Tag Archives: anti-inflammatory

  • Back Pain Relief Now

    Back pain can be debilitating, whether it’s the result of trauma or simply a pulled muscle. But there are natural solutions that can help your body heal, reduce inflammation and offer relief. We spoke with Matthew Becker, herbalist and lead practitioner at our north Boulder store, about what he recommends for customers’ back pain issues.

    “There are four standbys that are helpful for everything—including chronic pain,” says Matthew. “They all increase circulation and bring healing nutrients and blood to the area to break down stagnation and inflammation.” He emphasizes that these aren’t just for symptom relief, but can even help heal pain that stems from an old injury.

    First off, Matthew recommends a homeopathic cream called Topricin. “I get the best results when I combine both a topical medicine and a systemic anti-inflammatory,” he says. “And there’s a general consensus among our store team that Topricin is the most helpful topical for pain relief.” The cream contains homeopathic preparations of Arnica, Rhus Toxicodendron and Ruta Graveolens, which combine to relieve inflammation, sharp pains and bone injuries. He recommends rubbing liberally into the affected area three times daily.

    Internally, Matthew recommends a specific type of turmeric: Thorne Research’s Meriva-500. “Turmeric is something I take every day because it has many powerful healing effects on the body,” he says. For back pain specifically, he combines this turmeric with an enzyme called bromelain (also from Thorne Research, if available, or Jarrow Formulas’ Bromelain 1000).

    “I recommend taking three Meriva and two bromelain tablets, twice daily about an hour before a meal, since bromelain won’t work on a full stomach,” says Matthew. “Together, they exert a powerful anti-inflammatory effect.” He adds that though they are similar to Ibuprofen in their pain relief mechanism, they are much safer and more effective in the long run.     

    “For people who are really in pain, I also recommend a product from Natura Health called Corydalis Plus,” says Matthew. “It’s the most powerful natural pain reliever we have in the store.” The formula includes 10 different Chinese herbs, including anti-inflammatories like white willow bark and boswellia. Many of these herbs work together to help get blood to the site of the injury to increase local circulation. “This should also be taken on an empty stomach,” says Matthew, who recommends starting with two capsules twice a day, and adjusting as needed for the pain.

    Matthew has seen this combination work for many customers with back pain, as long as they consistently take the correct dosages for a few days. While everyone is different, he adds, these supplements can really start the healing process—instead of just offering temporary relief.

  • Herbal Remedy: Turmeric

    SpicesEven if you’ve never taken turmeric as a supplement, there’s a good chance you’ve tasted it; it’s a common spice and kitchen staple used in almost all Indian dishes, as well as many Thai and Persian foods.

    Turmeric (Curcuma longa) grows mainly in southern and southeast Asia and is known for its brilliant deep yellow hue. As part of the ginger family, turmeric has a pungent, peppery taste that contributes a great savory flavor to many dishes. The rhizome, or underground stem, is the part of the plant utilized for medicinal purposes.

    Decades’ worth of research has shown that in India, where turmeric is a staple, the occurrence of chronic illness is dramatically lower than in Western countries (especially the U.S.). The active constituent of turmeric is curcumin (scientifically referred to ascurcumanoids), a compound that has a multitude of powerful, protective health benefits that provide more than 50 healing actions—probably why it has been used medicinally in India and China for more than 2,000 years.

    Turmeric’s diverse range of therapeutic uses include as an antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory, a circulation stimulant, an antibacterial and an anti-fungal. It has also been used for its anticancer, liver-supportive and cholesterol-reducing properties. Turmeric can be used daily to maintain and prevent disease, or can be used in a range of health conditions, including:

    • Atherosclerosis
    • Cancer
    • Cardiovascular disease
    • Fever
    • Gallstones
    • Liver dysfunctions
    • HIV/AIDS support
    • Indigestion
    • Infections
    • Inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid and osteo-arthritis, back and joint pain, or psoriasis and eczema

    Turmeric can be found in a number of different formulas, listed either as turmeric or its active constituent curcumin. Some formulas also contain bioperine—a natural, patented form of pepper (also known as piperine, Piper nigrum) that has been proven to increase the absorption of other nutrients.

    Here are some of my favorites:

    Thorne Research's Meriva-SR, Meriva is a patented time-release formula of curcumin that has superior bioavailability (i.e. absorption).
    New Chapter Turmeric Force, a very pure and potent formulation.
    Pharmaca brand Turmeric includes bioperine from an always-trusted source for herbal medicines
    Jarrow Formulas’ Curcumin 95
    Integrative Therapeutics’ Curcumax Pro, which uses the better-absorbed Meriva curcumin and pairs it with boswellia extract, which helps support range of motion in the musculoskeletal system
    Pure Encapsulations Curcumin 500 with Bioperine, a patented formula that includes black pepper for enhanced absorption
    Natural Factors' CurcuminRich Theracurmin is a newer curcumin formulation with markedly increased absorption by way of finer granulation and suspension technology. This enhanced form has absorption rates of over 30 times that of regular curcumin.

    Turmeric was once referred to as “poor man’s saffron,” due to its deep yellow hue (and much lower price). People now call it Indian gold because of its plethora of health benefits. Try taking turmeric for general illness prevention, maintaining good health or treating a current illness. With its wide range of therapeutic actions and powerful health benefits, turmeric can be a great asset to your wellbeing.

    Kate Brainard attended Bastyr University’s doctorate program in Naturopathic Medicine. She currently manages Pharmaca’s La Jolla store.

    Creative Commons License photo credit: Carol Mitchell

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