Tag Archives: natural

A Spicy Solution

Do you like spicy foods? I don’t. But science says cayenne pepper is good for something other than making me cry. There is nearly 20 years of clinical research which fairly conclusively shows cayenne pepper aids the body in fighting inflammation. And seeing all that evidence changed my mind. Maybe it will change yours too.

How Does It Work?

So the simple answer is cayenne pepper also contains a wide range antioxidants that work at a cellular level and actually disarm free radicals that can lead to cellular inflammation.

The more technical answer is that cayenne contains a substance known as capsaicin that gives the spice its “heat” and creates a burning sensation on any tissue it touches. Capsaicin triggers a biochemical reaction that is both analgesic (pain-relieving) and anti-inflammatory. I should note here that rubbing raw peppers on your skin is not the preferred method of use though.

Capsaicin is classified as a neurotoxin. This sounds scary, but it is the dose that makes the poison. Which is why botulinum toxin – also known as botox – is both lethal, and really useful for keeping me looking young . Capsaicin works by reducing the concentration of substance P, a compound produced by the body which delivers pain signals to the brain. Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of this substance before – I hadn’t either – and to be honest it sounds fake.

What is it good for?

I know cayenne pepper is most commonly as it is used in my dad’s tacos. But other than for cooking, there is evidence capsaicin helps with the following conditions:

Back Pain: A 2006 review of studies published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews concluded that there was “moderate evidence” that cayenne-based topical therapies were more effective than placebo in relieving low back pain.

Neuropathic Pain: Capcaisin has long been explored as a means of treating neuropathic pain given the lack of effective pharmaceutical remedies. A 2009 study published in Therapeutic Drug Monitoring concluded that a high-dose capsaicin patch used for 60 minutes on 173 people with HIV drug-induced peripheral neuropathy resulted in a twofold decrease in pain compared to those using a placebo.

Heart Health: A 2015 review of studies published in BMJ Open Heart suggested that the biochemical reaction triggered by capsaicin may have practical applications in treating an array of metabolic and cardiovascular disorders. The evidence mainly involved research into the use of dietary cayenne in rats, pigs, and other mammals.

Joint Pain: A recent study published in the British Journal of Anaesthesia concluded that topical capsaicin cream provided modest relief of chronic muscle and joint pain. The study specifically looked at capsaicin cream applied three to five times daily for 2 to 6 weeks. This and other studies have highlighted topical and oral capsaicin’s benefit in providing pain relief for various types of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis.

Other Potential Benefits: There are limited studies indicating that a diet rich in cayenne may be beneficial  for other conditions. But there isn’t enough evidence yet to confirm that it can prevent or treat atherosclerosis, diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver, hypertension, and stroke.

What it doesn’t help with

Weight Loss: The evidence supporting the use of cayenne tablets in boosting metabolism and losing weight is generally weak. A lot of nutritional supplement companies say cayenne has thermogenic properties that can speed up your metabolism. And a cayenne tablet can certainly induce sweat, but there is no evidence that this leads to weight loss.

Side Effects

As with anything you take cayenne has side effects. You should consider whether the benefits of taking this (or any other supplement) outweigh the risks.

Most common side effects for topical capsaicin creams are fairly mild, and include irritation, burning, and itching. Some stronger versions of topical patches and creams may cause localized swelling, rash, pain, and even blisters. When taken as a tablet, cayenne rarely causes nausea, sweating, flushing, diarrhea, and runny nose.

Conclusion

Want to see if cayenne works for you? Try Freedom today to see what high quality, powerful cayenne can do when blended with other anti-inflammatory herbs. 

Citations (other than what I linked to)

Khanna RD, Karki K, Pande D, Negi R, Khanna RS (2014) Inflammation, Free Radical Damage, Oxidative Stress and Cancer. Microinflammation 1:109. doi: 10.4172/2381-8727.1000109

 

Cinnamon as an arthritis supplement

Cinnamon…The One Herb To Rule Them All

Cinnamon (known to nerds as Cinnamomum zeylanicum and Cinnamon cassia), is one of the most important spices used daily by people all over the world, and not just because of its taste. It contains a lot of manganese, iron, dietary fiber, and calcium, making it one of the healthiest spices out there.

