Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Weekly Health Tips

Mental Attitude: “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”
Thomas Jefferson

Heart Alert: Don’t Ignore the Warnings! According to researchers from Boston Univeristy’s Slone Epidemiology Center, one in 10 children uses at least one cough medication during any given week, and younger children are the most frequent users. Just over 10% of children ages 2-5 were given antihistamines, 9.9% were given decongestants and 7% were given cough suppressants. Even more startling, 7.6% of children under age 2 received antihistamines, 5.9% received decongestants and 9.4% received cough suppressants. The Food and Drug Administration issued a Public Health Advisory recommending parents and caregivers not use over the counter cough and cold products to treat children under age 2, announced it was in the process of reviewing whether the warning should be extended to older children (ages 2-11). In October, drug manufacturers announced they were extending the warning to include children ages 4 and younger, a move supported by the FDA. Apparently, some parents have not heard the warnings or are choosing to ignore them.

Diet: School Food Experiment. An experimental program banned candy, scaled back on snacks, handed out raffle tickets when positive food choices were made and spent time teaching good nutrition to teachers, kids and parents. The number of becoming obese dropped to half that of comparable schools that did not implement this program.
Associated Press, April 2008

Exercise: Interval Training. Lack of time is the number one reason people give for not exercising regularly, and lack of results, once they do start a exercising, isn’t far behind. Interval training every other day is a great solution for both of these common complaints. On the days you exercise, try intense bursts with periodic rest (5 minutes of exercise followed by 10 minute rest, repeat this 2-3 times).
American Council on Exercise

Chiropractic: Why Does it Hurt, I Didn’t Have an Accident? Often tissue fatigue is the answer. Overuse of muscles and soft tissue from repetitive motion can cause micro-tears. At a certain point, the tissue simply fails. It is then prone to inflammation and tightness, which cause pain.

Wellness/Prevention: Be Careful With Your Soap! Antibacterial agents: we have become overly obsessed with killing germs in the name of preventing illness. Antibacterial soaps are not only unnecessary, but may be harmful. The FDA classifies Triclosan, the most commonly used antibacterial agent, as a drug. The EPA classifies Triclosan as a pesticide.

Quote: “Each patient carries his own doctor inside him. They come to us not knowing that truth. We are at our best when we give the doctor who resides in each patient a chance to work.”
Albert Schweitzer, MD

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Health Tips

Mental Attitude: Adjusting Your Attitude. “Change surroundings and take long journeys. Strictly avoid frightening ideas. Indulge in cheerful conversation and amusements. Listen to music.”
Cornelius Celsus, (ca 25BC- ca 50) Roman encyclopedist and physician

Health Alert: United States, Using Drugs for Health?
Top five countries in drug expenditure per capita.
US $752
France $599
Canada $559
Italy $512
Iceland $494
Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Diet: Restricted Over-Indulgence. Researchers from the University of Alberta have discovered diet drinks and snacks, at least in juvenile rats can actually promote weight gain. They found after a period of being fed such dietary items, they tended to go “hog wild” when presented with normal foods. While the reason for the effect (which was not seen in adult rats) is not clearly understood, the authors suspect the youngsters’ appetite mechanisms were thrown out of kilter by the specialty foods. In light of this study, they recommend that children be fed a diet of well-balanced foods in their natural form.
Obesity, Aug 2007

Exercise: Strength Training – Just 20 minutes of basic exercises, two days a week, will help firm and tone the whole body. Strength training will modestly increase metabolism, helping to burn more calories, even when you are resting.
American Council on Exercise

Chiropractic: Muscle Tension Test. Remember you are continually re-injuring yourself by carrying groceries, shoveling, sitting at a computer, sleeping wrong or lifting wrong, etc. Try this: sit-up straight in a chair, have a friend feel the muscle tension in your shoulders. Then lean your head and shoulders forward simulating working on the computer. The tension instantly increases, which will lead to muscle soreness if sustained for a long period of time. So watch your posture, stretch and take breaks.

