Myofascial Release and Soft Tissue Mobilization
By Dr. Sonia Marques
I’ve noticed recently that many people have become more aware of myofascial release but are still a little unsure of what it actually entails. Is it a type of massage technique? Can we do it ourselves at home? What kind of provider specializes in this treatment?
To understand the treatment, we have to gain an understanding of what exactly fascial tissue is. Fascia is a band or sheet of tough internal connective tissue, mostly made of collagen, that wraps around muscles and organs, separating and stabilizing them. Visceral fascia wraps our organs in layers of tissue membranes and keeps them suspended within our body cavities. Deep fascia wraps around individual muscles and separates groups of muscles. Two very important features of deep fascia are: 1) 30-40% of the force generated by muscles is transmitted by the connective tissue (fascia) surrounding the muscle, and 2) muscle spindles that provide feedback to the central nervous system about normal muscle function are contained within the fascia. Superficial fascia is on the outermost surface and blends in with the dermis, or skin, and is what allows our bodies to stretch during typical and pregnancy related weight gain.
When fascia loses its elasticity and becomes too stiff and anchored, trigger points can form. This can occur due to injury and/or overuse. Trigger points can be sensitive ropey bands and ‘knots’ in the muscles that are sometimes difficult to pinpoint but cause significant pain and decreased muscle and joint movements. Myofascial release is a hands-on manual therapy that involves focused, sustained pressure and stretching to these areas to restore movement and decrease pain. This can be done through myofascial release massage, soft tissue manipulation, stretching, and dry needling, to name a few. Providers such as chiropractors, physical therapists and massage therapists can perform these techniques. In addition, home tools such as foam rollers/fascial balls and corrective stretches and exercises can be very effective when used properly.
One specific type of soft tissue therapy that I have found great success with in treating myofascial restrictions, among other things, is Graston Technique Therapy. Graston Technique is an evidence-based method of soft tissue mobilization, combined with rehabilitative exercise, that incorporates the use of six specifically designed stainless steel instruments. Graston Technique brand instruments detect and amplify the feel of soft tissue restrictions, similar to the way a stethoscope amplifies the sound of a heartbeat. It can be used to treat a wide variety of conditions, including myofascial pain syndrome, tendinitis conditions, muscle strains and ligament sprains, acute trauma and scar tissue formation. The primary goals of treatment are to treat/control edema or swelling, mechanically disrupt fibrotic tissue to increase range of motion and decrease pain. Other effects of Graston are increased fibroblastic activity (fibroblasts are cells of connective tissue that produce the precursor to collagen as well as cell matrix material and play a vital role in wound healing), enhanced blood perfusion, increased stem cells and altered neural activity. Most Graston Technique treatments last about 8-10 minutes per session and each episode typically takes between 8-12 treatments to achieve the desired results. If you have stubborn and painful ‘knots’ that never seem to go away, Graston Technique therapy may be a great option to consider.
This Month I Will Say “No!”
by Dr. Melissa Sonners
May was an amazingly busy month for our family and our office.
Jason and I love busy-ness, growth, change...all of the above. We tend to be YES people. When an opportunity comes our way that aligns with our values and feels like something we shouldn’t pass up, we say YES and then figure it all out.
In the past 30 days, we were fortunate to have added to our staff, completed some renovation projects in the office, traveled for seminars, etc. But although I feel I do a great job of “balancing” it all and staying afloat, I do feel that I need to now balance things out by setting a new intention for the month of June.
So for the this month, I am choosing to say NO.
Someone once told me that “No” means to Nourish Oneself. I use this often at home with the kids. Saying no to them getting new toys, etc. is typically not difficult for me. But I hate saying no to them when they are asking me to play with them and I just can’t because of something else I’m working on or because I need a moment to myself. I tell them “No, I wish I could, but right now I am off duty and need to take care of something for me.” This helps me feel better about it and helps them understand that I want to be with them. Most importantly, it helps them learn from a young age how important it is to take care of themselves.
I also use this often with social situations. Sorry! Busted! I find there are times when I know the weekend is going to be busy and I just can’t commit to certain events AND feel ready for the week OR recovered from the previous week. I need my tv time, down time, couch time, book time, any of the above!
I know that June is a VERY busy month for many with graduations, schedule transitions etc. These busy times are a blessing and a reality of life with family, jobs etc. The key in my mind to staying balanced, as much as possible is scheduling in “recovery time” after these events. Not only is it crucial for our health and well-being, its helpful to have a light at the end of the tunnel and a “reward” at the end that helps to push through when the going gets tough.
For the month of June I will continue to say YES to many of the things I love (sand and sun come to mind). I will also say YES to much more self care, stillness, playfulness, presence and time to just BE.
I will say NO to filling my ME time with projects, meetings, errands, etc. I love all these things and will get back to them. Just need to fill my bucket back up and Nourish Oneself!
Experts Say Lyme Is Going To Be Bad This Year
by Dr. Jason Sonners
As we roll into the month of May and hopefully “Spring” is finally here, I am reminded of last year when Melissa got Lyme disease. We were able to trace it back to a weekend we spent in Pennsylvania over Memorial Day weekend.
She did get a rash, though not the typical “bull's eye” rash and her symptoms - though they took a few weeks to develop - were very intense once they finally came. She is now doing quite well, but it took a handful of months to get things totally under control.
I wanted to use this blog post to educate everyone a little more about Lyme disease so that you can better protect yourself and your family.
Lyme is transmitted via a tick bite, primarily from a deer tick. These are typically the smallest and hardest ticks to see and detect until they are already engorged with blood.
Mostly these tick bites will occur from being outside, hiking in the woods, being at camp, going camping etc. They can also be carried inside by our pets, so be careful to check them too (for their own sakes but also because the ticks can leave our pets and come find us).
When you plan to spend time outside
- Always wear long sleeves, long socks, long pants when in the woods. Check yourself, your kids and your pets often!
- Take a shower shortly after coming back home and use that time to double check your skin.
- Inspect and wash the clothing you wore.
- Use an insect repellent (if you use a product containing deet, apply that to your clothing, not your skin). You can also use an essential oil repellent which can go directly on your skin.
If you do find a tick, or if you start to get symptoms
- If you find a tick and are sure it bit you, save it. You can have the tick tested first.
- Lyme will typically not show in your blood for 3-6 weeks
- MANY people never find a tick or develop a rash, but develop symptoms weeks later. If you start to feel sick (flu-ish, migraines, intense fatigue, joint pain, etc.) and can remember a time you spent outside, possibly in the woods 3 or 4 weeks earlier, please keep in mind it may be Lyme.
- With Lyme, the sooner you test and the sooner you treat, the more successful the treatment will be.
- There are other infections associated with Lyme so check for those as well. They include mycoplasma, Bartonella, Babesia, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasma. Very often one or more of these infections are present and would need to be treated.
If you get Lyme or a co-infection, what should you do?
- I think this is a case where “East meets West” is the best program of care.
- Especially if caught early, at least one round of antibiotics is very useful. YES, this is one domain where they are necessary. Doxycycline is typically the medicine of choice.
- Along with the antibiotic, natural herbal treatments are very powerful against Lyme and their co-infections and should absolutely be included in your treatment plan.
- As with many infections, a periodic fasting program can help your fight against the infections.
- Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is another very powerful tool used in the treatment protocol. The oxygen does two things: High oxygen actually helps to kill infections. It also helps dramatically reduce inflammation caused by the illness and improves the body’s ability to heal.
A similar protocol would be used for Chronic Lyme (an infection that has been present for months/years), though the approach would need to be more aggressive and would typically take longer as once it becomes chronic the infection has time to become stronger and more resilient. Although that is true, there is still hope in fighting. We have the tools to effectively beat these infections.
My Son Ate a Cupcake
by Dr. Meagan McGowan
I have been fortunate enough to share my time at the office with time at home, watching my boys grow every day. Our oldest son is now three and a half and enrolled in a Montessori School, one of the best decisions he helped us make this past fall. Although incredibly excited, I knew entering this new chapter would present its challenges for me, letting go of a little control and entrusting our son in an environment all by himself. When I was asked if I would consider being a class parent, I happily accepted the offer of sharing in his class celebrations and creating connection among the parents.
Fast forward to this month’s celebration, celebrated with mythical stories of leprechauns, four leaf clovers and all things green. For the first time, sitting at lunch by myself later that day, I found that I was reflecting not on the smiles and fun the children had, but on the encounter I had not expected with my own son. As a quick sidebar, I feel I should mention that as a household we are conscious of the food we eat, how it directly affects our health and well-being. With that said, we understand that not all situations will lend themselves to easy decision making and therefore try not to overly stress about the less ideal foods eaten in moderation.
As the morning continued, it was now time for the Irish music to begin and for the holiday snacks to be served. My son approached the table, wide eyed and smiling, walking past the plate of homemade cookies I brought, straight to the mini yellow cupcakes topped with the brightest green mountain of frosting and rainbow sprinkles. He quickly looked at me, almost as if to ask permission, quickly back at the cupcakes and acknowledged the parent volunteer that was passing them out, nodding his head “Yes.” He continued down the table, presented his plate for a scoop of fruit salad then back to his seat.
As I sat eating my lunch later that afternoon, I tried to understand why this particular situation continued to bother me, I just couldn’t get beyond it.
Was it because I was in the kitchen until 10:30pm baking the dye free cookies that still turned green (a very cool reaction when you bake sunflower butter and baking soda), cookies he absolutely loves ?
No, I would do anything for his smile.
Was it because I was forced into a parental inner battle, letting him make his own decision versus possibly embarrassing him by saying “No” while the rest of his classmates were free to make their own choices?
Was it because I’m firmly disgusted by food dyes and what they do to our beautiful children’s bodies?
Or maybe it was from my own issues with the drug that is sugar, a battle that has gone on far too long.
The fact of the matter is, my children teach me more about myself everyday. How to hold myself accountable, to self reflect, make choices for myself that keep me healthy. In this instance I found that I felt more defeated because it seemed like a lose-lose situation. Let him eat the cupcake or parent him in front of his peers.
Because of my own downward spiral with sugar, I viewed that small cupcake as the size of a wedding cake; a sweet treat that is momentarily satisfying, yet leaves lasting effects of always craving more. (This was all happening while my small inner voice reminded me of how just last month I was indulging in Valentine’s Day sweets completely absent self-control. It was at that point I said to myself, if I wouldn’t allow my children to eat this, especially that much, what am I doing?)
I can pleasantly report that my relationship with sugar has completely changed. It has not been easy, mentally challenging yet equally satisfying to be attacking such an issue with my own will power. I am holding myself accountable while using my family, peers and patients as motivation. We all have our vices; sugar was a huge one for me. Talking about it has helped, removing temptation also helps, and reminding myself of how I could pay for my habits later in life also crosses my mind. Chiropractic is largely about practicing prevention through well care, rather than reacting to our poor choices later.
I’ll close with a little perspective. If you have children, ask yourself, would you let them eat your diet for a week? Alternatively, could you live on what they eat for a week and feel good about it?
Spinal Decompression Therapy Comes to Core Therapies
by Dr. Matt McGowan
At Core Therapies, we are always looking to offer the most beneficial therapy to our patients. One of the growing concerns for our patient population is for the well being of those suffering from acute or sub acute disc injuries. Often times there is little to be done for someone in an acute flare up of a disc injury other than rest and often times patients end up being prescribed pain killers or muscle relaxers. But the unfortunate downside to these highly addictive substances has been well documented and I wanted to find a better solution for our patients.
I went looking for another treatment alternative for our patients in serious discomfort. Spinal Decompression Therapy is not new, however the advances that have been made in both the machines themselves as well as the art of using the machines made it an obvious solution for us. Spinal Decompression Therapy is a non-invasive treatment that has been shown to effectively treat disabling lower back and neck pain, associated radiating leg and arm pain, as well as headaches. Decompression Therapy effectively enhances the healing process and often renders effective and amazing pain relief that enables most patients to return to a more active lifestyle.
Recently both Dr. Meagan and have become certified in the Kennedy Decompression Technique and are proud to announce that we will have a Kennedy Neuroflex Decompression table in at Core Therapies later this month.
Conditions that have been shown to benefit from Decompression Therapy include:
- Protruding Disc (Bulge or Herniation)
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Degenerative joint disease
- Facet syndrome
- Radicular pain
- Prolapsed discs
- Spinal Nerve Root impingement
- Spinal hypo mobility
If you’d like to know more, visit the Spinal Decompression Therapy page on our website. To find out whether this might be a good addition to your treatment plan, please reach out to our office or email me at [email protected].
Don't Fear the Fever
by Dr. Melissa Sonners
‘Tis the season for all bugs. This past weekend was Wyatt’s turn. He spiked a very high fever and was better within a day. By letting the fever run its course, his body was able to do its work. I know this to be true and that helps me feel comfortable with fevers.
Getting sick is an important part of staying healthy.
When antigens (foreign substances such as viruses and bacteria) enter the body, our nervous system mounts an immune response. Immune cells work together to recognize these invaders and respond appropriately by making antibodies. Once made, these antibodies are in the body forever and give us permanent immunity against these invaders...no boosters needed! This is natural immunity.
Often when we’re sick, our bodies create a fever in order to enhance this immune response and essentially “cook out” the bacteria or virus making us sick. Think of this as essentially creating a major cleanse of our bodies.
These occasional cleanses are a very important part of staying healthy.
When we get these fevers and illnesses there are a few things that we do/don’t do in order to get the most benefit:
- Treat the person, NOT the fever. Someone can have a 99 fever and be VERY sick and that same person can have a 103 fever and be doing perfectly fine. In general, as long as our kids are getting liquids in, breathing normally and are mentally aware, Jason and I let the fever run its course. We have even seen them get as high as 104 and been perfectly comfortable with it. Of course, as always if you ever have concerns go to the doctor.
- Sleep is the best medicine. If our kids are too uncomfortable to sleep, we will help bring fever down by applying a washcloth with apple cider vinegar and a bit of cold water to the forehead and nape of neck. Sometimes just cuddling them works even better. Kids naturally crave closeness when they are sick. Being held, particularly by a parent or caregiver, has been shown to boost immunity. I literally feel my children’s fevers get high and then break as we lay together at night.
