Tuesday, May 31, 2011

DAY 240 - Community and the Common Good

The place (Hartigan/Foley Contractors - 28 West Main Street, Ventura California 93001) was packed! The occasion today was a press conference at which Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett announced his candidacy for another term on the Board in 2012.

I could list the leaders of our community who were there to share in the announcement and to commit their support, but I won’t. What is more important is that the room was filled with individuals who are committed to the common good, and know that Steve Bennett will continue to tirelessly, and intelligently lead us toward that common good.

A smiling Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks rhetorically asked the crowd, “Isn’t it great when you can vote for someone you like?” Steve Bennett is liked because, as Sheriff Dean stated, you can trust him. He is also liked because he is caring, hard-working, dependable, smart, and looks out for all people.

It will be a pleasure voting for Supervisor Bennett next year. In the meantime, it will be a pleasure contributing time and money to assure that we continue to have his leadership.

Friday, May 27, 2011

DAY 236 - The 9 Mitzvahs of Back Pain

photo courtesy of JB London at Flickr
Loren Fishman, MD, Medical Director of Manhattan Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in New York City, and the author of, "Cure Back Pain with Yoga”, posted on May 10, 2011 on the Huffington Post, an article titled “The 10 Commandments of Back Pain”. I had to see what he wrote, and then I had to write my own version titled “The 9 Mitzvahs of Back Pain”.

First, Dr. Fishman’s 10 Commandments (in quotes), followed by my brief commentary:

1 – “Like the common cold, back pain will hit you at some point another, so don't panic.” – Makes it sound like the occurrence of back pain is random, when it is not.
2 – “Too much rest or too much exercise can make your backache worse, so do both in moderation.” – Americans neither get too much rest, nor too much exercise.
3 – “Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories” – Why not?
4 – “Take notes. Observe your pain so that you can report it accurately to your physician.” – Great recommendation.
5 – “Get a diagnosis.” – Diagnoses are overrated. A diagnosis is usually a simple naming of a condition; providing no understanding of what caused the condition. If offered a choice, you are better off knowing what caused your back pain, rather than the name of the flavor that you have.
6 – “Don't Underestimate The Value Of Physical Therapy” – Or, don’t underestimate the value of finally beginning to exercise during your physical therapy treatment?
7 – “Do Yoga” – You bet.
8 – “Get acupuncture.” – Absolutely. As long as you can afford yet another therapy.
9 – “Try the Alexander Technique” – Yet another valuable approach.
10 – “Consent to surgery if ...” – For the few who would need it, I agree.

And now, my 9 Mitzvahs:

1 – Everyone is going to have back pain at some time because few have learned the causes of back pain and few take care of their health. A great chiropractor can help you monitor and maintain a healthy back.
2 – Remove all dairy products from your diet until the episode is over.
3 – Take oral magnesium glycinate or SlowMag to relax muscles, and bathe in epsom salts to do the same.
4 - Gentle (and I mean gentle) stretching + general movement.
5 – Ibuprofen as needed.
6 – Chronic gut inflammation (even if unfelt) is an extremely common cause of back pain. Treatments can include; removing food allergens, magnesium to improve gut motility, probiotics, yoga, and more.
7 – Acknowledge your major stresses and your combined multitude of little ones.
8 – Low levels of Vitamin D correlate with a higher incidence of back pain. Most Americans have insufficient Vitamin D in their blood. Everyone, young and old should have their Vitamin D levels tested.
9 - Excellent chiropractic spinal adjustment can speed recovery.

I have pitched this article to the Huffington Post, and hope that they will publish it.

Dr. Young

Thursday, May 26, 2011

DAY 235 - Tooting My Own Chiropractic Horn

Joanne, Kris, Sandi and Michael - 2001
Is it OK for me to show you a 40 second video of my Canadian friend and colleague, Michael Lyon, MD, in which he states his appreciation for my chiropractic treatment of his neck?

