September 26, 2011

133 Trigger Points [26 Sept. 2011]

As part of my continuing education credit requirements as an RMT, I took a course in Advanced Trigger Point Techniques (TPT) last weekend. We learned a new way to work trigger points that is faster, more effective and – best of all – painless! If you or someone you know suffers from soft tissue pain, I’d love to show you how TPT can relieve your pain.

Trigger points are small hyperirritable spots in muscles, tendons and ligaments that are painful with pressure and often refer pain to other areas in a predictable pattern. Pain with movement or stretching which limits the range of movement of a joint is likely caused by trigger points. Depending on location, trigger points can also cause: dizziness, headaches, tinnitus, buckling knees, muscle fatigue (your arm feels “heavy” or you feel “too tired” to hold your back straight), and stiffness after resting or over-exertion.

Trigger points are often caused by trauma such as a motor vehicle accident (e.g. whiplash) but can result from any injury or strain (excessive or repetitive) to the soft tissue. These can remain latent in the body for years until activated. Factors which activate trigger points include: over exertion of the tissue, prolonged stretch or shortening of the tissue, postural imbalance, getting chilled, general fatigue (lack of sleep), sudden movements, viral infections, high stress, and dehydration.

It usually takes several one-hour massage treatments using TPT to clear an area of the body. After therapy you should feel lighter and looser, and be able to move more freely without pain. A cleared area should remain pain free unless the factors which caused or activated the trigger points are still in effect.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

September 19, 2011

132 Umckaloabo - A “New” Cold Cure [19 Sept. 2011]

A species of South African geranium used for centuries in Zulu medicine has become the newest remedy for the common cold. The scientific name is Pelargonium sidoides; the Zulu name for the herb is Umckaloabo (call it “Umcka” for short).

Several recent controlled studies from Europe have shown that Umcka reduced the severity and duration of both acute bronchitis and the common cold. In one study total cold symptom severity was reduced to half that of the placebo group after 5 days. This degree of improvement is superior to that of other common over-the-counter cold treatments including natural remedies like vitamin C, Echinacea and zinc.

Umcka works in three ways: it has antiviral, antibacterial and expectorant properties. It prevents bacteria and viruses from attaching to the mucous membranes. It also stimulates the body’s immune system and prevents bacteria and viruses from multiplying. Finally it loosens mucous making it easier to cough up contaminated phlegm.

Umcka appears to be a very safe herb. No significant adverse effects were noted in any of the studies I reviewed, and few have been reported in Europe despite the increasing popularity of the herb. Like most cold remedies, results improve significantly if the treatment is started within 2 days of cold onset. For more information see the Herbal Africa website. Here is the abstract on one of the studies done at the National Medical University in Kiev.

Umcka has been widely used in Germany since the 1980s (one formula is an approved drug for the treatment of acute bronchitis) and is now available in North America. That’s what I plan to use next time I start to come down with a cold.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

September 12, 2011

131 Tamanu Oil [12 Sept. 2011]

Tamanu oil has been used for centuries in the South Pacific Islands and SE Asia to promote skin health. It is extracted from the kernel of the Tamanu fruit and has a rich woody spicy smell. It is readily absorbed and penetrates all three skin layers for deep healing.

Tamanu oil contains a unique fatty acid calophyllic acid, a natural antibiotic lactone, and an anti-inflammatory compound calophyllolide. These and other components give the oil powerful properties to: protect skin from oxidative damage; speed healing of many different skin conditions; relieve neuralgic pain; and promote cicatrization (the growth of healthy new tissue).

Tamanu oil can be used effectively for:
• Acne and acne scarring
• Psoriasis and eczema
• Dry or scaly skin
• Bed sores and diabetic skin ulcers
• Diaper rash
• Stretch marks and scar tissue
• Age spots and wrinkles
• Burns and sunburn
• Insect bites and blisters
• Foot and body odor
• Neuralgia and joint inflammation
• Wound healing and skin regeneration

Apply Tamanu oil full strength to the skin. It absorbs quickly and does not leave a greasy residue. Tamanu oil is safe even on broken skin. For more information see

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

September 6, 2011

130 Acid Reflux [6 September 2011]

Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), occurs when stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus. The esophagus lacks the protective lining of the stomach and is irritated by the strongly acidic stomach content, causing pain known as “heartburn”. This happens rarely because the stomach is too acidic, but because of either inappropriate relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter or a hiatal hernia. Dr Jonathan Wright found that 90% of his patients with GERD, when tested, actually had low stomach acid. Underlying causes of acid reflux can be an infection by Helicobacter pylori bacteria or stomach gas from insufficient stomach acid.

Standard treatment for acid reflux is the use of ant-acids to neutralize the stomach acid or stronger prescription drugs called proton pump inhibitors. While these alleviate the symptoms, they do not address the underlying causes. In fact lowering stomach acid reduces your ability to control H. pylori and other food-borne bacteria, parasites and yeast. It also impedes digestion of food, particularly protein and calcium (increasing risk of osteoporosis), and is associated with a long list of other diseases.

Fortunately there are safer more natural ways to prevent or alleviate acid reflux:
• eat slowly and chew food thoroughly; avoid overeating or drinking too much with meals; avoid too much fatty or fried foods
• avoid eating for 2 hours before bed or when under stress
• sleep with head of bed elevated 6” and lie on left side
• take apple cider vinegar or sauerkraut with meals to increase stomach acid
• take Betaine HCl and Pepsin supplements to increase stomach acid
• fortify the good bacteria in your digestive tract with a probiotic along with a prebiotic (#003 16 March 2009 and #078 30 August 2010)
• control H. pylori (#058, 12 April 2010) with antibiotics or mastic gum
• exercise; lose excess weight; stop smoking

Sources and further reading:
• Gut Solutions by Brenda Watson, ND and Leonard Smith MD, 2003
• Why Stomach Acid is Good for You – Natural Relief from Heartburn, Indigestion, Reflux & GERD by Jonathan Wright MD and Lane Lenard PhD
• “Why Does Successful Treatment of GERD Increase Cancer
• CBS news story on acid drugs “Are Nexium and Prilosec Too Popular?” quoted on Renew Life website

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.