Archive for Healthy Lifestyle

Learning to Use the Healing Power of Music

Having studied the healing power of music for decades, scientists know it has a profound effect on the mind, body and emotions. Music has a way to move us that seems to go to our very core as living beings and can transcend borders, cultures and race.

Music can be highly therapeutic and healing. Stroke victims, for example, have recovered through intonation therapy when many other treatments have failed. Music triggers neurons in the brain in a way that few other therapies can, and its effectiveness as a healing tool should not be overlooked. Brain scans show that listening to harmonious music elevates activity in areas of the brain’s reward center triggering the release of dopamine,  a powerful brain chemical.woman experiencing the healing power of music

From pain, depression, epilepsy to even more extreme conditions such as heart disease, music has been shown to be incredibly effective.

Patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease have been shown to respond to music therapy, as songs and tunes from their younger days bring up memories that were seemingly lost to the disease. Incredibly, some doctors have given their patients a daily ‘playlist’ of songs timed so that the patients remember to do certain activities at certain times. Imagine, for example, The Beatles’ ‘When I’m 64’ reminding you to take your medicine or Mozart’s’ ‘Sonata in G Minor’ when it’s time to head to the cafeteria for lunch.

In June of 2006, the Journal of Advanced Nursing published a study that showed a reduction in pain and depression among patients who listened to music on a daily basis. It’s not hard to imagine that someone would cheer up when listening to a great rock and roll tune or a good Polka. However it boggles the mind to learn that an actual corollary between listening to music and pain reduction was found. That’s downright incredible.

These are some of the most interesting reasons that music can do all of these things:

  • Music has a way of organizing time that all humans seem to understand
  • Music encourages us to move, and that movement is enjoyable.
  • Music creates strong memories and even stronger emotions, which can last for decades.
  • Music can be mesmerizing and stimulates many areas of the brain at once.

Indeed, the power of music goes well beyond the pleasure that it gives when we hear it. It has an intense effect on our thoughts and our passions.

If you’re looking for alternative and complimentary therapies, don’t underestimate the power of music to calm, and to heal. Why not give it a try? The next time you wake up feeling stiff and achy, turn on the radio, find a pleasing, melodious tune and let your mind relax. You just might find this simple technique will help you get the day started with less pain.

If you are looking for safe and effective ways to treat joint and back pain, our Garland chiropractor’s office offers a wide range of available therapies including physical rehab, therapeutic massage and chiropractic treatment. We also offer advanced treatment options for pain, including injections using all natural remedies.  If you would like more information, please contact our office, Texas Spine & Wellness, at (972) 840-2520.

Your Mind/Body Connection – How Emotions Affect your Health

Have you ever noticed a physical reaction in your body when you experience intense emotions? Maybe you’re happy about seeing an old friend, or you passed an important test, or you discovered a five-dollar bill on the dresser that you thought you’d lost—whatever the reason, such experiences generate an elation that expresses as an actual sensation in your body. That’s why we refer to a rush of excitement, a flutter of joy.

The same thing happens when you’re sad, but the sensations aren’t as pleasant. You might feel tired and apathetic, and in the case of an extreme sadness—such as grief due to a loss or a natural disaster—you might even experience tightness in your chest or develop a stomach ache.

illustration of the mind/body connection

illustration human body with energy rays

These physical reactions are real. It’s well known that certain emotions generate specific chemical reactions, and your body responds to the way you think, feel, and act. It’s a veritable “mind/body connection.”

Our Garland Chiropractic Clinic is invested in helping you find the mind/body balance you need to achieve good health. Let’s take a look at the issue.

First, an interesting history

More than a millennia ago, ancient Greeks, Romans, and East Indian physicians intuitively recognized that there was a link between illness and emotion. They embraced the theory that an imbalance in the four ‘humors’ (secretions) of blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm caused diseases, and that the imbalance was caused by emotions.

This connection is so important we even derived some of our words from it. Melancholy comes from melan, the Latin word for “black,” and choler, the Latin word for “bitter bile.” A gloomy or embittered person is melancholic. And a phlegmatic person is considered languid and lethargic. We even developed the term “feeling sick” as a collective description that includes our sensory symptoms, such as nausea, fever, and exhaustion with how we feel psychologically, such as sad or apathetic.

