Pathways to Healing Blog

Tech and Posture

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

Technology offers many conveniences in terms of staying connected and entertained via small devices that fit in our pockets. But, unfortunately, as smart phones and gadgets get smarter, our posture gets weaker.

 

When we stand in proper alignment, the cervical spine (neck) and surrounding structures are able to support the weight of the head, which on average weighs about 10 pounds. When we look down at a phone, computer or electronic device (something we do on average between 2 to 4 hours a day), the neck is flexed forward and the weight of the head increases dramatically. In fact, some researchers believe when the head is tilted just 15 degrees forward, it nearly triples the head weight to about 27 pounds felt on the neck and shoulders. At 45 degrees of tilt, head weight increases to about 50 pounds on the neck and shoulders.

 

“Text neck” and “tech headaches” refers to conditions caused by chronically holding your head flexed and forward, as we do when looking at our handheld devices. This new societal posture norm generates a tremendous amount of unnecessary stress to the posture system and, over time, is the culprit of many symptoms people experience on a daily basis.

 

Chronically maintaining a forward head posture can lead to muscle strain, headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain and TMJ (jaw) pain. Forward head posture can also cause disc injury, pinched nerves, early arthritic changes of the neck, numbness and tingling in the arms, hands and fingers. As the head moves forward and your upper back and shoulders become rounded and hunched, lung capacity decreases, resulting in shallow improper breathing that restricts the amount of oxygen reaching your tissues.

 

Here are several simple steps you can take today to avoid developing degenerative neck changes, muscle strains and pain from “text neck” and “tech headaches”:

 

Limit the time

Limit the amount of time you use your device. If you must sit for an extended period of time, take breaks to change your posture, move around and stretch. Develop a habit of taking a two to three minute break for every 15 to 20 minutes you use your device or sit at a desk. Utilize your smart device to set automatic reminders and that will notify you when to take a break, stretch and reposition.

 

Raise the device

Elevate your device as close to eye-level as possible. (You can find holders for devices that make this possible.) Also, be aware of the placement of your computer screen. You should be able to look forward without looking down to view the screen. Simply lifting the computer screen to eye level will help maintain proper posture throughout the day.

 

Stretch

Chin tucks are a great exercise to stretch the neck. Move your chin backwards towards your chest without moving it up or down and hold for five seconds as you feel a comfortable stretch at the base of your skull. You can also tilt the head to one side, bringing the ear close to the shoulder. You may use your hand to pull your head further into the stretch (best done while exhaling your breath), holding the stretch up to 20 seconds. You can also do the same thing while rotating your head from side to side to reach different muscles, repeating 3-5 times on each side.

 

A doorway can be helpful for stretching chest muscles. Place your palms flat against either side of the doorframe, with your shoulders and elbows at a 90-degree angle to your forearms. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in your pectoral muscles and hold for 30 seconds at a time.

 

Rest the head

If you sit at a desk for long periods of time, switch to a chair with a headrest and focus on keeping the back of your head in contact with the headrest, trying to keep your chin parallel to the ground and avoid looking down. You can also practice this while driving — focus on pressing the back of your head on the headrest in the car and bringing the shoulders back.

 

Be aware of pain

Use pain as a warning sign to check yourself. Experiencing pain in your neck, burning between the shoulder blades, numbness or tingling in the arms or frequent headaches is your body’s way of telling you to act quickly and make a change. Pay attention to these warning signs and take action before a more serious permanent issue arises.

 

If your symptoms do not improve after incorporating new posture methods, stretching and reducing the time spent on handheld devices, then it may be time to seek help from a qualified professional. Chiropractic adjustments can help relieve joint pain, reduce tight muscles and promote posture habit re-education. The sooner you seek treatment, the more likely it is that you will have success in treating the problem and keep it from progressing to permanent damage.

 

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

 

Personal Care Products

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), women use an average of 12 personal care products a day, exposing them to about 168 chemicals.  Men use an average of 6 products a day, resulting in exposure to about 85 different chemicals.

 

Sound far-fetched? Here’s just a sampling of what you may be unknowingly applying to your skin daily:

 

  • Deodorant soap contains ammonia, formaldehyde and phenol (known carcinogens) and triclocarban, which is under suspicion of being a cancer-causing agent with daily use.

 

  • Shampoo contains cocamide DEA, which is associated with carcinogenic nitrosamines, and sodium lauryl sulfate, a known mutagen.

 

  • Shaving cream contains a-pinene, a chemical that damages the immune system.

 

  • Body lotion contains mineral oil, which, as a cosmetic grade petroleum product, includes the contaminant polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PHAs), which can mimic estrogen in the body.

 

  • Deodorant has aluminum, which is being tested in connection to Alzheimer’s and breast cancer.

 

  • Toothpaste contains saccharin and FD&C Blue#1, which are carcinogens. One brand, Colgate Total, contains triclosan – an endocrine disruptor linked to tumor growth in mice. The use of triclosan in hand soap was banned by the FDA in 2016.

