Category Archives: Stress & Sleep

Beat the Stress of the Season

For many, “the most wonderful time of the year” can bring about not so wonderful emotions like stress, anxiety, or depression.  This is quite unfortunate as the joy of the Holiday Season and conclusion of another year can also serve as a time for catching up with friends and family; a time to count our blessings and keep things in perspective, and a time to allow the foot to ease off the gas pedal as we reflect, relax, and recharge.

Understandably though, many do succumb to some degree of stress or another during this time of year.

Not to worry.

The following article does an informative job of breaking down the potential stress pitfall while also offering some intelligent remedies for dealing with it.  I came across this article the other day and in the spirit of the season would love to share it with you in hopes that it will provide a clearer path to tranquility this holiday season and beyond:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/12/18/holiday-stress-grief.aspx

MERRY CHRISTMAS

FREE Mood Boosting Holiday Therapy

As my renewed romance with Holiday music continues to flourish, the topic will remain light this week as we revisit a fun post put out this time last year.  Harness the power of these old classics and experience the boost in brain chemistry:

As I age, I definitely appreciate and look forward to the holiday season more and more each year.  That fraction of the year kicking off with Thanksgiving and carrying us through New Year’s should serve as a coveted time to REflect on the previous year, REassessing and REorganizing where need be so that you are fully REloaded and REfreshed for the next year.  It is a time to REjoice for all our blessings, where a priority should be to RElax with family and friends.

Personally, I was raised on the Christmas stylings of Johnny Mathis, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, etc., and can’t help but get a smile on my face when I listen to (and belt out) some of these tunes.  The feeling of nostalgia truly lifts the spirit.  It works. Just ask my wife and brother, both of whom I have pushed the recommendation of at least a daily dose of the seasonal songs.

Did you know there is an actual neurological explanation behind just why this music seems to tickle the soul?  For this week’s post I am going to refer to one of my most respected colleagues, Dr. Joseph A. Bova.  This man is blazing a trail in upstate New York since graduating with me from Palmer College of Chiropractic.  As I say many times, “couldn’t have said it any better myself…so I won’t.”  Thanks Dr. Bova.

Click below to check out Dr. Bova’s post on a free, uplifting therapeutic approach to the “most wonderful time of the year.”

http://bovahealthandwellness.com/2012/11/26/depressed-put-down-the-zoloft-and-turn-on-the-christmas-tunes/

Enjoy the post and the holiday season!

Hormonal? Fertility Issues? Have You Addressed the Adrenals?

Being a practitioner that places a heavy amount of emphasis on nutrition, I’d be remiss if I didn’t continue to elaborate on the far reaching hands of the adrenal glands.  Being a beaming new father who has been blessed with a beautiful and healthy wife and baby, I’d also be remiss if I didn’t go into more detail about how adrenal dysfunction can influence the sex hormones responsible for reproduction and beyond.  Well, nobody wants to be labeled as remiss, so here we go.

In the simplest terms, the adrenal glands are our stress glands.

(For a review on these essential workhorses feel free to refresh: https://clarkechiropracticwellness.com/2013/03/12/de-stress-your-life-part-1/

and

https://clarkechiropracticwellness.com/2013/03/19/de-stress-your-life-part-2/ .)

When they are overworked for any of a variety of reasons (mental or physical stress, food intolerances, etc.) they shift towards an overproduction of cortisol in order to help us deal with stress.  One of the many downsides to this is that the production of hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone decreases.

In order for the adrenal glands to make cortisol in response to sustained levels of elevated stress, it ends up stealing the cholesterol precursor that would normally be used to make something called DHEA, which is the precursor to our sex hormones.  This is a phenomenon called pregnenolone steal and can result in hormonal imbalances, PMS, infertility, male menopause, and polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Your hormone production is also dampened by overactive adrenals on a cerebral level.  As we’ve discussed in the past, the adrenal glands are under control of a part of the brain known as the hypothalamus, which in turn directs the pituitary gland.  The pituitary gland either makes, pumps out or sends the signal to trigger hormones like growth hormone, thyroid stimulating hormone, oxytocin, as well as hormones that signal the adrenals.

The anterior pituitary is also responsible for LH (luteinizing hormone) and thus progesterone, and FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and thus estrogen.  These hormones are intracle in properly regulating the menstrual cycle, reproduction and beyond.  Adrenal overdrive overworks the pituitary causing it to be sluggish in its output of other hormones, like LH or FSH.

Another fact to be cognizant of is the fact that an inflammatory diet or unknown food intolerances will also have the adrenals logging extra hours at the office.  This not only attenuates hormone production for reasons described above, but it also downgrades the immune system.  This is critical for us all, but especially for a mother and her un or newborn child.

