From the monthly archives: "December 2008"

I’ve heard it said recently that saying affirmations is pure BS–wishful thinking; La La Land. I disagree wholeheartedly.

Affirmations are statements said out loud by a person which the person assumes to be true in the present moment. These statements are repeated by the person as many times as the person wants, with the idea that repeated statements become truth–that is, realized by the person–when it becomes a reality in the mind first. It is based on the concept that language is powerful, and when language and mental impressions coincide, they lead to creation–creation of reality.

New Age mumbo jumbo? Many people think so. But many do not. I’m one of those people who do not. I’ve been saying affirmations for years, and I enjoy looking back at some of my past affirmations and seeing in what capacity they are being realized in my life now. The secret to making affirmations work is believing in their reality now, even if you’re not seeing it in your life on the material plane at this very moment. As long as you see it on the mental plane, it exists. Hard concept to grasp, especially for the materialist, but with a little investigation, everyone can see the truth in the concept by acknowledging that most everything realized on the material plane starts as a thought first.

I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest. ~ Muhammad Ali

I was pondering the concept of affirmations recently when I came across this video of USC football coach Pete Carrol. This football and life genius uses many mental concepts–ones that would be considered New Age–successfully with his players and in the community. Please watch this inspirational video and pay close attention to what Carrol calls “Win Forever.” See how he’s using the concept of language and affirmation in some of Los Angeles’ most violent gang-infested neighborhoods. It’s simply miraculous. Listen to the language the gang members use, listen to their affirmations about life and death. Then listen to what Pete Carrol has to say (especially his final words on the piece).

Don’t believe in affirmations? Watch this video and then decide.

Who knew that Grace Slick would have had the answer for preventing Alzheimer’s: Feed your head!

That’s right, according to new research published in this month’s issue of Neuron, poor blood flow to the brain may be the main cause of the dementia disorder. Blood carries nutrients and oxygen throughout the body, and the brain’s main fuel is glucose, a sugar. The researchers found that when the brain is deprived of glucose, a biochemical cascade is unleashed that ultimately leads to neurodegeneration.

This study, and all Alzheimer’s research for that matter, focuses on a type of protein called amyloid beta. Amyloid beta is found in high concentrations in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. An enzyme, called BACE1, has also been found high concentrations along with the amyloid beta, but whether high BACE1 causes high amyloid beta or vice versa is still under study. Either way, the main focus of Alzheimer’s research is in how to decrease both without screwing up the brain–very important since BACE1 is also important in many brain functions including memory and protection and regulation of nerve cells.

The interesting thing about this study is that it recognizes an external stress which might lead to the physiological defect, as opposed to just a “random” dysfunction. Yes, of course there’s a precursor event–hypoxia and oxidative stress. Brilliant! Give lead researcher Robert Vassar, professor at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, the Nobel Prize. He’s the same gent who has discovered the BACE1 enzyme, and I think his work is instrumental in understanding this dreaded disease.

What I don’t agree with is the preoccupation with searching for drugs to combat the hyper-production of amyloid beta or the BACE1 enzyme. It’s obvious to me that these products are a response to a dysfunctional state, so attacking them is like putting a band-aid on a bloodshot wound. But the astute Professor Vassar knows better. He suggests that increasing blood flow to the brain of those susceptible to Alzheimer’s would be more prudent. This could be done with drugs like vasodilators, or it could be done preventatively through…exercise!

You’ve got it. Good old fashioned exercise is the best way to increase blood flow to the brain. Throw in good nutrition (whole, natural foods), some vitamin supplementation (vitamins B, C, essential fatty acids, some anti-oxidants), regular chiropractic care to keep the blood a’flowin’, and minimizing the cigarettes, drugs, and booze (sorry Grace) and you’ll do wonders for your cerebral blood flow. Hey, don’t wait until you’re forgetting what year it is to start doing these head-healthy habits. Start today and lower your chances of developing Alzheimer’s in the future.

