Happy Valentine’s Day: Osteopathy and Heart Health

Happy Valentine’s Day: Osteopathy and Heart Health

  Think of the heart and most people think of pictures like those found on Valentine’s Day cards. That’s especially true every February, the month of love. Valentine’s Day is a time of year that we dedicate to the special person in our life. Even though we spend most of our time dealing with the emotions attributed to our heart, it’s not just the ups and downs of love that we should think about around Valentine’s Day, but the health of our hearts as well.   Heart disease and stroke will take one in three Canadians before their time. This equates to more than $20.9 billion every year in physician services, hospital costs, lost wages and decreased productivity. These are devastating realities that every health care practitioner must face each day. Every seven minutes, someone dies from heart disease or stroke in this country.   Dr. A.T. Still, the founder of Osteopathy,  had a lot to say about the heart, its function, all that supplied it and all that it supplied. “All are indebted to the heart for their material size, and all qualities of motion and life sustaining principles of the human body,”  he wrote. Every single piece of our complex human physiology needs fresh nourishing blood supply to survive. This system must be complete working order. It takes a finely tuned interactive system for us to sustain a fully functioning life.   Even though we are discussing the Osteopathic role in treating heart-related concerns, we must remember that we can never discuss the circulatory system in isolation. Dr. Still did not care just about the heart pumping blood around the body, but also the nerves that supply this organ with action. “I think much of the diseases of the heart are not of the organ but from a feeble supply of electricity that is cut off in the medulla or heart nerves, between heart and brain,” he wrote.   There are many concerns to a classically trained Osteopath, like those at Paths to Vitality,  when discussing the treatment of a nutrition-based disorder. Blood is the essence of everything we do and everything we are. Blood provides nutrients and oxygen to our cells. It transports hormones and immunological agents. Its importance to our vitality is immense.   The goal of an Osteopath is to evaluate the unique body we are treating and identify the obstructions present in the anatomy. It is imperative to zoom in and out with our intentions, thoughts and understanding of the underlying physiology. Globally, where are the lines of force acting on the underlying physiology?  How are they affecting the local group of segments and what traumatic effect have they produced on the focal element in our physiology? The...

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Let’s Talk: Osteopathy and Mental Illness

Let’s Talk: Osteopathy and Mental Illness

  February 12th is Bell Canada’s “Let’s Talk Day,” a day to raise awareness about mental health in Canada and to raise funds for mental health programs and community initiatives across the country. Canadian Olympic athlete Clara Hughes is the frontwoman for this campaign, which has been a blessing to many who suffer from anxiety, depression and various forms of mental illness.   The Canadian Mental Health Association defines mental health as “not only the avoidance of serious mental illness. Your mental health is affected by numerous factors from your daily life, including the stress of balancing work with your health and relationships.”   The Canadian Psychology Association has named February Psychology month as well, “to generate grassroots activities that will raise Canadians’ awareness of the role psychology plays in their lives and in their communities.”   This time of year also contributes to the increase in patients suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that affects many Canadians during the long Winter months. Bodyandhealth.canada.com reports that for most people it tends to be worse in the fall or winter, making it an extreme form of the “winter blahs.” Some people, however, experience symptoms in the late spring or early summer. It is estimated that about 2 or 3 out of every 100 people are affected by SAD. About 15 out of every 100 people have less severe symptoms of SAD called the “winter blues.” Some believe that SAD may be related to the levels of melatonin in the body, a hormone secreted by the pineal gland.   All of this means that February is the perfect time to discuss our Osteopath of the month, A.G. Hildreth, who was a leading contributor to the development in dealing with mental illness through Osteopathic manual approaches. In addition, the Dr. Andrew Taylor Still quote chosen this month describes his views on the interconnections between mind, body and spirit.   Mental illness have always been seen as a taboo subject. We can talk about our friends or families physical ailments, but when it comes to listening to people who are suffering from crippling emotional and mental issues many people struggle to understand, or feel like it’s “just a phase.” Since we know that the body is a dynamic unit of function and that the structure and function are intimately connected it would make sense that physical ailments lead to mental concerns and vice versa. Dr. Still wrote in The Philosophy of Osteopathy, “There is one indispensable item to control this active body, or machine, and that is mind. With that added the whole machinery then works as man.” It would be a logical thought (fourth principle of osteopathy) that the application of Osteopathic...

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UN World AIDS Day 2012: Can Osteopathy Help With AIDS?

UN World AIDS Day 2012: Can Osteopathy Help With AIDS?

