Have you ever found yourself tuning out information about nutritional supplements because it all seems confusing and contradictory? If yes, you are not alone. One headline says 'get more X' the next headline says 'be careful about too much X' and another says 'X supplementation not necessary at all'. Headlines are meant to sell newspaper and magazines. They report on what's new not necessarily what is backed by the most evidence. And, the stories are often selected based on findings that are contrarian or against conventional wisdom. After all, who is going to buy a magazine with the headline, "No change in guidelines – eating more plant-based foods is still good for you."
Consumers really need a reliable source of evidence-based recommendations for nutritional supplements. Since these are not regulated by the FDA, there isn't a government run website that you can count on to be unbiased. There are several private companies, non-profits and even individuals that claim to offer comprehensive unbiased information on nutritional supplements, but who has the time to sift through all of these to figure out whose information is the best?
At the risk of offending a number of other great sources, this article is a plug for the Linus Pauling Micronutrient Information Center at Oregon State University at http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter. Chances are this is a source you've never heard of or looked at, but you should.
The website describes the Linus Pauling Institute as a “source for scientifically accurate information regarding the roles of vitamins, minerals, other nutrients, dietary phytochemicals and some foods in preventing disease and promoting health”. As you can see from the description, their mission extends beyond nutritional supplements to also include whole foods. This is critically important because sometimes nutrients are more potent together (as in a food) than they are separately.
When you visit the website, you'll have a chance to subscribe to the newsletter near the top of the page. Do it. This isn't another email newsletter but rather a printed, bound newsletter sent to your house containing all of the Institute's latest research.
The folks at OSU are doing excellent work to bring us all trustworthy, evidence based recommendations on the tens of thousands of nutrients in our foods. Take some time to look at their website, bookmark it and share it with others. If there are concepts or terms you don't understand, feel free to ask us during your next appointment or send us an email.
If you are pregnant and suffering from low back pain, a neighbor or a friend has probably suggested you visit a chiropractor because a chiropractor was able to help them during their pregnancy. The discussion probably left you curious, is that good advice or just a single success story? Additionally, you may be wondering whether chiropractic is safe during pregnancy and how much low back pain improvement the average pregnant woman can expect to get.
After looking at several scientific publications on these exact topics, the appropriate conclusion seems to be that “chiropractic evaluation and treatment during pregnancy may be considered a safe and effective means of treating common musculoskeletal symptoms that affect pregnant patients. The scarcity of published literature warrants further research.” (Borggren, 2007)
So basically the answers are:
• Yes, chiropractic is safe during pregnancy.
• Yes, chiropractic helps common musculoskelatal probelms during pregnancy (including back pain).
• Your friends experience isn’t just one woman’s story. Many women are finding relief and the results are being sporadically published in medical journals too.
• More research under more controlled conditions is needed for the purposes of educating primary care physicians and obstetricians about chiropractic care during pregnancy.
Here are a few additional details about the prevalence of low back pain during pregnancy and the number of women being referred for treatment.
• 57 – 69% of women complain of low back pain during pregnancy
• Only about 32% of women report these symptoms to their primary doctor
• Only about 25% of primary doctors recommend seeking treatment for the pain.
Clearly this is a big problem with 2 in 3 having pregnancy-related back pain. Also a big problem is that they are generally not talking to their obstetricians and primary care physicians about it and that these professionals are not referring them to effective treatment options.
Chiropractic treatments can be quite effective for pregnancy-related back pain with just a few visits for the majority of women seeking help. In a small study of 17 women:
• Sixteen of 17 (94%) saw clinically important improvements in low back pain with chiropractic care.
• The average pain rating went down from 5.9 to 1.5 (on a scale of 0 to 10).
• It took an average of 1.8 visits and 4.5 days to get clinically important pain relief.