Wellness/Prevention: Sunlight Cuts Breast Cancer. Sunlight exerts a powerful effect against advanced breast cancer. The effect was only significant in light-skinned women, but it translated into a 47% lower risk of the disease. Researchers suspect vitamin D, formed in light-skinned individuals exposed to the ultraviolet rays, is responsible for the benefit. Vitamin D formation is reduced as skin tone darkens.
American Journal of Epidemiology, Oct 2007

Quote: “Without health, life is not life; it is only a state of languor and suffering.”
Francois Rabelais

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Weekly Health Tips

Mental Attitude: Tips for a Positive Mental Attitude. 1. Smile 2. Laugh 3. Greet people courteously 4. Be enthusiastic 5. Dream, set a goal, aim high!
Srivathshem Nagarajan

Health Allert: Killer Bacteria! In 2005, MSRA (methicillin-resistant-staph aureus) was responsible for 94,360 serious infections and 18,650 hospital stay-related deaths in the United States (more death than AIDS). The prevailing thought is that bacteria “learn” to become resistant to new antibiotics faster as their mutation rate surpasses our ability to make new effective antibiotics.
Centers for Disease Control/Journal of the American Medical Association, Oct. 2007.

Diet: Oil the Heart. Portable heart defibrillators can help save lives but according to a new report from the High Center at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, many more lives could be saved if people just ate more fish or at least took fish oil supplements. A computer simulation, based on the results of past research data, found a 6.4% total death reduction resulted from an increased consumption of omega-3 fatty acids. In contrast, defibrillators saved about 1% of the virtual population.
The American Journal of Medicine, Sept. 2006.

Exercise: Increased Cardio/Aerobic Exercise Leads to Weight Loss. Aerobic exercise is any activity that uses large muscle groups in a continuous, rhythmic fashion over sustained periods of time (typically a minimum of 20-45 minutes). Walking is a weight-bearing aerobic exercise, as are jogging, rope skipping and dance (as well as my favorite – Boxing). Non-weight-bearing aerobic exercise includes bicycling, swimming and rowing.
American Council on Exercise.

Chiropractic: How fast can a patient with neck pain expect to feel better with chiropractic care? British authors studied which neck symptoms respond the quickest to hands-on treatment. Overall, considering all possible neck complaints, about 70% of patients reported immediate favorable responses to manipulation. However, if patients complained about specific things like headaches, shoulder or arm pain, reduced arm or neck movement, neck pain, or upper or middle back pain, the percentage of those who reported immediate improvement in pain rose to an incredible 95%!
Journal of Manipulative and Physiologiacal Therapeutics, March 2008.

Wellness/Prevention: “Cancer has one prime cause! The replacement of normal oxygen respiration of the body’s cells by an anaerobic (oxygen deficient) respiration” Dr Otto Warnburg 1883-1970 Nobel Prize 1931. So don’t stop your deep breathing exercises, as nothing is more important than a constant source of oxygen from slow deep breathing.

Quote: “Diseases are penalties w pay for overindulgence, or from our neglect of the means of health” Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton (May 25, 1803 – January 18, 1873) was an English novelist, poet, playwright and politician.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Age and Fitness

Age should never be an excuse or impediment to being fit. I frequently here the complaint “I too old to workout” or “I’m to old and out of shape to start”. We are never to old to get exercise as we are never to old to start living a healthier life. I just came across this video of a 67 year old man demonstrating some intense but short workouts. If you are feeling to old, run down or discouraged by your lack of exercise let it serve an as inspiration to you.

