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Steroid Shots Offer No Long-Term Relief For Low-Back Pain

Steroid Shots Offer No Long-Term Relief For Low-Back Pain

(HealthDay News) � Chronic lower back pain affects millions of Americans. Many try steroid injections to ease their discomfort, but researchers now say this remedy provides only short-term relief.

In their study, investigators from France focused on 135 patients with back pain seemingly caused by inflammation between the discs and bones (vertebrae) in the lower spine.


The researchers found that a single steroid injection eased pain for one month. After that, however, effectiveness waned. Virtually no difference was seen one year after treatment between patients who did or didn�t get the injection.

�Our results do not support the wide use of an injection of glucocorticoid in alleviating symptoms in the long term in this condition,� said lead researcher Dr. Christelle Nguyen.

The findings are consistent with earlier studies, said Nguyen, an assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Paris Descartes University.

Nguyen said she and her colleagues had hoped that targeting local disc inflammation with an anti-inflammatory steroid would help alleviate long-term pain.

To test their theory, they selected patients with chronic lower back pain and signs of disc inflammation on an MRI. On average, participants had suffered from back pain for six years. Half were assigned to a single steroid shot; the other half got no injection.

Patients rated their pain severity before the injection and again one, three, six and 12 months after the treatment.

One month after treatment, 55 percent of those who got the steroid injection experienced less lower back pain, compared with 33 percent of those who weren�t treated.

�However, the groups did not differ for the assessed outcomes 12 months after the injection,� Nguyen said.

For example, patients who did or didn�t received a steroid injection ended up in similar circumstances, with the same incidence of disc inflammation, lower quality of life, more anxiety and depression and continued use of non-narcotic pain pills, she said.

Overall, most patients found the steroid injections tolerable, and would agree to have a second one if necessary, Nguyen said. �We had no specific safety concerns and found no cases of infection, destruction or calcification of the disc 12 months after the injection,� she added.

The results were published March 20 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Dr. Byron Schneider, of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, noted there are many different causes of back pain.

In this study, the patients suffered from chronic back pain, he pointed out. �Patients with chronic lower back [pain] probably have more than one cause of their pain, which may be why the good results they found at one month weren�t there a year later,� said Schneider, an assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation.

The study results don�t mean steroid injections should be avoided altogether, he noted.

Patients with a sudden episode of back pain � so-called acute pain � probably don�t need a steroid injection, he said.


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�But if they�re not getting better after a month or two the way we would expect them to, at that point it would be reasonable to discuss the pluses and minuses of a steroid injection,� said Schneider, co-author of an accompanying journal editorial.

Chronic (long-term) back pain is a different situation, he said. Treating chronic back pain means treating the pain itself, but also using cognitive behavior therapy and �pain psychology� to help patients cope with pain, he said.

�For chronic pain, physicians need to address the musculoskeletal reasons that cause the hurt, but also other reasons that patients may be experiencing pain,� Schneider said.

According to the editorial, psychological distress, fear of pain and even low educational levels can affect pain levels.

More information

For more on lower back pain, visit the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Sugar, Acidity & Inflammation

Sugar, Acidity & Inflammation

El Paso, TX. Chiropractor Dr. Alex Jimenez investigates sugar, acidity and inflammation.

A study late last year, which appeared in JAMA Internal Medicine, presented a damning declaration hardly surprisingly to anyone remotely tuned in to the sugar debate recently.

Researchers here noted way back in the 1960s, the sugar industry paid three Harvard scientists to publish a study in the New England Journal of Medicine arguing fat (particularly saturated fat) and cholesterol triggered heart disease while largely exculpating sugar.(1)

Repercussions of that sugar-lobbied study resonated over the next few decades � into 2017, in fact � as low fat, cholesterol-free, and calorie counting became mantras for healthy eating.

Sugar? Well, it got a free pass as a �healthy� part of any sensible diet, whatever that meant. Meanwhile, over the ensuing decades we became fatter and sicker. And today, more experts acknowledge sugar became the chief culprit that sabotaged our health and waistlines.