 

  • Moisturizer contains PEG-40, which contains dangerous levels of dioxin and propylene glycol, which studies show can negatively alter brain waves and cause liver and kidney disorders.

 

  • Perfume contains toluene, a suspected potent carcinogen, and benzaldehyde, which is a central nervous system depressant that may cause kidney damage.

 

  • Sunscreen contains padimate O and the preservative, BNPD, which together creates the carcinogenic nitrosamine, NMPABAO. Many also contain oxybenzone, an endocrine disruptor linked to early puberty in girls, low sperm count and male infertility and an increase in hormone-related cancers in men and women.

 

Since World War II, the United States has introduced over 80,000 chemicals – many with no safety data.  And, unfortunately, when it comes to the chemicals being used in the skincare and beauty industry, there is very little regulation.

 

The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act took effect in 1938 and has not changed since.  The act does not require cosmetic companies to disclose their ingredients to the FDA, or any governmental entity, before products hit the shelves.  That means products are sent to market and only removed if there are issues that arise, be it allergies or long-term health effects.  Essentially, these products and chemicals are innocent until proven guilty.

 

Of the 113 agents listed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as Group 1 human carcinogens, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics reports that at least 11 of them have been, or are currently being used, in personal care products. We saw the problem with these chemicals firsthand when, in 2016, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $72 million dollars in damages for the death of a woman from ovarian cancer that was caused by the talc in their baby powder.

 

The European Union has restricted or banned 1,400 harmful chemicals and ingredients from personal care products because of research showing their potential to act as carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, neurotoxins, reproductive toxins, or skin, lung or eye irritants.  In Canada, the number of restricted ingredients is about 600.  The United States has restricted or banned only 30.

 

The skin is our largest organ.  What goes on the body, goes in the body.  If you’re doing what you can to stay healthy – eating right and exercising – you should also be taking a look at the toxic exposure you may be getting from your personal care products. The low-dose exposure to the chemicals in these products can add up over time.  So, it makes sense to make changes where you can.  Here are some tips to make it easier:

 

  1. Do your research. Look past marketing phrases such as “natural” and “organic” and read the labels.
  2. Start small. You don’t have to replace all your products at once.  Rather, begin focusing on the products that cover the most surface area of your skin.  For example, consider replacing your sunscreen or makeup foundation before your eyeshadow or mascara.
  3. Head to the kitchen. There are several products in your kitchen that can do double duty in your beauty routine.  Coconut oil can be used as a makeup remover, cleanser, moisturizer and hair mask.
  4. Evaluate the products you are currently using by looking them up on the Think Dirty app or the EWG’s Skin Deep database (www.ewg.org/skindeep), which have rated the safety of hundreds of personal care products.
  5. Explore some of the many chemical-free product options. Some favorites I have tried include products from Acure Organics and Honest Company, as well as locally-made products from Harvest Moon Garden.

 

Finally, remember beauty comes from the inside out.  Eat plenty of healthy fats (such as omega-3 fish oils and flaxseed oil), as well as a variety of colorful, antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.  Also, stay hydrated. Drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day keeps skin looking healthy and helps flush out toxins.

 

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Healthy Grilling

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

With summer just around the corner, many of us will be opting to beat the heat and keep the kitchen cool by grilling outdoors.

 

Yet while barbeques and summer go hand in hand, it’s worth taking a moment to polish those grill skills before donning that apron and “firing up the Barbie.”  When it comes to grilling, there is a correct way and an incorrect way to do it.

 

Research has shown that meats cooked at high, dry heat (like barbecuing, pan-frying and broiling as opposed to stewing, roasting or baking at lower temperatures) form heterocyclic amine (HCA). Researchers say HCAs are “reasonably anticipated to be a human carginogen” and eating them may increase your risk of certain cancers, such as colorectal, stomach, lung, pancreas, breast and prostate cancer.

 

HCAs aren’t found in the charred bits on the outside of your food, but develop inside the meat. The charred parts you see on the outside – burned by flames from your grill – contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), another carcinogen that should be avoided. (Always discard or scrape off charred parts.)

 

So, does all this bad news mean you need to forego the grill this summer?

 

Not at all.

By making a few small changes to your strategy, you can enjoy grilled meals all summer long.  Here are a few simple ways to reduce the formation of HCAs and PAHs, and lessen their impact on your health:

Reach for lower fat options – Flare-ups happen when fat drips onto the heat source and catches fire. This causes carcinogenic PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) to form and accumulate on your food. To avoid this, select lean cuts of meat, trim excess fat and remove poultry skin. Also, resist the urge to press down on the meat as you grill. Pressing down causes the fat to drip onto the open flame, causing higher temperatures and additional smoke – exactly what you DON’T want to do.

