Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Athletes Turn to Natural Therapies to Relieve Pain and Avoid Steroid Use



Steroids aren't just used to pump up athletes into muscle-bound record-breakers, they are also used to help reduce inflammation and recuperate from painful injuries. But while these steroids - known as corticosteroids - can be used legally by professional athletes such as baseball and football players, they can also have dangerous side effects such as easy bruising, weight gain and osteoporosis. That is why more American athletes are moving away from any kind of steroid use and turning to a natural therapy popular in other countries to relieve pain and treat injuries.


Homeopathy is a therapeutic system that uses micro doses of natural substances to relieve symptoms. Unlike corticosteroids used in cortisone shots to accelerate the healing process, homeopathic medicines heal without side effects and are non-doping.


Popular sports doctors have found that they have restrictions when helping athletes recover from bruising, swelling, and trauma from impact, but homeopathic medicines have given them a safer option.


"The greatest value in sports? It's speed of action," said Dr. Jean-Marcel Ferret, doctor to the French soccer team from 1993 to 2004, including the World Cup championship team in 1998. "I can use homeopathic medicines like Arnica directly on the soccer field.


Marie-Hélène Prémont won the silver medal in mountain biking in the 2004 Olympic games and credits homeopathic medicines with helping in her victory.


"Homeopathic medicines are safe and work naturally to relieve aches and pains so I can work hard one day and continue what I need to do the next day," Prémont said.


Prémont trains six days a week, sprinting and climbing on her bike in preparation for this year's World Cup and World Championships of mountain biking and the 2008 Olympic games. While training and during competitions, Premont will take an occasional fall and uses Arnica cream by French homeopathic producer Boiron to reduce pain, swelling and bruising. Arnica is made from the mountain daisy plant and has been used for centuries as a natural pain reliever.


Homeopathic medicine like Arnica isn't only popular with athletes - it is also gaining popularity with consumers for its many uses. Arnica can also be used for stiffness after a long flight, for the bruises toddlers may receive while learning to walk or the regular aches and pains that come from home improvements.

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