If you are already active and working out think about adding some of these exercises to your routine – they require little equipment, a pull-up bar and a pair of dumbbells. So try it out.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Health News

Mental Attitude: Run away from depression? A study from Duke University Medical Center reports regular exercise can help patients suffering from depression. Patients performed group based exercise therapy 3 times a week, home based exercise, took a typical antidepressant or took a placebo pill. The researchers concluded group based exercise worked every bit as well as typical antidepressant drugs. Using a home based exercise program did not yield as much benefit as exercise in a group setting, but still better than taking a placebo. Psychosomatic Medicine, Sept. 2007

Health Alert: Prescription Drug Poisonings! The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) reports unintentional deaths due to drug poisoning (mostly prescribed medications) increased by 68% between 1994 and 2004. This is now only second to motor vehicle accidents as the major cause of accidental deaths. The rate in 2004 was 7.1 deaths per 100,000. Psychotherapeutic drugs were the largest contributor to the problem in the study. Morbidity and Morality Weekly Report, Feb 2007

Diet: Stay Away from Artificial Colors! Most artificial colors are derived from coal tar, which is known to cause cancer. Generally artificial colors are designated either FD&C, D&C or as a color with a number after it, such as FD&C Red No. 40, D&C Green No. 5 or Yellow No. 6. FDA 2007

Exercise: Painful Playtime! The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued warnings in 1977, 1981 and 1999, emphasizing the dangers of trampolines and recommended they not be used. Despite these warnings, visits to emergency rooms skyrocketed between 1990 and 2005. The number in injuries has increased exponentially each year, leading the AAP to characterize trampoline injuries among children as “epidemic” and to recommend banning them from home use entirely.

Chiropractic: How Important is Posture? Chiropractic adjustments allow for proper motion of the spine making it easier to maintain posture “90% of our brain’s energy is used for posture alone.” –Dr Robert Sperry (Nobel Prize 1981)

Wellness/Prevention: Tackle Your News Year’s Resolutions all at Once. People who tried to cut back on sodium and quit smoking at the same time were twice as likely to succeed as those who tried each goal separately, 6 months apart. For example, in the group of people who tried both goals at once, 30% lowered salt consumption, compared with 17% of the group that tackled one at a time. “There’s synergy when you make several changes together,” explains lead author David J. Hyman, MD. “Why keep puffing cigarettes once you’ve revamped your diet?” 44% of Americans resolve to fix at least one unhealthy habit in 2007. Baylor College of Medicine

Quote: “Mystery creates wonder and wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.” – Neil Armstrong

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Winter asthma, a rude awakening

As many of you already know I have asthma and this hasn’t stopped me from living a very active life, physically. This past weekend I ran a 5k trail race and had a rude awakening as I started the run. Before the race I used both my long and short acting inhalers but due to the cold and very dry air I was wheezing through the first 2 miles of the race. I pushed on and finished with a much slower time than I expected.

Many of you have asthma of have children with asthma (I fall into both categories since my daughter has asthma also). Winter can be a very difficult time. We all think of asthma in relation to allergies and as a result think of the warm months when flowers, trees and grasses are producing pollen. But, winter offers another challenge. Cold dry air is a potent activator of asthma. When you, or a loved one with asthma, are exposed to cold dry winter air your airways react by constricting.

If you or a loved one has asthma you need to be vigilant when outside in the cold weather – well before you go outside make sure that you use your medications (follow your doctors recommendations).
  • Rescue inhalers need to be kept warm – keep your inhaler in an inside pocket close to your body and insulated from the outside air and wind (a cold inhaler won’t work when you need it). This also applies to those who need to carry EpiPens (they won’t work if they are frozen).
If you are already aware that cold dry air increases your asthma symptoms some additional things you can do when you go outside are:
  • Gentle exercise outside for 15 minutes prior to engaging in more strenuous activities (like shoveling or snow blowing)

  • If you are going to exercise or run outside do 5 30sec sprints with a 2:30 rest before your actual workout.
Last night I did a 3 mile run, which included the sprints and felt great – compared to my wheezing during the same distance on Sunday with no warm-up.

Yours in health, Dr. Tom Meehan

Thursday, November 20, 2008

FREE STUFF for "Winter Nose"

While supplies last, I’ll be giving away free samples of NeilMeds “Sinus Rinse” and “NetiPot” to any people who stop in and would like one. I don’t sell this product but get free samples from NeilMed a few times a year. If this product works well for you then you can get refill packs at Walgreens or Jewel. Just stop in at any time we are in the office and pick it up.