Happy Birthday to me. Just turned 41 today, and since many of my clients ask me how my health is, I thought I’d keep you all up on my year in health.

As you know if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, I started the year off with a little health dilemma–cracked tooth, which got infected and led to a root canal and new crown. Real bummer, but I’d say it really gave me a dose of perspective to start the new year off. Throw in a bout of stomach flu and 2008 was looking real promising.

Aside from those two maladies, I had a fairly stable year physically. I didn’t work out as much as I generally like to due to an influx of work, a new office, an increase in writing assignments, training new staff, a new daughter and a change in residence. However, I did still manage about two days a week at the gym, on average. I still did yoga faithfully every week, and some cobweb stretching pretty much every day. I also picked up my hiking regimen at Runyon Canyon as it found itself on my yearly to-do list–I ran it often with my Boston Terrier, Jake, and I spent many hot summer mornings trudging up the hill “the hard way” with my daughter Delilah on my back, sweating and laughing all the way down to the oration of my pal, Melrose Larry Green.

I did have a couple of bouts of low back pain, and one incidence where my neck was jacked for about three days. We all go through it, people–believe that. I just kept getting adjusted chiropractically once every week. Couldn’t live without it.

A very big thing I did this year was cut wheat out from my diet in response to some digestive issues I was having. Incredible! Now, if you’d read my health update last year, you know I cut out sugar in 2007. Removing wheat in 2008 had my energy soaring. I’m not suggesting this as something everyone, or anyone, should do. But because of the severe symptoms I was experiencing, my acupuncturist astutely recommended the wheat restriction, and my body responded favorably.

I also lost 15 pounds. Many of my West Hollywood chiropractic clients questioned my shrinking shape, fearing I may be ill; but I really have just regained my ideal fighting weight. Worry not, my friends–I’ve plateaued. But I have had to purchase new shirts. If you catch one looking big on me, it’s simply because I’m not ready to let that one go yet.

My biggest challenges this year have been the same as last year: I don’t get as much sleep as I should for tip-top function, and I enjoy coffee way more than I probably should. I did give it up for a month in October. It was tough, especially while in New Orleans celebrating a good friend’s wedding; but I eased the pain with a couple of good cigars…ah, life is good!

So here we stand about to enter a new year, and I am prepared to write my yearly goals, which will include my physical expectations and drives. I’ll try to get more sleep and I’ll challenge myself with something tough. But more than likely, I’ll just maintain, because that’s where I am in my life right now. My main focus is my intellectual pursuits, but I never let my physical upkeep fall by the wayside. I know that everything I do is dependent on my health–so I nurture it accordingly.

Americans aged 75-85 are some of the country’s biggest drug addicts. That’s right, 68% of surveyed adults who take prescription medications were found to also take over-the-counter medications and dietary supplements. The problem with this practice is that many drugs and supplements have adverse reactions with each other.

Here go some more elderly drug-abuse facts:

  • more than half of U.S. adults aged 57 to 85 are using five or more prescription or non-prescription drugs
  • one in 25 are taking them in combinations that could cause adverse drug reactions
  • adults over 65 make up more than 175,000 emergency department visits a year for adverse drug reactions
  • commonly prescribed drugs accounted for a third of these visits

Wow! Does anybody else find this scary? The reason for this inordinate drugging of our elderly citizens is simple: We live in a drug-worshiping culture. Our current medical paradigm is all about the drugs, man. Foolish, very foolish. Don’t get me wrong, drugs are useful. I’ve said exactly that, here, and in The Six Keys To Optimal Health. But why more than 50% of all people over 57 (that’s too young, in my opinion) need to be on 5+ drugs is dumbfounding. Frankly, it blows my mind.

