Our good friend Helen is teaching her nutritional program again this spring. She did this a few years ago in our office and it was great! Register for her class in Beverly or Hamilton. Check out the link below.
Our good friend Helen is teaching her nutritional program again this spring. She did this a few years ago in our office and it was great! Register for her class in Beverly or Hamilton. Check out the link below.
Full disclosure: I am not a yogi. I’ve only done yoga a handful of times, and that was only when I conceded to my wife’s request to join her because, “it would be fun”. I learned enough about yoga in chiropractic school to understand some of the health benefits it offers, such as maintaining good joint mobility. As beneficial as I know it to be, it just hasn’t stuck with me yet. I still spend most of my exercise time on a bike. Now, having said that, I would like to discuss something that I have observed clinically in my office.
I have seen a number of patients in my office who are avid yoga students and suffer from sacroiliac joint dysfunction causing pelvis and butt pain. Not knowing if this was cause, correlation, or coincidence, I treated these patients by restoring normal motion to the joints, correcting muscle tension around the area and having the patient take a break from exercise. The good news is that sacroiliac joint dysfunction often resolves with proper treatment. But many of these patients asked me if yoga was causing their problem. I told them that I truthfully didn’t know enough about yoga to comment, but in the back of my mind I kept the question:
“Does yoga cause sacroiliac joint problems?”
Joint injury is often caused by too much compression. Compressing a joint beyond its capacity to withstand the pressure occurs in two ways. A force can either be a large, sudden-impact collision like getting hit by a car or it can be a series of small, repetitive-type forces like choosing to stand in a shift stance whereby you put most of your weight only on one leg. Either way, the result can be the same: inflammation, improper joint motion, and eventually, pain.
This weekend I did an informal investigation and asked my two sister-in-laws, both yoga instructors, if they had heard of any concern regarding SI joint injury and yoga. They both replied with an emphatic yes and explained that if people were not properly aligned when doing certain poses that they could indeed cause SI joint dysfunction. Specifically, they talked about the yoga pose called, “Warrior One”. One of them even stated that she often skips that pose because of her history of sacroiliac joint pain. A second concern that they mentioned was that sometimes people don’t self regulate or listen to their own body. Because it is usually done in a class setting, a person may try to “match” another person in the class and do a pose that their body is not ready to do.
To validate these statements I consulted with Kim Valeri of Yogaspirit Studios. Kim has been training and certifying yoga teachers for about 20 years. She agreed with these concerns and took the time to explain the physiopathology (mechanism or process of a disease or injury) by simply stating that too much external rotation of the back leg in Warrior One can be very stressful on the SI joint. She suggested that a person focus on keeping their hips square and their back foot facing more forward when doing Warrior One pose and that this would prevent SI joint injury. She further reiterated the importance of doing each pose in the proper biomechanical alignment to avoid injury and then spouted off about 10 other poses with similar concerns and voiced the merits of working with a trained yoga teacher- such as our very own Stephanie McQuillan of Bodhi Living in Beverly, Ma.
So, in conclusion:
We are blessed to have a lot of great studios here on the north shore. Find one that fits you and have fun.
P.S. If you see my wife there, tell her I’ll join her next time.
I admit that I could eat better. I’m working on it- livelong quest really. It is hard work to eat right and I’m easily tempted. But I have discovered that I do pretty well when someone else makes the food and I just show up to eat it. Or, as in this case, the food comes to me.
If you have time, check out this local company. They just made it a little more convenient for families to eat healthy food. They are making whole food meals and having people pick up weekly shares locally. You can pick up shares right here in Hamilton.
Some tips on shoveling:
1. When you can, push instead of lift.
2. Try to avoid bending/twisting/lifting combo- this puts a lot of torsional pressure on the discs the back.
3. Dont start cold- some simple rotational stretching before will help to warm up the muscles of the back.
4. Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate.
5. Get adjusted.
Dr. Gould is certified in the Webster Technique. To learn more about how the Webster Technique can help mothers, pregnant women and children please click here http://icpa4kids.org/Chiropractic-Research/webster-technique-defined.html.
A subluxated sacrum can do much more than just cause discomfort or sciatic type pain. Reproductive problems, bladder dysfunction, and digestive difficulties may all occur when the sacral bone is not aligned properly (what chiropractors call a subluxation). But the most problematic side effect of a sacral subluxation may be the emotional component. I have seen several patients with chronic sacral subluxations who were being medically treated for depression.
Clinically, I have seen this correlation happen so many times now that it has caused me to incorporate the question “Do you have difficulties with depression?” in my initial examination. Recently a patient reminded me that many old-time chiropractors and osteopaths used to refer to the sacrum as “The Emotional Bone.” Without going into too much depth here, let me try and give you a brief glimpse into the neurology of “why” the sacrum may influence our emotional well-being.
The autonomic portion of the nervous system regulates organ and gland function. This is broken down into two parts: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. The sympathetic nervous system is in charge of revving things up (fight or flight). The parasympathetic is in control of “resting” activities such as digestion, urination, salivation, and sexual arousal (things that we can take our time with and provide relief). Where do these parasympathetic nerves come from? The upper (cranial) and lower (sacral) part of the spinal cord. This is why it is called craniosacral outflow and it might also be why a subluxated sacrum can put an individual in a sour mood. A subluxated sacrum may interfere with proper parasympathetic outflow, causing a dis-ease within the system.
I am not saying the all depressed people have a sacral subluxation or that anyone with a sacral subluxation will become depressed. But I can say that I have seen people’s moods completely change when I adjusted their subluxated sacrum. I have seen it enough times that I believe it warrants more attention from the medical community and more research from the chiropractic community.
What do you do when your daughter’s 8 year old friend challenges you to a race? In my opinion, you can do one of two things: 1. you can respectfully decline while coming up with a lame excuse of an arthritic knee, or 2. you can say yes, but concede at the finish line and let her go home with the glory.
But what do you do when her mom then taunts you by saying that she has “never been beat”?
This was the pickle I found myself in last Friday.
I had been watching my daughter play with her friend as our two families were enjoying a rare October beach day. As the girls ran around I was amazed to watch her friend put her hands on the ground and walk around on all fours like she was a cat or a gorilla. She moved with such incredible grace that it looked completely natural.
She had no difficulty walking in the normal bipedal upright position, but could easily transition to all fours and run. In this position, she could bound up and down the rocks or scamper down the beach.
Being a chiropractor, I began to study the movement of her spine and analyze the bio-dynamics that were occurring in her body as she moved. When I asked her mother about her ability to walk on all fours she said, “She started doing it out of curiosity after watching Animal Planet. She began to emulate the animals for fun and just kept doing it til she got really good at it.”
She further stated that last year, when in Florida, a man had come down the beach and expected to find a monkey after watching the movement from afar and was alarmed to discover a young girl just playing.
After a few minutes of this play, she challenged me to a race… on all fours of course. Just like the carney, who was trying to tempt me to win an overstuffed pink cuddly donkey for my daughters by demonstrating how easy it is to climb up and down “The Tricky Ladder” at The Topsfield Fair, this girl had made it look easy and lured me into the belief that anyone could do it.
We lined up, I crouched down and we were off. I fell on my face and she galloped down to the finish line and back before I got the actual sand and figurative mud off my face.
Her ability to move in such a fashion was nothing short of a work of art and had such an impact on me that I thought it appropriate to write about it here. There were so many life lessons for me wrapped up in this moment of play.
Here are a few reflections:
1. There is no substitute for practice and repetition. This is true for keeping your spine in alignment, learning to ride a bike, keeping your teeth clean, and learning to run like a cheetah.
2. Ben Franklin said that necessity is the mother of invention, but I believe, that curiosity is the best soil for cultivating creativity. I think of all the things Leonardo DaVinci created, designed and built simply because he was curious about his environment.
3. Sometimes children are so over-scheduled that they rarely have the time to simply play, spontaneously create and commune with nature. This leads them susceptible to developing “Nature Deficiency Syndrome.”
4. Like Jim Croce sang: “You don’t tug on Superman’s cape. You don’t spit into the wind. You don’t pull on the mask of the lone Lone Ranger” and you don’t race on all fours against an 8 year old girl who has spent years perfecting her craft! You might end up writing a self-incriminating blog about yourself.
In good health and good humor,
p.s. Further insult to injury occurred after the race as I tried to practice this unusual movement and accidentally kicked sand up into the eyes of the children who were watching me.
Today, I pass on some of the advice I received from my dad before he passed away.
As many of you may know, my dad died on the morning of Christmas Eve. These past several months have brought much self reflection as I have processed the meaning of his death. As to be expected, life appears to be much more fragile to me now. Its ephemeral quality is more apparent.
