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Author Archives: Dr. Joel Rosen
Ever hear of Spinal Decompression?
I’m sure you have because more then likely, that’s the term you searched on the internet, and found this article.
So let’s not talk about what you can do for spinal decompression, but rather what spinal decompression can do for you.
Personally, I’ve been using spinal decompression since 2003.
At that time, the DRX 9000 was heavily marketing their spinal decompression tables across the U.S to rehabilitation doctors and clinics that focused on non-surgical solutions for neck and back conditions.
Because I was seeing so many patients that had injured their spines in motor vehicle accidents, I was looking for additional techniques, procedures, and advanced technologies to help these injured patients.
After visiting the facility that manufactured the DRX 9000 spinal decompression table, I was impressed with the technology, and hopeful with its potential.
We decided to acquire the table to help the patients we were working with, and expand our practice.
What Is Spinal Decompression?
Spinal Decompression is a non-surgical out-patient procedure, that provides rehydration of vitals nutrients, and diminished intra-discal pressure, of painful, injured, and degenerative spines.
That’s my definition anyways.
First off, the DRX 9000 cervical and lumbar spinal decompression is a NON-SURGICAL procedure. That means, it’s “non-invasive”: It’s not an injection, incision, cutting, no knifes, lasers or needles.
Not that those more invasive procedures can’t be effective. They can. They do have a time and a place when necessary.
However, all too often, they aren’t effective, or don’t address the actual problem.
More importantly, people are more leery, apprehensive, and desiring and non-surgical solution for the neck and back pain.
“Out-patient” is self explanatory. It doesn’t require you be admitted to a hospital or rehabilitation center.
The “rehydration of vital nutrients”, to me is why the machine is so successful, although the diminished intra-discal pressure on injured, painful, and degenerative spines are both great reasons why spinal decompression is so successful.
Spinal Decompression And Rehydration of Vital Nutrients:
What makes you a great candidate for spinal decompression?
Any spinal condition that is a result of increased disc pressure:
- disc bulges,
- degenerative discs
- disc herniations,
- disc prolapses,
- sequestered discs (* provided that you don’t have cauda equina syndrome or uncontrolled bladder and bowel function) will benefit from spinal decompression.
Other conditions that can be helped through spinal decompression are:
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Spinal stenosis
- Neuro-foraminal encroachment
- Spondylolisthesis (not suggested for greater then a grade 2 spondylolisthesis)
- facet syndrome
- Failed Back Surgery
All these conditions that I just mentioned can occur in the neck, back or both, and benefit from spinal decompression. That’s because spinal decompression is actually addressing a huge part of the problem.
A common thread with the conditions that I just mentioned is the accumulated pressure on the discs. This picture represents the downward pressure that occurs when the discs absorb the forces generated on the spine.
The way I explain this pressure is analogous to stepping on a balloon, underneath your foot. As you step on the balloon, when it squishes underneath the pressure, the shape of the ballon is altered.
Subsequently, pressure builds up inside of the balloon, and if the pressure is too much, it will burst. Kind of the same thing that occurs with disc pressure, only the burst is called a herniation.
However, with our discs, they don’t actually need to “burst” to result in pain. Any excess disc pressure no matter how minimal it is, can result in a severe amount of pain and dysfunction.
It’s true that the intervertebral disc main function is to act as a shock absorber for pressure generated across the vertebral column. However, too much pressure at one time (lifting a heavy object) or over repeated times (sitting for 8-10 hours a day 5/week in front of a computer, or commuting to and from work), will result in an injury to the disc.
With time as the disc is compressed, and the pressure is built up inside the discs, the discs begins to dehydrate or dessicate. That’s because the disc is an avascular structure, meaning it does not receive a direct blood supply.
Since the pressure is greater on the inside of the disc then on the outside (from too much compression), nutrients (blood, oxygen, and energy) are unable to get inside the discs. Hence the dehydration.
With the DRX 9000, spinal decompression takes up to 1/2 a persons bodyweight off the injured lower back, or 10% of the weight off the injured neck.
As an example, a 200 lbs. male would be pulled at 100 lbs (+ or – 10 lbs) for the lumbar spine, and up to 20 lbs off the cervical spine.
When this happens, as you can see in the diagram, pressure is taken off the spine. As a result, the pressure inside the disc is dropped, blood flow is able to enter into the disc, providing it with vital nutrients. Like a plant that finally gets water, the disc can re-vitalize itself, rebuild, and regenerate itself.
This process allows spinal decompression to gently aid and facilitate the healing process.
Reasons For Not Doing Spinal Decompression:
Any good doctor will tell you that in order to have a very accurate clinical picture all the following must be present:
- a thorough review of past medical records,
- all blood work,
- all specialized testing and procedures,
- present medical history,
- social history,
- dietary history,
- a family history,
- an extensive physical examination,
- neurological evaluation,
- and orthopedic evaluation
Along with the above, I also have the patient fill out an Oswestry Disability Index Questionnaire, which is an objective measure for quantifying pain and dysfunction associated with the patient’s neck or back problem.
Areas evaluated are present pain intensity levels, ability to perform activities of daily living (such as washing and dressing), ability to lift, ability to sit, walk, travel, sexual activities, and recreational activities.
When all of the above are combined, I will be able to give a very accurate prognosis for my spinal decompression candidates. That is, who is an ideal candidate vs who isn’t.
But, the 3 hallmark contra-indications (reasons for not undergoing spinal decompression, are
- Any prior surgical fusion surgeries involving rods, screws, plates, or any hardware of any kind (although doctor’s have had success putting these patient’s on the spinal decompression table)
- An abdominal aorta aneurysm ( identified on an MRI). These patients are referred out for an immediate surgical consult
- A spondylolisthesis greater then grade 2 (grade 3 and 4′s).
When a spinal decompression candidate enters my office, we have identified there diagnoses (from the methods above), ruled out contra-indications, I then explain the treatment variables.
No cookie cutter program exists, I may suggest a 4 week 12 visit protocol, a 6 week 20 visit protocol, or anywhere in between. It all depends.
I hope this information provided a framework for you to decide whether or not spinal decompression is for you.
For a prior post I did on the controversy associated with spinal decompression, you can click here.
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In the fourth installment of “Everything you need to know about Adrenal Fatigue“, I am going to what discuss the topic of how adrenal stress affects other systems of the body.
In our last edition of my adrenal fatigue series, we focused on the roll that cortisol plays with blood sugar regulation. In case you missed it here is the link.
Before I talk about the impact of adrenal fatigue on the other systems, let’s recap some of the symptoms of adrenal stress and adrenal fatigue:
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Difficulty staying asleep
- Lethargic/difficulty getting going in the morning
- Tired/fatigue/no energy
- Headaches with the onset of mental or emotional stress
- Getting sick more often/weak immune system
- Afternoon headaches
- Poor appetite
- Irritability before meals
- If meals are delayed or missed, lightheadedness or becoming shaky develops
- Craving for caffeine, cigarettes or sweats
- Eating to relieve fatigue
- Low blood pressure
- Dizziness when moving from sitting or lying to standing
- Transient spells of dizziness
- Unstable behavior
- Reduced libido
- memory/cognition/mental fogginess
- Abdominal pain
- Gastric Ulcers
- feeling full and bloated
The symptoms of adrenal fatigue extend across a wide spectrum.
That’s because the adrenals function very much like the battery of your car.
Like the purpose of any battery, your car’s battery function is to store power to be used for later. The car battery’s biggest purpose is to have enough energy to start the car. With newer cars, the battery runs the computers which are responsible for co-ordinating all the components of the car.
The adrenals function very similarly. Getting started, having energy to go down the “road of life” and co-ordinating energy/power demands for now or later use, is the function of the adrenal glands.
As mentioned previously, the body’s internal time clock (circadian rhythm) is co-ordinated with cortisol and the adrenal glands. So if this battery/energy source is devoid of “juice”, the clock will start to run slow.
Adrenal Imbalances Which Lead to Adrenal Fatigue:
According to Dr. Sears, the “Standard American Diet” or the “SAD” diet is as follows:
- High in animal fats
- High in unhealthy fats: saturated, hydrogenated
- Low in fiber
- High in processed foods
- Low in complex carbohydrates
- Low in plant-based foods
Add to that list:
- synthetic sweeteners (the next time I go into a starbucks and I hear someone order a triple-venti-non-fat-4 splenda-carmel-macchiato I’m going to scream),
- artificial flavors
- synthetic additives
- and all the B.S so called “energy potions”
The Result? Tremendous stress on the body.
As you know by now, couple 60-80 work weeks, deadlines, multi-tasking, and not enough hours in the day to accomplish all your tasks, and it sets the body up for adrenal fatigue.
