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Arthritis and Back Pain

  • Dear Readers,

    Welcome to the March 2019 issue of TotalHealth Magazine.

    Charles K. Bens, PhD, in “The Biochemistry Of Smoking: Helping the Brain To Live Without Nicotine” gives us an explanation on the effects of nicotine on the brain, showing why it is so difficult to quit smoking. Bens goes on with his experience with several individuals who were able to change their lifestyle through diet and exercise, and lead healthy lives. This is not to say one shouldn’t quit smoking but changing one’s lifestyle is a big influence on one’s health.

    In “Lutein & Zeaxanthin: Protectors for Your Children,” Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, RH(AHG), enlightens readers on blue light, especially from digital devices. It has the potential to damage retinal tissue and cause a variety of eye-related problems, including eye strain, eye fatigue, headache, visual impairment, psychological stress and poor sleep quality. This is particularly true in children since their eyes absorb more blue light than adults.

    How Smart Fats Reset Your Hunger Hormones,” Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, focus is on Adiponectin; a real hormone game changer that you may not be very familiar with. It is a big player in firing up belly fat burn and is known as the body’s “fat burning torch.” This special super hormone that flips your body’s fat burning switch is already circulating in your bloodstream because it is made in your fat cells. Adiponectin is balanced by monounsaturated omega-rich foods and oils as: olives and olive oil, avocados and avocado oil, and macadamias and macadamia nut oil.

    Jacob E. Teitelbaum, MD, offers “X-Rays Meaningless for Arthritis and Back Pain?” We’ve known for decades that spinal X-Rays, MRIs and CT scans add very little information about back pain. They most often DON’T tell doctors whether the pain is coming from the spine or from disc, arthritic or bone disease. (Though they MAY reveal if the problem can be fixed with a chiropractic adjustment.)

    Gloria Gilbère, CDP, DAHom, PhD, contributes “One Dish Baked Caprese Chicken.” Another of Gilbère’s fabulous recipes from her test kitchen in Ecuador. In addition to this recipe Gilbère offers two recipes to use for leftovers. Included is background on the health benefits of organic chicken.

    Shawn Messonnier’s, DVM, topic this month is “Pinellia Combination in Pets.” Pinellia combination is a Chinese herbal mix. This formula contains ginseng, ginger, jujube, Coptis and Scute, along with pinellia, and is for vomiting in pets. Because of the Chinese diagnosis and classification of diseases, the ingredients in each formula may vary. Individual Chinese pharmacists include herbs in their tented formulas based upon their experience. However, they can compound formulas to the needs of an individual pet.

    Best in health,

    TWIP—The Wellness Imperative People

    Click here to read the full March 2019 issue.

    Click here to read the full March 2019 issue.

  • Extreme weather changes can affect a person's pain levels1. The scientific name for the study of these occurrences is called biometeorology (or medical meteorology2). Medical literature provides us with insights from physicians that prolonged exposure to severe outdoor temperatures can worsen painful symptoms in patients. Especially for patients who already suffer from different types of chronic pain. While further study is needed, individuals can implement several strategies to alleviate pain brought on by scorching heat or freezing cold temperatures. Even though we cannot control the weather, It is important to add these tips to our daily routines as we navigate through seasonal shifts in order to avoid unwanted pain.

    extreme winter weather pain

    Icy Winter Days
    People who suffer from chronic conditions such as arthritis, rheumatic conditions, depression and/or anxiety are susceptible to increased pain during cold winter months. One theory3 suggests sudden changes in barometric pressure may be to blame. With colder temperatures steadily lowering outdoor air pressure, exposure to these atmospheric changes triggers inflammation in muscle and joint tissue, resulting in pain. We can make ourselves more comfortable during the colder months with some minor adjustments to our daily routines.

    Generate Warmth
    Regulating your body heat is a simple, but effective way to alleviate pain. Take the time to properly protect yourself during especially low temperatures by wearing extra layers of clothing. Opt for insulated gloves, outerwear and thermal undergarments. Wool is an excellent fabric for preserving body heat-but if it irritates your skin, alternatives such as cashmere and alpaca wool offer warmer, lighter, and softer protection that is gentle on the skin and more effective at retaining heat than synthetic materials. When at home, warm showers and baths can not only help keep you warm, but lower blood pressure and increase blood circulation. Also utilize heating pads or electric blankets, which are an excellent way to stay warm during freezing nights.

