Tuesday, March 29, 2011

DAY 177 – America is Due for its Annual Chiropractic Check-Up

Dr. Eve Venturi treating Dr. Young
It’s a simple idea; maybe so simple as to be overlooked or misunderstood; but the annual chiropractic check-up is not only a concept whose time should have already come in America, but should have arrived at least 39 years ago.

Chiropractic was founded in America in 1895. In 1972 the US Congress voted to make chiropractic care available under Medicare. Chiropractic was clearly determined to be of value, for at least our elderly, 39 years ago. Recognizing that those under 65 years of age also have spines, and that degenerative diseases don't begin at 65, one might conclude that all American's would be benefited by chiropractic care.

We all know that it is wise to see our dentist each year, and we do so because of 4 factors: 1) we have teeth, 2) teeth  are known to become unhealthy and painful, 3) dentists specialize in treatment of the oral cavity, and 4) preventive care is less expensive and results in better oral health than that achieved by repairing damaged teeth.

The situation with chiropractors (doctors of chiropractic – DC) is a bit more complicated, because while we do specialize in treatment of the spine, we are also licensed as general practitioners, treating virtually all conditions, and being limited only in regard to the use of drugs and surgery. But, for the moment, let us focus on chiropractic expertise in spinal function and spinal health.

It would be reasonable for all Americans to have annual spinal check-ups provided by a spinal health expert; a chiropractor. The same 4 factors that drive the annual dental check-up, drive the need for the annual chiropractic check-up: 1) we have spines, 2) spines are known to become unhealthy and painful, 3) chiropractors specialize in the treatment of the spine, and 4) preventive care is less expensive and results in better spinal health than that achieved by repairing a damaged spine.

It is important to additionally consider that while dental problems can be very serious, their effect on our society, compared to the effect of spinal (back and neck) problems, is minor. Back pain is the second leading cause of lost work time, and was estimated to have cost America $100 billion in 1998.

Do you get at least one spinal check-up per year?

I am suggesting that our culture needs a chiropractic check-up, and a wake up to spinal health.

PS – I know that there are some doctors, other than chiropractors, that can provide excellent spinal evaluation. If you have one, then see her/him at least annually.

Friday, March 25, 2011

DAY 173 – Arthritis Sufferers May Now be Able to Diagnose Themselves

Researchers in Ojai, California, using a very small study sample, have confirmed what has long been suspected; weekend gardening can be diagnostic for arthritis.

Volunteer subjects, with a mean age of 53, worked in their organic vegetable gardens for 5 hours on a Saturday, and 5 hours on the next day, Sunday. The majority subsequently reported awaking Monday morning to find themselves stiff and sore in the muscles and joints of the back and neck; classic signs of arthritis.

Lead investigator, Dr. Kristofer Young, founder of the little-known spinal research center, Ventura Chiropractic & Massage, stated that he had been certain that his study would prove, once and for all, that gardening is an inexpensive and accurate tool for diagnosing arthritis.

Dr. Young stated that what baffles him is that most modern medical practitioners advise patients that there is little that can be done about arthritis other than to mask the pain with drugs. He went on to say that given that medical science has proven that other chronic degenerative diseases including cardiovascular disease and diabetes can be reversed, it is remarkable that most MDs still leave patients with the unfounded belief that arthritis is untreatable.

Having suffered from severe degenerative spinal arthritis himself, the symptoms beginning at age ten, Dr. Young reports that at age 59, following lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, he is now able to do more work in his own organic vegetable garden in Ojai, California, than he could at age 40. He states that while the MRIs of his low back, taken in 1991 and 1998, clearly show the destruction of bone and disc, he currently has less pain and greater function.

Dr. Young’s team is looking into funding for further research to ask the question; what will it take for America to wake up to the idea that the Standard American Diet (SAD) is the greatest single cause of arthritis?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

DAY 172 – Whisper for Peace

“At life’s end,
I would hope to have been
a whisper for peace.”

KY - July 2002

Sunday, March 20, 2011

DAY 168 - RED ALERT ... With Sunny Outlook on Solutions

Photo by Rocky Brown
PLEASE read this carefully. As you will see, we are actually talking LIFE or DEATH.

As you know, we have some dangerous things going on in the world right now; revolution in Libya, disaster in Japan. And no simple answers.