Click on this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrwmuqguxqc

And if you want to check up on Dr. Lyon, here are some of the reasons that I value him:

Video lecture - Nutrition for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ADHD

Author - “Is your child's brain starving?"

Author – “The Prevention and Treatment of Diabetes with Natural Medicine”

Author – “Hunger Free Forever”

Medical Director of the Canadian Centre for Functional Medicine

Served for four years as a Canadian Olympic Team physician.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

DAY 233 - Smart Food for Humans on a Coastal Desert

I didn’t grow up eating prickly pear cactus, but now I love it, grow it, eat the nopales (leaves) and tunas (fruit), and give away potted starts to encourage others to do the same.

We all know that we need to be eating more vegetables; enter the nopal.

Living on a coastal desert in Southern California, it would be great to grow food with minimal water requirement; asi crece (so grows) el nopal.

Locally grown food is a must if we are to heal our environment and ourselves. Your yard is local.

Make my day; someone in Ojai or Ventura, accept my gift of this beautiful nopal. Plant it in your yard, and make this local food a part of your life.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

DAY 231 - No I’m Not a Dentist: but what’s the story with bite splints?

Really ... I’m not a dentist. I’m a chiropractor. But more importantly, my mother taught me, by example, to use my brain, and to ask questions about everything.

I hadn’t been in practice long when I started treating patients of all ages with jaw grinding (technically bruxism), and jaw pain. All of these patients had been treated by dentists and had been provided with an occlusal splint (also called a bite splint, bite plane, or night guard), as a complete treatment. When I inquired as to the cause of the grinding, not one had an answer, nor recalled discussing causation with their dentist.

If a patient is grinding or clenching, I think it is a great idea to temporarily put something between the teeth to try to minimize the self-inflicted damage. Having bought some time with a splint, one would hope to take that time and figure out what was causing the grinding to begin with.

When I first started thinking about bruxism 28 years ago, I imagined humans gnashing their teeth. Seemed quite obvious that this harsh clenching would only occur under circumstances of profound provocation. Didn’t seem like one would need to be a dentist to appreciate that something serious must be going on to cause one to destroy his own teeth.

In every case that I treated, the patients, or the parents of the young patients, had no idea what was causing the grinding. So I began looking at the most profound provoker of human physiology that I knew of, one that most individuals have no awareness of; food allergies. While it would be foolish to say that food allergies are the cause of bruxism, I can tell you that some patients experience marked improvement with temporary removal of offending foods from their diet. I can also tell you that in hundreds of patients I have seen decreased head, jaw and neck pain associated with removal of food allergens.

On Wikipedia’s occlusal splint page it is stated that “People prone to nocturnal bruxism, or nighttime clenching, should routinely wear occlusal splints at night.” Won’t it be delightful, and rational, when we see on this same page an encouragement to look into the cause of grinding?

I would love to hear reports from you bruxers. I would also be interested in doing collaborative research on bruxism with a dentist in the Ventura, California area.

Friday, May 20, 2011

DAY 229 - Core Strengthening: Close but Not the Whole Story

photo courtesy istolethetv
Core strengthening has been such a hot topic in the fitness world for many years. And no question, there is value to it. But, like most things in the universe, just a little closer look affords us more of what we dearly want.

One definition of core strengthening is “the balanced development of the deep and superficial muscles that stabilize, align, and move the trunk of the body, especially the abdominals and muscles of the back.”

Low back pain may be the most common reason that individuals seek to strengthen their core.

Now, let’s break it down.

There is nothing more “core” to the torso than the digestive tract. Though most advocates of core strengthening are focused on skeletal muscle function, it is critical to understand that the muscles of the back and abdomen are markedly influenced by the function of the digestive tract through neural pathways referred to as viscerosomatic reflexes. When the digestive tract is distressed by food allergies, constipation, antibiotics, imbalanced gut flora, or spinal joint aberrations, muscles of the back and abdomen are negatively affected, and pain can result.

