Can stress decrease your lifespan?




It is hard to dispute that stress is generally believed to have a negative affect on health.  But, were did this idea originate.  Although many different healing philosophies throughout time hinted at this idea, modern mainstream medicine, until recently, has been hesitant to embrace the connection.  It wasn’t until recently that this idea has been brought to the forefront of allopathic medicine.  This is important as we each face ever-increasing demands placed on us.  It is no wonder why we have become over stressed and over worked in modern society.  Recent studies have brought illumination to the mechanisms involved, and to what degree stress affects our health.  Although, we are perhaps at the beginning of understanding this area, we can use what is currently at the forefront to help bring relief for those who are suffering from the effects of stress.


History of mental and physical health

To understand the present perspective of stress, and how it is linked to health, we should take a look at the past to see how conditions of the mind and body were viewed.


There has been reference to emotional distress and its treatment since ancient times.  Indeed, there has been recorded history of its treatment since ancient Egypt.  During this time, for example, one way emotional distress was treated was by “the scribe of the house of life”(1).  In which “The Pirankh or house of life was used as a kind of retreat”.  Where, “the ill were prepared for their therapeutic dreams.  Isolation, silence and dim light were the means to put the patient in a state of receptivity with the intention of unraveling the unknown. This was akin to hypnotherapy and was probably known to the Egyptians before the Greeks’ therapeutic temples”(1).


In ancient India, Hindu scriptures made reference to depression and anxiety(2).  Ayurvedic Medicine, which is the traditional medicine to India and has its origins that predate the first millennium, believes that conditions of the mind and body are the result of imbalances of the Dosha’s.  The three Dosha’s are the characteristics that use dynamics in nature to describe ones constitution.  It is still believed, in Ayurveda Medicine, that balancing these Dosha’s through therapies and lifestyle changes, is paramount for mental and physical well-being.


In ancient Greece, Hippocrates, suggested that imbalances of the “humors,” or four fluid types, leads to disease of the mind and body.  It is interesting that Galen, an ancient Greek physician, who is credited for his understanding of medicine and anatomy, is quoted saying with reference to the physician, “He cures most successfully in whom the people have the most confidence.”  Indicating that he believed in the effect that the mind could have over health.


The Humoral Theory persisted through ancient Rome and into the Middle Ages.  This physical approach to medicine during the middle ages was sometimes combined with the evil spirit approach that meshed with faith issues surrounding Christianity.  It seems that the type of treatments involved dealt with flushing out the evil spirits from the body.  The spiritual and physical approach to stress manifesting as anxiety, anger, aggression, sadness, depression, and obsessions, were adopted during the Persian, Arabic, and Muslim Empire(6).


In the early 1600’s, René Descartes suggested, that the mind was a nonmaterial thing, and that the body was a material thing.  He proposed they both worked together for the benefit of the person. Towards the end of the 17th century, the philosophy of healing moved away from addressing the spiritual element.


Modern progression of understanding stress and longevity

During the 20th century, a shift in thinking by the medical establishment was under way.  In the 1930’s the term stress, was increasingly linked to mental disorders(6).  However, the dominant thought was that conditions of the brain and its behavior were somewhat isolated from the rest of the body.  This isolation approach to conditions of the mind inspired treatments ranging from drug therapy, psychotherapy, shock therapy, and o lobotomies, which were performed as late as the 1970’s.


One of the first modern pioneers that suggested the possibility between stress and physiology, was Walter Cannon.  In 1915 he recognized physiological changes in the body during the ‘fight or flight’ response such as increase glucose availability.  He also noticed that when animals where under emotional stress their stomach movements ceased(8,9).


During the 20th century, Hans Seyle proposed the theory of ‘General Adaptation Syndrome’.  He was one of the most prominentdoctors to realize the relationship between stress and the body.  He suggested emotional as well as other stresses on the body he termed “stressor,” could lead to disease.


