Surviving Allergy Season

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove – Pathways to Healing

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 by eating 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.

Are You At Risk For Osteoporosis?

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove – Pathways to Healing

As many as 54 million Americans have low bone density, and many of them don’t even know it. Ten million Americans have such low bone density they actually have osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both. Advanced osteoporosis usually presents with symptoms such as bone pain, backache, curvature of the upper spine presenting as a hump, and loss of height from vertebral compression fractures. 

However, osteopenia (characterized by low bone mineral density that is not extreme enough to be called osteoporosis) and early-to-middle stages of osteoporosis are silent diseases that have no symptoms. A diagnosis of osteopenia or osteoporosis is often found accidentally, such as when a bone is being x-rayed to determine the existence of a fracture. Typically, when low bone mass shows up on an x-ray, as much as one-third of the person’s bone mass has already been lost.

You could be at risk for low bone density and osteoporosis if you:

  • Are a woman – especially if you’ve had a hysterectomy or are postmenopausal
  • Are over 50 years old
  • Have an inactive lifestyle
  • Have amenorrhea because of extreme exercise
  • Have a history of an eating disorder or under-eating for many years
  • Are a heavy user of alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, sugar or carbonated beverages
  • Have a chronic health disorder such as diabetes, malabsorption condition, celiac disease, or hyperthyroidism
  • Are small-boned and consistently below normal weight for someone your size
  • Are, or have a history of, taking certain prescription medications long-term, such as steroids (cortisone and prednisone), certain birth controls and anticonvulsants
  • Have a history of cancer treatments, including chemotherapy or radiation
  • Are deficient in certain key nutrients, including vitamin D, vitamin K, calcium and magnesium
  • Have a low level of testosterone – even if you are a woman
  • Have a family history of osteoporosis, fractures or bone disorders

The only way to truly detect the bone loss associated with osteopenia is with a bone scan – most commonly a low-radiation DEXA scan (Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) of the hip and spine. A bone scan can detect even small changes in a person’s bone density.

Our bodies are constantly making new bone, however, as we age, we tend to start losing more bone than we create. The good news is, it’s never too late to focus on bone health. Here are a few simple ways you can help increase your bone density naturally:

ExerciseExercise, especially “weight-bearing” types, is needed to keep muscles strong, sustain skeletal strength and help maintain bone density. Weight-bearing exercises include any type of exercise that forces you to work against gravity.  Weight-bearing exercises require your bones and muscles to support your body weight, while also enhancing coordination and balance. (Coordination and balance are important for preventing the slips, falls and accidents that wind up causing a serious fracture or injury.) Examples of weight-bearing activities include walking, dancing, yoga, skiing, tennis, body weight exercises using resistance bands/cables, or even lifting soup cans. Aim to do weight-bearing exercises at least 3 to 4 times per week for 30-60 minutes in duration.

Eat a Bone-Healthy Diet – Focus on eating bone-healthy foods that are high in vitamin D, vitamin K, calcium and magnesium. Incorporate a variety of green leafy vegetables like kale, bok choy, broccoli, and cabbage. (Spinach should be avoided as a source of calcium, because it is high in oxalates that bind calcium.) Fish, such as sardines with small, edible bones, are an excellent source of calcium and oily fish, especially wild-caught salmon, are a good source of vitamin D. Other great sources of magnesium and calcium include: almonds, sesame seeds/sesame butter, beans and legumes, avocadoes, and dark chocolate.

Keep in mind that while eating foods high in vitamin D, vitamin K, calcium and magnesium is encouraged, it can be difficult to get the ideal amounts from your diet alone. This is primarily because the amounts of these nutrients in foods can vary widely. For example, a study of the vitamin D content of salmon found an average of only 240 IU of Vitamin D3 in farmed salmon compared to an average of 988 IU vitamin D3 in 3.5 ounces of wild-caught salmon. 

Optimize Vitamin D Levels – Vitamin D helps the body improve calcium absorption. Spending most of your time indoors and avoiding the sun may mean that your body isn’t making the vitamin D it needs to help maintain bone mass.

It is best to obtain Vitamin D naturally by exposing your bare skin to sunlight for about 15-20 minutes every day.

