Try Taking a Hot Bath a Couple of Hours Before Bed

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Irritable Bowel? Check Out Vitamin D3

 

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Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic disorder of the gastrointestinal tract that disrupts the lives of the 20-45 million people in the U.S. alone who suffer from it. Symptoms of pain and discomfort caused by bloating, mind gas, ask constipation, diarrhea and the urgency to find the nearest bathroom interfere with their quality of life on a daily basis. If you’ve ever experienced these symptoms for even the briefest time, you have a small glimpse of what it’s like to have your life taken over by your “second brain”.

There’s help — according to a new study published this month which links low vitamin D levels with severity of symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Researcher Dr. Bernard Corfe of the University of Sheffield Molecular Gastroenterology Research Group found 82% with IBS low in vitamin D. While Dr. Corfe noted that there is no single cause or cure for IBS, he suggests his data provides “new insights on the condition and potentially a new way to manage it”. He further suggests anyone with IBS check their vitamin D3 status and supplement if necessary.

Researchers of a previously published study in March of 2015 came to a similar conclusion: “Our study shows that vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in patients with IBS and these results seem to have therapeutic implications. Vitamin D supplementation could play a therapeutic role in the control of IBS”.

What’s more, Vitamin D3 could be an effective and low cost therapy for IBS. If you are really low, you may want to opt for 5,000 IUs a day; otherwise Vitamin D3 2,000 IUs a day is a typical daily dose. The D3 form is more bioavailable, which is important in IBS, given that absorption is via the GI tract whose function — one which is helping your body absorb nutrients — may already be compromised.

It’s easy to check your D status with a blood test. The “normal” for a serum blood level of vitamin D3 is 30 ng/mL; however, many people feel better when their level is around 50 ng/mL. Work with your doctor to find what’s best for you.

If you have IBS and try Vitamin D3 and find it helpful, let me know! Others will be glad to hear about your experience.

How Lavender (Lavandula Angustifola) Works

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Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is a member of the Lamiaceae (Mint) family. Other members of the mint family include rosemary, sage, peppermint, skullcap, and catnip. Botanical characteristics of lavender include a stalk that is square and simple with irregular flowers. The calyx or sepals is five-toothed and two-lipped. The calyx (bud) is the tubular structure that remains to produce seed. The calyx color is what gives dried lavender buds their color. It flowers between July and September and the seeds ripen between August and October.
 
Synapse Graphic for Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)Lavender is considered easy to cultivate especially for someone who is new to growing a medicinal garden. Stem-cutting is one method of propagation. Lavender flowers contain volatile oil containing linalyl acetate and linalool, geraniol, cineole, imonene, and sesquiterpenes.
 
The purported therapeutic actions of lavender are as a carminative which means it affects gastrointestinal gas production. It also affects muscle tension and mood. Lavender is thought to dilate capillaries and increase blood circulation via topical application and inhalation, provide gastric soothing properties, and is additionally categorized as a nervine meaning it supports the nervous system. Interestingly, the essential oil of lavender is noted in the Materia medica as one phytotherapeutic not to be used internally. However, newer research offers a contrary point of view with human clinical trials supporting the use of oral lavender essential oil.
 
The mechanism of how oral lavender works is a matter of conflict. In contrast to initial speculations that the anxiolytic action of lavender oil is caused by an effect on the GABAA receptors similar to conventional agents a more recent study did not identify any interaction of oral lavender to known targets of conventional agents such as the GABAA-receptor, norepinephrine, serotonin, dopamine transporters, or monoamine-oxidase-A (MAO-A). Instead, oral lavender caused a potent inhibition of voltage dependent calcium channels (VDCCs) in synaptosomes.
 
Voltage-dependent calcium channels regulate the intracellular calcium concentration and contribute thereby to calcium signaling. The opening of these channels is primarily regulated by the membrane potential, but is also modulated by a wide variety of hormones, protein kinases, protein phosphatases, toxins, and drugs. These channels are an essential part of many excitable and non-excitable cells.
 
