Archive for Health Issues

Sitting is the new smoking

First of all, I owe you an apology. I have not been updating this blog or sending out my email newsletter in over a year.

The major reason is that in September of 2014 I started a 6 year program to become an osteopath. The volume of material we are responsible is huge, but I am loving it. And when I am done, I think I will be an amazing therapist. BUT because of that the blog and newsletter fell by the wayside.

I would like to start again to fulfill what I promised you. It won’t be weekly – the next two weekends I am in courses – but I will endeavour to send something at least once or twice a month that hopefully you will find informative and useful. If there are health topics you want me to discuss, please let me know.

Now on to your tip. You probably have already heard that sitting is the new smoking. We now know that sitting for prolonged periods of time is dangerous to our health, making us prone to blood clots, leading to embolisms, heart disease, and stroke. Prolonged sitting even seems to impact blood-sugar regulation, making us more prone to diabetes. Even if we do an hour of exercise a day, it does not erase 8 hours of sitting.

This isn’t great news since our world seems to be designed around sitting, and many of us sit at office jobs all day. So, what do we do? Is there anything that can counteract all that sitting?

The simplest solution is to set an alarm and get up out of your chair at least once every half-hour and walk around for at least 2 minutes. Much more impactful though, would be to get up, then lie all the way down on your yoga mat that is on the floor beside your desk, then stand up again, and repeat that 3 or 4 times. This will bump up the heart rate, and ensure great blood-flow through your entire body. Do this, and it will erase that half hour of sitting.

And the bonus is: if getting down onto and getting up from the floor is NOT easy for you, it will become easy for you, which will mean increased range of motion and strength, and therefore better ability to do many tasks of daily living!

If you live in the Vancouver Lower Mainland, come on out to our free seminar called “The 6 Movements You Should Be Able to Do”. Learn why being able to do these movements increases life enjoyment, test yourself to see how well you can actually do the movements, and learn how to get better at them! Please register at Eventbrite.

Please do keep the comments coming on my blog. If you want to share this article, scroll to the very bottom and click the “share” icon to post on Facebook, Twitter etc. If you want to subscribe or search for other posts by title or by topic, go to www.wellnesstips.ca.

Related Tips:
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Aviroop Biswas et al. Sedentary Time and Its Association With Risk for Disease Incidence, Mortality, and Hospitalization in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis Ann Intern Med. 2015;162(2):123-132..

World Health Organization Physical Activity

Copyright Vreni Gurd 2016


www.wellnesstips.ca

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Is your head on top of your body or forward of it?

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A forward head can be the root cause of all kinds of problems in the body, including headaches, jaw pain, neck and shoulder pain, and back pain.

It makes good sense that the body works best if all the blocks are stacked up properly. Pelvis right over the legs instead of in front or behind, ribs over the pelvis instead of tilting backwards, and head over the ribs so the ear is lined up over the shoulder. Seems obvious, but most of us don’t seem to live there regularly.

Our professions often mean that we are spending a lot of time sitting at desks looking at computers, which tends to pull our heads forward. We often relax by slumping into a sofa and watching TV, which curves our upper back, also bringing our head forward. Probably for most of us, we spend far more time sitting than standing.

Over time our postural habits “harden”. If we are constantly holding a particular posture and are not moving the body through the opposite range of motion, we will lost the motion we don’t use.

Soon we realize that we are uncomfortable lying on our back in our beds without that pillow, as to get our head to touch the mattress we would need to tip it way back, sticking our chin in the air, which might pull the mouth open making it uncomfortable to breathe. There is a huge gap between our neck and the bed. So we stuff a pillow in there so our face is parallel to the ceiling and we can be more comfortable.

But simple discomfort is not the only issue that a forward head can cause. As Paul Chek states, “For every inch that the head’s center of gravity is shifted forward, the lower cervical spine is subsequently subjected to compressive forces equivalent to a one-time additional weight of the head.”

Most heads weigh between 12 and 20 pounds, so if one's head were 3 inches forward, that would put between 36 and 60 pounds of extra weight on the lower cervical (neck) spine, which is extremely fatiguing to the muscles at the back of the neck.

The pull on the back of the head is also known to cause chronic headaches. These muscles that must deal with this constant load become exhausted, and their blood flow proportionally diminishes as the muscle contraction increases.

This lack of blood flow is often the primary source of muscle pain in the neck region. Releasing trigger points in the posterior neck muscles, especially splenius capitus, and the insertion points of levator scapula, traps, SCM and the occipital muscles can help, but unless one gets enough rest to allow blood-flow to return, the problem can become chronic.

Over time, the pain may migrate lower as more muscles become involved. As certain muscles tighten under the strain, their opposites lengthen and weaken, extending the problem further into the body.

For example, as the shoulder blades are pulled up to try and support the forward head, the muscles that pull the shoulder-blades down weaken.

In order to remain balanced in the standing position, we need to have our weight centered over our feet. So if the head is forward, the ribs tend to tilt back, and the pelvis will often tilt forward leading to problems in the lower back, hips and legs as well.

Because we need to keep our eyes level to the horizon in order to be able to see properly, as our head moves forward, it also tends to tilt backwards on the neck.

The area where the neck and cranium meet is a very busy place, and there should be a space of about 6.5 plus or minus 2.5mm between the base of the skull (occiput) and the 2nd vertebrae (spinous process of C2). When this space is reduced to 4mm or less, the nerves and blood vessels in that space can be mechanically compressed.

When the back of the skull and the top vertebrae (OA joint) get too close together there is potential for compressing the vertebral artery and vein as they exit the transverse foramen of the top vertebrae to make their way into the cranium. Impaired blood flow into and drainage from the brain is never a good thing. (The vertebral artery is the thinner one at the back, threading through the holes in the vertebrae.  This drawing is from Gray's Anatomy.)

This lack of space has been shown to be associated with higher incidence of vertigo (dizziness), possibly due to a compromised vertebral artery. If you notice you always get dizzy when you look up at the ceiling or airplanes in the sky, this is a warning sign that those blood vessels may be quite compromised and doing something to restore a better head position might improve the situation dramatically.

Besides blood vessels there are nerves that are in this tiny space as well. The greater occipital nerve itself can have a diameter as create as 3mm, so that does not leave much wiggle room. The nerve roots that exit from the top two vertebrae would be particularly vulnerable to mechanical forces due to forward-head posture.

Forward-head posture can create significant problems within the head too. Try sticking your head further forward, keeping your face looking straight ahead. Can you feel a stretch in the neck under your jaw? As the head goes forward, the jaw is often pulled back, which may altar one’s bite, leading to TMJ problems.

The hyoid bone in the front of the throat will be pulled up in forward-head posture, which may contribute to snoring and possibly even sleep apnea.

Notice also how as you push your head forward, your tongue drops a bit in your mouth, and as you pull your head back, more of your tongue contacts the roof of your mouth.

If your head is permanently forward and your tongue is lower in your mouth, this may encourage the habit of pushing the tongue against the front teeth with every swallow, eventually protruding those teeth forward impairing the bite.

Okay, I think I'll stop there. I won't go into the impact of forward head on the dura (fascia covering the spinal cord). I’m hoping it is clear that forward-head posture has a significant impact on the whole body, and that doing what is needed to bring the head back into its proper position can greatly improve pain syndromes and body function.

