The Good Side of Cholesterol

by Dian Freeman

Few words today can bring about more discussion and debate than the word “cholesterol”. The discussion generally centers around how high or how low one’s personal cholesterol levels are, while the debate generally addresses the best way to lower those numbers or even on how to eliminate cholesterol altogether. Such discussions and debates are based both upon misinformation and the lack of information about the value of cholesterol to the body. Continue reading

Mark Rosenfeld’s Secrets for Successful Love Matches

by Alison James

Australian author, speaker and dating coach Mark Rosenfeld knows firsthand the challenges of navigating romantic relationships. After struggling with shyness, he took on a confidence-boosting job as an erotic dancer in 2011, working with men at both ends of the assertiveness spectrum. In this milieu, he gained a better understanding of men’s thoughts and actions related to women. Through his career as a dancer while in his own satisfying relationship, Rosenfeld also personally communicated with about 50,000 women, many of which opened up about their own trials and tribulations with dating.

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PA Vets Push for MMJ Access, Relief

by Carrie Jackson & Karen G. Meshkov

George Armstrong, from Western Chester County, is at the forefront of a movement to allow veterans in Pennsylvania legal access to medical marijuana, or MMJ. With more than 800,000 veterans, Pennsylvania hosts a large community of people that could benefit from treatment of combat-related conditions, such as chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and mental illness. Armstrong is an outspoken advocate for the PA Vets for Cannabis Program, with the aim of convincing the federal government to legalize marijuana. Continue reading

A Year of Inspired Living: Essays and Guided Journaling for Self-Reflection

Ignore those that say life doesn’t come with a manual. Kelly McGrath Martinsen has exactly the guide you need to make life richer and more insightful with her new book, A Year of Inspired Living: Essays and Guided Journaling for Self-Reflection.

This is the handbook for anyone that wants to embrace a better life. Through entertaining anecdotes and guided journal pages, A Year of Inspired Living helps the reader create their very own personalized self-help book.

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Star Advanced Medicine Offers New Skin-Tightening Treatments

Star Advanced Medicine, an integrative medical practice in Warminster, is now adding Exilis Ultra 360 treatments to its list of services, which already includes regenerative orthopedic procedures and bio-identical hormone optimization. The Exilis Ultra 360 is a pain-free way for patients to quickly and easily smooth wrinkles and experience shaping, tightening, cellulite reduction and facial rejuvenation.

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The Benefits of Cocoa for Type 2 Diabetes

An article published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry suggests that specific compounds in cocoa may help with Type 2 diabetes. Researchers from Brigham Young University and Virginia Tech fed animals a high-fat diet, combined with cocoa and found the animals had decreased obesity and a greater ability to handle high blood sugar levels.

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St. Mary Offers New Technique to Breast Cancer Patients

St. Mary Medical Center, in Langhorne, has introduced a new technique to limit radiation exposure to the heart for women receiving treatment for left-sided breast cancer.

The technique is called “deep inspiration breath-hold” (DIBH) and reduces radiation exposure to the heart by as much as 75 percent. This additional safety measure helps decrease a patient’s chances of adverse cardiac events, such as heart attacks and sudden cardiac death, later in life.

DIBH involves the patient taking a deep breath through a special spirometry monitor, which measures the volume of air inside the lungs. The patient is also given a set of goggles with a visual screen that shows how much air is being taken in and guides the patient to hold her breath for 20 to 30 seconds at a time. When lungs are inflated, physicians can deliver radiation more precisely, reducing exposure to healthy heart tissue.

“The more we can limit the exposure of healthy tissue to radiation and protect the heart, the better the long-term outcome of the patient will be,” says St. Mary radiation oncologist Hiral Fontanilla, M.D. “This is another advancement for our patients, who are living decades after initial diagnosis, thanks to more effective therapies.”

St. Mary Medical Center is recognized for achieving numerous national quality distinctions for best practice standards in care delivery, image quality, personnel qualifications, equipment, quality control procedures and quality assurance.

Location: 1201 Langhorne Newtown Rd., Langhorne. For more information, call 215-710-2000 or visit StMaryHealthcare.org. October 2017

No Restrictions: Massage to Restore, Enhance and Prevent

by Mandy Francis

FB_BackInBalance-NitaKeesler-2_0616The popularity of massage continues to rise as studies confirm the value of massage for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension. The Mayo Clinic even recently opened a spa to offer massage and acupuncture. Nita Keesler, massage therapist, talks about the importance of massage for men.

In your practice, what kinds of issues do you see that are specific to men? Typically, male clients have tight shoulders, low back/hips and hamstrings. Sciatic pain, rotator cuff issues and carpal tunnel syndrome also tend to be common. Restricted movement can affect posture, and sitting can exacerbate pain, which is especially problematic if someone works at a computer or drives for a living.

Weight training and running are popular forms of exercise for many guys. How does that impact their flexibility, and how can massage help support them in those practices? Massage therapy is very beneficial to men that lift weights, run or participate in other cardiovascular exercise because it prevents and alleviates restrictions in the muscles. “Restrictions” can originate from various injuries, improper posture or repetitive motions, as in the case of weightlifting. Massage also helps to prevent what’s called delayed onset muscle soreness, so the body can heal faster with massage than with rest alone.