Hence, adrenal imbalances are estimated to affect 27 Million people.1
Adrenal Fatigue Affects Other Systems of the Body
As talked about earlier, adrenals help regulate blood sugar, so if the blood sugars are not regulated properly, adrenal fatigue is the ultimate destination.
Adrenal Fatigue and Food Intolerances:
By now you’ve seen the vast array of “Gluten-Free” products. I used to think that the “gluten free” movement was a load of crap (excuse the pun).
However, that is not the case. Continual dietary intake of gluten containing foods (wheat, rye, oats, spelt, barley) challenges the immune system.
That means that a person with a sensitivity to gluten (and diary, such as “lactose intolerance”) can eat those food daily without an immediate “allergic” reaction.
However, the immune system is being “fired up” with each exposure to these foods. The firing up entails your white blood sells to attack any foreign invader (in this case, the gluten peptide that passes into the blood stream without properly being broken down, causes the body to create antibodies, that begin to attack our own tissues).
That is yet another “chronic stressor” which in turn, signals the hypothalamus, which signals the pituitary, which then signals the adrenal glands to release cortisol to properly handle the stressor.
Adrenal fatigue and Gastro-Intestinal Inflammation:
The GI system is under constant daily stress from:
- bacteria infection,
- viral infections
- anti-biotic use
- NSAID use
- over-the-counter use
- prescription med use
- fungal infection
- yeast overgrowth
- parasite infections
- food intolerance
These stressors collectively signal an alarm to the HPA axis, which in turn cause cortisol to be released. Once again, continued, chronic stress leads to adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal Fatigue and Environment Toxins:
Environmental toxins are around daily. From heavy metal toxicity, such as the amalgam that is used to fill dental cavities. Mold exposure from water damage in a house. Synthetic chemicals be an environmental toxins.
All create a stressor to the body, that will cause a release of cortisol from the adrenal glands.
Adrenal Fatigue and Sex Hormone Production:
Cholesterol (whether you knew it or not) is vital for our body to produce our sex hormones (progesterone, estrogen, dhea, testosterone).
When cortisol demand is high, cholesterol is used to produce cortisol, at the expense of the previously mentioned sex hormones.
As a result, catabolism, breaking down muscle tissue, low sex drive, fatigue, lethargy, and many of the aforementioned symptoms of adrenal fatigue result.
Adrenal Fatigue and Thyroid Function:
We talked about at length the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis. Well the hypothalamus and pituitary also keeps track of the thyroid function.
When the hypothalamus and pituitary weaken because of chronic adrenal stress, they are not able to communicate with the thyroid gland as well. Because the thyroid gland functions as the bodies “spark plugs”, energy production, fatigue, heat and temperature regulation, and metabolism is affected in turn.
So as you can see, the adrenal glands are essential for a wide variety of bodily functions.
When we are under constant daily stressors, the adrenal glands can no longer keep up with the supply.
In our last part of “Everything you need to know about adrenal fatigue”, I will breakdown the tests that are used to determine adrenal fatigue.
Once I do this, I will start a new series entitled “Adrenal burnout recovery”.
1. Facts About Thryroid Disease, 2005. America Academy of Clinical Endocrinologists
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In our third installment of “Everything you need to know about adrenal fatigue” we begin to “breakdown” the relationship of cortisol and blood sugars.
Blood Sugars, Cortisol, and Adrenal Fatigue:
When we talk about blood sugars, the typical hormone people think of is insulin. Hopefully by now, most people in North America have an idea of the epidemic diabetes has here.
However, for some reason cortisol is the red-headed step child.
That’s because, it’s BOTH cortisol and insulin that work together to help control and regulate blood sugar levels, not just insulin.
If insulin is to diabetes as cortisol is to adrenal fatigue, then adrenal fatigue is the next catastrophic health condition that many people need education about.
For diabetes, the rates here in America are an absolute travesty.
Conducted by American Diabetic Association, from the 2011 national diabetes fact sheet, and released Jan. 26, 2011, the following is the total prevalence of diabetes here in America:
25.8 million children and adults in the United States (8.3% of the population have diabetes).
Diagnosed: 18.8 million people
Undiagnosed: 7.0 million people
Equaling a whopping 25.5 million people.
If you add unto that, another 79 million people that are considered “pre-diabtetic. The final figure you get is a staggering:
104.5 million people that are pre-diabetic or diabetic!
Totaling about 33.6% of the American population.
One in three!!!
Meaning one in three have a problem here in the United States, with too much sugar in the blood stream.
Causing a whole source of physiological problems, all of which affect your health detrimentally, plummeting the quality of life, and absolutely decreasing the QUANTITY of your life.
Which actually makes me irate.
Irate because we have every pharmaceutical under the sun, yet, we CANNOT get our life together, make sensible, long-term, healthy life style changes.
But I digress.
So, as I mentioned earlier, blood sugar regulation is controlled BOTH by insulin and cortisol.
If I one in three have a problem with elevated blood sugars wrecking havoc in the body, then how many people do you think suffer from an adrenal fatigue problem?
The answer: A LOT.
But there’s hope.
Hope, because you are reading this. Hope because you’re a health conscious individual who wants to increase the quality and quantity of your own life.
So back to 1 in 3 people having “pre-diabetes or diabetes”.
The Relationship of Diabetes to Adrenal Fatigue:
Diabetes is classified into two types: 1) insulin dependent diabetes, and 2) non-insulin dependent diabetes. Type 1 and type 2 respectively.
Insulin dependent diabetes is when the individual has an auto-immune condition that results in the destruction of the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. These people can’t produce any or enough insulin.
In the case of type 2 diabetes, it is closely associated with obesity. With this type, it has traditional been known as “adult onset” because it takes time to develop.
On a side note, adolescence are now developing this type of disease due to improper blood sugar regulations.
With time, the cells become ”insulin resistant” because circulating blood sugars are always high.
Chronically high blood sugar levels result in chronically high insulin production. The pancreas produces even greater levels of insulin to try and get sugar into the cells and out of the bloodstream.
That’s like screaming louder at a hearing impaired person.
(Hypoglycemia may also result in insulin resistance but more on that in another post)
With Insulin resistance the cells no longer “listen” to the messages signaled by insulin to take sugars out of the blood stream. Hence, they become “resistant” to insulin.
When sugar is not getting into our cells, energy production is null and void.
Eventually, the pancreas fails to keep up with the body’s need for insulin, causing excess glucose build up in the blood stream, and setting the state for diabetes.
So what do you think happens to all that circulating sugar?
Lipogenesis that’s what.
Lipogenesis is the act of converting those circulating blood sugars into triglycerides and its components.
WARNING: if you’re one of those that hit the wall or crash hard after a meal, then you most likely have high circulating blood sugars as well and this process is going on in your body too.
That’s because this process of converting blood sugars to triglycerides, itself requires energy, and a lot of it. That’s why you crash (and burn) soon after a meal.
Cortisol has a very similar story when chronically being stimulated.
Only this time, chronically high levels of cortisol is due to chronic stress. Over time, the HPA axis begins to dysfunction, and when cortisol supply cannot keep up to demand, adrenal fatigue develops.
Cortisol’s best known effect is the ability to stimulate gluconeogenesis by the liver.
That is, whereas insulin’s job is to help empty the blood stream of sugars, cortisol is responsible for getting glucose into the blood stream.
The adrenal glands and cortisol work alongside the pancreas, insulin, and the liver to help maintain blood sugars.
I found a great picture from http://www.myhousecallmd.com/archives/tag/blood-sugar that illustrates really well, the physiology of blood sugars.
If you look on the left side of this diagram, inside the liver, circulating blood sugars (glucose) can convert to stored sugars (glycogen), and vice versa.
In stressful times, cortisol is released, glycogen is converted to glucose and emptied into the blood stream. This is illustrated where the blue arrow points to “raises blood sugars”. This process is called “gluconeogenesis”.
In fact, cortisol can increase the rate of glucose production by as much as 6 to 10 times. This well also cause the liver to store more glycogen providing necessary glucose in times of need (between meals and during sleep).
If you follow the yellow arrow at the top, high blood sugars causes the release of insulin from the pancreas, in order to a) lower blood sugars, and b) help the tissues in the body to uptake sugars (kinda the same thing).
Thus both insulin and cortisol help keep blood glucose steady.
In optimal health, this process “should” run smoothly, and be a self regulating process.
However, with one in three having abnormally high sugar levels, the process of blood sugar regulation is not always smooth sailings.
When Cortisol Demand Exceeds Cortisol Supply= Adrenal Fatigue!
