Tag Archives: Alternative medicine

Why do I have spasms and what do I do about them?


Why do I have spasms and what do I do about them?back-pain-921


There are many reasons you might have spasms and the hard, painful clenching of contracted muscle can hurt enough to wake you up in pain.  What you do is not the same for everyone


Overuse or overtraining can cause your body to go into spasm, especially if a nerve is involved.  This serves two purposes: it gives you temporary if somewhat distorted support and gets you to stop what you are doing.  Use an analgesic that reduces pain and moves blood like aspirin or Dr. Christopher’s Antispasmodic formula or a Chinese martial arts dit dat jiao trauma formula.


A dit dat jiao is a liniment or topical tincture made up of herbs that increase circulation (including microcirculation of the capillaries), release the muscle layer and relieve pain. If there is a lot of redness and swelling a cooling effect can be added with mint or menthol the first day since this relieves inflammation without the bad effects of ice.


There has been controversy about using ice when a spasm first starts.  Don’t.  In Chinese medicine ice has always been proscribed because it drives the pain in deeper while giving surface relief.  Blood can congeal (clot) deep inside, blocking the circulation necessary to nourish the tissue, so it takes longer to heal the spasm.  Heat both increases circulation and relaxes the spasm.  Western medicine has finally caught up with Chinese medicine, although some trainers and doctors have not yet caught up with the research.


Related to overuse is poor functional posture which over time stresses some muscles and produces weakness in others that ought to work together.  An example of this is “computer neck” where the SCM, trapezius and other neck muscles become rigid because the head is held too far forward.  Yoga, Pilates and MELT classes can work on correcting posture while structural integration can  separate conjoined fascia so that muscles can work independently. While nutrients and herbs can reduce pain it is important to improve the functional posture to eliminate the cause.


Lack of magnesium which is an endemic condition in America can also affect cramping. Dietary magnesium is down 50% in the last 30 years as soil has been depleted by industrial farming and erosion.  Oral magnesium is difficult to absorb and I have been able to reach good testable levels using Jigsaw Sustained Release capsules twice a day plus topical magnesium oil from the ancient Zechstein inland sea.  I also do periodic soaks in Epsom salts or Magnesium Chloride salts.


Lack of iron is also a cause of spasmodic leg shaking but should not be supplemented unless blood tests low.  The Chinese cure would be to eat liver for such Liver Wind conditions.


The widespread use of statins for cholesterol has led to a wholesale depletion in Ubiquinone (Coenzyme Q10,) the body’s natural antioxidant.  While statins have tested as useful for males who have had heart attacks, the usefulness for anyone else is unclear.  Cholesterol is the body’s natural bandage for inflamed arteries and is the building block of steroid hormones and brain tissue, so there are good reasons to not lower it.  Statin use is known to frequently lead to muscle pain and more rarely rhabdomyolysis, a severe condition which affects the muscles.  The most common signs and symptoms of rhabdomyolysis include:


  • Severe muscle aching throughout the entire body
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dark or cola-colored urine


The higher the dose of statins, the higher the risk of rhabdomyolysis becomes. The risk also increases when taken in combination with certain drugs.


Low B vitamins can also cause spasms. Try methylfolate instead of folic acid and methylcobalamin instead of normal B12, particularly if you know you have the MTHFR gene snip.  (If you don’t know I’d take these forms anyway.) Low doses three times a day are best and take a methylated B complex.


Although it does not seem intuitive, eating gluten can cause muscle and joint pains. Once the inflammatory proteins get past a leaky gut they circulate with the blood all over the body, causing pain


Diseases like Parkinson’s and Essential tremor can cause hard spasms due to the continual shaking.  Work on increasing liposomal glutathione, CoQ10, Vitamin C and Folate as well as a full component of minerals, detoxification and exercise.


Body work is very important. Deep massage, myofascial work, bonesetting tuina or chiropractic can make a great impact on nerve-related or muscle work.


