Health Tips

Home / Health Tips

Q&A: Bromelain Dose for Anti-Inflammatory Effect

Q: Ever since you wrote about bromelain I’ve wanted to try it, as you suggested, instead of aspirin or ibuprofen. I’m managing my heel spur pain well with the help of my physical therapist, but she encourages me to take an anti-inflammatory when I have pain. Would you tell me what dose of bromelain I should use? Also, does it work for arthritis?

Modify Risk Factors

Doctors use the term “modifiable risk factors” to describe those aspects of a person’s life that are potentially dangerous but which can be reversed, or modified. Conversely, some risk factors are less modifiable. If you have a family history of a certain cancer, you can’t order a new set of genes, but you can have regular check-ups and avoid substances known to trigger your particular cancer risk.

Five Steps to Exiting the Rut

We’ve all had our personal ruts. You wake up one morning realizing that there you are, seemingly trapped.

Maybe it’s your job–you’re teetering on real burn-out but you’re fearful of making the move to free yourself. Or a relationship that’s going nowhere, but there you stay, justifying your misery (or boredom) for some dubious better-than-nothing qualities. Maybe it’s the town you live in, or your apartment.

The “If only…” theme keeps drifting across your mind.

People don’t think about vinyl records much anymore, but the needles used to get caught in the same groove, endlessly repeating the same sound. And maybe yours is, “I can’t get out….can’t get out…can’t get out.”

Well, people can and do get “unstuck” from all sorts of ruts and grooves. Every day, people bravely leap forward. Starry-eyed, and often looking ten years younger, a patient will show up one morning to say, “I’m finally heading to Petaluma” and ask if I know a good doctor out there. There may be some stumbling at first. Not every change is an unqualified success, but the experience of the change itself is hardly ever regretted.

If you’re serious about exiting a rut and willing to engage in an evening of self-exploration, here’s a five-step activity to help you get unstuck.

1. Take the issue in your life that you feel most intensely traps you. Maybe it’s your weight, the job and the promotion you haven’t received, or the people you work with. Or the city you’re living in, your current relationship, or circle of friends. Now on a piece of paper headed “My Stuck Situation,” draw lines to create three columns. In the first, list every reason you’re reluctant to make changes. In the second, list the worst case scenarios if you would make changes. And in the third (here you can fantasize galore!), list all the possibilities your life can open to if and when you make the leap.

2. Look at your “worst case scenario” column. I want you to think of word or phrase that describes your emotions when you look at this list. Somewhere there’s a common thread to all your “worst cases” and you need to discover it. It might be I Fear the Unknown, or I Have Real Issues with Self Esteem. Or maybe: I Can’t Upset My Parents, I Can’t Disappoint People, or Challenges Frighten Me. There will be some phrase, and you might feel a shiver down your spine in the very act of writing it. Like it or not, this is part of your character. But, of course, you can change. People do, every day.

3. Write that phrase boldly across the top of a second piece of paper and prepare for a personal review of your life story. Think back over your life and start listing examples of how this phrase permeated your significant life choices. Did you always take dumb jobs because you feared challenges? Did you always find yourself dating jerks because you felt unworthy of anyone better? Did you always stay in the same town because your parents made you feel guilty about leaving? As you work on this list, the words “yikes!” or “gosh!” (or a juicy expletive) might escape your lips, because you’ll be amazed how ancient some of these issues actually are. But as psychologists say, “Now we’re getting somewhere.” Becoming aware of yourself like this, even though it may be painful at first, is ultimately very healing.

4. On a new sheet of paper, start listing how your phrase (“can’t upset my parents,” “low self esteem,” etc.) is currently affecting other aspects of your life. Maybe you’ll unearth why you’re always eating the same unhealthful foods. Watching the same TV programs. Taking the same vacations. Same love interests, like your dad.

5. On the last piece of paper, re-write all those “worst case scenarios.” You’ll probably feel just a teensy bit nervous as you write them out, but remember, they’re only words. Nothing really has happened, has it? Now make a plan of action for each of these worst case situations. Go into detail. Rehearse imaginary conversations. When tackling your “worst cases,” you’re like a general preparing for battle.

You see, psychologists tell us that we use unhealthy “stuck” behaviors as defense mechanisms to avoid those issues we fear to face. For example, if our parents told us that being unemployed was “being poor,” then we fear unemployment to the extent that we spend our lives in miserable (but safe) jobs. In order to get unstuck we have to probe our fears, see how they’ve created negative patterns, and deal with them by solving unrealized worst case scenarios.