World AIDS Day, observed every December 1st, serves as a reminder that the fight against HIV has not gone away. It’s a very serious disease that still affects  more than 33 million people around the world, including five million young people, and approximately 2,400 people around the world become infected every day. It’s a disease the must be stopped, and there has been major progress in AIDS research and improved health care over the last few years. So much so, that the UN is pushing for governments around the world to contribute to “getting to zero… zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths – by 2015.”   We have all heard about the development of vaccines and anti-retroviral treatments related to AIDS, but the use of Osteopathic Manual Therapy to treatment may not be something you have heard before, so please bear with us. First, a few sentences about AIDS and how it affects the body. Then, a look at how Osteopathic Manual Therapy may help.   Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a disease of the human immune system caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). AIDS is the late stage of HIV infection, when a person’s immune system is severely damaged and has difficulty fighting diseases and certain cancers. Currently, people can live much longer (even decades) with HIV before they develop AIDS, because of combinations of medications that were introduced in the mid 1990’s. Before then, people with HIV could progress to AIDS in just a few years. However, these medications come with costs and side effects, and need to be taken for the rest of a person’s life.   HIV is an infection resulting from 1 of 2 similar retroviruses (HIV-1 and HIV-2). A retrovirus is an RNA virus that is duplicated in a host cell, using the reverse transcriptase enzyme to produce DNA from its RNA genome. HIV primarily infects vital organs of the human immune system such as CD4ymphocytes (a subset of T cells), macrophages and dendritic cells. HIV infection leads to low levels of CD4+ T cells through three main mechanisms:  Direct viral killing of infected cells  Increased rates of apoptosis in infected cells  Killing of infected CD4+ T cells by CD8 cytotoxic lymphocytes that recognize infected cells   When T cell numbers decline below a critical level, cell-mediated immunity is impaired, increasing risk of certain infections. Risk of subsequent manifestations related to immunodeficiency, is proportional to the level of  lymphocytes. Manifestations range from asymptomatic carriage to AIDS, which is defined by serious opportunistic infections or cancers or a CD4   How does an Osteopathic Manual Therapist treat their patient to truly make a positive impact on...

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Osteopathy and Infertility

Osteopathy and Infertility

  A basic principle of osteopathy is that structure and function are interrelated. This thesis excerpt shows how that principle applies to the treatment of infertility.   In order to treat the conditions and diseases of the reproductive organs that may be causing infertility, it is important to completely understand the anatomy and physiology involved.   Looking back at the fields of influence to the pelvic organs, the treating osteopath recognizes the importance of these spinal levels. Specific regions of the spine will be associated with particular diseases. Bony lesions in the areas of the lower dorsals and respective ribs, upper lumbars, the sacrum and innominates will affect the pelvic organs and therefore must be corrected with treatment.   Many times, correcting the bony lesions and freeing up the vascular and nerve vessels, symptoms will resolve. Displacement of either the organs or bony framework will lead to abnormal blood flow and nerve force, which are requisite for health.In addition to bony or visceral correction, there are times when stimulation or inhibition can be applied to an area that has influence over other areas of the body thus achieving the desired outcome.   Faulty mechanics or incorrect body posture can lead to physiological lesions and symptoms. With many of the pelvic organ congestion diseases such as endometriosis, it is crucial to remove the pressure being placed on the lower cavity due to poor body mechanics. A low diaphragm and ptosis can lead to circulation disturbances that will give rise to congestion of organs of the lower abdomen and pelvis as venous drainage is impeded by the lack of diaphragmatic pumping in the drooped figure.In many cases, weakened pelvic floor muscles can cause malposition of the uterus. A displaced uterus can cause symptoms like dysmenorrhea, menorrhagia, and irregular menstruation, all of which can interfere with a women’s fertility. These symptoms will often disappear once the body mechanics have been sufficiently corrected to remove the pressure from above. This is consistent with the osteopathic principle that structure and function are interrelated.   Dr. Marian Clarke regards the spinal lesions as most important to treat because of their effect on the nerve supply to the organs. Dr. Clarke recommends letting loose the nerves by springing the spine, therefore separating the vertebrae and correcting muscular lesions.   The ovaries, being endocrine glands, exhibit control over the other pelvic organs and therefore possess some control over the menstrual cycle. Since this is physiologically true, it is important to note that any disease or lesion affecting their function will ultimately affect the functions of the other organs as well. The ovaries are the most important of the pelvic reproductive organs therefore thoughtful consideration should be given...

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Valarian Root and Osteopathy

Valarian Root and Osteopathy

Valarian root is a common natural healing agent that could benefit many osteopathic patients.   Valerian root has been shown to be a very powerful aid in dealing with both Insomnia and Anxiety. One of the most common denominators in clinical practice is stress. Heightened sympathetic activity or stress will alter many physiological functions in the human body.   Osteopathic manual practitioners, like those at Paths to Vitality, provide all possible means to assist their patients. Suggesting ways of dealing with daily stressors can be just as important as a more conventional treatments.   It all ties into the overall philosophy of uniting mind, body and spirit.   Gentle activity, meditation, reading, breathing exercises and dietary review all have their place. Valerian root has been shown to positively affect the GABA receptors in the brain to either stimulate them or increase their concentration. This appears to positively affect the patients experience dealing with many stress related symptoms including anxiety. The standard dosage is 2-3g of dried herb or 270-450mg in the form of tea. Generally, it does not cause side effects but it may promote mild GI discomfort, sedation, or compound pharmaceutical depressants.   References: 1. http://altmedicine.about.com/od/valerian/a/valerian_insomnia.htm 2. Bratman, Steve and David Kroll. The Natural Pharmacist: Natural Health Bible. Vol.6 Issue 3. Prima Publishing, 2002. 3. http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/valerian-000279.htm 4....

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