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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.

 

The Benefits of Oil Pulling

Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

Many Americans reach for mouthwash as part of their daily morning routine, but over the last few years, more and more people have been swapping that dental hygiene mainstay for something a little more unconventional: oil. The ancient practice of oil pulling has been steadily growing in popularity as people seek to reap its many associated dental health benefits.

 

Rooted in Ayurvedic medicine, a holistic healing system developed thousands of years ago in India, oil pulling  was first used to boost oral health before the advent of the toothbrush. Oil pulling is the act of swishing oil (usually coconut or sesame) in the mouth for up to 20 minutes.  Advocates say oil pulling can help loosen and remove plaque, while also helping to extract toxins and harmful bacteria from the mouth. As such, it helps balance the microorganisms in the mouth, which can help prevent cavities, and promote healthy teeth and gums. Specifically, oil pulling can help:

 

  • Prevent bad breath
  • Prevent tooth decay
  • Reduce plaque-related gingivitis
  • Improve bleeding gums
  • Whiten teeth 
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Heal cracked lips
  • Boost the immune system
  • Strengthen gums
  • Reduce plaque
  • Decrease tooth sensitivity

 

To date, there are only seven studies on the health benefits of oil pulling. One source calls oil pulling a “powerful detoxifying technique” with “the ability to purify the entire system” because each section of the tongue is connected to different organ systems such as the kidney, lungs, liver, heart, small intestine, stomach, colon, and spine, similarly to reflexology. According to research from the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, oil pulling reduces Streptococcus mutans bacteria, which is found in saliva and is a significant contributor to tooth decay. There have been no reports showing that oil pulling has any negative or ill effects on dental fillings. 

 

Most people recommend using a tablespoon of oil and swishing for 20 minutes upon waking in the morning. You do not have to oil pull in the morning, but the best time is before eating. 

I prefer coconut oil because I enjoy the taste, and it has many natural antibacterial healing benefits. (You’ll get the most health benefit from organic virgin coconut oil, so it is best to avoid any coconut oil that has been processed or refined.) 

 

Initially, it may be difficult to swish for a full 20 minutes. If you find that to be the case, begin gradually — use a teaspoon of oil and swish for 5 minutes to start. You can increase the amount of oil and length of time as you get accustomed to the process. You can also melt the coconut oil before putting it in your mouth. Many people find it is easiest to oil pull in the shower, since they do not have to talk to anyone or do anything else. 

 

Adding essential oils can help improve the taste and increase healing. Make sure that any oil you use is safe to use internally. For everyday use you can add a few drops of lemon, peppermint or wild orange. When battling an infection or sickness, you can mix cinnamon, tea tree, and clove as a homeopathic remedy. 

 

After you gently swish the amount of oil you can handle in your mouth, be sure to spit the oil in the trash (not the sink or drain because it will solidify and clog the plumbing). It is critically important that you do not swallow the oil because, as you swish it around in your mouth, it draws toxins out of your teeth and gums that you do not want to ingest. After spitting out the oil, you can rinse with warm water and use sea salt for added antimicrobial properties. Then, brush and floss as normal. For best results, you can oil pull 3 to 4 times a week. You should notice a difference with your breath, teeth and mouth within a week. 

 

Oil pulling can be an effective tool to help maintain, and even improve, your oral health. I encourage you to try it, as it is one of the best ways to remove bacteria and promote healthy teeth and gums.

 

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.

 

Silver for Health

By: Alyssa Musgrove

 

Colloidal silver is a powerful germicidal that is non-toxic to the human body, but lethal to over 650 bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and molds. This substance has been used for hundreds of years to treat a variety of ailments. My most memorable experience with colloidal silver was on a chiropractic mission trip in El Salvador. Eating locally-prepared food in a village resulted in an awful experience that involved numerous trips to the bathroom. Colloidal silver provided a quick remedy. Needless to say, these days, I do not travel without it!

