Archive | June, 2011

How can you increase in memory 1,800%?

Dr. Chris Heimlich DC, Founder of the Arizona Fibromyalgia Institute, Comments:

I’m sure you’ve noticed ads for products that claim to enhance mental performance? After hearing all the research and the hype, I always try to ask myself the question “Why is that working?” and “What’s the underlying mechanism?”.

You could take 20 or 30 different nutrients to increase brain function, and each one of them has some rationale. But let’s consider “principles” that promote brain power rather than a specific “take this miracle product” approach.

We now know, contrary to our earlier understanding, that parts of the brain can regenerate though a process called neurogenesis. To stimulate and control neurogenesis, certain chemicals called neurotrophins are involved.

One of the most exciting factors and one of the most active is a protein called BDNF, “brainderived neurotrophic factor.” BDNF is an essential key player in creating new neurons and protecting old ones. Some of the factors that are involved in turning on BDNF are voluntary exercise, caloric reduction and intellectual stimulation. I say “voluntary” exercise because lab animals that were stressed or forced to exercise did not have the same benefits as those who could exercise at will.

Dr. Lautenschlager of the University of Western Australia found that elderly individual’s who exercised the equivalent of 20 minutes a day for 24 weeks showed an 1,800 percent increase in memory, attention and other cognitive functions.

One reason exercise may be so important is that BDNF is also found in skeletal muscle. It appears that “as BDNF in the muscle increases so does BDNF in the brain.”

Next, let’s consider caloric reduction. More and more research reports the benefits of caloric reduction, and one of those benefits is an increase in BDNF. The average American consumes an average of 500 more calories per day than they consumed in 1970. So reducing calories from the estimated 3,700 to 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men is not a huge discomfort.

Another interesting note is that “BDNF levels are low in those with obesity and also in patients with Type II diabetes.”

Just as exercise can increase BDNF in the muscles, mental exercise can also increase BDNF in the brain. BDNF is increased with problem solving and intellectual stimulation.

Of course, it will come as no surprise that stress is one of the major factors which “negatively” affects brain health. We can break stress into 4 major categories: inflammatory stress, oxidative stress, toxic stress (both internal and external toxins) and of course emotional stress. Each of these categories overlap, and each one of them can intensify the other.

Most of you know the factors that can lead to inflammatory stress: hydrogenated or trans fats, elevated homocysteine levels, food allergies, diets high in refined carbohydrates that will raise insulin levels to name a few. Oxidative stress occurs as a natural process of life but can be accelerated by depletions of natural antioxidants, heavy metals or an overabundance of healthy minerals like iron or copper.

Toxic stress or environmental stress comes from pesticides, herbicides, flavor enhancers, preservatives or coloring agents and more. Figure in emotional stress and we have an equation for “compromised” brain power. Remember, it takes energy to deal with these stresses. When our energy supplies are depleted the effects of these stresses accumulate and cells begin to function at less than optimal rates. Cellular repair mechanisms need energy to rebuild, repair and reproduce healthy cells.

More than 2/3 of the dry weight of the human brain is fat, and ¼ of that is DHA.

Both EPA and DHA are beneficial to promote healthy brain plasticity between synapses of brain cells.

It may seem over simplified, but we actually do reap numerous benefits by practicing core principles. More specifically I’m referring to wellness “principles” that encourage and promote life.

Key Components for Optimal Brain Health:

  • Voluntary Exercise
  • Caloric Reduction
  • Intellectual Stimulation

Further Research:

How Stress Damages The Brain

Brain Based Rehabilitation – An Effective, Non-Drug, Approach to Fibromyalgia

Dr Chris Heimlich DC of Scottsdale AZ Comments:

I see patients looking for a cure for Fibromyalgia everyday in my office. The one thing that all of my patients have in common is…they are all different. Let’s face it…fibromyalgia has become sort of a garbage can diagnosis for most doctors. It’s the label they give patients when they don’t understand why they have pain all over.

Fibromyalgia patients spend a lot of unnecessary effort trying to get a doctor to diagnose them with Fibromyalgia.

Here’s the problem…the fibromyalgia diagnosis is a label…that gets you nothing. It tells you absolutely nothing about what needs to be done to fix the problem.

The medical community is scrambling…looking for the one pill that is going to fix everything. Bad news…it is not going to happen. Sure drug companies are going to make a truckload of money with every FDA approved drug for Fibromyalgia…but it is not going to fix anything. It’s not like a bacterial infection where you can take an antibiotic…kill the bacteria…and be done with it. Fibromyalgia is compeletely different.

The same goes for supplements.  There is not one supplement out there that is going to fix you.  I have patients that bring in bags of supplements.  One patient brought in 36 different supplements.  Sadly, she still felt like crud.

It overwhelmingly evident…from all the new research done on Fibromyalgia…that there is a brain based mechanism involved. The brain stem…specifically the mesencephalon, which fires and excites your sympathetic nervous system…is usually overactive in fibromyalgia patients. Still there are many causes for this…and they all must be thoroughly investigated…so a proper treatment strategy can be developed.

