"The secret of longevity is to get a chronic disease
and take care of it". Sir William Osler
While this concept may seem strange, once you are diagnosed
with CRPS/RSD, taking care of yourself is the logical and responsible
thing to do. Taking responsibility for helping yourself can
be done in many ways. Doctors can provide the medications and
treatments but the rest is up to you. Remember, you determine
the quality of your life.
Here are some complementary alternative treatments that have
been used. We caution you that what helps one, may not necessarily
help another person, however you will find a combination that
works for you. The best way is to find out through trial and
error. To get more help, contact us.
To discover how we at PARC manage pain, contact
us at PARC.
have 26 years' experience in dealing with CRPS. The program
is comprehensive and takes into account that everyone is different.
Talk with us! You will be glad you did.
Exercise is the most important element
and must be done as an ongoing program in order to improve the
disease. Exercise will help retain function, strength, muscle
mass and flexibility in the affected limb. Exercise builds stamina
to fight pain and improves blood flow, one of the main problems
If exercise is not done, function of the affected
limb can be lost.
Endorphins, produced by exercise, kill pain in the
body. Exercise brings oxygen into the skeletal muscle in CRPS
patients, which has been proven through research to be severley
How can I exercise? Before you exercise,
check with your doctor.
A "graded exercise program" starts with
small steps; the lowest intensity and frequency gradually increasing
it over time and be sure that it is carefully monitored.
helps with balance, flexibility, strength, cardiovascular conditioning
and regaining muscle mass.It is the single most important element
in treating CRPS and remains "the cornerstone of effective
- The "STABILITY BALL"
program or "AQUA THERAPY"
(in 92-93F water) both avoid weight bearing on the affected limb.
- Acupuncture/Acupressure: a series of treatments
to control pain using wafer thin needles. Please see the Sept.
2002 issue of the PARC PEARL for details. Click
- Antioxidants and Nutritional Supplements: to
strengthen the immune system can be given by a qualified naturopath.
Please see Naturopathic Medicine
- Chiropraxy: Please see Alternative
Treatment Options for RSD by Dr. David Leprich D.C.
- Diet: certain foods and substances will increase
or decrease pain. An anti-inflammatory diet helps decrease the
inflammation present in the body. Contact PARC for details.
- Herbal Medicines: can be administered and monitored
by a qualified naturopath. Please see Naturopathic
There are many types e.g. Manual Lymph Drainage(MLD) aka Lymphatic
Massage. Techniques are designed to stimulate the lymphatics and
calm the nervous system without stimulating blood flow. MLD can
help lymphedema, a common problem in CRPS.
For an MLD therapist in Ontario please call the Referral Service
1 800 668 2022 Ontario Massage Therapists Association or visit
Vodder Massage is MLD plus Decongestive Therapy for lymphedema.
Please contact the Vodder School Tel: 250 598 9862 or visit www.VodderSchool.com.Other
types of massage are Swedish, Esalen, Rolfing and Feldenkrais.
For further information please see PARC PEARL Sept. 2002 issue.
- MEDICAL MEDITATION: As outlined in his book,
Dr Dharma Singh Khalsa, (medical doctor and Yogi), explains how
we can meditate to alleviate pain and activate the parasympathetic
system in our bodies, the "calm, rest and repair system"
which helps us heal. For further details, read his book "Meditation
as Medicine" Pocket Books 2001 ISBN # 0-7434-0064-X or see
our BOOKS page.
- MOIST HEAT: Several methods can help: e.g.
warm bath, exercising in a whirlpool, and Epsom salts (magnesium
sulfate) soaks. The salts reduce swelling and inflammation. Generally,
try 2 cups in a warm bath, soaking for 30-45" two or three
times a day. For those unable to use a bathtub, soak the extremity
in a large pail or make an epsom salt paste for specific areas
of the body.
can help with range of motion, posture, body alignment,
free trapped nerves and more.
Please also see: Osteopathy
- Photonic Stimulator:
a infrared light device stimulates acupuncture points in the body.
Please see our Photon and Dr Pollett
files. For more detailed laser information contact us.
