As a chiropractor I am often asked why so many people get low back pain. Obviously, if someone has a car accident or a slip and fall, the low back can suffer from pulled muscles, vertebrae out of alignment and inflammation. But what about all the people who develop back pain without an obvious initiating cause?
Countless times in my practice a patient would come in holding their back and tell me all they did was pick up a sock off the floor and ‘bam’, crippling back pain!
One important cause of back pain, which often has to do with spasms of the large muscles that
hold us upright, is stress. It is common for a person that worries and hurries a lot, skips meals and stays up late, to tighten up in the low back area. A person might think they have the same routine every day, so why, suddenly, does something like this happen?
What they are not aware of are other contributing factors. One example is the weather. Big changes in weather patterns can add inflammation and tightness into the mix. Another example is specific emotions that, subconsciously, might be triggering an old frustration or hurt, i.e., ‘pushing your buttons’, again leading to tightness of certain muscle groups. The tightening up of low back muscles can gradually and subtly increase until the bending over to pick up the sock is ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back,’ or at least ‘threw it out’.
Another less obvious factor that causes back pain is constipation and other bowel issues. Even individuals who say they are ‘regular’ can have some degree of constipation, with little awareness of it, and that is a huge number of people. Simple gas and bloating can also contribute to back pain. These bowel issues, even subtle ones, can also cause the back muscles to spasm, leading to a back going out.
One other more obvious cause of back pain is worth mentioning. People who engage in an activity that utilizes muscle groups in ways they have not been used to, such as starting a yoga class, new types of exercises at the gym, or, more obviously, the seasonal raking of leaves or shoveling snow, even if they are being slow and careful, are commonly subjected to spasms and inflammation, leading to their backs going out.
All of the above scenarios usually involve a complex of imbalances. These typically include
spasms of various muscles, inflammation of the joint capsules and discs, and certainly vertebrae
being pulled out of alignment. In my treatment of back pain I always include a variety of therapies
and modalities such as myofascial release, vibration and far infra-red, that address all of these. In
my experience it is rarely enough to give only a chiropractic adjustment. I always assume multiple
If you suffer from chronic low back pain with no obvious initiating cause, consider stress
management techniques like yoga or gently stretching, meditation, warm bathes with epsom
salts, and making sure the diet you are eating keeps your bowels clean, healthy and regular.
There are plenty of natural herbal remedies to keep the bowels happy.
Wisdom from ‘ayurvedic medicine’ suggests soothing the ‘vata dosha.’ This means avoiding too much exposure to cold, both environmentally and in your food, and favoring warm and calming activity and food. This is especially true for the skinny, worry-hurry ‘vata’ type people. In extreme cases enemas can be very helpful. Other tips if you have nagging low back pain are to avoid walking in high-heeled shoes, avoid jumping, jogging or strenuous exercise and minimize sexual activity. By all means practice mindfulness and avoid letting yourself get carried away by the activities you are engaged in.
What if I told you that you probably already know the top 3 things you can do to be healthier? As a health coach, I find that if I ask someone that questions it’s pretty easy for them to rattle off a few things – ditch the diet soda, move more, eat more vegetables, you probably are thinking of your three right now! So why is it that so many people may actually already know what they can do to start being healthier, but they don’t take action and do it?
The reasons we all don’t take charge of our health vary, I think the biggest thing is that many people don’t know where to start. So let’s talk about what you can do to take those top three things (write them down now if you haven’t already!) and make them healthy habits that you incorporate into your daily life.
How to create a healthy habit:
1. Write down the top 3 things that you can do to be healthier right now
2. Select one and tackle it
3. Identify exactly what you are going to do, for how long, and what success will look like
4. Set realistic timeline – takes at least 3 weeks/21 days to break a habit or make a new one
5. Hold yourself accountable and get support – from your family, friends, a buddy, group online…you get the picture
6. Don’t give up!
One of the tricky things is that you try to make too many changes at once, become overwhelmed and then discouraged, and before you know it back to where you started and feeling like a failure. Don’t make too many changes at once, break down your goal and take incremental steps, and work towards your clear goal. For example, if my goal is to move more, what exactly does that mean? How do I know if I’m succeeding? Instead of “moving more” make your goal more actionable, to start say walk for 1 hour, 2 times a week and keep it up for 2 months. Ideally you want to plan to do this for at least 3 weeks so that you can incorporate the positive healthy behavior into your lifestyle and make it a healthy habit that sticks!