How far forward is your head? You can figure this out with a ruler and a plumb line (a piece of string with a key tied to the end), and a friend. Stand up, and put the ruler lightly in the sternoclavicular notch (the soft gushy V right above your breast bone at the bottom of your neck). Hold the string on the front of your cheek right on the bone, letting the plumb line hang, and have your friend read off the ruler how far forward your head is.

Might be more accurate if your friend does the whole thing, as often reaching your hands up towards your face will alter your normal head position.

Often awareness of body position can help, particularly when seated. Making sure one’s work environment is ergonomically correct is critically important.

The chair needs to be raised so that one can sit tall on the sit bones, shoulders resting on the ribs, elbows at 90 degrees. The monitor should be in front of the eyes, so the head does not need to be tilted down to view it. The feet should be resting on something that allows the ankles knees and hips to be at 90 degrees.

A good orthopaedic assessment can be helpful in determining the best approach to reducing forward-head posture. Sometimes it can be as simple as getting used to being in a different position – bringing the pelvis back over the legs, which would straighten the ribcage providing a upright platform for the head.

Most people would need a personalized stretching and strengthening program to bring the body back into alignment. For example, tight muscles at the pelvis will definitely impact head position, and which muscles need to be stretched and strengthened is a very individual thing.

In others, the upper back is stuck in too much curve, and the spinal segments would need to be mobilized the spinal and the back extensors would need to be strengthened.

A simple stretch that can be done is to lie on the floor or in the middle of the bed on the back (use a small pillow if you need one), and reach the arms straight out to the side, slowly raising them up towards your head like a snow angel. When you start to feel a stretch, wait until the stretch dissipates. Do this daily. The goal is to have the upper arms resting on floor comfortably next to your ears without feeling any stretch at all.

People with too much upper back roundness would probably also need stretching of the back of the neck and strengthening of the deep front neck muscles (longis colli and longis capitus). These neck muscles are tricky to strengthen without instruction, so seek out a CHEK Practitioner or physical therapist to help you.

If you are in the Vancouver area and would like help with this, please reply to this email. We would be happy to assess you and take you through an exercise program personally designed just for you. We also have gift certificates available if you want to give the gift of good posture and good movement to a friend or loved one.

If you want to share this article, scroll to the very bottom and click the “share” icon to post on Facebook, Twitter etc.

If you want to subscribe or search for other posts by title or by topic, go to www.wellnesstips.ca.

Related tips
Take your space and improve your posture
Whiplash, neck pain, and the muscles of the neck
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Respiration, the BIG boss

Chek, Paul Posture and Craniofacial Pain 1994.

Gray, Henry Gray’s Anatomy: The Unabridged Running Press Edition Of The American Classic 1974.

Bradly K.C. The Posterior Primary Rami of Segmental Nerves, Aspects of Manipulative Therapy, Glascow, et al. Editors 1980: 59-64. Churchill Livingstone.

Walther DS AK Applied Kinesiology, Vol. 2: Head, Neck and Jaw Pain and Dysfunction, the Stomatognathic System 1983; 344-345. Systems D.C.

Rocobado M. Biomechanical Relationship of the Cranial, Cervical and Hyoid Regions. J Craniomandibular Pract. 1983 Jun-Aug;1(3):61-6.

Rocobado M. and S.A. Iglarsh. The Musculoskeletal Approach to Maxillofacial Pain
1991; 70. J.B. Lippincott Co.

Sjøgaard G, Kiens B, Jørgensen K, Saltin B. Intramuscular pressure, EMG and blood flow during low-level prolonged static contraction in man. Acta Physiol Scand. 1986 Nov;128(3):475-84.

Zohn D.A. Musculoskeletal pain : diagnosis and physical treatment 1988; 183-184, 186-187. Boston Toronto; Little Brown and Co.

Travell J.G. and D. Simons. Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual (2-Volume Set) 1983: Willliams and Wilkins.

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The body hierarchy

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Understanding the order of importance for our survival that our bodies place on our various body systems can provide a road map for successful resolution of health problems.

Paul Chek has a priority system that he uses and teaches to his students (such as myself) to help us help the people that come to see us seeking treatment for their various aches and pains and health problems.

No matter what the symptom, from low-back pain to digestive troubles to fatigue, the idea is to start examining the patient/client by looking at the system at the top of the hierarchy – breathing, and progressing down until a dysfunction is found, and addressing that dysfunction first.

Breathing is at the top of our body’s priority list for obvious reasons – we can’t survive more than a few minutes if we can’t breathe. So in our body’s innate wisdom, it will sacrifice all other body parts and systems in order to make sure that we can still breathe.

Not being able to breathe through the nose is relatively common, either due to the nasal passage being too small or due to allergies or sickness. The body makes a fair number of compensations in order to accommodate mouth breathing, the most obvious one being to bring the head forward to allow for easier air-flow when mouth breathing.

Forward-head posture greatly increases the forces on the back. For every inch the head is forward, the weight of the head is added to the workload the upper back muscles must carry. Heads weigh between 8 and 12 pounds, so if the head is 2 inches forward, that is 16 to 24 pounds of work those poor back muscles are forced to do, which can lead to upper back strain, shoulder problems, and low back problems.

Because the body will always sacrifice a back in order to breathe, one can’t fix a back by only treating a back, if the person is not breathing correctly.

Hyperventilation will increase the pH of the blood which has chemical consequences in the body, such as making it more difficult for the hemoglobin to release the oxygen to the cells (not good), and it also causes more calcium to enter the the muscles and nerve tissue, making them more excitable than they should be.

Blood that is too alkaline causes the arteries of the brain, heart and body to constrict, increasing blood pressure and reducing blood flow to these tissues. Reduced blood flow results in a huge variety of symptoms, from headaches, to digestive issues, to fatigue, to cold hands and feet, and on and on.

The above are only two examples. There are many ways people breathe incorrectly and many various problems that can manifest in the body because of it. So no matter what the issue, it makes sense to check and correct breathing first. Changing how one breathes is not an easy process, but well worth the time it takes.

If you have breathing issues like hyperventilation, chest breathing, shallow breathing etc., seek a physical therapist or a CHEK Practitioner for help, or try yoga. Structural Integration (a form of massage therapy) can help open up the nasal passages if your nose tends to be blocked.

Paul Chek puts bite and chewing (temporomandibular joint and teeth) second on his totem, because if you can’t eat, you won’t survive long either. He is obviously correct, but I think the body prioritizes circulation higher than eating so I would put circulation 2nd on the priority list. After all, a severed artery or a heart attack are both emergencies that need to be addressed immediately to avoid death. I think of the CPR mantra – ABCs – Airway, Breathing, Circulation.

The circulatory system delivers blood carrying oxygen, nutrition, communications via hormones and peptides to the cells, and returns cellular waste to the liver for recycling or disposal.

Any tissue that for whatever reason is not receiving the blood flow it needs will be unable to function optimally.  The body will alter its posture in order to protect a tethered or partially plugged blood vessel.

Blood vessels should be somewhat mobile – they should slide with the tissue as one reaches an arm up overhead, or as the legs move as we run or walk.  Moving our bodies through full range of motion daily should help keep the mobility in the vessels.

However, if a blood vessel becomes stuck and is no longer able to slide (due to a fall, MVA, not enough exercise etc.) suddenly the body has a problem.  For example, if there is a blood vessel tether in the "leg pit" or groin area, the front of the hip is stretched as we walk.

From the tether on downstream the adhered blood vessel is also being stretched, which would narrow the diameter restricting blood flow.  Suddenly the body will discourage a long stride in order to prevent a serious injury to the vessel.

