News and Social Media » Blog

The mission of our blog is to keep you updated on all the latest and most interesting health information.

 

View all entries

Thanksgiving: Many Health Benefits - and One Drawback?

Learn about the many benefits, and one health drawback of Thanksgiving

CLICK HERE FOR THANKSGIVING HEALTH INFO


PermaLink




11/11/19

Foods versus Probiotics for Anxiety - Which Is Best?

11-11-2019

Which is best, food or supplements?

A new 2019 study out of China showed that probiotic supplements have some good benefits, but diet and lifestyle changes are much more beneficial to microbiota and calming anxiety symptoms.

This study was a meta-analysis, which means it was a study that looked at a bunch of studies. It looked at twenty-one studies which contained 1503 subjects.

The first thing this study showed is that whether you use food or supplements, when you regulate intestinal flora using healthy approaches, you can effectively improve anxiety symptoms.

The conclusions of this study were:

- the best energy source for our gut bacteria is good food, especially fiber rich foods

- most studies show a 4 – 8 week period to look at the effect of probiotics, which may be too short. Longer trials may show benefits beyond 36%

- there were pretty much no adverse effects with either foods or supplements

reference: Beibei Yang, Jinbao Wei, Peijun Ju, Jinghong Chen. Effects of regulating intestinal microbiota on anxiety symptoms: A systematic review. General Psychiatry, 2019 32: e100056 DOI:

Click Here for Research Article


PermaLink



11/06/19

Chronic Pain Management With Dr. Robert Kachko

11-6-2019

11-6-2019 Chronic Pain Management With Dr. Robert Kachko

Dr. Kachko is interviewed on the Tips with Toni Show.

Learn what is on the vanguard of care for pain.

CLICK HERE for PODCAST


PermaLink



11/04/19

The Words of Acupuncture - with Dr. Victoria Liotta

11-04-2019

Shen? Stagnation? Blood Deficiency? What does it mean?

Learn the language of acupuncture and Chinese medicine in this 30 minute webinar.

Hosted by Victoria A. Liotta, Doctor of Acupuncture.

Click Here for WEBINAR


PermaLink



07/19/19

Self-Management for Pain

Only you are essential to your healing. While getting care from your healthcare providers is often important, being an active participant is ALWAYS essential. Research shows that when people have higher levels of “self-efficacy”, they’re more likely to recover from their pain condition. What is self-efficacy? I define it as the belief in our ability to take control of our own lives. When it comes to our health, this means feeling that we’ve got the tools we need to move in the direction of sustainable healing.

One of the largest studies to date on the value of self-management has been a review of smaller trials on chronic low back pain. The researchers found that when it comes to chronic back pain, a self-management approach improves pain intensity and disability, especially in the first year.

What do the best self-management programs teach?
- Effective pain-focused problem solving
- Decision making to address common challenges around pain
- Local resources that may be available
- A stronger patient-provider relationship, valuing the patient’s experience
- Goal-setting and action planning, often in the form of SMART goals
- Self-tailoring of programs to be individualized to your own needs

Source - PMID: 27554077

Dr. Robert Kachko

More about Dr. Kachko Here


PermaLink



07/18/19

The Value of Self-Expression

An important aspect of any healing journey is being an active participant in that journey. This is especially the case when dealing with pain, and expressive writing can be an important tool in activating that part of ourselves.

A team of pain researchers developed an approach called emotional awareness and expression therapy (EAET) to see if it helped people with Fibromyalgia to feel better after 6 months. Importantly, they compared it to fibromyalgia (FM) education and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is considered the gold standard in mental-emotional treatment. The group receiving EAET went through a series of exercises in which they were helped to identify and express previously avoided emotions and feelings. That group experienced more pain reduction than the FM education group and similar improvements with the CBT group, except more people in the EAET group had at least 50% pain reduction than in the CBT group (22.5% vs 8.3%).

While this sort of active therapy isn’t an option for everyone, regular journaling certainly is. When it comes to expressive writing or journaling, it turns out that what you write often matters less than the fact that you’re writing at all. Many of my patients have learned that writing something down and “leaving it there” allows their body (and their subconscious mind) to process it more effectively. This approach can be helpful for reducing stress, improving mood, and getting more restful sleep. Of course, for some people “digging in” to their emotions may bring up a lot of “stuff”, and so this should be discussed with your healthcare team.

Have you ever tried journaling? What’s your experience been like?

Source: PMID: 28796118

Dr. Robert Kachko

More about Dr. Kachko Here


PermaLink



07/17/19

Pain: Sending The Right Signals

Our bodies and brains are complex, and each of us is impacted by pain in our own unique way. However, we ALL experience pain at two (actually, more, but let’s say two for purposes of clarity here :-)) distinct levels: sensory and affective. Our sensory perception of pain includes things like where the pain is, what it’s quality is (burning, stabbing etc.), and how severe is it (on a typical 0-10 scale for example). That last part, though, is also impacted by the 2nd level, the affective experience of pain.

This part of our pain perception, often processed by our limbic system, takes many cues from our environment and our emotional selves. This part of our brain, for example, is more primed for pain if we experience a lot of stress, depression, or fear in our lives. In effect, this is the part of our pain response that controls how much we suffer beyond just knowing that it exists.

Interestingly, this part of the brain can also be harnessed in a positive way: once we understand what the signals are that activate these areas, we can turn them “on” or “off”. What are some of the most important areas that impact our “affective” pain response?

