Over the years, several of my patients have come to me with symptoms of chronic earache, headache, sore jaw, or not sleeping very well. Though these symptoms can be associated with many medical conditions, bruxism, or chronic teeth grinding, is one problem you may not be aware of. That’s why I’d like to talk to you about chronic teeth grinding and the damage it can do to your health. Continue reading “Teeth Grinding And Your Health” »
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like some type of music. It can evoke the gamut of emotions, from happy to sad, or it can make you want to lie down and rest or get up and burn a few hundred calories on the treadmill. It can sharpen your vision and memory, quicken or slow down your heart rate, and reduce stress levels. In fact, music can dramatically impact your health and, quite possibly, your life. Let me tell you how.
The Motivating Power of Music
Recently, scientists studied the responses of study participants to various types of music. It was found that music can really affect your mood, help you concentrate and prepare for an exam, relieve stress, or run (and win!) a race. Listening to music has real effects on different parts of your brain – they actually “light up” on PET scans in response to music.
Further, their studies showed a real causal relationship between music and the reward system centers of the brain. This is part of the brain that responds to stimuli of things that are good for you, or make you feel good, – like food, light, sex – and reinforces those behaviors so that you’ll do them often.
Although everyone responds to music – whether it’s classical, rock, or New Age synthesizer – you respond differently than your friend or even your family member. Yet, a recent (2011) Canadian study showed that listening to your favorite type of music almost always positively alters mood. It does this by boosting the feel-good hormone, dopamine that gets activated in the pleasure center of your brain.
There are even new digital sound apps for your phone that you can tune into to help you focus, relax, or energize. They work by sending binaural beats – two different beats in each ear – to create a third sound that stimulates different areas of the brain. The stimulation creates different brain waves with different effects. For example, if you’re stressed out, you can stimulate your cerebral cortex to produce slow, alpha waves to calm you. If you want to concentrate, or study for an exam, you can stimulate your brain to produce faster beta waves which will energize you and help you to focus.
Music can also help you lose weight by stimulating you to exercise more. A study out of Brunel University in West London revealed that listening to upbeat, driving-rhythm, steady metronomic-beat type music can up your exercise endurance by 15%. It also helps lower your perception of effort during exercise as well as increasing your exercise efficiency 1%-3%.
How to Reap the Health Benefits of Music
When I was in my medical residency, a fellow surgeon, listened to soothing, classical music while performing surgery. She told me that it helped relax her and helped her to focus. Since then, researchers have proven through studies that, indeed, music can help calm you, elevate your mood, thereby decreasing depression; it can lower your heart rate, blood pressure, and even help relieve pain and anxiety by reducing the levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
One study showed that listening to classical music boosted the immune system by increasing immunoglobulin A. This positively affects your mucous membrane response to viruses, bacteria, and other microbes. The immune system association was also associated with decreased heart transplant rejections. New Age music, though, did not have the same effect.
In 4 out of 5 trial studies out of the Cochrane Collaboration, it was shown that listening to music, as a form of psychotherapy, worked better than talk or drug therapy. Listening to music seems to also work well in helping older patients express what they’re feeling.
You may already be using music to make yourself feel, or perform, better without realizing its brain-stimulating advantage. Here are some things you can use different types of music for:
- Pain management – studies show that listening to slow, calming music can reduce pain of arthritis and back pain by 21%. It is also frequently used during childbirth to decrease the need for medication.
- Reduce blood pressure – listening to calming music (Celtic, classical or Raga types) 15 minutes in the morning and at night can reduce blood pressure by 30%. People can use it as a biofeedback device to lower their blood pressure.
- Stroke recovery – listening to your favorite music (jazz, classical, etc) can boost recovery time. Recent studies from Finland showed increased recovery time in verbal memory and attention span.
- Headache improvement – slow, flowing (non-heavy beat) type music can reduce the duration and intensity of a migraine.
- Exercise/weight loss enhancement – choose driving-rhythmic beat type rock, hip-hop, trance, or New Age type music.
- Learning – playing an instrument, or listening to music often, can help you learn better. It increases reading and literacy skills, enhances spatial-temporal reasoning, boosts mathematical abilities. This occurs because of the “Mozart” effect. The 60 beat per minute pattern of Mozart and other Baroque music stimulates both sides of the brain. This maximizes learning and retention of information. The music activates the right brain while the left brain learns the information.
- Improve productivity – listening to rock or classical music helps you perform better while you work. It helps you recognize visual images, numbers and letters faster.
- Sleep aid – listening to slow, light, ethereal New Age music without driving beats, or calming classical music can help you fall asleep quickly.