    Exercise Daily
    Routine daily exercise and maintaining a healthy weight will put less stress on your joints, especially those in the back, hips, and knees. While frigid outdoor weather can significantly restrict access to outdoor exercise, studies show staying active and exercising regularly can help reduce pain4. Start small with exercises that are gentle on your joints, like yoga, tai chi or swimming in a heated, indoor pool. Before bracing the chilly weather, remember to stretch and loosen muscles and joints, your body will thank you later.

    Spice It Up
    Hot Tea for pain Joseph Pergolizzi Different foods and drinks can give you warmth as well. Hot tea is not only soothing, but can warm up your hands if you hold your teacup tight. Coffee is scientifically proven to increase body temperature due to the high amounts of caffeine that stimulate the metabolism, encouraging the body to burn fuel. The most effective way to drink coffee is black. Adding cream and sugar will just break down instantly and produce a sugar crash. Besides drinks, certain foods can also keep you warm like ginger, which improves blood circulation, helping to warm your extremities and keep away the chills. For those who like their food a bit more bold, any spicy pepper, like jalapenos or habaneros, will help you heat up. Capsaicin5 is the active component that is found in all peppers, the chemical produces a burning sensation to any tissues it comes into contact with, keeping you nice and toasty.

    Sweltering Summer Days
    Heat waves and humidity can have an effect on anyone, however, for people in pain, especially those dealing with chronic pain like arthritis and other conditions, heat can intensify the pain and make it worse6. Studies show hot weather alone can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, fatigue, and muscle cramps7, even in people who do not normally experience muscle pain - so stay cool by using these tips:

    Choose Water
    When you feel thirsty, it is your body telling you that you are already mildly dehydrated. Our muscles require water, without enough fluid, our muscles can become extremely sensitive and spasm. Make sure to hydrate with water from morning to evening and pick beverages wisely. Drinks such as alcohol and/or highly caffeinated beverages (like soda, coffee or some teas), can cause dehydration. The best choices can also pertain to certain foods, some summer snacks are higher in water, which make them ideal choices for staying cool. According to studies from Australia, about one-fifth of our water consumption comes from foods8 - primarily fruits and veggies. Summer favorites with high amounts of water include: watermelon, cucumbers, cantaloupe, tomatoes, strawberries, iceberg lettuce and pineapple.

    Favor Shade Over Sun
    The hot temperatures and humidity can exhaust us, but the harmful rays of the sun can also make pain even worse. When venturing outside try to wear a hat, sunglasses and sit or walk in the shade whenever possible. By spending time in the shade, your skin can repair itself and it is a good way to avoid sunburn, which can intensify any existing aches and pains. Put away the denim and sweaters, and choose breathable, light-weight clothes made from polyester or cotton to help protect your skin, and regulate body temperature. For those who already struggle with headaches, or migraines, avoid bright sunlight as much as possible. While just being out in the heat stresses your body, direct sun can cause sunburn and intensify pain, picking shade over sun can help you stay cool.

    Pain Cream vs. Pain Pills
    Extreme heat can cause painful muscle spasms or soreness, which can occur even if you have never had them before, and especially if the body gets too warm and can't cool itself fast enough. These spasms are referred to as 'heat cramps9', and are usually experienced by pro-athletes, but in extreme weather can happen to anyone. In this instance, effective pain relief creams can work quicker than oral pain medications. Oral medications and supplements take time to absorb in the body via ingestion, some even require a waiting period of 6 to 8 hours between doses. Pain creams, on the other hand, can better target pain by applying cream directly to affected joints or muscles, providing instant relief. Another advantage to pain relief creams is that you can apply it more frequently than you can take an oral pain relief medication.

    topical pain relief Joseph Pegolizzi

    Topical pain relief creams have proven effective for my patients in both weather extremes, especially pain creams that contain hyper-oxygenated oil10. These oils have been praised as a valuable remedy throughout history, from the days of ancient Rome. The Spartans would rub oil onto their bodies before going into battle. In those days, the oil was made from local flowering plants and then left to ferment in the sun for up to 20 years, infusing the oil with oxygen. When massaged in, the action of the rubbing in the soothing oil helps accelerate blood flow deep in the superficial vascular network. Pain creams that utilize oxygenated oil usually have lower doses of menthol, and have been proven to be more effective than menthol-only creams.