The Mind/Body Connection and How it works

The effects your mind has on your physical body are profound. A different chemical is released each time we experience an emotion, whether it’s happiness or sadness, joy or depression. Each chemical literally creates a different environment inside our bodies. Considering our wide array of emotions, it’s no wonder our bodies suffer such a range of reactions!

Let’s think about negative reactions. Cortisol and adrenaline levels increase in your bloodstream when you’re stressed. They’re actually called stress hormones. These hormones work to redirect the blood supply from your deep organs into areas where it’s needed to allow your instinctive “flight-or-flight response,” preparing you to run as fast as you can. Your body believes that’s your best chance to escape whatever is causing the stress. It doesn’t matter if you’re stressed because you’re in real physical danger—like being stalked by a hungry tiger!—or if it’s caused by grief, sadness, or depression. Nature developed a very efficient and cool arrangement for us, utilizing our human emotions to initiate our survival instinct.

On the other end of the spectrum, when you feel happy, the body releases dopamine, oxytocin, or serotonin. Those hormones make you feel good.

  • Dopamine is a motivator, encouraging the action and persistence you need to meet your needs and goals.
  • Oxytocin is often referred as a “cuddle neurochemical” because it’s released by skin-to-skin contact.
  • Serotonin is the “confidence molecule,” coming into play when you feel important or significant. Low levels of serotonin can result in loneliness and depression.

It’s quite fascinating how the interplay of these hormones manifests in your physical responses. It’s been noted that love and happiness are “felt strongly all over our bodies, while depression causes us to lose sensation in every limb.” Pride creates a huge increase in the body’s internal activity, but it focuses in the upper body. Shame only burns your cheeks, while fear is felt in your chest and disgust—like phlegm—fills your throat.

Physical health impacts of the Mind/Body Connection

What happens if you think negatively all the time?

  • Long term stress can cause an ulcer.
  • Anxiety can increase the heartrate and blood pressure, cause shortness of breath, and could result in chest pains.
  • Depression causes tiredness and fatigue.
  • The immune system can be weakened.
  • Physical health is impacted when stress, anxiety, and depression interfere with a person taking care of themselves.

Additional issues may include: poor appetite, dry mouth, back pain, constipation or diarrhea, insomnia, sweating, stiff neck, headaches, weight loss or gain, and just general aches and pains.

Controlling your own health

If negative thoughts can hurt you, positive thoughts can help you.

Optimism alone seems to reduce cortisol levels and inflammation that’s caused by stress. It might well decrease a person’s potential to be impacted by diseases because it suppresses activity of the sympathetic nervous system while stimulating the “rest-and-digest” response of the parasympathetic nervous system. Positive people can lower their cardiovascular responses to stress.

Good emotional health means being aware of your own thoughts, feelings, and reactions. There are always stress and problems in life and you have to learn to deal with them in a manner that helps you stay healthy.

Here are some helpful tips for taking charge of your mind/body connection:

  • Don’t keep your feelings inside if it makes you feel worse. Express yourself, and do it in a positive way. Tell people how you feel. Turn to a doctor, counselor or pastor if you need emotional support.
  • Keep your life balanced. Try not to obsess about the things in your daily life that bother you. You have to deal with them, but bring in positive feelings and activities to lessen that burden. Focus on a positive outlook.
  • Learn resilience so you can cope. Find social support, accept change, and keep the issues in perspective.
  • Work to calm yourself mentally and physically. Try yoga, meditation, music, a good book or a movie you love. If an intimate group of friends helps, invite them over for a talk fest!
  • It’s important to take care of yourself. If you’re emotionally healthy, work on body health. If your body is healthy, work on your emotional strength. Eat right, sleep enough, and exercise to throw off tension. Avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Contact Texas Spine & Wellness and let our trained professionals set up a program that will help you reach an optimal level of physical health.

Remember, the power to take on and overcome what life throws at you lies within yourself. Remember, too, these words said by Hippocrates:

“If someone wishes for good health, one must first ask oneself if he is ready to do away with the reasons for his illness. Only then is it possible to help him.”

