Important Steps to Take if Your Legs Hurt

Steve Kroening, ND
October 16, 2019

 

The story in the news was shocking. It covered the risk of not walking in people who have peripheral artery disease. But walking with peripheral artery disease is a bit of a Catch-22. Walking is necessary for healthy legs – but walking causes painful leg cramps. Typically, this means that the patient will stop walking, for good.

With the sedentary lifestyles we live today, this problem is becoming more and more common. Doctors are regularly seeing patients that say they can’t walk because of their artery disease. This is a deadly mistake.

If you have this condition and you allow it to make you even more sedentary, you’re 350% more likely to die. Definitely a tough situation. But there’s a way to stop the leg cramps and get you back on track!

Peripheral arterial disease (also called PAD) involves poor blood flow in the arteries. Arteries carry blood away from the heart and lungs to the muscles and organs in your body. When you have diseased arteries, they become narrow or blocked. The most common cause of narrow or blocked arteries is the buildup of fatty deposits. This common situation is called atherosclerosis. The most common complaint of people who have PAD is leg pain, which doctors call claudication.

Claudication is pain that strikes your calf or thigh muscle. It starts after you have walked a certain distance, maybe a block or two. The pain stops as soon as you rest. Each time the pain occurs, it takes about the same amount of time for the pain to go away once you stop walking.

The pain happens because not enough blood is flowing to the muscles in your legs. PAD can cause the artery that normally supplies blood to the muscle to get narrow so that less blood can flow through the artery. While you are immobile or resting, plenty of blood flows to the muscle. Once you start to work, by walking, the muscle needs more blood. The narrowed artery may not let enough blood through to the muscle.

You are at risk for PAD if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or high oxidized LDL cholesterol. Smoking increases risk — so it’s vital you quit if you haven’t already! Unfortunately, risk increases with age too. Claudication is also more likely to occur in folks who already have atherosclerosis in other arteries, such as the arteries in the heart or brain. Heart attack or stroke survivors are more at risk.

Fortunately, this condition responds really well to treatment. So you can reverse the condition without drugs! All you have to do is follow this program of nutrients and eat a Keto or Mediterranean diet. These diets can help you reduce plaque build-up in your vascular system. And they can help to stabilize your blood sugar and blood pressure.

Here are the supplements you must take if you have PAD.

Start With This Tibetan Herbal Formula

In the mid-1900s, through a fascinating set of coincidences, a powerful herbal formula known as Padma 28 made its way out of Tibet. An unknown person hand-carried the formula from Tibet to Siberia to prevent its destruction during the Communist invasion. Decades later, a Swiss pharmaceutical salesman re-discovered Padma and brought it to Europe.

This salesman created Padma Basic. He manufactured it in Switzerland under strict pharmaceutical standards. His formula consists of 19 plants, plus camphor and calcium sulfate — all of which help keep your arteries clean and healthy. Padma Basic increases circulation and reduces inflammation. We know that inflammation is directly involved in the buildup of plaque in arteries. We also know that this formula is particularly successful in keeping veins and arteries free from plaque. Whether you’re preventing or treating PAD or intermittent claudication, Padma Basic has dozens of sound scientific studies to back up its effectiveness.

Since they show it can take from four weeks to six months to relieve leg pain, I suggest you use it long enough to give it a chance to work. And check with your doctor to make sure you have the time to try this supplement. The supplement is available online.

Other Nutrients to Take

Bromelain (500 mg three times daily) -- The pineapple plant may hold the key to lowering fibrinogen. It contains a complex of proteins called bromelain that breaks down proteins. Take it with meals and it helps you digest the proteins in your food. Take it between meals and it helps break down fibrin, the form of fibrinogen that produces clots! Bromelain also activates plasmin, an enzyme that digests fibrinogen.

Bromelain works by slowing down fibrinogen production, as well as by breaking it down. Its effects are dose-dependent. The more you take, the better the results. Bromelain is extremely safe to take. There's no way you can overdose. Because it breaks down quickly in the body, it's best to take bromelain three or four times a day rather than all at once.

If you think that eating more pineapple can have a similar effect, think again. Commercial bromelain comes from the stem of the fruit, not the fruit itself. You can find bromelain supplements in any health food stores. Buy a brand with 180 tablets of 500 mg of bromelain. This is a 60-day supply if you take one, three times a day. Be sure to take it on an empty stomach.

Turmeric (Curcumin) – As you may know, powdered turmeric root (Curcuma longa) is a spice found in curry powder. It's sometimes used to make rice yellow. But turmeric, and its active ingredient curcumin, has additional value. It has strong medicinal properties. It’s antibacterial, reduces inflammation, and inhibits the formation of fibrinogen. There aren't a lot of studies using this herb to reduce fibrinogen, but those that have been conducted are promising. In one study, a group of people with high fibrinogen was given 200 mg of curcumin extract a day for two weeks. Every single person lowered their fibrinogen. Studies say that 200 mg of curcumin a day works. But you can take more.

Vitamin E (800 IU daily) – Vitamin E is well known for easing the leg cramps that happen in people with PAD.

L-Carnitine (500 mg three times daily, one hour before meals) – Carnitine raises energy in muscles by shuttling fats into the mitochondria to be burned as fuel.

Niacin (500 mg with lunch and 500 mg with dinner) – Niacin is a strong vasodilator (it opens the blood vessels). It reduces lipoprotein, which can cause clogged arteries, and it reduces oxidized LDL cholesterol. This vitamin is renowned for changing unhealthy lipid levels, and is available by prescription (Niaspan). But you also can get it in health food stores. Be sure to take it in the middle of the meal so that potentially uncomfortable flushing is reduced. If you take aspirin or Alka Seltzer with the niacin this also will help reduce the flushing. If you do flush, take a cool shower and drink a big glass of cold water. The flush will pass in 30 to 60 minutes and is harmless.

Fish oils (3000 mg combined EPA and DHA daily) – Fish oils reverse plaque in blood vessels and dilate arteries for improved blood flow.

Don’t Stop Walking

Now this is the tricky part. You’ve got to get walking! A walking program is one of the most helpful interventions for this problem. You should begin to walk at least three times a week for 30 to 45 minutes each time. Walk until the pain is too uncomfortable to continue. When the pain starts, stop and rest until the pain goes away. Then start walking again.

When you begin an exercise program, such as walking or stair climbing, begin exercising slowly and gradually increase the time you spend exercising. You will most likely see big improvements in your symptoms within two months. Once you are well underway with the walking, increase it to 30 to 60 minutes daily.

That is the magic amount that has been most effective for PAD patients. Once you are walking 60 minutes a day, any extra weight that you have been carrying just seems to melt off of you. As the weight drops, so do your blood pressure, your blood sugar, and your oxidized LDL cholesterol. (The fish oils and the niacin hasten this effect, of course!)

As those factors improve, the blood vessels heal and you have restored circulation. You could be enjoying these benefits by the holidays if you start today!

Sources:

Lotz-Winter, H. "On the pharmacology of bromelain: an update with special regard to animal studies on dose-dependent effects," Planta Med, June 1990.

Potron, G., et al. "Fibrinogen, arterial risk factor in clinical practice," Clinical Hemorrheology, 1994.

Ramirez-Bosca, A., et al. "An hydroalcoholic extract of Curcuma longa lowers the abnormally high values of human-plasma fibrinogen," Mech Ageing Dev, April 14, 2000.

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