From the monthly archives: "November 2009"

Some people have no idea of what goes on in a chiropractic practice. “Cracking bones” is what the typical non-chiropractic person says a chiropractor does. But there is no truth to that. Cracking bones is not something we do, neither intentionally nor unintentionally–bones are pretty strong; I haven’t met a chiropractor, yet, strong enough to do that.

In my Los Angeles chiropractic office we focus on pain relief, rehabilitation of injured areas like shoulders or knees, and then we place a major importance on using chiropractic care in a wellness sense. By freeing up stuck spinal joints (subluxations), the nervous system is allowed to function unimpeded, with no restrictions, which allows the body to operate at its most optimal level, and thus enhancing health.

Check out the video to get a better understanding of how I use chiropractic care to help people from Hollywood stars to athletes to accountants get the most out of their bodies, their health and their lives. If you are ever in the Beverly Hills or West Hollywood areas of Los Angeles, and you need a chiropractic adjustment, please come visit my office for highest quality chiropractic care available.

Exciting news for cancer patients: A new technology shows promise of fighting cancer with magnetic fields. Tiny discs, called “nanodiscs,” that are just a millionth of a meter in diameter and around 60 billionths of a meter thick could be used to disrupt the membranes of cancer cells, causing them to self-destruct. This technology could replace chemotherapy and it’s harmful side effects as the treatment of choice for cancer patients.

The discs, made from an iron-nickel alloy, would be directed by a magnetic field to an area populated by cancer cells. In a study conducted at the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago, this process was carried out by subjecting the discs to a low magnetic field for around ten minutes, which was enough to destroy 90 percent of cancer cells in tests.

That’s outstanding news as we need more alternatives to the pan-annihilation mechanism of chemotherapy. If this nanodisc technology continues to produce results, cancer patients can kiss the hair loss, nausea, fatigue, and myriad of other side effects away for good. Let’s keep our fingers crossed, as it’s been long time coming.

Psychotherapy can boost happiness more than money! Those are the astounding results from an English study to be published online Nov. 18 in the journal Health Economics, Policy and Law. But I ask you, have you ever heard anything more absurd?

According to the study, which analyzed data on thousands of people who provided information about their mental well-being, a $1,329 course of psychotherapy increased happiness to the equivalent of a $41,542 pay raise.

Uh…anyone else see the stupidity in this?

“We have shown that psychological therapy could be much more cost effective than financial compensation at alleviating psychological distress,” said study author Chris Boyce, of the University of Warwick. “This is not only important in courts of law, where huge financial rewards are the default way in which pain and suffering are compensated, but has wider implications for public health and well-being.”

The absurdity keeps growing and growing…

“Often the importance of money for improving our well-being and bringing greater happiness is vastly over-valued in our societies,” Boyce explained.

That’s certainly true, evidenced by the completely over-valued premise directing this study.

“The benefits of having good mental health, on the other hand, are often not fully appreciated and people do not realize the powerful effect that psychological therapy, such as non-directive counseling, can have on improving our well-being.”

OK, here’s my problem: First, the notion that anyone can achieve perpetual happiness is ridiculous. Any pursuit of such is foolhardiness–the quickest way to depression. Who would want perpetual happiness, anyway? No growth or development can occur in that. And how would we know what makes us happy without unhappiness or dissatisfaction as a relative marker? Everything would be taken for granted. Perhaps we would be like satisfied zombies…on a never-ending Prozac trip. Yeah, that sounds awesome…

Next, how on earth do you qualify happiness? With a monetary figure? $41,000? Heck, not in my checkbook. I’m not happy with less than $50K. Freakin’ idiotic I tell ya. And then it brings up the question of all the politically-based rhetoric revolving around socioeconomic status. Listen, I’m the first one to say that life is a hell of a lot easier when you know where the rent is coming from. Happier…no. Less freaked out? Damn straight.

Third, it’s an awfully grand assumption to think this study reflects all people and what make them tick. Since the study is looking at an increase in happiness (whatever that is), then surely these findings do not reflect those people that either refrain from qualifying life in that manner (like me), or those that already consider themselves to be happy. So…how do we really know? I mean, I’m not interested one iota in psychotherapy, especially not as a pain and suffering substitute in legal proceedings. No thank you. I’ll take the cash.

Emotional vacillations like the ones seen in bipolar disorder may have a genetic connection to circadian rhythms. New research suggests that variations in a gene known as RORB may be a molecular factor in children developing manic depressive disorder.

