Hang Like a Bat to Benefit Your Spine.
By Redstone Publishing and Promotion.

I joke with my wife that I'm going to go hang upside down like a bat for a while - meaning I'll be using our inversion table. Although you would be hard-pressed to find any studies that confirm inversion tables scientifically help chronic back issues except from the resellers of inversion tables, my family is a strong advocate for using them because it has helped us many times over, not just for back pain, but hip and leg pain. As a personal trainer, I have recommended them to my clients and some of them swear by them as relief from back pain. The chiropractor I share an office with (Scott) has done the same. He specifically recommends them for decompressing the space between the discs in the spine caused by years of gravitation force. This decompression can be very beneficial to the overall health and circulation of the spine. Most studies indicate that inversion therapy does cause some traction force through the lumbar spine. One study found as much as a 3 mm separation between lumbar vertebrae during inversion therapy. In some cases, clients say it has helped with neck pain as well. We think of inversion therapy as a preventative measure more than something that will cure back pain once you have it.

I find using inversion also helps a great deal to keep my hips in alignment and help stretch out my leg muscles, lower back and hips. You can't beat using one for doing sit-ups either, just a couple stomach crunches on an inversion table and you will feel the difference. But the primary reason I would recommend getting one as you get older is because they really do help to stretch the body in a direction opposite of the pull gravity has on it all day long, which does help to elongate the spine and decompress it. As we age, we actually become shorter in height due to years of gravity compressing our spine. You've heard the saying, "I"m shrinking in my old age?" It truly does happen to us all.

Signs of Spinal Compression Fractures:

When multiple spinal compression fractures have occurred, there is considerable change in the spine. This can affect the internal organs and body functions:
• Height loss: With each fracture of a spinal bone, the spine loses some of its height. Eventually, after several collapsed vertebrae, the person's shorter stature will be noticeable.
• Kyphosis (curved back): These fractures often create wedge-shaped vertebral bones, which makes the spine bend forward. Eventually, neck and back pain may develop as your body tries to adapt.
• Stomach complaints: A shorter spine can compress the stomach, causing a bulging stomach and digestive problems like constipation, less appetite, and weight loss.
• Hip pain: The shorter spine brings the rib cage closer to the hip bones. If rib and hip bones are rubbing against each other, there will be discomfort and pain.
• Breathing problems: If the spine becomes severely compressed, lungs may not function properly and breathing can be seriously affected.
The symptoms of spinal compression fractures are obviously different for every person. 
It is important to identify the symptoms of spinal compression fractures and notify your doctor right away. Sudden, severe back pain, especially in older women, may signal a spinal compression fracture or another serious condition.
Anyone with significant back pain -- especially a woman who is near or over age 50 -- should see a doctor. Most compression fractures in women over 50 are due to osteoporosis and treatment can help reduce the chance of further compression fractures.

One or more symptoms can indicate a spinal fracture:
• Sudden, severe back pain (though many times the symptoms can come on gradually and worsen over time)
• Worsening of pain when standing or walking
• Some pain relief when lying down
• Difficulty and pain when bending or twisting
• Loss of height
• Deformity of the spine - the curved, "hunchback" shape
The pain typically occurs with a slight back strain during an everyday activity.

What I noticed first and foremost when we started using our inversion table is that it just plain felt good to stretch out my spine and legs. When you first start using an inversion table, start slowly, because they do take some getting used to. Start by inverting yourself at only about 75% of an incline and rest there for a few seconds to see how it feels. Some people find full 100% inversion uncomfortable at first until they get used to it. If it feels fine at 75%, go the full 100% upside down, but only for about 30-40 seconds then come back up to 50% or laying flat. Rest for a few seconds, then invert slowly to 100% again. Hold this position for another 30-40 seconds then return to 50% inversion. Do cycles like this of 3 repetitions of 30-40 seconds at first and gradually work your way up to staying in an inverted position for greater lengths of time.

Do not use an inversion table immediately after eating or drinking or you may end up wearing your lunch. Also people with high blood pressure, eye problems, or heart problems should proceed very slowly until you get to know your limits and it is advice able to have someone with you the first couple of times to be your spotter if something starts to feel uncomfortable.

Inversion tables can cost anywhere from $150 to $400 dollars. The key is to get one that is stable and mostly comfortable. You want one with some padding around the ankles because all of your body weight will be on the tops of your feet and ankles where there's very little natural fat for padding. If the table isn't comfortable, you will quickly stop using it.
Mine is the one pictured to the right: the Ironman Gravity 2000. I've had it for about 5 years and I am more than happy with it. If I remember correctly, it cost about $289 at that time, and I don't believe they make this particular model anymore, but Ironman's designs have only gotten better since I purchased this one. Take a look at the foot clamps on the bottom of the table. They are nicely padded, adjustable in all directions, and grip your legs and feet in all the right places for good support and less pain while you are inverted. All the most important points to have in an inversion table. It's much more comfortable and stable to have a table with foot grips that actually grip around the ankles and not just the toes - which doesn't feel very comfortable or trustworthy while you are standing on your head.
The table itself is nothing more than a padded board and that is all you need because you won't be sleeping on the thing. Most inversion tables fold up and out of the way when you are not using them, which means you can use them just about anywhere, then fold them up and lean them against a wall when you are done. They are usually too tall for a closet, but they don't take up much more than a 4 foot by 3 foot area even when open.

