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Yoga Therapy Can Help Alleviate Tinnitus-Linked Distress

© 28th December 2019 GreenMedInfo LLC. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of GreenMedInfo LLC. Want to learn more from GreenMedInfo? Sign up for the newsletter here www.greenmedinfo.com/greenmed/newsletter
Reproduced from original article:
www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/yoga-therapy-can-help-alleviate-tinnitus-linked-distress

Tinnitus is a buzzing or ringing in the ears that has become a chronic nightmare for millions of Americans, causing undue stress, trouble working and even sleeplessness. Research explores yoga — an age-old practice proven as a stress buster — as a sound option to help address the stress-related psychological symptoms that come with tinnitus

Researchers in Poland examined the beneficial effects of 12 weeks of yoga training on 25 patients with chronic tinnitus.[i] Affecting over 50 million adults in the U.S.,[ii] tinnitus can affect one or both ears and can stem from exposure to loud noises, ear and sinus infections, hearing loss in the elderly, heart or blood vessel problems, and Meniere’s disease.

Ten of the subjects underwent MRI before and after yoga training, while all participants were assessed using the Tinnitus Functional Index. A control group was made up of 13 persons reporting chronic tinnitus.

Following the 12-week yoga course, the researchers identified several areas that benefited most from yoga therapy, namely a sense of control of tinnitus, sleep, quality of life and intrusiveness. The MRI results also revealed that connections in the white matter of the brain appeared stronger as a result of the training.

“Yoga training has good potential to improve the daily functioning of patients with chronic tinnitus and can be considered a promising supporting method for tinnitus treatment,” reported the researchers writing in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.[iii]

What Remedies Can Make a Difference in Tinnitus?

Tinnitus treatment varies depending on the cause, yet there are patients who have found no lasting relief from hearing aids, sound-masking devices and medication.

Acupuncture, both in manual and electrical forms, has been shown to have therapeutic value in treating tinnitus. In a 2010 study,[iv] 50 patients who suffered from the disorder were investigated and assigned to either a manual acupuncture group, electrical acupuncture group or a placebo group.

After six treatments, the frequency of tinnitus occurrence as well as loudness appeared to be significantly reduced in the electrical acupuncture group, while quality of life improved at two post-treatment periods in both manual and electrical groups.

Improving levels of coenzyme Q10zinc, and vitamin B12 has also been linked with the improvement of tinnitus.[v],[vi],[vii]

Stress Management in Chronic Tinnitus Sufferers

Depending on its severity, chronic tinnitus can lead to distress and anxiety from trouble hearing, working or even catching sleep at night. Not everyone affected has successfully learned how to cope with the noise, which can come in the form of roaring, hissing, clicking or other common sounds.

Yoga, an ancient wellness practice, can help immensely in managing stress, whether from conditions like tinnitus or everyday stresses that you encounter. There’s mounting evidence that vouches for its favorable effects against stress and diseases — GreenMedInfo.com has an exhaustive list of studies vouching for yoga’s therapeutic actions. Other natural remedies against stress, which act as mental wellness tools, include:

  • Meditation
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Simple exercises such as getting outside for a walk
  • Solid support system composed of family, friends
  • Professional counseling, if necessary

Integrating yoga and other natural approaches with additional lifestyle and environmental changes can make a radical difference in your tinnitus experience — even more so in the lasting, life-disrupting distress that can come with it.


References

[i] Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2019 Aug;36:7-11. Epub 2019 Apr 13.

[ii] American Tinnitus Association, Understanding the Facts

[iii] Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2019 Aug;36:7-11. Epub 2019 Apr 13.

[iv] Complement Ther Med. 2010 Dec;18(6):249-55. Epub 2010 Oct 8.

[v] Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2007 Jan;136(1):72-7.

[vi] Otol Neurotol. 2003 Jan;24(1):86-9.

[vii] Am J Otolaryngol. 1993 Mar-Apr;14(2):94-9.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.

Alzheimer’s Prevention

Written by Brenton Wight, researcher and LeanMachine

Copyright © Brenton Wight, LeanMachine

Doctors say there is no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, in spite of over 80 billion dollars in research over the last few decades.
This is partly true, as there is no drug, no “magic bullet” to slow or stop this dreadful condition.
Hundreds of studies with new drugs have shown most of the time that those on a placebo did BETTER than those on the drug!
In rare cases, those on the drug did very slightly better, but any improvement was not enough to justify bringing the drug to market.
However, we CAN identify risk factors, and we CAN in most cases prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s, and we CAN in most cases reverse the disease, or at least ease the symptoms to give the patient and the carers a better quality of life.
If the intervention is soon enough, it CAN be CURED in some, but not all cases.
There is no miracle one-shot treatment, but a combination of many factors.
The time to start treatment is not when we are 60 and forget where the keys are, but from birth!
The lifetime changes we need to prevent Alzheimer’s will also prevent heart disease, diabetes, cancer and many other diseases, and give our lives vitality.

How many people are at risk?

In the USA, over 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, and around 14% of the population will eventually get Alzheimer’s, or around 45 million people.
Results in Australia are similar. Over 10% of the population over 65 have Alzheimer’s, and 30% of those over 85 have Alzheimer’s. In the decade from 2010 to 2020, deaths from Alzheimer’s has risen 20% and looks set to replace Cardiovascular disease as the Number 1 cause of death.
Many people now suffer from Early Onset Alzheimer’s, showing signs as young as 30 years of age.
In the USA, it is now the third leading cause of death, but these figures are understated. People do not actually die from Alzheimer’s – they die because the parts of the brain that control bodily functions shut down, so they die when their organs shut down.
The patient may die from pneumonia because the lungs now cannot function or some other organ fails to work and the Doctor or Coroner has to determine which organ failed.
This is a problem in every country, but some countries have very much reduced rates of Alzheimer’s, mainly due to better diets and reduced toxins.

Diagnosis

Originally, there was no firm diagnosis without examining the brains of patients after death.
Researchers found that most patients had Amyloid Plaques in the brain, and also high levels of aluminium.
PET scans (Positron Emission Tomography) are used with a radioactive tracer (which binds to amyloid plaques) to determine the amount and location of amyloid plaques in the brain.
However, this diagnosis is still not conclusive, as many people have amyloid plaques, but no sign of any dementia even into old age, although these people have a higher risk. Often symptoms do not appear for decades after the start of amyloid plaque deposits. Other patients have no sign of Amyloid plaques but still have Alzheimer’s, so drugs developed to reduce Amyloid plaques have proven unsuccessful in prevention and treatment.
Standard blood tests for glucose level, triglycerides, kidney and liver function can help determine the risk. However, those with less than optimum blood results may die of Cardiovascular, Cancer or some other disease before Alzheimer’s sets in.
So the PET scan is used with other tests for cognitive performance to arrive at a diagnosis.

Who is at risk?

Genetics plays an important part, and so does diet, exercise, lifestyle and supplements.
Here are some risk factors, in no particular order:

  • Age is the greatest risk factor. Dementia can affect about 10% of those over the age of 65, but 33% of those over 80
  • Gender – Women represent over 60% of Alzheimer’s patients, but part of this may be due to their longer lifespans
  • Gluten – Celiacs often have “Wheat Brain” causing disturbances, anxiety, depression and Alzheimer’s. Many dementia patients recover fully on a gluten free diet
  • Prescription medications such as many sedatives, hypnotics, blood pressure, hay fever, insomnia, depression and arthritis medications are linked to higher risk of Alzheimer’s
  • Anaesthetics are linked to Alzheimer’s. The more operations people have, the higher the risk
  • High Blood Pressure (systolic over 140 in mid-life) doubles the risk of Alzheimer’s and increases vascular dementia by 600%, but blood pressure medications can be just as bad, so reduce it naturally without medication
  • Sleep Apnea starves the brain of vital oxygen and increases risk of Alzheimer’s
  • B-12 deficiency increases Alzheimer’s risk. Gastric Bypass Surgery, Celiac disease, vegan/vegetarian diets, antacids (like Nexium) and many medications all reduce availability and/or absorption of B-12
  • Diabetes doubles the risk of Alzheimer’s (often called “Diabetes of the Brain” or “Type 3 Diabetes”)
  • Vision problems increase Alzheimer’s risk. Opthalmologists can detect abnormal widths of blood vessels in the retina which can indicate early Alzheimer’s
  • Tobacco – Smokers have double the risk for Alzheimer’s. Family and others breathing second-hand smoke also have higher risk
  • Living alone after a partner’s death means we have six times the risk of Alzheimer’s, and those who divorce and live alone have three times the risk.
  • Isolation is a significant risk factor for depression and dementia. Find a friend!
  • Obesity is a risk. The lower the BMI (Body Mass Index) the lower the risk. Obesity raises risk by around 75%
  • Family history increases the risk. See the Genetics section below, but environmental factors, diet and lifestyle choices can be passed on to children
  • Education improves outcome, and lack of education increases Alzheimer’s risk. Studies suggest higher education increases “cognitive reserve” which may offset dementia symptoms
  • Concussion or head trauma increases Alzheimer’s risk exponentially with the number and severity of head injuries
  • Quality sleep is essential for the ability of the body to repair itself by flushing toxins from the brain
  • Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to alcoholic dementia and higher risk of Alzheimer’s as well as many other health risks
  • Mental activities improves the brain, physically and psychologically. Learn new things strengthens and develops new nerve cells
  • Sedentary lifestyles are a large risk for the brain as well as the body. Exercise is a must for the brain and the body
  • Chronic bladder disease increases risk
  • Chronic Candida infections increase risk

Overcoming risk factors:

  • Change the diet – see below
  • Get regular, uninterrupted sleep
  • Socialising, visiting friends, joining a group
  • Crosswords, puzzles, new experiences, learning a musical instrument or another language
  • Exercise helps control blood glucose levels, keeps excess weight down, increases oxygen and circulation, and joining a gym can also help with socialisation
  • Use the many supplements available

Genetics

There is a strong genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s, but also there is a strong contribution of environment, diet and lifestyle.
Rates of Alzheimer’s disease have increased much faster than any genetic changes could have occurred.
This means that much is under our control, because even with a genetic predisposition, we can reduce risk with epigenetic (non-genetic influences on gene expression) changes.
Example: The most important genetic risk factor is the ApoE epsilon 4 allele (ApoE4), and 14% to 18% of the population has this gene.
Everyone carries two copies of the APOE gene, which makes the protein ApoE (apolipoprotein E).
There are three different types (alleles) of the APOE gene: E2, E3 and E4, and because we all have two copies of the gene, the combination determines our APOE “genotype” which can be any combination of the 2 copies: E2/E2, E2/E3, E2/E4, E3/E3, E3/E4, or E4/E4.
The majority of people have two E3 alleles (E3/E3) so this is defined as the “average risk”.
The E2 allele is the least common form, and if we have two E2 alleles (E2/E2) or one E2 and one E3 (E2/E3) we have about 40% REDUCED risk of Alzheimer’s.
The E4 allele, present in 14% to 20% of the population, increases the risk for Alzheimer’s, especially late-onset Alzheimer’s, but this does NOT mean that we will get Alzheimer’s disease if we have one or two copies of E4, as about one third of Alzheimer’s patients do not have even a single E4.
All it means is that our risk is increased, also increased is the risk of potential Alzheimer’s at a younger age.
To quantify the risk:
If we have no copies of E4, we still have around 9% risk of Alzheimer’s.
If we have a single copy of E4, our risk increases to around 30%.
If we have two copies of E4, risk is between 50% to 90% but in all cases, we CAN REDUCE the risk.
Many people are horrified to learn that they have up to a 90% risk of Alzheimer’s, but they need not be.
With some dietary, lifestyle and supplement changes, those at greatest risk can easily fall into the 10% who do NOT get Alzheimer’s.

SAD (Standard American Diet)

Genetic statistics above apply only to average people, typically Caucasians living in the Western World and consuming a typical Western diet of processed food, sugar, MSG, hydrogenated oils, chemicals, heavy metals, pesticides, insecticides and other toxic substances.
These statistics do NOT apply to those with a healthy diet of natural, organic food living in a low-toxin environment.
In fact, many people already down the cognitive decline have recovered on a healthy diet and sustained the improvement for several years, according to Dr Dale Bredesen who has been running a program for years now.
Dr Bredesen does not know how many more years it will be, but does know that patients on the program have removed the biochemical drivers which can be measured in blood tests, so so is very optimistic about their future health for many years to come.

Should we get genetic testing?

This is up to the individual. Some people would prefer not to know. Others want to know.
My father died from Alzheimer’s at about age 72 after many years in a Nursing Home, existing but without knowing who his family members were. So did my Grandmother on my Mother’s side, so I assume I may well have inherited a high genetic risk. I am now 73 as I revise this article. For me, testing is irrelevant, because I changed to a Paleo-style diet at age 63, which turned my life around.
From obese to lean, from grey hair to brown, from allergies to everything to allergies to nothing, from high blood pressure and triglycerides to normal, from poor physical strength to strong, fit and full of energy, from frequent headaches to none, from always getting sick to never getting sick.
If I had the genetic test and it was the worst result, I would only continue to do what I am doing now, using dietary and lifestyle modifications.
Have I halted Alzheimers? I hope so, but I often cannot remember some of the thousands of medical terms I have come across in my 10 years of research.  Come back here in 27 years as I approach 100 and I will let you know how I have done.

Amyloid Plaques vs Tangles

Amyloid is a protein, normally found throughout the body. In Alzheimer’s, this protein divides improperly, creating beta amyloid which is toxic to brain neurons.
Amyloid is actually antimicrobial and has benefits for the body, but some people, especially those with the E4/E4 alleles cannot naturally break down these plaques, but there are dietary methods which can.
Not all Alzheimer’s patients have beta Amyloid plaques. About 10% of patients have neurofibrillary tangles which cause similar symptoms, but are also inclined to have more aggressive behavior.

Three Kinds of Alzheimer’s

Humans liberate amyloid as a protective response in the body to three different fundamental metabolic and toxic perturbations:

  • Type 1: Characterized by systemic inflammation. Blood tests typically reveal high hs-CRP (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein), low albumin:globulin ratio,
    and high cytokine levels such as interleukin-1 and interleukin-6. Imaging reveals temporoparietal reductions in glucose utilization.
    Those at risk include people with chronic infections or inflammation from other causes, and the normal antimicrobial protective response liberates amyloids
  • Type 2: Characterized by normal inflammation, but an atrophic (wasting away) profile, with reduced support from estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, insulin, and vitamin D, often with high homocysteine and insulin resistance. Imaging reveals temporoparietal reductions in glucose utilization. As NGF (Nerve Growth Factor) diminishes, amyloid production increases.
    Type 2 in particular can be CAUSED by LOW cholesterol, resulting in atrophy (brain shrinkage), reduced hormone production, poor health and eventually Alzheimer’s.
    All because we are taking statins that lower cholesterol, or we are not eating enough healthy fats.
    We prevent our cells from doing what they are supposed to do, so we end up with a shrunken brain without the lipid (fat) content we need. A fat-free diet means atrophy of the brain.
    See the Cholesterol Fraud and the Big Fat Lie sections below.
  • Type 3: Different from types 1 and 2. Still β-amyloid positive and phospho-tau positive), but a younger onset (late 40s to early 60s).
    Genotype ApoE is usually E3/E3 instead of E4/E4 or E3/E4 with little or no family history.
    Onset usually follows a period of stress, depression, sleep loss, anesthesia, or menopause/andropause.
    Memory loss is not a main symptom, instead there are cortical issues: dyscalculia (trouble with arithmetic), aphasia (trouble speaking or understanding speech – damage to the left side of the brain),
    executive dysfunction (emotional or behavioural problems from frontal lobe issues).
    Imaging studies often reveal extra-hippocampal disease, greater general cerebral atrophy and frontal-temporal-parietal abnormalities.
    Lab results often reveal hypozincemia (low zinc) and/or a high copper:zinc ratio, and can indictate adrenal fatigue
    (low pregnenolone, DHEA-S (dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate), and/or AM cortisol. Chronic infections like mycotoxins, Lyme, viral infections, HSV-1 (a herpes simplex virus) are all risk factors


Some patients have “Alzheimer’s type 1.5” where a combination of symptoms of both type 1 and 2 Alzheimer’s occurs.
Glycotoxicity (too much sugar in the brain) causes an insulin resistant brain. Combine this with AGEs (Advanced Glycation End products), and we have both inflammation from AGEs, plus atrophic withdrawal response because we are now resistant to insulin.
So we have a double condition of type 1 and type 2.

Type 3 patients often have MARCoNS (Multiple Antibiotic-Resistant Coagulase-Negative Staph), a colonisation of antibiotic-resistant staphylococcus in the nasal cavity.
Also high blood levels of TGF-beta-1 (Transforming Growth Factor beta-1), high C4A (a protein that in humans is encoded by the C4A gene), and low MSH (Melanocyte-Stimulating Hormone) is very common, typically with HLA-DR/DQ haplotypes shown by Dr Ritchie Shoemaker to be associated with CIRS.

Alzheimer’s from nose infections?

We have known for years that our healthy gut bacteria is essential to prevent almost every disease, and now research is looking at the rhinosinal microbiome, the healthy bacteria in our nose.
This is now becoming known as Inhalational Alzheimer’s.
The nose is the most direct route to the brain, and bad bacteria in the mucous lining of the airways can damage the brain.
Pathologists now believe there are unknown pathogens in the rhinencephalon, the “nose-smell” (olfacation) system.
Many Alzheimer’s patients start losing their sense of smell as one of the early signs of the disease, and this is probably why.
I am confident that my nasal bacteria is back to normal after having very bad allergies and taking antihistamines from when I was about 16 to when I was 63.
Allergies stopped when the bad diet stopped.

Dr. Susan Lynch at UCSF has found that the nose problem is not so much an unknown pathogen, but a lack of microbial diversity.
Beneficial microorganisms in the nose protect against many pathogens, and one of the best seems to be Lactobacillus sakei, used to make sake and kimchi.
This could explain why Japanese people have comparatively low rates of Alzheimer’s, although rates are rising in Japan because of the Western influence, with meat and dairy replacing rice as a staple food.
When Japanese people migrate to Western countries and adopt a Western diet, they have the same risk as anyone else.
So for the Japanese, it is not a genetic problem, but a diet problem, and this applies to everyone.

