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Upper Cervical Chiropractic

Textbook Altering Link Between Immune System & Brain

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Textbook Altering Link Between Immune System & Brain

Prior to 2015 the medical community had zero workable knowledge of lymphatic drainage from the central nervous system. In theory, it was thought to exist and function in some capacity but no physical structure was ever found. In the words of one of the researchers from the University of Virginia who was a part of this amazing discovery, Dr. Jonathan Kipnis stated,

“I really did not believe there are structures in the body that we are not aware of. I thought the body was mapped…and that these discoveries ended somewhere around the middle of the last century. But apparently they have not.”

The structures the researchers had discovered are tiny vessels that reside in the meninges. These structures line the dural sinuses and transport immune cells to and from the central nervous system. The full text for the study can be found following this link.

This discovery should have profound effects on how neurological conditions are treated, particularly those characterized by a neuro-inflammatory response. Whether it is the build-up of proteins in the brain with conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease (amyloid plaques) or Huntington’s Disease (huntingtin protein), or the waxing and waning response of multiple sclerosis, the mechanistic relationship adjoining the brain and immune system cannot be ignored.

As upper cervical chiropractors, we have a responsibility to our patients to make sure we are optimizing the bony structure that surrounds the brainstem. One study performed by the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association found that secondary venous drainage from the skull was reduced in people suffering from migraine headaches and subsequently relieved symptomatically through the NUCCA correction process but also there was a greater percentage of venous blood flow from the skull post adjustment.

Another study that is currently still in the works is finding a plethora of evidence involving a stagnation of the cerebral spinal fluid and its inability to properly circulate around the brain and spinal cord due to a herniation of the cerebellum through the hole in the bottom of the skull that transmits the brainstem. (This often misdiagnosed as most MRI units view the structures in non-weight baring positions.) This has the effect of placing a cork in the opening of a bottle. Pressure can then build up inside the cranium and around the meninges that surround the brain and spinal cord. When restoration of the bony structure occurs through a specific correction to the misalignments between the skull and the top two vertebrae, the fluid can then begin circulating in a more normal pattern. When this occurs long term, neural tissue has displayed a remarkable ability to heal.

If venous drainage and cerebral spinal fluid can be altered to the extent that it causes disease based on the misalignment of spinal bones, it stands to reason that the same can be said of the proteins that build up in the brain with certain conditions. By restoring normal spinal biomechanics along with dietary changes to reduce systemic inflammation, a conservative approach to some of these conditions could drastically alter the outcome for many people suffering from neurological conditions. For those already under long term management for such conditions, co-managing with upper cervical providers could prove to be an essential missing piece of the puzzle in the patient’s journey back to health.

-In Health,

Dr. Andrew R. Burns

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The Importance of Fevers

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The Importance of Fevers

Fevers

Fevers are not the cause of sickness however they are a part of the solution!

Sure they can be annoying and quite the drag, but the purpose they serve is higher than appeasing your need for comfort.

We have been conditioned since birth, through the mechanisms and marketing of modern medicine to reduce a fever at its first sign. In most of the medical textbooks I have read, authors frequently state the importance of fevers, but then follow it up with something along lines of, “since the discovery of antibiotics, the discomfort that comes with having a fever seems unnecessary.”

False.

This is how immunology works. Our bodies become subsequently stronger after each infection. When we allow our body to clear an infection naturally with no artificial external input we build immunity.

This process becomes compromised every time we introduce medications to override it. Many studies refer to this as the immunological side effect of antibiotics. It can either speed up or slow down the production of immunoglobulins/antibodies. These are white blood cells that have the ability to recognize a foreign invader such as a virus or a bacterium. The antibodies have the ability to recall previous information, such as, what the invader looks like and how the invader was properly disposed of the first time, making subsequent infections much less severe.

This is why we typically get ill from certain infections only once.

If acetaminophen is used to reduce the fever, then the illness will be prolonged, along with the amount of time that shedding will occur (the contagious stage of an infection). This means the infected individual has the potential to deliver the antigens (invaders) to even more people.