Cook “low and slow” – Turn down the heat.  It may take longer, but low heat is always the best way to cook animal foods – no matter the method – as it reduces the formation of HCAs and PAHs.  Ideally, you should aim to keep the grill at 300 degrees Fahrenheit or less.

Avoid well-done meat – The more well done, the more HCAs the meat is likely to contain.  In fact, one major study found well-done meat to contain up to 3.5 times the levels of HCAs as meats cooked to medium-rare.

Flip frequently – Flipping frequently helps avoid charring and reduces HCA production.

Grill smaller pieces – Smaller pieces take less time to cook, ideally giving HCAs less time to form.

MarinateNot only does marinating infuse your meat with flavor, it has also been shown to inhibit the formation HCAs. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, marinating can reduce HCA formation by as much as 92 to 99 percent.

Try incorporating one of the following marinades into your summer meal plans:


Antioxidant Marinade

This basic marinade recipe is suitable for all types of meat and fish, and easy to switch up by incorporating different vinegars, spices, and seasonings such as miso, paprika, and chili peppers.

1⁄2 cup avocado oil
4 Tbsp vinegar
4 Tbsp lemon juice
3 medium garlic cloves
3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp fresh rosemary
1 tsp Himalayan sea salt

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and coat meat or fish from all sides.  Marinate for 10 to 30 minutes (or longer to intensify flavors), but 10 minutes is enough to protect from HCAs.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

 

How to stop being tired all the time

How to stop being tired all the time
By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Everyone feels tired from time to time, whether due to a late night out, traveling, staying up to watch your favorite show, or putting in extra hours at work. Oftentimes you can pinpoint the reason you’re not feeling your best, but what about times when you can’t identify the cause of your fatigue? Here are four common causes of fatigue and some steps you can take to feel re-energized.

Cause #1: Lack of Sleep
According to The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, people between 18 and 60 years old need 7 or more hours of sleep every day to promote optimal health. Unfortunately, studies show 1 in 3 adults are consistently falling short of that recommendation. Not getting enough sleep is not just associated with fatigue, but also impaired performance, a greater risk of accidents, and multiple adverse health outcomes. Improve your sleep by following these tips:

  • Maintain a consistent sleep routine. Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time each morning, even on the weekends.
  • Nap boundaries. Keep naps to 20 to 30 minutes, as studies have suggested that long naps can have opposite effect and leave you feeling groggy rather than refreshed. Also, do not nap too late in the day.
  • Limit time awake in bed to 5–10 minutes. If you find that you are lying awake in bed worrying or with your mind racing, get out of bed and sit in the dark until you are feeling sleepy, then go back to bed.
  • Ensure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and a comfortable temperature. Any light entering your room can disturb your sleep. Make sure light emitted from digital devices is out of sight. Keeping your room at a cooler temperature can also promote sleep.
  • Limit caffeinated drinks. The stimulating effects of caffeine can last for many hours after intake. Try not to consume caffeinated beverages after noon.
  • Avoid tobacco and alcohol before bed. Smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol before going to bed may cause fragmented sleep.

Cause #2: Poor Diet
Eating a healthful, balanced diet can make a world of difference when it comes to eliminating fatigue. Here are some simple guidelines:

  • Eat the right amount of calories for your sex, age, weight, and activity level. Eating either too much or too little can make you feel sluggish.
  • Fill half your plate with whole fruits and vegetables.
  • Vary your protein. Choose lean poultry and meat, avoid processed meats, choose unsalted raw nuts and seeds, and select some omega-3-rich seafood.
  • Cut down on sugar. Sugary foods and drinks can give you a quick rush of energy, but that rush can wear off quickly and leave you feeling more tired.
  • Never skip breakfast. Breakfast provides key nutrients and the energy you need to kick-start your day. It is best to start the day with protein and vegetables.
  • Eat at regular intervals. Sustain your energy levels by eating three meals a day and limiting unhealthy snacks.
  • Drink enough water. Drinking water helps prevent dehydration, which results in fatigue, unclear thinking, mood changes, overheating, and constipation. Aim for half your body weight in ounces of water per day.

Cause #3: Lack of Physical Exercise
When you feel tired, sitting on the couch and relaxing may seem to be the only answer. But getting up and moving may be the better option. Research by the University of Georgia found that, compared with sitting quietly, one single bout of moderate-intensity exercise lasting for at least 20 minutes helped to boost energy. An earlier study by UGA also found when sedentary individuals completed an exercise program regularly, their fatigue improved.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans suggest adults need 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. If you have not exercised for a while, start slowly. Begin with a brisk 10-minute walk each day and build up to walking fast for 30 minutes, 5 days per week. Brisk walking, water aerobics, riding a bike, playing tennis and even pushing a lawnmower are all great options.