We hope this article gave you hope that many pregnant women do get significant, rapid relief from low back pain. If you are currently pregnant with low back pain, you probably have many questions not answered by this article. Perhaps you’ve never had chiropractic care before or you want to know how we adjust our techniques to work with pregnant patients. The best way to get answers to your questions is with an initial consultation. The only way for us to know whether you are a good candidate is for you to come see us, so call us today at 425-635-0495 for an initial appointment today!
Borggren, C. L. (2007, Spring). Pregnancy and chiropractic: a narrative review of the literature. J Chiropr Med, 6(2), 70-74.
Khorsan, R., Hawk, C., Lisi, A., & Kizhakkeveettil, A. (2009, Jun). Manipulative therapy for pregnancy and related conditions: a systematic review. Obstet Gynecol Surv, 64(6), 416-27.
Lisi, A. (2006, Jan-Feb). Chiropractic spinal manipulation for low back pain of pregnancy: a retrospective case series. J Midwifery Womens Health, 51(1), 7-10.
Stuber, K., & Smith, D. (2008, ul-Aug). Chiropractic treatment of pregnancy-related low back pain: a systematic review of the evidence. J Manipulative Physiol Ther., 31(6), 447-54.
Are Chiropractic X-Rays Safe?
My patients in my Bellevue chiropractic office occasionally ask me whether chiropractic x-rays are safe, so I wanted to summarize the current FDA statements on x-ray safety and give you a couple credible resources where you can learn more. Read the full article if you want the complete story, but if you are looking for a quick answer, the FDA estimates that the radiation exposure from a chest ray is roughly equivalent to the background radiation you are exposed to in 10 ordinary days on planet Earth.
The FDA states on its website "Don't refuse an X-ray. The risk of not having a needed X-ray is greater than the small risk of radiation."
First of all, there is no difference between a chiropractic x-ray and any other type of x-ray. While x-ray equipment does vary slightly by manufacturer, what really matters is the body part being imaged. Different body tissues absorb radiation in different ways.
To provide consumers with a way of monitoring radiation exposure across multiple sources, the FDA uses an effective dosage scale. Each type of x-ray has an effective dosage associated with it measured in millisieverts (mSv). Since millisieverts isn't a unit of measure most people are familiar with (like a mile or a teaspoon), having a reference value helps put the numbers in context. The FDA estimates that the average person is exposed to 3.0 millisieverts of radiation per year from naturally occurring radioactive materials and cosmic rays. That's what allows them to state that a 0.1 millisievert dosage from a chest x-ray is equivalent to about 10 days of background radiation exposure.
Compared to a chest x-ray, x-rays of the extremities (arms and legs) have a much lower effective dosage and x-rays of the lower torso have a higher effective dosage. Recall that the effective dosage comes mainly from the body part being imaged not the intensity or duration of the x-ray machine pulse. Here's a summary of effective dosages and background radiation equivalents for the various types of x-rays a chiropractor is likely to recommend:
• Extremities - 0.001 mSv – similar to 3 hours background radiation
• Chest - 0.1 mSv - similar to 10 days background radiation
• Spine - 1.5 mSv - similar to 6 months background radiation
The FDA website and the excellent radiologyinfo.org website from the American College of Radiology and the Radiological Society of North America both point out that disease risks from radiation exposure are cumulative across time and that patients play a critical role in tracking their own exposure levels. Since you may be working with multiple health care providers in different specialty areas, you should keep a log of your exposures. Here is a link to a site where you can download a personal Patient Medical Imaging Record: imagewisely.org/Patients.aspx
Note that this article refers to effective exposures and recommendations for adults. If you are pregnant or looking for x-ray safety information for children, visit imagegently.org
Consumer Updates Reducing Radiation from Medical X rays. (n.d.). Retrieved 8 29, 2011, from FDA.gov: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm095505.htm
Patient Safety X ray and CT. (n.d.). Retrieved 8 29, 2011, from Radiologyinfo.org: http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/safety/index.cfm?pg=sfty_xray
Radiology Risks Benefits for Patients Image Wisely Image Wisely. (n.d.). Retrieved 8 29, 2011, from ImageWisely.org: http://imagewisely.org/Patients.aspx
“Mercury toxicity should be evaluated in any patient with hypertension, coronary heart disease, cerebral vascular disease, cerebrovascular accident, or other vascular disease.” This was the conclusion of an August 2011 study that appeared in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension.