But, I get it; many others don’t. You see, drugs are the main weapon in the arsenal of the current health care authority–the medicos. Drugs fit into the current “health” paradigm, which the medical education is based specifically around. Neither situation alone–the use of drugs to treat, or medical domination of the health care system–is necessarily a problem. It’s the two together that cause a dangerous situation.

My answer to the problem:

  1. Medicine stay the dominant force in health care, but alter their paradigm by adding health and wellness to a far greater degree than what they are doing now.
  2. Recognize other health disciplines as allies in this quest to improve health care.
  3. Take responsibility in determining all medications a patient is on and managing the patient accordingly.
  4. Recognize that conservative, non-drug treatment is always, ALWAYS, superior to medicating when that option exists.
  5. Understand when that option exists.

Until these simple steps are adopted by the medical industry, expect more of the same: Too many elderly people (and people, in general) addicted to prescription meds, and way too many people getting sick or dying from adverse drug reactions.

Have you ever heard this: The recommended cure for a particular illness makes the problem worse? Well that’s what’s happening with migraines. Apparently the drugs used to combat these headaches are causing more harm than good. Some people are overusing them, and as a result, are developing chronic migraines.

A recent study tracked 8,200 episodic migraine sufferers for one year and found that those who took drugs that contained either narcotics (Percocet) or barbiturates (Fiorinal) had a higher risk of getting worse. The higher the dose, the higher the risk. Bad news for people falling onto a vicious cycle of migraine-medicate.

Estimates have American migraine sufferers at 30 million. Migraines are a type of headache that cause excruciating pain, and in some, visual disturbances, nausea, sensitivity to light and sound. The cause of migraines is as of yet unknown. Many theories abound including vascular causes, chemical imbalances, and functional changes at the trigeminal nerve.

Whatever the cause, migraines are hard to treat. And, unfortunately, some people are chronic migraine sufferers (more than 15 days per month with pain). The problem, as uncovered by the study, is that some people who take repeated doses of prescription migraine meds, actually get rebound headaches. And when taken more than a few days a week, the meds can lead to chronic headaches.

Bummer for migraine sufferers. I know from my West Hollywood chiropractic practice that when caught soon enough, migraines can be warded off, either by chiropractic care or meds. In light of this recent study, it seems prudent to practice prevention as much as possible. If you suffer from migraines and haven’t tried chiropractic, then you should. If it works for you, then you can avoid the rebound effect caused by pain medication. Either way, getting at a migraine early on seems to be the best remedy.

I do lots of balance training with my clients in my West Hollywood chiropractic office. Balance or proprioceptive training prevents falls. You know this–I wrote a post on the subject back in April. But it’s so important I’m gonna say it again: Without a properly functioning proprioceptive system, you risk falling; and falls, especially in the elderly, can lead to disability and even death.

So what’s proprioceptive training? It’s challenging the body by forcing the client to balance, first on two legs, then on one and then on an uneven surface. The uneven surface I use in my office is a rocker board. These boards sit on an arching base, and teeter back and forth like a seesaw. They are quite challenging to the person who has diminished balance, but with work, the results are amazing. Eventually we get the client standing on the surface with one leg, juggling a chihuahua and a chainsaw–it’s incredible! OK, we save that last part for our aging circus performers, but if you’re ever interested…

Recent studies have shown the mega-importance of balance training to prevent falls in the elderly. But I have to say that I encounter many young people diminishing in their proprioceptive abilities. So it’s never too early to start. And aside from preventing falls, good proprioceptive senses help strengthen the low back, combating low back pain and eventually acting as a preventative. Nice.

So if you are unsure whether you need balance training, just stand up now, look straight ahead, and lift one foot off the ground by bending you knee. Was it difficult to hold your balance? If so, then you’re a prime candidate. Call your local chiropractor and start your balance training today.

Bravo! Nearly forty percent of all adults in the U.S. are turning to alternative medicine–like chiropractic, acupuncture, nutrition, and massage, among others–for chronic pain and other health issues. Much to the chagrin of “conventional” medicine, not only are adults seeing the value in alternative forms of treatment, but American children are too.

