Ear Infections: How can Chiropractic help?

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Ear infections are very common in children and one of the most common reasons for antibiotic use. But did you know, that the majority of ear infections are actually caused by a viral infection, not a bacterial infection? So that is why the antibiotics given to children don’t always work. They are actually weakening the immune system further, since antibiotics kill all bacteria in the body, including the “good” stuff. But that is actually not where I want to go with this topic…

Some of the most common causes of ear infections are allergies, mechanical obstructions, infections, nutritional deficiencies or even birth traumas.

Just a little anatomy lesson about the ear: We have a small tube, called the Eustachian tube, that connects the middle ear to the throat to allow fluid to drain through the nasal passage. Most ear infections involve the middle ear. In children, the Eustachian tube is small, narrow and is horizontal. In adults, it is wider and angled downward to allow fluid to drain with the help of gravity. Because of the position of the Eustachian tube in children, it is more likely that fluid will not drain properly leading to fluid buildup and obstruction, putting pressure on the eardrum and can lead to infections.

There are small muscles that surround the eustachian tube that cause it to become wider to allow fluid to drain. These muscles are supplied by nerves that come from the brain (cranial nerves) and the neck (cervical nerves). If there is nerve interference in these areas, it can affect the function of these muscles and prevent them from working properly.

As chiropractors, we remove nerve interference to allow the body and nervous system to function like it should. We allow the body to do what it is meant to do, which is heal itself. Chiropractic also decreases inflammation and muscle tension, it increases mobility and blood/lymph flow, which all affect the function of the middle ear. Not only does chiropractic adjustments help mobilize the drainage of the middle ear, they also increase the immune system 200-400%.

So if you are looking for a natural way to help with ear infections, give chiropractic a try!

Dr. Jess

 

2Dr. Jessica Stensland is a busy family wellness Chiropractor in Urbandale, Iowa. She spends her weeks taking care of dozens of families.  Not only does Dr. Jessica specialize in pediatric and pregnancy chiropractic care, but she’s a board certified Acupuncturist.  Dr. Jessica believes that a healthier community means taking care of all ages.   She is a Minnesota native and enjoys seeing family and friends in her free time, in addition to staying active and reading the many books she has on her kindle.

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What is Innate Intelligence?

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I’m sure you remember from biology class that you started out as two cells, one from your mother and one from your father, and these cells continually multiply. Eventually these cells go off in different directions and form different tissues, muscles or organs and each has its own job instructed by an unseen intelligence.

This unseen intelligence, or innate intelligence, stays with us every second of every day and is in charge of everything that goes on in our bodies. If we cut ourselves, if we break a bone, if we have a cold or the flu or any other symptom or disease, it’s our own Innate Intelligence that does the healing. It just knows how to do it. The main goal of chiropractic adjustments is to remove the interference to healing, to allow the body’s own innate potential to function optimally. Healing always flows from above down, and from the inside out.

How does the spine affect Innate Intelligence? Our innate intelligence expresses itself largely through the nervous system, and that system controls EVERYTHING in your body – for instance the digestive system, the reproductive system and even the immune system. All the nerves that connect to all areas of the body come out the side of your spine. Science has now confirmed that any distortion or restriction of the spine can interfere with the communication between the brain and different areas of the body, depending on what nerve is affected.

Nerve root compression from spinal misalignments can alter gene expression, which affects how likely we are to actually develop the conditions or diseases that our parents have. This means that we won’t necessarily have the same problems they had – much of our future can be influenced by the choices we make in our own lives, including how we choose to care for our spines.

The same intelligence that formed you is also able to heal you. So in able for your innate intelligence to function optimally, misalignments in the spine need to be corrected.

So why not give chiropractic care a chance?! It is for so much more than treating pain!

Dr. Jess

 

2Dr. Jessica Stensland is a busy family wellness Chiropractor in Urbandale, Iowa. She spends her weeks taking care of dozens of families.  Not only does Dr. Jessica specialize in pediatric and pregnancy chiropractic care, but she’s a board certified Acupuncturist.  Dr. Jessica believes that a healthier community means taking care of all ages.   She is a Minnesota native and enjoys seeing family and friends in her free time, in addition to staying active and reading the many books she has on her kindle.

Your Brain-Gut Connection

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I’m sure most of you have heard of probiotics. If not, probiotics are “good” bacteria that live in your gut to support gut and immune system health. What if I told you it has been shown that these good bacteria, or microflora, also support brain health? Pretty crazy!

As reported by research done at UCLA and published in the peer-reviewed journal Gastroenterology: “Researchers have known that the brain sends signals to your gut, which is why stress and other emotions can contribute to gastrointestinal symptoms. This study shows what has been suspected but until now had been proved only in animal studies: that signals travel the opposite way as well.”

