Archive for October 2012

Strength   Leave a comment

Strong muscles keep your body upright and allow you to move. Good muscle strength and balance are critical to maintain proper posture and minimize muscle tension. Your muscles function much like the wires that hold up a tall radio or television antenna. If the wires are equally strong on all sides, the antenna will stand up straight. If one of the wires becomes weak or breaks, the antenna will either lean to the side or collapse. The same is true with your body. If the muscles on all sides of your spine are balanced and strong, your body will stand up straight and strong. Unfortunately, most people don’t have balanced and strong muscles – due, once again, to lack of exercise and to misalignments of the spine.

Muscles are very efficient at getting stronger or weaker in response to the demands placed on them. Since most of us sit at a desk, drive a car, and sit on the sofa at home, many of our muscles are not challenged. Consequently, they become weak. At the same time, the muscles that are constantly used throughout the day become strong. This imbalance of muscle strength contributes to poor posture and chronic muscle tension. Left unchecked, muscle imbalances tend to get worse, not better, because of a phenomenon called “reciprocal inhibition.”

Reciprocal inhibition literally means “shutting down the opposite.” For all of the muscles that move your body in one direction, there are opposing muscles that move the body in the opposite direction. In order to keep these muscles from working against each other, when the body contracts one muscle group, it forces the opposing group to relax — it shuts down the opposite muscles. When consistently only one set of muscles is used, the opposing group, from being continuously shut-down, is liable to atrophy.

This phenomenon is especially important to people who work at a desk, because all day long the same muscles in the upper back and chest area of the body are used. This means that all day long the body is essentially shutting down the opposite muscles in the middle back. Over time, the muscles in the middle back become very weak because they are not being worked like the muscles in the front. This contributes to poor posture and chronic muscle spasms and pain. The easiest way to correct this imbalance is to do specific exercises which will increase the strength of the back muscles, along with manual therapy and chiropractic care. Once the muscles in your middle back are strong, the tightness and poor posture simply disappear.

Our AMAZON Local Deal!   Leave a comment

Try as we might, it’s tough to slip anything by Father Time, and overly tight muscles and a sore back are our rewards for making the attempt. Luckily, today’s deal from Mouroux Chiropractic can help your pocketbook and your posture: Spend $49 (regularly $266) for a one hour massage, chiropractic exam, and an adjustment.

This Saratoga Avenue chiropractic institute specializes in treating back and neck problems. After a massage that seeks to relieve aches, pain, and stress, you’ll have a brief consultation with Dr. Bradley Mouroux, during which you’ll discuss the specific issues which are troubling you and develop a strategy for addressing them. Don’t back away from this deal — it’s another chance to hoodwink an old nemesis.
Be sure to buy our deal! http://local.amazon.com/san-jose/B009WSMATK?cid=share_em

The Wellness Approach   Leave a comment

The main difference between wellness care and standard medical care is that wellness care seeks to turn on the natural healing ability. Wellness care does not add something to the system, instead it  removes anything that might interfere with normal function. Wellness care trusts that the body would know what to do if nothing were interfering with it. Standard medical care, on the other hand, seeks to treat a symptom by adding something from the outside – a medication, a surgery or procedure.

Inside Out vs. Outside In

If a patient has high blood pressure, a standard medical approach would be to choose a drug that lowers blood pressure, and ask the patient to take the drug. This may serve to lower the blood pressure, but ignores the underlying cause that is making the blood pressure high, and runs the risk of side effects complicating the person’s recovery. Whether it’s a nutritional issue, faulty control by the nerve system or a manifestation of stress, the medication could decrease the blood pressure, leaving the problem causing the symptom of high blood pressure unaddressed.

The Wellness Approach

Wellness is a state of optimal conditions for normal function… and then some. The wellness approach is to look for underlying causes of any disturbance or disruption (which may or may not be causing symptoms at the time) and make whatever interventions and lifestyle adjustments would optimize the conditions for normal function. That environment encourages natural healing, and minimizes the need for invasive treatment, which should be administered only when absolutely necessary. When the body is working properly, it tends to heal effectively, no matter what the condition. When the body heals well and maintains itself well, then there is another level of health that goes beyond “asymptomatic” or “pain-free” which reveals an open-ended opportunity for vitality, vibrant health, and an enhanced experience of life.This is true for mental and emotional health as well as physical health. While some people may suffer psychological disorders, creating an atmosphere of mental and emotional wellness will address all but the most serious problems.

