Pathways to Healing Blog

ADHD

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

With the school year now in full swing, children and parents are adjusting to new schedules and demands, including getting up early, completing homework and participation in a myriad of after-school activities. While this new schedule can be challenging for nearly anyone, if you have a child suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), the challenges you face can be even greater.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC), citing data from the 2010 U.S. Census, reports 5 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 as having either ADD or ADHD.  Rates of ADD/ADHD rose at an average of 5.5 percent a year from 2003 to 2007.  These rising statistics are becoming commonplace in America.  Yet other countries are not seeing the same rise in ADD/ADHD statistics.  Why?

In America, ADHD is viewed as a disorder with a biological cause. This means there is a checklist of symptoms and behaviors that classify a person as having ADD/ADHD, such as:

  • Difficulty staying focused/paying attention
  • Easily distracted
  • Overlooking details
  • Forgetful
  • Daydreaming
  • Easily confused
  • Difficulty processing information as quickly and accurately as others
  • Fidgeting/trouble sitting still
  • Non-stop talking
  • Frequently interrupts
  • Impatient

Typically, the first course of treatment is a psycho-stimulant medication, such as Adderall or Ritalin, which come with a frightening list of side effects. Sometimes only medication is used, or medication may be combined with behavior modification therapy. According to Dr. Daniel Amen, a double board-certified leading child psychiatrist who is well known for his research on the brain, this standard approach to treating ADD/ADHD has a very low success rate. He states in the United States, social circumstances, emotional traumas, food sensitivities and dietary factors are often ignored while medication is the preferred treatment. Dr. Amen points out the U.S. is the number one prescriber of stimulant medications, representing 80-85 percent of the world’s consumption!

Other countries, such as France, opt for a more holistic approach.  French doctors look for and treat the cause of the behavior problems by considering past emotional traumas as well as dietary factors.  As a result, studies show the French prescribe fewer stimulant medications and get far better results.

Taking a holistic approach to the treatment of ADD/ADHD can make a positive difference in the life of the child, as well as teachers and parents. Here are three simple steps we can take to vastly improve the quality of life for our children:

Eat a diet of “real” food.
The fast food, junk food and processed food that make up most of the American child’s diet is devoid of nutrients and minerals, which are necessary to build a healthy brain and strong body. Refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and chemical food additives can cause nutritional deficiencies and lead to ADD/ADHD symptoms.

Foods high in B vitamins can help maintain a healthy nervous system. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, B6 is needed in the body to make and use essential brain chemicals including dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Serotonin plays a significant role in sleep and is also related to impulse control, emotional moods, and aggression – all of which are symptoms of ADD/ADHD. Incorporate bananas, avocados, sunflower seeds, wild tuna and salmon or grass-fed beef for improvement of ADHD.

For some people (especially those with ADHD) breakfast helps regulate blood sugar and stabilize hormones. It is very important to eat a healthy breakfast that contains at least 20 grams of protein in the morning.

Focus on sleep.
An often-overlooked factor contributing to ADD/ADHD is lack of sleep. Studies have found children and teens who don’t get 8-10 hours of sleep each night will exhibit symptoms of ADD/ ADHD. Try to ensure your child gets at least 8 hours of sleep a night.

Get moving.
Regular physical exercise and outdoor play time for children with ADHD can help balance hormone levels, reduce stress, burn excess energy, and provide building blocks for healthy muscles and bones. Try engaging in something fun like dancing, martial arts, playing soccer or tag!

These recommended diet and lifestyle changes will help you manage ADD/ADHD. The solutions are equally effective for children and adults.

 

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.

 

Shelf Life

Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

Spending hard-earned money on groceries that never actually reach your plate is like throwing away cash. Because most of us do not have the time to visit grocery stores or farmers markets daily to get fresh produce, we tend to buy produce all at once, which can lead to early spoiling if we don’t utilize proper storage techniques. For example, refrigeration causes some foods to spoil faster. Other types of produce should be ripened at room temperature to reach their best taste potential. What follows are some helpful guidelines for keeping your food fresher, longer, as well as tips and tricks to enjoy maximum flavor.

 

Fruits

  • For gradual ripening, keep fruits separated. Fruits release ethylene gases during the ripening process, which can cause other produce to ripen more rapidly.
  • The following fruits are best ripened on the counter first, then refrigerated: kiwi, nectarine, peach, pear, and plum.
  • Storing bananas in the refrigerator can disrupt the ripening process. Once refrigerated, a banana may never be able to resume the ripening process if returned to room temperature. If your bananas are turning bad, cut up, freeze and use in smoothies or for banana bread.
  • Refrigeration shuts down the ripening enzymes in avocados, so unless you want to stop the ripening process, keep avocados on the counter.
  • To ripen avocados quickly, put the un-ripened avocado in a brown paper bag. Be sure to fold the top over to close the bag, and then check the bag daily to remove ripened ones.  This ripening trick also works for tomatoes.
  • Apples lose flavor and texture when refrigerated, so if you prefer eating apples cold, place them in the fridge 30 minutes before eating.
  • Avoid washing berries until right before you eat them, as wetness encourages mold growth. Berries can be refrigerated in a drawer uncovered or in a vented container.
  • To keep your pineapple longer, cut the leafy top off and store the pineapple upside down. This also helps redistribute sugars that sink to the bottom during shipping and transport.
  • Lemons can be stored in a bowl full of water in the fridge in order to get the longest shelf life.