But yesterday, the questions and unease I felt regarding his death were mysteriously comforted as I chose to think more about his life and the essence of who he was.
Several months before he died I had called him for some advice regarding parenting. My wife and I were perplexed about how to handle a situation in which one of our children had responded in a less than socially appropriate manner and left us in her wake to try and to figure out how to respond. I felt totally unprepared.
My dad just listened. After a while he laughed. As he spoke he recalled how he had done a similar thing when he was young boy. He then laughed more and reminded me that I had also experimented with the same socially apprehensive act when I was a child.
The conversation then turned back to him and his health crisis. We talked for the next 1/2 hour about doctors, hospitals, and treatment plans. We were all business, but before hanging up he turned it all around. He left me with this simple advice:
“Son,” he said, “Go easy on her. Go easy.”
He didn’t need to say anything else. My concern for how to be a “good” and “fair” and “just” parent was trumped by those simple words. I didn’t just hear him say to “go easy on her”, but to also “go easy on myself” and to “go easy on life”.
That was how my dad lived. He knew how to “go easy”. He jumped in the swimming pool still wearing his dress clothes. He laughed when a little league ball smashed his car’s front windshield. And he was lenient on me when I smashed the family car before I had a license.
I am grateful that he knew how to “go easy”. I am grateful that he modeled this behavior to a young boy, a flailing teenager, and a struggling parent.
I hope today that you benefit from his advice.
A person said to me yesterday, “I feel awful since I stopped smoking.” This got me to thinking; life can be like that can’t it? Sometimes we don’t always feel good when we start taking care of our bodies.
And the reverse can be true as well- we sometimes feel good doing things that are not in our bodies’ best interests.
Why is this? Well simply said, our bodies adapt. Our bodies are designed to adapt. If you do something for a long enough period of time, your body will begin to work under these new conditions.
In effect, you can create a new normal for your body. After years of smoking cigarettes, your body incorporates the habit as “the new normal” whether it is healthy or not. Any deviation away from this habit will cause a stress response.
Like a child who has become accustomed to playing with a particular toy and has it suddenly taken away from them, the body may kick and scream as you start a new healthy habit- regardless if it is healthy or not. The simple fact that the body is in a state of TRANSITION means that things may feel unsettling to say the least.
I wish that we always felt good every time we started a new healthy habit, but that’s just not how the body works. Sometimes (i.e. almost always) TRANSITION is hard work and sometimes feels uncomfortable.
Tomorrow, I am starting a cleanse. If you see me and I am grumpy, tired, frustrated and on edge, please be patient with me: I’m in a state of transition.
-excusing myself from socially acceptable politeness over the next couple of days,
We have a tendency to think of our bodies as parts. Eyes. Ears. Hands. Kidneys. Liver. Heart. This can be dangerous thinking. It limits our experience and may limit our health. A person who thinks in this manner may miss the benefits of well-researched holistic treatments. An allergic reaction to a certain food often displays itself as small bumps on the skin, but if you only focus on skin you may falsely just treat the skin and miss the greater problem of the food allergy. An ear infection is often the result of fluid not properly draining from the middle ear. This is a mechanical issue, and if you only look at the ear and prescribe antibiotics without addressing the poor fluid drainage, it may seem like enough (see my blog about ear infections). Anytime we limit our focus to think about the body as only parts and pieces, we do ourselves a disfavor and may be putting ourselves in harm’s way. We are more than the sum of our parts. Equally so, the more we learn about the human body, we discover the intricacies in which these cells, tissues, organs and systems interact.
Research has recently discovered the intimate relationship between the immune system and the nervous system. This has spawned a new specialty of study within the medical profession called neuroimmunology. While being a new field for western medicine, chiropractic, acupuncture, homeopathy, naturopathy, and other holistic therapies have honored this relationship for many, many years. Chiropractors have postulated for a century that adjustments could help a person’s nervous system and thereby enhance a person’s immune system. Western medicine is just now beginning to understand and study this relationship. Ronald Pero, Ph.D., chief of cancer prevention research at New York’s Preventive Medicine Institute and professor of medicine at New York University, studied this theory.
He conducted a three year study of 107 subjects. In short, he studied the immune system of those under long term chiropractic care. He discovered a 200% greater immune competence in those who were adjusted versus those people who had not received chiropractic care. He concluded, “Chiropractic may optimize whatever genetic abilities you have so that you can fully resist serious disease. I am very excited to see that without chemical intervention this group of patients under chiropractic care did show a very improved response.” (Pero R. “Medical Researcher Excited By CBSRF Project Results.” The Chiropractic Journal, August 1989; 32)
In 1991 Patricia Brennan, PhD conducted a study that demonstrated an increased immune function following a thoracic (mid back) adjustment. “Phagocytic respiratory burst of polymorphnuclear neutrophils (PMN) and monocytes were enhanced in adults that had been adjusted by chiropractors.” This means that the immune system cells of the body that are responsible for eating up and killing foreign invading cells in the body are enhanced through chiropractic adjustments.
For more studies, please see the Research post.
Research is now validating what we already knew to be true: we are whole beings. Each cell does not act alone, each tissue does not act alone, and each system does not act alone. This is why a chiropractic adjustment can help an ear infection, an acupuncture needle can help with addiction, and crawling helps brain development.
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Whiplash is an injury to the neck that occurs from a rapid acceleration followed by a sudden deceleration force. These sudden forces can cause tearing of the soft tissues (ligaments and muscles) and damage to the joints of the spine. This injury can occur from slips and falls but is most often associated with motor vehicle accidents.
1st: Symptoms may not occur until 24-72 hours after the accident. Unfortunately, it takes only 72 hours for an injury to become “chronic”. This is why whiplash injuries can be so problematic. Once an injury becomes chronic it much more difficult to heal. According to Dr George Langlitz, “some 45% (of whiplash patients) report they still suffer with symptoms two years later.” Having your spine evaluated after an accident is a good idea, even if at first you do not have any symptoms.
2nd Symptoms are not always as straightforward as having neck pain.
Symptoms may be as follows:
3rd Chiropractic is a researched and proven therapy for whiplash patients. According to The British Journal of Orthopaedic Medicine (1999) 22(1):22-25, in a paper titled Chiropractic”Only Proven Effective Treatment” for Chronic Whiplash, researchers Khan et al concluded : “Our results confirm the efficacy of chiropractic, with 69 of our 93 patients (74%) improving following treatment.”
It is a good idea to see a chiropractor within 24 hours after experiencing an acceleration/deceleration accident.
The word wellness is a hot topic. Everyone is talking about wellness these days. Hospitals and emergency trauma centers are even changing their names to titles like “Hospital-Wellness center” and “Family Wellness Center and Trauma” (honestly, you can Google “trauma and wellness” and find thousands of these names). Do these places now provide the product of wellness to people?
One hospital has recently put out an advertising campaign that has different patients describing their own unique definition of wellness- i.e. “wellness is being able to play with my granddaughter” or “wellness is a sunny day” or “wellness is not being sick anymore”. I like these definitions because they are personal definitions- unique to each individual. On the up side, the word wellness has catapulted people to become more involved in their health, more aware of their daily life choices and how those choices may impact their lives. Some people may have shifted away from the old paradigm of the disease-care model and into a more health-promoting way of thinking. This is quite a change; people are now participating in their health and looking at preventing problems rather than waiting for a doctor to cure their disease. “Wellness” has inspired some to be more invested in their health, more aware of their environment, and take more responsibility in their pursuit of happiness. I am in full support of these changes. But to be honest, I don’t really like the word anymore. It doesn’t feel right to me. I feel like it has been used more as a marketing gimmick to promote a product’s image than as a helpful ideal for people to use towards greater well-being.
Wellness is difficult to define because it is difficult to measure. Unlike disease, whereby we can use a microscope, some blood work, an MRI, and a biopsy to detect and analyze abnormalities of the body, wellness is defined as not just the absence of disease, but the optimal functioning of body, mind and spirit. My question is, how do you measure that? Disease can be measured as some variant from the normal (I can show someone an x-ray of what normal looks like and then another that has multiple levels of degeneration in their spine and say, “this is not how it should be”). It is much more difficult and quite vague to do an exam and declare, “You are less than wellness.” The ambiguity is why marketing people love the word and can use it to sell everything from dog food to underwear (The Wellness Brief®). Herein lies my concern. Because there is no measure of wellness and it is marketed as something to provide a better and greater life experience, the search for greater health can become obsessive and equally elusive. The value of wellness gets lost in the act of trying to find wellness. It becomes a quest for wellness, a race for wellness, or a goal of wellness that has no end in sight. To me this seems rather strange. It has become a paradox: the obsession for wellness negates the possibility of finding it (my experience is that neurotic behavior is rather unwellness-like).
