Re-train your Brain with Meditation

Recent studies have actually shown that you are able to re-train and re-wire your brain. This phenomenon is known as neuroplasticity. Pathways and patterns within your brain will actually change.  What will actually make these alterations you ask? Our own thoughts and perceptions actually have the power to do this. Simply put, positive thinking and optimism can actually mold your brain. Meditation has been proven to have these effects.

Meditation has also been shown to lower cortisol levels and stress. The Department of Medicine at Johns Hopkins released a report stating that meditation can help with:

  • reducing pain
  • improve sleep quality
  • reduce headaches
  • lower risk of obesity
  • lower inlammation
  • treating mental disorders like depression
  • boost productivity
  • improving memory

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Often, those suffering from depression will get fixated on negative thoughts. One negative event can spur a vicious cycle of negativity. Meditation aids in focusing on the facts of a situation and will separate old beliefs from those facts. This will help to decrease overall psychological stress.

Chronic pain is often tied to emotional stresses. While pain itself is not fun to deal with, added negative emotions will make the pain so much worse.  Through meditation, you can alter these thoughts and change the patterns related to the pain.

Stress has been shown to produce hormones and immune factors that promote the retention of fat as well as emotional eating. Guided meditation and mindfulness can combat these cravings and lower the hormone levels. 86% of reviewed studies showed improvements in eating behaviors after meditation.

Those suffering from insomnia can also greatly benefit from meditation. It is a great way to turn your brain off at night right before bed. Many cannot fall asleep due to replaying the days events or worrying about their day tomorrow. Through meditation, you can turn down these thoughts and relax.

If you’re new to meditation, finding some guided meditation will probably be easiest. I use an app called Buddhify. A youtube channel called Boho Beautiful is also a great guided meditation. You only need to do it for about 5 minutes a day to start and it’s super simple. If you struggle from any of the conditions above or are just curious, give it a try!

Dr. Meghan

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How Subluxations Affect Your Body

Our bodies respond to three types of stress – physical, chemical, and emotional. Physical stresses can include car accidents, falls, or simply stepping off a curb wrong. Chemical stresses may be eating pro-inflammatory foods, long rounds of antibiotics, or being exposed to allergens. Emotional stresses can come from many different sources. These can be anything from stress at work to a family member passing away.

When these constant stressors are placed on our lives, our bodies respond to them. In our spine, these show up as subluxations. Subluxation is just a big word for a misalignment or segment in your spine that is not moving as it should.  When left there, over time the subluxation will start to cause inflammation. Inflammation in turn is going to start to affect the nerves in that area and create some interference with the signal it’s trying to put out. The longer these subluxations remain under the surface, the more damage they cause. Over time they manifest and make themselves known through various symptoms. These can be things like low back pain, headaches, sinus congestion, digestive issues, and hormone imbalances.

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If left long enough, these subluxations can also lead to degeneration and decay within the spine. In a way, subluxations are very similar to cavities you get in your teeth. They eat away at surrounding tissues. This means that the normal curves are lost from the spine, the disc thins, and the vertebrae begin to collapse.

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The good news is, chiropractic adjustments help to remove these subluxations and aid your body in returning to its proper function. Chiropractic adjustments are much like regular teeth cleanings at the dentist. We locate the subluxations (aka cavities) and remove them. Now your brain can properly talk with all of your organs and tissues again and the ability for it to heal itself is restored.

Dr. Meghan

Omega 3 Fatty Acids – What are They and Why Do I Need Them?

Foods-rich-in-omega-3-fatty-acidsOmega 3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that our body needs to function.  Unfortunately, our bodies cannot make them ourselves so we have to get them from outside sources.  The benefits of omegas are numerous but they are most known for their anti-inflammatory properties. They also play a very crucial role in nervous system development and brain function. Omega 3 fatty acids have also been shown to improve heart health and lower the risk of heart disease.

While these fatty acids are so vital for our health, many Americans are deficient in them.  Symptoms of omega 3 fatty acid deficiency include poor memory, fatigue, dry skin, heart problems, and joint pain. The typical American diet is often high in omega 6 fatty acids and low in omega 3’s. Omega 6 fatty acids are found in things like grains, eggs, and grain-fed livestock. These fatty acids will actually promote inflammation within the body. Ideally, you want to have a 2:1 ratio of omega 6 fatty acids to omega 3 fatty acids. Most Americans linger around a 20:1 ratio.

The great news is, there are tons of healthy and nutritious sources of omega 3’s. The following are just a few:

  • Salmon
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Flaxseed
  • Chia Seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Tuna
  • Grass-fed dairy

Using supplementation to improve your omega 3 levels is always great as well! This way you know your body is absorbing the proper amounts it needs.

Dr. Meghan

Top 10 Benefits of Acupuncture

Acupuncture has numerous benefits and it’s impossible to count all the conditions it can help with.  The following are just a few of them!

1. Insomnia

Regular acupuncture treatments have been shown to improve sleep quality and length up to 3+ more hours a night

2. Balanced Mood

Acupuncture will calm the sympathetic nervous system by releasing endorphins and neurotransmitters that control our stress levels. Our sympathetic nervous system is in charge of releasing our adrenaline and is our “fight or flight” nervous system.  There are about 40 million Americans suffering from anxiety and about 17.5 million suffering from depression. Many have found a significant reduction in symptoms with acupuncture treatments.

