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Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
The Dietary Supplement Research Dilemma
I do not care what the truth is, one way or another; I just want to know it. And when it comes to dietary supplements, the truth can be hard to find for a number of reasons.
TCM Congress in Rothenburg is Largest in Western World
In the medieval town of Rothenburg, deep set within the Bavarian countryside in Southern Germany, the TCM Kongress Rothenburg each year draws around 1.200 participants from more than 40 different countries to attend the biggest TCM conference in the Western world.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
An Excerpt from TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics
This excerpt is reprinted with permission from Jamie Wu. TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics was released in 2014 by People's Medical Publishing House.
A Well-Kept Secret: 5 Element Acupuncture, Part II
Supervising acupuncture interns at a TCM college, it has always struck me how funny it is to hear the clinic manager tell the patients that the Five Element clinic specializes in treating emotions, as if patients with physical pain have no emotions!
The Way We Are Designed: A Conversation with Gil Hedley, PhD
I was first introduced to the work of Gil Hedley by Tom DiFerdinando. He gifted me Gil's DVD series.
Converting More Patients to Your Practice
In 2013 and 2014, the theme was "the money is in the list." This meant that if you had a big email list, you were really making some "cha-ching." Unfortunately, having thousands of emails doesn't equate to thousands of dollars in profit.
Recreational Cannabis Use and TCM
Many people are drawn to cannabis for its effects physically, mentally and emotionally. Medically, cannabis has some legitimate uses, however the scope of this article is limited to the recreational use of cannabis.
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
Treating Beyond Pain
More often than not, when a patient presents to the office, it is for a pain complaint. Headache, neck pain, low back pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel... The pain is often the focus of the patient's mindset, and they don't often have any thought of what comes after the pain.
There Really is No Room for Sexism
Recently, Matteo* (a transgender male) approached me during a break in an advanced shiatsu class in Berlin where he was one of two men in a group of 20 women. "Pamela. Don't forget to remind the translator to include male endings."
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
Will You Be an Amplifer or a Mute?
These times are changing, and changing quickly. There have been many challenges to this profession throughout the past few years. The challenge is to talk, then talk and talk some more about this medicine.
Synergy Doesn't Happen in Silos: Acupuncture in Hospitals and Other Healthcare Settings
As acupuncture and traditional East Asian medicine continue to intersect and integrate with biomedical approaches, the conversation about integration expands and becomes richer.
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
The Need for a New Medical Model: A Challenge for Biopsychosocial and Ecopsychologica Medicine
Chinese medicine speaks of alignment between humans, heaven and earth. It is a complex view with a focus upon relationship. These are comprehensive ideas with no specific terms in contemporary medical practice.
February, 2005, Vol. 05, Issue 02
An Obscure Side-Effect of Obesity
By John Upledger, DO, OMM
The sad passing in December of future NFL hall-of-famer Reggie White illuminates an obscure side-effect of obesity that also gives us some fascinating insight into the human body. White, who died at 43, topped out at weights exceeding 290 in the course of his career.While the results of his death weren't conclusive at the time of this writing, the coroner cited sleep apnea as having played a possible role.
Not to be confused with central sleep apnea secondary to brain dysfunction, White's type of sleep apnea is most common among men of large body mass. Like snoring, this sleep apnea is often secondary to the fatty enlargement of tissues in the nasal air passages at the back and upper areas of the throat. These patterns are generally characterized by gasping inhalations followed by long pauses during which there is little or no exchange of air via the airways into the bronchi and lungs.
Let's dig into the subject a little deeper and see what's behind all this. Involuntary respiration is controlled by nerve cells/neurons in the medulla oblongata located in the skull just above the upper end of the spinal cord. These nerve cells get their instructions from the pons, which is higher in the brain. The pons gets its information from several other brain centers then sorts out all the little details to develop regulations for breathing. I suspect some of the pons' incoming messages originate in the fat-enlarged tissues of the nose and mouth airways. These messages may then cause the pons to periodically hold back normal rhythmical inhalations.
Taken to the extreme, respiratory arrhythmias secondary to abnormally fatty tissues can take sleep apnea to the point that increased back pressure in the lungs can produce some degree of right-sided heart failure. The result is cyanosis, a bluish discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes that first appears in nail beds and lips. The discoloration comes from a reduced level of oxygen in the blood secondary to the compromised breathing that began with snoring and sleep apnea.
Now let's look at a molecule called "nitric oxide" (NO). This gaseous substance is attracted to lipid (fat) molecules. It is moderately reactive compared to inert gases such as helium, neon and argon, which do not react with other atoms, ions or molecules. What nitric oxide does within our bodies is remarkable. It has a great deal to do with the flow of blood through our vascular systems. With every heartbeat, a puff of nitric oxide gas is released from the endothelial cells where a great deal of it is stored. Endothelial cells line all our blood vessels, including arteries, veins, arterioles, venules and capillaries. So nitric oxide is released in some amount in every blood vessel.
The process by which nitric oxide causes blood vessel relaxation and dilation is somewhat complicated. It goes something like this: The puff of nitric oxide that's released from the endothelial cells of the blood vessels goes directly to the red blood cells (RBCs) where the nitric oxide molecules become attached to hemoglobin (Hb). The nitric oxide remains attached to the hemoglobin as assessments are made regarding how much oxygen is available to the body for its cellular needs.
Low oxygen levels cause more nitric oxide to be released from the hemoglobin. Higher oxygen levels cause hemoglobin to retain a higher percentage of nitric oxide. That makes good sense. When oxygen is low, nitric oxide causes blood vessels to dilate and deliver more blood to the tissues to increase the amount of oxygen getting to the cells. Incidentally, as cells take in available oxygen, most of it goes to intracellular mitochondria. There are thousands of mitochondrial organelles in the cytoplasm of each cell. The mitochondria make the energy that's required by every cell.
Back to our nitric oxide molecule travels. As nitric oxide is released by the hemoglobin, it emerges from the RBC after combining with the amino acid "cysteine" to form S-nitrosothial. In this form, nitric oxide will not be reattached by the hemoglobin as it travels through RBC cytoplasm. The nitric oxide is ushered out of the cell by specific proteins attached to the RBC membrane. It then enters the blood serum and the endothelial cells where the molecules are stored as nitric oxide. When it's time for the blood vessel to dilate, the nitric oxide goes to the smooth muscles in the blood vessel walls and causes the muscles to relax. This relaxation allows the blood vessels to dilate and pass more blood at a lowered blood pressure.
What does all this have to do with obesity? It was recently discovered that our paranasal sinuses produce a lot of nitric oxide. When nitric oxide is inhaled through the nasal airway, it gets into the lungs and increases the amount of oxygen that gets into the blood that is circulating through the lungs. The clearer the nasal passages, the more nitric oxide will be inhaled into the lung tissue. Hence, the more efficiently the oxygen will be absorbed via the lungs into the body vasculature, which then delivers the oxygen to all body cells.
Obesity often causes sleep apnea and snoring, which indicates a blockage of nasal airways. The nitric oxide delivery to the lungs then is reduced, as is oxygen absorbed through the lungs. Lowered oxygen levels in the body signal that the tissues need more blood to supply the oxygen. The physiological response is to raise the blood pressure to increase blood flow and improve oxygen supplies to tissues. Hence, high blood pressure occurs because nitric oxide isn't getting into the lungs effectively.
Hopefully, the passing of Reggie White will wake others up to a lesser-known but potentially deadly side effect of obesity.
Click here for previous articles by John Upledger, DO, OMM.
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