In addition to setting a realistic goal and timeline, enlist support of your friends and family. For my goal of walking 2 times per week, I would be more inclined to do it if I went with a friend, called my sister during that time, and added it to my calendar like an appointment. All of these things are things that you can do to help hold yourself accountable and get the support of others too.
The key to making changes and healthy habits is to make small changes, slowly, overtime and not taking on too much change at once. Ideally you are making smaller sustainable changes that add up to something much larger. Remember to celebrate your successes along the way and not to get discouraged by set-backs, learn from it instead and keep moving forward. This blog post was written by Laura Pappas, she is a certified health coach that works with her clients to adopt dietary changes focusing on a whole foods and Paleo approach to eating. You can find her and more information on her blog, Against the Grain.
Meditation is the ultimate stress reliever and much more.
My personal experience with starting my meditation practice, which began at the age of 17, was a progression from feeling calmer and clearer for that day, to headaches disappearing, to a consistent sense of peace.
The issue with stress is that our minds get caught up in things, filled with panic and worry. From there the body is affected with tension, digestive complaints, headaches and eventually adrenal gland exhaustion, and these can then lead to more serious health conditions. This is the result of over-stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system. Known as the 'fight or flight response,' this stress reaction can go on day after day simply from busy work schedules, traffic jams and family responsibilities. Meditation reverses the fight or flight response, creating a deep relaxation and fostering a calm and clear state of mind that carries over into all your activities. The art of meditation is using techniques, and there are many, that quiet your thoughts. Doing so leads to a deep peace in mind and body.
Meditating once in a while is great for that day, so by all means do it. Meditating regularly creates more and more lasting peace and calm, even with a crazy schedule. Regular practice naturally leads to more and more of this baseline of calm clarity spilling over into your activities. And don't think you have to be buzzing with energy and intensity to do a better job at work. You will find that the opposite is true, that calm clarity allows for better decisions and more getting done with less effort. Meditation, for its beneficial effects on mind and body, is one of the best therapies that I offer to my patients for their health and well-being. I've taught many classes and workshops on meditation at Live Well and out in the community, and now I am excited to be offering private one on one meditation for my patients.
If you are interested in getting started, please call us or go online here to schedule a private meditation training session with me. You will love it!
Sessions are typically 30 minutes, $75, and I'm always happy to combine other health questions or mini treatments along with the training as long as we plan our time accordingly.
Yours, With a Peaceful and Quiet Mind,
Dr. Martin Orimenko
Chiropractor, Naturopath & Nutritionist
Avoiding a serious case of influenza is not about vaccination but more about maintaining a healthy, well functioning immune system. The flu shot is not
something I recommend. They are typically geared toward only a couple of flu virus strains when there are about 200 out there. Statistically, they are not proven to be effective AND can have side effects, some of which are quite serious. By following the simple guidelines below, you can help keep your immune system in optimal working order so that you're far less likely to acquire the infection to begin with or, if you do get sick with the flu, you are better prepared to move through it without complications and soon return to good health.
- Avoid Sugar and Processed Foods. Sugar impairs your immune response and harms your beneficial intestinal bacteria, feeding the pathogenic yeast and viruses. Be aware that sugar is present in foods you may not suspect, like ketchup and fruit juice, and in forms you typically might dismiss, like high fructose corn syrup and cane juice. If you are healthy then small amounts of sugar might be fine, but absolutely avoid it while you are sick.
- Optimize your vitamin D levels. This is one of the absolute best strategies for avoiding infections of ALL kinds. Due to less sun exposure in Winter, vitamin D deficiency may actually be the true culprit behind the seasonality of the flu – not the flu virus itself. If you are not getting good sun exposure then take an oral vitamin D3 supplement. We have excellent vitamin D supplements here at Live Well Holistic Health Center, both capsule and liquid drops.