The RORB gene is one of the players involved in our circadian rhythm–our internal body clock; that 24-hour cycle that influences many of our biorhythms like feeding, sleep and temperature. The RORB gene is mainly expressed in the eye, pineal gland and brain–the areas most involved in melatonin production.

The link was discovered by looking at the genetic makeup of 152 children with bipolar disorder and 140 without, and variations in the RORB gene were thus found. Although preliminary, researchers believe that the findings are a good basis for further study. According to the study’s co-author, Dr. Alexander Niculescu of Indiana University School of Medicine,

“Bipolar disorder is often characterized by circadian rhythm abnormalities, and this is particularly true among pediatric bipolar patients. Decreased sleep has even been noted as one of the earliest symptoms discriminating children with bipolar disorder from those with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. It will be necessary to verify our association results in other independent samples and to continue to study the relationship between RORB, other clock genes and bipolar disorder.”

I find these results interesting, not because I’m such a big genetic-cause-of-this-or-that-disorder believer*, but I do think that our biorhythms are vital. It is my observation that the more people push the envelope on that end–that is, disrupt their natural rhythms–the more physical and mental processes become disturbed. I know this sounds obvious, but I believe the disturbance is much more drastic than we even give it credence now. So it doesn’t surprise me that they find connections between disrupted circadian cycles and vacillating mental/emotional states. And I’m sure either one can lead to the other.

The reason I don’t buy into the genetic cause assumption is that I know many factors are involved in gene expression like epigenetics. Essentially what we express in the material world is influenced by many things like the environment and even our mothers (I know, I know; but Freud aside, it’s true).

So the interesting thing to me is noting the rhythmic imbalance, both chemically and mentally, of the person involved. Bipolar disorder is a massive mental/emotional imbalance that is going to affect sleep, eating and other physiology all the way down to the molecular and genetic levels.

Great start to this study–we’ll keep our eyes open for more info in the future.

*Epigenetics has always been all the weird and wonderful things that can’t be explained by genetics. ~ Denise Barlow (Vienna, Austria)

Men who stifle their anger at work are at a greater risk for heart attack; so says a recent study out of Stockholm, Sweden. Men who consistently failed to express their resentments over conflicts with a fellow worker or supervisor were more than twice as likely to have a heart attack or die of heart disease. And ignoring an ongoing work-related conflict was associated with a tripled risk of heart attack or coronary death, the study of almost 2,800 Swedish working men found.

Coping styles may play a big part in the physiological outcomes, as women did not show a risk of heart related disorders when stressed at work. Maybe men need to consider pedicures. Check it: Women in general appear to handle stressful situations better than men, noted Dr. Bruce S. Rabin, director of the Healthy Lifestyle Program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

“Social interaction, having people to talk to, is extremely important,” Rabin said. “If you keep things to yourself, you have high levels of stress hormones. Women are more comfortable in social interactions than men. They talk more, while men tend to keep within themselves.”

So men…let it out! You can’t scream at work, but you can certainly bring your frustrations home with you…and talk about them. Yes, talk…Find a friend, like your pitbull, Killer, maybe, and talk to him. Let him know how you’re feeling. Let him know that you’d love to feed him your boss’ appendages…starting with Mr. Douche’s third leg. You might not be able to actually do it in this lifetime, but just saying it helps. I know, I do it all the time.

How about a punching bag with your asswipe coworker’s headshot on it? I’ve seen video of one friend at the gun range with a picture of a sworn enemy’s face on the target–quite effective, I tell ya. Lastly, you can try a friendly game of Grand Theft Auto. I find the virtual beat-the-crap outta anyone and everyone enormously gratifying. Let it out, man. It’s for your heart health, dammit.

In 1992 when I was in college, the Catholic Church finally acknowledged Galileo’s findings on planetary motion, and publicly cleared him of any wrongdoing. Evolution is still foolishly rejected by some. But what really makes me feel good is when an idea known as true for so long by some gets picked up by the mainstream.

Take pain for instance; chiropractors have known for over a century how wide ranging its effects are. But not the medical industry. Noooo. Pain is a part of getting old. There are some medications we can give you to ward off the pain, but…I’m sorry Missus Jones, you’ll just have to live with the pain.

But, as they say, the times they are a changin’. And there is now acknowledgment that pain can wreak havoc on human operation that goes well beyond the obvious. A new study out of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and the University of Massachusetts shows that chronic pain actually increases the probability of seniors falling. Since falls are a significant cause of death for the elderly, uncovering its predisposing factors are vital.

