Search Blogs, Articles, and Features


Search through our articles, blog entries and newlsetter descriptions. NOTE that this does not search the Natural Health Store.


Results (Click links below to read articles)

  • Calcium Supplements Linked to Heart Attacks
  • Have a Headache?
  • YUM: Chocolate for Your Heart
  • Meditation Lowers Heart Attack Risk
  • Why eat your broccoli?


    Rewiring the Chronic Pain Brain

    Pain can be unlearned. Here's how...

    "...In the case of chronic pain which cannot be explained though, there is no such adaptive advantage. Instead, chronic pain exists in large part because our brains (specifically our “sensory cortex”) have been rewired to perceive danger even when it ceases to exist. To take that idea a step further, the area where we would feel “hand pain” actually grows in size at the expense of other crucial neurological functions. This concept is well aligned with the relatively novel idea of neuroplasticity: new connections can be made as our brain has new experiences and processes new data. While this can be beneficial in the recovery of function after traumatic brain injury or stroke, it can have a negative impact as well: we can program ourselves to experience a continual cycle of discomfort with no known cause...."

    Read the rest of the article here!


    Gua Sha - for pain, musclar tension, colds and more

    Ancient chinese remedy for modern day issues

    05-30-2103 by Cynthia Hewett LAc, Certified Herbalist

    When we think about Chinese medicine, we usually think about acupuncture needles and herbs. Another wonderful tool and healing technique used in Chinese medicine is Gua Sha.

    Gua Sha is performed by swiftly rubbing (called ‘Gua’ in Chinese medicine) the surface of lubricated skin with a round-edged, comb-like instrument in downward strokes. This action intentionally raises a small temporary rash (known in Chinese as ‘Sha,’ also known as petechiae/rash in Western terms) in the treated area. You will feel a rubbing and slight burning sensation, but it is not painful.

    In Chinese medicine, pain and disease are said to be caused by stagnation or congestion of qi and blood. Gua Sha increases the movement of qi and blood and allows the body to restore its natural functioning.

    What Conditions Can Gua Sha Help?

    Gua Sha can help release unwanted neck and shoulder tension that comes with computer work and the busy-ness of our day (like running around and commuting). It is also prescribed for chronic muscle tightness from overuse or injury. It can be effectively used in the treatment of colds and coughs to relieve congestion and help increase the body’s immune response.

    How Does Gua Sha Do This?

    The secret of gua sha lies in how this treatment encourages the vigorous movement of blood to the surface of the body. When blood moves and circulation is enhanced, the body can help heal the area that needs to be healed. This is how gua sha helps the body’s own healing process.

    Is there Scientific Research About Gua Sha?

    In the last decade, Western studies have started to investigate how Gua Sha works. A study from 2007 confirms that Gua Sha increases the surface circulation of blood by 400% and that increased surface circulation continued at a significant level for 25 minutes following treatment. Each individual experienced a subjective decrease or complete resolution of pain [1]. A 2009 study showed that as enzymes are released to breakdown the petechiae (small broken blood vessels under the skin created by the Gua Sha treatment), an anti-inflammatory effect is created [2]. This helps explain why Gua Sha is useful in the treatment of colds and even allergy symptoms.

    Other studies have looked at Gua Sha in the treatment of migraine [3], neck and lower back pain [4], chronic neck pain [5], and hepatitis [6]. Current studies have been small but warrant further investigation especially in understanding Gua Sha’s effects on the body’s immune process.

    Gua Sha Conclusion

    Gua Sha is a safe, non-invasive treatment that is usually applied to the back of the body or the limbs. The rash usually fades in 2-4 days and patients are advised to relax the day of treatment, avoiding working out, fasting or large meals and alcohol, to allow the body to repair.

    1. Nielsen, A., Knoblauch, N., Dobos,G., Michalsen, A., Kaptchuk, T. (2007),The Effect of Gua Sha Treatment on the Microcirculation of Surface Tissue: A Pilot Study in Healthy Subjects. Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, 3: 456-466. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2007.06.001)

    2. Kwong KK, Kloetzer L, Wong KK, Ren JQ, Kuo B, Jiang Y, Chen YI, Chan ST, Young GS, Wong ST. (2009), Bioluminescence imaging of heme oxygenase-1 upregulation in the Gua Sha procedure. J Vis Exp. 2009 (30): 1385. doi: 10.3791/1385.

    3. Schwickert ME, Saha FJ, Braun M, Dobos GJ. Gua Sha for migraine in inpatient withdrawal therapy of headache due to medication overuse. Forsch Komplementmed. 2007 Oct14(5):297-300. doi:10.1159

    4. Lauche R, Wübbeling K, Lüdtke R, Cramer H, Choi KE, Rampp T, Michalsen A, Langhorst J, Dobos GJ. Randomized controlled pilot study: pain intensity and pressure pain thresholds in patients with neck and low back pain before and after traditional East Asian "gua sha" therapy. Am. J. Chin. Med. 40, 905 (2012). DOI: 10.1142/S0192415X1250067X/000107731.

