TGIF: Going Beyond Iron Supplements for Anemia

Anemia is broadly understood as a deficiency of red blood cells. The chief role of red blood cells is to grab oxygen from the lungs and deliver it to every nook and cranny in the body. This ensures the survival of our cells.

Anemia is complex, and there is no one mechanism behind it.

 

When the body is anemic, we feel tired and lethargic. Every tissue in the body needs a steady supply of oxygen in order to have fuel and to function properly. Oxygen is one of the ways that we produce energy.

When we talk about anemia, we are really talking about oxygen not getting to where it needs to be.

Because iron supplements are routinely given to those with anemia, many people believe that anemia translates into iron deficiency.

Iron is found in hemoglobin, a transport system within each red blood cell. Oxygen binds to the iron in red blood cells. This is why many of us take iron when we find out that we are anemic. However, taking an iron supplement or even eating extra iron-rich foods assumes that anemia is the result of low iron levels.

Anemia and Its Relationship with the Gut

Anemia is the result of a deficiency in red blood cells and can lead to exhaustion. To get to the root cause of anemia, it’s critical to focus on stomach and gut health to naturally support healthy red blood cell levels.

 

Anemia is complex, and there is no one mechanism behind it. In order to properly address anemia, it’s essential to understand what is causing it in the first place. The multiple reasons behind anemia can be divided into 4 categories:

  1. The body fails to produce enough red blood cells or hemoglobin.
  2. The body destroys too many red blood cells.
  3. Loss of blood from trauma, menstrual disorders like heavy bleeding or endometriosis, and chronic inflammatory disorders.
  4. Fluid overload from excessive sodium intake or pregnancy.

When the body fails to produce fully mature red blood cells, this can be due to a number of reasons, including nutrient deficiency. And we are not only talking about iron!

When the body does not have enough vitamin B12, it’s unable to manufacture healthy red blood cells.

And while it’s not often talked about, B12 deficiency is fairly common. For example, one study found that 40% of people between the ages of 26 and 83 have low levels of B12. (1)

When we look at the possible underlying causes of a B12 deficiency, this percentage is a little less surprising.

You may be deficient in B12 if you:

  • Are vegan or vegetarian
  • Suffer from low stomach acid
  • Take an antacid medication
  • Drink alcohol regularly
  • Suffer from “leaky gut”
  • Are prone to gut infections, cramping, and bloating
  • Struggle with irritable bowel disease (IBD), ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease

One of the main factors contributing to B12 deficiency is poor gut health.

This means that even if you eat meat, which contains B12, several times a day, you may not be digesting it well enough to absorb the B12 that your body needs to produce red blood cells.

B12 is important for other reasons besides the production of red blood cells. For example, it also helps to make the myelin sheath that surrounds portions of the nerve cells. This is one reason why B12 deficiency is associated with memory loss and psychiatric disorders.

Anemia of Chronic Disease

Sometimes we have plenty of iron, but we still do not have enough red blood cells or hemoglobin. This is the case in anemia of chronic disease.

Anemia of chronic disease is sometimes easy for a physician to miss. This is because on a lab panel, all the classic markers indicating iron-deficiency anemia are there: low red blood cells (RBCs), low hemoglobin, and low iron.

This is why it’s essential to check ferritin levels if you know that you are anemic. Especially if you are fighting an infection, or if you have an immune system disorder.

Ferritin is a storage form of iron. This means that oxygen cannot bind to it. When ferritin levels are elevated, the body may in fact have enough iron – only the iron is inactive and unavailable.

More importantly, ferritin is involved in the inflammatory response. This means that when ferritin levels are elevated, it indicates that there is inflammation occurring somewhere in the body. Elevated ferritin tells us that the body is storing iron in order to protect and limit infection. Like us, infectious bugs, bacteria, and parasites need iron to proliferate and grow!

Anemia of chronic disease can often happen in those with an autoimmune condition or with a low-grade gut infection. If you are anemic with high levels of ferritin, an iron supplement can simply make matters worse.

If Iron Supplements Aren’t Working for You…

In the case of anemia from vitamin B12 deficiency or anemia of chronic disease, gut health is the top priority.

If lab tests confirm that levels of vitamin B12 are low or that ferritin levels are askew, iron supplements may not necessarily improve anemia. Worse, they may even feed an infection in the body.

1. If you have anemia, focus on the stomach:

When correcting digestion and its relationship to anemia, it’s critical to begin in the stomach.

Remember, anemia from vitamin B12 deficiency is commonly found in those with too little stomach acid, heartburn, and those who are on antacid medication.

An HCl (hydrochloric acid) supplement that is equipped with enzymes to break down protein can ease the digestive burden on the stomach and help to restore the proper pH of gastric juices. This is an important first step in correcting poor absorption of vitamin B12.

2. If you have anemia, focus on the gut:

If ferritin levels are high, this means that the body is stockpiling inactive iron as a protective mechanism. While elevated ferritin indicates that the body has plenty of iron, it also tells us that the body is inflamed and that it may be fighting off an infection.

Meanwhile, when levels of both iron and ferritin are low, this may indicate poor absorption and possibly an imbalanced inner ecosystem. This is why those with gut disorders are also frequently anemic.