If you are at high risk for osteopenia or osteoporosis, talk to your doctor about having a bone density test (DEXA) and check your vitamin D levels. No matter the current state of your bone health, incorporating these simple tips today can help you prevent fractures or complications in the future.

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.

Pathways to Healing: Health Benefits Of Oregano Oil

February 21, 2019

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

If you’ve ever made Italian food, you’ve likely reached for dried oregano to add Mediterranean flavor to your favorite sauce. But this humble herb can be used for much more than simply flavoring your favorite dishes. In the world of essential oils, oregano oil is a powerful tool that provides a wide variety of healing benefits and uses.

To create oregano oil, medicinal grade oregano is distilled to extract the essential oil from the herb, which is where a high concentration of the herb’s active ingredients are found. When made into a medicinal supplement or essential oil, oregano is often called “oil of oregano.” Oil of oregano contains two powerful compounds called carvacrol and thymol, both of which have been shown in studies to have strong antibacterial and antifungal properties.

In fact, oregano oil may rival antibiotics when it comes to treating and preventing various infections. In 2011, the Journal of Medicinal Food published a study that evaluated the antibacterial effect of oregano oil against five types of bad bacteria. Oil of oregano showed significant antibacterial properties against all five species. The highest activity was observed against E. Coli, which suggests that oregano oil could potentially be used to promote gastrointestinal health and to prevent food poisoning. (When traveling internationally, I always pack oregano oil capsules to help fight foreign germs I may come in contact with.)

Another study found that a combination of heat, salt and use of essential oils (including oregano) had effects against strains of bacteria that commonly cause the fungal infection known as athlete’s foot. After testing the fungicidal activity of 11 essential oils against the bacteria known to cause athlete’s foot, oregano oil was found to be the most powerful (followed by thyme, cinnamon, lemongrass and clove).

Oregano essential oil also helps balance bacteria and fight yeast overgrowth, making it a popular natural treatment for Candida and small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). (SIBO is a common digestive problem that causes gas, bloating and intolerances to many carbohydrate-containing foods.) Oregano oil hinders bacterial replication and can be used for treating infections that affect digestive health and nutrient absorption. Thymol, one of oregano’s active compounds, may help relax the soft tissue of the throat and stomach, which can help to decrease GERD, heartburn and discomfort after eating.

Oregano oil is safe as long as it’s diluted in water or with a carrier oil (some of my top choices are jojoba, olive and coconut oils). The ideal ratio when diluting this herbal oil is one part oregano oil to three parts carrier oil. Before using oregano oil, be sure to conduct a spot test to check for allergic reactions. Simply apply a diluted drop on your arm and see if any irritation occurs. Oregano oil can be used topically, diffused or taken internally. 

Ideally, you want to purchase 100 percent pure, unfiltered, Certified USDA Organic oregano oil. If taking internally, the oil must be 100 percent therapeutic grade. The oil is very strong and hot, so start with less and add more as needed. Be careful when buying oregano oil, as some manufacturers sell adulterated oils and oils made from thyme, Spanish oregano, or cultivated oregano, which DO NOT provide any health benefits.

I take oregano essential oil internally for a maximum of two weeks, in most cases, because it’s so powerful. When taking oregano oil internally, it should always be diluted with water or mixed with coconut oil. I find it’s helpful to combine oregano oil with olive oil in capsules to avoid burning the throat. Oregano oil is also available as soft gels or capsules to take internally without the mess of trying to make your own capsules.

The dried herb oregano is typically fine for pregnant women but, generally speaking, it is not considered safe to use oregano oil during pregnancy. If side effects, such as nausea, dizziness or an allergic reaction are ever experienced, then stop using oregano oil immediately and consider seeing a doctor. Because oregano oil might interfere with other medications, always ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to take it internally. Some people may experience stomach upset when ingesting oregano oil (or even the herb itself). Those who are allergic to plants from the Lamiaceae family (mint, lavender, sage and basil) should also avoid this oil, as they may also develop an allergic reaction.

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.

SAD_Tips For Surviving Winter

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Being from the Great White North, a.k.a. Alaska, I have encountered numerous people affected by the “winter blues.” As we head into the height of the winter season, cooler weather combines with shorter periods of daylight and sunshine. Some people welcome this seasonal change, but others may experience something more serious — a type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a form of clinical depression that comes and goes based on a specific seasonal pattern, hitting around the same time each year. Studies show about half a million Americans are affected by SAD.

