Monday, June 11, 2012

What to do for Hypertension

Now, we all know I'm not a big fan of meds, especially when a condition can often be remedied without them.  High blood pressure is one of those things.  If you can at all stay off the meds, please do!  There are a number of ways you can keep your blood pressure in check.

Keep the pressure off, man.

1)  Get acupuncture.  Several studies show that acupuncture can be very useful in treating hypertension

2)  Lose weight.  Obesity is well-known to be a major contributor to high blood pressure.  Cleaning up your diet and getting started on a regular, well-designed exercise program will go a long way in reducing your blood pressure numbers.

3)  Get more sleep.   Studies have found a direct link to sleeping less than 6 hours per night and hypertension, and a lesser, but still significant, link to sleeping poorly and hypertension.  So if you suspect you might have a sleep disorder, get a sleep study done and find out how it can be fixed.   Need more info on getting enough sleep?  Read this

4)  Eat protein from plants.  Several studies show that protein, and plant protein in particular, help to lower blood pressure.  (It's also necessary for muscle maintenance!)

5)  Scientifically proven blood pressure-lowering foods to include in your diet:
-berries and cherries
-wild-caught coldwater fish/fish oil/flaxseed oil/hempseed oil/chia seeds/other omega-3 fatty acids
-whole (not instant) oats
-green tea
-broccoli and broccoli sprouts
-natto (if you can stand the taste)
-azuki beans
-cocoa (processed correctly and sans sugar)

6)  Supplements for blood pressure
-fish, krill, flax, or vegetarian DHA-EPA oil 

Give some of these a try and let me know how it goes!

If you have anything to add, please do-- questions and comments, post below!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Safe Methods of Pain Relief

As a followup to yesterday's post, I'd like to cover several ways of getting rid of pain safely.

First of all, understand that a lot of pain medication is toxic to your system.  The side effects from these medications are probably not worth the temporary pain relief you get from them.  As these medications do not address the root of the problem, chances are, the pain relief will last only as long as the pill does.

There are more than 900 drugs and herbs that have been classified as hepatotoxic (poisonous to the liver).  Note that just because something is an "all natural" herb does not mean that it cannot harm your body.  I do not recommend taking any kind of pain pills unless there is absolutely no way around it.  In one study Acetominophen (Tylenol) overdose was implicated in 42% of hospitalized liver injuries.


 Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, etc.) can cause severe heart and gastrointestinal problems, and is hepatotoxic to those with Hepatitis C.

NSAIDS (Aspirin, etc) can cause severe gastointestinal bleeding, even in low doses. 

Although research is scant, there are reports of muscle-relaxant induced cases of hepatotoxicity and jaundice

Although most people who follow dosage recommendations properly do not experience problems, I do not feel that taking symptom-relieving medication (medication that does not treat the disease, but merely masks symptoms) is necessary or wise unless there is simply no other alternative.  If you absolutely must take a pill, take it ONLY as recommended, and not any more than that.  Period.

Fortunately, there is almost always another alternative.

In the case of pain, this is most definitely the case.

Numerous studies show that acupuncture treatment is extremely effective for pain relief of many kinds, and has very few, if any, side effects. 

There are several studies demonstrating the efficacy of chiropractic in treating low back pain

Tapping/EFT does not have much in the way of scientific research behind it (although there is one promising-looking, though incomplete, study I have found to date); however, there many people have reported to me that this method has helped them in many areas (pain relief, emotional, anxiety, and more), and I have personally achieved considerably more physical strength after a brief tapping session.  It is easy to learn and easy to self-administer, so worth a shot.

CoQ10, magnesium, riboflavin, and vitamin B-12 have all shown promise in research for migrane headache relief.

Massage therapy has shown some promise in relieving pain from menstruation, in relieving pain associated with cancer, and in relieving low back pain.