Whether ferritin levels are elevated or low, cover your bases and make sure that your gut is in a state of perfect health. By introducing fermented foods into the diet on a daily basis, you can gently heal the gut and promote a beneficial inner ecosystem. Fermented foods and probiotic beverages are predigested, full of enzymes, and brimming with friendly bacteria.

When anemia follows poor absorption or inflammation, this is a significant first step in supporting optimal levels of red blood cells.

 

Source: http://bodyecology.com/articles/are-you-anemic-going-beyond-iron-supplements#.UvYPvbROKbg

Advertisements

TGIF: Functional Medicine is the Future of Medicine

https://i2.wp.com/towncenterwellness.com/wp-content/uploads/Functional-medicine-symptoms.png

Watch a video here, where a functional medicine physician describes the Functional Medicine Triangle of Health.

Functional medicine is a medical approach that focuses on identifying the causes of disease rather than treating the symptoms.  It seeks to understand the origins of chronic disease so that meaningful treatment and prevention methods can be developed and implemented.  The functional medicine approach is a partnership between the patient and the doctor.  The goal of this partnership is to bring the patient back to health as well as to teach the patient about the core principles of health maintenance and prevention.

The philosophy recognizes that each patient is a unique individual with a unique set of genetics and biochemistry, as well as a unique set of environmental and lifestyle factors.  These genetic/environment interactions are complex not simple.  Thus a person could potentially have the same disease with a completely different set of causes.  To that end, the approach of functional medicine relies less on synthetic drugs and more on the thorough investigation of a patient using the following tools:

  • Comprehensive medical history
  • Evaluation of the patient’s lifestyle and environmental factors.
  • Functional outcomes based laboratory workup vs. static labs based on standard deviation bell curves of an assumed normal range.
  • Comprehensive physical evaluation
  • Education based approach so that ultimately the patient is less dependent on the doctor to maintain their health.

Mainstream medicine is problem focused.  Drugs are prescribed to mask symptoms without concern for the root cause of the disease.  Drug companies have a huge influence over what is being taught in medical schools.  Additionally, drug companies are allowed to advertise to consumers directly.  Both of these practices are extremely unethical and lead to numerous problems.

The new health care bill created socialized medicine.  What does this mean for you?  Free care that doesn’t work for chronic health conditions! Medicine is the largest business in the world despite the fact that it has perpetually failed it’s customers.  Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, arthritis, and autoimmune diseases continue to increase and spiral out of control.  What is mainstream’s solution?  More drugs? Drugs only mask the underlying cause of disease.  If drugs haven’t worked to date, why are they perpetually pushed down our throats as the solution?

The Functional Medicine approach is to treat the patient and identify the cause for their problem vs. medicating symptoms.  The only way success can be achieved is to educate the patient on why the illness exists in the first place.  Mainstream medicine places the patient in the role of a victim.  Functional medicine empowers the patient with education so that health can be restored.

  • DNA is influenced by the three outer triangles (these outer triangles represent the environment)
  • Biochemistry = Nutrition (vitamins, minerals, water, etc)  Additionally, food allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities affect biochemistry as do pollution in the air and water.
  • Physical = structure.  For example, being 20 pounds overweight causes excessive pressure on your heart, blood vessels, joints, and more.  Exercise greatly influences the physical aspect of the Triangle of Health.
  • Mental = your psychological and spiritual state of mind.

If you are tired of a 50 minute wait for the doctor followed by a 5 minute consult and a quick drug prescription fix, you are in the right place.  Functional medicine is on the cutting edge of medicine.  What we do in the office today to help patients will be common place in medicine in ten years or so.  Do you have 10 years to wait to get healthy?

Our wish is to have everyone say,  “I didn’t know I could feel this good!” Because we treat the person, not the disease, and deal with the core systems of the body, we can address any condition — either from a curative or supportive standpoint. Here is just a partial list of problems we specialize in:

  • Brain Wellness
  • Heart Health
  • Detoxification and Healing
  • Healthy Weight and Metabolism
  • Healthy Aging
  • Fatigue
  • Diabetes
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Arthritis
  • Elevated Cholesterol
  • Migraines and Headaches
  • Chronic Sinusitis
  • Asthma
  • Environmental and Food Allergies
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Sleep/Insomnia
  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Cancer Prevention
  • Mercury and Heavy Metal Toxicity
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Thyroid and Adrenal Disorders
  • Female Disorders (PMS, Menopause, Infertility)
  • Eczema/Psoriasis
  • Acne
  • GERD/Reflux
  • Interstitial Cystitis
  • Osteoporosis

If you would like to see how Functional Medicine can change your life for the better, please call (304) 263-4927 today to schedule an appointment.

Sources: http://towncenterwellness.com/announcements/functional-medicine-is-the-future-of-medicine/

http://drhyman.com/blog/2010/08/08/functional-medicine-how-to-access-the-future-of-medicine-now/

TGIF: The Dangers of NSAID Use

NSAIDs, short for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are among the most commonly used medications in the United States. Available in prescription strength and over-the-counter, NSAIDs reduce inflammation and pain by interfering with your body’s production of chemicals called prostaglandins. Some of the most commonly used NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, ketoprofen and celecoxib. Although effective for a variety of conditions, ranging from arthritis to headaches, taking too many NSAIDs may increase your risk of serious medical problems, some of which may be life-threatening.

