Articles for the Month of June 2013

Battle of the Bulge: Disc Herniations and Chiropractic

(Originally posted on bcotoronto.com on Oct 20th, 2011)

Recently I’ve been talking about topics that are more about nutrition than chiropractic. So for the next few weeks I’m going to head into specifically chiropractic waters. This week’s topic is Intervertebral Disc Herniations or “Bulging Discs”.

First let’s explore what an intervertebral disc is. The spine is a stack of bones called vertebrae they are shaped like hockey pucks with a ring of bone off the back side. Between each of these bones is a squishy pillow that can best be described as a glob of toothpaste surrounded by layers of plastic wrap. This pillow is the intervertebral disc. It is designed to take the torque and tension we put on our spine through our activities and gravity’s ever present pull.

But no structure is without its flaws. That oral hygiene product-esk gel in the centre of the disc gets pushed back and forth and all around while we are moving, and this movement strains its plastic wrappings. The fibrous layers spread the pressure around the disc very well but can rip and tear under too much strain and eventually become too weak to hold in the gel-like centre. This will make the pillow bulge out and push into areas it does not belong, or “herniate”. This is why a bulging is sometimes called “Degenerative Disc Disease”.

The most common direction for a disc to herniate is backwards and slightly off to one side. This is where the disc is weakest. It is also, unfortunately, where the spinal cord is. This can create pressure on the spinal cord and on the nerves leaving the spine.

The symptoms associated with a disc herniation are pain that travels down a limb and muscular weakness in that limb. Also, local spinal pain can be present. It has been estimated that between 50 and 72% of people suffering from pain like this have disc herniations1. On the other hand, an estimate of 64% has been made for people who have no symptoms at all and have disc herniations seen on medical imaging2. This research has mostly been done on the low back where pain goes down the legs but discs can herniate in the neck as well causing pain down the arms. Discs can herniate in the mid back but this is rare due to the stability of the ribs.

Herniating a disc in the low back is usually associated with activities that combine bending and twisting together, usually with extra weight. So picking up your kids, or furniture, or even taking out the trash can be enough to do this.

When left on their own a herniated disc may continue to degrade to the point where surgery is required but before that point chiropractic therapies are an effective treatment3, 4, 5 and have been shown to decrease the size and even completely resolve the herniations5. If left long enough, permanent damage can occur leaving weakened muscles and areas of skin that have no feeling left. This, of course, is the worst case scenario and is not guaranteed to occur.

In the past, there have been claims that chiropractic treatments cause disc herniations. Early research studies supported this, but when deconstructed the conclusions from this research were flawed. First let`s describe how the research was performed. That ring of bone we talked about hanging off the back side of the hockey puck was removed (This was on bodies donated to science not living people. That would be unethical), which took away all of the structures that normally limit our motion. This leads to the second step. The spine was rotated to such a degree that the discs herniated. The problem with this is that the degree of rotation applied to the spine in the research was much much greater than any living human could ever reach without first fracturing the spine. From these the researchers and the medical community in general said that the small range of rotation used in chiropractic manipulative therapy was dangerous and caused disc herniations. But seeing as the spine is not fractured during chiropractic manipulation it is highly improbable that a herniation could result from an adjustment.

There is a remote chance of experiencing the symptoms of a disc herniation after an adjustment but it is more likely to come from the aggravation of a disc bulge that was not symptomatic than from a new herniation. But this is effectively treated by chiropractic therapies and so is only temporary5.

Bulging discs are not comfortable to live with and very risky to leave alone. So I encourage you to not ignore back or limb pain but to go to a doctor and see what might be the best plan for you.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Ben

This is the first time that I’ve provided references for the material that I am using. I will be doing this when I am providing information that is not generally accepted yet. By generally accepted I mean that it can be found in an average textbook on the subject. So whenever there is new evidence or just material that needs to be supported I will be providing a list like this with links to the material for your pleasure and perusal.