The body will try to adjust by tightening certain muscles and relaxing others to change the position of the pelvis, leg or foot in order to accommodate the compromised  blood vessel and improve blood flow.

The common adaptation is too much anterior rotation (pelvis-bucket pouring water out the front) to keep adequate slack in the blood vessels going into the leg. 

No matter how much that poor pelvis position might wear out a hip joint or cause facet-joint irritation in the low back, that is the sacrifice the body will make to protect its circulation.

Furthermore, no amount of hip-flexor, quad, and low back stretching will create a permanent change if there is a tethered or compromised blood vessel in the groin area. Muscles, bones and joints are the slaves of the blood.

Maybe hip and knee surgeries could be prevented if blood flow were restored before too much cartilage damage occurred.

If you have spent a lot of time stretching and you are getting no more flexible, perhaps this is the reason.

Look for an osteopath or someone that has done training to release nerves, as the blood vessels usually travel in the same channels as the nerves if you think this might be affecting you.

If you want to search for other posts by title or by topic, go to www.wellnesstips.ca.

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Personal communication with Annabel Mackenzie, who provides osteopathic treatments in Vancouver, British Columbia

Chek, Paul; CHEK Level 3 Practitioner course, Chek Institute, Vista California

Copyright 2012 Vreni Gurd

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Visceral massage breaks up adhesions

It is well known that when we are opened up for surgery, air gets in causing the fascia to become sticky, potentially creating adhesions between different organs or between organs and the body wall. This can compromise organ function and body movement. Visceral massage can break up these adhesions.

Our organs are all encased in fascial bags that are suspended from the back-body. In four-legged animals the organs literally hang down from their back.

Because humans are upright gravity also plays a roll, so the fascial bags that are hanging down sit on top of each other, but they should be quite free to move as we move. So, when we twist or bend or reach, our organs move around to accommodate the motion.

Our liver, stomach and kidneys move up and down significantly with each breath. When we twist, our heart lifts up, and the lungs drop back behind to allow the ribcage to rotate.

Surgery isn’t the only thing which can cause visceral adhesions.  If we don’t move enough in all ranges of motion, organs that don't regularly get that slide and glide happening between their surfaces can adhere. Falls, car accidents or other body impacts can create adhesions. Or as I found out the hard way, too much icing can cause an adhesion problem.

Organ adhesions are problematic because if the organs are not free to move as they are meant to, liquids may not flow as they should, nerves may be strangled, blood flow and range-of motion may be impaired, and uneven tension through the system may create pain.

And of course, the function of the organs involved may be impaired, which can lead to other issues, such as inadequate digestion, detoxification, reproductive and immune function.

The body will tend to hug the adhesion in order to keep as much freedom in the area as possible, which can alter posture and function significantly.

For example, if the cecum (start of the ascending colon) is adhered to the parietal peritoneum (the fascia on the inside wall of the abdominal cavity), one might stand and sit slightly side-bent right in order to keep some slack in the area.  This might be the root cause of back, neck, or shoulder pain.

Organs that are stuck have to work extra hard to do their jobs and they get tired. When we feel fatigue, our organs are telling us that they are fatigued. This can be a significant stress on the body, and can lead to cortisol issues and adrenal fatigue too.

Organ adhesions can also create significant problems far away from where the adhesion is located, because of the extended fascial connections within the body.

For example, head issues (headaches, dizziness, brain fog, concentration problems, vision issues, numbness, ringing in the ears etc.) can be directly caused by the stomach being stuck to the parietal peritoneum (inner body-wall of the abdominal cavity), or the descending colon, or small intestine, or, or …

The fascia that holds the food pipe (esophagus) runs from the stomach all the way up the front of the spine to the top of the mouth, where it attaches to the sphenoid, the all important bone in the middle of our head in which the pituitary gland sits.

So the sphenoid bone can be pulled down and to the left due to an esophagus or stomach adhesion, creating head issues.

Visceral adhesions can alter the blood flow, nerve supply and mechanics not only of the abdominal cavity, but also of the legs, arms, neck and head.

Surgeons realize that adhesions are a problematic side-effect of surgery, but they also know that going in again to cut the adhesions just leads to more adhesions later.

During the previous Fascia Congress in Amsterdam, a Squamish BC massage therapist named Susan Chapelle told Dr. Geoffrey Bove, a basic scientist from Boston,  that she was able to use visceral massage to break up adhesions non-invasively.

Doubting her, Dr. Bove said he would create such adhesions in rats and asked her to prove her abilities to him.  Needless to say, she did, and they presented their paper at the Vancouver Fascia Research Congress in March.

Visceral massage therapists have known they can do this for many years, but not many in the medical community are aware yet that this kind of treatment is available and effective.

Yesterday I learned that my pancreas was quite stuck to my spleen and was not really moving. Before and after treatment, my therapist did the typical  thoracic-outlet syndrome (TOS) test. Usually I lose blood flow at about 60-70 degrees of arm abduction (out to the side).

After the treatment, the blood flow to my left arm improved significantly.  So if scalene, first rib and pec minor treatment don't work for TOS, perhaps look at the viscera.

If you have a health problem, and you feel you have tried "everything", consider visceral massage. More frequently than one might expect, the root cause of a body problem is structural or has a structural component, and visceral adhesions are a structural cause that is frequently missed.

Please do keep the comments coming on my blog. If you want to share this article, go to the blog post and scroll to the bottom and click on the “share this” icon. If you want to search for other posts by title or by topic, go to www.wellnesstips.ca.

Related tips
Organs and Ice
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Geoffrey M. Bove, PhD, Susan L. Chapelle, RMT Visceral mobilization can lyse and prevent peritoneal adhesions in a rat model. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2012 Jan;16(1):76-82. Epub 2011 Apr 9.

Copyright 2012 Vreni Gurd

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5 Key Nutrients for Healthy Eyes

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Guest article today by Dr. David Cronauer, Doctor of Optometry.

Can you imagine what it would be like not to be able to see, or to have a dramatically reduced visual ability? There are so many things we take our sight for and yet we do very little to protect our eyes and keep them healthy! Fortunately, there are some easy ways to make sure your eyes get the protection they need to stay strong throughout your life. This post will focus on five key nutrients that will keep your eyes healthy and help avoid the development of eye damage, such as cataracts or glaucoma.

  1. Vitamin A. Do you remember hearing that carrots are good for your eyes? That is because carrots are an excellent source of Vitamin A, which plays a key role in vision as well as in cell reproduction and healing. Vitamin A helps you see well in the dark, and a deficiency in this vitamin often causes blindness in third-world countries. In addition, vitamin A helps the immune system. Other than carrots, an excellent source of vitamin A is liver. Nutritional supplements can also provide this important element. Be careful, though, as large doses of vitamin A can be toxic.
  2. Vitamin C.Vitamin C has been linked to the prevention of cataracts. Studies show this is most effective over a long period of time, so start focusing on this today! It can also reduce eye pressure in glaucoma patients, easing the stress on their vision. Excellent sources of vitamin C include many fruits, such as oranges, watermelon, grapefruit, and strawberries.
  3. Vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects body tissue from cell damage cause by free radicals. Intake of this vitamin can help protect your eye from many diseases associated with aging. Good sources of vitamin E include nuts, nut oils, and green leafy vegetables.
  4. Lutein. Lutein is a carotenoid that can protect your eyes from light-inflicted damage. While sunlight is an important nutrient in itself, certain frequencies within the sunlight can be damaging to your eyes. Leafy green vegetables are a good source of lutein, and you can also find supplements that provide carotenoids.
  5. Sunlight! Many of us spend the majority of our days indoors, often in front of a computer. Extended periods of time looking at a computer screen and in unnatural light can be very damaging for your eyes. Be sure to take frequent breaks, focus your eyes on a variety of distances, and try to get at least one hour of natural sunlight each day.

