Category Archives: Pain Management
When you hear someone talk about inflammation, you might think of pain, swelling and redness in the case of acute inflammation. Chronic inflammation, however, is a different story. That’s what we’ll be exploring here.
Inflammation is the body’s natural healing response to an injury, an important aspect in the repair process! In acute inflammation, white blood cells bombard the trauma site to kick start the healing process. You might feel the effects of acute inflammation in the case of an allergic reaction or injury that causes trauma to the body.
Chronic (also known as systemic) inflammation involves ongoing stimulation of the body’s normal healing process. For example, white blood cells can speed to areas that are tipped off by simply breathing in environmental toxins or carrying excess fat in one’s midsection. If this process continues, permanent tissue damage can result and bring on the need for other treatments – think Hashimoto’s Disease, where inflammation launches an attack on a perfectly healthy thyroid gland and damages it to the point where medication is needed.
One of the more dangerous forms of chronic inflammation is atherosclerosis. The body perceives a buildup of plaque in the arteries as a foreign invader, then it attempts to create a barrier between the plaque and blood flowing through them. If the barrier breaks down, the plaque breaks up and mixes with the blood, creating a clot. These clots are what cause heart attacks and most strokes.
Chronic inflammation is also associated with diseases that cause wear and tear on the body like rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, lupus, Crohn’s and inflammatory bowel disease.
As in acute inflammation, the body perceives that a threat is present and white blood cells are sent to start the healing process. But if there is no injury, white blood cells just build up and direct their attack on healthy organs, tissues or cells. We can’t feel the inflammatory response so we have no way of knowing it’s happening until the damage is done. Heart disease is one example of this type of persistent inflammation.
The Role of Cytokines
If you’ve read up on inflammation, you would have surely come across the term cytokines, as they play a very important role in the inflammatory process.
The immune system uses a type of protein, or cytokine, to act as a chemical messenger to regulate the immune response. Cytokines released from immune cells bind to receptors on other cells with messages on what functions to perform – kind of like a general giving an order to his soldiers. Chemokines, interferons, interleukins, lymphokines and tumour necrosis factor are different types of cytokines that step in to fight various inflammatory diseases.
While we can’t feel chronic inflammation happening in our body, scientists tell us it’s there in varying degrees in every single person. It can be wreaking havoc on our organs and we don’t even know it. So assuming chronic inflammation is present in all of us, it makes sense to take steps to combat it. Turns out it all comes down to lifestyle.
Foods to Avoid
No surprise experts advise to cut out refined carbohydrates like white flour and sugar. Deep fried foods like French fries are another one to cross off your list. Red meat and processed meats like hot dogs and sausage, high-sugar beverages like juices and sodas and margarine, shortening and lard are also important to avoid. All of these foods accelerate the inflammation process.
Foods that Combat Inflammation
The list of anti-inflammatory foods reads like a typical Mediterranean diet: tomatoes, olive oil, almonds and walnuts, leafy greens, fatty fish like salmon, sardines and tuna and a host of fruits like blueberries, strawberries, oranges and cherries (organic of course!) are all must-adds to your daily diet.
Heal Your Gut
If the walls of your gut, or digestive system, aren’t woven tight enough to prevent bacteria, toxins and undigested food particles from passing through to the bloodstream, inflammation can result. In fact, the gut has the highest concentration of immune cells in the body. Again, diet plays an important role in healing a leaky gut as do prebiotic and probiotic supplements.
Reduce Stress, Increase Sleep
We all know stress can make us ill, but eliminating the things that put us on edge is important when it comes to minimizing chronic inflammation. Yoga, meditation or taking long walks can help diffuse a heavy stress load. Studies show that sleep deprivation prompts an increase in inflammatory hormone production, so get your Zs! 
The Role of Antioxidants
Free radicals play a part in promoting chronic inflammation that results in damaged tissues. They come from pesticides, fried and burnt foods, microwave cooked foods, trans-fats, hydrogenated oils and countless chemicals and preservatives that are inhaled or absorbed through our skin. Antioxidants can neutralize free radicals before they can harm healthy tissue.
A good-quality, well-rounded immune supplement can help protect against chronic inflammation. CanPrev’s Immuno Multi is an advanced daily multivitamin and multi antioxidant that is specially formulated to neutralize free radicals and combat chronic inflammation. Immuno Multi in conjunction with a healthy diet, moderate exercise, stress reduction and adequate sleep is a comprehensive approach to chronic inflammation busting.