With the cold weather finally here to stay one of the less pleasant aspects of winter will be following. What I am referring to? Well “Winter Nose” of course (in case you didn’t look at the title). Winter is one of the hardest seasons of the year for our noses – the cold dry air leads to nosebleeds, sinus congestion, runny noses, crusty noses and red noses. One helpful solution that is gaining popularity is the “sinus rinse”. Many of you with dry winter nose are familiar with gels or saline sprays to combat this problem; sinus rinses are another very effective tool.

Below is an educational video on the Sinus Rinse from NeilMed.

Why am I giving away free samples of something I don’t sell? Well, it's simply to let you know where I’m located in case you need my help for some problem in the future.

Yours in health,

Dr. Tom Meehan

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Children, exercise, drugs and obesity

I'll have a new post up Monday on this subject. I always hate to see children who don't enjoy the energy and enthusiasm that you would expect to see at their young age. It is hearbreaking to see children who can't or don't play because of some disease that is attacking them. It is even worse to see the same thing but instead it is due to something we could prevent or control.

Monday I'm posting an article on a problem that we can control but if we don't can rob our children of their health, now and in the future.

Earlier today I had to clean up and straighten our house as well as take care of my 5 year old daughter. While I did let her watch TV for an hour, I worked hard and fast. My motivation, getting her outside to play. Children need to move and play and be outside (not inside watching TV and playing video games). As a father and a doctor I take this seriously, it is my duty to make sure she grows up healthy and active. I hope that you feel the same as me.

(post comments, suggestions or questions to "Comments" below).

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wii Sports, real exercise?

We all seem to live our lives with computers, remote controls, cell phones etc. which has lead to our more sedentary lifestyles. With this in mind, can a video game improve our fitness? My initial reaction is no, video games require us to remain stationary in front of a computer – in essence remaining sedentary. Well, the Wii game system was designed to challenge this by making gamers actually stand up and move. But, does this actually equal exercise?

Thankfully, the American Council on Exercise performed a study that they published in August on playing Wii Sports

For those of you not interested in reading the actual article here is a brief summary of it:

  • Playing Wii sports does burn more calories than just sitting around (no big surprise).

  • To achieve any benefit from the Wii system you need to stand up and mimic the actual movements of the sport you are playing. Still, it does not provide the same benefit as actually playing the real sport but can act as a bridge – if you like the sport then you may be tempted to actually do it (which is more fun and provides a much greater benefit).

  • The sport that provides the greatest benefit on the system is boxing. Boxing was the only sport that was found to be intense enough to actually maintain or improve cardio respiratory endurance by the standards set by the American College of Sports Medicine. Good news for me, as many of you already know my preferred exercise is boxing and muay thai kickboxing. Even so, Wii Boxing is burns one third less calories than actual boxing practice. If you want a real boxing workout come to Plainfield Fitness and Fight Training currently I train people for free and have a flexible schedule.
Bottom line:
If you are new to exercise than Wii Sports is something you can start with, its fun and gets you moving. If the Wii system gets you off the coach then that is great. But, that is just the first step. Once you are comfortable playing Wii then you really need to get out and do something, for idea refer to my earlier post on “What are you doing today to stay healthy”.

Yours in health,
Dr. Tom Meehan

The American Council on Exercise is currently conducting a study on Wii Fitness. I will be sure to update you when that comes out.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Cure for the Flu?

As the days get shorter and colder our worries start to turn to the cold and flu season. The questions most of us have are “will I get the Flu?” and “is the anything I can do to avoid catching it?” I’m going to provide you with some strategies to drastically improve your chances.

Like all of you; I hate the flu – I’ve had it (more than once) and I never want to get it again. Nobody wants to get sick and no one wants to take off work because of it. As a result I searched the medical research to find some answers and I made a surprising discovery (more on that in a bit).

  • Most of hear the following tips for the flu season:
  • Make sure you get enough sleep
  • Avoiding touching your eyes and mouth and wash your hands
  • Get the flu shot
  • Engage in regular exercise
  • Air out your house on a regular basis
I endorse and encourage all of these and most of us already do them and still seem to get the flu in the winter. So, what else can we do?”