As with any medication, there are a number of potential risks, side effects, and complications that it patients need to be aware of prior to starting to take the any form of the medication.  Potential risks and complications of NSAID ingestion include:

  • Kidney damage. NSAIDs are cleared from the blood stream by the kidney, so it is very important that patients over 65 years of age or patients with kidney disease consult a physician prior to taking the medication. If patients take an NSAID for an extended period of time (e.g. six months or more), a blood test needs to be performed to check for early signs of kidney damage. Taking too many NSAIDs can cause sudden kidney failure or chronic kidney disease. With acute kidney failure, discontinuation of the offending NSAID usually leads to recovery of kidney function. A more subtle form of chronic kidney disease called chronic interstitial nephritis can develop if you take NSAIDs regularly for many years. This condition most often occurs in people taking high doses of NSAIDs for chronic pain. NSAIDs are particularly dangerous if you have preexisting kidney disease
  • Ulcers. NSAIDs are a common cause of ulcers, also known as peptic ulcer disease. Your stomach is the most likely site for an NSAID-induced ulcer to develop. Less commonly, the first part of your intestine, called the duodenum, may be affected. Your risk of developing an NSAID-related ulcer depends on how often you take NSAIDs, the dosage, how long you have been taking NSAIDs and whether you have other risk factors for peptic ulcer disease. Heavy alcohol use, smoking, taking a combination of NSAIDs and a past history of ulcers increase your risk of developing an NSAID-induced ulcer. Symptoms you may experience with a peptic ulcer include dull or burning pain in your upper abdomen when your stomach is empty, reduced appetite, frequent belching, bloating, nausea and vomiting.
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding. An ulcer caused by NSAID use may erode into a blood vessel in your stomach or intestine, leading to gastrointestinal bleeding. Symptoms and signs to look for include sharp, persistent stomach pain, vomiting blood and black stools. With prolonged or severe bleeding, you may develop weakness, paleness and loss of energy. Importantly, gastrointestinal bleeding may not cause obvious signs or symptoms. Take NSAIDs in the lowest, effective dose possible and limit the length of time you take them to reduce your risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. Talk with your doctor if you take NSAIDs for a chronic condition, such as arthritis, to determine the safest option for you.
  • Heart attack and stroke. NSAIDs may increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke, especially if you have pre-existing heart disease. These drugs may increase your blood pressure and contribute to the progression of atherosclerosis, a condition in which your arteries become clogged and blood flow to your heart and brain are reduced. In a January 2011 article published in the medical journal “BMJ,” Drs. Sven Trelle and colleagues report that all NSAIDs increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, including ibuprofen. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires that all prescription NSAIDs carry a warning about the potential for increased risk of heart attack, stroke and gastrointestinal bleeding associated with use of these drugs.
  • Delayed healing. Inflammation is a necessary component in the healing process, decreasing inflammation may prove counterproductive. the body responds to injury with a sequence of events that begins with an influx of inflammatory cells and blood. The inflammatory cells remove debris and recruit cytokines and other growth factors toward the injury site. This inflammatory phase is partly mediated by the same prostaglandins that are blocked by NSAIDs. In a healthy healing process, a proliferative phase consisting of a mixture of inflammatory cells and fibroblasts naturally follows the inflammatory phase. The fibroblasts build a new extracellular matrix and persist into the final phase of repair, the maturation phase, where, if all goes well, functional tissue is laid down. The key point is that each phase of repair is necessary for the subsequent phase. By blocking the inflammatory phase, NSAIDs can, at least theoretically, delay the healing of musculoskeletal injuries.

Most types of NSAIDs have a variety of other potential risks and complications associated with them. While most side effects are rare, some can be serious and even potentially fatal, so it is important for patients to remain aware of them and under supervision by a health professional.

As a general rule, patients with any of the following factors should be sure to meet with their doctor before taking any type of NSAID:

  • Thyroid problems
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Allergy or reaction to aspirin, other NSAIDs or pain relievers
  • Pregnant, about to become pregnant, or breast feeding
  • Consume three or more alcoholic beverages a day
  • About to have surgery or other invasive procedures (including dental surgery)

In order to ensure that NSAIDs are used safely, patients should meet with a physician to evaluate their individual risk factors (e.g. the patient’s likelihood for developing certain health problems, including heart attack, stroke, and gastrointestinal problems) and to determine the most appropriate dosages, type of NSAID, and treatment options.

In general, it is recommended that patients avoid taking over-the-counter NSAIDs for more than 10 days in a row without consulting their physician.

As with all medications, patients should discuss with their doctor medications taken (including herbal remedies, supplements, etc), all other medical conditions and allergies. Patients should strictly follow label directions for all pain medications, including non-prescription medications.