SAD symptoms vary from person to person. Symptoms can start out mild and become more severe in peak winter months. People suffering from SAD may experience a loss of interest in activities or decrease in motivation to socialize with friends and family.  Other common symptoms include trouble sleeping, decrease in energy, weight gain, irritability, and appetite changes — especially cravings for foods high in sugar and carbohydrates.

Unsurprisingly, location makes a difference in the occurrence of this condition since sunlight and temperature play a major role. SAD is more common among people who live far north or south of the equator due to abbreviated daylight hours. For example, in my hometown in Fairbanks, Alaska on December 21 (the shortest day of the year) there is about 3 to 4 hours of daylight and temperatures are often below zero. You can imagine the effect this has on the brain and body! In Georgia, the shortest day of the year still has 9 to 10 hours of daylight and is not as cold.

It can be challenging to differentiate if a person is suffering from “traditional” depression or seasonal depression, but the main difference is the duration.  With SAD, feelings will begin in September, be the worst in peak winter months, and ease up once spring rolls around in March or April. Health professionals typically wait to see if symptoms persist over two or three consecutive winter seasons before making an official diagnosis, however, no one should have to wait that long to start feeling better! There are several natural remedies that can provide relief.

Vitamin D is known as the “Sunshine Vitamin” because the body produces it when exposed to the sun. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to depression. Check with your doctor to make sure your vitamin D levels are up to par. Adding a supplement could help you feel better, while also improving bone health and boosting your immune system.

It can be challenging to get to the gym or go outside when you are not feeling great, but regular exercise has been proven to help with all types of depression. Staying active increases the production of endorphins – those feel-good chemicals that help ease depressive feelings and clear brain fog. One study showed just 20-30 minutes of walking for 10 consecutive days was enough to significantly reduce depression.

Research also has shown consistency and frequency of exercise has more positive effects then duration or intensity. You do not need to run a marathon or lift massively heavy weights in order to reap the benefits of exercise. Join a group fitness class, walking club or practice yoga. Also, when there is a ray of sunshine or the temperature is tolerable, take advantage! Get as much natural light as possible — your brain and body will thank you for it later. If you can squeeze in a workout outside, great! But even playing fetch with the dog outside will boost your body’s ability to make proper hormones and regulate your circadian rhythm.

Talking it out is another option. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that helps people change unhealthy habits of thinking, feeling and behaving into positive solutions. Reach out to friends and family, and establish a support network to help ease feelings of isolation.

Finally, be sure to eat a healthy diet. People with SAD tend to crave sweet treats and sugary carbs, which make them look and feel worse. Try to focus on lean protein, leafy greens and fish, which will keep hormones in check and boost serotonin.

These simple lifestyle changes can greatly impact overall mood and health – and help minimize the “winter blues,” should they come knocking on your door this winter. 

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.

Principles Of Intuitive Eating (Part 2)

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Last week, we discussed five strategies you can use to begin eating intuitively, as opposed to relying on the typical “diet” approach to weight management.

Intuitive eating doesn’t rely on a diet or meal plan, counting calories or excessive willpower.  Rather, intuitive eating is about learning to trust your body again. It’s about learning to read internal cues, like hunger, fullness and satisfaction, and moving away from external cues like food rules and restrictions.  People who eat intuitively, trust their bodies to tell them when, what and how much to eat.  And they give themselves permission to eat what they want without feeling guilty.

This week, I’m sharing five more ways you can begin to incorporate intuitive eating principles, from Sun Basket’s staff dietitian, Lindsey Kane. By beginning to implement these strategies on a regular basis, you’ll develop healthy habits and be able to get off the diet-go-round for good. 

Discover the satisfaction factor.
Intuitive eating encourages you to identify foods that truly make you feel good—not just during a meal, but afterward, too. By doing this, you’ll find yourself gravitating towards and returning to foods that make you feel your best. In addition to eating foods that make you feel good, try engaging all your senses. Slow down, appreciate the way the food looks, respect how it arrived at your plate, breathe in all of the aromas, and eat in an environment that feels good and with people who light you up. 