I use Functional Brain Based Therapy to functionally rehabilitate the brain and nervous system of a Fibromyalgia patient. In order to successfully do that…we must look at everything that plays a role in successfully accomplishing that goal.

For example…If a patient has an anemia pattern, as determined by laboratory testing, then this must be dealt with…or the Brain Based Rehabilitation will fail. If you can’t effectively move oxygen to your tissues…which is exactly what happens with anemia patients…then it doesn’t matter how much we activate or stimulate the brain…the rehab will fail. It would be like trying to start a car with no gas in the tank. If there is no gas in the tank the car is not going anywhere. Oxygen is fuel for the brain…and anemia patients lack proper fuel…so we fix that problem first.

So in my office we have success with fibromyalgia patients…because we treat them all differently. We measure everything…brain function, adrenal function, thyroid function, neurotransmitters, complete metabolic testing, viral testing, food sensitivity testing, adrenal testing….and THEN we decide on a course of action.

We do brain based rehabilitation, nutritional management, lifestyle modification, and follow up testing. It is extremely effective.

Do we accept every patient who comes to us?…NO.  Does every patient fully recover from fibromyalgia…NO.  But the majority DO…and it’s because we are so thorough and cutting edge in our approach.

If you would like to see if you are a candidate for care in our office call 480-991-9355.

Brain Based Rehabilitation – The Brain Is A Bunch of Muscles

Dr. Chris Heimlich D.C. practicing in Scottsdale and Phoenix AZ  ..elaborates:

I deal primarily with functional neurological and functional endocrine disorders.   Functional Brain Based Rehabilitation is a way to increase the function of…or strengthen weak areas of the brain and nervous system.

Although in reality the brain is not a bunch of muscles, you can think of it as a bunch of different muscles.  Sometimes the muscles are really strong and other times they are really weak. When the muscles…or different areas in the brain, become weak…it will begin to cause symptoms. Things like pain, fatigue, fast heart beat, insomnia, brain fog, and dizziness. The symptoms you get, depends on the area affected…and to what degree.

If we can identify the areas that are weak we CAN strengthen them through all sorts of non-drug methods. We can use sensory and motor stimuli to activate or strengthen these brain regions and help them to work properly.

We may do specific core exercises, non-linear complex movement, or eye movements to activate or strengthen different areas of the cerebellum. We may use targeting exercises or tactile stimulation to strengthen a weak parietal lobe.

The treatment is dictated by the diagnosis. In fibromyalgia, dizziness, chronic fatigue syndrome…almost any chronic illness…there is going to be some neurological dysfunction.

Research has shown that many of these disorders, like the ones I mentioned, have a primary neurological component. Of course there is still the issue of inflammation, hormones, blood sugar, adrenals, cortisol…etc that could affect our brain rehab…and we look at those things as well.

It just makes sense that neurological weakness would be treated this way. How is a drug ever going to fix a weak or degenerating cerebellum? If you have a weak bicep is there a pill to magically make it strong? Of course not. You have to exercise it. The same with the brain. This is why our drug-free brain based rehabilitation approach is so successful with neurological disorders.

If you have a health concern and would like to see if our drug-free Brain Based Rehabilitation approach can help you, call our office at 480-991-9355

Fibromyalgia: What Does It Really Mean?

Dr. Chris Heimlich D.C., Founder of the Arizona Fibromyalgia Institute, elaborates …

With the big pharmaceutical companies scrambling to create and market new drugs to treat fibromyalgia, it behooves us to ask the question: What is fibromyalgia? Fibromyalgia sufferer’s have several things in common, including: widespread achy muscle pain, fatigue, insomnia, and “fibro fog.” Given these similarities it is not the same for every individual that is given this diagnosis, or “label” if you will.

These symptoms are REAL. Those that get diagnosed with fibromyalgia suffer in ways that most could never comprehend. Their fight seems never-ending, and those that are closest to them, can’t grasp, can’t comprehend, their daily struggle and pain. On the outside they look “normal”. It appears they should have no problems at all, but they hurt all over, can’t sleep, and are often unable to get words out or perform at the same level mentally because their brain seems “cloudy” or “foggy”.

This daily struggle of symptoms and misunderstanding is the reality for a Fibromyalgia sufferer. The truth is they have a lot of functional problems occurring at the SAME TIME…immune dysfunction, gastrointestinal dysfunction, brain and nervous system weaknesses, hormone imbalances, adrenal imbalances, intestinal dysbiosis, among other things.

It may be a different combination and different degree of these components from person to person, but they are there. They have to be measured, and specific changes have to be made in order to help them get back to normal living again.

To the medical community…to most doctors, Fibromyalgia is a convenient label they put on patients. It allows them to brush the patient off. The moment they attribute the symptoms to “Fibromyalgia”, it prevents them from looking for a deeper understanding of the underlying problem. The label is a hindrance for many…because the next step is drugs that rob them of personality and have nasty side effects, or the patient is told nothing is wrong “it’s all in your head.”

To us Fibromyalgia is just a label that doesn’t tell us how to help you. We look beyond the label, and look at EVERYTHING, ALL AT ONCE. We know that if we take a BIG PICTURE approach and look at you like a WHOLE person, then we can create life changing results. It takes a step “outside the box”, and complete focus on the individual, but Fibromyalgia can be eliminated.