 

Vegetables

  • Winter squash, butternut squash, acorn squash and pumpkins should all be stored at room temperature.
  • When exposed to cold temperatures, the starch in sweet potatoes turns to sugar, disrupting their flavor and texture – and increasing their overall sugar content. Store sweet potatoes, yams, and regular potatoes in a cool dark area of the kitchen or pantry for the longest shelf life, up to 2 months in a paper bag!
  • Tomatoes lose flavor and become mushy when refrigerated. Spread them out on the counter, out of direct sunlight for even ripening, as well as better taste and texture.
  • To get the longest shelf life for onions, place them in a paper bag, and store them in a cool, dark cabinet.
  • Garlic will last up to 4 months if stored away from heat and light. The pantry is a great location.
  • Ideally, leafy greens should be consumed within 1 to 2 days of purchase to ensure you are getting the most nutrients. You can extend the shelf life by wrapping unwashed leaves in a paper towel. (The towel will absorb any excess moisture and prevent soggy rotten leaves.) After wrapping the unwashed greens in a paper towel, put them in a plastic bag and store them in your fridge.
  • Asparagus should be stored upright in the refrigerator with a damp towel wrapped around the base or upright in a cup with the stems in an inch of water.
  • Celery should be kept in the front of the refrigerator where it is less likely to freeze. Or you can cut celery and submerge in a tall cup of water.

 

 

Coffee and Herbs

  • Coffee is best stored at room temperature in order to allow the natural oils of the coffee bean to activate its powerful aromatic scent. Be aware that coffee can also absorb odors from other foods in your fridge or freezer.
  • Wrap rosemary, thyme, parsley, and cilantro in a moist paper towel, place in air-tight containers and refrigerate for up to ten days.
  • Basil is best kept on the countertop with the stems in water and the top lightly covered with plastic.

 

Finally, remove pesticide residue from your produce by mixing one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to one cup of water, and soak desired fruit or vegetable. Stir periodically for five minutes before draining, rinsing, and using.

 

These storage tips will help keep your fruit and vegetable purchases fresher longer so you get your full money’s worth.

 

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.

 

Iron

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the U.S., with almost 10 percent of women being considered iron deficient.

 

Iron is necessary to perform daily functions in the body by transporting oxygen in the blood from the lungs to your brain, muscles and organ tissues. Iron also helps maintain enzyme and cognitive function, regulate cell growth and development, support immunity, optimize nutrient absorption, and help keep hormones balanced.

 

If you are iron deficient, your vital organs and tissues are not receiving the proper amount of oxygen needed for optimal function.  As a result, you may experience any of the following symptoms:

 

  • Pale or yellowing of the skin
  • Low energy or chronic fatigue
  • Trouble exercising
  • Muscle soreness and weakness
  • Sores on the tongue or mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble with concentration or memory
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Strange cravings, such as dirt or ice

 

The amount of iron needed varies with age and gender. Women need more iron than men due to the loss of iron during monthly menstrual cycles. Toddlers need more iron than children because it supports cognitive development and growth, and it can be challenging for them to get it in their diet.

 

Certain groups of people are at higher risk for iron deficiency and include: vegetarians, anyone who has lost blood due to an accident or recent surgery, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and those with a history of gastrointestinal disorders (i.e. Chrohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis).  Additionally, those taking an excessive amount of antacids, experiencing kidney failure or undergoing dialysis treatment may also have a limited ability to absorb essential nutrients like iron.

 

Fortunately, checking your iron levels is easy and can be done with a simple blood test called a serum ferritin test. The blood test measures ferritin, the carrier molecule of iron, which stores the iron. If your ferritin levels are low, your iron levels are also low.

 

Elevated ferritin levels may suggest an iron surplus, which is an important marker of cardiovascular risks such as ischemic heart disease. Ferritin levels can also become increased in response to inflammation, infection, or trauma. In addition, excess iron consumption (via drinking water, iron cookware, and consumption of iron containing supplements) can lead to an increase in ferritin levels. There are several other diseases and conditions that can cause high ferritin levels, including B12/folate deficiency anemia, chronic hepatitis and chronic renal disease. It is important to find out if and why your iron levels are high, as high levels can damage body tissues and contribute to serious health issues.

