"If you aren't seeing a chiropractor, you must be on drugs."

September 5, 2006 [Volume 7, Issue 19]

In this issue of To Your Health:

  • Watching Your Back at Work
  • A Colorful Way to Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer's
  • Minty Alternative to Aspirin

Watching Your Back at Work

Sitting in front of a computer screen with your body planted into an anything-but-comfortable chair can definitely do a number on your lower back. Add to that the stress which sometimes goes along with the 9-to-5 workday and your back is in for trouble. A recent study in Finland has found that a little exercise can go a long way at the office.

A group of office workers who had complained that their back pain was restricting their effectiveness on the job were measured by the researchers before teaching them some simple exercises that could help with their daily backaches. Over 15 weeks the workers were taught and performed various forms of light resistance training.

The study showed a statistically significant decrease in the intensity of low back pain symptoms attributable to exericising. After exercising for only five minutes every day during the work week, subjects' back pain decreased by 19 percent.

Doctors of chiropractic treat back pain with a number of different techniques, including adjustments, stretching and strength exercises, and hot/cold therapy.

Sjogren T, Nissinen K, Jarvenpaa S, et al. Effects of a workplace physical exercise intervention on the intensity of low back symptoms in office workers: A cluster randomized controlled cross-over design. Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation, 2006;19(1): 13-24.

A Colorful Way to Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's disease, a common form of dementia that currently affects 13 million people across the globe, may start losing the battle because of a new enemy - fruit and vegetable juice. The results of a new study published in the September 2006 edition of The Journal of American Medicine suggest that the antioxidant polyphenols found naturally in fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of the onset of Alzheimer's.

A group of 1,836 dementia-free Japanese-Americans in the Seattle area were chosen for the study. Information was collected on their consumption of fruit and vegetable juice with the use of a questionnaire and was assessed every two years for up to 10 years. The results showed that individuals who drank juice three or more times a week were 76 percent less likely to develop the symptoms of Alzheimer's compared to those who drank less than one serving a week.

The only limitation of the study was that specific juices were not found to be more effective than others. This may lead to a more precise study of individual vegetable and fruit juices.

Dai Q, Borenstein A, Wu Y, et al. Fruit and vegetable juices and Alzheimer's disease: the Kame project. The American Journal of Medicine, September 2006;119(9):751-759.

Minty Alternative to Aspirin

Traditional therapies in China once called upon the use of mint oil for sprains, joint pains and inflammation. The philosopher Hippocrates also treated these ailments by "cooling" the skin. A new study by the University of Edinburgh (England) suggests these ancient remedies still have a positive effect on these same symptoms.

The study found that mint oil and other related chemical compounds act through a recently discovered protein which is capable of binding with these chemicals and is found in a small percentage of nerve cells in the human skin. This new/old treatment uses the body's own mechanisms to help ease pain.

The use of these compounds is likely to have minimal toxic side effects since they are applied to the skin and not ingested. They could therefore be ideal for chronic pain patients who do not benefit from conventional pain killers. Of course, talk to your doctor before trying any over-the-counter remedies, be they medications or natural products, to avoid potential interactions or side effects.

Proudfoot C, Garry E, Cottrell D, et al. Analgesia mediated by the TRPM8 cold receptor in chronic neuropathic pain. Current Biology, August 22, 2006;16(16):1591-1605.