From the monthly archives: "November 2008"
India’s health minister has an answer to universal health care–it’s called universal yoga. That’s right, the top-dog in the Indian health policy wants all schoolchildren to practice real health care. He wants them doing asanas. Nice. And the rational is that yoga helps prevent conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. Now that’s progressive.

Anbumani Ramadoss, the current Indian health minister, said he would make yoga mandatory for all school-going children, “There should be extensive scientific deliberations on yoga,” he said, “And today I blatantly put that yoga reduces diabetes, yoga reduces hypertension, yoga reduces stress.” True, true, but not all parties agree. The Muslim Malaysian Council or Malaysia’s National Fatwa Council, has sparked protests claiming yoga will steer people away from the religion, causing them to use Hindu prayers, which are considered blasphemous. As a result, the council has put out an edict (fatwa) against practicing yoga. The council also outlaws “gay sex” and women wearing trousers. Holy moly…how primitive.

Well, the religious controversy aside, I think this is one good policy. I’m usually against mandates, but if you’re going to have one, make it yogic. The Indian government could probably do just as well by making it a part of the school curriculum. This will help in a country where diabetes rates are highest in the world–41 million cases in 2007 and counting, and estimates hitting 70 million by 2025, according to the International Diabetes Federation.

Ah, the perils of modernization. Sometimes it’s good to get back to one’s roots–especially when those roots are so good for the body, mind and spirit. Maybe we can take a page out of that health book here in the U.S., and add that to our promised universal health care plan. At least the addition of state supported yoga might actually make a difference.

*Want to know how to do some basic asanas (yoga postures)? Check out this great yoga site here.

Eeew! Wanna get grossed out? Drive behind a chicken truck–flat bed to be exact. If you do, make sure to close your windows. That’s because the funk that flies off chicken trucks is infectious.

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University checked their cars for bacterial samples after driving 17 miles behind chicken trucks on the Delmarva Peninsula (a coastal area that includes parts of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia), chosen for its high volume of broiler chickens being transported per acre. The scientists drove up and down the highway multiple times with windows rolled down and air conditioners turned off. Chicken funk shot into the open windows. Sounds gross, doesn’t it? They then collected air samples, and swabs off the doors and sodas cans to check bacterial levels. They were studying the potential of infectious transmission coming from poultry transportation. What they found is enough to make your skin crawl: High levels of bacteria were present in every trial and they even found some antibiotic resistant strains. Yecccch!!!

The good news is that most of the bacteria present in the chicken sludge is usually spread by food or water, not air. But, either way, getting caught behind a chicken truck is a nasty endeavor. The researchers advised that anybody getting stuck behind a chicken truck on the road should pass it quickly. And please…roll up the windows.

I’ve been forgetting a lot lately, making stupid mistakes at work, and bumbling like an idiot–basically running on half my cylinders. I attribute it to getting very little sleep since my daughter, Violet, was born on September 27th. I estimate that I’ve gotten only two or three good night’s sleep in that time. Interestingly, I fall asleep no problem, but wake up every hour or two whenever Violet and my wife wake up for baby’s feeding. Ugh…

So when I caught the results of this latest study on sleep and memory, I guess I wasn’t surprised, as I’ve been experiencing exactly what they have found to a tee. Neuroscientists have found, in several distinct yet related experiments, that uninterrupted sleep is necessary for our processing of memories. Fragmented sleep, which appears to be a more common sleep disorder than insomnia, can actually suppress the birth of new brain cells in the hippocampus, where memory-making begins–enough to hinder learning weeks after sleep returns to normal.

What seems to be important here is not so much sleep duration, but quality of sleep, which is known as sleep intensity. Sleep intensity is important in how memories stick, and the stage of sleep that is most important for this process is “slow wave sleep” or deep sleep. This is the stage right before REM sleep, the stage where we dream. If we fail to enter deep sleep, our memories suffer.

But there’s great news: Nappers were not only found to have better memories, but they also had a greater ability to put together separately learned facts–a process called relational memory. English-speaking subjects were given lists of Chinese words spelled with two characters–such as sister, mother, maid–and memorized them. Then half took a nap, being monitored to be sure they didn’t move from slow-wave sleep into the REM stage.