Strength is not all it is cracked up to be. Many remember in their youth, their first exposure to martial arts, and their amazement at seeing larger, stronger opponents thrown to the mat by smaller, weaker individuals who had mastered greater skill. Ultimately, the greatest function in the torso is attained through integration and coordination of all components, visceral and skeletal.

It is often overlooked that during “core strengthening”, at least two other beneficial influences are being affected on the back and torso. While performing strengthening exercises, spinal dynamics are improved as a result of vertebral joints being moved through ranges of motion, and the digestive tract is benefited by contraction and relaxation in the abdomen which improves movement of the contents through the tract.

While some folks exercise the heck out of their abs and back muscles, and have their back pain go away, others will get no relief, and neither group will necessarily be exploring their gut core. I have had the opportunity to evaluate a number of patients who swore that core strengthening had taken care of their back problems. Clearly, for some of them it did reduce or resolve their pain. But it was obvious during physical examination that many had excessively tight back muscles, stiff spinal joints, and a gut that was tender to touch.

My advice to all would be to remember that coordinated, fluid motion trumps strength; and if you want to get to the core of back pain, or any other health problem, don’t forget your gut, it affects everything.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

DAY 228 - Dental Hygiene: A Rational Model

Teeth are important. If not cared for, they can decay, become painful, and break. See your dentist for an annual check-up beginning when you have teeth, or even just a tooth. Brush and floss daily. Smile.

Brilliant model. Imagine we applied it to other parts of our bodies.

Backs and necks are important. If not cared for, they can become stiff, painful, and arthritic. See your doctor of chiropractic for an annual check-up beginning when you have a spine. Stretch daily. Smile.

Make sense?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

DAY 226 – Gluten-free Tennis?

Today on the blog, Busted Racquet, Chris Chase posts “Is Novak Djokovic’s new, gluten-free diet behind his win streak?”. Fortunately, this story is not just sexy tennis gossip; it is a remarkable opportunity for critically needed health education.

Last year Djokovic removed gluten from his diet. Since then he's made the final of the U.S. Open, won the Davis Cup and Australian Open, defeated Rafael Nadal four times, and is currently on a 39-match winning streak, the third longest of the Open era.

Is it possible that removing gluten from his diet, has improved Djokovic’s tennis performance? Yes.

Parts of Chase’s post need correction and/or clarification, and I have provided them below.

“A simple allergy test could have led to one of the most dominant stretches in tennis history.” – Determining gluten-sensitivity is often not as simple as a “simple allergy test”. Beware.

“... Novak Djokovic's nutritionist discovered last year that he was allergic to gluten ...” – Where was his doctor all this time?

“... Djokovic played it safe and cut out the starches altogether.” – I would say he played it "smart".

 “... a Cornell nutrition professor told The Wall Street Journal, the effects of the new diet could be more mental than anything.” – And Dr. Kristofer Young of Ventura, CA told his blog followers that given that many individuals experience increased physical endurance and performance when on a gluten-free diet, it is quite possible that Djokovic’s gluten-free diet has directly improved his physiology, rather than a placebo effect as suggested by the Cornell professor.

“The gluten-free diet didn't turn Novak Djokovic into a great tennis player. He was a Grand Slam champion and No. 3 in the world while eating the protein. The change may have turned him into a greater, more fit tennis player or it may have simply made him believe he was a greater, more fit tennis player. And, really, isn't that the same thing?” – No, they are not the same thing at all. Gluten-induced illness degrades both structure and function of the human body. Believing you are well, and being well, are not the same.

DAY 226 - Your Body is Tapping You on the Shoulder

Diabetes is a call, if not a plea, from your body for change; for change in the factors that caused your illness, your imbalance. Even though our bodies don’t always spell everything out perfectly clearly, be assured yours is not asking for Glucophage or injectable insulin. It is hoping that you will reduce your sugar and starch intake, begin to eat a variety of fresh organic vegetables, move your body, and resolve chronic stresses in your life.

will you take the tap?
hear your body’s rap?
awaken from your nap?
and make that health thing hap .... n?

