Michael A. Smith, M.D. is senior health scientist for Life Extension in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Also known as “Dr. Mike,” for more than six years, he has worked with Life Extension, the leading distributor of scientifically advanced dietary supplement products, in a variety of capacities, including as a health advisor, clinical information trainer and specialist, and keynote speaker for the company’s monthly lecture series.
Dr. Mike was a recurring guest in 2012 on The Suzanne Show with Suzanne Somers on the Lifetime Network, appeared on Gem of the Caribbean, a television show dedicated to disease prevention and has been seen in several regional infomercials as an expert guest. He is also heard on numerous syndicated national health radio shows. He hosts Healthy Talk radio on www.RadioMD.com and has just completed a book on the dietary supplement pyramid that is scheduled for publication spring 2014.
I like to think of Dr. Mike as the Dr. Oz for Examiner.com Bay Area natural health. Recently, he was asked about prolotherapy.
Examiner.com: What are your thoughts on prolotherapy?
Dr. Smith: Prolotherapy holds a lot of promise for people with severe pain syndromes, especially in the joints. It’s an option for people who have tried conventional methods without much success. We like it because it stimulates your own body’s normal repair and growth processes – that’s what “prolo” means, growth. After the injection of a sugar solution into the painful area, blood flow increases brining nutrients necessary for repair and growth.
Examiner.com: What are the potential risks and benefits of prolotherapy?
Dr. Smith: The benefit is reduced pain. Patients also develop stronger ligaments and tendons around the effected joint. And of course, everything has risk. This is an injection and some people can have an allergic reaction at the site of injection, although this is extremely rare. There’s also a slight risk of infection in the area injected.
Examiner.com: How can a patient decide if this might be the right approach for them, or if other methods of pain management would be more helpful?
Dr. Smith: Anyone suffering from chronic pain can benefit. It’s not for acute pain, like immediately following some sort of trauma. Keep in mind the current options for treating chronic pain are limited to steroid injections and narcotic drugs. Both have terrible side effects and the effectiveness wears off quickly. So people should speak with their doctor about prolotherapy as a front-line treatment.
Examiner.com: How can anger, depression, and anxiety impact people affected with chronic pain? How can it further impact their mental and physical health?
Dr. Smith: It’s a vicious cycle. Chronic pain causes mood instability and anger which then can exacerbate the chronic pain. This is why getting quality sleep, exercising as much as possible and supplementing with mood enhancing nutrients such as saffron, lithium orotatea and tryptophan are all important.
Examiner.com: Do you have any strategies for dealing with this emotional fallout from pain?
Dr. Smith: As much as you can, exercise. Staying active is proving to be more effective than drugs for treating mood disorders. Also supplement with omega-3 fats, like EPA and DHA. Studies show that these important fats help to ease inflammation and improve brain function.
Examiner.com: What are your thoughts on people who use unhealthy methods of coping with pain, such as smoking, overeating, drug abuse, alcohol, or catastrophizing? Why are these bad ideas, and what do you say to patients who deal with pain this way?
Dr. Smith: Unhealthy methods for treating chronic pain really only mask the pain, they don’t really treat the underlying issue. Plus, these unhealthy methods can be devastating in the long run emotionally, physically and psychologically. The end result can often be worse than the original pain. But our position is clear. Chronic pain must be treated. But notice, I say that the pain must be treated. That’s the secret. We have to treat the cause of the pain, not so much the pain itself.
Examiner.com: Can you offer a few healthier alternatives for coping with pain?
Dr. Smith: As you’re figuring out the cause of the pain, finding relief is necessary. The following are natural pain relievers. But remember, finding the actual cause is key. Tart cherry extract, 1200 mg/day,
Korean angelica extract 200 mg/day, white willow bark extract 500 mg/day and rhodiola extract 250 mg/day.