The Boring Nerd Stuff

Cinnamon contains derivatives, such as cinnamaldehyde, cinnamic acid, cinnamate, and numerous other components such as polyphenols. The pronunciation and spelling of these components may be hard to understand, but their results aren’t. Early studies have demonstrated antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, and/or anticancer effects from one or more of these components.
Additionally, recent clinical trials have looked at cinnamon in the forms of bark, essential oils, bark powder, and phenolic compounds, and how each of these can improve human health. These trials explored the beneficial effects of cinnamon in Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, arthritis, and arteriosclerosis. New research continues to be proposed and conducted, but evidence is mounting that cinnamon is an herb on par with turmeric in reducing inflammation.

All You Need To Know

An example of one such study published early last year found that as little as 500mg of cinnamon, taken twice a day, reduced the serum levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and diastolic blood pressure in women with rheumatoid arthritis. The women taking the cinnamon also reported fewer swollen or tender joints, allowing them to move more freely.
Do you want to move freely too? Try Freedom, a patent-pending blend of the top eight arthritis and inflammation fighting herbs. Freedom is a pharmaceutical grade supplement, backed by clinical research, and with a 90 day money back guarantee. Try it today!

The Little Things

Shipping Boxes. You never really think about them until you get a bad one. Then it is the only thing you can think of. For the past six months all I have been focused on is the development and manufacture of Freedom, and I never really thought about what happens when someone actually buys a bottle.

Ok that isn’t entirely true. I had nightmares that no one would buy it. And I had fantasies about it becoming the next fad for the likes of Tom Brady and Oprah. But the little thing about what I do with this super cool bottle of an invention I researched and labored on…what about that?

I mean I spent a lot of time working with graphic designers on the bottle. Figuring out the colors, shape, lid color, the metallic background. All these little things that normally I wouldn’t really pay attention to. All of that made me think I had everything figured out.

Turns out I didn’t.

I shipped the first bottles of Freedom yesterday night. In USPS Priority Envelopes. I thought it was a nice touch for me to pay extra to have the bottles shipped faster. But as I looked at the packaged bottles I realized…they looked shitty. Not like I had done a sloppy tape job, but like the way a present wrapped by a five year old looks.

Those of you who had enough faith to be the first to order are the ones who are getting the worst packaging. Yea, sorry about that. I really thought I had it together, but I had forgotten something I learned in during my time with special operations: The difference between good and great is measured in how well you do the basics. It isn’t about being amazing at one thing. It is doing the simple, little things well, over and over again.

I now have boxes perfectly sized for my bottles ordered and on their way. And I was thinking about getting rid of this pile of USPS Priority envelopes I brought home. But maybe I’ll keep them around, just to remind me that doing the little things well every time is what success is made of.

I’ll get back to work here, but while I’m busy re-learning life lessons, hopefully you remember to bring your full selves to life every day. If you are looking for a solution to your inflammation, check out Freedom, the first supplement to combine the eight most effective anti-inflammation compounds to give you a chance to fight inflammation naturally.

St John’s Wort…A Holy Antidepressant?

St John’s Wort, (or for the sake of my fingers SJW) is a herb which has seen medicinal use for at least centuries. Early uses revolved around pain and wound healing, and it has not been until recently that SJW has achieved almost a cult following for its antidepressant qualities. But what is SJW good for, what are its risks, and how should it be used? We will explore that here.

What is SJW?

St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), a plant that grows in the wild, has been used for centuries for mental health conditions. Many studies have been conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of St. John’s wort. Some studies have suggested benefit, but other studies have not.

Does it Work?