We all want to make sure we stay healthy as long as possible. As you take care of your muscles, cholesterol, joints, and bones, don’t forget to also nurture your eyes. They will serve you well throughout life if you make sure they receive the nutrition and care they need.

About the Author

Dr. David Cronauer works for ReplaceMyContacts.com, an online retailer of cheap contacts such as 1 day acuvue tryeye and Proclear Toric. He is a graduate of Wilkes University Pennsylvania College of Optometry where he received his Doctor of Optometry degree. Dr. Cronauer is certified in the treatment and management of ocular disease and specializes in vision-related problems for head injury and stroke victims.

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Organs and ice

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Manual therapists that know how to listen with their hands to what the bodies of their patients are telling them are worth their weight in gold, as they can zone in on the most important area to treat.

Today I’d like to present something a little different. I’m hoping that you will find some wellness take-aways from what happened to me last week, and that you will endulge a personal story.

Those that have been following these tips for some time probably already know that my biggest health struggle is getting to sleep and staying asleep. I have made huge improvements over the last year to 18 months, but in the effort to improve my sleep still further, I began supplementing with magnesium. My understanding is that magnesium is not easily absorbed via the gut, so I was very excited to get my hands on a topical magnesium oil.

As a general rule I put nothing on my skin but soap and coconut oil, in order to avoid the long list of potential toxins in personal care products. The mineral oil ingredients were water and magnesium chloride, so I didn’t figure there would be an issue. I sprayed the oil on my back and a couple of days later realized that I had developed a very itchy rash. Assuming it was an allergic reaction, I tried antihistamine sprays to take out the itch, but they did not work. I did not think anything was infected and I did not want to use corticosteroids, so I did not go to the doctor. But the itch was unbearable.

In hindsight, that is when I made my biggest mistake. I figured my back was inflamed, so I iced it. Those that know me know that for me to resort to ice means that the itching must have been something aweful, because I tend to be cold and have to fight hard to stay warm. But the ice worked like a charm, easing the itch almost immediately. I iced a few times over the course of the day, and once I think I kept the ice on for as long as 20 minutes.

The following morning when I tried to get out of bed, I realized something was very wrong. As I lifted my head up in order to sit up, I felt a strong pull down the left side of my back. It felt like the inside of my ribcage on the left had been encased in shrink-wrap. Every time I moved, I felt this sproingy tug from about the 6th rib on the left side, down to my left low back. Even when I stood normally, a fairly strong pull remained. The sensation in my back was similar to how it feels if one were to pull back a finger and hold it there for several hours. I also felt a tether pulling my stomach off to the left, and my skin around the whole left side of my trunk felt irritated just like skin feels when one has the flu. This was now in addition to the horrible itching.

What had I done? If you are a health-care practitioner, what would you suspect with that symptomology? What would you do to treat?

My suspicion was that the ice had dehydrated the tissues, and that my spleen had firmly attached itself to the posterior wall inside my ribcage. It felt like the spleen was where all the tethering sensations were originating. Suddenly I was remembering what my mother always used to say when we were kids – “don’t let your coat ride up or you will chill your kidneys”. My partner told me that when he was a boy playing hockey, the coaches would never let them lie on the ice because they might “freeze their organs”. Old wives’ tales? Or based in some truth? Certainly ice is commonly recommended to relieve inflammation, and I don’t recall hearing any caveats with respect to icing the back.

I stretched in every way I could think of to sheer the organ away, to no avail. I tried heat and stretched after that. Nope. So, for the last couple of days I’ve been incredibly uncomfortable in pretty much any position. This weekend I’m in a course with a bunch of manual therapists, so today I begged and pleaded for a treatment.

My therapist spent about 20 minutes listening with her hands to what my body was telling her. She did not want me to tell her my story because she knew that that would confuse her sense of touch. Her hands told her that no, the issue was not my spleen but rather that my left kidney, which had been pulled up against my spasming diaphragm. My spleen and stomach were coming along for the ride, but the primary problem was the kidney. She proceded to treat it, and about 5 minutes later I noticed the tethering sensations were gone. I am so grateful! I feel considerably better, and hopefully over the next day or so the achy skin will calm down too.

It is important to understand that our organs are supposed to slide and glide with respect to each other, and with respect to the canister that contains them. They should be attached only at their attachment sites – not be glommed together or glued to the walls. When many think of pain or discomfort, they think muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments, but the discomfort can also be caused by a tethering from one or more organs, or from the nerves.

When something stops moving as it should, whether that something is a muscle, joint, nerve or organ, the body is forced to compensate for that lack of movement. Pain or disease happens when the body is no longer able to compensate.

Painkillers only treat symptoms. If there is pain, there is a cause somewhere. And that cause might be very far away from where the pain is. Manual therapists who know how to listen with their hands to what the bodies of their patients are telling them, can locate those causes and help resolve them.

If you want to share this article, scroll to the very bottom and click the “share” icon to post on Facebook, Twitter etc. If you want to subscribe or search for other posts by title or by topic, go to www.wellnesstips.ca.

Related tips:
Posture, leg-length discrepencies, musculoskeletal pain and organ function
It’s all in your head – I mean neck!
Shall I rearrange your face?
Tail wagging the head or head wagging the tail?

Wright, Karen The physics of negative pressure. The Minus Touch. Discover Magazine, 03 01 2003.

Copyright 2011 Vreni Gurd

www.wellnesstips.ca

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Which vitamin helps prevent heart disease & osteoporosis?

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Just as Vitamin D did in the last couple of years, Vitamin K will soon explode into everyone’s consciousness, and with good reason. Vitamin K helps prevent osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and some cancers like non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and prostate cancer in particular.

Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin that is not on the radar of most people, yet it is very important for many bodily functions. It comes in two main forms, K1 and K2, but it is the K2 version which seems to be particularly helpful to the above diseases.

Vitamin K1 is most well known for its role in blood clotting, whereas Vitamin K2 is now understood to regulate calcium by keeping it out of the places we don’t want it, like arteries and joints, and putting into the places we do, like bones and teeth.

Vitamin D3 is responsible for helping us absorb calcium, and Vitamin K2 is responsible for directing where that calcium goes. By controlling where calcium goes, Vitamin K2 helps prevent both heart disease and osteoporosis. So taking that calcium supplement without having enough bio-available Vitamin D3 and K2 may be more harmful than helpful.

Inflammation of the arteries is the root cause of cardiovascular disease, which in itself is largely caused by an inflammatory diet that includes too much omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, primarily from the vegetable oils that we are told to cook with like corn oil, soy oil, canola oil etc., along with too much sugar, flour products and processed food. The best solution in my opinion is to stop eating those foods, which would prevent systemic body inflammation in the first place.

Once the arteries are inflamed, the body’s response is to send cholesterol, a powerful antioxidant, to the area to repair the damage. If there is not enough K2, calcium is also frequently deposited at the damaged site, which results in plaque building up in the arteries. Vitamin D3 and K2 work together to prevent the calcification of the arteries from occurring. There are many scientific studies that suggest that increased Vitamin K2 intake decreases risk as well as deaths from heart disease.