When dealing specifically with pregnancy, studies have shown that a mother with adrenal dysfunction can actually pass it on to her unborn baby by drawing hormones through the umbilical cord.  We’ve illustrated the systemic effects of adrenal dysfunction in the past, so a newborn child with this condition is highly susceptible to immune and gut dysfunction, allergies, eczema, food intolerances, even autism.

The best thing to do if you are having issues that have been deemed or you presume are hormonal is to consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner.  Cleaning up the diet and repairing the gut, identifying potential food intolerances, providing adrenal support if necessary, making lifestyle changes, making sure the nervous system (which ultimately controls ALL) is balanced, and just taking a deeper look inside for the root of the issue is the logical course of action.

If you or anyone you care about is going through any of this, please give us a call (321-848-0987) and we’ll work through it together.

On a personal note, as I prefaced in the intro, my wife and I are proud new parents.  Going into 2013 we didn’t have a time table to begin trying.  However, my wife is a patient of mine and we actually had her on various adrenal support and supplements due to symptoms she was having and the results of an exam.  After that we both partook in a fast/detox/cleanse together, while congruently sticking to an elimination/provocation diet.  A couple of months later we decided to “stop not photo 4trying” to get pregnant.  A month later Ashley was pregnant. And 9 plus months later we have a healthy baby boy.

I realize there are always other factors that contribute to hormonal imbalances and things such as pregnancy.  But don’t rule out these seemingly simple things. Don’t fall victim to the current status quo and believe that “that’s just the way it is,” or you need a pill to fix that. Keep hope alive.  Trust the body and treat it well and most likely it will return the favor.  This goes for the current topic or any other.

Good luck and do not hesitate to call for a consult if any of this resonates with you.

Slow Down Aging: Preserve Your Telomeres

For this week’s post we are going to change it up and pull excerpts from an intriguing article written by Michael Downey.  It is on the subject of telomeres which can best be described as caps on the end of your DNA, and how important it is to preserve them as long as possible.  The topic has fascinated me for some time now, so I thought I would share.  Enjoy.

“Telomeres are protective DNA molecules. Often compared to the plastic caps on the ends of shoelaces, telomeres are found on the ends of coiled pieces of DNA known as chromosomes. They keep the chromosome material from deteriorating.

Every time chromosomes divide, the telomeres at the ends shorten.  The eventual shortening of telomeres is correlated with aging.  Ultimately, the telomeres become so depleted that the cell can no longer divide, and that cell dies (aka apoptosis).

Scientists have made an alarming discovery: higher stress levels can cause accelerated shortening of telomeres.  In a recently published study, researchers found that depression related stress results in the significant shortening of telomeres (the caps at the ends of chromosomes) an indication of accelerated aging.

The publication of this study emphasizes the importance of minimizing the impact of internal and environmental stress on the body.  An estimated 75-90% of visits to primary care physicians are now related to the effects of stress, and this new study documents how lethal stress can be to our well-being and longevity.

STRESS-INDUCED HOMEOSTATIC IMBALANCE

Homeostasis is the ability and tendency of a body to maintain harmonious equilibrium by constantly readjusting its physiological processes.  Cells and tissues exist in a constantly changing environment—homeostasis steers internal biochemical levels back to near-optimum points.

Physical and emotional stress triggers a cascade of biochemical changes, causing homeostatic imbalance.  This interruption in homeostasis helps us prepare for dangerous external situations. (Essentially it is an activation of the “fight or flight” sympathetic nervous system which we have discussed numerous times before.)  These changes are supposed to be moderate, infrequent, and short-term.  Ordinarily, after a stressor has passed, our system adjusts—raising and lowering different biochemical levels—returning the body to homeostasis.

In today’s world, our feedback mechanisms become overwhelmed by the extent, duration, intensity, frequency, or multiple layering of stress.  This produces an excessive or prolonged homeostatic imbalance (sympathetic overdrive).  Studies have even found that these harmful effects can persist long after a stressful situation has been normalized.

The result can be a multitude of physical and mental diseases, including permanent organ damage, DNA effects, and the physical changes associated with aging.

Some of the many disease states associated with stress-induced homeostatic imbalance include obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, gastric ulcer, cancer, gastrointestinal complaints, skin issues, neurological disorders, sexual dysfunction, psychological problems, suppressed immunity, decreased memory, predisposition to Alzheimer’s,  and shortened telomeres; and, as a result, accelerated cellular and tissue aging.

PROTECTION FROM THE DAMAGING EFFECTS OF STRESS

Adaptogens are a pharmacological group of compounds that metabolically support the ability of an organism to respond appropriately to stress, preserve structure and function from the damaging effects of stress, and hasten recovery of homeostasis.