- Boost your immune system. Other supplements from our health center that do an excellent job of prevention are our colostrum formula, astragalus with vitamin C formula and camu powder. If you do get the flu, we have excellent supplements for clearing the condition in any of its varied forms.
- Optimize Your Gut Flora. With 75% of your immune system residing in your intestines, this may be the single most important strategy you can implement. The bacteria in your gut have enormous control of your immune response. The best way to improve your beneficial bacteria ratio is to do a mini-candida cleanse pre-season, take a high quality probiotic, avoid sugar and processed foods, and eat a whole foods diet (rich in nutrient-dense foods) such as green leafy vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, avocados, coconut oil and fruits, as well as probiotic rich foods such as sauerkraut. Meats and eggs are fine, but limit milk-based foods.
- Get Plenty of Rest. Just like it becomes harder for you to get your daily tasks done if you're tired, if your body is overly fatigued it will be harder for it to fight the flu. My advice is to get an extra half-hour of sleep in Autumn and Spring, and an extra hour in Winter.
- Have Effective Tools to Address Stress. We all have some stress every day, but if stress becomes overwhelming then your body will be less able to fight off the flu and other illness. If you feel that stress is taking a toll on your health, consider using our energy psychology tool called ‘NeuroEmotional Technique’ which is remarkably effective in relieving stress associated with all kinds of events, from work to family to trauma. Regular meditation/yoga can be very helpful. I incorporate this technique into new patient visits and also regular/full visits whenever it would be helpful for my patients. Also consider taking ‘adaptagenic’ herbs such as our rhodiola, ashwagandha or Stress Manager formula, all of which we carry in our health center.
- Get Regular Moderate Exercise. When you exercise you increase your circulation and the components of your immune system are better circulated and have a better chance of finding an illness before it spreads. However, it would be wise to reduce the intensity of your workouts as it may deplete you. And be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
- Wash Your Hands Often. Washing your hands will decrease your likelihood of spreading a virus to your nose, mouth or other people. I do not recommend chemical-based sanitizers such as Purell which do far more harm than good. Instead, use a chemical-free sanitizer such as ‘Clean Well’ that utilizes thyme oil to disinfect. In addition to washing your hands regularly, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. If possible, avoid close contact with those who are sick and, if you are sick, avoid close contact with those who are well. And avoid hospitals unless you're having an emergency and need expert medical care, as hospitals are prime breeding grounds for infections of all kinds. The best place to get plenty of rest and recover from illness that is not life-threatening is usually in the comfort of your own home. Lastly, wear scarves to protect your neck from cold winds.
‘Ayurveda’ (the ‘science of life’) is the most ancient complete system of natural medicine in the world. It was developed in ancient India and refined over the ages. It combines physical, psychological and spiritual therapies in an approach to health that is as relevant to the modern world as it was to the ancient. Utilizing herbs and minerals, proper nutrition and purification and, above all, affirmative ways of living, Ayurveda treats not just the ailment but the whole person and emphasizes prevention of disease to avoid the need for a cure.
One of the principles in Ayurveda is that each person is made up of their own particular mix of the three fundamental elemental energies, or ‘doshas’. Although we can’t see them, the three doshas are responsible for all processes of the mind and body. They affect our physical makeup and our mental and emotional qualities. These underlying forces determine who we are, what we like to eat, how thirsty we get, how much sleep we need, etc. They influence our reactions to stress and our predisposition to various illnesses. The doshas even affect how compassionate, relaxed, or talkative we are. Knowing a person’s dosha is very valuable in determining which foods, herbs and lifestyle changes will be most beneficial for their healing and overall balance. An example of this is a person who is skinny and runs around extra busy and worrying about everything. In this person the ‘vata’ dosha is dominant. Balance can be brought with warm and soothing activities and foods. Gentle yoga and relaxation massage are perfect. For an intense, high pressure, athletic person the ‘pitta’ dosha is dominating. Balance can be brought with cooling and calming activities and foods. This person should avoid things like eating spicy food everyday and going running in the middle of hot summer days.