AGEs – Advanced Glycation End products

AGEs are formed when food cooked at high temperatures (over 120 degrees C) combines with sugar. AGEs are very damaging to the body, accelerating the ageing process and chronic disease.
AGEs worsen diabetes, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s, inflammation, atherosclerosis (stiffening of the arteries), cardiovascular disease and stroke.
AGEs cause glycation of LDL cholesterol, promoting oxidation, and oxidized LDL is a major factor in atherosclerosis.
AGEs form photosensitizers in the eye lens, leading to cataract development.

To reduce AGEs, never cook at high temperatures (steaming is best, always at 100 degrees C), eat plenty of raw food (salads, and small amounts of fruit), and eliminate all sugar and processed foods.

Conventional Drugs

Drug companies have been trying for years to get rid of Amyloid plaques, thinking they are the cause of Alzheimer’s.
However, the body needs amyloid to protect the brain, so we need to look at what is causing the plaques instead of trying to get rid of them. Latest research shows that Amyloid plaques are antimicrobial, so can be both damaging and protecting!

 

Alzheimer’s – “Diabetes Type 3”

Some researchers are now labeling Alzheimer’s as “Diabetes Type 3” because sugar causes Alzheimer’s.
Sugar also causes diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and many more diseases, mainly due to processed foods.
As with diabetes, where sugar causes insulin resistance, we have insulin resistance in the brain, causing degeneration.
When the brain becomes insulin resistant, it means that glucose cannot enter the brain cells, so those cells die.
However, all is not lost. If we switch to a Ketonegic diet, we can feed our brain with fat instead of sugar. More on this diet below.

Diagnosing the type of Alzheimer’s

Unlike cancer, where we can biopsy a tumour, we must look at historical, biochemical, genetic, imaging, and function information to determine the type of Alzheimer’s.
Of course this rarely happens except in research applications. The doctor simply says the patient has Alzheimer’s and may give a drug which in the long term will not make much difference.
This is a shame, because about half of all cases can be halted, and in some cases substantially improved, by reverting to the correct diet.
Even better would be to eat a correct diet from birth, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s to near zero, as well as preventing cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other modern diseases.

Exercise

Physical exercise is extremely important to keep the brain and body healthy.
Researchers are not sure why, but LeanMachine says it is obvious:
Exercise burns off the high glucose levels that cause “Diabetes of the Brain” and exercise boosts oxygen levels and circulation in the brain.
Any type of exercise is beneficial, such as:

  • Walking, jogging or running
  • Calisthenics
  • Squats
  • Push-ups, chin-ups
  • Skipping
  • Gardening

Exercises have the added benefit of socialisation in a group, such as:

  • Join a gym
  • Tai-Chi or Yoga classes
  • Athletics clubs
  • Dancing classes

Exercising the Brain

The body has a disturbing property: Anything not used for a while gets broken down to be used somewhere else.
If we do not use a muscle for a week, the body starts breaking it down.
But if we exercise regularly, we stop muscles wasting, and we actually build up our muscles.
If we do not use parts of the brain, the body starts breaking it down.
But if we exercise our brain, we can hang on to the parts we use, and develop new pathways to replace parts we have lost. Exercises such as:

  • Learning a new language
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Crossword or other puzzles
  • Socialising in groups or clubs

Meditation

Meditation is not normally seen as exercise for the brain, but sitting in a quiet, dark room away from all daily distractions not only promotes a calming effect, but increases various brain-saving hormones.
Meditation, like dreaming, helps the brain sort out the junk memories and recent problems by concentrating on things that have made us feel good in the past.
We may have pleasant memories like sitting on a sandy beach listening to the waves rolling in on a beautiful sunny day. By concentrating on peaceful and pleasant memories, we forget problems with out hectic daily life.

Supplements

The modern diet is lacking in vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other nutrients, mainly because of:

  • Over-farming – growing the same food in the same ground year after year, depleting these vital elements
  • Over-processing – hydrogenation, adding sugar, adding chemicals, overheating
  • Toxins from farming chemicals contaminates the environment
  • Water is contaminated by fluoride and chlorine

The supplements everyone over 50 should take are:
Organic Coconut Oil, taken several times a day, a tablespoon at a time.
LeanMachine considers this one of the best prevention and treatment methods available for Alzheimer’s.
This encourages the body to burn healthy fats instead of sugar, called the Ketogenic Diet which burns ketones, which is what our ancestors did in their natural low-carb diets. See the Ketogenic Diet below.
Coconut oil appears to break down the amyloid plaque buildup in the brain. Perhaps the plaques are no longer required when the brain is fed by healthy fats instead of glucose.
Coconut oil is also the absolute best for cooking, replacing any other fat, because coconut oil remains stable at high temperatures, and is full of MCT (Medium Chain Triglycerides) which go straight to the liver to be burned as fuel, and cannot be stored as fat in the body.
Coconut oil also contains Lauric Acid, which keeps our skin wrinkle-free and healthy.

PS (Phosphatidylserene) is a component of the cerebral cortex’s neuronal membrane, and can improve memory and mood, reduce stress, improve learning and more.
It does this by controlling input and production of choline, acetylcholine, norepinephrine, dopamine and glucose.

NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine) which helps the body make Glutathione, the body’s natural “Master Antioxidant” that fights cancer, Alzheimer’s and many other conditions.

Curcumin is the active ingredient in Turmeric which has been used for thousands of years for dementia, cancer and many other conditions.

Vitamin B-12 because as we age, our stomach acid levels drop, preventing the high-acid conditions required for B-12 absorption from food. Even more essential for vegans and vegetarians as B-12 mainly comes from animal products.

B-group vitamins because these are vitally important for nerves and brain health.

ALA (Alpha Lipoic Acid) as an antioxidant to help remove heavy metals from the brain, reduce inflammation, and improve the effectiveness of votamins C and E.

Vitamin D3 because over half the ageing population are taking statin medication (which they should NOT) and statins halt production of 7-dehydrocholesterol, the first step in the manufacture of vitamin D3. Worse, many of these seniors are in Aged Care facilities and never see the light of day, so cannot make vitamin D3 from sunlight. If they are ever taken outside, it is only early morning or late afternoon when they cannot get vitamin D3 anyway. More info in my Vitamin D3 article.

Ginkgo Biloba is highly recommended to improve blood flow in the brain. Should not be used in conjunction with prescription blood thinners.

TMG (Trimethylglycine) is an effective methyl donor for the facilitation of methylation processes. Supports a healthy homocysteine level, which in turn supports healthy cardiovascular function and helps prevent Alzheimer’s. Homocysteine, a damaging amino acid, with the aid of TMG, is turned into methionine, a safe and beneficial amino acid. Methylation is essential for DNA repair and production of SAMe, which helps joints, lifts mood, fights depression and protects brain cells from amyloid plaques. Read more in my TMG article.

SAMe (S-Adenosyl Methionine) can help protect the brain and also help treat depression, anger, anxiety which are common symptoms in some Alzheimer’s patients.

Vinpocetine has shown mixed results but mostly beneficial in limited human trials using 10mg 3 times daily.

Vitamin E is recommended to improve the healthy fats in the brain and increase antioxidants.

Benfotiamine with Leucine can help remove glucose and improve insulin resistance.

Many other supplements can help, including:

In addition, many supplements primarily used to treat diabetes will also help prevent Alzheimer’s.

The Cholesterol Fraud

Previous research indicated that high cholesterol was a risk factor for Alzheimer’s.
Again, this was wrong. Doctors started prescribing statin drugs for those people with high cholesterol, or those with signs of dementia with normal cholesterol.
What happened? They got Alzheimer’s WORSE and got it FASTER than patients who did NOT take statins.
Researchers only looked at total cholesterol which is a complete waste of time.

25% of the cholesterol in the body is in the brain, mainly in the myelin sheath.
Around 60% of our brain is fat, mainly in the form of cholesterol.
The myelin sheath (oligodendroglia) that surrounds and protects our neurons are 70% cholesterol, 30% protein.
Starve the brain of healthy fat, and we get Alzheimer’s. Almost guaranteed.
Reduce cholesterol and what happens? The protective myelin sheaths break down as they are starved of cholesterol, allowing the brain cells to be damaged. Damage them enough, and they die. Then we have dementia. Damage enough cells, and the brain can no longer support our basic functions, like breathing. Then we die.
This is why statin drugs are BAD.
Sure, in some cases, they can slightly reduce risk of heart attacks, but they INCREASE death from all other causes, including Alzheimer’s.
The net result is that on average, we will not live a day longer on statin medication.
Statins will give us lousy final years with muscle breakdown, osteoporosis, more sickness and dementia.
We need plenty of healthy fats like coconut oil, walnuts, avocados, fish, eggs, butter from grass-fed cows, unheated olive oil.
We must NOT consume bad fats: Canola oil, margarine, anything hydrogenated, anything heated over 120 degrees C.
Cholesterol is NOT the enemy.
We NEED cholesterol, especially HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol which reduces inflammation, and helps clean up the body (like a garbage collector). Without HDL Cholesterol, we die within 24 hours.
We also need LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein), still incorrectly called “bad” cholesterol, as we die without it.
LDL has antimicrobial effects, so the idea that we should drive it down to zero is ludicrous. LDL is essential to transport nutrients around the body (and into the brain) as well as helping the body manufacture hormones and other important products. LDL was essential for our evolutionary ancestors millions of years ago, and we still need it.
The brain is mostly fat, and 40% of the brain is CHOLESTEROL.
Many things that were protective in our native environment are problems in our modern environment, but if we go back to our ancestral diet, problems are resolved.
Studies show time after time that people with low cholesterol die young, while people with normal to high cholesterol live longest.
These studies are ignored by the big drug companies. Because statin sales make them billions of dollars, of course they continue the Big Cholesterol Lie, one of the biggest frauds in medical history. Their own study showed increased deaths and terrible side effects so they stopped the study short at that time, supposedly to “save patient’s lives” when the opposite was true.

The dangerous cholesterol is VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoprotein) which cannot easily be tested.
Because triglycerides contain some VLDL, labs estimate VLDL value by simply taking a percentage of triglycerides.
High triglycerides are much more of a danger signal than high cholesterol, and are almost always related to obesity, poor diet of processed foods, especially dangerous fats.

The Big Fat Lie

We have been told for decades that fat is bad for us.
Forget about “low fat” or “fat free” diets.
Another big fat lie, coming from a scientist who plucked figures out of a study to suit an argument he was proposing.
When the data was analysed completely, many decades later, it showed the complete opposite.
The largest and longest study in the world was the Framingham study which showed that those who ate the most fat lived longer than those who ate the least.
Fat is not unhealthy in general, in fact it is essential for health.
The UNHEALTHY fats are man-made artificial fats (margarine, Canola oil) and other processed fats that are hydrogenated to improve shelf life and heated to extremes during manufacture, often going rancid in the process, causing oxidised VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoprotein), the REAL dangerous “food”.
What is REALLY bad is carbohydrates, and when manufacturers remove fats from food, they replace them with carbohydrates, causing most “modern” diseases including Alzheimer’s and Diabetes.

The Ketogenic Diet

For the first two million years of human life on Earth, carbohydrate consumption was very low.
Carbohydrates were uncommon, with the majority of food being nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, fruit and vegetables. Meat was eaten very rarely when an animal was killed.
These people did not burn carbohydrates for energy, they burned FAT. In particular, ketones, the basis of the ketogenic diet.
A ketogenic diet means maintaining a fasting state of ketosis. Ketones are produced when the body is in a state of ketosis.
Ketones fuel cells using a different pathway from glucose.
Glucose has to have insulin to allow glucose into cells, but as we all should know, our typical modern diet is loaded with carbohydrates, forcing the pancreas into overdrive making enough insulin.
Eventually our cells become insulin resistant, so the pancreas produces even more insulin to force glucose into the cells, creating even more insulin resistance.
We are now a full-blown diabetic, and when the pancreas starts shutting down, we need insulin injections for the rest of our life.
However, when we feed the cells with ketones, they simply enter the cell naturally, and do NOT require insulin or anything else to do so.
This is critically important for five of our modern diseases: Obesity, Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular and Alzheimer’s, all caused or aggravated by high blood glucose, bad fats and inflammation.
Ketones are also signaling molecules as well.

Benefits of the ketogenic diet include:

  • Helps the body express new restorative and healing genes
  • Reduces inflammation (underlying cause of nearly every disease)
  • Stimulates the immune system
  • Aids weight loss
  • Stops or slows degenerative disease
  • Reduces risk of Alzheimer’s, Cancer, Cardiovascular, Diabetes and Obesity

The Anti-Alzheimer’s diet

Spices

Add these spices to every meal possible.
Of course they will spice up any meal, but also help clear the brain of problems and reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and many more modern illnesses.

  • Sage – one of the best brain-saving spices
  • Cloves – one of the most potent antioxidants
  • Curry – a blend of other great spices
  • Ginger – reduces inflammation and improves immunity
  • Turmeric – for colour, flavour and Curcumin
  • Ceylon Cinnamon – Better and safer than regular cinnamon

Ketogenic Diet – Healthy fats, intermittent fasting.
Read How Cyclical Ketosis can help combat Chronic Fatigue

Avoid Trans Fats
Read Trans Fats Linked to Increased Risk for Alzheimers

Avoid Processed Foods
Only shop in the greengrocer department at the Supermarket, preferably the organic section. Buy or grow your own real food. Nothing in a bag, box, tin because toxic ingredients are sure to be added.

Avoid AGEs
Forget fried foods. Steaming is the best way to cook. Never Microwave. Eat raw salads daily.


This section often updated. Please come back soon (if you remember!)

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Updated 20th January 2020, Copyright © 1999-2020 Brenton Wight and BJ&HJ Wight trading as Lean Machine abn 55293601285

Fibromyalgia

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition, typically very painful, especially in response to pressure, and sometimes patients have symptoms like stiff muscles, joints and connective tissues.
Other symptoms often include depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, difficulty swallowing, bowel and bladder problems, numbness and tingling, muscle spasms or twitching, weakness, nerve pain, palpitations,
cognitive dysfunction (“foggy thinking”).
Around 2% of the population are affected, usually between the ages of 20 and 50, although not all patients have all symptoms.
Women are nine times more likely than men to suffer from the condition, giving weight to the theory that hormones play a big part in the cause and treatment.
Diagnosis is difficult because there is no formal test. Symptoms are vague and similar to many other conditions.
Often patients with celiac disease are mistakenly diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, and do better on a gluten-free diet.
In fact, nearly everyone will do better on a gluten-free diet, or even better, a diet free from all grains, flour and any other product of grains, regardless of refined, wholemeal or any other form.
Some medical specialists say it is “all in the head” but few patients would agree with this!

Testing

Although there is no formal testing for fibromyalgia, the following tests should be arranged by the doctor to eliminate some factors that may indicate or aggravate Fibromyalgia:

  • Ferritin (Iron Study) – A serum ferritin level under 50 ng/ml means a 650% increased risk for Fibromyalgia
  • Thyroid Function – If autoimmune hypothyroidism is present, it should be treated first to see if Fibromyalgia symptoms subside
  • Other autoimmune conditions – Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis and others can resemble Fibromyalgia symptoms and should be treated first
  • CRP (C-Reactive Protein) – An inflammation marker. Source of any inflammation should be treated first
  • The FM/a blood test (plasma and PBMC (Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells) – Tests cytokine concentration. Low cytokines may indicate Fibromyalgia

Treatment

Doctors say there is no known cause or cure. However, some approaches can be very effective in reducing symptoms, including:

Therapeutic options

  • Mindfulness Training reduces psychological distress and depression
  • Yoga, Tai-Chi and other stretching exercises are helpful as they stimulate the lymph glands, increasing our HDL (good cholesterol), improving waste product and toxin removal, also reducing pain, fatigue, mood, cortisol levels and improves coping ability

Diet

  • Raw Food has been shown in studies to significantly improve the majority of fibromyalgia patients
  • Vitamin C and Broccoli consumption in a study found that the combination of 100mg of vitamin C from food, plus a 400mg broccoli supplement reduced pain by 20% and decreased 17% in Fibromyalgia impact scores

Things to avoid

Exposures to toxins definitely increase fibromyalgia risk:

  • Breast Implants have been linked to cancer, autoimmune disease, fibromyalgia and chronic pain
  • Aspartame (an artificial sweetener) should be eliminated from the diet, as it turns into formaldehyde in the body, which can aggravate fibromyalgia.
    Natural sweeteners such as Erythritol, Xylitol and pure Stevia are healthy alternatives
  • MSG (MonoSodium Glutamate) should be eliminated from the diet. Known to cause headaches and fibromyalgia
  • Vaccine Adjuvants containing mercury or aluminium have been shown to cause musculoskeletal pain conditions like fibromyalgia
  • Fluoride comes from fluoridated tap water, foods irrigated with fluoridated water, toothpaste, dental treatments and antibiotics, and must be avoided. A fluoridated water supply should be switched to rainwater and/or install a Reverse Osmosis water system for all drinking and cooking. Ordinary water filters do not remove fluoride, and even boiling water makes little difference

Prescription Medications increase risk

Many prescription medications increase risk of fibromyalgia, or actually cause it.