 

Ingestion of colloidal silver can boost the immune system by assisting the body in the war against invading microorganisms without affecting our friendly bacteria in the intestines. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Poison Control Center reports no toxicity listing for colloidal silver. However, misusage or using something other then true colloidal silver, like cheaper products such as ionic silver or silver protein, could be harmful. True colloidal silver has a high production cost, so in order to get maximum benefit make sure you are getting the real thing. 

 

Colloidal silver needs to be applied differently for each condition. To experience colloidal silver benefits, it may be used as follows, always keeping in mind to never use it for more than 14 days in a row.

 

Skin issues:

Robert O. Becker, MD, says colloidal silver stimulates healing in the skin by speeding the repair of damaged tissues and boosting cell recovery. It can help treat ringworm at home because it’s a potent anti-fungal. Colloidal silver is also beneficial in reducing inflammation caused by itchy skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. It’s soothing to scrapes and even repairs tissue damage from burns. Apply 2 to 5 drops directly to the skin, or apply drops onto a Band-Aid to help disinfect any wound.

 

Eye issues:

Thanks to its antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, colloidal silver can be used to soothe and eliminate pink eye, conjunctivitis and sties. To treat these conditions, add two or three drops of colloidal silver to the eye, three to four times daily. Alternatively, you can create a colloidal silver eye wash and spray it gently over the eyes, or apply a warm cloth compress soaked in colloidal silver over the eye instead. 

 

Viruses and Sinus issues:

Colloidal silver can be used as a nasal spray to help fight sinusitis, stuffy nose or pressure in the face. You can also add a few drops of silver to a “neti pot,” which is specifically designed to flush out the sinuses. Colloidal silver can speed recovery from all types of flu and the common cold. For cold and flu symptoms, start with one teaspoon twice a day.

(Before I travel out of the country, I start boosting my immune system one week prior to departure with a teaspoon of colloidal silver a day and continue once I arrive at my destination.)

 

Throat issues:

Gargling with colloidal silver is an effective way to pick up and remove the pathogens in your throat that cause pain. Gargle with one to two tablespoons of the colloidal silver for up to two minutes. Repeat this up to five times per day until recovered. Remember to spit it out in order to remove the microbes from your body! You can also use colloidal silver as a throat spray, administering several times a day.

 

Cleaning produce:

While buying or growing organic fruits and vegetables is best, sometimes it is not always possible. Remove harmful pesticides by cleansing your produce in a colloidal silver fruit and vegetable wash. Combine the following: 

 

1 cup of water 

½ cup of vinegar

2 tsp. salt (dissolve completely) 

¼ cup colloidal silver 

 

Soak your fruits and vegetables in this solution, or apply the wash to the produce with a spray bottle. Let the solution remain on the produce for at least five minutes before rinsing and preparing as usual. The vinegar in this solution helps break down any waxy substances applied to fruits and vegetables. (Water alone will not penetrate them. In fact, many pesticides are designed to be water-resistant.) Salt helps to pull out any microscopic bugs. The colloidal silver will safely kill any harmful fungal, bacterial or viral pathogens.

 

For pets:

Colloidal silver can be a fantastic natural remedy for our four-legged friends too. For cats and dogs, it can be used for tear stains, infections, minor cuts, wounds, eye and ear infections. As a wound cleaner, apply a few drops several times a day on a cotton swab. Ear infections require a few drops daily into the ear or spraying inside the ear for up to ten days, while for eye infections, one drop given three times daily should do the trick. 

 

Colloidal silver is also a simple and natural way to remove stubborn pet odors. If you have a cat that regularly ‘sprays’ or a dog that marks his territory, try dousing the area in a solution of colloidal silver. It is said to remove the odor and stop the pet marking in that spot again. For general pet odors, and to freshen up sofas and pet beds, mix up colloidal silver and distilled water in a bottle and lightly mist the fabric.

 

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.