Wear shoes when you invert to help support and pad your ankles and top of your feet. You may need to try a couple different types of shoes to find one that works best with your particular inversion table, but I like to use an old pair of high-top hiking boots that have a lot of padding in the tongue of the boot and support my ankles well. I have an Ironman table, and after having compared a great many inversion tables before buying one, still find the Ironman brand to be the most comfort minded for the money. This is one item where it doesn't pay to go with the cheapest table around; you will regret it. The Ironman series usually cost anywhere from $249-$349 dollars but are worth every penny in what they may save you in trips to the chiropractor. Sorry Scott.



Not Too Fond of Pumpkin Seeds but Want the Nutritional Benefits?

Some people just don't like the taste of pumpkin seeds. They tend to have a pungent flavor , and if you aren't particularly fond of them and avoid them for that reason, try roasting squash seeds, which have a much more pleasant flavor.

Most cooks throw away the little hidden gems in squash; the seeds. For nutritional value, they are the most nutritious part of squash, so it's a shame to just throw these little nutritional powerhouses away. 1 cup of roasted squash seeds has 20 mg of iron, that's 115% of your RDA for iron, 1114mg of potassium (almost half of your RDA), 1620 mg of phosphorus, 69% RDA of zinc, and measurable amounts of selenium, and copper, as well as 250 mgs of omega-3 fatty acids and 28,571 mgs of omega-6.

To Roast Your Squash Seeds.

First of all, most people will not get enough seeds from one squash to make it worthwhile to roast them, but if you save the seeds in the freezer until you have enough to roast a sizeable batch, it solves that problem. Every time you buy a squash, use a fork to rake out the seeds, rinse them in a colander to get most of the squash membrane off, then put them in a plastic container in the freezer. With each squash you buy, you can simply add the seeds from it to your container in the freezer until you collect enough to fill a cookie sheet for roasting.

Once you collect enough seeds, thaw them out at room temperature or run them under cool water to break up the seeds. Coat a cookie sheet with about a tablespoon of olive oil . Spread the seeds out on the cookie sheet and use the oil on the sheet to lightly coat the seeds with. Salt and pepper them, then roast them at 325 degrees in a preheated oven and flip them with a spatula every 5-10 minutes to get them roasted evenly. It usually only takes about 25-30 minutes to get them a nice, golden, crunchy brown. You don't want to bake them too long or they get very dry.

Once they are completely cooled to room temperature, store them in a glass jar with a lid at room temp and bring them out to top salads, casseroles, use in trail mixes or just to snack on.

Spaghetti Squash Boat:

1 spaghetti squash cut in half with seeds removed and saved for later.

1/2 cup sliced mushrooms

1/4 cup minced fresh spinach

1/2 pound Italian sausage

1 large fresh tomato or 8 oz tomato paste

Bake squash in oven until soft and you can use a fork to pull the flesh apart like spaghetti. (About an hour at 350º.) Meanwhile, stir fry the sausage with the mushrooms, drain any grease from the sausage, add tomato or tomato paste and simmer for 20 minutes.

Rinse the squash seeds in a colander to get most of the squash membrane off of them. Place on a cookie sheet as mentioned above and bake with squash for the last 20 minutes or just until golden brown and slightly crisp.

When the squash has about 15 minutes left to bake, add the spinach to the sausage mix and simmer on low until just cooked. When squash is done, rake the fleshy inside with a fork so it resembles spaghetti, add butter, salt and pepper to taste. Top with the sausage mix and then the roasted seeds. Serve.

© 2013 Redstone Promotional Communications/Circkles.com

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This health section is updated monthly to give our members a chance to view it, so check back the first of every month for new posts. Disclaimer: This page is designed to offer information only on topics the average person can use themselves. It is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice.

HOME REMEDIES: Sleep Aids - can't turn your brain off at night?

Magnolia Bark Magnoliae officinalis: According to a 1999 study published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. In tests on mice, scientists determined that honokiol extracted from magnolia bark may help reduce anxiety without triggering the side effects associated with diazepam (a drug commonly used in the treatment of anxiety disorders.
Magnolia bark extract has powerful stress-busting effects, largely due to "honokiol" a well-studied and potent anxiolytic. It works similarly to prescription medications like alprazolam (Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), diazepam (Valium), and lorazepam (Ativan).
Both magnolia and prescription sedatives work by increasing levels of GABA, a relaxing hormone that helps calm and soothe an overactive brain. The difference is that honokiol works in specific areas of the brain (raising GABA). The net effect is relaxation without the hangover or drowsy effect of most prescription drugs.