I used to like the word wellness, but now I’m too jaded in my belief that someone is just trying to sell me a product or services that cannot be measured and quantified in its value. Simply put, I feel that the word has become overused and under defined.
Just a rant. I hope you are well.
Joseph Campbell was a professor of mythology and loved to study the human spirit. He said, “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.” This past week for me was very inspiring because I had the privilege of engaging with a number of people who appear to be following their BLISS“. You can identify these people because they have a certain glow and radiance about them. Life feels lighter when I am around these types of people and when I leave their presence I somehow feel more present to my own life. I am inspired (in-spirit). What I find most evident with these types of people is that they are so clearly comfortable in their own skin. They seem to know who they are and what they want. What I’ve also discovered is how deliciously diverse each Bliss can be. There are no two paths that are the same. We are all different beings with something different to offer to the world.
Last week, friends of ours visited with us on their way out of town. They had taken an old school bus and converted it to an RV. With three teenage children, they were taking to the open road with the sole purpose of experiencing life and learning from their adventures. The only plan that existed was to be back in New England in three months. There adventurous spirit, their creativity (the bus is one very cool fort with each kid having their own “room”) and their dedication to their values of family, learning and fun was infectious. They were clearly following their bliss. You can checkout their blog @ http://unschoolbus.com
Why do I talk about this on a chiropractic health blog? Because it inspires me. I think anything that inspires the spirit is just as much about health as is eating an apple, exercising, or getting adjusted. Someone a long time ago told me that the word “health” comes from a derivative of the word “whole”. To be healthy is to become whole. Discovering who we are and what we want is the process of becoming whole. Maybe this is also why I have taken to telling my patients that they do not “need” to be adjusted, but have the freedom to choose to be adjusted if they “want”. It is my experience that “need” is so rarely the place where one can discover their passions and follow their bliss.
If you read this blog, then I thank you and hope that it inspired you. But you don’t have to read it in order to inspire me. Writing it was my bliss.
Other Joseph Campbell quotes:
“Love is a friendship set to music.”
“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”
“I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.”
Sorry that I haven’t posted in a while. My attention has been divided elsewhere. I have recently created the office Facebook page and have started writing a biweekly column for Hamitlon-Wenham Patch. For someone who is not so technologically savvy and is constantly trying to find the balance of where to spend the limited resource of his emotional energy, these two additions into my life have been a transition to say the least. I invite you to check out either one of these websites.
Over the past few years I have discovered many great truths that have made an enormous impact on my life. One of those truths is the experience that time is a limited resource. Awareness of this truth puts one in a very powerful and precarious position of recognizing the depth of one’s choice. It has been my experience that how I choose to use my time can be the difference between feeling inspired and feeling overwhelmed. It is my experience that I feel more fulfilled and free to create when I am less obligated. Choosing what tasks to perform in a day is the great balancing act. I am a father, a friend, a spouse, a son, a healer, a student, a teacher, an athlete, and so much more. Nurturing anyone of these can be a full-time job. I’m still figuring it out.
Please bear with me as I continue down this experiential path that we call life. I’m enjoying the journey and learning a lot. I hope to post more on the wonderful topics of health and life. But, if you don’t get a post in a few months, then know I have rebounded the other way and have just decided to live out my life as the mystical Luddite that I am.
respectfully and thoughtfully,
Algebra and Spanish are all skills that I have lost because I have not exercised them (not that I was ever fluent in Spanish- but close enough to survive on beers and bathroom locations if ever stuck in Mexico). There are many legitimate reasons why I lost these skills. First, there have been very few times in my life that I have ever needed to solve for “x”- sorry for the blasphemy Mrs Gougen and second, I just don’t get enough exposure to practice on my Spanish. Because I have not exercised these faculties in my brain, I have forgotten some of them. The muscles of the body work the same way. “What you don’t use, you lose.”
In our culture, sitting in chairs is a way of life. From the family dinner table to the private bathroom commode, we have adapted ourselves to sit. By the way, it wasn’t always this way. Hunter gatherer cultures used more squatting and erect sitting postures on hard ground and in ancient Roman they utilized benches for laying down while eating. And did you know, that sitting may create as much as 30% more pressure on our spine while at the same time cause us to use our muscles less. So there is more pressure on your spine when you are sitting in the traditional 90-degree position, but you may have less active muscle support. The support comes from the back on the chair instead of our own strength. This has resulted in an epidemic loss of low back muscle strength- leading to fatigue, pain and degeneration.
The small muscles of the back respond to pressure and balance. They become engaged when we try to sit upright without the assistance of external support (i.e. chair back). These muscles can support up to 40% of the weight of the spine- but only if we exercise them. And you guessed it… our addiction to sitting has given us little reason to use the muscles of the low back. We have quite honestly lost this strength (or never developed) because we simply didn’t use the muscles. We let our chairs do the work for us. This is the recipe for low back problems. Just as my lack of exposure to cultural diversity has resulted in some pretty rusty language skills, our lack of exposure to active sitting has created some very rusty spines. Add stress to the mix, and we may find ourselves in a spinal crisis.
Some other effects of sitting:
Some ideas to promote more active sitting:
As for my Spanish, “voy a seguir practican” (I Googled that one).
good luck and as always, be nice to yourself
Forgive me for getting a little nerdy this morning, but I think this is wicked cool. Let’s talk physics. Here is a great explanation why a forward head posture (your head being in front of your shoulders) can lead to headaches and severe muscle tension in the neck and shoulders.
Simply said, you are more likely to have head and neck problems if your head is flexed (like during most computer work) or is postured too far in front of your shoulders.
The neck is designed with a nice curve to help balance the weight of the head. When the head moves forward, more weight (load in physics terms) is placed in front, which in turn requires more work to be done by the muscles in the back of the head and neck.
Have you ever played on a seesaw and just for fun, kept the other person balanced in the air while you sat on the ground laughing? You were in complete control of their destiny. The only way the person could get down was to 1. beg for mercy, 2. gain weight instantaneously, or 3. put all their weight on the very end in order to change the leverage- illustrated by the following formula,compliments of engineeringtoolbox.com
Fe = Fl dl / de (1)
Fe = effort force (N, lb)
Fl = load force (N, lb) (note that weight is a force)
dl = distance from load force to fulcrum (m, ft)
de = distance from effort force to fulcrum (m, ft)
This is called a first class lever in physics. The neck is balanced on a fulcrum of a curved spine and muscles pull back on the head to lift the face up. The more your head moves forward then the more these muscles must work to keep the head balanced. Kapit and Elson explain it best: “By flexing the neck and posturing the head forward and downward, the load (head weight) is appreciably increased and the muscular effort to hold that posture may induce muscle pain and stiffness/tightness (overuse).”1 Boone and Birnbaum discovered that “the flexed position puts significantly more strain on the erector spinae (a 4-fold increase in force).”2 It is like playing seesaw with an elephant- the weight is too heavy to hold up. This is exactly what happened during these past 34 minutes while using my computer to write this post!
So what does this mean? Simply said, you are more likely to have head and neck problems if your head is flexed (like during most computer work) or is postured too far in front of your shoulders. This is why it is important to get adjusted and maintain your cervical curve.
The anatomy coloring book. Kapit W. and Elson L. 1993 p.35
The science of Levers. Tommy Boone, PhD, MPH, FASEP, EPC and Larry Birnbaum, PhD, MA, EPC p51.
My friend Mark Provost is a personal trainer here in town. At the beginning of the summer he and I were talking about life, happiness and health. He said, “Jer, I don’t think being healthy is really that complicated. I think it can be broken down to this one equation: Move More and Eat Less. His words stayed with me this summer as I engaged in my new loves of bike riding and playing tennis. I have enjoyed living much closer to work and having the opportunity to bike back and forth. I indeed did a lot more exercising this summer. But the second part of this equation proved to be much more difficult. Summer does mean great weather for being outside and exercising but it also means more social gatherings, barbecues, and ice cream stands. As fun as it has been to move more, it has proven much more difficult to eat less.
For a long time now, I have studied many different aspects of nutrition. A lot of my studies focused on the healing powers of food and the dangers of eating processed foods, non-organic foods, processed dairy and soy. Molly and I have changed our diets so that we eat more local, organic food and less of the processed foods. We pay a little more for healthier food but we value it more. But truth be told, I have continued to have a sweet tooth and to over eat. This summer, I chose to ignore my friends advice and to indulge in my joy of eating. But I also promised myself that I would stay present to my experience and take inventory on the net result.
