Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Wisdom Wednesday: My Future Me

Have you seen the add on TV for Puritan Pride fish oil? It speaks to taking fish oil now to create a healthier you in the future. Certainly, taking fish oil daily is one of my basic recommendations for a healthier you.

Almost without exception, my patients come to me about the here and now. Once in while I do get a new patient that is “healthy” and just wants to stay that way or maybe improve a little. But the vast majority have symptoms and illness that are chronic in nature. Even the patient with acute low back pain from an injury typically has ramped up inflammatory pathways from underlying chronic health issues that disallow a speedy recovery.

By contrast, most young children enjoy relatively good general health. That is evidenced by their response to care. The eight-year-old boy that injuries his elbow throwing in little league seldom exhibits excess prostaglandin inflammatory pathways. You adjust the elbow, he tests the range of motion instinctively and remarks “It’s OK now, the pain is all gone” and runs off to play.

As we mature and become adults, the production of growth hormone decreases and we go into maintenance mode. Unfortunately, most of us do a poor job of maintaining our bodies. This is reflected in my practice as patients too often do not make the transition from acute care to long term support.

If we look again at the acute low back case, the injury reflex resolves with initial treatment. Local injury reflexes and spinal stability can require two or three visits to normalize. It’s the systemic inflammation that most often delays full recovery. For about 60% of the cases, fish oil is the key to reining in prostaglandin inflammation. Initially, I use 4, 6 or even 8 pearls of fish oil per day to reduce prostaglandins (PG2). Once achieved, I impress on each and every patient – take two pearls per day as a maintenance dose.

However, many of these patients will return in six months or a year with another low back episode. Sure they tweaked their low back but they also stopped the fish oil a few months earlier and systemic inflammation has gone wild again preventing a quick recovery.

Patients will go through multiple episodes before finally deciding that maybe spending $15 a month on fish oil beats the pain, suffering, and cost of repeated care.

These same principals can be applied to other aspects of general health – immune health, endocrine health, digestive health, etc. Honestly, it’s much easier and infinitely more cost effective to prevent chronic health issues than it is to treat them.

I’m sure you all cringe when I mention “Metabolic syndrome”. Doesn’t he write about anything else? Yes, it’s always on my mind – I look for signs of metabolic syndrome in each and every patient on each and every visit. It is, in my opinion, the best working concept we currently have to improve general health and prevent chronic disease.

The Bottom Line:
Look to your future self and strive to create a healthy future for that person. As you age (and remain healthy) you will thank your younger self for all the effort.

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