Recent revelations on stress and longevity

In 1964, psychiatrist George Solomon, noticed that people with rheumatoid arthritis got worse when they were depressed. He began to investigate the impact emotions had on inflammation and the immune system in general(9).  He coined the term “Psychoimmunology”. Later to be termed “psychoneuroimmunology” by Robert Ader in 1975.


Robert Ader performed one of the first studies to show “that the nervous system could affect the immune system”(9).  “To condition the rats, he used a combination of saccharine-laced water and the drug Cytoxan which induces nausea and suppresses the immune system. Ader was surprised to discover that after conditioning, just feeding the rats saccharine-laced water was sufficient to suppress the immune system of the rats. In other words, a signal via the nervous system (taste) was affecting immune function”(9).  Even though this was a study on rats, the change in thinking that the workings of the brain could affect physiology, was revolutionary thinking.


The study of Psychoneuroimmunology, or PNI, has opened the door to the medical community, that a relationship exists between well-being and stress.  The study of PNI in essence, legitimatizes the relationship between emotional stress and health by attempting to explain scientifically the physiological relationship between the mind and body.


The idea that cognitive manifestations effect different body systems is evolving to an area of ever increasing interest as more research is being done.  PNI understands psychosocial factors, such as stress, bereavement, or divorce, and how it can change or deplete immune performance and alter neuroendocrine function. Through the study of PNI, it has been found that emotional stress has been implicated in dysfunction of the immune system.  It is through this dysfunction of the immune system that changes in blood vessel walls can lead to coronary artery disease, stroke, or congestive heart failure. In addition, it is thought that the immune system gone awry can lead to osteoporosis, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, periodontal disease, and cancers such as multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia.  There is also evidence that chronic stress dampens the immune response that could lead to prolonged infection. For instance, it was noted in military cadets that displayed high motivation predicted a greater susceptibility to Eptstein-Barr virus infection(16).  In addition, it was found that medical students who reported greater test associated anxiety did not produce adequate antibodies to the hepatitis B vaccine(16).  Additionally, the effects of stress can be related to seemingly unrelated health outcomes.  For example,  “Psychological factors have also been implicated in the onset and exacerbation of various skin disorders, including allergic inflammatory process in atopic dermatitis”(13).  In another example, “among dental students, healing of an oral punch biopsy wound took 40% longer during exams than during summer vacation”(16).  Also, longer postoperative hospital stays are associated with immune system dysfunction(16).  It is clear from these examples that stress has an impact on health.  The question that arises is what is the nature of the harmful stress that causes these problems.


Although immune changes appear in situations of acute stress it is believed that chronic stress carries the most adverse affects.  For example “In a study in which volunteers were inoculated with several different strains of cold viruses, stressors that lasted a month or more were the best predictors of developing colds” and it is noted that in the case of caregivers “Immune dysregulation can persist several years or more after caregiving ends” additionally “Marital discord, a persistent interpersonal stressor, has been associated with poorer immune function”(16).  Along with the chronicity of the stress, the severity of a stressful event may have long lasting effects on the immune system as well.  “Immune dysregulation can persist several years or more after caregiving ends” and “Immunological changes have been documented for weeks or months after such natural disasters as earthquakes and hurricanes”(16).


Also gaining more momentum is the idea of the effect of emotional stress on the hormonal system.  This is understood through what is recognized as the chronic stress response.  In this response, what is known as a stressor, induces the hypothalamus to release chemical messengers in the body through the HPA Axis.  This then results in the release of the stress hormone, cortisol, from the adrenal glands.  The ‘stressor’ can be emotional in nature such as anger, fear, anxiety, worry, depression, guilt, and mental strain.  It is important to note that physiological stress such as loss of sleep, infection, trauma, pain, toxin exposure, indigestion, etc. can also elicit cortisol production. The release of cortisol is a healthy response to a short-lived stressor such as, a bear chasing a person in the woods.  In this scenario, cortisol would increase glucose in the blood for fuel for the body and mind to help the individual escape from the bear.  The problem occurs when the stress is chronic.  Cortisol is a catabolic hormone.  This means that it tears down the body tissues.  In a state of chronic stress the increase in cortisol secretion for long periods of time can lead to muscle wasting, increase in blood sugar levels, osteoporosis, immune suppression, and fat accumulation around the waist.  With prolonged exposure to stress the adrenal glands can become fatigued leading to the possibility of adrenal exhaustion.  It should be noted that some of the results of impaired adrenal function are stress inducers themselves such as disease, depression, irritability, feelings of frustration, and nervousness thus feeding back into the stress response loop.  It can be suggested that the negative result of the stress response could facilitate an ongoing adrenal dysregulation compounding the negative health affects.

