Every month I get lots of email questions about what to give for X, Y, Z conditions. In short, there is no good data on taking vitamin X or herb Z to cure condition Q. Medications don’t work that way, and neither do supplements. In other words, you can’t cure depression with Prozac, St. John’s Wort, 5-htp, SAM-e or anything else. Similarly, glucosamine will not cure arthritis, and hydroxyapatite will not cure osteoporosis. There is no magic pill for any one condition that will consistently fix the syndrome or disease.
If you go through the archives of TAC issues on the Internet at www.theamericanchiropractor.com, and look up my past articles, you will notice a distinct trend; dietary and supplement recommendations are remarkably consistent. This is because nearly all conditions that we suffer from are driven by a chronic pro-inflammatory state.
The Answer Is: An Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Humans are supposed to subsist almost exclusively on vegetation (herb spices, fruits, nuts, roots, tubers, vegetables and oils derived from the same, such as olive oil and coconut oil) and animals that eat vegetation. If you want alcohol, you have two healthy choices: Red wine and stout beer. If you want a treat, you have, basically, one choice: Dark chocolate (try raw almonds, raisins, and dark chocolate—tastes like a natural chunky candy bar). This type of eating naturally suppresses pro-inflammatory processes and, so, can be viewed as an anti-inflammatory diet.
Notice that grains, dairy, and soy are not part of the program. Whenever consumed in more than a condiment fashion, and only on an occasional basis, these three foods represent inflammation.
Beverage choices are straightforward…drink water. Additionally, green tea and freshly made vegetable and fruit juices are anti-inflammatory and highly recommended. A cup of coffee per day is fine for the die-hard coffee achievers.
Supplement recommendations are designed to augment the anti-inflammatory diet. Take a multivitamin (2-3 pills/day, usually), magnesium (400-1000 mg/d), EPA/DHA (1-3 gram/d), coenzyme Q10 (100 mg/d). Either spice all your meals with ginger, turmeric, garlic, rosemary, oregano, etc., or take supplements of each everyday that amount to a couple of grams worth of herbs. Combination supplements of these herbs are available and very popular.
Calcium can also be taken and, in my opinion, it should be supplemented in a 1:1 ratio with magnesium. More and more evidence is indicating that many people are vitamin D deficient. Regular exposure to sunshine is your best choice for vitamin D. Supplemental use of vitamin D needs to be applied on an individual basis and should be assessed/monitored via routine blood testing.
These anti-inflammatory suggestions apply to people with back pain, fatigue, arthritis, heart disease, osteoporosis, aging, and most other conditions. The approach is general and directed at reducing the diet-induced pro-inflammatory state.1
We create inflammation in three main ways: An inflammatory diet, lack of exercise or too much exercise, and mental/emotional-driven stress. This means that most of us are chronically inflamed prior to injury, and also prior to the seemingly insidious development of fatigue, malaise, aches, and pains. In addition to passive interventions, such as the chiropractic adjustment, we need to make anti-inflammatory lifestyle choices.
Here is the problem with the anti-inflammatory approach to health…most people like to eat pro-inflammatory foods and most people don’t exercise. People want a pill that will counteract the inflammatory foods, and they even want a pill that will exercise for them. Unfortunately, there are no pro-inflammatory loopholes, so we just have to make a choice and deal with the consequences.
1. Seaman DR. The diet-induced pro-inflammatory state: a cause of chronic pain and other degenerative diseases? J Manipulat Physiol Ther 2002; 25: 168-179
Dr. Seaman is the Clinical Chiropractic Consultant for Anabolic Laboratories, one of the first supplement manufacturers to service the chiropractic profession. He is on the postgraduate faculties of several chiropractic colleges, providing nutrition seminars that focus on the needs of the chiropractic patient. Dr. Seaman can be reached by e-mail at