According to the study, published in the Nov. 25 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, people who had pain in more than one joint were more likely to fall, compared with people who reported no pain or minimal pain. Severe pain and pain that affected participants’ ability to do daily activities also made falls more likely, researchers found. In addition, having pain in one month made falling in the next month likely. People who reported severe pain in one month had a 77 percent increased risk of falling the next month. Even people reporting very mild pain were more likely to fall the following month, the group found.

So this is nothing new to chiropractors. We know precisely how much pain interupts neurological functioning of the human body; we know that the elderly are particularly susceptible to pain-induced biomechanical dysfunction (but don’t get false security young-folk, you, too, are susceptible); and we know that helping people become pain-free through chiropractic care helps them maintain their function, their balance and their dignity.

But here’s the problem: Medical science does not fully recognize it, yet. Damn shame I tell you. The current medical answer to pain in the elderly is pharmaceutical therapy, or in other words, drugs. Not only is this solution a non-solution since it never really removes or corrects the pain, but it can also add to the feelings of imbalance which then lead to further…you guessed it, falls.

Did the researchers mention pain-relieving chiropractic care as an answer? Well, they did mention fitness and wellness professionals, and since chiropractors are that, then…I guess they did. Thank you, thank you medical science–it’s about time. Like Galileo before him, D.D. Palmer will appreciate the acknowledgment.

A Canadian woman on long-term sick leave for depression says she lost her benefits because of pictures posted on Facebook.

According to a recent report from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Nathalie Blanchard of Quebec has been on leave from her job at IBM for the last year. She had been receiving monthly payments from insurance giant Manulife, but the payments dried up this fall. Apparently, according to Ms. Blanchard anyway, she was told she lost benefits because of pictures posted on Facebook showing her having a good time at various activities, including a night out at a Chippendales bar show club.

Manulife denies that they would drop coverage solely based on information published on Web sites such as Facebook. However, they did say that they have evidence that Blanchard is no longer depressed. Hmmm. Blanchard states that she went partying on her doctor’s advice to go out and have a good time to help her forget her problems. Double hmmm….

I guess when you have such a weak classification of a disorder as depression is, eventually you’ll have a fiasco like this one. Listen, depression as a medical diagnosis is BS. Who doesn’t get depressed? Sure some people go off the deep end, but does it really warrant in excess of $31 billion in lost productivity per year (U.S. figures); does it really warrant mass antidepressant therapy; does it really warrant massive insurance payouts in disability? Does it…really?

Well I guess if it does, then there will always be a fine line that insurance adjusters will monitor. Just like with physical disability, an insured collecting monthly payments will have their life scrutinized. Who hasn’t heard of people on permanent disability filmed lifting heavy objects, doing housework and other activities proving that they can, in fact, work? Duh! Same thing will happen with mental health issues.

Can’t say whether Facebook pictures of somebody enjoying Chippendales dancers constitutes improved mental status (could argue either way), but remember it’s a fine line. It seems to me that if you are too depressed to work, you are probably too depressed to go out socializing. Or put another way, if you can find joy and purpose in male strippers, or anything for that matter, getting your behind to work will probably good for you in the long run.

Listen up, ladies: Eating chocolate may decrease the stress response. Ooh…got your attention didn’t I? You heard right, a small amount of dark chocolate a day can keep stress at bay.

According to a recent study done at the Nestle Research Center in Lausanne, Switzerland, eating about an ounce and a half of dark chocolate a day for two weeks reduced the levels of stress hormones in highly stressed people. Dang! That sounds like the cure for me.

Dark chocolate is rich in bioactive compounds. It contains flavonols–antioxidants found in dark vegetables. Dark chocolate has eight times more antioxidants than do strawberries. Since dark chocolate is only sugar and fat mixed with cacao, or “chocolate liquor“–it’s a purer form than milk chocolate, white chocolate, or sweet chocolate. Some other health benefits of dark chocolate:

Now I know what you’re thinking: If a little dark chocolate is good, then a five pound block is better, right? No, no, no…too much sugar, and remember that the chocolate we eat is also mixed with fat, so the recommendation is an ounce and a half per day (the picture to the right shows a 1.5 oz. bar). That’s it. A little chocolate every day, less stress, more pleasure–what more could you need?

Well, I’m feeling under the weather today. Swine flu, I think. Again. Third time this year. I’m feverish, body aches, severe runny nose, sneezing, not sneezing but feeling like I have to (hate that), and slight chills.