Cause #4: Stress
A little stress can make us more alert and able to perform better, but stress is only positive if it is short-lived. Excessive, prolonged stress can cause physical and emotional exhaustion and lead to illness. If the pressures you face are making you feel overtired, try some of these tips:

  • Identify the source. Until you can recognize what is causing your stress, you won’t be able to control it.
  • Learn to say no. Avoid taking on too much. Be aware of your limits and stick to them.
  • Avoid those who stress you out. If there are people in your life causing you a significant amount of stress, try spending less time in their company.
  • Communicate your concerns. Express your feelings instead of keeping them bottled up.
  • Accept what you can’t change. Some sources of stress, such as an illness or the death of a loved one, are unavoidable. Often the best way to deal with stress is to try and accept things the way they are.
  • Get moving. Physical activity can help relieve stress by releasing feel-good endorphins.

If you have made lifestyle changes to do with your physical activity, diet and stress levels, but still feel tired all the time, there could be an underlying medical condition. Arrange an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss your concerns as soon as possible.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

 

How to Overcome the Afternoon Energy Slump

How to Overcome the Afternoon Energy Slump

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

An afternoon slump, whether it is literal (posture) or figurative (energy), can affect us all from time to time. Many people find that around 3p.m. their eyelids begin getting heavy and their posture starts to slump. When this happens, it’s tempting to reach for the caffeine or begin scrolling through social media out of boredom. But before you try the usual pick-me-ups to help shake off that sluggishness, consider a few of these simple tips. Many of these suggestions take less than a minute and, as a bonus, can be done right at your desk.

Posture is part of the problem
Research shows a slumped posture can have a physical effect on the body.  This is because slouching decreases the amount of oxygen available to tissues (especially the brain) because the lungs and chest are compressed as one slouches forward. Lack of oxygen to the brain hinders abstract thinking. One study at San Francisco State University reported students were better able to solve math equations while sitting up straight with their shoulders back, as opposed to being slumped over with their shoulders compressed.

Here are a few ways to improve your posture – and, thus, your performance — at work or school:

•Set an alarm on your phone, watch, or computer to go off every 20 to 30 minutes. When it sounds, get up and move. Take a short walk to get water or use the bathroom, or try to march, skip, or dance in place. Break free of a desk rut by working in a few pushups, lunges or squats.
•Have your vision professionally checked. Many instances of poor posture are the result of people leaning in toward their computer screen because they can’t see well.
•Ask a colleague or friend to snap a picture of you from the side when you’re not expecting it, especially toward the end of the day. This will give you an unbiased view of your work posture. Do you have room for improvement?
•Working on a laptop? You’re almost surely collapsing your posture, bringing your head down to see the screen. A simple fix: Buy a detachable keyboard and raise your laptop on a riser or some thick books. The goal is to have your screen at eye level. This will prevent poor posture and decrease upper neck and shoulder tightness.

Go for better flow
The lymphatic system consists of the spleen, thymus, tonsils, and adenoids, as well as multiple channels and nodes throughout the body. While the lymphatic system plays a role in protecting us against infection and disease, it also contributes to our energy levels. “Lymph travels through the joints in your body—your shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles,” says postural alignment specialist Justin Bradley. “When you drive to work, sit at a desk all day, drive home, and relax on the couch, you’re not moving your joints through their full range of motion and, as a result, lymph becomes trapped and grows stagnant.”

Bradley recommends performing moves that re-align your joints to get your energy flowing again. The following overhead extension is a simple way to do just that:

•Stand with your feet pointing straight ahead and about one fist’s width apart.
•Extend your arms in front of you, drop your shoulders, interlace your palms, and point them away from you.
•Bring both arms overhead so your palms face the sky. Gaze upward toward your hands as you actively work to keep your arms straight up without leaning back.
•Hold for 30 seconds as you breathe deeply.

Reach for Energizing Oils
My doctorate studies required numerous hours of sitting in class, followed by long study sessions. Essential oils were a helpful tool for boosting my energy, while also increasing my focus and memory. Specifically, I would reach for peppermint, eucalyptus and rosemary oils. Citrus oils, such as orange, lime, lemon and grapefruit can also be used to revitalize and invigorate. The simplest way to use these oils is by applying one to two drops of the oil in your palm, rub your hands together, and then cup your hands around your nose and inhale deeply.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Honey

The Buzz on Honey

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Thousands of years before refined white sugar appeared on the scene, people used honey to not only sweeten their food, but to support a wide range of body functions.  Honey has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for over 4,000 years.  Ancient Egyptians and Greeks were also very familiar with the medicinal properties of this sweet substance.  Hippocrates, the “Father of Western Medicine” wrote that both honey and pollen proved effective in healing a variety of ailments.

 

Bees make honey using the nectar of flowering plants and then store it in their hives to eat during times of scarcity.  Honey contains natural antioxidants, enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, including calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, copper, chromium, manganese, and selenium.  Additionally, honey has been shown to contain valuable nutraceuticals, which help to neutralize free radicals in the body.

