As more people are spending more time on computers, we are developing more computer induced problems. More than 90 percent of computer and device users suffer from computer vision syndrome, also known as digital eye strain. The symptoms include decreased or blurred vision, burning or stinging eyes, sensitivity to light, headaches, as well as back and neck pain.
Computers & Your Eyes
Eye fatigue caused by time spent on the computer is becoming an increasingly common problem. Bilberry is the greatest eye herb: it has been shown to help several eye conditions, including cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration.
Even the problems of the modern, fast-paced world are no match for it! Recent research shows that it can also help with computer induced eye fatigue. In the study, 83 people between the ages of 20 and 40 took either a placebo or 160 mg of bilberry extract three times a day for eight weeks in a blinded study. The people played video games for two hours. Changes in vision were significantly reduced in the bilberry group. Eye fatigue, pain and heaviness were all significantly reduced compared to placebo (J Nutr Health Aging 2015;19:548-54).
A recently published double-blind study looking at eye fatigue after using visual display terminals gave either a placebo or bilberry containing 43.2 mg of anthocyanins to 32 people for six weeks. The bilberry group had significant improvement in pupil response. The benefit was a result of its antioxidant properties (Functional Foods in Health and Disease 2021; 11(3): 116-146). So, if you struggle from eye strain from working at your computer, try bilberry.
Ginkgo biloba, an herb shown to benefit glaucoma and macular degeneration, has also been shown to be helpful against eye strain from computer use.
Lutein, a carotene, is another powerful eye nutrient. It has been shown to help both cataracts and macular degeneration. So, researchers tried giving 6 g of lutein, 12 g of lutein or a placebo to 37 people who were exposed to long-term computer display light. After 12 weeks, there was a trend toward improved visual acuity in the 12 g lutein group and significant improvement in contrast sensitivity. The researchers concluded that lutein improved visual function: especially contrast sensitivity (Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol 1998;12:176-81).
Computers & Stress
Increased computer time means increased fatigue, irritability and stress. When 84 people who spend at least 50 percent of their workday on computers were given ginkgo, they made significantly less errors than people given a placebo. Ginkgo users not only concentrated better, but they also suffered significantly less stress and reported significantly better vitality (J Pharmakol U Ther 2007;1:3-9).
The same can be said for ginseng. Double-blind research of people who were experiencing work-related stress from full time computer work found that taking red Panax ginseng significantly increased attention and decreased errors. The ginseng also significantly decreased their stress levels (Pharmaceuticals March 29, 2020;13(4):57).
Computers & Pain: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
With more of us spending practically the entire day on the computer keyboard, carpal tunnel syndrome is becoming more of a problem. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful condition caused by a compression of the nerve in the wrist as a result of repetitive work with the hands. The nerve compression causes pain when gripping, weakness, numbing, burning and tingling in the palm and fingers. The pain may extend all the way up the arm to the shoulder.
The most important treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome is vitamin B6. Several double-blind studies have proven that B6 can effectively treat carpal tunnel syndrome (Res Comm Chem Path Pharm 1976;13:743-57; Res Comm Chem Path Pharm 1977;17:165-77; Am J Clin Nutr 1979;32:2040-46; Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 1982;79:7494-8; South Med J 1987;80:882- 4; Annals NY Acad Sci 1990;585:295-301; Annals NY Acad Sci 1990;585:302-20; J Am Coll Nutr 1993;12:73-6), though a few studies have not been positive. Taking the larger dose of 300 mg may be the difference in some of these studies.
Research has also shown that vitamin B2 can help carpal tunnel syndrome and that the effect is even greater when B2 and B6 are combined (Proc Nat Acad Sci 1984;81:7076-8). Adding B2 may help because it is necessary for the conversion of B6 (pyridoxine) into its active form (pyridoxal 5’-phosphate). Though we are not aware of any studies looking at the effect of adding magnesium, magnesium also plays a role in that conversion. If you are adding B2, try a dose of 10 mg a day.
Start taking B6 at a dose of 50 mg a day and increase to 100-300 mg as needed. If you need to increase the dose, take your 100-300 mg in divided doses of 50 mg at a time. The therapy may take up to three months.
For most people, the regular B6 form is fine. However, the active form may be even better, especially if you have liver disease, and you should try using it if the regular form has not produced any results at all after six weeks of supplementation.
Some things can interfere with your body’s ability to use B6. Some of the more important ones are alcohol, excessive protein, birth control pills, dopamine, penicillamine and the food coloring FD&C yellow No. 5.
Vitamin D may also be involved: lower vitamin D levels are associated both with having carpal tunnel syndrome (J Hand Surg Eur Vol 2016 Jul ;41(6):643-7) and with more severe pain (J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil 2016 Nov 21;29(4):835- 839; Orthop Traumatol Surg Res 2017 Oct ;103(6):919-922).
In addition, 600 mg a day of alpha-lipoic acid has been shown to significantly improve pain (Malays Orthop J 2020 Mar;14(1):1-6). Some lipoic acid combinations have also been shown to help. When 600 mg a day of lipoic acid is combined with GLA essential fatty acids, symptom and function scores both improve (Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci 2009 Mar-Apr;13(2):133-9). Adding echinacea to the combination makes it work even better (Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol 2015 Jun;28(2):256-62).
Hydrotherapy may help carpal tunnel syndrome. Immersing the hand in hot water for three minutes followed by cold water for 30 seconds three to five times can increase the circulation to the hand. The increased circulation can help with the inflammation and edema that are present in carpal tunnel syndrome and, by doing so, reduce the pain.
Immobilizing the wrist with a splint day and night may also help. Research also suggests that flexing the wrist and fist with arms extended before work and during breaks might help (Modern Med 1996;64:14-15).
Acupressure (Complement Ther Med 2020 Jun;51:102420) and acupuncture can be of great help. In one study, 35 of 36 people with carpal tunnel syndrome were helped by acupuncture, even though 14 of them were not helped by surgery (Am J Acupunct 1990;18:5- 9). The improvement provided by acupuncture is as good as steroids (Clin J Pain 2009 May;25(4):327-33) and better than NSAIDs (J Acupunct Meridian Stud 2015 Oct ;8(5):229-35; Altern Ther Health Med 2020 Mar;26(2):10-16). The National Institutes of Health says, based on a review of all the literature, that acupuncture “may be useful as an adjunct treatment or an acceptable alternative or be included in a comprehensive management program” (JAMA 1998;280:1518-24).
Anti-inflammatories can also be helpful. Good natural anti-inflammatories include bromelain, curcumin, quercetin and flaxseed oil. VR
Linda Woolven is a master herbalist, acupuncturist and solution-focused counsellor with a virtual practice in Toronto, Canada. Woolven and Ted Snider are the authors of several books on natural health. You can see their books at www.thenaturalpathnewsletter.com. They are also the authors of the natural health newsletter The Natural Path. The Natural Path is a natural health newsletter specifically designed to help health food stores increase their sales by educating their customers. The Natural Path contains no advertising and never mentions a brand name. To Increase Your Sales by Educating Your Customers, Start Giving The Natural Path Newsletter to Your Customers Today! Contact Ted Snider at email@example.com or at (416) 782-8211.