What benefits can men expect from greater flexibility? Men can gain improved range of motion and better posture, which affect health on many levels, including digestion, mood and, of course, appearance. Massage helps make the muscles more supple by helping to oxygenate with fresh blood. Think of tight muscles as a kink in a hose—when tight, the muscles can entrap blood vessels and nerves, creating pain. Massage helps to alleviate that. Massage combined with assisted stretching, whether it is sports stretching or Thai massage—which is what I incorporate into my practice—is even more beneficial. When someone else is stretching our bodies, we are able to stretch a bit further because our muscles are relaxed. With Thai massage we are also being massaged while being stretched, so the results are even more profound.

FB_BackInBalance-NitaKeesler_0616How many sessions do men need to attend before experiencing a noticeable difference? Everyone is unique. Results will depend on how long they have had their physical issues, whether they have any scar tissue, the amount of stress they typically have and their compliance to self-care, particularly stretching and body awareness. But many have felt relief in one to two sessions. With weekly or biweekly sessions, many have had significant results within six to 10 sessions and continue with monthly or bimonthly maintenance.

What else do you want people to know? Our bodies are meant to move in several planes of movement. Many exercises, including walking, running, cycling and the elliptical, have us in only one repetitive plane of movement. These are all great ways to work out, but it is imperative to supplement with other modalities such as weight training, which by design, if done correctly, requires us to use our muscles in a balanced way. Stretching is the most important thing we can do to help prevent injuries. Massage and assisted stretching are exceptional in that they help us get to that place of flexibility so that we are able to more easily do it on our own.

Also important is an understanding of “how and why” our bodies have reached their current states. I offer posture and flexibility workshops for individuals and for workplaces to help bring this understanding in a simple way, along with techniques that participants can use throughout their busy day.

Nita Keesler is a licensed and board-certified massage and bodywork therapist with over 20 years of experience. For more information, call 267-980-1727, email iNitaUnwind@gmail.com or visit Back-In-Balance.MassageTherapy.com. Check for discount package pricing, current specials and new client specials.

June 2016

Matters of the (Female) Heart: 10 Things Women May Not Know About Heart Disease

CRG_AbingtonCardio_DrMeshkov_0216_1by Arnold B. Meshkov

  1. Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States.
  2. The incidence of heart disease has been increasing in women for the last 30 years.
  3. Women may not have the typical symptoms of cardiac chest pain, or angina pectoris, as a symptom of a blocked artery or atherosclerosis.
  4. Often, the only symptoms women may experience are shortness of breath and fatigue.
  5. When women do experience cardiac chest pain, it is often due to problems with the very small blood vessels of the heart, and not due to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
  6. Heart disease in women presents on average about 10 years later than in men; with the population living much longer now, women without any history of heart problems are presenting with heart disease for the first time much later in life.
  7. Women are treated with invasive procedures such as angioplasty and cardiac surgery less often than men.
  8. Women have the same risk factors for heart disease as men, such as family history, cigarette smoking, “metabolic syndrome”, elevated cholesterol and lipids, high mental stress levels, high blood pressure (hypertension), being overweight and diabetes.
  9. Women have a significant risk of heart disease after menopause, but treatment with estrogens has been shown to increase that risk even further.
  10. Women are much more likely to suffer from “broken heart syndrome”, which presents with the typical symptoms of a heart attack but is not due to hardening of the arteries, and is often associated with major life stress events.

Arnold B. Meshkov, MD, is board certified in internal medicine, cardiology and echocardi-ography. For more information, call 215-920-0815, email Info@AbingtonCardiology.com or visit AbingtonCardiology.com.

May, 2016 Issue

Back to Basics: Rethinking Our Approach to Menopause

by Wendy Warner

Around 6,000 women reach menopause every day — that’s more than two million per year. For many of them, it’s a rocky time filled with mood swings, poor sleep, hot flashes, night sweats and foggy thinking. The really bad news is that at least a third of women in one survey stated they don’t think they’re aware of all the options out there for treatment, or that they are not happy with the options presented to them. Add to this that in conventional gynecologic training, physicians are taught that treatment for symptoms is hormone replacement therapy (HRT)…and then they’re told that HRT isn’t really all that good for women. What’s a doc to do?

The reality is that there are a lot of options out there. HRT is certainly one of them, but jumping into bioidentical hormones right off the bat could mean that the underlying reason for the symptoms and imbalance is never addressed. At some point in the future, when these women decide to stop their hormone therapy, they might start flashing all over again because no one ever helped them fix the cause. Also, hormones can be expensive, so looking for the cheaper alternatives first makes sense.

Get some lab work done. Check a full thyroid panel (TSH, free T4, free T3 plus thyroid antibodies and reverse T3) along with cortisol and DHEA. Check fasting glucose and a hemoglobin A1C, even if the fasting glucose is normal. This information will help establish where to focus attention in treatment.