Honor your feelings without using food.
Food can be comforting, but that pleasure only lasts as long as the meal. Afterward, whatever was eating you is still there, buried under food, perhaps now served with a side of guilt and shame. Intuitive eating encourages you to identify whether you’re feeling anxious, bored, lonely, sad, or angry and then seek a true solution. Go for a walk, call a friend, practice yoga or meditation, get a massage, read a book, or write in a journal. You’ll know you’re responding appropriately when the response makes you feel better, not worse. 

Respect your body.
Our differences are our superpowers, yet we live in a world that idealizes a cookie-cutter body type. The idea that we can radically transform our bodies is unfair and unrealistic. Intuitive eating challenges you to embrace your genetic blueprint, set realistic expectations, and celebrate your uniqueness. Anytime you catch yourself comparing your body to someone else’s, respond as you would if a friend said something similar about themselves. 

Exercise and feel the difference.
People who practice intuitive eating enjoy exercise because it gives them energy, improves their mood, promotes self-efficacy, and makes them feel strong, flexible, and agile. For intuitive eaters, working out isn’t about which activity will burn the most calories, but rather about which activity is the most fun and energizing. Exercise you enjoy is exercise that you’re likely to repeat, creating the momentum that drives sustainable, long-term happiness.

Honor your health.
Acknowledging how your health impacts the richness of your life erases superficial reasons for health goals and grounds your motives in what truly matters: your personal values. Getting perspective on why health is important helps you understand that no single meal or bite can make or break your self-worth. Align your health with your ambitions and you’ll be more motivated to cultivate habits that support your life goals. Ask yourself if your goals are realistic, are you accepting of your natural body or constantly fighting your genetics and beating yourself up? Respect your body and start feeling better about who you are so you can take better care of yourself long-term.

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.

Principles Of Intuitive Eating (Part 1)


By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

According to U.S. News and World Report, about 90 to 95 percent of all diets fail. Although almost any weight-loss plan can yield short-term benefits, over time the pounds inevitably creep back on, and it’s not unusual to end up weighing more than you did before you started dieting.

A healthy approach to eating, called “Intuitive Eating,” believes the blame should be placed on the flawed process of dieting rather than blaming the “dieters”. This week, I’m sharing five ways you can begin to eat intuitively, from Sun Basket’s staff dietitian, Lindsey Kane. Next week, I’ll share five more. By beginning to implement these strategies, you’ll develop healthy habits and be able to get off the diet-go-round for good. 

1. Reject the diet mentality.
Stop chasing diets and allowing the latest fad dictate what, how much, and when to eat. This rigid lifestyle of restriction and deprivation can lead to a toxic relationship with food. Instead, make a commitment to trust your gut when it comes to food choices. 

2. Honor your hunger.
While most diets require you to resist a growling stomach, intuitive eating is about rebuilding faith in your body’s cues. You’ll learn to be more aware of your hunger and how to respond appropriately to it before you become ravenous.  Before each meal, rate your level of hunger, jot down a few internal cues that you observed, and the time of day. Do this for a week and you’ll become more in tune with your appetite, as well as which foods deliver long-lasting energy, and those that deliver short-lived satiety. 

3. Make peace with food.
Abandon the idea of “good” and “bad” foods. Viewing foods that way fuels an ‘all or nothing’ mentality that can lead to cravings for ‘forbidden’ foods, followed by binging and a rush of self-loathing and shame. Intuitive eating promotes the idea that food should always be a life-enhancing experience.

4. Challenge the food police.
Reframe your attitude toward food. Take note of any “food police” thoughts you may have, such as “I was bad today” or “I shouldn’t eat that.” Resist the notion that your food choices define you and the value you bring to this world. Look out for people who may be consciously or unconsciously manifesting a food-police mentality, share your intuitive eating philosophy with them and ask them to support you by keeping their negative comments to themselves. 

5. Respect your fullness.
The flip side of honoring your hunger is to respect when you’re full. Because diets limit what, when, and how much you eat, it’s easy to become disconnected from the internal signs that signal satiety. When you practice intuitive eating, you start a meal with a lower level of hunger and in a frame of mind that allows you to be more sensitive to satiety cues. Plus, you know you can refuel whenever you’re hungry again, and you won’t feel pressured to clean your plate. Use a satiety scale during meals to train your mind to get in touch with cues of satiety. Jot down observations of how you feel and what you ate. This will help determine when to put your fork down and walk away from a meal feeling comfortably nourished and energized.