We have another RED ALERT, one that is not new, just unheard and/or unheeded by our society. The great news is that the outlook for solutions is sunny!

The RED ALERT is that vitamin D deficiency is of epidemic proportions in our Country and in the world. (Vitamin D is created in the human body when skin is exposed to sunlight. According to internationally recognized experts, blood levels of vitamin D should be above 50 ng/ml.) I have abbreviated for you the already abbreviated descriptions of these critical new studies on vitamin D which have been distributed by the Vitamin D Council.

Vitamin D deficient veterans in hospital ICU’s are almost twice as likely to die, as those who are not deficient.
McKinney JD, Bailey BA, Garrett LH, Peiris P, Manning T, Peiris AN. Relationship between vitamin d status and ICU outcomes in veterans. J. Am Med Dir Assoc. 2011 Mar;12(3):208-11.

The crude odds ratio (risk) of being hypertensive (having high blood pressure) was almost five times higher for those with 25(OH)D (vitamin D) levels less than 15 ng/ml compared to those above 40 ng/ml.
Bhandari SK, Pashayan S, Liu IL, Rasgon SA, Kujubu DA, Tom TY, Sim JJ. 25-hydroxyvitamin d levels and hypertension rates. J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2011 Mar;13(3):170-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-7176.2010.00408.x. Epub 2010 Dec 22.

Vitamin D can increase the liver’s ability to remove toxins and drugs from the body. Blood levels of vitamin D fluctuate with the seasons; so can drug levels in the blood. Theoretically this affects a long list of drugs, including the antidepressants, citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, norfluoxetine and sertraline. For a full list of drugs that may be lowered in the blood as vitamin D levels go up, go to: Wikipedia and look at the list of drugs in the column under the heading “Substrates”. Are your drugs in that list?
Lindh JD, Andersson ML, Eliasson E, Bjorkhem-Bergman L. Seasonal variation in blood drug concentrations and a potential relationship to vitamin D. Drug Metab Dispos. 2011 Feb 24. [Epub ahead of print]

A RED ALERT for our children; ... in Iran, being virtually the same distance from the equator as Ventura, CA (latitude affects sun exposure and thereby vitamin D status), it was found that in the winter, 91% of the children had vitamin D levels lower than 20 ng/ml, 86% lower than 15 ng/ml, and an unbelievable 38% had vitamin D levels lower than 5 ng/ml. The authors wrote that their findings should be "regarded as a public health emergency by all stakeholders."
Neyestani TR, Hajifaraji M, Omidvar N, Eshraghian MR, Shariatzadeh N, Kalayi A, Gharavi A, Khalaji N, Haidari H, Zowghi T, Nikooyeh B. High prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in school-age children in Tehran, 2008: a red alert. Public Health Nutr. 2011 Feb 28:1-7. [Epub ahead of print]

Vitamin D helps to protect us from a laundry list of dangerous diseases, including; heart disease, cancers (17 cancers, including breast, colon and prostate), diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, and more. Please have your vitamin D blood levels tested now. And have your children tested also. For some time now, the usual fee for the test has been around $240. In our office, we charge $50. Shop for the test, and protect your family’s health!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

DAY 164 - When I Was a Kid

Courtesy me'nthedogs at Flickr Commons
When I was a kid in the 50’s and 60’s, “yelp” was what a dog did when you accidentally stepped on its tail.

Today, it’s clearly no accident, there’s no dog, and you either have an axe to grind, or you just had a great time and have to tell the world. Yelp.com is a website dedicated to connecting people with great local businesses.

You young folks have already been there, but for us older folks, Yelp is accomplishing its mission by providing a site where anyone can write a review on virtually any business. In January of 2011, 45 million people visited Yelp to tell their story.

One of the things that I love about Yelp is that isn’t the Yellow Pages. Yellow Pages ads, and I know, cuz I had ads for 20+ years, are simply a compilation of the business owner’s self-compliments. When we are looking for goods or services, the last thing we really need is the owner’s promotional take on himself. What we do need, and want, is the inside scoop from a few people who have been there and done that. We are looking for a Yelp, not a Yellow.

