From the monthly archives: "January 2010"

Are you a runner suffering from shin splints? Are shin splints keeping you from hitting the road or the track? Here’s your solution:

Check out this video showing how I treat leg pain and shin splints in my Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood chiropractic office.

Shin splints are a painful condition causing pain in the front of the leg, usually in runners or jumpers. If left untreated, chronic shin splints can eventually lead to a stress fracture.

If you are experiencing pain in the front leg or calf, watch this video, and see your local chiropractor today. If you are looking for a Los Angeles, Beverly Hills or West Hollywood chiropractor, this video will show you how to find me.

Listen up parents–if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: Kids do as their parents do. This is true of how they care for their health, including what types of treatments they seek out. According to a recent study coming out in the February issue of Pediatrics, almost twelve percent of American children use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

The study conducted at Harvard Medical School looked at data on 9,417 children younger than 18 years of age; it set out to differentiate between users and non-users of non-mainstream therapies. They found that if parents used alternative therapies, the more likely their children used them, too. In the study, they purposely ignored vitamins and minerals, so that they could get a better sense of the use of herbs and homeopathics. Chiropractic and acupuncture were not mentioned in the report, but were likely a part of the study.For the children using CAM therapies, they did so mostly for chronic conditions such as anxiety, stress, musculoskeletal conditions, skin conditions and sinusitis.

Surprisingly, 66% of children with cancer used CAM therapies. Some doctors find this disturbing since they say some alternative therapies can interfere with other treatments.OK, first off, for some people using non-mainstream forms of treatment or tonics are not “alternative”. I can tell you that in my family chiropractic was a way of life. I’ve been seeing chiropractors since I was seven years old; I adjust my daughters regularly, my wife when she was pregnant, and I adjust my siblings and mother, too. It’s a lifestyle for us, not alternative.

We’ve also been taking vitamins, juicing, eating whole, natural foods (sorry, we’re not vegetarian, my vegan friends), exercising and seeing acupuncturists for as long as I can remember…and we are not alone. Truly encouraging is that the numbers of people living healthy lifestyles keep growing every year.

Sure, if you are infatuated with the practice of medicine, you’ll shrink in abhorrence. God forbid anyone use something other than what Dr. Oz recommends. Wake up you people–mainstream medicine is jumping on the bandwagon with many CAM therapies because these same practices they’ve vilified for decades actually work.

The study itself can be taken in two different ways: one, that doctors (especially pediatricians) need to pay more attention to their patients, because their unspoken health habits could interfere with the good doctors recommendations (drugs); or two, doctors need to pay more attention because their patients are embracing CAM therapies, which…ehem…work.*

No doubt, every consumer needs to practice ultimate caution–some herbs and other therapies can be dangerous if used improperly, bought from disreputable sources, or not administered from a knowledgeable (and liable) practitioner. But isn’t this what today’s health care is all about–due diligence, self-information, professional consultation, scrutiny and personal responsibility? Sure better be–it’s your health.

*Most known and long-practiced therapies work for some people, yet no one therapy works for all people, not even medicine.

Most everybody knows that I place a high importance of supplementing with vitamins. I think it’s pretty impossible for the average person to get the full amount of nutrients they need from food alone. It’s possible but unlikely.

So if I think adults need to take vitamins, do you think I feel it’s necessary for children, too? You bet I do; so I make sure my children take their daily vitamins as a supplement to their healthy diets. I like Jarrow Kids Multi because they taste good, and Jarrow products have exactly what their label says they do. They’ve been tested by a third party organization, so I know I’m giving my children the best.

If you want to make sure your children are getting the best nutrition possible, consider supplementing their healthy diets with vitamins. You’ll get to see them grow vibrantly into healthy and energetic little beings. That’s the greatest gift any parent can ask for.

What do you need to succeed in wrestling and in life?
A. Money
B. Resources
C. Arms and legs
D. Heart

If you answered D, you get it. Succeeding in life, like in wrestling, requires heart…inspiration. It does not require money, although money certainly can help pay the rent. It does not require resources, as those with heart create their own resources and make it work with whatever they’ve got. As the following story will illustrate, it doesn’t even requires arms or legs.

