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.

Forms of Stress: How Does Your Body Handle Them?

By Dr. Emily Rowan Alsheskie, chiropractor, MY Life Health Center

What if I told you that stress wasn’t real? Sounds untrue, but when thinking about mental or emotional stress, it is really how you perceive it. A farmer needs rain at certain times and sunshine at certain times. Sometimes when the farmer needs sunshine, it rains and when the farmer needs rain, the sun shines. Is rain a stressful event? Absolutely not! It’s all about how you perceive it. This idea of perception is the first essential of health that is taught in our practice, and it is one of three forms of stressors that occur to our bodies–emotional/mental stress.

Some mental stressors are out of our control, but there are ways to reduce our exposure to negativity by doing things like practicing forgiveness, using positive self-talk, and limiting our interactions with negative individuals.

The second major stressor may not be as obvious as the others, but it has a HUGE impact on the body’s ability to function properly. This is chemical stress. The most common form of chemical stress comes from our daily nutrition. This includes inflammatory products and foods like sugar, artificial sweeteners, food additives, preservatives and pesticides, as well as hydrogenated fats. The easiest way to avoid these harmful substances is to consume whole, fresh, organic foods and cut out processed and packaged foods. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store and not the aisles!

The last and typically most noticed form of stress is physical stress. Motor vehicle accidents, slips, falls, and sporting injuries are common forms of macrotrauma. Microtraumas that accumulate over time and contribute to physical stress include things like sitting at a desk for extended periods of time and bending the head forward to use gadgets like cell phones. These repetitive actions, that we were not designed to experience on a daily basis, cause structural changes to the spine and supporting musculature. These changes in our foundation impact our most important system, the nervous system. The nervous system is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves that control all cells, tissues, and organs. When stress is constantly endured by the body–in all three forms: chemical, mental/emotional, and physical–the nervous system takes the hit and cannot control the body’s processes as it was intended to. This is why stress not only harms us in the short term but can lead to chronic diseases like cancer, cardiovascular complications, and other debilitating diseases.

Chiropractic care may be most known for symptom relief related to the spine, but chiropractors are really nervous system doctors. The nervous system is addressed via the spine since the vertebral column is what surrounds and protects this very important system. When the structure of the spine is in its most stable form, stress and tension are relieved from the spinal cord and the nerves that control the system’s processes. This is why patients who practice proper spinal hygiene with chiropractic adjustments and spinal therapies experience less sick days, improved quality of sleep, reduced number of over the counter/prescription medications, and less symptoms overall.

Stress is a normal part of life. I can’t take away your stressors like picking up your kids, making dinner, or walking your dog. But the big question here is, how well can your body handle stress? As doctors of chiropractic, we first and foremost check for any nervous system stressors and disruptors that can be causing an imbalance and inability to heal. From there we make corrections (the adjustment) by using our hands, drop table, and adjusting tool to put the body in a healing and less stressed state.

Physical, mental/emotional, and chemical stressors are a part of our day to day lives, but stress itself is not the problem. It’s how much stress we experience and how our bodies handle it. Taking care of yourself with adequate nutrition, exercise, mindset practices, and proper spinal alignment give you the best opportunity to prevent common lifestyle-induced illnesses and chronic pain. Whether you have aches and pains or not, get a nervous system evaluation to take a proactive and preventative approach to your health. Then incorporate the other tips included here to aid your body in healing!

Dr. Emily Rowan Alsheskie holds a doctorate in chiropractic with a special emphasis on prenatal and neonatal care. She is a recent graduate from Life University, a chiropractic college in Marietta, Georgia. Dr. Emily joined in practice with her mentor, Dr. Kevin Schultz, at MY Life Health Center in Lake Hallie this past fall. She is a mother to her two-year-old son, Rory, and is excited to raise him in the Chippewa Valley!

Choose HEALTH This New Year

By Dr. Emily Smith, Smith & Prissel Chiropractic

With every new year, we as adults find ourselves knee-deep in resolutions to make this year different than the last. As with everything else, our kids are watching! Without knowing we often “gift” our kids with their lifestyle habits, both good and bad. Breaking a bad habit is much harder than making a good habit. This year resolve to instill healthy changes that will benefit the entire family (and if everyone is involved, success is more likely to last past January!)

● Treats are just that, a treat! Eating a sweet treat every day creates a habit of needing sugar to feel satisfied. Avoid buying highly processed cookies/cakes at the store/gas station and instead choose to make healthier versions of sweets at home. (Add the word “healthy” into your Pinterest search bar to eliminate temptations.) If you have always been a family that ends a meal with dessert, try to follow the meal with fruit instead!

● Water should be the drink of choice! It’s not sweet or carbonated, but water is what our body needs and craves in order to function optimally. You should be drinking half of your body weight in ounces every day (for example if you weigh 100, pounds you should drink 50 ounces of water every day). Think of it like this, if you aren’t drinking enough water you are essentially creating “jerky” out of your muscles. If you’ve ever tried to bend/twist/stretch jerky, you know that you don’t want to be on the receiving end of that yourself. Dehydrated muscles will also be more prone to injury and result in more pain. Nobody wants that! If cold/flu symptoms have caused dehydration, turn to coconut water for rehydration (it’s nature’s Gatorade!)

● We’ve all heard the phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but did you know that a simple apple contains 10,000 ingredients?! None of these are in huge amounts but rather in small amounts that work synergistically together to provide us with the prevention we give it credit for. But don’t stop there! All fruits and vegetables have their own massive amount of nutrients just waiting to do amazing things within your body! Strive to “eat the rainbow” with a wide variety of colors of fruits and vegetables every day. For those of you who struggle to accomplish that (due to cost/time/effort/desire), Juice Plus+ can be a great way to bridge the gap between what you are eating and what your body needs! www.JuicePlus.com

● Get active together! Whether this involves a family gym membership or hiking through the woods on snowshoes, the important part is that you are moving! To motivate kids check out http://healthylivingrevolution.com/start-strong-kids-challenge/. This Strong Kids Challenge sticker sheets offer lots of ideas to help kids incorporate all of these healthy choices and keep track of their progress. There are also great ideas for healthy snacks, lunchbox planning, and a downloadable cookbook full of tasty recipes that the entire family will love.