 

However, if you’re looking to reap the many health benefits of honey, you might not find what you’re looking for in a traditional grocery store. Pasteurization and processing has removed the pollen, beneficial vitamins, enzymes, and phytonutrients from most honey typically found on grocery store shelves.  Experts agree that raw, unpasteurized honey offers the real health benefits. Unlike its highly-processed counterpart, raw honey has not been heated to high temperatures in order to gain that golden syrupy appearance.  As a result, it is often quite thick and will crystalize over time.  Getting to know your local beekeepers, and only buying from them, can help ensure you are buying a quality product.

 

Below are just a few of the many ways that honey can help improve your health:

 

  • Soothing a nagging cough. You might recall a mother or grandmother heating honey for you to drink when a cough kept you up as a child.  Turns out, there might be some truth behind this home remedy.  In a study involving 105 children between the ages of 2 and 18 years with upper respiratory infections of 7 days or less and night-time coughing, a single night-time dose of buckwheat honey was shown to be an effective alternative in relieving the nighttime cough, compared to a single dose of dextromethorphan (DM).  Honey can also be helpful in soothing minor throat irritations.
  • Relieving seasonal allergies. Raw honey contains many of the same spores that cause allergy sufferers problems when the seasons change.  Some experts believe that by introducing these spores into the body in small amounts through honey – a sort of immunotherapy – the body can become more accustomed to them, and the threat of an allergic immune response can be decreased.
  • Wound healing – Honey has antiseptic and antimicrobial properties. In 2010, scientists from the Academic Medical Center at the University of Amsterdam reported in FASEB Journal that honey’s ability to kill bacteria lies in a protein called defensin-1. As a result, some people have found that honey applied topically to wounds helps to keep the skin moist, reduce the likelihood of infection and help prevent/reduce scarring.
  • Improves skin issues. Honey has a natural pH level of 4.5, which makes it safe to use for a variety of skin conditions including acne, rosacea, eczema and hyperpigmentation.  When mixed with water, honey releases peroxide properties, which help heal acne and impede bacterial growth.  To use as a cleanser, add a quarter-sized amount of honey to wet hands, massage into the face and rinse.  Follow with moisturizer.
  • As a healthy sweetener. Reach for honey over refined sugar when looking to sweeten your coffee or tea.  Honey does contain a lot of fructose, however, so use it sparingly.  Use of honey (even the raw variety) should be limited to less than one teaspoon a day.
  • Blood sugar balance. The combination ofraw honey and cinnamon can be especially beneficial to healthy blood sugar management. According to a study out of Dubai, honey has been observed to cause a lower elevation of blood glucose levels in diabetics compared to dextrose and sucrose. Some suggest that the insulin-boosting power of cinnamon can counteract this glucose elevation in honey, which would make your honey and cinnamon mixture a low glycemic index food combination. Raw honey increases insulin and decreases hyperglycemia. Try consuming a little at a time and see how your blood sugar reacts to it, and add both raw honey and cinnamon to your diabetic diet plan.

 

Despite the many benefits of raw honey, there are a few important points to remember.  Never give honey to children younger than 1 year old due to the risk of botulism.  The undeveloped infant immune system cannot guard against infection.  Additionally, those with bee venom allergies could have life-threatening allergic reactions to honey.  So, for those who are allergic, it’s best to check with a doctor before using it.

 

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting.  Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Allergies

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

Springtime in Georgia is beautiful, from the birds singing to the spectacular flowers and blooming trees, everything is coming alive once again.  But with this awakening of nature, many people also experience the “awakening” of seasonal allergies. The dense clouds of pine pollen hanging in the air, combined with a myriad of other unseen pollens, make many allergy sufferers want to hide inside until the season passes. So, what are allergies and is there anything we can do to prevent them and enjoy this time of year without suffering?

An allergy is an abnormally high sensitivity to a substance that is not typically harmful. An allergy is essentially an indication that something is out of balance in your body causing it to overreact with an immune response, such as itchy or watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, eczema, abdominal pain or bloating. Some common causes of allergies are pollens, certain foods, stress, dust mites, pet dander and air pollution.

In recent years there has been a significant increase in allergies and asthma, especially in children. The amount of people suffering with allergies in North America has gone from 10 percent in 1980 to 30 percent today. According to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America, 1 in 5 people now suffer from allergies. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology estimates the annual cost of allergies to the health care system and businesses in the U.S. to be $7.9 BILLION.

Why are we experiencing this dramatic increase in allergies? The simple answer is that most allergy sufferers’ immune systems are not as strong or efficient as they once were. Over 70 percent of your immune system is in your intestinal tract, and it is common to find an imbalance in the bacteria of the gut resulting from the use of medications, especially antibiotics. A 2010 study from the University of Marcos found that children given antibiotics during their first year of life were at a 66 percent increased risk for developing allergies.