By implementing these strategies, you can create healthy habits around food that will positively impact your health for years to come. Stay tuned next week for five more tips on how to incorporate intuitive eating into your daily life.

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.

Bee Pollen

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

We’ve all heard about the numerous health benefits of raw honey but the same honeybees responsible for honey actually produce something even more nutritious and beneficial to our health: bee pollen.

As bees buzz from flower to flower the pollen collected from various blossoms is mixed with a small dose of nectar from the bees’ salivary glands. This mixture is then placed in small “baskets” on their hind legs to be taken back to the hive as food for the colony. As these microscopic pollen particles accumulate on the legs, they begin looking like little balls of yellow fuzz. Beekeepers use special devices called “pollen traps” to collect this pollen as the field bees return to their hives.

Research has shown bee pollen to be one of nature’s most nourishing foods. Rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, lipids, fatty acids and enzymes, bee pollen acts as an antioxidant to help us fight free radicals. Bee pollen also contains antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties that stimulate our immune system, reduce inflammation, enhance energy and support the cardiovascular system. In fact, it has been reported that regular ingestion of bee pollen in the diet decreases low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and increases high-density lipoproteins (HDL), which helps normalize cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

In 1948, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a very important article on bee pollen in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. According to the article, there was a delay in the development of mammary tumors and some mice became tumor-free following ingestion of mice chow mixed with bee pollen. Additionally, the high concentration of RNA and DNA nucleic acids in bee pollen have been shown to help prevent the premature aging of cells and stimulate the growth of new skin cells. Bee pollen stimulates blood supply to skin cells and helps with detoxification. The result is healthier, younger looking skin that is less vulnerable to wrinkles.

Bee pollen may offer relief for allergy sufferers, as well. Utilizing a technique called desensitization, a person can ingest a small amount of the allergen (in this case bee pollen), to stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies that will eliminate the effects of allergy symptoms and reactions when exposed to the offending substance. It is advised to start taking bee pollen at least six weeks before allergy season begins and continue throughout the season for maximal benefit. 

Perhaps most intriguing, bee pollen can boost the energy of high-performance individuals, enhancing athletic performance and strength naturally. Here is what the Finnish coach Antii Lananaki had to say after his track team swept the Olympics in 1972, “Most of our athletes take bee pollen food supplements. Our studies and experience show it significantly improves their performance. There have been no negative results since we have been supplying pollen to our athletes.”

You can purchase bee pollen from a local beekeeper you trust (I buy mine from the local farmers market to make sure that the pollen is free from pesticides and that the bee colonies are not harmed or treated with chemicals). You can also find bee pollen in most health food stores.

Bee pollen pellets or granules can be swallowed alone, added to smoothies or sprinkled over salads. The granules can be blended or ground and mixed with honey, yogurt or food items of your choice. Pollen pellets can be added to warm water and left for two to three hours as they crack and release their nutritional value. You then can drink the liquid or mix with fruit or vegetable juice to gain awesome bee pollen benefits.

It is safe for most people to take bee pollen by mouth, however, there are some caveats. If you are allergic to bees or pollen, you should start slowly – taking just one teaspoon of pollen a day.  If you notice any itching, swelling, lightheadedness or shortness of breath after consuming bee pollen, stop taking it immediately. Additionally, women who are pregnant should ask their healthcare provider before using bee pollen, as it may stimulate ovarian function.

Grab your bee pollen now to boost your nutrient intake naturally as studies show it contains nearly all nutrients required by the human body to thrive.

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.

Do You Need To Detox?

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

When people hear the word “detox,” they often think of drug addicts or alcoholics undergoing therapy to rid themselves of toxins they have put into their bodies. However, these days, it’s becoming more common for people to mention a “detox” (or “cleanse”) in terms of a specific diet program to help rid their bodies of chemicals and toxins, while also encouraging weight loss. This time of year, after all the guilty indulgences of the holidays, people are particularly motivated to “clean up their act.” Many of these detox programs are tempting since they offer a “quick fix” and fast weight loss. 

