Dr. Sharman’s Musings

surprising conditions chiropractors treat

Surprising Conditions Chiropractors Treat with Good Results

Sometimes, chiropractors get pigeon-holed to where people think that we are only beneficial in reducing back pain. But did you know that is only a portion of the conditions we treat? In fact, you might be interested to know the surprising conditions chiropractors treat regularly that most people think can only be treated by other types of physicians.

Here are four conditions that I treat regularly – and most chiropractors see as a standard part of their practice.

 

Migraines and tension headaches

Research shows that chiropractic care, including spinal manipulation, is an effective way to treat tension headaches and headaches that begin in the neck. These chiropractic adjustments can improve spinal function and alleviate the stress on your nervous system.

I treat many patients who have chronic headaches. My goal is always to help correct any neuromusculoskeletal sources of a headache (nerves, muscles and bones of the body). When working with a patient, I like to perform a spinal exam to determine if chiropractic care could alleviate the pain. If a headache may be caused or aggravated by any misaligned vertebrae in the spine (subluxation), it could be creating undue nerve interference. Spinal manipulations often can resolve this.

 

Stress and anxiety

Stress comes from three main sources: our environment, our bodies and our emotions. We all have stress…but for some of us, stress along with anxiety are ongoing conditions. For these folks, chiropractic adjustments may help the body manage and process this stress in a healthier way.

With adjustments, I’m able to release muscle tension – one part of chronic stress. In doing so, I can return the body to a more balanced state with alignment and a reduction in the nerve irritation that created the uneven pressures on the bones to start with. Studies show that chiropractic adjustments turn down the sympathetic, or fight or flight part of the nervous system.  Adjustments also improve circulation, which also helps the brain to know to turn off the “fight or flight” response and start the healing process.

Fibromyalgia

Once a rather obscure condition, most of us today know someone suffering from Fibromyalgia (or perhaps we do ourselves). With the cause of this condition still unknown, two percent of the U.S. population have this chronic disorder, involving widespread pain and sensitivity throughout the entire musculoskeletal system.

I am able to use adjustments, along with a soft tissue technique called myofascial release, to help my Fibro patients get some relief. This helps to move out the congestion of inflammatory biproducts in the tissue, release trigger points and breaks up adhesions between the muscle and it’s casing. For my fibromyalgia patients we also give particular focus to turning down inflammatory pathways through nutrition, detoxing the liver, healing the gut, stress management and vitamin protocols.

One patient of mine has gotten relief from not one but two of her conditions (including fibromyalgia!):

“Through my chiropractic care with Dr. Sharman, my fibromyalgia has been so much more manageable. She reduces my muscle pain and uses protocols to reduce inflammation in my tissues. Also, my tension headaches have completely resolved. Before I saw Dr. Sharman, my tension headaches were debilitating. I saw so many different doctors who gave me so many different tests and types of treatments, but nothing worked until I came to Life Care. Dr. Sharman was the only one who was able to help me. It has been years since I have had a tension headache. Now, I enjoy my periodic chiropractic “tune ups” that keep me dancing at 66 years old.” – Gail Leigh

 

Allergies

surprising conditions chiropractors treatAllergies occur when the immune system encounters an irritant and mistakes it as harmful, causing inflammation. The body goes into attack mode with an often aggressive, irritating response. This generates the allergy symptoms that make us feel crummy: itching, sneezing, nausea and sometimes vomiting.

By improving the communication throughout the nervous system including the brain and spinal cord, chiropractic care can help regulate and coordinate the body’s reaction to allergens. A weak immune system can be strengthened by correcting the misalignment in the spine that disrupts the essential pathways between the brain and spine. This can de-amplify allergic responses.

A strong, well-functioning immune system can deal with irritants and take them on BEFORE they can wreak havoc in your body. So keep your spine aligned – and you’ll have taken the first step to a healthier immune system.

 

Other recommendations

Aside from the specific techniques mentioned to address headaches, stress, fibromyalgia and allergies, most chiropractors have a few more “tools” in our toolkit that may not be suggested to a sufferer by their regular physician.

I find that I’m also often recommending:

  • Nutritional supplements and sometimes an entire vitamin protocol
  • Relaxation strategies
  • Techniques for improving your back posture
  • Environmental modifications (ergonomics, especially for the work environment)
  • Exercises to be done at home to keep the improvements going

And the four conditions mentioned in this article are only some of the surprising conditions chiropractors treat with success. If you are struggling with a condition and not getting relief, let us know. We can schedule a consultation and assess if there is more we can do to help you feel your best!

Dr. Sharman

safe insect repellent

Safe insect repellents that work

We’re at the peak of the tick and mosquito season, as our weather is at its warmest this month. And we are about to start the height of flea season. The warming climate is predicted to expand the habitat of ticks and mosquitos. So insect repellent is definitely needed. But which insect repellents are safe and effective?

