Thursday, October 13, 2011

What is an Anti-Inflammatory Diet?

Inflammation following an injury is a pretty straight forward and understandable response of the body to defend and repair itself, as described in a prior post.  Rest, perhaps application of ice and a little time are usually enough for the inflammation to subside and for healing to take place.

But what about long-term, low levels of inflammation that simmer, sub-clinically (without obvious symptoms)? This type of inflammation is now thought to underlie or promote many illnesses and conditions including arthritis, Alzheimer’s Disease, cardiovascular disease and many types of cancer.  Rather than taking drugs to fight inflammation, a better choice is diet, specifically an anti-inflammatory diet, which can keep excess inflammation in check.

What exactly is an anti-inflammatory diet?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fibromyalgia and Pilates

This weekend, Saturday October 1, 2011, I will be the leadoff presenter at a workshop that deals with Pilates for Fibromyalgia Syndrome.  The workshop will first look at the background of Fibromyalgia (that is my part) and then focus on how Pilates can be an effective tool in the management of this chronic pain syndrome.  After my introduction, the heart of the workshop will be presented by Kathryn Russell and Marilyn Koval of Viva Pilates Studio. The workshop will be held at Body Arts and Sciences International (BASI) in Costa Mesa, California. 

Research has shown that Fibromyalgia is best managed through an inter-disciplinary approach focusing on exercise. The Pilates method, with its emphasis on breath, core strength and joint stability, is particularly successful for those suffering from Fibromyalgia. Due to potential physical limitations due to pain and stiffness, people with Fibromyalgia may need to exercise with special modifications and strategies necessary.

A full description of Fibromyalgia Syndrome would fill pages and pages but a brief summary of this disorder and its control follows:

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hermosa Beach Open- Volleyball Injury Care

The world of professional beach volleyball players requires athletes be in top shape.  (Try running and jumping in beach sand and see how long you last). Demanding practice and tournament schedules often lead to playing with pain and injuries.  When players are involved in tournament play, there is usually little time between matches.  Injuries that might interfere with moving up the ladder towards victory demand immediate attention. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My Favorite Symptom

It probably sounds odd that I have a favorite patient complaint.  I see patients with a variety of problems.  Some complaints are new, often due to sports, work-related and motor vehicle accidents.  Other problems are chronic, recurring complaints that patients have tried to manage, unsuccessfully, with many approaches.  No matter what the cause or how long it has persisted, when I am able to help someone overcome or better manage a problem, I am deeply gratified. 

One particular patient complaint, however, remains my favorite.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Elk!? Eat Like a Hunter (without hunting)

My wife and I have been bouncing around California quite a bit in the month of August.  From Yosemite (as mentioned in my August 10, 2011 post), to Baja California (twice), central California (including the magnificent Rancho Santa Margarita, a working ranch since 1774) and most recently Point Reyes National Seashore in northern California.  We put in a lot of driving time but also got to take some great walks to see some beautiful sights.

In spite of not seeing patients for a good part of the month, I cannot turn my attention away from health, abundant and nutritious food, exercise and stress management. 

One of the unexpected pleasures was seeing wild elk in Point Reyes. These animals were beautiful and got me to thinking about what passes for meat in the Standard American Diet.  Not to worry, the elk we saw on the trial were in no danger of being hunted or harvested as they live in a protected preserve but they did get me thinking…

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Walking to See Waterwheels

My original plan for the weekend of August 6, 2011 was to attend the Ancestral Health Symposium at UCLA.  The symposium was described by Loren Cordain. Ph.D., author of The Paleo Diet, as “The Woodstock of Evolutionary Medicine.”  Alas, I could not get a ticket to as it sold out long ago. 

So I did the next best thing. 

Actually, I did something better than sitting on my rear end for two days.  I took a walk in the mountains.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Reduced Pain from a Shirt?

HB Pier, US Open 2011

When surfers damage their surfboards, mortals send them off for ding repair.  Professional surfers can do the same or merely grab another board from their quiver of multiple boards.  It helps to have sponsors!

When they damage their bodies, repair is not quite as easy and replacement rarely an option but the pros have access to evaluation and treatment when they travel for competition.