For those of you lucky enough to not know the term, hypertension is the medical name for high-blood pressure. About one out of every three adults in the United States has high blood pressure (National Center for Health Statistics, 2008) so the odds are that at least one of your parents or grandparents is affected. Or, perhaps it you that has high blood pressure? Either way, this is a study you’ll want to know about since it clearly connects how mercury toxicity (which can be tested for and reduced) can manifest itself as hypertension and other vascular diseases.
Most research studies you hear about on the evening news or popular science programs are full of data and statistics. These types of studies are typically trying to correlate two facts – such as people with higher mercury exposure have greater incidence of heart disease – and may go future to try to establish causation. However, statistical methods don’t ever really settle the causation question. For that we need biochemistry.
Biochemistry is all about understanding the d
ifferent pathways that nutrients (and toxins) travel in our bodies. This particular study looked at the many internal processes that mercury interferes with in order to establish a biochemical basis for the resulting symptoms - hypertension and coronary heart disease. Here’s what they found.
1. Inactivates many reactions that depend on sulfer-containing enzymes
2. Inactivates many sulfer-containing antioxidants
3. Substitutes itself for zinc, copper and other trace minerals in certain reactions
As a result:
1. Mitochondria – the energy powerhouses of the cell – malfunction
2. The body’s oxidative defenses are diminished increasing oxidative stress and inflammation
Which manifests in the body as:
1. Hypertension (high blood pressure)
2. Coronary heart disease
3. Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
4. Cardiac arrhythmias
6. Renal dysfunction, and
Even if you didn’t follow any of the preceding couple paragraphs, you can appreciate the need to ‘connect-the-dots’ between cellular-level processes and downstream diseases. This study connected the dots between high levels of mercury and the many downstream disease states listed. A brilliant piece of work!
So, what should you do if you have hypertension or other types of coronary heart disease? The study authors advise testing for acute or chronic mercury toxicity. Modern mercury toxicity tests are done using urine, blood, hair and toenail samples so they are minimally invasive and results come back fairly quickly.
Houston, M. (2011, August). Role of mercury toxicity in hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and stroke. Journal of Clinical Hypertension, 13(8), 621-7.
National Center for Health Statistics. (2008). Retrieved August 12, 2011, from Centers for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus08.pdf
Chiropractic And Infertility
Today I wanted to share a great story that a local news station in Omaha Nebraska did on Chiropractic and Infertility. It features the story of one women who became pregnant after 3 months of chiropractic care when other infertility treatments had failed her. For any couple wishing to have a child, this story represents real hope .
But it’s just one women and one situation and if you saw this segment on your evening TV, it would be easy to dismiss the story as a coincidence. The critical question is…how many other infertile women has chiropractic helped and what is the likelihood it will work for me?
The doctor in the story explains how spinal adjustments can aid fertility issues. His explanation is that adjustments ensure that the nerves which send signals to the ovaries and other reproductive organs are transmitting properly. One of the basic tenets of chiropractic care is that normal nerve function is necessary for good health – which of course includes normal hormonal functions, ovulation and menstruation.
But again, he is just one doctor in one town. Isthere any evidence that chiropractic really improves fertility among women that are struggling to conceive?
The answer is yes.
At the end of the news story the anchor makes reference to a research study (Behrendt, 2003) that showed 14 of 15 women with a history of fertility issues became pregnant after starting chiropractic care. The women’s stories are all quite different and all very personal.
One 32-year-old woman had had no menstrual cycle for the past 12 years. She had been unsuccessful with medical infertility treatments. Then after 4 months of chiropractic care her menstrual cycle resumed and after two additional months she became pregnant – unassisted.