- Podiatry: e.g.. orthotics for better walking
- Naturopathic Medicine: Using
herbs, nutrition, homeopathy, acupuncture, physical medicine and
Oriental Medicine can be helpful.
- QI GONG:
Recent studies with chronic CRPS patients show Qi Gong can play
an effective role in pain management by calming, relieving stress
and engaging the parasympathetic system.
- RELAXATION TECHNIQUES : These techniques help
calm the body, reduce anxiety, anger and depression. Using specific
training methods e.g. progressive muscle relaxation, or guided
imagery. Biofeedback, learned from a psychologist, can be effective
in pain control without drugs.
- YOGA: Restorative or gentle rehabilitative yoga can
be very effective for chronic pain by activating the parasympathetic
system ("resting, digesting and healing" system). Restorative
poses can also be very calming. To find a practitioner near you
please contact us. Other forms of yoga, e.g. Hatha, Ashtanga,
Kundalini, also can be helpful but may be too difficult for beginners.
In our experience it is best to start with a gentle yoga and a
knowledgeable practitioner. In recent years Yoga Nidra has also
become a therapy for pain. For more information please see Kripalu.
OTHER TOOLS: Other methods which may help with
pain control are Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, and Tai Chi.
The PARC PEARL newsletter contains extensive
articles on many of these treatments. Please see our PARC
PEARL page for details.
What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is a type of medicine dedicated to improving
health and treating illness. Using natural substances and treatments,
the naturopathic doctor (ND) treats the person with focus on prevention.
The naturopath believes that the body has a vital force which
can help heal itself and also defend itself against disease. The
main goal of treatment is to find the cause of the illness rather
than to treat or suppress the symptoms patient's mental, physical,
emotional and spiritual states are carefully considered when diagnosing
and treating. The main therapies used are: clinical nutrition,
botanical medicine, homeopathic medicine, acupuncture and Oriental
medicine, physical therapies and counselling personal treatment
plan is developed which helps begin the healing process.
What Treatments are used?
CLINICAL NUTRITION: The relationship between
diet and health is carefully administrated may include a special
diet, vitamins, minerals enzymes or other supplements.
BOTANICAL (HERBAL MEDICINE): Plant substances
from around the world are utilized for their healing effects and
HOMEOPATHIC MEDICINE: The concept of like cures
like; is used in homeopathic medicine developed by Hahnemann in
the early 1800's.Minute amounts of natural substances are used
to stimulate the body's self-healing process.
PHYSICAL MEDICINE: Many techniques for the spine,
joints and soft tissues are used. This treatment may also include
hydrotherapy, and use of heat and cold, light, massage and ultrasound.
ACUPUNCTURE AND ORIENTAL MEDICINE: Oriental
medicine uses acupuncture and Oriental herbs. The body's energy
(Chi) must be balanced through meridian pathways.
LIFESTYLE COUNSELLING: Physical, emotional,nutritional
and environmental factors affect health. Good lifestyle choices
are suggested by an ND.
Is naturopathic medicine safe?
Natural remedies and substances are non-toxic and derived from
natural sources. They are gentle and non-invasive. Side effects
are rare and ND's are aware of contraindications between naturopathic
remedies and conventional medicines.In Canada, a naturopath is
a person with a university degree in pre-medicine, and four years
of specialized training at a recognized college of naturopathic
medicine. Courses include basic medical sciences, naturopathic
principles and therapeutics, and 1500 hours of supervised clinical
The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine is located in Toronto
and ND's are regulated in Ontario. Graduates must also pass strict
exams in order to qualify for practice .Graduates receive a Doctor
of Naturopathic Medicine(ND) degree.
What does a naturopath do?
The aim of the first visit is to get to know the patient: it
usually consists of an in-depth analysis of all the body systems
and to get to know your mental, emotional and physical state.
A detailed case taking of genetic history, body type, and present
status of all mental, physical and emotional symptoms. A return
appointment of usually half an hour is for discussing the results
of the analysis and recommending various medicines or treatments
which are very highly individualized .A single method or combination
of approaches may be used. ND's work with other health care professionals
for the benefit of the patients. They refer patients to medical
doctors,chiropractors, massage therapists and midwives.
How can I find a qualified naturopath?
