I’ve had ankylosing spondylosis (AS) for 10+ years, and I took aspirin and analgesics for the first couple of years. I stopped when my stomach started getting irritated. About seven years ago, a homeopathic doctor friend of mine, Dr. Abram Ber, told me to try the spice turmeric root (active ingredient is curcumin), and I’ve been taking it ever since. It’s really helped with my inflammation and my gut-I’ve blogged about turmeric several times. It appears that I’m not the only one to benefit from turmeric. In a new study, rheumatoid arthritis patients reported that it helped relieve morning pain and stiffness. The recommended dosage is 500 mg, three times daily. Personally, I take a heaping tablespoon with three ounces of acai juice and five ounces of H2O. I but a five-pound bag of organic turmeric root powder from Frontier coop-it’s very reasonably priced. One caution: Taking curcumin with blood thinners can increase the risk for bleeding. Another natural analgesic is Boswelia, a tree found in India, Africa, and the Middle East. Boswelia has a milky white sap that inhibit the body’s production of inflammatory molecules. A study looked at patients with osteoarthritis of the knee and found that Boswelia relieved pain and stiffness as well as the drug valdecoxib (Bextra), which has been withdrawn from the market because of side effects. A small number of users experience digestive upset. If that happens, reduce the amount. If you don’t start feeling better within 48 hours, stop taking it. If you are taking it for chronic pain, give it two weeks. Dosage is 750 mg two to three times daily during flare-ups.

I know several people who suffer from heartburn, and take prilosec, nexium, or other proton-pump inhibitors, which block stomach acid formation. While this may relieve symptoms, there is a trade-off. By blocking stomach acid, you reduce good digestion-minerals need the acid to get assimilated. Enter melatonin, a supplement often used to promote sleep, is also effective for heartburn. A study published in the Journal of Pharmacology found that melatonin reduces the amount of stomach acid without totally blocking it. Dosage is 3 to 6 mg, taken at bedtime. To fight influenza, boost your immune system. Start in early October with these two natural remedies: 1) Influenzium, a homeopathic remedy. The makers of influenzium reformulate it every year based on the flu viruses that are expected to predominate. Dosage: 3 pellets of a 9C potency dissolved under the tongue , once a week for 6 weeks. 2) N-acetylcysteine (NAC), is a powerful antioxidant that reduces both the chance you will get sick and the severity of the symptoms if you do get sick. An Italian study found that only 25% of older people who were injected with the flu virus after taking NAC for 6 months experienced flu symptoms, compared to 79% who took a placebo. Dosage is 1,000 mg daily from October through April. If you get the flu, increase the dose to 4,000 mg. I’ve been taking NAC (600 mg sustained release) for several years. NAC converts to cysteine in the body, and is the most helpful antioxidant for liver detoxification, which most of us need.

Fight colds with pelargonium sidoides (PS), a South African plant. PS has been tested in more than 20 clinical studies. It relieves congestion, sore throat, and other cold symptoms, much better that the often ineffective over-the-counter medicines. PS is available in syrups, lozenges, capsules, and tablets. Follow the dosing instructions on the label.

Nature has designed a trove of disease-fighting plants. To learn more about nature’s bounty, look up Mark Stengler, NMD. Dr. Stengler is founder of Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine in Encinitas, CA. He has also served on a medical advisory committee for the Yale University Complementary Medicine Outcomes Research Project, and has coauthored a book titled The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies (Bottom Line Books).

Finally, a study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, and cited in the Bottom Line Personal newsletter, found that active, post-menopausal women were 16% to 31% less likely than sedentary women to develop kidney stones over an 8 year period. Maximum effects were found at the equivalent of three hours a week of moderate-paced walking, one hour of moderate-paced jogging, or four hours of light gardening.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M. S.