  • Statin Drugs reduce CoQ10 and vitamin D3, causing hundreds of health problems, including fibromyalgia and muscle pain, vastly outweighing any benefit in many cases
  • Prescription antidepressants like Celexa (Citalopram), Paxil (Paroxetine) and Prozac (Fluoxetine) include fluoride which makes fibromyalgia even worse, and causes weight gain.
    Antidepressants increase risk of cancer by over 40%, and most of the time do not work any better than a placebo
  • Many drugs contain bromide, which is even worse than fluoride, and more easily displaces iodine from the thyroid gland
  • Antibiotics destroy many bad bacteria, but also much of the good bacteria as well, compromising our immune system, which can take up to two years to rebuild
  • Paracetamol, Panadol, Tylenol and other names for acetaminophen should be avoided as studies show them to start causing liver issues even at the recommended dose two 500 mg tablets four times a day (4000 mg) for a few days. Unfortunately, patients who experience a lot of pain invariably over-dose, and just a 50% increase starts causing severe liver damage. The advertising slogan “safe and effective” is one of the biggest lies of the drug industry, and the most common cause of liver poisoning in the Western world. The majority of all patients on the liver transplant waiting list are there because of Panadol overdose. Panadol also reacts with an enzyme in the body to destroy our natural glutathione, which is one of the body’s main defenses against pathogens, often called the “master antioxidant”. Less glutathione means more Fibromyalgia

Here is a list of some drugs commonly prescribed that contain Fluoride or Bromide, two halogens that displace iodine from the thyroid and cause hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s disease, depression, weight gain, hair loss, cancer, and will aggravate Fibromyalgia:

  • Advair (fluticasone) – fluoride
  • Alphagen (brimonidine) – bromide
  • Atrovent (Ipratropium) – bromide
  • Avelox (moxifloxacin) – fluoride
  • Adovart (dulasteride) – fluoride
  • Celebrex (celecoxib) – fluoride
  • Celexa (citalopram) – fluoride and bromide
  • Cipro (ciprofloxacin) – fluoride
  • Clinoril (sulindac) – fluoride
  • Combivent (from the ipratropium) – bromide
  • Crestor (rosuvastatin) – fluoride
  • Diflucan (fluconazole) – fluoride
  • DuoNeb (nebulized Combivent) – fluoride
  • Enablex (darifenacin) – bromide
  • Flonase (fluticasone) – fluoride
  • Flovent (fluticasone) – fluoride
  • Guaifenex DM (dextromethorphan) – bromide
  • Lescol (fluvastatin) – fluoride
  • Levaquin (levofloxacin) – fluoride
  • Lexapro (escitalopram) – fluoride
  • Lipitor (atorvastatin) – fluoride
  • Lotrisone topical cream – fluoride
  • Paxil (paroxetine) – fluoride
  • Prevacid (lansoprazole) – fluoride
  • Protonix (pantoprazole) – fluoride
  • Prozac (fluoxetine) – fluoride
  • Pulmicort (budesonide) – fluoride
  • Razadyne (galantamine) – bromide
  • Risperdal (risperidone) – fluoride
  • Spiriva (tiotropium) – bromide
  • Tobra Dex (from dexamethasone) – fluoride
  • Travatan (travoprost) – fluoride
  • Triamcinolone – fluoride
  • Vigamox (moxifloxacin) – fluoride
  • Vytorin (from eztimibe) – fluoride
  • Zetia (eztimibe) – fluoride

An immune response to intestinal bacteria may cause some symptoms, so an alkaline diet with plenty of enzyme-rich raw vegetables and fresh fruit may help, along with a little cheese, yogurt, whey, fermented vegetables such as Sauerkraut, and/or supplemental probiotics such as Acidophilus
to build up beneficial intestinal bacteria. 75% of our immune system is in the gut, and this is where the immune system often first breaks down.

MSG (monosodium glutamate) has been shown to aggravate symptoms, so most processed food, which contains MSG, often hidden in the ingredients list by being called other names or chemicals, should be eliminated.

Eliminating yeast from the diet may also help. Yeast is a raising agent found in most breads and other flour-based baked foods, also Vegemite. Changing to a fresh food diet of vegetables and fruit can eliminate yeast, lose excess weight, build immunity and improve general health.

Casein from milk and other milk products may also help, although some people are sensitive to dairy products and do better with no milk or other dairy products.

Food allergies can be a problem and I would start by eliminating wheat, flour, bread, cakes, anything made from flour, sugar, soy, milk, corn, eggs and nuts for at least a week or two.
If that helps, introduce them back into the diet one at a time (except sugar, which should be omitted forever, and all flour products), until the culprit is found.

If that is not enough, see my Vaccinations article and read about the relationship between Panadol, Vaccinations, Glutathione and Autism.

Many Fibromyalgia patients also suffer from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) and SLE or Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus), but the above treatments can improve all of these conditions.
While these natural alternatives may not work for everyone, nearly all patients report improvement in their condition, and of course, these are all good for weight loss, fighting diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, better sleep, improved mood, reduced pain, better pain tolerance, building muscle and reduced cancer risk. Many patients are deficient in GH (growth hormone) so high-intensity exercise and weight loss will help by increasing natural production of Growth Hormone.

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Updated 24th January 2020, Copyright © 1999-2020 Brenton Wight and BJ&HJ Wight trading as Lean Machine abn 55293601285

Vigorous Exercise Leads to Lower Mortality for Women


Reproduced from original article:
https://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2020/01/10/vigorous-exercise-benefits.aspx
Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked image
January 10, 2020

health benefits of vigorous exercise

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Heart disease and cancer are the two top reasons people die in the U.S.; data show women who can exercise vigorously have a reduced risk of mortality from heart disease, cancer and other causes
  • Women who have high cardiovascular fitness also enjoy a reduced risk of dementia, which may be related to higher levels of a protein responsible for improving mitochondrial biogenesis
  • Combining intermittent fasting with the ketogenic diet plan may boost the health benefits and improve mitochondrial health. This includes not eating within three hours of going to bed to reduce free radical damage
  • Lack of exercise is globally responsible for nearly 5 million deaths each year; the more you move and exercise the lower the potential rate of death. Aim to sit as little as possible during the day

Heart disease and cancer are the top two reasons people die in the U.S. The term heart disease is used to identify several types of conditions, including cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease and heart attack. While many think of this as a man’s disease, the CDC1 reports almost as many women will die each year from it.

The most common type, coronary heart disease, affects 6.2% of women 20 and older. Many women report having no symptoms before experiencing a heart attack, but others may have symptoms of angina, nausea or fatigue. Diabetesobesity, an unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity are all lifestyle choices that increase your risk for heart disease.

Each of these same factors increase your risk of cancer. Some of the types of cancer that more frequently affect women include breast, cervical, lung, colorectal and skin.2 Most cancers strike women after menopause, but gynecological cancers may happen at any time.

Every year 90,000 women are diagnosed with one form of gynecological cancer and 242,000 with breast cancer. The signs of gynecological cancers may be vague and mimic symptoms of other conditions, such as unexplained weight loss, constant fatigue, loss of appetite or feeling full, pain in the pelvis or a change in bowel habits.

Fitness Protects Women Against Risk of Premature Death

New data recently presented at the European Society of Cardiology3 strongly suggest that women who can exercise vigorously experience a significantly lower risk of mortality from heart disease, cancer and other causes. Although there have been multiple studies using male participants or mixed groups, the researchers proposed that information specific to women was scarce.

The study used data from 4,714 adult females who had undergone echocardiograms for known or suspected coronary artery disease. Treadmill stress tests were used with increasing intensity to measure fitness, which the researchers defined as a maximum workload of 10 metabolic equivalents (METs).

Women who were able to achieve 10 METs or more were compared to those who achieved less. A measurement of 10 METs is equivalent to walking up four flights of stairs fast without stopping or going up three flights quickly.

The researchers followed the participants for a median 4.6 years and found there were 345 deaths from cardiovascular disease, 164 from cancer and 203 from other causes. After adjusting for influencing factors, the findings revealed that women in the higher MET group had a lower risk of death from all measured causes.

By comparison, women in the lower fitness group experienced an annual rate of death nearly four times higher and the annual cancer death rate doubled. One researcher, Dr. Jesus Peteiro, noted the average age of participants was 64 years and 80% were from 50 to 75 years. He went on to comment:4

“Good exercise capacity predicted lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other causes. Looking at both examinations together, women whose heart works normally during exercise are unlikely to have a cardiovascular event.

But if their exercise capacity is poor, they are still at risk of death from cancer or other causes. The best situation is to have normal heart performance during exercise and good exercise capacity.”

The women underwent imaging of their heart during the treadmill test to assess function. Those with poor function during the test were more likely to succumb to cardiovascular disease during the follow-up period, but it was not predictive of death from other causes.5 Peteiro said: “The results were the same for women over 60 and less than 60, although the group under 50 was small.”

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Cardiovascular Fitness Also Reduces Risk of Dementia

Staying fit is key to reducing your potential risk for many chronic diseases, including those affecting the central nervous system. Across the world there are 47 million who are living with dementia, and this is expected to increase to 75 million by 2030. You may be able to significantly slash this risk by taking simple steps to improve your cardiovascular fitness.

A study from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden showed women with the highest cardiovascular fitness had an 88% reduced risk of dementia as compared to those with moderate fitness. Even maintaining some fitness proved to have benefit as those with the lowest level experienced a 41% greater risk of dementia than those with average fitness.

The researchers did not assess how much exercise the participants engaged in but used an ergometer cycling test during which additional resistance was added as the women continued to cycle until they were exhausted. The authors wrote:

“These results suggest that cardiovascular fitness is associated with the sparing of brain tissue in aging humans. Furthermore, these results suggest a strong biological basis for the role of aerobic fitness in maintaining and enhancing central nervous system health and cognitive functioning in older adults.”

A second way fitness may protect neurological health is by increasing levels of PGC-1alpha responsible for improving mitochondrial biogenesis. Data reveal that those with Alzheimer’s have less PGC-1alpha in their brain. Cells containing more produce less of the toxic amyloid protein associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Participants diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s were enrolled in a four-month supervised exercise program. The results demonstrated they had fewer neuropsychiatric symptoms from the disease than the control group who did not exercise.

A progressive walking program in those with early Alzheimer’s disease led to improvements in cardiovascular fitness and functional ability. This in turn led to improved memory and increases in the size of the brain’s hippocampus.

Mitochondrial Function Linked to Reducing Risk of Disease

Your mitochondria are minute powerhouses in your cells producing a majority of the energy your body generates, as well as coordinating apoptosis, or programmed cell death, important in the prevention of malfunctioning cells that may turn into cancer.

Your brain is the most energy-dependent organ and therefore is particularly susceptible to impaired energy production. This process may then make the brain more susceptible to age-related disease.

As you age, the genes controlling mitochondrial energy generation may be turned down, and mitochondria are noted to be less dense and more fragmented. With insufficient energy and dysfunctional mitochondria, defective cells can survive and multiply.

There are several ways your mitochondria may be damaged, but much of it may result from superoxide free radicals. Although the production of superoxide is part of a normal process, when produced at higher than normal levels it damages the DNA in your mitochondria. This damage increases when you are not metabolically flexible.

That means you burn a higher percentage of carbohydrates for fuel than you do fat. The process of burning carbs leaks more electrons that combine with oxygen to form superoxide. High-carbohydrate processed foods prevent you from burning fat efficiently, which produces less oxidative stress than carbs. Your nutrition is also foundational to protecting your mitochondrial health.

Combining Nutritional Plan With Fitness Boosts Benefits

When you combine a strong nutritional plan to boost metabolic flexibility with cardiovascular fitness you build on the health benefits of both. For many years the standard dietary recommendations were three square meals a day with small snacks in between.

The most obvious risk of this eating plan is the potential of overeating. But, the less obvious risk is metabolic dysfunction, raising your risk of cancer, heart disease and dementia.

For a number of years, I have strongly advised against eating within three hours of going to bed. The authors of one study found that eating an early dinner, or skipping it entirely, changes the way the body metabolizes fat and carbohydrates. This improves fat burning and reduces hunger. The key in the study was eating the last meal of the day by the middle of the afternoon.

The only changes made to the participants’ meals was timing. The total number and types of calories remained the same. Results showed the participants were less hungry and experienced increased fat burning during the evening hours, along with improved metabolic flexibility. It appears that late night eating will boost free radical damage, negatively impacting mitochondrial function.

By taking advantage of your circadian rhythm you optimize your metabolism. During sleep your body requires less energy. Thus, if you eat right before bed, mitochondria produce excessive amounts of free radicals. In one study of 1,800 people with prostate and breast cancer, researchers found that meal timing reduced the risk of cancer.

They also found that those who awakened early had a higher risk of cancer when they ate dinner late in the evening compared to those who were more energetic at night. A very effective option is to combine intermittent fasting, extend the amount of time you go without food and follow a ketogenic diet.

Fasting upregulates autophagy and mitochondrial health, activating stem cells and stimulating mitochondrial biosynthesis. What many don’t realize is that many of these benefits happen during the refeeding phase, making what you eat foods that are essential to your optimal health.

In one study participants lost 3% of their body weight while practicing time restricted eating even though they didn’t change their nutritional choices. While they lost weight, they did not improve important disease parameters, including visceral fat, diastolic blood pressure, triglycerides, fasting glucose or fasting insulin.

When intermittent fasting is combined with a ketogenic diet it provides many of the same benefits of fasting, in addition to improvements in health such as increased muscle mass, improved insulin sensitivity, reduced inflammation, reduced risk of cancer and increased longevity.

Lack of Exercise May Be Worse Than Smoking

Exercise and nutrition are two of the best preventive strategies against many common health conditions. In one study scientists found that the lack of physical activity came with a global price tag of $67.5 billion in 2013 and that it causes more than 5 million deaths each year, while smoking kills 6 million.

Another group of researchers analyzed data on more than 120,000 people and found that cardiovascular fitness had a greater impact on risk of death than smoking, diabetes or heart disease. However, as important as cardiovascular fitness is, you’ll find you can’t out-exercise the number of hours you sit down.

The average U.S. adult will sit nine to 12 hours each day. While sitting is not inherently dangerous, the cumulative effects on your cardiovascular and musculoskeletal system can seriously impact your health and shorten your life.

In a four-year evaluation of 8,000 Americans over the age of 45, researchers found that those who moved more were healthier. There was also a correlation between death rate and the number of hours the participants spent sitting each day. The bare minimum of movement is 10 minutes for every hour of sitting. However, it is wiser to strive to sit as little as possible.

Sitting correctly requires greater muscle activation and will reduce your potential risk of lower back pain and strain. For specific instructions on how to sit right and for a list of some of the negative side effects of sitting for long periods, see “The Importance of Standing More, Sitting Less.”

Sources and References

Glutathione and NAC Play Crucial Roles in Health and Fitness


Reproduced from original article:
https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2019/12/30/glutathione-nac-for-health-and-fitness.aspx

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked image
glutathione nac for health and fitness

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Sulfur is the third most abundant mineral in your body. Sulfur-containing amino acids increase your levels of glutathione and N-acetylcysteine (NAC), which play important roles in health and fitness
  • Glutathione metabolism influences the control of epigenetic mechanisms at several levels, including substrate availability, enzymatic activity for DNA methylation and the expression of microRNAs
  • NAC supplementation may be useful for the prevention of cardiovascular problems in older people by lowering oxidative stress and improving mitochondrial function
  • Glutathione deficiency can induce epigenetic changes in genes that regulate vitamin D metabolism in the liver, and research suggests glutathione supplementation could help reduce the risk of vitamin D deficiency in obese individuals
  • Glutathione and NAC also ameliorate exercise-induced stress and reduce muscle fatigue. Glutathione may also play a central role in chronic fatigue syndrome

As explained in “The Health Benefits of MSM,” sulfur is the third most abundant mineral in your body and plays important roles in a variety of bodily processes, including metabolism and detoxification, and for maintaining the proper shape and structure of proteins and enzymes.

Sulfur-containing amino acids increase your levels of glutathione and N-acetylcysteine (NAC), and these two play important roles in health and fitness.

Glutathione Basics

Glutathione comprises three amino acids: cysteine, glutamate and glycine. It’s commonly referred to as “the master antioxidant,” as it is your body’s most powerful antioxidant, and is found inside every cell in your body.

Antioxidants combat free radicals — highly reactive particles that bounce around the cell, damaging everything they touch. Most originate during the process of metabolism but they can also arise during exercise, and from exposure to toxins, irradiation and toxic metals.

Because free radicals are so destructive, cells have a network of defenses designed to neutralize them. This antioxidant network is composed of numerous components that include vitamins, minerals and special chemicals called thiols (glutathione and alpha-lipoic acid).

Glutathione differs from other antioxidants in that it is intracellular, and has the unique ability of maximizing the activity of all the other antioxidants, including (but not limited to) vitamins C and E, CoQ10 and alpha lipoic acid. It also removes toxins from your cells and protects you from the damaging effects of radiation, chemicals and environmental pollutants.

NAC Basics

NAC is a precursor to and rate-limiting nutrient for the formation of glutathione.1 Glutathione is poorly absorbed so, in many cases, it’s easier to raise your glutathione by taking NAC instead.

In emergency medicine, NAC is used as an antidote for acetaminophen toxicity resulting from an overdose.2 Mortality due to acetaminophen toxicity has been shown to be virtually eliminated when NAC is promptly administered.

It is believed the liver damage acetaminophen causes is largely due to the fact that it can deplete glutathione, which is secreted by your liver in response to toxic exposure.

On a side note, NAC supplementation can also help “pre-tox” your body when taken before alcohol, thereby minimizing the damage associated with alcohol consumption — a tidbit that may be useful to know in light of approaching New Year’s celebrations.

Taking NAC (at least 200 milligrams) 30 minutes before you drink can help lessen the alcohol’s toxic effects. Vitamin B6 may also help to lessen hangover symptoms.

While the most common use of NAC is for liver support, it’s also showing promise as a neuroprotectant.3 Scientists are currently investigating it as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease, which has been linked to glutathione deficiency in the substantia nigra, a region that houses dopamine neurons.4

Research looking at autopsied brains suggests Parkinson’s patients have barely detectable levels of glutathione in this brain region. Subsequent studies have found glutathione deficiency in the substantia nigra is common in a number of other neurodegenerative conditions as well, including Alzheimer’s disease.5

Another area where NAC shows particular promise is in the treatment of mental health disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder,6 depression7 and substance use disorders.8 Dozens of additional health benefits are also reviewed in a November 29, 2019, SelfHacked article.9

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Glutathione Helps Regulate Epigenetic Disease Mechanisms

One factor that can help explain the wide-ranging benefits of NAC and glutathione is glutathione’s role in the regulation of epigenetic disease mechanisms.10 As noted in a November 2017 paper in Free Radical Biology and Medicine:11

“Epigenetics is a rapidly growing field that studies gene expression modifications not involving changes in the DNA sequence.

Histone H3, one of the basic proteins in the nucleosomes that make up chromatin, is S-glutathionylated in mammalian cells and tissues, making Gamma-L-glutamyl-L-cysteinylglycine, glutathione (GSH), a physiological antioxidant and second messenger in cells, a new post-translational modifier of the histone code that alters the structure of the nucleosome.

