The Purpose of Breath

Many people do not realize the importance and connection that their breath has to both the brain and the heart.  Because of this connection breathwork can be a powerful and accessible tool for all to use not only for better balance but also to help manage conditions such as anxiety, depression, other mood disorders, fatigue, stress, diabetes and heart disease.  This isn't just conjecture or theory either!  There have been quite a few studies recently that provide an evidence based connection between the breath and the body's ability to regulate the body's autonomic nervous system.

Think of the autonomic nervous system as a conductor of the body that helps to regulate signals and impulses.  The two main players of this system are like the reins and the crop for a horse.  One system drives things faster and the other system slows things down.  These two systems work together day and night to control all types of things such as how quickly we are thinking to our ability to go to sleep.  In medical terms we call these reins the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems.  What medical research tells us is that different breathing exercises and techniques have a unique way to tap into these systems so that you can control them and that when you tap into that control your body reaps the benefits.  

The primary reward of becoming more aware of your breath comes in the engagement of the parasympathetic system to start to slow things down.  Think about it- all day we are on the go or have something to do or see or text or post ALL THE TIME!  That leads to a constant feeding of the sympathetic system which places a strain on the supportive glandular network which can place your hormonal system completely in a whirlwind!  When you engage in breathwork the parasympathetic system (or the "reins") start to take over which slows your systems down and allows your body to "take a break".  This process of "breaking" is actually fundamental in the process of healing and repair to the body.

So now that you understand one of the true purposes of your breath the challenge becomes to start to become more aware of your breathing pattern.  Consider signing up for a breathwork class or seminar in your community or sign up for a yoga class and pay particular attention to the breathing patterns taught during the session.  Your breath is always with you, it is free and you don't have to go anywhere to do it.  Take the time to be aware of where your breath is and make your breath work for you and not against you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

J Cardiovasc Thorac Res. 2016;8(4):170-175. doi: 10.15171/jcvtr.2016.34. Epub 2016 Dec 30.

Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 2016 Feb;124(2):65-70. doi: 10.1055/s-0035-1565062. Epub 2015 Nov 17.

  

Ayurveda 101

Part 1: Ayurveda and Preventative Health

Our country is saddled with an incredible amount of chronic disease. We spend millions, no wait, billions on treatment of preventable conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.  As we toil away day after day we also seem to be increasingly susceptible to what I refer to as "quality of life" diseases.  These are things like insomnia, stress, hormonal fluctuations and mood swings just to name a few. The question is why if we spend so much money on making ourselves better and billions on vitamins and supplements why we still seem to be faced with the same chronic diseases as we have been for the past 30 years?  I'll tell you why-- if you forget the lessons of the past you'll be doomed to make mistakes in the future.  I would argue that the field of Ayurveda is that lesson from the past.  


Many people do not realize that disease happens slowly over time secondary to a lack of attention to preventative systems in the body that are meant to keep disease away. Now as to why there's a lack of attention to those systems well really the reasons are from the ceiling to the floor based on our current modern lifestyle. Part of it is because overall the majority of healthcare providers do not have a tremendous amount of training for counseling patients in a preventative disease lifestyle. If you combine that with a lack of allotted time during an office visit for preventative education and lack of reimbursement for comprehensive preventative health then its no wonder most of us succumb eventually to one or more disease states.  

So let's try to put all of this together. If the majority of us want to stay healthy and prevent disease but the majority of people who are set forth to provide healthcare do not have basic training in preventive disease prevention and techniques then how exactly is a majority of America supposed to engage and prevent disease? I'll tell you how. You personally have to go back and discover lessons that you may have forgotten or may have never been taught. And that is where you can find the importance of the field of medicine refer to as Ayurvedic medicine.


Think of it as when you typically go to the doctor you are going there with a problem. If you have a problem then that means that the disease has already manifested itself to the point where you have developed symptoms. Therefore you haven't prevented any disease in the first place because there you are sitting in the waiting room of your doctor's office hoping for some type of treatment so that you can feel better. Ayurvedic medicine is geared at keeping you out of the waiting room with a disease in the first place. Now to understand how this field of medicine works on the preventative health spectrum that I think it's best to review it in small chunks so that you can first digest the structure of this field of medicine as it is unfamiliar to most people who are most experienced with traditional Western medicine. By traditional Western medicine I'm referring to the type of medicine where you wait until you are sick and then you go to the doctor and the doctor prescribe something or gives you some type of device in order to make those symptoms go away and then you you don't come back until you have some other type of problem. Ayurvedic medicine is particularly concerned with prevention of disease so this is the type of medicine that at a minimum we can all incorporate to improve and prevent disease.

