Free hugs

One reason chiropractic is so popular — and effective — is that it’s usually a very “hands on” approach. I’m not saying that the “laying on of hands” is what makes chiropractic superior to other type of wellness care, but there can be no denying that human touch is incredibly powerful. We see it in health care AND in daily life.

Take a look at this video and see if you don’t feel uplifted just by watching the power of the hug in action!

MD vaccine message: Do as I say, not as I do

An article in a recent issue of the AMA News points out an embarrassing problem facing the medical industry. Its own members — medical doctors and medical health care workers — are failing to getting vaccinated, even though they urge the public to do so. The problem is getting to severe that some medical organizations are suggesting the vaccines be a mandatory condition for employment.

National Vaccine Information CenterThe April 1, 2010 issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found that, as of mid-January, only 37.1% of health professionals had gotten their influenza A (H1N1) vaccine — and only two-thirds thought the shot was safe.

Although 80.9% said they felt the seasonal flu vaccine (as opposed to the H1N1) was safe, only 61.9% had received their 2009-10 vaccine.

“A concern about side effects is one reason health care employees decline vaccines…” reported Christine S. Moyer in the AMA News article, posted online Sept. 13, 2010.”Other reasons include fear of contracting an influenza or influenza-like illness from the immunization, perceived ineffectiveness of the vaccine and a belief that the flu is not a severe disease.”

The medical response was to consider forcing health care workers to subject themselves to the vaccine shot in order to keep their jobs. “Despite educational efforts, we have 40% to 70% immunization rates that are woefully inadequate,” said Michael L. Butera, MD, an alternate member of the AMA House of Delegates who spoke on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America at the AMA meeting last year. He suggested that mandates may be “the only way to achieve” the goal of universal vaccination. At that time, the AMA chose to vote against the mandate but may reconsider at this year’s meeting.

The fact that the medical industry feels it has the right to tell people what drugs they MUST take in order to hold a job, attend school or engage in certain activities infuriates me, and scares me as well. Where do we draw the line in the sand and say “no more!”? When are we going to insist that we be allowed to make our own decisions about our health care?

I urge everyone to join a vaccine awareness organization such as the National Vaccine Information Center and do whatever you can to raise awareness of the vaccine issue and work to safeguard our right to control our own bodies!

Measles vaccine is no protection, study shows

It wasn’t their intention, but researchers trying to scare people into getting the measles vaccine — this time to protect them from “imported measles” — clearly showed that the vaccine doesn’t work.

VaccinationAccording to the research report, published in the September issue of The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, measles “imported” from countries with lower vaccination rates can readily cause outbreaks in the United States — including measles in vaccinated adults.

What purpose does the vaccine serve, then, if vaccinated adults so readily get measles anyway? The researchers didn’t address that question. Instead, they concluded by saying: “Improving global measles control through expanded vaccination coverage will reduce morbidity and mortality in other countries and also will reduce the burden of measles in the US.”

Morbidity? Mortality? That’s a prime example of the type of over-reaction we hear from the medical establishment as it puts pressure on people to subject themselves and their children to a wide range of vaccines.

In fact, the entire episode explored in the research paper is a classic case of over-reaction. It was like having the SWAT team called out for a jaywalking violation.

It centered on a 2007 measles “outbreak” in Pennsylvania, when a 12-year-old Japanese boy attending an international youth soccer event developed measles. That was on August 15. You would have thought it was a case of bubonic plague. According to the press release distributed by the Journal’s publishing house: “Public health officials responded promptly, launching an investigation that included nearly 500 players, coaches, staff, and others attending the soccer event.”

On August 24, another 12-year-old boy was taken to the emergency department of a hospital because he broke out in a measles rash. Again, public health officials brought out the SWAT team and sent letters to all 109 guests who had been registered at the hotel where the boy was staying, “warning” them they’d been exposed and advising them to contact their physicians and local health departments in the event of illness.

In all, from August 15 to Sept. 10, 2007, a total of SEVEN cases were reported in this “outbreak,” and two of those were in college students who had “documentation of 2 appropriately timed routine childhood doses of MMR vaccine from different health centers.”

In addition, an estimated 40% of all the kids playing on the Japanese and other foreign teams were NOT vaccinated, yet they did not “catch” the disease.

Bottom line: Seven people got measles — including two who had been vaccinated — yet the report notes that they were identified only after “contact tracing of 1250 persons in California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Texas.”

No doubt dozens of public health officials were involved and hundreds of hours were spent tracking down more than a thousand people, who were then subjected to scare tactics and coerced into getting vaccines that wouldn’t have protected them anyway!

Does this make any sense to anyone?

SOURCES: “Measles Outbreak Associated With an International Youth Sporting Event in the United States, 2007,” Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, September 2010. Research report online.

