Chronic Back Pain

7 Important Factors to Overcoming Chronic Pain

Pain is an alarm system designed to alert us of potential danger or damage in our tissues. If pain is not addressed properly in the beginning it can become a serious problem. Pain is considered chronic after being present consistently for at least three months.

You can actually train or program yourself to feel pain.

Your brain and entire nervous system will become conditioned to feel pain. The system gets so sensitized that even stimulus that shouldn’t cause pain, like healthy movement for example, will actually trigger that pathway and you’ll be alerted with pain. The more a pathway in the brain is driven, the easier it is to trigger.

This is similar to learning a new task. At first, it requires more effort and focus. The more you practice, though, the easier it becomes until it is effortless, or second-nature.

So what do we do?

First, as always determine the causative factor. Has it been removed or corrected, have the appropriate changes been made accordingly? This is priority. If the initial problem is still present, it will continue to irritate the tissues triggering the pain response and further conditioning the nervous system. Things like poor posture, repetitive strain, incorrect exercise, overtraining, workstation, prolonged sitting, old trauma, surgery, etc.

Then we must look at the big picture. We must analyze and act on the other major factors that impact not only pain, but all aspects of health:

Movement: Movement is life. Our bodies are designed to move. If we are sedentary, it will lead to a host of health problems. On the other hand, if we are moving incorrectly, with poor exercises, repetitive strain or overtraining, it can be just as problematic.

Diet/Gut health: Unhealthy diet and dysbiosis (imbalance in the gut flora) can lead to inflammation (and countless other problems). This increases the risk of chronic disease and also increases pain sensitivity. Diet that are anti-inflammatory in nature are best. Keep in mind every individual is different and may have specific sensitivities and needs.

 Toxic exposure: Unfortunately in the modern world it is inevitable that we will be exposed to toxic chemicals. There are over 80,000 in our environment! Do your best to be aware of where these substances are found and decrease exposure.

 Stress: The hormonal and neurological changes that stress create can amplify anything negative going on in the body. It’s a killer not to be underestimated and needs to be addressed.

Mindset: Thoughts are neural impulses and can manifest physical change in the body. Changing thought patterns and attitude can be challenging, but incredibly powerful.

 Sleep: This is one of the most underrated aspects of heath. When we sleep is when our cells repair and recover. If we’re not sleeping enough, and if the sleep we are getting is not of good quality, the cells cannot repair and will continue to break down.

These above points may have not been the original cause of the pain but will certainly contribute. The body is one functional unit. Every system works together and affects every other system. Stack the odds in your favor by seeing that all these areas that you have control over are as good as they can be and working for you, not against you.

These can certainly be addressed on your own by educating yourself and taking action. If there are areas that are particularly challenging, there are professionals available who can help.

Passive treatments like acupuncture, chiropractic, soft tissue therapy and massage can help by:

-interrupting the conditioned pain patterns

-calming the nervous system

-rewiring or reprograming healthy neurological pathways

-releasing tension in the fascia and muscles thereby improving movement and nerve communication

-stimulating the movement of blood on a cellular level increasing the supply of nutrients and oxygen and helping to remove waste more efficiently.

This last point of nourishing the cells is so important because if the cells do not have adequate fuel to produce energy, they will not be able to carry out their functions effectively.

If you are suffering with chronic pain and nothing has helped, take a step back and examine these areas. If you feel you need help, there are many resources available. Seek the guidance of a professional who has expertise in the area.

You have the power to change how you feel, but it requires action. The human body is designed to heal. It just needs the right circumstances and materials.

mens health

Breaking the Silence on Men’s Health

It’s important for everyone to take responsibility for their own health. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, especially among men. Research shows that women are 100% more likely to visit the doctor for annual examinations and preventive services than men. June is National Men’s Health month, in which we heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection & treatment of disease among men and boys.

There is a silent health crisis in America. On average, American men live sicker and die younger than American women. The health of men in America is steadily deteriorating, largely due to poor health education, lack of awareness, and culturally induced behavior patterns. This has caused a silent health crisis, whereby men face higher mortality rates than women for 9 of the 10 leading causes of death, in addition to a shorter life span. Today men, on average, die almost five years earlier than women, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Men are dying at significantly higher rates than women for the top 10 causes of death. This crisis in men’s health has very little to do with physiology. It has to do with the tendency of men to not seek care for their health issues. No matter the age, men have issues with things that don’t have every day symptoms, like diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol.

