Friday, September 30, 2022

Barometric Pressure and Headaches


According to the American Migraine Foundation, over a third of people with migraine report that certain weather patterns trigger their headaches, at least some of the time.

Several studies have suggested that changes in weather, and especially changes in pressure, increase the likelihood of having a headache. 

Some people experience high-altitude headaches due to changes in barometric pressure, such as during plane travel. Others, who experience migraine headaches or tension-type headaches, find that weather-related changes in pressure trigger the pain and other symptoms.

Meanwhile, a 2017 study found there may be a link between atmospheric pressure and the severity of migraine pain.

The same year, a review pointed out that investigations into the link between weather and the occurrence of migraine headaches have arrived at mixed results.

However, one study in the analysis indicated that changes in weather may only trigger headaches associated with certain subtypes of migraine, which could explain the conflicting evidence.

Below, learn more about the association between changes in weather, and particularly in pressure, and the occurrence and severity of headaches.


What are the symptoms?

For some people, a headache, and sometimes other migraine symptoms, arise or worsen as soon as the weather changes. For others, it can take time for the issues to develop.

Still others might find that the pain and any other symptoms develop before the weather changes become noticeable.

People who have migraine commonly experience:

  • headaches that can last between 4 hours and 3 days
  • sensitivity to light, sounds, and smells
  • nausea, abdominal pain, and vomiting
  • distorted vision
  • mood or emotional changes, which often involve depression or anxiety
  • dizziness
  • more frequent yawning
  • speech changes
  • memory difficulties
  • difficulty concentrating and sleeping
  • cravings for specific foods


Headaches can occur when pressure changes affect the small, confined, air-filled systems in the body, such as those in the ears or the sinuses.

Changes in atmospheric pressure can create an imbalance in the pressure within the sinus cavities and the structures and chambers of the inner ear, resulting in pain.

The effects on the body may depend on how quickly these changes occur and how dramatic they are.

Regarding changes in barometric pressure, theories about the link with headaches involve the constriction of blood vessels, insufficient oxygen, or the overexcitement of areas of the brain that produce pain.

Weather and altitude changes

A person may experience a headache, or a worsened headache, due to:  

  • sudden changes in temperature or humidity
  • high or low levels of temperature or humidity
  • a storm, which changes the barometric pressure
  • changes in altitude, such as during plane travel


Depending on the type and exact cause of a headache, a person may benefit from taking:

  • over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) 
  • acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • antinausea medications
  • medications called triptans, which treat migraine and cluster headaches

A doctor may prescribe other or additional treatments, depending on a person’s specific symptoms.

Home remedies

A person can take some steps at home to reduce headaches and other migraine symptoms.

Common care strategies include:

  • applying an ice pack wrapped in a cloth to the affected areas of the head and neck
  • practicing relaxation techniques
  • learning to breathe through the pain, keeping in mind that it will pass
  • avoiding triggers, such as caffeine and alcohol
  • limiting physical activity and exertion
  • taking a warm, relaxing bath or shower
  • getting plenty of rest
  • avoiding noisy or brightly lit areas


The following can help prevent headaches related to weather or pressure changes:

  • when triggering weather patterns are forecasted, planning downtime to reduce stress and fatigue, which can worsen pain
  • taking NSAIDs
  • staying hydrated
  • avoiding stimulants
  • avoiding alcohol
  • having a healthful diet without added fats and sugar
  • having a regular sleep schedule
  • exercising regularly
  • practicing stress-reduction techniques, such as yoga or meditation
  • not skipping meals

When to see a doctor

People should see a doctor if headaches, or any other migraine symptoms, are severe or otherwise affect daily life.

Seek medical attention for any head pain that does not go away after:

  • using over-the-counter medication
  • trying home care techniques
  • using prescription medication

A person should receive medical care if they experience:

  • severe symptoms that do not respond to medication
  • a fever  
  • bloody stool, including diarrhea  
  • muscle weakness or numbness
  • changes in speech or vision that persist after the headache has gone
  • memory loss or confusion

Who is at risk?

