I will write a few posts on how I addressed sciatic nerve pain after a microdiscectomy procedure on my L5 S1 lumbar disk. I was severely debilitated early this year with a serious disc herniation. After physical therapy and steroid injections in my spine, I had to undergo the surgical procedure. The procedure got me walking again, but I had a long recovery to regain strength,health and to make the sciatic pain completely disappear. Soon after surgery, you are often put on powerful anti-inflammatory medication. However, eventually the prescriptions will run out and you’ll be on your own to deal when the pain returns after a long day or over doing physical activity.
Fortunately, I found some great supplements that removed any lingering pains immediately.
The first combo of supplements I want to talk about is alpha lipoic acid (ALA) and propionyl L- Carnitine (PLC).
After taking 600 mg of ALA and about 2 grams of PLC, the lingering pains were dulled almost immediately. I was able to step up my exercising with renewed confidence and have been doing well since.
There were some other supplements that I cycle on and off with PLC/ALA, however, PLC/ALA was the first combo that I tried that had a measurable and immediate effect.
You can get ALA and it’s stronger (more expensive) version RLA at this link:
PLC is really hard to find. I found a chinese factory on Alibaba that was able to ship me a kilo of the supplement at a very reasonable price. Contact me for details if you are interested in contacting them.
As you may have read in earlier posts, I suffered a pretty serious disc herniation in my lumbar spine. Conservative treatments didn’t provide relief. I tried physical therapy, chiropractic, TENS, ultrasound, therapeutic lasers, heat, icing, waiting, massage and finally epidural steroid injections. Nothing could help the debilitating pain going down the leg. Conventional pain killers don’t seem to help nerve pain. When something is pressing on that sciatic nerve, there is nothing that will relieve the pain. There is no way to convey what the pain is like. I could use words to describe the pain, but nothing can translate the non-stop crippling pain. This type of pain affects your whole system–spiritual, emotional and physical. Think of people you know that are in this kind of pain. They can’t concentrate, they are emotional and vulnerable. Think about attending a really loud concert and then it never ending..in fact going on for months and you can’t get relief from the loud sound. Maybe that describes it.
In either case, I opted for the microdiscectomy. Immediate relief from that crazy pain. I wondered what surgery pain was going to be like. It’s nothing compared to crippling sciatic pain. For those who are about to have the procedure and are worried about the surgery pain like I was, you will be given some pain killer to make it through the first few days. Just take the pain killer. You’ll just feel a little sore. But it’s a totally manageable pain with specific boundaries. You’ll be stiff for a couple weeks but everyday..I mean every day brings measurable relief.
There will be some aches and pains here and there that resemble the sciatic pain–mostly in the evening when you’re tired, but it goes away quickly. Any doctor will tell you it could take weeks if not months for the nerve to heal from the trauma of being pressed on for so long and then getting freed up during surgery. Don’t worry about it. It will take weeks to get back to normal. No bending, lifting or twisting for 6 weeks and restrictions on how much you can lift etc. Every doctor will have a different recommendation or approach, but it’s best to take it really slow and just walk for the first few weeks.
Recovery will take time and you will need help. The worse part is having patience because you won’t be able to do things for awhile and battling feelings of loneliness and helplessness. Just keep thinking about when you’ll be up and running better than ever!
Here’s what I’ve been taking to speed up healing based on research and some common sense:
Collagen powder mixed with frozen fruit 1 to 2 times per day
Emergen C (has vitamins and minerals besides vitamin C)
Glucosamine/Chondroitin Sulfate/MSM combo
Theanine (to help with mood)
Grapeseed extract with CoQ10
B complex vitamin
Grass Fed dairy
Cod Liver and Cod Liver Oil
Now obviously I can’t have all of this everyday, but I’m taking as much as possible.
My heart goes out to those who have had to suffer through the pain of a disc herniation. Many times people will have a disc bulge or a disc herniation and experience no real symptoms. However, sometimes the herniation presses on a nerve and it can cause unrelenting and debilitating pain.
Many of us read stories about acute and chronic pain and don’t really understand what it means. For people who do experience it, it’s almost like a private members only club. The pain from a disc herniation can be unrelenting and it’s not really helped with prescription pain killers. Especially when the pain radiates to other parts of the body like the legs and arms, it’s crippling. Imagine being in searing pain constantly and being unable to move for months.
It happened to me. In a panic, I had to call an ambulance to take me to the emergency room. They injected me and filled me up with pain killers and I was still unable to walk. It’s been a couple months and I’m still dealing with it. Things we take for granted like getting in and out of bed or a car are almost impossible. Getting into the car is so painful, it’s like being asked which finger you want broken before you go out for the day.
Here are some random things I learned that I hope can save someone time and help heal faster.