- Stay away from acetaminophen. I’m not sure why this isn’t more public common knowledge, but acetaminophen should really not be taken for fever and should NEVER be taken around the time of vaccination. Acetaminophen depletes glutathione activity. Glutathione is one of our most important antioxidants and plays a HUGE role in our immune system. The highest concentration of glutathione is in the liver and it is critical to our body’s detoxification process. I am not a fan of Tylenol at ALL, but it’s particularly problematic when used for fever, especially around the time of vaccination. There are actually studies that show Tylenol taken with a vaccine can lower any beneficial effects of the vaccine.
- Get adjusted. Adjustments remove any interference on our nervous system, allowing our body to be the most efficient at anything it is trying to do, including ward off illness.
- Take vitamins that support the immune system. We have great immune boosting vitamins that help take the edge off and support our bodies’ ability to fight off bugs.
- Rest. Getting sick can be seen as our bodies’ way of saying “slow down.” We all need down time now and then. Don’t fight it. Give in and give yourself some couch time, snuggle your kids, watch movies , binge Netflix and just BE.
- Turn off the news. I feel this to be true majority of the time, but particularly during flu season. Negative news sells. Knowing what is going on is important, but so is filtering it. Reading your news can be a tad less intense than hearing it blasted at you. Always filter and look beyond the headlines.
Listening to our bodies’ messages is important for us and for the greater good. Masking a fever, whether in a child or adult, can have negative effects. Sure we feel better, but at times, these over the counters “work so well” that we feel good enough to go out. This in turn spreads the viruses to many others.
Perhaps creating an empowering feeling around getting sick and knowing that it serves an important purpose and plays a major role in our overall health, will help us embrace it, support it and reap the most benefit from it.
Keeping it “Clean” in a “Dirty” World
by Dr. Jason Sonners
*How many of you think you may have accumulated toxins in the course of your life?
*How many of you think you may have a deficiency or two that could be having a negative impact on your health?
If you know us at Core, you know that we believe that most of our health issues come from our bodies’ reactions to Foods, Stressors, Infections, Toxins and Hormone imbalance. In general, we can summarize the whole conversation by saying our health is directly related to our ability to balance our toxicities and deficiencies.
- Toxins: Are we accumulating things (chemicals, metals, processed foods, chronic infections, allergies etc) that our body is having trouble filtering and
getting rid of?
- Deficiencies: Are we getting all the nutrients we require every day to ensure
the fact that our body has what it needs to fully function and to express
How many of you think life and health is likely a whole lot better being “sufficient and pure” vs. “toxic and deficient”?
The truth is we are constantly bombarded with toxins and our foods are becoming less nutritious over the years, so managing this process is not an easy feat. We are always looking for ways to improve our odds of living a healthy, high quality life in spite of these challenges.
- Learning how to read labels and knowing what key words to look for (grass-fed, pasture raised, organic, raw, non-GMO, etc.)
- Understanding where our food is coming from and how it gets from the farm to our stores to our kitchens and restaurants (locally grown, vine ripened, etc.)
- Employing proper cooking techniques which maximize food nutrients while minimizing toxicity (how to prep foods, which pans to use, avoiding rancid oils, using high heat oils to cook with etc.)
- WASHING ALL FRUIT AND VEGGIES, ORGANIC OR NOT with a good produce wash (usually vinegar based) that will reduce pesticide and herbicide exposure. Most people don’t realize that “organic” pesticides and herbicides are also very toxic and carcinogenic!
Even with all this regular awareness and care, we know that we cannot avoid everything, so we still periodically do cleanses and detox programs. These programs help ensure that we can eliminate the things that we have slowly accumulated over time.
This year we are offering access to a new detox program we have been using with great success. It is a comprehensive 90 day detox program including both supplements and a food plan to follow. The supplements help to detox our bodies of unwanted toxins while also helping to create nutrient sufficiency. The food plan is used to maximize weight loss, toxin removal, fat burning and hormonal balance. If you’re interested or have questions, please email me at [email protected] for more information.
Own Your Birth Experience
by Dr. Meagan McGowan
Last month I had the pleasure of attending The New Jersey Symposium for Physiologic Birth: The Evidence for Choice. The Midwives of New Jersey hosted the conference in an effort to educate and improve pregnancy and childbirth outcomes in our state.
It was an incredible two days. The symposium was attended by midwives, doulas, nurses, doctors, childbirth educators, students, hospital administrators, and parents. The goals of the conference were to expose us to the current happenings in childbirth, the options that growing families have, the obstacles families may face and how best to advocate for themselves throughout their birth experience. The conference sessions included discussions about:
- Using water during labor and Waterbirth
- Evidence for midwifery care while comparing and contrasting to the medical-led model of care
- Encouraging and empowering parents to be in the driver’s seat throughout their birthing proce
The atmosphere was light and warm. Conversation happened easily whether talking on a professional level or a personal level. The camaraderie of the birth professionals in attendance made the weekend feel more like a movement than a conference. The purpose of the symposium was made very clear and that was to create a platform of information designed to improve the health outcomes of birthing babies in the state of New Jersey.
I was incredibly impressed by the speakers. Dedicated to advocating for pregnant women and growing families, they shared with us resources and years of research to drive home the message that the idea of birth has changed greatly and control needs to be handed back to the birthing family. Rebecca L. Dekker, PhD, RN, APRN, LCCE, one of the speakers, is the founder and author of Evidence Based Birth. Her website https://evidencebasedbirth.com is an incredible resource for families that want to make informed choices about birth and the well being of their baby.
It was such an encouraging weekend because I too share an incredible passion for supporting women through their journey of health, assisting in preparing their body for pregnancy throughout prenatal care, postnatal care, and recovery postpartum. I also share the drive to educate and remind women that their pregnancy, their baby, and their body is, in fact, theirs, meaning, they are ultimately in charge of their birth plan. Creating a plan places birthing families in an active role in the birth of their baby and prompts questions and conversation with their providers. A relationship is established and trust in each other becomes invaluable.
Throughout their prenatal care I am constantly asking women if they are feeling supported and feeling heard. This is my way of inquiring whether they feel in control or if decisions regarding their birth are being made for them. I truly believe that the birth of a baby is more harmonious when a woman feels encouraged and empowered by those around her. Her support system may include her partner or spouse, family, and birth professionals (midwife, OB, doula, birth coach, prenatal yoga instructor, chiropractor, acupuncturist, massage therapist, etc.). Building a team of individuals to support you through your pregnancy is an incredible way to stay connected with your baby, remaining present when the pace of life can become easily distracting.
I loved being pregnant. I love each of my boys’ birth stories. Looking back I do feel I utilized my web of support and I am so very appreciative because I truly believe it contributed to healthy pregnancies and beautiful births. At times it took outstretched hands to remind me they were there for me. Especially during my second pregnancy, I found myself depending upon others more. It was humbling, but placing those feelings aside, I appreciated the reminders to take a few moments to myself and for my growing baby so our connection would be as great as it had been with my first. I’m not only thankful for my family and for my providers, but for all of those who asked how I was feeling. At times it seemed repetitive to answer that question, but I used it as a way to check in with myself, when most of the time I felt like I was giving all of my attention to my very spunky 2 year old!
Nothing about pregnancy and birth should be taken for granted. It is truly a blessing to be able to grow and birth a healthy baby Birthing professionals make it their passion to create an environment of support and empowerment, taking advantage of them will only contribute to your own amazing birth story.
Tips for Balancing Hormones
by Dr. Laura DeCesaris
Hormone imbalances are becoming more and more common across all age groups in our country. It can be tricky to find the root cause of a hormone imbalance, but it’s often even more complicated to treat these imbalances. This is because our endocrine system, the physiological system in our body that deals with hormones, is a complex, intertwined machine that deals with hormones our body makes, environmental compounds that mimic hormones, polluted food and water supplies, and stress, which may be one of the biggest impactors on hormone balance overall. While there are straightforward, pharmaceutical interventions for altering specific hormone systems, for many individuals it may be a safer approach to make a few changes that impact the endocrine system as a whole. While the following suggestions won’t fix every hormone problem for every person, they can’t hurt and will likely help a lot of people, whether you’re post-menopausal, feeling exhausted and worn down because of day-to-day stress, or are trying to change body composition.
Optimize Your Circadian Rhythm:
- Get to sleep! Sleep is integral for normal hormone function and secretion patterns. Lack of sleep can contribute to a vicious cycle of erratic hormone production. Seriously, put your phones on silent after 10, turn the lights out, forget the screen time…it’s non-negotiable if you want a healthy endocrine system. Use light-blocking glasses if you insist on staring at the screens after dark, or download an app to block blue light on your screen. Establish a bedtime routine, ignore anyone who makes fun of you for it, and fix your body.
- During the day, either get plenty of natural light (especially early in the day) or invest in a sun lamp. The light helps normalize our cortisol-melatonin rhythm, and if any of you have had any interest in stress reduction you’ll have likely read how important normal cortisol levels are.
Get Your Diet In Order.
- Eat the building blocks for hormones. Adequate protein and plenty of dietary fat.
- Pay attention to your caloric intake and carbohydrate consumption. If you’re a competitive athlete, aggressively weight training, or doing hard endurance training and burning through your glycogen stores, you probably can use some extra carbohydrates. If you’re more of a walking/yoga/occasional sprinter, you probably don't need extra carbs. Eat the carbohydrates you earn, and make sure they’re coming from quality sources like vegetables, root vegetables, fruits, and high-quality whole grains if you can handle grains.
- Get important minerals like zinc, selenium, magnesium, and calcium
Manage Your Stress:
- Chronic stress results in chronic production of a hormone called cortisol. In short bursts, cortisol is a great thing. Produced non-stop, it’s not. It can suppress testosterone production, thyroid hormone production, and make you insulin resistant. Remember that documentary called “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead”? Could be the dictionary entry for chronic cortisol production.
- If you get sick multiple times per year, wake up often in the middle of the night, are prone to anxiety and over-reacting, get overly fatigued, have trouble waking up in the morning, crave salt, or get tired in the afternoon, you could have some problems with cortisol production. It presents as MANY DIFFERENT THINGS because it’s that important to every body function.
- Everyone has unique stressors, but some major ones to look out for include: poor diet, excessive screen time (“FOMO”, anyone?), long commutes, lack of exposure to nature, and unhealthy relationships.
Step Out of Your Comfort Zone:
There are beneficial stressors that we can use to help balance our hormone systems: Cold exposure and Heat Exposure. Cold exposure helps improve insulin sensitivity, which is ideal for those dealing with blood sugar dysregulation, PCOS, PMS, etc. Sauna use has also been found to increase insulin sensitivity, in addition to having beneficial detoxification effects - sweat stinks because it’s waste products leaving the body!
Assess Your Exercise Routine:
- Overtraining is become more and more common. There is an upper limit to the benefits of working out, after which our bodies can begin to break down and our hormones cannot handle the stress of exercise.
- For hardcore Crossfitters, this may mean dropping down to 2 or 3x/week IF you are dealing with hormone dysfunction. For endurance junkies, this may mean dropping your weekly mileage for a few months until your body recalibrates. For those who may not exercise at all, it may mean starting some short, intense workouts. HIIT training is powerful if it’s kept to a reasonable duration - the benefits of HIIT rely on an all-out effort for a short amount of time, not a moderate effort for a long time.
- Increase your movement outside of the gym. Get up a take a few laps of the office, do some jumping jacks during commercials.
Ask Your Docs:
- At some point, you may need further laboratory assessment and guidance if your endocrine system has really gotten dysfunctional. Sometimes this means stepping out of “natural” treatments to get help, and that’s ok - replacement therapy is there for a reason. Other times, supplementation and healing plans are enough.
- Talk to different type of healthcare providers - MDs, DCs, RNs, nutritionists, trainers, etc. Everyone has a unique take on hormones, but educating yourself is paramount to recovery and healing. I can speak from personal experience that even with the knowledge I have, having a few major stressors over the course of a year is enough to seriously mess with your hormones. I enjoy speaking to my colleagues in different fields to see what I feel best about doing to help myself, and I suggest you do the same if this post speaks to you.
By Dr. Matt McGowan
With kids returning to their fall sports and activities, I have been getting an increasing number of questions on the topic of Concussions. This is obviously a very hot topic and a topic that is ever evolving as we learn more and more about head trauma. Many of my questions come from parents of children who are concerned about doing the right things for their children. I just wanted to highlight some of the more prevalent topics and provide some insight to help parents feel more comfortable about how to make informed decisions for their loved ones.
First it is important to understand that concussion and concussion- like symptoms are not only a result of direct head trauma. It is possible to get a concussion from a severe whiplash effect to the head causing the brain, which is suspended in fluid to bounce back and forth against the hard skull. This opens the possibility of concussions up to far more sports and activities than most assume.
Concussions are typically diagnosed based on a variety of symptoms that a person with a concussion or concussion-like symptoms may feel. These symptoms include, but are not limited to: headache, loss of consciousness, confusion or fog, amnesia surrounding the event, dizziness, ringing of the ears, nausea, vomiting, dazed look, and fatigue. Often in the days following the event, a concussed person will complain of difficulty concentrating, sensitivity to light, headache, irritability, sleep disturbances, and/or loss of appetite.
A test called the ImPACT test was developed as a more concrete way to diagnose the cognitive issues surrounding concussions. The idea was to get a baseline reading by having a healthy child take the computer-based test, and then if there should be some injury, the practitioner could repeat the test and measure the amount of dysfunction.
Many high schools have adopted the ImPACT test to help create baselines as well as evaluate potential concussive cases. However, there are often no baseline studies done on younger children. I am hearing more and more parents asking if their child is suffering from a concussion and, unfortunately, an initial baseline exam has not been done. Therefore, the practitioner can only rely on symptoms to diagnose.
Once a child is diagnosed with a concussion, there is a step down process that has to happen in order for a child to return to play. Once all protocols have been met, the practitioner can release the child back to his or her sport. This is very important because there is great danger in letting a child continue to participate with concussive symptoms. Studies show the most severe concussions occur when an athlete returns to play while still experiencing symptoms from an earlier concussion. The worst of these injuries is called Second Impact Syndrome, which has led to approximately 30 to 40 deaths nationwide in the past decade, according to the ImPACT test website.