However, the role of GSH in the epigenetic mechanisms likely goes beyond a mere structural function. Evidence supports the hypothesis that there is a link between GSH metabolism and the control of epigenetic mechanisms at different levels (i.e., substrate availability, enzymatic activity for DNA methylation, changes in the expression of microRNAs, and participation in the histone code).”

The following graphic12 illustrates how glutathione influences pathological changes in gene expression.

glutathione influences pathological changes in gene expression

NAC Improves Cardiovascular and Mitochondrial Function

According to a 2018 study,13 NAC supplementation may be useful for the prevention of cardiovascular problems in older people. As you might expect, oxidative stress can over time induce metabolic and functional changes that speed cardiovascular aging and dysfunction, and your glutathione levels declines with age, putting you at greater risk.

In this study, aging mice received either NAC or a combination of NAC and glycine. After seven weeks, their cardiac function was assessed, showing those receiving NAC plus glycine had improved several parameters of their cardiovascular function, including:

  • Improved diastolic function
  • Increased peak early filling velocity
  • Reduced relaxation time
  • Reduced left atrial volume
  • Reduced left ventricle end diastolic pressure

NAC alone did not impart these cardiovascular benefits, although both groups had decreased levels of inflammatory mediators. The NAC and glycine combination also improved mitochondrial function and upregulated mitochondrial genes in the heart that are normally downregulated with age.

According to the authors, “Our data indicate that NAC+Gly supplementation can improve diastolic function in the old mouse and may have potential to prevent important morbidities for older people.”

Glutathione Deficiency Lowers Vitamin D Levels in the Obese

Other recent research14 published in Scientific Reports shows that glutathione deficiency can induce epigenetic changes in genes that regulate vitamin D metabolism in the liver. Emerging evidence also suggests glutathione metabolism plays a role in the epigenetic regulation of oxidation-reduction (redox) reactions, the authors note.

According to this paper,15 obesity has been correlated with low levels of glutathione and 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 — especially in Type 2 diabetics and the obese16 — and when obese mice were fed a glutathione-deficient diet, it downregulated vitamin D metabolism genes and vitamin D receptors in the liver. As a result, oxidative stress increased.

According to the authors, their findings suggest glutathione supplementation could help reduce the risk of vitamin D deficiency in obese individuals. Supplementation with L-cysteine, a rate-limiting precursor to glutathione, has also been shown to increase vitamin D levels and reduce oxidative stress, the paper notes, which supports the link between glutathione and vitamin D.

Glutathione and NAC Ameliorate Exercise-Induced Stress

As mentioned earlier, exercise is one of the ways through which free radical production increases and, with it, oxidative stress. Provided you get enough rest between bouts, this oxidative stress is actually part of what makes exercise so beneficial.

That said, as noted in a 2005 paper,17 “Effective regulation of the cellular balance between oxidation and antioxidation is important when considering cellular function and DNA integrity as well as the signal transduction of gene expression.” In other words, excessive exercise can cause more harm than good. As explained by the authors:18

Exercise enthusiasts and researchers have become interested in recent years to identify any means to help minimize the detrimental effects of oxidative stress that are commonly associated with intense and unaccustomed exercise. It is possible that a decrease in the amount of oxidative stress a cell is exposed to could increase health and performance …

To protect against the deleterious effects of ROS [reactive oxygen species], our bodies have a complex system of endogenous antioxidant protection in the form of enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase. Under normal, resting conditions reactive oxygen species are removed from the cell preventing any subsequent damage.

However, under more extreme conditions such as: 1) inadequate intake of foodstuffs containing the antioxidants, 2) excessive intake of pro-oxidants, 3) exposure to noxious chemicals or ultraviolet light, 4) injury/wounds, and/or 5) intense exercise, especially eccentric exercise, the body’s endogenous antioxidant system is not able to effectively remove excessive ROS production.

In situations such as the ones listed above in which the production of pro-oxidant molecules increase to a point where the antioxidant system cannot effectively remove them is when oxidative stress is known to occur.

Oxidative stress has been implicated in a number of diseases which include atherosclerosis, pulmonary fibrosis, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and aging. Research on oxidative stress during exercise has begun to indicate that regular training enhances the ability of these mechanisms to effective respond to the increase of oxidative product.”

Exercise Boosts Your Glutathione Level

The 2005 paper above goes on to explain how exercise affects your glutathione level, and thus your health, fitness and risk of disease. In short, when you engage in intense exercise, your blood level of glutathione significantly decreases while circulating levels of oxidized glutathione increases, indicating that it’s been used inside the muscle to quench free radicals produced during the exertion.19

Considering the importance of glutathione to counteract free radicals, effective regulation of glutathione levels when exercising is a significant concern. The good news is that the more you exercise, the higher your base levels of glutathione get.

This adaptation allows your body to effectively deal with the increase in free radicals that the exercise brings about. While exercise itself will boost your glutathione level over time, raising glutathione through supplementation is an oft-used strategy among athletes.

As mentioned, glutathione supplementation is ineffective due to its poor absorption, so NAC is generally considered a much better choice. According to the authors of the 2005 paper cited above:20

“In addition to the role glutathione and other thiols have on maintaining the cellular redox state, many studies have begun to explore if NAC supplementation can actually improve performance due to its ability to promote a more favorable cellular environment to achieve higher levels of performance …

One of the first studies to utilize NAC to determine its role in improving muscle performance was conducted by Reid and colleagues. They pretreated subjects with n-acetyl-cysteine infusion (150 mg/kg) or a 5% dextrose placebo while undergoing an extended fatiguing bout of electrical stimulation of the ankle dorsiflexors.

N-acetyl-cysteine was found to have no impact over the nonfatigued muscle, but a significantly increased force output of approximately 15% was found after 3 minutes of repetitive contractions which persisted throughout the 30-minute protocol. The authors concluded that NAC resulted in improved performance suggestive of oxidative stress having a causal role in the fatigue process.”

Other studies have also confirmed that NAC supplementation helps delay muscle fatigue during exercise, thereby improving endurance. In one study,21 NAC infusion increased the time to exhaustion by 26.3%.

NAC’s ability to reduce fatigue and improve cellular redox (oxidation reduction) also hints at its potential benefit for those struggling with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

The Glutathione Depletion Theory of CFS

As explained by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CFS, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis or ME, is characterized by “overwhelming fatigue that is not improved by rest.”22 The fatigue is frequently such that it challenges your ability to perform even the most common of daily life tasks, such as showering or preparing a meal.

The role of glutathione in this condition is addressed in “A Simple Explanation of the Glutathione/Methylation Depletion Theory of ME/CFS”23 by the late Rich Van Konynenburg, Ph.D., developer of the methylation protocol used by many in the CFS community.24,25

According to Van Konynenburg, oxidative stress “is probably the best-proven biochemical aspect of chronic fatigue syndrome,” and in order for your oxidative stress to overwhelm your system, something must be placing excessive demands on your glutathione supply.

Several examples were already listed above, such as inadequate antioxidant and/or excessive pro-oxidant intake, toxic exposures and physical injuries. Long-term emotional stress can also be a factor. As noted in Van Konynenburg’s article:

“All people experience a variety of stressors all the time, and a healthy person’s body is able to keep up with the demands for glutathione by recycling used glutathione molecules and by making new ones as needed.

However, if a person’s body cannot keep up, either because of extra-high demands or inherited genetic polymorphisms that interfere with recycling or making glutathione, or both, the levels of glutathione in the cells can go too low …

One of the jobs that glutathione normally does is to protect your supply of vitamin B12 from reacting with toxins … When your glutathione level goes too low, your B12 becomes naked and vulnerable, and is hijacked by toxins.

Also, the levels of toxins rise in the body when there isn’t enough glutathione to take them out, so there are two unfortunate things that work together to sabotage your B12 when glutathione goes too low.”

The B12-Glutathione Connection

Vitamin B12 helps your body convert food into glucose for energy, and fatigue is one of the symptoms of low B12 levels.26 Interestingly, many with CFS have elevated B12 levels. Their bodies simply cannot use it properly, and one potential culprit is low glutathione.

“The best test to reveal this is a urine organic acids test that includes methylmalonic acid. It will be high if the B12 is being sidetracked, and this is commonly seen in people with CFS,” Van Konynenburg states, adding:27

“The most important job that B12 has in the body is to form methylcobalamin, which is one of the two active forms of B12. This form is needed by the enzyme methionine synthase, to do its job. An enzyme is a substance that catalyzes, or encourages, a certain biochemical reaction.

When there isn’t enough methylcobalamin, methionine synthase has to slow down its reaction. Its reaction lies at the junction of the methylation cycle and the folate cycle, so when this reaction slows down, it affects both these cycles …

The methylation cycle has some important jobs to do. First, it acts as a little factory to supply methyl (CH3) groups to a large number of reactions in the body. Some of these reactions make things like creatine, carnitine, coenzyme Q10, phosphatidylcholine, melatonin, and lots of other important substances for the body.

It is not a coincidence that these substances are found to be low in CFS … Not enough of them is being made because of the partial block in the methylation cycle.

The methylation cycle also supplies methyl groups to be attached to DNA molecules, and this helps to determine whether the blueprints in the DNA will be used to make certain proteins according to their patterns.

The ‘reading’ of DNA is referred to as ‘gene expression.’ Methyl groups prevent or ‘silence’ gene expression. Overexpression of genes has been observed in CFS patients, and I suspect this is at least partly due to lack of sufficient methylation to silence gene expression.”

The Basic Biochemical Mechanism of CFS

The methylation cycle also regulates your body’s use of sulfur, and the production of sulfur-containing substances, including glutathione. CFS patients often have abnormal levels of sulfur metabolites. Once you understand the interconnectedness of glutathione, B12 and the methylation cycle, it becomes easier to see how chronic CFS arises. As explained by Van Konynenburg:28

“When glutathione goes too low, the effect on vitamin B12 slows down the methylation cycle too much. The sulfur metabolites are then dumped into the transsulfuration pathway (which is connected to the methylation cycle) too much, are oxidized to form cystine, pass through hydrogen sulfide, and are eventually converted to thiosulfate and sulfate and are excreted in the urine.

This lowers the production of glutathione, which requires cysteine rather than cystine, and now there is a vicious circle mechanism that preserves this malfunction and keeps you sick … That’s the basic biochemical mechanism of CFS … everything else flows from this …

Here’s how I believe the fatigue occurs: The cells have little powerplants in them, called mitochondria. Their job is to use food as fuel to produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP acts as a source of energy to drive a very large number of reactions in the cells.

For examples, it drives the contraction of the muscle fibers, and it provides the energy to send nerve impulses. It also supplies the energy to make stomach acid and digestive enzymes to digest our food, and many, many other things.

When glutathione goes too low in the muscle cells, the levels of oxidizing free radicals rise, and these react with parts of the ‘machinery’ in the little powerplants, lowering their output of ATP.

So the muscle cells then experience an energy crisis, and that’s what causes the fatigue. Over time, because of the lack of enough glutathione, more problems accumulate in the mitochondria, including toxins, viral DNA, and mineral imbalances.”

All of these factors will ultimately decimate your immune function as well, allowing pathogenic bacteria, viruses and fungi to take over. CFS patients will frequently have several infections ongoing at the same time. Low glutathione also impedes your body’s natural detoxification pathways, allowing toxicity to build over time, thereby causing ever-increasing dysfunction.

The Answer for CFS

So, how do you turn this chain of events around? As noted in Van Konynenburg’s article:29

“The main key to turning this process around is to help the methionine synthase enzyme to operate more normally, so that the partial block in the methylation cycle and the folate cycle are lifted, and glutathione is brought back up to normal. That is what the simplified treatment approach is designed to do, and so far, the evidence is that it does do these things in most people who have CFS.

I recommend that people with CFS have the Vitamin Diagnostics methylation pathways panel run to find out if they do in fact have a partial methylation cycle block and glutathione depletion before deciding, with their doctors, whether to try this treatment.

This also provides a baseline so that progress can be judged later on by repeating it every few months during the treatment. Symptoms may not be a good guide to judge progress during treatment, because detoxing and die-off can make the symptoms worse, while in fact they are exactly what is needed to move the person toward recovery.”

An outline of Van Konynenburg’s simplified methylation treatment plan for CFS can be found in HealthRising.org.30 At the core of this treatment is the use of specific supplements, including folate, B12, a multivitamin, SAMe and phosphatidyl serine.

In his protocol, he explains the theory behind the use of each of these supplements, how they impact the methylation cycle, and their interactions with other supplements.

My take-home message here is that glutathione and NAC supplementation may not always be the ideal way to go. People with CFS may be better supported by a customized assessment by an experienced clinician that may also include methyl folate and methyl vitamin B12.

General Dosing and Safety Guidelines for NAC

For many others, however, NAC can be safely used to boost glutathione levels. For more information about how NAC can benefit your health, see “The Many Benefits of NAC.” It’s widely available as an oral dietary supplement and is relatively inexpensive. Unfortunately, like glutathione, NAC is poorly absorbed when taken orally, although it’s better than glutathione.

According to some studies,31,32 NAC’s oral bioavailability may range between 4% and 10%, which is why the recommended dosage can go as high as 1,800 milligrams (mg) per day. Its half-life is also in the neighborhood of two hours, which is why most study subjects take it two or three times a day.

No maximum safe dose has yet been determined, but as a general rule, it’s well-tolerated, although some do experience gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea, diarrhea or constipation. Should this occur, reduce your dosage. It’s also best taken in combination with food, to reduce the likelihood of gastrointestinal effects.

Also keep in mind that since NAC boosts glutathione, which is a powerful detox agent, you may experience debilitating detox symptoms if you start with too high a dose. To avoid this, start low, with say 400 to 600 mg once a day, and work your way up.

Also, if you are currently taking an antidepressant or undergoing cancer treatment, be sure to discuss the use of NAC with your physician, as it may interact with some antidepressants and chemotherapy.

 Sources and References

How Exercise Affects Disease Prevention and Prognosis


Reproduced from original article:
https://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2019/12/27/exercise-stroke-prevention-recovery.aspx

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola     Fact Checked image
exercise stroke prevention

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Exercise proved to be a more powerful indicator of ability to function following a stroke than body fat (as measured by BMI)
  • Less-active participants who suffered a stroke were 18 percent less likely to be able to perform basic self-care, such as bathing and eating, following a stroke
  • Those who exercised vigorously at least three times a week were able to function better and more independently both before and after a stroke

Research continues to pour in that exercise is crucial not only for disease prevention but also for significantly improving your prognosis if disease does occur. In the case of stroke, which is responsible for 1 out of every 20 deaths in the U.S.,1 exercise appears to be an even more important factor in outcomes than body fat.

Two-thirds of Americans have at least one of the leading risk factors for stroke, including being a smoker or having high blood pressure.

And while every year 185,000 Americans suffer from a second (or greater) stroke, 610,000 people have a stroke for the first time, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

While they’re most common in older adults, strokes can and do occur at any age, often without warning. They’re also a leading cause of serious long-term disability, with more than half of stroke victims suffering from reduced mobility as a result.2

Getting active now may be one of the best and most straightforward ways to slash your risk of this serious condition and protect your ability to function if stroke occurs.

Exercisers Retain More Independence After a Stroke

In a study of more than 18,000 adults aged 50 years and older, exercise proved to be a powerful indicator of function following a stroke.3 Less-active participants who suffered a stroke were 18 percent less likely to be able to perform basic self-care, such as bathing and eating, following a stroke.

They were also 16 percent less likely to be able to carry out complex activities like grocery shopping or money management three years after their strokes. Those who exercised vigorously at least three times a week were able to function better and more independently both before and after a stroke.4

It’s not the first time such a connection has been made. In 2008, a study published in Neurology similarly found that people who are physically active before a stroke have less severe problems and recover better compared to those who didn’t exercise prior to their stroke.5

Further, in 2012 Canadian researchers found that stroke patients who exercised were able to improve problems with their memory, thinking, language and judgment by close to 50 percent in just six months.

Notable improvements in attention, concentration, planning and organizing, as well as benefits to muscle strength and walking, were seen among stroke patients who exercised.6

Exercise May Be a More Important Predictor of Stroke Outcomes Than Body Fat

Body mass index (BMI), a measure of body fat based on height and weight did not have an association with the ability to function independently before or after a stroke. This may be because BMI is a flawed measurement tool that uses weight as a measure of risk, when it is actually a high percentage of body fat that increases your disease risk.

Your weight varies according to the density of your bone structure, for instance, so a big-boned person may weigh more, but that certainly doesn’t mean they have more body fat or make them more prone to a stroke, for example.

Athletes and out-of-shape people can also have similar BMI scores, or a very muscular person could be classified as “obese” using BMI, when in reality it is mostly lean muscle accounting for their higher-than-average weight.

BMI also tells you nothing about where fat is located in your body, which can be an important distinction in disease risk. So, it’s possible that the researchers may have gotten a different result had they used a better measure of body fat, such as body fat calipers.

Nonetheless, lead study author Pamela Rist, an associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, told Time, “If people were obese or overweight, it didn’t really tell us much about how they’d do after a stroke.”7

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Exercise Lowers Your Stroke Risk

In addition to helping you retain your independence after a stroke, exercise can also help prevent a stroke from occurring in the first place. If you’re inactive, you have a 20 percent higher risk for having a stroke or mini-stroke (transient ischemic attack) than people who exercise enough to break a sweat at least four times a week.8

In women, walking for at least three hours a week was also linked to a lower stroke risk,9 while in 2009, another Neurology study found that vigorous exercise reduces stroke risk in men, as well as helping them recover from a stroke better and faster.10

Researchers concluded, “Engaging in moderate to heavy physical activities may be an important component of primary prevention strategies aimed at reducing stroke risk” — and I couldn’t agree more. In fact, the American Stroke Association states that 80 percent of all strokes can be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle — exercise included.11

Exercise Boosts Brain Health in Stroke Survivors

The most common type of stroke is called ischemic stroke, which results from an obstruction in a blood vessel supplying blood to your brain.