So if you experience stress, depression, anxiety or other negative emotions have you noticed changes in digestive health? Or have changes in digestive health led to these same negative emotions?

How do the brain and the gut communicate?

You actually have two nervous systems:

  • Central Nervous System: composed of your brain and spinal cord
  • Enteric Nervous System: which is the intrinsic nervous system of your gastrointestinal tract

These two systems are connected via the vagus nerve, the tenth cranial nerve that runs from your brain stem down to your abdomen. It is now recognized that the vagus nerve is the main route your gut bacteria use to transmit information to your brain.

So you may think that your brain is the organ in charge, your gut actually sends way more information to your brain than your brain sends to your gut. For example, you’ve probably experienced the visceral sensation of “butterflies” in your stomach when you’re nervous, or had an upset stomach when you were very angry or stressed. The opposite is also true, in that problems in your gut can directly influence your mental health, leading to issues like anxiety and depression.

Neurons, which are specialized nerve cells that carry “messages” throughout the body and brain to allow the brain and body to communicate, are found in the gut as well as in the brain. For example, neurons that produce neurotransmitters like serotonin, are found in your brain and in your gut. Serotonin is involved in mood control, depression and aggression, and in fact has the highest concentration in your intestines, not your brain.

Besides research connecting gut bacteria in mental health and behavior, other research has shown that your microflora also has an effect on:

  • Immune system function
  • Gene expression
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Autism

Your gut bacteria are constantly under attack from antibiotics, processed foods (which are loaded with sugar), agricultural chemicals, chlorinated or fluoridated water, conventionally-raised meats and animal products and genetically enhanced grains.

To help optimize your gut bacteria avoid processed or refined foods, eat fermented and unpasteurized foods and take a good quality probiotic (which are usually available at health food stores).

Hopefully by reading this you realize that nourishing your gut flora is extremely important, including infants and kids, because essentially you have two brains, one inside your skull and one in your gut, and each needs to be well nourished and healthy for optimal function.

Dr. Jess

 

2Dr. Jessica Stensland is a busy family wellness Chiropractor in Urbandale, Iowa. She spends her weeks taking care of dozens of families.  Not only does Dr. Jessica specialize in pediatric and pregnancy chiropractic care, but she’s a board certified Acupuncturist.  Dr. Jessica believes that a healthier community means taking care of all ages.   She is a Minnesota native and enjoys seeing family and friends in her free time, in addition to staying active and reading the many books she has on her kindle.

Vitamin B12: How Does it Benefit My Body?

A vitamin B12 deficiency is thought to be one of the leading nutrient deficiencies in the world, and it’s a major health concern in many parts of the world, including the U.S and several other countries.

Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that’s crucial for addressing adrenal fatigue, multiple metabolic functions — including enzyme production, DNA synthesis and hormonal balance — and maintaining healthy nervous and cardiovascular systems. There are actually many symptoms that occur with vitamin B12 deficiency, such as potential chronic fatigue, mood disorders like depression or chronic stress.

Vitamin B12 benefits the central nervous system in many important ways: It helps maintain the health of nerve cells — including those needed for neurotransmitter signaling — and helps form the protective covering of nerves, called the cell’s myelin sheath. This means that when vitamin B12 levels are low, almost every cognitive function can suffer.

So what are the benefits of Vitamin B12?