 

“Text Neck” and “Tech Headaches”

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Limit the time

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

 

Raise the device

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

 

Stretch

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

 

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

 

Rest the head

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

 

Be aware of pain

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

 

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

 

Foods to Put Out the Fire

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

Inflammation has been associated with just about every health condition. Inflammation is not always bad. It can be the body’s natural attempt to heal itself and eliminate damaged cells, viruses, and bacteria. Acute inflammation starts quickly and disappears in a few days. Chronic inflammation, however, can last months or even years. A sedentary lifestyle, stress, minor food allergies, and poor diet are just a few of the most common contributors to chronic inflammation.

 

Chronic inflammation will not typically produce symptoms until actual loss of function occurs somewhere. Chronic inflammation tends to be low-grade and systemic, silently damaging your tissues over an extended period of time. This process can go on for years without you noticing until disease suddenly sets in.

 

Since chronic inflammation tends to be “silent,” how can you determine if inflammation is brewing in your body? Clinical tests used in allopathic medicine include:

 

  • C-Reactive Protein (CRP) test: Measures a protein found in your body that signals responses to any forms of inflammation
  • EST (sed rate) test: Checks for non-specific indicators of inflammation
  • Fasting blood insulin test: Although usually used to screen for diabetes, it is also marker for inflammation. Typically, the higher fasting insulin levels are, the higher your levels of inflammation tend to be.
  • Thermography: Also known as Medical Thermal Imaging, is an alternative test used to measure heat patterns in the body. Abnormal heat spots on the body are an indication of inflammation.

 

Eating a wide variety of anti-inflammatory foods on a regular basis can go a long way toward calming inflammation and preventing chronic health issues. The following foods deserve special mention for their ability to put a stop to inflammatory responses in your body:

 

Animal-based omega-3 fatty acids:  The body converts omega-3’s into powerful anti-inflammatory chemicals. These fats can be found in fish like wild Alaskan sockeye salmon and krill oil. Studies have shown fish oil can relieve joint tenderness, reduce morning stiffness duration.

 

Blueberries: Blueberries are high in antioxidants. They are in season right now and available at local farmer’s markets. They are lower in sugar then most fruits, and can easily be added to a salad, yogurt or even frozen and added to a smoothie.

 

Shiitake mushrooms:  These nutritional powerhouses contain ergothioneine, which inhibits oxidative stress and discourages inflammation. These mushrooms also contain a variety of other nutrients that most people do not get enough of in their diets, such as copper.  The body cannot produce copper and depends on outside sources for supply. Copper deficiency has been found to be a factor in developing coronary heart disease.

 

Garlic:  Garlic has been heavily studied and shown to help with hundreds of different conditions. It has antioxidant, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. Garlic also has sulfur-containing compounds, which can help support inflamed joints.

 

High-quality herbs and spices: These are among the most potent anti-inflammatory ingredients available, ounce for ounce.  Spicing up your meals is not enough, but it is a great place to start.

 

Fermented foods: Optimizing your gut flora is important for a high-functioning immune system and helps ward off chronic inflammation. In fact, the majority of inflammatory diseases start in the gut, as the result of an imbalanced microbiome. Fermented foods help “reseed” your gut with beneficial bacteria and also help the body rid itself of harmful toxins such as heavy metals and pesticides, which can promote inflammation. Some fermented food options are kimchee, pickles, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha and olives.

 

Vitamin D:  This vitamin has been shown to inhibit inflammation. Sun exposure of 5-30 minutes at least twice a week on the arms, legs and face is a beneficial, natural source of this fat-soluble vitamin. Food sources include wild-caught salmon, mackerel, cod liver oil, tuna, sardines and mushrooms.

 

Dark leafy greens: Kale, Swiss chard, spinach and collard greens contain powerful antioxidants, which help protect against cellular damage. Choose organically grown veggies that are in season and from a local source. Try eating a fair amount of these greens raw.

 

Juicing is an excellent way to get more greens in your diet. Here is a quick and easy recipe for a healthy green juice that incorporates some of these anti-inflammatory powerhouses. It can be made in a blender instead of a juicer. You can strain the juice through cheesecloth for a thinner consistency, if desired. Wring out as much liquid as possible from the cheesecloth, as there are additional hearty nutrients in the pulp.