Today I had the pleasure of working on the medical staff at the US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach.  I will be back at the venue later this week as well.   I was part of a team of chiropractic and medical doctors, physical therapists, athletic trainers and massage therapists who were on hand to patch up surfers from around the world.  In addition to hands on examinations, treatment and advice for self-care, the community of surfers is getting exposed to an innovative line of clothing that, as odd as it may seem, can improve posture, reduce injuries, enhance performance and reduce pain.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Inflammation & the Other Oil Industry: Part 3

The diagram above may look chaotic but it is a truly elegant description of how certain dietary fats or fatty acids, Omega-6 and Omega-3, play a role in the body’s production of inflammation causing and inflammation quieting substances.  As explained by David Seaman, D.C., who created this graphic explanation for the text book, Nutritional Considerations in the Treatment of Soft-Tissue Injuries, the standard American diet contains an abundance of Omega-6 fats and relatively fewer Omega3 fats.

Why are we eating so many Omega-6 fats? What are the health consequences of an imbalance in Omega-6 fats compared to Omega-3 fats?  If you eat fish oil capsules, flax or hemp seed, can you put these two types of fat in a better balance?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Inflammation & the Other Oil Industry: Part 2

First off, the picture posted with this entry has nothing to do with inflammation or diet.  I took it yesterday while on a six or seven mile walk, mostly through El Dorado Park and its Nature Center, which are just a few minute’s walk from my house.
In an earlier post (June 6, 2011) I discussed the potential of trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils to promote a pro-inflammatory state, among other unhealthy effects.

There are other  pro-inflammatory fats and oils that have intruded into the food supply , which I will discuss at a later date, but first I want to address some of the reasons these oils have come to dominate the standard diet in the US.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What do All Anti-Inflammatory Drugs Have in Common?

What do All Anti-Inflammatory Drugs Have in Common?  And What in the world is this diagram trying to explain?

According to a recently published research paper, from the British Medical Journal in 2011, new data show that all major, non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have cardiovascular risks.  Investigators evaluating available evidence report they have found little to suggest that any of the investigated options are safe.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


An illustration from philosopher and scientist, Rene Descartes.  The fire displaces the skin, which pulls a tiny thread, which opens a pore in the ventricle (F) allowing the "animal spirit" to flow through a hollow tube, which inflates the muscle of the leg, causing the foot to withdraw.

I do want to return to the topic of inflammation and what I previously referred to as the Other Oil Industry but I just returned from an extraordinary workshop that is worth talking about. 

I just returned from Santa Clara, California, in Silicon Valley, having attended a training program called PGAP™ (Progressive Goal Attainment Program).  PGAP™ is a treatment program for reducing disability due to chronic pain, depression, cancer and other chronic health conditions.  There are very few providers of this service in the United States who currently offer this program.  As for California, until yesterday, there were only a few providers in northern California.  At the conclusion of the training, I join a growing number to offer it in southern California.  I will be working in conjunction with an organization called LifeTEAM, starting in July to offer PGAP™.   

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Worst Diet! It is What I Eat!

 I originally planned to continue a thread on Inflammation and Dietary Fats but recent news caused me to veer off course.  It turns out that US News and World Report has categorized the best to worst 20 diets.  The diet I recommend as the best for managing chronic inflammation and pain, the Paleo Diet, is ranked a lowly 20th.  I would be embarrassed were it not for the near complete lack of scientific rigor in the article and my disdain for thoughtless conventional wisdom.

Fortunately, Loren Cordain, Ph.D., one of the foremost authorities on the Paleo Diet, has quickly rebutted the journalistic- nonsense with his usual scientific and evidence-based logic.

First read the US News listing of 20 diets.  Next see their criticism of the Paleo Diet.  Finally, take a look at Dr. Cordain’s well researched debunking of the US News analysis and their near total ignorance on the science of nutrition.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Inflammation & the Other Oil Industry

In about 1980, while I was still a student in chiropractic college, I read an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition about a particular type of dietary fat known as partially hydrogenated oil or trans fat.  I found the article quite troubling.  These trans fats were made by taking ordinary grain, seed and bean oils (such as corn, sunflower, soybean, safflower, peanut oils) and chemically altering them in a way that was mainly intended to extend shelf life.  Another perceived benefit of these fats was that they gave baked goods a texture and consistency similar to animal-based fats such as butter and lard.  The trans fats were considered to be a healthier alternative to the saturated animal fat as well as coconut oil, which is also a saturated fat.  For a quick explanation of how oils are partially hydrogenated, read this.