This can cause brain damage that leads to many cognitive challenges, including dementia, memory problems, difficulty expressing yourself when speaking, and trouble with reading and writing, as well as understanding speech.12

This is another area where exercise can help, however. The featured study found exercise may improve both physical and cognitive functioning after stroke, with Rist telling Time, “One of our hypotheses is that maybe physical activity helps you maintain cognitive functioning, in addition to physical functioning, after a stroke.”13

In 2017, a review of 13 clinical trials also found exercise benefited stroke patients’ cognition. Those who exercised after a stroke — even for four to 12 weeks — showed greater improvements in certain mental abilities, including attention and processing speed, than non-exercisers.14

Why Is Exercise Good for Your Brain?

It’s not surprising, since exercise is known to improve brain health in a number of ways. Exercise stimulates the production of a protein called FNDC5, which in turn triggers the production of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF).

In your brain, BDNF not only preserves existing brain cells,15 it also activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons and effectively makes your brain grow larger.16

Exercise also lowers inflammation, another benefit to brain health. As for what type of exercise is best, anything that “gets your heart rate up and makes you sweat” was noted as fair game, although strength training, balance and stretching exercises were also mentioned.17

I’d also suggest adding in high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Also noteworthy was that cognitive benefits were gleaned even when the exercise was started months, and in some cases years, following a stroke.

Inactivity May Be Worse Than Obesity for Premature Death

Getting back to the topic of exercise versus body fat in your overall health, it’s not only your risk of stroke that may be influenced more so by the former than the latter. Data suggests at least twice as many deaths occur due to a lack of exercise than due to obesity.18

Some experts even believe that increasing exercise is more important than reducing obesity in terms of public health. The greatest gains are often seen among people who go from being sedentary to physically active, although benefits also increase with exercise frequency and intensity (to a point, of course, as overdoing it will backfire).

Exercise lowers your risk of chronic diseases so much that researchers have described it as “the best preventive drug” for many common ailments, from psychiatric disorders to heart disease, diabetes and cancer.19 So, while maintaining a healthy body weight is important, your primary focus should be on living a healthy active lifestyle (once you start doing this, weight loss typically follows).

A separate study also found that, compared to those who exercised daily and often vigorously, sedentary people had a six times greater risk of dying from heart disease over the course of 15 years.20 Heart disease shares many of the same risk factors of stroke, which is another great thing about exercise — it reduces your risk of multiple diseases at once.

Continuous Movement Is Key

It should be noted that non-exercise movement is equally if not more important than exercise. Evidence shows that inactivity or lack of movement, such as prolonged sitting, actively promotes dozens of chronic diseases, and these risks apply even if you’re very fit or exercise regularly.

Ideally, strive for near-continuous movement throughout the day, including standing or moving rather than sitting. Try to sit for less than three hours a day, and make it a point to walk more. A stand-up desk is a great option toward this end. But even then you should move, not just stand, as lack of movement, not just sitting, is the primary catalyst for metabolic dysfunction.

A fitness tracker can be used to ensure you’re getting the recommended 7,000 to 10,000 steps per day, but that doesn’t mean you stop at 10,000 steps. When you have time you can go for walks twice as long as well as fit in other forms of movement, like gardening, taking the stairs and various body-weight exercises.

What Else Helps to Lower Stroke Risk?

Exercise aside, other factors also contribute to a reduced risk of stroke. Follow my nutrition plan for a healthy diet while also being aware of the importance of:

1.Sunshine — Sunlight causes your skin to produce nitric oxide, a critical compound for optimizing your blood pressure, which reduces your risk for both heart attack and stroke. Nitric oxide enhances blood flow, promotes blood vessel elasticity, and functions as a signaling molecule in your brain and immune system.

And, of course, exposing your skin to the sun also helps optimize your vitamin D level, a deficiency of which has also been linked to stroke.

2.Grounding — Walking barefoot on the Earth, aka “earthing” or “grounding,” has a potent antioxidant effect that helps alleviate inflammation throughout your body. It also makes your blood less prone to hypercoagulation — so, less apt to clot, which reduces your stroke risk.

There is a constant flow of energy between our bodies and the Earth. When you put your feet on the ground, you absorb large amounts of negative electrons through the soles of your feet, which reduces the tendency of your blood cells to clump together.

Technically, grounding increases the zeta potential of your red blood cells, causing them to repel each other and become less sticky, very similar to a natural anticoagulant.

Research has demonstrated that it takes about 80 minutes for the free electrons from the earth to reach your blood stream and transform your blood, so make it a point to regularly walk barefoot on grass or on wet sand for about 90 minutes to two hours, if possible.

3.Fiber — If you eat more fiber, you will reduce your chances of a stroke, according to a report in the journal Stroke.21 For every 7 grams more fiber you consume daily, your stroke risk is decreased by 7 percent, according to this study. Vegetables are among the best sources of fiber, although seeds (especially chia, psyllium, sunflower and organic flax) are also good.

Know the Warning Signs of Stroke: Act FAST

There are emergency medications that can dissolve a blood clot that is blocking blood flow to your brain. If done quickly enough, emergency medicine can prevent or reverse permanent neurological damage — but you typically need treatment within one hour. This means if you or someone you love suffers a stroke, getting medical help quickly can mean the difference between life and death or permanent disability.

The faster you recognize the warning signs, the better the prognosis, so take a few seconds to read through the signs and symptoms that follow. The National Stroke Association recommends using the FAST acronym to help remember the warning signs of stroke so you can take action quickly if necessary:22

F = FACE — Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

A = ARMS — Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S = SPEECH — Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does their speech sound slurred or strange?

T = TIME — If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Sources and References

Blood Flow Restriction Trainer Educator Interview


Reproduced from original article:
https://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2019/12/01/smart-cuff-blood-flow-restriction.aspx

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola – Fact Checked

December 01, 2019

Video not available on this site. To view, got to original article above.

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STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Blood flow restriction (BFR) training involves partially restricting arterial inflow and fully restricting venous outflow in the limb during rest or exercise. Doing this allows you to significantly enhance strength and muscle mass using as little as 20% of your single-rep max weight
  • BFR training may be an ideal muscle-strengthening strategy for most people, but especially as an alternative for the elderly or injured, as it requires just a fraction of the weight you’d typically use in conventional resistance training
  • BFR has the ability to prevent and treat sarcopenia like no other type of training. BFR training also improves your aerobic capacity and cardiovascular endurance. One of the simplest ways of doing this is to walk with the cuffs high on your thigh for 15 to 20 minutes
  • BFR also improves osteoblast formation, or the formation of bone, and helps prevent further degradation of bone density, thus lowering your risk of osteoporosis

In this interview, Dr. Ed Le Cara, a chiropractor with a Ph.D. in sports medicine, shares his knowledge about blood flow restriction (BFR) training — a form of training that I believe is one of the greatest innovations in the last century. He’s also a certified athletic trainer and a strength and conditioning coach and one of the leading educators on BFR in the US.

“I combine all those backgrounds into the treatment plan and approach that I use with my patients,” Le Cara says. “One of the frustrations I’ve had — I’ve been in practice for about 20 years — was that very often patients would see me while they’re in pain, and once the pain is gone, give up on their previous exercise regimen.

But with my understanding of exercise and exercise physiology, I knew that once they were out of pain, they still had not gotten their body to the capacity they needed in order to meet the demands their sport or their life was imposing on them. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have gotten injured in the first place.

A lot of times it’s because they run out of insurance visits and that only got us through the point of where they’re decreasing in pain. Or they think that once they’re out of pain their injury is healed.

It was very frustrating for me to see people consistently injure themselves over and over again, and I wasn’t given enough time to really, truly increase their body’s capacity for the demand of sport, life or whatever they’re applying on it that was causing injury.

Then in about 2012, a good friend of mine, who at the time was the director of sports medicine at FC Dallas, said, ‘Hey. You’ve got to really check out this thing called BFR training.’ I had never heard of it … I looked at these different databases that I had access to.

I was overwhelmed with how much research was already out there. My previous experience with different types of modalities that I use in the clinic or different exercise appliances, there was not a lot of literature. Or we had to try to apply literature that was already existing towards what we were trying to do …

This was totally the opposite. Over 650 studies at the time had been done. It had been utilized for years, [it was] validated and reliable … It was almost too good to be true. To get strength or hypertrophy in four to six weeks was like, ‘There’s no way.’ Physiologically that was impossible. And to not be causing muscle damage associated with that? I was a very big skeptic to say the least when I started.”

What Is BFR?

BFR involves exercising your muscles while partially restricting arterial inflow and fully restricting venous outflow in either both proximal arms or legs.1 Venous flow restriction is achieved by using bands on the extremity being exercised.

By restricting the venous blood flow, you create a relatively hypoxic (low oxygen) environment in the exercising muscle, which in turn triggers a number of physiological benefits, including the production of hormones such as growth hormone and IGF-1, commonly referred to as “the fitness hormones.”2

It also increases vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which acts as “fertilizer” for growing more blood vessels and improving their lining (endothelium). BFR, originally known as KAATSU training, was developed over 50 years ago by Dr. Yoshiaki Sato. Now 73 years old, Sato is still in excellent shape and a true testament to the value of this approach.

Between 1996 and 2015, Sato, along with exercise physiologist Naokata Ishii and Dr. Toshiaki Nakajima, a renowned cardiologist at the University of Tokyo Hospital, performed a variety of groundbreaking research, proving the benefits of KAATSU.

Much research on BFR has also been done in the U.S. in recent years, but it didn’t really catch on until 2010, when Steven Munatones from the KAATSU Global Company was granted permission by Sato to bring the technology to the U.S.

BFR — Low-Intensity Exercise With High-Intensity Rewards

BFR provides many benefits through a variety of mechanisms. As noted by Le Cara, you’re essentially tricking your brain and body into thinking that it’s doing high-intensity exercise, yet you’re doing low-intensity exercise. He explains:

“High-intensity resistance training is defined as somewhere between 65% and 90% of someone’s one rep max (1RM), depending on what resource you’re looking at. Low-intensity exercise is around 20% to 35% of your 1RM.

If you look, you can even see behind me some of the modalities that I use in my clinic. I’m using resistance tubing and resistance bands. I’m using dumbbells no heavier than about 20 pounds. I’m able to take these light weights, apply something to occlude the blood flow and allow patients’ bodies to think that they’re doing very high-intensity exercise when they’re not.

The advantage to this is that I don’t cause any damage to the tissue if I do it appropriately, whereas normal exercise and training at high intensity does. These patients cannot tolerate more damage to their tissue because they’re already injured.

We use the same exercises that we do in rehab, very light load, but we’re able to mimic high-intensity exercise, which, outside of the physiology that occurs, is really the game-changer. That’s what allows us to see quick adaptations.”

In the video, Le Cara demonstrates the basics of how the BFR cuff works.

“I have this cuff and I place it on my limb. Now, I inflate this cuff … to a certain percentage of what’s called my limb occlusion pressure (LOP). I’m reducing the amount of arterial flow into this arm, but I’m totally restricting any venous return.

What happens is that fluid that should be returning to my heart under normal circumstances is not. That means there is extra fluid hanging out down here that never gets back to my heart that can’t be involved in cardiac output. Cardiac output is the amount of blood that’s being pumped to the body.

The other part of that equation is the heartrate. Heartrate times stroke volume is equal to cardiac output. And so, if I reduce the stroke volume, my heartrate has to jump up in order to keep the same amount of blood flow going out to the working muscles.

That’s where, really, physiologically, we see the stress induced on the aerobic capacity system, and why these exercises raise your heartrate so rapidly and give you this sense of having to work very, very hard to do very light loads.”

Aerobic Improvements With BFR

Aside from helping you grow bigger muscles, BFR training also improves your aerobic capacity and cardiovascular endurance. One of the simplest ways of using BFR is to simply walk with the cuffs high on your thigh for 15 to 20 minutes. According to Le Cara, you can improve your aerobic capacity in as little as four or five weeks doing this.

“I had a patient who had experienced stroke. He could walk about four or five minutes at a time without feeling like he was going to fall, and had fallen a few times. Of course, we know that when we have this increased risk of falling, we have increased risk of fracture and further problems down the line.

He was asking for a way to be able to do two things: He wanted to be able to go quail hunting with his buddies … [and] he wanted to be able to take the dog out for a walk with his wife. That’s what he did every night of his life until this happened. It was really having a negative effect on him psychologically.”

Le Cara had the man walk on a treadmill with the cuffs on his legs for one minute holding on to the handles, and one minute unsupported. Over the course of four or five weeks, he was able to build up to where he could walk for 20 to 25 minutes without feeling like he was going to fall.

“That’s just one of many examples. But that was very profound because he was so limited in what he could do. He really needed something to help him translate from the rehab setting to life,” Le Cara says.

“When I put the cuffs around both legs and go for this walk, not only do I improve aerobic capacity, but [researchers] have also seen increased … hypertrophy of the thigh.

They’ve also seen increase in strength at the knee … If you can increase your strength with just walking for 15 minutes a couple times a week, then that’s also going to translate into a decrease in fall risk.

Things that have been measured, like the ‘sit to stand’ test, ‘timed up and go’ test … also improve. We’re seeing increases in strength and aerobic capacity at the same time with a very simple exercise like walking, which normally does not cause positive adaptation.”

BFR Improves Bone Density

Interestingly, BFR also improves bone density, thereby lowering your risk for osteoporosis. As explained by Le Cara, who is familiar with the medical literature on this, BFR improves osteoblast formation, or the formation of bone. It also helps prevent further degradation of bone density.

“There are many pathways associated with it, including capillarization and VEGF. But the primary thing I think helps the most is that when we inflate the cuff and we’ve got the swelling in to the limb, because the swelling is all around in all the tissue, you’ve got the bones surrounded, 360 degrees all around, [and] that creates a stress on the bone.

When we stress the bone, now the body has to respond by stimulating bone growth. So, I think Wolff’s Law comes into effect through that mechanism, in addition to the physiological adaptations that are occurring … It appears that hypoxia, or the decrease in oxygenation, also stimulates [bone growth].

There’s a stimulation of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) that occurs; numerous cascades that are happening. There’s something magical about creating an environment where there’s not enough oxygen and the body has to adapt due to that.”

Indeed, that “magic” was recently elucidated further with the award of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine3 for the discovery of how cells sense and adapt to the availability of oxygen, which involves responses in VEGF, hypoxia-inducible factor 1-alpha (HIF1A) and erythropoietin. In essence, by creating a hypoxic (low oxygen) environment, your body thinks you’re doing high-intensity exercise, and responds accordingly.

Wide Rigid Cuffs Versus KAATSU

While KAATSU specifies the use of narrow elastic occlusion bands, Le Cara has developed his own take on the technique using rigid, nonflexible wider bands, which is actually listed as a Class 1 medical device (blood occlusion device) in the U.S. He explains why he decided to veer from Sato’s already established parameters:

“When I’m experimenting with different modalities and I’m unsure of them, my first tendency is to go to the literature. What is the literature suggesting? What has been studied? What hasn’t been studied? When I went there, there was really a hodgepodge of different types of modalities being used to occlude blood flow.

Nothing was sticking out to me … There really wasn’t a resource … except for very expensive modalities [and], frankly, until I’m confident that something works, I am hesitant to spend the money.”

This is understandable, considering the original KAATSU equipment was rather large and had a price tag around $16,000. (However, as of October 2019 they have a unit that sells for only $8004 and is the one I personally use every day and endorse. Unfortunately, Le Cara has never worked with the KAATSU system, but has used numerous elastic and thinner bands.

“What I first did was based on the recommendation of my buddy who … had mentioned a certain type of band, and so I ordered those and started using them. What I first noticed was that exercise didn’t seem to be that hard. I was actually using the cuffs on all four limbs. It still wasn’t that hard …

When we have these cuffs [on] … it creates these little spaces in the cuff, and then the accumulation of metabolites distal to the cuff or closer to my hand can still escape. It wasn’t truly occluding arterial flow, so it wasn’t creating a hypoxic environment.

Now, my veins were sticking out like crazy. What we know is that because the veins are closer to the surface or more superficial, they’re much easier to occlude. The deeper pressure is what’s needed in order to get to the arterial flow to really create that hypoxic environment that we have already said is very beneficial.

Some of the other literature that came out [showed] that if we use a very narrow band, less than 5 centimeters, then it requires much higher pressures in order to occlude the arterial flow.

I wanted to use something that was wider so I didn’t need so much pressure, especially if I was going to use this with my compromised patients or people who maybe had … contraindications.

I wanted something that was as safe as possible. So, we developed something that was wider, that had that full diaphragm — the bladder that gets inflated with air …

When you have the little segmented bladder, when you inflate it, you really can’t find true LOP. I was never able to quantify with my patients what a safe and effective pressure was. We were using something called ‘arbitrary pressures or guessing what pressures we needed to use. With my patients’ safety, I don’t guess.

Realistically, I was what I like to call ‘undercooking’ people, not using enough pressure to occlude. I wasn’t getting the benefit I really wanted to see. We needed something wider.

We needed something that had that full diaphragm or bladder that could be inflated and that I could measure LOP using a Doppler to know exactly what each individual’s LOP was … [even] in different positions, like standing, sitting or lying down, depending on what position of exercise I was putting somebody in.”

The Case for Wide, Rigid Cuffs

So, to summarize, the reason Le Cara recommends using a wider rigid inflatable cuff instead of a narrower, flexible inflatable cuff, is because it traps and accumulates metabolites more effectively at lower pressures, thus reducing risk to damage beneath the cuff.

When using a flexible cuff, the muscle contraction will force the blood to return back to your heart. Even though the return flow is initially restricted, it doesn’t remain restricted once you do the contraction.

However, there are three concerns when using wide rigid cuff systems. The first is that wider cuffs will tend to limit movement during exercise. The second is that there appears to be an attenuated response to BFR benefits to the muscle and tissues under the cuff.5

Finally, although BFR improves hypertension in the long-term, there is a greater risk of eliciting an acute hypertensive response, especially in those who already have hypertension or the elderly that already have compromised vascular resilience.6 For these reasons it is likely wiser to choose narrow elastic bands like the KAATSU in these populations.

As with the KAATSU system, you would place the wide cuff proximal to the bicep, distal to the deltoid. With the wider band, the correct placement is essentially as close as you can to the armpit, right below the deltoid tubercle (the insertion point of the deltoid). On your leg, the cuff would go right below the greater trochanter; in other words, as high up on the leg, near your groin, as you can.