If you have a health concern and would like to see if our drug-free Brain Based Rehabilitation approach can help you, call our office at 480-991-9355

I Have The Best Patients :)

Dr. Chris Heimlich, DC, Founder of the Arizona Fibromyalgia Institute comments:

I treat chronically ill patients every day.  We see patients from four different countries.  My patients suffer with fibromyalgia, fatigue, brain fog, autoimmune conditions, insomnia…you name it. Unfortunately, many of them have been to previous doctors who didn’t listen, got frustrated when it took more than a 10 minute office visit to diagnose them, or never really let them explain what was going on with their body. You could say they have “been through the ringer”.

Our approach is completely different. We look at the complex interactions between the brain, hormones, adrenal and HPA axis, GI system, and immune system. We get to the bottom of the problem and create huge turn-arounds for those with fibromyalgia, fatigue, Hashimoto’s Disease, and many other conditions.

We improve physiology and function because we are measuring everything, and making the necessary dietary, lifestyle, and supplemental changes that promote positive change.

My patients are a pleasure to work with because they have seen the other side. They are grateful and appreciative of the comprehensive approach we take. My patients and I truly work together to restore hope and function.

When you lose your health…what else do you have? In our office we restore hope…one patient at a time. For every patient I have had the opportunity to work with, I thank you for that opportunity.

If you suffer and would like to see how our Put all the Pieces of the Puzzle Together Approach can help you, call us at 480-991-9355.

Fibromyalgia: Is It Time For A Gut Check?

Dr. Chris Heimlich DC, Natural Fibromyalgia Doctor near Phoenix, Arizona discusses a commonly missed element in most fibromyalgia treatment approaches:

If you are having problems with digestion, then it is time for a gut check.  But what if you have no symptoms?

We are supposed to have about 3 lbs of good bacteria in our digestive tract.  We need this to help digest and absorb the nutrients from the food we eat.  Think of the gut as a garden.  We want healthy plants or flowers in it.  If it gets overgrown with weeds or bad bacteria or parasites, then the good plants will not thrive.  Dysbiosis refers to microbial imbalances and is most prominent in the digestive tract.

There are stool tests that can be used to see what kind of bacteria, amoebas, parasites, or what kind of fungal forms may exist.  These are the weeds of your garden.  Two things are common: one, there is a proliferation of bad bacteria or bad “bugs”; and secondly, there’s an absence of healthy bacteria.   The test will also show what natural herbs and medications will kill the unwanted visitors in the gut.  (This test gives different information that a colonoscopy, and is more comfortable.)

Here are some factors that cause what the researchers are calling intestinal overgrowth or bad bacteria.  Stress causes a change in the pH of the bowel, causing the healthy bacteria to not proliferate as they should; low fiber starves out the healthy bacteria.  A sugar-laden diet feeds the bad bacteria. High trans-fats or hydrogenated oils have a negative effect on biliary function.  We need healthy bile flow to create the proper pH and to have the proper transit time necessary for the proliferation of good bacteria.  Another factor: antibiotics, whether we take the pills or if we consume commercially prepared antibiotic tainted chicken, beef, or pork, we’re getting the side effects of antibiotics.  Eating too fast can cause the growth of bad bacteria.  If we eat too fast, we’re not digesting our food properly and our enzymes are not killing the bacteria that are naturally present in our food.

If you think about it, just about everyone has one or more of those factors.

So really, everyone should go on a periodic “reseeding” of healthy probiotics.  The more research accumulates, the more we find that gut problems are a contributing factor to just about every condition.

A huge part of fixing the GI tract is balancing the gut micro-flora.  Healthy probiotics have been shown to: improve digestive function, modulate the gut immune system up or down, increase the growth of an aerobic bacterium, decrease bad or unfriendly bacteria and reduce leaky gut.  Probiotics are a big factor in maintaining a healthy GI barrier. This barrier selectively blocks unhealthy organisms and antibodies from entering the blood stream. Healthy probiotics have also been shown to improve liver function, to stimulate phagosytosis and to benefit healthy gastric mucosal linings.

Here is a major point to remember:  eating yogurt is not the same as taking a good pre and probiotic formula.

There is no comparison, despite what the movie star tells you on the commercial.  Which brings up a point, many of the commercial preparations of probiotics tested did not meet label claims in terms of the numbers of bacteria, and in many cases the healthy bacteria were already dead. Make sure the probiotics that you take have prebiotics in with them as well. Prebiotics are valuable to make sure that the healthy bacteria can grow, kind of like putting starter fertilizer on new grass.  They create an environment that is conducive to their growth and health.

So if you are having gastrointestinal symptoms, make sure you get into a health provider that understands what we have just talked about.   If you are going on antibiotics, or have been on them, you need to get on a good quality pre and probiotic formula to reseed and feed your gut garden.

If you would like to become a patient in our office just click on the new patient forms tab or give us a call at 480-991-9355.

Dr Chris Heimlich, Board Certified Chiropractic Physician and Board Eligible Chiropractic and Functional Neurologist