Another cause of increased allergies is inflammation, especially in the gut. Many of the foods commonly consumed by Americans are filled with chemicals and trans fats.  In addition, the antibiotics and hormones found in many of the meats we consume also cause the body to become inflamed. Chronic inflammation can cause the body to become over-reactive and hypersensitive, while also causing a decrease in healthy gut flora.

The good news is that there are things you can do to help reduce allergies naturally. As we head in to spring, consider taking some of these simple steps:

  • Use a neti pot. A neti pot cleanses and refreshes the nasal passages, thereby improving allergy symptoms. The pot is filled with purified water and a salt-based mixture. (Using water alone in the nasal passages can irritate the inside of your nostrils.)
  • Strengthen your immune system. Eat good quality food, lots of vegetables, some fruit and some lean meats.
  • Eat garlic.  Garlic is a natural antibiotic and helps to fight off viruses, infections and allergies. Using real cloves of garlic in your foods is more effective than taking it in supplement form and can offer a powerful boost to the immune system.
  • Increase Vitamin D. The optimal range for Vitamin D levels in our blood is between 50 and 100 ng/ml. Vitamin D is a modulator for the immune system and decreased levels of Vitamin D have been linked to autoimmune conditions.
  • When possible, reach for natural antihistamines and decongestants. There are several whole food supplements available that can help eliminate histamines, support liver function and loosen mucus without the side effects of most allergy medications.  Supplements that we use in our office with great success include Allerplex and Antronex.
  • Reach for lemons and limes. Both fruits have high levels of Vitamin C, which boosts the immune system and helps reduce allergies.  Drinking lemon/lime water also helps your body get rid of toxins.
  • Drink turmeric ginger tea. Together, turmeric and ginger have powerful anti-inflammatory properties and act as a natural painkiller to help alleviate allergy symptoms. Avoid chamomile tea if you are allergic to ragweed.
  • Drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water a day to stay adequately hydrated. Dehydration makes allergy symptoms even worse.
  • Change your air conditioner filters frequently during the pollen season.
  • When in your car, keep the ventilation system on re-circulate.
  • Experiment with essential oils. Peppermint oil can often unclog sinuses, discharge phlegm and offer relief to scratchy throats. Basil oil reduces the inflammatory response to allergens and helps detoxify the body of bacteria and viruses. Eucalyptus oil can open up the lungs and sinuses, thereby improving circulation and reducing allergy symptoms. Lemon oil supports the lymphatic system drainage and helps overcome respiratory conditions by boosting the immune system. Tea tree oil can destroy airborne pathogens that cause allergies. It also is an antiseptic agent with anti-inflammatory properties.

It is possible to reduce allergies naturally by taking a few simple steps toward strengthening the immune system and limiting overall exposure to environmental allergens.  Taking these steps can allow allergy sufferers to move beyond merely “surviving” this time of year, and bring them to a point where they can thrive and enjoy all spring has to offer.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Chia Seeds

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

Do not be fooled by the size of the seed, chia seeds are one of the healthiest foods on the planet. These tiny seeds are a nutritional powerhouse, providing protein, fiber, antioxidants, healthy fat, minerals and vitamins all in one low-calorie package.

 

You may have first heard of chia seeds from the commercial that showed us we could use them to grow a “ch-ch-ch-chia pet.”  But chia seeds have been around for centuries. The ancient Aztecs and Mayans considered this food a prized possession. “Chia” is the ancient Mayan word for strength, and they valued the seed for its energy-boosting properties.

 

Chia seeds have similar health benefits to flax seeds, but chia seeds are not required to be ground prior to consumption. What’s more, chia seeds do not go rancid as quickly. In fact, chia seeds are said to last up to two years with no refrigeration.

 

Here are a few more reasons why these little seeds pack such a nutritional punch:

 

Omega-3

Two tablespoons of chia seeds contain 20% daily value of alpha-linolenic acid.  (Alpha-linolenic acid cannot be produced by the body, so it is essential to get through diet and supplementation.) High concentrations of plant based omega-3 fat in chia seeds helps lower low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) and triglycerides, thereby supporting healthy cholesterol levels and cardiovascular health. The omega-3s in chia seeds can also help modulate c-reactive proteins and inflammatory cytokines to help fight widespread inflammation.

 

Protein

Chia seeds are an excellent protein source, especially for people who eat little or no animal products. Just two tablespoons of chia seed contain 5 grams of protein. Protein is the most weight-loss friendly macronutrient and can drastically reduce appetite and cravings.

 

Fiber

Research suggests a high-fiber diet can help reduce your risk for many chronic diseases. Most people need about 50 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed, but most Americans do not get near this amount. Chia seeds contain about 10 grams of fiber in just two tablespoons. Fiber does not raise blood sugar and does not require insulin to be disposed. As such, chia seeds have been linked to the prevention of type 2 diabetes by normalizing insulin resistance and regulating glucose levels.