 

Dr. Alyssa’s Anti-Inflammatory Green Juice

 

– 1 ½ cups water

– 2 cups kale OR baby spinach

– 2 medium green apples, cored

– ½ cup parsley leaves

– 1 medium cucumber, cut into quarters

– 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped

– 1 piece of ginger (1 inch), peeled

– 2 Tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice

 

Add all ingredients to the blender in the order in which they are listed. Blend on the highest setting (such as liquefy), until the juice is well-blended. It should be the consistency of a smoothie. If you want to enjoy the pulp with your juice, pour mixture into glass and serve. If you prefer thinner consistency, strain through a cheesecloth.

 

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.

 

Can You Improve Your Health by Ditching Gluten?

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

These days it seems as if the phrase “gluten free” is everywhere.   Why all the fuss about gluten? What is gluten, and why would we want to avoid it?

Gluten literally means “glue” and is what makes dough elastic and sticky.  It is a form of protein found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt and other grains. While most of us tend to view proteins as healthy, some proteins can cause our bodies more harm than good.  Gluten is one of them.

Gluten can be found everywhere – not just the bread aisle.  Gluten is used as an additive, thickener and filler.  It can be found in processed foods such as breads, cereals, cookies, crackers, canned or packaged soups, deli meats, soy sauce, salad dressings, pasta, pizza crust and even candy and some alcohol. This makes giving up gluten more challenging then it may initially seem.

There are two main problems people can have with gluten:  Celiac disease and gluten intolerance/sensitivity.  Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disease.  When a person who has celiac eats gluten, his body initiates an immediate immune response and attacks the cells in the small intestine, causing lasting intestinal damage.

When someone tests negative for celiac disease, there is still a chance they can have gluten intolerance. Gluten intolerance was once thought to be a rare condition, however, it is now believed to affect a third of the population (with some experts saying the real number is much higher).  Gluten intolerance can be genetically influenced and may not become symptomatic until a person reaches adulthood (30s or 40s).

Gluten intolerance differs from celiac in that while it can cause autoimmune issues over time, it is not an autoimmune disease.  A person who is gluten intolerant is unable to effectively break down the gluten protein.  The protein remains intact as it enters the small intestine, where it causes inflammation.  Over time, this inflammation damages the lining of the small intestine, making the intestine more permeable or “leaky.”  As the barrier between the contents of the intestines and the tissues of the body is broken down, the immune system becomes weakened, and inflammation spreads throughout the body.

Gluten intolerance can cause serious symptoms including:

Bloating, diarrhea, stomach cramps or painful gas especially after meals
Fatigue
Skin issues; itchy rashes, rosacea, eczema, dermatitis
Headaches
Difficulty concentrating, “brain fog”, forgetfulness
Joint pain and stiffness
Mood-related changes, depression and anxiety
Nutrient deficiencies, including anemia
Weight gain
Psychological conditions, including anxiety, depression and schizophrenia
Over time, gluten intolerance can lead to long-term problems such as food sensitivities, allergies and autoimmune conditions (asthma, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus).  Gluten sensitivity can also increase your likelihood of gaining weight and make it nearly impossible to lose weight unless you stop consuming gluten.

Weight loss often occurs when we remove gluten for a few reasons. First, when someone is sensitive to gluten it causes inflammation, which then increases fluid weight.  Chronic inflammation can lead to weight-loss resistance.  When you avoid gluten, you will often lose this water weight.  Additionally, with inflammation subsiding, the body becomes healthier and more capable of losing weight.  Another, perhaps more obvious, reason weight loss occurs when removing gluten from the diet is simply because most of the foods that contain gluten are refined, high-carbohydrate foods — the main foods that cause weight gain and obesity.

The best way to find out if you have gluten sensitivity is to do an elimination diet and remove gluten from your diet for a period of 21 days (preferably longer, such as three months).  After this time, add it back into the diet.  If symptoms improve during the elimination period and then reappear once gluten is eaten again, that is a clear sign gluten was contributing to the symptoms. Keep in mind, it is important to test one variable at a time during an elimination diet in order to avoid falsely attributing symptoms.