Another great story to emerge from the study was that of a 26-year-old woman with terrible scoliosis. She had had multiple medical fertility treatments to help her conceive. She became pregnant – again unassisted – in her seventh month of chiropractic care.
Reflecting upon the findings of the study Dr. Behrendt commented that “although not conclusive, the results of the research should stimulate consideration of structure as a factor in infertility and increase awareness of the role of the central and peripheral nervous system in fertility.” We couldn’t agree more.
As a woman reading this article, do you know where in your spine the nerves that supply your reproductive organs are located? Most likely not. And if you are like most women, you’ve never thought about reproductive issues from the perspective of nerve signals.
Fortunately, this line of thinking is starting to make its way into the mainstream. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the American Pregnancy Association website makes reference to nervous system function and the benefits of chiropractic care for infertility. The American Pregnancy Association site states that “in many cases, fertility issues may be associated with improper nervous system function, poor nutrition, high stress and poor lifestyle habits.” It goes on to note that “chiropractic care can be used in conjunction with traditional approaches to fertility issues and can greatly enhance the chances of successful medical procedures such as IVF.”
Once you factor in the price and possible side-effects of IVF treatments, choosing chiropractic care first to aid conception is a very logical choice backed by solid evidence.
If someone you love is struggling with infertility and has never visited a chiropractor for an evaluation, please share this article with them. If you personally are having difficulty conceiving, please call us so we can answer your questions about chiropractic and fertility.
(n.d.). Retrieved August 11, 2011, from American Pregnancy Association: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/infertility/infertilityandchiropractic.html
Behrendt, D. (2003). Insult, Interference and Infertility:An Overview of Chiropractic Research. Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research, 1.
The risks of heavy metal poisoning are a frequently discussed health concern. Some definitions cite the atomic weight or a specific gravity greater than 4.0 or 5.0, but generally it refers to a group of metals and semi-metals posing a potential risk to humans and the environment – such as lead, mercury and cadmium. A danger of heavy metal toxicity is that its symptoms are commonly misdiagnosed, often as incurable chronic conditions, but if unrecognized and untreated they can lead to severe health problems and even death.
In our daily lives, it’s hard to avoid heavy metals entirely. Contaminated food, mostly fish, can contain traces of heavy metals, as can working environments, direct and passive smoking, mercury fillings and old homes that have used lead-based paint. Poisoning occurs after an excessive build up of heavy metals in the body. Usually these are flushed out via urine or fecal waste, but some people, such those suffering from chronic conditions, cannot excrete them and this results in an accumulation over time. Toxicity also depends on individual factors such as the dose absorbed, exposure, age and route of exposure. There have also been studies that indicate a possible genetic predisposition to heavy metal toxicity .
The usual symptoms associated with heavy metal poisoning can manifest as chronic pain throughout muscles, in the tendons and soft tissues; chronic malaise; ‘brain fog’, meaning when one’s thoughts become clouded; Candida and other chronic infections; gastrointestinal complaints; food allergies; headaches and migraines; dizziness; mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety; and malfunctions in the nervous system, which may result in numbness, tingling, paralysis and/or electric shocks in the body. Recent studies have found that a link may exist between heavy metal poisoning and cardiovascular disease .
Conventional treatment for detoxifying the body can take a long time – up to years in some cases – and many have experienced side effects resulting from heavy metals being stirred up in the body before excretion. Chelation therapy is the most common form of treatment, in which agents bind to heavy metals in the body and are expelled via urine or fecal waste. Medicines commonly used for detoxification include DMSA, prescribed to patients suffering from lead poisoning. DMSA binds with the lead in the body before excretion via urine ; Calcium EDTA is a chelating agent predominantly used against lead, but it can also treat for mild effects against mercury, arsenic and gold poisoning . Finally, DMPS is a strong chelating agent treating mercury poisoning, with ten times the strength of DMSA.