Acupuncture Confirmed Helpful for Chronic Pain   4 comments

By Dr. Mercola

Chronic pain is an exceedingly common condition impacting an estimated 76.5 million Americans, one-third of whom describe their pain as severe and “disabling.” When it comes to treating ailments such as chronic pain, I definitely prefer non-toxic options to modern medicine’s poor excuses for “cures.”

One such option is acupuncture, which can be an effective option for a number of health problems, but pain in particular.

In a recent analysis published in the Archives of Internal Medicine,1 researchers concluded that acupuncture has a definite effect in reducing chronic pain, such as back pain and headaches – more so than standard pain treatment. Real acupuncture also produced slightly better results than using sham needles, which suggests the benefits of needling are due to more than the placebo effect.

According to Time magazine:2

“The findings counter those of the last large study on the subject, which found that the needle technique was no better than a fake acupuncture treatment – using random pricking with toothpicks – in reducing people’s pain. But Vickers says his meta-analysis of the data, in which researchers reviewed 29 previous studies involving 17,922 participants, does a few things the previous studies did not.

For one, he and his colleagues began by looking at only the most rigorous trials involving acupuncture and pain relief – those that directly compared acupuncture treatment with some type of sham needle therapy in which needles were either inserted only superficially or placed in locations that are not known by acupuncture standards to be key treatment points in the body.

The authors of the analysis contacted each of the researchers on the previous studies to discuss with them how they separated the two treatment groups. By limiting their review to the most robust studies published, the authors could assess with more confidence acupuncture’s true effect on participants’ reports of pain before and after treatment.”

Clear and Robust Effects of Acupuncture

The researchers also went the extra mile by retrieving the raw data on self-reported pain. By standardizing the various study participants’ responses, they were able to more accurately assess and compare them as a whole. The team discovered a “clear and robust” effect of acupuncture in the treatment of:

  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Headaches

On a scale of 0 to 100, participants who started out with a pain rating of 60 experienced an average 30 point drop (a 50 percent reduction) in response to the real acupuncture treatments (using needles); a 25 point drop when receiving sham acupuncture; and a mere 17 point drop when receiving “standard pain care” that did not include acupuncture. According to the lead author:3

“The effects of acupuncture are statistically significant and different from those of sham or placebo treatments… So we conclude that the effects aren’t due merely to the placebo effect.”

Furthermore, as reported by HealthDay:4

“The authors stressed that although the superiority of true acupuncture over sham acupuncture appeared to be relatively small, the real-world choice patients face is not between acupuncture or fake acupuncture but rather between acupuncture or no acupuncture at all. And in that context they suggested that their findings are ‘of major importance for clinical practice.’

‘Basically what we see here is that the pain relief difference from acupuncture versus no acupuncture is notable, and important, and difficult to ignore,’ [lead author] Vickers said.”

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medical practice with roots that go back thousands of years. According to the Eastern mindset, your body is a cohesive unit, or whole – a complex system where everything within it is inter-connected, and where each part affects all other parts. A major component is the acceptance of an invisible flow of chi (or ki). This chi can be translated as “energy” or “life force,” which circulates through meridians in your body. When energetic blocks or deficiencies occur within a meridian, an imbalance is created that can cause a ripple effect of physical symptoms. Needles inserted into certain points along the meridians can stimulate sluggish chi, disperse blocks, or otherwise manipulate the flow of energy.

In essence, lack of balance within this bio-energetic system – which also includes blood flow and nutrients – is the precursor to all illness. Your body exhibits symptoms when suffering from inner disease and if it is not rebalanced, these symptoms may lead to acute or chronic illnesses of all kinds.

