Monday, July 14, 2014

Miraculous Pineapple?

Inflammation seems to be so prevalent in people's bodies these days that it is the object of great attention by everyone. Medical professionals prescribe everything from steroids to combo-shots in what I consider to be a dangerous areas of the body and then there are the unlicensed practitioners who offer those odd "miracle" cures. You know the people I'm speaking about because some of them end up in jail after having made millions selling claptrap to desperate people.

A casual conversation recently led to yet another "natural product" that promised relief from back pain and I listened as the man related his experiences. He's a guy in his 50s who works as an over-the-road truck driver. Hard working and eager to share any knowledge he has about just about anything he's found useful, he talked about his incredible back pain.

Truck drivers, as most people know, suffer from a variety of back and GI problems as a result of long hours behind the wheel and hitting numerous bumps in the road. The route he drives takes him to several distant states on a regular basis so you know he's had his share of pot hole experiences. But he's only one example if know of personally. In fact, one well-known TV reporter in a major city ended up with such severe back pain resulting from riding in the TV station's SUV that she successfully sued her company for her resulting disability.  It ended her career in that city.

This man had tried just about everything with the exception of those epidural shots we've all heard about and which, almost always, require at least three administrations. The shots are a point of contention for researchers who have found that shooting a steroid into the spine is just about as effective as lidocaine alone. But, I'm not a medical expert, so I'll leave it to you to make the determination here. It isn't a long-term solution, as I've been told.

The man was, for a time, on crutches to help relieve the pressure on his spine. Next, we used a back brace and then a cane but all provided little help. Of course, that was until he heard about pineapple and its ability to reduce inflammation. Granted, inflammation is only part of the problem with back pain because it may be more involved than that. Spinal changes in terms of the spongy natural shock absorbers between the vertebrae take their toll and so does deterioration of bone. Plenty of things need to be considered and a very competent, highly experienced medical professional needs to make the assessment regarding the treatment of choice here.

But pineapple, whether in juice form or not, seems to have anti-inflammatory properties that may be beneficial for a variety of problems, not just back pain. If this is true, why wasn't he told about this by the medical professionals to whom he went for help? It's a question for which I have no answer other than to say that they may feel it's not a medical solution. But research has been done on it, so what's the reason not to at least give it a shot, so to speak?

Naturopathic medicine isn't such a new area and I would wonder that since so much has been done on psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), isn't there a new perspective on broadening the range of treatments to include other than rather invasive treatments for serious problems like back pain? Shouldn't licensed professionals, of all stripes, be going for training in the latest advances and beginning to incorporate it into their armamentorium? What's holding them back? Aren't there enough seminars or is there an unwillingness to release some of the hold on patient care?

I'm not advocating that anyone begin to run right down to the local produce department and stock up on fresh pineapple or even canned or frozen (will freezing change its properties?). I'm also not advocating that you not listen to your treating person's recommendations, but I am saying that you should bring up the topic and have the research in hand. I've found that bringing research articles along with me (which I leave with them) can be helpful.

Not everyone is reading this literature or even searching the Internet for it just out of curiosity. So, it's your job to keep them informed, I guess. After all, it's your body we're talking about not a plumbing fixture that you're having replaced. In that latter regard you'd probably be heavily involved in what's done and not just take the plumber's word for what is needed. Cost and durability are always considerations.

Back pain or any protracted inflammation can be disabling and all of us now have tools to explore all the alternative and traditional methods of treatment. Use them by using your computer searches wisely.