Maintaining a healthy diet can also help prevent and alleviate the symptoms of heavy metal poisoning. This means eating foods high in anti-oxidants; probiotics; cilantro, as anecdotal studies have shown that they may mobilize mercury and other toxic metals , making it easier for chelating agents to expel them from the body. It is also a good idea to avoid consuming deep-sea fish and shellfish, which may be high in mercury. Exercise can help aid in the release of toxins, since sweating is a natural way to detoxify.
Heavy metal poisoning can be very dangerous. If you have questions, please consult your medical professional.
 “Mercury on the Mind,” Miller, Donald Jr. Dr. http://www.lewrockwell.com/miller/miller14.html Accessed September 18, 2011
 E.M. Alissa and G.A. Ferns , J Toxicol. 2011;2011:870125. Epub 2011 Sep 8.
 “Lead and Your Health”,http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/assets/docs_f_o/lead-fs.pdf Accessed September 18 2011
 “Edetate Calcium Disodium Advanced Consumer Drug Information” http://www.drugs.com/MMX/Edetate_Calcium_Disodium.html Accessed September 18, 2011
 “Cilantro: A Common Spice/Herb That Can Save Your Life”
http://www.mnwelldir.org/docs/detox/cilantro.htm Accessed September 18 2011
What is the Gonstead Technique?
With numerous chiropractic techniques available, choosing the treatment right for you can be a tough decision. If you’re not an expert, the various techniques can seem confusing, and may complicate your choice in finding the right chiropractor for you. One specific technique frequently seen is the Gonstead technique, named after its founder, Dr. Clarence S. Gonstead, who established the Gonstead Clinic of Chiropractic in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin.
But what is the Gonstead technique, and why is it different from other chiropractic methods? Dr. Gonstead discovered that foot and leg pains, which were previously difficult to treat via conventional medicine, responded to chiropractic care, and this led him to further investigate the health benefits behind chiropractic medicine.
The body’s foundation is grounded in the pelvic girdle, which consists of the pelvic bones and the lower back. If the girdle is rotated or tilted out of place, along with the vertebrae in the spine, it can result in various health issues. Pressure on disc separation in the vertebrae can cause misalignments in the spine, which can in turn compress and inflames the nerves, thus putting pressure on the nervous system. Generally, most chiropractors detect misalignments in the upper portion of the spiral column, but often relief from these adjustments is limited. The Gonstead technique focuses on the lower portion of the spine, which is frequently the origin of the problem. This treatment restores and maintains health by locating and correcting any interference with the body’s nervous system caused by swelling and misalignment of the vertebrae discs.
The Gonstead technique seeks to go beyond the usual treatment offered by most chiropractors, offering a full spinal assessment and analysis with various criteria, in order to determine the location of inflamed or misaligned spinal discs. First, visualization is carried out, in which the doctor examines the patient for any subtle changes in movement and/or posture in the back that could result in potential problems. Instrumentation also plays a key role in the Gonstead technique. A nervoscope detects uneven distributions of heat along the spinal chord, possibly attributed to inflammation or nerve pressure. A chiropractor practicing the Gonstead technique uses a process known as static palpitation --feeling the spine in a stationary position in order to locate areas of swelling, tenderness, and abnormal texture or tightness in the muscles and tissues in the back. The technique of motion palpitation involves feeling the spine while the patient is moving and bending into various positions. In this way the chiropractor can determine how each segment in the spine moves in different directions. The doctor also visualizes the structure of the spine via X-ray analysis, which is helpful to evaluate posture, joint and disc integrity.
After the analysis is complete, the necessary adjustments can then be made. The aim is to be as precise, accurate and specific as possible, with focus on the problem areas of inflammation and dislocation.
Dr. Weir does not use the Gonstead meathod, but can help direct you to a Gonstead Doctor if you feel this would be a good fit for you. Dr. Weir uses a lower force technique called ProAdjuster. You can find out more information here http://www.backinactionchiropractic.com/proadjuster/
 http://www.gonstead.com/ Accessed September 2011
 http://www.chiroaccess.com/Articles/Technique-Summary-Gonstead-Technique.aspx?id=0000128 Accessed September 2011
Dr. Michael Weir