Recent Studies on Sugar

Recent studies show sugar converts to belly fat, paving a nasty path for obesity�� and other problems. (2) One study found just 24 teaspoons of a few sugars, including sugar from �healthy� honey and orange juice, decrease your neutrophils� ability to destroy bacteria, thereby hijacking your immune system.(3) (A 12-ounce glass of OJ has nine teaspoons of sugar! So much for drinking OJ when you get a cold.)

Pick your poison � excess sugar probably messes with it. Consider brain health. One study found sugar triggers buildup of toxic amyloid proteins, directly responsible for dementia.(4) Another showed older adults who consumed excess sugar and other carbohydrates increased their risk for dementia compared with older adults who ate a higher-fat and protein diet.(3)

We�re eating more sugar than ever before. Between 1977-78 and 1994-96, the average American daily consumption of added sugars increased from 235 to 318 calories, an increase of 35 percent. Mostly that was due to soft drinks, the single biggest source of calories. Today, over 10 percent of Americans� daily calories (over 55 grams, in fact) come from sugar-sweetened beverages but also grain-containing foods and fruit or fruit juice, which are essentially sugar. (5)

Today Americans eat an average of 133 pounds of sugar yearly. That doesn�t account for bagels, breads, pasta, and other starchy foods that break down to sugar. According to some experts like Dr. Mark Hyman, altogether the average American eats about a pound of sugar daily!� (6, 7)

Those results, unsurprisingly, have been disastrous. In his new book The Case Against Sugar, Gary Taubes argues over-consuming the sweet stuff has created adverse metabolic and hormonal effects, predisposing us to obesity and preventable chronic diseases including cancer and Alzheimer�s disease (now referred to as Type 3 diabetes).

Anyone following the sugar debate won�t find this breaking news, although Taube�s book presents it in a more mainstream, palatable, arguably jarring light.

But how does sugar lead to obesity, Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer�s, and pretty much any other disease on the planet? While the path isn�t necessarily linear, we can certainly trace it.

Sugar Wrecks pH Balance


Research shows an alkaline state is healthier for your body, and most tissues and cells maintain an alkaline pH balance.(8) Sugar does the opposite: It imbalances pH and makes you more acidic, increasing your risk for numerous problems including kidney stones, chronic inflammation, and oxidative stress.

The pH of your blood is tightly regulated and usually stays around 7.35 to 7.45. When experts talk about acidic or alkaline foods, they refer to your urine Ph, since blood Ph stays relatively stable. Urine pH provides clues about numerous things include cellular health and nutrient status.

However, excess sugar can lower pH between cells. Excess sugar also creates sodium and potassium imbalances, contributing to that more acidic environment. Combine that with lost calcium�in the urine and decreased sodium bicarbonate (the body�s major buffer) and you�ve got a perfect recipe for metabolic acidosis.(8)

Coupled with fewer higher-alkaline foods like fruits and vegetables, your body becomes more acidic while lowering its main buffer (serum bicarbonate). Metabolic stress ensues in your liver, pancreas, kidneys, and other organs.

Studies show overall people who eat more refined sugar consume fewer fruits and vegetables, creating sodium to potassium imbalances that mess with your body�s buffering system, creating � you guessed it � an even more acidic environment between your cells.(8)

An acidic environment also stresses your body out. Sugar-triggered metabolic acidosis raises your stress hormone cortisol, keeping your body on high alert and cranking out more free radicals that damage mitochondria (your cells� energy plants) while accelerating aging and ramping up fat storage.(9)

Acidity also flips the switch for cytokine production, spiking inflammation and free radical production. An acidic environment also stresses out your liver, kidneys, pancreas, and other organs, ramping up those inflammatory and oxidative stress pathways, damaging cells and sometimes leading to cancer. (10)

Sugar, Chronic Inflammation &�Oxidative Stress

The acidic environment excess sugar creates contributes to two major killers that often occur together: Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress.

