Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Crash Course on the Necessity of Crawling

My infant son had a pretty big milestone this past weekend where he began crawling.  While my wife and I were "baby-proofing" the last few days, I realized that his milestone would be the perfect opportunity for me to expound on why this is not only a good way for babies to maneuver around, but it's also essential for their development on a few different levels.

I'm sure that the majority of the population views the crawling stage as simply another stage that a baby goes through.  However, I can't tell you how many times I've heard or even witnessed a baby who doesn't go through that crawling stage.  And it's a little bigger deal than you may think to go straight to walking or to scoot on their bum instead of crawling.  Crawling is an essential stage that babies should go through because it helps develop their motor skills, brain development, and spinal curve formation.

When babies are crawling around, they use new muscles that they haven't used previously.  Muscles in their arms and upper back and muscles in the hips and legs allow them to propel forward.  They are also using muscles in their abdominal region and "core" to keep up their belly and support the weight of their midsection.  Also, they are using tiny muscles throughout their body to help steady themselves while moving and to provide balance.  Crawling helps to coordinate these muscle movements and prepares them better for the walking stage.

A large part of the crawling stage is the brain development of the baby.  The "cross-crawl pattern" is very essential to developing the child's brain.  This pattern is when a child moves one hand forward while moving the opposite leg forward.  This process helps stimulate communication between the right and left hemisphere of the brain through a structure called the corpus callosum.  This structure is the main communication link between the two sides of the brain.  It's essential to make the connections as strong as possible and one of the best ways to do so is to have your baby crawl.

Finally, the last essential of the crawling stage that I'll address is the development of the spinal curvature.  When babies crawl, their heads need to be up and their bellies will sag a little bit.  When a baby looks up, it helps to develop the cervical curve (neck curve).  This curve is crucial because it helps support the weight of the head throughout the rest of that child's life.  The sagging of the belly help to develop the lumbar curve (low back curve).  This curve is essential because when the baby starts to walk, it better supports the weight of the whole body.  Curves help support weights much more efficiently than straight lines.  Just look at bridges; most bridges have a curve underneath or above to help support the weight of traffic.

So, if you have a child that doesn't seem to want to crawl, get down on the floor and show them how.  It's more important than you may have thought.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What's Safe in Medicine Today?

As I expected, my blog about vaccination has drawn the most ire from some people and also the most comments.  That's one of the reasons that I wanted to talk about safety issues in medicine this week.  Vaccines aren't the only portion of western medicine that need to be looked at as being harmful to your body and to society as a whole.  However, with that said, there are some safe options available as well.

I first want to state that I in no way intend to bash the western medical world as a whole.  There is a time and place for western medicine, especially in the event of trauma and life threatening illness.  However, where the western medical world has gone wrong in my opinion is that they take these same acute injury principles and apply them to non acute situations.  Perfect example being in most Type 2 Diabetes cases.  There are many medical doctors out there who jump to prescribing insulin, Metformin, or other drugs to help with blood sugar levels.  But, when you look at the actual physiology and research about Type 2 Diabetes, you will see that the best way to reverse and stop the effects of Type 2 Diabetes in most cases in by a healthy diet and exercise routine.  You should ALWAYS try a healthier alternative to fixing a problem before drugs or surgery unless it is a life or death situation.

The reason that you should start with a more "conservative" treatment is because of all the adverse effects of drugs and surgery.  Around 200,000 Americans will die due to adverse effects of prescription drugs this year.  If that number seems high, you can check for yourself.  The information is out there, it's just not being distributed.  That number doesn't even include death due to surgery mishaps, over the counter drugs, or international statistics. 

Also, there is a reason that the average older American is on 8 prescription medications.  Most often it's because one drug will have a severe or quality of life depleting side effect.  Therefore, they will give you another drug to stop that side effect which will typically have another side effect so they give another one and so on.  If you ever want to know some of the side effects of the more popular drugs, just sit and listen to one of the many ads on TV or radio and pay attention to the "____________ may cause...".

But not all treatments have all of these deaths and side effects right?  If you look at the "alternative medicines", you'll find that most are very safe and, in a lot of circumstances, just as effective if not more effective. 

Chiropractic, for example is one of the most safe modalities of health care out there.  There are reports of minor side effects in as few as one in 3 million treatments, others show fewer than that.  One way to look at it is to compare the malpractice insurance that doctors and other medical personnel pay each year.  Malpractice insurance is a requirement to practice medicine of any kind and it's in case something "bad" does happen under your care as a doctor.  Many medical doctors pay tens of thousands of dollars each year for their malpractice insurance, depending on their profession.  My malpractice insurance is about $1400 a year.  The reason that there is such a discrepancy is because chiropractic has far fewer cases of adverse events than western medicine, and there's the numbers to prove it.