Meet Dayton Webber, an 11-year-old boy from Charles County, Maryland. No arms, no legs, but a huge heart–a real inspiration to me. Dayton wrestles for his local wrestling club, Rampage Wrestling; and he plays football, too–on the defensive line–for a youth football league. Despite the fact that he has been without arms or legs since he was 11-months old, he partakes in all childhood activities that interest him. These include ice skating, go-cart racing and skateboarding, which he routinely performs tricks on, like doing handstands on his arm stumps. Pretty incredible if you ask me.

Does Dayton cry about his predicament, playing the victim when things don’t go his way? Does he blame presidential administrations or institutions for the obstacles he faces in his daily life? Does he refrain from doing the things he loves because he lacks resources (arms and legs)? Nope. He goes into his heart and follows his inspiration. Now that’s someone to learn from.

I really do find people like Dayton Webber inspirational. My first exposure to the greatness that lies within the heart of “disabled” people* was when I caught a piece on HBO’s Real Sports about Kyle Maynard, another quad amputee that wrestled and played football in high school, got straight A’s in school, and was living his dreams of going to college, writing a book, public speaking, and enjoying his girlfriend. My friends will attest that I saved that piece for two years, making any and every unsuspecting guest watch it.

The take home lesson in both Dayton Webber’s and Kyle Maynard’s stories is NOT that we should be grateful for how much more we have than them (which seemed to be the common sentiment of my guests and people interviewed in the Dayton Webber article), but instead that the circumstances in your life matter far less than how your mind perceives those circumstances. And following your inspired heart will lead you to the life of your dreams, circumstances aside.

Sometimes it takes exceptional people like Dayton Webber and Kyle Maynard to remind us of this truth.

*I don’t really care for the common use of this word, as I find that people who live by the victim mentality are far more disabled than people who “just do it”.

When it comes to children’s reading skills, nurture trumps nature. As it turns out, with proper instruction, children can improve dramatically in their reading development. So says a recent study out of Ohio State University.

The study looked 135 identical twins and 179 same-sex fraternal twins who were enrolled in kindergarten or 1st grade, and reading skills were assessed for two years. The researchers compared how the twins scored on reading tests and then used a statistical analysis to determine how much genetics and environment influenced their progress. Environmental factors included instruction in school, nutrition, how much the children were read to, and how they were cared for by their parents.

Although genetics were found to be more important in reading speed, skills like learning letters and vocabulary, as well as awareness of sounds were all vastly dependent on the learning environment. The importance of this study is it shows that regardless of the level of reading a child enters school with, they can learn to read effectively with the proper instruction.

Uh oh, teachers–the onus is on you. No excuses. The practice of having separate tables for “smart,” “average,” and “slow” kids, I hope, is a thing of the past (that’s how my childhood classrooms were set up). If the practice is still alive, kill it now. Most level-headed people understand that all children are teachable. They may have different processing pathways, which require different strategies, but ultimately the instructors have to find what works. Period.

And parents are responsible, too. Time for my high-horse again: If you are feeding your child soft drinks, sugary cereals, pop tarts, cookies, chips, candy…on a regular basis. Wake up! You are poisoning the poor kids.

And parents who don’t read breed children that don’t read. If you are watching oodles of T.V., guess who else is doing the same? Duh!

Finally, spending time and giving attention to your kids matters. Just being in the room with them while watching Oprah is not enough, you’ve actually got to interact with the buggers. Pick up a crayon, sing a song, bounce around…jump up, jump up and get down. And read a freakin’ book to them why don’t cha…give ’em a chance; otherwise, you leave it in teachers’ hands.

