RYH Episode 20: How Do I Deal With Illness In My Family?

Despite being 13 and 17 years old respectively, neither of my sons have ever taken any medication. The only support they’ve had from pharmaceuticals is when dealing with broken bones and pain management. If they have colds, congestion or any other common illness, my approach since they were born, was to let the body handle it naturally. I have the support of an amazing health team, including a great physician and a naturopath who have always been there for advice, and thankfully, believe in the power of the body to heal itself. To find out how we’ve done it, tune into today’s show.

For more information on how to handle illness naturally, check out this blog post, and this one too.

RYH Episode 19: Listen to Your Body

Your body is always talking to you; constantly sending you messages about how it’s performing or how it’s feeling. A lot of people relate symptoms to sickness but more often than not, once you deepen your ability to tune into your body’s messages, it will tell you about hidden sources of inflammation that have not yet begun to show up as symptoms. Your health is about so much more than how you feel, and on today’s episode, we go over how to team up with your body for better health.

For more on the benefits of listening to the body, check out this blog post.

Child receiving chiropractic adjustment

Why I Love Seeing Children

Second to being in the womb, the first year of a child’s life is a period of intense growth. At birth the spine is 20cm, within 24m will grow to 45cm. The entire spine doubles in the first year! The first 12 months of life are also crucial for spinal curve development, and 65% of neurological development occurs in the first year.

Given these rapid changes, the vertebrae are especially susceptible to changing shape in response to pressure by slowing bone growth. Spinal misalignments will causes asymmetrical growth, and tension on nerve system means less ability for growth and development.

This then leads to changes in the health of these sweet little ones. Infants may develop symptoms such as:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Reflux, or spitting up
  • Irritability, or colic
  • Difficulty nursing (impaired sucking, head turning, swallowing)
  • Sleeping difficulty
  • Balance issues
  • Delayed developmental milestones

For most parents I meet with, spinal care for their child has not been something they have given much thought to, in fact many adults are the same! But once they observe the gentle care their child receives, and the profound changes in their overall wellbeing, it’s quite easy for them to continue to see the benefits of chiropractic care for their growing family.

I love watching these children grow strong, straight, how they recover more easily from injuries, and get sick less.

What’s even more fun is that when they are not feeling well, or observe something unusual with their body, they ask to see me first!

These children are growing up learning that a healthy body needs good food, exercise, sleep, love, and Chiropractic, and that if something is wrong we can look to figure out what’s wrong rather than just pop a pill or suppress their symptoms, and THAT is what I love the most 🙂

Disclaimer: Chiropractic care supports overall health, but is not a cure or treatment for trouble breathing, reflux or spitting up, irritability, colic, difficulty nursing, balance issues or delayed development. 

Ice Or Heat? What’s Best?

The best answer to this common question is “It depends on your injury”.  

Inflammation is part of the body’s natural healing response and is actually a positive reaction. With any injury, tissues are damaged, and your body adapts by sending more blood to the injury site. With this increased blood supply, inflammatory cells such as leukocytes and macrophages get to work releasing proteins which clean up and heal the injured site. The area is tender and sore, (which is a reminder for you to be gentle using it!) but your body is effectively trying to repair the damaged area. Keep in mind though, inflammation and pain is your body’s way of telling you to stop and take action. The purpose of inflammation needs to be respected because essentially it is a protective response from the body to prevent you from doing further damage to yourself.

When you apply ice to an injury, the blood vessels constrict, temporarily limiting the blood flow to the injured site. The cold temperature inhibits the pain response, so although ice can often provided some pain relief, it can also delay healing.

When you apply heat to an area, the blood flow increases which can help deliver more oxygen and nutrients to a more chronic problem and support healing. However, for this reason, too much heat can also contribute to further inflammation. Applying heat can help with muscle aches, pains and general stiffness but should never be applied to a new injury or an area that is painful or swollen

So what should you do?

Again, it depends on the injury. If you have a new injury such as a strain or sprain, and you feel you need some pain relief, applying an ice pack is a good option to provide temporary relief (certainly what I recommend more than taking a muscle relaxant or ibuprofen) and it will help the healing process.