Well, I couldn’t resist; my office is now listed on Yelp; Ventura Chiropractic & Massage (the zip is 93003). Here’s the best part; as a small business owner with a Yelp listing, you are provided the opportunity to know what your patients/clients think of you without having to come back from the dead and visit your own memorial service. Check it out: http://www.yelp.com/biz/ventura-chiropractic-and-massage-ventura-2 

Hey, don’t they say that it’s better to give flowers to the living?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

DAY 161 - Nuclear Reactors and Community Health

Nuclear plant in Arkansas - courtesy Topato at Flickr
The disasters this week in Japan have created immediate suffering, and the need for immediate aide and assistance. The earthquakes and tsunamis will take years to recover from.

As I write this entry, we know that at least one nuclear reactor at Fukushima Daiichi is melting down. Depending on the ultimate outcome of the one or more nuclear reactor melt downs, Japan could face 60 years or more of contamination and risk.

It is 25 years since the reactor melt down and explosion, the world’s worst nuclear power plant disaster in history, at Chernobyl. Some of the radioactive degradation products are still forming and will not peak until 2050.

Certain radioactive elements (such as plutonium-239) in “spent” fuel will remain hazardous to humans and other creatures for hundreds of thousands of years. Other radioisotopes remain hazardous for millions of years. Thus, these wastes must be shielded for centuries and isolated from the living environment for millennia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioactive_waste

In many fields, including medicine, risk benefit analyses are carried out to aide in decision making. This kind of analysis has been done regarding the utilization of nuclear power, but the decision to use it does not agree with my analysis.

In the short run, nuclear power is relatively cheap. In the long run, like 100,000 years, we can not even begin to predict the monetary costs of containment of radioactive wastes, which can only grow, to the distress of fiscal conservatives and those of us who foot the bill.

Nuclear energy is not, depending on ones definition, clean. It is clean if one does not count the enormously dangerous radioactive materials, utilized and spent, that must be completely contained at all times, and, for all intents and purposes, for all time.

Then there is the issue of safety. Suffice it to say, there is no energy production system known to man that is more dangerous than nuclear power.

I hope that Japan’s nuclear disasters turn out to be relatively minor. I also hope that we, the community of man, will see that nuclear power has a very poor risk benefit ratio, and is not a healthy choice.

I understand that lots of us want cheap power, but we have all heard, “if something seems too good to be true; it probably is.”

Friday, March 11, 2011

DAY 159 – He’s Our Friend

Dr. Young and Supervisor Bennett
OK, there could be question about whether or not you see him as a friend, so let me start with something I am certain of; he IS my friend.

But, I think he's yours too.

I’m talking about Steve Bennett, Supervisor for Ventura County’s District 1.

I am drawn to friendships with people who work hard for the common good. They are people I can trust. A sharp mind and a bright smile never hurt.

Last evening we got to see each of these qualities in Steve as he made time in his schedule to speak to, and support our fledgling health group, Community of Health Ventura.

We are so fortunate to have Supervisor Bennett serving us and helping to guide our County.

Thank you, Steve!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

DAY 158 - Plan for Health: write it

That’s right, you don’t have one, and your parents didn’t have one, and there is virtually nothing in our culture that suggests that it would be smart and joyful for you to have a written plan for your health. I’m not talking about medical insurance, what we loosely call a health plan, but rather, a strategy for being well throughout your life, that you have created, and that you have committed to paper or to a digital file.

Important undertakings deserve a plan. Critical undertakings require a written plan. Supporting and maintaining your health is critical, and you know it.

We have not had the good fortune of being raised and entrained with the practice of keeping a written health plan. No problem; as adults, we can recognize the value of our health, look around and see that we and our fellow Americans are not well, and begin to write a plan for our own health.

I have created a starter template called “My Written Health Plan”, and posted it online, for those who would like to get started. You can find it by going to: http://www.ventura-chiropractor.com and clicking on the link on the right called “Forms”.

It may take a little sitting with this idea for it to sink in. Imagine embarking on a long, and at times dangerous journey, without a map. A healthful life is such a journey, and is made safer and more joyful when one carries a written and personalized health plan.

For those of us adults who may not be quite ready to begin creating our own health plan, I would encourage us to think about where our children and grandchildren will get their plans from. Or will they make the trek of their life without a map?

Will you join me in leading the way?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

DAY 157 - It Came Out of Nowhere

Patient: (with distress) Doctor, I have no idea what caused this back pain. It came out of nowhere.

Doctor: That’s got to be upsetting, to be experiencing pain that seems to have been unprovoked.

