Ditch the Drugs for Low Back Pain

To Your Health
February, 2017 (Vol. 11, Issue 02)

Ditch the Drugs for Low Back Pain

By Editorial Staff

Ask someone with low back pain what they do to manage the pain, and you’ll usually get one of several responses: endure the pain or take over-the-counter pain medications. And in some cases, their doctor may have prescribed even stronger pain meds such as opioids, which have been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons.

Of course, if they’ve been to a doctor of chiropractic before, they know what not enough people know: Chiropractic is a first-line treatment option for low back pain, while OTC and other pain medications provide only short-term relief, don’t address the root cause of the pain, and have side effects that range from mild to life threatening.

Fortunately, research is proving the benefits of non-drug treatment options for LBP and emphasizing the relative lack of effectiveness / side effects of commonly used pain medications. For example, a recently updated guideline from the American College of Physicians recommends chiropractic and other nondrug options (acupuncture, massage, exercise, tai chi, heat therapy, etc.) for acute (lasting less than four weeks), subacute (lasting four to 12 weeks) and chronic (lasting longer than 12 weeks) low back pain before turning to medication. Only if these options prove ineffective should doctors consider recommending medication, according to the guideline.

A recent study underscores the ineffectiveness of medication for low back pain and other forms of spinal pain, concluding that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen) are no more effective than placebo for combating spinal pain. In other words, drugs worked no better than doing nothing! (A placebo is an inactive treatment patients think is active; in this case, a nondrug pill they thought was actual medication.)

What’s more, the study noted that 5-6 patients would need to take medication in order for just one to achieve a meaningful benefit. Let’s hope if you do take pain meds, you’re the one who does benefit, particularly considering “all NSAIDs have been associated with cardiovascular and gastrointestinal risks,” according to the study, whose researchers also found that NSAID use elevated the risk of adverse GI effects in the first two weeks of use. If you’re the majority who don’t benefit from the medication, why are you taking them in the first place when natural pain-relief options are preferred and recommended first?

The bottom line: If you’re already seeing a chiropractor for your low back pain, great job! If you’re not, what are you waiting for? Physician guidelines and research are pointing you in the right direction.

Nutrition for Menopause: A Drug-Free Approach for All Phases

To Your Health
February, 2017 (Vol. 11, Issue 02)

Nutrition for Menopause: A Drug-Free Approach for All Phases

By Seth Herbst, MD, FACOG

Of all the changes women experience during their reproductive life, there is no doubt the most dreaded are the three phases of menopause. This is not surprising since all of the symptoms associated with menopause are replete with unpleasantness.

Hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disturbance, mood swings, bone density issues, hormonal imbalance and low libido are not only distressing, but also can impact a woman’s health and quality of life in multiple negative ways.

The gradual depletion of estrogen production associated with aging is the catalyst for most menopausal symptoms. Lack of estrogen may affect other organs of the body including the brain, contributing to negative emotional well-being; as well as the skin, reducing thickness and elasticity. There is also evidence that declining estrogen levels may make women more vulnerable to heart disease and stroke.

With such a comprehensive list of negative effects brought on by menopause, it is understandable that the most logical remedy for symptoms associated with menopause became the administration of synthetic hormones, or hormone replacement therapy.

HRT came into use nearly six decades ago and was generally prescribed to women as they began to experience menopausal symptoms. However, as multiple studies over the decades associated traditional HRT with various cancers and other negative side effects, the use of artificial hormones to treat menopausal women has declined significantly.

Natural Options to Consider

menopause - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

Although artificial hormone therapies for menopausal women continue to be debated and refined, alternative therapies with no link to negative side effects merit serious consideration.

Examining the nutritional deficiencies that may accompany the demands that menopause places on the female body indicates that addressing nutritional needs at the cellular level is vital to effectively treating all phases of menopause.

The process of aging diminishes the body’s ability to activate vitamin D. This lowers calcium absorption rates, which increases the risk of osteoporosis in the postmenopausal woman.

Calcium may lose its effectiveness if vitamin D is deficient or estrogen levels are low. Magnesium deficiency can contribute to insomnia and other menopausal symptoms.

Estrogen enhances magnesium utilization and absorption; declining levels of estrogen associated with the stages of menopause can create magnesium and other mineral deficiencies.

B vitamins play a key role in reducing menopausal stress. Thiamine, niacin, B12 and folic acid are often referred to as the “stress vitamins.” Although the ovaries stop producing estrogen in time, adrenal glands and fat cells will continue to produce the hormone. B3 and folic acid help support this production.

Mildred Seeling, MD, describes this in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition:1-2

“Estrogen enhances magnesium utilization and uptake by soft tissues and bone, and may explain the resistance of young women to heart disease and osteoporosis, as well as the increased prevalence of these diseases when estrogen production ceases.”