    5. Braun, M., Schwickert, M., Nielsen, A., Brunnhuber, S., Dobos, G., Musial, F., Lüdtke, R. and Michalsen, A. (2011), Effectiveness of Traditional Chinese “Gua Sha” Therapy in Patients with Chronic Neck Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Pain Medicine, 12: 362–369. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4637.2011.01053.x

    6. Chan ST, Yuen JW, Gohel MD, Chung CP, Wong HC, Kwong KK, (2011) Guasha-induced hepatoprotection in chronic active hepatitis B: A case study. Clinica Chimica Acta, Volume 412, Issues 17–18, 17 August 2011, Pages 1686-1688. doi:10.1016/j.cca.2011.05.009

    Click Here for PDF version of article


    ISSUE #35: What is Your Dosha?, Dr. Siobhan, Pina's Dr. Oz Video on Natural Alternatives to Drugs


    In this issue:

    - learn about the benefits of Ayurvedic medicine

    - learn about Dr. Siobhan Bleakney, our newest associate in the Long Island office

    - see Dr. Pina's June 2012 appearance on the Dr. Oz Show discussing natural alternatives to prescription medications for Insomnia, Hypertension, Anxiety and Thyroid Problems

    - Can You Follow Your Dreams and Still Make It in this World?

    - Why Is Grass-Fed So Important for your meat choices?

    - Sleep Medications vs. Getting A Stroke: which is worse

    Click Here for Health Letter


    Calcium Supplements Linked to Heart Attacks


    A no brainer right? You are at risk for osteoporosis - so, you should take calcium? Well, it seems calcium is one of the major contributors to atherosclerotic plaque - the plaque that blocks up the arteries around the heart. Interestingly, conventional medicine prescribes statin medications to lower cholesterol levels, but does not do anything in regards to calcium deposits.

    Alone, calcium itself does not actually prevent or treat osteoporosis. To accomplish this, it is important to use a naturopathic approach that includes changing the diet, strengthening digestion to absorption nutrition, increasing resistance exercise like gardening and weights work, and using a synergy of minerals like magnesium with some calcium (in a high quality form like citrate or malate) and boron, silica and horsetail, and of course checking vitamin D levels. There is also a genetic test that helps to see if a patient has a genetic predisposition to vitamin D imbalance and osteoporosis, and there are urine tests that help decide how much calcium a person is losing from the bone.

    Now, some research is suggesting that calcium supplements not only provide no benefit, but that they can even be harmful, increasing the risk of heart attacks by nearly a third. As expected, these results, do not apply to calcium ingested in food, which is beneficial. As a note, most of these studies were with patients using calcium carbonate, a very inexpensive version of calcium supplementation. And these studies did not use vitamin D, and important nutrient/hormone that helps move calcium into bone, and is also protective of the heart in other ways

    Two studies are supporting this thought: one from 2006 and one in 2008. One study from the University of Auckland in New Zealand and his colleagues combined results from 11 randomized controlled trials of calcium supplements without vitamin D involving more than 12,000 patients. The British Medical Journal reported that there was a 31% increase in the risk of heart attack and smaller, non-significant increases in the risk of stroke and death. While equal numbers of women received calcium or placebo, 143 of those who received calcium suffered a heart attack, compared to 111 who received a placebo.

    The risk increase is small, but given all the women taking poor quality high dose supplementation, this may be a problem.

    Unfortunately, the cardiologist who authored the study recommends no supplementation be used unless drugs are being used to treat. Apparently, he has not read the plethora of information linking osteoporotic drugs to increased fracture rates in other parts of the body, osteonecrosis of the hip and jaw, and esophageal changes that can become cancerous.

    BMJ 2010 341:c3691 doi: 10.1136/bmj.c3691 (Published 29 July 2010)

    click here for reference


    Have a Headache?
    Pop A Pill and Increase Stroke Risk (even in a healthy person) or, try something natural.....


    The advertisement shown says 'less time awake.' They may mean 'less time alive.'

    It seems a harmless part of American life: you have a headache or pain, you pop an 'Advil' or other pain killer. Research is now showing us that is not a good idea for short term use of these type of drugs increases short in healthy people. This increased risk ranged from about 30% with ibuprofen and naproxen to 86% with diclofenac. The association was 'dose dependent', which means the more a person took the higher the risk. The increased risk of stroke reaching 90% with doses of ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) over 200 mg and 100% with diclofenac doses over 100 mg. It has already been shown that these medications increase heart disease in the long term. This is probably why these medications are more often only by prescription in other countries. Naproxen, which is a prescription medication everywhere except the United States was not associated with increased cardiovascular risk, but is known to cause liver problems, and requires monitoring of liver enzymes if used for a few weeks.

    Dr Gunnar Gislason presented this study information at last week's European Society of Cardiology 2010 Congress. He said: "If half the population takes these drugs, even on an occasional basis, then this could be responsible for a 50% to 100% increase in stroke risk. It is an enormous effect." He also lamented that "it is very hard to change the habits of doctors. They have been using these drugs for decades without thinking about cardiovascular side effects."