Okay, so enough immunology for one day. Now onto the meat and potatoes of what the fever actually accomplishes.

What fevers achieve for us:

  1. Enhances immune function and phagocystosis (when a white blood cell eats an invader).
  2. Slows down the rate of reproduction of certain bacteria and viruses.
  3. Interferes with the uptake of iron by bacteria so that they are unable to reproduce.
  4. Increases the ability of CD8 (cytotoxic T-cells) to destroy cells that have been infected by a virus. The CD8 cells also help to eliminate tumor cells.
  5. Speeds up blood flow and delivery of white blood cells to fight off the infection.
  6. Causes our breathing rate to increase, which increases the amount of oxygen in our blood to speed up the repair of damaged cells.

Fever Regulation

Fevers are regulated by the hypothalamus, a gland that resides in the brain. Other portions of the anatomy are also important in the regulation of fevers such as the limbic system, reticular formation (in the brain stem), the spinal cord and spinal ganglia.

Chiropractors who have been practicing any length of time can tell you that when a patient who has a fever gets an adjustment in order to correct spinal subluxation, they will often see either an increase or a decrease in their fever, depending on the bodily demands at that moment in time. This makes prefect sense once you realize that the main players in regulating said fever reside in the central nervous system.  

So the next time you get a fever, remember it is not a defect in your system but a reset of your internal thermostat in order for your body to properly deal with an infection, a toxin or some other type of disease process.

For parents seeking some good advice about childhood fevers I suggest this brief article. Brain damage from fever is thought to be at 107.6°F in children, though this rarely occurs unless there is an underlying issue with the hypothalamus or nervous system.

Remember, you know yourself and your kids better than any doctor. If you suspect danger, emergency care should be sought. An inconsolable child with a high fever is much different than a consolable child with a high fever. Your intuition should never be ignored.

In Health,

Dr. Andrew R. Burns

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Headaches

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Headaches

Headaches can be quite unforgiving and they tend to range from mild annoyance to tossing your cookies in a dark bathroom.

Either way, they are no fun and often times affect how you go about your typical day. It has been estimated that roughly 57 billion dollars are spent annually in the U.S. managing headaches along with lost productivity. This is a sizable chunk of change for any economy.

If the dollar amount didn’t give it away, please know that headaches are pretty common. This, however, does not make them normal.

Symptoms

Face pain, vertigo, sinus pressure, auras, sound and light sensitivity, eye pain and dizziness can all be associated with headaches. While it is quite wonderful to rid yourself of these symptoms, it is even better for your body and more cost effective in the long run to eliminate the cause.

There are a plethora of reasons why one might be getting headaches, however I can assure you it is not from a Motrin, Excedrin or Aleve deficiency. These can certainly help from time to time, but to make it a lifestyle would likely be considered unwise.

Acetaminophen (and other NSAID's), the active ingredient in most headache drugs, can potentially have some nasty side effects that include: swelling of the tongue, insomnia, nausea, fever, jaundice, nervousness, irritability, headaches (go figure) and in severe cases a skin rash that can lead to death.   

Besides this interesting yet non-exclusive list, acetaminophen basically wreaks havoc on your liver. Fortunately for most of us our livers rebuild themselves quite quickly (30-40 days under good conditions).

Acetaminophen depletes the liver of its store of glutathione. This wouldn’t be a big deal except for the small fact this plays a huge role in immune function, free radical oxidation (anti-oxidant) and tissue repair (especially important if you’re already under a lot of stress or place a high physical demand on your body). 

If you currently suffer from headaches, here are a few of the usual suspects to take into consideration.

Food additives- If you currently consume one or more of these products, I’d strongly recommend you discontinue use. Do this for about 30 days. If the headaches persist, chances are there is a structural issue that needs corrected through chiropractic care, but I digress.