In 2009, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2009, was jointly awarded to Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak, for the discovery in the early 1980’s of “how chromosomes are protected 
by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase”.  As Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn indicates in a CBS 2009 interview with Scott Pelley:  “If you think of a strand of DNA as a shoelace, the telomere is the plastic tip on the end. It protects the DNA from damage. Telomeres naturally get thinner as we age, and the thinner they get, the thinner the protection.”  Telomeres are involved when the DNA replicates itself and this replication is the bases of how our cells reproduce to create more cells.  When the ability of cells to reproduce is compromised then we get signs of aging.  Indeed, in another study in 2009 co-authored by Dr. Blackburn, it was indicated the not only does the telomere “shorten with chronological age”, the length of the telomere “predicts risk factors for cardiovascular disease independent of age, and is shortened in people with age related diseases, including atherosclerosis and diabetes”(21).  When referring to a study Dr. Blackburn co-authored that looked at telomere length of mothers who cared for their chronically ill child, Dr. Blackburn continues in the interview by saying, “We were astounded that they were absolutely, consistently showing that the shorter the telomeres were, the worse stress people had had. … That said, that these cells … aged much faster than they should have been aging if they had not had that stress. Dr. Blackburn goes on to say, “It was as though there had been in excess of 10 years of extra aging in these individuals’ blood cells. … And that’s actually an underestimate. That’s a very conservative estimate.”


Perception of stress

Now that we understand stress and the relationship to longevity more thoroughly through these different mechanisms, it is important to now take a look at what type of stress has harmful affects on our health.  In addition, to the severity and chronicity of stress there is growing evidence to suggest that perceived stress correlates directly to the health of an individual.  It also appears that the type of perception matters when it comes to how stress affects the body.  A person may feel a type of stress that is a “threat” if they feel that it is harmful to them and cannot be overcome.   A stress that is perceived as a “challenge” is the perception that a stress can be overcome.  The perception of a threat is associated with cellular aging and is considered harmful vs. the perception of a challenge(21).  It is critical to mention that the perception of stress is correlated with the feeling of control over the stressor(21).  The greater the feeling of control over the stressor the greater the perception of the stress being a challenge instead of perceived as a threat(21).  Therefore, a feeling of being empowered to handle stress throughout the day appears to reduce the harmful affects of stress.


What can we do?

Escaping stress is nearly impossible in today’s world.  We may be able to limit our exposure to stress; however, it is unlikely that we can eliminate it altogether.  It is believed that modalities, that help make a cognitive shift within an individual to feel empowered and improve self-image, can help reduce the risk of stress related aging and disease.


The goal of this report was to present some of the most up to date ways found to address the aging effects of stress.  This list cannot be considered exhaustive when searching for what works for everyone.  These are just some of the techniques found in the new research that appear to improve health by the alleviation of stress.


Mindfulness meditation is a focus on the moment. It helps situations that are stressful to be perceived as less threatening, while at the same time, help the person let go of the feeling that they need to be in control(21).  Research has demonstrated that mindfulness mediation may reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and chronic pain(25).


Transcendental meditation helps the mind “settle inward beyond thought to experience the source of thought – pure awareness”(26).  It is highly studied in universities and medical schools for its positive health affects.  In addition, it seems to attract celebrities such as Jerry Seinfeld and Hugh Jackman.