So, how does insulin resistance affect cortisol production and adrenal fatigue?
Well, when a stressful event occurs, as I mentioned previously, the hypothalamus tells the pituitary, which tells the adrenal glands to release cortisol.
Cortisol stimulates an increase in gluconeogenesis. If you combine this with a subsequent decrease in glucose utilization by the cells (insulin resistance), both cause blood glucose to rise.
Next, a vicious cycle is formed because the mere stress of not being able to get glucose into the bodies tissue for energy, causes another signal from the hypothalamus to the pituitary to the adrenals, to release additional cortisol.
That’s because the cells of the body are not getting the fuel it needs to function.
As this scenario continues, insulin production and cortisol production are no longer able to keep up with the demand for each.
In my next installment of everything you need to know about adrenal fatigue, I will discuss the hormone testing that can measure both cortisol levels, as well as insulin testing.
I will also discuss the relationship of those hormone to the steroid hormone pathway. That is, when cortisol production is in overdrive, how that affect the sex hormone, and what effect that has on overall health and wellness.
You will some become an expert of adrenal fatigue.
More importantly, I will teach you what you can do to combat adrenal fatigue, and replenish your supply…Naturally.
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In part one of “Everything you need to know about Adrenal Fatigue“, I tried to explain what exactly is adrenal fatigue, how adrenal fatigue occurs, and how stress effects the adrenal glands.
In case you missed that post, here it is again:
I also talked a bit about the hypothalamus-pituitary-axis (HPA), and how when this axis is working properly, we are able to deal with stress appropriately.
Conversely, when this axis is not working properly, adrenal fatigue will ensue.
So the question becomes: What happens to cause the HPA axis to not work properly?
Elevated Cortisol Levels and Adrenal Fatigue:
When I hear the term adrenal fatigue, I think about terms like “tired”, “energy-drained,” burned-out”, or “exhausted”.
With terms like this, how is it possible that cortisol (the stress coping hormone, released by the adrenal glands) can be elevated, and not reduced? Isn’t it supposed to be “fatigued”?
Great questions, let me explain.
The hormone cortisol, secreted by the adrenal cortex, is released when the hypothalamus signals the pituitary gland, which then signals the adrenal cortex to secret cortisol. That in effect is the HPA axis at work.
Increased stress = Increased Cortisol (to a point).
That is, the more stress we undergo, the more the brain is called on to deal with the short and long term requirements of stress.
- Emotions: Anger, worry, fear, depression, guilt
- Too much exercise (with not ample recovery time)
- sleep deprivation
- poor digestion
- use of corticosteriods (ie. NSAIDS)
- chronic illness
- death of a friend or family member
- divorce/marital woes/dysfunctional relationships
- chronic pain
- food sensitivities
- nutritional deficiencies
- insufficient sleep
- temperature extremes
- toxic work environment
- financial woes
- and the list goes on and on
All are examples of stressors that lead to stimulation of the HPA, and cortisol being released.
But, when that happens repeatedly, cortisol levels will always be somewhat elevated, so long as the adrenal glands can continue producing the hormone, and keep up with the daily demands of stress, that is.
However, they can’t keep up forever (as I will explain later).
Not only that, even when cortisol can still keep up with production demands, the signaling of the HPA axis become faulty. That’s because the HPA axis becomes confused as it receives mixed messages.
On the one hand, the HPA axis is stimulated to cause cortisol release by yet another stressor, and on the other hand, because “baseline” cortisol levels are elevated, the feedback loop begins to fail.
What’s the HPA axis to do?
Signs that you may be experiencing adrenal fatigue:
- sweet/salt cravings
- unexplained hair loss
- low blood pressure
- lowered resistance to infection, always seem to be sick
- difficulty gaining weight
- dizziness upon standing
- weak muscle tone
- heart palpitations
- overall feeling of ill-health
- inability to concentrate
- excessive hunger
- tendency towards inflammation
- digestive dysfunction
- poor memory/brain fog, confusion/walk into a room and forget what you doing?
- feelings of frustrations
- lowered body temperature, or the sensation of always being cold
- complete loss of energy, get up and go, pep in your step
All are not diagnostic for adrenal fatigue, but rather, are consequences of feeling ”stressed out”.
If you so happen to have any one (or more of the above), and have been experiencing the stressors for any length of time, chances are you are moving into an adrenal fatigue status.
Cortisol’s Role in Adrenal Fatigue:
What is the story with cortisol?
How does it help the body stabilize itself?
For one, its levels follows a normal circadian rhythm.
Have you ever heard the term “circadian rhythm”?
Defined: Circadian rhythm
“A daily cycle of biological activity based on a 24-hour period and influenced by regular variations in the environment, such as the alternation of night and day”.
Think of the circadian rhythm as your own internal biological clock that is synchronized to light-dark and other cues in the environment.
This internal clock accounts for waking up at the same time every day without the need for an alarm clock. Our internal clock also tells us to be tired at the end of the day when it is dark.
But guess what?
When cortisol levels are off (whether too high or too low), they begin to mess up our circadian rhythm (and vice versa).
With optimal cortisol functioning, levels begin to elevate are 3am-4am, peaks between 6-11 am, tapers off all day, till midnight, and repeats the same pattern 3-4am the next morning.
In this scenario, if everything is working properly, a person should wake up with an abundance of energy, ready to take on the world, have energy sustained throughout the day, and by evening time, when you hit the pillow, an easy, restful, deep, and comfortable sleep is experienced.
Most likely, let’s just say your ”some-what lacking” an ample amount of energy, and may be a “tad” short of a pep in your step.
What’s more, energy is probably sporadic throughout the day, varying from no energy whatsoever, to “yo-yo” like up and down, to never quite being up, to having low energy through-out day, to not being able to get and stay asleep at night.
So that’s the story with cortisol and the circadian rhythm.
We’ve already talked about high a baseline of elevated cortisol levels, due to repeated daily stressors, and how these elevated levels of cortisol start messing up the HPA axis.
But oddly enough, we haven’t talked about the main function of cortisol so far.
That is: what biological function does the release of cortisol largely control.
Blood Sugars, Cortisol, and Adrenal Fatigue:
By far, the most famous role that cortisol is most famous for is the ability to stimulate gluconeogenesis by the liver.
Notice a couple of paragraphs back when I mentioned that when cortisol levels start to deviate from the normal patter, they tend to “yo-yo” up and down, are chronically elevated, or start to become low, stay low, or never quite manage to get high?
Sounds a lot like energy level. More specifically, these fluctuations describe the erratic blood sugar values that plague the typical population of North America.
That’s because cortisol tightly regulates the demand for energy by our cells in stressful time.
When and only when cortisol production is no longer able to keep up with the energy demands of the body, we begin to CRASH AND BURN.
In “Everything you need to know about adrenal fatigue: Part 3″ I will explain the next step to adrenal fatigue and burnout: cortisol relationship to blood sugars.
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Achieving optimal musculoskeletal health throughout a lifetime is really hard. Hopefully this will make it a bit easier.
Have you ever heard the saying: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”?
I’m sure you have, but what you may not know is it was Benjamin Franklin who said it.
What Ben probably meant when he said this was the idea that it’s much better to keep a problem from happening then fixing it after it happens.
Makes sense. Something better known as prevention.
“Prevention” literally means to keep something from happening.
When it comes to living healthy, preventative medicine implies the things we do from getting hurt.
But what if we are talking about musculoskeletal health, like avoiding headaches, neck pain, or back pain?
What are some preventative measures that you can do to optimize musculoskeletal health?
The following are my top 5 Preventative Measures for great musculoskeletal health.
5) Drink More Water: Aside from the fact that we are made up of (on average) 70% water, see how long it would take to die by going on thirst strike.
Researchers hypothesizes that 3 days is the longest we could go without H2O, before we die of dehydration.
That said, vital bodily relies on water, such as our GI system, respiratory system, and cardiovascular system.
Ideal hydration is suggested at 2 quarts/day, which is about 1.8 liters or 8 cups.
Inflammation in the body signals pain in the body, and by maintaining hydration, you can minimize inflammation, which in turn minimizes pain.
Drinking adequate amounts of water certainly will optimize musculoskeletal health.
4) Exercise Regularly: By now, everybody should be aware of the health benefits of regular exercise.
Cardiovascular function, respiratory function and stress reduction are all enhanced with physical activity to name but a few.
As well, it helps you achieve ideal body weight thereby minimizing stress on the spine
Minimally, 3 days/week for 30 minutes of brisk continual activity like walking, swimming, or cycling, along with a weight training routine. Do this and watch your musculoskeletal sore to new heights.
