Dr.Karol, MD

The doctor with alternative solutions


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Arthritis and Natural Solutions

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My inspiration for today’s blog topic was something I experienced while running in this morning before work. It’s something that many of us are familiar with this time of year:  joint pain. Thankfully it’s probably nothing serious and it quickly went away with a little “lubrication” stimulated by the exercise. However, I realized that this is something that probably a lot of us are experience right now due to the ever changing weather conditions and the damp fall air. Why this happens is not entirely clear, and in many cases it is just a harmless and temporary occurrence while we adapt to the colder weather.

However, in many cases joint pain can be attributed to arthritis and this is a medical condition that needs more attention. Arthritic conditions actually encompass a whole separate specialty in medicine. There are four main types of arthritis. The most common one is Osteoarthritis (due to damage to the joint either by excessive usage, infection, or age). The other types are Autoimmune Arthritis (where the immune system makes a mistake and recognizes joint tissue as something foreign and therefore mounts an attack on the joint tissue), Septic Arthritis (which is due to an infection of the joint), and Gout (which is due to the deposition of Uric Acid and which in many cases can be prevented by a diet low in red meat and alcohol). Although they are all different, there are two things that are common to all of these types of arthritic conditions and these are inflammation and damage to joint tissue…Read more….


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The Best Supplements for Gout

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While in Montreal for a recent trade show, I came across a man suffering from gout. He’s a middle-aged well-built man who appears to be someone who spends a lot of time in the gym, not someone living with gout. But he limped when he walked and he was in pain. When I mentioned my work and interest in natural health he practically begged me to give him advice on how to deal with his pain. So I’m writing this article and sending him the link.

WHAT IS GOUT?
Gout is the build-up in joints of a substance called uric acid. Uric acid is formed as a by-product of purine breakdown. Purines are chemical molecules which make up the backbone of our genetic code, i.e., our DNA. As cells divide and old ones are replaced by new ones, the DNA of old cells is broken down to individual units before being used again to form new DNA. The by-product of this process is uric acid. Most people have no problem with uric acid, but some individuals, (due to genetic predisposition, diet or lifestyle), have a predisposition to having uric acid deposited in the joints. When this happens, the uric acid takes the form of sharply pointed needle-like structures (visible under a microscope). These needles cause excruciating, persistent pain and inflammation — described as the worst pain of all rheumatic conditions. For some unknown reason, this usually occurs in the big toe, but any joint can be affected. The worst thing about this condition, other than the excruciating pain and incapacity, is that the pain is continuous — even at night —and the flare-ups can last for weeks. If not properly treated or prevented, this condition can eventually cause permanent joint damage as well as serious kidney damage.

WHY DO WE GET IT?
What are the predisposing factors and how should one’s lifestyle be modified to decrease the chances of gout? Firstly, there is genetic predisposition. Some individuals are just more prone to develop gout. But just because you are predisposed, does not mean that you will get gout. This is because diet and lifestyle play a large role as well. The biggest gout triggers are: fatty red meats, organ meats (like liver), shellfish, herring, anchovies, sardines, mackerel, asparagus, mushrooms, all caffeinated beverages, high fructose corn syrup, sugary soft drinks, fruit juices (because of the high fructose content), sweets and alcohol (especially beer). With respect to alcohol and gout, wine is better than liquor and liquor is better than beer. But all three impact gout.

Other predisposing factors are heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, high cholesterol & high blood pressure, obesity and lack of exercise (especially cardiovascular exercise).

NATURAL TREATMENTS FOR GOUT
With respect to natural supplements and diet to prevent and treat gout, the most important are anti-inflammatory compounds, as the pain in gout is due to inflammation. Here are the best examples:

Fish oils high in EPA at a dose of 2000-3000 mg of EPA per day.

Flaxseed oil, added generously in its raw form to salads or in smoothies. You can also take it with a spoon.