What have I learned? Eating less is good advice. Despite exercising more, I have not lost weight and have continued to have joint stiffness, and fatigue. Secretly, I was hoping that I would not need to pay attention to what I ate. I was hoping that moving more would be enough. This however proved to not be the case. The second part of the equation is as relevant as the first. So please bare with me as I grieve my attachments for sugar in the path of wanting to have health.
Ice or heat? I’m asked this question a lot and there is no blanket answer. Each injury is unique and requires a unique treatment protocol.
Having said that, here are some basic rules of thumb:
Some words of caution: heat can cause the blood vessels to open up more and cause an increase in inflammation. Do not use heat for injuries where inflammation is apparent. This is why when people use heat on acute injuries they will be more stiff on the following day.
As always, check with your chiropractor regarding your specific injury
Well, we’ve finally done it! We took the Facebook plunge. Hope to see you there. Dr Jerry would love to add you to his page.
Flexibility is not only good for the spine, but also for the mind.
This past winter, my daughters taught me a lesson while I was teaching them how to ski. At the time, they were 6 (excuse me, 6 and a half) and 4 years old. The season before, the oldest proved that she could go on her own while the younger one demonstrated the competency of standing there while I held her up. So, per their request and the egging-on of my friend’s young already skiing-proficient daughter, we started this year off by heading straight to the top of the mountain, bypassing any warm-up refresher courses on the kiddie slope. The prospect of my kids skiing without the need of my assistance was refreshing and I was gladly welcoming the return of my freedom on the ski slopes. This, however, was not to be. After two runs of straining over my four year old between my skis with intermittent episodes of saving my 6 year-old from hitting trees, other skiers, and chairlifts, we retired to the lodge.
And here is where the lesson began. After one hot chocolate, my girls wanted to go skiing again. We got them redressed, equipment back together and back on the lift. As fate would have it, we took the run that brought us to the kiddie slope. My oldest daughter came to life, hopped on the Magic Carpet ski tow and had a renewed sense of adventure. Her younger sister was caught up in the excitement and proclaimed that she did not want my assistance and that she “can do self!” For the next hour, they enjoyed going up and down the 300 foot slope with great confidence, bravado, and a lot of silly laughter. 10-20 runs later, they were still going and had to be pulled from the mountain.
What was the lesson?
Pay attention to The Why! I forgot that the reason why I was going skiing in the first place was to have fun with my family and friends. I had created an expectation in my head that “fun” could only happen a certain way- by having my kids ski down the big slope on their own so that I could enjoy my own skiing. Once I released the expectation that fun could only happen a certain way, I was able to enjoy the new event that my children had chosen. To my surprise, we all laughed and enjoyed ourselves much more. To quote my four year old “This was the bestest ski day yet”.
Flexibility is not only good for the spine, but also for the mind. I hope that you are of good health and have ample amounts of flexibility. Today, have fun…
It’s summer. And a hot one at that. Summer means hanging out, food on the grille, and shorts and flip flops. Don’t you love flip-flops? I know I do. Unfortunately, my feet don’t always appreciate it the next day!
The problem with wearing flip-flops is that it requires your toes to work a little harder. The toes bend in order to “grip” the flip-flops. It is ever so slight, but this mild toe flexion over time can cause your feet to develop fibrotic adhesions in the soles of your feet. This may then lead to a problem known as plantar fasciitis- a very uncomfortable foot problem that usually present itself as severe pinpoint pain in your heel early in the morning.
In order to avoid this problem there are three things you can do:
First, stretch! Keep your ankles, calf muscles, and foot joints loose and mobile.
Second, get fitted for a good pair of supportive shoes and or orthotics. After a long summer day of flip-flops, wear these shoes in the evening. This will diminish the effects. Think of wearing flip-flops as making a withdraw from the health account of your foot. Whereas, wearing orthotics is like making a deposit in that health account. Keep this account balanced.
Third, roll a tennis ball (eventually a golf ball) on the bottom of your foot. Go back and forth a few times everyday to help keep the adhesions at bay.
An ounce of prevention…
Once you have plantar fasciitis, you will most likely need professional assistance to help you resolve the injury. We have had success treating many patients with this disorder.
Low back pain that goes from the butt to about half way down the leg may be caused by the dysfunction of the sacroiliac (SI) joint. This is often mistaken for “sciatica” (which is a condition whereby the sciatic nerve becomes compressed- usually by the piriformis muscle and causes pain to refer down the leg). The two conditions mimic each other because a sacroiliac subluxation can cause the nerves in the low back to be very unhappy and also refer pain down the leg. The difference is that “sciatica” may travel all the way down the leg. If the pain doesn’t go past the knee it is probably the SI joint. This is very common in pregnancy. Why? Because the pelvis of the pregnant woman is designed to open up in order for the baby to slide on through. Hormones like relaxin help the joints to relax, causing the joints to spread open further than usual. This is good news for the delivery process but perhaps not so good for day to day living. These hormones cause the joints to be less stable. Coupled with the increase in pressure on these joints due to weight gain, it is likely for the the joints to become subluxated and inflamed.
A couple of secrets to help the SI joint stay healthy during pregnancy are to avoid prolonged sitting and to increase your stride once a day when taking a walk. This will help to keep the joint moving and prevent it from getting stuck in an uncomfortable position.
There are other conditions, such as a vertebral disc herniation that can also cause pain to travel down the leg, so it is important to consult with your chiropractor when experiencing these symptoms.
That’s right. Molly and I welcomed our 4th baby into the world yesterday evening. She is beautiful, healthy, and happy… and so is the baby. She has not yet told us her name.
Apparently yesterday’s thunderstorm was all that was needed to get things moving. We birthed at home. We had the assistance of two wonderful midwives who were absolutely amazing! She came out into the world at the same time that the sun was setting in our bedroom window. She was also born “in the caul”- which means she was still in the amniotic sac (i.e. Molly’s water didn’t break). We are told that many traditions consider this a very blessed beginning.
We are rich in GIRLS…
We sometimes forget that we are wild animals. Just like other wild animals, we have a complex system of tissues, cells, organs and systems that control our body functions. And just like other wild animals, we have alarm systems (like pain or feelings of uneasiness) to let us know of a problem or potential problem. But unlike other wild animals, we have a complex brain cortex that allows us to disregard these alarms. We can literally choose to “override” and/or ignore these important alarms. Here are a few examples:
I’ve watched my dog, when sick, find a quiet place of solitude and rest. This allowed her body the time and energy to heal. Energy was not wasted.
The wild human, when sick, can literally choose to ignore their body’s request for rest and nurturing. They may instead spend their day by loading their body up with caffeine and sugar, drain themselves with work, and then spend any extra energy by driving the kids to soccer and making the gardening club meeting that night.
Another example: I’ve watched two ducks get in a squabble at a pond. They quacked and splashed and then swam away. I noticed that when they swam away, that they both responded by flapping their wings, as a way of releasing the extra aggression.
A wild human driving their car down rt 128 may become upset when they are cut-off in traffic. Their palms get sweaty. But instead of pulling over and jumping up and down to get rid of the adrenaline, they choose to internalize it.
We can take cues from these other species. We can’t provide for ourselves if we don’t know what our needs are. Getting in tune with our bodies (pain and emotional vibrations) is the first step in learning to nurture ourselves. Tired? Then sleep. Sick? Then rest. Angry? Close the car windows and scream the anger out of you! Subluxated? Get adjusted.
And as always, go slow and give yourself a break.
A few years back, I took my car to my mechanic for some routine maintenance. While waiting in the office, my mechanic came in and asked me if I had noticed if the car was shaking a lot when I was driving it.
“Oh yeah”, I replied. “It has been shaking a little bit.”
“A little?” he questioned.
“Quite a bit, I guess.”
“That’s what I’d guess too.”
“Why do you say that?” I inquired.
“Look at this,” he said while walking me over to my car. “Put your hand here and run it along the inside of the tire,” he demonstrated by petting my car’s tire like it was Labrador Retriever. “Do you feel how uneven that is?”
“Yeah”, was my reply, but it sounded more like “so what?”
“Well that unevenness in the tire is called scalloping. It is a sign of uneven wear. Your tires are so bad that it must be causing the car to handle poorly. Without driving the car, I can tell you that a high performance car like this must be shaking quite a bit if your tires are this bad! It looks like it is probably pulling to the right”
“You can tell all that by just feeling the tires?” I asked in amazement.
“The tires don’t lie!”
“Come to think about it,” I said, “it has been shaking for a while. I just got used to it I guess and tried to ignore it.”