The most common reason people seek out alternative health care is for back pain. Neck and joint pain, as well as arthritis are the next most likely conditions that drive people into chiropractic and other natural health practices around the country. According to a survey conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the numbers of adults using complementary and alternative medicine for any condition is up 2% (about six million people) from 2002, the last time the numbers were collected.

I don’t know about you guys, but I think that’s huge. Americans are getting it, after all. They are getting that there is more to health than just the same old medicine and surgery offered by conventional medicos. Not knocking that very important part of our health care arsenal at all. But there’s more, much more. And Americans have discovered it, and they are using it to better their health.

What amuses me is that there are still so many in the medical profession that are aghast by these findings. Wake the eff up, cavemen! There is way, way more to health and healing than what mainstream western medicine has to offer. Be open and learn about what’s out there. Chiropractic has been around in some form for thousands of years, and in the form we know today for over one hundred years. Acupuncture for probably longer. Medicine as we know it today has only been around for about the same length of time as chiropractic has. Earlier than that, it was just as much voodoo as chiropractic has been accused of over the years–leeches and all.

So once again America, I say bravo! Keep it up. We’ll all be the better off for it.

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We’ve got an interesting unplanned study underway in the U.S. this flu season. According to recent reports, only one third of Americans have received a flu shot this year. And based on a survey of 4,000 people, only seventeen percent more are planning on getting one. Nice–a fifty-fifty split.

So what’s the study? Well, public health officials at the U.S. Centers of Disease Control (CDC) recommend that 85% of the population (261 million people) get vaccinated against the flu to prevent pandemonium. The flu kills 36,000 people and sends 200,000 to the hospital in the United States annually.

If you’ve listened to my podcast on vaccinations (Dr. Nick Show, Episode 8) then you know all about herd immunity. Herd immunity is the protection an entire population receives from a certain number of the people getting vaccinated. This number is roughly 80-90%. So by 261 million Americans receiving the flu vaccine, we should in theory be “protected” against the devastation promised by the flu. Hmmmm….

Well it ain’t happening this year. Less than fifty percent of the population will be getting the vaccine. So what do you think? Death and pestilence to sweep through the nation? I guess we’ll see. That’ll be the study. If we experience mass devastation, then I’ll concede–I’ll stop bagging on the flu vaccine. But it’ll have to be a significant difference. Not the same numbers we see every year. I’m betting they’ll be pretty close to the same.

As I keep saying: it is nearly impossible to develop a flu vaccine that matches the current strains in the wild. They mutate too quickly. The influenza virus is the true Master of Disguises.

But I’m excited to see the upcoming results. Even though I think that if the pandemic doesn’t happen, public health officials will rationalize it in one way or another; they’ll never let go of the flu shot fallacy. However, it’ll pretty much prove things to me. Combine it with last year’s flu vaccine debacle (massive illness despite record numbers of people vaccinated), and the flu shot might just be shot.

This is a picture of an advertisement that is on a billboard in my neighborhood near the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).As you can see, the advertisement is suggesting that the product, which is a pomegranate juice, can extend life.This is a great example of the type of “wellness marketing” I speak of in my podcast, the Dr. Nick Show, Episode 6.