Chronic inflammation plays a role in every disease on the planet. Numerous culprits contribute to chronic inflammation, including insufficient sleep, lack of exercise, and stress.(11, 12)

So does sugar. Excessive amounts can also increase oxidative stress,(13, 14) creating an antioxidant imbalance that leads to metabolic damage.(15) Oxidative stress weakens your antioxidant defense, dampening your body�s ability to clean up this oxidative damage.(16)

Studies also link oxidative stress to obesity(17) and chronic diseases like cancer.(10) That particularly becomes true when you eat a diet low in omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, and antioxidant-rich foods like vegetables.(18)

A Healthier You!

Sugar &�Disease

So, sugar makes your body acidic, which increases chronic inflammation and oxidative stress, spiking obesity and nearly every disease on the planet. Consequently, obesity and disease increase chronic inflammation and oxidative stress, creating a vicious cycle.

What ensues is often catastrophic and sometimes deadly. Insulin resistance, which paves the path for Type 2 diabetes and other problems, might be sugar�s biggest culprit. Many overweight or obese people also have some form of insulin resistance, which becomes a major player for inflammation.(19)

None of this occurs in a vacuum. Metabolic syndrome � an umbrella term that affects 34 million Americans(20) and includes insulin resistance but also high blood sugar levels, hyperlipidemia, high blood pressure, weight gain, and high uric acid levels � also increases inflammation and oxidative stress.(21)

Taubes, like some other experts and recent studies, pins sugar as the chief driver for insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.

Many studies particularly blame fructose. Yes, fruit contains fructose, but getting 15 grams of this simple sugar from an apple becomes far different than a soda. For one, that apple comes packaged with nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants that buffer its fructose load. (22, 23)

What�s Wrong With Fructose?

Ironically, fructose doesn�t raise insulin levels but contributes to insulin resistance.(24) It also depletes your main energy �currency� adenosine triphosphate (ATP), damages cells, and creates uric acid buildup (leading to gout and other problems).(25, 26)

There�s more. Fructose increases apolipoprotein B levels, creating �sticky� blood platelets that increase blood clotting, paving the way for stroke and heart attacks.(27) And it raises triglyceride levels while becoming the chief driver of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).(28)

This simple sugar shuts down satiety hormones like leptin, delivering a double whammy of insulin resistance and leptin resistance.(29)

It can even make you less intelligent. A 2012 study at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA showed compared with a control group, rats fed a high-fructose diet performed poorly in tests using mazes designed to observe memory and learning.(22)

Keep in mind sucrose (table sugar) breaks down to fructose and glucose, and even high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contains glucose. Glucose is no angel, but it behaves metabolically different and (at least compared with fructose) overall creates less damage. At the same time, eating large amounts of sugar means you�re simultaneously getting huge amounts of fructose, creating these and other problems.

Dialing Back Your Sugar Quota

Considering certain sugars (like fructose) are more damaging, and naturally occurring sugars create different effects than added sugars, the whole sugar debate can become confusing. And what does �excessive amounts of sugar� even mean?

Opinions differ, but the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than six teaspoons daily for women and nine for men, while the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends no more than 10 percent (ideally less than five percent) of your calories come from added sugar or sugars like honey, syrups, and fruit juice.(27)

My own recommendations tend to be in-line with those of the World Health Organization, though I�d recommend those sugar calories only ever get into the body in the form of organic raw honey or unrefined maple syrup � if at all!

When you reduce sugar, you help restore acid-base balance and lower inflammation as well as oxidative stress, reducing your risk for obesity and chronic disease. You can�t eliminate sugar (even super-healthy foods like broccoli contain a little sugar), but you can cut back on it. Here are five ways to do that.

