ALIVE Poetry Contest

April just happens to be National Poetry Month and here at ALIVE, we want to showcase our local poets. With that in mind, we are calling for poetry submissions for what we hope will be our first annual poetry contest.

The guidelines for our first go at this are simple:

  • We will award a $100 Diablo Jewelers gift certificate to the winner in each of two categories—Young Poets, ages 12-17, and Adults, 18 and older. 
  • Anyone within ALIVE’s distribution area is eligible (if you’re reading this, like to write poetry, and are at least twelve years old, you can enter).
  • You may submit up to three poems, and there is no cost to enter.
  • You may send your poem(s) as WORD file attachments by email to info@aliveeastbay.com, or via US Mail to ALIVE Magazine, 3200-A Danville Blvd., Suite 204, Alamo, CA 94507.
  • Previously published work is okay, though please note where and when it was previously published, along with your submission.
  • All submissions must be received at our office in Alamo no later than March 20, 2017.     

Shorter poetic works are preferred over longer poems, partially due to publication restraints. Sonnet length is a beautiful thing—14 lines, though sophisticated Haiku (3  lines of 17 syllables in a 5-7-5 format) may be chosen. On the other hand, so might longer poems of merit; however, there is a 40-line limit.

We love surprising, creative, unexpected word art; we don’t love clichés or narratives with overt messages. We are looking for “music and mystery” in the lyric; whole lives in the images.

By submitting your work, you are granting us permission to publish it in ALIVE Magazine, at our discretion, however authors will otherwise retain copyright  to their work.

Please include complete contact information with each poem submitted, including name, address, email, and phone number.

The winning poems will be published in the April issue of ALIVE, along with other selected “poems of merit.”

On your mark… get set… ready… write!

 

2017 Volvo S90: A Lesson in Elegance!

Around 25 years ago, my parents gave me their old Volvo 240. At the time, my daughter, Cayla, was born and we needed to replace one of our coupes with a four door sedan. I can’t say much about the 240’s shape – it was rectangle and boxy, but, it drove well, was considered one of the safest cars in its price range, and was reliable. With a new baby on board, safety was the ticket. Well, the years have passed way too quickly. My daughter is now 27-years old and Volvo today produces vehicles that continue to be leaders in safety. They are still reliable, and drive well. The biggest difference is that the styling is outstanding and the all-new 2017 Volvo S90 is proof that safe vehicles can also be beautiful!

The 2017 Volvo S90 sedan replaces the outgoing S80 in the Swedish-made product line; however, this isn’t a simple upgrade or minor change with a new name. This is a start-from-scratch; a fully re-engineered effort that delivers what I would consider to be the best Volvo ever. The S90 is the fully-reconceived flagship sedan that is built on a new platform launched last year on the XC90 crossover. It includes a new engine, a beautiful new design concept and not a single carry-over part from its previous model.

Under the permission of its new owners, China’s Geely Holding, Volvo has been allowed to completely rethink and redesign its largest sedan as well as its company’s overall design theme. Instead of chasing after the German sport sedans specification list, Volvo was encouraged to express itself by conceiving an elegant design, spacious and beautifully crafted interior, and a driving and performance experience that is second to none.

The 2017 Volvo S90 is produced in Sweden and available in four configurations: T5 Momentum ($46,950), T5 Inscription ($49,650), T6 AWD Momentum ($52,950), T6 AWD Inscription ($55,450). The T5 models are equipped with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged generating 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The upgraded T6 2.0-liter 4-cylinder adds a belt-driven supercharger to pump more forced air into the turbo stream. This increases the horsepower to 316 and the torque to 295 lb.-ft. My test car was the S90 T6 AWD Inscription and I can tell you, it performs like a rocket.

The exterior is carved with the smooth outline of a coupe and elegance is infused into the curves and swoops of its shiny steel skin. The profile boasts bold and luxurious authority as it stands tall on its 19-inch wheels. The T-shaped headlights are themed as Thor’s Hammer and are laid in concert with the classically long Volvo hood, uniquely- shaped side glass and the scalloped grille. Sensors and cameras are place on all four poles creating a 360-degree aerial view when the transmission is requested to backup. I must admit, I have driven other cars that have this 360-degree view option and the Volvos for some reason take the items parallel to it (cars, bushes, etc.) and stretches them with giant height proportions which created an uneasy sensation when backing up.

