Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A scar is a scar right?

"He with the most scars wins." Scar tissue distorts the body. But what does that mean, "distorts the body?" And should we be concerned? In short, yes. No one can achieve top performance with scars on the body, or rather scar tissue in the body. The physical appearance of a scar is one thing what is occurring underneath is altogether different. It pushes, pulls, distort cells and the extracellular matrix (myofascia...that thin layer you clean off the chicken breast.) thereby distorting the body and biomechanics. Donald Ingber, Phd, MD studies what this all means and writes about it in this paper titled  Mechanobiology and Diseases of Mechanotransduction (a mouthful I know but do not shut down the browser yet). Here, the winner with the most scars is not the winner. 

"The global shape of the cell determines it's behavior (e.g.growth versus differentiation (from simple to complex) or apoptosis (cell death)), and these effects are mediated through tension dependent changes in cytoskeletal (cell skeleton) structure and mechanics." Whew! OK, what does this mean? "The global shape of the cell determines its behavior..." means a cell that has changed shape by means of something such as scar tissue which pushes, pulls or crowds its way in will alter the function of the cell. Not good! Scar tissue from surgical procedures or traumas will therefore alter the function of cells. A scar becomes a stress point because the scarred tissue is not able to move fluidly thus causing a pull onto surrounding tissue, or cells. What happens next is loss of range of motion, altered biomechanics and altered cell function. Right sided ACL surgery? I consistently see tighter shoulders and hips. Hysterectomy, c-section and appendectomy scars...yikes...often low back pain, tight shoulders, tight hips, etc. The scar tissue is not able to move as freely as healthy tissue which puts stress on surrounding tissue and distorts at the cellular level. Distortion of the tissue or cells is what will lead to disease often local to the area of injury

Communication is also altered at the cellular level. Remember that myofascia I mentioned above? Well that is a matrix (Alfred Pischinger's research explains this nicely) where communication signals are relayed to call for an action such as neurological function, hormone control, and circulation. Restoring this communication is paramount toward relieving that distortion...it is like a black hole otherwise. Once communication is restored and the adhesions removed the body's response can be nothing short of shocking. I have seen major gains (up to 40 degrees of range of motion) in hip movement from the release of both knee surgery scars and scars such as those from c-sections. Strength in muscle that have been tight and weak will suddenly start to fire and feel relaxed and strong again. This unwinding of the body allows for less distortion and better biomechanics. It also allows for better cellular function and less chance for disease. These are very profound changes and it is the reason I ALWAYS impress the need to release scars and do so within the first 2 visits for my new patients. It is a fundamental piece of restoring optimum health.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me. Thanks for reading.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ibuprofen Is Good Right?

Ibuprofen? Good? Not quite. Naturally there are "side effects" to pharmaceutical drugs such as Ibuprofen or NSAIDs (Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drug). Side effects are unintended consequences of an action where the good of the intention is typically offset by the bad of the side effect...sometimes there are good side effects but NSAIDs or Ibuprofen do not fall into this category.

Three populations typically use NSAIDs. The first is the patient in chronic pain typically from arthritis where they take say 800 mg.day. The second is a patient who got injured today. They will load up over the next few days trying to decrease that pain and reduce swelling. The third user is the athlete who often times is using them prophylactically to prevent soreness afterward running or whatever they participate in.

Inflammation occurs through a cascade of events in the body and NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen inhibit a step in the cascading process preventing or reducing inflammation. The side effects of Ibuprofen us are rather nasty in my humble opinion. In this abstract the author ponders whether "The ever-emerging anti-inflammatories. Have there been any real advances?" and in the first statement says "Gastrointestinal (GI) (the stomach and intestines) Adverse Drug Reactions (ADRs) from the NSAIDs are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in arthritic patients taking these drugs." Not a good side I am certain we can all agree. Another known side effect are stomach ulcers for the "long term user." NSAIDs block a pathway that produces the protective mucous lining of the stomach causing ulcers (HOLES!) in long term users. Again, when the stomach goes south so goes the body. The need to protect the GI tract cannot be overstated. Damage to the GI tract will result in a compromised nutrient absorption. And this, of course, leads to stress onto the entire body.

Cardiovascular health can also be compromised from NSAID use. The author of this abstract cautions against the use of NSAIDS for patients with musculoskeletal (muscle and joint pain) pain for patients with known cardiovascular and gastrointestinal issues. This abstract gives warning against those with gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, liver disease, platelet issue, asthma, and children overdose to name some of them. The NSAID creates stress on the body and for those bodies already under stress it can be quite bad.