The purpose of this and the next article in this series of article will explain in common terms some basic concepts of Ayurveda that you can use in your day to day life, what the origins are of this type of practice and how it relates to Western medicine, and how you can start to experience some of the benefits of this particular type of medicine.  These articles will go over some of the basic principles, how you can determine your dosha and what are some common recommendations to balance your dosha so that you can start to activate some of the preventive and healing mechanisms that are already pre-built in your body on a cellular level. Now if you have already in the diseased state which means that you are already experiencing symptoms Ayurveda can still help to resolve possibly some of those manifestations however you have to always consider the advice of your personal physician who is treating you in regards to what particular steps you should take for your health care conditions. We encourage you to subscribe to our blog so that you will get a notification for the next article in this series -Ayurveda 101.

To take a quiz to start to figure out your own unique composition according to Ayurveda click here.

Size Does Matter in Heart Disease

Size Does Matter in Heart Disease

The most common test for evaluation of cholesterol is a standard cholesterol panel which examines total cholesterol, hdl (high density lipoprotein), triglycerides (think of this as "sugary" cholesterol) and ldl (low density lipoprotein).  Most people think that this is enough in terms of getting the most information they can in regards to their cholesterol profile but to truly understand why this information is not enough you have to understand how cholesterol contributes to heart disease.

Below the Belt

Below the Belt

Unlike most cosmetic procedures that can involve downtime, pain or discomfort this procedure only results in a gently warmth during the procedure when applied on the outside and nearly none when applied on the inside. As someone who had administered many pelvic exams in my opinion having this procedure appeared to cause less discomfort than a pap smear!

Breast Cancer Stories Part 2

This month we have been following the stories of women who have been affected by breast cancer.  In this first edition of this series we met Claire a woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant.  In the second issue in this series we take a different and very frank look about what it can be like to find out that you have breast cancer and some of the common things that women experience after treatment.  

Please note that this video contains sensitive and graphic images and should only be viewed by adults 18 and older.  By proceeding with viewing you are verify that you are of age to view this video.

Nine courageous, everyday women survive breast cancer only to discover that their health struggles continue after their cancer treatment ends. Sponsored by The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation [2/2009] [Health and Medicine] [Show ID: 13448]


If you have not yet scheduled your mammogram for this year and you are over 40 or have a high risk of breast cancer and under 40 please schedule your appointment for evaluation and mammogram order here. 

ARE YOU AT RISK?

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Women with the following characteristics have been found to have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

  • Increasing age (especially older than 55)
  • Genetic factors (think about your family history)
  • Personal history of benign breast disease
  • Previous chest irradiation
  • Lifestyle factors (diet & amount of exercise along with weight along with other factors)

If you are interested in scheduling an appointment about what you can do to lower your risk factors for breast cancer please schedule here

Need a Cool Down?

Acupuncture as a treatment for hot flashes from cancer therapy

In research recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology acupuncture was shown to help  relieve the symptoms of hot flashes that can be induced by breast cancer treatment.  This study evaluated the use of electoacupuncture against a commonly prescribed medication for these  symptoms gabapentin.  In this randomized controlled trial of 120 patients it was shown that the electroacupuncture was a more effective treatment regimen when compared to gabapentin, sham acupuncture or placebo over an 8 week period.

Acupuncture is a integral part of traditional Chinese medicine that has been shown in multiple studies to be effective in the treatment of chronic pain.  The theory behind how acupuncture works can be explained differently by different people however in essence it is a therapy that is geared at releasing and re-balancing energy flow throughout the body.  Electroacupuncture is different from regular acupuncture in that a very low dose of current is used in conjunction with acupuncture needles and typically stimulates a wider area.  This therapy can also be utilized with trans-cutaneous electrical nerve stimulation devices or TENS units as well which makes it a great option for patients with needle phobias. 