Studies show that an alarming 13 million men have diabetes, while 450,000 die each year from heart disease! While genetics certainly play a role in getting both, so does lifestyle. The same cardio-metabolic risk factors that lead to heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other conditions are just as prevalent in men as in women. However, if more men sought diagnosis and treatment for those risks, their chances of controlling or eliminating those conditions would increase dramatically. High blood pressure has been referred to as “the silent killer” because people are often unaware that they have an issue. Have your blood pressure and your cholesterol checked often by your doctor, and closely follow any prescribed treatment they provide. In addition, you should exercise and eat right. By exercising moderately for about 30 minutes per day and eating a well-balanced diet with limited cholesterol and no saturated fats, you will be off to a good start. Always be sure to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day, and limit your alcohol consumption as well.

Along with heart disease, cancer is among the top two leading causes of death among men, with prostate cancer being one of the most prevalent. The prostate gland is prone to three main conditions — 1). inflammation that can cause burning or painful urination, the urgent need to urinate, trouble urinating and other symptoms;  2). benign enlargement that can compress the urethra and slow or stop the flow of urine, a condition that affects about ¾ of men over 60; and 3).  prostate cancer, affecting about 1 in 7 men during their lifetime. As men approach their 40s, familiarity with the prostate gland becomes important. The prostate gland is a walnut sized male accessory sex gland that rests in front of the bladder. It usually enlarges with age and can constrict the urinary tube, thereby causing trouble with urination. Symptoms can include: diminished urinary stream, excessive nighttime urination, increased frequency and urgency.


by Gina Stallone

People on exercise bike

Sweat – The Foundation of Youth?


Today, the closest thing to the fountain of youth is sweat- your own, that is.  If you want to live a longer and healthier life, make sure at least 30% of your physical activity is vigorous.  In other words, make sure you break a sweat.  This means that if you’re getting the minimum recommended amount of exercise per week of 150 minutes, at least 45 of those minutes should be composed of vigorous activity.  According to recent studies, individuals who engaged in vigorous activity for up to 30% of their weekly exercise decreased their mortality risks by 9%.  Those who engaged for more than 30% weekly, reduced it by 13%.  No increases in mortality risks were noted among individuals who completed higher amounts of weekly vigorous activity.

Exercise also helps prevent obesity, by reducing the amount of visceral fat in the body.  Visceral fat accumulates around vital organs- liver, intestines, and pancreas.  Excessive amounts of this type of fat, versus subcutaneous fat found just beneath the skin, leads to coronary artery disease (CAD).  In CAD, stiffening of the blood vessels occurs, decreasing circulation throughout the body- including the penis. Erectile dysfunction is a common symptom of CAD in overweight or obese men.  To improve your physical and sexual health, exercise is paramount.

Examples of vigorous exercise include:

  1. Running or Jogging
  2. Race-walking or aerobic walking at least 5 mph
  3. Hiking/backpacking
  4. Skipping rope
  5. Bicycling at least 10 mph, or uphill
  6. Calisthenics- vigorous effort: push-ups, pull-ups, lunges
  7. Jumping Jacks
  8. Circuit training
  9. Tennis- singles
  10. Field sports (ex: soccer)
  11. Court sports (ex: basketball, racquetball)
  12. Swimming- continuous laps
  13. Rowing- at least 4 mph
  14. Cross-country skiing
  15. Beach volleyball

There are many ways to incorporate vigorous exercise into your regime, and you don’t need a whole lot of time to do it.  Here are some examples of brief high intensity exercise routines:

  1. Elliptical Intervals: 2 minute warm-up, 8 minutes of intervals- first 10 seconds of each minute are at maximal effort, last 50 seconds are easy active recovery.  After 8 intervals, 2 minute cool-down. (Can also use Stair-stepper, treadmill/running, rowing machine… etc.)

Total time = 12 minutes.

  1. Calisthenics Circuit: Jumping Jacks x 1 minute, push-ups x 10-15 reps, lunges x 1 minute.  Repeat 3 times. Total time = 7-10 minutes
  2. Cycling/Spin bike: 5 minutes warm-up, 10 minutes of intervals resistance (climbing) intervals- first 20 seconds of each minute increase resistance (“climb”), last 40 seconds easy “flat”.  After 10 intervals, 5 minute cool-down.

Total time = 20 minutes

As you can see, the time commitment is minimal compared to the pay-off.  Depending on your own fitness level, you may modify the protocols to make them easier or more difficult.  Remember, whatever makes you sweat, will help you live longer and stronger.

by Rima Sidhy

Rima Sidhu is an Exercise Physiologist at Maze Sexual and Reproductive Health.  At Maze, Rima focuses on improving patients’ health behaviors through diet and exercise modifications, in order to assist in the therapy of male sexual dysfunction and improve endothelial function.  She utilizes a lifestyle and behavioral approach to create wellness goals for patients to enhance their treatment outcomes. 