St John’s wort is a proven anti-depressant. When I say that people often think that means it will work for everyone, every time. However this is not how anti-depressant medications work. Because our ability to measure the chemical imbalances in our brains is essentially negligible, psychiatrists basically guess at what medication would be a good one to start with. A similar process is done with dosing, and often it takes months to find a dose that is effective for an individual. And that may be the best case when you don’t have to switch medication after a couple months of taking it.

While that may seem to many to be a condemnation of our current mental health system, it isn’t meant to be that at all. Instead we should all understand the limitations of the medical system we have, and be prepared for what we will get.

The Science

When researchers at the Rand Corporation, a nonprofit global policy think tank, looked at 35 studies using the herb for mild-to-moderate depression they found that, for their participants, SJW was just as effective as taking an antidepressant. Their review, published in the journal Systematic Reviews in 2016, also revealed that in studies pitting SJW against a placebo, SJW came out ahead. Even better, side effects were significantly lower for people on SJW than a medication. They had fewer stomach/intestinal or neurological problems, and lower rates of sexual concerns.

The scientific evidence is not entirely positive, as should be expected (for more info check out my post about how to read science). There were a handful of studies which were inconclusive, and another handful which showed SJW was less effective than a placebo.

While the researchers didn’t conclude why SJW wasn’t effective in those individuals, I suspect it had something to do with way SJW interacted with their brain chemistry. So if you take SJW, and it doesn’t work for you, don’t despair, that is an important data point, and one that you should share with your psychiatrist to help find you the medication that will work best.

How do you Use SJW?

St. John’s wort is most often taken in liquid or capsule form. The dried herb may also be used as a tea.

The most common dose used in studies has been 300 mg, three times a day as a standardized extract. Preparations in the U.S. have varied amounts of active ingredient in them. So be careful to note how much you’re getting in your tablets.

What are the side Effects

The most common side effects of SJW are :

  • Allergic reactions
  • Fatigue and restlessness with long-term use
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased sensitivity to the sun — especially if you are fair-skinned and taking large doses
  • Upset stomach

SJW is not recommended for pregnant women, children, the elderly. Research from the National Institute of Health has shown that St. John’s wort may reduce the effectiveness of several drugs, including birth control pills, drugs used to prevent organ transplant rejections, and some heart disease medications.

Combining St. John’s wort with certain antidepressants can lead to a potentially life-threatening increase of serotonin, a brain chemical targeted by antidepressants. Symptoms occur within minutes , and may include agitation, diarrhea, fast heartbeat, high blood pressure, hallucinations, increased body temperature, and more. If you experience these symptoms shortly after taking SJW, immediate call 911.

Conclusion

The bottom line for St John’s wort is that it works…but not for everyone

It is largely safe…but has some risks

But at the end of the day…don’t try to treat depression on your own. Depression can become severe if you don’t get effective, professional help. For some people, depression can increase the risk of suicide. Talk to your health care provider if you or someone you know may be depressed.

If you want to learn more about depression, check out my post here. Or if you just wandered in here, check out what Fully Human is all about or check out some of our anti-inflammation posts. Subscribe below to keep updated on how to bring your full self to life.

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The Ginger Way

We’ve all had that moment where you are sure at any moment you are going to vomit…whether you were pregnant, ate that pizza left out overnight, or just had the flu. And in that moment your parent, partner or friend tells you to drink some ginger ale because it will help with the nausea. Turns out, ginger is has health benefits far beyond soothing your stomach. It is a potent anti-inflammatory root, one that has few if any downsides.

How Does It Work?

Research suggests that the compounds gingerol and zingerone are ginger’s primary active elements. The way the body processes gingerol is what makes ginger carminative (prevent gas formation in stomach), anti-flatulent and anti-microbial. The two compounds together reduce many forms of inflammation, from colitis to kidney damage to diabetes and cancer.

What is it used for?