Headaches and migraine can affect anyone at any age. Still, migraine is more likely to occur:

  • in females
  • between the ages of 18 and 44 years
  • in people with a family history of the condition

According to one study, 13% of people with migraine said that the weather influenced episodes, but the researchers noted that this figure may actually be much higher.


Many people report that they are more likely to have a headache or migraine episode during certain weather changes and conditions, as well as during changes in altitude.

While little research supports these associations, some experts believe that changes in pressure lead to the pain and other symptoms by affecting the sinuses and other cavities in the head,

Recognizing the triggers of a headache can help a person prevent or treat it. If symptoms are severe or accompanied by weakness or any other concerning changes, seek medical attention.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

How Stimulating The Vagus Nerve Can Help With Health

What The Vagus Nerve Is

The vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve in the body. It comes from the Latin word, vagus, for “wandering.” That’s because it wanders throughout your body, with wide distribution connecting the brainstem to the body. Only mammals have this nerve. It helps the immune system and inflammation response to disease. It has four main functions: sensory, special sensory, motor and parasympathetic. It has the dorsal and ventral parts to itself. The dorsal is the back and the ventral is in the front. During neuroception, both parts may be activated as you analyze environment cues of safety or danger. Safety cues activates the ventral, and danger cues activate the dorsal. There are three states of being: mobilization, immobilization or social engagement in response to your environment. A healthy vagal nerve leads you to respond mindfully.


The Love Nerve

The vagus nerve is activated when you are feeling compassion and empathy. A person with a strong vagal nerve profile is more altruistic. It is the kid most likely to intervene with the bully or give up recess time to help someone with homework. In a study, participants that were showed images of suffering activated their vagus nerve. When shown images of pride, it diminished. It fosters common humanity in your compassion for different groups of people, however diverse or different. It is called the “love nerve” because when activated, you are loving. It is caretaking in nature. 


Gives You Gut Feelings

The vagus nerve also manages fears. According to Medical News Today, “The vagus nerve sends information from the gut to the brain, which is linked to dealing with stress, anxiety, and fear–hence the saying, ‘gut feeling.’ These signals help a person to recover from stressful and scary situations.”


Emotional Regulation

Any time your brain perceives a threat, due to the sympathetic nervous system, it triggers the fight or flight response. The parasympathetic nervous system does the opposite–it calms you. The parasympathetic nervous system is activated when a danger is over, such as being pulled out of harm’s way from ongoing traffic while crossing the street. You are no longer distressed, you are at rest. However, sometimes, the brain remains in panic mode, as if you are still in danger.

The vagus nerve helps you to remain calm when you are stressed and to know when you are no longer in danger. It helps you to “rest and digest.” This is low tone dorsal activity. The parasympathetic though has high tone dorsal activity when you get into freeze mode. Typically, if you aren’t healthy emotionally, you are either in sympathetic (fight or flight becoming hypervigilant) or parasympathetic (freeze). Parasympathetic has two other states though- the rest and digest and according to the Polyvagal Theory, the ventral vagal branch of the parasympathetic which is social engagement. The ventral vagal allows you to be less guarded. 


Restore self-regulating vagal function through grounding and mindfulness as well self biofeedback such as breathwork. Fronteirs in Psychiatry, “the vagal tone is correlated with capacity to regulate stress responses and can be influenced by breathing, its increase through meditation and yoga likely contribute to resilience and the mitigation of mood and anxiety symptoms.” 

Clinical psychologist Dr. Glenn Doyle puts it this way: “The vagus nerve is deeply plugged into our heart, our guts, and our voice. Whenever we turn inward to check in with our true feelings; to check in with our intuitive wisdom; or to find our true expressiveness, we're lighting up the vagus nerve. Whenever our face reflects what we're really feeling or experiencing, the vagus nerve is at work. Whenever we plug into the rhythms of ourselves or the world around us, we're lighting up the vagus nerve. 

When we speak, shout, sing, the vagus nerve is lit up like a Christmas tree— which is one of the reasons why those activities can be so cathartic and emotional for so many of us.” 