Please consult with a physician before beginning.
3) Postural Awareness: The repetitive stressors we are under daily, such as time spent sitting in front of a computer, or while relaxing and sleeping, wreck havoc on our bodies.
Learning how to correct your posture, can be a really ease fix. Yoga classes are wonderful resources, provided that the instructor is first rate.
In the very least, be aware of your posture with the activities you do the longest, and try to correct your posture as if you were being graded on it. Once you are conscious about your posture, musculoskeletal health will be maximized.
2) Flexibility: An elastic that looses its ability to stretch, not only looses its strength, but it also is more likely to crack or break.
Our muscles and joints are very similar.
If you loose the ability to lengthen your muscles when performing basic life requirements, like picking up groceries, bending over to do up a lace, walk down/up a flight of stairs, or getting in and out of your car, the more likely you will injure your own internal elastics…that is your muscles.
Stretches should be held for a steady 30sec count, with no bouncing. A position of comfort should be felt, with the slightest of manageable tension held throughout the stretch.
Flexibility and musculoskeletal health go hand in hand.
1) Core-Strength: Once a buzzword in the world of exercise, core-strenght or core training is an integral part of the exercise routine for those in the know.
The abdominal musculature, complete with the transverse muscles, obliques, and lower abdominal stabilizers such as the pelvic floor muscles, all comprise of the core.
If we can stimulate these muscles “functionally” with compound, advanced movements, we will carve out a solid foundation to which the spinal column is built from.
All in all, these 5 Preventative Measures can be incorporated into your daily routine, helping you achieve great musculoskeletal health.
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If you happen to be searching on the internet for the term Adrenal Fatigue, then you in the very least, have heard the words before.
Hopefully however, you may have already made the connection with adrenal fatigue
That is, the connection between:
- all the stress you’re under on a daily basis both physically (like the job you do day in day out) AND emotionally, (such as financial matters and/or family “issues”)
Combine that with:
- the stimulants you unknowingly or knowingly ingest each day like excessive caffeine, sugar or other energy “mixes”, or the
- harmful food additives or chemical, a good example of this are the processed unnatural foods, fast foods
Together they combine to wreck tremendous havoc on our body, and if you’re not up for the task, day in day out, you’ll begin to breakdown. The result, adrenal fatigue.
Or, what about people who are on the go all do long, who may be raising a family, balancing a full time job, all the while juggling all that and still with exercising.
Many people may even “over-exercise” which if that were the ONLY thing you were doing wrong, you could do even further damage to you body.
Enter Adrenal Fatigue.
How our body processes all the stressors that affect or body on daily basis, moment to moment. From the initial reactionary feeling of energy and adrenaline, to the longer term stressor that breakdown and build up or bodies, eventually ovewhelming our body, and creating adrenal fatigue.
The Adrenal Glands are responsible for how our body fights stress.
Chances are, you have one or two stressors that are in your life, that affect you on a day to day basis, over and over, that takes its toll on you, too? (I know I do)
So the question becomes: How do I know if I have adrenal fatigue?
And better yet, once you’ve figured this out, and you find out you in fact have Adrenal Fatigue, then the next appropriate question becomes: What can you do about it?
I would like to suggest an even better question: What you can you to beat Adrenal Fatigue….NATURALLY?And Why shouldn’t it be “NATURALLY”?
The reason WHY I think it should be naturally is because if it DOES work, that is, if what ever I need to take to make sure I get rid of my Adrenal Fatigue I’m willing to take it.
But if I had a choice that the solution was a natural solution, vs a medicated or prescriptive solution, and be a little less enthusiastic.
Especially since we just know inherently that all that medication is unhealthy.
Listen to the side effects to any new prescriptive medication that is on the commercials these days.
I’d also admit that I would especially appreciate it, if I can incorporate the solution for beating adrenal fatigue into either dietary schedule or supplement schedule.
Where to begin:
To best answer that question I think it’s important to understand our adrenals, and how they relate to the body. I mean after all, you want to know if you even HAVE adrenal fatigue in the first place.
So Exactly What is Adrenal Fatigue:
The adrenals after all are glands, so their primary function is to release hormones to help regulate the body in some form “or another”. It’s the “or other” that is vitally importantfor you to understand, especially as a health conscious individual.
But the particular hormone released varies from gland to gland. For the adrenals, in a nut shell (excuse the pun), they release hormones that allow us to deal with STRESS.
What’s more and what’s so interesting about the adrenal and adrenal fatigue is the fact that its outer portion release different hormones then the inner portion of the gland. Combined, the hormones released from both portions help us deal with both long term and short term STRESS
SO..How Can I Test For Adrenal Fatigue?
With testing for adrenal hormones in the body, saliva testing is the gold standard. So if you have to know with the utmost certainly, then saliva testing it is.
Fortunately however, a quick and easy Self Test Method can be done for free, in your own home to boot.
A quick blood pressure test that monitors your blood pressure in two different positions. First take your blood pressure laying, when down, stand up, and re-measure your blood pressure again.
Here’s How You Do It: Orthostatic Blood Pressure
Ragland’s sign is an abnormal drop in systolic blood pressure (the top number) when a person arises from a lying to a standing position.
There should be a rise of 8–10 mm. in the systolic (top) number. A drop or failure to rise, indicates adrenal fatigue. Example: Someone takes your blood pressure while you’re lying on your back. The systolic number is 120 and the diastolic number is 60 (120 over 60).
Then take your blood pressure again after immediately standing up. The systolic number (120) should go up 10 points (from 120 to 130). If it doesn’t increase 10 points, this indicates adrenal fatigue.
*Note: It’s not unusual for the systolic number to drop 10 or more points, a sure sign of adrenal fatigue.
Pupil Dilation Test is another test to determine Adrenal Fatigue
Another way to test for adrenal fatigue is the pupil dilation exam. To perform this on yourself, you’ll need a flashlight and a mirror. Face the mirror, and shine the light in one eye.
If after 30 seconds the pupil (black center) starts to dilate (enlarge), adrenal fatigue should be suspected.
Why does this happen?
During adrenal fatigue, there is a deficiency of sodium and an abundance of potassium, and this imbalance causes an inhibition of the sphincter muscles of the eye.
These muscles normally initiate pupil constriction in the presence of bright light. However, in adrenal fatigue, the pupils actually dilate when exposed to light.
The Adrenal Gland Exposed
The Medulla is the inner part of each adrenal gland. The adrenal medulla produces the hormones norepinephrine and epinephrine (adrenaline) which are considered the bodies fight or flight hormones.
Let me explain.
Just think about what happens when we immediately when we undergo a “stress-full” event in our life. A good example would be something like an auto accident.
The moment just before any impacts occurs, more then likely causes an almost immediate rush of adrenaline. That initial bout of terror we experience seeing the accident unfold.
Another example is the familiar “shot” of adrenaline administered in the emergency situation to an over dosing patient.
These hormones are known as catecholamines. The medulla hormones are primarily involved in acute (immediate) responses to stress.
Epinephrine causes such things as… increased speed and force of the heart beat, increased systolic blood pressure, increases cardiac (heart ) function, increased respiration, as well as other important regulating processes like moving sugar from the liver to the blood stream in preparation of the fight or flight response, as well as regulating our circulatory, nervous, muscular, and respiratory systems when needed.
Did you know furthermore, that epinephrine also inhibits the muscle tone of the stomach? This is the sensation of getting “butterfly’s” or a “knot” in your stomach during times of stress.
How To Beat Adrenal Fatigue
What I find to be MORE important for fighting stress is focusing on the OUTER part of the adrenals. That’s because when you restore the hormones from the CORTEX, you can replenish the Adrenal Gland itself. That is how you overcome Adrenal Fatigue.
Whereas the inner medulla has to do with the adrenaline component to stress fighting, The adrenal cortex is primarily associated with our response to chronic stress.
Conditions like infections, undergoing prolonged exertion, prolonged mental, emotional, and chemical stress, not to mention the daily PHYSICAL requirements to do our every day activities. All stimulate hormones to be released by the adrenal cortex. Too much will result in adrenal fatigue
The cortex is responsible for releasing the bodies homemade version of steroids. As the adrenaline was responsible for getting you alerted and prepared for immediate stress, the steroid hormone from the cortex is responsible for the continual process of fighting back.
The main steroid is cortisol.
To me, cortisol is a very tricky and elusive hormone to understand, let alone to control.
So what happens when our adrenals are constantly stressed?
Chronic over secretion of cortisol, leads to adrenal exhaustion, which accelerates the downward spiral towards chronic poor health. Once in adrenal exhaustion, your body can’t release enough cortisol to keep up with the daily demands. Eventually you become deficient in cortisol and then sort losing the battles.