The interior is truly worthy of praise. With plenty of room for four adult passengers and a smaller rider (in the center of the back seat), all will enjoy the blending of a living room couch, while having form-hugging seats that will keep you in place during the curviest of roads. Beautiful wood trim is decorated throughout the cabin. Every element of the interior is designed as a work-of-art, from the shifter to the speaker covers. The nine-inch center screen works in part like a tablet as you swipe from page to page to engage your adjustments. I am a guy who enjoys gadgets, but, I must admit, the screen replaced most of the typical control buttons, and attempting to drive and swipe at the same time was very distracting. I would prefer to have buttons which I can quickly access for the common functions.

The T6 trims are engineered with air suspension delivering a comfortable smooth ride or as Volvo coins it “a relaxed confidence.” The suspension loads up evenly and unloads out of a corner with the grace of a ballerina. Passengers will be pleased as there isn’t much bobbing or bouncing over imperfections in the road and the ride is extremely quiet, thanks to its active noise cancellation technology.

Cool Features:

  • Volvo’s Pilot Assist
  • 360 Aerial View in Reverse
  • Rear seats temperature control and heated seats

As we know, Volvo is known for being a leader in vehicle safety and the 2017 Volvo S90 is bursting at the seams with safety features. The S90 will be the first automobile with semi-autonomous driving technology standard across the line. The Pilot Assist system blends active cruise control with forward collision warning and lane-keep assist. This system lets the driver remove his or her hands from the steering wheel sporadically, for up to 15 seconds each time. Blind-spot monitoring and cross-traffic alert systems are optional. There is also a Large Animal Detection system that tracks the movement of creatures like moose and deer, warning the driver, as it takes evasive action as necessary.

In Summary –The 2017 Volvo S90 is comparable to German sedans in comfort, performance and safety, but, at a much better price. It’s better-equipped than many luxury sedans and is loaded with technical features. The styling of the S90 hits the mark and creates a new standard for Volvo. The S90 is a beautiful and luxurious vehicle both inside and out.

Specifications

2017 Volvo S90 T6 AWD Inscription

 

Base price:                  $52,950as driven: $66,105 (including destination & optional
                                    features)

Engine:                       2.0-liter 4-cylinder Super and Turbo charged engine

Horsepower:               316 @ 5,700 RPM

Torque:                       295 @ 2,200 RPM

Transmission             8-Speedautomatic

Drive:                          AWD Drive

Seating:                       5-passenger

Turning circle            36.7 feet

Cargo space:              13.5 cubic feet

Curb weight:              4222 pounds

Fuel capacity:             15.9 gallons     

EPA mileage:             City 22/Hwy 31

Wheel Base:                115.8 inches

Warranty:                   4 years/50,000-miles powertrain limited

Also consider:            Cadillac CT6, Lexus GS, Jaguar XF, Mercedes-Benz E-Class

 

A Departure from Tradition

This is the month when everyone is Irish…if not in fact, at least in spirit. That alone is cause for celebration, but March also marks the arrival of some of spring’s sweetest crops at the farmers’ market.

While shopping, don’t limit your purchases to spuds and cabbage needed for the traditional American-style St. Patrick’s Day meal. Also treat yourself to a bunch or two of freshly-dug beets; a few baskets of early strawberries; and plenty o’ green: squeaky-fresh artichokes; sweet locally-grown asparagus; tender baby lettuces; plump fava beans; and peas of all persuasions. It’s going to be a good week.

You may also want to re-think the corned beef and cabbage thing. Maybe this is the year you want to simply to nibble something good in front of the television as you watch The Quiet Man. Enter: Irish Nachos.

This hearty dish includes all of St. Patrick’s favorites, piled high onto a bed of warm, crispy potatoes.What’s not to like? Instead of opening a few cans, as one often does for classic nachos, this one is brimming with fresh ingredients, all in the colors of the Irish flag. Think of it as a deconstructed baked potato with a hint of the Emerald Isle. Serve with small plates and forks for a casual supper, or as a super-snack for sports fans.

