My name is Janet and I am 77 years old. For several years I was plagued by seasons of constant pain. Any time I’d get up to walk across the room, my right hip would ache, and pain would flare up from the base of my skull to my shoulders. When the aches went dormant for a while, I didn’t have to worry about what was going on with my body, but when the symptoms came back I searched for aid through massage therapy, and other types of chiropractors. Even so, the familiar feeling would come back to me time and time again.
Eventually I found myself driving eighty minutes to visit the Alpha Spine Center. At first I was surprised at the gentleness of the treatment. But as I went through treatment, I began to move and drive without pain. Even more, at my age of 77 I have regained youthful stamina and can enjoy doing yard and house work without tiring. Thanks to the friendly and effective staff at the Alpha Spine Center, I can cope better with health issues, regain the energy I need for each day, and experience happier, healthier living!
If you have experienced chronic pain, seriously let Dr. Salminen check you out! This is NOT chiropractic as you know it!
The body is a regulated and controlled via chemical messages from the Nervous System. Each message sent - within the brain, brain to organ or organ to brain; from one nerve to another - is composed of very specific chemical sequences. Every chemical arrangement is specific to a task for the body. There are vast numbers of chemical signals in our body that are constantly being produced to start and stop intricate functions. Some examples of these are hydrochloric acid (HCL) and cortisol (hormone). HCl is made and used by the stomach for digestion and cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands, controlled by the pituitary and hypothalamus in the brain. Chemical balance in our body is maintained innately and can be altered via environmental experiences. For example, when we eat lunch at 11:30am every day, our body learns that it needs to start prepping for digestion at 11:30am via our biological clocks. If we skipped our lunch and ate at 3:30pm instead, our body will produce all the chemicals for digestion at both times. The body adapts to the environment, so it meets our needs in different situations. The environment and genetic make-up play a crucial role in the production and utilization of chemicals to carry out prominent bodily functions.
Stress is an excellent example of the environment influencing the production of chemicals. Cortisol is the primary hormone released in response to a fight and flight (stressful) situation, hence the word “stress hormone”. Cortisol is a steroid hormone that controls blood sugar levels, metabolism, anti-inflammatory processes, memory formation, salt-water balance, blood pressure and fetal development. It effectively changes our physiology in the event of stress, so the body can respond adequately without failing at the time of danger. One can experience prolonged (threatening or non-threatening) stress which, increases the amount of cortisol released over time. However, when the body is under large-amounts of stress it puts all bodily functions in over-drive, which drastically reduces the production of cortisol. In this case, the body fails to meet the expectations of the environment and one experiences a mental and physical crash. The diagram below depicts the relationship between increased stress and performance. As seen, optimal stress is productive, where as too much stress induces exhaustion, anxiety and breakdown.
In the US, a large population experiences prolonged stress also known as chronic stress. As mentioned above, chronic stress leads to reduced cortisol levels; which consequently causes bodily dysfunction and dis-ease such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic pelvic pain, low back pain and lumbar disc herniations. Research has recently correlated lumbar disc herniations to long-term stress and established a predictive relationship between reduced cortisol (pro-longed stress) and new-onset of musculoskeletal pain. Moreover, the decrease or absence of cortisol levels will increase inflammation contributing to pain in the joints. It is clear that prolonged-stress compromises the musculoskeletal structure, especially the spine.
True story of patient with prolonged stress
A mother named Mary, has been a care-taker of her husband battling with cancer for 8 years. Over the years I noticed her energy declining, she looks more worn out each time and is shrinking vertically. A few months back she began experiencing sharp neck and low-back pain. After thorough testing and MRI’s, she was diagnosed with multiple disc herniations in the lumbar spine. As mentioned above, it is scientifically proven that when a person is under high stress, they can experience degeneration of the spine. With pain in her spine and the lack of energy; she spends less time gardening and doing what she loves. Now she spends more time laying in bed and resting on the couch. She once mentioned to me, with tears in her eyes, that she is not enjoying gardening and it has become a chore. Even though she is mentally and physically exhausted with pain and stress, she attempts to push through the pain. It is sad to see she is not able to do what she is passionate about. Gardening was her way to get away from her real-life problems, but now she is in prolonged stress and pain with inflamed extremities and spinal joints.