Many times what makes it hard to get through breast cancer (or any cancer for that matter) is the damage that the treatment does to the body while it is killing the cancer as well.  It also can be frustrating to have to continuously medicate the symptoms of treatment away.   Acupuncture is a therapy that can allow for treatment of symptoms without a medication which for many patients can be a lifesaver. If you are interested in learning more about this study please check out the study here.

 If you are interested in scheduling an acupuncture session please click here.

 

Are You One of Many?

Menopause-Why Do So Many Women Go Untreated?

A study published online from Menopause in July of this year gave statistical support to something that many women have known for a long time.  Many women experience menopausal symptoms of hot flashes and night sweats and go untreated by their doctors year after year.  According to the results of this study which examined women's symptoms and methods of treatment via survey methodology only 11% of survey respondents were availing themselves of hormonal replacement therapy or HRT.  Although this study was conducted in Australia according to the researchers it is likely that these results can be extrapolated to the United States.  So the big question  is why are all these women going untreated?

Hormone replacement therapy is one of many forms of therapy that may be used to combat hot flashes and night sweats, two of the most common symptoms of menopause.  After the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) Study was published in 2002 many women stopped using hormones in droves and many more women that have entered the climacteric period since 2002 still have not availed themselves of this type of therapy.  Although it is true that hormone replacement therapy does come with  some increased medical risks such as cardiovascular disease, increased blood clot risks,  and increased risks of breast cancer it is also true that certain methods of hormonal therapy have a safer risk profile than the traditional oral therapy that was used in the WHI study.  The other concern that this study highlights is in regards to the low use of vaginal estrogen which also has a different risk profile than traditional HRT.  The use of vaginal estrogen has been shown to have a big impact on the quality of intercourse as well as being an important factor in decreasing infections.  So the big question remains....why are so many women left untreated year after year?

The true answer to this is likely secondary to several different factors.  For one many women and their doctors  were completely scared off their hormone therapy by the first wave of published results from the WHI study.  In many cases so scared off that many never came back to review the secondary and tertiary studies that showed the flaws of the study as well as the difference in side effect profiles in terms of route and dose of therapy in all the research that has come out since 2002. So the truth is that although the study definitely provided some useful information it wasn't perfect in analyzing all risks in all groups of women or with all different types of therapy.   Because of this many women still have the perception that hormone replacement therapy of any kind is unsafe and according to many published studies doctors are not typically changing this perception during the office visit if they are even discussing treatment options at all.  

So what's a hot, sweaty, grumpy woman with possibly a dry vagina to do?  First off know that although this too shall pass although it typically doesn't pass quickly.  Depending on what study you go with most women have symptoms from 5-7 years!  Can you just think of how much extra laundry you would have on sheets and nightgowns alone?  So that means that you can't usually just get through this very well without some type of help.   Second, make sure that you bring up what you are going through at your doctor's visit and know that there are both effective hormonal AND non hormonal options that can help you through this period.  If all you get back is a blank stare or the "brush-off" that you can just live through this my advice would be to get a second opinion by someone who specializes in hormonal therapies and menopausal treatment.   If you don't have a provider who lives close to you, don't know where a provider is close to you or you are an international woman suffering from the symptoms of menopause don't give up hope as often these types of specialists can also consult with you online and then work with your local provider to treat your symptoms.  To find out more about scheduling virtual second opinion for menopausal symptoms and treatment please click here.

Looking for a way to keep your skin glowing this summer?

Looking for a way to keep your skin glowing this summer?

Most chemical peels have some type of acid as the active component of the treatment and because of this patients are instructed after a peel to keep cool and keep heat exposure to a minimum for 24 hours after a procedure.  However in the summer it's almost impossible to achieve this goal because as soon as you get in the car after your treatment you are in an instant sauna!

HPV--CAN'T SEE IT, TOUCH IT OR SMELL IT BUT IT'S THERE!

HPV--CAN'T SEE IT, TOUCH IT OR SMELL IT BUT IT'S THERE!

Often in practice I am faced with frantic questions about 1-2 weeks after the annual gynecologic exam and patients are rushing in, sending messages, and calling because they have screened positive for HPV. Often they get their results automatically so of course the next stop is Google and have you ever googled HPV?