Cognitive Behavioral Management (CBSM) is a technique that includes meditation and can be effective at shifting the perception of stress from threatening to a challenge. It  also has been shown to lower cortisol reactivity in response to a stressor(21).


Hypnosis can reduce interleukin 6 (IL-6).  High IL-6 in the blood stream is linked to psychological stress and is part of the physiological stress response.  IL-6 is a Proinflammatory cytokine, which means it is a major communicator in the inflammation pathway.  A higher than normal IL-6 has been associated with an elevated mortality rate from cardiovascular disease(16).  Elevated blood IL-6 levels predict future disability in older adults(16).  IL-6 was found to be decreased following a 12 week hypnosis listening program(25).  In addition, positive cognitive changes where found as the participants’ appraisal of a threat was minimized(25).  Further, the participants reported to have a significant decrease in the use of negative appraisal coping (such as, self-deprecating statements, perfectionism, and catastrophic and pessimistic thinking)(26).


Exercise is also an important part of the arsenal to combat the effects of stress.  Exercise increases self-confidence and promotes a sense of control over stresses in life.  Among the many benefits of exercise it also promotes a good nights sleep.  It is also important for people to remember to follow their health professionals’ advice regarding an exercise program to minimize the effects of stress.


It is important to maintain healthy habits.  Negative behavioral changes in people that are under stress for prolonged periods of time may manifest.  They may present as shifts in lifestyle that may affect longevity such as loss of sleep, increased smoking, increased alcohol consumption, deterioration of health regimes such as exercise or eating well, and poor adherence to medical prescriptions.



It is the goal of this report to help people understand how stress affects individual health and also the type of stress that causes health issues.  The role stress plays in our longevity can no longer be overlooked.  It is important to take steps to address stress in our lives.  The techniques found to be effective in this report allow the individual the ability to attack stress at the root cause rather than attempt to micromanage thousands of different stressful scenarios and circumstances that are forever changing within our lives.  Instead, it appears that by addressing how stress is perceived will have the most profound impact in reducing the consequences of stress.  Although, stress is nearly impossible to remove from our lives, this report illuminates some of the avenues available to help take control over stress for optimal health.


Please continue to educate yourselves in this area, because your health affects everything you do, and everyone you know.


Yours in Health,


Sean Ripp, D.C.








  1. Nasser, M. (1987). “Psychiatry in Ancient Egypt”. Psychiatric Bulletin 11 (12): 420. doi:10.1192/pb.11.12.420
  3. Bhugra, D. (1992). “Psychiatry in ancient Indian texts: a review”. History of Psychiatry 3 (10): 167–186. doi:10.1177/0957154X9200301002.
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12. Mind-body medicine | University of Maryland Medical Center

13. Rahul Kumar and Vikram K. Yeragani Psyche and Soma:  New insights into the connection. Indian Journal Psychiatry 2010 Jan; 52(Suppl1): s233-s239; doi:10.4103/0019-5545.69238.


15. Roger CM, MBBS, MMed(Psych), MRCPsych, Li Fang Neo, BA(Hons), Anna NC Chua, BSc (Hons), Alicia AC Cheak, BSc, Anselm Mak, MBBS, MMedSc, FRCP(Edin). Research on Psychoneuroimmunology:  Does Stress Influence Immunity and Cause Coronary Disease?; Annals Academy of Medicine  2010;39: No.3

16. Janice K. Kiecolt, PhD, Lynanne McGuire, PhD, Theodore F. Robles, BS, Ronald Glaser, PhD. Psychoneuroimmunology and Psychosomatic Medicine: Back to the future. Psychosomatic Medicine 2002;64:15-28.



19. Epel ES, Blackburn EH, Lin J, Dhabhar FS, Adler NE, Morrow JD, Cawthon RM.Accelerated telomere shortening in response to life stress. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Dec 7;101(49):17312-5. Epub 2004 Dec 1.


