A Good Night’s Sleep = A Better You

By HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals

Get up, wrangle the kiddos, go to work for eight-plus hours, make dinner, wrangle the kiddos again, go to bed exhausted, do it all over again the next day. Sound familiar?

The National Sleep Foundation says 40 percent of women in the United States are not getting the recommended number of zzzs because of busy lives. Plus, sleep problems and diagnosed sleep disorders affect women nearly twice as much as men.

Experts at HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals say there are 84 identified types of sleep disorders.

“Sleep is just as important as the air you breathe, the food you eat and the exercise you get,” said Kelly Schmidt, HSHS Clinical Sleep Educator.

Schmidt has been studying sleep for 17 years with HSHS. She said while insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, you don’t just get insomnia.

“Insomnia is a symptom of something else like depression, stress or medication, and women are three times more likely than men to suffer from it which leads to daytime sleepiness.”

The environment in which you get your zzzs is just as important as avoiding caffeine and screen time before bed.

“For women especially, the bedroom should be a stress-free zone. Daily life brings enough challenges with kids, managing a household and finding time for personal space,” she said.

Studies show lavender decreases heart rate and blood pressure which puts you in a more relaxed state.

White noise from a sound machine, fan or air purifier could also give you a better chance of undisturbed sleep because it blocks background noises.

Temperature is also extremely important, especially for women. As you sleep, your body temp drops. As morning arrives your temp naturally rises and gets you ready for the day. Experts say the ideal bedroom temp is 65 degrees.

Schmidt says it’s important to get seven to eight hours of quality sleep every night and if you don’t, a sleep study could shed light on why.

“It could be sleep apnea, maybe restless leg syndrome,” she said.” The bottom line is you have to listen to your body. If you’re struggling through the day to stay awake, you need more sleep. It’s that simple.”

If you think a quick fix like caffeine or a 15 minute snooze in the afternoon will help, Schmidt says think again.

“Caffeine leads to a crash which leads to being more tired,” she said. “A nap throws off your schedule which can trigger disrupted sleep at night.”

If a nap is an absolute must, Schmidt says limit it to no more than 60 minutes and no later than 3 p.m. Even better, she says use that time to get in some exercise. Movement will release endorphins, improve your mood and awaken your system.

The bottom line for women is to remember personal time is important. Taking care of everything and everyone else is great, but if you aren’t healthy and happy, the support you give others will be a snore.

Advice for Allergy Sufferers

By Carol Rudd, registered respiratory therapist, Healing Choices Oasis

Our nose drips, we sneeze and cough, people think we are sick, and the reality is we suffer with allergies. And I mean suffer! Our eyes itch and our ears and throat, even our skin itches. Those who don’t have allergies just don’t understand how irritating and distracting allergies can be. Approximately 50 million Americans suffer from some form of allergic disease, and the number is increasing.

So, what is an allergy? An allergy is a physical response your body has to something that usually is not problematic, like pollen, grass, dogs, or cats. Allergens can be just about anything: foods, plants, animals, dust, molds—you name it. Our immune system is triggered by an allergen and creates a variety of responses to defend against what our body sees as a foreign invasion. According to the John Hopkins Medicine website, “That’s the job of the immune system, to defend our bodies from microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi and to destroy any infectious microorganism that does invade. The immune system is made up of a complex network of cells and organs (lymphoid organs) that are responsible for the growth and development of lymphocytes.”

The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology states “your immune system overreacts by producing antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies travel to cells that release chemicals, causing an allergic reaction.” It’s that allergic reaction that gets us in trouble! Those pesky symptoms can involve the nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, lining of the stomach, and the skin. The AAAAI further states “each type of IgE has specific ‘radar’ for each type of allergen, and that’s why some people are only allergic to cat dander while others with multiple allergens have many more types of IgE antibodies.”

So what’s to be done? Avoidance has been the first line of defense against allergens. Sometimes, especially with those who have multiple allergies, it’s extremely hard to avoid contact with an allergen.

So, an over-the-counter antihistamine, which helps suppress the allergic response, is the usual first treatment for allergies. Then allergy testing and shots can be used to decrease a person’s sensitivity to an allergen. If that fails, prescription medications, including nasal and oral steriod inhalers, can decrease inflammation and offer some relief. On the holistic spectrum, things like detoxing the body, especially the gut, can be beneficial, as well as adding anti-inflammatory foods. Green tea is a natural antihistamine and only 2 cups a day, two weeks before allergy season will help avoid congestion! Adding spices like cayenne pepper, hot ginger, or fenugreek can calm a sore nose and un-stuff your head. Also acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage can provide relief of symptoms.