Acupuncture is very good for spasms, on both a local and distal level.  It is not necessary to needle directly into a spasm, but if the spasm is not too hard or sensitive,



local needling can increase circulation into the spasm.  But needling on the opposite side, along the meridian or into special points can signal the brain to release muscles or endorphins.




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Is Your Blood Pressure High Enough?

English: Blood pressure measurement.
English: Blood pressure measurement. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For most of my life my blood pressure has been on the low side of normal.  Considering that fat people are told that this is desirable, I was never cautioned by a doctor that I might want my blood pressure at the higher end.  But several things caused me to wonder whether this conventional wisdom was valid.

When I was in college and stressed, I assumed that stress translated to hypertension and took a physical education class based on the ideas of Hans Selye using breathing to lower my blood pressure, which it did.  I realized that I always felt worse after class, dragging myself home and feeling sleepy for hours.

As a budding herbalist I learned that European doctors often diagnose and treat low blood pressure whereas US physicians rarely do.  I find no difference in official guidelines today where 90/60 is the accepted lower level except for trained athletes in both locales.  Unless one is in shock, fainting or frequently dizzy there is no official concern about low or borderline low blood pressure. Still American doctors are more concerned about hypertension than hypotension.

Wikipedia lists low blood pressure symptoms, many of which are related to causes rather than effects of hypotension:

  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • irregular heartbeat
  • fever higher than 38.3 °C (101 °F)
  • headache
  • stiff neck
  • severe upper back pain
  • cough with phlegm
  • prolonged diarrhea or vomiting
  • dyspepsia (indigestion)
  • dysuria (painful urination)
  • adverse effect of medications
  • acute, life-threatening allergic reaction
  • seizures
  • loss of consciousness
  • profound fatigue
  • temporary blurring or loss of vision
  • connective tissue disorder Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
  • Black tarry stools

When I was doing my EMT training on oxygen therapy it occurred to me that many of the symptoms I felt were symptoms associated with oxygen hunger.  Was it possible that with my borderline low blood pressure, blood wasn’t delivering enough oxygen to my brain?  After all blood needed to get through the contracted muscles and  herniated discs in my neck. This was reinforced by my experience in acupuncture class where walking briskly around the block during break kept me more alert than going across the street for hot coffee.

I propose that borderline low blood pressure which is currently classified as “asymptomatic” often leads to low brain oxygen, brain fog, cold and tingling extremities, and what we call in Chinese medicine yang deficiency.  It probably interferes in the desire to exercise, the levels of possible exercise and the benefits of exercising.  Chances are that it is a factor in at least some patterns of obesity.

Look for low capillary refill when you press on a fingernail. pulse oxymeter readings below 95%, cold hands and feet, brain fog, and poor memory.

Then there is the common sense issue. Obesity adds miles of blood vessels. For every ten pounds of fat gained, your heart has to pump blood through an additional 35 miles of blood vessels, and ten pounds of muscle has about 65 miles.  So it makes sense that some degree of elevated blood pressure might be needed to push nutrient and oxygenated blood through them.  Shouldn’t a 250 pound person have more pressure than a 150 pound person to get through an extra 550 miles of blood vessels?

Note I am not suggesting that the extra burden of pumping through blood vessels isn’t hard on the heart or kidneys. The negative cardiovascular effects of hypertension are well known.  What is less understood is the adverse effects of low blood circulation on the brain with lowered delivery of oxygen and other blood-borne nutrients.  In the obese, elevated blood pressure may be the body’s way of compensating for oxygenating extra mileage.

There is currently a special standard based on age but very little addressing constitution.  According to JAMA’s 2014 evidence-based guideline for the management of high blood pressure in adults: report from the panel members appointed to the Eighth Joint National Committee:

There is strong evidence to support treating hypertensive persons aged 60 years or older to a BP goal of less than 150/90 mm Hg and hypertensive persons 30 through 59 years of age to a diastolic goal of less than 90 mm Hg; however, there is insufficient evidence in hypertensive persons younger than 60 years for a systolic goal, or in those younger than 30 years for a diastolic goal, so the panel recommends a BP of less than 140/90 mm Hg for those groups based on expert opinion.