First, you need an MRI to diagnose a disc herniation. At the emergency room, they took an x-ray and a CAT scan and told me i was pretty much ok, maybe just some soft tissue injury. It would have been nice to know that based on my symptoms, a visit to an orthopedist and an MRI would be helpful. I spent about three weeks afterwards being treated by a well meaning physical therapist for piriformis syndrome. The stretching and exercises made things worse!! Lesson 1..if you throw your back out or feel pain radiating to your sacrum, butt, legs, toes, shoulders, elbows, hands..get an MRI. Be careful with chiropractors, physical therapists and massage therapists. Xrays and Cat only rule out obvious things like fractures.
Second, your diet affects your pain levels. I noticed I had an uptick in pain after every meal. I very soon made the connection between carbohydrates and other inflammatory foods and pain immediately after eating. I was able to drop my pain levels considerably by adopting a low carb diet. I eat grass fed meats and seafood and it helps immediately. I’ve tested it several times. Something interesting I found was that grass fed yogurt made me feel a lot less pain then regular yogurt. That was very interesting. But the best thing I did was cut out dairy and grains (carbs) and I don’t feel any pain after I eat. This was a big discovery for me and is helping a lot.
Third, you can reduce your pain levels by eating a lot of ginger. I put a tablespoon of powdered ginger in my black coffee in the morning. The coffee is inflammatory and hurts, but the ginger overrides it. I was able to reduce my reliance on ibuprofen by getting raw ginger in smoothies and adding powdered ginger to my coffee.
I use the magic bullet to make smoothies. The magic bullet was the best 90 bucks I ever spent in my life. I use it daily and it gets me my vegetables and other supplements very easily.
The pain from something like a disc herniation is unbearable. It also takes a really long time to heal. This long healing time takes a toll on family and friends. Someone suffering from this pain feels isolated, stranded and very lonely. The emotional toll on someone feeling chronic pain is never really talked about but is very serious. It can literally destroy a person’s life.
Walking vs Running?
Check out this article from Time–it says that walking is similar to running with regards to health benefits such as reduction of heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. However, when you read the article, walking is almost TWICE as good as running. Not JUST as good as:
Here’s what the researchers found:
Running significantly reduced the risk for being diagnosed with hypertension by 4.2% while walking reduced the risk by 7.2%
Running reduced the chances of having high cholesterol by 4.3% and walking by 7%
Running lowered risk of diabetes by 12.1% while walking dropped the risk by 12.3%
Running reduced coronary heart disease risk by 4.5% compared to 9.3% for walking.
You can read the whole article here.
The way I read this, walking is almost 2x as good as running for hypertension, almost 2x as good as running for high cholesterol, just as good as running for diabetes, and again 2x as good as running for heart disease.
So forgot running. I feel that too much running increases inflammation in the body and breaks it down.
Go enjoy your walk!
Believe it or not, there’s a very simple way to raise testosterone naturally and reduce cortisol. You don’t have to ingest anything nor do you have to take any injections! You can raise your testosterone levels by merely assuming a “power pose” for 2 minutes. Power poses are natural postures you assume when you feel dominant or powerful. For example, standing with your fists on your hips or with your arms in the air like a victory pose. The research proves you can boost testosterone by only doing this!
Here’s a awesome video of Amy Cuddy speaking about the research:
If you find yourself hunched over, collapsed or submissive, you’re not only feeling low, your cortisol levels are higher than they should be and your testosterone levels are low! Don’t do it anymore! Straighten up and take up space. As Amy says in the video, “Fake it till you make it!”.
Btw, I didn’t know that you can feel happier by faking a smile too. Very interesting.
Green Coffee Bean Extract is getting a lot of attention now. Even Dr. Oz jumped on the bandwagon. He gave it to two fans of his show to take for five days. One girl lost two pounds and another lost 6. A pound a day.
Check this out this clip from youtube:
I also read that Green Coffee Bean Extract may potentiate nitric oxide! This amazing stuff lowers blood sugar and increases nitric oxide.
It is recommended that you take two 400 mg capsules twice a day before a meal. This will slow the release of sugar into your blood stream and theoretically slow down the fat creation process.
I’m excited about losing about a pound a day..what about you?
Low Carb diets are making a huge comeback after news that an Atkins style diet can burn up to 300 calories a day more than a low fat diet! However, there’s a catch–researchers are saying inflammation markers and cortisol could increase. A good compromise? They recommend a low glycemic diet instead. It won’t burn as much extra calories as a really low carb diet, but you won’t have as much cortisol and inflammation.
Check out this newstory here.
Last week I woke up with a slight fever and a sore throat. Found this at the vitamin shoppe:
Manuka honey is found in Australia and New Zealand and is considered one of the strongest in terms of antibiotic activity.
It soothed my sore throat immediately but I still felt it every few hours and would take a little more.
I thought I would have to make a trip to the doctor for some antibiotic or to make sure I didn’t have something like strep.
