Saturday, February 5, 2011

Should I use ice or heat?

When it comes to deciding whether to use ice or heat for an injury, a few factors are important to consider. The first question is usually “is this a new (acute) or old (chronic) injury”. Acute injuries are quick sudden onset injuries that typically do not last long. Chronic injuries are injuries that develop slowly over time. Acute injuries are usually accompanied by sharp pain, swelling, tenderness, redness, and skin that is warm to the touch. Chronic pain on the other hand is usually more associated with dull pain or soreness and stiffness before or during activity.

Ice or similar cold therapy is best to use immediately following an injury typically up to 48 hours. Ice reduces swelling and pain by vasoconstricting blood vessels limiting internal bleeding at the site. It is also helpful in the repetitive or overuse injuries which may be a chronic problem but result in acute injury/irritation after activity. Again this will help to prevent inflammation and further damage to the tissue. It is not recommended however, to ice these types of injuries before activity.

Heat is best used on tissues in injuries that do not result in swelling or inflammation. This would include things like having a sore, stiff, nagging type of muscle problem or joint pain. People with these types of injuries are encouraged to use heat prior to activity to increase blood flow and elasticity of the muscles or ligaments and tendons. Heat should not be applied after exercise as it will cause further swelling and inflammation leading to more of a problem. Also you should never go to bed with a heating pad or hot pack on your body.

Again it is important to note that these are general guidelines and that each case is different. If you have questions about which one to use, you should contact your health care provider for further explanation.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lose Wheat - Lose Weight?

I recently came across an article written by Jim LaValle and posted in the LaValle Metabolic Institute Newsletter that I found to be very interesting and potentially life changing.  Now I do not usually take something and repost it verbatim but in this case I found it be very well written and very important to post the whole thing as to not lose any of the valuable information. It may be a little lengthy for a blog post but I urge you to read the whole document.

"The National Institute of Health has launched an all-out initiative to explore any and all possible contributors to weight gain, urging researchers to think outside of the box and explore all paths. For example, insulin resistance is finally being acknowledged as an underlying cause of weight gain. So anything that can induce insulin resistance can potentially lead to weight gain. Recently it was discovered that there are chemicals in the environment that induce insulin resistance, and they have been acknowledged now as potential contributors to weight gain and diabetes.
This is a milestone. For years I have been preaching that environmental chemicals can and are influencing our health - only to have this idea ridiculed and put down by conventional medicine, saying that it has never been proven. Well now it has.

How does this tie in with food allergies? The way that some chemicals cause insulin resistance is that they cause internal inflammation - and that inflammation damages insulin receptors. Food allergies are also a source of internal inflammation. The inflammatory substances put out by our immune cells (as a result of their reactions to foods) can damage our insulin receptors and cause insulin resistance. Insulin resistance causes weight gain.

Another mechanism by which food allergies may contribute to weight gain is that they cause our body to produce more stress hormones, which can also contribute to insulin resistance. In addition the overproduction of stress hormones can negatively influence the production of thyroid hormones. And finally food allergies can cause food cravings, (another factor the NIH urged researchers to explore.)

Keep in mind there are several types of immunoglobulins that react to foods. The ones that are typically tested by physicians who specialize in allergies are called IgE immunoglobulins or antibodies. These are the ones that create histamine and cause red watery eyes, dripping noses, and hives. There is another class of immunoglobulins called IgG. Until recently it was thought that these immunoglobulins were not a problem. But they have now been linked with things like eczema, even in adults.

One study looked at IgG antibodies in children and found that almost 60% of obese children did indeed have much higher levels of IgG antibodies in their system. They also had higher C reactive protein levels, a marker of inflammation. [1] This study is one of the first to raise the idea that IgG food allergies could cause inflammation and contribute to weight gain and other inflammation-related health problems like plaque build up in the arteries, which the obese children in the study already had.

In other words, food allergies including IgG reactions can cause inflammation and that can contribute to weight gain.

