HERBS FOR HEALTH MANAGEMENT

Herbs are a foundational root in medicine and health treatments, dating back thousands of years throughout every culture around the world. Modern Western herbalism comes from ancient Egypt. The Greeks developed a comprehensive philosophy of herbal medicine by 100 BCE and the Romans built upon it to create a variety of medical practices, some of which are still used today.

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ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE IMPACTS PSYCHOLOGICAL HARDINESS

Psychological hardiness is an individual’s resistance to stress, anxiety and depression. It includes the ability to withstand grief and accept the loss of loved ones. Alternative medicine is a more popular term for health and wellness therapies that have typically not been part of conventional Western medical approaches but are often used along with conventional medicinal protocols.  Coping and dealing with stress in a positive manner play a major role in maintaining the balance needed for health and well-being.

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ALTERNATIVE REMEDIES FOR ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION

Interest in complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM) is increasing as consumers and health care professionals search for additional ways to treat anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders. Some of these remedies include:

St. John’s Wort.  More than 30 studies show it to be effective for treatment of mild forms of depression,…

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Another non-opioid drug that has been increasingly prescribed as an alternative pain treatment is gabapentin, a nerve pain medication generally used to treat seizures and shingles pain. While safe and effective for some patients, gabapentin can be deadly when combined with other drugs. This past spring, Kentucky classified the drug as a controlled substance after it was found in nearly a quarter of all overdose deaths in Louisville last year.


Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid used for severe post-surgery pain. It rapidly gains access to the central nervous system because it efficiently crosses the blood-brain barrier. It is 100 times more potent than morphine.


New illicitly manufactured drugs include carfentanil, which is 100 times more potent than fentanyl, and 3-methylfentanyl, which is four times as powerful. Deaths from these drugs nearly doubled from 2016 to 2017, says the CDC.

OPIOIDS: A BLESSING AND A CURSE

ANGELA S. HOOVER

Angela is a staff writer for Health & Wellness magazine.

more articles by Angela s. hoover

and heroin in 2016, according to a CDC statement released in July. Opioid overdoses increased 30 percent from July 2016 through September 2017 in 52 areas in 45 states, says the NIDA.


Ironically, opioids can sometimes make pain worse because of an effect called hyperalgesia. Hyperalgesia occurs when opioids set off a chain of immune signals and the microglia cells in the spinal cord amplify pain rather than dulling it, even after the drug leaves the body. Separate from their pain-blocking interaction with receptors in the brain, opioids seem to reshape the nervous system to amplify pain signals, even after the original illness or injury subsides. Many researchers say hyperalgesia spurs increasing dosage, which can lead to overdose deaths.


Tramadol prescriptions have increased with the nationwide clampdown on more powerful opiates. Tramadol is a synthetic codeine analog that binds to the mu receptor and inhibits the re-uptake of serotonin and norepinephrine. It has a lower risk of addiction than other opioids but may cause seizure and serotonin syndrome. Serotonin syndrome is characterized by neuro- muscular and autonomic hypersensitivity as well as an altered mental state due to excess serotonin activity. It can also interact with antidepressants, as well as other analgesics, stimulants and certain antibiotics and herbs.

Pain takes complex pathways in the body, making it difficult to alleviate. The signals the brain interprets as pain sometimes come from the body’s surface, such as when you get a cut. Other times the source of the pain signals is deeper – from damage to nerves, which can happen with a bad wound. A third type of pain can come from a misfiring in the brain.


The main way to kill pain is to reduce the signals to the brain. This is the magic of opioids. Opioids bind to mu receptors at the junctions where nerve cells meet. They essentially flip a switch that reduces the ability of these cells to fire. When nerve fibers send pain signals to the brain for processing, the neurons that normally make you feel pain don’t respond.


“Opioids don’t touch the pain source; they only turn off the appreciation of the pain in the brain,” said Lewis Nelson, a professor of emergency medicine at New York University School of Medicine, who sat on a panel that recently recommended opioid guidelines for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “A small dose of an opioid just changes the sensation from being something that is quite irritating to being something you don’t seem to care about as much.”


Opioids are highly addictive and pose a great risk for fatal overdose. About 21 percent to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them. Between 8 percent to 12 percent of them develop an opioid addiction, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). About 42,000 Americans died from prescription opioids