Conversations like this are common in my practice. They start out interesting, and become even more so.

Early on, with each patient, I suggest that nothing comes out of nowhere; that there are many happenings that we don’t understand, and influences that we can’t see, but all events are brought about by related phenomena. For a thoughtful doctor, it is usually not difficult to begin to solve the mystery of the surprising back pain.

Given that stress is pervasive, and a known cause of back pain, I always bring it up as a probable contributor. Most of us, through adaptation or mental blocking, keep stress and its effects from our consciousness. Many people don’t imagine that the recent death of their sibling, and the associated feelings, could directly contribute to the initiation of back pain. In our culture, understanding that the chronic stress of a rotten job, an unhappy relationship, or an ill child, could cause back pain, is not common. The tendency is to be surprised when an ongoing input finally causes a sudden and overt change; in this case, pain.

An interesting part of our cultural understanding of the effects of stress, is that we actually do know and appreciate that chronic stress can, and reasonably should cause back pain, in others, but find it difficult to accept that it would be true for us.

We have a tendency to think that one must DO something, like lifting a heavy object, to cause back pain. We are less apt to think about the effects of what we DON'T DO. Patients, confused about the cause of their pain, rarely offer that they have not been going for walks regularly, have not stretched in six months, or have not had a salad in the past week. They never mention the bowel movement that they haven’t had for 3 days.

Further off the American radar as a cause of back pain, is food allergy, even though it may be the most common. Most of us have never heard that eating a food such as dairy products for years, or decades, could chronically provoke ones immune system, causing focal inflammation and tissue damage in muscles and joints, and ultimately pain in the back. Pain caused in this manner may not come out of nowhere, but those who have never even heard that foods can cause back pain, are always blindsided.

Most back pain is caused by long-term, combinations of stress, poor diet, lack of sleep, lack of aerobic exercise, lack of stretching, and food allergies; not from falling down a flight of stairs while moving a grand piano. But without the necessary perspective ... back pain can appear to come out of nowhere.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

DAY 155 - Breast Tenderness: An important story ... Part I

photo courtesy of marko8904

The story of breast tenderness is one that I have been sharing with patients for over twenty years, one woman at a time.

It turns out that most breast tenderness is a valuable natural warning of insufficiency in the body of the mineral, magnesium. But that is just the beginning.

Breast tenderness is a common discomfort associated with menstruation. Virtually every patient that I have treated, who experienced breast tenderness with her periods, had a marked reduction, or complete elimination of tenderness by taking magnesium as an oral supplement.

Some would say, “so what?”

And here is the “so what”; magnesium is an essential nutrient that has profound effect on human biochemistry, and on human physiology. When a woman has low blood levels of magnesium, she is apt to have other symptoms, and indeed has increased disease risks.

A few of the symptoms of low magnesium levels are: back and neck pain, muscle pain, PMS, menstrual cramps, depression, fatigue, anxiety, and constipation.

--- Part II to follow ---

Sunday, March 6, 2011

DAY 154 - Free: Not Just Gluten-free

This isn’t really too deep; I just want to say that while I have been gluten-free for 2+ years, there is a freedom that comes with being gluten-free that is more than a simple food choice.

While never having experienced symptoms that I could connect to my consumption of gluten (a class of proteins found primarily in wheat, rye and barley), I have had a lifetime of mild to moderate digestive tract problems. Only through the good fortune of having chosen a professional life as a doctor, have I been fortunate enough to learn that gluten sensitivity is both a common problem, and one that is often not recognized. 2+ years ago I finally ordered testing on myself and learned that I am gluten sensitive.

For those who are gluten sensitive, or have the more serious form, celiac disease, the advice of experts is that we eat no gluten whatsoever; none.

Over the last two years, and with some frequency, conversations with patients and others, have lead me to be told that is isn’t really possible to avoid gluten, living in our culture. I am also often told how bleak a gluten-free life would be. In most cases, the individual filling me in on his views, states them as though they were universal truths. Nowadays, after listening carefully, I state that I have been 100% gluten-free for more than 2 years, and explain that it has not been a major challenge in my life, that I continue to eat large amounts of delicious food, and that I am happy to be able to make this change which is predictably improving and protecting the quality of my life.

I like the fact that no single food owns me! I also like being free; free to be healthy!