This crazy fusion is a crowd-pleaser; and all the elements can be prepared ahead, and are easily multiplied as needed.There’s no point in offering an actual recipe here, as you are the master of your nacho destiny. Add as little or as much of the ingredients as you like. Here is the architectural blueprint for making your masterpiece, along with a couple of helpful recipes.

How to Assemble Irish Nachos

  1. Make a batch of Crispy Smashed Potatoes (recipe follows). If you will be serving soon, do not turn off the oven. Transfer the potatoes, along with any crispy potato bits, into a shallow baking dish and topwith a generous handful of cheese.

As far as the choice of cheese, your options are wide open. You can get fancy with crumbled soft goat cheese, but a robust, Irish cheddar or a bit of farmhouse blue are other good choices. If you would rather stick to the basics, use shredded Monterey jack or another favorite, cheddar.

  1. If desired, top with your choice of meat and another handful of cheese. Place in the oven for 5 minutes, or until the cheese has softened or melted (as you prefer) and the potatoes are heated through.

Any protein will do here, but coarsely chopped cooked bacon or pancetta; crumbled cooked sausage; or bite-size shreds of corned beef all work well.

  1. Top the warm potato mixture with a mound of very thinly sliced green cabbage or a shower of baby arugula leaves, and drizzle with Herbed Sour Cream (recipe follows). Place the remaining Herbed Cream in a small serving bowl.
  1. Scatter 2 or 3 thinly-sliced green onions and 1 shredded carrot over the top. Serve at once with a couple of large spoons, so guests can serve themselves. Pass the reserved Herbed Sour Cream on the side. Serves 4 to 6. Maybe.

Crispy Smashed Potatoes

12 Yukon Gold or red creamer potatoes, each about 1 1/2-inches in diameter

Coarse (kosher) salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons California olive oil

  1. Place the potatoes in a large pot. Add enough cold water to cover, and about 1 tablespoon of coarse salt. Bring the water to a boil over high heat; then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes. (This part can be done hours in advance, so all you need to do is roast the potatoes just before serving.) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  1. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of the oil, turning to coat.Arrange the potatoes in a single layer. Using a potato masher or a large fork, smash each potato until it’s about 1/2-inch thick. (Don’t aim for perfection here. You want plenty of nooks & crannies, with bits of potato spilling out.) Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Roast the potatoes, turning once, until nicely browned, 25 to 30 minutes.

 

Herbed Sour Cream

1 1/2 cups sour cream or plain yogurt

3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

3 tablespoons minced fresh chives

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill, basil, cilantro, or tarragon

1teaspoon fresh lemon or lime juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

Dash of cayenne pepper

  1. In a bowl, combine the sour cream, parsley, chives, dill, lemon juice, salt, and cayenne. Stir until well mixed.
  1. Serve at once, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.

Other options to consider

  • Check your produce drawer! Veggies like diced bell pepper, blanched fresh peas, or bite-size broccoli florets add healthy crunch and more green!
  • Guacamole aficionados always appreciate another dose of their favorite green; or a drizzle of tomatillo salsa for a touch of heat.
  • I always think 1 or 2 sliced jalapeno chile peppers are always a good idea. No, they’re not the least bit Irish, but the color works—and I love the added zing.
  • Still yearning for beans in your nachos? Try shelled fava beans or edamame.
  • Not feeling that layer of meat? Omit the meat and cheese altogether and, just before serving, scatter thin slices of smoked salmon or trout over the top.

The Danville Certified Farmers’ Market, located at Railroad & Prospect, is open every Saturday, rain or shine, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. For specific crop information call the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association at 1-800-949-FARM, or visit their web site at www.pcfma.org. This market is made possible through the generous support of the Town of Danville. Please show your appreciation by patronizing the many fine shops and restaurants located in downtown Danville. Buy fresh. Buy local. Live well!

 

Seed Germinating Time

Q. I saved the seeds from last year’s tomatoes and pepper plants. When would it be a good time to start the seeds, so I can transplant them into the garden in May?