 

It’s a good idea to have your iron levels checked on a regular basis as part of your blood workup in order to identify any deficiency before it becomes a larger problem. Iron levels can also be checked at any blood donation center, as centers are required to screen the iron levels of all potential donors. Regular monitoring is most important for vegetarians, pregnant women, and those with digestive disorders.

 

Iron intake can be increased through diet, however, it’s important to consider the type of iron being consumed. Iron found in plant foods is called “non-heme iron,” and the iron found in animal foods is called “heme iron.” Heme iron is more easily absorbed by the body. In fact, sources note that heme iron found in fish, poultry, and meat is absorbed two to three times more effectively than the non-heme iron found in plants. Some of the most iron-rich foods include beef liver, white beans, lentils, spinach, kidney beans, chickpeas, duck, sardines, grass fed beef, lamb, and pumpkin seeds.

 

Iron-deficiency anemia is very common but, fortunately, easily treated. Start by screening the iron levels of everyone in your family, and then work with a qualified practitioner to get those levels in the optimal range.  The result will be an improvement in your overall health, as well as increased energy and improved cell production.

 

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. In addition, the practice is committed to being a valuable source of information so that people can learn how to live a healthy lifestyle and prevent future illness. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

 

Healthy Snacks

Eating on the go
By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

When it comes to traveling, planning ahead is always key to a successful excursion. This is especially true when it comes to eating. Whether you’re traveling by car, boat or plane, a little forethought and preparation can help ensure you have what you need to remain comfortably fed without resorting to junk food.

Raw vegetables make a great travel snack, providing both nutrition and convenience. Vegetables such as celery sticks, baby carrots, sugar snap peas and cut up cucumber with a pinch of salt are all highly portable. There are also many simple recipes for salads in a jar. Simply prepare your jar salad in advance and pack a fork for a healthy and easy meal on the go.

Other simple snacks include crackers paired with meat sticks and pre-cubed cheese. Nuts are another high-protein option. You can make your own trail mix by mixing raw nuts and seeds in a sandwich bag or small reusable container. Fresh fruit, such as apples, grapes or oranges, is a great portable source of fiber. Small packets of nut butters are great with crackers or can pair nicely with a banana.

A simple travel smoothie recipe is another great tool to have in your arsenal. Whether you have an early morning flight or a red eye, it pays to always head to the airport prepared. Pack a shaker bottle and a serving of protein powder in a sandwich bag or just dry in the bottom of the bottle. Once at the airport, order cold or steamed milk from a coffee shop and blend it with the protein powder for a high protein latte. This is a foolproof way to balance your blood sugar, curb your appetite and keep you satiated, which makes you much less likely to reach for junk food later.

If you’re headed out and want to pack your lunch, look no further than these healthy roll up recipes:

Pickle Roll Ups

Pickle roll ups are a tasty snack that only take 10 minutes to prepare and yields up to 30 servings! Gather an 8-ounce package of cream cheese (brought to room temperature), 16 ounces of whole dill pickles and ½ pound thinly sliced deli ham. Grab a slice of ham, slather with cream cheese and place a pickle in the middle of the ham slice. Roll the pickle in the ham, and then slice evenly into bite-sized pieces. For variety, try using corned beef instead of ham or whipped cream cheese instead of a block. Some people like adding a couple tablespoons of dry ranch dressing mix to the cream cheese for added flavor.

Turkey Caprese Roll Ups

Turkey caprese roll ups are a low carb, high-protein snack option, with no bread or tortilla needed. These can be made in advance and are a great snack to store in the cooler. Gather thinly sliced deli turkey breast, pesto, fresh tomato slices and fresh mozzarella. Spread the pesto on the top of the turkey slices, layer with tomato and mozzarella. Roll up the turkey, slice and enjoy.

Turkey Club Roll Ups

These turkey club roll ups take just five minutes to prepare and have such a punch of flavor, you won’t even miss the bread! You’ll need romaine lettuce leaves, lunch meat of your choice, cooked bacon, avocado, and your favorite sandwich spread. Begin by laying parchment paper on a cutting board or large plate. Remove the stems from your romaine lettuce and lay the lettuce on top of the parchment paper, overlapping pieces until you form a 10” by 8” rectangle of lettuce. Drizzle your sandwich spread of choice (anything from mustard to ranch to mayonnaise or jalapenos). Next, layer your lunch meat, followed by the tomatoes, bacon, and avocado. Use the parchment paper to help roll the sandwich into a tight tube by folding in the ends as you roll. Slice the sandwich in half and fold down the parchment paper as you eat, with no mess!

With a little planning, it’s easy to healthy and well fed while traveling. on that next flight, road trip or day on the lake.

All and all you will want to pack snacks that do not require refrigeration and remain fresh at room temperature unless you have access to a cooler.