HERBS: Comfrey Symphytum officinale.
How to use herbs for maximum benefit.  Short and sweet descriptions and uses written by our on-staff Nutritional Herbalist.  Always remember that herbs should be treated as a medicine. Almost all of our modern-day medicines are derived from compounds found in herbs and plants. If you have not used a particular herb before, try a half dose at first to make sure you do not have an unfavorable reaction to it.

Medicinal Properties: This is one of the top 5 herbs I call my miracle herbs. I have seen comfrey heal wounds in half the time and take away severe bruises and swelling when ice does not work. As for claims made by other herbalist and practitioners that comfrey can actually "grow bone," thankfully I have not had to test that theory just yet. The effective compound in comfrey is allantoin which aids multiplication of cells and tissue. Wounds and burns heal faster and you can't beat comfreys anti-bacterial properties. It is soothing on wounds and actually forms a slippery coating over them that dries and protects the area from infectious bacteria - almost like spray-on Bandaids. It is wonderful to use on animals because they do not seem to mind the application of it since it's so soothing, and when a bandage doesn't stay on for any length of time, a comfrey poultice or wash is an excellent remedy.

How to Use:  Grind the root in a coffee grinder, place a handful in 2 C of water and simmer on very low for 20-30 minutes. Keep it refrigerated because it will turn sour and spoil, but do not keep longer than 1 week in the refrigerator or it will spoil anyway. I keep it refrigerated while I am using it, and then freeze it for future immediate needs since someone, or animal, is always getting hurt around my house and usually its me.
Soak a cloth in this fomentation and wrap around bruises or sprains for swelling. Keep applying for a minimum of an hour, may need to re-apply depending on the severity of the injury. For wounds, simply soak the affected area or apply the decoction with a syringe (or any means that works with animals) periodically as needed over the course of 1-2 days if necessary.

Parts Used: Root, leaves

Warnings: While comfrey is excellent to use externally, there has been some scientific controversy as to how safe it is internally. Just to be safe, don't use it internally.

Growing: Can grow by seed but seeds are difficult to find in seed catalogs or garden centers. It's best to start it from a plant or root.

Some Herb Basics: Most herbs work better on an empty stomach. A few exceptions are garlic, goldenseal and cayenne due to stomach upset. Herbs work in a cumulative fashion meaning they are not a "one dose wonder." They need to build up in the system a little, usually within 2-3 doses, before any real affect can be noticed. Fresh herbs always work better than old herbs and science is always proving the fact that a whole herb usually is more effective than one isolated compound of that herb.

Do you know what foods will give you more energy, calm your nerves, act as an anti-inflammatory, help prevent cancers, or help you lose weight? Hopefully this column will help you to have a better understanding of food and its healing properties. The best diet for optimal health is a wide variation of foods, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and minimally cooked whole foods. Sweets, fatty foods, meat, dairy and carbs in moderation.

Therapeutic Properties: Carob is most beneficial for what it is not: it's not chocolate. Most popularly used as a chocolate substitute for those wishing to avoid the caffeine, fat and calories of chocolate. However, it takes some expertise in processing and using carob to convince the average chocoholic to substitute their favorite vice for carob. In the case of carob, brand matters; some manufacturers know how to process carob for maximum flavor while others do not. So if at first you don't like the taste, try another brand, there can be a world of difference. There are now carob chips to replace chocolate chips for baking, carob powder for baking and a variety of carob treats that were not available a few years ago.

Fiber and Cholesterol: Eating foods with carob fiber may help lower your cholesterol Researchers gave either a placebo or a compound with insoluble carob fiber to 88 people with high cholesterol levels. Those who took the carob fiber lowered their total cholesterol levels by about 18 percent and their LDL levels by approximately 23 percent. They also had lower triglycerides than the placebo group.

Diabetes: Carob powder is a safe option for diabetics.

Gastrointestinal Support: Carob has a binding action within the intestinal tract. This means it helps absorb liquid and aids problems such as diarrhea. Children and infants with diarrhea can be feed 2 tbsp. of carob powder mix with pureed cooked fruit, such as apples. This is a gentle and natural way to help with diarrhea. It works for adults as well.

Cancer: Carob is high in antioxidants myricetin and quercetin shown to help prevent some types of cancer, according to German researchers.

Acid or Alkaline: Alkaline - which makes it a better choice than coffee or cocoa.

Significant Nutrients: A reasonable source of calcium and phosphorus. Also contains sugar naturally. Good source of B vitamins and some protein.

How to Use: Sprinkle on ice cream, use the powder or chips for baking, substitute anywhere you would cocoa powder or chocolate.

Become a Circkles subcriber and see our Recipe of the Month Club for ways to incorporate Foods That Heal into your meals.

You can find more herbs and home remedies in The Circkles Hangout under the Main Menu. (Sorry, you must be a member of Circkles.com.)

September 2013
Health and Nutrition Circkles
"The Doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease."
~Thomas Edison
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