Sources: http://www.livestrong.com/article/360407-the-risks-of-taking-too-many-nsaids/

http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/pain-medication/potential-risks-and-complications-nsaids

http://www.chiro.org/LINKS/FULL/NSAIDs_and_Musculoskeletal_Treatment.html

Curvesday Thursday: The Gut and Spine Connection

Problems with digestion can result within any of the organs involved with this complicated process. Most commonly, the stomach, gall bladder, and large intestine demonstrate the highest degree of incidence of gastrointestinal disturbance; however, the pancreas, liver, and the small intestine also play important roles in the digestive process and can also cause pain and discomfort when malfunctioning.

All of the organs in our body are connected to two different nervous systems. One is called the sympathetic and the other, the parasympathetic. The nerves of the sympathetic system run from the lower cervical spine (neck) to the upper lumbar spine (lower back.) The parasympathetic nerves are found in the middle and upper regions of the cervical spine and the lower lumbar spine and sacrum (the bone between the pelvis).

Together, these two nervous systems help to control digestion by sending signals to the organs (efferent pathways) and returning signals from the organs (afferent pathways.) If an organ is in trouble, it may send excessive signals back through the afferent pathways, to the spine, and up to the brain. This can cause a sensation of discomfort in either the area near the organ or in one of the pain referral areas associated with that organ. A well-known organ that refers pain is gallbladder. People with a history of gallbladder trouble often complain of felling a colic-like (on-again off-again grabbing) pain between the shoulder-blades

The connection of a GI problem to your spine comes from the existence of these two nervous systems through a response known as the viscerosomatic reflex. Chiropractors believe that the irritation at the level of the spine that corresponds to the involved organ can cause the muscles around the vertebra above and below the nerve to become hyperactive. This increased activity to the muscles is a result of the shared nerve supply between these muscles and the sympathetic supply to the organ. If the muscle spasm exerts enough force to create a subluxation (a misalignment between the vertebrae) or creates enough congestion to the blood supply, more nerve interference is experienced. This inhibitory action results in a decreased ability of  organ function.

Conversely, chiropractors also believe that problems with the organs of digestion may have started because of spinal subluxations. An interesting study that took place at the Harvard Medical School demonstrated this theory. Researchers at Harvard discovered that many people who suffered from Chron’s Disease (A severe bowel disorder) had marked (sever) subluxations of the second cervical vertebra. Chiropractors believe that the Vagus nerve (the parasympathetic nerve supply to every digestive organ in the body) may be irritated when a severe second cervical subluxation is present. Although the Vagus nerve is one of the twelve cranial nerves that come directly from the brain) the Vagus nerve passes closely enough to the structures between the first and second vertebra that subluxation at these levels may create enough irritation to the nerve to create problems with digestion.

According to a recent study, researchers in Japan also found a link between Crohn’s disease and interference to the nervous system from spinal misalignments.The research was published in the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research and grew out of a previous study involving more than 3,000 patients with allergic diseases and over 1,000 non-allergic patients. It focused on the relationship between immune function, spinal displacements called vertebral subluxations, and how reducing those displacements resulted in improvement, and in some cases complete remission, of symptoms of Crohn’s disease.

There are many theories about what causes Crohn’s disease but none has been proven. The most popular theory is that the body’s immune system reacts to a virus or a bacterium by causing ongoing inflammation in the intestine. Treatment for Crohn’s disease includes corticosteroids to control inflammation but while these drugs are considered the most effective for active Crohn’s disease, they can cause serious side effects, including greater susceptibility to infection. Immune suppressing drugs are also used to treat Crohn’s disease.

According to Dr. Yasuhiko Takeda, a chiropractor and lead author of the study: “This is why it is so important to develop other means of dealing with this terrible disease. If we can find treatments that enhance the function of the immune and nervous systems perhaps we can help millions of people with this disease without the harmful side effects of drugs.”

Beginning in 1992, the focus of Takeda’s research has been on the relationship between subluxation, allergic disease, asthma, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel disorder and ulcerative colitis. He became interested in this after observing common patterns of spinal distortions and subluxation in patients presenting with these problems. He observed that many of these people got better following chiropractic care. This convinced him that chiropractic care was the answer to these health problems and that he needed to look into it in more detail.

There are other digestive disorders linked to the spine as well. A growing body of evidence is linking inflammatory back pain (IBP) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Additionally, several autoimmune conditions, such as ankylosing spondylitis (AS), affect both the gut and the spine, with up to 60 percent of AS patients suffering from colon and ileum inflammation. Even aside from inflammatory disease, back pain and gut pain have a strong association. Not only are there instances where gut problems refer pain to the spine; there are times when the spine is the source of gut disorders. A chiropractic practice is able to identify back pain of visceral origin: Gastric ulcers, pancreatic disease and irritable bowel syndrome are all known to cause back pain.

In turn, the treatment of spinal injuries can cause digestive disorders. GI doctors and chiropractors are both keenly aware of the severe consequences of long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Patients with NSAID-induced gastric bleeding almost always end up in a GI clinic. GI doctors often tell their patients that they can no longer take NSAIDs, leaving those patients to find an effective medical treatment for their musculoskeletal conditions.  A non-medical provider, such as a doctor of chiropractic, specializes in drug-free pain management techniques that prevent gastrointestinal issues.