What the researchers found was that the nappers did much better at automatically learning connections in the words they’d memorized. They also were better able to learn about new words they hadn’t yet encountered by piecing together information from the first sets of words. The conclusions of the studies–uninterrupted sleep is necessary for memory and creativity in problem solving; and naps, even if the short cat-nap variety, are very efficient at providing the the deep sleep necessary to develop long-term memories. Fascinating!

So, I’m hoping that I’ll soon be getting more sleep. Until that time comes, though, I’ll probably keep sending empty boxes to vendors, calling my assistant by a different name, and paying my phone bill with a check to my credit card company. But I won’t even try to memorize Chinese words without a nap.

Looks like medical doctors don’t care for this federal health care stuff. According to a recent survey, many primary care physicians plan to quit or drastically cut down their hours seeing patients because they are feeling “overworked.” 7,200 physicians surveyed said they would NOT recommend medicine as a career. Wow! Neither would I.

The doctors surveyed stated that they’re simply bogged down by paperwork; and this paper-pushing leads them to give less time to patients. For any doctor who is in the game to help people, I can attest, this is a frustrating situation. And it isn’t going to get any better with a universal health system, that’s for sure.

The paperwork attached to the federal health programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal and state insurance plans is oppressive. Yes, yes, yes, there is some fraud going on, and the government doesn’t like being cheated. But the strain caused by the paper-pushing rigmarole is just too much. Geez. The feds think it curbs costs, but in fact, it reduces quality of care. And worse yet, our skilled and hard-working primary care physicians are ready to walk away. The only worthwhile career in medicine today is in specialization–surgeons, oncologists, anesthesiologists, and the like. Who wants to see 100 people in a day, and then stay in the office all night doing paperwork? Sure makes research sound good.

I have to sympathize with the doctors here. I understand why all this paperwork craziness is happening. Medical costs are spiraling out of control, and part of the problem is fraudulent billing–from doctors and hospitals. Understandably, insurance companies don’t want to pay for anything that hasn’t actually taken place–you know, double paying for surgeries, paying for patients who weren’t really in the hospital, and so on. But to overburden doctors with safeguards, in the form of government forms, and so much that patients end up losing quality of medical care just doesn’t make sense. Insurance companies just have too much damn power, and it’s time they stop being placed on the top of the priority list. Let them police their own damn suspicions, and if they catch a fraudulent doctor or hospital–then great, throw the book at them. But to have the support of the federal government in this documentation madness is just that–mad!

Some medical experts are so perplexed by the obesity epidemic that they are now grasping at straws. Take the latest study looking at the effects of fast-food advertising on childhood obesity to get a glimpse of the newest far-fetched fantasy–blaming businesses for people’s poor decision making, and then trying to regulate them. That’s what happened in New York City this year with mandated calorie count menus, and we may now see Federal regulation of television advertising for fast-food restaurants.

The study on childhood obesity–afflicting nearly one third of all American children–will be published this month in the Journal of Law & Economics. It looked at TV advertising, finding that as much as 23 percent of the food-related ads kids see on TV are for fast-food restaurants. Some estimates have children seeing tens of thousands of fast-food commercials every year. The study then used a statistical test which assumed fast-food ads lead to obesity, but made calculations to address other influences such as income and the number of nearby fast-food restaurants. They also took into account that some children might be obese despite their television watching habits. The conclusions of the study were that banning fast-food TV ads would reduce childhood obesity by 18% in young children and 14% in older children–basically five to six out of every hundred kids.

Oh heavens. OK, these kinds of studies make my stomach turn. What a bunch of nonsense motivating and perpetuating this type of research. Do television ads drive people toward consumerism? No doubt. Do television ads geared toward children influence their buying habits? Absolutely. Does eating fast-food repeatedly make people fat? Without question. Does banning fast-food TV ads really make sense in our pro-commerce society? Not to me it doesn’t. Another recent study showed that watching television in general increases the risk of childhood obesity. Should we ban television? As a matter of fact, plenty of studies point to television as a source of idiocy in its worshipers. Should we ban television to reduce idiocy? Should we ban alcohol because of the numerous deaths it leads to, or the violence, or the promiscuity, or the running naked through sporting events? Yeah, they tried that once–it was called Prohibition. It didn’t work.