Still two persons of the same age might have different optimal blood pressures. One who demonstrates what Chinese medicine calls Heat- inflammation, red skin, rapid pulse and a scarlet tongue probably needs blood pressure controlled more vigorously than one who demonstrates Cold signs like cold extremities, a slow pulse, a pale tongue and pale skin.

I also need to point out that too-small blood-pressure cuffs in an increasingly obese population will tend to overdiagnose hypertension and will engender treatment when not needed.  IOW ask for a large cuff if you are heavy or you may make things worse.

This doesn’t mean that anything goes.  You don’t want to stroke out.  I am talking about expanding the marginal limits of what is acceptable in blood pressure standards at both ends.  In other words blood pressure should be high enough to circulate blood trough the tissue, and when it gets higher, an individualized consideration of how high is acceptable should be undertaken.

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Getting Through the Blood Brain Barrier

BBB and nose limbic systemPeople have been asking how the stem cells go past the blood brain barrier to get to the substantia nigra where dopamine is made. Stem cells are not supposed to be able to cross the BBB, which is why early stem cell treatment for Parkinson’s was not broadly successful.But it seems that the Blood Brain Barrier is less a barrier than a regulator which can at times be selective in what it lets through.Now it isn’t clear to me whether the stem cells actually go through the BBB or just signal cells on the other side but it does appear to make a significant difference clinically.  I think they do get through based on the research cited below.

 There are three primary sorts of barriers of the BBB, the vascular brain barrier, blood-CSF barrier, and the specialty CNS barriers such as the blood-retinal barrier.  They transport molecules in by pores, the opening of tight junctions and receptors. (1) One can also bypass the BBB by going through the nose or injecting directly into the cerebral spinal fluid. This even works for larger molecules like peptides and other proteins.(1) Injecting insulin through the nose has been helpful for Alzheimer’s for instance. And they injected stem cells into the middle turbinate of my nose as one form of administration. It was weird but topical lidocaine prevented pain.

BBB and junctions
Ways through the Blood Brain Barrier

However researchers also found that mannose IV infusions open pores in the BBB and increase enzyme passage 10 fold (2). In fact mannose infusion has become a standalone therapy as well as a way of getting drugs to the brain.

StemGenex, the center that performed my stem cell administration, started using mannose infusions long before they started using intranasal injection. It increased the success for neurological conditions. Their mannose solution increases the diameter of pores for 20 minutes, so it is immediately followed by injected and IV stem cell administration.

English: The Blood Brain Barrier and Astrocyte...
English: The Blood Brain Barrier and Astrocytes type 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you are academically inclined, the following articles give the science behind getting through the BBB. Our understanding of the BBB is growing every day.



And if you would be so kind as to help fund my Parkinson’s stem cell transplant: http://www.gofundme.com/eg4ymk

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Hyperbaric Oxygen?

Mhbot-howonday I started my pre-implant regimen of hyperbaric oxygen. This is recommended both before and after the stem cell implant. Fat cells, especially the swollen ones in the obese, are often oxygen-starved. The idea of pre-treatment is that the fat cells used to provide the stem cells will be less hypoxic with this treatment and therefore stronger, akin to those of a younger person.

An online friend, the late Dr. Ignacio Fogel, used to sing the praises of hyperbaric oxygen which he used for patients and the Argentine Olympic team alike. At the time the only hyperbaric oxygen I could find was in hospitals, often used for nonhealing sores or scuba diving accidents. Today, with the advent of portable units there are a variety of units in medical practices and spas. I’m a little afraid of claustrophobia, but I have had a hunger for oxygen since my EMT training days.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy puts oxygen in your fluids in a concentration that differs from say deep breathing exercises, an oxygen bar (which just uses compressed air) or oxygen tanks. The increased oxygen in the blood and body fluids bathes your cells with extra oxygen and has an anti-inflammatory effect on the par with 40 Motrin without the side effects. Apparently President Reagan used it to treat his cancer.

