Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Most states banning synthetic marijuana!

Today, the City of Chicago's ban on synthetic marijuana takes effect. Businesses that sell the products will face fines and possible loss of their business licenses. This will be followed by a law beginning January 1st that will make selling synthetic pot a felony in Illinois. To date, at least 40 states have banned products that mimic marijuana.

I think that I am out of touch with this whole fad amongst teens. Apparantly, over 10% of high school students have used synthetic marijuana. The number of adverse effects of these products has doubled this year as opposed to 2010 (judging by the number of calls to poison control centers). In fact, synthetic pot follows only traditional marijuana in terms of percentage of use amongst high school students.

What appears to be the main reason for concern about these synthetic drugs is the fact they are "synthetic." Synthetic products are chemically manufactured and the adverse effects are often not immediately recongnized. Reported side effects of synthetic marijuana include convulsions, anxiety attacks, elevated heart rates, vomiting and suicidal thoughts.

To read more about bans on synthetic drugs, follow this link:

If you have any questions regarding this topic, feel free to call our office at (847) 673-6600 or visit us on the web at!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Are marathons dangerous?

A new study has come out about possible adverse effects of training for endurance events, specifically marathons and triathlons. The study showed that training for these events can have an effect on the structure of the heart. This is not the first study to question whether this type of exercise can be bad for the heart. However, most studies in the past showed that, although changed, heart function was not impaired.

The major issue with this study is the small sample size. The study observed 40 participants, using advanced imaging techniques to monitor changes to the heart tissue. While most of the athletes' hearts returned to their normal shape within days of completing the endurance event, 5 participants' hearts remained changed after the final imaging was performed. These 5 individuals had been training for longer than the other participants, leading to a need to investigate further the effects of long-term training (i.e. - participating in many marathons spanning years).

I am often asked by patients whether or not they should train for a marathon. While not trying to discourage them, I feel that most people should not train for these types of events. My reasoning is not due to stress on the heart, but physical stress this type of training places on the body as a whole. Grant it, most of the patients asking me this question have a history of problems that marathon training could worsen!

I feel that people who have been active their entire life and have continually exercised in a cardiovascular nature should be fine training for an endurance event. However, I have seen many cases of the "weekend warrier" deciding to run a marathon and paying for it with some sort of chronic issue. My advice is always to listen to your body and adjust your exercise accordingly!

To read more about this study, follow this link:

If you have any questions regarding this topic, feel free to call our office at (847) 673-6600 or visit us on the web at!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Dr. Oz talks about chiropractic!

Dr. Mehmet Oz ("Dr. Oz") recently had a segment on chiropractic for low back. He referenced a study in which chiropractic was shown to be as effective as pain medication for relief of back pain. He does a good job at describing some of the basic principles of chiropractic in simple terms. This discussion is only a few minutes long and worth a quick watch!

If you have any questions regarding this video, feel free to call our office at (847) 673-6600 or visit us on the web at!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Low-Salt Diet Questioned by New Study

A new study published in the American Journal of Hypertension questions whether low-salt (low-sodium) diets are valid. The study finds that while eating less salt lowers an individuals' blood pressure, it creates a negative effect on both cholesterol and triglycerides. All three of these (blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides) factor into overall heart health. The study suggests that the benefits of establishing a low salt diet are negated by the changes to cholesterol/triglyceride levels.

Specifically, the study found that eating less salt lowered blood pressure levels in individuals with hypertension by 3.5% (and 1% in normal blood pressure participants). However, cholesterol levels rose 2.5% and triglycerides rose 7%.

This is not the first study to suggest that low-salt diets are overrated. Some researchers feel that there is not enough evidence to show that lowering dietary salt intake is beneficial, while others say that we should absolutely lower our consumption of salt. Obviously, more research is needed to find a consensus on this topic.

To read more about this study, follow this link:

If you have any questions regarding this topic, feel free to call our office at (847) 673-6600 or visit us on the web at!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Study shows Weight Watchers rather effective!

According to a new study out of the UK, diet plans such as Weight Watchers and Slimming World are more effective than plans implemented by primary care doctors. The study found that the commercial diet plans led to an average weight loss of approximately 10 lbs through the lifespan of the study, while the doctor-led plans yielded only a 3 lb weight loss.

The plans implemented by doctors included individual counseling on diet and exercise through the doctors themselves as well as nutritionists and nurses. The doctor-led plans are proposed and supported by the National Health Service.

The more effective diet plans (such as Weight Watchers) use weekly meetings and set weight loss goals for members. They are more widely available and considerably cheaper than doctor-led weight loss programs. Perhaps the main reason for success of these plans is the support of other members. Weight loss can be better attainable if a proper support network is available to the individual. Also, groups such as weight watchers tend to teach members proper eating habits and lifelong knowledge about how to select meals.