The first place to look, as usual, is food. How we eat as perimenopausal women really does make a huge impact on how we feel. All the steps in hormone production require nutrient cofactors that are found in vegetables (magnesium and B vitamins, in particular). Eating more veggies and fewer grains and sweets (even excess fruit) can make a huge difference for someone having hot flashes. Also, not everyone needs to be gluten-free, but gluten-containing grains do have a negative impact on the liver’s breakdown of hormones; focusing on gluten-free grains will decrease this. Eating more legumes also helps, as they contain flavonoids, fiber and other chemicals that impact hormone metabolism.

So, although each woman needs to work out details for herself, a good rule to use is the  following: half of what you have eaten by the end of the day should be a vegetable.  This is tough, as most of us don’t eat any at breakfast. Of the remaining half of your food each day, make one-third of it animal protein if you eat animals (this includes eggs and dairy, obviously), one-third should be healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocados, the oils in salad dressings and what you cook with) and one-third would include grains, fruit and anything else (like chocolate).  Following this rule will result in really small portions of these foods.

Exercise also has a huge impact on menopausal symptoms — the more the better, though it is possible to actually do it “wrong”. Move but don’t get extreme about it.  Focus on strength building and not so much cardio, since most perimenopausal women  lose muscle quickly. That might mean just a more vigorous yoga class or pilates and doesn’t need to include lifting weights in the gym.

Learning more emotional resilience and better stress management has a huge impact as well. Most of us spend a great deal (all?) of our time in the fight-or-flight mode. Too much on our plate, too much bad news, no downtime…this keeps our adrenal hormones  stuck in the “on” position, and when this happens, estrogen and progesterone balance goes out the window. Progesterone gets converted to cortisol to conserve energy for the adrenals, which leads to unbalanced estrogen. Also, the high cortisol is what triggers the temperature-regulating portion of the brain to set off hot flashes. This can be overturned by higher estrogen levels (which is why HRT works), but if it’s still going on when a woman stops her HRT, she’ll simply flash all over again.

When all of these lifestyle issues are being worked on, but sleep and thinking straight are still difficult, interventions like herbs and hormones should be considered. Many plants combat menopausal symptoms, from black cohosh to Siberian rhubarb to night blooming cereus, but all work best when used with herbal adaptogens and nervines. Adaptogens help support adrenal function and include plants like ashwagandha, holy basil and rhodiola. Nervines calm us down; fresh milky oats is a favorite. Different plants  work better for different people, so seeking out a knowledgeable provider is a must.

For some women, hormone replacement therapy may ultimately provide the best results. There are conventional hormones, which one gets at a regular pharmacy. Some  are bioidentical (chemically just like what our bodies make) and some are chemicals that are “new to nature” that have activity similar to estrogen and progesterone, but our bodies have never seen them before. Several major studies agree that among replacement hormones available, bioidentical hormones are safest. The downside to “regular” prescriptions is that they are mostly oral (probably not the best choice) and have limited doses available. Compounded bioidentical hormones, however, are designed to let each woman have the dose that is right for her, and several different forms of delivery are available, including capsules, creams, pellets and bucchal troches.  Compounded forms also allow for inclusion of testosterone and adrenal support, which are not available in “commercial” HRT.

Menopause is not a disease, but it is a transition that will likely require each of us to reevaluate how we’ve been living. We need to look at the big picture and not jump to an easy fix. Our bodies will thank us.

Wendy Warner, MD, ABIHM, is board certified in gynecology and holistic medicine. Her practice, Medicine in Balance, is located in Langhorne. For more information, call 215-741-1600.

May 2016 Issue

OneTaste Meetups Aim to Access the Power of Female Sexuality

WomanSilhouetteMeditatingMountain_45080254_lIt might sound wild or shocking, but Orgasmic Meditation (OM) isn’t about titillation. Its practitioners believe that the power of female sexuality, harnessed through meditation, can actually change the world. According to OneTaste, an international group devoted to OM, OM is “a consciousness practice (like yoga or Pilates) designed for singles and couples to experience more connection, vitality, pleasure and meaning in every aspect of their lives.”

OneTaste holds regular events through the popular website Meetup.com. While there is sexual content to the meetings (which are definitely for adults only), everyone’s clothes stay firmly on. OM is about relaxation, connection, and getting past the stigmas and barriers that stand between women and the true power of their sexuality. Women are welcome to attend alone or with a respectful partner of any gender. Participants can expect to get an entirely fresh sex-ed curriculum as they learn about the benefits of OM, the Five Laws of Orgasm and why orgasm is different from climax. OMers learn how to access a grounded, conscious, orgasmic experience that can help them “develop a larger state of consciousness, have better intimacy and stronger connections.”

Thousands of people in New York, London, and around the world have discovered the joy that comes when they let go of shame and embrace their sexual selves.  To participate, women can sign up at OneTaste.Us or Meetup.com, and an Orgasm Expert will call them and orient them before the event, answering any questions, so they’ll know what to expect.

To find out more, or to find a One Taste Meetup Group near you, visit OneTaste.Us.