  1. Gilbert et al. Lumbar disk protrusion rates of symptomatic patients using magnetic resonance imaging. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2010 33(8):626-9
  2. Jensen et al. Magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbar spine in people without back pain. New England Journal of Medicine 1994 14;331(2):69-73.
  3. McMorland et al. Manipulation or microdiskectomy for sciatica? A prospective randomized clinical study. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2010 33(8):576-84.
  4. Santilli V, Beghi E, and Finucci S. Chiropractic manipulation in the treatment of acute back pain and sciatica with disc protrusion: a randomized double-blind clinical trial of active and simulated spinal manipulations. Spine Journal 2006 6(2):131-7.
  5. BenEliyahu DJ. Magnetic resonance imaging and clinical follow-up: study of 27 patients receiving chiropractic care for cervical and lumbar disc herniations. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 1996 19(9):597-606.

Fat Facts to Follow

(Originally posted on bcotoronto.com on Oct 13th, 2011)

Fats seem to be the most confusing nutrient for everyone. There are “Healthy Fats”, “Trans Fats”, “Saturated Fats”, “Essential Fats”, “Omega Fats”, “Triglycerides”, and so many different titles that the rooms spins when we think about it. To make sense of this we need to talk about the chemistry of fats but don’t worry, I’ll try to keep it simple. Fats are made up of long lines of carbon atoms. Carbon atoms have four hands that can hold onto other atoms’ hands. In fats carbons generally grab onto two other carbons and two hydrogens (which only have one hand each). Each hand-hold is called a bond. This line of carbons and hydrogens is called a Fatty Acid. When three Fatty Acids are brought together by a molecule called Glyceride they form a Triglyceride, the most basic packaging fats come in.

Sometimes a pair of carbons will each let go of one of their hydrogens and grab onto each other a second time. This second hand-hold is called a double bond and because of the orientation of the carbons’ hands this causes a bend in the line. This double bond is the key to differentiating between the labels that confuse us so much:

Saturated Fats are fatty acids that have no double bonds in them at all. Unsaturated Fats are fatty acids that have at least one double bond. A fatty acid with only one double bond is called a Mono-Unsaturated Fatty Acid (MUFA), where as a fatty acid with more than one double bond is a Poly-Unsaturated Fatty Acid (PUFA).

Omega Fats are unsaturated fatty acids. The Omega and number (e.g. Omega-3) designate where the first double bond is located in the chain of carbons which determines a lot of the fat’s chemical properties and what they can be used for by our bodies.

Essential Fats are fatty acids that our body needs to function properly but cannot manufacture on their own from other fatty acids. These are the Omega-3s and -6s. Yes these are the same Omega-6s we were claiming to be inflammatory previously. They are only a problem when there is too much in our systems. The ratio between 3s and 6s is the key.

When two carbons form a double bond this puts a bend in the line and the orientation of this bend is important. In one direction, the bend is natural and healthy. These are called Cis Fats, which you don’t read or hear about because every fat is a Cis Fat unless it has been processed and turned into a Trans Fat. Trans Fats are the opposite direction and do not occur in nature, so our bodies have not evolved to be able to deal with them. This is why Trans Fats are so bad and wreak havoc in our bodies. Exactly what it is they do is a whole can of worms for another time.

There is a rule in chemistry that says when a substance is going through a change it will always tend towards its most stable form with the least energy. All it takes is a little heat to destabilize a fat and when it cools down again the Trans orientation is the form with the least energy and is more stable. This means that any processing will create Trans Fats in the product. This includes the oil or butter used to cook in our homes. We have to be aware of the safe heats for different cooking oils to make sure the correct ones are used. Once again this is a large topic and will be discussed in its own entry.

Fats are an essential part of life. They are used throughout the body in a wide variety of ways. Some of the most important roles they play are as long term energy storage, the main components in the walls of our cells, and as the building blocks for many hormones. They are found in pretty much every tissue except for compact bone (but is still highly present in bone marrow). This means that fats are not the enemy that main stream media makes them out to be. Too much fat is extremely bad but this does not mean we should demonize all fats. With a little thought and effort a healthy diet including fats can be enjoyed.