  • Helps Maintain Energy Levels
    • Vitamin B12 helps your metabolism because it’s needed to convert carbohydrates into useable glucose in the body. Glucose from carbohydrate foods is used as a form of energy, which is why people with vitamin B12 deficiencies often experience fatigue.
  • Prevents Memory Loss and Lowers Risk of Neurodegenerative Disease
    • Because of its role in nerve health and neurotransmitter signaling, vitamin B12 helps cognitive function and is used to lower the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
  • Boosts Mood and Helps the Nervous System to Function Properly
    • One of the most researched vitamin B12 benefits is its ability to help in healthy regulation of the nervous system, including reducing such mood disorders as depression and anxiety. Vitamin B12, along with folinic acid or folate, is beneficial for neurological function, dealing with stress and mood regulation. Vitamin B12 is also needed for concentration and cognitive processes, such as learning.
  • Plays a Role in Maintaining Heart Health
    • Vitamin B12 helps to reduce elevated homocysteine levels, which is now considered a major risk factor for heart disease. It protects against heart disease, like a heart attack or stroke, by lowering high levels of homocysteine in the blood. There is also some evidence that B12 can help control high cholesterol and high blood pressure levels.
  • Needed for Healthy Skin and Hair
    • Vitamin B12 is essential for healthy skin, hair and nails because it plays a major part in cell reproduction. Vitamin B12 benefits skin health by reducing redness, dryness, inflammation and acne blemishes. It can also reduce hair breakage and help nails to become stronger.
  • Aids in Digestion
    • Vitamin B12 helps promote healthy bacteria within the gut environment. The elimination of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract — and simultaneously the presence of “good” bacteria. Also, with supporting gut health, it will also boost the immune system, since 80% of your immune system comes from your gut.
  • Needed for a Healthy Pregnancy
    • Vitamin B12 is needed to create nucleic acid, or DNA, which is the basic genetic material that’s used to create our entire bodies. Therefore, vitamin B12 is not only a key nutrient for growth and development, but a vital component of a healthy pregnancy. Vitamin B12 also interacts with folate in the body, so it may help lower the risk of birth defects, such as neural tube defects.
  • May Help Prevent Cancer
    • Vitamin B12 supplementation is now being studied as a way to help lower the risk of certain kinds of cancers, especially when taken with folate. Some preliminary research shows that vitamin B12 benefits the immune system enough to potentially help prevent cancer, including cervical, prostate and colon cancers.
  • Helps Produce Red Blood Cells and Prevent Anemia
    • Vitamin B12 is needed to help produce a healthy level of red blood cells. It helps prevent a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia, which results in symptoms like chronic fatigue and weakness.

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Signs and symptoms of possible B12 deficiency:

  • Constantly feeling tired or chronic fatigue
  • Muscle aches and weakness
  • Joint pain
  • Tingling in your extremities
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Poor memory
  • Inability to concentrate well
  • Mood changes, like increased depression and anxiety
  • Having abnormal heart problems, such as palpitations
  • Poor dental health, including bleeding gums and mouth sores
  • Digestive problems like nausea, diarrhea or cramping
  • A poor appetite
  • A more serious deficiency can also cause a form of anemia called pernicious anemia, a serious condition that can cause memory loss, confusion and even long-term dementia

Compared to other vitamins, we don’t need high levels of vitamin B12 — but we do need to replenish our supply each day. B vitamins are water-soluble and are easily flushed out of the body, so to maintain levels of the recommended amount within our bloodstream and prevent a vitamin B12 deficiency; we need to eat food sources of B vitamins often.

If you think you might have a B12 deficiency, check with your primary care physician; a simple blood test will be done to check the levels of B12 in your blood.

Dr. Jess

 

2Dr. Jessica Stensland is a busy family wellness Chiropractor in Urbandale, Iowa. She spends her weeks taking care of dozens of families.  Not only does Dr. Jessica specialize in pediatric and pregnancy chiropractic care, but she’s a board certified Acupuncturist.  Dr. Jessica believes that a healthier community means taking care of all ages.   She is a Minnesota native and enjoys seeing family and friends in her free time, in addition to staying active and reading the many books she has on her kindle.

Are There Natural Ways to Treat My Migraine?

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Migraine headaches are a type of neurovascular headaches, but the exact cause is unknown. It is thought that they are due to an issue with the nervous system, causing a chain of neurologic and biochemical changes, some of which subsequently affect the brain’s blood vessel or vascular system.

The changes in the vascular system cause blood vessel dilation or swelling, which is the major factor in the production of pain, giving you that throbbing pain. Thirty-six million Americans, about 12% of the population, suffer from migraine headaches. Migraines are three times more common in women than men and affect 30% of women over a lifetime.

Being as I am part of the population that suffers from migraines, I thought I would share some natural ways to help fight and prevent migraines!

  • Chiropractic: Misalignments in the spine puts stress on the nervous system and on blood vessels causing a migraine. We have so many patients that come into our office with migraines and chiropractic has helped tremendously! I know it has helped me!
  • Acupuncture: Acupuncture needles trigger the release of pain-reducing chemicals, while also decreasing inflammation and muscle tension. And it is so relaxing!
  • Magnesium: People with migraines and cluster headaches are often deficient in magnesium. Taking magnesium supplements daily has been shown to reduce migraine frequency by nearly 42 percent!
  • Water: Plenty of headaches and migraines are triggered by dehydration. By quickly drinking a few glasses of water when you feel a migraine coming on, it can actually sometimes stop it in its tracks. So make sure you are getting plenty of water!
  • Omega-3-Fatty Acids: A dose of these healthy fats fight inflammation, which is a likely culprit in many headaches and possibly some migraines. Plus, they also help with brain and heart function as well!
  • Ice: Ice helps reduce pain and causes the dilated blood vessels to constrict to give you relief.
  • Caffeine: In small doses, caffeine can help reduce pain. Actually, some headache medications have caffeine in them. So instead of taking them, try caffeine instead.
  • Peppermint essential oil: Peppermint seems to have pain-reducing effects. You can dilute in glass of water or rub it in the area of pain.
  • Feverfew: A natural herbal remedy that has been used for centuries to help migraines, this plant can be used in many forms, including supplements, tea or even eaten raw. Feverfew helps relieve smooth muscle spasms, stops the brain’s blood vessels from contracting and prevents inflammation.
  • Ginger: This spice is well-known for being friendly to upset stomachs, but it can ease migraine-related nausea, too. It may also ease pain thanks to some of its anti-inflammatory properties. Just be sure you’re getting the real thing, ginger ale doesn’t cut it!