So to take it to the next logical step, some researchers decided to see if testing people for allergies and having them follow their allergy diets would lead to weight loss. They used 27 obese patients, half male and half female. The average BMI of the patients was 32. The study subjects were all tested for their allergies and went on a diet that eliminated the foods they were allergic to. After following their diets for 12 weeks, they lost an average of 35 pounds and a good percentage of the weight lost was body fat[2]. BMI's also came down significantly. So the results were extremely promising.

Listen, medical news like this can take years to trickle down into medical education and therefore into medical practice, but there is absolutely no reason you can't start to look into this issue for yourself. If you have trouble with your weight, I highly encourage you to explore whether food allergies may be playing a role, especially if you have any of the other conditions that can be related to food allergies, like hay fever, sleep apnea, irritable bowel, or eczema.

There are two ways to evaluate whether you have food allergies. You can either get tested through a lab or you can try to test it out yourself by doing an elimination of the common allergenic foods (See list below.) and reintroducing them one at a time and watching for symptoms, like headache or weight gain. If you want to try an elimination diet rather than getting tested, most registered dietitians would be able to help you with that. If you want to have testing done, most integrative medicine practitioners have a lab they work with to test allergies in their patients. We currently use two labs for food allergy testing Alletess and Immunolabs. If you would like to get tested, you can contact our office or refer to either of these company's websites to find a practitioner in your area. If you prefer to work with an M.D. find one who tests not just for IgE but also for IgG reactions. Depending on how many foods you are allergic to, the diets can be pretty challenging to do; once again I highly recommend seeking out a registered dietitian, who can help you plan some menus.

To make sure that you don't just develop new food allergies, it is also important to work with a practitioner who can outline a program to rebalance gut flora and rebuild intestinal tissue.

As many of you know, I have been specializing for years in helping people evaluate any and all areas that could be contributing to their weight problems. I have done this because I am tired of people being told their weight gain is simply a matter of calories in and calories burned, and because I feel very sorry for people who feel like failures because they can't lose weight. There are many hidden causes of weight gain, and food allergies are one of them.

The bottom line - if weight loss has been difficult for you, food allergies are just another area to evaluate and see if they might be an issue for you. I have had numerous patients for whom allergies played a role in their weight, and they are so happy when they find that by simply eliminating certain foods they can finally lose weight, and have a much easier time keeping it off."

[1] Wilders-Trusching, M. et al. Anti-food antibodies in obese children. Exp Clin Endocrin Diab 2008;116:241-45.

[2] Akmal, M. et al. The effect of ALCAT test diet therapy for food sensitivity in patient's with obesity. Middle East J of Fam Med 7(3), 2009.
The top 8 food allergens accounting for 90% of all food allergies are:

1. Wheat
2. Cow's milk
3. Peanuts
4. Tree nuts
5. Eggs
6. Soybeans
7. Seafood
8. Shellfish

For more information on Dr. Cullen and his practice, please visit his website at

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Eating healthy during the holidays: simple tips to avoid overindulgence

Follow these steps and you won’t hate yourself later for eating too much delicious holiday food.

1. Don’t skip meals. People seem to think that if they don’t eat breakfast or lunch, they can save up calories and eat and drink things that are not good for them. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. First, the body needs energy throughout the day, especially in the morning to jump start metabolism. Second, if people skip meals energy levels become sapped, which can lead to feeling hungry, shaky, or having headaches. Third, when people skip meals to eat more at one time, they tend to overindulge in high calorie foods leading to eating more calories than they would have originally. Last, when people skip meals, it actually slows metabolism over time.

2. Eat healthy snacks. Prepare yourself for the battle of workplace junk food. Plan ahead with good snacks like vegetables, unsalted nuts, granola, fresh fruit, quality energy bars, etc. One of my personal favorite healthy snacks to make is a combination of almonds, raisins, and dark chocolate. It has good fats, fiber, and sweetness that make it a healthy tasty snack that you can munch on throughout the day.