Dr. Emily Smith is a pediatric chiropractic specialist but treats patients of all ages at her Menomonie and Eau Claire (Smith & Prissel Chiropractic) offices. She focuses on whole body wellness as it relates to health, including how important good nutrition is. She can be reached at esmithdc@msn.com or (715) 833-3505.

Camp for Kids with Asthma

By Carol Rudd, Healing Choices Oasis

I was one—a kid with asthma. I know what it feels like to be short of breath! I was a sick, asthmatic kid that wasn’t able to exercise much. I missed out on a lot of fun activities with family and friends because my asthma would flare up when I got excited. So, vacations, holidays, stress at school, or even catching a cold could lay me low for weeks. I always wondered, “Why me?” “What did I do to deserve this?” I felt something was wrong with me, that I was weak and everyone was better than me. My parents tried to help and overprotected me most of the time, saying, “You shouldn’t go outside, Carol, it’s too cold.” I missed out on a lot of living. As a child, I felt that my asthma controlled me. In my teenage years, I finally started taking control of my asthma. I paid more attention to my breathing, and with avoidance of my triggers, life got a little easier.

I wish someone had told me when I was young that I would live through this. At twenty-five I realized I wasn’t going to die from my asthma and decided I better figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I learned more about my lungs, became a respiratory therapist, and worked with both kids and adults for the last forty-one years. While I never outgrew my asthma, I did learn to live and even thrive with my limitations.

My dream is to help kids (and parents) with asthma learn to live and cope better with the symptoms of asthma and grow to be strong, independent adults. Kamp KiWA (Kids With Asthma) is a half-day camp for elementary-age children (about eight to eleven years old), who are newly diagnosed with asthma or are struggling with symptoms. The program will include tips I have personally learned over the years plus the National Asthma Guidelines and current medication, nutrition, and coping strategies. Additionally, alternative healing practices such as qigong and meditation will be included in this interactive, hands-on learning event. I look forward to helping every child breathe better.

There is only room for twelve students, so call Carol soon at 715-852-0303 to reserve your spot.

Kamp KiWA March 24, 2018
$150 per child (parent is encouraged to attend)
9:00 am to 2:00 pm (includes lunch and snacks)
Healing Choices Oasis, 2711 Pleasant St. Eau Claire, WI

As a licensed massage therapist focused on energy healing, and a registered respiratory therapist, Carol combines the best of Eastern and Western medicine. She opened her massage practice in 2001 offering AMMA Therapy (based in traditional Chinese medicine). Since then she has offered tai chi, qigong, and meditation. Her new adventures include FIT2Breathe! and Kamp KiWA. After forty-one years in the healthcare industry serving those struggling to breathe, she is passionate about offering programs that help children or adults in our community with COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and asthma.

Nonjudgmental Mindfulness Practice in the New Year

By Ann Brand, PhD

January is that time of year we embark on our radical plans for self-improvement. We look at ourselves with dismay, berate ourselves for mistakes and poor choices made in the past year, and come up with a long list of the ways we are going to eat healthier, be more fit, get organized, and improve our flaws. We charge ahead with this ideal in mind, ready to take on the new year. And then by the end of January, we are right back where we started, failing to meet our lofty expectations and kicking our self for blowing our New Year’s resolutions once again. It is an all-too-familiar cycle. Mindfulness practice is one way to interrupt this painful cycle. Mindful awareness can support us in making wise, healthy changes that we can sustain throughout the new year.

Change begins with awareness. We must first pay attention to our present experience, so we can see clearly what needs to change. That means seeing our experience as it is right now, not how we would like it to be. It is difficult to look at the unskillful patterns getting the way of well-being. We might see the ways we are not taking care of ourselves and the well-worn patterns behind our unhealthy habits. Perhaps we drink too much when we are anxious, or eat when we are lonely, or consistently put others’ needs before our own, leading to emotional burnout and poor health. Mindfulness practice supports us in staying present to our experience without judgment. We can see our unskillful patterns with kindness and gentleness instead of the harsh critic of self-improvement. With this clarity, we can make wiser changes that will support us in meeting our goals in sustainable ways.

Change is difficult. Our habits and patterns are engrained, and we are likely to slip up along the way. Maybe we are seeing our goals for the new year as a way of punishing ourselves for past failings. When we make a mistake in meeting those goals, it reinforces this self-punishment, sabotaging our efforts. “See,” our inner critic says, “you will never stop smoking, lose weight, run that marathon,” and then we give up. Mindfulness practice cultivates the awareness needed to keep us out of our judging, reactive mind, allowing us to stay present to our experience with kindness. We can then make a wiser choice to move forward in the face of an obstacle. Maybe the initial goal we set was too big to start with, and instead of giving up, we can see clearly how to readjust to support our long-term well-being. Mindfulness practice fosters the willpower we need to compassionately begin again when we make a mistake.

Maybe your first intention for the new year is to cultivate nonjudgmental present moment awareness through the practice of mindfulness. Try reading a book like Real Happiness by Sharon Salzburg or take a mindfulness class, all in support of changes that lead to sustainable, healthy habits for the year ahead.

Ann Brand, PhD, is a mindfulness meditation teacher and lecturer at UW–Stout in the School of Education. She teaches mindfulness classes in Eau Claire at The Center and can be reached at annbrand365@gmail.com.