“You can ignore it all you want, but the tires don’t lie. There’s a problem with your alignment, your shocks, or your tires are not balanced correctly. There’s a problem here. Time for new tires and probably an alignment.”
He started walking back to the office muttering the whole way, “The tires don’t lie.”
This got me thinking… The human body is the same way.
Example #1: Forward head posture can put too much pressure on the muscles and vertebrae of the neck which can lead to headaches, tight traps, shoulder pain, arm and hand numbness, or decreased balance. So when I see severe forward head posture I always ask the person if they have headaches or neck pain.
Example #2 A person who stands with their knees locked or hyper extended puts their low back into hyperlordosis. This causes increased pressure on the joints in the low back, the hips, and the sacrum. It can also lead to stretched and weak abdominal muscles. This is a recipe for low back problems.
Lastly, shoe wear. When the outside of the shoe is excessively worn, we know that the person has a tendency to supinate their foot. This puts greater strain on the knee, hip, and low back. Some muscles become strained while others become weak. Another recipe for low back problems.
The Tires Don’t Lie!
A number of weeks ago, a woman walked into our office and stated that she was 37 weeks pregnant and that her baby was breech (diagnosed by ultrasound). She stated that she did not want to have a c-section and asked if we could help. She was schedule for another ultrasound in 5 days. I explained to her that I do not practice obstetrics and do not turn babies, but that I could assess her spinal alignment could adjust her using the Webster Technique if warranted. The International Chiropractic Pediatric Association explains the Webster Technique as follows: that a “sacral misalignment causes the tightening and torsion of specific pelvic muscles and ligaments. It is these tense muscles and ligaments and their constraining effect on the uterus which prevents the baby from comfortably assuming the best possible position for birth. The Webster Technique is defined as a specific chiropractic analysis and adjustment that reduces interference to the nerve system and facilitates biomechanical balance in pelvic structures, muscles and ligaments. This has been shown to reduce the effects of intrauterine constraint, allowing the baby to get into the best possible position for birth.”
I saw the patient for a few treatments, including a scheduled late Sunday evening appointment before her early Monday morning ultrasound. She returned to our office that afternoon and proclaimed “My baby turned!”
Three weeks later, Mom naturally birthed a healthy baby boy. No C-Section.
This post was created by Anne Sterling, who attended my workshop at Crunchy Granola Baby. Anne is starting her own blog that will discuss some practical techniques to help children learn math.
This morning I was lucky enough to be part of a conversation at Crunch Granola Baby in Salem, MA led by Dr. Gerald Gould or Jerry as he would rather be called. Jerry advocates development of the six senses sight, taste, sound, touch, smell, kinesthetic as pathways to brain for learning. Sensory input from the six senses comes in through the child’s body (hands, feet, eyes, ears, taste, etc.) and creates a track from the sensory organs to the brain. Information travels to the spinal cord through the fingers and arms causing more brain connections to grow. The more inputs to the child’s brain using all six senses the larger will be their capacity to learn.
The child will naturally become interested due to their abundant curiosity; they seek our sensory stimulation, which in turn builds the sensory pathways to the brain. Getting information from the world and using it to understand is how children’s brain learn naturally. Creating these pathways of neurodevelopment in turns stimulates the development of even more neuro pathways; while lack of sensory stimulation dulls the child and stunts their development. Children get better and better at each task as they repeat their exploration. Children’s brains are so open that children create habits out of nothing, so why not pattern their brains to learn using all six senses. Learning through traditional speech and memory are different than learning through sensory information and is easily forgotten. Nurturing helps the brain to learn in a very physical and real sense because it builds strengthens neurological connections. Memory tracks are created in our neurology by repetition and stimulation.
Children learn best when the information becomes relevant to them. How does this occur? Make it interesting by engaging all six senses, not just speech and memory. This is how children’s brains function, so take advantage of the six senses when providing math and arithmetic learning opportunities for children. Get their bodies involved, use blocks for counting, addition and subtraction. Use pails, sand and water when teaching volume and space (geometry). Fill things up, empty them out, and rearrange objects (spatial awareness). Take objects away and add them back (addition and subtraction). Ask the child to guess how many will be left, then count the remaining blocks to see if he/she was correct (estimation). Use colors and sizes to sort objects into groups (graphing). Have the child stack boxes side by side to see which tower is higher and which is shorter (number sense). Create groups of blocks; ask the child which group is larger and smaller (number sense). Only after these playful concepts are real and relevant to the child, does relating them on paper as symbols (numerals) make sense. You want to engage all six senses so that the child does not simply memorize the symbols; but actually understands what is meant by each symbol and how that relates to their world of bigger and smaller; less and more.
To learn more about Gerry Gould and Hamilton-Wenham Family Chiropractic visit
Crunch Granola Baby in Salem, MA http://www.crunchygranolababy.net/on
Greetings! We hope this finds you happy and healthy.
We’re thrilled to announce some changes to our office this month. Those of you who have been in recently have gotten a taste of our new setup. You’ll find our new entrance on the side of the building with new steps and a ramp.
So far we have found this change to be extremely inspiring. We are using our space more efficiently and it feels like we are a close community again. Thank you for supporting us and all our changes. We hope to see you soon!
For years I have been giving a workshop entitled “Learn how they Learn: the neurology of childhood development.” In this workshop, I talked about the importance of movement and touch for young children. I did not however have a model for what that play looked like- that is until now. I was recently sent the following link by Scott Noelle of Enjoyparenting.com. I hope you get a chance to check this out. This is O. Fred Donaldson explaining and demonstrating “Original Play”.
Here are the instructions to see the video.
1. go to http://www.ptvn.org/page.aspx?id=358485
2. Click on “original play”, then click on another “original play” under the thumbnail.
3. Finally, click on “Original Play VIDEO Part ONE”.
4. When Part One is over, click “[X] Close” and go to Part Two, etc.
I had a very large sandbox when I was a kid. Sand, toy trucks, bucket loaders, bulldozers, cars and imagination were in great quantity. Four large logs measuring 12 feet each served as the borders to keep the sand in and the grown-ups out. This was my place to play, to roam, to explore, and to create. I built castles taller than my house and dug a tunnel all the way to China. I swam in the Great Gould Sea and flew my magical x-wing fighter (“borrowed” from my older brother) over the Himalayan-sized mountains. There was nothing but millions of grains of sand asking to be put into some creative form.
Being a little older now, I’m sure that the scale of my model was not as big as I pictured it as a child. The tunnel to China was only waste deep and was halted by the hard packed clay that my plastic shovel couldn’t penetrate (I didn’t have unlimited public funding like some other local dig projects). The mountains were formed by an upside down sand pail and the great sea, comprised of one liter of water, was empty within a couple of hours as it was absorbed by the sand.
So why did I create? Because it was fun. No one had to tell me how to do it, why to do it, or to give me a reward for doing it. In fact, if a grown-up had interfered and given me instruction or rules on the art of sandbox playing, it probably would have stunted my creative ability. It was fun because there were no rules. It was my canvas to paint.
Did you have a sandbox or some other form of play where you were free to explore? Remember what it was like to create with childlike passion? To play for the sake of playing? No one had to tell you to play because you’d have less stress or play because it is good exercise or play because you’ll laugh and release endorphins. No one had to say that play will add years to your life or that every time you create or learn something new that you are actually adding brain cells. You didn’t need to do something (i.e. play) in order to get a something (i.e. reward). The play was the reward. The play was the reason. Could health be that way?
This morning, I chose to run. I picked the same old route that I have run many times before. But this time, I changed some things up. I tried to see if I could just enjoy myself. I decided to not pace my time, to not monitor my heartbeat and not measure my success by the amount of fat I burned or the looks of my abs. I decided to run because I wanted to. I chose to stop when I wanted to stop, walk when I wanted to walk and skip when I felt like skipping. I allowed the run to be the enjoyment. Today, running was my sandbox. The side effect to running is that it also happened to be healthy for my body.
I’m jumping off the ship. I’m changing course from my alternative health colleagues, gurus, and specialists. After years of promoting a concept of ideal health and telling patients and friends how they can increase their healthiness, I am changing my tune and simply stating, “I don’t like the idea of perfect health.”
For years, I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the concept of health. What is it? When I say I’m healthy what does that mean? Does it mean that I don’t have any cells in my body that are not working correctly or does it mean that when cells don’t function properly that they are discarded and replaced by new cells? Is health the absence of symptoms? Does health truly exist? Is health one of those Buddhist koans where asking “What is health?” is like asking “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”
In 1948, the World Health Organization defined health as: “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Unfortunately, this resulted with many people feeling deflated. They accurately deduced that by holding such a definition no one was ever going to be pronounced healthy.
