Tag Archives: chronic pain

Achy Joints? Nutrition is critical, just ask a moose

A new report on moose has some interesting information with regards to human beings and arthritis.  This report suggests that nutrition plays a critical role in the development of arthritis.

The report is the end of a 50 year study on the moose of Ilse Royale, an uninhabited island in Lake Superior.  The study was the longest predator-prey study ever conducted.  What was found was that these moose had arthritis.  They had arthritis that was very similar to the arthritis that humans develop and the conclusions that the scientists came up with were fascinating.  They believe that nutritional deficiencies early in life lead to higher rates of arthritis in the moose.

Osteoarthritis is by far the most common form of arthritis in humans.  It currently affects 27 million Americans, up from 21 million in 1990.  The exact cause is unknown, but general wear and tear on the body seems to break down cartilage leading to inflammation of the joints.  Being sedentary, overweight and some genetic differences increase the risk and severity of arthritis.  Now, nutrition is being recognized as playing a part as well.

To me, this seems obvious.  If nutrition early in life is poor, how can one expect bones and cartilage to form optimally? Over time this may lead to problems with the joints.  Because human beings age slowly, the effects of poor nutrition are magnified.

In humans, bones continue to grow into early adulthood so it is likely that nutrition, in terms of bone and cartilage formation, is critically important.  Later in life nutrition continues to be important because of several factors.

For one, we know that eating a poor diet leads to weight gain.  Being overweight is a significant risk factor for arthritis.  It is important to maintain a healthy weight because not doing so places unnecessary stress on the joints and leads joint deterioration later in life.

Nutrition is also important because controlling inflammation is crucial.  High levels of inflammation destroy tissues and can increase the effects of osteoarthritis.

Genetic factors associated with arthritis are also influenced by nutrition.  In the field of genetics a new subset of study has developed.  This is called epigenetics.  Epigenetics states that each and every one of our genes has a switch on them and it is the environment that determines what genes get turned on and what genes get turned off.  Poor nutrition is known to turn on genes that are detrimental to our health like genes for cancer and now, perhaps, genes that cause arthritis to get worse.  It makes sense with what is known already about the human genome.

Information linking nutrition to arthritis is not that new and human example do exist.  Bones of 16th-century American Indians in Florida and Georgia showed significant increases in osteoarthritis after Spanish missionaries arrived and tribes adopted farming, increasing their workload but also shifting their diet from fish and wild plants to corn.  Similar patterns occurred when an earlier American Indian population in the Midwest began farming maize.  British scientists studying people born in the 1940s found low birth weight (indicating poor prenatal nutrition) linked to osteoarthritis in the mens’ hands.

I think the take home point is that nutrition, from the womb to the very last days of our lives, is important.  The fuel we put in our bodies is the only way we grow and survive.  It stands to reason then that if we put food in that is of low nutritional quality, we will have low quality growth and survival.  Unfortunately, mainstream medicine focuses too much on what drug they can give you to trick your body into thinking there is no longer a problem.  What we should focus on is good, healthy eating habits.  This would significantly reduce disease rates and improve everyone’s overall health.

Leave a comment

Filed under Public Health

5 Superfoods You Should be Eating

In my office we talk about diet with every single patient that comes in.  We advise them on many aspects of diet.  Some people wish to lose weight.  Other wish to control chronic pain.  Still yet others just want to know how to be as healthy as they can be.  Despite the differences in what people desire out of their diet plans, there are always common themes between them.

There are foods that I advise people eat on a regular basis because they are inherently good for human physiology.  These foods pack a big bang for their buck in terms of nutrition.  They are “nutrient dense” as we say.  Below I have compiled a list of my top 5 food recommendations that I think everyone should consume regularly.   Enjoy!

1. Eggs

Ahhh, the persecuted egg.  For many physicians the egg is the enemy.  You will hear, “You can’t eat eggs, they’re too high in cholesterol!” True, eggs contain cholesterol but cholesterol is not your enemy.  Modern medicine, taking its cues from the pharmaceutical industry, would have you believe that cholesterol is the cause of heart disease.  I am here to tell you that it is not.  Inflammation is the cause of heart disease.  Your body uses this cholesterol in an attempt to quell the inflammation.  This inflammation is caused by eating a diet high in refined carbohydrates, not high cholesterol.  Not a single large scale study has shown that by reducing cholesterol you reduce mortality rates.  None. So the egg is actually a very healthy food.  It provides a great protein punch, has great vitamins like B12 and vitamin D and best of all it is easy to prepare.  So enjoy your eggs, they are a great option for breakfast or hard boiled as a snack.

