Yoga’s Effect on the Lymphatic System and Stress

I had the chance to do my first yoga session in years this past Sunday at JoyWheel Yoga, which is in the same building as my office. It was BRO-ga, which is yoga for dudes! Mostly BRO-ga is just fun to say. Adam and Erin Schifferli taught a great class that focused on on basic yoga postures, breath and bringing awareness to your body as you move it.  It was basically an antidote for sitting at your desk all day under stress. This class was  timely for me as I have been sitting at my in front of my computer for much longer periods than I am used to as we set things up at the office. Afterward, I was able to feel more upright and a little soreness in the muscles that hold my shoulders back. In the next couple of days I was able to reflect on some of the major benefits of these yoga poses and and the way they worked the upper body. The positive impact on the immune system was the thing stood out above all others.

The lymphatic system drains into the subclavian vein in front and under the shoulders.

The lymphatic system drains into the subclavian vein in front and under the shoulders.

The lymphatic drainage system is often taken for granted and only noticed when you have a cold or flu. As your immune system fights the foreign invaders the lymphatic system drains away wastes and toxins, which tends to create inflammation and swelling at the lymph nodes along the way. These inflamed nodes are most often felt under the jaw and the sides of the neck. There are lymph nodes and ducts through the rest of your body although you may never feel them get inflamed.  On a daily basis the lymph recycles blood plasma, transports fatty acids and proteins much of which has come from you digestive tract.  Many times while testing a patient they showed tremendous need for nutrients which completely goes away when we get their lymphatic system flowing. The nutrients were there the whole time they were just unable to access it!

The flow of the lymphatic system is from the arms and legs toward the body and up to the subclavian veins where the lymph enters the circulatory system. All the lymph eventually drains in front under the chest muscles and under the shoulders. The primary way the lymph moves throughout the body is by muscles squeezing the lymph along the channels and ducts which requires movement. What if you don’t move all day? The posture of sitting at a desk inevitably leads to rounded shoulder with tight chest muscles and ever weakening back muscles. Tightness in the chest muscles in the front can restrict the flow of lymph in a significant way. By sitting at a desk, day in and day out, with poor posture compounds the the problem.  Little movement means less lymph flow and tight chest muscles means reduced possibility for lymph flow. This is a recipe for a poorly functioning immune system and weird and distant problems like backache worse in the morning, inability to get over a cold, swelling in the arms and legs and symptoms of nutritional deficiencies despite a good clean diet.

The postures and exercise portion of yoga has the benefit of moving and strengthening the muscles not to mention circulating your lymph. This truthfully could be accomplished by many forms of exercise if done consciously with good form.  Most others types of exercise however, don’t have the ability to break the cycle of stress quit so effectively.  During the class Adam continually tried to tune the class into being aware of what their body was doing and feeling.  Over the course of an hour, I found I wasn’t thinking of anything other than how my body was doing and my breath. It was a peaceful place to be.

Stress can be so destructive that taking the time to break the cycle with something we enjoy, and is positive for our health, is critical.  Left unchecked, stress suppresses the immune system making sitting at the desk with a congested lymphatic system a health time-bomb.  My experience after class of feeling at peace is nicely backed up by a Harvard Medical School article that says yoga can reduce heart rate, blood pressure, perception of pain, anxiety and even positive impacts on depression. Other proven ways of breaking the stress cycle are meditation, walks in nature (one of my favorites), low intensity exercise or even a chiropractic adjustment. You will know what works for you when you find it. For me, I will keep doing yoga and taking walks in places like this forest. Sorry, no pics of Dr. Luke doing yoga, the web is not ready for that!

No Stress in These Woods!

No Stress in These Woods!

Fatigue: Iron Deficiency, Folic Acid and B-12

Anemia could be the cause of your fatigue.

Anemia could be the cause of your fatigue.

Fatigue: Iron Deficiency, Folic Acid and B-12

Fatigue is a common complaint that brings people into my office. People complain they cannot make it through the day or can only be half as active as they used to be. Common causes of fatigue are lack of sleep, poor diet, hypothyroid, adrenal insufficiency, chronic infections, food allergies and the classic anemia.  I am going to focus on anemia because though it is often overlooked as the potential root of a patient’s fatigue. We always have to remember the basics when dealing with a patient. A great example came into the office several weeks ago:

A 70 year old female came to the office with 5 months of fatigue that came on slowly. She was forcing herself through the day and working out but felt like she was just getting old. I almost never buy the “getting old” argument. She was having cramping at night in both her calves and pain in the low back and into the left hip especially. Her diet is very good with eating mostly whole foods with only occasional indulgences, although she tended to intermittent digestive issues. She was getting a good amount of sleep each night. She had a history of thyroid issues, but recent blood testing showed no changes. Generally, in this type of patient, I find some type of chronic infection that is causing the immune system to slowly drain a person’s energy as it fights the infection. I could not find any sign.  She did test negatively to wheat and dairy so those foods were restricted. My testing showed stress in her cardiovascular circuits and an inability to make repeated muscle contractions without causing weakness.  This type of testing called aerobic testing, can reveal if there is a problem with the bodies ability to use fat for energy or its ability to deliver oxygen to the cells so the can produce energy. We tested her aerobic ability again after exposing her to nutrients such as iron, folic acid, B12 and chlorophyll. All strengthened her muscles and made her pass the aerobic function muscle testing. Within one week her energy started to return and 2 weeks later she felt much more like herself making it through the day with full energy and even being able to exercise again! Also the nightly calf cramping stopped. Clearly, her circulation was improving.  Why did this happen? We usually find this out as treatment progresses but mostly likely her impaired digestion or food intolerances (which may not be permanent) slowly caused a poor absorption of these nutrients.  Sometimes, straight forward nutrient support for formation of healthy functional red blood cells is all that is need to change a person fatigue for the better.  Muscle testing often can find a problem before it shows up on a blood test which is what happened in this case.

Red blood cells carry oxygen which allows your body to make energy.

Red blood cells carry oxygen which allows      your body to make energy.

If a person’s the ability to produce energy at the cellular level is impaired they can have a lengthy list of symptoms besides fatigue, such as brain fog, confusion, suppressed immune system, systemic body pain or fibromyalgia. Nerve cells, muscle cells, intestinal cells, cardiac cells, immune cells, all need energy to function. Anemia, especially the iron deficiency type, starts to break down the ability of the body to produce energy.  Energy production in the cells is dependent on red blood cells delivering oxygen so that a series of chemical reactions can take place that create energy (ATP) inside the cells(mitochondria).  Anything that is necessary for those reactions to take place or for the delivery of oxygen to happen must be present or it all grinds to a halt.  The most common nutrients are Iron, folic acid, B-12, B-6, B-1, B-2, B-3, B-5, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, molybdenum, and copper.  Finding the specific nutrients a patient needs through muscle testing can narrow down what that person really needs the most.

Ankle Sprains: More Than Just a Minor Injury

Ankle Sprain Can Cause Distant Problems

People tend to not think much of a sprained ankle, even if it is relatively severe. After a couple of weeks they may be able to walk without much pain and swelling, so they think their ankle is all healed up. Often, they return to sports and exercise without giving it much thought. I have seen old ankle sprains lead to distant problems that in no way seem connected to the sprain. Here is a recent case example:

A 71-year male came to the office complaining of mild right shoulder pain for the past six months and intermittent left hip pain for years. When he raised his arm to the side, he felt pain that was sometimes sharp enough to prevent him from raising his hand over his head. He says he never had an injury that he could remember, “it just came on slow.” When the patient walked, his left shoulder was completely immobile neither moving forward nor back. Muscle testing showed almost none of his shoulder muscles worked when they were supposed to. The same was true when his right hip was tested. When I got down to his right ankle there was a significant weakness in his tibialis posterior muscle. This muscle is critical for optimal function of the ankle and foot. I asked if he had sprained it. 3 years prior he had badly sprained his ankle while reaching for a golf ball on a hill. It took 3 months for him to walk normally. As a demonstration, I taped his ankle and had him walk around for about 5 minutes. With the tape was still on, I retested all those muscles and most of them had turned on! We would direct most of our therapies and rehab at his ankle. Within a week and 2 visits he was 90% improved. Imagine if we would have tried to treat the shoulder first. No matter what we would have tried, it would have always come back.

Injuries Can Disrupt The Alternating Arms and Legs of Normal Gait

Injuries Can Disrupt The Alternating Arms and                      Legs of Normal Gait

As a person walks their gait is a complex series of muscle turning on and off in a specific sequence. If a person does this flawlessly, it is relaxing to the nervous system. If there is disruption in the gait pattern, even if it is small, it can become a major stressor. This stress can manifest in any other joint in the body. Most likely the ones involved in gait.

The body will compensate and display many layers of dysfunction to survive and keep us moving. Think about it. Every step, (and there are thousands everyday), sends a little irritation into the nervous system and your body has to accommodate to that noxious stimuli.

If you injure your ankle, get a thorough evaluation that involves muscle testing and applied kinesiology. Be sure to rehabilitate your ankle so it is functional and strong so you do not end up with unexplained dysfunction elsewhere in your body.