While it is impossible to prevent the occurrence of concussions, I encourage all parents who plan on having their children participate in sports to go and get a baseline ImPACT test done. This way if there were to be an incident, a provider could do a follow up study to properly diagnose and manage your child’s care. You can locate a facility that does ImPACT testing by contacting your Primary Care Physician and asking for a referral, going to most neurologists, or by going to www.ImPacttest.com and searching for a provider by location.
During the recovery process, it can be greatly beneficial to have your child checked out for musculoskeletal trauma. Here at Core Therapies, we can assess your child for any muscular trauma that goes hand in hand with a lot of these head injuries. Many times removing excessive tightness within the muscles and fascia in the neck and head can reduce the severity of the concussive symptoms.
Baby’s First Adjustment
by Dr. Melissa Sonners
One of the greatest honors of my career is when a mom hands me her baby and asks me to check them. You may be surprised to hear that a baby would be checked and seen by a chiropractor, but after a bit of information it makes much more sense.
Whether it’s caused by a malposition in the womb, a long labor, or birth interventions such as forceps, vacuum or cesarean sections, babies often experience misalignments just as adults do. All three of our children were checked within hours of their births. An adjustment on a baby is very soft and gentle. The amount of pressure used is the same amount you would use to check for ripeness in a tomato. Their bodies are very pure and don’t need much input to self correct.
Most birth providers “assist” the baby out of the birth canal or abdomen (in case of cesarean section) by pulling on the head and neck to help get the shoulders out. This creates a lot of pull and pressure on the tendons and ligaments of the neck, jaw and shoulders. This can cause torsion of the baby’s neck leading to torticollis in some cases or avoidance of turning the head to one side which can cause flat spots on the head, difficulty latching on one or both sides in breastfed babies or a weak suck reflex. Prolonged labors can also cause disturbances in the cranial bones (the bones of the skull) which can affect the shape of the baby’s head as well as the ability to latch properly, creating a comfortable breastfeeding relationship for mom and baby. Many lactation consultants now refer to pediatric-certified chiropractors recognizing how beneficial chiropractic care can be in any breastfeeding issues.
Often babies need just a few sessions to clear out any interference caused in the womb or during the birthing process. Some parents choose to continue to have their babies checked throughout the first year as a way to be sure that all developmental milestones and neurological reflexes are occurring as they should.
Many use chiropractic care for their kids as a natural way to support their immune systems and help with ear infections. For more information about this, click here.
We are gratified to watch so many of the babies and young children in our office grow into healthy young adults. As always, we are here to answer any questions you may have about how we can help you and your family achieve optimal health.
Allergies and Autoimmunity
By Dr. Jason Sonners
At first glance someone may wonder what do allergies and autoimmunity have to do with one another? While they are actually very separate issues they both have a lot in common and understanding the similarities sheds some light on how to better address and treat these conditions. One thing I think we can all agree on is it appears that we are seeing an increase in the number of things people are allergic to and an increase in the prevalence of autoimmunity whether that be thyroid issues, Crohns, colitis, MS, Lupus, Arthritis, psoriasis or any other version.
Immune System Function
The primary job of the immune system can be broken into two steps:
- Be able to tell the difference between what is “self” and what is the outside world. Our own body and cells should never be considered a threat.
- Of the things that are not self, we need to be able tell the difference between good guys and bad guys; what is a threat and what is considered safe.
We are born with a naive immune system. In other words, as we develop and get exposed to more and more of the outside world, our immune system is constantly evaluating and learning. It is generally making lists of friends and foes, looking for threats and remembering who the bad guys are so we can attack them quickly when they show up.
If we are generally healthy and our environment is generally safe and clean, our immune system makes pretty accurate lists of what we need to protect ourselves from and what we can let pass through as safely.
In simple term our immune system’s list should look like this:
- All the cells we are made out of should be considered safe
- Properly digested healthy food should be considered safe
- Seasonal allergen (pollens, etc.) should be considered safe but possibly annoying
- Infections (bacteria, viruses, molds, etc.), toxins and other chemical should be considered dangerous and marked for attack and removal if detected.
If our immune system was actually behaving that way, we would not see the rise in allergies and autoimmunity that we are witnessing in our communities.
There are 4 causes of this increase in disease rates:
- Food (either due to poor digestion or due to processing/GMO/chemicals)
- Toxins (mercury/lead/pesticides/herbicides/glyphosate, etc.)
- Infections (EBV, Lyme, etc.)
- Immune system weakness (result of all of the above, inability to properly detect and react)
Put simply, the common thread between allergies and autoimmunity is that our immune system is overreacting. In the case of allergies, the immune system is overreacting to something in our environment (pollen, foods, mold, etc.) and in the case of autoimmunity, it is overreacting to a certain group of cells that is actually self.
So in reality our bodies are losing the ability to determine what is self, what is safe and what is a foreign invader needing to be destroyed. As a result we are finding immune cells that are attacking self, an overreaction to our environment and less of an ability to fight infections. All of this results in a generally weak and confused immune system.
The bad news: Allergies and autoimmunity typically get worse over time, not better, and it does not take weeks or months to correct. It really takes years.
The good news: There are reasons why this happens (the body does not behave this way for no reason) and there are great strategies for helping to fix these issues. In order to really address these conditions you need to :
- Remove the source. Clean and remove toxicities (metals, mold, subacute infection, processed foods).
- Regenerate the cells. Fix the cell membranes, relearn the environment, turn over a new layer of healthy cells.
- Restore cell energy. Nourish yourself properly through food and proper supplementation. Increase energy production and improved digestive system function.
- Remove inflammation. Detoxify the accumulated inflammation, allow the body to fight infection without as much medications.
- Re-establish methylation. Create a pathway for continued detoxification for a lifetime.
Want to learn more about this process? Dr. Jason is doing an in-house lecture on this topic Tuesday, August 15th in the Florham Park office. Click here for more information and to register.
by Dr. Laura DeCesaris
July is here and it finally feels like summertime in the northeast! ’Tis the season for beach weekends, barbecues, playing outdoors, and those ever-present summer cocktails and treats. How can we take care of ourselves this summer so that we can feel good, look good, and still be able to enjoy the social aspect of summer without sacrificing the progress we’ve made in caring for our bodies and minds? Read below for some tips on how to improve your detoxification ability in order to offset weekend summer parties so that you can have a fun, fit summer!
First, let’s talk detoxification. Our bodies have the machinery to help us navigate toxins in our everyday environments, yet we can improve the function of these systems by either reducing our toxic load or adding in nutritional support to provide the necessary “fuel” for this machinery to work!
Some strategies to help reduce our toxic load and encourage healthy elimination include the use of infrared saunas. Sweating has the important purpose of allowing our body to eliminate toxins and metabolic byproducts. Remaining well-hydrated and using an infrared sauna, which helps to heat your core temperature, allows you to safely and productively “sweat out” these compounds. Infrared saunas can be found in many day spas and yoga studios. Infrared sauna use is also a great time to practice meditation and take a much-needed break from our tech devices!
Ionic foot baths are another option for helping the body release toxins. These foot baths work by a chemical reaction that takes place between salt water and electricity, drawing ions out of our bodies. Why are ions in the body relevant? They are part of what determines our acidity or alkalinity; a more alkaline environment (which is encouraged by the use of foot baths) favors the removal of compounds called free radicals. Free radicals are reactive byproducts of liver detoxification that are linked to various disease processes - aka, we don’t want them hanging around! You can find ionic foot baths at many spas; additionally, we will soon have one available for use at Core Therapies.
From a dietary perspective, there are certainly things you can add into your routine to help provide the support for your body’s detoxification systems. This includes:
- Coffee, which actually has been shown in moderate amounts to offset alcohol-related liver damage and increase levels of glutathione, which is an important enzyme in detoxification. Just remember these studies look at coffee, NOT coffee-dessert blended beverages.
- Broccoli sprouts: Rich in a compound called sulforaphane, broccoli sprouts are one of the most potent detoxification-friendly foods around! Sulforaphane is a compound which activates various metabolic processes that help protect cells from toxins and carcinogens, and also helps direct glutathione activity. Try them on top of a salad or sandwich, or blend them into a smoothie if you don’t like the texture of sprouts.
- Collagen: Especially if you consume animal products, collagen protein is a great addition to your diet to help balance your amino acid ratio and reduce inflammation. Collagen is also great for hair, skin, and nails, and is gut-friendly and gut-healing. There are a lot of brands out there - my favorites are Vital’s Collagen Peptides and Bulletproof Collagen Protein, both found at Whole Foods or on Amazon. Try it in a smoothie or as part of a healthy summer dessert!
- Glutathione: This is the major detoxification enzyme in our bodies! There are several ways to support glutathione production and turnover, including eating cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, etc.), consuming high-quality whey protein, taking an N-Acetyl-Cysteine supplement, and eating polyphenols (found in a variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables).
- Green drinks with lemon and aloe: Good-quality water with liquid chlorophyll or an organic greens powder, some fresh lemon juice, and organic aloe vera juice or gel..an easy recipe for an anti-inflammatory, gut-healing, liver-supporting beverage! Have some between cocktails or in place of one..your body will thank you!
All Muscles Will Stretch
by Dr. Matt McGowan DC
“I have always had tight hamstrings, no matter how much I stretch them, they are always tight.” Have you ever heard yourself or someone else say something similar about one of their muscles? There are only two main reasons that can be true:
- You haven’t stretched long enough or hard enough
- You aren’t stretching the correct muscle
Case one needs no further explanation. The more common issue is case number two. The best way to explain case number two is by using hamstring muscles as an example. If a patient comes into our office with “tight hamstrings,” it’s our job to figure out why they are tight. The first thing we need to check is whether the sensation they are feeling is even coming from the hamstrings. Often the feeling of tension on your sciatic nerve can mimic the feel of tightness in the hamstring muscles. If they’re indeed dealing with sciatic tension and stretching the hamstrings constantly, not only are they not going to improve, but will actually make the problem worse over time by further irritating the nerve.
A second scenario we often see is that the hamstrings are “tight” because they are chronically in a stretched and stressed position due to the position of your pelvis. Most people are “quadriceps dominant” which pulls downward on the pelvis in turn pulling upwards on the hamstrings. This creates an imbalance of strength and the hamstrings will continually be sent signals from the brain to stay tight in order to try and offset this position. The key to fixing the hamstrings in this scenario is to loosen the quads, restore balance to the pelvis, and strengthen the hamstrings.
It can be complicated to work through this on your own. If you feel like you have an issue with an area of the body that will just not loosen up for you, come in, have it evaluated and figure out the correct treatment as you head towards optimal health.
Spring Green Cleaning: Making our homes clean and safe!
by Dr. Melissa Sonners
The day I turned around for a few seconds and turned back to find a baby Levi spraying our household cleaner into his mouth was a day I will never forget. I quickly called the company on the bottle and asked them what to do. They chuckled and assured me, no problem. They said there was nothing to worry about. Luckily, he had only ingested a small amount, but even luckier than that, we were using (and continue to use) essential oil cleaning products.
Our kids play on our floors and, at times, eat fallen snacks right off our counters. Not only that, their little developing lungs breathe in the air in our home, sleep on their sheets and lie on our rugs. This is one of the main reasons that most of the time I use the cleanest products available in our home. As I learn more and more about what is in traditional products, our older, more toxic household products have been and continue to be replaced with essential oil cleaning products. From our laundry to our countertops and floors to our dishwasher and our produce cleaning spray, clean cleaning products keep our house smelling fresh while being safe and at times beneficial to breathe in.
Dr. Meagan and I will be offering a workshop on Spring Cleaning with Essential Oils this month. We will talk about essential oils and how to use them in your home and replace some of your go-to cleaning products. Stay tuned for details.
Take a Trip to the Grocery Store with Dr. Jason and Dr. Melissa
by Dr. Jason Sonners
Whether I am treating someone with specific nutritional needs or working with someone on a more typical mechanical complaint like a shoulder or back issue, invariably the topic of nutrition comes up and somehow becomes a theme with my patients.
Very often I get a comment like, “I would just love to go shopping with you guys and see what you buy at the grocery store.” While actually coming with us would be difficult to coordinate, I decided to write this month’s blog on the topic to share some of what we buy and why with you.
Cooking/Buying Tip: Whenever possible you should not cook with olive oil. It does not tolerate heat well and turns into a trans-fat when it goes rancid under high heat. (Very light heat for a short time is ok). If sautéing veggies or cooking chicken or other proteins in some way, olive oil should not be used. We use it after the food is cooked and drizzle it on for flavor. Looking for “extra virgin” is a must on the label. Finding “USDA organic” on the label is a bonus as well since oil producer organizations such as the California Olive Oil Council and the Australian Olive Association require olive oil to meet quality standards that are stricter than the minimal USDA standards. You can look for their seal on the bottles.
Why we eat it: Olive oil is great for increasing Omega 9 fats which is great for heart and brain function, increasing HDL’s and decreasing LDL’s.
Other sources of Omega 9: avocado, sesame seeds, pistachio and macadamia nuts
Cooking tip: You can cook (on high heat) with coconut oil because it is saturated; it tolerates very high heat without converting to trans-fats. It does have a specific flavor; which depending on the dish may or may not be desirable. So keep that in mind when using it with different meals.
Why we eat it: Coconut is a source of saturated vegetable fats. These are medium chain triglycerides which have many benefits including increasing HDL’s, decreasing inflammation in the body, providing a great source of energy and also helping in prevention of diseases like dementia, heart disease and cancer. Coconut oil can also be used for, among other uses, oil pulling, skin and lip moisturizing, and make-up removal.
Cooking/Buying Tip: This is another vegetable based saturated fat that is great for cooking purposes. (By the way, saturated fats are healthy and safe to eat.) Unlike coconut oil, avocado oil does not have much flavor at all so it takes on the flavor of whatever you are cooking in it. We use both often, we just decide which one we want based on the flavors we are looking to create. We use it often as part of a salad dressing as well.
Why we eat it: The benefits of avocado oil combine the benefits of both coconut and olive oil. It also has lutein which is great for our eyes, provides vitamin E, and helps to reduce inflammation in our bodies.