Garcinia Cambogia

What is Garcinia Cambogia and where is it found?
Garcinia Cambogia is small fruit, which looks like a little green pumpkin. It is also
known as a tamarind. It is native to Indonesia, but it can also be found in
Southeast Asia, India, and parts of Africa. The skin of the fruit contains a rind
extract called hydoxycitric acid (HCA), which may interfere with lipogenesis
(block fat) and suppress appetite.

What are the benefits of garcinia?
Garcinia is used for weight loss and to improve exercise performance. It may
suppress appetite. It may also improve mood and sleeping patterns, and aides
with people who are emotional eaters because it affects serotonin levels.

Are there interactions with garcinia and  food or medications?
None known.

Are there side effects from garcinia?
Garcinia can cause nausea, headaches and mild GI discomfort.



What is creatine?
Creatine supplements are used to increase muscle mass and improve
athletic performance, especially in older adults. Creatine is a source of
energy for the skeletal muscles. In fact, 95% of the creatine in our body is
stored in the skeletal muscle.

Where is it creatine found?
Creatine is not an essential nutrient because our bodies can make it. Our
liver, kidneys and pancreas synthesize 1-2g of creatine a day. Creatine
can also be ingested from food. Another 1-2 g come from fish and meats.

What are the benefits of creatine?
Creatine has been shown to be effective for enhancing muscle
performance during brief, high intensity exercise. It seems to increase
muscular power during repeated, short energy bursts rather than for single
event performance. It also might be beneficial in exercise alternating
anaerobic and aerobic metabolism for long durations. It doesn’t seem to
improve strength of body composition in people over the age of 60.
Additionally, for some it may decrease the rate of Parkinson’s Disease and
improve muscle strength in those with muscular dystrophy, and may be
used to treat depression, CHF (congestive heart failure) and bipolar

Are there interactions between creatine and  food, herbs or other supplements?
Creatine combined with carbohydrates can increase muscle creatine levels than
just taking creatine alone.


Fit to Be Fit


High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, workouts are a phenomenon sweeping the nation. What is it, and is it safe? Read on!

HIIT is a cardio session that consists of short, high intensity bursts. HIIT can be an incredibly effective way to work out to see the body composition and fitness results that you want, but you need to do it right. Numerous studies have shown that working your hardest is key when it comes to boosting endurance, increasing metabolism, regulating insulin levels, and losing body fat. HIIT routines that involve bodyweight work (e.g. push-ups) or added weight, such as kettlebells, medicine balls, or dumbbells, will tone your muscles while spiking your heart rate. All types of exercise will ultimately help you burn fat by burning calories, but the more intense the exercise, the more fat you will burn. As a result, it is a very effective way of helping people get the “shredded” look.

A true HIIT workout will involve pushing yourself to the max during each set, which should never exceed 90 seconds. These workouts are typically quick and convenient since they are such high intensity; they usually are 30 minutes or less. They can also be done virtually anywhere, with little to no equipment. The only stipulation is that you should rest in between sets. This may not be the first thing that comes to mind with such an intense workout, however, it is imperative. Recovery is essential so that the body works to adapt from the anaerobic (high-intensity) period to the low-intensity recovery period in HIIT. This workload results in high caloric expenditure, which can lead to fat loss.

That fat loss also comes from an increase in metabolism, which is a benefit to any high intensity workout. Research shows that this is due to an increase in post-exercise exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. EPOC speeds up your metabolic rate and can result in a metabolic boost for up to 48 hours after a complete HIIT routine! The high intensity cardio raises your metabolic rate to the point where you continue to burn calories even after the session ends—in some cases 15% more.

If weight loss is your ultimate goal, the old saying that you can’t out-train a bad diet is true…even if your workouts are super demanding. HIIT isn’t an excuse to neglect your diet, so keep it clean! By incorporating HIIT training into your exercise regimen and keep your diet in check, you’ll start to see some amazing results!

We’ve put together a safe but killer HIIT workout for you to try. Give it a shot & let us know what you think!


by Gina Stallone

Chromium Picolinate


What is chromium?
Chromium is a trace element. It is known to enhance the effectiveness of insulin,
which is a hormone involved in the metabolism and storage of carbohydrates,
protein and fat in the body. Chromium is the active ingredient in glucose
tolerance factor (GTF), which is a dietary factor that has been shown to improve
impaired glucose tolerance in rats.