Here are some ways to stimulate your vagus nerve:


Reset Ventral Vagus Nerve

In Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Neve by Stanley Rosenberg, there are a few exercises you can do to reset your ventral vagus nerve. They include The Basic Exercise, The Half Salamander Exercise and The Full Salamander Exercise:


The Basic Exercise

1.    Lie on back

2.    Interweave fingers on both hands and place behind head

3.    Without turning your head, look to the right

4.    Remain here until you spontaneously yawn or swallow

5.    Return to the neutral state with head and eyes straight

6.    Repeat on the other side


Rosenberg says the reason you move your eyes is there is “direct neurological connection between the eight suboccipital muscles and the muscles that move our eyeballs.”


The Half-Salamander Exercise

1.    Eyes looks right without turning head

2.    Tilt head to the right towards shoulder

3.    Hold for thirty to sixty seconds

4.    Then eyes and head straight back to neutral

5.    Eyes look left without turning head

6.    Tilt head to the left towards shoulder

7.    Hold for thirty to sixty seconds

8.    Then return to neutral state 


A variation is to look in the opposite direction of the head tilt so the head tilts left and eyes look right and vice versa. Both hold their necks thirty to sixty seconds.


Full Salamander Exercise

1.    Get on all fours

2.    Head is facing down

3.    Look left without turning head

4.    Tilt head to the left

5.    Let your left spine twist with the head tilt to the left

6.    Hold for thirty to sixty seconds

7.    Bring head and spine to center to straighten out

8.    Repeat on right side


Other Ways to Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve


1) Breathwork- diaphragmatic breathing

Place one hand on your stomach and the other hand on your chest. As you breathe in, feel your stomach expand, and when you exhale, your stomach should go back down. This is also known as “belly breathing.”  This lowers your heart rate and blood pressure.

 2) Connection

Community and belonging help you to feel safe and secure. When you are connected, you are calmer and more positive.

 3) Diving Reflex

To stimulate the diving reflex, you need cold exposure. You can splash cold water on your face or put ice cubes in a ziploc bag against it. The diving reflex slows your heart rate, increases blood flow to your brain, reduces anger and relaxes your body.

 4) Humming, Singing or Gargling 

Don’t you always feel better when you start to hum or sing? Your worries are swept away by a song. Well, that’s because it’s activating your vagus nerve! Simply sing to feel better or gargle if you prefer. 

 5) Probiotics

Gut bacteria improve brain function by activating the vagus nerve.

6) Omega 3 Fatty Acids

You can get these from fish oil, or if you’re a vegan, you can find them in chia seeds, flaxseed, hemp seed oil and walnuts.

 7) Mindfulness and Meditation

According to a study, Loving-Kindness-Meditation created a healthy vagal tone in participants. Know that mindfulness in general is a way to activate your vagus nerve as well. Being present centers you.

 8) Yoga

Yoga is a parasympathetic activation exercise that helps with digestion, blood flow and more. 

 9) ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response)

ASMR sends “tingles” from your scalp down your spine and helps calm your nervous system with the use of triggers or tools. This entails whispering, scratching, tapping and other noises that pull you into a trance. There are many on Youtube.

 10) ‘OM’ Chanting 

If you want to activate your vagus nerve, a great way to do it is by chanting “OM” over and over again. This is often used in yoga, mantras and different faiths such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Whether you perceive it as a spiritual practice or just a meditation practice, it helps to calm you and create inner peace. Studies have shown that this creates greater relaxation.

11) Positive Self-Talk

A simple mantra stimulates the vagus nerve.  This produces positive self-talk even when you are feeling afraid or sad.  Act in accordance to your affirmations.  Try these; “I am enough”, “I am brave”, “Laughter lightens the load”, “I choose happiness”, “I accept situations I can not cotrol”, “I love my body”.


Thursday, September 15, 2022

Exercise and Healthy Bones


Factors for Bone Growth

Bone density and exercise go hand in hand, and scientific research has confirmed the connection. In a paper published in 2019, researchers from the University of Michigan reviewed data from 1961 to 2009 to determine what impact exercise has on bone density.

In their research, the investigators found three characteristics of exercise have the largest impact on bone mass density (BMD). These include the magnitude, rate, and frequency of muscle strain.