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Choose a chemical ice pack, bag of frozen vegetables, ziploc bag with ice cubes in it, and protect your skin by placing clothing or towel between you and the pack
  • 10min on/10min off cycles throughout the day (NOT consistently, your body needs breaks to effectively use the therapeutic benefits. When you apply ice to the injured area you will either feel relief or mild discomfort due to the cold. Often the sensations you feel with icing is pain-tingling-numbness. Once the ice is removed at the 10 minute mark, the area should be numb. The body will then react to re-warm the area with gentle blood flow to supply the tissues with oxygen and nutrients. This reaction will not occur if the ice is left on too long.
  • Ideally ice should be applied as soon as possible after injury, and in cycles for the first 72 hours of acute trauma.

Remember, the body knows best! As far as healing goes it’s best to let inflammation run its course.   This will take time, perhaps even longer than you would like, but ultimately you will be rewarded with improved and more complete recovery.

Forget Resolutions, Why Not Set a WORD instead?

Anytime is a great time for making changes in your life, but there is something special about the start of a new year. Whether you feel you need to make some drastic changes, take a few small steps in a new direction, or simply get back into an established routine, commit to doing something  this month to live a better life. I’ve never found resolutions work, and I stopped setting them years ago. Instead, I love this concept and have been implementing consistently. Maybe this year you might want to give it a try!

Think about your aspirations – what do you want for the year ahead? Is there an overriding theme that comes to mind for you? Can you sum up your intentions in a single word? I bet you can.

A great word can set the tone for your actions and keep you focused.  A word can also serve as a reminder of what’s important when everyday  ‘life stuff’ frustrates us. For example, when my sons were young and I wasn’t in practice, my word was “Nurture”.  It reminded me of my focus on raising my sons and looking after myself.  It allowed me to accept that my career aspirations would be fulfilled at a later date, and that the little boys in my kitchen were simply more important for the time being. In other years the words “Grow”, “Balance” and “Focus” have worked well for me.

A great word sets your intention and will help manifest the people, places,  opportunities (and challenges!) to help you achieve your goals.  A good friend recently shared her story of using theme words during the past few years. “Abundance” was her focus at one time and she grew her business substantially. “Love” was her focus another year, and she met the man she married.  Metaphysics aside, what you focus on tends to happen!  The simple act of awareness can powerfully  keep you oriented towards actions that support your goals, and make you more likely to attract success.

Your ‘word’ might come to mind easily.  You may already have one that has been running through your thoughts repetitively, especially if you have set resolutions or goals for yourself. If not, carve out some time in your week to think about it. Sit quietly and reflect.   Journal if it helps you sort out your thoughts, or, on a blank sheet of paper simply write down words that depict your hopes and dreams for the year ahead. Something will pop out at you, or you may notice a pattern in the words you write down. Don’t over-think it!

Friends, colleagues, and people in my practice have shared their words with me for added support and accountability. Here’s some of their theme words to get you started:  Relate, Believe, Focus, Simplify, Build, Mindful, Refresh, Rejuvenate, and Fun.

Once you have your ‘word’ write it down where you can see it regularly. Use it as a password so you have to consciously think about it many times a day. Place post-it notes all over your home if you need to. Get creative and do what works for you – and share your ideas! I’ll tell you my word!

One word is easy to remember. Pick one for yourself and let it shape the months to come.

Set an intention for what you want 2017 to mean to you, choose a word to define it, make deliberate choices and take action! I’m here to help if you get stuck 😉

~ Dr Melissa

What’s Your Intention This Holiday Season?

id-10065565Set an intention.

But first, be realistic and consider:

What’s happening in your life these days? Where are your children or extended family in the current stage of their lives? Given their ages and interests, what do you want the holidays to look like for you?

Every year our lives are a little different, and it’s important to change our expectations accordingly.

Maybe you have a holiday planned, maybe there is someone in your family who having a tough time, maybe your grieving a loved one? Maybe there has been a change in your home or work life somehow?  Maybe your finances are more strained than usual?Depending on your reflection on these areas of your life and the people in it, you might want to adjust your plans and celebrate a little differently this year.

