A Poor Choice for Relieving Your Low Back Pain

Home » Blog » A Poor Choice for Relieving Your Low Back Pain

To Your Health
April, 2015 (Vol. 09, Issue 04)

A Poor Choice for Relieving Your Low Back Pain

By Editorial Staff

Acetaminophen is the most popular pain reliever in the U.S., accounting for an estimated 27 billion annual doses as of 2009. With 100,000-plus hospital visits a year by users, it’s also the most likely to be taken inappropriately.

In fact, improper use, coupled with the drug’s narrow safety margin, means “a large fraction of users [are] close to a toxic dose in the ordinary course of use,” according to the Food and Drug Administration.

But for the sake of discussion, let’s ignore the safety issues for a moment. Is acetaminophen an effective pain reliever in the first place? Not for low back pain and pain attributable to knee / hip osteoarthritis, conclude the authors of a recent meta-analysis. The just-published review of 13 randomized trials has yielded “high-quality evidence” that paracetamol (acetaminophen) does not reduce pain intensity or disability, and does not improve quality of life, in the short term for people experiencing low back pain; and provides only “minimal, short-term benefit” for people suffering from hip or knee pain caused by osteo-arthritis, stating that “the small effects … are not likely to be meaningful for clinicians or patients.”

Back to the safety issues surrounding acetaminophen, which the meta-analysis did little to dilute. According to the review researchers, “high-quality” evidence suggests paracetamol use results in a fourfold risk of an abnormal liver function test. Not surprising, since acetaminophen misuse (overdose) is now the most common cause of acute liver failure (exceeding all other medications combined) and the second most common cause of liver failure requiring transplantation.

poor choice - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

In fact, the FDA has mandated that all acetaminophen-containing prescription products feature a “black box” warning (the administration’s strongest safety statement) noting an overdose can cause liver failure and even death; and have been urged to place similar language on over the counter acetaminophen products.

How often do you use acetaminophen-containing over-the-counter and/or prescription medications for you low back pain and osteoarthritis pain, even as you pursue relief through chiropractic care? How often do you take these drugs for your spinal / osteo-arthritis pain instead of visiting a chiropractor? As this meta-analysis suggests, acetaminophen is ineffective for these types of pain. So give chiropractic a try – a proven natural pain reliever.


  • Machado GC, et al. Efficacy and safety of paracetamol for spinal pain and osteoarthritis: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised, placebo-controlled trials. Brit Med J, 2015;350. Full text available online.
  • Dal Pan GJ. “Acetaminophen: Background and Overview.” FDA Office of Surveillance and Epidemiology, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, June 29, 2009.
  • Greenlaw E. “Your Guide to Over-the Counter Pain Relief. OTC Pain Relief: Understanding Acetaminophen.” WebMD.com.
  • Healy M. “Acetaminophen in Rx Drugs: For Liver’s Sake, Lower the Dose.” Los Angeles Times, April 28, 2014.
  • Gerth J, Miller TC. “Use Only as Directed.” ProPublica, Sept. 20, 2013.

Spring Back From Allergy Symptoms

Home » Blog » Spring Back From Allergy Symptoms

To Your Health
April, 2015 (Vol. 09, Issue 04)

Spring Back From Allergy Symptoms

By Editorial Staff

Now that allergy season is in full swing, you may be experiencing some or all of these symptoms: coughing, itchy and watery eyes, itchy throat, nasal congestion, runny nose, or sneezing and wheezing.

If this sounds familiar, you may be tempted to run to the drugstore for some over-the-counter relief, but don’t forgot about the side effects … I once spent an entire spring carrying cough drops in my handbag because a side effect from my over-the-counter med dried out my throat to the point that I coughed excessively.

Sure, my nose wasn’t runny and I was able to keep my eye makeup intact from the absence of that steady flow of tears, but I was obsessed with cough drops. Each day, thoughts similar to this pervaded my mind – do I have enough to get me through the day, should I stop at the store, what if they are out of my favorite brand? I finally gave up the over-the-counter med when a co-worker asked if I was any less miserable … I wasn’t.

So, instead of taking the common road, try the one less traveled and give Mother Earth a shot at getting rid of those annoying symptoms. Here are some easy and natural remedies that can get you feeling better in no time, and they will even help you save a little pocket-change.


allergy - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Your body produces coughing as a response to both indoor and outdoor allergens, such as pollen, dust mites or pet dander. To combat this annoyance, try a spoonful of honey; it will coat your throat and help relieve the irritation. Some also say consuming local honey will help build up your allergy resistance. Probiotics are another option; although they won’t directly relieve your cough, evidence suggests Lactobacillus may reduce allergies to pollen.

Itchy Throat

An itchy throat, caused by inhaled irritants, can be taken care of with a warm salt-water gargle; this will help reduce inflammation in your throat. Again, honey will do the trick to soothe your irritated throat as well. If a spoonful of honey doesn’t sound agreeable, try stirring a tablespoon of it into your tea.

Milk with turmeric (the main spice in curry) is another option. Boil a cup of milk in a saucepan and add a teaspoon of turmeric; allow the milk to cool before drinking. You can find turmeric at vitamin and supplement stores. Apple-cider vinegar is another home remedy that will relieve an itchy throat; just add a tablespoon to hot water and sip.