Working in a wholistic health model for 9 years, I have been bombarded by the dogma of perfect health. Images and rhetoric of wellness, exercise, nutrition, longevity and everything organic have passed my way in the name of good or perfect health. This rhetotric has saturated my culture. We have preoccupied our minds with healthier looking skin, stronger muscles, perfect cholesterol and blood pressure scores, and even the “perfect spine.” And, in my opinion, herein lies the subtle thief. The pursuit of perfect health can be very unhealthy. This definition may drive us to the obsessive pursuit of an unattainable goal. What is the result of such a belief?
I am dropping this pursuit because I don’t like the way it feels. One can never measure up to this model. It is much the same way a young girl might start thinking she is insufficient if she is not 5′ 11” and 110 lbs. The pursuit of perfect health may become an obsessive disorder- plagued by insecurities, guilty thoughts, and binge outings. In my experience, I found this obsession, ironically, to be unhealthy! So here are a few suggestions about health that I have found to work for me.
Health is a only a tool.
Maybe this is why the WHO, almost 50 years later, changed its definition to the following:
“a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living. Health is a positive concept emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities.”
I like this definition. It helps me to keep perspective. Health is a tool, not the pursuit. Making health the reason for living may be a slippery slope. It is like putting the cart before the horse. We end up serving the “ideal of health” instead of having health serve us.
Second, I believe health to also be about…
A balanced posture. A balance of nutritional intake. A balanced spine and nervous system. Balance between your cells and your tissues and your organs. And, maybe most of all, a balanced perspective. These are all attributes of what it means to me to be healthy. Sacrificing the health of one aspect of us- such as our mind and spirit, for the sake of another aspect of us, such as our body, is not balanced and not healthy. It reminds me of the young athlete taking steroids to increase their strength at the expense of their liver and reproductive organs.
And so, third, health to me is…
that which collectively empowers the body, mind, and spirit.
Run if you want to run. Exercise if you want to exercise. Eat kale if you want to eat kale. Meditate if you want to meditate. And sleep if you want to sleep. All of these things have been shown to have many positive health benefits. But if you are doing it because you “should” (a cultural dictum) or because you believe the ideal of perfect health is right around the corner (Nirvana), then I caution you. You may be doing more harm than health to your mind and spirit. And how healthy would that be?
It may be more healthy to eat a Twinkie and be happy than to refrain from eating it in a spirit of rigid self -loathing.
-Dr. Jerry Gould
“Trust thyself, every heart vibrates to that iron string”- Ralph Waldo Emerson
I have discovered no greater affliction than to be struck with the disease of self-doubt. And yet, it appears to be epidemic in our culture. Why?
It is my experience that we are not trained to trust ourselves. We are bombarded by a cultural dictum to listen to someone else’s advice before our own. We are trained from a very young age to deny our own emotions, instincts, or desires and to pursue the life of someone else’s design. In fact, when we observe another person “marching to the beat of their own drum”, we declare them to be a social misfit. For some reason, we are scared of following our own lead. Why? Are we afraid of making a mistake? Are we afraid of not doing it right? Are we afraid of being laughed at by some “expert”? Or are we afraid of discovering that maybe, just maybe, we are worthy of our own trust?
It is my experience that I learn by experiencing. I could not tell you what a strawberry tasted like before I actually ate one. I could not tie my shoes adequately until I tried several times. I couldn’t ride my bike the first time, play guitar, or do algebra. Rarely in my life have I done something and gotten it “right” the first time. It usually takes many times and lots of practice to learn a new task. This is how the human brain works. Practice creates learning.
Why do I bring this up here? Because learning does not happen in a vacuum. A baby goes through stages of walking and learns to walk, one step at a time, with many falls. I believe that one reason why people do not trust themselves is because they have been trained to not trust themselves. They have bought into the social expectation that they “should get it right”. When we don’t get it “right” we call it a “failure” instead of just calling it learning.
Today, I encourage you to experiment with trusting yourself and allowing yourself to fall. You may discover that giving yourself the freedom to fall is exactly what you need in order to learn to trust yourself. An interesting side-effect to trusting one’s self is that they tend to fall a whole lot less.
Recently, a very prestigious neurologist stood in a super-sized auditorium in front of other prominent scientist to give a lecture on some of his most advanced research on brain development and function. These other scientist had assembled to hear this great intellect lecture about the great many facts he had gained in all of his studies. To their surprise, this scientist stood humbly before them and exclaimed, “We know very little about brain function. If I told you that the square footage of this very large room represented the capacity of the brain to function, then I can safely tell you today that we know about this much of that information,” while holding a speck of dust in his hand. He explained how his discoveries of the inner workings of the brain had only opened more doors into further unknowns about the brain. Behind every door was a new door. He discovered more about what he didn’t know than what he thought he knew.
This happens quite often in science. We don’t know what we don’t know. And so, as we begin to look into the mysteries of life trying to discover how to cure illness, attain greater healthy and vitality, and achieve longer life, we somehow find ourselves staring into a greater mystery than we were before.
The more I learn about the human body the more I recognize how much I don’t know. I love to study it because in many ways it remains one of the mysteries of life. For some patients, that mystery is as simple as “why does my back hurt?”, while others want to know how their complex endocrine system changed as they entered the second stage of life. Sometimes I can give them an answer. Sometimes I can’t. And it is when I can’t that I am afforded the opportunity to roll up my sleeves and get to work.
Not knowing sparks our curiosity and pushes us to embark on new expeditions- with new discoveries awaiting in the midst.
There are many different causes of headaches, but I will focus on what I believe to be the three most common. The first is simple dehydration. This is obviously categorized as a deficiency-causing health imbalance (remember that most diseases can be categorized by either being caused by a deficiency or a toxin in the body – read Why do people get sick?) A lack of sufficient water in your body may cause the the blood vessels of the head and neck to constrict resulting in a throbbing ache. Unfortunately, it is my experience that once you suffer from one of these types of headaches you are more prone to getting them again. But these headaches are not usually constant or consistent and have any easy remedy of re-hydrating.
The second most common I would say is due to a spinal misalignment in the neck called vertebral subluxation. This can cause the spine to be in a weakened state that may either result in direct pressure on the C1 and C2 nerves or indirect pressure caused by compensating muscles. These headaches are usually more consistent, about 1-2 times per month that may become more frequent at 1-2 times per week. They may be aggravated by increased stress, poor posture, improper ergonomics at work, improper sleeping positions, or anything that puts more stress on the neck and shoulders. It is remedied by specific chiropractic adjustments, cervical curve correction, muscle therapy, and postural modification.
The last cause may be due to a magnesium deficiency. This type of headache appears to be more common among women and is usually discovered after a person has exhausted the other forms of treatment. This cause can be discovered sooner with appropriate nutritional testing, as performed by Dr. Brooks and Dr. Pilicy, and may be easily correctable with supplementation.
Amy Graffum, of Paniskoi Herbals, will share her passion for herbs by teaching you how to make a medicinal salad from your own backyard. This workshop will explore the basics of herbalism and give many hands on practical tips for how to heal what ails you using natural, New England herb remedies. All are welcome and cost is free. please RSVP 978.468.0606
The following are some observations that I have regarding our health.
Not too long ago, a colleague of mine used the phrase “You can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” when explaining how a patient was not following through with the their health recommendations. I found myself very uncomfortable with the analogy. Describing a person as a horse was very dishonoring to the person and to the horse.
I believe that what makes us healthy humans is our ability to choose.
I believe that all learning is self-learning. Learning does not become real until it becomes relevant. Sure, someone can teach me reading, writing, and arithmetic and have me regurgitate the values that they want me to have, but until I possess them for myself, what good are they?
I have discovered firsthand how I can take on another person’s teachings, not because I value the teaching, but because I value the teacher. As honoring as this may be to them, it was not honoring to me and I eventually discarded the teaching- the learning wasn’t real. When however, I gained knowledge through interest and self relevance, I retained the information and actually valued the lesson and the teacher.
This way, I honor the lesson, the teacher, and myself.
Over the past many years, many parents have passed through our doors in the hopes of finding a cure to their child’s ear infections. Although I cannot say that we have been 100% effective 100% of the time, I can say that treatment has been very favorable for most of the children. My experience is that a chiropractic adjustment helps to restore proper nerve functioning to the middle ear, allowing the eustachian tube to drain properly. Otitis Media is often the result of improper drainage. This results in a build up of fluid that can put pressure on the tympanic membrane. This fluid may become infected. Rarely, however, have antibiotics been demonstrated to be the desired course of treatment. This has been demonstrated by different studies. (Click here to read article about The New England Journal of Medicine’s research about ear infections and the ineffectiveness of antibiotics.)