The term “synaptosome” was first mentioned in a paper published in 1964. Synaptosomes are membranous sacs that contain synaptic components. They contain the complete presynaptic terminal, including mitochondria and synaptic vesicles, along with the postsynaptic membrane and the postsynaptic density (PSD).
 
The primary action of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) which supports mood is thought to take place in hippocampal neurons. This mechanism of action when stated in this way may sound familiar to conventional agents which are known to support comfort. However, upon closer evaluation, it is now known that the mechanism of action of lavender is, in fact, unique as it does not bind to certain binding sites that the conventional agents do.
 
The stress response of the central nervous system and of the hippocampus in particular where the inhibition by oral lavender was shown to be mainly mediated via N-type and P/Q-type VDCCs is linked to mood.* In another clinical trial in healthy volunteers, oral lavender significantly reduced the serotonin-1A receptor (5-HT1A) binding potential in the brain clusters encompassing the temporal gyrus, the fusiform gyrus, the hippocampus, the insula, and the anterior cingulate cortex.

Sweet Potato Smoothie Recipe

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One of the most common causes of fibromyalgia is chronic inflammation.

By keeping inflammation in check, you’ll boost your liver and heart health, lower your risk for Alzheimer’s disease and certain types of cancer, and restore lost mobility to stiff, sore joints.

Because chronic inflammation is such a widespread problem today, you’ll find dozens of drugs available to manage this condition. But for many people drugs aren’t the answer. They prefer natural remedies instead.

This sweet potato smoothie is a delicious way to keep chronic inflammation at bay.

The sweet potatoes in this recipe are rich in beta-carotene, manganese, and fiber which help reduce inflammation.

Turmeric is one of the most powerful all-natural anti-inflammatories around.

And cinnamon can help curb tissue-damaging post-meal blood-sugar surges.

Sweet Potato Smoothie

Prep time: 2 minutes                  Serves: 1

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Ice, to taste

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients into a blender or food processor.
  2. Mix at high until smooth.
  3. Pour into a tall glass and enjoy immediately!

Virus Linked to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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Scientists have discovered a potential retroviral link to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), a debilitating disease that is estimated to affect upwards of 17 million people worldwide.  Judy Mikovits, from the Whittemore Peterson Institute at University of Nevada-Reno (USA), and colleagues identified a newly identified retrovirus, XMRV, in the blood of 67% of CFS patients (as compared to 3.7% of healthy people participating in the study).  Not only did the blood cells of CFS patients contain XMRV, but they also expressed XMRV proteins at high levels and produced infectious viral particles. The XMRV retrovirus was first discovered in men who had a specific immune system defect that reduced their ability to fight viral infections, and has since been suggested to be a potential trigger of prostate cancer.  While this finding shows there is an association between XMRV and CFS, it does not prove that XMRV causes CFS.  Yet, the team observes that: “We now have evidence that a retrovirus named XMRV is frequently present in the blood of patients with CFS. This discovery could be a major step in the discovery of vital treatment options for millions of patients.”

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Amino Acid Supplement May Help Fatigue Sufferers

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People who suffer from fatigue may benefit from taking a daily supplement of the amino acid l-ornithine, say Japanese Researchers.

Tomohiro Sugino and colleagues examined the effects of l-ornithine supplementation on physical fatigue in a study of 17 healthy volunteers. Volunteers were randomly assigned to take either l-ornithine (2000 mg/d for 7 days and 6000 mg/d for 1 day) or a placebo for 8 days. Each volunteer also had to take part in two fatigue-inducing two-hour sessions on an exercise bike.

Results showed that l-ornithine supplementation promoted lipid metabolism and activated the urea cycle. Furthermore, it reduced volunteers’ subjective feeling of fatigue. However, the effect was only statistically significant in female volunteers.

The researchers concluded: “These results suggest that l-ornithine has an antifatigue effect by increasing the efficiency of energy consumption and promoting the excretion of ammonia. l-ornithine is a free amino acid and is not rich in meats or fish, so it is difficult to obtain amounts of l-ornithine from ordinary meals that would be sufficient to promote the antifatigue effect. We recommend l-ornithine intake as a nutritional supplement in cases of physical fatigue.”

l-ornithine is available from the on-line store at http://bit.ly/2e136Rw .

