Nature's First Aid Kit
Plants, herbs and spices can have
Playing It Safe
Doctors offer advice on avoiding spring
Special to the Jewish News
pring is here and residents
across Metro Detroit will soon
be outside enjoying warmer
weather, as well as their favorite sports.
Although spring is much anticipated after
long Michigan winters, many people may
not realize that spring sports offer an
increased opportunity for injury.
Some of the most common spring
sports injuries occur in the hand and
wrist. Often, these injuries happen because
of falls or overuse after long periods of
inactivity during winter.
"Sports such as roller
blading, biking, skate-
boarding and running
often result in falls:'
says Dr. Larry Dell, who
owns and runs Lakes
Urgent Care in West
Bloomfield. He also has
a West Bloomfield-based
Dr. Larry Dell
practice called Internal
Medicine and Primary
Care Specialists. "The
instinct is to put out
your hand to brace your-
self, but this can cause
According to Dell, a
Shaarey Zedek in
Southfield, the solution
is to take protective measures such as
wearing wrist guards and falling onto the
back and shoulder, rather than the hands.
"The wrists are made up of so many
small bones, but they often take the brunt
of our injury. We need to protect them
because we use them in many everyday
activities such as writing, typing and driv-
ing; he says.
For those concerned about an injury
that's already occurred, Dell recommends
immediately immobilizing and icing the
injured area and then visiting an urgent
care facility or emergency room. "It's
important to take hand and wrist injuries
March 28 • 2013
seriously because delayed treatment can
be linked to future mobility problems such
as post-fracture arthritis:'
Dr. Sandy Vieder, who practices in
West Bloomfield and is medical director
at Botsford Hospital in Farmington Hills,
says that hand and wrist injuries from
overuse can often be prevented by at least
15 minutes of stretching before exercise.
"And, if you've been inactive all winter, it's
important to slowly build up your activity;
don't overdo it:' he says.
When an injury does occur, Vieder,
who attends Adat Shalom Synagogue in
Farmington Hills, recommends what he
calls RICE + AR; the letters stand for rest,
ice, compression, elevation, anti-inflam-
matory medicine and reconditioning.
To ice an injury, he advises using either
a bag of frozen peas or freezing water in a
small paper cup and then slowly peeling
back the paper as the ice melts.
Compression can be effective when
using an Ace bandage and wrapping the
injured area snuggly, not tightly. Don't use
compression when sleeping.
During elevation, the injured area
should be raised above the heart to reduce
swelling. And, reconditioning refers to
slowing restarting activity.
If the pain hasn't lessened after taking
these steps, Vieder advises a visit to a phy-
sician. "There is such a thing as beneficial
pain, but this is separate from the harmful
kind:' he says. "I call this benevolent pain,
and it happens when you're sore, but often
the pain disappears the next day. But, if
the pain doesn't go away, that's a sign of
something more serious:'
For Vieder, the key to gauging injuries
is to simply be in tune with our bodies.
"Our bodies do a good job of letting us
know when we're in trouble; we just need
Despite the dangers, Dell advocates exer-
cise regimens as long as they're undertaken
wisely. "Exercise is still the best medicine I
could prescribe. Don't fear exercising. Just
do it safely, and, if possible, make sure you
exercise with a partner who can help you if
an injury does occur:'
ur health food and grocery
stores shelves are lined with
many supplements and medi-
cines — trying to determine what to take
can be overwhelming. There
are many choices that extend
beyond the supplement aisle,
and there is much to learn
about the food universe —
even plants, herbs and spices
have medicinal benefits.
Tea tree oil is an essential
oil extracted from a plant that
carries the specific scent or
essence of the plant. When
used topically, tea tree oil
is thought to have antiviral,
matory and antimicrobial
benefits. To this end, tea tree
oil can be very helpful in treating fungal
infections (athlete's foot), acne, dandruff
(when added to shampoo) and yeast
I experienced the benefits of tea tree oil
personally during a recent beach trip. My
legs were bitten more than 100 times by
sand fleas, and I found the topical appli-
cation of tea tree oil to be very effective in
reducing itching and swelling. Tea tree oil
is also good for inflammation and as an
assist in recovering from injury.
Turmeric, a spice often used in curry,
has widespread use in preventative
medicine. According to the American
Cancer Society (ACS), "some proponents
believe turmeric may prevent and slow
the growth of a number of types of can-
cer, particularly tumors of the esopha-
gus, mouth, intestines, stomach, breast
and skin:' Turmeric's active ingredient
is curcumin, and both are thought to
have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant
According to the ACS's website, "Early
research has suggested that curcumin
may help lower 'bad' cholesterol, reduce
inflammation, help ulcerative colitis and
reduce arthritis symptoms, although
more reliable human studies are still
needed:' Turmeric can be used liberally
in one's daily diet and can also be taken
as a supplement at a dose of 500 mg 1-4
times a day.
Holy basil is an herb that has its
medicinal roots in Ayurvedic medicine
(a traditional style of medicine native to
India). There are several different types
of basil plants. In India, the "Tulsi" or
holy basil is the most famous and is best
known for treating anxiety by lowering
cortisol levels (stress hormones) and
balancing stress and emotions. When
sipped as a tea, holy basil is considered a
COX-2 inhibitor (natural joint support)
and is good for muscles and bones. It also
has heart protective qualities
and can help move cholesterol
out of the body before it is
absorbed. Holy basil can be
consumed as a tea (ltsp. dried
leaf 3-4 cups a day) or taken
by capsule (300-1,800 grams
Green tea is widely known
for its protection and preven-
tion properties against a wide
variety of cancers including
melanoma, colon, breast and
prostate. Green tea contains
"catechins," a type of anti-
oxidant that has been widely
studied for its many health benefits. In
addition to cancer prevention, green tea
is known to be cardio protective and,
when consumed daily, may lower the risk
of heart disease. Most studies indicate
that at least 4-5 cups of green tea a day
are needed to have medicinal benefits.
Green tea extract is also available in cap-
sules and powder (dosage ranges from
250-350 mg 2-3 times a day).
Probiotics are "good" bacteria that
work, in part, by enhancing digestion and
immune function. They have widespread
use in many gastrointestinal disorders. A
wide range of probiotic strains are avail-
able. Yogurt contains probiotic organisms
such as acidophilus.
Probiotics help to balance the intestinal
flora by increasing the existing intestinal
microbial population in the digestive tract.
When people take antibiotics, often the
side effects include digestive disturbances.
This is because antibiotics kill both good
and bad bacteria. Live probiotic strains
are available in fermented foods, dairy
products and probiotic-fortified foods.
Because there are so many different strains
of probiotics, there is no set dosage. Most
probiotics are dosed by the number of live
organisms they contain.
Most fruits, vegetables, herbs and spic-
es have some medicinal benefit. Garlic,
tomatoes, kale and many more can be
part of our daily diet. The next time you
visit the grocery store, do so with a new
way of seeing.
Julie Silver, MSW, Diplomate of Acupuncture,
Is founder/president of Michigan Associates
of Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine in
West Bloomfield. Email her at Julie®