2. Avocado

Avocado truly is a super food.  It is loaded with vitamins and healthy fats.  These healthy fats are used for many things in the body including cellular repair and energy.  Avocado is also a great way to maintain the health of your skin and your hair because if its great fatty acid profile.  It’s rich in B vitamins, contains vitamins E and K and has much more potassium than a banana.  It’s also loaded with fiber which is important for maintaining a healthy colon.  Like I said, super food.  Eat it raw with some salt and pepper, grind it up to make guacamole, put it in a salad or as a garnish to your hamburger (with no bun of course).  There are a million ways to eat this wonderful food.

3. Coconut

This is another misunderstood food.  Coconuts are sometimes touted as unhealthy because of their fatty acid profile.  There is research that these unfavorable views go all the way back to World War II when all of the tropical oils were seen as bad because they came out of the Pacific and were a major export of Japan.  Today they are gaining popularity but some medical professionals point to the fact that coconuts are high in saturated fat as a negative.  Again, they are correct but it really is only a half truth.  Most of the saturated fat from a coconut is in the form of something called a medium chain triglyceride.  These MCTs have great benefit.  They are used for energy in the body and have been shown to increase weight loss.  Coconuts are also anti-fungal.  If you suspect you have a fungal or yeast overgrowth, coconut consumption might help.  Coconuts are sometimes hard to find, but the oil is a cinch.  Use the oil to cook with and you can gain all the benefits of consuming actual coconut.  Many companies sell the oil and some even remove the flavor if that does not appeal to you.

4. Almonds

While many nuts are good for you, almonds are great.  They contain a good source of carbohydrate and protein and a great source of healthy fat.  They are rich in vitamins such as E and they also have good amounts of magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron and fiber.  They are a great heart healthy snack and even have been shown to aid in weight loss.  Eat them raw, roasted or chopped up on your favorite salad.  They’re great any way you can get them.

5. Cold Water Fish

Fish is another food that has great benefit.  They contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.  These fats are potently anti-inflammatory and reduce the risk of a host of diseases including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.  The importance of omega-3s in the diet cannot be overstated.  I like to shoot for 4,000-6,000 mg per day.  To do this you will likely have to supplement with a capsule or oil, but getting it in your diet as well is a must.  There are some things to look for when you buy fish.  Always buy wild fish.  Farmed fish are fed grain to fatten them up quickly and this changes their fatty acid composition negatively.  Consume smaller fish.  The larger fish have a higher potential to have levels of mercury that are unsafe.

5 Comments

Filed under Diet

Toxins causing ‘grievous harm,’ cancer panel says

Widespread exposure to environmental toxins poses a serious threat to Americans, causing “grievous harm” that government agencies have not adequately addressed, according to a strongly worded report released today by the President’s Cancer Panel, a body of experts that reports directly to President Obama.

The American Cancer Society estimates that about 6% of cancer deaths — nearly 34,000 a year — are caused by environmental pollutants.

That number could be much higher, the new report says. Although the report doesn’t give a figure, it says the government has “grossly underestimated” the problem because of a lack of research. Much of the suffering faced by people diagnosed with toxin-related cancer “could have been prevented through appropriate national action,” according to the 240-page report.

The report urges the Obama administration to act, even if the evidence linking cancer and chemicals isn’t definitive. Nearly 80,000 chemicals are used in the country today, many of which are unstudied and “largely unregulated,” the report says.

Children appear to be especially vulnerable, the report says.

The report was produced by cancer specialists LaSalle Lefall and Margaret Kripke, both of whom were appointed by President Bush and who heard from dozens of experts over the past two years. The panel’s third position is vacant.

Reaction to the report was mixed.

Jeanne Rizzo, president of the Breast Cancer Fund, an environmental advocacy group, said the report was “a watershed that could transform federal policy not just on cancer, but on chemicals.”

The American Cancer Society’s Michael Thun called the report “unbalanced” because he said it implied pollution is a major cause of cancer and dismissed prevention efforts. The report “restates hypotheses as if they were established facts,” Thun said in a statement. “It reflects one side of a scientific debate that has continued for almost 30 years.” Thun said he hopes the report won’t confuse Americans about the clearest ways to prevent cancer, such as through healthier living. The American Cancer Society says smoking alone causes far more deaths — more than 168,000 every year.

via Toxins causing ‘grievous harm,’ cancer panel says – USATODAY.com.