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Could a B-12 Deficiency Be Causing Your Symptoms?

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Less than 20 years ago, patients complaining of fatigue were often given a “tonic shot” by their doctor. Many people claimed this worked like magic to improve their energy levels. What was this miracle tonic? A simple injection of vitamin B-12.

Although the practice of administering vitamin B-12 injections has fallen out of favor, modern medical science now understands why vitamin B-12 supplementation makes people feel better, and the reasons extend far beyond just the “placebo effect” of receiving a shot.

The Far-Reaching Effects of Vitamin B-12 Deficiency

Vitamin B-12, called “cobalamin” because it contains the mineral cobalt, is required for a staggering number of physical functions and chemical reactions. Best known for its participation in the manufacture of red blood cells, B-12 is also needed for production and maintenance of the myelin sheath that surrounds nerves and for production of DNA, the genetic material of all cells. And that’s just the beginning.

The serious health consequences of vitamin B-12 deficiency can adversely affect nearly every system in the body.

Energy: Even minor deficiencies of vitamin B-12 can cause anemia, fatigue, shortness of breath, and weakness.

The Nervous System: Deficiencies of B-12 can cause neurological changes including numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, balance problems, depression, confusion, poor memory, and Alzheimer’s-like symptoms. Long-term deficiencies of B-12 can result in permanent impairment of the nervous system.

The Gastro-Intestinal System: B-12 deficiency can cause decreased appetite, constipation, diarrhea or alternating constipation/diarrhea, weight loss. and abdominal pain.

The Immune System: Vitamin B-12 is necessary for normal functioning of white blood cells. Studies show that B-12 helps regulate Natural-Killer T-cells and prevents chromosome damage.

The Cardiovascular System: Vitamin B-12 participates in the conversion of homocysteine to methionine. Elevated homocysteine levels are a known independent risk factor for heart attack, stroke, and thrombosis. Without adequate B-12 levels, homocysteine levels typically rise.

Special Senses: Degenerative changes in the central nervous system caused by B-12 deficiency can also affect the optic nerve, resulting in blue-yellow color blindness.

Other symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency include sore mouth or tongue.

With so many physical functions at risk, it is easy to understand why knowledgeable clinicians and researchers consider B-12 supplementation beneficial.

Are You At Risk for a Vitamin B-12 Deficiency?

Medical science once believed that few people were vitamin B-12 deficient. This false assumption may stem from the fact that vitamin B-12 is produced in the body by a normal, healthy population of bowel bacteria.

Secondly, unlike other water-soluble vitamins, B-12 is stored in the liver, kidneys, and other tissues. Deficiencies of B-12 often appear so slowly and subtly as to go unnoticed, and blood tests for vitamin B-12 levels miss early deficiency states at least 50% of the time.

So, who is at risk for vitamin B-12 deficiency? Recent research shows that a much larger segment of the population is likely deficient than previously thought.

Because assimilation of vitamin B-12 from food requires adequate stomach acid and intrinsic factor, and because stomach acid typically declines with age, people over 50 were once thought to be the biggest “at risk” population for B-12 deficiency. Previous studies showed 3% to 39% of seniors to be vitamin B-12 deficient, but newer studies suggest that number may be as high as 72% to 78%.

Vegetarians and vegans are another population believed to be at high risk for B-12 deficiency, in part because of low animal food intake of vitamin B-12 and also because many vegetable sources such as seaweed must be consumed in large amounts in order to provide adequate vitamin B-12.

Other high-risk groups for B-12 deficiency include:

  • Those who use acid-blocking or neutralizing drugs (such as Prilosec, Prevacid, Nexium, and others), or drugs which impair intestinal absorption (such as Metformin, Questron, and Chloromycetin)
  • People who have had gastric surgery
  • And people who have chronic illnesses such as ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia

Bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine, which occurs frequently in people with low stomach acid, is a predisposing factor for B-12 deficiency because the bacteria themselves use vitamin B-12.

