Holistic Hacks for 2 Common Health Concerns by Svetlana Kogan, M.D.

So I commonly see patients who have been experiencing severe lower back pain while lying in bed. Most of the time, patients have no idea what’s causing the pain since they have not done any heavy lifting or unusual activity. Some nights the pain is so sharp that they can’t even fall asleep. Back pain – which affects 80 percent of Americans at some point in their lives – is one of the top complaints in primary care practice. I recommend that you have your primary care doctor check this back pain out with an X-ray and often a MRI first.

Assuming the outcome of the above is all good, you can then approach this issue holistically. If your pain is worse when you lie down and you have not overexerted yourself, you could be suffering from muscle spasms, which are often brought on by a magnesium or calcium deficiency. You may be feeling bad now because warmer weather raises the risk of a magnesium shortfall. To restore the proper flow of nutrients to muscle cells and ease your pain, try taking 200 mg of magnesium citrate twice a day and about 500 mg of calcium citrate once a day. You may also
want to include magnesium-rich foods like wheat-bran cereal (if you are not gluten-sensitive) into your diet. If you are gluten sensitive, pumpkin seeds, bananas, avocadoes, and spinach are excellent sources of magnesium. It can take three to four weeks to correct the deficiency, so in the meantime, consider rubbing a bit of magnesium oil on your back before going to bed. The oil penetrates the skin and gets to the muscle layer, and could help improve the discomfort in about a week.

I would also recommend Mind-Body techniques such as Progressive Muscle Relaxation, in which you can relax different parts of your body, one muscle group at a time. Another great holistic modality is Ondamed (pulsed low frequency electromagnetic fields) – a painless treatment in which the vibrational frequencies of the muscle groups receive a tune up.

For acute pain, a series of 30-minute treatments are typically sufficient. Patients also commonly ask me about the dangers of acid reflux medications and whether there any natural fixes that will help. People are right to be leery of proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers. Their chronic use has been linked to bone fractures and increased risk of infections. These pharmaceuticals can also decrease calcium absorption and wipe out stomach acid, which is needed for breaking down any and all food proteins. If your GI doctor agrees with you trying to wean off of your meds, try sleeping with 2 pillows – this will help to prevent acid from accumulating in your esophagus and throat. Also, try not to eat after 7pm and go to sleep no later than 10pm to avoid unnecessary acid production in the late evening. There are some foods that increase acid production which you should try to avoid: caffeine, alcohol, tomatoes, chocolate, potatoes, and spicy foods.

There are also several simple natural remedies that will improve your reflux. My favorites is Rhizinate Chewable supplement by Integrative       Therapeutics. The main ingredient – deglycyrrhizinated licorice stimulates and accelerates the natural protective factors in the digestive tract which help relieve occasional heartburn. In Rhizinate, the glycyrrhizin compound–associated with high blood pressure–has been removed. It’s chewable because saliva enhances the effect of Rhizinate’s natural compounds, and it tastes great. Alternatively, you can try slippery elm bark and mastic gum – based supplement called Pylori-Plex by Douglas Labs. Mastic gum, a resin obtained from the tree, Pistacia lentiscus, is used traditionally in the Mediterranean as both a food ingredient and a traditional healing plant for the gastrointestinal system. Several animal and human studies indicate that it may have the ability to reduce the H. Pylori bacteria, commonly related to many cases of heartburn and acid      reflux. This in turn can play an important role in supporting the body’s exposure to H. pylori and maintaining the body’s natural defenses against ulcer formation.

Dr. Kogan is a Concierge Holistic Internal Medicine doctor in Naples. Her website is CustomLongevity.com


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