A 2013 study treated participants with diclofenac (a painkiller) or ginger or both for 12 weeks. All 3 groups showed improvement but the combination group saw the maximum improvement. Researchers observed ginger has an additive effect on osteoarthritis treatment by safely increasing the effects of painkillers.

Topical application of ginger extract nanoparticles (not exactly sure how these are made, but they sound cool) is found to reduce pain and improve daily activities and joint function in those suffering from osteoarthritis. A similar case study revealed ginger therapy progressively reduces osteoarthritis symptoms in 24 weeks.

Topical ginger treatment in the form of compress or patch progressively reduces symptoms of osteoarthritis and brings about 48% reduction in pain. Also this study concluded with participants reporting 70% health satisfaction in comparison to their original 80% dissatisfaction.

Ginger constituents like gingerol and shogaol inhibit formation of inflammatory proteins in osteoarthritis. This brings about a reduction in pain, swelling and soreness. It also reduces degradation of bone and cartilage.

Ginger helps in remedying stomach problems and can protect against formation of ulcers caused by use of non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Multiple animal studies reported that ginger exertsprotective effects against ulcers caused by aspirin and other painkillers.

Dosing

Clinical studies show anti-inflammatory results with the consumption of between 2-3 grams of ginger root powder spread out over 2-3 doses daily. A 2012 study reported that 1 gram of ginger powder does not benefit in joint pain and function in osteoarthritis. Lower doses of ginger are sufficient however to relieve the symptoms of nausea.

Limitations

A 2008 review study found that the evidence regarding use of ginger in osteoarthritis is weak due to a lack of large, longer term studies. As I discussed in the ‘how to read…nutrition research edition‘ that is a critical limitation is many nutritional studies. There are a handful of ongoing studies regarding ginger. And most of the research which has emerged since 2008 uses higher doses of ginger than earlier studies, improving the clinical outcomes.

Side Effects

Ginger demonstrates some blood thinning effects, so if you are already on blood thinners you should use ginger with caution.

Otherwise, ginger may cause some stomach discomfort if taken in a large (greater than 2 grams) dose on an empty stomach. And may cause a slight burning sensation of digestive discomfort if you use more than 4 grams / daily.

Next Time

For the next handful of posts I am going to turn to depression and stress. We’ll look at the damage those cause the body, and some supplements that are used to treat them naturally.

Until then, explore previous posts here or here. Or you can check out the first anti-inflammatory supplement that delivers clinical nutrition, at clinical doses, delivered at clinical intervals. If you need a diversion from the ordinary you can read about the pre-history of humanity’s second century in space.

Its Time for Indian Takeout

If you are at all like me (which lets be honest you probably are because you are 1. reading | 2. a human | 3. breathing | 4. amazingly good looking | 5. really good at being awesome), then you enjoy Indian food. I know I know, I said I was going to be posting about ways to help fight inflammation, and I will – stick with me.

Turmeric

So back to Indian food – one of the key ingredients in about 93% of all Indian food (and American mustard) is Turmeric. It is a yellow spice that comes from the Curcuma longa, root (whatever that means), and has been used in Indian and Middle Eastern dishes at least as long as people have bothered to keep track. Turmeric has also been used as a herbal remedy for almost as long.

I like to imagine the first use of turmeric for medicine went something like this:

THE ‘OFficial’ first use of turmeric for medicine

Damnit Akshat!!! How many times have I told you that running through the garden ruins food! You know I have been working hard to make sure there is enough of the Curcuma for your sister’s wedding later this year, and now you went and sprained your ankle. Here – just chew on one of these roots for a while and get out of my way. Of course it will help – mother always knows best (well it will at least help me get you out of my garden)

The next day

Akshat – I thought you said your ankle was sprained – how are you able to walk so well? And how is there not more swelling? And where did the root go that I gave you to chew on – I need that for dinner tonight.

