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A History Worth Telling
The popularity and the use of acupuncture for the treatment of animals in the United States is at its peak.
9 Common Causes of Thyroid Imbalance and How You Can Help
How you sleep, how easily you wake up, and how much energy and stamina you have during the day are directly related to levels of the thyroid hormones.
Peer Points: Always Seeking To Grow
Ellen "Kiki" Geary has spent the last decade honing her craft. As a specialist in integrative holistic care, she went straight from completing her master's degree in acupuncture and chinese herbal medicine from Bastyr University to building a successful and thriving practice in the small community of Anacortes, Washington.
New Medical Technologies You Need to Know
We're all familiar with how fast computers become obsolete, as well as the rapid pace of development in the field of cell phone technology. The latest smart phones are far more powerful than desktop computers were only a few years ago.
News in Brief
National Chiropractic Health Month: Be Proactive; Collegiate Roundup: Academic Appointments at Parker, Logan.
A Vibrating Capsule for Constipation? Relevance to Your Chiropractic Practice
The relationship between gastrointestinal (GI) complaints and back pain is not typically written about or discussed.
Medical Qigong for the Heart: Part III
Part 1 and Part II of this series focused on the physical aspect of the Heart and mental emotional aspects of the Heart respectively. Now, I would like to focus on the spiritual aspect of the Heart.
Building From the Bottom Up
I caught up with my dear friend Honora Wolfe, in her Colorado painting studio where, if she is not praying in Bhutan or doing charitable work in a Nepali free clinic, she spends most of her time now.
Don't Turn a 2 Into a 10
The Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale1 is so useful because it can be used by almost anyone. Patients can use the numbers associated with the faces depicted on the scale or select the face that demonstrates their current level of pain from 0-10.
CCE Finally Takes a "Baby Step" Toward Reform
During a 16-month period from October 2010 to February 2012, I devoted four separate columns to the heavy-handed attempt by the Council on Chiropractic Education to radically change the chiropractic profession through the accreditation process.
Why Young People Need Chiropractic Now More Than Ever
According to a recent study published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, "It is now widely acknowledged that neck pain (NP), mid back pain (MBP), and low back pain (LBP) (spinal pain) start early in life and that the lifetime prevalence increases rapidly during adolescence to reach adult levels at the age of 18."
Waking Up the Gluteus Maximus
In previous articles in this series, we expounded on the importance of the gluteus maximus (GM) in athletic performance and protecting the knee from injury. We also know there is a link between iliotibial band syndrome and GM weakness.
Chiropractic Research in Review
Chiropractic Treatment of Lateral Epicondylitis; Cost / Benefit Analysis: Different Doses of SMT for Low Back Pain; Imaging for Occult Rib and Costal Cartilage Fractures; Treating Neck Pain: Thoracic Thrust Manipulation vs. Non-Thrust Mobilization.
MPA Media Wins 7 Publishing Awards
MPA Media, publisher of Dynamic Chiropractic and DC Practice Insights, among other titles, has been recognized for editorial and design excellence with an unprecedented seven publishing awards by the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE), the nation's largest organization for business-to-business publications.
A Guide for Talking to Doctors about Acupuncture and Brain Chemistry
Before I begin any discussion of how to talk about the effects of acupuncture on brain chemistry, nervous and endocrine function, it is essential to understand just what physicians most need help with.
Pain Underfoot: Metatarsalgia
Foot pain can interfere significantly with normal activities and severely limit participation in sports. Metatarsalgia is foot pain involving the metatarsal bones in the forefoot – the complaint of pain on the bottom of the ball of the foot.
A Chinese Medicine Story: An Interview with Mazin Al-Khafaji
Mazin Al-Khafaji's work has interested me for years. In February 2014, we invited him for the second time to speak at the Southwest Symposium in Austin, Texas.
December, 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 12
What About My Brain?
Staying Mentally Fit
By Sharon Puszko, PhD, LMT
Being a massage therapist, I am aware of how my body sometimes feels, in terms of muscle soreness, fatigue, illness or general aches and pains, since all of these symptoms can affect my ability to work.Recently, after an extended period of traveling in which I became quite sleep deprived, I began to focus on the other aspects of our health: the mental component of it. After all, without our brain functioning properly, none of our muscles would function properly, either. Information on keeping our brain healthy has increased dramatically over the past 10 years, as advances in medical equipment have helped scientists learn more about how this mysterious organ works. Recent research has demonstrated that one's exercise, diet, sleep, and career can impact the health of one's brain. There is also growing consensus in the medical community that certain choices about exercise and diet can impact the likelihood of being challenged with memory problems and Alzheimer's disease.