Music is truly a miraculous creation. It really seems to be the universal language as it has the ability to touch all people on many levels, around the world. It’s one of the true side-effect-free treatments for anxiety, stress, depression, and high blood pressure, that I can recommend you to indulge in frequently. It will light up your brain and help your body release feel good endorphins. Pretty soon, you’ll be in a great mood before you know it.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Trying to get a good night’s sleep can be difficult as you get older. Continue reading “Restless Leg Syndrome” »
It’s normal for you to feel a little anxiety if things are not going so great in your life at the moment. You’re not sure how things are going to work out and there may be the potential for the situation to get worse before it gets better. Yet, when worry and anxiety seem to dominate your every thought and you’re always expecting the worst to happen without any real cause, you may not be just situationally agitated. Continue reading “The Signs And Symptoms Of Generalized Anxiety Disorder” »
It’s winter in many parts of North America and many people may start to be bothered by “winter itch”, that dry , flaky, reddened skin condition that may occur when heated homes become dry. Even if you live in a warmer climate, you could be like some of my patients who experience oilier, break-out prone skin, especially if you perspire more often. Continue reading “Keep Your Skin Healthy Using Natural Oils” »
At the first sign of a runny nose many of my patients load up on Vitamin C for its protection and relief from the common cold. Some take vitamin C in supplement form whereas others prefer to stock up on juices and fruits. What most people are surprised to learn is that an orange does not top the list of fruits for vitamin C content although it is the most common. Other fruits such as guava, kiwi, and strawberries actually contain more vitamin C than citrus. Continue reading “Oranges & Vitamin C” »
Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do to better your health almost immediately with progressive benefits the longer you stay off cigarettes. Cigarette smoking is one of the leading causes of lung cancer, cervical cancer and heart disease plus other health concerns such as premature aging. It is responsible for close to 4 million deaths a year.
If you’re like my patients who smoke and want to quit, I’d like to share with you some of the pros and cons of the quit-smoking products that are out there.
Anti-Smoking Products: Which Work The Best?
Just like weight loss, there are many commercial products available that claim to be able to help you quit smoking. You’ve likely seen many ads on television for products with Chantix and Zyban being the most well-known. However, there are other stop-smoking products that actually have more pros to them than these. The following is a general rating of some of the most popular methods of quitting smoking to help you decide which one may be of most benefit.
1. Cold turkey. No, this isn’t a product; it’s the method of stopping smoking on your own without the use of any products. You pick a day you want to quit and you just do it. The pro to this method is that it’s cost free. That’s basically it. The cons are that quitting smoking cold turkey is the least successful of all the methods, with only 3% of people succeeding at quitting. The reason for the high failure rate of this method is that your body goes through withdrawal of the chemical nicotine from your blood. Symptoms include anxiety, hyperirritability, insomnia, inability to concentrate and depression, which can last 3 months or more. My opinion: This method doesn’t get my vote.
2. Chantix, Zyban. These are popular, commercial anti-smoking products that are available by prescription. They work about the same, helping your body withdraw from nicotine gradually. Chantix offers a support system, however, Zyban does not. In addition, like most prescription drugs they both come with side effects. Chantix’s side effects include nausea, sleep disturbances, constipation, flatulence, vomiting, plus “additional effects” not cited. Zyban is actually the drug Wellbutrin, an antidepressant, which acts to counter one of the nicotine withdrawal symptoms of quitting smoking – depression. Like most antidepressants, however, Zyban can have serious side effects such as dry mouth, insomnia, headaches, agitation, jitters (shakiness), appetite increase, and even seizures (though rarely, reports the literature). My opinion: I think there are better, safer, nonprescription ways to go about quitting smoking.
3. Hypnosis. Hypnosis works, in theory, by placing suggestions in the hypnotized person’s subconscious mind while they are in a state of light sleep. It can work well as a relaxation device, which may be what some smokers need to help them quit. However, some people are resistant to hypnosis and for them hypnosis likely will not work. For people who are open to the idea hypnosis may be helpful. My opinion: Used in conjunction with other therapies, hypnosis can be beneficial for relaxation and reinforcement of the positive benefits of quitting smoking.
4. Laser. Actually works more like acupuncture or acupressure in helping stop smoking where laser energy is applied to specific points on hands, wrists, ears, face that correspond to addiction in humans, resulting in stimulating endorphin producing nerve pathways. Endorphins are “feel good” hormones that decrease stress and help you relax, therefore, decreasing the need for “stress smoking”. Laser therapy ads claim 85% to 90% success rate, but actually the rates are much lower. Plus these treatments are costly and there are no guarantees. My opinion: I think there are better, cheaper ways to quit smoking.
5. Lobelia. Lobelia contains “lobeline”, a natural, herbal, nicotine-like substance that is non-addicting and non-toxic. It reduces nicotine cravings and has a tranquilizing effect. It can help soothe jangled nerves and irritability which almost always accompanies quitting smoking. It does this by “tricking” your nervous system into thinking its getting nicotine but without the toxic side effects. My opinion: As it’s a natural, herbal product that can help get over the first few weeks of an antismoking effort, Lobelia gets a high mark from me. However, it must be used exactly as directed as too much lobelia can cause vomiting and/or respiratory depression. Continue reading “An In-Depth Look At Ways To Quit Smoking” »
Staying healthy is as much a personal effort as it is a community effort. If you’re a person trying to improve your health, it’s easier and more fun if the place where you live encourages you to be fit. Many people don’t like to walk, or bike, along the shoulder of the road, so if the community where you live has very little outdoor fitness resources, and the population tends to be rather sedentary and out of shape, you may not get the motivation many people need to become fit. Let’s start with the United States… Continue reading “The Top 5 Healthiest Cities In America And The World” »
There are many reasons that my patients consider laser hair removal. Whether it’s a woman who doesn’t want to shave her legs anymore to a man who is tired of the painful tweezing of that unattractive hair between his eyebrows. Regardless these grooming chores raise many questions with my patients. Continue reading “Is Laser Hair Removal the Answer to Unwanted Hair?” »
Recently, comedienne Rosie O’Donnell suffered a heart attack and was lucky enough to survive it. Afterwards, she said she had no idea that the symptoms she had been having a few weeks before were actually warning signs of an impending heart attack.