Chiropractic can also help you if you suffer from a digestive disorder by reducing  your level of stress. Patient’s who receive chiropractic care will readily comment on this. Your digestive systems works best when the mind and body are in a relaxed state and manipulation, massage, acupressure, and moist heat therapies are just some of the many ways your chiropractor can help you obtain a healthier working digestive system.

Many chiropractors also include nutritional consoling as part of their practices. Your chiropractor  may recommend vitamin and mineral supplements, digestive aids, healing herbs, or simply recommend a proper diet with an emphasis on what foods to eat and what foods to avoid to improve your digestion.

Dr. Chambers offers a multi-faceted approach to treating digestive disorders through chiropractic, acupuncture, specialized diets, and all natural supplements. To schedule a consultation, please contact our office at (304) 263-4927.

Sources: http://www.godiscoverhealth.com/digestive-problems/

http://www.acatoday.org/content_css.cfm?CID=3420

http://www.acatoday.org/content_css.cfm?CID=3420

TGIF: Alternative Treatments Give Relief to Parkinson’s Patients

The lack of dopamine is the primary reason for the symptoms associated with the Parkinson’s Disease. Since the prescription Levodopa first began being administered in the 1960’s, it has lessened much of the suffering experienced by millions of people throughout the world, and is recognized as the “gold standard” in medical treatment of the disease. However, it can not completely reverse the symptoms, and like all drugs, is more effective in some than others.

There are no interventions that we know for sure slow down the progression of Parkinson’s, but recent research suggests that one potential means to this might be found in modifying nerve cell metabolism. Most cells in our body contain “energy generators” called mitochondria; their function is vital, and the brain in particular uses high amounts of energy. Researchers think that deficiencies in the functioning of mitochondria may play a role in PD, raising the question as to whether changing the energy balance in nerve cells could be protective.

Consequently many have sought hope in alternative treatments. Parkinson’s disease has been a recognized ailment in virtually all cultures since ancient times. Most alternative treatments are harmless, but some herbal remedies may interfere with prescription medication, so be sure to consult your health practitioner for advice. Many of these ancient treatments are becoming popular in the west and are increasingly validated by western medicine.

Ayurvedic medicine has been practiced in India for 5000 years. Parkinson’s symptoms are mentioned in ancient text under the name Kampavata. Ayurvedic medicine is a comprehensive system placing equal emphasis on diet, exercise, meditation, massage and herbs. Here is a detailed list of some alternative treatments for Parkinson’s Disease:

Broad beans– Australian researchers discovered that broad beans are also an extremely effective natural source of L-dopa. The highest concentration of L-dopa is found in the pod so they are most effective when consumed whole.

Herbal Remedies – Coordination and balance difficulties are only some of the problems faced by PWPs; for many, such effects as depression and memory decline may be even more troubling. One substance that seems to have mild benefit for memory in Alzheimer’s disease is ginkgo biloba, a plant extract consisting of a complex mixture of different chemicals. It also seems to protect nerve cells from MPTP, a neurotoxin that leads to Parkinson’s disease.

In efforts to ease the depression that is commonly associated with Parkinson’s, some patients take St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum). However, since it has properties similar to medicines such as Prozac or Paxil, it should not be taken alongside other antidepressants because of the risk of serious side effects.

Botulinum toxin A– This is a bacterium that causes food poisoning (botulism) but has proven to be effective in reducing hand, head and voice tremors when in a weak solution.

Dietary Supplementations – One compound that has attracted a lot of attention lately in this connection is Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), a common nutritional supplement. CoQ10 plays an important role in the mitochondria and is also a potent antioxidant.

Another supplement that likely acts through its effects on energy metabolism and could be useful in Parkinson’s is creatine. This compound increases levels of phosphocreatine, an energy source in the muscle and brain, and in experimental studies it protects against nerve cell injury. The supplement has few reported side effects and is also of interest as a potential therapy for muscle disease as well as other chronic diseases such as Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) or Huntington’s chorea.

Glutathione, a compound with multiple effects on nerve cell metabolism as well as a powerful antioxidant, is of particular interest for patients because of studies showing its depletion in the substantia nigra (the site of major nerve cell damage in PD).

Acupuncture– Used for centuries in China to correct energy disturbances in the body. It has become a popular method of treatment for Parkinson’s sufferers the world over. So far there are no placebo controlled studies that show acupuncture can treat the motor control symptoms of the disease, but there is some evidence that it can assist with sleep disturbances. There is much anecdotal evidence to suggest that it may be effective in increasing feelings of well being and relaxation.

Vitamin Therapy –  There has been much hope that antioxidants could play a role in slowing the progression of the disease. Vitamins C and E can combat the damage caused by so called “free radicals”  and high dietary intake of vitamin E has been linked to lower risk of getting Parkinson’s disease.

Exercise and Massage– While not treating the symptoms directly, yoga or Tai Chi can help improve overall balance. Massage can help reduce some of the discomfort associated with muscle stiffness that is commonly experienced by patients.

If you suffer from Parkinson’s disease and would like to begin an alternative treatment plan, please call our office at (304) 263-4927 to schedule an appointment.