For when chronic inflammation hits your body which could land anywhere like the joints, heart, and bowels, it would not be a pleasant experience. Try these preventive measures and tips that lead to a healthier lifestyle.
Referenced Studies & Content
What Is It?
Selenium is a trace mineral naturally occurring in the soil, in certain foods, and very small amounts can be found in natural water sources.
Selenium’s main role is acting as an antioxidant and has many benefits to the body. Selenium is also a chief component of the molecules which are necessary for your body to be able to create and use thyroid hormones, called ‘selenoproteins’.
The top health benefits of Selenium include:
- regulating the thyroid
- boosting immunity
- reducing asthma symptoms
- supporting fertility for both men & women
- defending against heart disease, cancer, and oxidative stress
- increasing longevity
Antioxidants like vitamins A, C, E, and minerals like Zinc, Manganese, and Selenium are key in facilitating the phase I and phase II detoxification processes in the liver.
Selenium also plays an important role in prostate health, helping to maintain healthy levels of Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) which is the marker for prostate cancer.
More on the Benefits of Selenium
→ ANTIOXIDANT POWER, IMMUNE-BOOSTING & CANCER PREVENTION
Selenium acts as a powerful antioxidant and defends against oxidative stress. There is also a strong correlation between serum levels of Selenium and a reduced risk of several types of cancer.
Studies show that foods high in Selenium may prevent cancer by helping with DNA repair, preventing cancer cells from replicating and by reducing free radicals in the body .
This mineral is such an important factor in supporting the immune system that it’s a key ingredient in our Immuno Multi formula.
→ HEART HEALTH & REDUCED INFLAMMATION
Selenium-rich foods (and the selenoproteins that they help form) can also prevent platelets from aggregating (which improves blood flow), prevent oxidative damage to cells (e.g. prevent the oxidative modification of lipids) thereby reducing inflammation and lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease .
People with low levels of serum Selenium have been shown to be at higher risk of cardiovascular disease. For these reasons, experts have suggested that Selenium supplements could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease or deaths associated with cardiovascular disease.
→ REGULATES THYROID FUNCTION
Selenium is probably most well-known for its role in maintaining thyroid health since it works together closely with Iodine – another important trace mineral.
Concentrations of Selenium are higher in the thyroid gland than anywhere else in the body. It helps to regulate and recycle our Iodine stores and is needed to produce the critical thyroid hormone T3, which regulates metabolism.
‘Selenoproteins’ protect the thyroid gland when we are under stress. They help flush out oxidative and chemical stress, and even social stress – which, as most of us have experienced, can cause many negative reactions in our body.
Signs, Symptoms, and Causes of Selenium Deficiency
A selenium deficiency is generally observed in areas where the soil does not contain much of it and the mineral content in soil can differ dramatically depending on location.
Even in food sources, the amount of Selenium is largely dependent on soil conditions that the food grew in. Therefore, even within the same food, levels of selenium can vary widely, and the mineral’s benefits may be more prominent in crops grown in certain locations more so than others.
Health Experts are becoming increasingly concerned as evidence suggests that a decline in blood Selenium levels is occurring in parts of the U.K. and other European Union countries. The worry is with several potential health implications that can result due to a deficiency in this mineral.
Selenium deficiency signs & symptoms include:
- Muscle pain or weakness
- Discolouration of hair or skin
- Whitening of the fingernail beds
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Weakened immune system
- Infertility in men and women
- Cognitive decline
While Selenium deficiency is very rare in Canada and the United States (unlike other nutrient deficiencies that are more common) it is certainly wise to ensure you’re getting enough.
There are some people who do, in fact, have a Selenium deficiency due to a poor diet and conditions like Crohn’s disease that impair absorption of the nutrients your body needs to heal and thrive.
Additionally, many studies tell us that having Selenium levels above the RDI (recommended daily intake) is when it starts to have therapeutic effects, like lowering PSA for example.
Best food sources of Selenium
- Brazil nuts (just 1-2 per day provides you with enough Selenium!)
- Yellowfin tuna
- Grass-fed beef
- Beef liver
- Sunflower seeds
- Chia seeds
While it’s important to try to acquire Selenium through quality food sources, you may not be getting enough (except if you’re eating a Brazil nut a day!) – and supplementation may be a wise choice.
Sources & Referenced Content:
 National Institutes of Health “Selenium: Fact Sheet for Professionals”
 The Lancet Journal 2012 “Selenium and Human Health”
Here at CanPrev, we are all about our community. Because without a platform to connect with individuals – we cannot learn, grow, educate, motivate or inspire. That’s where our ambassadors come in. These individuals are dedicated to living life to the fullest! They are continually learning and growing, sharing their knowledge and experience, in hopes to motivate another and let inspiration, by default, move more and more individuals forward.