21. Elissa Epel, PhD, Jennifer Daubenmier, PhD, Judith T. Moskowitz, PhD, Susan Folkman, PhD, Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD. Can meditation slow rate of cellular aging? Cognitive stress, mindfulness, and telomeres. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Aug;1172:34-53; doi:10.1111/i.1749-6632.2009.04414.x.



24. Sheldon Cohen, PhD, Denise Janicki-Deverts, PhD; Gregory E. Miller, PhD. Psychological Stress and Disease. JAMA. 2007;298(14):1685- doi:10.1001/jama.298.14.1685.



27. Schoen M, Nowack K. Reconditioning the stress response with hypnosis CD reduces the inflammatory cytokine IL-6 and influences resilience: a pilot study. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2013 May;19(2):83-8; doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2012.12.004. Epub 2013 Jan 18.



Will this help your posture?

People who sit or stand for long periods of the day may suffer from poor posture leading to an imbalance of muscle tone in the upper back and neck. This imbalance is generally characterized by tight muscles in the upper neck at the base of the skull, weak neck flexors, weak and over stretched mid back muscles, and tight chest muscles. These imbalances can lead to the visual changes such as the appearance of rounded shoulders, concave appearing chest, exaggerated forward head carriage and flattening of the lower back. Not good. If this posture continues it can lead to spinal joint dysfunction along with the chronic muscle imbalances causing tension headaches, low back pain and neck pain.

Bruegger’s Relief Exercise encourages the opposite. It stretches the supporting soft tissue of the chest and posterior upper neck as well as strengthens the posterior mid back and anterior neck muscles. This facilitates proper segmental joint function alleviating abnormal pressure on the joints within the chest, neck and back.

I found Bruegger’s Exercise to be on of the most helpful tools during my years of practice. The good news is that it is easy to use and can be done almost anywhere.

If this exercise creates pain or you have a recent injury consult your chiropractic physician or health care provider prior to performing Bruegger’s.

Here is how you perform the exercise:

Sit comfortably towards the front end of a chair.
Allow your knees to flare slightly away from your body placing your feet flat on the ground directly under your knees.
Pretend a string is attached to your sternum from the ceiling pulling straight up bringing your chest up with it.
Bring your shoulder blades back and down.
Place your palms facing forward with the thumbs pointing out away from your body.
Bring your chin straight back.
Hold for 30 seconds, perform 3 to 5 times a day to start for a few days. Then gradually increase the number of times a day you perform the exercise until you are doing it for 30 seconds every hour.
There should be no pain with the exercise, however there may be some soreness that disappears after the first week of beginning Bruegger’s Relief Exercise.

Yours In Health,

Sean Ripp, D.C.

Could this be causing you to hold onto body fat?

Environmental toxins are chemicals and other substances that accumulate in the human body due to emissions, processed foods, impure water, and various other sources, which can cause illness. Around 400-800 chemicals are stored in the bodies of most Americans, and health impacts include the following: obesity, fatigue, hormonal imbalance, cancer, headaches, vision problems, allergies, asthma, immune system depression, nutritional deficiencies, ADHD, schizophrenia, viral infections, difficulty in handling stress, neurological disorders and many others. Statistics reveal that 77,000 toxins are produced in North America, including 7,000 added to our food supply. Over 10,000 chemicals are used as preservatives and additives during food processing. Approximately 1,000 new chemicals are introduced each year. Imagine how we are surrounded with toxins, which are slowly deteriorating our body’s systems.

Environmental toxins are present everywhere, in the food we eat, in the water we drink, even in the air we breathe. It is impossible to avoid them completely. Some of the most dangerous toxins to be avoided are:

Pesticides: According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 60% of herbicides, 90% of fungicides and 30% of insecticides are known to be carcinogenic (cancer causing). Pesticide residues have been detected in 50-95% of U.S. foods.

Molds: Molds produce mycotoxins. Mold can be found in areas of water invasion in the home or workplace. Even a small amount of this toxin can lead to a range of health problems in sensitive individuals.