BFR Provides Full Body Benefits

Interestingly, BFR doesn’t just benefit the limb being occluded. The chemical cascade that occurs as a result of the restricted blood flow provides body-wide benefits. Benefits occur both distal and proximal to the cuff, i.e., on both sides. You also get crossover effects, so while you might be working your right shoulder, your left will also benefit.

“We use this in rehab a lot when [one] shoulder has been immobilized,” Le Cara says. “I have a patient who I’ll go see as a home visit tonight. She just had surgery last week … She’s not moving this arm.

But I can do things over here that’ll get the crossover effect. I can do things with her legs. She can walk with the cuffs on … She can do things for other extremities to try to maintain her muscle mass and maintain that capacity as an entity …

Within 10 days of disuse, we can lose about 30% of our muscle mass … We start losing aerobic capacity at about Day 7 and we start losing strength and size right around that Day 10. So, if I tell somebody to take four or six weeks off, they’re way in a hole.”

Risk Factors and Contraindications

BFR is a fitness modality that really everyone can benefit from. The elderly, especially, need to consider it, as it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent sarcopenia or age-related muscle loss. Once you lose muscle mass, your risk of developing complications from everyday activities skyrockets.

Again, one of the reasons why BFR is so well-suited for the elderly is because you use such light weights. You don’t even need to use any. According to Le Cara, research has shown it takes three sessions of BFR for your body to start adapting.

In Le Cara’s clinic, the first visit typically involves establishing the patient’s LOP bilaterally while sitting, lying and standing, and taking down a thorough medical history to make sure there are no contraindications.

While very safe when done properly, there are risks when using a rigid cuff system like the Smart Cuff System, the two primary ones being a hypertensive crisis that could contribute to a stroke or heart attack, and blood clots, which could be lethal. Factors that place you at increased risk include:

1.Recent blood stasis — Situations in which you’ve had blood occluded, such as during surgery. Most people who have just had surgery in the orthopedic setting are at a slight increased risk for clotting.

Another situation that can raise your risk is after long travel. If you’ve sat on a plane for a day, it’s best to wait a few days to normalize, as blood stasis and pooling can put you at increased risk for a blood clot. Being bedridden for a period of time is another scenario that would apply here.

2.Blood vessel damage — A crush injury on a limb would be a risk factor, for example, or a venous graft. Poor circulation can also increase risk, necessitating lighter pressure to start.

3.Cardiovascular risk factors — If you have heart problems, has your physician cleared you for high-intensity exercise? “If they’re cleared for high-intensity exercise, cardiovascularly, they are cleared for BFR,” Le Cara says.

For patients with high blood pressure, he recommends keeping exercises to nonweight-bearing, single-joint exercises. “If I do a squat with somebody, like an air squat, compared to somebody doing a long-arch quad exercise or a quad extension off the edge of a table, there’s going to be a big difference in what cardiovascular stress is occurring. I will keep that in mind when I’m dosing or choosing which exercises to do,” he says.

Next, Le Cara will evaluate the tourniquet risk itself, to determine whether there’s any risk involved with the occlusion apparatus that might damage a blood vessel. Examples might include bunching of clothing underneath the cuff, or the cuff width being too narrow, requiring higher pressure.

“I’m really concerned mostly about people who are showing signs of poor circulation,” he says. “In those cases, I would keep the number of exercises lower, like maybe one or two to start and see how they tolerate them. I’ll also make sure that I’m only using the amount of pressure necessary for the occlusion required that is both safe and effective.”

The Benefits of Cellular Swelling

Oftentimes, Le Cara will perform a cellular swelling protocol on the first visit, which is where the cuffs are inflated to a point where arterial flow is slowed to a trickle with no venous return. In this case, there’s no exercise involved. This creates extracellular swelling, which pushes fluid into the muscle cell.

Your body basically translates the cellular swelling as a signal that the cells are about to die, so a signal is sent to regenerate the cells through protein synthesis. “It’s a way to get people ready for the exercise or future exercise dosages,” he says, “yet, I’m still seeing benefit with that.”

The second visit typically involves performing one or two single isolated exercises. So, if you’re rehabbing a bicep, you might start by doing four sets of a bicep curl, the first set being 30 repetitions and the second, third and fourth sets being 15 reps each, with 30 seconds of rest in between, using a weight that is about 20% of your one-rep max.

The speed at which you raise and lower the weight should be quite slow. Le Cara recommends two seconds up and two seconds down. This will help create metabolite accumulation in the muscle and an acidic environment that triggers the recruitment of more motor units. The slow pace is also what creates muscle fatigue.

“We know when we take exercise to failure, there is more damage to the tissue. I want to get the tissue tired. I want to create metabolite accumulation. I want to recruit Type 2 muscle fibers. But I don’t want to cause more damage, especially in the rehab setting, because that tissue is already damaged. I don’t want to cause more damage.

After that, I might go to a second exercise. In this case, typically if it was a bicep, I would pretty much bet that most of the muscle fibers are exhausted. They’re fatigued. So, there’s no reason to hit that exercise group again. I would then go to probably a tricep exercise and I would do tricep in that same manner: 30-15-15-15-15, and then deflate.”

Sample Workout Protocol

If you’re injured, you’d certainly be wise to find a BFR trainer like Le Cara to guide you. But for the general public, this is really something you’ll want to learn to do on your own, for life. Le Cara describes what a typical home regimen might look like:

“I never do cuffs on all four limbs simultaneously. The reason is that I think you reduce stroke volume so drastically that you’re going to faint and feel sick. Primarily, I do cuffs on both upper or both lower extremities …

I don’t think you need more than about four, maybe five exercises a day, because by the time you’re done with five exercises, you’re done. You’ve totally fatigued all your motor units; you’re psychologically tired. You don’t need to do more than that.

My personal opinion is that if you can lift 65% (or more) of your 1RM … do it. And use BFR as a supplemental [exercise]. For example, I might feel like my upper body is not as strong as I would like, or my calf is not as big as I would like …

I [would then] do my normal exercise, and two or three times a week, I would do what I call a complementary BFR session — one or two exercises to the area that you want to focus on, but I would do it after you’re already done with your [regular strength training] exercise.

You only need to do it two or three times a week because [that] … has been shown to be as effective for strength and hypertrophy as five time a week … If you can’t lift that type of a load [65% of your 1RM], you should be doing BFR five days a week …

If I’m not doing high-intensity [conventional strength training] exercise, then what I do is alternate. I’ll do upper body one day and lower body another day.

I’ll do aerobic on my lower body days … I walk for 15 [minutes] and then do three or four exercises for my lower extremities, with the thinking that the more dynamic exercises you do, you’re going to get this fatigue factor going …

I’m looking at 45 to 60 minutes of exercise. I’m going to be really tired. I’m going to get an aerobic training effect. I’m going to get an isolated and integrated body approach. I’m going to get a pain reduction. I’m going to get my brain stimulated.”

Building Bulk

Toward the end of the interview, Le Cara also discusses how to optimize your muscle growth once you’re used to the system and are ready to take it to the next level. One key take-home from that section is that the higher the pressure used, the better the results.

This is likely due to the highly hypoxic environment created. That said, as a general rule, you don’t want to exceed 50% LOP in the upper extremity and 80% LOP in the lower. The primary variable that will influence your ability to “bulk up” is the weight used.

Starting at 20% of your 1RM, Le Cara suggests increasing the weight you use by 5% every two weeks, until you get to 35% of your 1RM. As a general rule, your rate of perceived exertion should be around 8 out of 10 after you’ve completed the 75 reps (30+15+15+15). If the exertion feels too light, add more weight. If too hard, lower it.

More Information

Again, one of the biggest benefits of BFR outside of rehab is the prevention of sarcopenia. I’m particularly motivated because both my parents developed sarcopenia and likely passed away sooner than they would have, were it not for their frailty.

I will be sharing some exciting and important details not discussed in this interview next month, just in time for the New Year. It has taken me over six months to research and compile the additional information and training videos. I hope you will make it a part of your New Year resolution.

Every assisted care facility needs to provide BFR training. Most have exercise therapists, and they really need to understand and embrace this modality. It’s such a simple way to improve people’s quality of life. Once you lose the ability to stand up from sitting in a chair, it’s a rapid decline to death.

There’s an enormous body of science backing its use. All that’s really needed is for people to learn it. You can find information about Smart Cuffs certification courses on SmartToolsPlus.com.

In 2020, Smart Cuffs will be offering more than 250 live trainings across the world. “I have a really great cadre of instructors who are really passionate about the subject. We are going to be spanning the globe, spreading the word,” Le Cara says.

There’s also an online course for rehab professionals. His personal website, EdLeCara.com is another resource where you can find information on BFR and a listing of live presentations.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy as an Adjunct Healing Modality


Reproduced from original article:
https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2019/11/24/hyperbaric-oxygen-therapy-benefits.aspx

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

November 24, 2019

Video not available on this site. To view, please go to the original article above.
Or download video transcript

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STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) involves breathing air or oxygen in a pressurized chamber. The pressure allows your body to absorb a higher percentage of oxygen
  • There’s a wide range of conditions for which HBOT can be beneficial, including autoimmune conditions, neurological conditions, musculoskeletal injuries, mitochondrial dysfunction-driven conditions, ailments involving damaged microcirculation, chronic infections, subacute infections and cancer co-management
  • Hyperbaric oxygen improves mitochondrial function, helps with detoxification, inhibits and controls inflammation and optimizes your body’s energy production and healing capacity
  • HBOT also activates stem cell production, and can help optimize results when doing stem cell therapy
  • While HBOT can speed healing of any inflammatory condition, in the U.S., there are only 14 conditions for which insurance will pay, one of which is diabetic neuropathy, and typically only after other conventional treatments have failed. There are over 100 internationally recognized indications for hyperbaric use

In this interview, Dr. Jason Sonners discusses hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), which is a tremendously beneficial and widely underutilized therapy. Sonners, a chiropractor, also has a degree in applied kinesiology,1 and has worked with HBOT for over 12 years.

Even if you’re not trying to treat a specific condition and are generally healthy, HBOT can have significant benefits for longevity.

“On its most basic premise, hyperbaric oxygen [therapy] is literally the breathing of either air or oxygen under pressure. You’re inside some type of pressurized device or hyperbaric chamber. Due to the pressure, you’re exposing the body to a higher percentage of oxygen.

You could also increase that oxygen by piping oxygen into the chambers. As a result of that environment, you’re increasing the body’s capacity to absorb more oxygen than what you and I can get here at 1 atmosphere (atm),” Sonners explains.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Basics

Most healthy individuals have somewhere between 96% and 98% oxygen in their hemoglobin, which means your capacity to increase your oxygen level is between 2% and 4%, were you to breathe medical-grade oxygen, for example. That’s it; there’s no way to raise your oxygen level beyond that. The exception is if your body is under pressure.

“Two main laws govern how that works,” Sonners says. “Boyle’s Law and Henry’s Law. Basically, as you take a gas and exert pressure on it, you make the size of that gas take up less space. As a result of that pressure, you can then dissolve that gas into a liquid.

An easy example is a can of seltzer. They’re using carbon dioxide and water. But basically, you can pressurize that can, so you can put carbon dioxide into that can. As a result of that pressurization, you can dissolve molecules of carbon dioxide into the water.

In the hyperbaric version of that, we’re using oxygen, and the can is the chamber. But as a result of dumping excess oxygen inside that chamber, you can dissolve that into the liquid of your body … directly into the tissue and the plasma of your blood.

Normally your blood does not carry oxygen. We rely wholly on red blood cell oxygen-carrying capacity. But inside the chamber, you could literally bypass the red blood cell oxygen-carrying capacity altogether, and you can absorb oxygen directly into the plasma and tissue of the body.”

Your Body Needs All the Oxygen It Can Get

Sonners, who has a lot of experience with functional medicine and nutrition, views oxygen primarily as a nutrient.

“We need about 100% of the oxygen that we’re capable of carrying every minute of every day just to perform normal functions,” he says, “so there’s very little room for creating an excess of oxygen for the sake of healing or helping some of the conditions that we’ll talk about later on …

In nutrition, there’s deficiency, which has consequences. There’s optimum range, which is allowing us to do what we need to do every day. And then there are periods where we need a surplus of that nutrient to help us deal with some issue that we’re having in our health or in our life.

I look at oxygen the same way. If you’re not getting enough oxygen, whether that’s globally because of a lung or heart issue or if that’s locally because of a trauma … or some type of injury or inflammation, you could have an area of your body that has oxygen deficiency. We call that hypoxia.

There’s an optimum range of oxygen, which for us is virtually almost 100% of our oxygen-carrying capacity, every minute of every day. And then periodically, we might choose that we want to create a surplus of oxygen because oxygen … helps us detoxify, it controls inflammation, it runs our energy production and helps us to heal …

Once you expose the body to increased levels of oxygen … the whole oxidative phosphorylation [process], the whole ATP and energy production system of our body increases its capacity to produce ATP and to produce energy …

Sometimes, we might need more than the optimum range to help us get over some sort of health issue, or … from a quality of life, longevity, regenerative medicine-type standpoint …”

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Conditions That Can Benefit From HBOT

Considering the importance of oxygen, there’s a long list of conditions for which HBOT is recommended. Insurance will pay for some, but not anywhere near all of them.

While HBOT can be used to help speed healing of any inflammatory condition, in the U.S., there are only 14 conditions for which insurance will pay, whereas there are up to 100 approved indications for HBOT internationally.

“In the States, we reserve it for pretty tough cases: really bad infections like gangrene, osteomyelitis, radiation burns … diabetic neuropathy … chronic wounds that are not healing with traditional attempts at antibiotics and things like that,” Sonners says.

From my perspective, it’s medically reprehensible and inexcusable for a doctor to not treat patients with diabetic neuropathy, infections in the distal extremities or peripheral vascular disease with HBOT, as it will in most cases prevent the need for amputation.

That the U.S. limits the use of HBOT to a last resort for only a few hard-to-treat conditions is truly unfortunate, as there’s a wide range of other conditions for which HBOT can be beneficial. This includes:

All autoimmune conditions
Neurological conditions, including concussion, traumatic brain injurydementia and post-stroke
Musculoskeletal injuries, including broken bones, disk herniations, and torn muscles and tendons
Any condition involving mitochondrial dysfunction (which includes most chronic and degenerative diseases)
Any condition involving damaged microcirculation or that can benefit from capillary growth
Chronic infections such as Lyme disease, and subacute infections that cause damage over time — As noted by Sonners, “When you go into these pressurized hyperbaric chambers and you’re breathing and absorbing these higher levels of oxygen, they literally act as a natural antibiotic.”

The hyperbaric oxygen kills anaerobic bacteria and helps break down the biofilm that many anaerobic bacteria produce to protect themselves. At the same time, it’s boosting your immune system through increased neutrophil-macrophage stimulation and by feeding healthy bacteria.

Hyperbaric oxygen also combats viral and fungal infections, in part by stimulating neutrophil and macrophage activation. “You literally stimulate an increased production of white blood cells,” Sonners says, “and that’s what your body uses to fight infections”

Cancer co-management — As noted by Sonners, researchers are looking at HBOT in cancer treatments in a number of different ways. For example, doing it may allow you to use less radiation or chemo and still get the same outcome. Or, it may allow the patient to tolerate higher amounts of radiation by speeding the healing between sessions. A third avenue of investigation is the use of HBOT in isolation.

Some of them are using it as a method to help with or augment the cancer treatment itself. Some are using it as a way to heal,” Sonners says. “There are consequences of chemotherapy. There are consequences of radiation.

The idea with most cancer treatments is we’re trying to kill cells. Hopefully, the person survives that process. If you’re augmenting with hyperbaric oxygen simultaneously, the idea is that you’re also helping to heal the tissue so that the healthy tissue can still survive or even thrive …”

HBOT Improves Mitochondrial Function

“If the idea is that we need to control inflammation, if we need to improve the rate of healing, if we need to improve mitochondrial function — all of these are going to be very solid indications of people who would respond very positively to hyperbaric treatment,” Sonners says.

One of the reasons I’m fascinated by HBOT is because of its ability to improve mitochondrial function. As noted by Sonners, longer term hyperbaric exposures will result in larger mitochondria and a greater density of mitochondria.

“Just to give you an idea, [after] 20 or 40 hours of exposure, what you’re going to end up getting [are] more efficient, bigger mitochondria, and you’re going to get a lot more of them,” he says.

“Even if you’re stuck at like 80% efficiency, if you had twice as many mitochondria, producing 80% efficiency, you’re still going to get a much better output for the patient. I think the capacity there for improving these chronic illnesses is really tremendous.”

HBOT Boosts Stem Cell Production

HBOT also activates stem cell production. Conventional stem cell therapy can cost $10,000 to $20,000 and isn’t covered by insurance. HBOT costs far less, may be covered by insurance (depending on your condition), is completely safe and has a whole host of other beneficial effects as well.

Even if you decide to get stem cell therapy, using HBOT before and after can significantly improve your end results, as the hyperbaric oxygen will help optimize your internal environment to make it more conducive to the newly injected stem cells.

Sonners suggests 10 to 20 hours of HBOT before your stem cell treatment, as that’s when your body will start upregulating its own stem cells. If you’re extracting the stem cells from your own body, you will now also have much higher amounts. After the stem cell injection, Sonners suggests doing 20 to 40 hours of HBOT to make sure the new stem cells will thrive.

Difference Between HBOT and EWOT

On a side note, there’s a similar therapy that many people confuse with HBOT. EWOT is an acronym for “exercise with oxygen therapy,” which usually involves using an oxygen concentrator and a large oxygen-filled bag that you then breathe from while exercising.

While EWOT certainly has its benefits, it’s not interchangeable with HBOT. They’re really very distinct therapies and accomplish different things. For starters, while EWOT is an active process, hyperbaric oxygen is a passive process.

With hyperbaric oxygen, you’re typically sitting or lying down and simply breathing normally. “Especially in some patient populations, you can’t even express the level of exercise you would need to in order to gain some of those benefits. That’s one difference,” Sonners says.