    Luckily, there are numerous natural modalities to work with pain: acupuncture, hydrotherapy, water intake, food allergy work, getting enough sleep, naturally lowering inflammation in the body, exercise, manipulative work, stretching, mind-body work, muscle relaxation, hormonal balance, inflammation reducing herbs and nutrients, etc....

    ref: Fosbøl EL, Folke F, Jacobsen S, et al. Cause-specific CV risk associated with NSAIDs among healthy individuals. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes 2010 3:395-405.

    Click here for reference


    YUM: Chocolate for Your Heart

    Almost 40% reduction in heart attack or stroke were achieved by those who eat around 7.5 grams of chocolate a day versus those who ate little or no chocolate. Flavanones are the componenet that seem to help our vessels by releasing nitric oxide, which lowers blood pressure and improves platelet (clotting cell) function.

    The authors of this large observational study of 19,357 people, aged between 35 and 65, remind us to continue to watch our weight if we add the chocolate: "be aware that 100 g of dark chocolate contains roughly 500 calories. As such, you may want to subtract an equivalent amount of calories, by cutting back on other foods, to avoid weight gain."

    It is best to eat dark chocolate (we like 85%) with lowest sugar and dairy content.

    Reference: Buijsse, B, Weikert C, Drogan D et al. Chocolate consumption in relation to blood pressure and risk of CV disease in German adults. Eur Heart J 2010


    Meditation Lowers Heart Attack Risk

    Highest Risk Group of African Americans find benefit

    November 21, 2009

    by Dr. Peter Bongiorno and Dr. Pina LoGiudice

    In most cases of naturopathic care, stress reduction techniques are a central part of helping the body to heal itself. In our practice, we find for virtually any condition, stress reduction modalities such as meditation, yoga, exercise, and acupuncture will help patients get healthier faster, decrease their dependence on medications, and sustain any gains. Heart disease is the number killer in the United States. One recent study announced at the most recent American Heart Association gives credence to this approach. A major study of stress reduction with the Transcendental Meditation program was associated with 43% reduction in risk for all cause mortality, myocardial infarction and stroke in a high-risk sample of African Americans. A selected stress reduction approach may be useful in the secondary prevention of atherosclerotic CVD. The subjects were 201 African American participants (half male and half female) with documented coronary artery disease. Subjects performed either Transcendental Meditation or another program called "health education control." Regular care was continued in all subjects. After 5 years of follow-up, the heart attack risk in the meditation patients was 43% reduced. Systolic blood pressure (the top number) decreased by mean of 5.1 mm Hg. Also, there were reductions in psychosocial stress in a high stress subgroup. There were no significant changes in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) or Body Mass Index. It was concluded that stress reduction with the Transcendental Meditation program was associated with 43% reduction in risk for all cause mortality, myocardial infarction and stroke in a high-risk sample of African Americans. A selected stress reduction approach may be useful in the secondary prevention of atherosclerotic CVD. It is likely that even greater benefits would be achieved in lower risk individuals. Also, greater benefits would probably result in those doing other lifestyle changes like exercise, the Mediterranean Diet, and proper nutrients. It is hard to know if other methods are equally as effective. If you are not including some kind of relaxation program as part of your health regimen, this is a great time to start. ref: Schneider R et al. Effects of Stress Reduction on Clinical Events in African Americans With Coronary Heart Disease: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Abstract 1177: Circulation. 2009;120:S461


    Why eat your broccoli?

    Cruciferous Vegetables as Cancer Prevention

    June 24, 2009

    Consumption of cruciferous (also known as Brassica vegetables) of 4.5 servings a month help protect smokers against lung cancer. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, and bok choy. In the United States, an estimated 26.2 million men (23.5 percent) and 20.9 million women (18.1 percent) are smokers. These people are at higher risk of heart attack and stroke. Cigarette smoking is the number one cause of smoking lung cancer. And overall, at least 4.5 million American teens are addicted users of cigarettes. Findings were presented at the Seventh Annual American Association for Cancer Research International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, in November 2008 which shown that the risk of developing lung cancer was reduced by 22% to 50% among smokers who consumed at least 4.5 servings of raw cruciferous vegetables a month, compared with those who consumed less than 2.5 servings per month. An intake of fruits and total vegetables showed an even stronger association among never smokers, whereas significant inverse associations with cruciferous vegetable consumption were only observed among smokers and former smokers. Previous research also demonstrated that the intake of raw cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, broccoli sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower, was associated with a reduced risk for bladder cancer. There are many healthful components to cruciferous vegetables. Indole 3-carbinols have been shown to be cancer protective, and intake of soluble and insoluble fiber may also have benefit. Cruciferous vegetables are also unique in that they are rich sources of sulfur-containing compounds known as glucosinolates. The name comes from their four-petaled flowers, which look like a crucifer, or cross. Of course, the best protection is to avoid smoking completely. For those working on the process, the addition of cruciferous vegetable may add an important protection. Although not studied, it is likely these vegetables may also protect those exposed to second hand smoke as well.

    references: Nelson R. AACR FCPR 2008: Cruciferous Vegetables Reduce Lung Cancer Risk in Smokers Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008;17:938-944 Seventh Annual American Association for Cancer Research International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research