So, before you pop that next Lipitor or get scheduled for your next surgery, ask yourself if you have tried other less invasive treatments and if the side effects are really better than trying to live a healthier life.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bad Bacteria? Not All of Them!

Growing up I thought that all bugs and microbes and germs were bad for you.  That's why you always washed your hands and sneezed into your shoulder and took antibiotics when sick.  What I didn't realize at that time (which may have grossed me out) is that people normally have a couple pounds of bacteria living inside them and on their skin.  However, that's a good thing because these bacteria are good for you.  Most of these bacteria are located within our digestive system, mainly the colon.  These good bacteria are known as Probiotics.

There's been more awareness of the necessity of Probiotics within the recent years with products like Activia getting more air time.  But that doesn't mean that everyone knows about them or why we have them.  There's a number of different reasons that we have millions of bacteria living within our colon.

The main reason is that we NEED them.  We live in a symbiotic relationship with these bacteria.  They need us because we give them food through our diet and we need them to help with many different bodily processes.  Some of the bacteria help us digest food like green leafy vegetables, some help kill of potentially harmful bacteria, and others actually help with the movement and absorption of the food that we eat.

So you can see that these bacteria are pretty beneficial.  With that said, most people are deficient in the amount of bacteria present.  This is partially due to the American diet, but mostly due to the over prescription of antibiotics.  Antibiotics are really good at their job.  They kill the bad bacteria in most cases.  However, they also kill off the good bacteria that you need.  A lot of times, you will probably weigh less after taking antibiotics because you've killed and passed the good bacteria that were helping you.

So if you've taken any antibiotics recently, it's a necessity to take a Probiotic supplement.  Yes, you can get some good bacteria from eating yogurt or drinking kefir or kombucha, but it's not enough.  You need to replenish that whole store of good bacteria. 

You can find Probiotics at any supplement or health foods store.  And typically, a good rule of thumb is that good Probiotics should be refrigerated.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My Chiropractic Story

I just realized that some of the people who read my blog don't even know my chiropractic story.  And since it's the perfect way to start off the new year, I'll do just that.  Hopefully this doesn't bore anyone.

When I started looking into colleges to attend back at the beginning of high school, I recall looking into colleges that had a well respected biology department.  In didn't know why at the time, but I kind of always wanted to do something in the medical field.  In fact, as a kid, I remember playing quite a bit with a doctor's kit.

Then I got hurt in soccer practice my junior year of high school.  A teammate (who probably weighed 2X what I did) and I collided and I honestly thought I had broken a couple of ribs.  My mom decided to take me to the chiropractor she had been seeing mainly for some low back issues.  They took x-rays.  Of course, no broken ribs.  He then went on to describe that I had some subluxations in my spine and ribcage that were causing these issues.  We did a couple of treatments and I was without pain after just 2 or 3 treatments.  What was even better, was that I realized I wasn't getting my "normal" 2-3 headaches per week.

The doctor and I got to talking more about chiropractic and why it's such an essential profession and what chiropractic school would be like.  He also informed me that chiropractic uses the body's natural healing ability and that's why we don't need to use drugs or surgery. I decided that it sounded like a pretty good fit and started looking into colleges that offered pre-chiropractic majors (by the way, there's no such thing as a pre-chiropractic major, Biology major does more than fine).

While in college I took a lot of Chemistry along with Biology and began learning about medical drugs and surgery.  From hearing how foreign these treatment options are to our bodies and learning all of the negative side affects of many of them, I definitely knew that becoming a chiropractor was the perfect fit for me.  And ever since then, it was a lot of hard work and studying and now I finally get to see chiropractic in action everyday that I work.  It truly is amazing.

What I now know after being in practice, is that the reason I wanted to do something in the medical field is because I wanted to help people get and stay well.  And there is no better profession than chiropractic to do that.  The fact that chiropractic enhances the body's innate ability to heal itself without intrusive means actually gives more validity and proof to the effectiveness of chiropractic when you actually study the anatomy and physiology of the human being.

So it's all because I got hurt playing soccer.  I think it was worth it.

If anyone feels inclined to share their story of how they were introduced to chiropractic, you are more than welcome to comment.