Better Breakfast

Building a better breakfast
By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

No doubt you’ve heard the saying before: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  And while we might know that to be the truth, busy mornings can often sabotage our best efforts.

Numerous studies have shown that breakfast eaters experience improved mental focus, higher energy and fewer cravings than those who skip a morning meal.  For children, breakfast offers the best start to the school day, resulting in better attention, concentration, memory retention, speech fluency and class participation.

But not all breakfasts are created equally.  Most American breakfasts contain sugar and simple carbohydrates that offer a quick boost, but then cause blood sugar to drop.  The result can be cravings and mood swings.  Take a look at these common, sugar-heavy choices:

  • Flavored “Instant Oatmeal” packets – 15 grams of sugar
  • Yoplait Original Yogurt- 27 grams of sugar
  • Granola- up to 24 grams of sugar per serving
  • Starbucks Caffe Latte Grande (16 oz)- 17 grams of sugar

A healthy breakfast should contain the “Big 3” – protein, live foods and some form of omega-3 fats.  The protein creates a gradual blood sugar increase throughout the day, which eliminates crashes, while healthy fats help increase satiety.

Here are two great recipes that are ideal for busy mornings:

 

Breakfast Egg Muffins

(Recipe courtesy of Paleo Comfort Foods)

 

These muffins freeze well, making them a great grab and go option.  For an added protein boost, sauté some of your favorite sausage, ground turkey or ground beef and mix into the egg mixture – about ½ to ¾ of a pound is sufficient.

 

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 large sweet onion, finely chopped

1 green bell pepper, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (optional)

12 large eggs, whisked

½ tsp black pepper

¼ tsp salt (optional)

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Sauté onions in olive oil over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes.  Add peppers and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes.  While peppers are cooking, whisk eggs in a large bowl.  Once onions/peppers are cooked, remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.  Dump in egg mixture and stir well, sprinkling in the salt and pepper.  Coat a large muffin pan with olive oil spray or coconut oil.  Using a 1/4 –cup measuring cup, fill each muffin cup.  Place in oven for 10-15 minutes.  Remove them once the tops get high, fluffy and golden brown.  Pop them out with a butter knife or spatula.

 

Sausage and Sweet Potato Hash

This simple recipe comes together in a matter of minutes and will keep you full until lunchtime.

 

3 small yams (or 2 large yams)

1 lb. ground pork sausage

3 Tbsp. coconut oil

2 tsp. cinnamon

 

Grate yams with a cheese grater or in a food processor with a grate blade. In a large skillet, brown the sausage. Add the coconut oil and yams. Continue cooking for another 7 to 10 minutes or until the yams are soft. Add cinnamon, mix and serve.

 

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.

 

 

 

Cooking Oils

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

Patients often ask me which oils are the healthiest to use when cooking. This can be a confusing subject since there are so many different options, and marketing companies are focused on getting people to buy their “healthy” oil.  Take canola oil, which is often marketed as a healthy choice, low in saturated fat and boasting healthy omega-3 fatty acids. However, have you ever wondered where canola oil comes from? What is a “canola?” Well, there is no canola plant. Canola oil comes from rapeseed. The oil from the rapeseed plant is not a food, but an industrial oil used in lubricants, biofuels, soaps, inks, lipstick and candles. Canola actually stands for “Canadian oil low acid.” It is a genetically modified version of rapeseed oil that is low in cost because it is subsidized by the Canadian government.  The low cost of canola oil is why it is used in most packaged and processed foods.

 

The following article by Tatum Young, entitled “The Ultimate Guide to Cooking Healthy with Oils and Fats,” provides some excellent guidelines on this issue, so I am reprinting it below:

 

When it comes to selecting oils and fats for cooking, there are plenty of options to choose from. And while the flavor an oil imparts on a dish plays an important role in what you opt for, your choice should be based on a lot more than that.

 

First, you need to consider what oils stand up to high heat. When cooking at high temperatures, you want to use oils that are stable and don’t oxidize or go rancid easily. Oils that oxidize (react with oxygen to form free radicals and harmful compounds) you certainly don’t want to be consuming.  These compounds cause the body to break down faster, making the body more susceptible to inflammation, degenerative diseases and accelerated aging.

So what are the safest, healthiest oils and fats you can use while cooking?

