Ten years ago April marks the anniversary of the first time I wrote about low-dose naltrexone (LDN). I described it as an orphan drug, meaning that its patent had long ago expired, that it was generic, and that it was not owned by any one company. For these reasons and because they’d never recoup their […]
Although I’ve taken care of well over 2,000 fibromyalgia patients since first opening WholeHealth Chicago in 1995 (and also written a successful book on the subject), I was always troubled by two questions. First, exactly what is fibromyalgia? How can there be a condition that’s severe enough to be disabling, manifesting as widespread muscle pain, […]
“Why am I limiting this to only three cases?” I wondered. Physicians who treat Lyme, like our group at WholeHealth Chicago where we see a lot of Lyme disease patients, would tell you there are so many manifestations of Lyme when it invades the nervous system that I really should list as many as possible. […]
This may be an emotionally difficult Health Tip for some of you. Imagine you’re a small child and for as long as you can remember, no one’s face has ever lit up with a smile when you walked into a room. In fact, to avoid being struck by a family member, you’ve learned a variety […]
Last week I suggested if you’ve been suffering longstanding but otherwise unexplained symptoms, a long-ago tick bite might be an overlooked possibility and you could now be dealing with chronic Lyme disease. I added that your recovery may well be delayed by some totally unnecessary and immature bickering among physicians about the correct name for […]
The front-and-center coverage of America’s opioid crisis is certainly affecting the two groups most involved: physicians and people in chronic pain. There are so many rules and restrictions on opioid prescribing that many physicians simply don’t bother any more, referring their chronic pain patients to pain management (PM) specialists. As well-intentioned as PM physicians may […]
Imagine picking up a one-pound rock and holding it in your hand with your arm extended. Easy, right? Keep holding it…keep holding it…and it won’t take long before your arm begins to hurt. The longer you hold the rock, the more it hurts. Of course, you could put the rock down but let’s say you […]
Many people suffering chronic pain and fatigue hear far too often the dismissive “it’s all in your head.” Dr. Edelberg has written frequently on the destructive nature of this statement, which places all the blame on the patient and none on the physician to dig deeper into the causes. As Dr. E wrote in a […]
More than ever before, researchers and scientists are studying the health benefits of mindfulness practices for a wide variety of conditions. And they’re discovering overwhelmingly similar results: mindfulness decreases mood disturbances, enhances coping skills, and promotes wellbeing. Enter “benefits of mindfulness meditation” into your search engine and you’ll find dozens of articles and studies published […]
We definitely treat a lot of patients with chronic pain and chronic depression at WholeHealth Chicago. I could list the potential sources of all this pain, all this depression, but why bother? If pain or depression melt away your joie de vivre, we try to help. Depending on personal preferences, we offer a variety of […]
Probably few of you remember that at one time there was virtually no acupuncture available in the US. Until the late 1970s the phrase “Why not try acupuncture?” simply didn’t exist. In 1971, when President Nixon made his historic visit to the People’s Republic of China, his press secretary James Reston experienced acupuncture for post-operative […]
Popularly referred to as the body’s natural tranquilizer, GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is an amino acid produced in the brain. It acts as a Neurotransmitter–a chemical that fosters communication between nerve cells–and helps to keep stress-related nerve impulses at bay.
DLPA is a depression fighting mixture that combines two forms of the amino acid, phenylalanine. The L-portion of phenylalanine, found in protein-rich foods, bolsters mood-elevating chemicals in the brain, specifically dopamine and nor-epinephrine, while The “D” form of phenylalanine is made synthetically in a laboratory. It appears to block a nervous system enzyme that amplifies pain signals. In other words, DLPA may prevent the breakdown of the brain’s natural pain relieving chemicals. This one-two punch can relieve minor episodes of depression and chronic pain syndromes. The DLPA combo is preferable to the pure L-form, which has been associated with increases in blood pressure.
The bark of the stately white willow tree (Salix alba) has been used in China for centuries as a medicine because of its ability to relieve pain and lower fever. Early settlers to America found Native Americans gathering bark from indigenous willow trees for similar purposes.
St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), a common shrub-like perennial, bears bright yellow flowers that contain numerous therapeutic substances when dried. Europeans have used the herb for centuries to calm jangled nerves and heal wounds, among other ills. And so it’s not surprising that North Americans have recently embraced its use as a treatment for depression and conditions associated with it.
SAMe (pronounced “sammy”) is short for S-adenosylmethionine, a molecule that the body continually produces to fuel numerous vital body functions. Discovered in 1952, the popularity of SAMe has soared recently with talk of its ability to ease depression as effectively as prescription antidepressants. (Proponents say SAMe also works faster than antidepressants and with virtually no side effects.)
An herb prized for its medicinal benefits and distinctive flavor, peppermint (Mentha piperata) is a naturally occurring hybrid of spearmint (M. spicata) and water mint (M. aquatica). Unlike other mints, however, peppermint contains in its healing volatile oil the powerful therapeutic ingredient menthol, as well as menthone, menthyl acetate and some 40 other compounds. The oil is made by steam-distilling the plant’s aromatic leaves and stems, which are gathered just before its light-purple flowers appear in the summer.
Melatonin is a hormone manufactured and released into the bloodstream by the pebble-size pineal gland nestled deep within the human brain. Surprisingly, scientists only became aware of melatonin’s presence in 1958. Children tend to excrete large amounts of this hormone, while older adults produce relatively little. But individual levels of melatonin vary widely. About 1% of the population naturally has quite low levels, while another 1% has levels 500 times above the average.
Revered around the world for its pungent taste, ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a natural spice that is also widely prized for its medicinal properties. Since ancient times, traditional healers in a diverse array of cultures have used this plant primarily to help settle upset stomachs. Chinese herbalists have relied on ginger as a medicine and flavoring for more than 2,500 years. The early Greeks mixed it into breads (hence the first gingerbread), and North American colonists sipped nausea-quelling ginger beer, the precursor of modern ginger ale. Today, many cultures continue to rely on ginger for controlling nausea and also for reducing inflammation.
Thought to have originated in Cayenne, French Guiana, cayenne is a spice derived from several varieties of dried hot peppers in the Capsicum species. Cayenne is a relative of the mild bell pepper used in salads and also of the fiery peppers found in chili powders and hot sauces, but it has no connection to black table pepper. Used for centuries by cooks around the world to add “heat” to traditional dishes, cayenne has gained a solid reputation both as a painkiller and digestive aid.