There are many trendy detoxification plans and programs that promise miraculous results, but are they really healthy and is a detox all about losing weight? The truth is, most detoxes marketed in the media are not healthy — especially the ones that focus on eating or drinking one thing during the course of the cleanse. One example is the “Master Cleanse,” where you drink only lemon water with maple syrup and cayenne pepper for several days. Naturally, you will lose weight, and lemon water is good for cleansing the body.  However just doing this alone is not good for your health.

The purpose of a good detox program should be to improve and optimize your body’s own detoxification systems and cleanse the body from the inside out — not just on losing weight. Done correctly, a detox helps decrease the number of toxins we put into our bodies, while also supporting our body’s detoxification and elimination systems with the nutrients it needs to function properly.

We live in a toxic world and are inundated with a myriad of chemicals on a daily basis. Many times, when we think of environmental toxins, we visualize smog over a city, cigarette smoke, exhaust fumes from a car, or pollution from a factory smokestack. What we fail to realize, is that most of our toxic exposure is found indoors rather than outdoors. Like sponges, our bodies absorb toxins from the air we breathe, from the foods we eat, from personal care products we use on our skin and from the toxic things we touch. Municipal water supplies have been found to contain more than 2,100 chemicals. Non-organically grown foods contain pesticides, herbicides and chemicals that our bodies will store in fat cells when they cannot be detoxified. Processed foods are filled with synthetic chemicals such as flavorings, dyes, preservatives, bleaching agents and artificial sweeteners.

Toxins build up over time and can impact the function of our bodies, leading to symptoms such as fatigue, joint pain, sinus congestion, headaches, constipation, diarrhea, gas, cravings, stubborn weight loss, acne, skin problems and PMS. Environmental toxins can even affect a growing baby in the womb. According to a report by the Environmental Working Group, blood samples taken from umbilical cords were tested and found to contain over 287 contaminants including mercury, pesticides, DDT and even fire retardants, which can alter learning ability, memory, behavior and hearing.

Doing a good detox once or twice a year can help cleanse and improve the body’s detoxification systems. Some simple steps you can take are:

1 Choose to drink pure, refreshing spring water, or quality filtered water, rather than tap water. Water is the body’s most important nutrient, and our body’s natural detoxification process is dependent on good water.

2 Choose to eat REAL FOODS, meaning foods found in nature that can be picked, gathered and hunted. Processed food is filled with a multitude of chemicals. “The less doctored your food, the less doctoring you will need.”

3 Choose to breathe quality air by avoiding exposure to exhaust fumes and secondhand smoke. Wait inside the airport terminal rather than outside on the curb, and limit walking or exercising along busy streets. Studies have shown a relationship between increased pollution and increased plaque in carotid arteries.

4 Choose more natural, environmentally friendly cleaning products. Something as simple as vinegar and water can be used for windows, mopping floors and various other cleaning chores. You can also find quality choices in grocery stores or health food stores.

5 Choose to exercise. Exercise increases the oxygen in your tissues, improves elimination, builds the strength of bones, muscles and joints, and helps us to sweat, which is important in helping eliminate toxins from the body. We have two to three million sweat glands in our skin. The skin is our largest organ of elimination and sometimes referred to as our “third kidney.”

6 Choose a healthy supplement. Taking a good quality multivitamin and mineral supplement can help your body function more optimally. Also, taking a good quality supplement to support your organs of detoxification is important and beneficial while doing a quality detoxification program.

7 Choose to relax. Getting your body and mind into a relaxed state on a daily basis helps to calm you and improve your body’s detoxification systems.

Choose to “clean up your act” this year with healthy detoxification. If you are interested in receiving a toxicity questionnaire and a list of healthy food replacements that will help you in cleansing your body, please email me at pathwaysth@gmail.com or call 706-454-2040.

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, GA.

Is Coffee Good For You?

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

According to the National Coffee Association, 83% of American adults drink an average of two cups of coffee a day. In fact, the United States spends about $4 billion a year importing coffee, and coffee is considered the world’s second most valuable trade commodity behind petroleum.

So, coffee definitely has a wide fan base. But is coffee good for your health? 