Of course, finishing up this project, it’s a little premature to think you’ve exited the rut just yet. It’s late at night and you’re still in the same job, same city, same relationship. You haven’t lost any weight.

But now you’re aware of new aspects of yourself. Tomorrow take some baby steps (new food choices, looking at the job board at work) and later you’ll consider the bigger steps (calling a headhunter for a new job, joining a club to lose weight, seeing a marriage counselor or divorce lawyer).

Being stuck in a rut has simply been a way to protect yourself from fears you’re reluctant to face. Acknowledge your fears, then realize the worst case scenarios aren’t insurmountable, and BAM! you’ve broken free.

Another Reason You Need Vitamins

During my now rather lengthy professional career, I’ve been hearing the same song-and-dance from conventional physicians about vitamins. It’s a variation on the theme “our food is plenty nutritious by itself” (now proven untrue) or “you just end up having nutritious urine” (the B vitamin riboflavin colors urine a dazzling yellow).

Important Depression Update

For many susceptible women, the combination of holiday stress and the dark short days of winter trigger a flare-up or first-time appearance of depression. If it happens to you, you’re not alone. Epidemiologists (who chart the incidence of disease) now believe that up to 10% of people suffer from depression, and that after pain, depression is the second most common cause of disability.

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba has the longest life span of any tree, with some ginkgo trees
estimated to be more than 1,000 years old. Even more astonishing is that
ginkgo, as a survivor of the Ice Age, has been around for more than 200
million years.

Holiday Stress Rx: Part 3

Click here for the Health Tip link. My patients sometimes have difficulty comprehending the extent to which chronic stress is responsible for their symptoms. Maybe it’s easier to understand how viruses cause a cold or plant spores bring on allergies. After all, both can be seen under a microscope. And yet chronic stress is much […]

Modifying Risk Factors

Doctors use the term “modifiable risk factors” to describe those aspects of a person’s life that are potentially dangerous but which can be reversed, or modified. Conversely, some risk factors are less modifiable. If you have a family history of a certain cancer, you can’t order a new set of genes, but you can have regular check-ups and avoid substances known to trigger your particular cancer risk.

Holiday Stress Rx: Part 2

Click here for the Health Tip link. Women play such a central role in family and celebration, to the degree that the stress of holiday demands can make you feel exhausted, anxious, and sick. Taking some time for yourself may seem counterintuitive, but it’s precisely what you need. Here’s another prescription for keeping healthy during […]

Most Common Deficiencies: Zinc

Click here for the Health Tip link. A popular blood test in our office measures levels of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It seems reasonable that as long as you’re spending good money on nutritional supplements, you might as well see if they’re being absorbed. It’s also helpful that some health insurance companies (notably, Blue Cross) […]

Nutritional Bad News

Click here for the Health Tip link. The government has made official what’s been common knowledge among nutritionally oriented practitioners for years: the vitamin and mineral content of our fruits and vegetables has been in steady decline since the 1950s, when scientists first began to measure them. Researchers sampled produce from grocery stores all over […]

Ginkgo Biloba

A lot of my patients ask me about taking ginkgo for memory. Here’s my answer, with a little extra detail: Ginkgo biloba has the longest life span of any tree, with some ginkgo trees estimated to be more than 1,000 years old. Even more astonishing is that ginkgo, as a survivor of the Ice Age, […]

Living Longer, Living Healthier

Posted 11/01/2006 It’s been a good month for new research revealing ways you can live a longer and healthier life. Here are a few highlights: Medscape News for physicians reported that fully one-third of all cancers can be directly attributed to lifestyle factors. These include choices such as dietary selections and tobacco and alcohol use; […]

Q&A: Supplements for Better Breathing

Q:   My husband has congestive heart failure. While he’s getting excellent care from his physicians, I’m wondering if there are any supplements you could recommend that would improve his breathing. A: The single most useful supplement for congestive heart failure is coenzyme Q-10. Many cardiologists are aware of this, but because it’s not yet FDA-approved […]

Preventing Cancer with One Good Choice

You can prevent cancer by eating more vegetables, and specifically more cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and Brussels sprouts.

More than half of all cancers in US adults are likely caused by poor diet, and many others develop because we’re exposed to a gruesome soup of environmental toxins in our food, air, and water.