The other steroid hormone released in the adrenal is DHEA. I’m sure you’ve likely heard of that hormone.
Chronic headaches, nausea, allergies, nagging injuries, fatigue, dizziness, hypotension, low body temperature, depression, low sex drive, chronic infections, and cold hands and feet are just some of the symptoms that occur with adrenal cortex exhaustion.
So why I do I think Cortisol is tricky and elusive. Well, it has to do with its “circadian rhythm” relationship.
You see, our bodies cortisol levels are not only affected by stress, its also affected by the body’s circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle).
How it works is the fact that Cortisol secretions rise sharply in the morning, peaking at approximately 8 a.m. That means the highest concentration of cortisol levels released in our body is at its most.
After its peak, cortisol production starts to taper off until it reaches a low point at 1 a.m. Fluctuations in cortisol levels can occur whenever normal circadian rhythm is altered (a change in sleep-wake times). Traveling through different time zones (jet lag), changes in work shifts, or a change bed time can drastically alter normal cortisol patterns.
Some patients will report that their symptoms began when they began working at night.
Some will begin to have symptoms after staying up several nights in a row to take care of aging family members unable to care for themselves or newborn babies.
Changes in circadian rhythm can lead to insomnia and poor sleep. An example of this occurs when a person tries to go to sleep at a certain time but can’t wind down. If this happens, many times you may catch a second wind when your cortisol levels kick-in.
This is why it is important for you to try to go to bed (preferably before 11:00 p.m.) and wake-up at the same time each day. Establishing normal sleep and wake times is crucial in restoring normal circadian rhythms.
When you regulate your circadian rhythms, you keep your adrenal levels better controlled. But all is not well. Remember the daily stressors that overload your adrenals?
Persistent, unrelenting stress will ultimately lead to adrenal burnout. When healthy, the adrenal cortex produces adequate levels of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). When not, it simply doesn’t produced adequate levels of DHEA for fighting back. I’m sure you don’t want to lose the fight.
Adrenal Fatigue Results in Depletion of Hormones
Getting back to being over stressed and our adrenals being fatigued results in being depleted of the vital hormones that help us fight back stress, due to in part by low levels DHEA.
Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is notoriously low in these stress fighting hormones.
What basically happens is the result of a set of out events the can get out of control if you let it. That is, chronic stress initially causes the adrenals to release extra cortisol.
Continuous stress raises cortisol to abnormally high levels. Once this happen the adrenal glands get to where they can’t keep up with the demand for more cortisol.In turn, cortisol levels continue to become depleted from on going stress, then the body attempts to counter this by releasing more DHEA.
Eventually, the adrenals can’t produce enough cortisol or DHEA.
To makes matters worse, as we age, our natural DHEA become less and less. Even in healthy individuals, DHEA levels begin to drop after the age of 30. By age 70, they are at about 20% of their peak levels.
Studies continue to show low DHEA to be a biological indicator of stress, aging, and age-related diseases including neurosis, depression, peptic ulcer, IBS, and even some forms of cancers. As well, DHEA protects the thymus gland, a major player in immune function.
Anxiety, stress, anger, or any other psychic state can greatly change the amount of nervous stimulation to the skeletal muscles throughout the body, and either increase or decrease the skeletal muscular tension.” These same stimulatory responses that affect the muscles also cause changes in various bodily organs: abnormal heartbeats, peptic ulcers (too much stomach acid), hypertension, spastic colon, and irregular menstrual periods.
This is why you can’t separate emotional stress from physical stress. Testing for DHEAlevels is recommended. However, I often place my patients on a trial of 25mg (women) or 50mg (men) of DHEA prior to testing.
So if these are our bodies home made way for producing the cell repairing steroid hormone, how do we go about boosting their production in our body?
Adrenal Fatigue Protocol:
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I think that the whole idea of back pain stretches are totally UNDERRATED!
I say this because I know from first hand experience I see in private practice with many of my own patients. When I ask my patients if they do any stretches for back pain, most say they do now and then” or from “time to time”.
So when I ask them to show me what back pain stretches precisely it is that they do from “time to time” or every “now and then”, the majority of their responses are not even close to what they SHOULD be doing.
I wish I could videotape some of the things that they are doing, or “attempting” to do.
From swaying back and forth, bouncing up and down, knees bent, too much stress being placed unintentionally on the already painful back and neck, not to mention how short each stretch or “whatchamacallit” is held.
On top of that, if done properly. If done effectively, learning how to go through a focused back pain stretching routine, that you can easily do in a confined space, like your office area, or better yet, a comfortable area in your home (more on that later) can be a valuable tool for reducing and eliminating your aches and pain.
Let me clarify that. IF you suffer from everyday aches and pain, you WANT to learn such a focused, easy to do, back pain stretches or stretching routine like that.
I tell my patients how important taking as little as 8-10 minutes out of their everyday schedule just to do back pain stretches, really can be. I tell them this because out of the 24 hours that that they have in a day, familiar, repetitive, and consistent stressors are placed on your body throughout the entire 24 hours.
These repetitive stressors ultimately create wear and tear on your joints. And, If done long enough, breakdown will occur. Worse, if the wear and tear is not addressed properly, a crisis WILL occur too. Thats why back pain stretches are so important
If this happens (and I’m talking from first hand experience myself), A LOT of pain, suffering, and heartache will occur as well (you know what I mean, if you know what I mean). So, it is vitally important YOU, learn the proper back pain stretches
Examples of these consistent everyday stressors are things like being in the office with that chair you sit in anywhere between 5-8 hours (or longer a day, 5 days a week) with only a couple of breaks thrown in. What about your bed? Do you sleep 100% comfortably in it all night?
Laying down relaxing on your sofa, couch, or lazy boy chair, hopefully is a comfortable and relaxing activity. IF NOT, all your daily stressors have overcome your lower back, middle, and neck’s ability to handle the positions they are put into.
When our lower back, middle back, and neck can’t handle the positions they are in, muscles in the back contract. Again. back pain stretches can overcome this problem
Then, as the proverb goes, these daily stressors ARE the straw that breaks the camels back.
So what can we do to fight back pain?
Well, try doing some back pain stretches
That’s ONLY IF you stretch the proper areas in your lower back, middle back, and necks, in the proper ways.
When I injured my own back recently, thankfully I was familiar with the proper back pain stretches that I could do to help with my back pain. These stretches are effective, and considered proper because they focus on addressing problems that are going on in your lower back.
Back pain Stretches Video:
The Following Video is an example of a brief, easy to do, “focused” stretching routine for lower back pain. You can easily do these in a confined space, like your office area, or better yet, a comfortable area in your home.
Like I said earlier, stretching can be a valuable tool for reducing and eliminating your aches and pain in your neck, middle back or thoracic , and lower back.
Check it out:
A Couple of really important points that I want to go over when it comes to back pain stretches
With lower back pain, their are a couple of structures in your lower back that can actually cause the pain. I call it the lower back pain “triad”. If you so happen to also have pain in the neck as well as the back, you may want to check out this post I did on neck and back pain, are they related?
What exactly is back pain stretches trying to do?
1) The lumbar spine itself: The spine, has several “pain sensitive” structures in it that when irritated and/or stimulated, will cause pain.
These structures are:
a) the intervertebral disc that act as shock absorbers, and have nerves that sense excess pressure stretch/pressure to these disc especially when their is trauma, repetitive stress, really crappy postures maintained through out the entire day. The pain results when the discs have abnormal pressures.
b) the joints of the spinal column. These joints are called facet joints and look like the picture seen here. when you bend forward, they open up, and when you bend backwards they compress and come close together. Not much rotation or turning sideways can actually occur in these joints in the lumbar sine.
As well, some sideways bending can occur in these joints. Pain accompanies the disc compression mentioned above typically, as when the discs are compressed, so to are the joints, creating rubbing and grinding.
C) The muscles, tendons, ligaments, and capsule holding everything together. As you can imagine, when breakdown occurs, compression of the discs occur, compression of the facets occur, abnormal pressure follows.
Stretching of ligaments occurs also, creating muscle contractions in unequal amounts in different muscles groups from side to side happens too. Day in day out. Pain Result. Hence, proper back pain stretches fix this hazard
All the above spinal structures that we talked about, that produce pain, can be aided with the properly guided stretches.
The last 2 additional areas that make up the back pain triad, is the pelvis/sacrum, and the hips.