Different doshas predominate in the different seasons as well. Therefore it is helpful to have a basic understanding of them so you can self regulate your diet and lifestyle. For example, in autumn the vata dosha increases. During these months it is best to reduce foods that increase vata such as raw vegetables, beans, cold foods and foods that are dry and rough like crackers and pretzels, It is more balancing to increase richer foods and warm, cooked foods like soups and casseroles. In spring and summer the reverse is true for the most part.
There also exists within Ayurveda a whole science of longevity. This has to do with purification, healthy balancing routines and mind and body exercises. Various cleanses are recommended seasonally. Yoga and meditation are important not only for mind and body health, but to connect with your spiritual source as well. These add up to peace, health and life extension.
Principles from ayurveda can be easily incorporated into one’s life to bring further health and balance. It has been very helpful in treating and advising my patients for many years.
In my experience, most skin conditions are either caused by or made worse by heat and a toxic bowel. This is true for eczema, acne and even psoriasis.
From a natural medicine perspective, skin conditions are usually related to some issue with your food, nutrition or internal balance. I know from personal experience that diet and cleansing is key. You can soothe an itchy rash somewhat with topical treatments, but the real cure is internal. You can reduce pimples with various ointments, but for lasting relief you must address the inner physiology. The outer skin is a reflection of the 'inner skin' which is the lining of the alimentary canal (digestive tract). If there is inflammation and irritation in the digestive tract, then it perpetuates the same on the outer surface of the body.
Testing for food allergies and sensitivities, intestinal yeast overgrowth and toxicity, as well as for deficiencies of certain nutrients such as zinc and essential fatty acids are the starting points, all of which I do here at Live Well using muscle response testing, also known as Kinesiology. This approach is quick, simple, non-invasive and provides highly valuable information about your specific body chemistry and imbalances. I sometimes find it necessary to address emotional factors and chemical sensitivities as well when treating skin conditions.
If you do not live in this area, I'd recommend you find a practitioner who does similar muscle response testing so together you can come up with a treatment plan that will work best for you and your body's needs. In the absence of that, another approach is medical tests (blood, stool and allergy testing), or doing an elimination diet and 'candida cleanse' and see what happens. But the medical tests, elimination diet and cleanse can miss the mark at times. The muscle-testing is quite accurate. I have had excellent results with patients successfully clearing up frustrating and uncomfortable skin conditions by working with me to address the internal imbalances.
If you are experiencing nagging health issues, please consider making an appointment so we can look at any food sensitivities, allergies and/or other underlying issues to help bring your body back into balance.
Food allergies and sensitivities are all the rage. Going 'gluten-free' is almost a fad these days. You are likely reading about it in magazines and hearing about movie stars trying it. Well, just like antioxidants in blueberries and omega 3 in fish oil, food sensitivities are something us Naturopaths and Clinical Nutritionists have been preaching for decades.
In my own practice of twenty plus years, not a week has gone by that I haven't taken someone off of one or another foods to help them turn their health around. A great many people are eating foods everyday that their bodies don't process very well. When they do, it causes inflammation in the intestinal tract, and that can create conditions both subtle and gross such as low energy, brain fog, gas and bloating, headaches, rashes and much more.
I have hundreds of success stories I could share. Here are two. One woman came to me complaining of daily headaches for the past 30 years. Mayo Clinic did not help, nor did any of the other dozen clinics she went to. She came on referral from one of my patients and told me her story. Within the first ten minutes I determined that she had a dairy sensitivity as well as a fungal (yeast) overgrowth. She started eating dairy free and clearing out the yeast, and in less than a week her headaches were gone and have not come back.
Another patient presented with fatigue, gas and bloating and GERD (reflux and heartburn). I determined that he had an intolerance to gluten (not as bad as Celiac's) and several other common foods. Removing those foods and taking some intestinal herbal remedies cleared his condition within two weeks. Both of these case studies are representative of the experience most patients have when they come to me for food allergy and sensitivity testing.