A. When germinating flower or vegetable seeds, I’d allow six to eight weeks between sowing the seed and planting in the open ground. Hence, I’d be sowing the seed in early March. However, if these were hybrid varieties, it’s not worth the effort and you’ll be disappointed. You only want to save and replant open-pollinated varieties. The seeds saved from hybrid flowers and vegetables varieties are unpredictable. The chances they are duplicates from last year’s varieties is not very good. It’s all about genetics, so I’d start with new plants. If not, the first thing to do is check to see if the seed is viable. Viable seed means it is capable of germinating. This is easily accomplished by pouring the seed into a glass of water or a larger receptacle. You discard the seed that floats on the surface and plant those that sink. The viable seed is dried out by spreading it over a paper towel and covering it with a second sheet. Next, sow the seed into a flat of pre-moistened potting soil, moist like a wrung-out sponge. With a pen or pencil, you make furrows in the soil, sowing the seeds in the rows and then cover the seeds. The flat is then covered with plastic to trap the moisture and heat. Once the seedlings start to emerge from the soil, remove the sheeting and place the flat in an area that gets morning sun. The seedlings are transferred to individual pots when they get two sets of true leaves. Some gardeners prefer to sow seed directly into individual pots and there is nothing wrong with that. But, I prefer the other method as it allows me to select and grow the most vigorous seedlings.

Note: May is an excellent time to plant vegetables, especially tomatoes and peppers. It’s not unusual for summer vegetables to struggle with cool and damp weather in March and April. So, there is a real advantage by waiting until May to plant.

Q. Last year, I planted cucumbers and was disappointed. They had a bitter, odd taste to them. A neighbor suggested that they were being pollinated by the squash plants growing near them? Will moving the squash to a different location solve this problem?

A. The problem will not be fixed by relocating the squash plants. Squash and cucumbers can’t cross pollinate as the genetic structure of the two plants are very different. Only members of the same species can interbreed. Squash will cross pollinate with other squashes, melons and pumpkins. This brings us to the next fallacy of this old-wives tale. If the two plants could cross breed, would it affect the current year’s fruits? The answer to this is also,” no.” When two plants cross pollinate, the results are unknown until the following year when you grow the saved, seed. Now this is a mute point if you plant new plants each year. Thus, cucumbers, squashes, melons and pumpkins can grow a side by side with no problems.                                                                  

The bitterness in cucumbers is due to a naturally occurring compound called cucurbitin. All cucumber plants contain varying amounts of this compound that is triggered by environmental stress. Environmental stress comes from high temperatures, heavy soil that is too wet, dry, and/or drains poorly, low fertility, insects and foliage diseases. Many times it is a combination of many of these factors. However in the Bay Area, I believe that uneven or irregular watering contributes to the problem. This is particularly a problem when the growing season has below-normal temperatures in the spring, coupled with rapid changes in temperatures from mild to hot during the summer months. This is what we saw last year as April was beautiful, May was below normal and then we hit triple digits on June sixth.  We then had triple digit heat spells in July, August and September. Bay Area gardeners tend to water with the same frequency regardless of the temperature. Yes, we water more when it’s hot but never less when the temperatures go below normal. The other factor is the soil preparation. Overall, it’s pretty minimal for our adobe, clay soil. Soil amendments must be added yearly in the spring to replenish what was lost last year. In addition, mulching is encouraged in vegetable gardens to even out the moisture and insulate the surface roots from the sun. Also, overly mature or improperly stored cucumbers may also develop a mild bitterness; however, it’s often not severe.

Note: The cucurbitin is often concentrated at the stem end of the vegetable and in the light green layer under the skin of the cucumber. You can limit the bitterness by peeling cucumbers from the blossom end toward the stem end and cutting off the last inch. It is best to rinse your peeling knife after each slice so as not to spread the bitter taste.

Beauty News: 10 Facts About Anti-Aging

There is a lot of confusion about anti-aging products today. To maintain and improve skin health you need an effective skincare regimen that must include antioxidants and nutrients to prevent future damage, protect the health of the skin, and correct existing damage.  

