Elderberry Syrup - “The secret sauce to staying healthy during winter”

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The berries in the picture may look like blueberries but they are actually elderberries. These berries may be the key to avoiding the flu or stopping it in its tracks this winter. With the temperatures dropping and the flu season upon us, it is time to be thinking about how to arm your body to battle the threat of sickness.

Elderberries have long been used in “folk” medicine for many years. They contain a compound called flavanoids, which have been shown to have anti-viral characteristics against parainfluenza and influenzae viruses. Typically the flu (influenza) lasts 5-7 and include symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle aches, sore throat and a cough.

A 2004 study examined the effectiveness of taking an elderberry extract while having the flu. There were 60 participants, half receiving the elderberry syrup (ES) and the others receiving a placebo. According to the article. “a complete cure was achieved within 2-3 days in nearly 90% of the elderberry treated group compared to at least 6 days in the placebo group.”

Consuming an elderberry syrup may be an effective way to expedite the recovery from the flu and other seasonal illnesses. Pre-made extracts can be found at natural health food stores. You can also make your own. Keep reading for more information on how to do so!

Resources: Zakay-Rones, Z, Thom, E, Wollan, T, Wadstein, J. Randomized Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Oral Elderberry Extract in the Treatment of Influenza A and B Virus Infections. Journal of International Medical Research. 2004;32:132–140.

Can you do this?

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Your score may be a predictor of life expectancy

Starting in 2002, A Brazilian study assessed over 2000 participants, ages 55-81, and followed them until 2011. They utilized a test called, “Sitting-Rising test” (pictured above). The goal is to go from a standing position to a sitting position and back up - without using your hands or knees for assistance. A point is subtracted each time a hand or knee is used or touches the floor. 10 points is a perfect score!

The study determined that those who scored 8 points or lower were TWO times more likely to die in the next 6 years; those who scored 3 points or less were FIVE times more likely.

Try it and see what you score! If you want to improve your score, start moving because those who are more active tend to score higher. They have more mobility - in other words, less cobwebs in their body.

Resources: Ability to sit and rise from the floor is closely correlated with all-cause mortality risk. European Society of Cardiology. 2012.

Text Neck: “Why neck pain will become the new low back pain”

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Most likely you know someone who suffers from low back pain. Research shows that 70-90% of the population will have some type of low back pain and most will have their first episode by 35 years old. Over 100 billion dollars are spent on the treatment of health care.

However with the prevalence and reliance on smartphones, computers, and tablets, there is an increased likelihood that neck pain will take the place of low back pain. The reason for this is that the neck and spine are placed into a poor posture when using these devices.

The head goes out of neutral into a position called “forward head posture.” The picture above demonstrates this positioning. As the head translates forward, it puts an exponential pressure on the spine. The area that is most impacted is the junction between the lower neck and upper back, also known as the cervicothoracic junction. This is where the C7 and T1 vertebra meet. The average human head weighs between 10-12lbs but as the head moves forward, it makes it feel as if the head now weighs 27 lbs. At a 60 degree angle, the head becomes 60 lbs. That increase leads to more wear and tear on the C7/T1, in other words, increased degeneration.

Other changes you may see are rounding of the upper back, leading to a “humped” back. The shoulders round forward and the pectoralis muscles get tight. The upper back muscles get tight as well in an attempt to support the head in the forward posture with the added weight. This poor positioning may be associated with headaches as well.

Unfortunately phones aren’t going away but there are steps that can be taken to combat the negative effects of being on devices. There are three easy steps:

  1. Thoracic mobility drills
  2. Chest stretching
  3. Activation of middle and lower trapezius muscles
The best strategy is to limit your time on different devices. Most people spend their day on the computer at work and when not working, they are on their smartphones. However, it’s important to maintain good posture, especially a neutral head position whenever possible.

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