  1. Increase healthy foods.
    Add before you take away: Edge out sugary foods with more nutrient-rich ones. Studies show focusing on antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables can reverse sugar�s inflammatory response.(30) No, eating three servings of steamed broccoli doesn�t give you leeway to eat chocolate cake, but that broccoli can help minimize sugar�s impact.
  2. Scrutinize labels.
    Never mind that the front package boasts �low sugar� or whatever. The only way to really know is by looking at nutrient facts. Keep in mind that roughly four grams equals one teaspoon of sugar. Do your math and multiply accordingly. Learn the many names for sugar that hide on ingredients lists (Jonathan Bailor notes 57!) and realize manufacturers keep serving sizes incredibly small to trick you into thinking you�re eating less sugar than you actually are.
  3. Beware of �healthy� foods and especially drinks.
    A green juice or honey-sweetened bottle of green tea can have as much (if not more) sugar than a cola. Just because it gets touted as healthy or you find it in a �healthy� grocery store doesn�t make it healthy.
  4. Remember all carbs break down to sugar.
    That bag of potato chips might only contain two grams of sugar per serving, but look at the complete carbohydrate count. Something like 20 grams of carbohydrate from processed foods � meaning foods without fiber, antioxidants, or other nutrients whole foods provide � essentially break down into about five teaspoons of sugar. That�s one Let�s face it: You�ll probably eat several servings of these �trigger� foods. Proceed accordingly.
  5. Eat real food.
    Cut through the chase and simplify your eating by avoiding processed foods. Even though some whole foods contain sugar, they come wrapped in fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants that buffer out that sugar load.

Have recent studies made you rethink how much sugar you consume, particularly from sneaky sources? Does sugar rightly deserve to be demonized or are we being overly dramatic making it public enemy number one? Share your thoughts in the comments below or on my Facebook page.


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About Dr. B.J. Hardick

Raised in a holistic family, Dr. B.J. Hardick is the co-author of the best-selling Maximized Living Nutrition Plans, used in natural health clinics worldwide, and a contributing author for its follow-up publication, The Cancer Killers. Dr. Hardick shares his own journey dealing with heavy metal toxicity in Real Detox, his e-Book available on An organic food fanatic and green living aficionado, all Dr. Hardick�s passions are anchored in helping others achieve ecologically sound, healthy, and balanced lives. Learn More

Named after the Developer of Chiropractic, Dr. B.J. Hardick is a second-generation chiropractor, a 2001 graduate of Life University, and has spent the majority of his life working in natural health care. Dr. Hardick is in full-time clinical practice in London, Ontario.

Outside of patient hours, Dr. Hardick is known for speaking on his natural health strategies to numerous professional and public audiences every year in the Unites States and Canada. In 2009, he wrote his first book, Maximized Living Nutrition Plans, which has now been used professionally in over 500 health clinics, alongside a follow-up publication to which he was a contributor, The Cancer Killers. Dr. Hardick serves on the advisory board, the world�s most widely referenced natural health database.

All Dr. Hardick�s passions are anchored in helping others achieve ecologically sound, healthy, and balanced lives.

8 Safest Natural Sweeteners

8 Safest Natural Sweeteners

Sweet foods were a rare delicacy for our ancient ancestors.� Today, we have an unlimited supply of sugary foods and beverages at our disposal.� Natural sweeteners can be used effectively in moderation to provide the sweetness that most people crave.� Here are the best natural sweeteners ranked in order based on low glycemic index and additional health benefits.

Every living creature is designed to run off of a simple sugar called glucose.� It is the primary unit in the study of metabolism.� However, there are certainly dangers involved with consuming too much glucose. Those dangers mostly involve elevated blood sugar and insulin which trigger fat accumulation, cellular inflammation and insulin resistance.