If you have any questions regarding this topic, feel free to call our office at (847) 673-6600 or visit us on the web at!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

"Freshman 15" - Fact or Myth?

Have you heard of the freshman 15? It is the 15 lbs. that you are guaranteed to gain in the first year of college. It turns out, according to an Ohio State University study, that the dreaded freshman 15 is more fiction than fact! The study found that freshman students gain, on average, between 2.5-3.5 lbs. during their freshman year. In fact, only about 10% of freshman gained 15 lbs. or more during their first year in college.

These results could simply be due to the growing and maturing bodies of 18 year olds. The researchers for the study suggest that college freshman only put on about 1 lb. more than their non-college counterparts. They assert that freshman should not fear putting on extra weight and should allow themselves to partake in normal college activities - such as ordering that late-night pizza!

But what about those who did gain 15 lbs. or more? The researchers stated that heavy alcohol consumption could contribute to the larger weight gains. In addition to many other negative affects, binge drinking leads to massive "empty" calorie intake. These calories can certainly contribute to large amounts of weight gain!

If you have any questions regarding this topic, feel free to call our office at (847) 673-6600 or visit us on the web at!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Is the flu vaccine effective?

This post is not intended to start a debate on whether or not one should be vaccinated for the flu. I think that vaccinations need to be an independent decision. I do encourage patients to educate themselves on both sides of the vaccination debate...that includes vaccinations for children as well as vaccinations for yearly illness (such as the flu).

With that said, a study recently came out about the effectiveness of the flu vaccine. Actually, this was a review of many flu vaccine studies. I think that most people feel that getting the flu vaccine makes the chances of "catching" the flu almost non-existent. Well, it turns out that this is far from the truth. The new data shows that for adults between the ages of 18-65, the flu vaccine is only 59% effective! Personally, this was very surprising to me. There are certainly situations outside of this demographic where the flu vaccine appears to be warranted, but knowing some of the side effects possible with the vaccine, I would stick with keeping my body healthy through proper nutrition and activities if I was in this age range.

I have never gotten the flu vaccine and I feel this has been the right decision for me. With this new information, I would have to think long and hard before getting the flu shot. I feel bad for individuals working in environments (mostly hospitals) who are forced to receive the vaccine in order to continue working. I think that this oversteps bounderies of personal freedom and choice. I only wonder if this new information will make some of these workplaces reconsider their positions.

Again, choosing whether or not to vaccinate is an individual decision. Make sure to educate yourself on every substance that goes into your body. Also, be aware that there is not a magical shot or vaccine that will prevent all disease. You must take care of your body through diet, exercise and peace of mind.

To read more about this study, follow this link:

If you have any questions regarding this topic, feel free to call our office at (847) 673-6600 or visit us on the web at!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

More proof exercise is good for the heart!

Recent findings in Sweden demonstrate that men with higher levels of testosterone had less risk for developing heart disease and/or having a stroke. To be specific, the study showed those in the highest testosterone grouping had 30% less risk for these occurrences.

The question then becomes...How do men keep their testosterone level high as they age? One option is HRT (hormone replacement therapy). HRT in women has been shown to actually lead to more heart disease and strokes. With that said, there is a safe alternative...exercise! Exercise increases lean muscle mass and will keep testosterone levels higher than they would be without it.

I encourage every patient of mine to exercise is some fashion. This doesn't mean they must go to a fitness facility and lift weights. Exercise comes in many forms, from taking brisk walks to pool aerobics to organized sports. The type of exercise often is not important...the act of exercising in some form is very important!

To read more about this study, follow this link:

If you have any questions regarding this topic, feel free to call our office at (847) 673-6600 or visit us on the web at!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Study shows benefits of massage therapy for low back pain

A new study from the Annals of Internal Medicine reveals that massage therapy can be beneficial to chronic low back pain. Study subjects were separated into 3 groups. One group received no massage therapy and were allowed to handle their low back pain with a method of their choosing (sometimes nothing at all). The other two groups received relaxing (Swedish) massage and problem-focused massage therapy.

Both massage groups showed much better post-study results in regards to reduction in low back pain symptoms. Approximately one-third of the massage group participants stated their back pain was either minimal or completely alleviated after the treatment period compared with only a few percent of those in the self-treatment group.

Massage therapy can indeed be extremely beneficial to patients. When used in conjunction with conservative chiropractic care and core strengthening, the benefits are limitless and long-lasting. Another perk is that, in some cases, massage therapy is covered by health insurance.

