The National Institute of Whole Health (NIWH) | Pioneers of Whole Health Education® and Whole Person Care
March 21, 2017

A Holistic Approach To Treating Fibromyalgia Patients

By Georgianna Donadio, MSc, DC, PhD

Fibromyalgia is a condition that millions of Americans suffer from. Translating from the Latin and Greek roots, it means “pain in the fibrous muscle and connective tissues.” The major identifying symptom is intense, chronic pain in the muscles tissues, which are highly sensitive to pressure. The sensitivity is often located throughout the body and can move and shift without any apparent rhyme or reason.

It has been observed that fibromyalgia is often accompanied with a host of other symptoms such as joint pain and difficulty with movement, fatigue and exhaustion, difficulty sleeping or getting restful sleep, as well as headaches and other symptoms.

What can be frustrating for sufferers is that even after many decades of clinical research on fibromyalgia, medical experts refer to this condition as a “medically unexplained syndrome.” The condition is clinically defined as a history of widespread pain in the connective tissues that persist for over 12 weeks and which affects both sides of the body, including regions both above and below the waist.

The prevailing medical course of treatment offered includes muscle relaxants, anti-depressants, and even anti-seizure medication. The onjective of prescribing these drugs is to affect the nervous system function and thereby reduce pain. Unfortunately, one of the side affects of these medications is that they can also produce lethargy and fatigue, creating a “dog chasing tail scenario” for the sufferer.

Holistic treatment plans have been shown to be very effective in alleviating both the pain and other related fibromyalgia symptoms. The available holistic and alternative medicine approaches incorporate medication, patient education, aerobic exercise, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Here is how connective tissue and muscle fibers function in normal conditions as well as in fibromyalgia state: Energy is produced in each muscle cell, which in turn allows the muscle fiber bundles to move. When energy is produced through the Krebs Cycle inside each cell, crystal-like acids are produced. Lactic and pyruvic acids can build up in the spaces between the muscle fibers if there is a lack of proper blood flow or if the muscles are so tensed that these by-products cannot be removed with normal circulatory function.

The more tense the muscle, the more diminished the circulation, and the greater the tissue build up of these highly irritating acids. Over time, the surrounding tissues become highly inflamed and a chronic, painful syndrome is established.

This means that Fibromyalgia is a stress-fueled condition. As a result, it has been found that any options related to reducing stress and muscle tension, along with increasing circulation and relaxation, can be highly effective.

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March 15, 2017

What Sets Integrative Medicine Apart?

By Georgianna Donadio, MSc, DC, PhD

There is no doubt that more and more people are turning to integrative medicine and alternative modalities for their health concerns and disease prevention. This popular movement, converting one out of every two Americans, may seem like a new idea or a “health revolution.” In reality, it is a return to over 400 years ago, when health was seen from a whole person, integrated, and even spiritual perspective.

Until the early 1600’s, the realm of human health was believed to represent a person’s spiritual state. If one was healthy that meant they bore no demons. If one was sick, they needed to purge that sickness, which was seen as “possession” or a spiritual incorrectness to be remedied. The prevailing church of the day, ruled by the Vatican, exerted a huge influence over the medical community and how people viewed the cause and cure of their disease.

In 1612, physician Rene Descartes, a powerful and influential physician and scientist, declared, “I think therefore I am.” Eventually Descartes led the political movement to separate the body from the soul, a separation in which he and his peers brokered a deal with the Vatican, which was reluctant to give up control over its flock. However, the “scientific revolution” was gripping the current culture and the church knew it was prudent to agree. Thus, the division of mind and body began and the practice of medicine started down the slippery slope to where we find ourselves today.

Since this division set up a medical system that treated only physical health, it became accepted, by the mass majority, that this form of medicine was the only legitimate form of healthcare. However, over the course of the past 50 years people have grown sicker and increasingly dissatisfied with the medical system.

This led to an increase in the use of “untried” remedies and treatments which offered success and often cures for varied ailments. These “alternatives” treatments attempt to address the whole person rather than just the physical body. Because of the success of alternative treatments, and their resultant popularity, we are currently experiencing a renaissance of the “whole-person,” body, mind, and spirit approach to healing.