My book The Six Keys to Optimal Health is the quintessential guide to achieving and maintaining great health in the twenty-first century. In it we discuss the six key areas that people need to focus on if they wish to improve their health or maintain the great health they already enjoy. This book is for people trying to bounce back from drug addiction, for those trying to lose weight, and for those that have never really thought about their health and wish to take care of themselves, now. This book is universal in that it does not matter who you are or where you come from, what illnesses or conditions you currently have, or what you have done or not done in the past–everyone can use and master the principles outlined in this book to reach optimum levels of health. If your health is important to you, please grab a copy of The Six Keys to Optimal Health today–it will change your life!

Want a new tool in your anti-aging arsenal? Try gaming. Video gaming that is. New research suggests that playing video games might just help slow down the effects of aging on mental function. And you thought Grand Theft Auto was just for psychos.

According to experts, playing video games can improve older adults’ reflexes, processing speed, memory, attention skills and spatial abilities. Not bad, not bad. And gaming systems like Nintendo’s Wii could even provide seniors with some physical activity. For those who don’t know, the Wii has special controllers requiring hand and arm movements. Although not an ideal form of physical fitness in my humble opinion, some movement is certainly better than nothing.

Saying that, one study did find that seniors playing the Wii bowling game had boosted heart rate during the activity. The study’s participants were between 60-80-years-old.

As far as improved cognitive function, a 2008 study which looked at 60-70-year-olds playing the computer game, Rise of Nations, found that the participants had increased performance on tests of memory, reasoning and cognition. Especially notable were improvements in planning, scheduling, dealing with ambiguity and multi-tasking. Now that’s pretty darn substantial in my book.

Associate professor of psychology at North Carolina State University, Jason Allaire is co-director of its Gains Through Gaming Lab. The Lab has received $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation for further research and how gaming can boost memory and thinking skills in the elderly. Bravo to that!

Researchers plan to focus on three fundamental areas of cognition:

  • Attention demand–most video games require deep attention and focus, useful skills to every area of life
  • Novelty–learning new things creates new dendritic formation, a must in keeping mentally sharp
  • Social interaction–video gaming is often done with others, and now with online gaming…well, a new social outlet is here for the taking

My regular readers know how much I value maintaining mental sharpness. As long as your brain is firing, you are interacting as a conscious life form (I know that’s debatable, but play along). And when you are firing on all cylinders, watch out! Do I think playing video games is better than learning a language, mathematics or an instrument–no, I don’t. But as a supplement, or for people who just can’t bring themselves to become more academic, heck play a video game–they’re fun!

Hey you! Yeah…you. Don’t be a sitting duck. Get off your a$$ and move around. Sitting for too long can get you killed, literally. Several studies suggest that prolonged sitting can cause obesity, heart disease and even death. And let’s not forget hemorrhoids.

According to an editorial published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, physical activity is not enough–sitting too long causes the genes that regulate glucose and fat in the body start to shut down. Whether the sitting is done in a classroom, a car, or in front of the T.V. or computer is inconsequential. What matters is time.

In a Canadian study published last year, 17,000 people were followed for twelve years: Those that sat the most had a higher death risk, independent of whether they exercised or not. Holy hematochezia! That means…aw man, I’m in trouble.

I’m not the only American needing to worry: A 2003-2004 U.S. survey found that Americans spend more than half their time sitting, from working at their desks to sitting in cars. Although preliminary, these studies point out the dangers of taking too much of a load off.

Well, I must say I’m truly listening to this one. Although I am a highly active person, I also sit a lot. And the results of these preliminary studies make sense to me. The human body is made to move–movement is a part of our very survival. Not in just the obvious way as a means of catching food or escaping predators, but as a way to detect changes in the environment. Our moving parts have receptors–sensory devices that sense the world around us. When these are not used (through movement) regularly, the function of the body is disrupted. Chiropractors know this; we do our part to keep these moving parts moving through adjusting subluxations (stuck joints). But actual movement also need to be carried out. Sitting on your rump is not movement.

So if you want to win the lottery, you’ve gotta buy a ticket. And if you want to get the most out of your movable body, well you figure it out. But may I suggest you not be a sitting duck?