The primary difference, however, is that with EWOT, you’re basically increasing demand through exercise, and then you’re increasing supply through the oxygen concentrator. However, you’re still relying on your red blood cell oxygen-carrying capacity.

“If you have an issue that is trauma-related — chronic inflammation, damage to the microcirculation — there’s nothing about that excess oxygen that you’re creating through supply and demand that’s ultimately ever going to change that. So long as you are relying on red blood cells carrying, you will not get oxygen to the damaged site.

The only way you’re going to change that environmental issue, and especially the microcirculation … [and stem cells, is through] exposures to oxygen [under] pressure. This is where oxygen will be absorbed directly into the plasma and tissues along the hypoxic tissue gain access to the oxygen.

What we’re finding is that it’s not just the level of oxygen absorption. Some of our epigenome is pressure-sensitive. Pressure alone increases the response to oxygen and stimulates some of these healing responses.

The biggest difference is that one is active and one is passive. One is still relying on red blood cell oxygen-carrying capacity; one is basically bypassing red blood cell oxygen-carrying capacity.

To some degree, they’re both increasing oxygen, but I don’t think you could really compare it. I mean hyperbaric is definitely increasing oxygen capacity to a degree that is significantly higher than anything else that exists.”

So, to recap, your red blood cells (if you are healthy) are typically already saturated with oxygen at 98% to 99%, and breathing pure oxygen at normal pressures will not significantly change that. But if you breathe oxygen under pressure, it will diffuse into your cellular fluids and provide a greater delivery of oxygen to your tissues, especially if they have compromised microcirculation.

Soft Versus Hard Shell Chambers

There are two primary types of HBOT chambers: hard shell and soft shell. Hard-shell versions are available in two types — the kind you find in hospitals and the kind you typically find in private clinics or can purchase for home use.

Hard shell 100% oxygen hospital chambers are capable of the highest pressures, which in some cases can be important, especially in cases of nonhealing wounds. In this kind of chamber, the pressurization is done with 100% oxygen. While oxygen is not really flammable, it’s an accelerant, so you have to be very careful not to create sparks. You’re wearing cotton scrubs and you can’t bring anything inside the chamber.

Hard chambers are the next step down. Instead of filling the whole hard chamber with oxygen, air is used to create pressure, and then oxygen is being piped in separately for you to breathe.

In this type of chamber, you can wear whatever clothing you want as you don’t have the same safety concerns. You can even bring certain electronics into the chamber. In many situations, this is an ideal choice, as the safety is higher while the effectiveness of the treatment is identical, especially for most internal issues. These types of chambers are often found in private clinics.

Soft chambers are limited in terms of the pressure you can achieve. “In the U.S., you’re only allowed to go to 1.3 atmospheres (ATA), which is about a relative 9 feet underwater. It’s considered mild HBOT. It’s about 4 to 4.25 pounds of force per square inch (psi),” Sonners says.

Still, it will allow you to absorb quite a bit more oxygen than you could normally, so it still offers very meaningful benefits. You may need to use it more frequently, and for longer duration though.

While treatments involving hard shell chambers with 100% oxygen are quite costly, typically running around $2,000 per treatment (which may or may not be covered by insurance), hard and soft chambers found in private clinics are much more affordable, typically ranging between $90 to $180 per session. While this may still sound like a lot, it could well turn out to be one of your less expensive options in the long run.

“Clinically, we used to do our typical protocols. When people weren’t responding the way we expected them to, we would introduce hyperbaric oxygen.

At this point, it’s become literally one of the first things that we do, because if we do [HBOT] early on, so many of the other therapies that we used to have to do, we don’t need to do anymore,” Sonners says.

HBOT Treatment Suggestions

Typically, you’d want to start out getting about 10 hours of treatment at a local facility to see if and how your condition responds. If you’re trying to address trauma, an injury or a condition that has a beginning and end, then whatever benefits you get from the therapy, you will keep as you heal.

Progressive and degenerative conditions, on the other hand, and/or if you’re using it for longevity purposes, treatment will need to be ongoing for long periods of time. This is a case in which you may want to consider buying your own chamber.

“Somewhere between 10 and 20 hours, you kind of know if it’s a good fit for you. From that point, with guidance of the practitioner, you should be able to figure out a baseline of what your protocol should look like,” Sonners says. “Ultimately, if you’re going to be using this thing for years and years, then you’re better off, in most cases, just to have your own.”

Unfortunately, it can be tricky finding a local HBOT facility. Usually, online search results tend to focus on hospitals, and hospitals will not provide you with HBOT unless you have one of the 14 approved indications.

“To find a center, you’re just going to be looking up hyperbaric oxygen [centers]. You’re going to be looking in the private sector, because those are the only people outside the hospital who are going to treat these other indications,” Sonners says.

One alternative is to contact either the International Hyperbaric Association2 (IHA) or Hyperbaric Medical International3 (HMI). These are the two organizations focused on educating the public on the use of HBOT in the U.S., especially for indications that aren’t FDA-approved.

“They have a tremendous amount of resources,” Sonners says. “They also probably help direct people … to centers that might be more local … That’s probably the best. Otherwise, you’d be looking at different manufacturers that produce chambers and how to get those into your home.”

If you’re in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, you can visit one of Sonner’s clinics — New Jersey HBOT Center, or HBOT PA. You can also learn more on HBOTusa.com, which is Sonner’s primary education website. There you can find a list of treated conditions, research, the benefits of HBOT in athletics, testimonials and much more. Sonners has also written a book, “Under Pressure: How One Unexpected Tool Is Revolutionizing Health,” which you can preorder here.

preorder under pressure
– Sources and References

Discovering Wholeness and Healing After Trauma


Reproduced from original article:
https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2019/10/27/healing-after-trauma.aspx

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola  – Fact Checked
October 27, 2019

To view video, go to originat article above.

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • About 60% of U.S. adults report being significantly abused or neglected as children. Typically, childhood trauma leaves far deeper scars than trauma inflicted later in life
  • When trauma occurs, whether the injury is to your body, mind or spirit, two basic processes are activated. The first to be activated is the fight-or-flight response. If you cannot fight or flee, the freeze response is activated
  • The fight-or-flight response is a lifesaving adaptation that helps you stay safe in dangerous situations. However, it’s designed to be activated and deactivated rapidly. Problems arise when you get stuck in the fight-or-flight response
  • The continued activation of the fight-or-flight and freeze responses are the essence of post-traumatic stress. It keeps you locked in the past, to the traumatic event, which keeps replaying in our body and mind
  • Dr. James Gordon’s book, “The Transformation: Discovering Wholeness and Healing After Trauma” details a program anyone can learn and apply to help heal the effects of traumatic experiences

Dr. James Gordon is a Harvard-educated psychiatrist who uses self-care strategies and group support to help patients heal from psychological trauma. In this interview, he shares some of those strategies, which are also detailed in his book “The Transformation: Discovering Wholeness and Healing After Trauma.”

Gordon is also the founder and executive director of the nonprofit Center for Mind-Body Medicine (CMBM) in Washington, D.C., and is a clinical professor at Georgetown Medical School. During his presidency, President Bill Clinton appointed Gordon chairman of the National Advisory Council to the National Institutes of Health Office of Alternative Medicine.

“The basic idea of the book and of the work I’ve been doing now for 50 years is that all of us have the capacity to understand and help ourselves,” Gordon says.

“We have far greater capacity than we ordinarily understand. And then when trauma comes to us … and trauma is going to come to all of us sooner or later in our lives, we can use techniques of self-care.

We can reach out to other people. We can not only bring ourselves back into balance and enhance our resilience, but we can also use trauma as an opportunity to transform our lives as we work through the challenges that trauma brings …

In ‘The Transformation’ … I lay out a comprehensive program so that anybody … can use [it] as a guidebook and map for meeting the challenges that trauma brings; for working through them and coming out the other side and experiencing this transformation.

It’s the same program we’ve been using at the CMBM now for almost 30 years, both here in the United States … working with veterans, working with people in cities and rural communities affected by climate-related disasters and school shootings.

We’re also using it around the world, in countries that have been devastated by war, terrorism, poverty and ongoing violence. It’s a model that’s been tested. We’ve published a great deal of research on it. It works. Best of all, anyone can learn to use it.”

Trauma Is a Virtually Inevitable Part of Life

According to Gordon, a recent U.S. survey found 60% of U.S. adults reported being significantly abused or neglected as children. Even if you had the good fortune to grow up in a loving and supportive family, you’re still likely going to experience some form of trauma at some point.

It could be a challenging separation or divorce, a child’s illness, chronic disease or the sudden death of a loved one. An astounding percentage of women also report having been raped or abused within a primary relationship.

“If we don’t experience trauma in our midlife, we certainly will if we live long enough to grow old,” Gordon says. “When we become frail and deal with the losses of people we love and with our own inevitable death, this understanding that trauma is a part of life is the wise teaching of religious and spiritual traditions.

All aboriginal people all over the planet understand this. I think in the modern Western world, we’ve come up with this idea that everything should be OK all the time.

We tend to believe there’s something really wrong if some misfortune comes to us or if we face a major challenge, and that makes it harder for us to deal with the challenges that inevitably come up.

The skills and tools I teach are ways of dealing with the trauma that comes to us and also ways of equipping ourselves to be more resilient when challenges inevitably do come.”

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The Importance of Healing Childhood Trauma

In his book, Gordon addresses ACES, which is an acronym for “adverse childhood experiences.” He mentions that about a quarter of the adult population that is well-educated and financially secure report such experiences, and resolving the trauma from childhood is vital for health and well-being.

Typically, childhood trauma leaves far deeper scars than trauma inflicted later in life. Gordon explains:

“Childhood trauma, especially when it comes from those people whom we depend on — parents or other caregivers — is often much more severe, because these are the people to whom we look for comfort and care.

When they betray that trust, when they break that bond with us, we’re in a terrible bind because we have to keep on looking to them for care. We look to them for security.

At the same time, they may be betraying us on a daily basis … Even if it seems rather subtle, if you feel continuing disapproval … it goes very deep into the child, and the child has a sense that, ‘I’m not worthy. Maybe I should be treated badly. Maybe I’m not important after all.’ That stays with them through adult life.

One of the challenges and one of the issues that I address early on in ‘The Transformation’ is a need to become aware of these feelings that we carry around with us … Sometimes, for example, people will be mistrustful in their relationships as adults. They may wonder, ‘Well, why am I so mistrustful?’ They can come up with lots of reasons why.

But at a certain point, many people have a sense that, ‘There’s something going on. Maybe it’s not the people I’m meeting right now or the people I’m relating to right now. Maybe it has something to do with what happened back then.’

The trauma of childhood, first of all, needs to be realized. We need to understand that it actually happened. We need to come to accept it, and then we can begin to deal with it. It’s often … a more complicated process [than] dealing with a very major traumatic event that comes to us in our adult life.”

Healing the Trauma of War

Gordon founded CMBM in 1991. From the beginning, it was an educational organization. Initially, they trained clinicians in the U.S. on how to use techniques such as meditationguided imagery, movement and self-expression through art and writing.

Shortly after the Peace Accords were signed in 1996, Gordon and Dr. Susan Lord, a family physician, traveled to Bosnia to see whether their work might be useful there. Heads of public health, the head of the Islamic University, the monsignor of the Catholic Church all welcomed them.

“We realized that the trauma had set in so deeply. The trauma had disturbed just about everyone’s physiology and their psychology.

What we saw were people in chronic fight-or-flight — anxious, agitated, drinking to subdue their symptoms — people who were withdrawn and unable to connect with each other because not only had the fight-or-flight response persisted, but they had also shut down to protect themselves (the freeze response).”

As soon as the war in Kosovo started, Gordon and Lord knew they needed to go there and start working on trauma support. “This is a lesson for anyone who is watching or listening to us: The time is to start as soon as you realize the trauma is there,” he says. Together with The Center for Mind-Body Medicine faculty, they trained 600 people in Kosovo, including all 240 who staffed the newly established community mental health system.

“Our model became central to all of mental health in Kosovo,” Gordon says. “Kosovo is actually the first country in the world where mind-body medicine is a completely integrated part of the health care system …

Some of the people we trained were teachers in a rural high school. They began to teach our method of self-care to high school students. Eighty percent of these students had had their homes destroyed and 20% had lost one or both parents. They were very severely traumatized kids.

The high school teachers formed small groups and taught the kids these techniques of self-care, the same ones that I present in ‘The Transformation.’

Eighty-five percent of the kids who began those groups with post-traumatic stress disorder, (PTSD) — qualifying for that diagnosis — no longer had it after 11 weeks and those gains held at three months’ follow-up.

We published the research — the first randomized controlled trial of ANY intervention with war-traumatized children — in a major psychiatric journal. This is very important for many reasons. One is that the method works. The second is that you don’t need to be a psychiatrist or a psychologist to teach people these techniques … somebody who’s … learning them from [reading] ‘The Transformation’ can also get the same kind of benefits.”

Gordon was soon invited to come to Gaza by an Israeli and a Palestinian psychologist, both of whom were reporting the same thing: The trauma caused by the ongoing conflict was hurting the children, and they didn’t know what to do about it. Seventeen years later, CMBM is the only organization working on a large-scale with psychological trauma on both sides of that still very big and very painful divide.

Hopelessness to Healing 15 Years Later — An Example

During the 2014 war that killed some 2,000 people in Gaza, including 500 children, the CMBM team fanned out and began teaching in every part of the territory. Gordon tells the story of one 9-year-old girl named Azhaar Jendia:

“In the first of a series of our groups … we ask everybody to draw three pictures … yourself … yourself with your biggest problem, [and] yourself with your problem solved. Usually, the second drawing helps people to focus on what the biggest problem is … There are so many things that are distressing. The drawing helps to focus.

The third drawing is usually very hopeful, because it taps into our imagination to create a solution to the problem.

In Azhaar’s second drawing, the biggest problem, she drew herself as a tiny little stick figure in the corner of the page with her mouth turned down in sadness. Occupying the page was a scene of carnage and destruction. Her home was falling down.

Overhead, there were planes that were bombing her home. On the ground, next to her destroyed home, soaked in red blood was her dead father. Next to him were two uncles … [and] her aunt, who were also killed in the bombing …

It was very distressing to see the second drawing. But the solution she came up with in the third drawing was even more distressing. In the solution, she was lying next to her father in a coffin in the ground. When I asked her what was going on, she said, ‘I am with my father again. He is dead. There is no reason for me to be alive. I want the Israelis to kill me.’

Five months after the war, and other kids in the group had similar kinds of pictures. In nine sessions, once again led by a teacher, Azhaar learned the practice of self-awareness and self-care. She learned different kinds of meditation. She used mental imagery. She moved her body actively to free up the stress and the tension.

Azhaar did written dialogues with some of the symptoms she was having. She drew a genogram, a family tree,. She imagined the sources of support from her family.

In the final, ninth group, she did some drawings again. This time, when she drew who she wanted to be, which is equivalent to the solution to her problem, she drew herself in a white coat with a stethoscope around her neck, the earpieces of the stethoscope in her ears and the resonator on the chest of a person lying on a table in front of her.

I said, ‘What’s going on here?’ She said, ‘I am a heart doctor. This is my patient on my examining table. Since the war in 2014 here in Gaza, so many people have hurt their hearts. I am taking care of them.’

There were five other figures standing next to the examining table. I said, ‘And who are these, Azhaar?’ She said, ‘Oh, those are my other patients. They’re waiting for me. There are many people who need my help.’

This is a very dramatic story of a little girl. Five months after the war, the only solution to her problem, to the destruction, to the loss, was to die, to be killed.

 Coming through this group, learning how to regulate her body, regulate the fight-or-flight response with quiet meditation, how to break up fixed patterns and tension with movement, how to use imaginative techniques to come up with solutions to problems, she herself discovered a way to move forward with her life …

This is what is possible, even for people who have been severely traumatized — not only to recover from the trauma and to build resilience, but to discover possibilities they have never even dreamed of before they were traumatized.”

The Fight-Or-Flight Response

While there are certainly other techniques for healing trauma, Gordon believes his approaches are foundational, as they help rebalance your body and nervous system. This alone can be transformative.

The basic idea is that when trauma occurs, whether the injury is to your body, mind or spirit, two basic processes are activated. The first is the fight-or-flight response, which when activated increases your heart rate and blood pressure. Blood is shunted from digestion into tensing muscles, heart and lungs. Stress hormones are produced to help you fight or run.

While crucial in acute situations of danger, the fight-or-flight response is meant to be turned on and back off quickly. As soon as you’re out of immediate danger, you’re supposed to return back to balance, feeling safe and at ease. Problems arise when we go into fight-or-flight and stay there long after a traumatic event is over.

“Sometimes it’s because the trauma is ongoing. That’s what happens to kids who are in abusive or neglectful situations. But sometimes, we’ve experienced a traumatic event and we’re stuck in that fight-or-flight. It’s like our foot is on the accelerator and we can’t take it off.

So, we become anxious and agitated. We have trouble sleeping, trouble concentrating. We’re impatient with other people, impatient with ourselves. Also, we’re stuck in that past. We replay the images, the images of someone abusing us, someone assaulting us or a boss treating us badly or what happened to us when we were deployed …”

The Freeze Response

The second process activated by trauma is the freeze response. Fight-or-flight is part of the sympathetic nervous system, which is one-half of the autonomic nervous system. The other half of the autonomic nervous system is the parasympathetic nervous system.

“In general, we’re trying to mobilize the parasympathetic nervous system to balance out fight-or-flight,” Gordon explains. “But sometimes, if the situation is so overwhelming and so inescapable, we go into what is called the freeze response, which is mediated and governed by the oldest part of the parasympathetic nervous system, deep in the mid-brain.

We just shut down; we collapse. We put out large amounts of endorphins to protect us against the pain that’s there. We distance ourselves because the trauma is so overwhelming and inescapable. We can’t do anything else except shut down our bodies and close off our minds.

This happens, for example, to children who were abused by their parents, because the abuse is terrible and they can’t get away from it. It happens to people who were assaulted by others who are much more powerful than they are. It happens when we’re raped. It happens in a warzone when we can’t get away and we can’t fight. We’re just overpowered by the situation.”