To read a more comprehensive article about kids, chiropractic and ear infections, please click here.
If you want to read more studies about chiropractic and its effectiveness with treating ear infections, please click here: More research.
A colleague of mine has a good friend who is a cardiologist at a prominent local hospital. He once asked the cardiologist what he thought about trans-fats. The doctor responded by saying “Trans-what? I don’t know what that is.” The more they started talking about nutrition, the cardiologist admitted that he had very little training about nutrition and the effects of processed foods on the body. He stated that his training was mostly in trauma care and repairing the heart that was already damaged. Since that time, trans-fats have made so many headlines that cities like Boston and New York have banned them in restaurants. See bantransfats.com.
To be brief trans fats are the result of processing oils to make them more “shelf friendly”. Some studies have shown that trans-fats actually cause the arteries to harden and clog. Read the following excerpt from a 2006 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine:
“Trans fats, unsaturated fatty acids with at least one double bond in the trans configuration (Figure 1), are formed during the partial hydrogenation of vegetable oils, a process that converts vegetable oils into semisolid fats for use in margarines, commercial cooking, and manufacturing processes. From the perspective of the food industry, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils are attractive because of their long shelf life, their stability during deep-frying, and their semisolidity, which can be customized to enhance the palatability of baked goods and sweets. The average consumption of industrially produced trans fatty acids in the United States is 2 to 3 percent of total calories consumed.1”
And then concluded:
“…the consumption of trans fatty acids from partially hydrogenated oils provides no apparent nutritional benefit and has considerable potential for harm.”
This was the idea behind creating margarine. Unfortunately, it seems that these fats are very incompatible with the human body and cause a weakening of vital cells and tissues. Processed partially-hydrogenated oils turned out to increase heart disease instead of cure it.
Back to the old adage “you are what you eat.” Eat an Apple!
In my household, our children can tell who’s doing the cooking long before they’ve entered the kitchen or tasted the food. Why? Because they heard the smoke detector. I am notorious for using high heat and causing our smoke detector to send a high pitch scream throughout the house. This can be very inconvenient, like today, Feb 14th, when I planned on letting my Valentine catch up on some much needed sleep and attempted to make the kids some breakfast. Instead of the sweet aromas of my well prepared breakfast causing my bride to gently levitate from her fully charged rest, she was catapulted from a deep sleep by a monstrous screeching pitch.
And this got me to thinking… After I shut off the life disturbing, I mean life saving device, I took a minute to ponder its existence. I looked around the room and saw no smoke whatsoever. I couldn’t even smell smoke. There was no evidence of which I could detect that something might be amiss. And this caused me to feel grateful. Wasn’t that indeed the reason why we bought this new smoke detector a month ago? I want it to detect that something is happening long before it gets to be a bigger issue. I want the earliest detection possible. The problem is not with the smoke alarm. it is doing the exact job I want it to do. It is telling me when there is smoke in the air- even if it is just a little. It wouldn’t make any sense to unplug it or take out the batteries. I installed it in the house because of its valuable function.
Our body has many different signals to tells us something is amiss. Simple fatigue, slight discoloration of our skin, a small krink in the back, inability to sleep through the night, loss of focus, numbness in the arm and hands, or slow digestion are all symptoms of some other cause. they are like little alarms going off to let us know something is up. Pain is usually the last and loudest alarm to get our attention. Sometimes, people may choose to turn off the alarm because they don’t like the alarm. They chose to take painblockers, sleeping pills, or some other chemical agent in order to “trick” the body into thinking everything is fine. This is equivalent to turning off the detector. I’m not saying that these things don’t have their place, I believe they can be very helpful. But it might be more prudent to look to see if there is a fire before shutting off the alarm. It is kind of like handing out earplugs to your family when the smoke alarm goes off.
I appreciate having a sensitive smoke alarm. The detector is working just fine. It is my cooking that needs a little help.
p.s. Happy Valentine’s Day Molly. Maybe tomorrow you’ll get that sleep.
Structure dictates Function
A corvette is low to the ground. This design allows it to corner faster and provides better handling than if it was taller like a truck. The corvette’s structure (low to the ground with wide tires) dictates its function (to go fast and out run the bank loan that allowed you to buy it).
Your own body is the same way. The structure of your spine allows you to stand on two legs, run upright, and balance while sitting without falling over. The natural curves of the spine allow for optimal functioning of resisting gravity. But what if your spinal structure changed due to injury, postural patterns, or lack of proper development? It would be like a top heavy sports car- inefficient and poorly able to accomplish its task.
There is a reason for the structure of your spine, your bones, your joints, your muscles, and the rest of you. Knowing the purpose of the structure is helpful in maintaining it. For example, did you know that when the head is directly over the shoulders that it is balanced and strong. There is very little effort required to hold your head up. But when the head moves forward by one inch it is the equivalent of twice the weight of the head? This puts a great deal of strain on the neck and shoulder muscles, which may in turn cause nerve irritation, headaches, and even hand numbness. Aberrant structure may impede the normal function.
And why the color red on the corvette? I don’t know, but I think it has something to do with attracting a mate. It represents the Peacock’s feathers. Once again- Structure dictates Function.
Have fun keeping your structure healthy. A healthy structure allows for healthy functioning.
Only in Boston does one get wicked stressed out. Why do we get stressed? Because we are human animals and have a built-in fight or flight response. Like other animals, when our feathers get ruffled, our body uses neurotransmitters and other chemicals to get us going to “defend” ourselves and ensure our survival.
During a stress response, our body goes into the “fight or flight/ freeze or faint” mechanism. At this time cortisol, cholesterol, glucose, and adrenaline flood the body in preparation for physical battle. This response may be environmentally appropriate for confronting a rabid animal or defending one’s self from an angry tyrannosaurus Rex, but how effective is it really when dealing with traffic jams, work deadlines, hyperactive children, and board and PTA meetings? The physiological response is the same in spite of the threat being very different. Even though you may not be “threatened” for your life by your boss, your body’s response may be acting as if it is. The result for you can be decreased energy, glucose stress on your tissues, high blood pressure, decreased cognitive ability, and long term arthritis and diabetes.
There are alternatives to having your body go into a stress response. Stress is a response created by your brain as your mind perceives a threat. If your brain is unable to perceive your environment accurately it will not be able to respond appropriately. Having cortisol rush through your veins because your child is crying does not give you the best tools to address your child’s needs. In fact, much research has demonstrated that the fight or flight response is a very poor survival mechanism and may actually impair rational judgment and impede an appropriate response (read The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – and Why: Amanda Ripley: Books.)
As you understand how your brain and body work, you can discover methods of having it work for you, not to you. On March 9th, at 7pm in our office, I will lead a workshop that explores the complex workings of your body and explain how the stress response has resulted in many chronic diseases of our culture. We will also explore effective ways to manage your stress and learn how to create an accurate perception so that you can have an appropriate response.
Monday, March 9th 7-8 pm at Hamilton-Wenham Family Chiropractic 78 Willow St South Hamilton, MA 01982 978.468.0606
Recent brain research has taught us that the brain is one big Etch-A-Sketch. It is a blank slate that we get to create. It is more adaptable and moldable than we ever gave it credit for being. The fancy word for this is called neuroplacticity. Our brains become organized due to our experience. The brain is operating by taking in information from the environment and learning to create an appropriate response. During the developmental years, the body’s ability to accurately perceive its environment and respond appropriately dictates later brain growth and development. The blank picture we call our brain is filled in partly by our experience.
Movement is a nutrient to ensure how well we create the neurological connection inside our brain. A child’s ability to move makes a big impact on the wiring and functioning of the child’s brain. Crawling, for instance, has been shown to be an essential movement for proper spinal development (creating the curves of the neck and low back), visual development (necessary for visual convergence), reading (following the words of a page from left to right), and balance (cross pattern movements). The brain is being shaped by repetitive patterns of movement. But not only is the brain establishing means of “how to move,” it is creating greater connections that actually impact a child’s ability to do the following:
3. Turn off unnecessary reflexes that may cause a
hypersensitive emotional response
5. And Feel.
The brain is a delightful instrument that can be trained. New discoveries have taught us that we can write what we want on the maps of our brains. Factors such as healthy nutrients (omega 3’s-Cod Liver Oil, whole foods, and lacto-fermented foods), healthy play, emotional nurturing, and proper spinal alignment all play a role in creating a rich environment for the brain to grow. To be avoided are toxins (such as corn syrups, processed soy, processed dairy, aspartame, MSG, and synthetic sweeteners) and stifling normal movement patterns in children (like creeping, crawling, climbing, and spinning).