What are some common migraine triggers?

  • Hormonal changes in women. Fluctuations in estrogen seem to trigger headaches in many women with known migraines. Women with a history of migraines often report headaches immediately before or during their periods, when they have a major drop in estrogen.
  • Aged cheeses, salty foods and processed foods may trigger migraines. Skipping meals or fasting also can trigger attacks.
  • Food additives: The sweetener aspartame and the preservative monosodium glutamate, found in many foods, may trigger migraines.
  • Alcohol, especially red wine, and highly caffeinated beverages may trigger migraines.
  • Stress at work or home can cause migraines.
  • Sensory stimuli: Bright lights and sun glare can induce migraines, as can loud sounds. Unusual smells — including perfume, paint thinner, secondhand smoke and others — can trigger migraines in some people.
  • Changes in the environment. A change of weather or barometric pressure can prompt a migraine.
  • Medications, such as oral contraceptives and vasodilators, such as nitroglycerin, can aggravate migraines.

Hopefully this helps fight or prevent your next migraine!

Dr. Jess

 

2Dr. Jessica Stensland is a busy family wellness Chiropractor in Urbandale, Iowa. She spends her weeks taking care of dozens of families.  Not only does Dr. Jessica specialize in pediatric and pregnancy chiropractic care, but she’s a board certified Acupuncturist.  Dr. Jessica believes that a healthier community means taking care of all ages.   She is a Minnesota native and enjoys seeing family and friends in her free time, in addition to staying active and reading the many books she has on her kindle.

Negativity Affects Our Health

Hey everyone!

So in my very first blog I talked about the mind-body connection (it’s labeled “The Mind-Body Connection” https://holisticfamilies.org/2015/12/08/mind-body-connection/ – so if you haven’t read it, go read it!) and I just wanted to add more to it about how positive and negative thinking affect our health.

Have you ever thought about being sick and you sometimes actually do get sick?? Focusing all your attention on illness has been scientifically proven to influence the body to illness. Too much knowledge about what can go wrong with the body can actually harm you. The more you focus on the infinite ways in which the body can break down and get sick, the more likely you are to experience physical symptoms.

Negative emotions such as fear, aggression, anxiety or pain, have an effect on the area of the brain that deals with emotion: the limbic system. These negative emotions trigger the brain to send out a warning signal that activates the “fight-or-flight” stress response. This stress response is the body’s way to protect you from danger. The “fight-or-flight” response is an amazing thing to have short-term, but long-term? Not so much… Constantly thinking negative thoughts and having negative emotions will cause a long-term effect on your health. When you activate the “fight-or-flight” response, your body “shuts off” the blood supply to areas that don’t need it: the digestive system, reproductive system, and immune system to just name a few. At the same time, it increases blood supply to muscles and releases hormones to increase heart rate and breathing. So a chronic stress response can cause inflammation, pain, suppressed immune system, amongst other issues that can arise. (If you want to read more about this, check out my blog “Are You TOO Stressed?” https://holisticfamilies.org/2016/02/18/are-you-too-stressed/ – I talk about the “fight-or-flight response in more detail and the long-term affects it has on your body.)

One of the hormones that is released during the stress response is cortisol – a stress hormone. On the flip side, thinking positive, happy, hopeful, optimistic, joyful thoughts decreases cortisol and produces serotonin, which creates a sense of well-being. This helps your brain function at an optimal level.

Negative emotions disturb your interaction with your environment, affecting your ability to perceive, remember, and reinforce existing or create new nerve connections. Being happy improves your cognitive ability by being more alert and productive. Being happy also:

  • Stimulates the growth of nerve connections.
  • Improves cognition by increasing mental productivity.
  • Improves your ability to analyze and think.
  • Affects your view of your surroundings.
  • Increases attentiveness.
  • Leads to more happy thoughts.
  • Happy people are more creative, solve problems faster, and tend to be more mentally alert.