I do not believe there was any evil intent to create an especially unhealthy product when partially hydrogenated oils were invented.  I don’t believe their increased use was intended to cause harm.  However the research article I first read, which is now over 30 years-old, and almost three decades of more of research have proven these to be uniquely unhealthy.  Predictably, commercial food manufacturers and restaurants tried to ignore the damaging effects of these fats and tried to keep the public in the dark.  The edible oil industry (the other oil industry) apparently did not want to lose market share, even with public health at risk.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Inflammation: Friend and Foe

Although I had worked with patients for many years who suffered with pain and inflammation, it was not a text book or journal article that made me think of the problem in a big picture.  It was Time Magazine.  After reading the February 15, 2004 issue of Time, shortly after it appeared on the newsstand, I was taken aback by the many diseases and problems with the common thread of inflammation.  It was obvious to me that we don’t suffer from a deficiency of anti-inflammatory drugs.  But what was the problem?  After I spent considerable time looking into the issu
e, it became clear that unwanted inflammation is an expected byproduct of having demanding our body’s to perform in a manner biochemically out of step with with our genetic design.  From poor food choices to excess stress, poor sleep and repetitive micro-trauma, many people have shifted into what is now called a pro-inflammatory state.

Inflammation, which should be a beneficial healing process, is making you hurt needlessly and maybe killing you.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


You may have heard of or read the book, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, by psychiatrist Daniel Amen, M.D.   Without getting into specifics, the book deals with what Dr. Amen believes are measurable improvements in brain function and morphology (form and structure) that are possible after a special test (a SPECT scan) and customized treatment.  The treatment is used for addiction, depression, ADHD and many other conditions.   I think most people would find it sensible that treatments tspecifically intended to improve the brain can positively affect many things.  But would you have imagined that successfully treating back pain could also improve brain function?   It might be surprising to you that those with chronic back pain have problems with the ability to think, concentrate, formulate ideas, reason and remember.  They lose brain gray matter in parts of the brain associated with pain processing and the emotional components of pain, like depression and anxiety.  More surprising might be a recent finding that when back pain improves, brain function improves, including thickening previously thinned brain cortex.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Chiropractic Adjustments versus Surgery

Most chiropractic doctors, myself included, use spinal adjustments or manipulation as our primary treatment tool.  We are, however, legally able (in California and other jurisdictions) to examine and treat almost all human illnesses so long as we do not prescribe drugs, perform surgery or otherwise puncture the skin. 

While some seek chiropractic treatment for general health purposes, in my practice, as in the majority, patients seek care for spine and related muscle and joint related pain and injury.  Although I offer treatments other than adjustments, virtually all are focused on managing pain, be it by hands-on treatment or prescribing an anti-inflammatory diet.

As stated on my website, chiropractic adjustments improve spinal joint mobility and increase pain tolerance.  There are also studies that suggest adjustments release chemicals that improve blood flow to the area that is treated, may release pain relieving chemicals and decrease circulating inflammatory chemicals, all without the side-effects of medications. (For more information, there are convenient links to my website,, on the right-hand side of this page as well as at the bottom of the page).

Given the nature of my practice and the reason patients typically consult with me, it makes sense to address one of the most common problems, spinal or back pain associated with disc herniation. 

Exciting new research concludes that chiropractic spinal adjustments are as beneficial as surgery for sciatica.  On top of that, the cost savings of chiropractic treatment versus surgery may be enormous.

If you are curious, keep reading.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Find Your Way to the Healthy Road Ahead

Foz do Iguaçu
How do you find your way to the Healthy Road Ahead?

How do you get to the point of controlling or getting rid of pain?  How do find the right tools and  keys to improve your fitness, manage your stress and eat abundantly nutritious foods?  How do you find the Healthy Road Ahead?  Will you know the Healthy Road when you get to it?  Is it straight, windy, narrow or wide?  Is there only one Healthy Road?
First, you have to decide if you want to find the Healthy Road.  If you do, read more and, with later entries, you can learn what to do and how to do it.
Western Sierra Nevada, Hwy 49

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Healthy Road Ahead

Monte Alban, Oaxaca

Why start a blog on chiropractic healthcare, wellness and fitness with travel photos?  What do pictures of Monte Alban, Oaxaca, Cottonwoods Lake Basin, climbing a rope at Venice Beach (OK, not much of a trip from home), tango lessons in Buenos Aires, a wild ride beneath a tiny slice of Iguaçu Falls, Brasil or climbing the Pyramid of the Moon, Teotihuacán, have to do with anything?  Read a little more and it will make sense.

Cottonwoods Lake Basin, 11,000+ feet

Why not climb a rope? Venice Beach