Today, thanks to the Internet, we have more information about every aspect of health than ever before. Still, there exists confusion between allopathic medicine and integrative medicine, how their treatment approaches differ and how one can discern what is right for their particular need or condition. By comparing and contrasting both approaches, individuals can be empowered with information to make an educated decision about how they would like to address their personal health care and what forms of care they would like to incorporate.

Often called modern medicine, conventional or traditional, allopathic medicine defines health as the absence of disease. The term comes from the Greek roots meaning “opposite” and “disease,” referring to a principle of curing a disease, disorder or problem by administering drugs or surgery that produce the opposite effect of the problem.

The main cause of illness is considered to be viruses or bacteria and scientific tests are used to diagnose before drugs or surgery are prescribed. Furthermore, the emphasis here is more on “attacking the problem,” seen as an invader or enemy outside the self rather than exploring the cause and effect of the problem and working to identifying what needs to be changed or altered to bring about the return of health.

Alternative, natural, complementary or holistic medicine practices approach the problem or condition from a focus of identifying what particular choices or behaviors the individual might be making that is leading to the expression of symptoms collectively called their “disease or diagnosis.”

In contrast, because integrative medicine bridges the gap between traditional and alternative medicine, an integrative physician or practitioner would evaluate not only the patient’s physical health, but also the other aspects of their life that may be influencing their health.

Scientific evidence and ancient teachings have proven that there are multiple components to health that make up a whole person, therefore, illness cannot be cured or wellness realized without taking multiple aspects into account.

For example, a traditional allopathic approach to a sore throat could include a drug substance or over the counter aspirin and possibly a cough and sore throat medicine. The integrative medical practitioner, trained to stimulate the body’s natural healing potential, may well prescribe nutritional changes, herbs, aromatherapy, gargling with various natural extracts, vitamins, garlic, broths, vegetable or juice extracts, calcium sources or homeopathic remedies.

The options we are offered today through Integrative Medicine invite us to become more pro-active and better informed as well as become better health care consumers. This empowers us to take greater control over our health outcomes and longevity. That’s a prescription for good health we can all live with.

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March 7, 2017

Your Feet Are Your Foundation: Treat Them Well

By Georgianna Donadio, MSc, DC, PhD

Though often neglected, our feet are the foundation of our bodies. As such, foot health has a surprising impact on our overall health. After decades of practicing structural body care, one of the most common complaints that patients report is the pain they suffer after walking and standing for any length of time. This is often associated with wearing flat shoes.

Unfortunately, foot pain extremely common. Now approximately one in every two individuals experiences some foot pain with prolonged standing or with activity. Before we can address and eliminate foot pain, we need to understand why feet can become sore and tender from standing and walking.

Feet are the weight bearing “shock absorbers” of our bodies. They do an extraordinary job of keeping our bodyweight balanced and well distributed. This is one of the functions of our feet. They also allow us to walk, run, and function at high levels of agility and coordination.

The bio-mechanics of our feet include muscles running along the outside and inside of our legs. These muscles and tendons insert into our feet and impact the integrity of our individual foot function. These same muscles are also, through the spinal cord, connected to various organs in our body.

The expression “feeling weak in the knees” originates from how stress is communicated through the body via nerves, organs, and muscle function. The way stress regulation works in the body is through the adrenal glands. These are glands embedded in the kidneys. The same muscles that impact foot function are also connected to the adrenal glands through the spinal cord.

To see an example of this, the gait or foot health of a highly stressed person will most likely demonstrate that their shoes are either turning up, turning down, or are considerably worn out.

At earlier ages than ever before, individuals are experiencing high levels of stress. This can impact the function of the legs muscles and consequently the foot function. This can lead to foot pronation, pain, corns, bunions, and other foot malfunctions. Over time, walking in shoes that do not support our foot function is harmful to our feet and our overall health.

Using custom made foot orthotics that are worn in supportive shoes is the easiest and least expensive approach to solving foot issues before they become a complicated and painful concern. Your chiropractor or podiatrist can prescribe  cstomized orthotics if necessary. Another more challenging solution is reducing the amount of stress you encounter.

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