From a chiropractic point of view, when there are subluxations or restrictions in your spine, there is nerve interference that is directly affecting your brain. Instead of good information being sent to your brain, the restrictions are causing bad information to be sent to your brain causing a stress response or the fight-or-flight response. This stress response causes hormones, specifically cortisol, to be released to cause inflammation, pain, chronic muscle tightness, digestive issues, reproductive issues, etc. Every person responds differently to this stress response. Pain is just ONE potential outcome of a stress response. So just because someone might not have pain, it does not mean their body is functioning normally like it should. By adjusting specific areas of the spine, we are allowing good information to be sent to the brain to relieve the stress response and decrease cortisol levels. By getting adjusted, it also increases blood flow to the brain and the release of serotonin, dopamine, melatonin and oxytocin which allow you to feel better, be happier, sleep better and have more energy. There are a TON of benefits from chiropractic care!

So start thinking positively and see a chiropractor! It will be worth it!

Dr. Jess

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2Dr. Jessica Stensland is a busy family wellness Chiropractor in Urbandale, Iowa. She spends her weeks taking care of dozens of families.  Not only does Dr. Jessica specialize in pediatric and pregnancy chiropractic care, but she’s a board certified Acupuncturist.  Dr. Jessica believes that a healthier community means taking care of all ages.   She is a Minnesota native and enjoys seeing family and friends in her free time, in addition to staying active and reading the many books she has on her kindle

What Does Vitamin D Do For My Body?

Did you know that vitamin D is actually considered a pro-hormone and not a vitamin? It is capable of producing its own vitamin D through the action of sunlight on the skin, giving it the nickname, sunshine vitamin. Vitamins are nutrients that cannot be synthesized by the body and must be acquired through the diet or supplements.

It is estimated that sun exposure on bare skin for 5-10 minutes 2-3 times per week allows the body the ability to produce sufficient vitamin D. Recent studies have suggested that up to 50% of adults and children worldwide are vitamin D deficient.

So what are some of the health benefits of vitamin D?

  • Healthy bones: Vitamin D plays an important role in the regulation of calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood, two factors that are extremely important for maintaining healthy bones. We need vitamin D to absorb calcium in the intestines and to reclaim calcium that would otherwise be excreted through the kidneys.
    • Vitamin D deficiency in children is call rickets, a disease characterized by a severely bow-legged appearance and softening of the bones.
    • Vitamin D deficiency in adults is called osteoporosis.
  • Boosts the immune system: Vitamin D triggers and arms the body’s T cells, the cells in the body that seek out and destroy any invading bacteria and viruses. Vitamin D is crucial to activating our immune defenses and that without sufficient intake of the vitamin, the killer cells of the immune system, the T cells, will not be able to react to and fight off serious infections in the body. The T cells rely on vitamin D in order to activate and they would remain dormant to the possibility of threat if vitamin D is lacking in the blood.
  • Reduces the risk of diabetes: Studies have shown that people who have the lowest vitamin D levels in their blood are at an increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. In fact, studies have shown that people who have the lowest serum vitamin D levels are at an increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes later in life.
  • Healthy pregnancy: Pregnant women who are deficient in vitamin D seem to be at greater risk of developing preeclampsia and needing a C-section. Poor vitamin D levels are also associated with gestational diabetes mellitus and bacterial vaginosis in pregnant women.
    • There has also been research showing the importance of adequate vitamin D levels to help prevent autism and autoimmune diseases
  • Prevents cancer: Vitamin D is extremely important for regulating cell growth and for cell-to-cell communication. Some studies have suggested that the hormonally active form of vitamind D, calcitriol, can reduce cancer progression by slowing the growth and development of new blood vessels in cancerous tissue, increasing cancer cell death and by reducing cell proliferation and metastases.
  • There is even research being done to show that low levels of vitamin D increase the risk of heart disease.

If you are interested in what your vitamin D levels are, I would recommend getting your blood work done. You can either get vitamin D from the sun, certain foods or a vitamin D supplement. Who knew one vitamin had so many health benefits!

Dr. Jess

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2Dr. Jessica Stensland is a busy family wellness Chiropractor in Urbandale, Iowa. She spends her weeks taking care of dozens of families.  Not only does Dr. Jessica specialize in pediatric and pregnancy chiropractic care, but she’s a board certified Acupuncturist.  Dr. Jessica believes that a healthier community means taking care of all ages.   She is a Minnesota native and enjoys seeing family and friends in her free time, in addition to staying active and reading the many books she has on her kindle