Chinese medicine, contrary to Western allopathic medicine, does not treat symptoms, but rather seeks to find the origin of the imbalance that produced the symptoms in the first place. Another major difference is that acupuncture, which is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), is remarkably safe with few, if any, negative side effects, so it certainly doesn’t hurt to try.

Traditionally, acupuncture is used to treat all kinds of health problems. In many Asian cultures, you see an acupuncturist in the same way you’d see a primary care physician here in the West, and in some US states acupuncturists are in fact considered primary health care physicians. Still, many Westerners have been slow to grasp this type of holistic view, where your body is perceived as being perfectly capable of self-correction and healing without drug intervention. Scientists are still at a loss to explain why acupuncture works, but for those who get relief or healing, the mechanics may not be of great importance.

Other Alternative Pain Treatments

Besides acupuncture, there are a number of treatment modalities that can help ease pain, such as:

  • Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT): Few people want to be told that their pain is psychological or emotional in origin, but there’s quite a bit of evidence that backs this up. Underlying emotional issues and unresolved trauma can have a massive influence on your health, particularly as it relates to physical pain. According to Dr. John Sarno, a psychiatrist who uses mind-body techniques to treat patients with severe low back pain, EFT has a greater than 80 percent success rate
  • Chiropractic adjustments: According to a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine5 and funded by the National Institutes of Health, patients with neck pain who used a chiropractor and/or exercise were more than twice as likely to be pain free in 12 weeks compared to those who took medication
  • Massage: Massage releases endorphins, which help induce relaxation, relieve pain, and reduce levels of stress chemicals such as cortisol and noradrenaline – reversing the damaging effects of stress by slowing heart rate, respiration and metabolism and lowering raised blood pressure. It is a particularly effective therapy for stress-related tension, which experts believe accounts for as much as 80 to 90 percent of disease
  • Neuro-Structural Integration Technique (NST): NST is a gentle, non-invasive technique that stimulates your body’s reflexes, which can provide relief for back pain. Simple movements are done across muscles, nerves and connective tissue, which helps your neuromuscular system to reset all related tension levels, promoting natural healing. The results can be both profound and lasting, and are usually apparent within two or three sessions.

More Natural Solutions for Pain

If you have chronic pain of any kind, please understand that there are many safe and effective alternatives to prescription and over-the-counter painkillers, though they may require some patience. Among the best are:

  • Start taking a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat like krill oil. Omega-3 fats are precursors to mediators of inflammation called prostaglandins. (In fact, that is how anti-inflammatory painkillers work, they positively influence prostaglandins.) The omega-3 fats EPA and DHA contained in krill oil have also been found in many animal and clinical studies to have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Reduce your intake of most processed foods as not only do they contain sugar and additives but most are loaded with omega-6 fats that upset your delicate omega 3-6 ratio, which will contribute to inflammation.
  • Eliminate or radically reduce most grains and sugars (especially fructose) from your diet. Avoiding grains and sugars will lower your insulin and leptin levels. Elevated insulin and leptin levels are one of the most profound stimulators of inflammatory prostaglandin production. That is why eliminating sugar and grains is so important to controlling your pain.
  • Optimize your production of vitamin D by getting regular, appropriate sun exposure, which will work through a variety of different mechanisms to reduce your pain.

In the meantime, you don’t need to suffer unnecessarily. Following are options that provide excellent pain relief without any of the health hazards that pain medications often carry.