What I find interesting is that, on the one hand, you’ve got a contingency that is trying to attach the wellness label to all health and food products; while on the other, you’ve got a group of mainstream scientists trying to disprove many of the claims made by the first group.Case in point: A recent study claims that antioxidants do very little to extend life.
So what’s the truth?I’m certain it falls somewhere in the middle.Antioxidants are not useless.On the contrary, there are plenty of studies showing them to be effective.Antioxidants scavenge for free radicals—substances that can cause degenerative diseases like cancer—so, in theory anyway, they should provide some protection against developing chronic diseases.Without a doubt fruits and vegetables have anti-cancerous properties, and they are chock full of antioxidants, so there’s got to be something there.
But, of course, food and beverage manufacturers take things a little too far.They take a fact and stretch it so much that you question the validity of the concept altogether.Pomegranate juice cheats death?Please.Even with a slew of antioxidants, it’s very doubtful that it does that.More likely, antioxidant rich foods and beverages add to one’s overall health level, but whether this translates to longer life is debatable.I would argue that it might cheat illness, or weakness, or dysfunction, but death?
Anyway, I’m amused by the influx of wellness products hitting the market today. Decades ago there was breakfast cereal; then came vitamin-fortified cereal; today, there’s “heart-smart” cereal. Even Kaiser Permanente has jumped on the wellness bandwagon with their Thrive campaign. Anybody who has ever dealt with Kaiser in any capacity can certainly share in that humor. The bottom line is that we all want wellness. But are we aware enough to separate the fact from the fiction? Keep reading this blog.

Well it’s official–I’m a voodoo doctor. Just saw my name on a chiropractic web listing that had me categorized as “Voodoo Doctor.” I love it!

I received the news from one of our national chiropractic organizations, the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), of which I am a member. They sent a news update alerting chiropractors to the malicious web site, and promise they are investigating the matter. They seem pissed.

But I’m not. I think it’s funny. I guess it’s only because I wasn’t insulted too badly. Some of the other categorizations were, “wannabe MD” and “couldn’t get into medical school.” I wonder how I was given the voodoo categorization. Well, I’m grateful–the other two are real insults.

Hey, listen, if people want to write ignorant things on the web, it’s their time. But watch out!, you just might get sued for libel.

Oh Oprah, stop being so hard on yourself! Don’t beat yourself up for not being a waif. Waifdom is highly overrated–and not very healthy either.

According to her own words published in the January issue of O Magazine, Oprah Winfrey has ballooned up to 200 pounds. The 54-year-old television talk show personality says that she is “embarrassed” that she has “fallen off the wagon” of healthy living, and that a thyroid condition has led her to develop a “fear of working out”. She states she has put on 40 lbs. since being 160 in 2006, and that she is “mad” at herself for allowing this to happen. She says, “I look at my thinner self and think, `How did I let this happen again?'”

Chill out, Oprah! Yours is not a problem of the rind, but a problem of the mind. It’s not what you can and cannot do, it’s your self-perception that’s the problem. First, you are not of a thin body type. Body types are usually ectomorphic, mesomorphic, and endomorphic. Oprah, I think you are a endomorph. Endomorphs tend to be stocky with wider hips and a tendency to put on weight. These are the people who no matter what they try never get skinny. Notice I say, “never get skinny”, not “never lose weight,” because endomorphs can lose weight. But if these people succumb to the illusion that “thin is in,” then they are setting themselves up for a massive let down. That’s because endomorhs ain’t ever going to be thin–not for long, anyway.

Second, Oprah, the weight you’ve actually lost has been done by faulty, and dangerous, methods. In 1988 you lost 67 lbs on a liquid protein diet. Special and crash diets don’t work, babe. Sorry. Eating well and working out is the only thing that works. But I feel grateful that the world has you, especially since your weight-battle is on display for everyone to see. You see, this should help many, many people–especially readers of this blog–because you are living proof of what I’m trying to push here, and in my book, The Six Keys To Optimal Health: Accept who you are with regard to your body type, eat well and exercise regularly. You’ll have no alternative but to approach the healthiest and most attractive shape and size for your body type. Swear.

Your weight has also yo-yoed over the years. Not healthy, babe. It’s much better to lose weight slowly and steadily than too quickly. One pound per week (on average) is healthy–nothing more. Then you did the Marine Corp marathon in ’94, and hired super-trainer Bob Greene to help you lose weight (hate to be him right now–even with the Oprah-effect in play). Good thing you didn’t jump on your old pal Dr. Phil’s weight loss program too. You’d probably be suing him as a result.