  1. Effective skin care that protects, prevents and corrects, starts with antioxidant nutrients including, DMAE, Lipoic Acid, Ester C, Coenzymes and Neuropeptides. These powerful antioxidants have been proven by medical science to reverse and prevent aging.
  2. Aroma Therapy, plant extracts and organic oils do not have nutrients to correct or repair the skins surface, therefore they cannot effectively restore or even improve the skins cellular function. While they smell nice, most people are allergic to highly based plant extract products, causing inflammation.
  3. Innovation and antioxidants is key to reversing the signs of aging. Cosmeceutical skin care lines continue to lead the industry with products that provide scientific evidence to support their benefits.
  4. Using Retin A is a good product as long as you use it in small doses. The skin already thins as you age. Using products to reduce wrinkles by deep exfoliation, will not only damage the surface, it will thin the skin causing the skin to age faster, thus forming fine lines.
  5. You need to build the surface of the skin with vitamins and nutrients to protect it from thinning and forming wrinkles. Highly effective antioxidants and nutrients, especially DMAE, will thicken the skin’s surface, protecting it from sagging and losing elasticity. DMAE firms, lifts, repairs, and improves the skin with extraordinary benefits.
  6. Ester C is a superior antioxidant. When combined with nutrients it neutralizes environmental assaults that can cause fine lines, wrinkles, discoloration, and serious skin conditions such as skin cancer.
  7. Using an exfoliant every day will not only improve and thicken the surface of the skin, it will allow the skin to function properly avoiding moisture loss and dry skin. I cannot stress enough how important it is to exfoliate every day. Your moisturizers and serums will work much more effectively and they will be able to penetrate into the skin, improving the surface and providing outstanding results in correcting and rejuvenating dry, premature-aging and damaged skin. 
  8. Lipoic Acid is 400 times stronger than Vitamin C and is supreme in anti-aging. This powerful antioxidant has exceptional benefits including, repairing and smoothing the surface of the skin. While Ester C is beneficial, taken together with Lipoic Acid will assist in repairing cellular degeneration and support healthy collagen rejuvenation and elasticity. 
  9. Cleansing and toning the skin twice a day not only allows the surface to rejuvenate, it lifts impurities and oils caught in pores. If you don’t cleanse the skin twice a day it can’t breathe or function properly and will break down, causing wrinkles to form. Do not use harsh soaps or drying products on the skin; use gentle foaming agents or gels for deep pore cleansing and always follow with a toner to balance pH levels.
  10. Last but not least, using a light combination of antioxidants in a serum-to-gel eye cream that contains anti-puff ingredients is essential to anti-aging and beautiful eyes. A good eye cream will protect the delicate eye area from oxidative stress, and revive under-eye skin and reduce the appearance of puffiness. Eyes that are constantly puffy age faster and look years older because of the constant swelling and receding.

The Rouge Cosmetics provides skin care consultations Tuesday through Saturday to help you with your very own customized skin care program. Invest in your future now with superior antioxidants and healthy nutrition in your skin care regimen. Aging is optional with the new standard of technology in skin care today.     

 

Chronic Pain: It’s Not in Your Head, It’s in Your Brain!

The formal definition of pain as coined by the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) is “A noxious sensory and emotional experience.” This means that something not only hurts because your body feels it, but also hurts because it is a negative experience as perceived by your brain. Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts longer than three months or pain that does not dissipate in an acceptable amount of time for a particular healing process to occur.

Chronic pain specialists work to minimize the severity of pain and its interference on activities of daily living, regardless of whether the pain is due to normal aging and degenerative processes or an injury, such as a surgical procedure or trauma. My approach is to identify, as specifically as possible, the “pain generator.” This is the area of the body—be it muscle, bone, nerve, fat, ligament, etc.—that is causing the pain. Unfortunately, this is usually not a very straight forward process because there may be multiple pain generators and external factors influencing pain and the perception of pain.

In order for a person to experience pain, a succession of events occur. Initially there is “Nociception,” or the injury itself, then there is “Transmission,” which is the pain signal carried by the nerves. Lastly, there is “Processing,” which occurs in the brain.  The brain is the ultimate judge of whether the offending injury hurts or not. Over many years, the study of pain has revealed that these events are not straight forward either. At each level of the pain pathway, there are different factors that can change the overall cycle or procession of the pain signal. As a pain specialist, I try to block the pain at as many points as possible. For example, most medications are used to try to block pain at the level of the injury or nociception. The most common medication that I use for this is the anti-inflammatory type of medication such as Ibuprofen or Naproxen. If medications fail or a patient isn’t a good candidate for a medication regimen, then I try to intercept the pain at the transmission level. I use nerve blocks and steroid injections and other techniques to “calm” the nerve and slow down the pain signal.