Sleep On It
A study headed up by Matthew Walker, PhD, director of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab at the University of California, Berkeley, examined how sleep, specifically, REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, impacts our ability to read emotions in other people's faces. In the study, recently reported in Time magazine, 36 adult volunteers were asked to interpret the facial expressions of people in photographs, following either a 60-minute nap, 90-minute nap or no nap at all. Participants who had reached REM sleep (when vivid dreaming mostly occur) during their nap were better able to identify expressions of positive emotions like happiness in other people than participants who did not achieve REM sleep or did not nap at all. In fact, those volunteers who did not experience REM sleep, were more sensitive to negative expressions such as anger and fear.
According to Walker, dreaming (REM sleep) allows the brain to sift through that day's events, process any negative emotion attached to them, then strip it away from the memories: "(REM sleep) tries to ameliorate the sharp emotional chips and dents that life gives you along the way." Walker continues, "Sleep not only rights the wrong of prolonged wakefulness but, at a neurocognitive level, it moves you beyond where you were before you took a nap."1
So, what does all this mean to you? Our success as massage therapists largely depends on our ability to perceive and connect with our client's emotional state during a massage. If a client does not feel a "connection" with his therapist, he is less likely to benefit from the massage, and less likely to return to that therapist. Likewise, the more connection a client feels with his therapist, the more likely he is to become a repeat client, and the more likely he is to recommend massage to someone else. Therefore, going to bed one hour earlier, or taking a quick nap during the day really can have an impact on the success of your business.
We all know the importance of exercise for maintaining a healthy weight and healthy heart, increasing the longevity of life and improving the quality of sleep. It now appears that exercise also effects the brain, in particular the regions that relate to Alzheimer's. In August 2010, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign published findings from research led by Dr. Art Kramer at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. The research team was interested in examining the effect of exercise on neural connectivity between regions of the brain that function together in a kind of "network". For example, the default mode network (DMN) is responsible for people passively engaging with their environment, such as day-dreaming. The DMN and other similar networks seem to lose activity with age, and Kramer's research has shown that the brains of people with Alzheimer's, schizophrenia, and older adults struggle to control the DMN. This study demonstrated that just moderate exercise (40 minutes a day, three times per week), can increase connectivity in the DMN, which aids with planning, strategizing and multitasking.2
It is beginning to seem like the benefits of exercise are endless! While some are vigilant about exercising regularly, others are easily bored by it. For those of you who aren't fans of working out in the traditional manner, there are plenty alternative activities that will not only exercise your body, but ALSO your brain! The following are some great activities (found in a recent article "Everyday Ways to Stay Sharp"):
To Read or Not to Read?
That is the question. There seems to be good reason our educators thrust British Literature upon us in high school. We have known for a long time that reading keeps the brain active and encourages good writing skills. However, we now know that reading Shakespeare has a particular effect on the brain that goes beyond the normal benefits. New studies link Shakespeare's linguistic technique known as "functional shift" (e.g. using a noun to serve as a verb) with positive brain stimulation. This process causes a sudden peak in brain activity and forces the brain to work differently in order to fully understand what Shakespeare is trying to say.
According to Philip Davis, an English professor at the University of Liverpool, "The brain reacts to reading a phrase such as 'he godded me' from the tragedy of Coriolanus, in a similar way to putting a jigsaw puzzle together. If it is easy to see which pieces slot together you become bored of the game, but if the pieces don't appear to fit, when we know they should, the brain becomes excited."4
With that information in mind, I would recommend inquiring at your public library about any Shakespeare book clubs. If you have the financial means, and a community college nearby, you could consider taking a literature class on Shakespeare. OMG, there is so much I can do to work on my brain! There are many more things one can do to keep the brain healthy and active: switch hands when writing or play sports, do crossword puzzles, eat well, journal, and just play.
We have just recently begun to understand the relationship between our external environment and its effect on the brain. It is an exciting area of study, especially when thinking about the connection between wellness and brain function. I look forward to learning more about the link between massage and brain function, and the possibilities it will lead to in our profession.
Sharon Puszko is the owner/director/educator for Day-Break Geriatric Massage Institute. She may be contacted at
or through her Web site: www.daybreak-massage.com.
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