Fructose is another simple sugar that is found in nature within fruits, honey and plant/tree nectar.� This is metabolized differently than glucose and can cause even more hazardous effects when consumed in excess.� Most plant based sweeteners such as agave nectar are extremely high in fructose.� Agave was thought to be a good sweetener until health researchers found out the dangers of it�s nearly 80% fructose content.


blog picture of table of syrups, sugars, and fruits with how much sugar and fructose they contain


1. Stevia:

Processed from the leaf of the stevia plant which is native to South America.� This herb derivative has no effect on blood sugar, insulin signaling and triglyceride formation.�� It develops most of its sweetness from glycosides called stevioside and rebaudioside.� �These compounds are 250-300 times sweeter than sucrose and they have the ability to withstand heat and have a long shelf life (1, 2).

Studies have even shown the stevia leaf to have beneficial effects at improving cellular insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of type II diabetes and high blood pressure (3, 4). �My favorite stevia to use personally is Sweet Leaf stevia in the liquid dropper here� I like this brand because it is pure stevia, without any sugar alcohols or other sweeteners added. � Most people also like the flavor better as it has less of an aftertaste.

You can find it in a variety of flavors including vanilla, chocolate, hazelnut, cinnamon, English toffee, grape�and lemon. �If you are noticing an unpleasant aftertaste with the Sweet Leaf brand, than try adding a little bit of sea salt or pink salt (to taste � not too salty) to your recipe using the stevia and this can help remove the after taste. �I have seen a lot of people who once �hated� stevia, completely change their opinion after adding the salt.


blog picture of stevia herb with infographic


2. �Monk Fruit or Lo Han Extract:

Lo Han Extract is also called monk fruit. �The monk fruit plant grows native in Southern China/Northern Thailand.� Lo Han has a very low glycemic index and low sugar content.� It gets the majority of its sweetness from a glycoside nutrient called mogrosides.

These mogrosides are 300 times sweeter than sugar and act as anti-oxidants that have shown abilities to inhibit cancer cell formation (5, 6).� This is a wonderful sweetener but it can be hard to find and expensive. �I like Pure Monk Fruit from Julian Bakery because it is the only one I found without other sweeteners such as erythritol.


blog picture of monk fruit with all its benefits


3. �Yacon Syrup:

Yacon syrup is extracted from the roots of the Yacon plant which�grows throughout the Andes mountains in South America. �This plant has a long history as a powerful food that has been eaten and used for medicinal purposes in South America.

Yacon syrup is rich in prebiotic fibers (roughly 40-50%) called inulin and fructooligosacchardes (FOS) which are undigestable by the body but feed healthy gut bacteria (7). � Yacon does contain a small amount of sugar through fructose, glucose and sucrose but the rich fiber within it makes it a very low-glycemic sweetener. � The use of Yacon syrup has been shown to reduce obesity and insulin resistance (8).

I like Blue�Lily�s organic Yacon syrup�which is lower glycemic than maple syrup and a great pre-biotic for the gut.


blog picture of yacon root with infographic


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4. �Coconut Nectar:

This is a very low glycemic liquid sweetener derived from the liquid sap of the coconut blossoms. �It is also called coconut sugar. �The glycemic index is 35 making it one of the lowest of natural sweeteners.

Also, the fructose levels are very low at 10% and it contains a wide variety of anti-oxidants, minerals and other nutrients that enhance blood sugar stability.� It can be found in health food stores but is somewhat pricey. �Although I really don�t use coconut nectar or coconut sugar, one of the better brands is Coconut Secret here


blog picture of coconut sugar an its benefits


5. �Organic, Raw Honey:

This superfood does have an effect on blood sugar and contains approximately 53% fructose so one should only consume this in moderation.� Honey contains a wide array of trace minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, copper, chromium, manganese and selenium.� These nutrients are critical for healthy cellular insulin sensitivity and blood sugar balance.

Raw honey is also extremely rich in anti-oxidants and natural enzymes.�� Honey contains flavonoid anti-oxidants such as pinocembrin and pinostrobin that help reduce oxidative stress in the body and promote better enzyme activity (9). �Finding local raw honey is the best as it contains small amounts of local flower pollen which enhances our bodies ability to adapt to this potential allergen.