Thinking about gastric bypass surgery? Better lose weight first. You heard right, getting skinny by the knife requires a pre-op weight loss program. Ahem…

An analysis of medical records of 881 patients who had weight-loss surgery found that the more weight patients lost before the surgery, the less complications they suffered later, such as infections, blood clots, and kidney problems. For patients who actually gained weight before the surgery, they had two times greater risk of suffering complications.

All patients evaluated had undergone the “keyhole” Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery whereby staples are used to create a pouch in the stomach that can hold only a small amount of food at a time; then, a portion of the small intestine is attached to the pouch so that food bypasses the rest of the stomach and part of the small intestine.

This information is important as more and more older and sicker patients are opting for the weight loss surgery. These patients are at a definite increased risk of complications, so the answer is LOSE WEIGHT.

I know, I know…I swear I don’t make this stuff up. OK, some doctors are against the notion of requiring patients to lose weight before weight loss surgery; they believe that mandated pre-surgery weight loss “may be a deterrent to surgery.” Well golly…you mean if people lose weight naturally they’ll just…gulp…lose more weight. That’s a freakin’ wallet drain.

Anyway, I get it–people want the surgery because they don’t think they can do it on their own. They’re wrong about that. I like the recommendations for pre-op gastric bypass patients, not so much because I advocate the operation, but because I think that doing the initial weight loss will show these people they can do it on their own. Losing weight, like everything else, requires inspiration. Money is best, studies show; but if not the green, then I can certainly understand the prospect of getting gastric bypass and further weight loss might drive some people. Whatever. I just say if you can lose fifty…seventy five pounds pre-op, you can do two-fifty by sticking with it, for sure.

mother_child_baby 4 17 09More on the mental health front today as new research shows breastfeeding may be linked to better mental health for kids. I’ll say, it’s always worked for me.

An Australian study showed that children who are breastfed for longer than six months could be at lower risk of mental health problems later in life. Breastfeeding could help babies cope better with stress, and may also signal a stronger mother-child attachment, benefits which may last, say researchers at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in West Perth.

The study looked at over 2,300 children, each undergoing a mental health assessment at 2, 5, 8, 10, and 14 years of age. Eleven percent were never breastfed, 38 percent were breastfed for less than six months, and just over half were breastfed for six months or longer.

Mothers who breastfed for less than six months were younger, less educated, poorer, and more stressed, and were also more likely to be smokers, than the moms who breastfed for longer. They were also more likely to suffer from postpartum depression, and their babies were more likely to have growth problems.

The children who were breastfed for the shortest amount of time had the worst behavior. This was qualified as internalizing behavior, in which negativity is directed inwards, for example depression; and in externalizing behaviors, such as aggression.

Behavior improved successively for every additional month of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding for six months or longer had the most positive behavioral results with regard to mental health and well-being of children and adolescents. The results were adjusted for social, economic and psychological factors as well as early life events.

I like this study as I am a huge advocate for breastfeeding. My eldest daughter was breastfed for two years, and my 15-month-old is still on the breast. And I’m certain of the many health benefits attached to the practice. It doesn’t surprise me that breastfed children feel more secure, I mean, think about it: The suckling/oxytocin response is as much security blanket as it is food cart. It allows baby to know that there is a nurturing protector there when they need support. And it’s instinctual. Deny that to Junior and I’d expect him or her to be…well…unsure.

No guilt trip on moms who have opted out early, really. It’s just that breastfeeding provides one more benefit to those who choose it for their young, that’s all. However, if you are a mom to be and on the fence about it–just know that mental well-being and self-assuredness later in life is one more thing you can help provide your kid with a year at the boob.

Are life’s modern-day challenges harder to tackle than those of yesteryear? That’s the question mental health experts are asking, as a recent study shows that five times more high school and college students are dealing with anxiety and other mental health issues than youth of the same age decades ago.