 

  1. Coconut Oil. Coconut oil is your best choice when it comes to high-heat cooking — and given its numerous benefits, it’s an oil you’ll want to use time and time again. It can be used for sautéing, roasting, frying, baking and grilling. It is also rich in healthy saturated fats, fat-soluble vitamins, antioxidants and valuable compounds for weight loss. The antioxidants found in coconut oil make it an effective anti-inflammatory food and help reduce arthritis. At room temperature, the oil is semi-solid, meaning that it can last for months and years, without going rancid. When choosing a coconut oil, I recommend extra virgin varieties, as refined or processed coconut oils can eliminate many of the health benefits.
  2. Palm Oil. Derived from the fruit of oil palms, consists mostly of saturated fats, with small amounts of polyunsaturated fats, making it a good choice for cooking. It is pretty nutritious and especially rich in Vitamin E. The primary concern to consider when using palm oil, however, is that growing these trees mean less environment available for orangutans, which are an endangered species.
  3. Butter. We’re all familiar with “butter-like” substances; margarine, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter and all those other “vegetable oil spreads” found in stores. But real butter, preferably raw or from grass-fed, organic sources (Kerrygold is an easily accessible grass-fed brand) is what you should reach for. It may have been demonized in the past, due to its saturated content, but real butter (not processed margarine) is actually quite nutritious. It is a good source of vitamins A, E and K. It is also rich in Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), which has been shown to lower body fat percentage, and Butyrate, which has been shown to fight inflammation and improve gut health. Butter does tend to burn when cooked at high heat. So, if opting for butter, be sure to keep the fire down and watch for smoke. Alternatively, you can use ghee (purified butter) – you’ll get the same (or at least, extremely similar) flavor, without the burn.
  4. Avocado Oil. When cooking at very high temperatures, avocado oil is a very stable oil to use. It can be used in searing, roasting, and frying, and can stand up to temperatures as high as 520°F. Avocado oil contains a high concentration of monounsaturated fats (good and healthy fats – a necessary requirement in a healthy diet), potassium and vitamins A, E, and D. If you’re new to avocado oil and are a little unsure about its taste, use it to sauté vegetables first.
  5. Animal Fats. Animal fat has been shunned in the past due to its saturated fat content and high serum cholesterol levels. However, fear of saturated fat is beginning to diminish as more studies are showing such foods are not the culprit for heart disease or obesity. So long as they are consumed wisely and moderately, animal fats like lard or tallow are great for high-heat cooking, and are not considered to be an unhealthy option if sourced from animals consuming a natural diet (grass-fed), living in a natural environment.
  6. Olive Oil. Olive oil has numerous health benefits and is an exceptionally heart-healthy oil. It has been shown to raise HDL (good) cholesterol and lower the amount of oxidized LDL cholesterol. Most sources, however, indicate that olive oil can stand up to heats of 320°F – and should preferably be used cold, as a dressing. Though there are some olive oils on the market (virgin and refined) that are more suitable for high-heat cooking (they can stand up to temperatures as high as 400°F), these oils are inferior in nutritive properties. So, if opting for a low-quality olive oil, make sure it is either expeller or cold-pressed.
  7. Seed Oils. Seed oils are often refined with chemicals, bleaches, and deodorizers. These oils are generally used in high-heat commercial cooking due to their ability to withstand high temperatures and their cheap prices. Because oils like soybean, canola, corn, safflower, grapeseed and vegetable oils are extracted from tiny seeds, they are often refined, using many chemical extractions.

 

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.

 

 

Epsom Salts

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Did you know magnesium is the second most abundant element in human cells? Magnesium impacts at least 300 enzymes and plays an important role in many bodily functions like muscle control, electrical impulses, energy production and the elimination of harmful toxins. While magnesium is not easily absorbed through the digestive tract, it is readily absorbed through the skin. That makes Epsom salt an ideal way to enjoy the associated health benefits of both magnesium and sulfates.

Epsom salt is not actually salt, but a mineral compound that can be broken down into magnesium, sulfur and oxygen. This compound was discovered in the early 17th century in a small town south of London named Epsom. The salt was acquired by boiling down spring water. While Epsom salt looks similar to table salt (small, colorless crystals), it is not drying to the skin.  In fact, Epsom salt leaves skin feeling soft and silky. Epsom salt has been used diversely for many years. Here are just a few ways you can benefit from the use of Epsom salt:

Relaxation

Excess adrenaline, due to stress, is believed to drain magnesium from the body. Magnesium is necessary for the body to bind adequate amounts of serotonin (mood elevating chemical) in the brain, which creates a feeling of well-being and relaxation. When Epsom salts are added to a warm bath, the magnesium in the salts will soak through your skin to relax your muscles and your mind. Add 1-2 cups of Epsom salt to hot water and soak for at least 20 minutes. Lavender or eucalyptus oil can also be added to the salts before adding them to the water to increase the calming benefits.

If getting into a bath is not possible, soaking your feet in a basin of warm water and Epsom salts for 15 to 20 minutes can create a similar relaxing effect. The combination of a warm foot bath paired with deep breathing and a calming environment has immediate benefits to the body. Research has proven this technique to be extremely effective for lowering blood pressure temporarily by 8-10 points after the soak.

Muscle Tension

Muscle tension is a major cause of poor sleep. An Epsom salt bath before bed can help improve blood flow to your muscles, relax muscle tension and allow you to fall asleep with ease.