Coffee contains caffeine, which acts as a stimulant for the central nervous system. The amount of caffeine in coffee varies dramatically depending on the bean used and the method by which the coffee is brewed. Dark roasts have a stronger, bolder flavor, but contains about 15 to 20 percent less caffeine than light roasts of the same variety.  This is because the roasting process of the bean reduces the caffeine content.

An average eight-ounce cup of brewed coffee from ground beans contains about 90-100 milligrams (mg) of caffeine compared to a cup of green tea that has about 40-50 mg or Coca-Cola, which has 45 mg. One-ounce of espresso contains about 30-50 mg of caffeine.  Decaf coffee in the United States must be 97 percent caffeine-free, meaning an eight ounce cup will still have 5-10 milligrams of caffeine.

Coffee can increase mental and physical performance and temporarily restore alertness, thereby increasing motivation and productivity. Coffee also increases blood flow to the brain, thereby increasing brain activity. Coffee can also be a performance enhancer and can contribute to higher stamina and concentration. One report, published by the School of Sport and Exercise Science, found athletic performance times were significantly faster among adult men who drank coffee prior to exercising compared to the placebo group, who drank decaf.

Coffee also contains a high source of antioxidants. When antioxidants are increased in the blood, it helps fight free radicals that can be damaging to the body. Coffee contains polyphenols, which are the same kind of antioxidants found in red wine and cocoa. These antioxidants may attribute to lowering oxidative stress and inflammation, potentially lowering your risk for disease.

There are potential drawbacks to coffee that are worth considering. The caffeine in coffee can leave some people feeling anxious and jittery. Additionally, consuming too much caffeine can have addictive side effects. Personal tolerance to caffeine is another factor to consider. For those prone to sleep-related problems, anxiety and heart palpitations, coffee might need to be off limits. People with low stomach acid or those who battle heartburn symptoms might be bothered by coffee, as well.

Since coffee contains caffeine, which alters your physiology and mood, it also has the ability to impact hormones and neurotransmitter function. Many people use coffee to mask fatigue and exhaustion from working long, tiring days. When caffeine is used to keep you going, or you depend on it to wake up, it may disguise underlying fatigue that may be coming from another health condition or end up causing one from lack of rest. Sometimes your body needs rest and time to reboot when you are worn out.

Black coffee is a better choice than energy drinks, soda, sweet teas and juices. Black coffee contains no sugar or carbs and minimal calories. Usually it’s what people add to their coffee that makes it unhealthy. If you do drink coffee, try to have it black or sweetened with organic cane sugar or stevia. For those who prefer milk in their coffee, reach for “no sugar added” nut milks (almond, cashew etc.), coconut milk or rice milk.

“Bulletproof coffee” has recently been gaining in popularity. To make bulletproof coffee, take 1 to 2 tablespoons of grass-fed butter or ghee, 1 to 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and 1 to 2 cups of hot coffee and mix in a blender for 20-30 seconds until frothy. Bulletproof coffee can trigger weight loss by activating ketosis, a metabolic state generated by lack of carbs that stimulates the body to burn fat as a source of energy. This coffee mixture can also be a great way to get healthy fats first thing in the morning, suppress hunger or decrease cravings while providing energy without the sugar spike and crash.

Some people maintain cold-brewed coffee is healthier than regular, hot-brewed coffee. Cold-brew coffee is made by steeping coffee grounds in room temperature, or cold water, for an extended period of time (8-24 hours). Advocates claim cold brew coffee is up to 60% less acidic than typical hot coffee. Less acidic coffee can have a smoother taste and be better for teeth enamel and stomach acid balance. It also keeps fresh in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Nitro coffee is cold brewed coffee put into a keg and infused with nitrogen gas. It offers that frothy and bubbly taste straight from the tap and does not contain (or really need) milk or sugar. Nitro coffee is less acidic than traditional hot coffee and includes about 30 percent more caffeine. Nitro coffee is becoming widely available in bottles and cans, so you can enjoy this trendy coffee at home or in the office.

Whether or not coffee is good for your health depends on your own body and how well you are able to tolerate it. If you do not have any issues consuming it, it’s safe to indulge in a cup.

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 Maximize The Shelf Life Of Your Produce

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 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. 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.