for adults. For teenagers, the suggestion is for nine to 10 hours, because their minds and bodies are growing fast! Younger children should be allowed more than 10 hours. Some researchers believe the deepest period of sleep is when young children’s neural networks of are produced in the brain. That’s what generates cognition and memory.

immune system function
At one time, the need for a certain amount of sleep was viewed by most as an “old wives’ tale”, but today there are many studies that prove sleep deprivation really can have a negative impact on our health.

Specifically, when you don’t get enough shut-eye, your immune system doesn’t work effectively. Your defense against catching common viruses and infectious diseases is compromised, as is your ability to fight them off. This is true for all age groups.

How sleep deprivation affect our immune system?

Cytokines are protein molecules that are released by your immune system. Some of these molecules promote sleep, while others send signals from cell to cell, stimulating targeted cells to move toward areas of infection, trauma, and inflammation. This cell to cell communication is all about the immune system’s response to help the body, so having active cytokines is important. When you sleep, cytokine production is increased, however lack of sleep decreases the production. Infection-fighting antibodies are also reduced when you’re sleep deprived.

Let’s consider fevers. The body generates a higher temperature in an attempt to fight infections, and the our bodies create a better fever reaction during sleep. But when you’re not asleep, the fever response isn’t optimal and it’s more difficult to fight infections. Even vaccines are less effective in an exhausted individual because the body is simply unable to generate the antibodies the vaccine is intended to spur!

According to the director of the Sleep Center of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer facility, “We live in a 24-7 society and everyone has two jobs and is bombarded with media. So sleep seems expendable. But proper sleep is a fundamental component of a healthy lifestyle.”

Sleep deprivation and inflammation

Sleep deprivation simply doesn’t give your immune system an opportunity to work to its highest capacity. That’s why there’s such a long list of physical and mental health problems resulting from too little sleep.

One interesting fact is that when a person is really tired, the immune system reacts with an inflammatory response. Chronic inflammation can be harmful!

Another interesting point is that after a lengthy period without enough sleep, the immune system is more active; however, this particular type of activity tends to trigger more allergies and asthma than normal.

A study in the Netherlands and United Kingdom revealed that severe sleep loss causes the immune system to react the way it does in instances of stress! Disrupted sleep affects molecular mechanisms that produce white blood cells, increasing production. Now that’s stress!

5 tips to a better night’s rest

Let’s review a few basic ways to help you get a good night’s sleep.

  • Set up a regular sleep schedule. Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day will help your mind and body prepare for sleep.
  • Eat a good enough dinner so you won’t go to bed hungry, but don’t overdo it. Being hungry and being stuffed both tend to disturb sleep. Also don’t eat too late.
  • Stay away from stimulants like nicotine, caffeine, or alcohol before bedtime.
  • A nightly ritual preparing for bed is a relaxing reminder that sleep is coming. Take a bath, enjoy some music, or read a good book just before you go to bed. But—avoid your electronic devices because that stimulates your brain at a time when you’re trying to sooth it toward sleep!
  • Make your bed and sleeping space a place to achieve deep sleep. A dark, quiet room is restful, and a cooler temperature is not only more comfortable, it slows your body down. A good mattress and a pillow with just the right amount of firmness, or softness, are a must.

Sleep deprivation does more than make you sleepy and irritable; it’s detrimental to your health. Don’t let it a lack of sleep determine the quality of your life. Take the necessary steps to add those important additional hours to your sleep. Your body will thank you!

Sleep Deprivation and Memory Loss – A Undeniable Link

“Memory is all we are. Moments and feelings, captured in amber, strung on filaments of reason. Take a man’s memories and you take all of him.” Mark Lawrence, King of Thorns

Sleep Deprivation and Memory Loss

image of a woman who is forgetful.
If we are the sum of our memories, the loss of them can be devastating. Memory loss is attributed to a number of conditions such as age, Alzheimer’s, injury, and illness, but the one cause that we have some control over is our sleep.