Decide what you want the holidays to mean, what your priorities are, and how you want feel? And then I want you to write it down.

Choose 3-5 words or perhaps write a brief statement or sentence, then put it somewhere you can see it. You can get creative with this! Make it look pretty or decorative if you like, but what really matters is that you will see it and be reminded of what you wrote. Whether you post it on your fridge, put it on your phone, or write it in a journal that you will look at every day, this is the most important step!

When you have an intention to refer to, it will help you make solid decisions about how you spend your time and money this holiday season. You’ll feel better about your choices because they will be more realistic with your current lifestyle, and this will ease your mind, and help you find more JOY (and less stress) holiday season.

Clear It Out With Chiropractic!

id-10090288I never knew once in practice I would get so many email, calls and texts from happy mothers who report that after their child’s adjustment their bowels were working better! We all know how uncomfortable constipation, diarrhea or any gastro intestinal dysfunction can be. There can me many causes of these ailments, such as food sensitivities, dehydration, stress, food poisoning…lack of movement within the spine and nervous system!

Chiropractic isn’t a ‘cure’ for anything, but rather a way to support the body so that it can heal from within. When there are misalignments in the spine (subluxation), particularly in the lower spine where the nerves branch off the spinal cord and supply energy to the digestive organs, it will lead to dysfunction. When we restore proper joint movement through a chiropractic spinal adjustment, this also relieves tension within the nerves and allows them to function the way they were designed to. The colon works better, the heart works better, the lungs work better, your legs work better, and so does your brain, reproductive system and virtually every other part of your body!

If you’re struggling with digestive system complaints it’s time to take a look at the cause and start restoring proper function to your whole digestive tract. Chiropractic care will remove any structural imbalance, and then we can work at examining your diet, stress levels and making some other adjustments to your lifestyle so that your body can heal from the inside out.

 

A Wall Of Gratitude

img_2842We’ll celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend and are reminded to offer thanks for the ‘bounty’ in our lives; to reflect on the many blessings, and plant seeds for future prosperity.  Every year I encourage people in the practice to share something they are grateful for on our ‘wall of gratitude’ and it’s such a beautiful thing. It becomes so much more than just the act of writing the gratitude note, because when others read all the notes on the wall, they laugh, share a sentiment, and leave with a smile on their face.

Let’s remember that this holiday is not the only time we should be practicing gratitude.  It’s good for your health and something to be done on a daily basis!

Research shows the feelings associated with gratitude, appreciation, love and caring enhance health. When you find one thing, however small, to be thankful for and hold that feeling for as little as 15-20 seconds, many subtle and beneficial physiological changes take place inside you:

~ Levels of stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin decrease, supporting many organ systems and boosting your immune system

~ Coronary arteries relax, increasing the blood supply to your heart. Heart rhythms become more harmonious, affecting other organs and lifting your mood

~ Breathing becomes deeper, increasing the oxygen level of your tissues

People who regularly practice gratitude report higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy when compared to those who do not.

“A Man becomes what he thinks about all day long.”~ Ralph Waldo Emmerson

What you dwell upon expands. If you focus on what you don’t have, that’s all you will see. Focusing your thoughts on victories instead of defeats will help you develop an attitude of gratitude and a greater sense of self-worth.

Make gratitude part of your life by adopting more thankful thoughts or making the time to write them down. A powerful exercise is the use of gratitude journal to reflect on day-to-day success, or simply take a few minutes to think of 5 things you are grateful for in your life.  My sons and I do this at dinner every night. They aren’t always so eager to comply, but I won’t let them eat until they each share at least 3 things they are grateful for so that usually gets the conversation started!

Before you exit this post, right now, take a couple deep breaths and think of 5 things you are grateful for. Once you start thinking about it, a funny thing happens, often you won’t stop at just 5….

What Do Chiropractors Do When Our Children Are Sick?

It’s highly unlikely we’ll give them any medication or rush them to a walk-in clinic. Instead, we honour the innate wisdom of the body and it’s power to heal from the inside-out.