The study did a comparative analysis of a popular psychological questionnaire used as far back as 1938 and found that more students today struggle with the stresses of school and life in general. Researchers at five universities analyzed the responses of 77,576 high school and college students who, from 1938 through 2007, took the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). Overall, an average of five times as many students in 2007 surpassed thresholds in one or more mental health categories, compared with those who did so in 1938. Some of the increases were even higher in some categories:

  • hypomania,” a measure of anxiety and unrealistic optimism (from 5 percent of students in 1938 to 31 percent in 2007)
  • depression (from 1 percent to 6 percent)
  • and “psychopathic deviation,” which is loosely related to psychopathic behavior and is defined as having trouble with authority and feeling as though the rules don’t apply to you (from 5 percent in 1938 to 24 percent in 2007).

Lead author of the study, Jean Twenge, who wrote a book on the influence of pop culture on the mental health of young people titled, “Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled–and More Miserable Than Ever Before,” believes that the growing interest in being rich amongst the nation’s youth has a big part to play in the study’s findings.

Experts say that such high expectations only lead to disappointments. They also note that some well-meaning but overprotective parents have left their children with few real-world coping skills, like handling emotional challenges or even balancing their checkbooks. Says Dr. Elizabeth Alderman, an adolescent medicine specialist at Motefiore Medical Center in New York City, “If you don’t have these skills, then it’s very normal to become anxious.”

Students themselves put the blame on everything from pressure to succeed–self-imposed and otherwise–to keeping up with technology as the causes of increased mental stress. Sarah Ann Slater, a 21-year-old junior at the University of Miami stated, “The unrealistic feelings that are ingrained in us from a young age–that we need to have massive amounts of money to be considered a success–not only lead us to a higher likelihood of feeling inadequate, anxious or depressed, but also make us think that the only value in getting an education is to make a lot of money.”

A New Jersey mother whose daughter is being treated for depression said, “I don’t remember it being this hard. We all wanted to be popular, but there wasn’t this emphasis on being perfect and being super skinny.”

The study’s findings, however, do not prove any correlation between pop culture pressures and mental stress. And it is not without its critics, either: Richard Shadick, a psychologist who directs the counseling center at Pace University in New York states that the sample data weren’t necessarily representative of all college students (Many who answered the MMPI questionnaire were students in introductory psychology courses at four-year institutions). Also, the increased numbers may simply reflect a heightened awareness of mental health services and treatments–like pharmaceuticals–available.

I believe that today’s youth are facing challenges that earlier generations didn’t have to contend with. That’s certainly no surprise to me. Young people of the 1950s were dealing with very different–and I’m certain perceptively greater–challenges than the youth of 1776. Things change, the world changes, and it happens faster every generation. It seems only natural, then, that the faster things evolve, the harder it will be for everyone to deal with these rapid changes. I’m not trying to minimize things here–I just think that it sounds fairly logical that new generations will have their hands full with the world of their era. Whether or not these challenges lead to increased mental health stresses over previous generations is debatable, especially since the mental health field has evolved along with everything else.

What it really says to me is two things. One, mental health is as important as it always will be, since our minds are integral to every aspect of our being. If we don’t have our perceptions in balance, havoc will wreak on our health and our lives. Therefore, obtaining mental balance is critical. If you or your child are having trouble finding this balance, contact me, I can help.

And two, it really brings up the point of having realistic goals and expectations. College does not ensure financial success. Nor does what you see on T.V. constitute reality (despite the moniker as such). If you can’t explain to your kids that success–financial or otherwise–requires a marketable product or service and super-hard work, not a four day work week, not six weeks vacation, not a French-style social system (go ahead, ask your French friends their opportunity for financial freedom and wealth), then, really, it’s your burden to bear when they can’t hack the pressure.


Listen up melody makers–you are healers! Yes, healers. New research shows that music not only calms the savage beast, it helps people heal. It can also diminish symptoms in dying people, and this new study shows that some are requesting just that–their favorite music as they prepare to pass on. Beautiful…and sensible. I love it.