 

Vitamins & Minerals

Just two tablespoons of chia seeds provide a good portion of the daily recommended allowances of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese and zinc – all of which are essential for bone health. Gram for gram, chia seeds have a higher calcium content than most dairy products.

 

Chia seeds are easy to prepare. They adapt to a variety of recipes, have mild flavor, and are gluten-free. They can be eaten raw, soaked in juice or water, or added to baked goods. Chia seeds can be used as toppings to almost any dish, from smoothies to green salads. (Keep in mind that when the seeds are exposed to liquid, they take on a gelatinous texture. So, if you prefer a crunch, sprinkle them on just before eating.)

 

If you are looking for a healthy, gluten-free breading for fish, meat or vegetables, chia seeds can be blended with your choice of spices for an excellent breadcrumb replacement. Because of their ability to absorb both water and fat, they can be used to thicken sauces and even used as egg substitute in some recipes.

 

When chia seeds are soaked overnight whether in water or a nut milk, they take on a tapioca-like texture.  For those who would like to begin incorporating chia seed into their diet, try this simple breakfast recipe:

 

Overnight Oats with Chia

Courtesy of thespruceeats.com

 

For the oatmeal:

1 cup rolled oats

1 Tbsp. chia seeds

½ tsp. ground cinnamon (optional)

1 pinch salt

1 cup milk or non-dairy milk

½ cup plain Greek yogurt

2 Tbsp. maple syrup or honey

½ tsp. pure vanilla extract (optional)

¼ cup dried cherries (optional)

 

For serving:

1 medium banana, sliced

¼ cup toasted almonds

 

Combine oats, chia seeds, cinnamon (if using), and salt in a plastic container or large mason jar. Stir to combine. Add the milk, yogurt, maple syrup and vanilla (if using) and stir. Add the cherries (if using) and stir everything together until combined. Top with a lid or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Serve the oatmeal topped with almonds and sliced banana, or your favorite toppings.

 

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

 

Magnesium

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

Magnesium is one of the most critical minerals in the body, and up to half of Americans are deficient without knowing it. In fact, The Journal of Intensive Care Medicine published a study finding those deficient in magnesium were twice as likely to die an earlier death compared to those who had sufficient magnesium levels.

 

The root of magnesium deficiency is the poor diet of processed and refined foods most Americans consume.  These foods have been stripped of nutrients and contain high amounts of salt. Unfortunately, it is possible to have magnesium deficiency even with a healthy diet. Soil depletion plays a large role in this issue, as minerals are removed, stripped away or no longer available in the soil, the percentage of magnesium present in food has decreased. Additionally, coffee, sodas and excess alcohol further deplete the body’s stores of magnesium (and other minerals).  Lifestyle factors, including high levels of stress, chronic diarrhea, the use of high blood pressure medications, antibiotics, diuretics and other drugs, can also contribute to low magnesium levels. Not to mention as we age our mineral absorption capability tends to decrease so the probability of having a magnesium deficiency increases.

 

Magnesium is not a drug, but can actually be more powerful than drugs when it comes to resolving many conditions.  Not only does magnesium help regulate calcium, potassium and sodium, but it’s essential for cellular health and a critical component of over 300 biochemical functions in the body. It is especially beneficial for a healthy cardiovascular system, and is helpful for lowering high blood pressure and reducing risk of stroke.  Magnesium also helps support learning and memory performance in aging adults.

 

Recently in the journal, Medical Hypothesis, a scientific review of magnesium concluded, “It is highly regrettable that the deficiency of such an inexpensive, low-toxicity nutrient results in diseases that cause incalculable suffering and expense throughout the world.”

 

Some of the symptoms associated with magnesium deficiency include:

 

Leg cramps

High blood pressure

Heart palpitations

Angina

Muscle cramps, muscle twitches and muscle pain

Anxiety

ADD

Insomnia

Migraines

Fibromyalgia

Chronic fatigue

PMS

Constipation

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Reflux

Trouble swallowing

Kidney stones

Obesity

 

The minimum daily recommended amount of magnesium is 300 mg, although studies show most people do better with anywhere from 400mg up to 1000mg a day. If you get too much magnesium, you will often experience diarrhea. The best way to get magnesium is through your diet, since many of the other nutrients necessary for absorption will be found in the same foods. Foods high in magnesium, listed in order from highest magnesium content, include spinach, swiss chard, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, almonds and almond milk, black beans, avocado, figs (dried), yogurt or kefir unflavored, garlic, shrimp and bananas.

 

If you take magnesium supplements you should avoid those containing magnesium carbonate, sulfate, gluconate, and oxide. These are the most common forms found since they are the cheapest to produce, but they are poorly absorbed. The best-absorbed forms are magnesium lactate, citrate, glycinate or aspartate.