Sources: http://www.parkinsons.org/parkinsons-alternative-medicine.html

http://www.pdf.org/en/fall03_Nutritional

Stickin’ it Tue You: Drug Free Treatment for Anxiety and Depression

Managing severe anxiety can be tricky because it generally includes therapy, which might not provide results for months, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. What’s more, it can require medication, which can have serious side effects, says Ladan Eshkevari, PhD, CRNA, LAc, a certified acupuncturist, a physiologist, and the assistant director of the Nurse Anesthesia Program at the School of Nursing & Health Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Yet when acupuncture for anxiety is effective, symptoms lessen after the first few visits, and practitioners like Eshkevari are confident it attacks the problem at its roots.

Acupuncture is an ancient form of traditional Chinese medicine. It works on the principle of stimulating points in the body to correct imbalances in the flow of energy (Qi) through channels known as meridians. When factors like injury, stress, poor nutrition, or a change in environment disrupt the flow of Qi, health issues follow, according to the University of Miami Health System. By inserting needles at specific points in the body, acupuncturists restore the balance of Qi and the body’s overall health, University of Chicago Medicine reports.This belief is based on the interaction of the five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal and water) and having profound effects on internal organs, which are either yin or yang. Five emotions are represented by the five elements:

  • Water (fear)
  • Wood (anger)
  • Fire (happiness)
  • Earth (worry)
  • Metal (grief)

Western medical practitioners traditionally have questioned the validity of traditional Chinese medicines such as acupuncture, but Daniel Hsu, DAOM (Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine), LAc, a practitioner at New York AcuHealth Acupuncture in New York City, says Qi is just a metaphor for metabolic function, or the chemical reactions constantly taking place in the body.  More recently, acupuncture has been recognized as a legitimate treatment for some conditions and is growing in popularity.

Acupuncturists insert each needle half a millimeter away from a nerve, Dr. Hsu explains. Depending on where the needles go, acupuncture can cause the nervous system to produce painkilling chemicals, jump-start the body’s natural ability to heal itself, or stimulate the part of the brain that controls emotions, including anxiety. All of these results, Hsu adds, can help people feel more balanced and treat a variety of illnesses.

Anxiety

Anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses worldwide. Many people suffer some form of anxiety occasionally but others cannot manage this natural response to a stressful situation. When a person experiences a highly stressful or threatening scenario, the mind can be overloaded and fail to develop ways of coping.

Although the symptoms can be as manageable as an ominous feeling in the pit of the stomach, some suffer much worse. Anxiety can trigger the following responses:

  • physical, such as an irregular heartbeat
  • cognitive, which can cause negative thoughts
  • behavioral, which may include uncharacteristic aggression or restlessness
  • emotional, such as fear.

Depending on which of these symptoms are suffered, different anxiety disorders may be diagnosed. These include:

  • generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • panic disorder
  • social anxiety disorder
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

There are a variety of causes of anxiety; all have different treatments. A person’s personality, behavior or thinking style can cause them to be more susceptible to anxiety. Research has proven it also can be hereditary. Biochemical factors such as a chemical imbalance in the brain also has been proven to cause anxiety.

Traditional Chinese medicine relates anxiety to an imbalance of the heart and kidney. Fire represents the heart and joy according to the five elements. The diagnosis is that too much heat in the heart will imbalance the interaction with the kidney (represented as water and fear). This will result in the water organ failing to contain the fire organ rising up to the mind, leading to anxiety. Acupuncture on points around the heart, kidney, spleen and ear are used to treat anxiety.

In a comprehensive literature review appearing in a recent edition of CNS Neuroscience and Therapeutics, it was proved that acupuncture is comparable to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which psychologists commonly use to treat anxiety (Errington-Evans, 2011). Another study published in theJournal of Endocrinology in March 2013 discovered stress hormones were lower in rats after receiving electric acupuncture (Eshkevari, Permaul and Mulroney, 2013).

Depression

It is estimated that approximately one in five people will experience clinical depression at least once in their lifetime. Although it is natural to feel sad and down at times, especially after experiencing loss, these slight effects can be managed with gradual lifestyle adjustments. Clinical depression, however, refers to a long-lasting and intense emotional, physical and cognitive state that greatly affects day-to-day life. Symptoms include:

  • Loss of positive associations and sense of achievement (lack of interest in normally pleasurable activities)
  • Negative thoughts (often worrying about the future)
  • Irritability, agitation and exhaustion
  • Changes in sleeping patterns (too much or too little)
  • Hopelessness (feeling trapped or suicidal)

The causes of depression are known to be similar to the causes of anxiety. It is traditionally treated with antidepressant medication, psychological methods or a combination of both.

Depression is considered to be a problem with circulating Qi around your body, according to traditional Chinese beliefs. The main organ responsible for circulating Qi is recognized as the liver with the heart and spleen playing supporting roles. The most common acupuncture treatment used to increase the flow of Qi is known as The Four Gates. This involves stimulating source points on both hands between the thumb and index finger and both feet between the big toe and second toe.