To read more about this study, follow this link:

If you have any questions regarding the benefits of massage therapy, feel free to call our office at (847) 673-6600 or visit us on the web at!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chronic Pain Abundant Among Americans!

In the past few days, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) came out with a report stating that approximately 116 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. The estimated cost to treatment of their pain is around $600 million per year! That represents about of third of all United States citizens living with pain. That's astonishing!

The recommendations by the IOM actually talk about prevention of disease and pain. This is a very different approach than our current system of disease management. While this is a good first indicator that preventative measures beginning to gain steam, it is a far stretch from where we need to be as a society.

The recommendations are that primary care doctors need to be in charge of managing their patients' pain and specialists should only be referred to in "complex cases." While this sounds like a grand idea, a major problem exists. Medical school and residency for PCPs teach very little about disease prevention in regards to musculoskeletal pain (one of the major contributors to chronic pain). While medical doctors are great at recognizing illness and disease, there is almost no emphasis in allopathic medicine in preventing pain in these types of cases.

As a chiropractor, I am consistantly talking to patients about things they can do to stay healthy and prevent disease. One of the foundations of chiropractic is disease prevention. Unfortunately, I think that placing care of chronic musculoskeletal-driven pain patients in the hands of many PCPs would only result in those patients receiving prescriptions for medications to deal with their pain. While some patients do indeed need medicine, many times they need other forms of care to actually rid themselves of the causitive factors leading to the pain.

I feel that chronic pain generated by issues dealing with the musculoskeletal system, such as back pain, is best managed by physical medicine practitioners. Included in this group would be chiropractors, physical therapists, naprapaths and massage therapists. Once the pain-generating problems are address, these patients can lead a much healthier, pain-free lives.

For more on the IOM report, follow this link:

If you have any questions about this topic, feel free to call our office at (847) 673-6600 or visit us on the web at!

Friday, June 10, 2011

FDA warns about high doses of popular cholesterol medication!

Zocor (also known generically as simvastatin) is a widely used cholesterol-lowering drug. It is part of the statin group of drugs (also including the popular drug Lipitor). These drugs have produced amazing results in lowering bad cholesterol and total cholesterol in patients. With there great success, however, there are shortfalls!

In order to effectively lower cholesterol, statin drugs must affect many processes in the body. Whenever one aspect of the bodies' complex system is disturbed, there are going to be unwanted effects on other parts of the body. Sometimes these negative effects are seen as aches and pains, while often times they are silently occurring.

Statin drugs are notorious for causing the side effect symptoms of muscle fatigue and weakness. Why is this? Basically, statins cause deterioration of the muscle fibers, especially at higher doses. The kidneys then have to process all of the leftovers from this muscle breakdown. This process places a great deal of stress on the kidneys and, at high enough levels, can lead to kidney disease and even kidney failure.

The effect on both the muscles and the kidneys of high-dose simvastatin (80mg) has led the FDA to warn against long-term use of high dosages. Why are patients taking such high doses to begin with? Well, physicians are constantly trying to reduce their patients cholesterol levels to lower and lower levels. At some point, a doctor must say that the level is low enough as to not have such negative side effects on other body parts.

Perhaps a better approach to lowering cholesterol is to actually counsel patients on nutrition and proper diet before prescribing them drugs. If diet changes are not enough, then start the patient on low dose statins. Unfortunately, this approach is much tougher and takes a bigger commitment from both the patient and the doctor. But, I think it's worth the effort!

If you have any questions about your cholesterol levels or health in general, please call us at (847) 673-6600 or visit us at!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Do you know what's in your OTC meds?

People seem to take over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol and Advil like candy. While these medicines are relatively safe for short-term use, many people take them daily with no awareness of the possible side effects.

The most common side effects of these meds deal with damage to the gastrointestinal system, primarily the stomach and liver. Long term use of many of these drugs can cause serious disfunction and/or damage to these organs.

What many people do not realize is that, most of the time, the medicines are merely masking their symptoms and not fixing the cause of their pain/discomfort. Addressing the cause is vital to long-term pain relief!

Additionally, there are many natural herbs and supplements that can be used in place of OTC painkillers. These natural remedies have far fewer and less severe side effects than their pharmaceutical counterparts. For example, willow bark is a natural painkiller that is chemically similar to aspirin. However, willow bark is not digested in the stomach. This leads to a far less likely risk of ulcers.

Be sure to ask your health care provider what alternatives to OTC medications are available to you and make your health a priority!

For more information on this topic, follow this link for an interesting article on peoples' awareness of OTC medications:

For more information on this topic or to schedule an appointment, please call our office at (847) 673-6600 or visit us on the web at!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Zinc may help fight the common cold afterall!