Instead of perpetuating this victim mentality that seems so pervasive in our culture, why not be honest with ourselves and say it like it really is: children are obese because their parents are either ignorant or child abusers. No way a child learns to eat McDonald’s every day on his or her own. They learn from, and are enabled by, their parents. You know it’s true. I know it’s true. So why the hell is the federal government funding a study to find blame with the fast-food industry? Where’s the personal responsibility? I don’t like pop music; and I think much of today’s rap music teaches kids poor life lessons; but I don’t want to ban it. And any attempt to do so is usually met with massive resistance.

So why this attack on fast-food restaurants? Simple. Because when people (adults) have no self-control of their own–they overeat, eat crap, don’t exercise–they can’t fathom forcing self-control upon their children. So instead they blame. Blame everybody but themselves. OK, post calories on menus; then people will have nobody to blame but themselves, because posting calories won’t give people self-discipline. Printing warning signs on cigarette packs hasn’t stopped people from smoking, nor has printing warning signs in bars kept people from drinking. So banning TV commercials won’t lower the childhood obesity numbers. Only banning fast-food altogether will do that. Throw in a ban on Coca Cola and television, as well as mandating five days of exercise for every child, punishable by jail time for failure to sweat sufficiently, and maybe…just maybe…childhood obesity will decline. But is that really the world we want to live in?

I just saw the coolest thing on PBS yesterday–guerrilla gardening. Guerrilla gardening is a late-night clandestine activity, where total strangers get together to beautify their city…by planting gardens! That’s right, from Los Angeles to San Francisco to Sydney to London, people that know each other only by pseudonym, getting together to illegally plant cacti, agave and vegetables in vacant lots and spaces throughout the city. Wow! I’m blown away.

This is a health blog. So what the heck does guerrilla gardening have to do with health? Everything. Guerrilla gardening is health. And community. And eco-consciousness. And planetary health. It’s exactly what’s right with people, when often there seems to be so little to encourage us about human behavior. I LOVE THIS PRACTICE!!!

The reason guerrilla gardening is against the law is because the lots are city property or privately owned. Check out this article on guerrilla gardening from the L.A. Times. They discuss how one PO’d land owner rototilled an entire farm of garlic, potatoes, radishes, carrots, lettuce, onions and more, that had been growing for over one year on his vacant lot. Some property owners don’t take kindly to others gardening on their land, and they have the law on their side; so guerrilla gardeners do most of their work at night.

Ever notice the plant life on a freeway on-ramp or off-ramp? Where do you think it comes from? I always thought it was a gift from the city. Haw, haw, haw–fat chance. Fortunately, in cities where guerrilla gardening is taking place, the cops have better things to do then bust up a crew just taking pride in where they live.

Once again let me say that guerrilla gardening is health. It’s the type of consciousness that really makes a difference on this planet. We hear so much about eco-minded groups and people, but I must say, rarely, do I get inspired by any of the groups we hear about regularly on the news. Guerrilla gardeners are today’s true green movement. If you love to garden and you’ve got some time and energy to give, I can’t think of anything more worthwhile then Guerrilla Gardening (check out their website here, and here to get involved). And some guerrilla gardening videos here.

Sorry Obama family–there’s no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. Responding to the president-elect’s first press conference after winning the election last week, where he said his eldest daughter, Malia, “is allergic,” allergists have disclosed that there just is no such thing.

Are you a dog lover? Do you think that some breeds are better than others when it comes to minimizing allergies? Well, no such luck. As it turns out, all dogs produce proteins that can cause allergies in humans. These proteins can be found in a dogs’ dander–which is dead skin cells, not fur–saliva and urine. Regular grooming can help, probably why misconceptions abound about hypoallergenic breeds as some breed are groomed more regularly than others. But as far as hair length goes, short hair is no different than long when it comes to allergies.