Allergies can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status. While allergies in children are more common, a first-time occurrence can happen at any age or recur after many years of remission. The most important thing you can do for yourself is to know your triggers and be prepared, be it a seasonal allergy or multiple all-year allergies.

Lawn Chemicals and Canines

By Heather Mishefske, Owner, emBARK 

Lawn chemicals.  To some, these words conjur up images of lush green lawns to lust over.  To many of us reading those words conjur up images of sick pets and children.

We all know that lawn chemicals can cause more harm than good to both our environment AND our pets.  One breed in particular has been studied more than many looking at the damage that lawn chemicals can have.  Scottish Terriers are 16 times more likely to develop transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder, and research is suggesting that the exposure to herbicides and insecticides is having a dramatic influence on this increase.1

How and why do these chemicals affect our dogs?  As we all know, our dogs are all inherent hunters.  Some of them hunt ants on the sidewalk, while others track moles under the earth in our yards.  The routes in which these chemicals enter a dog’s body are ingestion, inhalation, and transdermal exposures.  Our dogs walk through our neighbors’ lawns, and come home to sit on the couch and lick their paws.  They are intent on smelling where that rabbit hopped off to, and inhale deeply.  And, as many of this magazine’s readers most likely are not using herbicides on their lawns, it is well known that these chemicals can travel in the wind over 50 feet into your lawn.  Wind speed is a warning on the application guidelines for herbicides, but this may be unknown to many who apply them.

Keep your dogs safe this spring/summer by avoiding lawns that have been treated and by being overly cautious about wiping off noses, paws, toes, and tails that have possibly been exposed with a damp towel.


Lawn chemicals, particularly, ones containing 2,4-D, have been linked to at least two types of canine cancers. Studies found that lawn chemicals travel to neighboring yards and inside homes, and chemicals have been found in the urine of dogs whose owners did not spray their lawns.2

Dogs are flame-retardant reservoirs. Brominated flame retardants, often known as PBDEs, are among the top chemicals threatening your health. And these long-persisting chemicals are inside most American dogs, too. Hiding out in pet bedding dust and even food, it’s no surprise dog samples contained 19 different PBDE flame retardants. One type was detected at levels 17 times higher than concentrations typically seen in people.3

Plastic toys are poisoning your pet.  Phthalates are industrial chemicals found in everything from dog shampoos, scented candles and air fresheners to certain plastics. Phthalates aren’t only used to synthetic scents stick around longer, but they help turn rigid plastic into more flexible forms, too. (Many plastic dog toys contain phthalates, unfortunately.)3


Sources: 1. Glickman, Lawrence VMD, DrPH; Raghavan, Malathi DVM PhD; Knapp, Deborah DVM, MS, DACVI; Bonney, Patty; Dawson, Marcia DVM. “Herbicide Exposure and the Risk of Transitional Carcinonoma of the Urinary Bladder in Scottish Terriers.”  In Journal of the Veterinary Medical Association. April 15,2004 Volume 224 Number 8, page 1290 – 1297; 2. http://thinkaboutnow.com/2017/06/studies-link-canine-cancers-to-lawn-chemicals/; 3. https://draxe.com/chemicals-in-dogs/.

An Alternative Look at Chronic Kidney Disease

By Margaret Meier Jones, Animal Wellness Center of Buffalo Valley

With improved nutrition, health styles, and better management of “traditional” veterinary diseases, the average lifetime of our beloved pets is increasing in years. This means more wonderful memories with our pets, but it also means an increase in geriatric conditions such as heart and kidney disease. Traditional management of these conditions typically involves a prescription diet, fluid therapy, and medications, leaving pet owners wondering if there isn’t something more that can be done. Alternative therapies, such Chinese medicine and nutritional supplementation, might just be the answer!

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) means that the kidneys are not working as well as they once were to remove the waste products of metabolism circulating in the blood. According to Pet Health Network, 1 in 3 cats and 1 in 10 dogs will be diagnosed with CKD. Unfortunately, much of the kidney function (estimates of 65 to 75 percent) has been lost by the time there are changes to “normal” kidney blood values. Some signs of CKD include increased thirst, increased frequency and volume of urination, weight loss, poor appetite, and decreased energy. As the condition advances you may notice your pet’s breath may become acrid as toxins build up in the blood stream. Blood and urine tests are used to diagnose kidney disease, and you should see your veterinarian to have them performed on your pet if you’re noticing any of these symptoms. If your doctor confirms your suspicions of CKD to be true, that’s when alternative therapies really should be considered to augment traditional treatments.

