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South Texas Living

Feeling better naturally

Feeling better naturally

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August 29, 2012
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(Family Features) Over the last 10 years, a growing number of people have been turning to what are known as complementary and alternative medicines (CAM). The most recent data available from the National Health Interview Survey shows that in 2007, nearly 40 percent of survey respondents reported using CAM. $33.9 billion was spent on visits to CAM practitioners and purchases of CAM classes, materials, and products.

What Is It?

Complementary medicines are used together with conventional medicine, while alternative medicines are used in place of conventional medicine. You might have used some CAM remedies without realizing it -- they include:

•Natural products such as fish oil/omega 3s and echinacea.

•Mind-body medicine such as meditation, yoga, acupuncture and hypnotherapy.

•Manipulative and body-based practices such as chiropractic, massage, reflexology and acupressure.

In their book “Prescription for Natural Cures, Revised Edition” (Wiley, 2011), James F. Balch, M.D., Mark Stengler, N.M.D., and Robin Young Balch, N.D., address a wide range of natural treatments for dozens of common ailments. The treatments address diet, homeopathy, acupressure, bodywork, aromatherapy and stress reduction, as well as what they call Super Seven Prescriptions, the top seven options for treating each condition. Studies, references and other recommendations are also included.

These examples from the book can show you how to get on your way to feeling better, naturally.

For more information, and to read an excerpt, visit


Headaches can be triggered by a variety of factors, including stress, anxiety, allergies, hormone imbalance, poor digestion and detoxification, low blood sugar, fatigue and drugs (including caffeine and alcohol). Most headaches are best addressed by identifying and removing the triggers along with implementing strategies for natural pain relief.

•Calcium relaxes the nervous system, muscles and blood vessels, making it helpful for all types of headaches, but especially tension headaches. Take 500 mg twice daily.

•Ginkgo biloba improves circulation to the brain and has anti-platelet activity. Take 60 mg two or three times daily of a 24 percent flavone glycoside extract.

•Peppermint or menthol cream applied to the temple area has been shown to be helpful for tension headaches.


•For almost immediate relief, have someone rub the back of your neck and your upper back with ice.

•To relieve a headache caused by sinus pain, lean forward over a sink or towel (to allow the sinuses to drain), and gently rub the areas over and below your eye sockets. You can also extend out from beneath your eye socket in a straight line across your cheeks.


•Lavender and peppermint will soothe both head pain and stress. Add a few drops of either to a carrier oil (such as sweet almond oil) and massage temples. You can also add these oils to a cold compress.

•Using eucalyptus in a steam inhalation will open up sinus cavities quickly, and is helpful for a headache brought on by sinusitis.

Motion Sickness

Motion sickness happens when the brain receives conflicting messages from the inner ears and the eyes. Abrupt, irregular body movements and postures inside moving objects can set off this conflict and cause one to become pale, dizzy, nauseous and clammy.


•Fresh vegetable juices may be helpful for some people. Consume dry crackers to help an upset stomach.

•Avoid greasy and fried foods before traveling -- they are more likely to upset the stomach.

Super Prescriptions

•Ginger root (Zingiber officinale) -- Take 500 mg in capsule or tablet form before traveling and again every two hours while traveling. Another alternative is the tea form.

•Peppermint (Mentha piperita) -- Take 300 mg in capsule form or drink one cup of tea to calm an upset stomach.

•Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) -- Take 300 mg in capsule form or drink one cup of tea to calm an upset stomach.

Other Recommendations

--Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in the treatment of motion sickness. See a qualified practitioner.

--If you are in a car, open the windows. Fresh air is helpful for some.

Muscle Aches and Cramps

Occasional muscle aches and cramps are often just a part of life and are rarely a cause of worry. Lingering or recurrent pain, especially when accompanied by a fever, decreased muscular strength or joint swelling could suggest a severe strain, possibly injury.


•Eat foods that are high in calcium -- cheese, dark leafy greens, yogurt, milk, broccoli and calcium enriched rice and soymilk.

•Eat foods high in magnesium -- whole grains, nuts, legumes, soy and green leafy vegetables.

•Eat foods high in potassium -- apples, strawberries, bananas, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, peaches, meat and fish.

General Recommendations

•B vitamins can become depleted due to the effects of stress, causing muscle cramps and aches. Take a 50 mg complex twice daily.

•Protease enzymes reduce muscle aching and inflammation. Take one capsule three times daily between meals.

•Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) is helpful for spasms in the legs due to poor circulation. Take 300 mg twice daily.

Be Smart, Be Safe

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) states that as with any medical treatment, there can be risks with CAM therapies. These general precautions can help to minimize risks:

•Select practitioners with care. Find out about the practitioner’s training and experience.

•Know that some dietary supplements may interact with medications or other supplements, may have side effects of their own, or may contain potentially harmful ingredients not listed on the label. Also keep in mind that most supplements have not been tested in pregnant women, nursing mothers or children.

•Tell all your health care providers about any CAM practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care. For tips about talking with your health care providers, see NCCAM’s Time to Talk campaign at

This information is not intended to serve as a replacement for professional medical advice. A health-care professional should be consulted regarding your specific situation.

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