– Dr. Gould
I like freedom. That is probably why I talk about it so much. I like freedom so much that I actually believe that you can’t be healthy without it! That’s right, I believe it is more healthy to eat a Twinkie without guilt, being sure to smile and enjoy every piece of it than to eat a salad in misery because you “have to.” Research has shown this to be true. Cellular biologist Bruce Lipton PhD. discovered that our emotional state has the capacity to change how our body digests and absorbs the food we give it. In this manner, a non-nutritious food may become more nutritous.
You have the freedom to eat a Twinkie- there is no moral Twinkie God that is going to tell you that you are bad. As soon as you give yourself the freedom to eat the Twinkie, you can then answer this question..
Do you want to eat it?
You might be surprised by what you discover when you listen to your body in the absence of beliefs of what you can and cannot do.
Have you ever tried to drink gasoline? Me neither. I didn’t want to drink gasoline, it just happened to be a side effect of trying to siphon gasoline from my parent’s car into my dirt bike tank using only a long clear tube and my mouth. I got more in my mouth than in my gas tank. It was then that I discovered that I did not like the taste of the gasoline. My body had an immediate response of revulsion. I was sick for most of the afternoon as my body effectively eliminated what it didn’t want. This was a healthy response to an unwanted toxin. A healthy body is sensitive to toxins.
Now, gasoline is an obvious toxin with a very clear response. But there are many other toxins in the world that may not produce the same immediate effect. Processed white sugar is this type of toxin. Wouldn’t it be great if a toxin like sugar produced an immediate response in your body like gasoline? It would be pretty easy to not eat sugar. Instead, sugar plays the “sweet and innocent” role. It gets the go ahead sign from your taste buds and slips into your bloodstream where your pancreas is left to clean up the mess. The resultant “feeling” in your body might be slight fatigue or food coma. You may consider this a minor side effect to the enjoyment of the taste of sugar.
My point is this: not all toxins are easy for us to detect. At least, not at first. Over time, as these toxins accumulate, they will create a dis-ease within the body that may present itself as a major or chronic disease later. A small amount of a toxin over a period of time does not create immunity- despite what the movie The Princess Bride and the Dread Pirate Roberts told you about building up an immunity to iocane powder! A toxin is always a toxin. The body can eliminate it quickly- like gasoline, or choose to store it. Storing it is often the result of the body not seeing the toxin as being potent enough to elicit a strong response to eliminate it. The body stores the toxin, where toxin build up can create tissue damage and present itself later as a chronic disease. I’m sure they never made a sequel to the movie because the Dread Pirate Roberts became the Dead Pirate Roberts, dying from some drawn out, debilitating neurological disorder.
I am practicing listening to my body more. I am discovering that it doesn’t always have to scream at me in order to get my attention. Sometimes it might be a whisper in the form of a tickle in my throat when I eat processed flour, a slight sense of fatigue after nursing a chocolate, or a subtle back twinge when bending over improperly. The more I listen to my body, the more I discover that it has been talking to me all along.
“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks!”
Or so we’ve been told. New research suggests the opposite. We are learning just how malleable our brains really are. Recent discoveries have taught us that the brain is a complex, marvelous, and dynamic system that has the capacity to change. This is the study of neuroplasticity that began with the work of neurobiologist Jerzy Konorski. Simply stated, we are learning that the brain consists of individual cells that communicate with one another – forming a connection. The strength of these connections reinforces the strength of the function. For example, I learned to pronounce my “s” with my tongue between my teeth. This was how my brain learned to pronounce the “s” sound. It wasn’t until I was 29 years old that I even learned that I had a lisp. My girlfriend, who was a school guidance counselor and worked with speech therapists, brought it to my attention. I had 29 years of neurological patterning in my brain. (You can call it a bad habit, but I prefer the phrase neurological patterning). The greater the connection between the cells of the brain- the stronger the pattern. But we have learned that new connections can be made and that the old patterns (habits) can be changed.
This information becomes very important when we look at our health patterns. We become empowered. We now have choice. We have the ability to change patterns that we don’t want. We can create patterns that we do want. We can literally re-pattern our brains!!!
All this is to say that you can change your habits- because they are only habits. Just as the brain can rewire itself, so you can reap the benefits from it. Your body may have learned how to smoke. Well, it can also learn how to not smoke. It may have adapted to eating a lot of sugar resulting in pancreas dysfunction. Well, we all probably know someone who changed their diabetes by changing their eating habits.
The good news is that yes, “you can learn new tricks!”. In fact, your brain is doing so everyday. To the brain- learning is living and living is learning. Not only can you train the brain, but you can retrain it. Not only can you learn how to sit in front of a TV for hours (this has been demonstrated through numerous psychological and marketing studies), you can also learn how to ride a bike, garden, and read books.
When you realize that you have the ability to change your health habits, you are empowered. One simple question remains: “Do you want to?”
I was inspired to retrain myself to be able to say “Yessssssssss.” It took many hours saying “Sally sells seashells by the seashore.” I have made enormous improvements. And, that girlfriend became my wife and continues to reveal to me some of my unwanted habits.
There are many tricks to changing habits. Check out our “See how they learn: insights into children and our neurological development.”
What if you had unlimited freedom? No one was going to tell you what to do, how to be, or what you should have. What if you could simply put all rules, regulations and social ideals to the side and truly experience the freedom to be who you are? What would you discover? Would you be a little more daring? Would you choose to be healthy? Would you choose to eat chocolate all day? Would you do nothing but watch t.v.? Would you start painting? Would you choose to discover how you could be more active in promoting your health? Would you write a book? Would you travel the world? Would you simply chose to stay home and take a year long nap?
What would you do, if you didn’t have to do anything?
Two things are for certain: First, only you can answer that question and Second, only you can give yourself that type of freedom. Good luck and go easy.
p.s. If you choose to see a chiropractor, we’d love it if you thought of us…
Why can’t health be fun? Is there something in our training that says health has to be boring, taste bad, or even too serious for enjoyment. I say, let’s play. Let’s celebrate the the wonderful ability of our bodies to function. I appreciate my body’s ability to breathe, pump oxygen, digest, store energy, sweat, urinate, and sleep. Knowing how cool my body is inspires me to want to take action to promote greater health.
I choose to celebrate health because I like it more than not celebrating. I love a good party. I’ve discovered that promoting health is much more fun and effective than fighting disease. As a friend of mine once told me: “If you want to get out of the dark, don’t fight it. Just turn on a light” I know that some people fight cancer, have wars on bacteria and battle against autism. But maybe there is another approach. Maybe we can spend more time finding the light switch.
Health can be fun.
Smiling increases brain serotonin levels. Laughter increases the immune response and heart function. Dancing is a beautiful workout that increases metabolism and muscle tone while decreasing stress and fat storage. Singing increases lung capacity and brain development. Hugging strengthens biceps, rotator cuffs, and friendships. Eating exercises our masseter muscles. Walking stimulates brain function. Movement lubricates our joints. Our bodies support our play and our play supports our bodies.
I say let’s celebrate. Let’s choose to honor how really amazing our bodies are!
To keep it simple, there may be three reasons why you get sick:
First, there may be something lacking that you body needs in order to work properly. For this discussion, let’s call this an insufficiency. A car that does not have a tire suffers from an insufficiency and can not work properly. A body that does not have the proper nutrients or proper spinal alignment has a insufficiency and can not work optimally. Your immune system may not be functioning as well as it could be because it is too run down or lacking important nutrients. This is called “suppressed immunity”. Genetic factors may fall under this category as well.
Second, there may be something in your body that is toxic and not allowing your body to function properly. We call these toxins. There are many different things that are toxic to our body’s health. Some toxins are handled immediately and quite strongly, like exposure to smoke that causes coughing and tearing, while other toxins may need to be in great amount (such as sugar) before we recognize our body’s response. A toxin in any amount is not “good” for the body, but some toxins are more easily handled than others.
Third, It may just be time. I have no other explanation. But I have observed that sickness is sometimes a part of life. If my experience changes, I’ll let you know.
What is a normal physiological approach to staying healthy? Maximize sufficiency in our body and limit our exposure to toxins. Exercise, eat whole nutrient based foods, keep good spinal alignment, practice meditation, and smile. Decrease toxins by avoiding or minimizing nutrient deficient foods (sugar and processed grains). Use natural soaps, deodorants and detergents. Avoid toxic cleaning chemicals, alcohol and trans fats. Aspartame is a known carcinogenic.
Obviously, there is a very long list for ways to create health sufficiency and avoid toxins. I have limited the list to keep things simple and inspire you to explore what you can for yourself.
When you honor and listen to your body, it is amazing what it will tell you.