When these two responses — fight-or-flight and freeze — continue, they are the essence of post-traumatic stress. “One way to look at it is that post-traumatic stress keeps us chained to the past, to the traumatic events, which we keep on replaying in our body and mind,” Gordon explains. “We’re worried it will happen again.”

The essence of healing psychological trauma is to return back into the present moment because, when traumatized, you’re chained to what happened in the past. You worry it will happen again. If you can relax and come into the present, then the trauma starts to dissipate.

Creating a Foundation for Healing

The first technique taught in Gordon’s program is slow, deep, “Soft Belly” breathing for eight to 10 minutes. Simply breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, keeping your belly soft and relaxed. Closing your eyes will help eliminate external stimulation. As you do this, pay attention to your breath and allow your muscles to relax.

“This is technically a concentrative meditation,” Gordon says. “You are focusing on the breath, on the words ‘soft’ as you breathe in, and ‘belly’ as your breathe out, and on the feeling of your belly softening, relaxing. It is the antidote to the fight-or-flight response. It activates the vagus nerve, which slows heartrate, lowers blood pressure, helps us relax the big muscles, improves our digestion.

It quiets centers in the brain, like the amygdala in the emotional brain, that are responsible for fear and anger, and stimulates centers in the frontal part of our cerebral cortex that make us more self-aware, more thoughtful, more capable of decision-making, more able to be compassionate to other people and to ourselves.

This is the place to begin. This becomes a foundation for learning all the other techniques, because if we’re in this relaxed moment-to-moment awareness, then it’s much easier to use the techniques that mobilize our imagination.

It also becomes easier to use the active, physical techniques that can break up the frozen tension that’s in our bodies. It’s important to know that, when we’re dealing with psychological trauma, we need to work with our bodies, as well as our minds and our imagination.”

Other Self-Healing Techniques

“Shaking and Dancing” is one of these active techniques. It is technically an “expressive meditation,” designed to loosen our trauma-tensed bodies and relax and open our preoccupied minds. Here’s how you do it: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your knees bent, and start shaking from your feet up through your knees and hips to your shoulders, chest and head.

Continue for five to seven minutes. “Shaking begins to break up the fixed patterns that have come into our bodies when we’ve been traumatized,” Gordon explains. The physical shaking also loosens the repeating thoughts that intrude in your mind, and opens you up to emotions that have been suppressed and repressed.

“Sometimes it’s sadness. Sometimes it’s anger. Sometimes it’s fear. Sometimes it’s laughter,” Gordon says. “We do that for five or six minutes. And then stop and stand and relax and be aware, be mindful of the breath and the body.”

After that, Gordon suggests putting on energizing music that you find uplifting, something that raises your spirits. Then allow your body to move to the music in whatever way it wants.

“’Shaking and Dancing’ breaks up patterns that come from both fight-or-flight and freezing. It allows emotions to come up. It gives us a little time for mindfulness to become aware of what came up in our body as we did the shaking. And then it gives us a chance to express ourselves in dance, to feel some freedom,” Gordon says.

These three are basic — the Soft Belly breathing, the drawings and the Shaking and Dancing. Once you’re in a state of increased equilibrium — balancing out the fight-or-flight response and bringing yourself out of the freeze response, you can use all the other techniques I teach.

These include guided imagery, written dialogues, biofeedback and autogenic training (phrases that mobilize the parasympathetic nervous system and help us rest and digest), and many others — walking, meditation, mindful eating, being in nature and with animals, laughter, gratitude, and forgiveness.

The Trauma Healing Diet

When we’re psychologically traumatized, our GI tract, from the mouth to the anus, suffers just as much as our brain. Every aspect of digestion is significantly disrupted. We need to restore functioning. Techniques like Soft Belly, which quiet the fight-or-flight response and allow your digestion to operate more efficiently, are part of the healing process.

“There are also many dietary changes we can make that can make a major difference in how we feel and how quickly and well we recover from trauma … If we eat a basic healthy diet and eliminate food additives and preservatives, that, in itself, is going to help your gut to heal,” Gordon says.

“I also suggest people eliminate gluten-containing foods and stay away from milk products until their gut is restored. Trauma often opens spaces between the cells that line the small intestine and these grain and milk proteins can then enter the bloodstream and cause inflammation everywhere in our body, including our brain.

We need to supplement with probiotics. I would also add … a multivitamin, multi-mineral supplement. There’s an interesting study done in New Zealand after the earthquake there, a very good randomized controlled trial, showing that people who took a high-dose multivitamin and multi-mineral [supplement] had far fewer symptoms of psychological trauma than those who did not.”

More Information

If you or someone you know is struggling with trauma, I urge you to get Gordon’s book, “The Transformation: Discovering Wholeness and Healing After Trauma,” and start working through the program. You have nothing to lose but your pain. The book will also be an invaluable resource for anyone working with traumatized individuals or patients.

“My goal with ‘The Transformation’ is to make this work available to anyone who wants to deal with the trauma that may have come to them and also to help them — to help all of us — discover our own healing path, our own path to becoming who we’re meant to be,” Gordon says.

If you want to take it to the next level and either work with a CMBM facilitator for one-on-one guidance, or if you want to become a facilitator yourself, go to CMBM.org.

There, you’ll find a listing of practitioners trained in the CMBM model, as well as information about CMBM professional training programs, workshops, webinars, conferences and much more. To allow as many people as possible to learn these techniques, CMBM charges on a sliding scale, based on your ability to pay.

“About 40% of the people who come to our trainings here in the United States come on scholarship,” Gordon says. “We want our work to help all those who want to serve and help others to use what we have to offer. We are a community of healers and a healing community … Come and be part of our community. Our community is here to support you in your life and in your work.”

Should You Stretch Before or After Exercise, or Both?


Reproduced from original article:
https://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2019/10/18/should-you-stretch-before-or-after-exercise.aspx

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola  Fact Checked
should you stretch before or after exercise

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • The bulk of the scientific evidence does not support the recommendation to stretch before exercising to prevent injury
  • Most injuries occur during eccentric contraction within normal range of motion. Therefore, increasing your range of motion before exercise is unlikely to prevent injury
  • Stretching appears to increase pain tolerance, which could encourage injury. The benefit seen in studies that support stretching before exercise as a way to avoid injury appears to be due to the warmup sequence, not the stretching
  • The purpose of the warmup is to increase circulation and blood flow to your muscles, and there are many simple ways to do this. Aerobic exercises such as squats, jumping jacks, cycling and even walking are examples
  • As with stretching before exercise, it turns out it’s not the stretching after exercise that is the most useful if you’re looking to prevent pain and injury. A more beneficial option is active recovery or active cool-down, such as light weightlifting, mild yoga, cycling, walking, rowing or swimming

Most would probably agree that stretching is an important part of a well-balanced fitness routine, but exactly when should you stretch? Before or after your workout? Both? Neither? To tease out the pros and cons, let’s take a look at what the fitness literature has to say about these options.

Stretching Before Exercise

If you’re like most, you’re probably convinced that stretching before exercise is important for the prevention of injury. Would it surprise you to learn that the scientific evidence does not support this theory?

The confusion appears to have arisen as a result of the type of studies and evidence used as a basis for this recommendation. As explained in the editorial,1 “Stretching Before Exercise: An Evidence Based Approach,” published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2000:2

“Clinicians are under increasing pressure to … practice evidence based medicine. Although some authors argue that only research from human randomized clinical trials (RCTs) should be used to determine clinical management, an alternative is to consider the study design (RCT, cohort, basic science, etc) as one of many variables, and that no evidence should be discarded a priori.

In other words, the careful interpretation of all evidence is, and has always been, the real art of medicine. This editorial explores these concepts using the sport medicine example of promoting stretching before exercise to prevent injury.

In summary, a previous critical review of both clinical and basic science literature suggested that such stretching would not prevent injury. This conclusion was subsequently supported by a large RCT published five months later. Had the review relied only on previous RCT data, or even RCT and cohort data, the conclusions would likely have been the opposite, and incorrect.”

The paper goes on to list a number of observations that refute the idea that stretching before exercise makes you less prone to injury, including the following:

  • Most injuries occur during eccentric contraction within normal range of motion; therefore, increasing your range of motion before exercise is unlikely to prevent injury
  • Even mild stretching can cause damage at the cytoskeletal level
  • Stretching appears to increase pain tolerance, which could encourage injury

As noted in the paper, “It does not seem prudent to decrease one’s tolerance to pain, possibly create some damage at the cytoskeletal level and then exercise this damaged anaesthetized muscle. Of note, there is no basic science evidence to suggest that stretching would decrease injuries.”

No Useful Benefit of Stretching Before Exercise

Later reviews seem to support what the featured editorial is saying. For example, a 2002 systematic review3 in the BMJ, which included five studies that assessed the effects of stretching before and after exercising on post-exercise muscle soreness, concluded that “Stretching produced small and statistically nonsignificant reductions in muscle soreness” after a bout of exercise.

This finding applied whether the stretching was done before or after exercise. Data from two army studies included in this BMJ review also showed stretching before exercise failed to reduce the risk of injury.

Another review paper,4 published in the Journal of Athletic Training in 2005, also analyzed data from studies using military recruits, concluding that “the combined risk reduction of 5% indicates that the stretching protocols used in these studies do not meaningfully reduce lower extremity injury risk …”

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Warmup, Not Stretching, Is the Key to Injury Prevention

All of that said, the British Journal of Sports Medicine paper5 points out there is evidence to suggest that warming up your muscles before exercise will help prevent injuries — but that’s not the same as stretching.

This, in fact, appears to be part of what has caused the confusing contradictions in the evidence in the first place, the paper notes, as RCT studies that support stretching before exercise all included some sort of warmup intervention.6 In other words, the benefit seen in those studies was likely due to the warmup sequence, not the stretching.

So, how do you warm up your muscles before exercise? Importantly, the purpose of the warmup is to increase circulation and blood flow to your muscles, and there are many simple ways to do this.

Aerobic exercises such as squatsjumping jacks, cycling and even walking are examples. Simply do them for a few minutes until you’re breathing heavily. You can learn more about this in “Warmups and Cool-Downs — What Works and What Doesn’t.”

Aside from lowering your risk of injury, warming up before exercising has also been shown to prevent delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS),7 which is a common complaint after intense exercise.

Stretching After Exercise

So, what does the evidence say about stretching after you’ve finished your workout? As noted earlier, the 2002 BMJ review8 found no benefit of stretching either before or after exercise, in terms of preventing muscle soreness or injury.

Ditto for the 2005 paper9 looking at military recruits, published in the Journal of Athletic Training. The recommendation to stretch after exercise is not so much about preventing injury or soreness, though. Typically, this recommendation is based on the idea that it will help improve your flexibility.

Strangely enough, the evidence for that is by no means incontrovertible. As noted in a 2007 study10 published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, static stretching of the quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles after exercise, with each stretch held for 15 seconds, resulted in no significant improvement in flexibility measurements.

Only hip flexibility “approached significance and therefore favored stretching after the workout,” the authors state. Aside from that, “The placement of stretching, before or after a workout, does not make a difference in its effect on flexibility.”

It should be noted, however, that this particular study was very short-term in its scope. Volunteers only performed the exercises twice, 48 to 72 hours apart. Clearly, stretching will, over time, improve your flexibility. The timing of it, though, may not have a significant bearing on your results.

As just one example, a study11 in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness enrolled female seniors in a 10-week flexibility training program to see if spinal mobility can be improved in the elderly.

The women participated in flexibility training 20 to 30 minutes three times a week. The control group participated in an alternative program that included walking, swimming and dancing. As reported by the authors:

“At the conclusion of the 10-week period, all subjects were retested for spinal mobility, using back flexion and extension measures. Results indicated a significant improvement in spinal mobility in the experimental group, and virtually no measurable change in the control group.

This study suggests that specialized training in back flexibility for older adults is warranted, and that significant gains in spinal mobility can be obtained, regardless of age.”

Active Recovery, Not Stretching Is Best After Exercise

So, as with stretching before exercise, it turns out it’s not the stretching after exercise that is the most useful if you’re looking to prevent pain and injury. A more beneficial option is active recovery or active cool-down.

What is active recovery, you ask? It’s basically very similar to the warmup — low-intensity exercise.12 In other words, you’ll want to slowly “wind down” after your workout. Rather than abruptly quitting and going to rest, you continue exercising at a much lower intensity for a few minutes.

Benefits of active recovery or cool-down include reduction of lactic acid buildup in your muscles, which will help minimize post-exercise stiffness and pain, and the promotion of blood flow to heavily taxed muscles, which will help counteract inflammation and improve healing.13

Examples of active recovery or cool-down activities include light weightlifting, mild yoga, cycling, walking, rowing or swimming. Using a foam roller can also be beneficial at this stage, as it will help improve flexibility and ease pain by increasing blood flow through your fascia and muscles.

Massage is another recovery technique supported by science. A 2018 systematic review14 that looked at a variety of post-exercise recovery strategies, including active recovery, massage, compression garments, contrast water therapy and cryotherapy, concluded “Massage was … the most powerful technique for recovering from DOMS and fatigue.”

Even here, though, the evidence is split and not entirely conclusive. As noted in a review15 published in the journal Sports Medicine in 2018:

“It is widely believed that an active cool-down is more effective for promoting post-exercise recovery than a passive cool-down involving no activity. However, research on this topic has never been synthesized and it therefore remains largely unknown whether this belief is correct.

This review compares the effects of various types of active cool-downs with passive cool-downs on sports performance, injuries, long-term adaptive responses, and psychophysiological markers of post-exercise recovery.

An active cool-down is largely ineffective with respect to enhancing same-day and next-day(s) sports performance, but some beneficial effects on next-day(s) performance have been reported.

Active cool-downs do not appear to prevent injuries, and preliminary evidence suggests that performing an active cool-down on a regular basis does not attenuate the long-term adaptive response … Performing active cool-downs may partially prevent immune system depression and promote faster recovery of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems …

Most evidence indicates that active cool-downs do not significantly reduce muscle soreness, or improve the recovery of indirect markers of muscle damage, neuromuscular contractile properties, musculotendinous stiffness, range of motion, systemic hormonal concentrations, or measures of psychological recovery …

In summary, based on the empirical evidence currently available, active cool-downs are largely ineffective for improving most psychophysiological markers of post-exercise recovery, but may nevertheless offer some benefits compared with a passive cool-down.”

To Ice or Not to Ice

Interestingly, while ice water immersion or cryotherapy is commonly recommended as a form of active recovery after exercise, there’s evidence to suggest it can actually promote muscle soreness the day after exercise rather than limit it.

Two case histories of athletes being treated for DOMS after using ice water immersion after their workouts were presented in a 2010 issue of the Journal of Emergencies, Trauma, and Shock.16 While there are indeed many benefits of cryotherapy or ice water immersion, there are also drawbacks. Some of the ones listed in this 2010 paper include:

Cooling attenuates temperature-dependent processes such as myofiber regeneration, muscle hypertrophy and improved blood flow, and may therefore counteract training benefits.

Some studies have shown ice water immersion is ineffective when it comes to minimizing markers of DOMS.

Other studies have shown ice water immersion “manifests significant physiological effects that can impair subsequent cycling performance (maximum power decline 13.7% versus 4.7%, maximum heart rate decreased by 8.1% versus 2.4% compared with the respective control groups),” the paper says.

It also cites a second study showing ice water immersion after treadmill exercise decreased the subjects isometric hand grip strength, compared to those who did not use the immersion therapy.

In conclusion, the authors state that:17

“Training and competition creates an overload to stress the body, which in turn produces fatigue followed later by improved performance. What athletes do after their exercise and work-out regime can affect their muscle recovery … and sports performance. It is thus important to have an after-exercise recovery plan. Some recommendations include:

Sufficient rest to allow for natural recovery to occur

Gentle stretching …

A necessary cool-down period versus stopping immediately and abruptly

A proper balanced diet

Adequate fluid replacement

Proper massage

This list is sometimes followed by alternate hot and cold baths or shower and contrast water therapy. As there is still a lack of evidence with these therapies, further research will be required to investigate the different hot to cold time ratios, the appropriate mode of contrast treatment and the duration and the optimum water temperature needs to be examined to closely verify its effectiveness as a recovery modality.

A holistic approach to recovery will give a better response rather than an isolated recovery technique.”

Summary Recommendations

As you can see, few hard and fast recommendations can be made when it comes to exercise and its pre- and post-activities. As a general rule, however, it seems generally accepted that a quick warmup period is advisable before you start your workout. Stretching before working out is unlikely to provide you with any significant protection from injury though.

Afterward, using active recovery or active cool-down techniques are likely to be your best bet. At the very least, it’s better than an inactive cool-down where you abruptly stop.

Stretching after your workout may not protect you from pain or injury, either, but long-term, stretching is an important part of a well-rounded fitness program, and will improve your flexibility and thus mobility over time, so it should not be discounted entirely.

When stretching, I believe dynamic, functional and active isolated stretching (AIS)18 are best. AIS uses gentle pressure, holding each stretch for just two seconds to work with your body’s natural physiological makeup to improve circulation and increase elasticity.

I typically recommend avoiding static stretching, as it reduces blood flow in the tissue and creates a localized ischemia and lactic acid buildup, which is what you want to avoid.19 I also do not recommend ballistic stretching, as the uncontrolled movement increases your risk of muscle tears.20

Since stretching should be done after a warmup, doing your stretches after a workout is probably a good idea, since you’re already warmed up. Just be sure not to overstretch. Your body has physical limitations and when pushed too far, you can cause microtears in the muscles, tendons and ligaments21 without improving your flexibility.

Lastly, using ice therapy will increase your metabolic rate and has a beneficial impact on your mitochondria. It may also counteract inflammation, and many athletes use it as part of their active recovery.

I think the concluding statement in the 2010 issue of the Journal of Emergencies, Trauma, and Shock22 sums it up quite nicely: Your best bet is to use a holistic approach to recovery rather than focusing on any one specific recovery technique.

In some instances, cold immersion may be appropriate, in others, maybe not so much. One instance in which ice therapy is best avoided is after strength training. The reason for this is because strength training he oxidative stress generates reactive oxygen species that actually help increase muscle mass.

If you expose yourself to cold within the first hour after strength training, you suppress that beneficial process, so avoid doing cold immersion (such as a really cold shower or ice bath) immediately after a resistance workout.