It is best to find a local producer so you can get the best locally developed raw honey. �If you cannot find a honey producer in your area, than I would use HoneyTrees here


blog picture of honey with its benefits


6. �Organic Blackstrap Molasses:

Molasses is a byproduct of the processing of sugar.� It does have an effect on glycemic index and must only be consumed in moderation.� Blackstrap molasses is a very rich source of iron, copper, manganese, potassium, magnesium and selenium.

One of the better brands on the market is Plantation Organic blackstrap molasses


blog picture of black molasses and its benefits


7. Organic Maple Syrup:

This syrup is a dark sap from the xylem of maple trees.� It does contain sucrose, glucose & fructose and therefore has an effect on blood sugar and insulin levels.� Please use in moderation.� Maple syrup contains significant amounts of zinc, calcium, manganese and anti-oxidant phenol vanillin.

One of the better brands on the market is Crown Maple organic maple syrup here


blog picture of maple syrup with its benefits


8. Sugar Alcohols:

These include xylitol, glycerol, sorbitol, maltitol, mannitol, and erythritol.� Sugar alcohol is supposed to just pass through the body unrecognized and metabolized. �This causes no blood sugar imbalances and is considered a safe sweetener.� However, many individuals have reported significant gastrointestinal distress that includes cramping, bloating, gas & diarrhea (10).

There are many blends of stevia-erythritol and monk fruit with erythritol. �If you are noticing unpleasant digestive symptoms with these�it is more than likely the sugar alcohols that are causing it. �So be on the lookout.

If you are purchasing erythritol, look for one labeled non-GMO, since this is a corn derived product. �If you have a corn sensitivity, be sure to avoid it. �A good brand is NOW Foods erythritol here�and Xylitol


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What Does Dr Jockers Do:

I personally use stevia as my main sweetener. �I prefer the SweetLeaf brand�here�or the Pure Monk fruit.� I am not against using these other sweeteners as we have many of them in our recipes on, but I would caution to use them in moderation.

We all love a sweet taste but overconsuming them can lead to increased sugar cravings and blood sugar dysregulation. �Be sure to follow the strategies I discuss in this article�on buffering blood sugar naturally. �I also have a complete program designed to help you overcome sugar cravings, lose weight and improve your energy and mental clarity. �It is called the Sugar Detox Program and you can check it out here


blog picture of sugar detox program


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Sources for this Article Include:

  1. W�lwer-Rieck U. The leaves of Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni), their constituents and the analyses thereof: a review. J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Feb 1;60(4):886-95. PMID: 22250765
  2. Brahmachari G, Mandal LC, Roy R, Mondal S, Brahmachari AK. Stevioside and related compounds � molecules of pharmaceutical promise: a critical overview. Arch Pharm (Weinheim). 2011 Jan;344(1):5-19. PMID: 21213347
  3. Shivanna N, Naika M, Khanum F, Kaul VK. Antioxidant, anti-diabetic and renal protective properties of Stevia rebaudiana. J Diabetes Complications. 2013 Mar-Apr;27(2):103-13. PMID: 23140911
  4. Ferri LA, Alves-Do-Prado W, Yamada SS, Gazola S, Batista MR, Bazotte RB. Investigation of the antihypertensive effect of oral crude stevioside in patients with mild essential hypertension. Phytother Res. 2006 Sep;20(9):732-6. PMID: 16775813
  5. Xu Q, Chen SY, Deng LD, Feng LP, Huang LZ, Yu RR.Antioxidant effect of mogrosides against oxidative stress induced by palmitic acid in mouse insulinoma NIT-1 cells. Braz J Med Biol Res. 2013 Nov 18;46(11):949-955. PMID: 24270904
  6. Takasaki M, Konoshima T, Murata Y, Sugiura M, Nishino H, Tokuda H, Matsumoto K, Kasai R, Yamasaki K. Anticarcinogenic activity of natural sweeteners, cucurbitane glycosides, from Momordica grosvenori. Cancer Lett. 2003 Jul 30;198(1):37-42. PMID: 12893428


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