I have also had patients who were being treated for neck or back problems and no other major complaints whom I ran my testing on just to see and whom showed sensitivities to certain foods. Going off the foods that tested positive resulted in them having more energy, better sleep, less colds and sinus problems, clearer skin and less headaches, to name a few.
If you are experiencing nagging health issues, please consider making an appointment so we can look at any food sensitivities, allergies and/or other underlying issues. Health is our greatest wealth, and I'm here to help you feel rich!
[This article, frum Brie Zeltner, the Plain Dealer, on Cleveland.Com, speaks to the increase in popularity in using alternative therapists including Chiropractic, Therapeutic Massage and nutritional supplements. At Live Well Holistic Health Center, patients typically see powerful results from all three of these therapies for a wide variety of conditions. Following is the article.]
Alternative therapies have hit the mainstream, if Consumer Reports readers are any indication. A recent survey, released July 21, showed that about 75 percent of the more than 45,000 people the magazine polled were currently using some form of alternative or complementary medical therapy.
That included vitamins, with 71 percent of respondents taking them, or mind-body therapies like yoga and massage, which about 20 percent reported using.
As a 2009 Consumer Reports survey also indicated, most people felt that hands-on therapies were the most effective alternative methods of treating their ailments, but rated prescription medication more effective than alternative remedies for most conditions.
Back pain and neck pain, notoriously difficult to treat, were two conditions forwhichan alternative remedy, chiropractic, won out over prescription drugs. Of the 36 percent of people who used the technique for back pain, 65 percent said it "helped a lot" for their pain, whereas only 53 percent said the same for prescription drugs.
Readers with fibromyalgia, a complex chronic-pain syndrome, said that deep-tissue massage was the most effective treatment for them, rating it just slightly higher than prescription drugs.
The magazine asked about several other ailments that are often hard to diagnose or treat, and lead many to complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM,therapies for relief. While prescription medication was the most helpful therapy for these -- irritable bowel syndrome, digestive problems, depression, anxiety, headache and migraine, insomnia, cold and flu, and allergy -- alternative therapies weren't too far behind in some cases.
A total of 47 percent of people used multivitamins or supplements like fish oil or vitamin B complex to treat depression. More than 40 percent of people with anxiety used deep breathing exercises, and 34 percent of them said this helped them a lot.
Many of the most popular CAM therapies are also the most effective -- probiotics for irritable bowel;meditation for insomnia, anxiety and migraine; and chiropractic and massage for back pain. This is borne out by the results of the high-quality but sadly very small body of scientific research being funded by institutions like the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health.
If three out of four of us are really using these therapies at any given time, let's hope that body of research continues to grow.
We are walking barometers! Just like animals and plants can sense changes in weather, so can many people. And many people do not realize that it’s the weather that is making them feel lousy. Some of the meteorological variables implicated include: temperature, barometric pressure, rainfall, humidity, thunder-storm activity, sunshine, and the level of ionization of the air. Rapid changes in temperature affect blood pH, blood pressure, urine volume, and tissue permeability. Our bodies react to cold by constricting the blood vessels in the periphery, making the heart work harder. A significant drop in barometric pressure leads to an expansion of air in isolated body cavities and of fluids in membranes. This can injure tissues in joints or muscles, causing aches and pain. Some people experience the same phenomenon during air travel when the cabin pressure drops during take-off. In addition, bones and muscles have different densities. During temperature and humidity variations unequal expansion and contraction of these tissues may increase the pain in inflamed joints and injured muscles.
Winds can bring dramatic temperature changes and, more importantly, changes in electrical charge, and this can directly impact our moods. Negatively charged ions in the air, such as those produced by ocean waves and waterfalls, make us feel positive and lift our spirits. Positively charged ions make us feel down and agitated. When warm, dry winds blow, dust attaches to negative ions and they lose their charge thus increasing the ratio of positive ions which means more negative mood. Humidity, pollution and high pollen counts also deplete negative ions. As long as the winds blow, the positive ions tend to accumulate. In many cultures, seasonal winds are referred to as ‘ill winds’ or ‘winds of depression’. Such winds are associated with feelings of anxiety, stress, depression and sleepless nights around the world. Studies show that when some of these winds blow, traffic accident, crime and suicide rates all rise significantly. In Traditional Chinese Medicine wind is considered a pathogen, just like a virus is considered a pathogen.