Dr. Court’s Comments

I think it’s great that this kind of information is finally starting to get out there.  I routinely recommend that my patients do a bio-detoxification for the reasons mentioned above.

Most of the chemicals that are in our lives have not been studied and no one knows the long term effects of these things.  For every chemical that may be harmless there are likely more that cause cancer.

And what about the chemicals that don’t cause cancer?  What about the chemicals that just affect physiology?  Some cause chronic pain, sensory perception issues, trouble breathing, head aches, joint pain, auto-immune disorders and the list goes on and on.

The fact that these chemicals are all around us makes them very dangerous.  You can’t get away from them.  They get into our soil, water and air.  You eat them, you drink them, and you breath them in.  Over time, some of these chemicals are dangerous and can cause cancer in susceptible individuals.  The problem is there is no way to tell who those susceptible people are.

Also, think about the list of people who don’t get cancer but are destined for a lifetime of suffering with some mystery condition that cannot be figured out because of some chemical exposure.  I routinely see patients who have these mystery conditions and I can almost always attribute it to some environmental exposure.

So the questions is, what can you do to protect yourself?  I always recommend that my patients do a bio-detoxification at least once per year.  Through that program you are able to cleanse you body of many built up toxins.  If you do this regularly, you have less of a chance of these chemicals adversely affecting you.

Secondly, eat a healthy diet.  These chemicals cause cancer by causing free radical damage that alters your DNA.  Free radicals are countered by a diet high in antioxidants.  A diet full of healthy protein, fruits, veggies and nuts will supply you with ample free radical scavenging antioxidants.

Thirdly, take supplements to boost your immunity and antioxidant capacity.  Things like vitamin D, vitamin C, curcumin, and green tea extract have known protective benefits.

Lastly, avoid using necessary chemicals in your life.  Here in the Northeast spring is in full bloom, but that also means the bugs and weeds are out too.  Instead of using the chemical weed and bug killers that are available, use a natural product.  I’ve used both natural weed and bug killer in the past two weeks and they worked great.  The ingredients were nothing more than peppermint, rosemary and thyme oil with a small amount of alcohol in it.

It’s no secret that we are surrounded by chemicals in our daily lives.  We start by getting up in the morning and driving to work in a car fueled by chemicals, printing our daily reports with chemicals and end our day by sitting down and watching our new fancy TVs that are filled with chemicals.  To assume they have no effect is naive.  They not only can cause cancer but also cause other long term health issues.  Do what you can to protect yourself and your family.

1 Comment

Filed under Environmental Health

Take Our Quiz – 10 questions to find out what you know about the latest health news!

Take our quiz and let us know how many you were able to answer correctly.  If you don’t know the answer, search our blog for it!

1. Q: Discount brands of fish oil were recently found to contain what carcinogenic chemical?

2. Q: A recent study confirmed what treatment was beneficial for depression relief?

A. Massage
B. Chiropractic Adjustments
C. Acupuncture
D. Yoga

3. Q: What genetic disease was recently demonstrated to cause infertility in women?

A. Rheumatoid Arthritis
B. Celiac Disease
C. Cystic Fibrosis
D. Diabetes

4. Q: If you want to improve your brain function, what activity should you participate in?

5. Q: Drinking more than two sodas per week increases the risk of cancer of the…?

A. Pancreas
B. Colon
C. Breast
D. Skin

6. Q: Low levels of what neurotransmitter were found in babies who died of SIDS?

A. Dopamine
B. Glutamate
C. GABA
D. Serotonin

7. Q: Which nutrient was recently shown to be linked to Autism?

A. Vitamin C
B. Vitamin E
C. Vitamin D
D. Vitamin A

8. Q: A new field of study has showed that our genetic make up does not necessarily control our entire health picture.  What is the name of this field of study?

A. Genetics
B. Epigenetics
C. Hypogenetics
D. Engineered genetics

9. Q: Recent epidemiological studies show that the US currently ranks ____ in terms of obesity rates in the world.

A. 1st
B. 2nd
C. 3rd
D. 4th

10. Q: What type of diet is most favorable for reducing inflammation and losing weight?

A. Low fat
B. Low carb
C. Combo of low fat and low carb
D. Low protein

The answers to all of these questions are listed below.  You can find the articles from which they came here on our blog.  Search our tag cloud on our home page for the key words if you want!