If you have a dog, and you are allergic–specifically allergic to dogs, not generally allergic to everything–then take solace that many people “outgrow” their allergies, although it may take years. But here are some things you can do to lessen the discomfort:

  • Clean the house often, with vacuums equipped with special filters (HEPA filters are best) and double bags.
  • Keep the dog out of the allergic person’s bedroom.
  • Remove carpeting, where dander can also build up.
  • Bathe the animal weekly.

Or better yet, if you haven’t got a dog, and you or your child is allergic–don’t get one. How about a presidential goldfish?

Earlier in the year I wrote a post titled, Are Chiropractors Real Doctors? It has been, by far, my most popular post. The responses were overwhelmingly negative. Aside from the “quack” comments, much was written that I couldn’t keep up–it was nasty, vulgar, insulting, and worst of all, posted entirely by Mr. and Ms. “Anonymous”. That led me to write this post. I, frankly, would have been happy to leave up the nasty comments, and would have loved to respond to them had any author claimed them with a name; but I wasn’t going to get into a debate with a hidden identity–not interested in that.

So what was all the hullabaloo about? The main gist was that chiropractors are NOT real doctors! “Quacks, that’s all,” according to one poster. Well, I think I made my points rather concisely in the blog post, and especially in the concurrent podcast [The Dr. Nick Show (Episode 5)]. But to put a little more weight behind my argument, why not listen to what President-elect Barack Obama has to say on the subject.

In his position statement to the chiropractic profession, he stated:

  • As you know, chiropractic care is low-cost, drug-free, noninvasive, and has been shown to have a positive impact on patients’ health.
  • I believe steps should be taken to acknowledge the important care chiropractors provide, and knock down unreasonable barriers of access and discriminatory insurance coverage that stand between so many patients and the care they need.
  • I have a plan to support doctors of chiropractic. I support expanding the range of chiropractic services covered by Medicare.
  • I support commissioning doctors of chiropractic as officers in the Uniformed Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service…to deliver the nation’s public health promotion and disease prevention programs and advancing public health science.
  • My health care plan also prioritizes preventive care, and chiropractors play a significant role in this effort. As we shift our health care delivery system towards a culture of wellness and disease prevention, I believe that chiropractors must play an integral role in expanding access to preventive care and strengthening our public health system.

Booyah! There you have it…from the President-elect. To honor this great health-promoting statement by what’s promising to be a great leader, I will leave all comments up on this one, so fire away, Anonymous.

There has been a long history of competition between conventional medicine and proponents of nutritional supplements. Conventional medicine spends a lot of time “debunking” the utility of nutritional supplements. You know what I’m talking about; you’ve heard it; you’ve heard the medical “experts” on T.V. say that taking vitamin supplements is useless. I’ll bet it confused you.

It confused you because common sense tells you that vitamin supplements are helpful. It also confused you because you’ve heard from so many people–your chiropractor, your acupuncturist, your trainer, your nutritionist, other medical doctors, the same T.V. news program reporting on a different story–that taking vitamins is good for you. So which one is it: good for you, or not necessary?

Well you won’t get a straight answer any time soon, as the mainstream medical machine is stepping-up the propaganda. According to new reports, vitamins C and E are useless for cutting the risk of heart attack or stroke. So are vitamins B12 and folic acid, according to another report. However, a third report shows that the statin drug Crestor cuts the risk of heart attack and stroke as well as reduces deaths from both, even in people with normal cholesterol. Wow! Frickin’ drugs, man…they’re miraculous!

Okay, here’s my problem with these studies. Taking nature and trying to squeeze it into a faulty paradigm is erroneous at best, and dangerous at worst. Vitamins are substance not produced by the human body, but necessary for life. We get most of our vitamins from the foods we eat. But the important point is: we need them. We do not need drugs. Drugs are useful, but we don’t need them. We’ve gotten through ~200,000 years of evolution (or 99.9% of our existence) without drugs…but not without vitamins. True, we have been supplementing for a far shorter time than we have been taking drugs…but we need vitamins. So the real questions should be: Do vitamins supplements work, and what do they work for?