Where is chromium found?
Chromium is widely distributed in the food supply, but the content of the mineral
in food is altered by agriculture and manufacturing practices and therefore most
foods provide only small amounts. It is found canned foods, meats and animal
fats, fish, brown sugar, coffee, tea, calf liver, whole wheat bread, rye bread,
some spices, and brewer’s yeast. Cooking in stainless-steel cookware increases
the chromium content in food.

What are the benefits of chromium?
Chromium is used to improve blood sugar balance and glycemic control in
diabetes. It is also used to treat pre-diabetes, PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome),
and decrease LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Some people take
chromium to increase muscle mass and lose weight. It is also used to increase
athletic performance and increase energy.

Are there interactions between chromium and  medications?
Antacids, corticosteroids, H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors alter stomach
acidity and may impair chromium absorption. Additionally, chromium may
enhance the effects of beta-blockers, corticosteroids, NSAIDS, prostaglandin
inhibitors, nicotinic acid and insulin.

Are there side effects from chromium?


To purchase chromium:

Practitioner code: DGroothuisRD



What is carnitine?
Carnitine is a compound biosynthesized from the amino acids lysine and
methionine. It is needed for the transport of fatty acids into the
mitochondria in order to generate and produce energy. It also acts like an
antioxidant and helps protect the body against free radicals.

Where is carnitine  found?
The highest concentrations of carnitine are found in red meat and dairy
products. It is also found in nuts, seeds, legumes, some fruits and
vegetables, cereals, brewer’s yeast, and carob.

What are the benefits of carnitine?
Carnitine is effective in improving the red blood cell count and hemoglobin
during hemodialysis in End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). It is also been
used to improve symptoms associated with angina, CHF (congestive heart
failure), MIs (myocardial infarctions), infertility in men, and low birth
weight infants. Carnitine is also used to decrease fatigue and to treat
symptoms of hyperthyroidism. It is often taken to improve athletic
performance and is used as a weight loss supplement; however, there is
no consistent evidence to show that it works. Some studies show carnitine
reduces fat mass and increases muscle mass, which may contribute to
weight loss in some people.

Are there interactions between carnitine and  food, herbs or other supplements?
None known

Are there interactions between carnitine and  other medications?
Carnitine changes the effectiveness of Sintrom (acenocoumarol), thyroid
hormone and warfarin. Be cautious and talk to a doctor before starting carnitine
while on one of these medications.

To purchase carnitine:

Pracitioner code: DGroothuisRD



What is Calcium?
Calcium is a mineral that is essential for living organisms. It is a structural
element in bones and shells and it serves as a necessary messenger in cell
physiology. For example, calcium is involved in muscle contraction, the electrical
conduction of the heart, and neurotransmitter release. Calcium combines with
phosphate to form hydroxylapatite, which is what is found in bones and teeth.

Where is Calcium found?
Calcium can be found in dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. Other
good sources are seaweeds (kelp, wakame, hijiki), almonds, hazelnuts, sesame,
pistachio, blackstrap molasses, beans, figs, quinoa, okra, rutabaga, broccoli,
dandelion leaves, kale, fish with soft bones (canned salmon and sardines), and
fortified products like certain brands of orange juice.

Calcium is also sold in supplements. When taking calcium pills, no more than
600mg should be taken at a time for ideal absorption, and therefore the pills
should be taken throughout the day. Some of the different forms of calcium
supplements are: calcium carbonate (most common and least expensive),
calcium citrate, calcium phosphate (microcrystalline hydroxyapatite), coral
calcium, calcium lactate and calcium chelates.

What are the benefits of Calcium?
Calcium is used to prevent and treat hypocalcemia, osteoporosis, and rickets. It
is also effective in treating hyperkalemia (high potassium levels), renal failure,
and dyspepsia (calcium carbonate is used as an antacid). Calcium is also used to
treat hyperparathyroidism and to decrease PMS symptoms. For some, it reduces
the risk of colorectal cancer, fluorosis, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension,
stroke, pre-eclampsia, and weight loss.

Are there interactions between Calcium and  food, herbs or other supplements?
Vitamin D increases the absorption of calcium, whereas many fibers decrease
calcium absorption. Calcium supplements may decrease the absorption of dietary
iron, zinc and magnesium. High levels of caffeine and high levels of sodium
increase calcium excretion and may be linked to bone loss.


To purchase calcium:

Practioner code: DGroothuisRD