ANSWERS: 1. PCBs, 2. C, 3. B, 4. Napping, 5. A, 6. D, 7. C, 8. B, 9. C, 10. B

Leave a comment

Filed under Public Health

5 Ways to Safely Prevent Mold Growth in Your Homes

Mold and fungus is a major health problem for many people.  For most it will cause hypersensitivity and allergy type reactions.  However, for others it can cause a host of other problems including chronic pain, weight gain, anxiety, numbness and tingling and immune deficiencies.  I treat many patients with mold exposures and it is more common than you might think.

If you are having symptoms that don’t seem to add up and your doctors are stumped, consider checking out the possibility of a mold exposure.

Click below for 5 easy ways to prevent mold in your own home.

via 5 Ways to Safely Prevent Mold Growth in Your Homes | TestCountry Articles.

1 Comment

Filed under Public Health

Miracle Substance

Just today there was an article published in the New York Times about vitamin D.  It made mention that vitamin D deficiency has been linked to many diseases.  These include fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, cancer and heart disease.  It also said that we should “be careful” and not run out and start taking vitamin D just yet.  It also stated that doctors are recommending that people do not take more than 2,000 international units (IUs) per day as set forth in a new study.  They suggest that it may be dangerous.  First of all, these “doctors” obviously know nothing about vitamin D because 2,00o IUs is a relatively small and very safe dose.  Toxicity of vitamin D does not occur until a patient takes 100,000 IUs per day for 6 or more months at a time.  As a matter of fact, a child will make 20,000 IUs from the sun if he is outside for just 15-20 minutes.

So what exactly is vitamin D?  Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is obtained mainly from direct sunlight exposure, but also from dietary sources as well such as fortified milk and fatty fish.  Although vitamin D is classified as a vitamin it is actually a hormone.  Active vitamin D functions as a hormone because it sends a message to the intestines to increase the absorption of calcium and phosphorus.  The most commonly known function of vitamin D is to maintain blood levels of calcium and phosphorous by promoting its absorption.  It also helps promote bone mineralization which allows bones to become and stay strong and healthy.  Adequate levels of vitamin D is a potent weapon against osteoporosis.  These are the basics though.  Some of the new research on vitamin D is very interesting and shows that this hormone does more than just produce strong bones.  Another wonderful quality to vitamin D is it’s anti-inflammatory property.  It appears to act on chemicals called cytokines, which are pro-inflammatory.  It suppresses these compounds and therefore has use in conditions such as arthritis, chronic muscle pain, heart disease, vascular disease and stroke to name just a few.

Listed below are just a small sampling of the studies behind vitamin D.

A recent study from the University of California, Los Angeles found that vitamin D supplementation in pregnant women increased the production of an antimicrobial protein called cathelicidin.  They concluded that despite the fact that the precise mechanism of vitamin D functioning within the placenta is undetermined, “data suggests that it may play a key role in placental innate immunity.

Source: N. Liu, A.T. Kaplan, J. Low, L. Nguyen, G.Y. Liu, O. Equils, M. Hewison. Vitamin D induces innate antibacterial responses in human trophoblasts via an intracrine pathway. Biology of Reproduction. Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1095/biolreprod.108.073577.


A long-term study (median follow-up period of 7.7 years) found that low levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (Vitamin D)  were significantly correlated with variables of inflammation (C-reactive protein and interleukin 6 levels), oxidative burden (serum phospholipid and glutathione levels), and cell adhesion (vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 and intracellular adhesion molecule 1) levels.  Collectively  supporting the model that low vitamin D levels are independently associated with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality.

Source: Dobnig H, Pilz S, Scharnagl H, et al. Independent Association of Low Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and 1, 25-Dihydroxyvitamin D Levels With All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality. Arch Intern Med. 2008;1 68(12):1340-1349.


In yet another study extolling the virtues of vitamin D, it has been noted that not only were low serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D associated with higher risk of myocardial infarction but also with controlling factors known to be associated with coronary artery disease.

Source: Giovannucci E, Liu Y, Hollis B, Rimm E. 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and risk of Myocardial Infarction in Men. Arch Intern Med. 2008; 168(11):1174-1180.


Keep Supplementing! Living in a sunny climate is no guarantee of vitamin D status.  Recently,  a group of researhcers from the Arizona Cancer Center found that nearly 80% of Arizonians had suboptimal vitamin D levels (<30 ng/ml).

Source: Jacobs E, et al. Vitamin D insufficiency in Southern Arizona. AM J Clin Nutr. 2008 Mar 87 (3):608-13.


Peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a condition associated with reduced blood flow in the legs can be caused from arterial narrowing or fatty plaque accumulation.  Data analyzed from nearly 5,000 study participants found the greatest prevalence of PAD in participants with the lowest levels of vitamin D.

Source: Melamed ML, Munter P, Michos ED, Uribarri J, Weber C, Sharma J, Raggi P. Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Levels and the Prevalence of Peripheral Arterial Disease. Results from NHANES 2001 to 2004. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2008 Apr 16. Published online ahead of print.


Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School suggest that pre-menopausal women with the highest intakes of both calcium and Vitamin D, from dietary and supplemental sources, may lower their risk of developing breast cancer by nearly 40%.

Source: Lin J, Manson JE, Lee IM, Cook NR, Buring JE, Zhang SM. “Intakes of Calcium and Vitamin D and Breast Cancer Risk in Women”. Archives of internal Medicine. Volume 167, Number 10, Pages 1050-1059.


There are long term benefits for men who take a vitamin D-calcium combination supplement.  An Australian study reported that a combination of vitamin D3 and calcium saw increases in bone mineral density in senior men, and the effects were still evident 18 months after the cessation of supplementation.

Source: R.M. Daly, N. Petrass, S. Bass, C.A Nowson. The skeletal benefits of calcium and vitamin D3-fortified milk are sustained in older men after withdraw of supplementation: an 18-month follow-up study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. March 2008, Volume 87, Number 3, Pages 771-777.


Vitmamin D has been shown to have immune modulating effects in multiple sclerosis.  A review article in the Journal of Neuroimmunology concluded that vitamin D not only effected clinical outcomes of multiple sclerosis, but also enhanced regulatory T cell function.

Source: Smolders, J et al., Vitamin D as an immune modulator in multiple sclerosis, a review. J. Neuroimmunol. (2007), doi: 10.1016/j.jneuroim.2007.11.014


A study conducted by the Department of Rheumatology at Musgrave park Hospital in Belfast demonstrated the majority of fibromyalgia patients referred to a rheumatology clinic have insufficient levels of vitamin D, and there is a clear relationship between low vitamin D levels and high levels of anxiety and depression.

Source: ArmstrongD, Meenagh G, Bickle I, Lee A, Curran S, Finch M. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with anxiety and depression in fibromyalgia. Clinical Rheumatology (2007) 26:55 1-554


The 4 year study of nearly 1,200 healthy postmenopausal women (>55 yr) was a population-based, double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial.  When analyzed by intention to treat, cancer incidence was lower in the calcium & D women than in the placebo control subjects.  However, in multiple logistic regression models, both treatment and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations were signifcant, independent predictors of cancer risk.

Source: Lappe, J Et Al. Vitamin D and Calcium Supplementation Reduces Cancer Risk: Results of a Randomized Trial. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;85:1 586-91.


Vitamin D deficiency continues to be a problem for children and adults.  In utero and during childhood, vitamin D deficiency can cause growth retardation and skeletal deformities and may increase the risk of hip fracture later in life.  Vitamin D deficiency in adults can precipitate or exacerbate osteopenia and osteoporosis, cause osteomalacia and muscle weakness, and increase the risk of fracture.  It is now known that most tissues and cells in the body have a vitamin D receptor, and the role that vitamin D can play in decreasing the risk of many chronic illnesses such as common cancers, autoimmune diseases, infectious disease, and cardiovascular disease is of great interest.

Source: Holick, M. Vitamin D Deficiency. N Engl J Med 2007;357:266-81.


A study of 1,179 healthy postmenopausal women found a combination of calcium and vitamin D significantly reduced the risk of all cancer types.  Supplemental calcium alone was not a significant preventative, and serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D3 levels were determined to be a potent factor to predict cancer risk.

Source: Lappe J, Travers-GustafsonD, Davies KM, Recker R, and Heaney R. Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 85, No.6, 1586-1591, June 2007.

In Summary

Vitamin D has been shown to be very deficient, even in populations of people who live in a warm, sunny climate.  I routinely recommend 5,000 to 10,000 IUs to my patients with no reservation.  I test all of my patients’ blood levels to be sure we are not creating a toxicity and have yet to see a level too high.  The benefits are obvious as is the safety.  Vitamin D is safe to take and has immense health benefit.

2 Comments

Filed under Diet, Public Health

Let us know how often you get out and exercise….

Exercising is a huge key to physical and mental health.  It has also been shown to slow the aging process and ward off dementia.  Check back often to more helpful information regarding exercise.

1 Comment

Filed under Diet, Public Health