Foods to Avoid

  • Processed Meat (Deli, Canned, etc.)
  • Margarine (High in Trans Fats)

Foods to Pick

  • Fresh Organic Meats
  • Cold Pressed Olive Oil
  • Stable Oils (Coconut, Sesame, Grape Seed)
  • Avacado
  • Fresh Fish (Salmon, Trout) high in Omega-3s
  • Fresh or Dry Roasted Nuts

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Ben

Quality Over Quantity: Choosing the Best Food Source

(Originally posted on bcotoronto.com on Oct 6th, 2011)

Last week we talked about inflammation in our bodies and how to reduce it through diet. A major part of this is choosing good quality food sources. This can be overwhelming when starting out so I’d like to try to simplify this and take away some of the anxiety surrounding this topic.

The most generic advice for starting out that I can give is to avoid the central aisles in the grocery store and stick to the edges of the store. This will take us through the produce section, the butcher’s counter, the dairy section, and the bakery (bonus points to anyone who remembers why these to last sections should be skipped too. Hint: The answer was discussed last week). Select few products from the centre aisles should be included in a healthy diet such as canned goods like beans or bottled oils and vinegars. Otherwise, the centre aisles are filled with processed foods that hold very little in the way of nutrients and often an overload of chemicals.

To get more into the specifics let’s look at what makes up food. The five groups of nutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fats but not all nutrients are made equal. We need to look at each group separately to sort out all the different issues associated with them. Don’t worry. It’s not as daunting as it sounds.

The Carbs:

The main issue with quality carbohydrates is well known, Simple versus Complex carbs. But how many of us actually know what that means? Carbohydrates are made up of a chain of sugars and, in general, the difference between the two is the length of the molecule. Simple carbs, like the table sugar used in baking or to sweeten our tea or coffee, are very short and easy to digest. Complex carbs, like whole grains or vegetables, are long and harder to digest. Complex carbs are also called Fibre. Despite what logic might say, the harder the carbohydrate is to digest the better it is for our bodies. Fibre has a slowing down effect on our guts that improves digestive ability and captures bad substances and does not allow them to be absorbed. Simple carbohydrates will enter our blood streams in a big rush and spike the insulin levels (increasing the risk for developing Diabetes if happening repetitively). Try to avoid simple carbs and get most of your daily intake from complex sources.

Foods To Avoid

  • Processed Grains
  • White Rice (it has been highly processed)

Foods To Pick

  • Organic Whole Grains
  • Brown Rice
  • Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
  • Fresh Crunchy Vegetables
  • Crisp Fruit

Proteins:

Proteins are made up of little building blocks called amino acids. There are 20 unique amino acids that we use in our daily grind to drive all the mechanisms of our metabolism and build the infrastructure of our muscles. Some of these amino acids we can make from others but some we absolutely need from our diet. Instead of trying to memorize a list of names that mean nothing to you and trying to find out which foods contain which amino acids it is easier to fill our diets with foods that are rich in many different amino acids so that we take in a variety every day. When attempting this; beans, fresh meats, and quinoa are your best friends. Eggs actually contain every amino acid the body needs and are a great source of protein but are a common allergen and so may not be an optimal choice for many people.

Foods To Avoid

  • Deli or Canned Meats
  • Beans canned in oil, salt, or preservatives

Foods To Pick

  • Organic Meats
  • Beans canned in Water
  • Eggs

Vitamins:

By definition a vitamin is a molecule that our body needs to function, cannot make on its own, and does not fit into one of the other categories. Vitamins can be divided into two groups; water soluble and fat soluble vitamins. This means that your vitamins are going to be coming from very different foods. Our water soluble vitamins (Vitamins B and C) can be found in the usual places you would think to find vitamins like fruits and vegetables. Fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) are found in the less “traditional” places like meat, dairy, and fatty fruits like avocado but they do still show up in our fruits and veggies (especially vitamin A).