The good new is that recent research has found a possible answer for why we get the flu and colds in winter. The bad news is that many of our common beliefs for what causes us to get sick have been disproved.

Most of us were brought up with the belief that going out in cold or wet weather caused us to get a cold or flu – recent and past studies have consistently disproved that belief. My daughter is 5 years old and I have to fight this old belief as weather gets colder – I want her to be warm outside and want to say “you’ll get sick if you don’t put a sweater on” but now I hold my tongue because I know better now – its not cold or wet weather that cause’s you to get sick.

If its not cold weather you might think it’s being around people more due to it being cold outside? Again the answer is no, we now work indoors close to people year round and still more people get sick in the winter than the summer when we are huddled together inside in the air conditioning.

So what is it that leads us to get sick more in winter months? Recently a doctor made a surprising discovery:
In 2005 in a hospital over run with the flu Dr John Cannel, a psychiatrist, noticed that none of the patients on his ward caught it. What was different about them? Well, the only thing he could find was that his patients were all on high doses of vitamin D. Think about it, vitamin D is known as the “Sunshine” vitamin since our bodies need sunlight to make it. In winter months the days are shorter and the time we do spend outside we are covered up. In addition vitamin D has been the subject of a considerable amount of research with the immune system, it helps in lowering the risk and severity of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, just to name a few. So how does it work on the flu? The current theory involves a chemical called cathelicidin which is produced by our bodies to fight infection. Cathelicidin needs vitamin D to be active in fighting viruses and microbes.

The USDA, the agency that sets the bar for what we should be getting in our diets, has raised the recommended level of vitamin D from 200 to 400 units a day due our need for it and our reduced exposure to the sun year round but many doctors and researchers put it at 1000 – 2000 units a day, especially in the winter.

You may think you’re getting enough vitamin D since you drink milk, a glass of milk provides just 100 units of vitamin D while 15 minutes in the sun give you up to 20,000 units.

Even if you go outside in the winter you have to cover up to stay warm which limits your exposure to the sun. So supplementation makes sense.

Thankfully, vitamin D supplements are very inexpensive. My current recommendation is to take 1000 to 2000 units of vitamin D a day from November to March – the peak flu season. Investment is minimal – under $10 for a month, less than most people spend on lunch for one day, – is that worth the possible lost work or even your job?

Personally I supplement with 2000 units of vitamin D a day from November to March. I did this last year and even though I didn’t get vaccinated I avoided getting the flu.

In summary

Follow the usual recommendations:

  • Get Enough Rest
  • Clean Hands
  • Flu Shot
  • Regular Exercise
  • Airing out the house
  • Vitamin D 1000-2000 units a day
While Vitamin D supplements are safe for most there are some of us who shouldn’t take them: If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood calcium levels, kidney disease or are taking digoxin or other cardiac glycosides, consult your medical doctor or chiropractor before taking vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D toxicity can occur, usually when the dose taken exceeds 10,000 units a day

Yours in health,
Dr. Tom Meehan

If you’re skeptical, please check out the experts below:
Articles and interviews with Dr Cannel -
Baltimore Sun article http://www.healthy.net/scr/news.asp?Id=8826

Epidemic Influenza and Vitamin D, Cannel’s original article

Vitamin D in Clinical Practice (vitamin D supplementation reduces deaths from numerous diseases) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18377099?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

On the epidemiology of influenza (Cannel’s most recent article, full text, on vitamin D and influenza)

Related articles on vitamin D -
Kids should get more vitamin D: http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/diet.fitness/10/13/vitamin.d.kids.ap/index.html

Life Extension Foundation article http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2007/feb2007_report_vitamind_02.htm

Another plug for vitamin D from Opra’s friends (second question on the page)

Monday, November 3, 2008

How long have you got?

We all have a finite time on this planet and I hope that you want that time to be as long and productive as possible (I know that I do). There are many factors that influence how long we all live, some we can control and some we can’t (even those we can’t control we can still influence). Below you’ll find an interesting test that will leave you thinking. Every question is relevant to how we age: stress, nutrition, lifestyle etc. Just taking the test gives you insight, by answering the questions and seeing the other answers you get an idea of what you need to change to live a longer healthier life.