The simplest way to ensure you are eating foods without gluten is to focus on foods that are “real foods” such as vegetables, fruits, lean meats and other whole foods raised organically, without hormones and antibiotics. Avoid most foods in packages, boxes and cans – even gluten-free versions! — since they are typically processed “foods” devoid of nutrients and can lead to cravings. When it comes to baking, try naturally gluten-free flour alternatives such as brown rice flour, almond flour, coconut flour and chickpea flour. (I even found a pecan flour at a farmer’s market!)

Eliminating gluten from your diet can help with fat loss, decrease inflammation, reduce digestive and skin issues, improve memory and provide extra energy. Though gluten is widespread throughout the food supply, there are plenty of foods available that can make switching to a gluten-free diet simple. I have been gluten free for 11 years — long before it was a buzz word, before restaurants had gluten-free menus and before gluten-free products were sold in grocery stores. Start reading labels, eat more whole foods and your health will improve in the process!

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.

Staying Cool in Summer

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

This weekend temperatures are forecasted to reach the 90s, which means summer in Georgia is officially underway. The summer season provides ample opportunity for outdoor activities, including summer camps and sports, boating on the lake, outdoor concerts and more. But staying cool and comfortable can be tricky in the sticky southern heat. Here are some simple ways to keep cool when the temperatures start to climb.

Increase Vitamin C
University of Alabama researchers found Vitamin C increases tolerance for heat by delaying sweat gland fatigue, which reduces the risk and occurrence of heat rash and heat exhaustion. Researchers also discovered Vitamin C keeps body temperature from rising during heat exposure and can counteract the negative effects of sun damage. Supplementing daily with doses of Vitamin C, as small as 250 milligrams, can be helpful. If you are looking to increase your Vitamin C intake naturally, reach for the following Vitamin C-rich foods: 

  • Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruit
  • Berries
  • Kiwi
  • Guava
  • Mango
  • Peas
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Red peppers
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli 
  • Cauliflower

Stay hydrated
A quick way to overheat in the summer is by being dehydrated, so sneak in extra water whenever you can. Seasonal produce like watermelon, cucumber and cantaloupes contain a large amount of water. They are also easy to digest and do not need to be cooked. 

Peppermint tea is a great way to stay hydrated and also cool down. Peppermint contains menthol, which tricks the body into feeling cold. You can also spray mint tea or peppermint oil mixed with water on your skin to provide a cool feeling. 

Coconut water is also known for its cooling properties and is a great source of electrolytes, which are lost through sweating. Coconut water is a great cure for leg cramps and is a relatively low-calorie, low-sugar substitute for sports drinks. I always recommend purchasing coconut water that is stored in the cold section of the grocery store. The unrefrigerated coconut water on store shelves is usually pasteurized, which kills the nutrients and electrolytes obtained from fresh, raw coconut water.

Skip the barbeque and ice cream
High protein foods like red meat and high fat foods such as ice cream can be difficult for the body to digest. Digesting these foods requires the body to expend extra energy, which raises body temperature. Try snacking throughout the course of the day, instead of sitting down for a large, heavy meal. And reach for lower fat frozen desserts, such as sorbet or shaved ice, instead.

Find a spot of shade
If you are out and about and want to cool down, find a leafy tree to sit under. The shade from trees is actually cooler than shade from buildings and other man-made objects. A tree maintains its temperature by circulating water inside itself and releasing moisture into the atmosphere to keep itself and the air around it cool, a process called transpiration. In contrast, buildings tend to trap heat and radiate it back into the surrounding environment.

Create a cross-breeze
When it is 80 degrees outside, it only takes an hour for your car to reach 125 degrees inside. Instead of cranking the AC and walking away (or sitting in the car and suffering while it cools down), try creating a cross-breeze by rolling down the passenger side window and then opening and closing the door opposite of that window several times to quickly draw the hot air out.