Cooking/Buying Tip: We eat a lot of eggs in our house! Between the four of us who eat solid foods (we have a seven month old on a liquid diet) we eat between 2-3 dozen eggs per week. By far, the softer they are cooked the more nutritious they are (some of the nutrients are sensitive to heat) but either way they are very healthy. If by chance you happen to not have your own chicken, there are a few key words to look for when buying eggs. It is best to find eggs that contain the words “Organic” and “Pasture Raised” or at least “Cage Free” is better than the standard eggs we can purchase.
Why we eat them: They are a complete protein (like all animal based proteins) they contain all essential and non-essential amino acids. They have a decent amount of B vitamins (B2, 5, 9 and 12), have a great range of necessary minerals (calcium, zinc, iron, potassium and more) and are very low in carbohydrates. The majority of nutrients live in the yolk, so eating the yolk is recommended.
Contrary to popular belief, the cholesterol in our food makes up a very low percentage of our total cholesterol. So unless your cholesterol is wildly out of control eating eggs will not have a negative impact on your blood work and more eggs also help to increase HDL’s (the “good” cholesterol).
Cooking/Buying Tip: Whether you are looking for a pasta alternative or just looking for an interesting way to prepare veggies, shredded zucchini makes for a healthy, low carbohydrate and fun way to eat your veggies. Once shredded (spiralizer or shredding peeler both work) cook the zucchini in a pan by itself for a while. This will cook out some of the water that would make the rest of the meal soggy. Once the zucchini is cooked down and drained (cook it until it is as soft as you like it) you can add it to a stir fry, or meat sauce/meatballs or any other pasta-like dish you have prepared.
Why we eat it: This is a low carb, high nutrient vegetable that is easy to cook with and versatile in terms of pairing it with other foods. Zucchini contains B1, B2, B3, B6 and B9, plenty of minerals (magnesium, phosphorus, copper and zinc) and is a source of omega 3 fatty acids.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Cooking/Buying Tip: We use apple cider vinegar (ACV) as a dressing as well as medicinally. Most of my salads are dressed with avocado oil or olive oil along with apple cider vinegar. The ACV we buy is organic, raw and unfiltered. It should say those three terms on the bottle. If I am using it therapeutically I will take a spoonful once or twice a day. Melissa often makes a drink with warm water, ACV and lemon.
Why we eat it: ACV has many reported benefits from improved digestion to immune system building. Apple cider vinegar can help reducing mucus production, help clear sinus congestion and help relieve sore throats. ACV may also help keep blood sugar more under control, reduce dandruff, reduce nighttime muscle cramps and much more.
Quick Go-To Snacks
Protein shakes: We typically recommend vegetable-based protein shakes since the whey and casein in many dairy-based shakes tend to disagree with people’s tummies. We typically use Paleo Meal Dairy Free in our shakes.
Meat Sticks: Provided the sources of meat are of high quality (grass fed/grass finished, organic, hormone free and pasture raised) I do not see an issue eating moderate amounts these proteins. As far as jerky and sticks go, it is important that there are also low or no amounts of dangerous preservatives. We use a company called Nick’s Sticks which can be ordered online.
Nuts and seeds: We also eat quite a bit of nuts and seeds. I prefer pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, walnuts and pistachio based on their nutrient profile and lower carbohydrate content though other nuts and seeds are generally fine to eat as well. I recommend looking for raw and organic versions of these as these are typically healthier for us.
I hope these tips from our family, help your household along on your journey toward improved health.
Baby’s First Adjustment
by Dr. Meagan McGowan
Often while treating an expectant Mom we discuss the benefits of chiropractic care throughout pregnancy. During her prenatal care, we constantly discuss the progression of her pregnancy. I invite her to share her birth plan and what she envisions for the birth and delivery of her baby. Discussing these thoughts leads to many exciting and highly anticipated feelings surrounding the arrival of her baby. I love these conversations because they often lead to questions about how chiropractic care can assist in recovery post delivery, and most exciting, how
chiropractic care can benefit her newborn baby.
“How soon after delivery can I bring my baby in for an adjustment?”
Answer. As soon as you feel comfortable.
Our son was adjusted only hours after being born. There are many reasons for this. Labor and delivery requires teamwork, Mom and baby both playing their own vital roles, working in harmony to ensure a safe and healthy delivery. The process of delivery, even in the healthiest of births, is still stressful on baby. The primitive reflexes that develop in utero are quickly called upon during delivery. The baby is required to physically exist independently of Mom in a matter of moments, and it is the job of the nervous system and development of the primitive reflexes that make baby’s ability to breathe and feed seemingly so automatic. The sudden change in environment subjects their beautifully innocent nervous system to stress. They leave a warm, dark, quiet place and are immediately required to react to an environment full of stimuli. Prior to this, they spend on average 40 weeks in utero. Although a woman’s body provides a safe and secure environment, the baby is still reacting to any stress Mom endures, whether physical, chemical, or emotional.
For a baby, receiving the first chiropractic adjustment after being born is an incredible gift. As Mom has absorbed stress, the baby has as well. Their body must process and react to that stress, and an adjustment will alleviate stress and provide the baby with a solid foundation of good health. Growth and development is a job in itself for our little ones, ensuring their body is up for the task and transitioning strong is a way we can make day to day a little lighter for them.
As I mentioned in my previous blog regarding appropriate and safe prenatal care, I strongly suggest always seeking treatment from a Doctor of Chiropractic who specializes in the treatment of pediatrics. Although our goal of achieving optimal health is the same for adults and kids, the technique is slightly different. Adjusting a newborn, a toddler, an adolescent, all require a different touch. The assessment of their body and the understanding of how their body is communicating at such a young age is pertinent to their treatment and beneficial outcome. Specializing in pediatric care allows us at Core Therapies to treat each individual child appropriately, adjusting our approach and our touch, always taking into consideration the age, size, and development of the child.
I will leave you with this: Treating children is one of the most rewarding and fun experiences of my practice. The way they interpret and understand their treatment is absolutely amazing. Witnessing a child become so aware of their own body and feelings that they request an adjustment is just incredible. They know that it agrees with them and they enjoy the experience. Having a child feel comfortable with you, trust you, and smile at you while you adjust them is the greatest compliment.
Is Your January “Detox” Actually a Good Idea?
By Dr. Laura DeCesaris
As we welcome a new year, I’d like to talk about something that seems to have become a tradition in the health and wellness world in January: The “Detox.” Many of us may feel that we overindulged in the holiday months, and that the beginning of a new year is the perfect time to try that juice cleanse or detoxification program that our friend’s sister’s cousin-in-law is raving about! But what if we thought a little differently not only about the concept of a “detox,” but also about timing and whether or not this time of year is truly the best time to make big changes in our lives?
First, what is a “detox”? It’s become a slang word for crash dieting in some spheres, but it’s intended to mean lightening the toxic load of food, stress, and the environment on our bodies. People tend to try to change the way they eat after the holidays because they feel quite literally hung over from alcohol, sugar, and other foods and treats that the holidays bring. To truly detoxify ourselves, however, it’s important that we address our individual ability to actually detoxify, as well as something called our total toxic load - in other words, are we ACTUALLY toxic in the first place? If you want to clean up your diet for a few weeks to drop a few pounds you put on over the holidays, don’t call it a detox - it’s a diet, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But sipping juice for 10 days will typically result in a brief period of great skin, some changes in energy and even weight loss, only to see that weight return in the subsequent months as you go back to your typical ways of eating.
Rather than focus on cutting things out of your diet this January, I’d like you to focus on what you can add IN. Instead of telling yourself, “I’m going to cut out all sugar, alcohol, grains, and dairy, and hit the gym 5 days a week,” try the following: Each week, make a goal of what you can add IN to your life. That may be vegetables from every color of the rainbow, a green smoothie in the morning, ten minutes of meditation each evening, or a night out with your significant other every week. Been dying to try that new restaurant in town, but it was impossible to get a reservation during the holidays? If you’re “detox-ing,” eating out is usually a no-no. Use this time to go eat at that restaurant - the business owner will thank you, as January is typically a slower season for local business! Focus on doing something for you every day, or focus on trying a new workout each week. DON’T cut out solid food, drink maple syrup-vinegar-potions, or fast for 48 hours while working out every day (please!).
I personally love when people save their “detoxes” for the spring. It’s a better time of year for those changes, and generally people are in a different mindset as the sunshine and warmer weather starts to return. Just keep in mind if you do plan on doing a new year’s “detox” - one “detox” plan does NOT work for everyone, and we all have very individual abilities to actually process and detoxify our environment. I’m happy to help anyone who is interested identify what their toxic load actually is, and help you create an individualized plan to reach your health and wellness goals. My big suggestion is to wait a few months before thinking about what you want to cut out, and spend the time now on focusing on what you can add in. For now - add in a workout, add in some fresh produce, add in some quality time with your loved ones!
“Where did this pain come from?”
By Dr. Matthew McGowan
The most common question I am asked daily in practice is some form of the following:
“Why did this happen?”
“How can I just wake up with this?”
“What could have caused this?”
Often the answer is not a simple one. If you fall into this category, it is usually due to a conglomeration of issues causing you to reach a pain threshold. The best way to understand this is via a bar graph.
Figure 1 on the left represents a person staying just below the level of noticeable pain.
Figure 2 on the right shows a person who has crossed over into pain.
In these figures, the dotted line represents a symptom threshold. Anything below this line your brain does not interpret as pain. Anything above it and our brain says, “ouch.” We live day to day hopefully fluctuating well below this line.
The horizontal line is time; you can look at it day to day, month to month, or even year to year. As time progresses, we acquire and remove “blocks.” Blocks can be removable, reducible, or permanent. Permanent blocks are represented in red. Examples of permanent blocks can be from surgery, a birth defect, and genetic predispositions. These are all things that cannot be changed or helped and must be factored into your daily routines and activity levels. The blue blocks are the ones that are being added and deleted daily; they can also expand and contract. These are added in the case of over exercising, not getting enough sleep, not stretching, stress, etc. We will see a reduction of these blue blocks by getting adjusted, sleeping well, eating well, doing yoga, stretching etc.
The blue blocks are the reason we do what we do here at Core Therapies. Our goal is to control what we can, and get you as far below that pain threshold as possible. So when a person asks me, “How can I just wake up with pain…I’ve have been sleeping this way my whole life?” The answer is in the bar graph. You may have woken up in pain because you skipped stretching after your exercise class on Tuesday, ate poorly all week, and have stress at work. This morning, you hit the symptom threshold...you hit the dotted line. Ouch!
We always need to look at the whole picture and at what other areas of our lives may be affecting our health and wellness.
by Dr. Melissa Sonners
'Tis the beginning of the holiday season and the time of year when it can be tempting to put off our usual workouts and clean eating routines. Years ago a patient told me that she wanted to get on track with eating and working out, but that she would wait until February because no point in starting before the holidays. Unfortunately, she told me her plans in late October!
If you count up the holidays during November, December and January - depending on what you observe - it might be as many as ten or even fifteen days. If you consider that each holiday probably includes a special holiday meal, you’ll be breaking your routine for just 10-15 meals during these three months when you’ll eat approximately 276 meals overall (figuring 3 meals per day). Looked at from that perspective, it doesn’t seem so awful.
So why not start now? Even if you allow yourself to indulge in all those holiday meals you will still be way ahead come January. So go ahead and sneak some of your kids’ Halloween candy, enjoy your turkey dinner and pie, and have those Christmas cookies or Hanukkah latkes. Then get back on your healthy eating routine, head for the gym and don’t look back!
Our Annual Halloween Dilemma
by Dr. Jason Sonners
By the time you are reading this, summer is officially over, September has vanished, we are back in the fall swing of things and I am writing a blog about Halloween. Wow, time is really flying by.
I wanted to put a Halloween idea out there that we have been using in our family for a few years. I really do like the holiday. Melissa and I enjoy dressing up and of course our kids love it. Last year, in addition to going house to house for treats, we also participated in a parade in Morris Plains with Drs. Matt and Meagan and their son Briggs. To us, the holiday is a fun time to dress up, play and see friends and family.
Not surprisingly, our issue is the extraordinary amount of candy and sugar that celebrating this holiday exposes our little ones to. It’s not as if they never have any candy, and it is certainly not that they cannot have some on Halloween. It’s just that we do not think they need a pillowcase full of sugar to eat little by little for 3 weeks. This is why we began to introduce the “Switch Witch.”
The Switch Witch, not unlike the tooth fairy, comes to our home late at night while everyone is sleeping and exchanges each child’s bag of candy for a toy of their choice. Before she comes, we let them pick a few of their favorite pieces of candy to keep and eat, but the rest goes with the Witch.
The morning after Halloween, they awake to a toy by their bed that they love while forgetting all about the big bag of candy they collected the night before. Everyone’s happy.
In speaking with other families, I have heard the Switch Witch leaves money for some kids, toys or books for others…whatever works!
If you too are concerned about Halloween sugar consumption, maybe our “Switch Witch” can make a visit to your family this year. There’s no reason to miss out on the fun of this fun family holiday.
Chiropractic and Pregnancy
by Dr. Meagan McGowan
Whether planning to become pregnant, or as a part of a woman’s pre-natal or post-natal care, chiropractic care is safe and beneficial throughout all stages of pregnancy. It is very common to think of chiropractic care as treatment for physical symptoms, a pain or injury, but seeking chiropractic care as a part of your regular health regime throughout pregnancy is greatly recommended. Just like you would adjust your diet, take prenatal vitamins, attend supportive and educational classes, and schedule visits with your pregnancy care provider, being regularly adjusted is just as important.
Chiropractic is incredibly safe for Mom and baby. Our tables at Core Therapies adjust to fit Mom’s growing belly, so we can effectively treat their back and pelvis while relaxing lying face down. This allows us to utilize the Webster Technique, a chiropractic technique developed to check and align the pelvis as it changes to provide room for the growing baby. The Webster Technique is a gentle, noninvasive, manual technique that properly aligns a woman’s pelvis through gentle pelvic adjustments and assessment of the round ligaments (ligaments that attach the uterus to the internal pelvic wall). As the pelvis expands and hormones loosen expanding ligaments, it is important that women are regularly checked for pelvis misalignment and muscle tension. Stress in this area not only creates physical symptoms for Mom but also affects the baby’s environment. Having a well-aligned pelvis free of stress and strain provides the best environment for baby, so he or she may reach their most optimal position in utero. As it is not in our scope of practice to turn babies, by removing stress surrounding the baby created by muscle tension or a poorly aligned pelvis, the baby is able to adjust to their most optimal position on their own!