Superfoods and Cellular Nutrition for Women’s Health

Dark-green leafy vegetables such as kale, collard greens and broccoli are low-calorie sources of phytoestrogens. They are also rich in important nutrients such as iron, calcium, folate and B vitamins which support healthy management of menopausal symptoms.

Beans and other botanicals are rich in phytoestrogens. Daidzein, an isoflavone found chiefly in legumes such as soy beans and other plant-based sources, such as red clover, helps reduce menopausal hot flashes.3

Panothenic acid, or vitamin B5, is found in salmon, sunflower seeds and avocados. It can reduce hot flashes and help mood stabilization.

Royal jelly is a true superfood loaded with minerals, vitamins, protein and pheromones. Plant hormones stimulate weak estrogenic actions and stimulate adrenals to help alleviate stress, reduce hot flashes and fight fatigue associated with menopause.

Bee pollen extract also helps with these symptoms and may help with weight management as well.4

Plant-based supplements such as guggul gum, Cnidium monnieri and Moringa leaf 5 contain vitamin D and calcium for bone health; they help regulate mood swings, reduce hot flashes and night sweats, and increase libido.

Talk to Your Doctor

In my practice, I have experienced a substantial rise in menopausal patients seeking alternatives to traditional hormone replacement therapy. This trend has been experienced by my colleagues as well. Women have concerns about HRT, but want relief from the debilitating symptoms of menopause.

While traditional hormone therapy has helped many women, we have generally ignored correcting nutritional deficiencies and using functional medicine, an approach women prefer and has been quite successful in my own practice. Using quality, organic sources, the symptoms associated with menopause can be successfully treated with virtually no negative ramifications.

Addressing nutritional support for women during menopause, perimenopause and postmenopause with scientifically validated phytonutrients can and does provide a front-line treatment for symptoms associated with all stages of menopause.

In addition to reducing the risks associated with traditional hormone therapy, this approach to wellness empowers women to take more control of their own unique health needs holistically and in a much more natural way than previously accepted protocols. Talk to your doctor to learn more.


  1. “Menopause, Insomnia and Magnesium Deficiency.” Nutrition Breakthroughs: www.nutritionbreakthroughs.com/html/menopauseinsomnia_sleepmineral.html.
  2. Seelig MS. Interrelationship of magnesium and estrogen in cardiovascular and bone disorders, eclampsia, migraine and premenstrual syndrome. J Am Coll Nutr, 1993 Aug;12(4):442-58.
  3. Khaodhiar L, et al. Daidzein-rich isoflavone aglycones are potentially effective in reducing hot flashes in menopausal women. Menopause, 2008 Jan-Feb;15(1):125-32.
  4. Yakoot M, Salem A, Omar AM. Effectiveness of a herbal formula in women with menopausal syndrome. Forsch Komplementmed, 2011;18(5):264-268.
  5. Kushwaha S, Chawla P, Kochhar A. Effect of supplementation of drumstick (Moringa oleifera) and amaranth (Amaranthus tricolor) leaves powder on antioxidant profile and oxidative status among postmenopausal women. J Food Sci Technol, 2014 Nov;51(11):3464-69.

Dr. Seth J. Herbst, founder / president of the Institute of Women’s Health and Body, has practiced as a board-certified obstetrician / gynecologist for more than 25 years. He is an advocate of functional and integrative medicine and offers his patients a wide range of non-traditional nutritional therapies for all phases of their reproductive cycles. Dr. Herbst spent his medical training / residency at Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, NY.. Recognized by Castle Connelly and U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s Top Doctors, he continues to research and master the latest technologies in restorative vaginal procedures as a pioneer in this field.

Prevent Childhood Depression by Helping Your Kids Stay Active

To Your Health
January, 2017 (Vol. 11, Issue 01)

Prevent Childhood Depression by Helping Your Kids Stay Active

By Editorial Staff

We all know about the myriad benefits of activity when it comes to reducing the risk of developing physical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer. That’s why parents are encouraged to teach their children to make exercise and other forms of physical activity a daily, enjoyable part of life. But what about the mental benefits?

Depression is a significant mental health issue for adults and children alike. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, 12.5 percent of the U.S. population ages 12-17 experienced at least one major depressive episode. That’s an estimated 3 million U.S. adolescents / teens.

But there’s good news: Research suggests keeping kids active can reduce their risk of suffering depression. In fact, in one study, children who participated in more moderate to vigorous physical activity at ages 6 and 8 were less likely to have symptoms of major depressive disorder two years later.

active kids - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

While there are some limitations to the study,the results make sense from a biochemical perspective: Exercise promotes the production of chemicals in the brain that improve mood, and also reduces the production of stress hormones. Low levels of mood enhancers (serotonin, etc.), and high levels of stress hormones (cortisol, etc.), increase the risk of depression.

The moral to this story is simple: stay active! Model active behavior and participate in as much physical activity as you can with your children. It will benefit the entire family’s physical and mental health.