Category Archives: Natural Therapies

mood booster arthritis pain

Mood Boosters for Coping With Arthritis Pain

When arthritis pain strikes, it may be tempting to withdraw and crawl back into bed. But giving in to this feeling may worsen the pain, says Marni Amsellem, PhD, a Connecticut and New York-based clinical health psychologist. Instead, having a list of mood boosters is a better way to cope with arthritis pain, she says. A fun activity can take your mind off the pain and brighten your outlook.

Here’s some suggestions to help get you started:

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tumeric and curcumin

Turmeric Probably Won’t Help Your Arthritis (But Curcumin Might)

Turmeric has moved to the top of the healthy food chain. The 4,000-year-old staple of Southeast Asian  cooking is showing up everywhere, including ballpark snacks and Starbucks lattes. It’s easy to understand why; turmeric’s most active component, curcumin, is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant that may help treat or prevent diseases ranging from arthritis to ulcerative colitis and cancer. But does adding turmeric to your latte or plate of chicken masala do these things?

Not likely, says Randy Horowitz, MD, medical director of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine in Tucson.

“Turmeric only contains about 2 to 6 percent curcumin, so you’re not getting much [of the anti-inflammatory effect],” he says.

Ground turmeric has other strikes against it. Ezra Bejar, PhD, a San Diego-based expert in botanical research, warns that with turmeric’s increasing popularity, unscrupulous manufacturers are adding synthetic turmeric to the real thing. Some additives, like vibrantly yellow lead chromate, are toxic. In the last few years, 13 brands of turmeric have been recalled for lead contamination.

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expressive writing to relieve arthritis stress

Relieve Arthritis Stress With Expressive Writing

While living with arthritis can create stresses most people might not even think about, a technique called expressive writing may bring relief, both mentally and physically. For example, maybe you’re angry because pain is keeping you from joining friends on a shopping trip or playing with your kids – again. You may be stuck in anger.

“But in addition to anger, you probably also feel grief, loss and a lack of control over the circumstances,” says clinical psychologist Mark Lumley, PhD, psychology professor at Wayne State University in Detroit. “Expressive writing can help bring forward those less-accessible feelings besides anger that don’t always have a voice.

Writing this way reduces inner conflict and provides you a better sense of emotional balance – and perhaps even less pain – when you express those feelings on paper.”

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aromatherapy essential oils

Essential Oils: What You Should Know

Aromatherapy won’t cure your arthritis, but it may ease certain symptoms and help you feel better. For example, lavender is sometimes used to relieve anxiety and promote sleep. Some research shows aromatherapy may even have benefits for pain. Two small studies found aromatherapy massage with lavender or ginger and orange oils led to short-term relief of knee pain.

“It doesn’t work for everyone, but some have good outcomes,” says Sue Cutshall, a Mayo Clinic integrative health clinical nurse specialist. However, as with other “natural” treatments, you should exercise caution when using them; in rare cases, they can be hazardous.

Essential oils are the foundation of aromatherapy. The oils – extracted from plants, flowers, herbs and trees – are most often used for their scent, but they can also be mixed with lotions or alcohol and used as bath or massage products.

Most essential oils have few side effects or risks when used as directed, but some can cause harm. Undiluted essential oils can provoke skin problems, and citrus essential oils can increase sun sensitivity.

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boost positivity and decrease stress

Five Positive Ways to Boost your Mood and Relieve Stress and Pain

It’s not always easy to stay positive – but dwelling on negative thoughts can do more than put you in a blue mood; your thoughts affect the way you feel mentally and physically, says Helen Grusd, PhD, a Los Angeles clinical psychologist who specializes in health psychology. Studies have shown that gloomy thoughts can worsen pain and fatigue and negatively affect your immune system.

Fortunately, positive thinking can have the opposite effect. Try these simple mood boosters.

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integrated medicine for arthritis

Integrative Medicine Approach for Arthritis

Some people with arthritis feel that doctor-patient communication can sometimes seems narrow and impersonal. Integrative medicine aims to be different.

“Patients are at the center of integrated medicine; our goal is to partner with them to address the physical, emotional, social, environmental and spiritual factors that affect health,” says internist Adam Perlman, MD, executive director of Duke Integrative Medicine in Durham, N.C. “This approach is very inclusive. We practice and believe in Western medicine, but we also have an openness to complementary modalities that help address the whole person.”

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aromatherapy herb garden

Try Aromatherapy for Pain Relief

Because your sense of smell is linked to the areas of the brain where emotion and memories are processed, you can use scents and fragrant plants to give yourself an emotional boost, relieve pain, and conjure up pleasant memories.

“Aromatherapy is effective because it works directly on the amygdala, the brain’s emotional center,” says Mehmet Oz, MD, director of integrative medicine center at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. “This has important consequences because the thinking part of the brain can’t inhibit the effects of the scent, meaning you feel them instantaneously.” Of the many uses of aromatherapy, pain relief is only one; anxiety reduction and rejuvenation are other common objectives.

“Aromas can heal by enhancing our memory and changing emotions that affect the body’s stress response,” says Esther Sternberg, MD, a rheumatologist and author of Healing Spaces. “If you can identify a fragrance that reminds you of a peaceful, pleasant place and puts you in the mood to say, meditate, it can have a very positive effect.”

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easy meditation tips for arthritis

Meditation for Arthritis Made Easy

Meditation may relieve arthritis pain, help you sleep better and even lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, research shows. But the idea of sitting cross-legged for an hour or so keeps many people from even trying. You can add a little quiet time to your life without fuss.

Meditation comes in many forms. In studies, as little as 20 minutes of mindfulness meditation for just three consecutive days helped ease pain and anxiety.

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