The most important aspect of the pain pathway is the processing of pain or what the brain thinks about the information that it is receiving. Studies have shown that not everyone experiences pain the same way; even movies, books and anecdotes will tell you that one person’s pain may be another person’s pleasure. The good news is that despite what doctors and medical therapies may not be able to do to alleviate pain, the brain can.

Research studies done on the psychology of pain have proven that the brain changes in response to pain and that pain can be alleviated by the brain changing in response to specific treatment “exercises.” We now realize that patients have much more control over a very real phenomenon that occurs in the brain to cause chronic pain. For example, it is well known that depression and anxiety reduce the pain threshold and those individuals who suffer from those disturbances are at greater risk of any type of pain becoming chronic. We have also identified that patients who tend to “catastrophize” medical issues and ruminate on the potential negatives of situations are highly likely to develop chronic pain and disability. These emotional states actually make the body and the nervous system more susceptible to pain. On the contrary, similar studies have shown that patients who are in love or who have positive thoughts and hopeful outlooks on their medical conditions are much less likely to suffer with chronic pain.

Cognitive and behavioral therapy is a type of psychology treatment that helps the brain learn to modify and change the pain signal that is coming in from the body. It is real medical therapy and we are just beginning to understand how truly powerful a tool it is in chronic pain management.

Sugar: Health Enemy #1

I always like to look back at our evolution to test what “modern medicine” has come up with. Many of the scientific findings today come from junk science and basing medical protocols on their findings can be fatal. Because of junk science findings, sponsored by sugar industry bribes, sugar has not been condemned as the poison it is.

Let’s go back to before the development of present day farming and distribution.  Our only source of sugar was primitive fruits and berries, which were warm season treats. Even then they weren’t refined. Humans get their energy from sugars, fats and proteins.  Cancer can only use sugar for its energy and dies without it.  Thus, our primitive winter diet resulted in the death of almost all cancers in the human body. 

Sugar also ranks high on the inflammatory index of foods. In other words, eating sugar puts your body in condition of inflammation, and as it turns out, inflammation is the single most important cause of nearly all diseases.  So, instead of winter being a healthy season, it becomes the flu season plus whatever other diseases we invite in.  Then, when you add empty-calorie junk food to inflammatory foods and poisonous additives, the immune system is left without the resources to fight back.

If this is not enough to get your attention, maybe vanity might bring some sense to the irresponsible.  Crap food interferes with proper digestion causing fewer nutrients and healthy candida yeasts, resulting in more of the products to be stored as fat. Using vanity even further, bad foods create bad complexion, accelerated aging of the skin, and accelerated aging of the body.

To sum it all up, our irresponsible eating habits are taking away any chance of having a long, healthy, active and fulfilling life. The irresponsible have a saying: “Youth is wasted on the young,” when the truth is, we can continue to have youthful bodies and minds as long as we live responsibly and care for ourselves.

Another killer I have found in my practice that can seriously decrease the quality and length of life is legal, iatrogenic (medically caused) drug abuse.  I use no drugs in my pain clinic and many times find that the patient’s pain is due to the side effects of prescriptive and over the counter drugs.  The present popularity of treating the symptom and not the patient is resulting in not only the masking of possibly serious symptoms, but the creation of other health problems due to side effects, which almost all drugs have.

It is time that all of us, especially the medical industry, drop greed from our treatment plan and realize the magnificence of God’s creations and concentrate on what can be done to stimulate and encourage the body’s ability to heal itself.

Getting back to my first point: many f these problems would not exist without sugar!

 

Is Neuropathy on Your Nerves?

What is Peripheral Neuropathy?