(If these sound like a vocab lesson you’d rather avoid, don’t worry about the name of the brain area - instead, focus on the language that the area speaks):

1. Anterior Cingulate Cortex - this part controls our suffering from pain and the need to “do something” when we feel it. It’s also the part that is disengaged when we give away our healing capacity to our doctors. What helps? Calm acceptance of the sensation as a signal from the body that need not go away 100% to have quality of life.
2. Anterior Insula - this is like our internal thermostat, guiding us to understand if damage is occurring. What helps? Remembering that we’re “whole” and safe in spite of our pain, and that it isn’t a guarantee that damage is occurring.
3. Prefrontal Cortex - this part gives meaning to our pain and integrates it into our self-concept: “who will I be in the future with this pain?” What helps? Reframing the experience to understand that the experience of pain now does not reliably predict future pain.

More about Dr. Kachko Here


PermaLink



07/15/19

Anti-Inflammatory Foods and Pain

What we consume has the power to either help us heal or to cause us harm. Though this goes far beyond food (ideas, relationships, breath patterns etc.), it is clear that the Standard American Diet increases inflammation and oxidative stress, ultimately increasing the likelihood that we will be in pain. In working to “pain-proof” our bodies, it is essential to consume foods that reduce inflammation and reduce pain directly.

Many of my patients end up on a systematic anti-inflammatory elimination diet. Learning what works for our bodies and what does not is essential, and often only discovered through targeted trial and error. However, cutting out a bunch of foods is rarely a sustainable approach. Instead, we also focus on what to ADD into the diet.

Everything we eat sends a message to the cells of our body. In addition to the specific nutrients present in healing foods, they can change how our DNA is expressed (this is called “epigenetic”). Some of the best anti-inflammatory food-based molecules that have been proven effective for chronic pain include short chain fatty acids (butyrate being the most commonly available through food), polyunsaturated fatty acids (Omega 3s, high in cold water fish), polyphenols (found in many colorful plant-based foods), and polyamines (high in legumes).

Some food substances have also shown to be directly “anti-nociceptive”, meaning they reduce sensitivity to pain. Two of the best studied are curcuminoids (polyphenols found in turmeric) and zerumbone (a sesquiterpenoid found in ginger). Both have been shown to reduce pain in multiple conditions and should be considered as a component of a comprehensive plan for pain-proofing the body.

Source: PMID: 31301604

More about Dr. Kachko Here


PermaLink



07/12/19

Pain: Our Brain Plays Tricks

When it comes to our experience of pain, as with all things, context matters! If you’ve been following along with previous posts, you know by now that the MEANING we ascribe to the pain we are feeling is often more powerful in determining how we feel than the cause or stimulus of pain itself. Put another way, two people can experience the same level of pain, but have very different amounts of personal suffering as a result. Similarly, the same person can feel very different amounts of pain from the same cause in a different context.

This was proven, rather brilliantly I may add, by a group of researchers who used light to modulate context. Our brains are primed to perceive some things as more dangerous than others. One such stimulus is heat, and based on our evolutionary priming we expect heat to be more dangerous than cold. Since we view the color red as more likely to be hot, and the color blue as more likely to be cold, this team decided to figure out if these colors impacted the amount of pain people felt.

Amazingly, when the same exact stimulus (a cold probe measuring -20 degrees celsius in temperature) was applied to people’s hands, they experienced a higher level of perceived pain when the probe was illuminated with a red vs blue light. This is not so different from the context of receiving medical care. All too often people are told that they “can’t be fixed”, or worse: that someone else is responsible for “fixing” their broken body. This sort of disempowering language only makes things worse.

Have you had any health-related experiences that “colored” how you felt about yourself and your body?

Source: PMID: 17449180

More about Dr. Kachko Here


PermaLink



07/10/19

Why Mindfulness Matters for Pain

Mindfulness meditation is all the rage these days. Proposed as a cure-all for everything from anxiety to pain, it’s rare to find someone who HASN’T heard that it is important to be mindful. The thing is, though, that there is no single fix for chronic pain. Techniques such as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy, loving-kindness/compassion meditation have an important role to play as a component of comprehensive integrative pain care. An important aspect of mindfulness training comes from learning to come back into our physical bodies that are often neglected with long-term pain.

This makes sense, of course. When our bodies ache, our minds make every effort to distract us from that unpleasant experience. Instead, our brains are primed to make our mind wander (this is actually our default, driven by a part of the brain called the Default Mode Network). The challenge with this? It turns out that a wandering mind, pre-occupied by the stories we’ve told ourselves about our past (often in the form of regrets) and worried about the future is one that is predisposed to depression and pain. If this is our default, though, what are we to do?!

Well, one of the core benefits of mindfulness and other types of meditation is an increase in something called “meta-awareness”. Simply put, this is the state of “thinking about thinking”. It’s like sitting in a movie theatre and watching the movie (our moment-to-moment lives) WHILE also realizing that we’re in the theatre watching it all unfold. It turns out that the more we do so, the less this mind-wandering reduces our mood. The other factor involved in both chronic pain and low mood is a state of “hyper-vigilance”, where we are on constant alert of the world around us for fear of being harmed in some way. This state is characterized by living mostly in our thoughts, often ignoring our physical bodies.

Meditation increases meta-awareness and reduces hyper-vigilance, and both things can help reduce long-term pain by literally changing the structure of our brains.


Source: PMID: 28390029. Make sure to follow along for the remainder of July’s Holistic Pain Care Series

More about Dr. Kachko Here


PermaLink