When trying to become pregnant or throughout pregnancy, chiropractic care should be provided by a Doctor of Chiropractic educated in treatment of prenatal and postnatal care. Not only is the manual therapy provided safely and effectively but we can also offer emotional support, answering questions and providing guidance so you are able to make informed decisions you are comfortable with. By specializing in treatment of pregnant women as well as having our own personal experience, we’ve created a network of providers so that we can offer you the support you need.
At Core Therapies we strive to create a practice filled with support for all stages of pregnancy, providers who specialize in prenatal and postnatal chiropractic care, massage, bodywork and breathwork, acupuncture, and functional nutrition. If you have any questions about how we can help you throughout your pregnancy please let us know!
Unleash your “Inner Kid”
By Dr. Laura DeCesaris
As August begins and we all continue to enjoy summer in its full swing, I’ve been asking a lot of people about their favorite summer activities and how they are taking time to enjoy themselves on the beautiful days we have been having. Whether it’s traveling to the beach or mountains, hanging by the pool or staying cool inside with a game or book, many of us fall into our “weekday” and “weekend” routines during the summer. For many adults, this revolves around taking the kids to various activities and keeping them busy. Something I have been hearing a lot from my adult patients is a desire to have some time to “play outside like their kids” or just to “be a kid again” in general - because that common summer image of kids playing in sand or jumping in the waves at the beach is something that is appealing to many of us as adults, too! It’s easy to get caught up with social obligations and responsibilities in the summer (even though these are often fun), and we often push aside small enjoyments to make room for more engagements and responsibilities. So as we head into the second half of summer, here are some ideas on how to break out your “inner kid” and improve your health and happiness:
Find a swing. There’s a reason swings are used as tools for various physical therapy professions. Swinging activates our proprioception system (think physical balance combined with movement and navigation), and also promotes sensory integration. Swinging can also be helpful for those of us that have just been overstimulated all day, whether that’s due to commuting in traffic, being in crowds, carpooling, etc.
Start coloring. “Adult” coloring books have become quite popular over the past year or so, and have consistently been some of the top sellers on amazon.com. Coloring can reduce stress and may even help with emotional processing in general. Don’t limit yourself to adult versions and have fun with it, with or without your kids!
Make something - anything! Arts and crafts classes, racetracks for toy cars, pictures that get put on the fridge…think about all of the things kids “make” on a daily basis. When did that stop for some of us as adults? Pick up an old hobby or grab a new one, take a community class, add some “art” to your cooking (even if it turns out badly). Studies have found it’s not how “perfect” our creations are that is beneficial for health and happiness, but just the act of making something that can activate biochemical processes in our bodies that result in calming of the nervous system and release of “happy” hormones.
Give yourself the gift of doing nothing. Even if it’s just for 5 minutes, push aside the internal nagging about what you “should” be doing. Instead, go lay under a tree, on your bed, on a porch swing, wherever - and let your mind wander. Get lost in some random, undirected thought process. In the long run, short spurts of “daydreaming” can enhance creativity and problem solving, as well as help us sync together cognitive and emotional integration that we need to stay grounded and emotionally healthy.
Climb a tree. Humans have been doing it for a long, long time. Reap both the relaxation benefits of literally getting in touch with nature as well as the proprioceptive benefits (just like the swing!). If you’re not a “nature person,” there are elements of more formal workouts that involve climbing, such as MovNat and Parkour (and even some CrossFit workouts).
Hug more. Somewhere along the line as we grow up, we stop hugging everyone and everything. Actual contact from people we trust can cause all of our “happy hormones” to begin a cascade that can actually last for an entire day. Cortisol, our stress hormone, drops as well as our blood pressure, and our immune system gets an extra boost. Why do you think so many of us “need a hug” when we’re not feeling great, from an illness, stress, or otherwise? It’s easy in today’s over-sterilized world to settle for a wave or a brief handshake, but I challenge you to take a day and hug people as a greeting. See if it doesn’t change your or someone else’s day for the better.
Are you sure you are dealing with Tendinitis?
By Dr. Matthew McGowan
The summer season is now in full swing and I am sure many of you out there are currently dealing with some sort of nagging pain left over from spring activity that you assume is Tendinitis. The term Tendinitis may be one of the most overused words in the medical field, and unfortunately the failure to distinguish it from it's not so similar cousin Tendinosis has kept many people from becoming truly pain free. The distinction between the two can be simply understood if you break down the words themselves. The “-itis” in Tendinitis means an inflammation or irritation of said tissue. The “-osis” in Tendinosis refers to a breakdown of tissue at a cellular level due to chronic injury or stress. There is an absence of chronic inflammation in this condition; however the tendon cannot function properly in this state.
All this is well and good, but how do you know which one you have? Well the easiest way to figure it out is to see how the pain is affected by usage.
When you go to work out does the pain get worse the longer you work out, or does it improve?
That’s it, it can be that simple,. If you work out and the pain continues to stay the same or worsen, you have an inflammatory condition, you have Tendinitis. If the pain eases up as you work out or exercise, you have Tendinosis.
The biggest problem with not being clear on what type of tendon injury you have is that the treatments differ greatly. So now that you know what you may be dealing with, let’s be sure your treatment is correct
Treatment for Tendinitis generally involves: Rest, ice, light stretching, and stopping of activity that causes the pain until the pain is resolved. After the initial pain level starts to drop, you can begin to have A.R.T. (Active Release Techniques) performed on the tissue.
Treatment for Tendonosis generally involves: Muscle lengthening with time under tension. This includes A.R.T. (Active Release Techniques) and eccentric lengthening. This is not a condition that resolves through traditional stretching; you need exercises given to you by your practitioner that specifically target the injured muscle to spend time under tension during the eccentric phase of the exercise. The eccentric phase of an exercise is when the muscle contraction fights to slowly return the weight to its starting position. For example in a bicep curl, it would be the tension placed upon the bicep to not allow the weight to just freefall back to the starting position.
If you should have any questions regarding this concept, or need help in figuring out the proper plan for your recovery please ask your provider. We have seen this simple differentiation help people recover quite quickly from chronic issues once they realize that their recovery efforts may not have matched the problem.
Still Getting to Know My Own Body
By Dr. Melissa Sonners
As I approach maternity leave with our third child, you would think I’d have this whole pregnancy thing down to a system and know exactly how my body reacts! Truth is, I have been shocked by some of the ways my body has responded this time around and am doing my best to just “go with it.”
Luckily, I do feel I have been blessed with healthy pregnancies for the most part. My energy is good, my appetite and “cravings” are pretty normal and healthy with room for the occasional splurge because to me life is no fun without those allowances! But, still, third time in I still constantly remind myself that it is normal for my body to need to slow down when my head is telling me to “go, go, go.” I often tell patients that our bodies absolutely change as we age and the key to staying healthy and feeling great is to get to know your new body and what it is asking for. I have needed to embrace my own advice while getting to know my “new body” during this pregnancy and adjust my plan for the day accordingly. If I fold and put away laundry, I know I won’t have the physical stamina to run around outside with the kids so we do cuddles on the couch and watch a tv show or I take them to a small park where I can sit on a bench and see them both. Also, having a physically demanding job, I know I need to take it easy before seeing patients rather than running around getting as much done as I can.
Things in my body also seemed to shift a lot earlier in this pregnancy. My joints have felt looser than during the other two pregnancies and I have had to take extra special care of myself in order to feel good enough to chase after our very active boys. My weekly adjustments, yoga, monthly acupuncture with Katrina and monthly massage with Megan have helped me stay on top of my ever changing body and feeling as good as possible throughout.
And still, despite my best efforts to stay healthy, my immune system took a major hit this winter which was really difficult to process. All I could eventually do was just go with it, remind myself that a part of being healthy is getting sick and letting your body rest (as much as possible) and that I would get back on track when I felt better. My biggest lesson learned through this was how fortunate I am for my health. I know many struggle with chronic illnesses, chronic pain, cancers, etc., and feel sick everyday. I give them major kudos for staying positive. Everything felt like a struggle when I didn’t feel well for so long.
So now, as I mentally prepare for our third delivery I remind myself that just because I have done it twice before doesn’t mean I have any idea how this third one will go and I have to just embrace it for what it is, do what I can to have the best birth possible for me and my baby, and to be okay with the outcome no matter what, knowing I did the best I could.
May is Better Hearing & Speech Month!
By Emily Glynn, M.A., CCC-SLP
Every May, millions of people celebrate Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM). It is during this time each year when we raise awareness about hearing and communication disorders and the importance of early treatment by certified professionals such as Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists. Better Hearing & Speech Month was founded in 1927 by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). This year, ASHA’s theme of Better Hearing & Speech Month is “Communication Takes Care.”
Communication is the building block to successful learning, development, social interactions, and relationships with others. Communication begins in infancy as a child uses its senses to interpret information from others around them. Even before the time a child speaks, a baby’s brain can already distinguish between sound patterns that are important to focus on versus sound patterns that are not.
During a child’s first year, two areas of the brain are closely connected and related to speech. Broca’s area is responsible for motor control of speech which allows a child to form meaningful words. Wernicke’s area is an important processing center for speech comprehension. When a child’s speech centers and motor skills become strong during early development, they will then have the ability to produce their first word.
According to ASHA, Speech and Language disorders are among the most common conditions in children and recent studies have shown that these disorders are on the rise in the United States. Communication disorders that are untreated can lead to difficulties with reading, writing, learning, academic achievement, as well as social skills. Early detection and treatment of communication difficulties is imperative for a child’s success and overall well-being.
It is always helpful to know general guidelines for children’s development. However, it is important to understand that every child is different in their trajectory of Speech-Language development. There is variation on the rate and how each child develops. To help you monitor your child’s speech and language development, I have compiled the general communication milestone chart below for your reference.
To celebrate Better Hearing & Speech Month, I will be providing complimentary screenings to children ages three and older whose dominant language is English during the month of May at our Florham Park location. For additional information and/or to schedule a screening appointment, please contact our office at (973) 240-7251.
Early Childhood Speech-Language Milestone Chart
Birth to 6 Months
- Frequently coos and makes pleasurable sounds
- Sometimes repeats the same sound
- Uses a different cry to express various needs
- Smiles when spoken to
- Recognizes familiar people and objects
- Localizes to sound by turning head and/or gazing eyes
7 to 12 Months
- Understands “no”
- Follows simple requests such as “come here” or “give me”
- Understands and responds to own name
- Recognizes words for common items
- Uses a large variety of sounds in babbling (ex. /p/, /b/, /m/, etc.)
- Produces a combination of sounds
- Imitates some adult speech sounds and intonation patterns
- Uses vocalizations rather than only crying to get attention
- Begins to intentionally use speech
- Begins to change babbling to jargon
- Uses gestures and/or vocalizations to express wants
- Sometimes plays games such as “pat-a-cake” or “peek-a-boo”
13 to 18 Months
- Imitates individual words
- Uses adult-like intonation patterns
- Follows simple commands
- Receptively identifies 1 to 3 body parts
- Has an expressive vocabulary of 3 to 20 words
- Frequently responds to songs or rhymes by vocalizing or trying to sing along
- Greet and say goodbye to others
- Anticipate familiar routines such as “snack time” or “bath time” when announced
- Recognizes the moods of most speakers
19 to 24 Months
- Uses words more frequently than jargon
- Has an expressive vocabulary of 50 to 100 or more words
- Begins to combine 2 words to communicate
- Is approximately 25% to 50% intelligible to unfamiliar listeners
- Asks and answers “what’s that?” questions
- Imitates sounds around him/her during play such as sounds of cars or animals
- Knows 5 body parts
- Enjoys listening to stories
- Labels familiar objects, toys, food items, etc.
- Points to objects and pictures when named
- Performs actions such as “jump”, “throw”, “run”, “swing”, etc. when asked
- Enjoys playing with others
2 to 3 Years Old
- Requests items by name
- Identifies several body parts
- Follows 2 to 3 step directions
- Asks 1 to 2 word questions
- Answers a variety of “wh” questions with more than a yes/no
- Produces 2 to 4 word phrases
- Has an expressive vocabulary of approximately 50 to 250 or more words
- Says at least 2 new words each week
- Consistently produces initial consonants of words
- Uses some pronouns (I, you, me), possessive morphemes, and regular past tense verbs
- Express that he/she needs help with personal needs such as washing hands, going to the bathroom, etc.
- Able to identify an object from a group of 5 different objects when requested
- Engages in make-believe play
3 to 4 Years Old
- Follows 2 and 3-step directions
- Understands object functions and opposites
- Uses language to express emotion
- Produces 4 to 5-word sentences
- Has an 800 to 1,500 or more word expressive vocabulary
- Speech productions are approximately 80% intelligible to an unfamiliar listener
- Maintains a topic of conversation by taking turns and commenting appropriately on what the other person says
- Is increasingly inventive in fantasy play
- Names some colors
- Consistently uses regular plurals, possessives, and simple past tense verbs
- Uses some contractions, irregular plurals, future tense verbs, and conjunctions
4 to 5 Years Old
- Imitatively counts to five
- Is able to count to 10
- Listens to short, simple stories and can answer questions about them
- Uses adult-like grammar most of the time
- Has an expressive vocabulary of approximately 900 to 2,000 or more words
- Produces 4 to 8 word sentences
- Answers complex two part questions
- Asks for word definitions
- Accurately tells about experiences at school, at friends’ homes, etc.
5 to 6 Years Old
- Follows instructions given to a group
- Asks “how” questions
- Uses past tense, future tense, and conjunctions correctly
- Sequentially names days of the week
- Counts to 30
- Continues to drastically increase expressive vocabulary
- Exchanges information and asks questions
- Produces detailed sentences
- Accurately relays a story
- Sings entire songs and recites nursery rhymes
- Communicates easily with adults and other children
- Uses appropriate grammar in most cases
Information to compile this developmental milestone list was taken from the Assessment in Speech-Language Pathology, A Resource Manual, Third Edition (2004) by Kenneth G. Shipley and Julie G. McAfee as well as the Receptive-Expressive Emergent Language Test-Third Edition (REEL-3) assessment measure.