MSG- Monosodium glutamate, also known as yeast extract, glutamic acid, hydrolyzed protein, autolyzed protein, soy protein isolate, or simply “natural flavoring.” If anything in your cupboard has these words on it, then you can bank on it having MSG. There are actually many more names this goes by. You can find a decent source of this information here, http://www.livestrong.com/article/377482-other-names-for-msg-or-monosodium-glutamate/

Artificial sweeteners- This list includes basically any product that states sugar free and or low fat/ no fat. Some of these “foods” include diet soda, sugar free gum, sugar free juice, low calorie protein shakes, low fat yogurt, low fat pudding, low fat ice cream etc.

Water- Another possible source of your headaches could be that you are chronically dehydrated! Simple enough; drink more water!

Hormone Imbalance- For women, often times a hormonal imbalance can be the cause of headaches and they typically worsen, usually in the form of a migraine during menstruation, or PMS.

Stress- This one is a biggie, not simply because of the headaches they cause, but the overall health of an organism, especially when that organism is you. Reduce stress and simplify your life any and every opportunity you get. Your longevity depends on it.

Subluxation- There is literally study after study providing details on the overall effectiveness of upper cervical chiropractic and the management of headaches of all types; migraines (classic and common), cluster headaches, tension type and sinus headaches.

Out of the 4 case studies I read, covering 622 individual patients suffering from chronic benign headaches, 497 responded favorably to chiropractic care. Additionally, a randomized control trial observed chiropractic care consistently outperformed the medications, particularly over the long term.

Keep in mind, there a lot of things that can cause headaches. This list is not intended to self-diagnose or be all-inclusive but rather a starting point for someone who consistently deals with headaches.

As always, remember to stay hopeful and positive. There are always options out there that you have yet to explore! Go to work at it and find out what works for you.

In Health,

Dr. Andrew R. Burns

 

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Multiple Sclerosis

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Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) has long been thought to be an incurable disease of an autoimmune nature that directly affects the central nervous system (CNS). Another school of thought is that it is caused by a viral infection that simply lies dormant for a time and then attacks the CNS. I personally believe that new information coming out of the upper cervical chiropractic research world regarding a longitudinal study will soon change that way of thinking entirely, but until then, here’s what you need to know about MS.

MS is a disease of the central nervous system that affects the way information is passed along throughout the brain and spinal cord that collectively comprise the CNS. This system is made up by individual cells called neurons. These cells are then wrapped by an insulating layer called the myelin sheath. This layer not only separates the neurons from the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), but it also allows for rapid transmission of electrical signals (the method by which these cells communicate information).

The cerebrospinal fluid has two very important functions: 1.It supplies a nice medium to suspend the brain providing protection. 2. It helps remove metabolic wastes while delivering nutrients and energy to the brain.

The CSF has seen resurgence in the world of research due particularly to the advances in neuroimaging with the insinuation that it maybe vastly more important than once believed. Chiropractors have long believed that the CSF was pumped much like blood. With functional and upright MRI, we now know our assumptions were in fact correct.

Numerous ailments can occur when the flow of the CSF becomes altered. In my opinion, this is the beginning of the pathological process creating scar tissue as the CSF begins to damage surrounding neurons. When an individual has multiple areas of plaques (scarring) within their CNS they meet the criteria to receive the official diagnoses of MS (literally translated, multiple scars).

The Upper Cervical Difference

When an injury occurs, whether subtle or traumatic, distortions from normal anatomical positions can be observed. When this occurs in the cervical spine, a number of issues can arise, but for the purpose of this article, we'll be discussing some of the changes seen with MS.

First, the bones in the neck begin to straighten out and the normal secondary curvature is lost. Tiny ligaments called the dentate ligaments are attached to the spinal vertebrae and anchor the protective layer surrounding the brain and spinal cord called dura mater (meninges). Because the dura mater is one continuous membrane from the skull down through the spine, when the bones misalign and the normal curvature of the neck is lost, these ligaments place traction on the spinal cord and tug the brain downward.

At the bottom of your brain sits the cerebellum. At the bottom of the cerebellum sit the tonsils of the cerebellum. As the brain is pulled downward, the cerebellar tonsils herniate through the foramen magnum (the hole in the bottom of the skull where the brain stem exits, literally translated “big hole”). This acts like a cork in a bottle, damming up the flow of the CSF.