The most recent and disturbing studies suggest that vitamin B-12 deficiency is more prevalent in young adults than previously thought. One study found that vitamin B-12 deficiency was similar in three age groups (26-49 years, 50-64 years, and 65 years and older), but that early symptoms were simply less apparent in the young.

This study also found that those who did not take a vitamin B-12 containing supplement were twice as likely to be deficient as supplement users, regardless of age.

Four Forms of B-12 – Which One is Best?

Cobalamin is a collective term for four closely related forms of B-12 – cyanocobalamin, methylcobalamin, hydroxycobalamin, and adenosylcobalamin (dibencozide).

Cyanocobalamin, the most common form of B-12 found in nutritional supplements, has the lowest biological activity and must be converted in the liver to methylcobalamin or adenosylcobalamin before it can be utilized.

Because it can be converted to other forms of B-12, cyanocobalamin can be considered the “mother form” of B-12. However, this conversion is inefficient and some people may not benefit from cyanocobalamin due to lack of assimilation or conversion.

Methylcobalamin is considered by many researchers to be the most active form of vitamin B-12. It protects the nervous system by regulating glutamate-induced neuronal damage (common in aging) and promoting nerve cell regeneration.

Methylcobalamin is the only form of vitamin B-12 that participates in regulating circadian rhythms (sleep/wake cycles). It has been shown to improve sleep quality and refreshment from sleep, as well as increasing feelings of well-being, concentration, and alertness.

Adenosylcobalamin (dibencozide), the second highly active form of vitamin B-12, is essential for energy metabolism. It is required for normal myelin sheath formation and nucleoprotein synthesis. Deficiencies are associated with nerve and spinal cord degeneration.

Hydroxocobalamin is a unique form of B-12 that participates in detoxification, especially cyanide detoxification. Cyanide levels are often elevated in smokers, people who eat cyanide-containing food (like cassava), and those with certain metabolic defects.

Excess cyanide in the tissues blocks conversion of cyanocobalamin to methylcobalamin or adenosylcobalamin. In such instances, hydroxocobalamin may be the vitamin B-12 of choice. Hydroxycobalamin is FDA-approved as a treatment for cyanide poisoning.

Oral Vs. Injectable: Which Delivery System is Preferred?

Although many people including some physicians still believe that injectable vitamin B-12 is the preferred route of administration, it is well-known and widely accepted that oral vitamin B-12 is equally as effective as injection in treating pernicious anemia and other B-12 deficient states.

Conclusions and Recommendations

  • Vitamin B-12 deficiency is far more widespread than previously thought, with up to 30% of young people affected and possibly as many as 78% of the over 50 population suffering from deficiency.
  • Those at special risk include:
    – Seniors
    – Vegetarians and vegans
    – People taking acid-neutralizing drugs or various other drugs
    – Patients with cognitive impairment and/or chronic illnesses
  • The U.S. Institute of Medicine recommends that adults over 50 obtain their vitamin B-12 from supplements.
  • Because symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency often manifest months or years before B-12 blood tests become abnormal, early deficiencies are often missed.
  • Symptoms and side effects of B-12 deficiency are many and varied, can mimic other diseases such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and can produce irreversible changes of the nervous system if not corrected early.
  • Oral vitamin B-12 supplementation is extremely safe, as effective as injections, comparatively inexpensive, and more convenient than injections.
  • Those at risk of vitamin B-12 deficiency or with symptoms suggestive of B-12 deficiency should consider adding this important nutrient to their supplement protocol.

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The Legs of Fibromyalgia and Myofascial Pain

lgimage_29291Do your fibro legs deal you fits? Door jams reach out and grab you, leaving mysterious bruises, right? We have come to dub these instances as the fibro effects. But, is there something we can do to minimize the fall out of this trait?