Studies show that sleep deprivation diminishes cognitive abilities because the brain minimizes clutter and maximizes memory when you’re sleeping. Without sleep, the brain just can’t function properly, and the longer you go without enough sleep the worse it gets. Exhaustion interferes with coordination, balance, and decision-making capacity.

How it works

If you’re going to compare the central nervous system to anything, it would be a highway…a very busy highway. Every waking moment requires brain activity, and at the end of the day your brain is simply exhausted from that non-stop, hour after hour business of processing information. A major component of your brain activity is the synapses that serve as the lanes of communication that help retain all that information collected during the day.

New research that studies brain fatigue works around a theory called “synaptic homeostasis.” The theory’s basis is that sleep acts like a filter that weeds out and discards excess information and allows those busy synapses to relax. While some neurons rest, new communication lanes are created and long-term memories are stored. By the next morning the brain is refreshed and ready to start a new day. It makes sense–the only decent time for repairs to a highway or a nervous system is during a time when traffic is at its lowest.

Consequences

Lack of sleep means no rest for the old synapses and no new synapses to pick up and help carry the load. That impairs overall cognitive function, including concentration, the ability to learn new things, and short-term and long-term memory. Decision-making suffers and creativity is stifled. Even emotions are affected, which can cause mood swings and a short temper.

If you go long enough without sleep, you can start having hallucinations! For people who have narcolepsy or a condition called systemic lupus erythematosus, the potential for hallucinations from sleep deprivation doubles. People diagnosed with manic depression can end up with mania if they go sleepless too long. Additionally, sleep deprivation increases the risk of depression, suicidal thoughts, impulsive behavior and paranoia.

Let’s face it–without adequate sleep, your thought processes become muddled, your reasoning is reduced, and even your fine motor skills are mired because of inability to focus.

Making memories while avoiding sleep deprivation and memory loss

scattered photographs with pictures of family

Memories come in different forms. Fact-based memories deal with things like remembering the names of former presidents and all the states. Episodic memories come from life events, such as a marriage proposal or when you attended the prom. Instructional or procedural memories are attached to things such as how to do math problems, play a guitar, or how to swim.

Memories develop from three steps that must occur:

  • When you learn or experience something new it is “acquisition.”
  • When a memory is stabilized in the brain it is “consolidation.”
  • Finally, when you’re able to access the memory later, it is “recall.”

Only when you’re awake can acquisition and recall occur. Studies indicate that consolidation only occurs during sleep, no matter which memory type it is. When you’re really tired and don’t get enough sleep, it’s difficult for your brain to absorb and recall anything new.

It isn’t known, yet, exactly how sleep augments memory, but it seems to revolve around the brain’s neocortex and hippocampus, which are where the brain stores long-term memories. It’s believed that when you’re asleep, the hippocampus repeats the day’s events for the neocortex, where the memories are reviewed and processed. That helps the memories to become long-term.

Another interesting area of research is the study of how the various stages of sleep affect the generation of certain memory types. Some memories are stabilized when you dream during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Other memories are secured during the period of slow-wave, very deep sleep. There are a good many questions still to be answered.

Save your memories!

The point is we know that sleep is an important factor in terms of both short-term and long-term memory. No matter what your age, those memories are a basic part of who you are. Children need memory to learn and progress. Adults need memory to function and have a good quality of life. Seniors need memory to hold close what life has been for them. You don’t want to squander those memories!

Strive for decent sleep by following steps recommended by the experts. We’ve covered these before, but let’s reiterate:

  • Set up a sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time, as that sets your body’s internal clock.
  • Be selective with food. If you’re hungry or stuffed when you go to bed, it will fool with your sleep, so be cautious with amounts and don’t eat too late. Limit beverages to avoid bathroom trips.
  • Develop a bedtime ritual. Pick what works for you—a book, a bath, or calming music. However, no electronic devices!
  • Make your room right for sleep. The best conditions are cool, dark, and quiet. A good mattress and pillow help.
  • Love your pets, but if they disrupt your sleep, make them stay in their own beds!

Remember, your memories are too important to ignore how sleep deprivation can affect them.

“God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.” J.M. Barrie