But it just reminds me that my symptoms are welcome. Yes, welcome–thank god for symptoms–because they are my body’s way of protecting me from dangerous microorganisms.

The fever increases my body temperature to a level not safe for many microbes. The runny nose, sneezing, and cough expel any unwanted germ from my mucous membranes, where they like to attach before invading. The chills and body aches are the environment’s response to the ongoing war between my immune system and the invaders it’s fighting. Think of it as the beating any battlefield takes during wartime–Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, a Sumo dohyō, you get it.

I’m not generally a drug-taking guy. Saying that, I will take a med if it’s useful to me at the time. So, you all remember when I cracked my tooth a year ago? Motrin’d it. Didn’t mess around–I was hurtin’ big time. Then there was the time I had appendicitis. Morphine’d it. Thank goodness for narcotics–they’re useful, no doubt. But I don’t run to antibiotics, or cold medicine, or anything like that when I’m sick because I’m really of the belief that the body knows what to do and when to do it–it has an incredible innate inteligence directing it. And I’m confident in my body’s Innate Intelligence to handle most things that come its way.

So I’m celebrating my innate ability to heal by embracing my body’s symptoms. I’m at work today and everybody coming in knows my status. If they are freaked out about it, they are not required to stay. I wash my hand one thousand times a day, anyway…but I double that when I’m symptomatic.

Anyway, I kind of value the times when I feel under the weather, because, frankly, it allows me to get some much needed rest, so I ain’t complaining. Five more hours and I’ll get to become more intimate with my bed.

Heads up parents: Maclaren USA Inc. is recalling about 1 million strollers sold in the U.S over the last decade following a dozen reports of children’s fingers being amputated when caught in the stroller’s hinges.

Maclaren announced a voluntary recall with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) on Monday.

The strollers, which were made in China, apparently severed twelve childrens’ fingertips as they were placed in the hinge apparatus. The amputations occurred as the strollers were being opened or closed and not while the children were sitting in the stroller. Nevertheless, the CPSP advises immediate discontinuation of any Maclaren stroller manufactured in 1999 or later.

The models affected by the recall include Volo, Triumph, Quest Sport, Quest Mod, Techno XT, TechnoXLR, Twin Triumph, Twin Techno and Easy Traveler.

Looks like T.V. doctors are influencing Americans in droves. Not surprising since people in the U.S. are generally obsessed with celebrity figures. Just look at internet search data and you’ll see celebrity searches topping the list day in and day out. True, things like the Paris Hilton sex tape or Erin Andrews nude video make up the majority of searches; but celebrities like Oprah, Howard Stern and George Clooney come in at a close second in search volume.

This is valuable information because it shows just what types of things influence American purchasing habits. Corporations have known this for years, so the celebrity endorsement is not a new phenomenon. But what is fairly young is the use of celebrities to sell health products. Pharmaceutical companies do it, for instance using Earvin “Magic” Johnson to sell HIV drugs. And companies pushing weight loss programs and products have also been aware of the super-selling power of celebrity.

But this brings up question: Should celebrities really be selling products that might be better endorsed by doctors? I mean, didn’t Tom Cruise take an s-load of heat for making statements about Brooke Shields and antidepressants? He’s just an actor! Well, marketers have found a solution: Use celebrity doctors!

That’s right, make doctors the new celebrity (reality celebrity-dom is in, baby). With shows like Dr. Phil, The Doctors, and now The Dr. Oz Show marketers have a powerful vehicle to sell everything from diet programs to the latest wonder drugs. Isn’t the evolution of business and advertising fascinating?

Take for instance the dietary meals on wheels program, Bistro MD. Not a new concept by any means, delivering meals of a certain calorie count for people to watch their weight, much like the calorie counting concept of Weight Watchers (a personal favorite of mine for its ground-breaking model conceived more than four decades ago). The idea, though, is for Bistro MD to take the work out of it for the customer. As their website says:

“take the hassle out of preparing healthy meals for the whole family.”

Sounds good to me. ‘Cept does work? Well The Doctors T.V. show is pushing it, so it must, right? Most Americans would think so cuz…those doctors are on T.V.!

How about a vegan diet? I used to think that was only for nutty hippies, but hey, Dr. Oz recommended a vegan diet for a meat-eating cowbow, so I guess like most Americans I’ll accept it cuz, well…that doctor is on T.V.!