Athletes and those suffering from arthritis can also benefit from improved blood flow and circulation, which aides in muscle relaxation. Epsom salt baths are commonly suggested to ease aches and pains located in muscles and stiff joints. This includes discomfort caused by muscles in high demand and promotes a faster recovery from muscle strains or tightness.

For tension headache or neck pain relief, fill a cheesecloth or washcloth with Epsom salt and dip it in hot water for 20 seconds. Let it drip and cool off slightly before using it as a compress on the back of your neck. After the compress cools, place it back in the hot water and keep doing this for 7-10 minutes. Within ten minutes there should be a visible decrease in the amount of tension and pain.

Colds and Flu

For people fighting a cold or the flu, a warm bath tub soak with Epsom salts can shorten the duration of the ailment. The bath will increase the body’s temperature, causing you to sweat and aide in detoxification. The sulfates in Epsom salt assist the body in flushing out toxins.

Itchy Scalp

The magnesium in Epsom salt reduces itching, while the sulfur is a natural anti-bacterial agent. To relieve itchy/oily scalp, take half a handful of Epsom salts and scrub your scalp in the shower for 10 minutes, before washing it off and shampooing.

Constipation

Epsom salt is an FDA-approved laxative and commonly used to naturally relieve constipation. While you should not consume Epsom salt on a regular basis, you can use it as a temporary laxative by adding one teaspoon of Epsom salt to eight ounces of water. Stir the mixture and drink it all right away. Make sure to drink plenty of liquids while consuming Epsom salts to prevent dehydration.

Epsom salt is very affordable and can be found at any grocery store or supermarket (usually in the pharmacy section or beauty aisle). Epsom salt should be stored at room temperature, and away from moisture and heat to prevent it from becoming compacted.

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.

 

Air Travel Tips

by: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

As air travel is slowly beginning to resume after the darkest days of the pandemic, many may be wondering how best to support their body and health during an upcoming trip. Studies have found that one in every five people may experience a cold or illness following air travel. Add to that the other unpleasant “side effects” of travel, including stiff and painful joints, dehydration, swollen feet, sluggishness and high amounts of stress, and it becomes easy to see why many of us feel less than 100% after a trip.

 

There are many factors working against our immune system when we travel. To start, airplanes are a small enclosed space where people of all ages, from all over the world, stay for a long period of time. The University of Alabama conducted a study that found germs can stay up to seven days on a plane. The areas where the most germs can be found inflight are armrests, seat belts and buckles, seat pockets, tray tables and the touchscreen entertainment.

 

Lower oxygen levels at altitude (even in pressurized cabins) and low humidity in the cabin also play a factor. Decreased humidity can cause the mucous membranes in our nose and throat to dry out. The mucous membranes in our body are designed to protect us from most germs, bacteria and diseases we come in contact with everyday. Dehydration is also common during flights, resulting in dry itchy skin, red eyes and a parched mouth.

 

Is it possible to combat some of these issues?  The answer is, yes. Here are a few things you can do to help prevent illness and improve your holiday travel experience:

 

Rest Up. Be sure to get plenty of rest before your flight — a solid 7-9 hours is ideal. Rest is one of the best things we can do to ensure the immune system is performing at an optimal level.

 

Eat Well. What you eat has a huge impact on the strength of your immune system. While it can be difficult to make healthy food choices while traveling, do your best to focus on fruits and vegetables to nourish and strengthen the body. Options are improving at airport grab-and-go stores, so reach for snacks like crunchy snap peas or easy-to-peel bananas and oranges. Fresh fruit and cheese or vegetables and hummus are great inflight options. Try to avoid salty foods like chips and roasted nuts as they can speed up dehydration, which already occurs as a result of the pressurized cabin environment.

 

Bring Your Own Bottle. The best and easiest way to stay hydrated is by bringing your own water bottle. Most airports have water bottle filling stations, which makes it easy to fill up before your plane boards. It is recommended to drink at least 8 ounces of water for every hour of flight time. Skip the coffee and adult beverages — both speed up the dehydration process. Reach for tea over coffee. Most airlines have a couple basic tea options, but you can always bring your own tea bag and ask for hot water on the flight.

 

Stretch and Roll. If you suffer from regular joint pain, you might notice an increase in discomfort while flying.  This is because changes in air pressure can trigger an inflammatory response. Most airplane seats intensify pressure on your lower spine and have an odd angle for your neck, causing tension in muscles and stiffness in your back. Well-worn joints might be stable until crammed into tiny chairs and sitting for long periods of time. I always fly with an inflatable lumbar support pillow to prop behind my lower back, which does not take up much room in my bag and is easy to find online. I also usually travel with my collapsible foam roller (a great Christmas gift!) so once I get to my destination, I can roll out my muscles and fascia. Stretching and foam rolling can help rehydrate muscles, relieve muscle stiffness and make you feel great again! Short strolls down the aisle while in flight can keep your joints moving and ensure proper circulation.

