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Rude Wonders

Independent health store advice on natural help for joints and bone health

Looking for advice on natural health and wellbeing? Your local independent health stores can offer a wealth of knowledge and expertise. This issue we speak to Lorin Taylor of Licorice Healthfoods in Portumna, Co Galway

Customers often come into our shop and ask for help with aches and pains. The remedies range from the old-fashioned cider vinegar, honey, molasses combinations, right through to the latest high-end supplements such as UC11, curcumin and ginger. All are valid and have their place, and many people get great relief from using a combination of them.

For tackling inflammation and pain, we find MSM particularly good, especially in powder form where the dosage is very adjustable, starting with the lowest and increasing until the desired relief is achieved.

Many people find glucosamine great for keeping joints pain-free and supple. I recommend taking a combination of glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM, thus speeding up the effectiveness of the glucosamine and tackling the pain straight away.

As with most things, if you can target what is causing the issue, rather than just treating the symptoms, treatment will be both effective and long lasting. To this end it is essential to get some background history about the cause, and we ask customers the following questions. Is it a result of injury? Wear and tear? Arthritis? Or age-related?

Injury of course needs to be treated carefully, since no-one wants to make things worse. Taking a strong vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, MSM and collagen combination will nourish the cartilage and connective tissue, thus assisting with the natural healing process. With the added benefit of making your skin look fantastic!

We really can’t talk about joint and bone health without mentioning omega oils. Studies indicate that omega-3 is by far the most important of the omegas as the levels of EPA and DHA it contains have been shown to combat the body’s inflammatory response. Omega-3 can decrease the symptoms of morning joint stiffness, tender joints and joint pain. Joint lubrication, along with exercise, increases blood flow and may decrease the progression of osteoarthritis.

Bone comprises a hard outer shell and a living spongy inner-tissue matrix, with the entire skeleton being replaced approximately every seven years. This process is regulated by osteoblasts (building up the skeleton) and osteoclasts (breaking down the skeleton). Obviously the aim is to keep the ‘build up’ greater than the ‘break down’, thus keeping the bones healthy and strong. Osteoblasts are K2 dependent, needing the vitamin to produce osteocalcin which binds calcium into the bone matrix. If over the long term the body doesn’t get enough K2, then more bone will be removed than it can build.

For bone strength it is essential to ensure an adequate intake of calcium, but other vitamins such as magnesium, boron, vitamin C and, most importantly, D3 and K2, are essential to aid its take-up. K2 is particularly difficult for the body to source without supplementation.

Magnesium is a macro-mineral which, unlike trace minerals, is needed by the body in large amounts. Magnesium stimulates calciton, a hormone that draws calcium from the blood and tissues back into the bones by activating an enzyme that converts vitamin D into its active form, thus regulating the calcium transport.

One in five of the Irish population suffer from some form of arthritic-caused pain. Arthritic pain seems to be most effectively eased by use of the turmeric, ginger and pepper combinations, in conjunction with some dietary changes, like avoiding acidic foods such as coffee, sugar and alcohol. Adding a good source of omega oil and some light exercise can work wonders too!

Who’s who and what’s what at Licorice Healthfoods

Manager Lorin Taylor, whose first name is Licorice, began Licorice Healthfoods from scratch, opening in November 2012 in an empty unit in Portumna which borders the counties of Tipperary, Offaly and Galway and is situated on the edge of Lough Derg.

“We get a lot of through traffic because this is a tourist destination with a marina and camping areas, so we have to be really well stocked with lots of variety,” says Lorin. “People drop in and may look for paleo or gluten-free foods, supplements, gifts or stainless steel water bottles. We also have a diverse range of very loyal customers including local farmers, older ladies and parents of young children. That’s why I love this job – it’s so varied.

“We stock a wide range of gifts, including salt lamps and incense. On one side of the shop we have haircare, bodycare and skincare products as well as household eco cleaning ranges. Then there are juices, snacks, coffees, nut butters, dried foods and a gluten-free section that is separated to avoid cross-contamination. We have herbs and spices, baking ingredients, superfoods such as maca and cocoa nibs.

“Our local honey is popular and we have three suppliers, with honeycomb in season. We also sell local goat’s cheese and apple juice. Our fridge contains supplements, ready to eat keffir, drinks, dairy alternatives such as spreads and nut cheeses.

“We stock all the best supplements brands and around half of our overall stock is supplements. Plus a good range of essential oils. I am very fussy about stocking only the cleanest proteins.

“We have a treatment room which is rented out to practitioners and have good relationships with acupuncturists, dietitians and other therapists in the town.

“I am on the local Chamber of Commerce and try to get involved in as many local events as possible – during the summer festival we had a stand outside the shop. We have in-store tastings, and talks which have proved very popular, covering subjects such as the sugar content of foods and ways to eat healthier.”

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