HERBS FOR HEALTH MANAGEMENT

Herbs are a foundational root in medicine and health treatments, dating back thousands of years throughout every culture around the world. Modern Western herbalism comes from ancient Egypt. The Greeks developed a comprehensive philosophy of herbal medicine by 100 BCE and the Romans built upon it to create a variety of medical practices, some of which are still used today.

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ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE IMPACTS PSYCHOLOGICAL HARDINESS

Psychological hardiness is an individual’s resistance to stress, anxiety and depression. It includes the ability to withstand grief and accept the loss of loved ones. Alternative medicine is a more popular term for health and wellness therapies that have typically not been part of conventional Western medical approaches but are often used along with conventional medicinal protocols.  Coping and dealing with stress in a positive manner play a major role in maintaining the balance needed for health and well-being.

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ALTERNATIVE REMEDIES FOR ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION

Interest in complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM) is increasing as consumers and health care professionals search for additional ways to treat anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders. Some of these remedies include:

St. John’s Wort.  More than 30 studies show it to be effective for treatment of mild forms of depression,…

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Weight Loss. Most painful health conditions are worsened by excess weight.


Mind-Body Techniques. These include meditation, mindfulness, progressive muscle relaxation with visualization, breathing exercises and hypnosis therapy. Mind-body exercise practices that incorporate breath control, meditation and movements to stretch and strengthen muscles, such as tai chi and yoga, have helped individuals with chronic pain conditions. A 2017 Consumer Reports survey of 3,562 back pain sufferers found 89 percent benefited from yoga or tai chi.


Topical Pain Relievers. Creams, ointments and patches applied to the painful area often provide immediate relief.


Over-the-Counter Medications. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) can relieve mild to moderate pain.


Herbs and Essential Oils. Herbs can be added to food, smoothies or teas. Essential oils can be used in humidifiers as aromatherapy or topically with massage. Some can be used externally in topical creams and ointments.


Health care provider strategies include physical and occupational therapy; iontophoresis, a form of electrical stimulation that drives medications into pain areas and reduces inflammation; ultrasound therapy, which directs sound waves into tissue and is used to improve blood circulation and decrease inflammation to promote healing; and cold laser therapy, which emits pure light of a single wavelength into an injured area to reduce inflammation and stimulate tissue repair. With biofeedback, a therapist guides you through relaxation exercises that involve holding pleasant images in your mind that help you control functions that cause pain. Therapeutic massage and acupuncture are other beneficial methods of dealing with chronic pain.


Other therapies include corticosteroid injections, radiofrequency ablation, spinal cord stimulation, pain pumps and cognitive behavioral therapy. Be sure to discuss these options with your primary care physician.


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SAFE WAYS TO MANAGE CHRONIC PAIN

ANGELA S. HOOVER

Angela is a staff writer for Health & Wellness magazine.

more articles by Angela s. hoover

Attitude and Self-Help Coping. It’s important to devise strategies to live with rather than escape the pain. Attitude can be everything.


Cold and Heat. Both cold and heat can relieve pain by decreasing inflammation and easing muscle spasms. The key is to know when to use them. Acute injuries such as a twisted ankle should be iced immediately. Lingering back spasms need heat.


Exercise. Staying physically active, even with some pain, is helpful for conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia. Working out helps the body produce its own versions of painkillers. Exercise increases the levels of endorphins, dopamine and tissue oxygen, all of which can help reduce pain while improving mood and sleep. Regular walking, aquatic exercise and posture improvement programs are beneficial.


Anti-Inflammatory Diets. Pain is often caused or aggravated by inflammation. The Mediterranean and Pan Asian Modified Mediterranean diets can help reduce inflammation.

In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported about 50 million Americans (one in five) suffered from chronic pain. In 2017, the National Academy of Medicine upped the estimate to more than 100 million Americans.


Chronic pain is pain that lasts for more than a month and does not respond to treatment. Sometimes the underlying problem is due to inflammation and damage to joints from arthritis; other times it is neuropathic pain from damage to nerves that transmit pain signals.


Pain is an indication from the brain that something is wrong and needs attention. Typically, pain fades after the problem is addressed and the body heals, but sometimes the nervous system malfunctions. An integrative approach with a combination of drugs and complementary, non-pharmacologic methods works best for battling chronic pain. But pain remedies that work for one person may not work for another person. Individuals should try a combination of different strategies until they find the one that works best for them.


Day-to-Day Strategies


Sleep. Numerous studies have shown poor sleep can worsen pain because exhaustion can adversely affect brain function.