Foods To Avoid

  • Deli or Canned Meats
  • Canned Vegetables

Foods To Pick

  • Organic Meats
  • Fresh Dark Green and Brightly Coloured Vegetables
  • Fruits of Many Different Colours
  • Dairy (more fat is best but this has other problems)

Minerals:

There are so many minerals that the body requires to function properly it would be overwhelming to list them all. A good rule of thumb for these essential nutrients is to eat unprocessed foods that come from the earth. Many of you may be looking at me with a quirk in your eye and thinking, “All food comes from the earth dummy!” What I mean is foods that are closely associated with dirt like root vegetables, onions, mushrooms, and the entire legume family. Two exceptions to this rule are green leafy vegetables and nuts. They are absolutely full of good minerals.

Foods To Avoid

  • Canned Mushrooms
  • Beans Canned in Oil, Salt, or any Preservative
  • Premade Root Vegetable Meals

Foods To Pick

  • Fresh Mushrooms
  • Fresh, Canned in Water, or Dried Beans
  • Fresh Root Vegetables
  • Whole Grains
  • Dark Green Leafy Vegetables (see the pattern yet?)
  • Nuts (fresh or dry roasted)

Fats:

Fats are so essential in our lives that one or two paragraphs will not do them justice. We will discuss them in depth next week so that you can have the full picture these nutrients deserve.

From these lists a pattern becomes clear. A healthy and balanced diet should have organic and fresh meat as well as a wide variety of fresh vegetables and fruits in many colours as the bulk. Adding nuts, whole grains and brown rice will fill in any gaps there might be left. This way you will be eating good quality nutrients allowing you to be at your best and prepared for any physical challenge the world can throw at you.

I hope you enjoyed this and learned something today. Thanks for reading,

Dr. Ben

Reducing Inflammation: Food For Thought

(Originally posted on bcotoronto.com on Sept 29th, 2011)

Food is a very important and central thing in our lives. We need it to live, it is comforting, it brings us together as family and friends, and it can hurt us. That’s right. It can hurt us. We talked about Leaky Gut two weeks ago and how larger than normal food particles can get into the bloodstream when the intestinal wall is compromised. This leads to the immune system starting to recognize foods as foreign particles that need to be attacked and defended against. This produces inflammation.

Something we have not talked about yet are things called “Free Radicals”. Explaining this can get into detailed chemistry so I’ll try to keep it simple. Most damage to our tissues from chemicals or toxins is done through a process called “Oxidation” where a high energy or unstable substance either steals or deposits particles from/to our tissues to become stable. This leaves the tissues unstable and high energy or “Oxidized”. These high energy substances, either foreign chemicals or our own tissues, are Free Radicals and when in our blood stream are free to cause damage throughout the body. The products of the inflammatory cascade are Free Radicals and cause oxidative damage. Oxidation can lead to blood clots, plaque build-up in the arteries, and organ damage. This is a very important reason to reduce inflammation in our bodies.

The key to reducing inflammation is to identify the triggers for your own immune system. There are two ways of doing this; the easy way or the hard way. The easy way is to get a blood or saliva test for antibodies against food proteins but this can cost a lot depending on the extent of the test. This will tell you exactly what to stay away from and is very accurate. The other way is significantly less expensive but more time and labour intensive. This second method is the process of elimination. You need to slowly remove elements of your diet for two to three weeks at a time and pay attention to your body to see if you get relief from daily aches and pains or specific conditions you wish to alleviate. Also pay close attention when returning something to your diet as conditions that you didn’t notice may flare up again. Only remove one element at a time to avoid confusion and this process becomes easy but still takes a concentration and dedication.

There is a third option but it is less accurate and not a guarantee. There are common allergens (particles that cause an allergic immune response) that can be eliminated from the diet to see if they are the likely cause of your symptoms. Some of the more common immune triggers include: soy, eggs, citrus fruits, corn, dairy, and grains or more specifically gluten. Try eliminating these foods first but remember that the triggers are the proteins in the products so read the ingredients of your foods and check for whey and casein (both dairy proteins commonly used in processed foods).

If you look at that list again you will notice that the last two items aren’t just foods they are entire food groups. That’s two out of four food groups that the body can react to. The ideas the four food groups and the food pyramid were created in the 1940’s and are just now getting updated for the first time. These are a completely antiquated way of looking at food and diet. A more appropriate way is to balance your diet based on nutrients. Carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals are the nutrients we need every daily. Try to get them from a wide variety of good quality sources. How to determine good quality sources will be discussed in next week’s blog.