Nasal Congestion

The discomfort you feel when you have allergy-related nasal congestion is caused by allergens that inflame the membranes of your nasal passages, which in turn produce extra mucus in an effort to flush out the irritant. To avoid the stuffed-up feeling keep your nasal passages and sinuses moist, try flushing them out with salt water, which will wash out mucus, allergens and other foreigners. You can use a syringe or a neti pot, but be sure to use distilled, sterile or previously boiled water for the salt-water mixture. Rinse the irrigation device after each use and leave out to air dry.

Another option is to use a humidifier, which will help break up the congestion. And staying hydrated can help with nasal congestion by thinning out the mucus, and may even prevent your sinuses from getting blocked up to begin with.

Runny Nose

Allergens can also cause your nose to run, and no one likes the sniffles, especially your co-workers. Again, flushing out your nasal passages is a good way to rid your sinuses of the allergens. As stated before, use a syringe or neti pot filled with a salt-water mixture.

Steam inhalation is also a good choice when trying to stop a runny nose (this also works with congestion). Fill a bowl halfway with hot water, tilt your face toward the bowl and place a towel over your head, position it to keep the steam from escaping. Then breathe deep so the steam will enter your nose. Make sure you close your eyes, as steam can damage them. You can also try adding herbs such as mint and ginger, or essential oils like eucalyptus and camphor.


Darn those allergens, they also cause sneezing. To tame your ah-choos, have a hot cup of chamomile tea, which has antihistamine properties that can give you relief. Another reliever is stinging nettle, which besides being high in iron, calcium, potassium, manganese, and vitamins A, C, and D, also has antihistamine properties. This also helps with itchy, watery eyes. To use stinging nettle, you can make a tea or take a capsule of freeze-dried nettle extract.


Wheezing can be quite scary, particularly the sound, as it indicates a struggle to receive air into the lungs. This is caused by the airways swelling, often a symptom of asthma, which is heightened during allergy season. There are several natural remedies to get relief from wheezing. Consuming fish several times a week or taking a fish oil supplement can help regulate inflammation in the lungs, thus reducing wheezing. Mustard oil is also known to break down mucus build-up inside the airways and offer relief, and mixing it with camphor will increase its effectiveness. Slightly warm mustard oil and mix it with camphor powder, then massage onto the chest area for approximately 15 minutes. Another option is to make tea from the Chinese herb, Ginkgo biloba.

Don’t Be Fooled: Every Step Counts (So Start Counting)

Home » Blog » Don’t Be Fooled: Every Step Counts (So Start Counting)

To Your Health
March, 2015 (Vol. 09, Issue 03)

Don’t Be Fooled: Every Step Counts (So Start Counting)

By Editorial Staff

April Fool’s Day aside, it’s easy to be fooled by the sheer volume of fitness advice circulating in Internet chat rooms, infomercials and the like. What works and what doesn’t? While we’ve discussed some of the tried-and-true principles previously, there’s no challenging the simple fact that more steps – in any direction and at any pace – count.

After all, those steps add up, burning calories, increasing metabolism (which burns more calories, even when you’re not moving), and toning / tightening muscles you may not have exercised in far too long. Here are a few ways to make those steps count throughout the day, no matter how hectic things seem:

    • Save Some Gas: What better method to add to your daily step total than choosing a distant parking space and footing it to your destination? You can even park a 1/4th or 1/2 mile from your arrival point to maximize your step count. Added benefits: You’ll always get a great parking spot, because increasingly, people want to park as close to the store, restaurant, etc., as possible; and you’ll enjoy a little fresh air and some time to yourself – an increasingly rare opportunity these days.


    • Run Errands (Literally): We’ve become a nation of cars; all but gone are the days of the single-car household. We all have cars and we like to use them, even if we’re just driving around the corner (literally) to the grocery store. If you’re within a mile of your errand, why not bypass the car altogether? Get out there and enjoy your community. So much of life these days is about getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible; why not throw life a curve and reap the physical (and mental; see above) health rewards? Added benefit: You can’t stress about being stuck in traffic if you’re never in any traffic; except for a few locales (N.Y.C, Las Vegas, etc.), cars outnumber pedestrians exponentially.


    • stair exercise - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Break Like You Mean It: No, we’re not talking about cars again; we’re referring to those moments during your workday when you’re actually supposed to get up from your desk and separate yourself (physically and mentally) from your never-empty In Box. Work in a large office? Try walking from one end to the other and back again – once or several times, depending on how long it takes. Confined to a smaller setting? Then map an outdoor route that takes you around the building a few times over the course of 5-15 minutes. Added benefits: Take a break from screen (scream) time and enjoy the mental-health value; visit co-workers you haven’t seen all day during your walk through the building, or recruit them to join you for a walk outside.


  • Become a Stair Master: Finally, consider adding to your step total with a more challenging endeavor: walking up and down stairs. If you work in a multi-floor building, this is easy; if not, there might be a building nearby that meets your needs. And it’s not just the workplace; multi-story homes, department stores, etc., all offer similar natural opportunities. Added benefit: Depending on the number of flights and your pace, stair climbing delivers an even greater workout than standard walking because of the elevation component.

Sticking to an exercise regimen is challenging enough; don’t make it harder by locking yourself into the gym mentality or feel as if you need to do only a certain type of exercise with a certain type of equipment or system. Just try a little walking; after all, it’s free, you can do it almost anywhere, and you can actually accomplish something (e.g., get you from one place to the other and back).