Vitamin K2 plays a key role in preventing and possibly reversing osteoporosis. Osteocalcin is a protein that “turned on” by Vitamin K2, and its role is to organize the deposition of calcium and phosphorus into the boney matrix as well as into teeth. If there is not enough K2 around to turn on the osteocalcin, the body can’t properly get the minerals into the bones. Furthermore, Vitamin K2 is also
keeps calcium out of the cartilage at the joint surfaces.

Our primary source of K2 is our gut, as it is made by the good bacteria that live there, so any digestive problems such as ulcerative colitis, celiac disease or Crohn's may result in a deficiency. So might a diet high in processed food, sugar and flour which promotes the growth of unhealthy gut bacteria, thereby crowding out the good bacteria that makes the K2. Broad-spectrum antibiotics would also destroy the gut bacteria making it impossible to manufacture K2. If you’ve been on antibiotics, take probiotics to repopulate your gut with good bacteria. Liver problems may also interfere with K2, due to the liver’s importance in vitamin storage. Also since Vitamin K is fat soluable, very low fat diets make it harder to assimilate.

K2 is most plentiful in the Japanese fermented soy food called natto, but I admit when I took a look at the stuff I could not bring myself to eat it. Looked like brown, moldy soybeans covered in slime. Then again, perhaps if I suffered from heart disease I would plug my nose and gobble it down, as studies show that those that eat the most natto have the fewest deaths from the disease. Other food sources of K2 albeit in much smaller quantities include goose-liver pate, hard and soft cheeses made from raw, pastured milk, pastured egg yolks and butter. K1, needed for blood clotting, is found  primarily in leafy-green vegetables like collard greens, spinach and kale, and a small amount of this K1 the body converts into K2.

If you want to share this article, scroll to the very bottom and click the “share” icon to post on Facebook, Twitter etc. If you want to subscribe or search for other posts by title or by topic, go to www.wellnesstips.ca.

Related tips:
The sunshine vitamin and cancer
Cardiovascular disease
Dealing with inflammation and inflammatory conditions
The three keys to preventing osteoporosis

Masterjohn, Chris On the Trail of the Elusive X-Factor: A Sixty-Two-Year-Old Mystery Finally Solved www.westonaprice.org

Rees K et al. Is vitamin K consumption associated with cardio-metabolic disorders? A systematic review. Maturitas. 2010 Oct;67(2):121-8. Epub 2010 Jun 17.

Gast GC et al. A high menaquinone intake reduces the incidence of coronary heart disease. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2009 Sep;19(7):504-10. Epub 2009 Jan 28.

Beulens JW et al. High dietary menaquinone intake is associated with reduced coronary calcification. Atherosclerosis. 2009 Apr;203(2):489-93. Epub 2008 Jul 19.

Geleijnse JM et al. Dietary intake of menaquinone is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease: the Rotterdam Study J Nutr. 2004 Nov;134(11):3100-5.

Fujita Y et al. Association between vitamin K intake from fermented soybeans, natto, and bone mineral density in elderly Japanese men: the Fujiwara-kyo Osteoporosis Risk in Men (FORMEN) study Osteoporos Int. 2011 Mar 11. [Epub ahead of print]

Prabhoo R, Prabhoo TR. Vitamin K2: a novel therapy for osteoporosis. J Indian Med Assoc. 2010 Apr;108(4):253-4, 256-8.

Iwamoto J et al. Effects of vitamin K2 on cortical and cancellous bone mass, cortical osteocyte and lacunar system, and porosity in sciatic neurectomized rats Calcif Tissue Int. 2010 Sep;87(3):254-62. Epub 2010 Jun 17.

Arunakul M et al. Level of undercarboxylated osteocalcin in hip fracture Thai female patients. J Med Assoc Thai. 2009 Sep;92 Suppl5:S7-11.

Iwamoto J et al. Role of vitamin K2 in the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis. Curr Drug Saf. 2006 Jan;1(1):87-97.

Pearson DA. Bone health and osteoporosis: the role of vitamin K and potential antagonism by anticoagulants. Nutr Clin Pract. 2007 Oct;22(5):517-44.

Nimptsch K et al. Dietary vitamin K intake in relation to cancer incidence and mortality: results from the Heidelberg cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Heidelberg). Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 May;91(5):1348-58. Epub 2010 Mar 24.

Tsujioka T et al. The mechanisms of vitamin K2-induced apoptosis of myeloma cells. Haematologica. 2006 May;91(5):613-9.

Copyright 2011 Vreni Gurd

www.wellnesstips.ca

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12 monthly challenges to improve your health

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Pick a challenge and commit to following through for one month. They say it takes 21 days to create a habit, so perhaps after the month, what you’ve implemented will stick.

‘Tis the season of New Year’s Resolutions, and a friend of mine had an idea for a different approach this year. Rather than resolve that forever-more you are going to stick to your diet or exercise program, only to find you’ve fallen off the bandwagon a while down the road, try a monthly challenge instead. Wrapping one’s head around making a commitment for only one month is much easier. After the month is over, you can re-evaluate, and decide if you like the new behaviour you tried on for the month and wish to continue it. Either way, you can then focus on another challenge for the next month, or give it a break for a month and pick up another challenge for March. These challenges can be done in any order – they are just ideas, so see if any of them resonate with you, or make up your own.

Commit to exercising for at least 20 minutes every day for one month. This does not mean the exercise needs to be crazy intense every day. In fact, I would suggest mixing it up. A couple or three days a week work hard at strength training, do yoga in between, and when you lack energy go for a walk, for example. Pull out those work-out DVDs and have them on hand in case you need new ideas. Just do something every day for the month, and mark your exercise on your calendar. Notice how much more energy you have and how much better you feel when you exercise regularly! If implementing a daily exercise habit is difficult, consider getting a dog at least get you out walking daily.

Commit to being in bed with all the lights out (including the TV and Ipad!) every night by 10pm for one month. This is a good challenge for many, and is important for regulating hormones. This will help decrease cortisol, insulin and estrogen levels, the hormones that keep us fat, and will increase melatonin, that all powerful night time hormone that helps us get to sleep, soaks up free radicals and helps our bodies repair. It is the darkness that is important. If you want, you can listen to relaxing music or a calming audio book if 10pm seems too early to go to sleep. For best results, make sure your room is as dark as possible, so get blackout drapes or put foil on the window that is allowing the street light to come in.

Commit to avoiding sugar in all its forms for one month. That would include soda pop, sweetened juices and fruit drinks, coffees with syrup added, sweet desserts, cookies, muffins etc. Depending how strict you want to be with yourself, you can also read labels and avoid all packaged food that contains ingredients ending in “ose” like sucrose, glucose, fructose, lactose, galactose, maltose, dextrose, or “accharides” like disaccharides, monosaccharides, polysaccharides, as well as all forms of syrups, like corn syrup, agave syrup, HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) etc. Unpasteurized honey, organic maple syrup – the real stuff, not Aunt Jemima’s – and black strap molasses are healthy sweeteners, but it may be good to avoid them for a month too, to reset your sense of taste for sweetness. I don’t eat much sugar, and find now that when I have a sweet dessert, the sweetness is almost overwhelming. I figure that is probably a good thing. If you have a sweet tooth, you will probably find that you lose weight on this one.