For anyone who has thought about giving up on achieving better health – look to these individuals for inspiration in order to improve the quality of your life. Their collective goal is always to offer inspiration and to be a catalyst in spreading CanPrev’s healthy lifestyle vibe across the nation!
Meet Joseph Cheung Registered Massage Therapist and Structural Integrator
At age 30, his father passed away from cancer. At the time he had been working as a corporate accountant for 6 years. He realized that life is too short to not do what you love — so he decided to take a leap of faith and pursue his passion for manual therapy and movement. He had studied many movement disciplines throughout his life such as martial arts, traditional strength training, and tai chi. But when he left the corporate world he traveled abroad to study structural integration (of anatomy) under the legendary Tom Myers, the originator of the Anatomy Trains Myofascial Meridians. This training coupled with his background in different movement modalities ensures his practice as a therapist today, is uniquely tailored to the individual.
Words From The Therapist
I am grateful to work with a fantastic team of fitness professionals and therapists at Myodetox and am grateful for the amazing clients I get to interact with and help daily. I feel blessed every morning I wake up – I truly love what I do and to add to that – I get to help others feel better!
Everyone has control over their lives and should take their health into their own hands. Without your health, nothing else matters. Living a preventative lifestyle is necessary for finding your best health — that is what CanPrev life is all about!
Why He Chooses to Live a Healthy Lifestyle
I love to move and practice Martial Arts. Watching my dad fall ill, and seeing my clients come in with different health concerns reminds me to take care of myself so I can be the best that I can be, and live a long, healthy life.
You Can Prevent
I love using Mens CORE a plant-based protein with a multivitamin and mineral component to it for extra support. I also love using Adrenal-Pro™. I see dozens of clients every week and I need to be able to interact with them, give them an amazing experience, but also let myself rest and recover. These products help me do just that.
My wife Jessie and I plan to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in January 2018, and we will definitely be packing some CORE travel packs with us and Adrenal-Pro! We will probably take along some Joint-Pro as well, to save our knees!
Meet other CanPrev ambassadors:
If you suffer from joint pain, then you know from experience just how painful and immobilizing it can be.
However, by eating the rights foods and taking the correct supplements, you can prevent joint pain from arising and help manage inflammation that can make joint conditions worse. This preventative approach to maintaining healthy joints – can help keep you enjoying the physical activities you love the most, for a long time to come!
Foods That Promote Good Joint Health
One of the best remedies for helping to alleviate or preventing joint pain is eating the rights foods. Generally speaking, these are foods that are high in nutrients like Vitamin D, Omega-3 fatty acids and foods with antioxidant properties. Joint pain is almost always associated with inflammation and swelling, so foods that have anti-inflammatory qualities like dark leafy greens, dark berries and spices are always a good choice too!
Some of the best foods to eat if you want to reap the benefits of these nutrients are fatty fish like herring, cod, sardines and wild salmon. Nuts like walnuts and almonds and seeds like pumpkin and ground flax – can be great anti-inflammatory food choices too!
Some other great foods to include in your diet to maintain healthy and pain-free joints are cauliflower, broccoli, onions, leeks, cherries, pineapple, papaya, kiwis, lemons and other citrus fruit, ginger, squash, mushrooms and sweet peppers.
What Should I Avoid?
There are also foods to avoid when you suffer from joint pain and discomfort. Some foods contain inflammatory qualities, which cause or aggravate joint pain and swelling. The major triggers are alcohol, sugar, fried food, meats from grain fed animals, wheat, trans-saturated fats, and sodas. Try to avoid these foods to keep painful flare-ups away and limit discomfort.
Supplements that prevent or offer relief from joint pain and discomfort
Getting all the nutrients required to promote good joint health from your diet alone, is ideal. However, this is not always possible! With the fast-paced, busy lifestyles we lead today it is hard to get enough nutrients from our food to meet nutrient amounts associated with a helpful decline in degenerative conditions.
This is where nutritional supplements for joint health come in. As always, before taking any new natural healthcare product, you should consult your doctor or pharmacist about any potential contraindications.
Glucosamine – Glucosamine is a compound that supplies the joints in your body with the materials they need to heal damage resulting from joint injury or osteoarthritis. In particular, glucosamine sulfate is required by your body to manufacture a certain essential mucopolysaccharide found in joint cartilage. The good news is that it glucosamine is absorbed by your body quickly and easily.