Each illness a child experiences helps to strengthen and enhance their natural immunity. Rather than suppress their symptoms we encourage the immune system to process the bacteria or virus as effectively as possible by supporting cellular function.

My sons are 12 and 8 years old, and have never had any medication whatsoever. Do they get sick sometimes? Of course they do, but at a much lower frequency than many of their peers. They eat really well, get plenty of rest, are active, happy, and get adjusted regularly!

When they get a cough, cold or some congestion, this is what I do:

– Adjustments to correct spinal subluxations to remove nerve interference (daily).

– Encourage added sleep and rest.

– Keep them home from school until they have no fever and their energy is back.

– Supplementation with vitamin C, vitamin D, and a high quality multi vitamin.

– Eliminate all refined sugars and dairy products from their diet, keep foods simple and nourishing.

– Offer increased fluids, nutrient-dense smoothies, and warm herbal teas.

– Mix some olive oil with a few drops of the essential oils of tea tree and eucalyptus, rub into their chest and under their collar bones to encourage drainage of the lymph glands in those regions.

– Offer natural raw honey to soothe the throat.

– Have them gargle with salt water (1/4 tsp sea salt with 1/2 cup water) to flush bacteria out of the mouth and to ease discomfort in the throat.

– Offer lots of love, comfort, and reassurance!

I’ve also found that illness is always a great teaching moment with them. Helping them understand how their bodies work, what is happening when they have a fever, and are coughing/sneezing, and what their body needs to feel and function well is a lesson that everyone needs!

This approach has never failed us, and I am confident that their developing brains and bodies are stronger for it.  Next time your children are ill, consider supporting their body naturally, and working with health professionals who can help you along the way.

Disclaimer: Chiropractic care supports overall health and healing, but is not a cure or treatment for illness in children.

It Changed My Life

2014-10-11 042I was studying Kinesiology at McMaster University when I experienced a shoulder injury. As it worsened and I developed numbness and tingling in my hand, my mother suggested I see a Chiropractor. While sitting with my Chiropractor during the consultation, she joked with me that with my extensive knowledge in anatomy and physiology, I should consider studying at the Chiropractic College in Toronto. It was a moment that defined the rest of my life. I don’t know what prompted my reply, but for some reason I responded with “Sure I’ll apply!”  Something inside me said ‘this makes sense’.

With chiropractic care my shoulder injury healed quickly, but the effects on the rest of my body were profound. I stopped getting sick!

Although I was intensely involved in health and fitness, my life experiences had led me to believe that illness and living with aches and pains was just part of life. The routine use of antibiotics or medications to respond to health challenges was to be expected, and simply the way our health was managed. I believed the body was meant to break down, and the combination of genetics and luck were the determinants to the level of health we experienced.

Fortunately, Chiropractic care changed not only my entire health, but more importantly, it changed my entire perspective on health. My studies led me to understand the human body in a completely different way, and discover that the human body is in fact a brilliant machine that just needs the right environment to function properly. Giving our bodies what it needs physically and emotionally shapes our internal ‘environment’, and when we do so, we can heal.

I now enjoy an exceptional level of health. I have not taken a medication in over 15 years, have had 2 beautiful pregnancies and natural deliveries, and continue to feel and function well. This doesn’t mean that my health has not been challenged at times, or that I am superhuman! I need to take care of myself the same ways I encourage others to, and during times of transition or stress I too can get overburdened and worn down. The difference lies in my recovery, the choices I make to support myself, and the fact that I have a great team of health professionals to support me along the way.

I see my Chiropractor for spinal checkups weekly, every other week, or sometimes multiple times per week, depending on the level of mental and physical demands on my body.

My experience with chiropractic continues to dramatically shape how I support my own body, my children’s, and what I am able to recommend to others. It’s a philosophy that just makes sense to me. More than just a ‘treatment’, Chiropractic represents a distinct philosophy and approach to health: Health comes from within the body, not from things outside the body. Look to the cause of health challenges rather than just patch them up, and support the body to work the way it was designed to.