  • Astaxanthin: One of the most effective oil-soluble antioxidants known. It has very potent anti-inflammatory properties and in many cases works far more effectively than NSAIDs. Higher doses are typically required and one may need 8 mg or more per day to achieve this benefit.
  • Ginger: This herb is anti-inflammatory and offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties. Fresh ginger works well steeped in boiling water as a tea or grated into vegetable juice.
  • Curcumin: Curcumin is the primary therapeutic compound identified in the spice turmeric. In a study of osteoarthritis patients, those who added 200 mg of curcumin a day to their treatment plan had reduced pain and increased mobility. In fact, curcumin has been shown in over 50 clinical studies to have potent anti-inflammatory activity, as well as demonstrating the ability in four studies to reduce Tylenol-associated adverse health effects.
  • Boswellia: Also known as boswellin or “Indian frankincense,” this herb contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which have been prized for thousands of years. This is one of my personal favorites as I have seen it work well with many rheumatoid arthritis patients.
  • Bromelain: This protein-digesting enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory. It can be taken in supplement form, but eating fresh pineapple may also be helpful. Keep in mind that most of the bromelain is found within the core of the pineapple, so consider leaving a little of the pulpy core intact when you consume the fruit.
  • Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO): This oil, found in fish and dairy butter, acts as a “joint lubricant” and an anti-inflammatory. I have used a topical preparation for myself to relieve ganglion cysts and a mild annoying carpal tunnel syndrome that pops up when I type too much on non-ergonomic keyboards.
  • Evening Primrose, Black Currant and Borage Oils: These contain the fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is useful for treating arthritic pain.
  • Cayenne Cream: Also called capsaicin cream, this spice comes from dried hot peppers. It alleviates pain by depleting the body’s supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmit pain signals to your brain.

Colic   Leave a comment

Colic is a condition in young infants characterized by an unusual amount of crying.When they cry, they may draw their arms and legs toward their bodies as though they are in pain and may even turn bright red. Colic usually appears between the 3rd and 6th week after birth and is typically resolved by the time they are 3 months old. Although no one is certain what causes colic, there are a number of things that likely contribute, such as an immature and irritated nervous system, food sensitivites and gastrointestinal upset.

The theory that an irritated spine may contribute to colic is supported by the frequent improvement in symptoms with gentle chiropractic adjustments. Because the birthing process is very stressful on the neck of a newborn, it is very common for there to be several subluxations in the neck and back that can irritate the tiny and delicate nervous system. It has also been observed that babies with colic seem to need more attention and are more sensitive to the things around them than other babies – again indicating that there are some neurological differences.

Both the mother’s and the baby’s diet can be huge factors in the development of colic. One of the biggest offenders is cow’s milk. Babies should not have cow’s milk, or dairy in any form for that matter, until they are at least two or three years old. Cow’s milk contains the sugar lactose which many newborn babies cannot digest very well, not to mention that cow’s milk contains many proteins that are not good for an infant’s digestive system.

Another potential dietary contributor to colic is the mother’s diet while breastfeeding. Women who breast feed should stay away from spicy foods, alcohol and tobacco, as well as to avoid  eating too much of any one particular food. A semi-bland, high-protein diet that excludes dairy is probably best – at least during the first three or four months of breastfeeding.

If your baby suffers from colic, there are a few things that you can do to help:

  • Seek regular chiropractic care, especially during the first four months.
  • Place a warm water bottle on your baby’s stomach.
  • Rock your baby in a rocking chair or cradle.
  • Give your baby a warm bath.
  • Gently rub your baby’s stomach.
  • Go for a drive with your baby in the car seat.
  • Feed your baby more often with less food at each feeding.
  • If you feed your baby formula, avoid soy or dairy-based formulas.

 

Floors that Can Make You and Your Children Sick   Leave a comment

By Dr. Mercola

You’ve probably given careful consideration to the food your children consume on a daily basis. But what about the other environmental influences they’re exposed to on a near 24/7 basis, such as the materials in their living space and, more specifically, your flooring?

It is likely no one in your home is more familiar with your floor than young children or toddlers living there, as this is where they spend a good deal of time – exploring, playing and learning the ropes of life.

As they crawl, their hands (that will later end up in their mouths) sweep across the surface, and their faces are in close proximity to the material itself, and any emissions that have accumulated in household dust.

Toxic chemicals, including some that are so dangerous to children they have been banned from toys, are widely used in popular flooring materials, and new research shows that these chemicals can be taken up by infants’ bodies as they crawl along on the floor.

Serious Risks from PVC Flooring Revealed

If your home contains soft, flexible plastic flooring, such as vinyl or those padded play-mat floors for kids (often used in day cares and kindergartens, too), there’s a good chance it is made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). One of the main problems with PVC is that it contains phthalates, or “plasticizers,” which are a group of industrial chemicals used to make plastics like PVC more flexible and resilient.