When combined, adaptogens work together to modulate the multiple pathways of stress.  The multiple benefits include improved mental and physical performance, reduced incidence of chronic disease, and increased longevity.  Scientists investigated numerous extracts—some used for thousands of years to treat various stress-related symptoms.

This research led to four potent adaptogens that can provide a united defense against the multiple cellular pathways of chronic stress:

Holy Basil

Bacopa

Cordyceps

Ashwagandha”

Telomeres, stress, anti-aging; I think you’d agree that this is truly fascinating stuff.  Of course we all know that prolonged stress is a negative thing and ideally we would like to rid ourselves of it.

You can begin to do this by addressing those chronic physical stressors in our bodies.  This involves combatting those nagging injuries and poor posture, as well as cleaning up that inflammatory diet; both of which cause constant physical and chemical stress.

You also want to make sure your nervous system is functioning at an optimal level so that you can deal with stress appropriately when it does inevitably arise.  Being checked by a physician who utilizes functional neurology is a solid way to keep that sympathetic nervous system in check.  In addition, there is various supplemental and herbal support that can assist on an individual basis.

If you have any questions about any of this or would like to take action towards removing the stressors from your life, please call and schedule an appointment today.

 

You can find this article in it’s entirety, as well as all of the associated references at: http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2012/jun2012_New-Reason-Avoid-Stress_01.htm.

A Functional Approach: Connecting the Dots

I recently had the opportunity to spend my afternoon as an exhibitor at the Brevard County Women’s Expo.  The reason for my presence was to provide information and an avenue to pursue natural, holistic healthcare.  One of the biggest draws to our booth was the book, “Changer Your Brain, Change Your Life,” by Dr. Daniel Amen.  I highly recommend this book, or at the very least checking out our previous post pertaining to it. (https://clarkechiropracticwellness.com/2013/08/08/mental-health-a-new-perspective/)

Basically, the book provided hope by doing two things.  Number one it illustrated that areas of decreased blood flow and metabolic activity in the brain do exist.  This means that there are portions of the brain not functioning at full capacity. Depending on the location of decreased function, various symptoms will be outwardly exhibited resulting in the diagnosis of conditions like anxiety, ADD/ADHD, depression, anger, obsessive compulsive behavior, sleeping disorders, etc. This is huge because it demonstrates to the individual that there is no inherent character flaw within them, but rather an area of the brain with sluggish function.
The second critical thing this book shows is that therapies can be applied that target the area of decreased function.  Dr. Amen’s clinics have functionally scanned over 80,000 brains from 90 countries showing the affects of brain based therapies pre and post treatment.  The real testament though is the improvement to the patient’s quality of life.  An image showing increased activity is one thing, but it’s pretty much meaningless to the individual if they are still burdened with life altering symptoms.
(It should be noted that when he finds it necessary, Dr. Amen also utilizes pharmaceutical means in conjunction with the therapies to treat his patients.   Other patients have responded simply to the brain based therapies and supplementation.)
The universal optimism to be drawn from Dr. Amen’s work is that it provides more proof that the brain can adapt.  Application of the correct brain based therapies and exercises can positively take advantage of the brain’s plasticity or adaptability and increase function from the brain and beyond.  As we know, the brain serves as the master control center for the entire body, inside and out; making the possibilities endless.
From a functional doctor’s point of view, this ties in phenomenally with what we do and why we do it.  Let me explain:
When you seek treatment, you are more than likely looking to address a symptom that has become bothersome in your life.  Although bothersome, this symptom is actually a good thing as it is our body’s brilliant way of letting us know something isn’t right.  Rather than attempting to silence our body’s inborn alarm system, as a functional doctor, we look to neurologically, nutritionally, and biomechanically analyze the whole picture and discover the breakdown in function that caused the symptom to manifest in the first place.  Being trained to identify areas of potential decreased function in the brain, and then apply specific therapeutic exercises and therapies to target that area and take advantage of the brain’s aforementioned plasticity is what functional neurology is all about.
You see, there is no claim being made to cure those conditions mentioned above.  The approach is to acknowledge the symptoms, but go beyond them attempting to identify and correct the underlying breakdown in function causing the symptom.  The thing about a symptom is that we never know if this is the first identifiable sign of an underlying issue or the 4th or 5th.  And if we simply silent the symptom, the internal derangement more than likely still exists and will manifest itself in other, perhaps more severe ways; kind of like the body screaming even louder for our attention.
This all ties into Dr. Amen’s work in that he has contributed to evidence showing the brain can change through therapies.  Being that the brain controls all function, effective treatment can not only lead to addressing the presenting complaint, but end up having widespread, favorable consequence throughout the body.  Sleep patterns, immune function, digestive issues, blood pressure regulation, name it.
If you’re ready for a change and interested in further exploring the world of natural and holistic healthcare through functional medicine I’d love to talk.
Stay open my friends.