    Different therapies can offer a variety of solutions for all types of pain, but not all options are suitable for everyone or for all types of pain. Consult your doctor about the right treatment option for your pain. While it may not seem like you are doing a lot, taking simple small precautions during periods of extreme weather, and adjusting your routine accordingly, can have an effective impact on managing pain in any type of weather.


    1. Weather Patterns Associated with Pain in Chronic-Pain Sufferers - American Meteorological Society
    2. The Meteorology of the Human Body - National Library of Medicine
    3. How Cold Weather Impacts Joint Pain - Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
    4. Exercise and Chronic Pain - Utah State University
    5. Capsaicin - Wikipedia
    6. The Dangerous Combination of Chronic Pain and Hot Weather - Pain Medicine News
    7. Temperature-related Death and Illness - National Institute of Environmental Health Science
    8. Drinking Water and Your Health -
    9. Heat Cramps - University of Connecticut
    10. Ozonated oil in wound healing: what has already been proven? - National Library of Medicine

  • X-Rays, MRIs and CT Scans-Radiologists Love Them, But They're Usually Bunk!

    We've known for decades that spinal x-rays, MRIs and CT scans add very little information about back pain.

    They most often DON'T tell doctors whether the pain is coming from the spine or from disc, arthritic or bone disease. (Though they MAY reveal if the problem can be fixed with a chiropractic adjustment.)

    Research also shows that, if back pain is present, radiologists tend to interpret x-ray results as confirming the presence of a host of horrific (and scary-sounding) problems. But if those same radiologists are shown x-rays and MRIs from both healthy people and people with back pain-they can't tell one group from the other.

    Nonetheless, doctors continue to scare people by telling them how horrible their x-rays look. And they continue to operate on people based on those x-rays-even though the x-ray results are often MEANINGLESS, with much of the back pain coming from muscular and ligament problems that are totally reversible WITHOUT surgery.

    The same folly applies to x-rays for arthritis. An exception? X-rays for rheumatoid arthritis may show the scope of and severity of the disease, and help guide how aggressive treatment should be.

    Now, another study shows the same type of radiological "madness" for TMJ/jaw joint dysfunction-with doctors reaching conclusions that simply aren't true-and unnecessarily operating on people based on these. Yet another study showing that X rays simply do not tell if the jaw joint is the source of jaw pain. And, here's a very practical way to protect yourself from unnecessary procedures based on mistaken conclusions.

    In the study, CT scans of the jaw joint showed that bony/arthritic changes on CT scan were VERY POORLY correlated with pain and other clinical signs and symptoms of TMJ. To put it more bluntly: the x-ray changes were mostly meaningless.

    But that didn't stop doctors from showing many patients the x-rays…telling them they had jaw joint problems…and recommending surgery to relieve their symptoms. Scary!

    The good news? More often, the pain comes from tight jaw muscles such as the masseter muscles, which can generate as much as 1,000 pounds of pressure per square inch during chewing. And it's EASY to tell if the pain is coming from the muscle rather than the joint. Here's how:

    1. Put your thumb in the side of your mouth, aiming the tip of your thumb at the ear on the side that hurts.
    2. Put your index finger over your outer cheek, pressing it against the tip of your thumb.
    3. Using your thumb, find the area of your cheek where it gives way to a thicker area of muscle, about two inches wide, in front of your ear.
    4. Squeeze up and down that thickened area between your thumb and index finger, pressing HARD.

    If it hurts like the dickens, reproducing the TMJ-type pain, it proves the pain is coming from the MUSCLE-not the joint.

    For relief, the muscle simply needs to be RELEASED.

    The S.H.I.N.E. Protocol ( ) helps a lot with that release. So does applying creams containing anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxing medications (ask your local compounding pharmacist) topically over the muscle, 3 times a day, for 6 weeks. (Then use it as needed.) The cream is available by prescription from ITC Pharmacy (Phone: 303-663-4224). Your doctor can call in the prescription, to be mailed to you, and speak with the pharmacist, to get more information on the gel.

    In addition, remember that natural herbal mixes, such as End Pain and Curamin, can be dramatically beneficial for most kinds of pain!

    More good news? The jaw muscles seem to be involved with "setting" tension in other muscles throughout the body. When the jaw muscles start to relax, other pains go away as well!

    Here is a link to an abstract of the study, so you can take a look at it for yourself.

    Love and Blessings,
    Dr. T