They’re also one of the most pervasive endocrine disrupters so far discovered. A new study conducted by Swedish researchers found levels of certain phthalates were higher in the urine of babies that had PVC flooring on their bedroom floor.1

Researchers concluded:

“The findings indicate that the use of soft PVC as flooring material may increase the human uptake of phthalates in infants. Urinary levels of phthalate metabolites during early life are associated with the use of PVC flooring in the bedroom, body area, and the use of infant formula.

This study shows that the uptake of phthalates is not only related to oral uptake from, for example, food but also to environmental factors such as building materials. This new information should be considered when designing indoor environments, especially for children.”

This is not the first time PVC flooring has made headlines. Past research has linked it to increased levels of phthalates in household dust, which in turn is linked to chronic health conditions like allergies and asthma. One study also found that infants who lived in bedrooms with vinyl floors were twice as likely to have autism as infants with wood flooring.2

What You Need to Know About PVC Flooring Chemicals

Along with common uses in PVC flooring, phthalates are also commonly found in toys, food packaging, shower curtains, plastic medical equipment, household cleaners, cosmetics and personal care products.

According to a report by Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI), studies have shown women of childbearing age have significantly higher phthalate exposures than other adults (could this be because they also use the most cosmetics?), and the chemical has been detected in 100 percent of pregnant women tested.3 It’s known that fetal exposure to phthalates is closely related to maternal exposure, so many, if not all, babies are starting out with exposure in the womb.

In childhood, children are further exposed to phthalates in consumer products ranging from toys, pacifiers and food packaging to personal care products and crawling on vinyl flooring. The chemicals are known to be a major source of indoor air pollution as well, as they are emitted from numerous household goods, including not only flooring but also furniture, upholstery, mattresses and wall coverings.

Phthalates have even been detected in infant formula and baby food, likely because they migrated from the packaging materials. This likely explains why the Swedish researchers found that certain phthalate levels were lower in 2-month-old babies if they were exclusively breastfed, with no supplements.

It’s alarming that children are being exposed to so many phthalates, from so many sources, as these are endocrine-disrupting chemicals that have been linked to a wide range of developmental and reproductive “gender-bending” effects, including:

Disturbed lactation Decreased dysgenesis syndrome: A syndrome involving cryptorchidism (undescended testicles), hypospadias (birth defect in which opening of urethra is on the underside of the penis instead of at the end), and oligospermia (low sperm count), and testicular cancer
Interference with sexual differentiation in utero Enlarged prostate glands
Impaired ovulatory cycles and polycystic ovary disease (PCOS) Numerous hormonal disruptions
Early or delayed puberty Breast cancer and uterine fibroids

Why Premature Babies May be Most at Risk

The sad truth is that most babies are likely starting off with a toxic chemical load due to their mom’s chemical burden. However, premature babies get a particularly rough start due to the high concentrations of phthalates they’re exposed to in the plastic medical equipment used during neonatal intensive care. With each plastic tube that a newborn is hooked up to, the rate of phthalate exposure increases. And for those premature infants who spend weeks and months in the neonatal intensive care unit, the exposure levels can be extraordinary.

As the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned, DEHP can be found in:4

IV tubing and IV bags Nasogastric tubes
Umbilical artery catheters Tubing used in cardiopulmonary bypass procedures (CPB)
Blood bags and infusion tubing Ventilator tubing
Enteral nutrition feeding bags Tubing used during hemodialysis

 

In fact, these medical devices can contain 20 to 40 percent Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP, a type of phthalate) by weight – and IV tubing can contain up to 80 percent! DEHP is not bound to the vinyl. It readily leaches out of these medical devices (the tubing or bag) into the solutions that come into contact with the plastic, where it then goes directly into you or your child.

The degree of this leaching depends on the temperature, the lipid content of the solution, agitation of the solution, and the duration of its contact with the plastic (i.e., storage time). Of course, the more medical procedures your child requires, the higher the exposure to this chemical. So, babies who are seriously ill and hospitalized have the greatest risk of exposure, as well as being the most vulnerable to its effects.