1) Pelvic/Sacral dysfunction: Like the spinal column, the pelvic and a sacrum are osseous/bony structures that provide support to our erect posture, but the also must accommodate weight bearing and movement. With wear and tear, comes breakdown. Because so many of our lower extremity muscles anchor to the pelvis and sacrum, we can really address these problems with focused stretches.
2) The hip joints are weight bearing, and indirectly are affected with lower back pain. Because the hip joint also has some of the same nerve fibers going to it that exit from the spinal column, many pains are “referred” back and forth. Once again, the proper guided stretches can really help as well.
I hope you enjoyed this post on back pain strethes.
Till next time, I got your back.
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I actually am not suffering with “back pain” right now. To be more accurate, I would better describe it as numbness and tinging down the outside of my right buttocks, down the outside of the calf, and into the outside of my right foot and toes.
Not so much “back pain” per se, but a pain in the ass nonetheless.
Back pain sucks, quite honestly.
The numbness hasn’t been there for that long, and the “back pain” was INTENSE when I first injured it 18 years ago (when I was 23 years old), and re-injured again this past December.
It’s quite an ironic story actually.
I had just graduated from university with a degree in exercise physiology, looking to take on the world, but not exactly sure what I wanted to do for my career, and with my degree.
What I did know was that I loved to exercise, especially at a gym, as I started at an early age of 15. So I decided what better job then become a personal trainer in a really cool health club. Besides, they had a great benefit package(s) for a 23 year old.
Things were going great, for about a year or so. Then, I injured it trying to follow a bodybuilding routing out of a flex magazine. Vince Taylor’s back routine (to be exact). Straight bar bent over rows, and I think I tried to put 3 plates of 25.lbs on either side.
Then…Boom, it happened. It felt like a duck being shot out of the sky. An intense pain similar to what it would feel like to have a a gun shot piercing into the middle of your lower back. Killer back pain
Here I was supposed to be the “expert” with a college degree, combined with a really huge passion for helping people through exercise, and I go ahead and injure it MYSELF.
But life is funny, and like the saying from Napolean Hill goes: “Every adversity you meet carries with it a seed of equivalent or greater benefit”. It was the INJURY that I realized what I wanted to do with my life.
As a trainer, I had passion for helping people through exercise. But when it came to rehabbing an injured client, I felt that I wasn’t able to help in the capacity I wanted to. Not until injuring my own back, and learning how to rehab my own back, did I realize what my passion is for life.
Fast forward 18 years. Add to my education another bachelor degree in psychology, and a Doctorate in Chiropractic, and 10 years of private practice.
I now have a busy successful practice in Boca Raton, trying to help my patients lead happy, healthy, and pain-free lives. Patients that suffer with all kinds of pain (mostly spinal pain).
So what happened?
This post after all is about a “day in the life of a chiropractor who suffers with back pain” isn’t it?
I continue to exercise quite regularly. The sunday before christmas 2010, just passed, I innocently was squatting (just a plate on either side), and on my last rep of 3 sets of 10, with great form…….and GUESS WHAT???
Boom, it happened. It felt like a duck being shot out of the sky. An intense pain similar to what it would feel like to have a a gun shot piercing into the middle of your lower back (I actually just cut and pasted that whole sentence…only 18 years later). Killer back pain again.
The pain was the most intense pain that I ever felt. I mean an 11 out of 10, with 10 being having your arm cut off by heavy machinery. I am not a big pain pill guy, in fact, I rarely if ever in my life time take over the counter medication for any pain. But with this injury, I needed a prescription, just so I could function.
How long does this type of back pain last for?
The pain was intense for at least 6 to about 8 weeks. But I continued to run my practice (lying down in my office on my back, with my knees bent) between seeing patients.
Then I had an MRI in the beginning of January 2011.
It was bad, I showed a large sized disc herniation (2.3cm) at the level of L5-S1, which caused mass effect on the right S1 root. I also had a L3-4 small left herniation, and a small left sided herniation at L1-2
It wasn’t long after that that my right foot become numb. I’d say by the middle of January. Then the left foot began getting numb. But stubborn I am, and I came up with my plan for my back pain recovery.
What to do when you suffer with back pain
Being spinal rehab specialist, I have a couple of advantage. For one, I have a rehab clinic. It helps to have a place to do the treatment. Number 2, I have the specialized equipment and know-how.
Only one problem. I don’t have me. Ask most chiropractors, and they’ll tell you, “If I only had a me” . It makes me laugh a bit, because we know exactly what to do, but we don’t always get an “us” to do it.
Lucky for me, I have the spinal decompression table. If you would like to know more about spinal decompression, especially spinal decompression in Boca Raton click here.
That decompression table saved my life (along with my own self formulated ”get my back better” manual of exercises and stretch). I will share what stretches and movements you can do for your own injury, and reduce back pain.
I took all of January, February, and March off exercixing. Feeling like you have to get out of the car every five minutes because of the pain, or squatting in line at starbucks like you have to go number two in the wilderness, will both motivate you enough to rest.
Come April 1st, 2011, I began training again at the gym. My left foot numbness went away, and my right foot was getting better and better. This went on for three solild months. Until the end of July 2011.
Then it happened once again. This time, I’m not going to cut and past as it wasn’t that bad to give it a “BOOM”. I’d probably give it more of an “ouch”.
My back flaired up again, and my right buttocks, outside of the leg and foot came back.
And so it is with your typical back pain sufferer. I am a big believer that once you injure your back once, you are more likely to re-injure it again. Its
But it is my mission to continually get better every day, and teach all my readers what they can do, on their own, naturally, through proper nutrition, proper spinal hygene, and an effective home-based exercise and stretching routine.
So, until my next post,
I got your back.
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Ever here of the Term Yeast Overgrowth?
Although it is true when we hear the term “yeast infection” negative connotations typically come to mind, a deeper understanding is necessary.
So what exactly is going on? How does it impact your health, and what can you do about it?
“Candida” or Candida albicans is a particular form of yeast found living in the intestinal tracts of most individuals.
Yeasts live together in a symbiotic relationship with over 400 healthy intestinal bacteria, commonly known as the “good bacteria”. From a physiological standpoint, these bacteria help produce short-chain fatty acids, vitamin K, biotin, vitamin B12, thiamin, and riboflavin.
These “good” bacteria also keep the yeast that inhabit our intestinal tract in check. When the good bacteria die (from antibiotics) or are suppressed (by prescription steroids), the yeasts are allowed to grow to unhealthy levels, causing dysbiosis. Dysbiosis in this case means the bacteria in our intestinal tract die off, and cause a microbial imbalance. Because the good bacteria dies off, it is unable to keep the yeast in check, causing ”YEAST OVERGROWTH“.
Ultimately, when yeast overgrowth develops, a huge number of associated symptoms follow. What makes this even more difficult is the fact that many traditional doctors may be skeptical. Thats because the symptoms are tough to narrow down. As an example, candidiasis commonly infects the ears, nose, and urinary and intestinal tracts.
Signs and Symptoms of Yeast Overgrowth
• constipation, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome
• abdominal pain
• bloating, gas, and indigestion
• bladder spasms and infections,
• ear infections
• sinus infections
• rectal itching
• itchy ears or nose
• sugar or starch cravings
• white tongue (thrush)
• toe or finger nail infections
• jock itch
• chronic vaginal yeast infections
• intestinal permeability (leaky gut)
• increased body odor
• chronic fatigue
Yeast Overgrowth Revealed:
Like most opportunistic infections, Candida and other yeasts may increase during times of stress. This overgrowth leaks toxins into the bloodstream or other tissues, allowing antigens (foreign invaders) to set up residence in various bodily tissues.
Antigens then trigger complex allergic reactions. (This might explain why most individuals with chronic yeast overgrowth develop food, inhalant, and environmental allergies).
Allergic reactions can manifest in a variety of symptoms: fatigue, brain fog, depression, joint and muscle pain, digestive disorders, headache, rash, and breathing problems.
Inflammation of the nose, throat, ears, bladder, and intestinal tract, can lead to infections of the sinus, respiratory, ear, bladder and intestinal membranes. In an attempt to arrest these infections, doctors might prescribe a broad spectrum antibiotic. Yeast overgrowth is certainly a nuisance.
As we explained earlier, the antibiotics well stifle good bacteria in the intestinal tract. Such antibiotics promote yeast overgrowth and often times, additional symptoms.
Yeast overgrowth then invades the intestinal wall creating intestinal permeability, otherwise known as Leaky Gut. This allows toxins from microorganisms and protein molecules from your food enter the blood stream.
Keep in mind, yeast overgrowth develops because yeast feeds on sugars and easily convert carbohydrates to sugars. In turn, yeasts produce a series of chemical products as waste, among which are acetaldehyde and ethanol.