 

Reach for Supplements. We are approaching peak flu season, so it’s worth taking a few extra precautions to keep yourself well. Start boosting your immune system two to three days before you fly and for a few days after you return. There are always options like airborne and emergen-C for general support. Vitamin C can boost your body’s ability to fight airborne germs and reduce symptoms or duration of a cold. Other options are oregano oil, elderberry, echinacea, green juice (with low to no sugar content), vitamin D and b-complex. Adaptagens like ashwagandha, licorice root, rhodiola and ginseng can help support stress and reduce symptoms of jet lag.

 

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.

 

Neck Pain

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

Neck pain is a common complaint and, when you take a moment to consider the anatomy of the body, it’s easy to understand why.  The neck is comprised of a relatively small muscle group whose main purpose is to hold and support the head.  Depending on a person’s frame, the head can weigh anywhere between 10 to 16 pounds — about as much as a bowling ball.

Imagine holding a bowling ball above your head all day long.  It would be natural – and expected – for your muscles to get fatigued. Now imagine holding that bowling ball above the head, but slightly in front of your shoulders. If you actually tried maintaining that position (which mimics the poor posture we exhibit when the neck moves forward of the shoulders), you would quickly notice a tremendous amount of tension and stress in the neck and upper back.

Poor posture is one of the biggest causes of neck pain and tension, and it has become an epidemic in today’s society – especially with the widespread use of computers, tablets and mobile phones. When we stand or sit correctly, our ear should line up with the center of our shoulder. Any time the ear moves forward of the shoulder, such as when you look down, it strains the muscles and increases stress to the neck and spine.

Chronic poor posture can lead to problems with discs, muscles and joints in our neck, as well as cause constricted blood vessels and pressure on the nerves. Slouching also results in 30 percent less oxygen intake, leading to poor energy and fatigue.

Taking steps to improve our posture can help relieve neck and back pain, while also helping us look younger and more confident. Studies have also shown that adopting an upright posture helps improve mood and self esteem, allowing people to more effectively manage their stress.

To practice good posture, use a door or wall as a guide. Place your back against the wall with your heels and the back of your head against the wall. Your ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle should all be in alignment. This is the proper postural alignment to maintain once you step away from the wall. It may feel awkward at first because your muscles have become accustomed to poor posture, however, the more you practice this alignment the more natural it will become.

Here are a few more simple fixes for common posture problems that lead to neck pain.

  1. Sleep posture. Sleeping on your stomach is one of the worst postures for your neck and back. The best sleeping postures are on your side with both knees bent (some people like to put a pillow between their knees) or on your back with a pillow under your knees. Make sure you have a pillow that properly supports your neck while sleeping. The key is to ensure the head stays level when you are lying on your side. The spine should be in proper alignment, without the head tilting up or down. If you are on your back, your chin should be in a neutral position.
  2. Slouching. People often sit this way because they feel it is more comfortable. In this position your muscles do not work as hard, but your back and neck muscles, as well as your discs and nerves, are under tremendous stress. To correct this, you must adjust your posture and learn to sit up straight. Exercises to help improve this posture include core, back extension exercises and exercises that strengthen your buttocks/glutes. Planks, back extensions and bridges are all helpful.
  3. “Text Neck” or Hunched back. This posture results from sitting at a computer, using a tablet for long periods of time, or texting on your mobile phone. It can also develop in those who spend a lot of time reading, quilting or doing any type of work that requires looking down. This posture leads to tight chest muscles, weak upper back muscles and a forward head posture. To help correct this posture, it is important to stretch the chest and neck muscles on a daily basis. Try these exercises to strengthen the upper back and neck muscles:
  • Neck range of motion exercises. Slowly turn your head from left to right, looking over each shoulder. Do this 10 times in each direction. Next, tilt your ear toward your left shoulder and then your right shoulder. Do this 10 times slowly to each side. In addition to tilting your head toward your shoulder you can then slowly rotate your chin toward your armpit to increase stretch in back of neck and then rotate chin toward ceiling to further stretch the front of the neck. Finally, jut your chin forward and then tuck your chin backward (like a turtle). Do this 10 times in each direction.
  • Chest stretch. Stand in an open doorway and grasp the doorframe on each side. Lean forward while holding on to the doorframe. This will help stretch your chest muscles.
  • Exercise on a rowing machine, making sure to use good form. This will help strengthen your back muscles and the rear shoulder muscles helping to reduce the hunched back posture.

So, sit up straight, stop slouching and utilize the recommended exercises. The more you practice good posture, the more it will become second nature, while helping you to finally get rid of that pain in your neck.

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.