Finally, I found these two studies which were quite telling of Ibuprofen use in the athletic population. These studies were done on athletes who ran the Western State 100 Mile Endurance Run. The first study concluded that athletes who used Ibuprofen prophylactically did not experience a decrease in post race muscle soreness versus those who did not but did see "elevated indicators of endotoxemia and inflammation." Yikes! What is "endotoxemia?" It is bacteria present in the blood and the danger is stated in the following statement: "The presence of endotoxins in the blood, which, if derived from gram-negative rod-shaped bacteria, may cause hemorrhages, necrosis of the kidneys, and shock." Again, we can all agree this is not a good outcome I am certain. Here is the kicker though the user group saw an INCREASE in inflammation! The very thing they were trying to prevent was increased! Ibuprofen CAUSED inflammation in this population. Furthermore this study saw an increase in oxidative stress among the Ibuprofen users. Oxidative stress means an increase in free radicals...free radical stress causes all sorts of damage not the least premature aging. Hence the anti-oxidant craze.

So what to do when one is inflamed? Fortunately, there are great alternatives to this stomach destroying product. Proteolytic enzymes work great, actually promote healing and I can't find anything on Pubmed where they damage the stomach...or any side effects. This study shows the power output of a muscle to be higher post exercise by those treated with Bromelaine, a proteolytic enzyme, than those left untreated. Herbs such as Curcumin, Capsaicin (essentially cayenne pepper), and Tumeric also play powerful roles in anti inflammation and protection of the GI tract....not too mention cancer preventive!

Using supplements with an array of these properties will often deliver a very powerful anti-inflammatory effect with no side effects. Any healthy store that sells quality supplements...not Costco, Safeway, etc....will have supplements of this nature. If you have any questions feel free to drop me a line. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Splenda: A Poor Sugar Substitute

I was inspired to write this blog because I was in the grocery store today and found a book about cooking with Splenda, the ARTIFICIAL sweetener. Serious?! I went to Amazon.com and...wow, there are a lot of cookbooks out there promoting Splenda as a great alternative to sugar (super low calories yet still sweet), some by supposed "health experts" (I make it a rule to never trust "the experts.") Splenda, also known as sucralose (well this is actually the main component of Splenda), is found in diet drinks, ice cream, protein bars, vitamins, toothpaste to name ONLY a few. Look at your gum, over-the-counter drugs (those sweetened so swallowing them tastes a bit better), salad dressings and on the restaurant tables in those little yellow packets where real sugar used to sit.

So what is the big deal right? Well...here is the big deal. One can suffer from any number of conditions such as sluggishness, fatigue, legs feeling like lead weights, mood swings, severe cramps in females, joint pain, painful bowel movements, bloating, dizziness, confusion, depression, headaches, and nausea as well as reproductive and immune problems.* In this study using rats "the numbers of total anaerobes, bifidobacteria, lactobacilli, Bacteroides, clostridia, and total aerobic bacteria were significantly decreased" in the gut as examined through a stool analysis. Meaning the pH had gone up (away from acidic or toward a more basic state) and the gut flora was now out of balance or decreased. The problem with a higher pH is not only breaking down of food but also the gut losing the ability to break down microbes (i.e. bad bacteria) compromising the immune system. And as I stated back on the post Why Use Probiotics? altered flora result in poor absorption of minerals. This malabsorption can then lead to any of the conditions listed above. The body loses its ability to detox and obviously a high toxicity will not serve your body well. We can all agree with that. Pretty big deal right?

If you are experiencing these conditions and use Splenda (or are not experiencing and using Splenda) STOP all Splenda products immediately, meaning do not eat them...hopefully it's obvious I would suggest that...and "Flush Your System." For two month use probiotics, mulit vitamin and MINERALS (I suggest multi-vitamin/mineral daily for your entire life), and undenatured whey to rebuild and detox your body.

You can find studies out there where they will report Splenda to be a safe product. Here is what I tell my patients though, "Serious?! You want to put artificial food into your one and only body? Keep it simple and eat nothing processed." Inevitably these artificial foods turn out to have damaging effects. And now don't even get me started on High Fructose Corn Syrup or Aspartame. Thanks for reading and if you have any questions call the office, send me an email or get a hold of us on Facebook.

*Splenda: Is it Safe of Not? by Janet Starr Hull, phD., Pickle Press, 2005
*FIRST, "A Magazine For Women On The Go" Article titled "Tired All The Time?" June 26, 2006 pp 25-26