Managing Pain and Inflammation with Diet and Herbs: An Interview with Ricky Brandino, AP

Ricky Brandino found the natural world through the macrobiotic movement as a chef in the 1980s. That interest in food as medicine grew into an interest in the healing arts. Ricky decided that his life’s work would be dedicated to helping people find wellness through natural means. He enrolled in Acupuncture school in Miami and began his practice in North Miami Beach in 1994 as a partner with Lori Bell and Daniel Atchison-Nevel.

The years of working in the kitchen as a young man and paying more attention to his patient’s health than his own finally caught up to him, leaving him with an aching back. Ricky’s pain was so severe he visited his local VA which he had access to from his years as a Navy Corpsman (medic). The diagnosis was herniated discs at L4-L5 & L5-S1, degenerative disc diseases, arthritis, and foraminal stenosis. The prognosis was dire and he was recommended to consult a back surgeon. Luckily, Ricky had seen first-hand the trans-formative effect of the healing powers of food, acupuncture, herbs, and other supplements. He embarked on a journey to heal himself with the same tools he had helped so many others with. I had the opportunity to sit down with Ricky and discuss exactly how he was able to avoid surgery and have a 90-95% pain reduction on a daily basis.

What events do you think lead you to such a difficult situation?

Unaddressed injuries have definitely been the biggest contributor. When I was working in New York City as a macrobiotic chef I would be on my feet for 8-10 hours stretches doing 10 things at once. I was young and didn’t realize the damage I was doing. Then years went by focusing on other people’s problems made me neglect my own. Also, although I was cooking healthy for others I really neglected my own health and should of been eating more similar diet to what I do now. New research has really shed light on the power of healthy fats.

Describe the pain and inflammation?

It was horrendous, I would show up at work and just feel terrible. I was in constant pain while I was standing. I couldn’t stand for more than five minutes without pain and I couldn’t walk for more than fifteen minutes with out pain. My vertebrae were collapsed. There was a shooting pain that would run down my left leg with my foot feeling like pins and needles. My low back was always throbbing and pulsating with a warm pain. My body was in a state of chronic pain and inflammation.

How were you coping with it on a daily basis?

I first addressed it with classic Traditional Chinese Medicine formulas like Yao Tong Pian  I would see some results but just not enough. Yan Hu Suo (corydalis). was helping with the acute pain but the underlying issue was still there. The pain was so bad it drove me to go to the VA. They diagnosed me with herniated discs at L4-L5 & L5-S1, degenerative disc diseases, arthritis, and foraminal stenosis. They prescribed me Neproxen, but when I took it I would feel strange and uneasy.

How did you feel when you received your diagnosis?

I was totally depressed. I felt like I was going to have to live with this pain for the rest of my life, I was afraid. When I received my MRI the fear just washed over me. I couldn’t even take a shower without pulling a chair in there. I knew that if I had to have surgery I would not be able to work and my wife was not making much money at the time, it was bleak.

What was your first step in the right direction?

I was speaking to my friend Pam Dickson about my problem and she told me about the ketogenic diet, and how good it was to help with pain and inflammation. I Immediately started devouring all the information out there related to diet, pain, and inflammation. I started evaluating the recommendations from different sources and put together what I thought would work for me.

Describe your daily regime?

I started changing my dietary habits by eliminating sugars, gluten, grains, nuts, beans, soy, and all artificial ingredients. I dramatically increased healthy fats like avocado, coconut oil, olives, animal fats that come from grass fed animals, wild salmon, and vegetables. Bone broth has also been a great boost. Basically what I was trying to do is level out my Omega 3 intake to my Omega 6 intake. Reduce the inflammatory fatty acids and increase the anti-inflammatory acids, that is why I cut out nuts.

Not only did I change my diet but I started taking herbs and supplements known to fight pain and inflammation.Turmeric and Cats Claw as well as Boswellia and Yan Hu Suo (corydalis). Another big difference maker has been enzymes and fish oils. Collagen has been big as well, anything to help increase joint mobility and reduce inflammation. I now take mega doses of turmeric, enzymes, collageen, and fish oil on a regular basis.

To top it all off I was getting acupuncture 2-4 times a week and would get body work any chance I could get. The acupuncture really helped me stay the course and relieve the sensations in my back and leg.

When did you start seeing a difference with the pain and inflammation?

I really started seeing results in about a month, pain was less. I was able to stand longer, pain and inflammation was definitely reducing. The tingling in my foot was going away. That was the scary part. After about 3 months I was about 80% pain free. Now, 6 months in I am proud to say that I am 90-95% pain and inflammation free on a daily basis, depending on how strict I am with my daily regimen. It all depends on how well I am taking care of myself .

Ricky Brandino
  • Ricky’s round up



  • Grass fed butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Vegetables that grow above ground
  • Organic grass fed beef
  • Pasture raised eggs
  • Blue berries
  • Strawberries
  • Wild Salmon
  • Avocado



  • Grains (all of them)
  • Sugar
  • Processed foods
  • Artificial anything

Herbs and supplements to take

  • Turmeric
  • Serratiopeptidase
  • Recovery Support
  • Collagen
  • Yan Hu Suo (corydalis)
  • Cats Claw
  • Boswellia
  • Fish Oils

I want to thank Ricky for taking the time to chat about his experiences. Ricky practices at the NSEV Healing and Acupuncture Clinic in Miami Beach, Florida. If you want him to create a pain and inflammation protocol just for you give him a call (305)532-0777 or email

Although this diet worked well for Ricky, it is important to keep in mind that every individual is different. As with any wellness protocol please consult your healthcare practitioner before beginning.

Orion Nevel