Turmeric, Devil’s Claw and Boswelia: These are powerful natural anti-inflammatory gifts of nature. They decrease inflammation by affecting multiple points in the inflammatory cascade. Interestingly, these are the same agents used to treat arthritis and other types of pain.

Bromelain is a plant enzyme found most commonly in pineapples. When taken with food, it works like a digestive enzyme. When taken on an empty stomach, it is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent.

Alfalfa apparently can dissolve the uric acid crystals responsible for gout. I recommend alfalfa sprouts, as sprouts are usually the richest in enzymes, nutrition and medicine.

Milk Thistle for liver support metabolizes the purines and uric acid efficiently as well protecting the liver from ongoing inflammation.

Antioxidants in the form of bioflavonoids reduce inflammation and oxidative damage. My favorite in this category is Bioflavia, which is organic grape skin powder.

Plant proteins, especially fermented ones like my favourite, Genuine Health, are important because most animal proteins (from meats, fish and shellfish) predispose to gout. Supplement with plant proteins so you don’t become protein deficient.

Water: Drink at least 3 liters of fluids (mostly water) per day. This is especially important during gout attacks. The water will help flush out the excess uric acid.

B Complex vitamins efficiently metabolize purines, uric acid, proteins and carbohydrates.

Finally, tart cherries, tart cherry juice and other berries, preferably organic and fresh, are said to work miraculously. The reason for this is their very high level of bioflavonoids and anthocyanins. Both are powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties.

MAINSTREAM MEDICAL APPROACH
Your doctor will most likely first prescribe NSAIDs like Ibuprofen for the pain of gout. This brings only temporary partial relief and will not solve the underlying problem. NSAIDs also cause stomach ulcers, kidney damage (which is already taxed by the uric acid) and potentially intestinal and stomach bleeding. They also predispose to heart attacks and strokes. If NSAIDs are not enough, doctors recommend steroids (prednisone etc.). These are either injected into the excruciatingly painful and inflamed joint, or are taken orally. In either case, they are highly toxic. They cause hypertension, fluid retention in the body (causing swelling), mood swings (which can be quite serious), and obesity. Also, you cannot stop them abruptly when taken over longer periods of time because this can lead to shock. You must slowly taper your dose. Your doctor may also run some tests to determine if you are over-producing or under-secreting uric acid through your kidneys. For over-production, a drug called Allopurinol is prescribed. It does not work for flare-ups but is rather used to prevent attacks. The problem is that in some cases, it can cause potentially fatal inflammatory skin conditions (Stevens Johnson Syndrome, etc.). It can also cause serious kidney damage as well as inhibition of bone marrow, leading to problems with blood formation. With respect to under-secretion of uric acid, the commonly prescribed drug is Probenecid. It increases uric acid secretion in urine. It is also used for prevention and not for flare-ups. Its potential side effects are headaches, joint pain, swelling, nausea and vomiting. For flare-ups, in addition to NSAIDs, Colchicine is used. It can cause serious stomach upset, bone marrow depression as well as problems with sensory nerves. Although not all patients experience these side effects, many do. By taking them, you risk being one of them. Natural treatments are not only risk-free but the compounds listed above are powerful gifts of nature that benefit our overall health and well-being.

Take care and good luck preventing and treating your gout in a natural, healthy way.

— Dr. Karol M.D

 

 

 

 


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Radical Remedies: The Health Benefits of Magic Mushrooms

Today’s topic is perhaps the most interesting so far. With increasing legality of medical marihuana and the increasing flow of positive evidence of its health benefits it is no surprise that renowned university research centers have undertaken studies of magic mushrooms.

A study performed by John Hopkins University has found that low doses of the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, called psilocybin, had an anti-aging effect on openness. Openness relates to the ability to see and appreciate beauty, to imagine, to be aware of our own and other peoples feelings and to be curious and creative. Normally these traits attenuate as we age as we become more rigid. Magic mushrooms have been found to reverse this process with long lasting effects, on average up to a year or longer.