Music as an art form uses sound as its medium. Although an integral part of every culture, there is no universal concept defining music other than “sound through time.” In our modern culture, though, music is being used in a therapeutic sense. Music therapy, a discipline being taught at major universities and professional schools, is helping sick people palliatively–that is, to reduce the severity of symptoms, so that patients can enjoy some improvements to their quality of life.

Music therapy helps people with Alzheimer’s remember; it helps autistic children calm down; it helps premature babies, children with disabilities, and seniors with dementia. It helps people improve their medical conditions as well as improve their lives. Whether life is just beginning, or whether it’s winding down, music therapy holds something for everyone, as we are all moved by the music we love.

In the study, approximately 200 people aged 24 to 87 with chronic or advanced illnesses, such as cancer, pain disorders, AIDS or sickle cell disease received music therapy, where they were allowed to choose the music they heard (Lady Gaga, anyone?). Physical and psychological tests were performed before and after the therapy sessions. The researchers found that music therapy decreased patient anxiety, pain and shortness of breath. Nice. And more than 80% of the patients said the music improved their mood, as well as that of their family members.

Certified music therapists not only play music (they must be well versed in several genres to accommodate a wide range of musical tastes) they must also study psychology, physiology and other health disciplines. Music therapists do indeed provide sounds, yet they also help with a vast array of physical, emotional, and social issues.

I find this practice of music therapy to be in perfect tempo, as more and more people are passing on without religiosity. My perspective is that for most people (those not going suddenly), moving on must be somewhat frightening. Without spiritual hope to lessen the fear, music might be able to help ease the transition. What better way to leave this plane than by being accompanied by one’s favorite music. Ice Cube, take me away.

Seriously, I believe that music is the divine sound of the universe. It does heal. Anybody who has listened to music to create or amplify a mood knows exactly what I’m talking about. Music accompanies me everywhere, and unless I’m blessed enough to go in a snap…it’ll follow me to the light, too.

Here’s to another great year of health and wellness news and information in 2009. Thank you to all my readers for your support. Let’s recap the best of the year:

We started the year off by talking about health care reform, and what direction I thought the country should take. I agreed with then Health and Human Services Secretarial Nominee, Tom Daschle, when he proposed that we need to make illness prevention “hot,” and wellness “cool.” Indeed! But Daschle failed to pay his taxes, and we got stuck with a Secretary who decided to focus on the swine flu. Harrumph–another lost opportunity.

All-time greatest NFL wide receiver, Jerry Rice, plugged chiropractic. So did Philadelphia Phillies pitcher, Cole Hamels! Chiropractic was shown to improve high blood pressure.

Seasonal flu, the most over-hyped illness on the planet got bumped in banality by…SWINE FLU! Interestingly, the former was pegged for years as the next “great epidemic,” and vaccinations were being touted as the only savior. But just like I said in ’07 and ’08–not! Flu is flu is flu is flu…people listened, and flu shots were way down in ’09.

We had a lot of fun with some stories:

I talked a lot about chiropractic and adjusting my children. Lot’s of pics and videos.

I was NOT a fan of socialized health care, and gave lots of reasons why here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here).

Lots of celebrities died in ’09–Danny Gans, Billy Mays, DJ AM, and Brittany Murphy. I only focused on possible drug overdoses, purposely staying away from Michael Jackson’s.

A few notable non-celebrities also died–Ashtanga yoga guru K. Pattabhi Jois, abortion doctor George Tiller, Pulitzer prize winning author Frank McCourt,

I talked about some of my health practices–dietary, fitness, and physiological. And I touted the many health benefits of feeling sick.

My favorite health story of 2009: Dads Are Key to Making us Human

Story that pissed me off the most: Chiropractic Left Off Health Care Reform

Most hysterical: Heroin Best Treatment for Addiction

Least hysterical: Drug Deaths New Number One Killer

Thank you for making Optimal Health one of the premier health and wellness blogs on the net. Thank you for the many comments and participation from my readers here and on Facebook! 2010 promises to be another exciting and interesting year in the world of health. Remember it’s your health, better understand it.

Copyright © 2013 Dr. Nick Campos - All Rights Reserved.