As we discussed last week, too many Omega-6 fats can tip the balance of the inflammatory cascade to produce prostaglandins. On the opposite side of that equation are Omega-3 fats which trigger a competitive chain of reactions that oppose inflammation and are thus called “Anti-inflammatory”. Omega-6 and -3 fats need to be in a ratio of 6 to 1 or less (some sources vary). In the Standard [North] American Diet (SAD), which is the average diet of anyone in North America, this ratio is approximately 20 to 1. This significantly tips the scale towards inflammation and is one area where inflammation can be eliminated. Decreasing fatty foods like pizza, burgers, and junk food in general will bring down the Omega-6 aspect of our diets and eating more healthy fats like fish and avocado will increase the Omega-3 content.

The easiest way to eat healthily and avoid inflammation and leaky gut is to eat whole foods, meaning unprocessed and minimally handled foods like fresh vegetables and fruit and meats. Also to avoid extra chemicals and preservatives that can cause immune responses as well, buy organic over anything else. Local farmer’s markets are great for this sort of diet. Know where you food is from so that you can be certain what is in or on your food.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Ben

An Inflammatory Situation

(Originally posted on bcotoronto.com on Sept 22nd, 2011)

Continuing on last week’s topic of The Current Rise of Food Allergies, I would like to discuss the idea of inflammation. Inflammation is a chemical process that is triggered by the immune system or a chemical imbalance. It results in the creation of messenger molecules called prostaglandins and produces pain and congestion. Inflammation is a good thing, when it happens appropriately and in the correct place it is extremely useful. It draws white blood cells to the area of injury or infection, increases local circulation, and causes smooth muscle contraction.

As I said before, inflammation can be triggered two ways. The first is through activation of the immune system when it recognizes a foreign substance or damaged tissue it needs to clean up. The white blood cells that have found the problem send out signals that initiate what is called the “Inflammatory Cascade”, a chain of chemical reactions that lead to the production of multiple useful signals and eventually the prostaglandins.

All chemical reactions, be they in a beaker in a lab or in our bodies, are driven to some degree by concentration. When there is too much of one substance on one side of the reaction then that will push the process forward until balance is reached where there are equal amounts on either side of the conversion. The inflammatory cascade starts with fats, specifically Omega-6 fats. When there are a lot of Omega-6 fats in our bodies then the balance of the inflammatory cascade is tipped towards the production of the prostaglandins. This second mechanism for inflammation is less specific than the first. When we have too many Omega-6 fats in our bodies this is going to hold true throughout the body. This means that the inflammation will be throughout the body as well rather than a specific, limited area like a sprained ankle.

In last week’s post we talked about larger food particles entering the bloodstream from the gut and the immune system reacting to them. Because this and the Omega-6 instances of inflammation are generally in the bloodstream and not in the tissues the inflammation spreads widely and the symptoms crop up accordingly. Inflammation increases the amount of aches and pains throughout the body, can cause headaches, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, muscle cramps, and increase the intensity of symptoms from other conditions. One significant example of this is menstrual cramps and pain. Many women discover that when they eliminate inflammation from their systems their cycles become much more bearable and even a non-event.

Weight gain is also associated with inflammation. This is because one of the body’s main defences against high chemical concentrations, in this case the prostaglandins, in either the blood or the tissues is to keep extra water to dilute the chemicals and decrease the probability of damage to the body until they can be dealt with. So when inflammation is decreased many people discover that they quickly shed those extra few pounds that have been stubbornly sticking around.

Next week we will discuss dietary triggers and ways to eliminate unnecessary inflammation from our bodies.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Ben

The Current Rise In Food Allergies

(Originally posted on bcotoronto.com on Sept 15th, 2011)

I’m sure you’ve noticed that there seem to be more and more food allergies out there these days and there are lots of theories why. The majority of the talk is about food additives and processing, but this is difficult to understand when government organizations like the FDA and Health Canada regulate food companies and mandate they go through rigorous testing and layers of red tape to prove these products are safe. In the eyes of these organizations, “safe” means that the product does not contain anything overtly toxic and will not kill the consumer. Whether or not these tests are enough or even properly administered is a conspiracy theory for another time. I would like to help you see the big picture of how these additives and processed foods do lead to this increased incidence of food allergies.