What is Occupational Therapy...and when should you reach out to an OT?
by Dipa Patel OTR/L
April is OT Awareness Month!
The American Occupational Therapy Association identifies occupational therapy (OT) as “the only profession that helps people across the lifespan to do the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of daily activities (occupations). Occupational therapy practitioners enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health, and prevent—or live better with—injury, illness, or disability.”
Occupational therapists work with a variety of age groups with a wide range of physical and psychosocial domains. An occupational therapist may work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, mental health centers, private clinics, home care, school systems, and early intervention systems. They can be instrumental to the rehabilitation team for an individual with physical disabilities such as stroke, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, upper extremity injury, hip replacement, as well as other orthopedic conditions. The occupational therapist assists with helping to regain function through individualized activities and adaptations to the environment of the home or workplace. An occupational therapist in mental health helps to increase an individual’s ability to function independently while engaging meaningfully and productively in the community. The occupational therapist provides client-centered treatment to help facilitate participation within the natural environment to promote success in roles an individual may develop, such as working, relationship development, managing a home, and managing medication.
A pediatric occupational therapist works with children with many developmental disabilities including Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Spina Bifida, Down Syndrome, and Attention-Deficit Disorder. An occupational therapist may utilize various treatment approaches to help a child function optimally with their “occupation.” A child’s occupation consists of activities to help develop skills that will assist them in settings such as the school, home, and community-based programs for lifelong skill development. When a child is not able to function at the age-appropriate level for skills such as fine motor, gross motor, language, academics, self-care, and social development, an occupational therapist may be sought for evaluation of the “whole child” to determine the need for services. The therapist may determine the underlying deficits that are affecting learning, attention, performance, social and behavioral skills. The deficits may include sensory processing skills, reflex integration, body awareness and motor planning difficulties, gross motor and fine motor coordination, postural control deficits, visual-motor or perceptual skills, oculomotor skills, and bilateral coordination skills. The therapist would help strengthen the foundation of these underlying skills to help attainment of higher level skills. An occupational therapist would be an integral part of the team working with the child, but also with the family/caregivers, other providers, and teachers to help with facilitating success.
If you have further questions about what occupational therapy is or how a pediatric occupational therapist can benefit your child, please feel free to call the office or contact me at [email protected]
What’s Really Causing my Symptoms?
by Dr. Laura DeCesaris
As we head into March and (hopefully) the spring season, I’m often asked by patients to help them figure out if their sinus problems, digestive problems, or headaches (amongst other things!) are due to seasonal allergies. The question that follows is often “if it’s seasonal allergies like I’ve been told…why do I feel this way most of the year?” Let’s look at a few different processes that might be causing the same symptoms in different people:
True seasonal allergies:
- The runny nose, watery or swollen eyes, sneezing as soon as you step outdoors…allergies to pollens, grasses, and trees typically cause symptoms immediately upon exposure. Stay inside for a day with the windows shut and your symptoms don’t seem as severe? Likely a seasonal allergy.
- There are different ways to help your body deal with seasonal allergens - quercetin, nasal irrigation or sprays, reducing any foods that may worsen your symptoms, and changing clothes and sheets are often all helpful.
- Histamine intolerance is a condition that develops because your body cannot tolerate high levels of histamine. Histamine is normally produced by the body in response to an allergen, but is also found in many foods we eat. Rather than experiencing an immediate reaction (such as with a pollen allergy), histamine intolerance reactions build up over time. Think of it as a pitcher of water: If the pitcher is full, even a small drop will make it overflow. If the pitcher is half-full, it takes more water (aka histamine), for the water to overflow.
- What are some common symptoms? Itching, hives, sinus swelling, nasal congestion, runny nose, headache, heartburn, brain fog, increased heart rate. As you can see, many of these symptoms resemble seasonal allergies or other common conditions, so histamine intolerance is often overlooked by healthcare practitioners.
- Histamine intolerance does have ties to food intake, so if you feel that your “sinus and allergy” symptoms definitely worsen with some kinds of foods, it’s worth looking into. While you may not have found a pattern, your doctor can help you identify if this may be the case.
- Limiting intake of high-histamine foods while symptoms are present, as well as supplementation of things such as quercetin, black cumin seed oil, probiotics, and DAO are necessary for those with histamine intolerance.
Food sensitivities or food allergies:
- While sensitivities to foods can cause nasal congestion, there are almost always digestive and/or brain symptoms that accompany food sensitivities and food allergies.
- Symptoms such as congestion, increased mucus, stomach pain, or itching often come on within minutes to a few hours of having the offending food, and can last for 2-3 days.
- Symptoms such as brain fog, poor memory or concentration, or balance/coordination issues can be immediate, but may also be signs of longer-standing exposure to foods that one is sensitive to. Poor skin quality, hives, and itchiness may also show up within a few days or take several weeks to develop.
- Testing for food sensitivities through Applied Kinesiology muscle testing or labs such as Cyrex labs can help zero in on offending foods.
- Removal of the foods, along with some gastrointestinal support to ensure integrity of the gut lining, typically alleviates symptoms.
If you have any questions or are trying to get to the root cause of your "allergies," feel f ree to call the office or reach out to me at [email protected]
By Dr. Meagan McGowan
The month of February is well known for shades of pink, displays of chocolate and red roses. Expressions of love have been retail establishments since the beginning of the New Year. I am certainly one who enjoys the change in holiday décor, but the month of February has extra special meaning to our family. February is Heart Awareness Month, a month that we hold near and dear to our hearts because of a baby boy named Hayden.
Hayden, born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, emitted love and light from his beautiful eyes and infectious smile. Unknowing of his road ahead he took on everyday, every challenge as the heart warrior he was. The support he gathered, and still today the number of people that know of his amazing story, following his mother’s blog, leaves me speechless (her blog can be found at www.haydensheart.org). Unlike his mother, who writes so beautifully, I find it difficult to express the effect that little boy had on me. In the short time we had together, and for the happenstance that his mom chose me as his Chiropractor, I am forever thankful.
My family and I continue to support Hayden’s memory in many of our own ways. We dedicated our son’s first birthday to Hayden and we talk about him often, especially when we stumble upon the shape of a heart in what would seem like the most obscure places, a rock on the sidewalk, the shape of a leaf, a cloud in the sky. We believe that’s Hayden just saying hello!
Hayden’s Heart foundation was established to honor Hayden and to raise awareness of the diagnosis of Congenital Heart Defect (CHD). Nearly 1 in every 100 children is born with a CHD. Hayden’s Heart supports families in time of need and stands as a platform for people to become more educated on the diagnosis of CHD. Hayden’s parents, Ady and Rob Dorsett, together with the support of family and friends have taken incredible measures to continually support families with their own heart warriors. Through their determination to make a difference and to honor Hayden they are able to sustain a foundation funded only by donations that can bring a smile to the face of a child in need. Care packages are frequently delivered to the Cardiac Unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (where Hayden spent a good deal of his time). Grieving mothers are welcomed to a retreat where they can be in the company of and receive support from other Heart Moms. “Aden and Anais,” an amazing product line for children, has dedicated a swaddle to Hayden, produced with his footprints. It is easily one of my favorite gifts for every new mom! The list of events and ways you can support can all be found at www.haydensheart.org
Here at Core Therapies we are going to honor Hayden and his family by displaying our thoughts of how to spread love throughout the month of February. We encourage each of you to help spread your love with us. We will be writing down our intentions on white hearts complete with Hayden’s footprints displayed for all to see. For a donation of your choice, we would be honored if you let us display a white heart that you fill out expressing how you will spread love to others. We hope that upon entering Core Therapies, seeing all the white hearts displayed brings you a feeling of joy, like thinking of Hayden does for my family and me.
With love, Happy February!
UNCLE… I give up! (Or, Dr. Jason goes down hard!)
By Dr. Jason Sonners
Most of you reading this know that I take wellness and prevention very seriously. I try to stay on the forefront of nutrition both in terms of proper foods as well as potential supplementation with vitamins. I stay current with exercise trends and use this knowledge to keep myself in shape and keep my family active. I also study as much as I can about stress control and management. The more we learn about this, the more we see that stress mismanagement is likely the cause of many, if not all, of our chronic diseases. In all three areas – nutrition, exercise and stress management - I share best practices with all of you in the hopes that you too begin to take wellness and prevention seriously. I am confident in saying that when we nourish ourselves properly, move our bodies frequently and manage our stress appropriately, we are able to express our true health.
So why, in November, was I down for the count with a nasty virus? I got hit pretty hard and it came out of nowhere. I’d been feeling really good prior to that. I don’t get sick often and don’t like when I do (who does?). So while lying in bed feeling absolutely miserable, I started thinking about what I could have done to prevent this.
I’d been eating pretty well in the weeks leading up to this episode. Since I’d been eating mostly at home where Dr. Melissa keeps me well nourished, I don’t think my diet was the culprit. I’d been working out 4+ days a week for months leading up to getting sick so, again, I don’t think it was for lack of movement.
But when I assessed my stress levels, they were way above average and my usual care plan for stress management had been completely deficient! When I’m on top of my game, I have chiropractic adjustments twice a month, a monthly session with “Massage Megan” and acupuncture with Katrina every 6-8 weeks. But I’d let things slip and with long working hours (my choice…I love my work) and long nights with a three year old who hasn’t been sleeping through the night (not my choice), stress was taking a toll.
I always tell patients not to let the times you need it the most, be the times you get it the least. Make time for things that help you recover, remain balanced and maintain your health. If you do that, you’ll be fine and if you don’t, well, like what happened to me, it will catch up to you.
Obviously getting sick is a small episode in the bigger picture. Our overall health is the cumulative result of a lifetime of choices. It is what we do on a regular basis that determines our health, not what we do once in awhile. So, this was just a tough reminder for me to get my act together and start taking better care of myself. If you can learn from my example, I will have done my job and gotten all of us off on the right foot as we begin the new year.
Meat makes its way back into the headlines!
Dr. Jason Sonners
As I am sure you have heard, the World Health Organization recently classified processed meats as Class 1 (cancer causing) carcinogens, and is warning people to consume less of these products as well as recommending the consumption of less red meat. Naturally I have had many patients ask me about this, so I decided to make it this month’s blog post.
These conclusions were reached by conducting an analysis of other studies over time. The overall result of the analysis found a RELATIVE increase in risk of 18% in colorectal cancers (cancers of the large intestine) for those consuming roughly 50 grams of processed meat per day (about 4 slices of bacon). Let’s take this piece by piece.
1. This was a study about processed meats, specifically ham, sausage, bologna, hot dogs, etc. Under any circustances, we should be avoiding these meat products or certainly limiting them. They are the least healthy of the meat group products.
2. If we choose to consume processed meats, it is important to select grass fed, pasture raised, hormone free, antibiotic free, nitrate free, preservative free versions of these foods. Of course these foods were not part of the study data which included only agri-grown, corn and soy fed, hormone and antibiotic laden meat products. As we have discussed in prior posts, these types of meat products are full of inflammatory chemicals known to make us ill and certainly worthy of the carcinogen label.
3. The risk is still relative. In an article I read, Jonathan Schoenfeld, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School's Department of Radiation Oncology, discussed relative risk. He stated that if you had a 10% risk of colon cancer in your life, and then ate your 50 grams/day of processed meats, the risk would increase to 11.8%. Not an incredible amount of change...and that is while still making the poorer meat choices used in the studies, not trying to find healthier sources of these foods as discussed above.
At the end of the World Health Organization paper, it states that red meat in general may also cause cancer. To this I say again: Where is the study to show that grass fed, pasture raised, active, healthy and hormone/antibiotic free meat chock full of healthy protein and Omega 3 (anti-inflammatory fatty acids) is actually very good for us and does not do the same damage as meat from the far more common corn and soy fed, antibiotic/hormone given, fat, sedentary and unhealthy animals laden with OMEGA 6 (highly inflammatory fatty acids)?
The organization’s take-home message: By eating a healthy diet, staying a healthy weight and being active, it estimates that half of colorectal cancers could be prevented. Obviously, to this statement, I would have to agree.
- Eat less processed food…PERIOD!
- Eat less sugar!
- Eat more organic vegetables! (wash them please)
- Choose healthy sources of meat!
- Move your body every day!
By Dr. Matt McGowan
This time of year marks the beginning of a time in our calendar that can tend to get quite busy. These times are often filled with holidays, family, and beautiful weather. However when people reflect on this time of year they start to think of negative images such as traffic, busy schedules, and bills. It is these negative images and thoughts that can have a major impact on not only our health but our enjoyment of what should be a wonderful time of year for us all.
Lately I had noticed myself submerged in more of a stressful state than normal. Constant “To-Do Lists” were flowing through my mind on a daily basis. Each night going to bed I could not help but think of what I could do the next day to plow through these tasks in preparation for the following day. Before I knew it, three weeks had passed and it had seemed like three days. I really didn’t like feeling this way; I felt like I was living in the cliché that people always refer to as, “where does the time go?” I wondered what had changed and why I had gotten into such a rut. Then I remembered an article I had read some time ago on practicing gratitude. The article was written by Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University.
The idea behind the article was to figure out what contributes to our happiness and how much of it can we control? In the article entitled “Expressing Gratitude,” Dr. Sonja argues that there are three overall components that make up our total level of happiness. The first 50% is the basic level of happiness that you are innately born with. The next 10% is your current life circumstances. It is the final 40% that she argues is the most important, which is “Intentional Activity.” The reason why it is so important is the simple fact that we can control it completely. Dr. Sonja believes that the key to controlling this 40% is by exercising gratitude.
How do you express gratitude? Well this can be different for each individual. It can be thanking people that are important to you in your life, it can be through religion, it can be simply reflecting on the small little moments in life that make you happy. These can be the type of moments that fly right by you without any notice when you are stuck in a negative frame of mind. Gratitude does not have to be verbally expressed out loud; it can simply be a reflection or a thought.