I promised to document both the positives and negatives.  I called Downtown PMR which had a lie down chamber that looked like the blue one illustrated. A delightful young lady gave me forms to fill out and agreed to tell the doctor that I had awakened with some vertigo and suffer from mild claustrophobia.

The chamber was an inflatable blue vinyl lie-down chamber with two small portholes near the head. It has the ability to go to 1.5ATA or the equivalent of 7.35 pounds per square inch of pressure. That is about the equivalent of diving 15 feet down, but without the scenery. There are hyperbaric chambers that only go to 3psi, but less oxygen gets into your plasma. And hospital chambers get more pressure and higher oxygen than the 80% used here, but are available only for limited uses. You spend an hour and twenty minutes in the chamber, with one hour at full pressure.  Most independent places charge $100-$120 per session.

The way it usually works is that most of the oxygen circulating in your blood is carried by hemoglobin with a small amount in the plasma. Under atmospheric pressure the oxygen gets smaller, more concentrated and significantly permeates the plasma, so you have much more circulating oxygen after a chamber session or “dive”.hyperbaric-oxygen-therapy

The size was about 7 feet long but no more than 36″ in diameter, perfect for a tall skinny person. (They say a child could sit at one end but it would need to be a tiny child and I’m betting the illustration is of a larger chamber than this was.) The oxygen comes in through a face mask but the chamber is inflated and pressurized with air. You are zipped in and a bunch of oversized seatbelts are attached around the chamber. There is an inside zipper for emergency exits but an attendant would need to unlatch the belts.

They suggested chewing gum or airplane earplugs to help clear the ears. (It might be good to have suggested bringing it in advance!) You can read although the light isn’t very good but no electronics or batteries are allowed around the oxygen which meant no music, cell phone or hypnosis mp3s.

The PT promised to stay in the room and told me that she would stay in the room and would check on me. All I needed to do was to bang on the side of the chamber. Given that a woman was unable to get out of a chamber at a spa in Chelsea earlier this year without an illicit (and potentially dangerous) phone call for help I expected they would be vigilant.

The chamber seemed like an oversized sleeping bag but did expand as it inflated. It was pretty dark since the vinyl was blue (there is a white unit on the market that is translucent and more expensive hard sided plexiglass units.) The noise was loud but not intolerable.

My claustrophobia did kick in. I did a lot of yoga breathing, tried going to my favorite hypnosis imagery, read a little from two different books, tried to sleep and made a conscious effort to keep my mind in the present. The PT had stopped checking on me and I could tell she wasn’t in the room since the only chair out of sight was full of my clothing and backpack. To be fair there was nothing much for her to do there and she probably had the door open. But when I started banging on the side so I could find out how much time I had left, she was nowhere to be found. By the time she showed up I only had 5 minutes left but was in no mood to stay. It hyperbaric belltook several minutes to depressurize.

These are the things that would have made it better: a translucent unit or one with larger portholes. A clock within sight of the unit would have helped me calibrate my energy. Music or video just outside the unit would have distracted me. An attendant with work to do in the room would have helped when I needed assistance. And since the oxygen was drying, I should have had something to drink either before or during the dive. And for me, not wanting to trigger claustrophobia, a seated “diving bell” style unit would have been better, just as I always use a Standup MRI when I need an MRI.

Now I am sorry that my diving certification lapsed because I’d rather scuba dive to compress the oxygen!

However if you know of a sit-up hyperbaric chamber around NYC, let me know.

If I can’t find one I might be back, sedated with skullcap and kava, bearing a clock and an iPad with music to play outside of the window.  Or perhaps with a dog to share the chamber with.

hbot dog………………………………………………………….
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