Sleep Deprivation and Heart Health – A Serious Link

Our busy lifestyles often leave us little time for rest, which has resulted in a major change in sleep patterns. Now people sleep an hour to two hours less than they did just 50 years ago. While some people might consider this great for productivity, it’s not a good situation for our health. Recent research indicates there’s a link between those shorter hours of sleep and an increased potential to develop heart disease.

Man with sleep deprivationIn the United States, heart disease is reported to be the leading cause of death and disability, with strokes being the number 4 cause. A major threat factor in both cases is high blood pressure.

The lack of sleep—or prolonged sleep—isn’t necessarily the cause of heart disease, but it definitely affects the heart disease risk factors in terms of arrhythmia, stroke and heart failure.

These are the kinds of statistics that research has revealed about sleep deprivation:

  • A 48% increase in the risk of getting or dying from coronary heart disease (CHD);
  • A 15% risk increase in developing or dying from stroke;
  • Interestingly, there is also a 38% risk increase of CHD in people who sleep too much, such as nine or more hours a night!

Just like the rest of your body, your heart needs rest. It never stops beating, so resting that reduces the heart rate and blood pressure is essential to its health.

Sleep Regulates Your Health!

While you sleep, your body regulates insulin levels, hormone levels,including stress hormones, and blood pressure. When you don’t get enough sleep it throws all of those things out of sync.

It’s those hormone levels, in particular, which affect your appetite and energy. When those decrease because you’re tired, you have a greater chance for weight gain, the development of insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a collection of physiological and biochemical abnormalities associated with initiating cardiovascular disease. This is because it triggers inflammation, and studies have shown that inflammation causes high blood pressure. This explains why the risk of stroke or heart attack shoots up when you don’t get enough sleep.

If you already have a heart problem, even short-term sleep deficit is shown to be harmful. The effect of daylight saving time, which strips away that extra hour of additional sleep in spring, is known to increase the risk for heart attacks by a surprising 4%!

The depth of your sleep is also important. Along with shorter sleep, shallow sleep can result in hypertension. Without long periods of deep rest, the important chemicals needed to keep the heart rate and blood pressure lowered, aren’t activated. So, the longer you sleep deeply, the better rested you are and the better your heart feels.

Sleep Apnea

Not everyone suffers from sleep apnea, but the manner in which the condition affects heart health is one of the reasons the “sleep and hearth health” link has been identified.

Sleep apnea causes snoring and gasping for breath while a person sleeps. That condition results in the heart rate increasing, a rise in blood pressure, and frequently disrupted sleep. All of the bodily functions that normally slow down at night are forced to continue operating at a higher rate of activity. Over time, the higher blood pressure carries over into the day. Some researchers believe at least one-third of identified cases of high blood pressure among adults are due to sleep apnea. As mentioned above, high blood pressure during the day increases the chance for cardiovascular issues.

Sleep Deprivation Catches Up with You

No one intentionally decides they just aren’t going to get enough sleep. Even night owls require down time to rejuvenate, and people who thrive on activity and long hours are forced to sleep whether they want to or not. But in many cases it’s simply difficult to fall asleep, or to stay asleep when you finally manage to drift off. That can be due to external factors, such as work, children, emergencies, a middle-of-the-night phone call, a restless partner or pet, an uncomfortable bed, or to internal factors such as worry, anxiety, bad dreams, depression, excitement, or sundry other mental intrusions.

A lack of sleep causes “sleep debt,” which isn’t unlike being overdrawn at your bank. It catches up with your body, and your body won’t let you go without repaying the debt. People don’t adapt to getting less sleep. Eventually all of your functions are impaired and you have to react.

Here are a few tips to help with sleep issues:

  • Get a little exercise during the day
  • Keep regular bedtime hours
  • Refrain from late night snacks; especially caffeine and alcohol
  • Keep your bedroom dark and quiet
  • Limit your use electronics such as a tablet or a cell phone

If you need extra help, a cup of soothing herbal tea, accompanied by a a small dose (1 to 3 mg.) of melatonin may help you fall asleep.

There is an Irish proverb that says “A good laugh and good sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.” An excellent perspective to embrace in order to keep your heart healthy!