 

 

Home Remedies for Bug Bites

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

With the gorgeous summer weather in Georgia’s lake country comes mosquito and bug bites, especially since most of us reading this article reside near water. Pests usually leave you with a red bump and an annoying itch but some can also lead to more serious conditions. The good news it if you do end up coming in contact with undesirable pesky bugs there are home remedies that are natural, simple and effective. This article will also cover excellent ideas for bug repellent that is not harmful for the human body. Stinky store bought spray is not your only option.

Mosquito’s have many different species (more then 3,000 in the world) and not all mosquito’s have the potential to carry parasites, pathogens and diseases like Zika and Malaria. DEET is a common chemical based repellent that has potential health and environmental harm. You might choose to avoid using products that are harmful to your body unless you are visiting places that have high risk for disease carrying insect bites. Some countries are more effected then others such as Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa and Ethopia. If you are doing things like hanging out in your back yard, taking a hike, or going camping, natural repellent remedies might be a better option. Children are more sensitive to chemicals, going all natural can be especially important for them.

First we can go over how to avoid getting bug bites in the first place. Bugs love to harbor in free standing water. Take a look around your house to investigate and eliminate areas that hold water. For example check water drains, buckets, tires, areas around the pool and try to get rid of unnecessary items. If water sits from four to seven days, it gives a chance for bugs like mosquitoes to infest. Other areas that can collect water are flowerpots, clogged gutters, trash cans, and bird bath (change water weekly). Next tip is keeping the lawn mowed as tall grass and weeds are one of mosquito’s favorite hang outs.

If you do go out after sunset it is best to cover up and wear long sleeves or pants that are thick enough for mosquito’s not to bite through. Mosquitoes are most active after sunset until sunrise. If you are susceptible to bug bites and want to avoid getting bit then plan outdoor activities at the appropriate times. Bugs are also attract to bright clothing, lights and perfume so avoid those.

Read below to see which natural repellent best suites you and your family needs. First I will mention different essential oils to use. Essential oils should never be put directly on the skin. They are best used with a carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil (liquid at all temperatures), almond oil, olive oil, jojoba oil, sunflower and avocado oil. Generally speaking the recipe is usually 3 to 5 drops of essential oil to one teaspoon of carrier oil. It is always in your best interest to do a spot test on a small section of your skin and wait an hour to make sure there is no irritation or allergic reaction. 

Lemon eucalyptus oil has been used since the early 1900’s as a natural repellent, it smells a lot like the well known citronella. The Center of Disease Control has approved this oil as an effective ingredient in mosquito repellent. You can create your own batch of repellent using 1 part lemon eucalyptus oil and 10 parts sunflower oil or witch hazel.

Citronella is more common essential oil used to make candles to work against mosquitoes. Citronella is made from a mix of herbs and when you are outside citronella candles can actually provide up to 50% extra protection. Using citronella topically can protect you for up to two hours and once the oil evaporates it will leave you unprotected.

Tea tree oil or also known as melaleuca oil is popular for properties like antimicrobial, antiseptic, antimicrobial and also many wound healing benefits. Research also shows it may be effective as insect repellent.

Lavender has a fragrance that can repel mosquitoes with a more calming and enjoyable or tolerable smell. Lavender also has an analgesic (pain relief) qualities that can calm and soothe the skin.

Peppermint oil is not seemed to be liked by most bugs especially mosquitoes and spiders. You can mix peppermint oil and water in a spray bottle and use it in the corners of your home or ceiling to deter spiders and insects. You can use a few drops of peppermint oil with carrier oil and rub it on the bite topically to stop itching and cool the area to keep you from scratching and getting inflamed. 

Cinnamon oil can be used to kill off mosquito eggs and oddly enough snakes also hate this oil. A plant store manager once told me to cut up the cinnamon stick brooms and sprinkle in areas outdoors where you would like to fend off snakes. I also got a recipe for fending off snakes with the following oils; mix 4-8 drops of cinnamon oil and clove oil to a gallon of water and spray liberally. I have had people tell me it is helpful to spray around their dock area and pine straw. Keep in mind cinnamon and clove oil is toxic to pets.

The old remedy of putting a tea bag on your bee sting is a true natural remedy for mosquito bites as well. Ingredients in white tea specifically help reduce inflammation and a cold tea bag can soothe the itch and act as a poultice right on the bite to pull out venom and potential toxins. Chamomile tea is a great topical treatment for many skin issues and irritation.

Even with using mosquito repellent you may get an itchy, annoying, painful, red, raised mosquito bite. There are many ways to treat mosquito bites at home, some smell better then others! You can try onions, garlic and bananas can help stop itching. Rub a piece of raw onion, freshly cut garlic or banana peel on the bite itself to help soothe the irritation. Apple cider vinegar can be put on a cotton ball and rubbed on the bite to reduce inflammation and annoyance of bug bites.