From there this mother took what ‘cured’ her son of swelling and began selling it in the market as a cure for stupid and or injured man children. And the age of humans using turmeric to fight inflammation began

But How Does It Work

So turmeric has an active ingredient curcumin (no not the spice cumin that you are using right now in your taco recipe – although similarly tasty), and this ingredient has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Clinical studies have found curcumin, when taken multiple times a day, in doses ranging from 400mg to 600mg per dose, offers protection against certain cancers, reduces the symptoms of osteoarthritis (there is limited research suggesting it also helps rheumatoid arthritis, but more is needed), fights the inflammation causing IBS (inflammatory bowl syndrome) and help stabilize blood sugar. There is also anecdotal evidence that curcumin protects neurons from the protein buildup which causes Alzheimer’s (research into this is ongoing in mice, but initial results are positive).

Great – but does it do more harm than good?

So the short answer is no – Turmeric is extremely safe for the majority of people. If you have a family (or personal) history of liver disease then you should probable avoid turmeric just to be safe though. Also, there is insufficient research into the safety of turmeric with pregnant women, so might as well err on the side of avoiding it so long as you are toting around that spare human.

I have been taking turmeric for about six years now, and have noticed a little heartburn if I take more than the recommended dose, but that could be a vestige of years of taking pain medications weakening my stomach lining.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about another awesome extract that I am a huge fan of — Green Tea — until then – you all stay classy, and don’t forget to bring your full selves to life.

Sources – no i didn’t just make all this up 🙂

American Cancer Society – cancer.org/Treatment/TreatmentsandSideEffects/ComplementaryandAlternativeMedicine/HerbsVitaminsandMinerals/turmeric

Consumerlab. consumerlab.com/tnp.asp?chunkiid=21874

Natural Health, Natural Medicine: The Complete Guide to Wellness and Self-Care for Optimum Health, by Andrew Weil.

Natural Database – naturaldatabase.therapeuticresearch.com/nd/Search.aspx?cs=NONMP&s=ND&pt=100&id=662&fs=ND&searchid=37594816

If you are looking for a supplement that uses turmeric in the scientifically verified dose, with enough in a single bottle to let you take it at the clinical dose for a full month, check out my supplement Freedom over at Indiegogo.

Next time I’ll talk about green tea – or as I like to call it – the only good tea

The Epidemic…

If you’ve ever twisted your knee, cut your finger, or been stung by an insect, you have firsthand experience with inflammation. The familiar sensations of pain, redness, swelling, and heat that result from an injury or infection are hallmarks of the inflammatory process. Inflammation represents an essential survival mechanism that helps the body fight off hostile microbes and repair damaged tissue. Yet there is another side of inflammation that can be harmful rather than helpful to human health. There’s evidence that inflammation, promoted in part by such factors as obesity, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle, contributes to a variety of diseases.

Types of Inflammation

There are two forms of inflammation: acute and chronic.

Acute inflammation comes on rapidly, usually within minutes, but is generally short-lived. Many of the mechanisms that spring into action to destroy invading microbes switch gears to cart away dead cells and repair damaged ones. This cycle returns the affected area to a state of balance, and inflammation dissipates within a few hours or days.

Chronic inflammation often begins with the same cellular response, but morphs into a lingering state that persists for months or years when the immune system response fails to eliminate the problem. Alternatively, the inflammation may stay active even after the initial threat has been eliminated. In other cases, low-level inflammation becomes activated even when there is no apparent injury or disease. Unchecked, the immune system prompts white blood cells to attack nearby healthy tissues and organs, setting up a chronic inflammatory process that plays a central role in some of the most challenging diseases of our time, including rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and even Alzheimer’s.

Next Steps

This is truly an epidemic, and one that we know how to treat – but often choose to ignore.

I’ll be exploring ways the naturally treat inflammation in the coming posts, but suffice to say, it isn’t as hard as one might think. Like most solutions, it is actually fairly easy to take small steps that will yield, over time, life-changing effects.

If you want a scientifically verified way to help reduce inflammation, check out my Indiegogo campaign as I try to bring a new supplement to market.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/fully-human-supplements