Ethanol is alcohol, and there are cases of people who have never drunk a drop of alcohol yet are daily inebriated. Acetaldehyde is produced as the alcohol breaks down and is about six times more toxic to brain tissue than ethanol.
What Causes Yeast Overgrowth?
Birth control pills, food allergies, antibiotics, and corticosteroid therapy are all initiators of yeast overgrowth. A minor increase in intestinal yeast is usually not a problem, leading possibly to infection of the mouth (thrush) or vaginal lining (vaginitis or “a yeast infection”).
The body’s immune defenses are usually strong enough to keep the yeast from taking over the intestinal tract. However, if yeast overgrowth is left unchallenged, more sinister symptoms appear.
Yeasts can change into an invasive mycellial fungus with rhizoids (tentacle-like projections) that penetrate the lining of the intestinal tract. These projections can cause intestinal permeability and leak toxins across the cellular membranes.
Treatment of Yeast Overgrowth
The Candida Diet
• Avoid sugar for at least three months. Sugar is the chief nutrient for Candida albicans, so restricted sugar intake is absolutely necessity to effectively treat chronic Candidiasis. This well limit yeast overgrowth
Avoid refined sugar, honey, maple syrup, fruit juice, milk, white potatoes, corn, beans, processed or bleached (white) flour, bakery goods, muffins, cereals, and anything containing sugar. This includes ice cream, cake, cookies, and other sweets; potato or corn chips, pretzels, or crackers; and dried fruits, including raisins.
• Avoid alcoholic beverages, malted milk, and other malted products for at least two months.
• Avoid mold- and yeast-containing foods for at least two months. These include peanuts, dried fruits (including prunes, raisins, and dates), vinegar, pickled vegetables, sauerkraut, relishes, green olives, vinegar-containing salad dressings, catsup, mayonnaise and, pickles.
• Avoid milk and dairy products for at least two months. All natural (unsweetened) yogurt is allowed.
• Avoid fruits and fruit juice (for at least two weeks. After two weeks, try introducing apples and pears to see if you have any reactions.
(Reactions might include fatigue, depression, aches and pain, rectal itching, itching of the ears or nose, and digestive disturbances.) If not, then try berries: strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. Avoid all other fruits.
• Most vitamin and mineral supplements purchased at a drug store are contaminated with yeast. Follow your doctor’s recommendations about which supplements are acceptable.
Of course all of the products that I recommend called “Essential Therapeutics” including their multivitamin/mineral formulas. These high potency natural food supplement are free of yeast, sugar, wheat, gluten, dairy, and other additives.
I recommend the Essential Therapeutics “Basic Optimal” Multivitamin/mineral formula.This basic multivitamin/mineral formula was developed by Dr. Murphree, a leading expert on clinical nutrition, especially as it related yeast overgrowth.
I also highly recommend the the “Complete Multi Vitamin/Mineral with Fish Oil.
Each packet not only contains the essential high quality Fish Oil, it also contains a high potency digestive enzyme. Each pack contains 3 – multivitamin/mineral tablets, 1 Digestive enzyme tablet and 1 – essential fatty acid fish oil capsule supplying 1,000mg.
In order to control yeast overgrowth from a nutritional stand point, meaning your starting to eat healthier, and take optimal supplements, then it is essential that the supplement be high quality supplements. Even more important, is ABSORBING the supplement.
Digestive enzymes will help with your absorption, which ultimately allows you to use process the necessary blocks for breaking through the yeast overgrowth.
• Take one tablespoon of virgin olive oil each day on your salads or vegetables. Add lemon juice it you’d like.
Candida Diet Allowable:
• vegetables and salads (remember your olive oil!)
• meats and proteins (lean cuts)
• fish and shellfish
• game birds and animals
• nuts and seeds (in small amounts)
• cold-pressed or expeller-pressed, non-hydrogenated oils
• artificial sweeteners (plant-based like Stevia or FOS are best). Fructo-oligosaccharide (FOS) is a short-chain polysaccharide used in Japan for dozens of years. It isn’t digested by humans but does stimulate the growth of good bacteria within the intestinal tract.
It also helps with liver detoxification, lowers cholesterol, and eliminates various toxins. It can be used as a natural sweetener. Dosage for powder is 2,000–3,000 mg. daily.
Stevia is a remarkable (no calories, no carbs) herb, native to Paraguay. It has been used as a sweetener and flavor enhancer for centuries.
• butter (not margarine)
• one cup of old-fashioned oatmeal per day
Sometimes, when a lot of Candida organisms are killed off during initial treatment, a sudden release of toxic substances results in an immune response and intensified symptoms, called the herxheimer reaction. The body becomes extremely acidic. This is known as a die-off reaction. It normally lasts no longer than a week and is frequently confused as an allergic or adverse reaction to the antifungal treatment.
Symptoms can be minimized by taking Alka-Seltzer Gold or 2 tablespoons baking soda in 8 oz. of water two–three times daily as needed.
If the reaction is severe, you might need to reduce your antifungal medications. Half the dosage (or take every other day) for a week and then return to the original dose. Then continue antifungal medications for a minimum of three months. If treatment is discontinued too early, symptoms will gradually return.
Once fungus overgrowth has subsided and yeast levels have returned to normal (three–four months), medications and supplements can be gradually decreased over six–eight weeks, and you can gradually add previously forbidden foods to your diet. Continue to be vigilant in monitoring your sugar and simple carbohydrate intake.
Yeast Overgrowth Protocol
Step 1: Eliminate yeast-producing foods with the Candida diet above. Also make sure you’re taking yeast-free supplements.
Step 2: Improve digestion. Gastric hydrochloric acid and pancreatic enzymes help keep Candida from overgrowing in the small intestine. Patients on Zantac, Nexium, or other acid-blocking drugs increase their risk for developing yeast overgrowth.
• Supplement with pancreatic enzymes with each meal.
• Supplement with betaine hydrochloric acid with each meal. Yeast can’t live in an acidic environment.
Step 3: Replace good bacteria, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. bulgaricus, L. catnaforme, L. fermentum, and Bifidobacterium bifidum. These normally inhabit vaginal and gastrointestinal tracts; help digest, absorb, and produce certain nutrients; and keep potentially harmful bacteria and yeast in check.
Yogurt contains certain strains of good bacteria, but it isn’t standardized for a particular amount. Also, most yogurts are made from L. bulgaricus or Streptococcus thermophilus.
Both are friendly bacteria, but neither will help colonize the colon. So it’s best to use live organisms that are shipped on ice and then kept refrigerated until purchase. Live L. acidophilus and B. bifidum powders or capsules are preferred.
• Supplement with probiotics for three months: 5–10 billion organisms on an empty stomach each day. Some extremely resistant yeast infections may need continuous probiotic replacement therapy. If you happen to suffer with a stomach ulcers, click here for more information
Step 4: Reduce liver toxicity. Always take milk thistle and or alpha lipoic acid when taking yeast overgrowth (antifungal) prescription or natural medication.
Step 5: Treat your intestinal permeability. Yeast overgrowth can cause intestinal permeability and contribute to food sensitivities or allergies. Treat leaky gut and yeast overgrowth at the same time.
Step 6: Use prescription or natural antifungal medicines.
I use a product called Yeast Formula with the following ingredients:
• calcium undecylenate 150 mg. Undecylenic acid (10-Undecylenic acid) is one of the most powerful anti-yeast medications available. It is a mono-unsaturated fatty acid found in the body (occuring as sweat) and is produced commercially from castor bean oil. It has been used as a topical (Desenex) and oral antifungal medication.
• sorbic acid 50 mg.
• beberine sulfate 200 mg.
• Indian barberry (Berberis aristata) min. of 6% berberine 50 mg.
• Chinese goldenthread, min. 20% berberine 25 mg. Another form of Beberine.
• green tea leaf, min 80% 50 mg. The polyphenols in green tea kill harmful bacteria and promote the growth of friendly bacteria (bifidobacteria).
I have patients take one tablet a day and slowly increase up to three tablets a day with food. This concentrated, broad-spectrum formula combines specific natural agents useful in supporting a healthy balance of intestinal microflora, thus discouraging the overgrowth of yeast. Sustained-release and pH balanced, this potent formula is readily absorbed into the small and large intestine.
Other Natural Antifungal Medications
• Caprylic acid is a naturally occurring fatty acid and a potent antifungal medicine. It should be taken as an enteric-coated timed-release capsule. Dosage is 500–1,000 mg. three times daily with food.
The Caprylic Acid is fungicidal for Candida albicans. It is harmless to friendly intestinal flora, and effective against the invasive mycelial form as well as the yeast form, because it is absorbed by the intestinal mucosal cells.