Research volunteers have reported increased interconnectedness to all people and things, feeling of peace and joy, a sense of sacredness and of stepping outside of “normal time and space”.

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The Hypocrisy of the US Marijuana Laws

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Up until the early 20th century, cannabis was widely used for the manufacture of rope and clothing, and also as a medicine. Early colonists before the Declaration of Independence were ordered by the King of England to grow at least 100 cannabis plants at any one time. It was not until 1906, with the passing of the Pure Food and Drug Act, that most states branded cannabis a “poison” and required using this term on the label of any cannabis product intended for human consumption. The reason for this was that cannabis was still available in the US as a prescription drug.

THE WAR ON CANNABIS

It was not until the 1930s with the establishment of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics that the real war on cannabis began. Cannabis in any form was branded a poison and a “killer drug”, making people “insane”, “dangerous” and overly promiscuous. This was followed by the Nixon and Regan administrations (both avid enemies of cannabis) and their passing of a number of anti-cannabis laws. Continue reading


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Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS

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Welcome back all of my dear readers. This months blog themes are Cancer awareness (prevention and what to do once you got it), and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). I will begin with the latter.

The prevalence of IBS in the Canadian population is 6%. It is 3 times more likely to be diagnosed in women than in men and is responsible for 30 billion dollars annually in medical costs and non medical costs (e.g. work absenteeism) in the US.

The symptoms are mostly abdominal pain with a predominance of diarrhea, constipation or both alternating with one another. Other symptoms are excessive flatulence and bloating.

A clear cause is still unknown. There are two prevalent theories. One is that a large proportion of IBS occurs after some kind of gastrointestinal infection. The other large proportion of IBS occurs in individuals that have undergone some kind of significant stressful event. This stressful event may have happened just prior to the IBS symptoms or years before. Needless to say psychological trauma and/or GI infections seem to correlate strongly with this condition. Continue reading


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Radical Remedies: Natural Pain Management

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Pain management. It’s a very hot topic. The reason for this is straight forward. It is safe to say that every living person in this world has experienced pain at one time or another. It is also the predominant feature of most diseases, acute and chronic alike.

Pain is commonly elicited in regions of the body where there is inflammation. If the inflammation lasts a long time, it causes damage to the organ that is inflamed. This may lead to chronic, debilitating and painful illness.

The problem with common pain medications is that they rely heavily on blocking the perception of pain but not the underlying cause. Another problem with these medications is that most of them have serious side effects and can also be highly addictive as they fall in the category of narcotics.

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Black Elderberry for Heart Health

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This is an absolutely phenomenal berry. It has been used for centuries all across Europe for many ailments. Its primary use was for respiratory track infections and for “loosening” dry cough to be able to cough up the phlegm. As such it was used as an expectorant. It is not clear what the active compounds in Elderberry are but one thing is for sure, whatever they are they are strong immune-stimulants.  Immuno-stimulants are simply compounds that stimulate the immune system.  Numerous very well designed human studies have shown that Elderberry reduces the symptoms of viral flu by about 60% compared to placebo. That’s from an average of 6 days of flu to merely 2 days. This effect has been shown to be effective for both type A and type B flu. The other important point about this fruit is that it is packed with anti-oxidants. This is not one bit surprising as the fruits resemble a cluster of grapes on a tree and have a dark purple color when ripe. I say this because barriers in general have a high content of anti-oxidants and the general rule (with a few exceptions) is that the darker red or purple they are the more their anti-oxidant content. Such anti-oxidants are very beneficial to the cardiovascular system and the heart as they protect the small arteries and capillaries from oxidative damage which may eventually lead to arterial plaque formation and blockage of blood flow. They are not only beneficial for the heart and the circulatory system but also prevent the ageing of skin, wrinkle formation as well as slow down the aging process in general. We can say that anti-oxidants are beneficial to every single organ system by helping in their proper functioning and preventing oxidative damage…..Read More…..