Dress for the occasion
Wear white or pastel colors, which reflect light, as opposed to dark colored clothes, which tend to trap heat. Whenever possible, choose loose-fitting clothes, such as shorts and dresses. Loose-fitting clothes provide better air flow to keep you cool.

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.

Pain in the Shin

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

Have you ever experienced pain in the front of your lower leg after vigorous physical activity? If so, you may have experienced shin splints, a common injury that occurs between the knee and ankle.

 

While not a serious condition, shin splints can be very painful and can reoccur. Shin splints may start out as a muscle ache and then progress into sharp, shooting pains accompanied by swelling. The pain is usually located on the front of the lower leg, along the outside or inside of the shin. The pain begins when you perform weight-bearing physical activity and worsens after exercising is complete. In severe cases, any weight-bearing activity, such as standing or walking, will make the lower leg throb or burn.

 

The pain associated with shin splints results from an excessive amount of force on the shin bone, muscles and tissues that attach to the surrounding area. The force causes inflammation and swelling of the tissues, which increases the pressure leading to pain.

 

Common causes of shin splints include:

 

  • beginning a new exercise routine
  • running with bad form
  • improper alignment of the feet (i.e. fallen arches, overpronation, supination, flat feet)
  • not allowing appropriate recovery time
  • running on hard surfaces, such as pavement
  • running on unstable terrain or uneven surfaces
  • activity that involves going uphill or downhill
  • wearing new sneakers too long
  • wearing worn-out sneakers
  • improper warm-up techniques before activity
  • lack of flexibility or mobility
  • not properly stretching after activity
  • sudden change in physical activity
  • a previous injury that healed incorrectly
  • participating in sports that have fast stops and starts, such as soccer, tennis, basketball, racquetball and dancing

 

Shin splints can also be caused by repetitive stress placed on connective tissues, as can happen with over-training. If the root cause of your pain is not addressed, the pain can reappear quickly.

 

There are some steps you can take at home to help ease the discomfort of shin splints. Since the injury is caused by activity, rest is always the most important step. Rest allows the body time to recover and can make a huge difference. Rest does not mean being inactive and idle all day. Rather, just decrease the intensity and duration of your activity to allow your legs time to heal.

 

Ice or cold compresses placed directly on the problematic area can reduce the swelling and help numb the pain. Apply for 10 to 20 minutes at a time and repeat 3-5 times for the first few days. Elevate the legs for additional healing.

 

To prevent shin splints – or keep them from reoccurring – follow these steps:

 

  1. Focus on proper tissue recovery after activity. Foam rolling, massage and stretching the calves can all be helpful. To foam roll the calf muscles, place the foam roller on the floor. Place the lower part of your leg on top of the foam roller, and move the leg back and forth and side to side, for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat 5 to 10 minutes daily.

 

  1. Wear supportive shoes. Some sneakers support your feet and shins more than others.

 

  1. Replace your shoes once they are worn out, typically every 350 to 500 miles.

 

  1. Consider adding arch support. Insoles are a great addition that can properly support your feet. Be sure to talk to a professional who specializes in measuring and assessing feet and arches.

 

  1. Wear compression socks or compression wraps. Both can be helpful in supporting the soft tissue surrounding the shin.

 

  1. Incorporate cross-training. Perform multiple types of exercise each week, rather than continually performing the same activity with the same force. This helps reduce the amount of repetitive stress on your legs, builds strength in other areas and takes pressure off your shins. For example, if you are a runner, try breaking up your weekly activity by adding a day or two of yoga, TRX, biking, swimming or simply walking.

 

  1. Warm up prior to activity and perform proper stretching before, after and in between workouts – especially focusing on the glutes, IT bands and calves.

 

  1. Do not exercise through the pain.

 

  1. Ensure you maintain proper form when exercising.

 

Some choose to self-diagnose shin splints, but it is always advised to see a doctor or physical therapist. They can take a proper case history, perform a physical exam and take an x-ray in order to prescribe the appropriate treatment and rule out more serious injuries that can mimic shin splints, such as a stress fracture.

 

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.