Monday, May 16, 2011

DAY 225 - Roger and Me: Lobbying for Chiropractic

photo by Robert Couse-Baker
For me to get up at 2:00 AM, there’s got to be a real good reason; like one of the kids upchucking with the flu.

Fortunately, this morning, my kids were fine. I got up at 2:00 to get to Roger Anderson’s by 3:15 to make it to LAX for a flight to the State Capitol in Sacramento so we could speak-up for the profession we love, and for the patients who depend on us.

Each year, the California Chiropractic Association organizes a day of meetings between chiropractors and our California assembly members and senators, providing us with opportunities to build relationships and communicate the views of the chiropractic community.

This year, the big issue for chiropractors and our patients, centers around implementation at the State level of last year’s national healthcare reform. At this time in history we may be able to right some wrongs, and level the field on which American healthcare has been played.

Since its beginning in 1895, the chiropractic profession has been effectively marginalized by mainstream medicine and the health insurance industry. One important factor, a framing of the provision of insurance benefits, that has enabled the marginalization, is the division of healthcare access by discipline; MD, DC, ND, LAc, DO, DDS, etc. Out of this arbitrary way of categorizing insurance coverage, the public is offered MD-care as the central benefit, and then, for extra cost, one can add the services of other professions, e.g., chiropractic, dental, optometric.

Imagine for a moment, that instead of offering coverage by provider, it was offered by services provided, regardless of the discipline of the practitioner licensed to provide them. If your medical insurance covered physical examination, lifestyle consultation, x-rays, blood work, and physical therapy, you could decide for yourself if you wanted to receive those services from a medical doctor or from a chiropractor; at no increased cost to the insurer, or you. Same costs, but you, the insured, get to choose the provider from a broader field.

Roger and I have made this pilgrimage together on a number of occasions. Makes for an interesting day, and gives us the satisfaction of lending a hand to make a difference. And there’s lots of work left to do.

(Note: actual date of this trip - May 10, 2011)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

DAY 224 – In Your Heart

"When you are in someone's face, you are probably not in their heart."

I would rather be in your heart.

Kristofer Young, DC ~ May 15, 2011

Friday, May 13, 2011

DAY 222 - Just Can’t Let Go?

Is there a food that you enjoy eating, that you would not be willing to give up, even if by doing so your depression lifted, your fatigue vanished, you magically lost 30 pounds, or your joint pains became a thing of the past?

Allow me to suggest that there is not any food on earth that is worth depression, fatigue, excess fat, or arthritis.

Allow me also to suggest that you can let go.

Additionally, allow me to suggest that when you are not owned by specific foods, you are stronger, healthier and happier.

I am not saying that changing ones diet is always easy. I am saying that it is dangerous to your health to simply allow a food to own you. Look around; poor food choices are the greatest cause of illness in America. I am saying that it is far easier to remove a few foods from your diet than it is to be chronically ill.

Ready for a change? Or will you need to get sicker first; like I did?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

DAY 217 - the phone cord

photo courtesy Jenny Downing
but then, do i want to admit it?

drinking from a fire hose ...
i didn’t mean to
it wasn’t a choice to see the suffering and dysfunction

when i was younger
so much younger than today
i felt a lot and saw a lot
or so i thought
at times it seemed too much
turns out it was mostly that which occurred nearby
i was spared the bigger, fuller picture

so, here i am
turning 60 consciously
longing for serenity,
or at least the calm of a martial artist

in fact, in my gut, in my head, in my nerves
the world swirls around and through
flashing me with scenes of harm and brewing harm