The CSF continues to pulsate though now it has nowhere to go but inwards toward the brain, or outwards toward the skull. This is how the plaques are formed. The CSF continually bangs into the neurons causing damage. Think of it like a callus being rubbed on the skin of your hand. Whenever damage occurs to cells an inflammatory response is sure to follow and this is how MS patient's end up with the demyelination of neurons. This is also characteristic of a few types of neurodegenerative disorders, but particularly MS.

It is the upper cervical chiropractor’s job to realign these bones and allow the normal curvature to be restored in the neck. This allows the traction to be taken off of the spinal cord and brain, effectively uncorking the cerebellar tonsils and restoring the proper flow of the CSF, which, in turn, halts the progression of the plaques and in some instances, allows the neural tissue to heal.

This is not a new phenomenon. There are 20 cases that were documented over a 5 year span at the BJ Palmer Clinic in Iowa during the 1940’s and 50’s. [Killinger LZ, Azad A. Multiple Sclerosis Patients Under Chiropractic Care; A Retrospective Study, Palmer J Res, 1997;2(4):96-100]

Another 81 cases were analyzed in a retrospective study featuring both MS and Parkinson's Disease patients. 40 of the 44 with MS and 34 of the 37 with Parkinson's showed symptomatic improvement with no further progression of the disease while under care. Full text found here: http://www.chiro.org/research/ABSTRACTS/Eighty-One_Patients_With_MS.shtml

One study followed a particular lady who was diagnosed with chronic progressive MS at 47 years of age, 3 years following the diagnosis of MS. All MS symptoms were gone following 4 months of upper cervical chiropractic care and an MRI showed all plaques had stopped progressing, while some began to heal. This case study can be found here [Elster EL. Upper Cervical Chiropractic Management of a Multiple Sclerosis Patient: A Case Report. J Vertebral Subluxation Res, 2001; 4(2):22-30].

There are many more studies out there and I am confident many more to come! If someone you know has been diagnosed with MS, please take the time to share with them this article.

In Health,

Dr. Andrew R. Burns

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Meniere's Disease

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Meniere's Disease

Each year thousands of people are affected by a condition known as Meniere’s disease. This is considered an idiopathic condition, meaning modern science does not know what causes this to occur, though several hypotheses exist. The disease is characterized by tinnitus (ringing in the ear), hearing loss, and episodes of severe vertigo (often accompanied by nausea and vomiting).

Upper cervical chiropractors have been helping people with Meniere’s for quite some time. One doctor in Michigan estimates that roughly 90% of all cases respond favorably to this type of care.

In our office, through the use of the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA) system of analysis, we have witnessed firsthand many individuals make a full recovery.

Medical doctors will typically treat this condition with some type of anti-nausea medication, steroid injections, and possibly diuretics to help lower the level of fluids retained by the body. Other methods of treatment include hearing aids, devices for ear pressure regulation, rehab and surgery.

Upper cervical chiropractors will take a much different approach, focusing on how the skull, along with the first and second vertebrae are aligned in relation to your neural canal (spinal cord). If a misalignment is present, we would perform a highly specific, painless adjustment, using about the same amount of pressure/force someone would use while taking a pulse.

When an individual begins care in our office with Meniere’s disease, there a few things they can typically expect to occur. The symptoms usually get worse before they get better. This can be a scary experience, especially if the vertigo leaves them unable to perform normal daily activities. Tinnitus levels become altered. Some have reported that the ringing becomes more of a reverberating sensation. In most cases, this would only last a few days, though for some it may take several weeks.

Though we cannot say for certain why many individuals with Meniere’s disease recover while undergoing upper cervical chiropractic care, what we can say is that often times they do. If you or someone you know is currently struggling with this disease, we highly encourage you to take a look into finding an upper cervical chiropractor in your area. A good place to begin your search would be at http://www.upcspine.com/.

In Health,

Dr. Andrew R. Burns

 

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