Anxiety and depression remain two of the most common mental disorders worldwide. As further research continues, acupuncture and other forms of complementary therapies are gradually being proved to be legitimate treatments for anxiety, depression and other illnesses.

Few procedures work 100 percent of the time. That includes acupuncture, but it does have benefits that conventional treatments like psychotherapy and medication do not, Eshkevari says. She explains that side effects, such as bruising and dizziness, are minimal and uncommon, whereas some prescription drugs can have serious side effects and can lead to dependency.

Unlike with counseling, people treated with acupuncture often see results after one session, and the results improve with continued treatment. Hsu says acupuncture is particularly helpful for people who want to limit or stop drug use — prescription or otherwise. Because it regulates the body’s chemical balance naturally, acupuncture can even prevent people from needing medication at all, he says.

Suffer from anxiety and/or depression? Want to try a drug-free alternative? Dr. Chambers is a licensed acupuncturist specializing in personalized treatment plans for anxiety and depression. For more information or to schedule a consultation to begin treatment, please call our office at (304) 263-4927 today.

Sources : http://psychcentral.com/lib/acupuncture-anxiety-depression/

http://www.everydayhealth.com/news/why-acupuncture-works-anxiety-relief/

Get Moving Monday: Sitting for too long is bad for your health!

We all know that regular exercise is good for our health and too much sitting isn’t ideal. If you’re like most people, you spend a vast majority of your day sitting down—in your office, commuting to and from work, watching TV in the evening. Research shows that the average American spends nine to 10 hours of their day sitting. Certain occupations, such as telecommunications employees spend an average of 12 hours sitting each day. And, the more sedentary you are at work, the more sedentary you will tend to be at home as well.

Now a new study suggests it’s not just the length of time we spend sitting down but the number of times we get up during that time that can influence our health. The evidence shows that prolonged sitting actively promotes dozens of chronic diseases, including overweight and type 2 diabetes, even if you’re very fit. This is really highly counter-intuitive as it would seem physically fit people could get away with sitting.  However, research shows that maintaining a regular fitness regimen cannot counteract the accumulated ill effects of sitting eight to 12 hours a day in between bouts of exercise

The study, published online in the European Heart Journal, examined the total length of time people spent sitting down and breaks taken in that time, together with various indicators of risk for heart disease, metabolic diseases such as diabetes, and inflammatory processes that can play a role in the blocking of arteries.  When you sit for lengths of time, disease processes set in that independently raise your mortality risk, even if you eat right, exercise regularly and are very fit; even a professional or Olympic level athlete.

The most recent systematic review looked at 47 studies of sedentary behavior, and discovered that the time a person spends sitting each day produces detrimental effects that outweigh the benefits reaped from exercise. Sitting was found to increase your risk of death from virtually all health problems, from type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease to cancer and all-cause mortality. For example, sitting for more than eight hours a day was associated with a 90 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Other research has found that those who sit the most have a 112 percent increased Relative Risk of diabetes, and a 147 percent increased relative risk of cardiovascular events compared to those who sit the least.

The Australian research found that long periods of sitting down, even in people who did a lot of exercise otherwise, were associated with worse indicators of cardio-metabolic function and inflammation, such as larger waist circumferences, lower levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and higher levels of C-reactive protein (an important marker of inflammation) and triglycerides (blood fats).

However, the study also found that even in people who spent a long time sitting down, the more breaks they took during this time, the smaller their waists and the lower the levels of C-reactive protein. Genevieve Healy, MD, from the University of Queensland led the study. “The most significant differences were observed for waist circumference,” she says. “The top 25% of people who took the most breaks had, on average, a 4.1 cm smaller waist circumference than those in the lowest 25%.”

The dangers of being too big around the middle are well-documented. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, high-risk waist circumferences are:

  • Over 40 inches for men.
  • Over 35 inches for women.

Healy and her colleagues analyzed earlier U.S. data from nearly 5,000 people aged 20 and over. The participants wore a small device called an accelerometer, which monitored the amount and intensity of walking or running. It gave researchers information on sedentary time and breaks in sedentary time. It suggests that plenty of breaks, even if they are as short as one minute, seem to be beneficial.

“The potential adverse health impact of prolonged sitting (which is something that we do on average for more than half of our day), is only just being realized,” Healy says. “Our research highlights the importance of considering prolonged sedentary time as a distinct health risk behavior that warrants explicit advice in future public health guidelines.”

Amy Thompson, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation, says in a statement, “This study was a very interesting read and adds to well established evidence that long periods of inactivity are not good for the heart. If you’re sitting for long periods it’s really important you take regular breaks by getting up on your feet. Regular physical activity is essential to protect cardiovascular health.”

To counteract the ill effects of prolonged sitting, the authors of the featured review suggest that you:

  • Keep track (with your phone or pedometer) of how much you’re sitting each day, and make an effort to reduce it, little by little, each week until you are moving more than you are sitting
  • When watching TV, stand up and/or walk around during commercial breaks or pause a movie and go for a brisk five minute walk

The study suggests even small changes in your office or home could help, like standing up to take phone calls, walking to see a colleague rather than phoning or emailing, and centralizing trash cans and printers so you have to walk to them.