Steve, my poly sci professor
felt the storm
and hung himself one day
with a telephone cord

he was a gentle man
very bright
very aware
he knew what we were up against

no one came to help him recycle newspapers
left to haul our trash alone
he hung himself

we were only 23
when the news arrived
on a tiny island in the Pacific
i felt like i understood

Steve was no longer available
no longer able to lend his hands and heart
to haul the trash
and plan the healing of humanity
as he had done for so many years

rather than feel weakened by the loss
i looked for a gift from Steve

and found

at 23, and still today,
turning 60 consciously,
that those sensitive to, and aware of the world in which we live
must also be sensitive to their own balance

hopelessness, like a heart attack, can be closer than we know
and the fall can be long and fast to the end of the phone cord

i also found a game plan
for my life ...

to live fully,
sensitive to
the joy of our voices in harmony
the comfort of holding one another
the harm that is all around
and the fear of facing that harm yet moving toward it
to strive to know where i am
just back from the edge
a buffer
a buffer from the phone cord
that i might contribute to our wellbeing
‘till another end

Steve’s gift brings me full circle
i am scattered
and i do want to admit it
for admission may be that buffer

wishing peace for all
including Steve

I am not at the edge
just smart enough at 59
to explore,
and report back on my findings

Friday, May 6, 2011

DAY 215 - Is a Bacterium Controlling Your Child’s Behavior?

This is not a joke.

Have you ever wondered at the bizarre, extreme, or antisocial behavior of your own child, or that of another? Did the child not seem like himself?

Last week I attended the 18th International Symposium on Functional Medicine. The topic was “The Challenge of Emerging Infections in the 21st Century. Derrick F. MacFabe M.D., Assistant Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry (Division of Developmental Disabilities) of the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry of the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada; and the Director of  the “Kilee Patchell-Evans” Autism Research Group, opened his lecture with the question; “Are The Microbes in Charge?”

Dr. MacFabe quickly directed us to an infection-behavior model that we were all familiar with, to help us get a handle on our skepticism regarding his question. He reminded us of the extreme behavioral changes in mammals with rabies. Rabies is caused by a virus of the Lyssavirus genus of the Rhabdoviridae family. As we know, infected animals can become vicious and lose a normal sense of fear; gross behavioral changes caused by a microorganism.

The focus of Dr. MacFabe’s current research is the autistic spectrum of disorders (which includes ADHD). In one aspect of its work, his group has introduced a compound, propionic acid (PPA), which can be formed through fermentation in the human gut by the bacterium Clostridium difficile, into the brains of rats, immediately causing behaviors in the rats that appear similar, if not identical to behaviors seen in autistic children. One can see video of these behaviors at his website.

Could a low-grade infection in the gut by Clostridium difficile elevate levels of PPA, and in susceptible individuals cause autism or ADHD? Are these children hooked on carbohydrates that facilitate the bacterial formation of PPA?

In the 1950's, the incidence of autism was one in 10,000. Now it is one in 90. The incidence of ADHD has also increased dramatically. What's going on?

Look at Dr. MacFabe’s work (http://psychology.uwo.ca/autism.htm), and give some more thought to what is controlling our children’s behavior. If you don’t, who will?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

DAY 214 - On the Brink of Behind

courtesy of emdot at flickr
my brother’s birthday tomorrow
haven’t gotten to arranging lunch

nephew’s bar results tomorrow
will I remember to call?

Mother’s Day on Sunday
finally asked this morning about what would feel like a gift

Jay’s 60th on Tuesday
not only no card yet,
but damn, have to be at a conference in Sacramento all day

Tom’s wife has cancer
how can I be of help, and when?

who else have I not checked on?
checked in with?
are they feeling uncared for by me?

maybe I can let go of the fear of the brink
of falling behind
maybe let go of the worry that others may feel that I don't care
or don't care enough

is there any way we could agree for ever
that I love you
that I will try to respond to you in ways that comfort you
but that if I come up short
it is never that I love you less
rather, that I am over the edge
and beyond behind?