The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine has stringent admission
requirements. Students must have pre medicine undergraduate course
work similar to medical school. The first two years are basic
medical science and years three and four are clinical training
Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine
1255 Sheppard Ave. E.,
North York, Ontario M2K 1E2
Web site: http://www.ccnm.edu
The Schad Naturopathic Clinic has fourth year interns who, under
the supervision of licensed ND's, provide treatments. The Clinic
is open six days a week and fees are reasonable.The College also
has a referral service to provide you with a qualified naturopath
in your area. Tel: 1 877 628 7284
Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors Tel: (416) 233 2001
ND's in NIAGARA:
Hart and Sol: Dr Steven Figueroa ND Niagara
http://www.hart and sol.com
Jane Lauermeier, B.ArtsSc. ND, 12 Secord Drive, St. Catharines,
Ontario L2N 1K8 Tel: (905) 935 6460
Wayne Chindemi ND DC, Bartlett House of Natural Health, Grimsby,
Ontario Tel: (905) 309 3636
All are familiar with CRPS.
Is homeopathic medicine different?
Homeopathic medicine is one of the modalities
that ND's use in a total treatment program. A homeopathic practitioner
only uses Homeopathy, ND's are trained in homeopathy as part
of their four year college training and are tested for licensing
Has homeopathy been around long?
"Nature uses as little as possible of anything".(Johannes
Homeopathy was founded in the early 1800's by
Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician who was dissatisfied with
the medical system of his time. When one of his children became
very ill, conventional medicine could do nothing for her. While
translating a text on quinine, the author claimed that it cured
intermittent fever (malaria).
Hahnemann decided to test it on himself. Although
he was healthy, he took the quinine and developed the symptoms
of malaria and when he discontinued it, the symptoms stopped.
He deduced that malaria was not cured by quinine but by the
fact that the drug produced the symptoms of malaria in a healthy
person. By the end of the 19th century, 600 new medicines had
been tested and added to the homeopathic pharmacy.
Why have I never heard of homeopathy?
The development of conventional drugs such as
antibiotics and painkillers, overshadowed the popularity of
homeopathy. By the 1950's homeopathy had fallen out of vogue.
Today, homeopathy is alive and well in Europe, Asia, and India.
The Queen of England and Prince Charles are staunch supporters.
There area over 100,000 homeopathic doctors in India. In France,
it is the leading alternative therapy at 36%.
What is the law of similars?
Homeopathy comes from the Greek word "homoios"
(similar) and pathos means suffering or sickness .Homeopathic
medicine is based on the law of similars--meaning that "like
cures like". The law states that "a remedy can cure
a disease if it produces in a healthy person, symptoms similar
to that of the disease". What does this mean? The symptoms
that a substance causes in large doses, it can heal when given
in minute doses. However, wouldn't you think that giving a dose
of something that creates symptoms similar to what the person's
symptoms are, would make things worse and not heal them?
Think of it as the body having a set of symptoms
and the medicine creating the same set of symptoms. Since two
identical diseases cannot exist in the body, the body drives
them out. Another way to think of it is like a vaccine, which
in small doses helps the body's defense system to desensitize
the person to larger doses.For example, the flu vaccine is given
in a small amount so that the immune system will fight it off.
Later if the person gets the flu, the body's immune system will
drive it out.
Symptoms in the body are ways that the body adapts
and defends against infection or stress. So using small doses
of whatever causes symptoms similar to those that sick people
have, will help strengthen their defenses.
What symptoms does the body use? One is fever
which creates an internal environment so hot that the bacteria
and/or virus cannot survive or multiply. The fever tries to
defend the body against infection. Using small doses of substances
that can cause similar symptoms of fever that the sick person
has, will help the fever resolve more quickly. e.g.. Belladonna
(deadly nightshade) causes fever in HIGH doses but in SMALL
doses helps heal the body.
Why use homeopathy?
How would you like inexpensive, effective, natural
remedies that are safe and without side effects? This is possible
with homeopathy. It is a system that uses natural remedies made
from animal, vegetable and mineral sources. Prepared in minute
doses, they are non-toxic.