 

You can also use magnesium oil topically in a spray or lotion. Magnesium chloride oil can pass through the skin and into the body. If you suffer from digestive issues like malabsorption, this may be the best form of magnesium to take. To use, spraying magnesium oil directly on the skin, rub it in and leave to absorb for about 30 minutes. Wintergreen essential oil can be added to the magnesium to further help relieve muscle pain. Magnesium spray may result in some tingling on the skin the first few times it is applied.

 

Another way to increase your cellular magnesium is by soaking in Epsom salts or magnesium chloride. Adding 1-2 cups of Epsom salts in a bath and soaking for 20 minutes is a great alternative to taking a supplement. You can also soak feet in warm water with magnesium chloride or Epsom salts in order to provide relief to the specific area.

 

Here is an easy recipe that will provide your daily requirement of magnesium. By focusing on this one mineral, you will experience many benefits to your health.

 

Creamy Blueberry Broccoli Slaw Salad

Courtesy of cottercrunch.com

  • 12oz bag broccoli cabbage slaw salad mix (can also use small broccoli florets shredded with carrots, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup cooked nitrate free bacon, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or craisins
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds (roasted)
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup plain kefir yogurt (can use plain yogurt too)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika or chili flakes work too
  • 1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder (optional)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive or avocado oil

Place broccoli slaw in mixing bowl. Add in your kefir yogurt and vinegar. Mix well. Then add seasonings. Mix again. Finally, add the remaining ingredients, berries, seeds, bacon, onion, etc. Mix and chill in fridge until ready to serve. Also, great to mix into wraps. Serves 3-4.

 

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

 

 

 

Kombucha

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

Known as the “Immortal Health Elixir” by the Chinese, kombucha (kom-bu-cha) originated in Asia over 2,000 years ago. The fact that this beverage is still consumed today is a strong testimonial to the health benefits kombucha continues to bring to millions of people. In the 1990s, kombucha was found mostly in health food stores and hippie kitchens.  These days, however, kombucha has grown in popularity and is now commercially available in most grocery stores.

 

Kombucha is a fermented beverage, made with tea, sugar and the SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) also known as the “mother.” The SCOBY is responsible for initiating the fermentation process, using the sugar for food. Once the beverage becomes fermented, it becomes carbonated and contains a high concentration of b-vitamins, enzymes, probiotics, glucosamines and antioxidants. That makes kombucha a powerful detoxifier that can help improve immunity, reduce arthritis and joint pain, assist with weight loss, and improve energy. The high levels of probiotics and beneficial acids aid in the prevention of leaky gut, stomach ulcers, candida overgrowth and GERD.

 

The taste of kombucha is best described as “carbonated apple cider.” Commercial komubcha can be high in sugar and quite expensive, but kombucha can be made inexpensively, and with less sugar, at home. When brewing at home, be sure to use sterile equipment, a clean workspace and high-quality ingredients.

 

Kombucha

Makes 8 cups

 

Needed:

1 large, wide-mouthed glass jar*

Paper towels to cover the top

1 SCOBY disk (can be purchased at a health food store, online or gotten from a friend who is already brewing)

8 cups of spring or distilled water

½ cup of organic cane sugar or raw honey**

5 organic black, green or white tea bags (no herbal tea)

1 cup pre-made kombucha (from the store or a friend who is already brewing)

A wooden spoon

 

*You want to avoid using a plastic jar because the chemicals in the plastic can leak into the kombucha during fermentation process and can be hazardous to your health.

** Most of the sugar is “eaten” by the yeast during the fermentation process so by the time you consume it, there is little sugar left.

 

Directions:

Bring the eight cups of water to a boil in a big pot. Once it comes to a boil, remove the pot from the heat and add the sugar, stirring until it dissolves. Next, place the teabags in the water and steep for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and discard the tea bags, and let the mixture cool to room temperature (usually takes about one hour). Once the mixture has cooled, pour it into your big glass jar, drop in your SCOBY and one cup of pre-made kombucha.

 

Cover your jar with the paper towel, and secure with a rubber band. Stir daily with a wooden spoon and allow the kombucha to sit for 10 to 14 days, depending on the flavor you are looking for. The longer the batch sits, the stronger the taste. Check every couple days to see if it has reached the right taste and desired level of carbonation. Once you are happy with the taste, pour your kombucha into smaller glass bottles with air-tight lids and leave on the counter for a day or two to finish fermentation process. If desired, you can add fresh-squeezed lemon, lime, berries, ginger, or turmeric root before refrigerating. Once refrigerated, it is ready to drink!

 

Each time you brew a batch, the SCOBY grows a new layer below the first one. You can use the newly-formed layer to create a new batch, store it or throw it away.

 

Start by drinking a small amount in moderation in order to see if you have any negative reactions, like an upset stomach. Eventually, you can work your way up to eight ounces a day. Groups who should limit their kombucha consumption include pregnant and nursing women, or those with a compromised immune system.

 

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.