Capsaicin (the stuff that makes hot peppers hot) has shown considerable promise in relieving pain related to cancer, HIV, inflammation, diabetes, and other infections and metabolic disturbances when used as a site-specific, high-dose patch or injectable preparation

It is important to note that depression and other kinds of emotional distress are closely related to pain.  Addressing these emotional components alone can remove the source of the pain, and therefore the pain itself.  Cognitive therapy has been shown to address depression as effectively as taking anti-depressants (but without the side-effects).  Stress-relief techniques such as meditation, breathing techniques, exercise, or whatever works for the individual can go a long way in relieving stomach pain, muscular tightness, headaches, and other stress-related issues.

If you are, or know someone who is, having issues with severe pain and/or depression, please get the needed help.  Do not turn to drugs or alcohol to numb the problem.  It will not help.  It will make things worse.  There are alternatives. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Reminder To Take Care Of What You've Got

Yesterday, I found out that one of my very closest childhood friends died.  He was 39 years old.  He was funny, he was talented, he was kind, and he gave the best bear hugs of anyone I ever knew.  We shared a love of old Bill Cosby standup comedy, corny jokes, and heavy metal music.  I went to my very first concert with him in the ninth grade (Monsters of Rock!).  We used to tell each other that if we weren't married by the time we were 30, we'd just marry each other (of course, the age got bumped up as we got older. :) )

His liver and kidney failure and eventual brain hemorrhage was due to a long-standing relationship with alcohol and Tylenol, a deadly combination that took the life of his girlfriend almost exactly one year before his death. 

I did not know about my friend's sickness.  I was not even aware that he drank.  When I texted him last week to come out, he texted back that he "couldn't make it" and that he'd "check it out on YouTube later" (he was in the hospital).  Particularly because of his girlfriend's death the year before, I assumed he knew better. 

I assumed wrong.

My friend's death was devastating, shocking, and deeply saddening.  He was a light in this world and my heart is emptier without him.  I wish that, at the very least, I had been able to say goodbye.

What I would like you all to take from this is:

1)  You can't escape from your problems through any substance.  If you're turning to alcohol, drugs, or anything else to ease your pain, you're going to the wrong place.  Take a very good look at your habits.  Please be honest with yourself and with the people who love you, and get the help you need.   Hiding the problem only makes things worse and hurts the ones you love as well.

2)  Please understand that the actions you take on your own life don't affect just you-- they affect everyone whose lives you touch.  You are not alone.  Reach out, and you'll find many people willing to help pull you up.

3)  Tylenol (and other painkillers) do not cure pain.  They are a temporary panacea that do not touch the root of the problem, and that cause significant damage to the body.  If you read the drug interaction blurb on acetaminophen (Tylenol's active ingredient), it says the following:

DRUG INTERACTIONS: Acetaminophen is metabolized (eliminated by conversion to other chemicals) by the liver. Therefore drugs that increase the action of liver enzymes that metabolize acetaminophen [for example, carbamazepine (Tegretol), isoniazid (INH, Nydrazid, Laniazid), rifampin (Rifamate, Rifadin, Rimactane)] reduce the levels of acetaminophen and may decrease the action of acetaminophen. Doses of acetaminophen greater than the recommended doses are toxic to the liver and may result in severe liver damage. The potential for acetaminophen to harm the liver is increased when it is combined with alcohol or drugs that also harm the liver. 

Side effects of Acetaminophen are:

SIDE EFFECTS: When used appropriately, side effects with acetaminophen are rare. The most serious side effect is liver damage due to large doses, chronic use or concomitant use with alcohol or other drugs that also damage the liver. Chronic alcohol use may also increase the risk of stomach bleeding. 

If you have pain, there are many, many alternatives to addressing it (and curing it instead of covering it up).  I never recommend taking any kind of pain medication unless it is absolutely necessary and there are no better alternatives.  I will be posting soon on alternative pain relief methods for those of you who are interested, but they include mental techniques, tapping, acupuncture, massage therapy, cognitive therapy, and more.  

I've lost my friend forever, but I hope that I can keep at least one person from attaining the same fate.  Please take care of your body.  It's the only one you've got.

RIP, Mikey.  You are loved.