And then there’s Dr. Phil. He’s called in Bistro MD on his show, too (see the video, here). That’s a double-whammy celebrity-doctor endorsement–now that’s advertising power! And so which company do you think is dominating health and weight loss web searches right now? Yes, Bistro MD. Very good, give yourself a gold star.

So what do I think about all this? Well, I’m really not all that influenced by celebrity endorsements (or so I think; but I do like Danica Patrick, hmmm…); therefore, I’ll have to stick to the truth as I know it: NO MAGIC BULLETS people! You want to lose weight, it takes three things:

  1. Motivation and drive–these are based on whether you value your health and looks over pleasureful sensory stimulation, which eating for many people invariably is
  2. Watching what you eat–both in calories and types of food
  3. Burning more calories than you take in–simply put, if you’re overweight, you’ll need to exercise

So diets like Bistro MD alone ain’t gonna do it. Sorry. Gotta have above principles 1 and 3 in there, too. And, frankly, I find that anything that takes the hassle or work out of the process is a sure loser in my book, because it will violate principle number 1 for most people. Sure some people will succeed with Bistro MD, like it happens with most things, but in general, you gotta want it bad enough to make it happen.

My favorite T.V. example of these weight-loss principles in action occurs in the show The Biggest Loser. They prove exactly what I’m saying: You’ve got to want it (#1), you’ve got to watch what and how much you eat (#2), and you’ve got to burn, baby, burn (#3). Ain’t no other way. But I’m not on T.V. so…who’s really listening?

This just in: A cat in Iowa has caught the swine flu. I know, I know…but it’s true. A 13-year-old cat apparently caught the H1N1 virus from one of the people living in the house, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) said in a statement. It has recovered and does not appear to have infected anyone or anything else.

Holy feline testicles, Batman–what’s this cat doing with the pigs? Apparently nothing–the AVMA website reports that the cat caught the virus from one of the family members of the household. Two of the three family members have been suffering from “flu-like symptoms” before the cat became ill.

Oh my lord, what were they thinking? Had those irresponsible people vaccinated, that helpless cat wouldn’t have fallen ill. Just one more reason to push the swine flu vaccine–quick, call Kathleen Sebelius…hold a press conference!

Dr. Ann Garvey, Veterinarian of the Iowa Department of Public Health said, “This is not completely unexpected, as other strains of influenza have been found in cats in the past.” Phew! I was getting worried there.

The bad news is dogs and horses are also susceptible to catching the swine flu; but the good news is that ferrets are not. Double phew. I wonder if gerbils are safe.

“Indoor pets that live in close proximity to someone who has been sick are at risk and it is wise to monitor their health to ensure they aren’t showing signs of illness,” said Dr. David Schmitt, state veterinarian for Iowa. Hmmm…rectal temperature, kitty?

Well, there you have it–just another day in the life of the swine flu hysterics. Meow.

I know you think it can’t happen to you, cuz I’ve heard you say it. You’ve said that as long as you do them responsibly, steroids are totally safe. I heard you, muscle man–you told me so. And further, you’ve backed it up by telling me to prove it. Prove it that steroids cause physical problems–purely speculation, you said. Prove it.

OK, now I can: According to the most recent reports, anabolic steroids used by athletes and amateur bodybuilders can cause lasting kidney damage. New research presented at Friday’s American Society of Nephrology‘s 42nd Annual Meeting in San Diego, shows that men taking steroids for more than a decade had more severe kidney disease than men who were obese and not muscular.

Anabolic steroids are used by both men and women to increase muscle mass. They work by decreasing recovery time. So that 24 hours you and I need to recover from a workout aren’t needed by steroid users; these guys and gals only need a couple of hours, if that. They can hit it hard at the gym every day, several times a day. That’s how they get big. And the truth is that there has been no conclusive evidence linking steroid use to cancer, or any other disease for that matter. But now, unfortunately for steroid users, there is some proof.

How steroids damage the kidney is unclear, but damage them they do. Long-term steroid use can eventually lead to end-stage kidney disease, which requires dialysis or a kidney transplant. I have a client in my Beverly Hills chiropractic practice that is on dialysis. Think it doesn’t hamper his life? Guess again. Dialysis is every day, several hours of the day, forever. I don’t think it’s worth it, but you decide.

The good news is that the kidney damage caused by steroid use is reversible. In the study men who stopped using steroids, reduced their exercise and lost weight saw their kidney function improve. Nice. And for a few men, early medical treatment (medication) proved helpful. But researchers wanted to point out that steroid users in the later stages of kidney disease may improve some, but are left with chronic and irreversible kidney damage.

Something to think about.

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