It is important to make the distinction between the mild allergies I am talking about here and severe food allergies that lead to anaphylaxis, a swelling and blocking of the airways leading to suffocation. The severe allergies to things like nuts and gluten are caused by a different immune system reaction and are a whole different ballgame. The allergies I am discussing now are the reactions to foods that are similar to environmental allergies like ragweed and mold where our eyes and throat get itchy and our nose starts to run.

Now back to the big picture. Let’s break it down in to 4 steps or lessons.

Step 1:

The processing of foods strips it of many of the nutrients we need because those are the elements of food that spoil and cause a product to have a short shelf life. This robs us of those essential nutrients we think we are getting.

Step 2:

Mammalian intestinal systems are lined with a thin layer of cells which transport the basic components of nutrients through to the rich supply of blood vessels ready to whisk away the digested goodies. This is the last line of filtration between undigested particles in the gut and the useable building blocks we need. This filter is maintained through tight bonds between the cells to present a solid wall to the substances in the gut.

Step 3:

When the body does not have enough nutrients it has certain patterns to retain energy and stay as efficient as possible. The tissues that are easily sloughed off and aren’t as important for the essential functions of the body are sacrificed first to provide more energy to the essential organs. Unfortunately this means the intestinal wall is almost always the first thing to be compromised. The cells begin to shrivel and the tight bonds between them stretch and become loose. This produces holes in the previously impenetrable barrier which less digested food particles can now get through. This is not to say a chunk of steak gets into your blood stream but rather a protein that is 4 units long rather than 1 or 2.

Step 4:

This change in size is enough for our immune system to recognise them as foreign and starts to produce antibodies to them which float around the blood stream and are secreted out of the mucus membranes of our intestines, mouth, nose, and eyes and attach to these food particles, marking them for attack by the immune system. This attack causes the mild allergy symptoms we feel: itchy eyes, runny nose, scratchy throat, indigestion, and constipation or diarrhea. The immune system attacks through a chemical process called inflammation that will be discussed next week in some depth.

This increased permeability of the intestinal wall is called “Leaky Gut” and can be the root problem for many different conditions. Proper diet and nutrition are incredibly important to staying healthy and happy. Leaky gut takes a while to heal too because of step 3. The energy saving pattern has to be reversed to heal the gut, meaning everything else that is nutrient starved gets taken care of first and the intestinal wall has to wait its turn.

I hope you have found this topic as intriguing as I do. Comment below or e-mail me at DrRoffey@gmail.com and let us know what you think and what you want to read about on this site.

Thanks for reading.

Dr. Ben

The Internet Is Not A Medical Expert

(Originally posted on bcotoronto.com on Sept 8th, 2011)

There is a growing problem with the technology age. More and more medical information is available to the public via the internet. This poses the problem of self diagnosis. Generally speaking there is nothing wrong with saying to yourself, “I have the worst headache ever”. The problem arises when you type into a search engine “Worst Headache Ever”.

Google produces results like this; 

Google Search

Suddenly fear turns a simple turn of phrase into the worst headache of your life and you are convinced you are having a stroke, or meningitis, or a subdural hemorrhage. There are other symptoms that characterize these conditions that are used to diagnose them. We are incredibly impressionable creatures by nature. The internet suggests something and fear implants that idea in our minds, building up a potential calamity out of something simple.

Doctors of all types have received special and in depth training in how to ask the right questions, sort through all of the information, and come to a proper diagnosis. This is not an easy task and should not be attempted without the appropriate education. There are patterns and timelines that indicate different subtleties which are lost when reading information from the web.

The best thing to do when you are worried about your health is to go to your doctor. If you can’t get in to see your doctor then sit calmly for a few minutes and mentally check how and what you are feeling before you turn to the internet. This will help to battle the impressionable nature of fear when researching your symptoms.