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20110112/sitting-down-too-long-bad-health

http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2015/02/06/effects-prolonged-sitting.aspx#!

Stickin’ it Tue You: Acupuncture Eases Chronic Headaches, even Migraines!

Acupuncture may provide lasting relief from the pain of chronic headaches, such as migraines, according to a new study.

Researchers found that compared with standard medical care, acupuncture offers substantial benefits in preventing headaches and improving the quality of life for people who suffer from frequent headaches, especially migraines.

Acupuncture is commonly used to treat other types of chronic pain, but researchers say this is the first large-scale study to examine the effectiveness of acupuncture under real-life conditions. They say the results indicate that health insurance coverage of acupuncture services should be expanded to include the treatment of chronic headaches and migraine.

Pins and Needles Ease Migraine Pain

In the study, published in the March 15 issue of the British Medical Journal, researchers randomly divided 401 adults aged 18-65 years old with chronic headache (at least two headaches a month) — into two treatment groups. Participants had a history of having mostly migraine headaches.

One group received up to 12 acupuncture sessions during a three-month period in addition to standard medical care, and the other group received standard care alone.

A year later, researchers found those who received acupuncture:

  • Experienced 22 fewer days with headaches
  • Used 15% less medication
  • Made 25% fewer visits to their doctor
  • Took 15% fewer days off sick from work than the control group

Researchers say one limitation of their study is that the control group did not receive a sham acupuncture intervention. Therefore, some of the benefits found among the acupuncture group may have not been caused by the actual treatment but because of the “placebo effect,” which is based on the patient’s expectations of benefit from treatment rather than the effectiveness of the treatment itself.

But researchers say previous placebo-controlled studies have already shown that acupuncture is superior to placebo in treating migraine.

In a related study published in the same journal, British researchers found that acupuncture improves the quality of life for people with chronic headaches at a small additional cost. They say the findings show that acupuncture is a relatively cost-effective headache therapy compared with other treatments covered by the National Health Service of the United Kingdom.

Here at Chambers Chiropractic, Dr Chambers provides almost immediate relief from chronic headaches, including migraines, with drug-free acupuncture and auriculotherapy techniques.

Same day appointments may be available. Contact us today at (304) 263-4927 for more information or to schedule your appointment.

We are conveniently located just off Edwin Miller Blvd, I-81’s exit 16:
319 B Lutz Ave
Martinsburg, West Virginia 25404

Flexible payment plans are available & most insurances are accepted.

Sources: http://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/news/20040315/acupuncture-migraine-headache-pain

State of Our Health in the US

StateofHealthUSCSP72dpi

How do we measure up with the rest of the world on matters of health?

The Journal of American Medicine (JAMA) published in August 2013 the first ever report comparing the State of Health in the US to that of 34 countries on measures of diseases, injuries and risk factors associated with pre-matured mortality, years lived with disability, and disability adjusted life years.

Although it was not surprising to find in this report that chronic disease epidemics continue to spread across the world, but that US is doing much worse than many other countries with similar economic strength. This can be attributed to an aging population, however, a significant amount of data supports key findings of unhealthy lifestyles, diet and environment exposures that constitute the American way of life today are major influencers.

Among many interesting facts presented in this report are these:

• The diseases and injuries with the largest number of premature mortality in 2010 were ischemic heart disease, lung cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and road injury.
(ALL of these are largely preventable diseases)

• Age-standardized premature mortality rates increased for Alzheimer disease, drug use disorders, chronic kidney disease, kidney cancer, and falls.
(MANY of these are preventable conditions)

• The diseases with the largest number of years lived with disability in 2010 were low back pain, major depressive disorder, other musculoskeletal disorders, neck pain, and anxiety disorders.
(SOME of these are preventable conditions)

• The leading risk factors relating to disability adjusted life years were dietary risks, tobacco smoking, high body mass index, high blood pressure, high fasting plasma glucose (Type II Diabetes), physical inactivity, and alcohol use.
(MOST of these are preventable risks)

So how can we use this information?

By changing our one-size-fits all method of health care to a more patient specific.

“How much better could we do if each patient received a comprehensive individualized functional medicine work-up and therapeutic intervention instead of a prescription? Performing an in-depth examination of the patient’s underlying dysfunctions, identifying the antecedents, triggers, and mediators of disease (including the contributions of environmental and lifestyle risks), and working to eliminate obstacles to healing within the context of a highly effective therapeutic partnership between patient and clinician is what functional medicine practitioners are known for—and that approach may well be the key to reversing and preventing not only diabetes but many other elements of the chronic disease epidemic as well.”Institute of Functional Medicine

Because of its focus on acute care, our current medical model often fails at confronting both the causes of and solutions for the chronic disease epidemic, and must be replaced with a model of comprehensive care and prevention that is systems-based, integrative, patient-centered, and much more effective.

For more information about Functional Medicine, visit our website: Chambers Chiropractic & Acupuncture.

Sources:
http://www.functionalmedicine.org/home/ReportStateofHealth/

US Burden of Disease Collaborators. The state of US health, 1990-2010. Burden of diseases, injuries, and risk factors. JAMA. 2013;310(6):591-608.