A new review of previous studies on the effectiveness of zinc has been released. The review was performed by the Cochrane Collaboration. The most important part of this review, in their own words, is that "zinc supplementation for at least five months reduces incidence, school absenteeism and prescription of antibiotics for children with the common cold."

In addition to zinc, taking vitamins such as Vitamin C and Vitamin D have been shown to help fight the common cold. Various supplements, such as echinacea and probiotics, can help keep you healthy as well. Some of these will have side effects if taken inappropriately, so make sure to do your homework and talk to your doctor before starting any regiment of vitamins or supplements.

Still, there are some basic strategies that must be followed to ensure your immune system is running efficiently. First, be sure to get consistant sleep. There are some studies that say you need 8 hours of sleep, others state only 6 hours are needed. The important aspect of sleep is getting to bed at roughly the same time and getting up at the same in and day out! Also, diet plays a crucial role in immunity. Make sure to eat fresh foods, particularly fruits and dark green veggies. Stay away from processed and fast foods. These foods will simply stress your immune system, making you more susceptible to viruses. Instead, try to eat lean meats and fresh-water fish. As always, make sure to drink plenty of water!

With flu-season still upon us, be sure to wash your hands frequently and cover your mouth when coughing! These are just a few tips for staying healthy through the cold winter months!

If you would like more information about the zinc review, please follow this link:

If you have any further questions about how to keep yourself healthy this year, please call our office at (847) 673-6600 or visit us on the web at

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Do Your Meds Have Side Effects?

I was talking to my mother the other day about a relative who suffers from chronic heart disease. This relative is on numerous medications for such things as high blood pressure and cholesterol. This is certainly understandable as many prescription medications on the market today have been shown to greatly reduce risks associated with such conditions as heart disease. However, every medication has a price. The price for my relative was unbearable muscle soreness. After consulting his physician, the medication was changed. The surprising fact is that his medication wasn't changed because of the muscle pain, but rather his physician told him that the medication causing his pain may not be very effective at treating heart disease (more on that later).

Most patients who suffer from heart disease are most certainly on a medication to lower cholesterol. The leading class of these drugs are referred to as statin drugs. It is well accepted that statin drugs do a terrific job in lowering LDL levels (bad cholesterol) in individuals. What often is not addressed are the serious side effects that can go along with statin drugs. Besides for muscle pains like my relative experienced, side effects include liver damage, digestive problems and neurological side effects. If a person is aware that these side effects can occur, they will not be caught off-guard when they experience them.

Back to my relative coming off of his statin drug. I researched the particular drug and found that some studies have indicated that it shows no benefit to either lowering cholesterol or preventing heart disease. I simply wonder why this drug is being prescribed at the large amounts it is without proof of its effectiveness? I think that drugs like these that have the potential for serious side effects must be shown without a shadow of doubt to be beneficial to patients. If that benefit cannot be substantiated, then they should be pulled off the market. At the very least, doctors prescribing these drugs should have a high standard for the medications their patients receive.

I am not suggesting to avoid drugs such as statin drugs, but do educate yourself and have a conversation with your doctor. Along with your physician, decide on the appropriate way to treat you condition(s). Sometimes this decision may be to do nothing at all, and that's ok. The general perception is that todays drugs make us healthier and, while many have life-changing benefits, that may not always be the case.

If you have any questions about this topic, please feel free to call our office at (847) 673-6600. As always, check us out at!

Friday, January 7, 2011

DNA test may help predict progression of scoliosis in children

A relatively new test is now available that may help save many children with mild scoliosis unnecesary treatment. The test looks at various genetic markers and can help determine the appropriate treatment. The test is currently being used on 9-13 year old girls with a scoliotic curve of 10-25 degrees. A low score in this test can indicate that further treatment is not needed.

The typically treatment for scoliosis prior to this new test is frequent examinations and x-rays to monitor the progression of the abnormal curve. Patients in the at-risk category are commonly fitted with a brace that is worn nearly all of the time. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to stop curve progression. This new test can help doctors determine which patients should be braced (a socially awkward scenario for growing teens).

In addition to typical medical treatments that focus on limiting the progression of scoliosis but fail to address the symptomatic aspect of the disease, chiropractic treatment for scoliosis can be very benefitial to ensure the proper function of the spinal joints. Scoliotic patients often have various aches and pains caused by the abnormal curve. Chiropractic can help alleviate much of the discomfort caused by scoliosis.

If you would like to read more about the new DNA test, follow this link:

If you have any questions regarding this topic, please contact Healing Hands Wellness & Chiropractic Center at (847) 673-6600 or visit us on the web at!