3. Improved Immune System

Certain acupuncture points will actually trigger your body to release immune cells. These cells are responsible for seeking out infections and foreign invaders. Studies have actually shown that acupuncture treatments improved cell counts in those with HIV/AIDS.

4.Chronic Pain Management

Many people suffer from chronic pain that they are just left to manage it. Acupuncture can actually double the chances of experiencing relief from this pain whether it be low back pain, neck pain, or migraines.

5.Reduced Stress

I’m sure most of you would say that you deal with quite a bit of stress from day to day. 1 in 5 Americans report that they experience “extreme” stress. These constant stressors have actually been liked to causing 60% of illnesses and disease. Treatments with acupuncture can help to relieve a lot of this stress and even lower stress-induced high blood pressure.

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6.Hormone Balance

Hormone imbalance is becoming more prevalent. Women reaching menopause in particular can suffer from extreme symptoms. Specific acupuncture points will target the reproductive organs to regulate hormones and increase blood flow to them. Acupuncture is also very effective in supporting the process of IVF and conception.

7. Acid Reflux relief 

About 60% of adults suffer from some sort of gastric reflux disease. Regular sessions of acupuncture has been shown to reduce the reflux and relieve patients of its symptoms.

8. Allergy Reduction

Studies have shown that 2 acupuncture sessions a week for 6 weeks will help to reduce and manage allergy symptoms.

9. Weight Management

Many don’t know that acupuncture can actually help with cravings. By treating certain points, these cravings can be reduced and help you lose weight and keep it off.

10. Back Pain Relief

33% of people with low back pain saw an improvement with regular acupuncture treatments. Many cases of low back pain are related to tight and spasming muscles. Acupuncture can help to reduce that tension and relax the muscles.

If you suffer from any of these things or are just curious about acupuncture, give our office a call! (515)278-9678

Dr. Meghan

How Adjustments can Affect your Immune System

It’s that time of year when everyone’s allergies are hitting them in full force.  I have seen many people with terrible congestion, sinus pressure, and sinus headaches. Often we will get calls from patients saying that they’re not feeling well and want to cancel their appointment. What many people don’t know is that it is actually VERY beneficial for you to get adjusted when you don’t feel well!

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All of the nerves that help supply and regulate your immune system come from your upper neck. Misalignments and subluxations in your neck will interfere with the message your brain is trying to send to your immune system. An adjustment will remove that interference between the two and get your brain talking to your immune system again! Research has shown that an adjustment will release 200-400x more immune cells!!

If you’re suffering from allergies or a cold, vitamin D is a fantastic supplement to help boost your immune system as well. Being proactive now by taking or increasing your vitamin D can help protect yourself this winter and help you avoid colds and the flu.

Next time you’re not feeling well or your allergies are flared up, make sure you get adjusted ASAP to boost that immune system!

Dr. Meghan

Ice Vs. Heat

I have many patients asking me when they should use ice versus heat for their pain or injuries. This is a really great question and there are a few simple rules of thumb to follow.

Ice should always be used for acute problems. This means anything that has happened within the last 24-72 hours. During this time after an injury or flare-up, inflammation is at its highest. The best way to calm down and eliminate inflammation is to apply ice. This will slow down the blood flow to the area and reduce the swelling and heat. Ice is also great for migraine headaches and bruising.

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Heat is best used for more chronic conditions. This is something that has been around for quite some time, such as arthritis.  When using heat, it will increase blood flow to the area and help loosen up tight joints. This is also great for muscle tension. The increased blood flow will help the muscles to relax and decrease soreness. You should never use heat however on areas that are numb or have lost sensation. Those with diabetes should also avoid heat as well. Never use heat over an area with bruising or swelling.

With both ice and heat, they should never be applied directly to the skin. Always use a towel or cloth between. Each should be applied to the area for about 20 minutes and can be reapplied about 40 minutes later.

If you are ever in doubt of which you should use, stick with ICE!

Dr. Meghan

Backpacks and Spinal Health

It’s back-to-school time once again and parents are sending their kids off to school with backpacks filled with brand new supplies and books. What many parents may not know however, is that their child’s backpack could be harming their spine.

An average 6th grader’s backpack weighs about 18 lbs and can sometimes weigh up to 30 lbs (1). This large weight is distributed across a child’s shoulders and back placing a lot of stress on their body. Over time, this will start to take a toll, causing forward rolled shoulders, jutting forward of the head and neck, and low back pain (2). These effects can all occur just in a short amount of time.

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Carrying these heavy loads over an entire school year will actually start to effect the natural curves in a child’s spine (2). Children’s spines are still growing and changing and do not become skeletally mature until their mid-20’s.  During this venerable time, this stress can have detrimental effects. When a backpack is carried on just one shoulder, the stress is multiplied and it could actually lead to the formation of a scoliosis over time.

A NY Times article published that, “The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a child’s backpack weigh no more than 10 to 20 percent of a child’s weight. Consumer Reports recommends keeping the weight closer to 10 percent of a child’s weight.” (1). When choosing the right backpack for your child, take into account their height and weight and make sure you weigh their backpack at home.

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  1. https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/21/weighing-school-backpacks/
  2. https://www.spine-health.com/wellness/ergonomics/backpacks-and-back-pain-children

Dr. Meghan