I could use your help
in getting over this fear of falling

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

DAY 213 - When Friendship is a Problem a Yelp Won’t Help

A post on http://wired.com , dated April 6, 2010, entitled "Yelp Fights Fraud Allegations by Unfiltering Reviews", by Eliot Van Buskirk, contained the following statement from Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman; "review filters take action on all types of suspicious content — both reviews that may have been written by a business owner or a business owner’s friends ...". 

What Stoppelman is talking about is a computer algorithm that Yelp uses to remove reviews that it thinks may be bogus. While his comment is understandable, it may also prove Yelp to be incompatible with small businesses that provide very personalized services.

My wife and I have operated Ventura Chiropractic & Massage since 1983. We truly like, if not love, our patients, and care about their wellbeing. Not too surprisingly, our patients like/love us, and truly care about our wellbeing. Sound anything like friendship? Well, it is!

So, when Stoppelman says that Yelp intentionally filters out (makes invisible) any review that appears to be written by a “business owner’s friends”, that means that virtually all the reviews of our practice have been, and will be removed, because they were, and will clearly appear to be written by our friends.

As of today, May 4, 2011, 17 reviews have been written about our practice, by patients who happen to be friends. Most of them, we met as new patients; they accidentally became friends. One review has been completely erased from the site, 15 have been filtered (made invisible), and one is left visible as though it were the only legitimate review.

Maybe Yelp was not made for us, for our practice, nor for our patients who would wish to share with the world, their experience of our office. It is important to understand that the issue is much bigger than our little office. We are not the only business that is rewarded with friendship as a byproduct of the caring interaction that accompanies the service that we provide.

We are not giving up our friends, but we may have to give up on Yelp.

Monday, May 2, 2011

DAY 211 - Medicare Complexity: Not Just for Old Folks

Wouldn’t it be lovely if it were as simple as to either “keep your hands off Medicare”, or “privatize Medicare”?

If I had to choose one right now, May 2, 2011, I would choose “keep your hands off Medicare”, but I don’t ... have to.

To me, "keep your hands off Medicare" means, leave it as it is; and that just won't work.

Here are the huge problems with “hands off”:
1)    the vast majority of health care practice in America, including Medicare, uses a try-to-fix-it-once-it-is-clearly-broken approach; prevention is a miniscule part of our system,
2)    Medicare, and our health care system (more accurately, a disease care system) overwhelmingly focus on, and financially reward, the managing of symptoms with drugs, surgeries, and procedures; understanding, discussing and dealing with the causes of illness are uncommon for both doctors and patients,
3)    Medicare does not emphasize improving lifestyle choices as the key to improved health, even though medical science has proven it to be the most efficacious and the most cost effective means of achieving health,
4)    Medicare, as it is, and our health care system, are grossly dysfunctional, and are currently contributing to the bankrupting of America.

We, the American people, must begin to take responsibility for our health, and act on it.

Privatization is even worse than "hands off".

While our government bureaucracies are often inefficient, the private health insurance industry, driven first and foremost by the profit motive, has a long and often lurid history, including regular lapses of moral judgment when dealing with subscribers and health care providers.

As many private insurance companies deny care, often illegally, those effected subscribers commonly turn to public hospitals and emergency rooms, where the costs are borne by we, the taxpayers, rather than the insurance company.

Ultimately, in the realms of health and health care, our conditions and fates are interconnected. We will, sink or swim together. This being the case, rather than "keeping our hands off Medicare", we need to put our hands on it, and begin to massage it into a more functional system.

We must start by acknowledging and rewarding what we have long known; that improved self-care is the sine qua non of individual and community health. We must remind our doctors, and teach our citizens about the powerful and necessary daily practices that determine health. We must relearn the values of caring for ourselves and caring for others.

Simple answers just won’t cut it. Let us join hands and begin the work of healing ourselves, and of healing our Nation.