Peripheral Neuropathy is a condition in which there is damage to the peripheral nervous system, which transmits information from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. This can result in pain, tingling, loss of feeling, and inability to control muscles. As with any other condition, there is no “one size fits all” remedy for those suffering from this malady and treatment may vary depending on the cause and severity. However, many individuals find relief using natural remedies.

Peripheral Neuropathy is a condition that affects people in every walk of life. It is estimated that 20 million Americans and 60% of diabetics suffer from this disorder. There are hundreds of different kinds of neuropathy, the symptoms of which include burning, tingling, weakness, numbness, paralysis, and dull to excruciating pain – especially in the limbs.

Although many neuropathies have no known cause, neuropathy is often associated with another condition, such as: Diabetes, HIV, shingles, toxins, autoimmune disorders, neurological conditions, carpal tunnel syndrome, and malnutrition. Statin (cholesterol) drugs and chemotherapy can also cause neuropathy.

While medications can sometimes help with the symptoms, they cannot be relied upon to restore the health of the nerves. Most often the drugs that treat Neuropathy leave the sufferer feeling intoxicated and hopeless to lead a normal active life.

Understanding the Nervous System

Nerves carry the electrical signals that allow us to move, feel, breathe, digest, detoxify, respond to our environment, and much more.  Nerves are the electrical wiring of the human body. Plain and simple, if the nerves do not work the body will not work, in some capacity. It is also important to understand that unlike other tissues, the primary blood supply to nerve tissue is actually located WITHIN the nerve itself. So, if a nerve becomes impinged or compromised, so does the blood supply to the nerve. Without proper blood supply, the nerve does not receive the energy and nutrition that are needed for the nerve to heal. Over time neural impingement leads to a painful chronic condition called Neuropathy.

How can I heal my neuropathy?

  1. Class IV laser therapy. Ending the pain caused by neuropathy requires reversing the cause of nerve damage. Class IV laser therapy is an excellent method for this, because it is presently the only modality that can both reduce pain and heal tissue simultaneously. Laser therapy creates an optimal healing environment that reduces swelling, muscle spasms, stiffness and pain.  As the injured tissue returns to normal, function is restored and pain is quickly relieved.  In other words, NO MORE Pain, NO MORE Numbness, NO MORE Tingling and NO MORE Burning!
  2. Test for nutritional deficiencies. A single nutrient deficiency can contribute to any number of disorders of the nervous system, including neuropathy, migraines and even Alzheimer’s. We use SpectraCell Labs patented micronutrient test to measure the function of selected vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other essential micronutrients within your white blood cells. Standard blood tests do not measure if the nutrient is properly functioning within the body.

With the proper combination of holistic therapies it is possible to heal your nerve pain and in the process feel more alive and energetic than you have in years. Depending on the type and severity of neuropathy we have witnessed patients begin to get relief after the first visit and with continued care receive complete relief long-term.

Dr. Niele Maimone of Align Healing Center in Danville, CA has been active in natural health & wellness since 1999. For more information or to set up a consult call 925.362.8283 or visit www.alignhealingcenter.com.

 

Dirty Dancing: A Movie Review

Has it truly been 30 years?  Was I only…oops I almost did it!  Did I really see it 13 times, in the theater?  At least thirty years ago it didn’t cost what it does today to go to a movie! 

As I was thinking about doing this review, it took me down a lot of rabbit trails.  Why do some movies affect us when we see them and others don’t?  Down the road a few years and the same movie may affect us totally differently. 

Dirty Dancing was set in 1963, at Kellerman’s in the Catskills.  If you’re a native Californian like me you probably don’t understand the mentality of leaving the city and spending three weeks, or maybe all summer just a drive away from home. It’s an East coast thing. Family cabins scattered about, taking meals together in the dining room and nightly entertainment possibly by your daytime waiter or the couple at the next table reminds me of a cruise ship. 

Johnny Castle, ahhhh, Johnny Castle.  Dirty Dancing was Patrick Swayze’s big break.  The movie that everyone thought would last a week in the theaters, had what could only be explained as an immediate cult following. I’m not sure anyone could ever put Swayze in the best actor category but the guy sure could dance and after all, it was Dirty Dancing. 