Chondroitin Sulfate – this compound is another major ingredient of joint cartilage, specifically, it acts as the connective tissue between the tough protein strands that makes your cartilage elastic and stretchy as well as strong. Studies suggest it may promote healing and rebuilding of bone, and is effective in relieving symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) – this is another raw material that the body utilizes in order to build cartilage. In particular, it is an ingredient of the structural proteins found in your skin, hair — and joints – and is an abundant source of sulfur – which is a key component of collagen, which helps from cartilage. Studies suggest that MSM could be just as effective in the treatment of arthritis as the aforementioned supplements.
Calcium – did you know that calcium is the most frequently occurring mineral in your body? Most of it is situated in the bones and teeth – so if you want to maintain healthy bones and prevent osteoarthritis, then a good calcium supplement is the way to go.
Vitamin C – this substance is most well known as an antioxidant, which protects the body from roaming free radicals, but it also has a role to play in maintaining strong connective tissue, including the bones, tendons, and ligaments that make up your body’s joints. It is also needed to make collagen, an essential part of the cartilage lining your joints.
Curcumin – is a phytochemical derived from the spice turmeric. For thousands of years, turmeric has been one of the most commonly prescribed Ayurvedic remedies to relieve joint-related inflammation. Curcuminoids in turmeric slow the enzymes that cause inflammation and give the spice it’s bright yellow colour.
It’s standard practice to recommend clients use ice anywhere up to 48 hours after an injury and anytime they feel inflammation.
Personally, I don’t follow this practice and neither does Dr. Gabe Mirkin, the gentleman who created the acronym RICE. In an athletic injuries course that I took at the University of Western Ontario, the following rationale was given.
The case against ice
When an injury occurs, metabolites involved in healing are released, which impede the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients to the site of injury.
That same tissue is “starving” for oxygen and if it doesn’t get it, the tissue will die or will be severely injured for the long haul. My thinking (some of which evidence is now supporting) is as follows:
- Inflammation is critical to the healing process, so by icing you’re actually impeding that process.
- If a tissue is starving for oxygen after damage, why wouldn’t you increase the oxygen supply by promoting blood flow to that area? Heat promotes blood flow; therefore promoting oxygen and nutrients to the damaged tissue.
- Muscles shorten in cold (just as humans shiver and curl up to stay warm) and so any tearing or straining might be exacerbated by applying cold.
The rise in popularity
I believe that icing became popular for two reasons:
Professional sports: In any given sports season, there are a number of games that an elite athlete has to be ready to play. By icing the area, the athlete temporarily achieves enough comfort to complete the game and ultimately finish out the season, before taking care of the rehabilitation thoroughly in the off-season.
Discomfort: Swelling is incredibly uncomfortable and so icing helps to temporarily relieve that discomfort, but it does not help the healing process in any way.
The opposite approach
For the long-term it would be much better – and I think we’ll see it come out in literature in the next few years – to heat the injured area.
Allowing continuous blood flow through the application of heat will reduce the seizing or shortening of muscles that would make them more difficult to reattach, should there be a tear or strain of any degree.
The application of heat also allows the damaged tissue to be flushed out, while replacing it with oxygen and nutrients resulting in new, healthy tissue.
Shayne Glass-Smith, B. Kin (Hons.) earned his Honours degree in Kinesiology from Western University in 2009. Since then, he has worked at several physiotherapy clinics in London, Ontario and Toronto, Ontario. He currently lives in Edmonton, Alberta and is working toward becoming a physiotherapist. In his spare time, he enjoys playing basketball, volleyball and weightlifting.
What do belly breathing, alternate nostril breathing, singing, chanting, deep slow breathing (DSB) and other forms of resistance breathing all have in common? Interestingly enough, incorporating one or more of these types of breathing at the first sign of pain can greatly help with providing relief.
As correlations are now being made between maladaptive biological memories and changes in tissue and nervous systems, as well as chronic conditions like fibromyalgia, PTSD and joint and nerve pain, the connection between breathing techniques and healing mechanisms are becoming more widely accepted.
Medical doctors, neuroscientists, sports therapists and health professionals everywhere are now discovering the immeasurable healing effects that deep breathing practices can have on clinical and ongoing chronic pain.
An inside look at pain
The stress response that is activated when we experience trauma or stress for short or long periods of time can manifest sensations in the tissues and eventually in the nerves themselves.