What Rosie didn’t know is that a woman’s symptoms for a heart attack may be much different than a man’s and can go unaddressed with fatal outcomes. That’s why I’m taking this opportunity to talk to my female readers today – and perhaps their husbands, sons, brothers – to explain the 5 top warning symptoms of heart attack in women.
Heart Disease the #1 Killer of Women
Heart attacks are the leading cause of death for people over 40 in the United States. About 1.2 million heart attacks occur in the United States every year and about half of those are fatal. According to Women’s Heart Foundation [Heart Attack Symptoms: An Action Plan for Women], women are the victims of half of those fatal heart attacks. Too often, though, women don’t seek emergency attention as fast as they should because, like Rosie O’Donnell, they didn’t recognize their symptoms as a possible heart attack.
Heart attacks occur when blood flow, and the oxygen it contains, is blocked to the heart. This can occur from arterial plaques breaking off, from blood clots that have formed, or from constriction of arteries choking off blood supply.
When the heart is deprived of oxygen, the heart’s cells start dying and send out distress signals that can be mild or very intense. This is your heart’s way of alerting you that you need to do something immediately to stop it from continuing to die.
Often, when a woman starts having a heart attack, her symptoms may not seem like a heart attack. If she has pain, it can be much weaker than a man’s and may feel like indigestion, or pinching twinges in her neck or jaw, or some pressure in her upper abdomen, mid chest. About 16% of people (women and men) don’t experience chest pain at all.
More likely, a woman may experience other warning symptoms for a few weeks prior like extreme fatigue, intermittent nausea, with or without vomiting, soreness in her upper arms, or even upper back. These can often be mistaken for flu symptoms or even attributed to heavy housework. Because of the vague and/or mild nature of a woman’s heart attack symptoms, she may hesitate to call 911. Many times women are found dead at home because of failure to call for help.
With that scenario in mind, here are the 5 warning signs you need to be on the lookout for.
The 5 Top Warning Signs of a Woman’s Heart Attack.
1. Fatigue. Many women who have experienced a heart attack often say that for days-to-weeks prior to the event, they were extremely tired most the time. This fatigue is likely a result of a decrease in oxygen to the heart.
2. Shortness of breath. If you start to experience difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, it could be because your heart is not getting enough oxygen. Yes, other conditions can cause shortness of breath, like an asthma attack, or even low blood sugar, but without history of other conditions, don’t second guess it.
3. Stomach discomfort: Women’s heart attack is often accompanied by a feeling of fullness in the upper abdomen, like indigestion, and/or nausea with or without vomiting.
4. Jaw/throat pain: Often heart distress reactions travel up to the jaw line or even the throat. This can be twinges or a pins and needles sensation along the jaw line, a fullness or pressure feeling in the throat.
5. Arm pain. A classic heart attack symptom, in women and men, is left arm pain. But this isn’t always the case. Sometimes pain is felt in the right arm, or upper back, or in both upper arms. A woman might easily dismiss this bi-arm/upper back pain as soreness from lifting something heavy, doing heavier housework that involved over-head cleaning, or sore muscles from exercising.
When to Call 911
If you, your mother, daughter, sister, or friend, complain of feeling unusually fatigued for days or weeks, with recurrent indigestion or nausea, consider this a warning sign to get her, or yourself, to a doctor for an EKG. If ongoing fatigue, and stomach discomfort, is ignored, and any of the other symptoms listed above show up, don’t think twice – call 911 immediately.
It may turn out that you’ve just been over doing it and not getting enough sleep. You may just have sore or pulled muscles, or gotten a stomach bug that’s making you feel a little queasy.
However, doctors in the emergency room would rather treat you for over-exertion, or possibly the flu, and let you go safely on your way than have you on life support with a possible a fatal heart attack. Your loved ones would much rather see you be a little embarrassed about calling 911 than no longer being able to see you at all.
Don’t second guess heart attack symptoms ladies – make that call!
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Natural Health News
Top 5 Symptoms of Heart Disease in Women,http://abcnews.go.com/Health/HeartDiseaseNews/top-symptoms-heart-disease-women/story?id=14009993#.ULjrsGdKzdM
Top 10 Heart Attack Symptoms, http://health.howstuffworks.com/diseases-conditions/cardiovascular/heart/5-heart-attack-symptoms.htm