It was the 60s and freedom was front and center.  I will today, unapologetically admit to a pro-life belief system and quite frankly, 30 years after this movie, I didn’t even remember that being a central theme. I guess during that 30 years I moved on from “Women’s Rights” to what, in my personal opinion, comes down to, what is right. I wondered what I would say but when I watched the film again for this review, I realized that what the writer felt was the heart of her story was again from a 30 year vantage point.

The eighties had an obsession with the 60s and Dirty Dancing is representative of that era.  The dancing was amazing; controlled sensuality when compared to Miley Cyrus and some of her cronies. It’s about the entertainers, mostly young people from the wrong side of the tracks, and the guests; upper class kids from wealthy families tempted to fraternize. Dirty Dancing is one of the best movies about the love of dance and music ever made, and while it’s definitely associated with the chick flick genre, it’s a movie that just about anyone can enjoy. 

While it was the first film to ever sell over one million videos the soundtrack was worth the price of admission and still is. Even Swayze wrote and sang She’s Like the Wind for the soundtrack.  Be My Baby and (I Had) The Time of My Life were just part of why this soundtrack sold over 32 million copies and was #1 for 18 weeks.

Dirty Dancing has a lightening-in-a-bottle timelessness that works as a time capsule of the decade, and a very entertaining and beautifully composed film that packs in drama, comedy, and an iconic finale that’s still quite riveting. It will make time fly on a rainy night!  It is PG-13 but it doesn’t really cross the line.  Watch it, you’ll be singing the songs for weeks. Let me know what you think at chastings@rockcliff.com .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting/Staying in Tune: The 15 Minute Rule

As a student in college I remember living by what we used to call, “the fifteen minute rule.” The rule applied whenever a professor was 15 minutes late to the listed start time of class. When fifteen minutes had past and the professor had not yet shown to begin class, students would invoke the rule and leave. Uncertain of any actual credibility, the rule was heralded as unwritten law and nearly every student lived by it.  I like to apply such a rule to my athletes training when it comes to understanding in their body. Below is the beginning of when and when not to consider the fifteen minute rule in your training/workout sessions.

Experienced athletes know that there are going to be days that we call on our body to deliver a certain intensity and/or effort, and it simply won’t respond at a level that we know (or believe) it’s capable of. In fact, there times that it may not respond at all, raising the questions: 1) What the heck is going on today? 2) What do I do now?

The key to being able to answer these questions lies within the ability to differentiate between a mental shut down and a physiological response (or lack thereof) in the body. The mind is a powerful thing; it can will the body to do amazing things, but it can also will the body to not do amazing things—or even ordinary things. It can also trick us into thinking “I’m not strong, I’m not fit”, etc. Enter the fifteen minute rule.

As you begin any kind of exercise session, begin with a good warm up routine as I know everyone does (sarcasm). This should consist of some dynamic stretching, mobilizing and easy aerobic work dictated by perceived effort; add a few short eclectic bursts as a means of activating all energy systems and muscle fibers. Total warm up time should be a total of 10-15 minutes.

If, after your warm up you’ve gotten 15 minutes into the “main set” or focus of your workout session and you’re finding it nearly impossible, it is important to do a quick self- assessment. I like to begin with questions like: How was I feeling before I started my warm up? How did I feel when the day started? What have I eaten today? What activity did I do yesterday and or the day before that? This allows me to peel the onion that hides the answers to the two questions above. Further, I might ask: How was the work day? What’s up at home? What other stressors do I have? These are all valid considerations.

The idea is simple in concept, but not always in application. Depending on how you answer these questions, you will get a clearer picture telling you if it’s your mind or body rebelling. As a rule of thumb, if you are mentally tired, go ahead and work through the session. Chances are you will find as the session progresses, so do you and you will be back to your athletic self by the end of the session. These can even lead to “breakthrough sessions” that we never knew were in us.

On the other hand, if you conclude that your body that is waving a flag in surrender, it is usually best to call it and live to fight another day. Ignoring signs and symptoms from the body has taken down way too many athletes, sometimes for long periods of time.

Learning to differentiate between a rare mental or physical hiccup is an art that requires a quick, honest self-evaluation in that moment. Often times, it is the difference between progress and injury. Stay tuned for more on getting the most out of yourself and staying injury free.