The problem with the types of studies mentioned above is that modern researchers are trying to fit a natural and essential substance into a medicinal paradigm. Today’s medical paradigm is a disease treatment paradigm, not a health paradigm. Nothing wrong with fighting disease, but it’s entirely different than enhancing health. To look at vitamins for their disease fighting properties alone is nonsensical. They are life giving substances, health-enhancing material–taking vitamin supplements promote life, they don’t necessarily fight disease. That’s where medicine goes wrong; with medicine everything is about fighting disease.

Frankly, this paradigm and disease-fighting model is severely limited, and becoming progressively more expensive. When we spend billions of dollars studying and focusing on a small percentage of the population’s health woes then, ultimately, to sustain the costs, the model must be carried over to the general population. Thus the powers that be start rationalizing why we need drugs “even in normal people.” I’m not saying it’s a conspiracy–these well meaning “experts” believe it. Why? Because they create studies, and collect data, that fit into their model. And the results, by design, are forced to reflect the operative paradigm, so we get limited knowledge. As it has been said: Knowledge comes from knowing the facts, but wisdom comes from asking the right questions. So validating substances, or the practices surrounding them, based on their disease-fighting capabilities alone is simply foolish.

Your teenage daughter into Gossip Girl? Sex in the City? If so, there’s a greater chance she may become pregnant. So says the latest study on the subject published in the medical journal, Pediatrics.

According to the study conducted by the RAND Corporation, teen pregnancies are twice as likely among teens who watch a lot of TV with sexual dialogue and behavior than among those who have tamer viewing tastes. The study looked at 2,003 12 to 17 year old girls and boys across the country. The teens were asked about their T.V. viewing habits in a telephone interview conducted in 2001. They were then periodically re-interviewed–the last time in 2004–and asked about pregnancy. Teens who watched the raciest shows the most (Sex in the City was one of more than twenty shows asked about and recorded in the study) were twice as likely to become pregnant (or get a girl pregnant in the case of boys) than teens who “hardly ever saw them.” Friends and That ’70s Show were a couple other shows considered racy.

Having two daughters myself, I find this study interesting. First off, I’m no moral majorist–I have no beef with these types of shows being on television. However, I’m pretty adamant in my belief that lots of television watching turns people into idiots; so my wife and I pretty much discourage that as our childrens’ primary activity. A little T.V. here and there is fine. But sitting for hours like a zombie in front of the idiot box is simply self-destructive. Numerous studies come out every year showing the detriment of television watching for kids even beyond teen pregnancy, so why get them hooked early on?

According to the study, teen pregnancies were increased even when other factors were considered, including grades, family structure and parents’ education level, so don’t think it can’t happen to your kid. Have you watched television lately? Why would anybody want to watch the mundane lives of reality “stars” anyway? Rachel Zoe, indeed. My advice is get your child into art and reading right away. That’s what we do. And we have pets, so the girls have lots to keep them occupied–chasing, poking, talking, petting, screaming–much more fun than the garbage that’s on the stupid-box.

More than 1,000 people turned up for a rally against California’s ban on same-sex marriages in West Hollywood over the last several nights. Although the protests were relatively peaceful on Wednesday night–the night after the election–about 500 people broke off of the main group and tried to break a police line, with one protester jumping on a police car. According to police sources, several people were arrested.Thursday night, however, was a different story. The protest at the Mormon Temple on Santa Monica Boulevard in Westwood turned ugly when protesters clashed with church members. Fists flew and one man’s nose was bloodied by an angry commuter. More than 2,000 marchers descended on the Mormon temple Thursday, calling for “No on 8!”

I can sympathize with the gay community as the chiropractic profession has seen its fair share of discrimination, too. In the 1960s the American Medical Association (AMA) created their Committee on Quackery whose sole purpose was to eliminate the profession of chiropractic. The AMA spent millions of dollars trying to discredit and destroy the chiropractic profession. Although the Committee was eventually uncovered, and the AMA ordered to cease their discriminatory tactics (Wilk vs. the AMA), the negative image of chiropractic perpetuated by organized medicine still lingers today. This is what the gay community is going through now, and will likely continue to struggle against for several more years…maybe decades.

This is a shame, as discrimination is hurtful to everyone, the discriminated against and society. Would society be improved by civil rights justice? Hell yeah! Just as society has been bettered by health care’s opening up to chiropractic–and ultimately all alternative health modalities (acupuncture, homeopathy, naturopathy, vitamin therapy, yoga therapy, and so forth).