When Mary came to the Alpha Spine Center, she had lost all hope in getting her life back. After a few treatments Mary’s pain level has decreased in half and she is gardening once again. For this reason, I am so thankful Mary found her way to our practice. It brings her immense joy when she picks fresh cut flowers and puts them in a vase at her husband’s bedside.
The story above paints a picture of how a stressful situation can quickly take a toll on a perfectly healthy individual. Increased stress with decreased cortisol levels can have a negative effect on the body and reduce its ability to perform optimally. Chronic stress is a key contributor to disease and degenerative changes in spinal health despite exercise and healthy eating. If you know anyone like Mary in your life, please share this story with them so they can find hope and restoration as well.
In today’s day and age of processed foods and chemical products, countless diet fads, and GMO and hormone filled farm products; we are exposed to many toxins, heavy metals, and chemicals every single day. Though our bodies have a natural system for removing toxins, prolonged exposure to too much of any harmful substance can alter the chemical balance of our body.
A common way we can balance our chemical health is by eating clean and being aware of what your food and water are exposed to. These are some things to avoid:
· Ultra-Processed Foods: these are foods with many ingredients listed, many with big long names you probably can’t pronounce. These foods are linked to higher risk for cancer and include frozen dinners, sodas/diet sodas, and store bought pastries and boxed baking mixes.
· Non-Organic and GMO Produce: fruits and veggies that are sprayed with toxic pesticides and chemicals to kill off insects and other pests. These chemicals on their own can alter developmental growth and are known endocrine disruptors (which means they interfere with hormones and hormonal balance).
· Non- Free Range Chicken/Non-Grass Fed Beef/Non- Organic Dairy: These are massed produced chicken and cow products that are cooped up in small spaces and fed hormones for growth, as well as GMO corn products. This makes for chemically imbalanced animals. These chemicals are processed by our digestive system when we consume these animal products.
· Plastic Water Bottles: widespread testing of “safe” Non-BPA water bottles has shown that 93% of bottled water samples were contaminated with plastic particles and fibers.
· Unfiltered Tap Water: tap water can contain metals and other chemicals, which can vary in seriousness to our health depending on the local environment and treatment process.
Beyond our food and drinks, we are also exposed to chemicals through everyday items such as makeup, sunscreen, bug spray, and cleaning products. These are some other chemical concerns in our home products.
·Makeup: Under current law, the FDA doesn’t require safety assessments on cosmetic products. Some lipsticks and foundations have traces of lead in them. Quaternium-15 is a common ingredient in mascara that potentially causes cancer and is known to irritate the skin. Look for small batch brands or makeup that focuses on safe products. Annmarie is an excellent resource for safe makeup.
· Most Chemical Sunscreens: these sun protectors use chemical compound barriers to block the suns harmful rays. New research reveals that chemicals commonly used in sunscreens are endocrine disruptors. Also, stay far away from sunscreen with the chemical Oxybenzone. This chemical is found in 96% of common sunscreens and is a known endocrine disruptor. Even worse 40% of tested chemical sunblock increases the risk of skin cancer. Instead, try mineral sunscreens which use Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide as their primary active ingredients to block harmful UV rays.
· Cleaning Products: It is no surprise that cleaning solutions and bleach products are harmful to us since many of them are toxic to ingest. One way to reduce our exposure to cleaning chemicals is to choose more natural and eco-friendly products such as Method, Mrs. Meyer’s, or Green Works to name a few.
How to balance our Chemical Health!
It may seem like the world around us is teeming with dangerous toxins, but alongside our body’s ability to reduce toxins in our body, we can help our body’s chemical balance in by changing some lifestyle habits.
· Detox: Go on a detoxing diet, this can range from juice detoxes to clean eating diets as mentioned above.
· Fasting: Simply said, not eating. There are different ways to fast, and it doesn’t mean to starve your body. It can stimulate weight loss, promote human growth hormone, and can regulate levels of insulin, ghrelin, and triglyceride.
· Alkaline Diet: This is a diet that is meant to regulate the ph levels in your body. It limits dietary acid intake and promotes essential minerals our body needs. An alkaline diet can protect bone density and muscle mass, lower risk for stroke or hypertension, reduce inflammation, and improve immune function and cancer prevention.