Think of chronic diseases as earthquakes. An earthquake
will occur on a previous underlying fault. They happen as a result
of stresses underneath the earth's surface. They can also occur
from pressure from stress near or far away.
Chronic disease can be traced back to a "predisposition"
that a person has. Some diseases may have already occurred and
some may be due to genetics. Some chronic diseases may be hidden
inside the person and only appear under much stress. Other diseases
are due to minor stress. Therefore chronic disease does not magically
appear but is there due to genetic predisposition or takes many
years to develop. This explains why a person with a chronic disease
looks healthy but may be on the verge of a serious disease or
possibly death. Conversely, a person who looks ill and may have
a chronic disease, could take care of it into old age. The chronic
symptoms are a way of venting to prevent a larger problem later
ACUTE AND CONSTITUTIONAL HOMEOPATHY
Acute care refers to finding a remedy for the present
symptoms. e.g.. a cold. flu. sprain etc. For someone with a chronic
disease, constitutional care can be very effective. Constitutional
care is the treatment of the person's symptoms then and now.
After analyzing in great detail, the person's symptoms,
genetic history, health history, body type and physical, mental
and emotional symptoms, the naturopath finds one remedy that fits
the totality of the symptoms.
This process requires a trained professional, skilled
at finding just the right remedy from over 500 possibilities.
Constitutional care can result in a healing response by the body,
and it can strengthen the defense system of the body.
It can help the body continue the healing process
over time. There can be a reduction of pain and discomfort. The
overall mental, physical and emotional symptoms improve overtime.
It is a gentle medicine that requires time to heal however, IT
IS NOT AN INSTANT CURE. General improvement happens over time
and the longer you have the disease, the longer it takes to recover.
HOW CAN THIS HELP ME?
People with RSD have a myriad of symptoms. RSD is
a syndrome that affects everyone differently. Some cannot tolerate
cold, while others cannot tolerate heat. Others can tolerate vibrations
while others are disturbed by noise.
Homeopathy is "designer medicine" which
fine tunes itself to the particular and peculiar symptoms of the
individual. It helps alleviate those symptoms. For those with
chronic RSD, taking care of your body can result in living a longer
life. Those with RSD have a difficult time healing even from the
smallest cut or bruise. Over time, constitutional care can facilitate
the natural healing process in the body.
While it is recognized that this treatment may not
help everyone, homeopathy is highly individualized medicine and
under the competent, professional care of a naturopath that is
willing to work with you, it can help a great deal.
It will certainly make the day to day living with
RSD, easier to deal with. Since stress aggravates RSD, reducing
stress is a priority.
Easing, then eliminating certain symptoms is the
beginning. How we feel and think affects our bodies. Helping ourselves
is the first step.
A great deal of training, skill and experience is
required to become a competent naturopath. To visit the health
food store and buy a remedy is just "cookbook medicine".
Since it is very individualized medicine, it requires patience,
knowledge and infinite skill to find the correct treatment from
over 5,000 remedies. Again, what works for one, does not necessarily
work for another. It is similar to RSD: what works for some, does
not apply to others.
Does this mean one should abandon conventional
medicine? Of course not. One method can complement the other--you
can have the best of both worlds. Homeopathy works with most drugs
but know that certain substances antidote the remedy e.g.. coffee,
camphor products, dental work, antibiotics or steroids.
Like conventional medicine, homeopathy has its limitations.
It cannot be everything to everybody. However, it is a safe, effective,
natural medicine that deserves consideration by someone with a
For further information, contact the Canadian
College of Naturopathic Medicine.
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New York Dell 1995
- Buegel Dale et al Homeopathic Remedies for Health Professionals
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- Cook, Trevor Homeopathic Medicine Today Canaan:Keats, 1989.
- Cummings. S. and Ullman Dana Everybody's Guide to Homeopathic
Medicines Los Angeles:Tarcher, 1991.
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Skeptics Berkley: North Atlantic. 1993.
- Kruzel, Thomas, Homeopathic Emergency Guide Berkley: North
- Lockie, Andrew The Family Guide to Homeopathy New York: Fireside,
- Panos M and Heimlich J. Homeopathic Medicine at Home J P Tarcher,
Inc. 1980 ISBN 0-87477-195-1
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