Life Calculator

Take the test today to learn what you need to do to live a longer healthier life.

My number surprised me, despite some of the bad habits that I have I came out at 101 years.

Wishing you a long, healthy and happy life,

Tom Meehan, DC

Sunday, November 2, 2008

What are you doing today to stay healthy?

Beyond getting a yearly physical, which I hope you do, what are you doing on a daily basis to stay healthy? Two areas that all of us can benefit from are exercise and nutrition.

In Plainfield we are gifted now with numerous gyms and programs that help us be active depending on how you want to approach fitness. It is important to find something that you enjoy doing, for me its boxing and fight training for you it may be aerobics, weight training, a sport like basketball or something else. As long as you enjoy it you’ll keep doing it. The point is finding something you like doing.
If you prefer working out at home there are numerous online resources, personally I like Art of Strength for kettlebell training (you can actually get kettlebells at Target now, and you only need one to start exercising), another great resource is the American College of Sportsmedicine Keys to Exercise Success

Local gyms and programs

Clubs – bowling, soccer, etc.

Nutrition – if you are having trouble with your weight then check out

This is not a complete list; just enough to let you know that there are resources in our Plainfield community that you can use to achieve your goals of a healthy and active life. Stay healthy and Keep Moving Toward Better Health.

(Post comments, suggestion or questions to "Comments" below)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The "Business" of Cholesterol

Cholesterol drugs are the rave in the pharmaceutical industry, in 2005 people in the US spent close to $20 billion on statin drugs. Statin drugs are big business. These drugs do a great job of lowering cholesterol so they must be good, right? Well, if your objective is to lower your cholesterol the answer is yes but if your objective is health and a longer life than the answer is no.

If they lower cholesterol how can they be bad? You might think I’ll refer to the side effects and while they are something to think about I feel it is more important to look at the effectiveness of these drugs. These drugs do lower cholesterol but do they lower your chance of having a heart attack and dying? Well, the answer is yes and no. If you’ve already had a heart attack they decrease your chance of another one by about 1% over 3 years, yes that’s right 1%. For every 100 people taking Lipitor, compared to 100 taking a placebo, 1 fewer person had a heart attack. If you’ve never had a heart attack the protection is significantly lower.

The common belief is that cholesterol causes arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) which leads to heart attack when the arteries to the heart become to narrow or a piece breaks off leading to a clogged artery. If cholesterol is the cause of arteriosclerosis then why don’t they work? While cholesterol is the substance that sticks to the walls of the arteries leading to narrowing it’s being in the blood stream is not what causes it to stick. Cholesterol only sticks to the walls of the arteries when there is injury and inflammation in the lining of those arteries. Without injury and inflammation cholesterol is used for other purposes, like making hormones.

Eating a Mediterranean diet or just eating more fish have both shown a greater benefit than statin drugs at reducing heart attacks.

If you or a loved one is taking a Cholesterol drug I encourage you to look at the information in the articles and video below to make an informed choice about taking it.

A very enlightening article on the effectiveness of cholesterol drugs published in Business Week: Do Cholesterol Drugs Do Any Good .

Life Extension Foundation on Coronary Artery Disease and Atherosclerosis .

This is a great video by Matthew Loop DC on cholesterol drugs.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Big 3 and Back Pain

Low back pain is so common that all of us experience it at some time or other – it is actually the most common reason people go to see their doctors. While there are some life threatening causes of low back pain (like Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm) the vast majority of low back pain is due to problems with the muscles and joints in the low back. The good news is that improving the function of your muscles and joints normally requires exercise and Chiropractic adjustments and not surgery. Below is a video of some of the exercises I use in my office for stabilizing the low back so it can handle day to day stresses without pain.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New on blogger

Starting this up on blogger so updates will come in next day or two, began on Wordpress but I'm more comfortable with blogger so I decided to start over here.