Press Release: “Measles Outbreak Linked to Youth Soccer Event,” Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 9/7/2010

Keep kids away from those food vending machines!

When we were raising my two daughters, many people thought my wife and I went overboard by keeping them on a vegetarian diet filled with healthy, organic foods. We knew that when they reached adulthood, they’d be free to make up their own minds as to how and what they would eat, but we felt it was important to get them started on the right foot rather than have them automatically adopt the “normal” junk food approach.

Since both turned out to be smart, capable, and healthy women (absolutely true — even allowing for a father’s natural bias), I guess we made the right decision. But I have to admit, things were somewhat easier back then. At least the school halls didn’t have vending machines dispensing Pepsi and Twinkies. That bit of commercialization may have generated income for schools, but it’s caused a host of health problems.

vending machine junk foodIn fact, a study from the University of Michigan Medical School, found that school children who consume foods purchased in vending machines are more likely to develop poor diet quality — and that may be associated with being overweight, obese or at risk for chronic health problems such as diabetes and coronary artery disease.

The study (published in the September 2010 issue of the Journal of School Health) also looked at foods sold in school stores, snack bars, and other related sales that compete with USDA lunch program offerings and found that these pose the same health and diet risks in school-aged children.

“The foods that children are exposed to early on in life influence the pattern for their eating habits as adults,” said lead study author Madhuri Kakarala, MD, PhD, clinical lecturer of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School.

Previous studies assessing the nutritional value of school lunches and the impact they have on children’s overall health have found similar results, but this study is the first to look specifically at competitive foods and beverages — those sold at snack bars or vending machines rather than through the USDA lunch program.

Researchers analyzed data from 2,309 children in grades 1 through 12 from schools across the country. Interviewers administered questionnaires to obtain 24-hour food intake data on a given school day. Second-day food intake data was obtained from a group of students to account for day-to-day usual intakes.

Among those surveyed, 22% of school children consumed competitive or vended food items in a school day. Usage was highest in high school, where 88% of schools had vending machines, compared to 52% of middle schools and 16% of elementary schools. Competitive food and beverage consumers had significantly higher sugar intakes and lower dietary fiber, vitamin B levels, and iron intakes than non-consumers.

Soft drinks accounted for more than two-thirds of beverages offered in school vending machines and stores. Desserts and fried snacks were the most commonly consumed vended items among elementary school children and beverages other than milk and fruit juice were the most commonly consumed items among middle and high school students. Other frequently consumed vended foods included candy, snack chips, crackers, cookies, cakes, and ice cream.

“Consumption of vended foods and beverages currently offered in U.S. schools is detrimental to children’s diet quality,” said Kakarala. “Childhood obesity, resulting from poor dietary choices, such as those found in this study, greatly increases the risk for many chronic diseases. A healthy school food environment can reduce these dietary risks.”

Since it’s difficult to expect kids to resist the temptation to drop a few quarters into these machines, we need to lobby our schools to either eliminate them altogether, or make sure they offer only healthful choices.

SOURCE: Journal of School Health, Vol. 80, No. 9, September 2010

Yoga: the feel good exercise

I’ve often written about the benefits of yoga, mostly centering on how much it can help improve health and wellness, flexibility and stamina. I sometimes forget that yoga can also offer tremendous emotional and psychological rewards.

Yoga classA recent study that appeared online at The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine was an interesting reminder of that “hidden benefit.” Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) found that yoga may be superior to other forms of exercise in its positive effect on mood and anxiety. The study is the first to demonstrate an association between yoga postures, increased GABA levels and decreased anxiety.

The researchers set out to contrast the brain gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels of yoga subjects with those of participants who spent time walking. Low GABA levels are associated with depression and other widespread anxiety disorders.

The researchers followed two randomized groups of healthy individuals over a 12-week long period. One group practiced yoga three times a week for one hour, while the remaining subjects walked for the same period of time. Using magnetic resonance spectroscopic (MRS) imaging, the participants’ brains were scanned before the study began. At week 12, the researchers compared the GABA levels of both groups before and after their final 60-minute session.

Each subject was also asked to assess his or her psychological state at several points throughout the study, and those who practiced yoga reported a more significant decrease in anxiety and greater improvements in mood than those who walked. “Over time, positive changes in these reports were associated with climbing GABA levels,” said lead author Chris Streeter, MD, an associate professor of psychiatry and neurology at BUSM.

According to Streeter, this promising research warrants further study of the relationship between yoga and mood, and suggests that the practice of yoga be considered as a potential therapy for certain mental disorders.

SOURCE: “Effects of Yoga Versus Walking on Mood, Anxiety, and Brain GABA Levels: A Randomized Controlled MRS Study,” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. doi:10.1089/acm.2010.0007. Abstract online.