Commit to 15 minutes of meditation in the morning and at night each day for a month. Or if twice a day is too difficult, commit to once a day. Meditation is great for stress relief, it quiets the mind by silencing the left half of the brain, and it brings us into the present, which makes us happier. If you are not sure how to meditate, just find a quiet place to sit comfortably, close your eyes, and focus on feeling your breath. Feel the air come in through your nostrils, fill your lungs, and come out all by itself past the tip of your nose. When you realize your mind has wandered, come back to focussing on the breath. Don’t worry about your mind wandering – it probably will. Very few people can focus on only the breath for 10 breaths in a row. Can you after a month of practice?

Commit to having a good serving of colourful vegetables at every meal. No, French fries or potato chips don’t count. And yes, breakfast too. If that is too hard, commit to just lunch and dinner. This one takes planning, but if you feel you don’t eat enough vegetables it may be a good challenge to try. Cherry tomatoes are easy to pack along. Or perhaps you can cut up some carrots to bring to work. Seaweed snacks like dulse can count. Try and include at least one serving of dark green vegetables every day. Don’t forget that broccoli, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, spinach and cabbage are healthier cooked than raw. Sauerkraut, or fermented cabbage is also a very healthy option.

Commit to avoiding gluten for one month. That entails avoiding all grains except for rice, corn, buckwheat and millet. If you are always bloated with a belly that seems to hang out like a big basket ball, or you just don’t feel well, this may be a worthwhile challenge to try. Many people are sensitive to gluten and don’t know it. After some time off especially wheat, but also other grains that contain the protein gluten, like rye, oats, spelt, barley etc. they feel much better, and the stomach muscles start to function better again, holding the belly in. This challenge means reading labels, as wheat is in many foods including soy sauce, soups, crackers, baked goods, cereals etc. It is quite likely that this challenge will result in weight loss too.

Commit to spending an hour at least, of quality time with your spouse, child, someone special each day. That means doing something together, not watching TV or a movie. Something that involves interaction between the two of you. Having a discussion, playing a game, going skating, cooking together, working on a project together …

Commit to avoiding all plant oils except for olive, flax and coconut oils for one month This challenge is easy, yet can have powerful impacts on health. Vegetable oils like canola, corn, safflower, sunflower, soy, peanut, grape-seed etc. are inflammatory to the body and should not be consumed at all. Make salad dressings with olive oil or flax oil, and cook with coconut oil, butter, ghee, or a mix of olive oil and butter or ghee. Read labels, as these oils are everywhere in packaged foods, including in baked goods, often in the form of trans fats. If you bake and the recipe calls for a vegetable oil, try melted butter maybe? Use lard instead of shortening. Body inflammation is a key factor in most modern diseases including heart disease and arthritis, and may be part of the reason one has pain. So avoiding inflammatory foods like these omega 6 oils may make a big difference to your health. Hopefully once you’ve made the switch, this will be a very easy habit to maintain.

Commit to staying adequately hydrated for one month. Drinking enough water is critically important to our health, yet it is not a habit that many of us have internalized very well. So, make the commitment for one month. To calculate how much water you need, take your bodyweight in pounds and divide by 2. That is the number of ounces of filtered water your body wants you to drink per day. There are 32 ounces in a litre. Calculate your goal and figure out a way that will work for you to keep track, and go for it. You can measure the amount needed into a large container in the morning, and pour your glasses from that until it is all gone, or simply calculate as you go. Remember that caffeinated beverages and alcohol don’t count. Water is better than juices and other drinks too.

Commit to avoiding flour for a month. Flour is everywhere and it is not healthy. The body treats flour like sugar, so every time we eat something made of flour, like bread, crackers and other baked goods, we may as well be eating sugar. Flour is any starch  that is ground up into a powder. Certainly some flours are healthier than others, but nothing made of flour is very healthy in my opinion. So, how much better is whole-wheat bread than white bread? A bit. But best not have bread at all. Grains that have been ground into flour react in our bodies completely differently from grains that are cooked whole. Grains should be treated like legumes and consumed whole, after having been soaked for several hours. Avoiding products that contain flour is challenging, but will force you to think differently about your meals and hopefully come up with healthier options that work well for you.

Commit to avoiding all packaged food for one month. This is a tough one but will pay huge dividends in health benefits. For this challenge you are only eating food that you can pick, pull out of the ground, chase after to obtain, or food that comes from the ocean. So your diet will consist of fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds, flesh foods like beef, lamb, chicken, fish and seafood, as well as eggs and plain dairy (not sweetened, packaged yogurts, chocolate milk or processed cheese etc.). Nothing that comes in a package, a can, a box from the freezer section, no protein powders or bars, boxed cereals, no soda pop, no deli meats. Vegetable oils are processed using heat to get the oil out of the seed, so they are out. Obviously no fast food either. This would be a fantastic challenge to use as a vehicle to learn how to cook, so find yourself a great cookbook and have fun.

Commit to eating something raw or fermented at every meal. Raw and fermented foods are highly nourishing as they have never been heated. Heat destroys vitamins as well as enzymes in food, so eating some food raw is very healthful. The obvious raw choices are fruit and vegetables, but it is usually not hard to find raw cheese. If you are in part of the world where raw milk from grass-fed cows is available, that would also be a wonderful choice. Most cultures of the world have special recipes that they use to prepare raw meat. France does steak tartar, Italy does carpaccio, Japan does sushi, and the Middle East does kibbeh (a raw lamb dish), for example. Make sure you have a good recipe for these meat dishes, as there are tricks to ensuring that raw meat is safe. I suggest Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. She has a whole chapter of recipes on raw and fermented meats. Using lactofermentation to preserve food without heat also greatly increases the nutrition, and is delicious. If you are purchasing fermented food, ensure it has not been pasteurized after the fermentation process, as the heat destroys the benefits of the fermentation process.

Commit to the Paleo Diet for one month. This is probably the toughest challenge of all. The goal of this diet is to eat like primitive humankind, eating only foods that would have been available before the dawn of farming. So no grains, no dairy, no processed foods. The diet consists of vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, and flesh foods including wild game, beef, bison, lamb, chicken and other poultry, fish and seafood. This is a great diet, as it takes out the most common allergens, grains and dairy. This diet is extremely nourishing, particularly if you eat some foods raw, as well as eat some organ meats, which are very nutritionally dense. This diet takes planning, as convenience foods are out, and you will need to be able to spend time in the kitchen, cooking lots of extra food to take to work for lunch. Tough challenge. Can you do it for a whole month?

I gave you a baker's dozen ideas, but feel free to come up with your own, and make your commitment for a month.  Have fun, and happy new year!  And just in case you want to learn to eat better, my nutrition course is
on sale for $39 for the month of January.

Please do keep the comments coming by clicking on the comment button below. If you want to share this article, scroll to the very bottom and click the “share” icon to post on Facebook, Twitter etc. If you want to subscribe or search for other posts by title or by topic, go to www.wellnesstips.ca.

Related tips:
Creating new habits
Make happiness a New Year’s Resolution this year

Copyright 2010 Vreni Gurd


www.wellnesstips.ca

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Detoxification – are cleanses the answer?

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Many people decide to do detoxes or cleanses periodically, particularly after times of excess like the holiday season. How should one do this?

Many of us have experimented with detox kits purchased from health-food stores and noticed huge changes. Some dropped weight, and others found their skin cleared up. Some had to spend the first couple of days in the bathroom until their bodies got used to the new regimen, after which they felt fantastic.