There are a few cities where there are more negative than positive ions in the air: Niagara Falls, Canada; Sedona, Arizona; Mt Shasta, California; and Kauai, Hawaii. People living in these areas say they feel healthier. A ratio of 5 negative to 4 positive ions produces a sense of well-being. ‘Sick building syndrome’ is more common today than it was 20 years ago. Most homes and offices are built to be airtight and when the heating or air conditioner is running this causes friction, which depletes the negative ions. Consequently, only the positive ions are left to re-circulate. Bacteria, mold, mildew and allergies thrive in positive ion air. Synthetic clothes and carpeting cause friction and deplete negative ions. Some natural fibers repel positive ions! Nature has its own way of creating negative ions. When it rains heavily negative ions are generated. That is why the air feels so refreshing and uplifting after a heavy downpour.
Medical conditions that are sensitive to weather changes include: rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, low back pain, gout, fibromyalgia, phantom limb pain, scar pain, headaches, trigeminal neuralgia, and pain influenced by mood disorders. Weather is also associated with changes in birth rates, sperm count, outbreaks of pneumonia, influenza and bronchitis. In advance of a cold front, we often see showers and thunderstorms, and a decrease in barometric pressure. In these low pressure conditions some people feel edgy and their arthritis flares up. More than 50% of migraine sufferers say their headaches have a weather trigger, and studies confirm the relationship between the numbers of reported migraine attacks and rapid changes in barometric pressure. One study found that migraines were most likely to occur on days with falling pressure, rising humidity, high winds, and rapid temperature fluctuations.
What Can You Do?
The following are some countermeasures that could improve your reaction to those malevolent weather fronts: Avoid overheated and stuffy rooms; Go for full spectrum lighting, not fluorescent, (you may need to add you own incandescent or full spectrum flourescent lamps); Get plenty of fresh air and sunshine; Try enjoying the outdoors in all weather conditions; Open your windows more; Take alternating warm and cold showers; Wear natural fiber clothing rather than synthetic; Go for hardwood and tile floors over synthetic carpeting; Ensure regular sleep; Have a balanced and healthy diet, (As part of my nutrition counseling, I typically suggest an anti-inflammatory diet high in vegetables and fruits and lower in animal products); Try anti-inflammatory supplements such as curcumin, boswella and bromelain as well as anti-histimines like quercetin, NAC and stinging nettles.
Consider coming in for a wellness visit with me at the Live Well Holistic Health Center. In a visit with me, Dr. Martin Orimenko, I will use Kiniesiology and other non-invasive testing techniques to prescribe supplements and a diet that is personalized for you, your body, your health concerns and any health conditions you are working to overcome.
As we look back on this past year, we are so thankful for all of the wonderful people who have come to the Live Well Holistic Health Center since we opened last March 2010. So much of the growth of our practice is based on referrals and word of mouth.
The "Best Of the Main Line" favorites contest is such a great way for people to find out about a new Natural Health Center like ours. If you're thankful that we're here, and you've loved the care we've given you, it'd be so great if you could take a moment to VOTE FOR US for the "Best of the Main Line". You can vote up until 4.15.11.
Just go to this link: http://forms.journalregister.com/allaroundphilly/MainLineRC/default.asp - scroll down midway and you'll see the "NATURAL/ALTERNATIVE HEALTHCARE" category, to the left of our ad for Live Well Holistic Health Center. Also, while you're voting, if you love Dr. Martin Orimenko as a "CHIROPRACTOR" and/or you get the best "MASSAGE" at Live Well Holistic Health Center, please vote for us in those categories too!
Thank you so much for taking the time. We super appreciate it!