EHHI found that male infants exposed to phthalates through medical procedures are most at risk of suffering health effects,5 which include excessive inflammation.

Inflammation is known to trigger a number of diseases in premature babies, including a chronic lung disorder known as bronchopulmonary dysplasia and necrotizing enterocolitis, a serious intestinal condition. After their initial onslaught with chemicals in the hospital, they will then go home, where, unfortunately, the chemical exposure often continues.

12 Tips for Reducing Your Phthalate/PVC Exposure

Anything you can do to lower your, and your children’s, exposure to plasticizing chemicals like phthalates is a step in the right direction. Among them:

  1. Choose toys made from natural materials (or at least only buying those made from phthalate-free plastic).
  2. When redoing your home, look for “green,” toxin-free alternatives in lieu of regular paint and vinyl floor coverings.
  3. Replace your vinyl shower curtain with one made of fabric or better yet install glass shower doors.
  4. Switch over to natural brands of toiletries such as shampoo, toothpaste, and cosmetics.
  5. Check your home’s tap water for contaminants and filter the water if necessary. You may also want to use an alternative to PVC pipes for your water supply.
  6. Avoid using artificial air fresheners, dryer sheets, fabric softeners, scented candles or other synthetic fragrances and perfumes.
  7. Store your food and beverages in glass rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap.
  8. Avoid processed foods (many are packaged in phthalate-containing packaging) and instead focus your diet on fresh, organic and locally grown whole foods.
  9. Breastfeed your baby exclusively if possible, for at least the first six months (as you will avoid phthalates exposure from infant formula packaging and plastic bottles/nipples).
  10. If you use baby bottles, use glass, not plastic.
  11. Use only natural cleaning products in your home.
  12. Teach your children not to drink water from the garden hose, as many are made with phthalate-containing plastics.

Movement   Leave a comment

Imagine waking up one morning with a frozen shoulder where you couldn’t move your upper arm more than a few inches in any direction. How much would that impact your ability to do your job? How much would that affect your ability to drive your car or even to dress yourself? How much would that affect your ability to concentrate on anything other than your shoulder? Obviously, if your shoulder did not move correctly, it would have a dramatic impact on your life. Well, the same is true with movement in every part of your body. If things aren’t moving the way they are supposed to move, it will have a negative impact on your ability to function at work, take care of the demands of everyday life, and even your ability to concentrate.

Many patients with severe low back pain report that their pain came on suddenly when they did something as simple as bend down to pet their cat, put on their socks, or pick up the newspaper. Just about everyone would agree that a person’s body should be able to handle such simple movements. So what has happened?

In every one of these cases, the joints of the patient’s body were “all locked up” — they were barely moving at all. When the joints in one area of the body do not move the way they should, other areas of the body are forced to move more in order to compensate. This creates a significant stress on those areas that have to pick up the slack, and it soon leads to pain and inflammation. At the same time, the areas that don’t have normal movement will slowly worsen as the muscles continue to tighten, the joints stick together, and the ligaments and tendons shorten. This leaves the body in a very unstable condition; if left unchecked, this process will continue until the body can hardly move at all. That is how a person comes to suffer flare-ups of pain at the slightest provocation.

Most of us have seen people who have lost most of their normal mobility: they look like bodies have been starched stiff whenever they try to move around. This is especially prevalent among the elderly. Contrary to popular belief, however, this is not an inevitable effect of aging; rather it is the inevitable effect of not maintaining the body’s mobility through exercise, healthy alignment, and body mechanics. There are people in their 60s, 70s, or even older, who are stronger and more flexible than the average person in their 30s, simply because they keep themselves exercising.

Maintaining mobility is critical in order to live free from pain and disability. Maintaining good mobility is not difficult, but it does not happen on its own. Just as in developing a good posture, it is necessary that you perform specific exercises and stretches to keep your muscles, ligaments, and tendons flexible and healthy. In addition, it is necessary that all of the joints in your body are kept moving correctly as well. Although this can be achieved to a great degree through stretching, most people also find routine chiropractic adjustments to be very beneficial.