3. Stay hydrated. Many people have suggested that when your body is even mildly dehydrated, you can become hungry as your body tries to convince you that you need hydration. Also, if you drink water with every couple of bites, you will slow down your rate of eating, which will allow you to feel fuller so you don’t overeat in a short period of time.

4. Eat foods that are high in fiber before going to a party. This is a good trick because when you eat foods high in fiber, you will feel fuller and you won’t eat as much at the party. Eating foods rich in fiber is as simple as having fresh vegetables, a salad, or a piece of fruit like an apple.

5. Pace yourself. It’s not a race. Let’s face it, 90% of the time when we go to a party or holiday gathering, we are going to be there for at least a few hours. I can’t remember the last time I went to Thanksgiving dinner for 15 minutes and had to inhale my food. Slow down and pace yourself. It always seems like there are so many options. We take some of everything and eat quickly so we can get seconds before the family’s human garbage disposal eats the rest of the food. Get small portions of what you want and eat it slowly so you can savor the flavor.

6. Treat yourself to small portions of the good stuff. I hear people say “Oh I can’t have any of that, I am on a diet.” It’s a special occasion and you should enjoy the things and food that make you happy, just within reason. If you get a small portion of apple pie with ice cream on it, it’s not going to kill you. Don’t be extreme and totally deprive yourself or eat heaping portions of every sweet thing in sight. Pick one or two and have a little bit.

For more information on Dr. Cullen and his practice, please visit his website at

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Raking leaves doesn’t have to be painful

Now that it’s getting colder and leaves are changing colors, raking leaves is just around the corner. Playing in leaves can be fun for kids, but for most adults raking leaves can be a dreaded task.

Raking leaves is labor intensive and if not done right, can be a big pain in the back. There are a few main reasons people get hurt while raking:

• Not properly preparing before raking

• Improper technique

• Trying to do too much at one time

Here is some advice for getting the raking done without suffering for days to come.

Warm up to raking

First, realize that raking IS exercise. Like with any exercise, you should warm up and cool down. Warm up to get the heart rate going and the blood flowing. How can you do this? A quick five-minute walk and stretching of the major areas needed is all you need.

Stretch upper and lower back, legs, arms and shoulders. Start with the hamstrings, calves, quadriceps and hip flexors while standing. Then, move into stretching the upper back and shoulders. Finally, stretch the lower back and stomach area slowly.

If muscles aren’t warmed up and stretched before used, it’s more likely they will strain or pull.

How to rake it right

Raking is repetitive – reach, pull, twist, bend, repeat. Repetitive motions like this can lead to back pain. To avoid ending up on your back for days, try a few things.

First, keep the rake close to the body. Don’t overreach or overextend by trying to get more leaves at once. Choke up on the handle a little, face the direction you want to rake and make short, slow, controlled raking motions. Too much bending at the hips can lead to lower back pain.

Then, don’t let the rake head pass your body. This will help avoid harmful twisting in the lower back.

Next, move your feet. Don’t stand in one spot trying to reach as much as you can. Reaching off to the side or around you creates more harmful twisting that can lead to injury.

Last, switch sides when raking. Rake right-handed for a few minutes and then left-handed. It might seem awkward at first, but it’s much less awkward than having to tell your boss you can’t come to work because of a raking injury.

Rake it slow

Break your raking into small increments. Rake for 30 minutes max and take a 5 to 10 minute break. Stretch a little during your break.

Just like any other exercise, drink lots of water. Save the warm teas and ciders for when the job is done.

When you are standing back admiring your accomplishments, stretch again. This will help avoid tightness and soreness later.

Now get out there and start raking.

Monday, October 19, 2009


The Cullen Chiropractic and Wellness blog will provide relevant information about chiropractic, nutrition, wellness, treated conditions and any other health-related news. For automatic updates, sign up to follow this blog on the right-hand side of the page. Otherwise, check back often to find ways to get healthy and stay healthy.