Others felt ill during the entire cleanse and remained depleted afterwards. They probably would have been better off not doing the cleanse in the first place.

Our primary organs of detoxification are the liver, gall bladder, kidneys and the skin, and all in all, they do a fantastic job considering what they have to deal with in this day and age.

Every one of us has PCBs, mercury, BPA, flame retardants and a whole host of other very unhealthy chemicals in our bodies that are difficult to eliminate. Because of the overwhelming number of chemicals our bodies are now exposed to on a constant basis, it is not surprising our detoxification pathways may be having trouble keeping up.

So, to deal with the backlog of toxins, the body stores them in our body fat so they can't easily access sensitive areas that would be harmed by them. Stored toxins can be a reason some are unable to lose body fat, as releasing them may cause illness.

Toxins, whether they are heavy metals or other chemicals, or whether they are biotoxins from bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi, impact cell membranes, deforming their shape and distorting their function, which wreaks havoc on body systems.

Heavy metals and biotoxins dissolve in fats, easily move through cell membranes and are attracted to fatty areas of the body like the brain and nervous system. This is why many that are chronically ill from neurotoxins can be diagnosed with a large variety of ailments, such as fibromyalgia, MS, ALS, depression, Parkinson’s, Autism.

Toxicity can also play a role in cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes without family history, IBS, infertility, and Rheumatoid arthritis.

I think the best approach to detoxification is 1) preventing problems through reducing exposure to toxins as much as possible 2) supporting the body’s detox pathways through nutrition and lifestyle 3) detoxification protocols if necessary.

1) Reducing toxin exposure: The fewer toxins we come in contact with, the easier it is for our bodies to cope. Although we can’t possibly eliminate contact with all chemicals, we can reduce our exposure significantly by being picky about our personal-care products, cleaning products, paints and enamels, and our food, as well as avoiding omega 6 vegetable oils, plastics and unnecessary medications.

2) Nutrition and Lifestyle: Most of the time along with the capsules in a detox kit comes a suggested diet. I think the change in diet is key to the success of some of these cleanses, and to encourage better function of the detox pathways as well as to avoid negative reactions, starting the diet well ahead of the capsules is probably a good idea. Consider the diet alone to be the cleanse, and see what happens.

Generally we have an easier time wrapping our head around eating clean for 10 to 14 days and we can easily commit to that time-frame. A cleanse diet would see the elimination of sugar, white flour, alcohol, caffeine, processed and packaged food.

Pesticide/herbicide-free produce would be encouraged. Eating some food raw daily is a good idea. Factory-farmed meat and dairy are reduced or eliminated, so the hormones and antibiotics in those foods don’t enter the digestive tract either.

Fish is usually suggested which increases omega 3 intake and can improve health as long as the fish is not high in mercury.

If there are problems in the liver and gall bladder, and the bile does not flow, neurotoxins can get stuck in biliary sludge rather than being excreted in the feces. Low-fat diets, high processed-carbohydrate diets, fasting, and/or exposure to pathogens may stop bile from moving.
Eating a whole, unprocessed food diet that contains adequate healthy fats can get that bile moving again.

Balance between omega 6 and omega 3 is vital. Most people over-consume omega 6 due to high intake of vegetable oils and grains, but many on a health kick may potentially under consume omega 6 if they supplement with too much omega 3, and avoid grains, nuts and seeds. The optimal ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 is 4:1.

If the body is deficient in certain important minerals, heavy metals are used as a “stand in”. For example, the stand-in for calcium is lead, which is deposited into bones causing osteoporosis and impairing red-blood cell synthesis.

Zinc is replaced with cadmium, which accumulates in the kidneys. Manganese is replaced by nickel which is a known carcinogen, and magnesium is replaced with aluminum which is implicated in Alzheimer’s.

Magnesium itself is a very potent detoxifier because it is utilized in many different detox pathways in the body. Glutathione, an antioxidant normally produced by the body and a detoxifier of mercury, lead and arsenic among others, requires magnesium for its synthesis.

As Dr. Carolyn Dean in her book The Magnesium Miracle explains, “Research indicates that ample magnesium will protect brain cells from the damaging effects of aluminum, beryllium, cadmium, lead, mercury and nickel. We also know that low levels of brain magnesium contribute to the deposition of heavy metals in the brain that heralds Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

It appears that the metals compete with magnesium for entry into the brain cells. If magnesium is low, metals gain access much more readily. There is also competition in the small intestine for absorption of minerals. If there is enough magnesium, aluminum won’t be absorbed.”

Magnesium deficiency is very common, as it is difficult to get adequate amounts from food due to our depleted soils. The best food sources of magnesium are kelp and other sea vegetables, nettles, chickweed, unrefined sea salt, and bone broths. Baths using Epsom salts can increase magnesium levels too albeit very temporarily.

Usually supplementation dosages in the range of 3 to 10mg per pound of bodyweight are recommended, and if magnesium citrate or magnesium malate cause too much of a laxative effect, one can try magnesium taurate or glycinate.

Another option is ionic magnesium in liquid form from Trace Mineral Research, which can be added to water, soups etc. throughout the day.

Those with kidney issues or bowel obstruction need to consult their physician before supplementing with magnesium.

Supporting the body includes the dilution solution – drinking lots and lots of pure water that has been filtered of chlorine, fluoride and other contaminants. Then through urine, sweat and breathing some toxins can be eliminated.

Exercise is important as well in a number of ways. Sweating directly aids in detoxification, and deforming the body through exercise also aids peristalsis in the digestive tract, helping to prevent constipation. Improved circulation makes the entire body function better.

Detoxification methods: Because detoxification protocols actually cause toxins to be released, it is important to have incorporated the above ideas first, and to be healthy before starting on a detox program. You need some reserves that your body can draw on to cope. Otherwise you will just feel very sick.

Using an infrared-light sauna regularly is very effective as a detox tool, as the heat penetrates much deeper into the tissues than a regular sauna would, raising the core temperature, increasing circulation which results in enhanced sweating.

The skin is the body’s largest organ, and forcing the body to sweat regularly can improve the skin’s ability to do its job. One can sweat out heavy metals, chemicals and other toxins helping to relieve the burden on the liver and kidneys.

Also, regularly raising the body temperature can help kill off parasites, viruses and fungi which some people can’t successfully eliminate due to a hypothyroid condition resulting in too low a body temperature.

Be certain to replace the water and minerals you sweat out by drinking pure filtered water mixed with a pinch of unrefined, sundried sea salt, and or perhaps take some kelp tablets or trace minerals.

Mercury from amalgam fillings can create a toxicity problem for many, and the only real solution is to get them removed by a biological dentist who knows how to do this safely.

Mercury is unfortunately also found in many fish, particularly the bottom dwellers like halibut, and also in tuna. Avoiding high-mercury fish is a good idea.

Chlorella, a fresh-water seaweed that can be found in health food stores in the form of a greens powder or in capsules, is excellent at removing heavy metals like mercury from the body. The herb cilantro works well too.

Once the preparatory work is done, the herbal detox formulas found in health food stores may be all that is needed.

Sometimes general detox protocols are not enough. If you are quite ill and you believe that part of the reason is a toxicity problem, it is worth being tested by a lab such as Biohealth Diagnostics. Once the toxin(s) are identified, specific protocols can be implemented to eliminate the problem.