Many of my patients who know of my caution in using products containing potentially harmful chemicals have asked me to suggest a safe insect repellent that will provide protection. It is important, for starters, to recognize that there is no perfect and completely safe way to prevent insect bites. However, all repellents are not created equal and you do have options for less toxic approaches.

This is what I usually share when I get asked about bug sprays.

 

Which ingredients are safe (and at what levels)

My go-to for any products containing chemical ingredients is the Environmental Working Group or EWG. A couple of months back, I shared my thoughts on sunscreen and much of my recommendations came from the research and advocacy of the EWG.

According to the EWG, DEET (at less than 30%), Picaridin (at 20%) and IR3535 (at less than 20%) are the safest, most effective ingredients. All three are found in insect repellents that live up to extensive EPA regulations with data to back up efficacy and safety claims. Here’s a quick primer on all three ingredients:

 

DEET

This is probably the ingredient you’ve heard of the most. It is rated as very effective in repelling a wide range of mosquitoes, ticks and other bugs. DEET has been used extensively and is a sensible choice for all-day protection. However, it often shows up in repellents at what are considered unsafe levels. DEET has a strong smell, can irritate the eyes and in rare cases can induce neurological damage. The incidents of nervous system damage most often occur after high exposures to DEET. And it’s even been known to melt plastic at these levels!

However, this is why less than 30% concentration is advisable. And really, you can be protected with just 10% for a couple of hours (then reapply). DEET isn’t perfect – but it has a long history of use and minimal safety concerns when used at appropriate levels. The EWG states that it’s a “reasonable choice” when weighed against the consequences of a life-changing disease, with few cases of toxicity in 60 years on the market. But it’s not the only choice you have.

 

Picaridin

Repellents containing picaridin have been shown to be effective against mosquitos and ticks from eight to 14 hours at a 20% concentration. It’s not an ingredient as widely used as DEET, so the number of studies is fewer…but it evaporates from the skin more slowly than both DEET or IR3535 and may repel bugs for longer periods. Other pros include very low inhalation toxicity, virtually no skin irritation and no stinky odor.

I wish Picaridin had more time on the market (it’s quite new) but it is promising. I also like that at very low concentration, this ingredient can provide minimum of five hours of protection. So you may get what you need with a product that has just 5-10%.

 

IR3535

With a long presence on the European market, IR3535 provides similar or slightly less efficacy than DEET or Picaridin against mosquitoes. However, it is twice as effective against deer ticks. At the recommended 20% concentration, you’ll get eight hours of mosquito protection and at least six hours of tick protection. But IR3535 can be very irritating to the eyes.

Otherwise, this could be a good choice but I’d recommend against purchasing brands containing added sunscreen (products using IR3535 often have this). Sunscreens require more frequent application…and combo products would overexpose you to the insect repellent.

 

Do essential oils and botanicals work

In short, they can. However, there is no way to know how effective they are or for how long. In relying on them, you’re likely heading outdoors with a false sense of security that could put you at greater risk than if you were using nothing at all. Repellents that rely on essential oils or botanicals are classified technically as a minimum-risk pesticide – meaning they undergo no significant testing of efficacy. An essential oils/botanical label can say that the substance repels mosquitoes and ticks, but they can’t say it will protect you from Lyme, Zika or any other vector-borne disease.

safe-insect-repellentEssential oils and botanicals mixtures can be made at home or purchased ready-made. They do offer SOME protection to be sure. But they also evaporate more quickly from the skin. You’ll have to apply more frequently, and again, you’ll get zero protection from some specific illnesses.

They can irritate the skin – or you may find that you are allergic to a specific essential oil or botanical. They are never recommended for young children, due to lack of research. The EWG recommends avoiding all botanically-based repellents if you like in a high-risk area for disease or need long-lasting protection except one: Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. Repel and Cutter brands have well-known products with Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus as the active ingredient. But again, the protection time is much shorter than DEET or the other chemicals mentioned earlier.

In light of diseases such as Zika and Lyme, the consequences of ineffective repellents can be severe. It’s important to use one that you know works well. Essential oils have no standardized oversight, such as EPA regulations. You may be taking a chance in using them.

 

How else to repel insects

Thankfully, there are many other tactics for keeping insects at bay aside from what you apply to your body.

For starters, avoid the dusk and dawn in the US, when mosquitoes are the worst. Clear your yard of places where mosquitoes like to breed (particularly any place with standing water). Mosquito netting works well for many spaces such as tents, strollers and on the porch. Always cover up exposed skin as much as possible with long sleeves/pants – and you can spray your clothing rather than your body for some protection. This site had some other ideas you may want to try.

 

I had a patient recently that wore a dog tick/flea collars around his boots. He said it helps prevent ticks and bugs from getting him when he is working outside. I thought this was brilliant! And it would avoid any risk of toxicity because it isn’t touching the skin.

The bottom line is that we all have to protect ourselves, particularly if we are outside for a long time and in an area prone to insect-born illnesses. The good news is that we have safe insect repellents that are effective. We’ve just got to know the facts and choose our protection wisely!

Dr. Sharman

 

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