Factors Affecting Bone Mass Density

-     The magnitude of muscle strain an exercise exerts: Exercise that fit into this category include weightlifting and gymnastics because the amount of force place on muscles and bones. 

-     The rate of muscle strain and exercise exerts: This indicates the speed by which repetitive, high-impact exercises, such as tennis or plyometrics are performed. 

-     The frequency by which muscle strain occurs: Running is a prime example of this as the impact of the muscles is not only repetitive but continues for a long period of time. 

Although the researchers did not establish which of the three factors is the most important, they concluded that increased density can be achieved with as little as 12 to 20 minutes of weight-bearing exercise performed three times per week.

Impact of Exercise

While it would be fair to assume that any exercise that places significant, repetitive stress on a bone would be equally beneficial, it's not always the case. According to research from Brigham Young University, one exercise arguably offers greater benefit than all others – Jumping. 

The study team found that jumping 10 to 20 times a day with 30 seconds of breaks in between jumps significantly improved hip bone mass density (BMD) in women age 25 to 50 after 16 weeks. Bone density increases directly coincided with the amount of exercise performed.

According to the study, jumping 20 times twice daily resulted in 75% greater BMD than doing 10 jumps twice daily. 

While running also offered significant improvement in BMD, it was far less than that seen with jumping.This finding suggests that jumping should be incorporated into any exercise program, including low-impact activities like cycling, swimming, and running.

Bone Loss

Despite the direct impact of exercise on bone density, not every sport or exercise activity is linked to BMD gain. Running, for example, is linked to greater BMD than low-impact activities like cycling because of the direct stress that it places on the legs and hips.

In fact, elite-level cyclists appear to have a greater propensity for bone loss compared to their running counterparts. This is because cycling is a low-impact sport and does not include weight-bearing movement. Combined, this means that cyclists may in fact lose bone density while performing high levels of the workout. In addition to the absence of direct bone stress, some experts believe that the loss of calcium in sweat also plays a key role.

It is also possible that endurance sports in and of themselves can promote bone loss as more calories tend to be burned than consumed. What this research suggests is that greater effort may be needed to incorporate weight training into the training schedules of endurance athletes.

Optimal Exercises

The benefits of exercise can be felt at any age and with as little as 2 to 3 days of exercise per week. Even in older women for whom jumping and running may be inappropriate, resistance training can help stimulate or maintain BMD in the weight-bearing bones.

With resistance training, the force of muscle pulling against bone appears to be enough to stimulate bone growth even if the actual stress placed on the bone is moderate. As we age, building and preserving bone density become more important, and resistance training has been found to be most effective in improving muscle and bone mass in older populations.

Exercise to Increase BMD

-       Weight training

-       Squat exercises

-       Plyometrics (jumping training)

-       Stair running

-       Body weight exercises

-       Jumping rope

-       Running

-       Hiking

-       Backpacking

-       Tennis

-       High Impact Aerobics


Building or maintaining bone mass requires more than weight-bearing exercise; good nutrition is also key. Once you reach the age of 30, you don't build bone as readily as you used to.

To maintain strong bones, you need to ensure the proper intake of calcium and vitamin D in your diet. This is especially true if you are at risk of osteoporosis.

Calcium is the key building block for bones and vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. To sustain bone health, adults should get 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day and 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day—ideally from food sources.

Women over 50 and men over 70 should increase their daily calcium intake to 1,200 milligrams. After 70, men and women should get no less than 800 IU of vitamin D daily. Some osteoporosis experts even recommend 800 to 1,200 IU of vitamin D per day.

Sources of Calcium and Vitamin D

Food sources of calcium and vitamin D include:

-       Dairy products, including milk, yogurt, and cheese

-       Leafy vegetables such as kale, broccoli and spinach

-       Seafood such as oysters, crab and shrimp

-       Fishes such as salmon, tuna and sardines

-       Calcium-fortified milks like soy milk or almond milk

When to call a Healthcare Provider

If you are unable to meet your daily intake needs of vitamin D and calcium speak with healthcare provider.  They can perform a blood test to determine if you are deficient and make recommendations regarding supplements or connect you with a registered dietitian. 