When this happens, allodynia, the term used to describe pain produced by an innocuous stimuli, rises. Wherever these changes in tissue occur, small fibres of the periphery nerves learn to respond to non-painful stimuli and perceive them as hurtful.
We know that with chronic pain, the stimuli does not have to be present for pain to be felt. In the case of neurological pain, like shingles, multiple sclerosis, phantom limb pain, diabetic neuropathy and fibromyalgia, pain can be felt inconsistently depending on how and when the patient moves and where the pain is located.
The effects of chronic pain
It’s important to mention that not all pain is bad; we need acute pain to act as a physiological warning sign. Chronic pain, however, which is often associated with inflammatory diseases like arthritis and cancer, is a more complex concept.
The inflammatory response launched by a stressed nervous system creates a cascade of events that further harm our biological portfolio and change the chemistry of our tissues.
When tissue is damaged, nerve fibres are affected, too. The body is able to sense tissue damage when destroyed cells release chemical substances like prostaglandins and histamines, which adds to the stress load of our body’s biological terrain.
Cells, membranes and enzymes are destroyed, basically creating disaster at a cellular level that affects our terrain, sometimes permanently.
Biochemical individuality plays a huge role in chronic pain, and we all have a unique portfolio based on our past experiences that make pain subjective, and for the most part, healing methods as well.
Breathe deep for best results
Deep breathing results in greater oxygen and nutrient delivery because air is drawn deep into the pockets of the lungs, which is where the greatest amount of blood flow occurs. As a result, there may be an increase in energy levels and an improvement in stamina during physical activity.
There are also times when severe pain can bring on fatigue; short chest breaths from living in an anxious or fight-or-flight state can lead to the fatigue of ischemic tissue. When the breath is slowed and deepened, ischemia may disappear and blood supply may be restored.
When tissue becomes less acidic, nutrients become more accessible, energy levels increase and the stress response system becomes more resilient, leaving the sufferer with less wear and tear on the body and an overall more flexible cardiovascular system.
It’s not just our lungs that can benefit from deep breathing
Neuroanatomist Bud Craig developed a theory based on interoception, which explores whether internal organs and tissues have their own feelings that create sensations.
He hypothesizes that since sensations travel from the body up to the brain through the vagus nerve, perhaps our organs can experience feelings of anxiety, stress, exhaustion and pain, too.
If this is true, then maybe our organs and internal body can benefit from a deep breathing practice just as much as our minds would.
Revisiting the ancient art of deep breathing to manage pain
Throughout history, many great healers focused on breathing techniques and realized the power that the respiratory system has on our health. Any dedicated yogi or yogini will point out the great difference between breathing and conscious deep breathing.
Breathing deeply and consciously offers us a chance to seek clarity, be present, steady the mind, sway our perception, and heal by means of changing tissue pH at a cellular level, thereby decreasing inflammation and restoring balance to our nervous systems.
Skeptics may say that we have been breathing our whole lives and techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing or Lamaze breath act simply as distractions. Even if this is true, anyone in real pain will tell you that it’s still better to participate in the breathing exercise rather than focus on the pain itself.
It’s also interesting to note that babies, whose brains and emotional and cognitive abilities haven’t yet fully developed, breathe more deeply than adults. They’ve got the hang of deep breathing, naturally!
As effective as taking a pill?
We have endogenous mechanisms in our bodies that help us to manage pain, like our large peripheral nerves and our opioid systems, which involve endorphins.
It’s thought that deep breathing may have an effect on increasing one’s production of endorphins, which may help block nerve cells from releasing pain signals to the brain and provide some relief when experiencing acute or chronic pain.
A simple deep breathing exercise for you to try
Here’s an extremely simple breathing technique that can be done almost anywhere: Take a large, exaggerated breath from deep in the belly. Count to five, inhaling through the nose and count to five again on the exhale, blowing out through the mouth. Try to lie in a supine position, if possible. Complete five sets, five to 10 times a day for best pain relief results.
Experiment with different breathing techniques; there are a wide range of practices offered, so suggest they find one that’s comfortable for them and prescribe it as a daily ritual.
Deep breathing not only brings relief from mental, emotional and physical pain, but can also improve mental and physical performance, increase blood flow and reduce tension in the body and mind.
Jenna Mangan is a fitness buff, yoga instructor and Certified Nutritional Practitioner from Toronto. She is also a CanPrev brand ambassador.
Have you, or someone you know, dealt with chronic pain? Has deep breathing ever been a part of treatment? Has there been any success? We want to know! Share your stories with us in the comments below, or contact us!