But never fear, Oprah, my dear–you look great livin’ large. Who the heck are you trying to impress, anyway? You haven’t lost any viewers because of your weight. I think you’re attractive, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that feeling. You are supposed to be above the cultural pressures that our teens, young women, and mature women all seem to be victims of these days; the one that says beauty is in thinness; I mean, you’re Oprah, dammit. Why would you be under that pressure. I’d think you’d be better leading our women out of that self-esteem quagmire than being a part of it.

Finally, you can still be as healthy as you can be, no matter what your weight, Oprah. Eat well, exercise, practice discipline, The Six Keys To Optimal Health, and don’t obsess about obesity. I feel that the obesity crucifixion is a lot more media and medical hype than anything else. It’s the new smoking, you know? True, taking a little off ain’t gonna hurt–it’ll help. But better to be fat and happy than thin and miserable, I always say. And I mean it.

Who are the biggest up-and-coming speed freaks of the 21st century? Academics!

Yes, our nation’s literati are doing legal speed to boost brain power. Or so they say. According to a recent report, the production and supply of “brain-boosting” stimulants like Ritalin or Provigil has increased 300% between 1995-2006. But not all people use these easy to get drugs for intellectual prowess. Some, no doubt, use it simply to get high.

This latest drug abuse trend has some in health care worried–and rightly so. When altered states of consciousness become tolerated, even desired, in our institutions of higher learning, there is cause for concern. Primarily because most controlled substances have the potential for abuse and a high risk of addiction–the last thing we need in our universities, seeing how much power academia yields in politics and public opinion.

The concern has been sparked by a recent commentary in the journal Nature on Sunday that argues for use of the drugs in healthy adults as a legitimate way of improving brain power, much like education, the Internet or other helpful tools. Doesn’t this echo Timothy Leary’s turn on, tune in, and drop out ethos of the 1960s? Damn if things don’t come back full circle. The problem is that these pharmaceuticals have a much higher probability of leading to dependence than Leary’s LSD. And as you know if you’ve ever been dependent, drugs have a way of running one’s life.

So, increased brain power or not, I wouldn’t recommend playing this dope game. But if you must, just remember…I told you so.

Just saw a piece on the news tonight about the amount of infectious microbes present on paper money. Apparently money is dirtier than a toilet seat. The microbiology expert that tested the money warned of the many illnesses we’re in danger of contracting from handling the dirty green.

First, why does everybody assume a toilet seat is the dirtiest thing we encounter? Aside from public toilet seats used by unsanitary vagrants, and which are never cleaned, they can’t possibly be dirtier than a sink, the floor of a twenty-five cent peep show, or the bedspread at a motel. But money?…that seems obviously filthy.

Second, why be afraid of the germs we encounter on a day to day? If people really knew how many potential pathogens we come across in our daily lives, they’d feel real queasy. Hundreds of thousands of microorganisms are all around us–in our beds, in the shower, in the air, on door handles, everywhere. That’s precisely why we’ve developed immune systems–to fight the multitude of microorganisms we come in contact with everyday. Our immune systems are working silently to contain and defeat invaders, to suppress mini-cancers that pop-up from time to time, and to do it all without our knowing it. That’s exactly why immune deficiencies–like AIDS or radiation therapies–are so dangerous. They leave people immunocompromised and susceptible to disease. People with advanced AIDS often die from infections like Pneumocystis carinii (PCP) and Kaposi’s Sarcoma, which are usually benign to the average person.

But if your immune system is working fine, it defends you from microorganisms constantly. So don’t worry about the dirty money, the dirty air, or the dirty toilet seat. I’d still avoid public bathrooms like the plague, and use toilet seat tissue covers on shared bathrooms; but I wouldn’t stop taking money when it’s handed to me, germs or no germs. My immune system won’t allow that idiosyncrasy.

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