Please don’t get me wrong. The wealth of information on the internet is extremely useful but when looking up topics that a very important to us personally, like our health, it is important to approach it in the right way and not get swept away in the fear and anxiety that goes with it.

To this point I have discussed the use of the internet for medical needs under assumption that the information being found is accurate. This is a very big assumption. Anyone can post anything on the internet and that includes medical information. You have to be careful and check the source of your information. Wikipedia is not a safe source of medical knowledge. Sites like WebMD, the Institute of Functional Medicine, and other institutions or organizations wholly devoted to medical practice and research are where you should focus your searches.

As always, thanks for reading.

Dr Ben

Drug-Free vs. Anti-Drug Healthcare

(Originally posted on bcotoronto.com on Sept 1st, 2011)

Many people think that alternative health practitioners who promote a drug-free life style are completely against drugs of any and all kinds. For the majority of us this is untrue. We support the appropriate use of medications when necessary but avoidance when other possibilities are available. Let me elaborate on this.

For a Type I diabetic, taking insulin is mandatory just as antibiotics are essential in fighting pneumonia. There is very little to be done to get around that. The same is true when it comes to emergency care. The drugs administered during heart attacks and strokes save lives. There is no debating that. What Drug-Free promoters suggest is the avoidance of unnecessary drugs. This does not mean that you should stop taking all your medications and just go about your life as normal. The avoidance of drugs is something you must actively work to maintain. Life-style change is the name of the game.

The best way to avoid taking unwanted medications is to avoid disease and unhealthy conditions in the first place. It may sound like a pipe dream but through clean living and healthy activity it is achievable. This is the main ideology of Drug-Free healthcare not some fanatical drive to remove all medications from the world. We put diet and exercise before pharmaceuticals to try and treat conditions naturally and prolong health by limiting the introduction of foreign chemicals into the body.

The main objection to medications natural health practitioners usually have is that drugs sacrifice the body’s own functions to improve “health”. This seems a little backwards don’t you think. Why not improve the body’s ability to cope with and combat the current problems when it is a viable option.

That is the difference between a Drug-Free and an Anti-Drug life-style.

I am not recommending that anyone who reads this discontinues their medication. Please talk with your physician before stopping any therapy for any reason. It is important for your doctor to know what you are doing for your health and to discuss with you the possible risks of your actions and the therapy they are providing.

Thanks for reading. I hope you found this enlightening.

Dr. Ben

Hi, I’m Dr. Ben

(Originally published on bcotoronto.com on Aug 28th, 2011)

Hi Everybody!

My name is Benjamin Roffey and I am a chiropractor. Thank you for taking the time to check out my blog and perhaps learn something new. My goal is to educate and have a little fun with this site and as with all blogs this is my opinion tempered with the facts I know. There are always two sides to every debate and so some of you may not agree with what I say. This is not a bad thing. If we can stimulate conversation and debate this will help to educate everyone all the more. I invite everyone to use the comment section on any of my posts to voice opinions and present arguments, as well as suggest future topics. I would like the content of this blog to be partially reader directed so I am open to suggestions.

That being said let me tell you a little about myself and where I’m coming from. As I said, I am a chiropractor and I received my degree from the National University of Health Sciences after three and a half years of studying. I returned to my native Canada and joined Brown’s Chiropractic Office, where I have been treating people since. I have a background in the sciences with an undergraduate from Queen’s University.

I always knew that I wanted to be in the healthcare industry because the human body was such a wonderful puzzle to me. All of the clock-work functions that keep us going fascinated me. I eventually decided on chiropractic because it had the most contact with patients and a closer bond was formed than with any other profession. As well, chiropractic takes a holistic view to the body and treats in individual not the condition and as with any puzzle you can’t focus on the pieces you need to look at the whole picture.

In Chiropractic College I became interested in nutrition and the effect of external elements on the body, as well as the unknown elements of the body which lead me to study nutrition in some depth and acupuncture respectively.

I look forward to getting feedback from all of you and hearing your views on the things we discuss. Regular weekly posts will start on Thursday September 1st, 2011.

If you have any questions please comment below or e-mail me at DrRoffey@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Ben

-Make a small change today for a big difference later