So I say to all people protesting in West Hollywood (NO ON PROP. 8), this chiropractor is with you–my profession has been there, I understand. Get adjusted and keep fighting the good fight.

*More Prop. 8 protest information: There will be another rally at the Sunset Junction on Saturday night, and on Sunday at The St. John’s Episcopal Church at Figueroa and Adams (514 W Adams Blvd (EAST of Figueroa), 10:30am, on Sunday, November 9th, 2008).

You’ve seen those luscious babies and wondered, “are they real?” But Lisa Rinna‘s lips are now a hot topic of conversation. The former Days of Our Lives siren and Dancing With the Stars grinder has come forth with a startling confession…she has had her lips enhanced. You don’t say. Yes, and she admits that she may have even gone too far. Whaddaya know? Cosmetic surgery secret revealed–now that’s progressive.

Well, Rinna is now cautioning her fans to think twice before getting the procedure themselves. Lip enhancement, or plumping, is done by injecting a “wrinkle filler” by the name of Juvéderm into the lips. Juvéderm is comprised of hyaluronic acid, a substance normally found in the skin, muscles, and tendons of mammals. Because hyaluronic acid is normally absorbed by the body within six to nine months, repeat injections are common. One could say…they’re addicting. Just ask Lisa Rinna. And like any addiction, the person hooked needs more and more as tolerance builds. And also like every other addiction, you just can’t hide it from the world.

There are dangers inherent in injectable fillers, too. For instance, they can lead to orofacial granulomas. Granulomas are a conglomeration of immune cells attacking a foreign substance but not quite able to dissolve it. They bunch-up in an area causing lumps and bumps. In the case of lip plumping, the consequence can be lip lumping.

I’ve never really understood the fascination with cosmetic facial surgery myself. I’ve always preferred natural beauty. Don’t get me wrong–I’ve seen some facial work which had definitely improved a person’s looks…but it’s rare. Most people who get it done look perfectly fine in their natural state; but their mind tells them they look unattractive. There’s probably nothing that can be said to these people; they’re minds are usually made up. But the results are often disastrous. Listen to Lisa Rinna: Think twice before getting addicted to Juvéderm.

In his book, Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, Dr. Deepak Chopra discusses a study done on longevity where the factors leading to longer life were outlined. One of those factors was one’s self-perception of health. That is, both men and women who believed that their health was better at the time of the study than it was fifteen years earlier tended to live longer than those who thought their health was worse.

This concept, in my opinion, is crucial to achieving optimal health, wellness and longevity. I also understand that some people might find it ambiguous. One might say, “People who are healthier will naturally see themselves as healthier–this proves nothing.” That’s a very real possibility from a skeptical point of view; however, I am certain that our perceptions color our reality. What I mean by this is, if you see yourself as financially well off, you are. It’s all relative, isn’t it? There will always be somebody who considers you richer than they are, and others who consider you less so. What difference does their viewpoint make? Who would be right anyway? All that matters is what you see.

This is true with your health, too. If you see yourself as healthy, your body will first respond energetically; and if you are wise enough to carry out the right activities–health enhancing behaviors–then you physical body will respond in kind. I know that this sounds rather obvious, but there is a subtle, yet powerful, component that makes it all reality–your state of mind!

Think about this for a moment: If you don’t believe in your ability to experience great health, do you think you’ll realize it in actuality? What the hell can you achieve without believing in it first? Space travel? High-speed internet? Wireless communication? Seven Tour de France wins? Billions of dollars? An African American U.S. President? What?

It’s the same with health. And it’s the message I most want you to walk away with from this blog, and all my writings for that matter. Your body, the human body, is capable of incredible things, particularly healing. We can accomplish miracles, but first we have to believe. You want to be a skeptic? Go ahead, be my guest. But you’ll achieve nothing that way; you can count on that. If you have the desire to achieve optimal health, and all the many benefits that come along with it, then you’ve first gotta see yourself as healthy. You’ll also have to do healthy things, but I’ll never stop telling you what those are, so keep reading this blog.

Note: If you want more health info, check out my experts page at!

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