Thursday, September 8, 2022

What You Need To Know About Myofascial Release


About Myofascial Tissue

Your myofascial tissue is a network of tissue that spreads throughout your entire body. It connects your muscles, joints, and bones. It also provides support to your organs, helping to keep them in place.‌

If you could see it, your fascia would look like a single sheet of tissue. However, there are multiple layers that work together. In between these layers is a liquid called hyaluronan that provides stretch and encourages free range of movement. When this liquid becomes thick, sticky, or dries up, it can impact the surrounding body parts.‌‌

When you feel stiffness or pain in your body, it can originate from different tissues in your body. Myofascial pain is different from other types of pain because it occurs in places where your myofascial tissue meets or crosses. Myofascial pain may be difficult to identify because it can radiate from the area and spread.

Usually this tissue feels more elastic and movable. Tight myofascial tissue can restrict movement in your muscles and joints. As you move differently to make up for the loss in movement, you can cause additional tightness without realizing it. This can lead to widespread pain and discomfort.

Understanding Myofascial Release Therapy

During a myofascial release massage, your therapist spends time feeling your myofascial tissue for areas that are particularly stiff and tight. These are the places that cause you to feel pain, even if it's radiating to other areas.‌

It's important that you seek help from a trained specialist who knows how to identify myofascial tissue issues. A myofascial massage is different from other types of massage and techniques will vary from therapist to therapist.‌

Other types of massage may be relaxing, but myofascial release therapy is often intense and painful. Your therapist will use their hands to massage and stretch your myofascial tissue and eliminate knots. ‌

In some cases, a therapist will use additional tools like a foam roller or ball to aid in separating the tissue. You may feel sore immediately following a myofascial massage, but the results often include an increased range of motion and less pain and stiffness.‌

Myofascial tissue will often become tight in the following areas:

  • Arms
  • Calves
  • Feet
  • Head
  • Hips
  • Jaw
  • Lower back
  • Neck
  • Quads‌
  • Shoulders

Benefits of Myofascial Release Therapy

A single myofascial massage won’t offer long-term relief. However, regularly receiving myofascial release therapy can:

  • Improve range of motion
  • Reduce soreness
  • Increase your body’s natural recovery process
  • Helps with overall relaxation 
  • Improve circulation‌
  • Relieve stress

Self-Massage Techniques

If you notice tightness and can’t get an appointment right away for a massage, there are ways to relieve your symptoms from home. If you have problem areas, spend at least five minutes per day massaging the areas to stay ahead of stiffness. ‌

Use your fingers to apply gentle pressure to your skin where you feel any discomfort. If you feel tenderness when you apply pressure, it’s a sign that you’ve identified the source of your stiffness. ‌

Just as with a professional therapist, releasing the knots on your own may be painful or intense. Massage the area until you feel them release or loosen up to allow more movement. Then move on to find other tender areas.‌

You can invest in a foam roller or ball, but don’t assume that using these tools will solve your problems. It takes patience and dedication to listen to your body and work through the pain as you relieve tension in your myofascial tissue. 


When you use these techniques daily, you can prevent stiffness and tightness from even happening. While you may still have episodes of pain, your overall symptoms should improve over time. 

Myofascial Release Therapy Concerns

While relieving myofascial tissue tension can be painful, it shouldn’t be exceedingly painful. It’s important to know your limits and apply the right amount of pressure so you don’t cause more pain or damage your tissue. If you don’t do enough one day, you can always try again the next day to release additional stiffness.‌‌

Persistent sharp or shooting pain is a sign that something is wrong. If you notice this while doing self-massage at home, stop and seek help from a professional. If you’re at a professional office, let your therapist know about the pain so they can adjust their technique. You may want to talk to your doctor about the pain to rule out any health conditions.  

It's best to talk to your doctor before pursuing myofascial release therapy if you take medications or have health conditions, including: 

  • ‌Tumors
  • Metabolic health conditions
  • Any open or healing wounds
  • Weak or broken bones ‌
  • Issues with deep veins 
  • Are taking blood thinners