Caprylic Acid is metabolized by the liver and does not get into the general circulation. It must exert its fungicidal effect in the intestinal tract or not at all. According to studies, just ten minutes after oral intake of straight caprylic acid, more than 90% can be traced in the portal vein on its way to the liver.
Consequently, caprylic acid should be taken with psyllium powder which will form a gel in the intestinal tract and release the caprylic acid trapped within over a period of time.
• Oleic Acid, the major (56–83%) component of virgin olive oil, hinders conversion of Candida albicans yeast to the more harmful mycelial fungal form.
• Berberine (sulfate) has a wide range of antimicrobial properties. It is a proven herbal medicine used successfully to treat fungal, bacterial, and parasitic infections. Dosage of standardized extract (4:1) is 250–500 mg. three times daily with food.
• Garlic has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. It is an effective treatment for the overgrowth of Candida albicans and other yeasts. It has been shown more potent than Nystatin for Candida albicans. Dosage of standardized garlic (1.3% alliin) is 600–900 mg. two–three times daily with food.
Prescription Medications for Yeast Overgrowth
Prescription drugs include Nizoral, Nystatin, and Diflucan. Nystatin is the safest of the three, because it doesn’t penetrate the intestinal lining. However, this is also one reason I find it less helpful than other prescription drugs.
The majority of the yeast sensitivity assays I see from positive stool samples show that Nyastatin is usually the weakest prescription medication. Most prescription anti-fungals, including Nizoral and Diflucan, have potentially serious side effects and should be used with caution.
Those with yeast overgrowth must weigh the benefits and risks, but treating a raging infection with anything other than prescription medication might be futile.
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Stomach Ulcers and H. Pylori
What is an ulcer?
Stomach ulcers are sores on the lining of your digestive tract. Your digestive tract consists of the esophagus, stomach, duodenum (the first part of the intestines) and intestines. Most ulcers are located in the duodenum. These ulcers are called duodenal ulcers.
Ulcers located in the stomach are called gastric ulcers. Ulcers in the esophagus are called esophageal ulcers. A peptic ulcer is a sore on the lining of the stomach or duodenum, which is the beginning of the small intestine. Peptic ulcers are common: One in 10 Americans develops an ulcer at some time in his or her life. One cause of peptic ulcer is bacterial infection, but some ulcers are caused by long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs), like aspirin and ibuprofen. In a few cases, cancerous tumors in the stomach or pancreas can cause ulcers. Peptic ulcers are not caused by stress or eating spicy food, but these can make ulcers worse.
What is H. pylori?
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a type of bacteria. Researchers believe that H. pylori is responsible for the majority of peptic ulcers. H. pylori infection is common in the United States: About 20 percent of people under 40 years old and half of those over 60 years have it. Most infected people, however, do not develop ulcers. Why H. pylori does not cause ulcers in every infected person is not known. Most likely, infection depends on characteristics of the infected person, the type of H. pylori, and other factors yet to be discovered. Researchers are not certain how people contract H. pylori, but they think it may be through food or water. Researchers have found H. pylori in the saliva of some infected people, so the bacteria may also spread through mouth-to-mouth contact such as kissing.
How does H. Pylori cause an ulcer?
H. pylori weakens the protective mucous coating of the stomach and duodenum, which allows acid to get through to the sensitive lining beneath. Both the acid and the bacteria irritate the lining and cause a sore, or ulcer. H. pylori is able to survive in stomach acid because it secretes enzymes that neutralize the acid. This mechanism allows H. pylori to make its way to the “safe” area—the protective mucous lining. Once there, the bacterium’s spiral shape helps it burrow through the lining.
Abdominal discomfort is the most common symptom. This discomfort usually is a dull, gnawing ache which comes and goes for several days or weeks and occurs 2 to 3 hours after a meal. It also occurs in the middle of the night (when the stomach is empty), is relieved by eating, and is relieved by antacid medications.
Other symptoms include:
- weight loss
- poor appetite
Some people experience only very mild symptoms, or none at all.
Most stomach ulcers are now considered to be caused by the Helicobacter pylori bacteria. H. pylori is associated with ulcers, heartburn and reflux. Special antibiotic regimens are now the therapy of choice in treating ulcers. Blood tests can reveal the presence of the H. pylori antibody. Special antibiotic combinations can be used to eliminate H. pylori bacteria from the stomach within a matter of weeks. Those who fail to eradicate H. pylori are at a far greater risk for contracting stomach cancer.
How is an H. Pylori-related ulcer diagnosed?
To see whether symptoms are caused by an ulcer, the doctor may do an upper gastrointestinal (GI) series or an endoscopy. An upper GI series is an x ray of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. The patient drinks a chalky liquid called barium to make these organs and any ulcers show up more clearly on the x ray. An endoscopy is an exam that uses an endoscope, a thin, lighted tube with a tiny camera on the end. The patient is lightly sedated, and the doctor carefully eases the endoscope into the mouth and down the throat to the stomach and duodenum. This allows the doctor to see the lining of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. The doctor can use the endoscope to take photos of ulcers or remove a tiny piece of tissue to view under a microscope. This procedure is called a biopsy. If an ulcer is bleeding, the doctor can use the endoscope to inject drugs that promote clotting or to guide a heat probe that cauterizes the ulcer.
If an ulcer is found, the doctor will test the patient for H. pylori. This test is important because treatment for an ulcer caused by H. pylori is different from that for an ulcer caused by NSAIDs. H. pylori is diagnosed through blood, breath, stool, and tissue tests. Blood tests are most common. They detect antibodies to H. pylori bacteria. Blood is taken at the doctor’s office through a finger stick. Urea breath tests are an effective diagnostic method for H. pylori. They are also used after treatment to see whether it worked. In the doctor’s office, the patient drinks a urea solution that contains a special carbon atom. If H. pylori is present, it breaks down the urea, releasing the carbon. The blood carries the carbon to the lungs, where the patient exhales it.
H. pylori peptic ulcers are treated with drugs that kill the bacteria, reduce stomach acid, and protect the stomach lining. Antibiotics are used to kill the bacteria. Two types of acid-suppressing drugs might be used: H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors. H2 blockers work by blocking histamine, which stimulates acid secretion. They help reduce ulcer pain after a few weeks. Proton pump inhibitors suppress acid production by halting the mechanism that pumps the acid into the stomach. H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors have been prescribed alone for years as treatments for ulcers. But used alone, these drugs do not eradicate H. pylori and therefore do not cure H. pylori-related ulcers. Bismuth subsalicylate, a component of Pepto-Bismol, is used to protect the stomach lining from acid. It also kills H. pylori. Treatment usually involves a combination of antibiotics, acid suppressors, and stomach protectors. Antibiotic regimens recommended for patients may differ across regions of the world because different areas have begun to show resistance to particular antibiotics.
The use of only one medication to treat H. pylori is not recommended. At this time, the most proven effective treatment is a 2-week course of treatment called triple therapy. It involves taking two antibiotics to kill the bacteria and either an acid suppressor or stomach-lining shield. Two-week triple therapy reduces ulcer symptoms, kills the bacteria, and prevents ulcer recurrence in more than 90 percent of patients. Unfortunately, patients may find triple therapy complicated because it involves taking as many as 20 pills a day. Also, the antibiotics used in triple therapy may cause mild side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark stools, metallic taste in the mouth, dizziness, headache, and yeast infections in women. (Most side effects can be treated with medication withdrawal.) Nevertheless, recent studies show that 2 weeks of triple therapy is ideal.
Early results of studies in other countries suggest that 1 week of triple therapy may be as effective as the 2-week therapy, with fewer side effects.
Another option is 2 weeks of dual therapy. Dual therapy involves two drugs: an antibiotic and an acid suppressor. It is not as effective as triple therapy.
Two weeks of quadruple therapy, which uses two antibiotics, an acid suppressor, and a stomach-lining shield, looks promising in research studies. It is also called bismuth triple therapy.
Antibiotics:metronidazole, tetracycline, clarithromycin, amoxicillin
H2 blockers: cimetidine, ranitidine, famotidine, nizatidine
Proton pump inhibitors: omeprazole, lansoprazole, rabeprazole, esomeprazole, pantoprozole
Stomach-lining protector: bismuth subsalicylate
Antiobiotic therapy will disrupt the normal bowel ecology killing the bad as well as the good bacteria. This can create an environment for yeast overgrowth. To prevent yeast overgrowth and disruption of the normal bowel/intestinal tract environment, please take 2-4 weeks of probiotics. Supplement with probiotics 12 hours apart from antibiotics.
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