Please do keep the comments coming! If you want to share this article, scroll to the very bottom and click the “share” icon to post on Facebook, Twitter etc. If you want to subscribe or search for other posts by title or by topic, go to www.wellnesstips.ca.

Related tips:
Our toxic body burden
Which plastic water bottles don’t leach chemicals?
Estrogens and toxins in our soaps and lotions
Chemicals in our canned food liners
Mercury, a strong nerve poison
Teflon is hazardous to our health
Artificial sweeteners

John Foster, M.D., Patricia Kane, Ph.D., Neal Speight, M.D. The Detoxx System: Detoxification of Biotoxins in Chronic Neurotoxic Syndrome Mercola.com, Aug. 9, 2003.

Katherine Czapp Magnificent Magnesium www/westonaprice.org.

by Lawrence Wilson, MD INFRARED SAUNA THERAPY Jan. 2010

Copyright 2010 / 2013 Vreni Gurd

www.wellnesstips.ca

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Scoliosis – are we missing the obvious?

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Most of us have slight sideways curvatures of the spine that create no problems and are nothing to worry about, but for others scoliosis is a painful condition. The cause of scoliosis is not well understood. What if the cause has been right in front of our noses the whole time and we have been wrongfully discounting it?

Janet Travell, a visionary massage therapist and medical doctor who wrote the book “Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual, thought that far more people than is currently believed have either an anatomical leg length discrepancy, a smaller pelvis on one side or both. If one leg is shorter, in standing the pelvis will be tilted to one side, so the sacrum or base of the spine is starting its journey up to the head on a tilt. Just as the trunk of a tree aims up to the light, the spine will curve as it needs so that by the time it gets to the head the eyes can be level. A pelvis that is smaller on one side will create the same effect in sitting. I don’t feel her work, which is currently being taught by Paul St. John, has been given enough consideration when it comes to pain and especially scoliosis.

The argument one hears is that anatomical leg-length discrepancies are rare – only about 4%, and as a result I believe that many manual therapists don’t look for them, or if they think they might see one, they figure they must be wrong because they believe they are so rare. I personally have not seen the source for the 4% number, but there are other studies that suggest that it is not rare at all – that about 90% of the population has some anatomical leg-length inequality with the average being 5.2mm according to Knutson. Friberg found that those that have a leg that is shorter by 10-14mm are twice as likely to have low back pain, and those with a 15+mm leg-length discrepancy are almost 5.5 times more likely to have back pain. The biggest problem caused by a leg-length discrepancy appears to be a wearing of the hip joint usually on the long leg side, potentially requiring hip replacement. Knee osteoarthritis is also linked to leg-length inequality. Please feel free to examine the studies below.

Whether or not a lower-leg inequality or hemi-pelvis inequality causes pain would depend on the amount of time and load put through body as well as the person’s ability to stabilize the spine and pelvis and dissipate forces away from the joints. So, if you have a leg-length inequality and you spend 8 hours a day standing, moving or lifting things, you are more likely to feel pain as a consequence. Many other people have large leg-length discrepancies and have no pain at all. If someone has a painful scoliosis or musculoskeletal pain anywhere in the body, it makes sense to see if leg-length inequality or hemi-pelvis inequality is involved. Anatomical-leg length discrepancies will invariably cause a scoliosis in the spine, and if they are caught early enough and a full sole lift is used (not a heel lift), the scoliosis is unlikely to progress and will probably even improve. Even if leg-length differences are caught and treated late, the pain they cause can be greatly helped.

Frequently manual therapists use the heel pads or the ankles as the marker to decide whether or not the pelvis is level. The problem with that methodology is it is based upon the assumption that the legs are the same length. What if the person on the table is within that “rare” 4% or “common” 90% depending on which studies you are relying on? If you are a manual therapist, I invite you to experiment with levelling the pelvis without using the legs as your measuring tool. Apart from gently tugging the heels to ensure the patient is lying straight on the table, measure your progress at the pelvis itself. Do your techniques that you use (massage therapy, muscle energy, atlas correction, chiropractic – whatever) to level the pelvis until the ASIS’s (pokey-outy bits on the front of the pelvis) are level, one side of the pelvis is not turned towards the midline (inflared) more than the other, and the entire pelvis is not rotated to one side. I use the first two strategies shown here to level a pelvis.

Only once you are satisfied that the pelvis is level is it time to check the heel pads. If they are level too, that’s great! If not, check the fibular heads (bone just below the knee on the outside of the leg). If they are level and the heel pads are not, there is a short lower leg. If the fibular heads are not level either, look at the greater trochanters on the upper leg to determine which bone is short. By doing it this way, you have taken the pelvis out of the equation and you can examine the legs in isolation. (I personally find that the tibial tuberosities can sometimes be different sizes due to injuries or the favouring of one leg over the other. Although this can also be true for the fibular heads, there seems to be less variation and therefore they are a more reliable measure in my opinion.)

Probably more impactful for causing scoliosis is a difference in size of the two sides of the pelvis. When we are standing we can keep our pelvis neutral by sticking the longer leg out to the side a bit. Much harder to instinctively adjust for a smaller hemi-pelvis while seated, so if the person in question spends a lot of time sitting on a tilted pelvis, the adjustments higher up the spine may be more dramatic. If this is a very longstanding pattern, the person will often not be able to straighten the lateral shifts in the spine in standing, even if the legs are the same length and the pelvis is level. This drawing illustrates a smaller left hemi-pelvis, which tilts the pelvis left. The ribs compensate by shifting (shearing) left while tilting and rotating right on the pelvis, and the head tilts and rotates back to the left on the ribs, potentially creating neck and shoulder pain.

To look for a smaller hemi-pelvis, once the client’s pelvis is levelled in supine (lying on one’s back) have them carefully sit up on the table, legs over the side, and weight-bear evenly through both sit bones. Check the PSIS (sticky-outy bits at the back of the pelvis) and the top of the iliac crest for level. If both tilt in the same direction there is a strong possibility that the low hemi-pelvis is smaller. This can be tricky because even though one can be successful at levelling the pelvis while lying on the table, frequently the patient is so unstable that just moving to the seated position knocks the bones out of place again, so probably a good idea to recheck in supine and seated again.

A small hemi-pelvis is treated by having the person always sit the small side on a “butt pad” of the needed height to level the pelvis. Once the underlying cause of the scoliosis is addressed, then other massage and exercise techniques will be far more effective at improving the faulty posture.

Janet Travell’s book goes into detail on this and is an invaluable resource with respect to assessment, confirmation X-ray, and treatment. Or learn Integrated Neurosomatic Therapy from Paul St. John and his staff at Neurosomatic Educators to get clear on how to measure this. It’s great stuff!

If you have a painful scoliosis or other chronic musculoskeletal pain and you have not been checked for a leg-length or a pelvis discrepancy, ask your therapist or chiro to check for you. Or contact Neurosomatic Educators in Florida to find an Integrated Neurosomatic Therapist who has been trained in how to find these anatomical discrepancies. In the Vancouver area, you are welcome to contact me.

Please do keep the comments coming on my blog. If you want to share this article, scroll to the very bottom and click the “share” icon to post on Facebook, Twitter etc. If you want to subscribe or search for other posts by title or by topic, go to www.wellnesstips.ca.

Related tips:
Tail wagging the head, or head wagging the tail?
Posture, leg-length discrepancies, musculoskeletal pain and organ function
It’s all in your head – I mean neck!
Walking, sacroiliac joint dysfunction and hip pain

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Copyright 2010 Vreni Gurd

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