There are thousands of exercises out there to work to improve your level of gratitude, think of it as an exercise. You must practice this to become good at it. I chose to simply replace my “to do list thoughts” with a positive reflection of my day. Just that simple thing alone made my next few days feel like they were three hours longer. With just this small change alone, I began to notice so many more details throughout my day whether it be feeling the nice weather, observing other people being polite to one another out in public, or even catching green lights when in a hurry. These all may seem like simple things, but if you add them all up and feel more productive at the end of a long day, it is absolutely worth it.
I hope we can all work to better ourselves and improve our frame of mind going into this last part of the year. You can read Dr. Sonja's article at http://www.gratefulness.org/resource/expressing-gratitude.
Boosting your Immune System
By Dr. Laura DeCesaris
Many of us experience firsthand the colds, flus, and other illnesses that too often accompany the shift towards the cooler seasons. There are many reasons why this is the case. Kids are off to school and daycare, where they are exposed to a variety of different “bugs." For adults, there is a change in schedule involving soccer and football games, school drop-offs, a return to a regular work schedule, and more. Add in the stress that accompanies various holidays and the change in weather and it’s no wonder we tend to “get sick” more often this time of year. The good news? There’s a lot you can do to start building your immune system now to help prep you for the cooler months. Here’s a list of my favorites:
1.Elderberry: Great for both kids and adults due to its mild flavor and general lack of side effects. Elderberry is loaded with flavinoids (such as quercetin), which are compounds that destroy the ability of cold and flu viruses to infect our cells. Additionally, this herb also helps regulate our overall immune response, so using it in the absence of a cold virus is still beneficial. Try Umcka brand, sold at most health food stores.
2.Fire Cider: This “tonic” has been used for many years in the alternative health field. The apple cider vinegar-based tonic contains extracts of ginger, turmeric, lemon, garlic, onion, cayenne, parsley, horseradish root, and other compounds which together help boost metabolism and the immune system. If you’re feeling congested, 1 teaspoon of fire cider will certainly help clear out the sinuses! Look for a free recipe near the front desk at Core. Don’t have time to make it yourself? We hope to have some fire cider made by Dr. Laura available by mid-October here in the office.
3.Vitamin D: As the sunlight of summer starts to decrease and we spend more time indoors, we lose the opportunity to make the vitamin D that we were able to make during the summer. Vitamin D is a potent immune regulator and is also important for our mental health and well-being. Speak with one of the doctors about dosing for you and your kids!
4.Warming herbs and spices: There’s a reason that so many traditional fall recipes call for earthy spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, etc. These warming, grounding herbs help raise the body temperature to fight infections associated with cooler weather. It helps that they taste great! Use them liberally throughout the next few months.
5.Adrenal support: For those of you who are dealing with higher amounts of stress, making sure your adrenal glands have adequate support is also of tantamount importance in preventing illness. When our stress response system gets a little “burnt out,” we become much more susceptible to developing colds and other illnesses. Parents, I’m sure many of you have experienced your son or daughter coming home after college exams, only to get sick for a few days. There are many different ways to help support this system. Some general ways include limiting sugar and processed foods, including adequate healthy fats and protein in the diet, getting enough sleep, and not over-exercising. Sometimes, you’d be better off sleeping for an extra hour than catching that 5:30 AM spin class. Nutritionally, herbs such as rehmannia, rhodiola, ashwaganda, and others can help support these glands; however, it’s best to speak with one of the doctors regarding supplementing for adrenal support.
And, of course, regular adjustments, cranial and sinus work also help keep the body performing at its peak during this seasonal transition. As Dr. Meagan mentioned in her September post, the state of balance in the body achieved by a chiropractic adjustment is central to how we handle stress, including illness!
The Stress of Transition for Kids
by Dr. Meagan McGowan
Chiropractic adjustment scheduled? Check!
Transitioning from the relaxed days of summer into a new school year comprised of routine, schedules, responsibility, and due dates can be a great form of stress for kids. Because kids do not come right out and say, “this is stressing me out!” we as parents or providers need to recognize that stress can show in many forms.
As a Doctor of Chiropractic, I often discuss with patients that the nature of stress can be physical, chemical, or psychological/emotional. Kids are no exception. When treating children, it is very important that they learn about their own health. Helping them learn body awareness allows them to communicate and better advocate for themselves, recognizing when their body is going through a stressful state. During his or her adjustment, I often discuss the topic of stress in language that a child will understand relating to how they are feeling that day. For example, most children find the topic of going to the bathroom funny or silly to talk about. After explaining how important going to the bathroom is and the amazing way our body works, they understand that not going to the bathroom (having a bowel movement) is not good for them. Note parents, this is an example of great physical stress for your child, which begins a snowball effect of other stressors in other systems.
How does this relate to the start of a new school year? Well, as I mentioned, stress shows up in many ways. The transition is the main form of stress and without proper working systems, your child may internalize this stress and have it show up in a variety of fashions, i.e. the underlying cause of poor digestion, including a change in bathroom habits around the start of school is generally labeled a nervous stomach. This is a blunt example of internalization of stress. A shift in sleep, or the lack there of, surrounding the start of school may be due to chemical or emotional stress. The chemical stress derives from the release of stress hormones affecting our internal clocks and our ability to relax. The emotional stress can stem from your child’s fear of the unknown or unfamiliar. Walking into a brand new school or classroom, engaging with a new teacher or sitting next to an unfamiliar face can cause a stress reaction within milliseconds.
In order for anyone, especially a child to counteract such an immediate reaction, their nervous system (primary operator of the body) must have clear communication to the rest of the body. This is the main goal of a chiropractic adjustment; removing interference so the brain and spinal cord may communicate clearly to the rest of the body, sending and accepting messages efficiently, creating balance. It is only when we are in a state of balance that we can best handle stress.
How can you help your child combat stress of transition, unfamiliarity, and the “what if’s?” Listen to your child and what their body is telling you. Every day children are trying to decipher their world and immediate environment, how they feel and how to appropriately react. This is a learned behavior. In order to feel comfortable within their surroundings, they first have to feel comfortable within their own skin. If their body is overwhelmed with stress, in a state of imbalance, you can help with that. First recognize what your child may be trying to express without necessarily using their words, then pause and ask yourself why is this happening, are their actions actually reactions to internalized stress. Try and talk to them by asking questions. This will help them better realize the root cause of their stress, rather than chasing symptoms or emotions. By asking questions, you show a willingness to help and understand, and create a calming affect, already minimizing their stress. This approach helps keep the child practicing self-awareness, learning to understand why their body reacts the way it does and what can be done about it.
The start of a new school year is an example of a major transition, but I encourage you to be aware of the smaller transitions that happen throughout the year, as often as every day. Returning from vacation or holiday break, from the weekend to a Monday morning, from the activity of an afternoon to the wind down of an evening, each of these requires your body to properly react. Getting regularly adjusted is a great way to ensure your body remains balanced and is best able to handle stress.
Remember, kids experience stress too. Get them adjusted!
What comes next?
By Dr. Melissa Sonners
I have been thoroughly enjoying the summer and have loved taking a bit of a step back from writing, listening to webinars and playing with new recipes. As we often do, Jason and I set an “intention” for the season. Typically it’s something to do with focusing on personal growth, fitness, organization, etc. This summer our intention has been to thoroughly enjoy the summer and play more. Don’t get me wrong, we are still - as always - taking care of our work and life responsibilities, however we have definitely made it a point to make time for our family to be outside together.
But ironically, I am looking forward to getting back to my typical routine in the fall. Honestly, I just function better that way. I’ll get back to clean eating, recipe searching, posting online, and listening to inspirational and educational audios. I also want to incorporate this playful summer feeling into that routine. I plan on drinking my morning coffee on our back deck as long as it’s light and warm enough early in the mornings to enjoy it and watching the fireflies in our backyard at night with the boys, even if for just a few minutes before bed time.
I’d love to hear how you and your families plan to transition to Fall. Perhaps we can talk about it and share ideas at one of my favorite events of the year: the annual Core Therapies gluten and dairy free BBQ. This year we’ll be celebrating Core Therapies’ 10 year anniversary so it’s going to be BIG!! This event is a great place to come enjoy healthy food, mingle with like-minded people and PLAY! Mark your calendars for Saturday September 26th (time TBA) and tell your friends. We would love to meet them.
Enjoy the rest of your summer!
My Journey to Wellness and a Career in Holistic Healthcare
By Lisa Mack of Lisa’s Thermography and Wellness
Starting out life with a heart condition was not easy. As a young girl, I was always very active. Exercising energized me, dance was my passion! I tried to eat all the best foods to stay as healthy as I could, but at the age of 24 my heart condition started to catch up with me and I noticed a slight change in my health. I was having some difficulty when teaching dance, becoming more winded than normal.
My cardiologist didn’t find anything wrong, but a year later, while engaged to be married, I experienced heart attack symptoms. After a cardiac catheterization, my doctor sent me to Columbia Presbyterian hospital where, luckily, there was an amazing surgeon who could perform open heart surgery on me. While recovering in the hospital, a nurse whispered that a year earlier she had lost her daughter to the same heart. I was blessed to be alive.
The possibility of having children, my doctor said, was unlikely, but I was determined. I was given a stress test to see if my body could handle pregnancy, and the results were so positive that he said, “If you can do that, you can have kids!” Three years later, my husband and I had our first child. The following year, doctors found a hole in my left lung. Bacteria from my heart disease had collected in the lung. The medication I was given had not worked and I was told to avoid pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects from the medicine. As I had before, I defied the odds and had two more healthy children.
Doctors believe that my exercise and nutritional routine is what has kept me alive. I had always believed that and enrolled at Wellness Simplified to become a Holistic Wellness Counselor. I wanted to work with clients by looking at each person as a “whole,” and assist them as they bring balance back into their lives by managing diet, supplements and lifestyle.
In 2012, I took my passion for wellness further and became a Certified Thermographic Technician and opened my own lab. Lisa’s Thermography and Wellness, with several locations throughout New Jersey and New York, provides nutritional counseling and medical Thermography, a radiation-free state-of-the-art screening procedure that captures heat images using a highly sensitive infrared camera to map the body’s temperature. It is FDA cleared, uses absolutely zero radiation, is non-invasive and provides a reliable means of graphically mapping and displaying the skin’s surface temperature. By detecting subtle variations in blood vessel activity, our specially trained interpreting doctors can detect thermal heat patterns that could suggest a pre-disease state.
Thermography “sees” your body functioning and changing in “real time,” and can be used for early detection and disease prevention. Whereas a mammography looks for the tumor after it has formed a density, thermography looks for the physiology that feeds the tumor. There is also no compression or risk of damage to implants or underlying breast tissue. Thermography can be used for full body screening, for both men and women, for early detection and differential analysis of abnormal vascular activity, inflammation and pain.
With thermography results in hand, we can focus on important healing factors like diet, detoxification, hormone balancing and stress reduction to reduce inflammation. I know from my own history just how impactful changes in these areas can be. I’m fortunate to be spending my days sharing the benefits of holistic wellness and thermography with men and women on the path to good health.
Don’t be another “wounded” weekend warrior!
by Dr. Matt McGowan, D.C.
If you fit into the large majority of us whose activity levels have significantly declined over the dark and cold winter months, then this post is for you. It is far too common to hear people chatting at the gym or on a ball field about the most recent body part they “tweaked.” Believe it or not, your road to re-entry into the world of sport and exercise does not have to be a bumpy one filled with random pulls, strains, or injuries.
Instead of beating ourselves up over what we could have or should have done during the spring, let’s focus on what we can do to prepare ourselves for the coming summer months. Summer is a prime time for exercise and activity. Whether you are looking forward to returning to running, biking, swimming, golfing, or the summer softball season, there are ways you can prepare.
Here’s my late spring/early summer routine and the types of preparation I recommend to patients every day:
1. Mentally Prepare: Begin to think about what activities you are most interested in doing. Take these activities and honestly think about what may be required to perform them.
If I am going to start golfing twice a week, I’d better find ways to loosen my lower back.
If I am going to start tennis lessons, I need to get my shoulders and neck as mobile as possible.
2. Develop a Plan: Don’t dive right into the deep end. When that first warm day comes, we sprint out of the door and don’t come back until we have hobbled through 8 miles of pain and torture. Take your time, set up a plan, work sensibly toward a goal. This applies to all sports and recreational activities. If softball leagues are your thing, then spend a few nights a week leading up to the start of the season making 25 tosses or jogging base paths and you, hopefully, won’t be getting treatment for a pulled muscle or sore joint in week two!
3. Stretch/Foam Roll: The most valuable thing you can do right now is to start a stretching routine today. Begin with any muscles you know are tight. Be sure to include any muscles you know you will be using for your chosen activity. If you feel like you don’t know what to do, ask us. Get a foam roller or soft tissue device. Either can be influential in expanding your flexibility levels.
4. Have Fun: Get out there and enjoy yourself. Make sure to address any issues that arise promptly so they don’t turn into major problems.
In summary, keep your body moving as well as possible, get adjusted periodically, and don’t overdo it. You’ll be healthy and fit…overall a “happy” weekend warrior!
Have Fun in the Sun, but…
by Dr. Melissa Sonners
When did we begin to fear the sun? The sun is an essential part of our lives. If you need to know how much of an effect the sun has on our health and our emotions, ask anyone in upstate New York around April when they are on their 6th straight month of cloudy skies!
Jason and I have never been a family to liberally apply sunscreen. When I head outside with the boys to play, we either go outbefore 10 or after 4 when the sun isn’t as intense, or if we are going out midday we go out in shorter spurts. If we are out for an extended period of time during strong sun, I put hats or long sleeve shirts on them, or I apply sunscreen after we have been out for awhile. I am very picky about which sunscreens I use (more on that later). Vitamin D is an essential nutrient and sunshine is our main source. The Center for Disease Control said in 2012 that 1 in 4 people are deficient in Vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for healthy bones, helps enhance our immune system, helps decrease the length and severity of the common cold, can help prevent multiple sclerosis, is vital for brain health and probably does much more that we aren’t even aware of yet. When we expose ourselves to sunshine, UVB rays interact with cholesterol in our skin, and our liver and kidneys convert everything over to Vitamin D.
When we get too much sun, the pigment in our skin begins to change and this is our indication that it’s time to get out of the sun. Isn’t the body brilliant?!