After about 2 days of this treatment the sore throat was gone! Just luck? Not sure, but I’ll definitely try it again at the first sign of a sore throat.
I recently bought some raw Buckwheat honey because it was shown to increase antioxidant activity in the body. You can find the study here.
Here’s the abstract:
“Honey has been known to exert significant in vitro antioxidant activity, in part due to its phenolic content. However, conclusions that the antioxidants in honey are or are not efficacious in the human body cannot be reached if its antioxidant action is not assessed as part of a human study. In the present study, the acute effect of consumption of 500 mL of water, water with buckwheat honey, black tea, black tea with sugar, or black tea with buckwheat honey on serum oxidative reactions was examined in 25 healthy men. Antioxidant capacity of human serum samples was measured using different methods: the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) assay, ex vivo susceptibility of serum lipoprotein to Cu(2+)-induced oxidation, and the thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) assay. The results showed that the serum antioxidant capacity determined by ORAC increased significantly (p < 0.05) by 7% following consumption of buckwheat honey in water. No significant changes in serum antioxidant capacity could be established after the consumption of any of the other beverages. Ex vivo serum lipoprotein oxidation and TBARS values were not significantly altered after consumption of any of the five beverages. This study provides primary evidence of the in vivo antioxidant activity of buckwheat honey. However, long-term studies and epidemiological data are necessary to investigate whether honey consumption can exert overall antioxidant-related health benefits."
Aspartic acid has gotten some attention for a testosterone boost. It’s just one study, but it’s gotten a lot of press: You can read about it here.
Unfortunately, it seems to be the only study and everyone is jumping on the bandwagon to sell it and cite this study.
If you’ve tried it and had some good results, please comment!
Always looking to expand my exercise options, I came across the Biggest Loser Last Chance Workout DVDs. I’ve seen them a million times at Vitamin Shoppe and Target for example, but never thought to try them. Then one day, out of boredom, I decided to buy two. Wow! Was I in for a surprise! These workouts kick butt. Not only are the workouts hard, Bob and Jillian use humor and dogged persistence to get you sweating and burning calories. Use this to up your nitric oxide production. Get it done early in the day so you won’t have to worry about getting your exercise done later.
This is something you can’t eat, but have to do. The Eight Pieces of Brocade exercise has a long history and there are many many versions and interpretations of this exercise. I, of course, will give you the right one. All kidding aside, I did get some insight into the proper intent and result for each exercise. Over the years, I have also honed my own understanding and developed theories of my own regarding why this particular set of exercises are deemed effective and have managed to survive for hundreds of years.
One legend states that a wandering monk invented these exercises after witnessing the poor condition of fellow monks who spent their days sitting in meditation and not exercising. This set of exercises was meant to keep the physical body in good condition.
There isn’t alot recorded about these exercises. I was told there were some cave or tablet drawings with basic instructions or ‘songs’. These songs were devices to remember the main points. They are largely unhelpful if you haven’t been taught the exercises. Therein lies the problem with a lot of traditions, arts or practices that have been revived from ‘old manuscripts’. One simply can not learn effectively from old manuscripts.
These exercises are very old and steeped in traditional chinese medical theory. That means that each exercise focuses on the body from the traditional chinese medical view of the body. An exercise will focus on a meridian (energy channel) or organ or both. In chinese medicine organs are more than just body parts like we tend to understand from a Western viewpoint. In Chinese Medicine, organs are connected to each other ‘energetically’ and control other parts of the body and emotions. Some organs don’t really exist physically, like the Triple Burner. The triple burner is an organ that is the focus of the first exercise, Holding up the sky to regulate the triple burner.
Stand with feet together or no more than shoulder width apart, arms at sides. While you start to inhale, synchronize your breath and the raising of your arms until they reach above your head, palms facing the sky. Again, from their position at the sides of your body, bring them together in front of you, turn them palm up and raise them up the front of your body. As you pass your chin, start to rotate them over so they face away from you. At the end you should be looking up and stretching your hands above you as if you were trying to push up or “hold up” the sky. Keep pushing and stretching and inhaling for a few moments and then exhale, bringing your arms back to their starting position. Relax.
Keep Inhaling to create pressure in your lower abdomen. Don’t hold the breath at the end, but keep inhaling
make sure the sides of your torso feel a stretch. Look on an acupuncture map for the triple burner meridian and make sure you feel it stretch.
Anything else is purely academic. These exercises were meant to be SIMPLE!! Don’t fall for complications or other “secrets”. These are not rocket science.
These were meant to be basic training exercises. I know a lot of people want to complicate these exercises with a lot of additional theories and points. Some of these additional points are very good, don’t get me wrong. However, they are probably additional points added from understanding and practices of deeper, more sophisticated internal arts or practices.
Keep this one simple. Remember the main points and that’s it.