In traditional Chinese medicine, the kidneys are the most yin organ of the body, whereas the heart is the most yang. Together, they are considered the oil lamp of life with the kidneys storing the oil needed to sustain the flame provided by the heart. And, just like any oil lantern, if you run out of oil, the flame flickers and goes out. Chinese herbs, acupuncture point prescriptions, and Food Energetics work in synergy to add more oil, so to speak, to the kidneys, keeping the flame of life going strong.

Food Energetics is the inherent energy in the food, and one of the most powerful resources at our fingertips for helping our pets’ bodies work better. Food truly is medicine, and the Chinese have designated everything we eat to be either Cold, Cooling, Neutral, Warming, or Hot. Processed prescription diets for CKD have science to prove they help, but they really are just the beginning. The more processed any food is, the more its original nutritional make-up is changed. Processing adds heat to food in Chinese terms, and too much heat in our diet can cause dis-ease.

Whole food supplementation, from companies such as Standard Process, help replace micronutrients lost in processing. I strongly recommend either Canine or Feline Renal Support whenever I diagnose CKD in my patients. Other nutricuticals, including products like Epikitin and Azodyl, can help bind the toxins normally excreted by the kidneys, aiding in their elimination by alternative routes such as the GI tract. Homeopathic remedies may also provide additional options to ensure that each day with your beloved pet is the best it can be!

Chiropractic for Pets

by Dr. Alyse Hall, CVSMT, Owner of Happy Tails Chiropractic

Chiropractic has been the #1 form of natural healthcare for the last 100 years or so. Last year alone, 33 million people sought chiropractic care and reported a 97 percent satisfaction rate. At Stucky Chiropractic, we recently celebrated our 57th year taking care of the Chippewa Valley, the young, the elderly, and every age in between. What you may not know is that humans are not the only ones who benefit from chiropractic care. Your family pets do too! Animal chiropractic has only been accepted in the traditional veterinary community, though, for the last fifteen years or so. Animal chiropractic helps to reduce subluxations (misalignments within the spine and extremities) to help improve the function of your pet’s immune and nervous systems.

Animal chiropractic is not meant to replace traditional veterinary care. Animal chiropractic offers non-surgical, drug-free options for helping bone, disc, and soft-tissue disorders related to improper spinal biomechanical movement for animals of all sizes. It is not an alternative treatment, but rather an integrative method that when used in conjunction with good traditional veterinary care, may provide many more years of healthy living for your pet.

Symptoms that can be present in your pet companion when a subluxation exists can range from mild to severe. Generally, if there is pain or discomfort, you’ll notice a change in your pet’s behavior, gait pattern, or performance. For instance, a dog in pain or discomfort will often pant more than normal. Your pet may also pace or yelp, sit or stand abnormally and/or in an awkward position, and he/she might even show signs of incoordination. These are just some subtle signs you may see in your pet that point to dysfunctions within the nervous system. Subluxations can cause other problems as well, including stiffness, lameness, difficulty going up and down stairs, difficulty jumping onto the couch or bed, difficulty chewing or swallowing, muscle atrophy, changes in gait like “sidewinding,” stumbling, weakness, urinary incontinence, constipation, etc.

When you take your pet for a chiropractic adjustment, the first thing the doctor will do is get a history on your pet, including information about their lifestyle and overall health status. The chiropractor will also want to see any prior x-rays take on your pet and will want to consult with your primary veterinarian. A chiropractic exam includes a neurological assessment, an evaluation of stance and gait, motion, and static palpation. Each abnormality in spinal alignment and extremities noted during the exam will be corrected through spinal manipulations, which are also known as adjustments. The American Veterinary Chiropractic Association defines an adjustment as “a short lever, high velocity controlled thrust by a hand or instrument that is directed at specific articulations to correct vertebral subluxations.”

Most animals respond well to adjustments and are generally instinctively aware of the problem in their body before the owner even notices. Chiropractic is not limited to an injured or sick pet. Healthy and athletic animals are ideal candidates for chiropractic care as well. Chiropractic may enhance the quality of your pet’s (large or small) life, ensuring many more active and healthy years for them and your family.