Symptoms 
Do you feel as if you are stepping on pins and needles when getting out of bed and/or experience:

  • Achilles tendon tightness
  • ankle pain and/or weakness
  • buckling knees
  • bunion
  • calf pain
  • cramping of muscles
  • difficulty navigating stairs
  • foot drop
  • foot pain
  • heel pain
  • knee pain
  • leg pain
  • Morton’s foot
  • unexplained neuropathies
  • restless leg syndrome (RLS)
  • shin splint-like pain
  • thigh pain
  • toe pain

Did you know periodic limb movement associated with RLS and fibro share disruption of brain signaling? Did you know myofascial pain from the peripheral nervous system bombards the central nervous system, contributing to wind-up?

Equilibrium Restoration
Many things can contribute to our leg pain, disturbed gait, and other unusual symptoms. Dysfunction of the muscles in the legs affects not only our feet, but our ankles, knees and legs as well. It contributes to hip, buttock, pelvis, and low back pain too. And, there are things we can do to restore function and help our body find balance.

The Leg
Muscles in the upper leg have exceptional work to perform. For instance, the hamstring (a powerhouse muscle group) is responsible for standing and walking. It does a significant amount of 1) muscle work and 2) repetitive action. When these two things are present, so is the risk of myofascial trigger points (TrPs), which are knotted up pieces of muscle fiber in a taut band of muscle that shortens the muscle causing dysfunction and pain.

Our lower leg has eleven muscles, including the foot and ankle that work in tandem to allow for locomotion and balance. Therefore, pain in the feet and ankles may not be coming from TrPs.

In this example, you massage your feet and soak them in Epsom salts, but nothing seems to help. It could be your foot/feet are in the referral pattern of TrPs in other compensating muscles. Until all trigger points are identified and treated, your foot or ankle pain won’t go away.

Joints
Our joints need equalization to operate normally, and the presence of TrPs affects joint function. For instance, TrPs in muscle fibers extending to the knee cause misalignment, making the joint function like a sprung hinge.

Myofascial pain is not due to inflammation. If inflammation (heat, redness, and swelling) is present, it could be due to another problem that needs immediate attention.

Knowing Your Body
Get to know your body—feel around. Do you notice the telltale signs of a trigger point? In average size muscles, it will feel like a pea. If you press on it, the pain and its pattern are reproduced. Remember: If you find a TrP, treat it, whether it only hurts when you press it or not.

Perpetuating Factors

  • Physical anomalies, i.e. one leg shorter than the other, pelvic tilt, scoliosis, flat foot, high arches, hyper-mobile joints, etc.
  • Poor posture, i.e., hunching, leaning forward, misalignment
  • Sitting or laying without proper support
  • Prolonged sitting or crossing the legs
  • Prolonged contraction of muscles, i.e. bending or squatting
  • Not supporting joints, i.e. hanging your feet over the edge of a lounge chair or sitting in a chair that doesn’t let your feet touch the floor
  • Ill-fitting clothes and shoes
  • Over flexion, i.e. walking in sand or wearing flip-flops
  • Repetitive movement
  • Prolonged immobilization or sustained contraction, i.e. wearing hard-soled shoes or high heels
  • Straining or over stretching leg muscles, i.e. climbing a hill, or sustaining the downward facing dog yoga position for too long
  • Restriction of circulation, i.e. tight socks
  • Inactivity or over-activity
  • Chilling
  • Poor sleep posture
  • Other related disorders, such as dehydration, vitamin deficiencies, radiculopathy, tendonitis, or other health problems.

Treatment
Treatment includes avoiding perpetuating factors, managing contributing factors, and treating the TrPs with manual intervention.

Once you locate the TrP, apply about 70-80% direct pressure. Locally stretch the fibers affected to isolate the TrP and stabilize it. All trigger points need to be treated, even the ones that aren’t hurting unless you press on them. Drink plenty of water unless you have a condition that prevents it.

Massage therapy, active release therapy, and myofascial release are helpful when provided by a therapist that specializes in the myofascia. Trigger point injections along with self-treatment and guided stretches may be necessary.

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