So what happens when we wear sunscreen? UVB rays are blocked (preventing sunburn) and vitamin D is never fully created or absorbed. The problem is that many sunscreens do not block UVA rays so they give a false sense of security and we become overexposed to damaging UVA rays. UVA rays were once thought to not be a threat, but recent research is showing that UVA rays damage skin cells called keritonocytesin, the basal layer of the epidermis where most skin cancers occur.
What about broad spectrum or full spectrum sunscreens? Most still allow some UVA rays through and, again, give us a false sense of security since our skin’s pigment doesn’t change, telling us to get out of the sun. And, even worse than that, most contain known carcinogens. Vitamin A which is in at least 25% of sunscreens –listed as retinylpalmitate or retinol- has been found to speed the development of tumors and lesions when applied to skin in the presence of sunlight.
Even the FDA has said that their available clinical studies “do not demonstrate that even broad spectrum products with SPF greater than 15 alone reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging.” The International Agency for Research on Cancer advises that clothing, hats and shade should be used as primary barriers to UV radiation. They go on to say that “sunscreens should not be the first choice for skin cancer prevention and should not be used as the sole agent for protection against the sun.”
Bottom line: Whenever possible, avoid the sun between the hours of 10am and 4pm when UVA and UVB rays are the strongest.
Some exposure to sun is important for our health. If you are going to be out between 10 and 4, cover up as much as possible. Also apply a sunscreen that lists zinc and titanium as the main ingredients and doesn’t contain vitamin A (retinylpalmitate/retinol).
If you want to know how healthy or toxic your current sunscreen is, check out www.ewg.org and enter your sunscreen’s name into their Skin Deep database. This website is a great resource for learning which best companies are best for sunscreens, cleaning supplies, meat and much more.
Enjoy the sunshine!
Stuck in a rut? Assess why...
by Dr. Laura DeCesaris, DC, MSACN
As spring has (finally) arrived, I’m hearing a lot of comments about how people “need to get out of the rut” that they have been experiencing due to a long, cold winter. For many of us, it’s hard to stick to our exercise routines and health goals when it’s cold and gray, or during that “holiday season” that seems to last right up until, well, now! For others, weather and holidays have no effect on their lifestyle and they breeze right through without any speed bumps in their routines.
We have a tendency to think that taking care of ourselves is a mental game, and that with the right attitude, our ability to get those physical results we are looking for will follow our mindset. If I have a cup of ice cream one night, is it because I’m “not committed enough”? Conversely, if I’m a healthy, fit individual and see those are aren’t, is it really a matter of me having the willpower to avoid the vending machine while others cannot? Are these thought processes fair? Should eating healthier get easier or harder with time? What about working out? Is the first week the hardest or is staying on track four months later more difficult? Is it really all in our heads?
Why is it seemingly easier for some individuals to stick to a plan and achieve their health and wellness goals, while it’s an ongoing challenge for others? Sure, part of it is mental; I’m not trying to dispute that. Jobs, families, kids, commutes - all of these things take a toll on us mentally and physically (in both positive and negative ways). But what a lot of us tend to forget, overlook, or just be unaware of is the connection between thought processes and the physiological effects that our thoughts can set into motion. Having a piece of chocolate on a stressful afternoon probably won’t have much of a long-term impact on the brain and body, but repeating this pattern daily can certainly induce some physiological changes. Fo example, impaired insulin sensitivity, poor blood sugar regulation, impaired adrenal function, and brain chemistry alterations are all consequences of handling daily stress with sugar instead of healthier methods. These physiological changes, in turn, then affect our mental health and the way we handle normal stressors. Hitting that “sugar crash” an hour or so after downing an entire chocolate bar will make most of us pretty cranky when we still have a few hours of work left to get through. And as Snickers commercials have taught us, if we’re grumpy, we need to grab that chocolate bar to become ourselves again. See the cycle? It’s comparable to being stuck in a traffic circle and continually missing your exit.
Much like some infants develop a dependence on a certain blanket when upset or scared, we as adults may turn to sugary food, become short-fused or cranky, harbor negativity or resentfulness towards those we see succeeding where we fail, and so on. We can sometimes see a fit individual and attribute what’s actually hard work to being overly strict or good genes, to being “orthorexic” or taking performance enhancers. Conversely, we may see someone (or be that someone) struggling with their fitness goals and blame it on a lack of commitment or poor self-discipline, “bad genes” or a thyroid issue. That’s not saying that some people don’t jack themselves up on hormones to get good gym results or that some people don’t actually have issues with their thyroid gland. These things certainly exist and can definitely impact our results.
But if a major health issue isn’t at the root of your struggle, stop the excuses. The only person whose results should matter to you are your own, because it’s what you’re working for. Drop the security blankets, whether that be an ice cream binge, negativity towards others, or “scheduling difficulties.” You want something bad enough? Put it in your schedule. You see someone who may be carrying a few more pounds than you? Don’t call them lazy; you have no idea what’s going on in their life and frankly it doesn’t concern you. You want to compare yourself to someone who looks like they stepped out of a fitness magazine? Fine, but it’ll drive you nuts. Why not just focus on yourself? Maybe stepping out of your comfort zone and switching things up in your routine is what you need. Cardio junkie? Get in the weight room. Addicted to the barbell? Try out some sprints. Shakes every day for breakfast? Fry up some eggs.
We are a society of the quick fix. What’s critical to getting out of the rut we can find ourselves in is kicking the “I-want-results-ten-minutes-ago” mindset to the curb. Look, I’m happy whenever a client comes to me and tells me what their goals are, whether that be weight loss, having more energy, or completing a 5K. But be aware of your starting point. If you’ve put a decent amount of weight on slowly over the last 5 years...it’s not going to come off in a month if you want it to be sustainable. Know that making changes to your life isn’t going to be easy, requires both mental AND physical perseverance, and know that you’re going to have to step out of your comfort zone.
Whether your security blanket is a physiological thing such as sugar cravings or a mental block such as a bad attitude, don’t for a second think that these don’t have effects on the opposite system. Thoughts breed actions, and actions affect how we think. Focusing our thoughts on “needing” a sugar fix will make us physiologically crave it more, will induce hormone changes to make us hungry, and can even affect our brain chemistry to reflect changes in our reward system to favor putting more sugar in our bodies.
So, what to take away from this? I would say an awareness of what you’re getting yourself into. Making change is never easy, particularly when it involves your health or changing your lifestyle. Having an awareness that we may need extra effort and patience to overcome negative physiological as well as behavioral patterns can help us be happier with our progress and all of the ups and downs that go with it. Know to have a good support network right from the get-go. Planning on cutting back on sugar? Some days, you may feel like you’re in drug withdrawal. You might be cranky and tired. But what’s the bigger picture? What do YOU want to accomplish? Better sleep? Better mood? Improved digestion? Better lifting results? You’ll get there - physically and mentally.
Dropping your “security blanket” (whatever that may be) and focusing on you and you alone is an integral piece of the puzzle. Knowing what behavioral and physiological trends may occur with a given health and wellness goal can help you get into a routine that will be most effective with your lifestyle. Your brain and body will catch up with your mental intentions, and continuing with the “right mindset” will help train your brain and body to do what you want. Questions? We’re here to help!
What’s the Scoop on Beef?
by Dr. Jason Sonners
For some reason, human nutrition seems to be a topic of great confusion and controversy. This has always perplexed me, because if there is one thing we should all know and agree about in this day and age it should be what we are supposed to be feeding ourselves and our families.
I have spent countless hours studying nutrition because, as a father of two little boys and a health care provider, I want to be able to make conscious healthy decisions for my family and offer sound advice to my patients.
So, is animal protein a healthy food to eat? More importantly, is it really safe for us to consume? Over the years this food group has been studied and criticized for contributing to the decline of our health. While some of this may be true, I am not sure you have been getting the whole story….
Between, antibiotics, hormones, vaccines, GMO feed (genetically modified), radiation, transglutaminase (AKA “meat glue”) and poor living conditions, it is no wonder that studies find this stuff to be unhealthy! As consumers, Melissa and I have had a hard time finding sources of healthy animal protein to eat and feed our children.
The above list (which is also only a partial list) contains some of the reasons that animal protein gets such a bad rap from “health” experts giving nutritional recommendations. As it stands, when we do studies on Americans who eat the most amounts of animal protein vs. those Americans who eat the least, it shows high levels of meat consumption associated with increases in inflammation, cancer and heart disease.
Well, I would argue that when you study already unhealthy people (“average Americans”) and then you feed them high levels of unhealthy meat (the industrialized meat most commonly consumed in America) you should expect to find that those people get more unhealthy as a result. That actually makes sense.
However, there is an alternative:
For thousands of years, humans have consumed animal protein without seeing any increases in heart disease, cancer and systemic inflammation. The difference is simply in the quality of the product.
Animals, when raised in their natural environment and allowed to eat what they are genetically designed to eat, produce a safe and healthy product. This protein is not only more nutritious than what we are used to eating, but it also has within it the same valuable anti-inflammatories we seek in fish (EPA/DHA… AKA fish oil).
That is correct. Beef, for example, that is grass fed and grass finished, left to roam fields and not given any hormones and antibiotics, is full of Omega 3 fatty acids. This is true as well for chicken and the eggs they produce. This is in contrast to industrialized animals fed wheat, corn and soy (inflammatory grains) and who are completely sedentary in their lives. This produces a fatty and inflammatory food source.
So the key is locating healthy sources of animal protein which comes down to reading labels and finding sources we can trust!
As far as labels go, here’s what you’re looking for:
For beef: “Grass fed/Grass finished” is king! Even with industrialized farms, cows eat grass for at least a few months, but then are fattened up with corn and soy. They key is keeping them grass fed throughout.
For chicken: “Pasture raised” is king.
For all sources: Organic, free range, cage free, no hormones, antibiotic free are all good labels to have. Certainly better than the average protein sold in stores, but nothing replaces the “grass fed” and “pasture raised” labels.
I recognize that high quality meats can get expensive. For this reason, Melissa and I order in larger quantities from a place we trust for our family. We’re happy to share that supplier with you in case you like to check them out. Just click the logo below and you can order directly from them if you think this might be a solution for your family as well.
Don’t Let the Winter Wear you Down
By Dr. Matt McGowan DC
With the recent memories of last winter still fresh in our brains, many of us are already concerned with the aches and pains that this weather can bring. Many people often associate thoughts of winter with bad flare ups of low back pain and discomfort. While this is certainly the case, more often than not, the largest majority of pain we see in the office related to the cold weather is neck related. You may be surprised to hear that, however since the weather has dropped below 40 degrees consistently we have seen an influx of neck related spasm and pain coming through the doors.
You may ask why.
It is a natural physiological response to always protect our most vital organs. When we are in a stressful environment, the body will adapt by trying to raise core temperatures and protect any exposed vital areas. That is why in winter time, if our necks are not kept warm we will instantly shrug our shoulders towards our ears. It is our body’s way of trying to bring the brain closer to the warmth of the core. This is not just the body’s response to physical stress. Mental or emotional stresses aresomething we also try to escape from, almost like a turtle pulling its head back into its shell. Considering all of the added stressors that the holiday season brings, it is no wonder why we end up with headaches, jaw pain, or spasms in our necks.
How can we avoid this?
First and foremost we can keep our necks covered. IF you are going to be out in cold weather, wear a scarf or have a jacket with a higher collar. Try to catch yourself shrugging your shoulders up to your ears. If you do find you are doing this, take three deep breaths and let your arms fall down to your sides. Make sure you are taking care of yourselves mentally. Stick to your yoga or meditation routines; don’t fall into the negative cycle of stress. If you don’t currently have a routine to relieve stress, find one and find it quickly. If you need any help with that reach out and we can help you find one.
Heartburn Can Ruin Your Holidays
By Dr. Laura DeCesaris
The holidays are quickly coming upon us and while that means spending time with family, friends, and other important people in our lives, it also means lots of food and festivities! For some of us, that translates to days of acid reflux and indigestion following rich food or treats we don’t typically eat during the rest of the year. Rather than popping an over-the-counter antacid or begging your doc for a proton pump inhibitor prescription, let’s take a look at some of the causes of heartburn or reflux that can be managed through diet, lifestyle, and supplements as we head into the next few months.
If you’re not properly digesting food and are feeling heartburn as a result, the last thing you really want to do is further limit your ability to break down food in the stomach by taking a medication that blocks stomach acid. While some cases of heartburn may be due to an overproduction of stomach acid, these cases tend to be the minority. Most of us just aren’t making enough stomach acid, combined with bacterial imbalances in the gut (dysbiosis) and/or lack of other important digestive enzymes. Stomach acid is really important not only for breaking down proteins and absorbing vitamins and minerals, but also for steriilizing food against potentially harmful microorganisms. Additionally, insufficient stomach acid can cause partially digested pieces of our food to be absorbed before they are completely broken down, ultimately leading to food intolerances and the now popular phrase ‘leaky gut syndrome.’ So, pair low stomach acid levels with a medication that decreases stomach acid production even more and you’re potentially setting yourself up for a gut environment that allows fungal and yeast overgrowth, bacterial imbalances, and poor absorption of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
While there are blood tests that can provide a pretty good indication whether you’re low in stomach acid or now, you can also simply pay attention to your symptoms. Typically, heartburn after a meal containing protein means your stomach acid is most likely low.
“Yes, I think I have low stomach acid, but what the heck do I do about it?” Some of the following suggestions can be very effective to keep your symptoms at bay:
1.Add raw, crushed garlic to your diet. It naturally helps lower levels of harmful bacteria and fungi.
2.If you eat grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts, soak them and/or sprout them to improve digestibility.
3.Increase your fiber to encourage healthy bowel movements. Try a handful of dried prunes, dates, or ground flax or chia seeds.
4.Add coconut oil to your diet. 1-2 tablespoons per day provide antimicrobial action.
5.Try not to eat right before bed.
6.Avoid simple or refined carbs such as white bread, pasta, baked goods, soda, etc.
7.If you can’t avoid some of these foods, consider adding in some digestive aid supplements to support stomach acid and digestive enzyme output. Another option is to have 1-2 cups of organic bone broth per day.
As always, if you have more questions or would like to learn more about this topic, feel free to contact us!
2.Montanaro C. AK 100 Hours course, 2012.