Heavy Metals: Heavy metals such as Mercury, Lead, Cadmium, Arsenic, and Aluminum are present in the environment and accumulate in the soft tissues of the body. Major sources are fish, preserved wood, building materials, drinking water, vaccines, pesticides, chlorine manufacturing plants, and antiperspirants, all of which can lead to a range of health problems.

Chlorine: A highly toxic gas used in many industries. It is commonly used in municipal drinking water, household cleaners, and paper plants. Health effects can range from skin, eye, and lung irritation to more serious conditions.

PCB’s (polychlorinated biphenyls): This particular chemical has been banned in the U.S. in 1979, however it is still found in the environment. Its common source is farm-raised salmon. It has been associated with cancer and impaired fetal brain development.

Dioxins: Combustion processes, waste incineration, and burning fuels such as wood, coal, or oil releases dioxins into the environment.

Chloroform: A colorless liquid with a sweet taste and pleasant order, it is obtained by mixing chlorine with water. It is found in air, water, and food.

Asbestos: Most common in insulation in ceilings, floors, water pipes and heating ducts. Exposure can lead to cancer (mesothelioma). Asbestos fibers are released into the air as the insulation ages.

Phthalates: A type of chemical used in fragrances and plastics. It is primarily found in cosmetic products, plastic bottles, food storage containers, and plastic wrap. It should be noted that it could leach into the liquid or food or food it was meant to protect. Its health effect is Endocrine system damage – phthalates chemical mimic hormones and are particularly dangerous to children.

VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds): According to the EPA, VOCs are 200-500% more prevalent in indoor air than in outdoor air, because they are present in many household products. It is an air pollutant. Its major sources are carpeting, paint, drinking water, deodorants, cleaning substances, air fresheners, and cosmetics.

From earliest development throughout an entire life, we are exposed to the chemicals present in air, water and food. These chemicals may be invisible to our senses, but their negative health effects are slow and damaging. It is difficult to avoid exposure to all toxins. However, we can take some simple steps to reduce or limit our exposure to harmful substances. Here are some tips to reduce health risks due to exposure to environmental pollutants:

Organic food is the healthiest form of food, as its consumption versus conventional products minimize toxin exposure. Try to incorporate as much organic food as possible into you diet.

Consult a biological dentist to have metal fillings properly removed, as they can be a major source of mercury.

Use natural clean household cleaners.

Avoid using room fresheners, fabric softeners and synthetic fragrances which pollute the air.

Avoid consumption of food additives.

Have tap water tested for environmental toxins. Consider a water filtration system.

Educate yourself on these and other chemicals in the environment, and learn how to limit or eliminate exposure.

Educate yourself on treatments available for toxin exposure. Keep in mind that toxins can be lipophilic (fat loving) or hydrophilic (water loving). A lipophilic toxin will accumulate in the fat tissues of the body and may be a reason that someone working on trying to loose weight may not be able to achieve their goal. A detox program may be needed to reduce fat loving toxins. Hydrophilic toxins will be found in the water containing tissues. A good detox program should incorporate both toxin types into the program.

Yours in Health,

Sean Ripp, D.C.

Why should I worry about my belly ache?

You are having GI type symptoms of diarrhea, gas, bloating, nausea, and cramping.  It may be that the symptoms are mild or severe and last from 2 to 6 weeks.  You slowly notice your symptoms improve.  The symptoms may return periodically or they may not.  At first, the thought might be that, you caught a bug and it is now gone.  This may be true, however, it may not be gone; it may be that your body is not openly trying to fight it off any longer and that the Giardia infection is alive and thriving throughout you’re small intestine creating inflammation leading to destruction of the cells along the small intestinal wall that provide for nutrient absorption and gut immunity.  If left untreated this parasite may eventually lead to a condition referred to as ‘leaky gut’, allowing indigested material to cross the gut barrier and infiltrate the body systems.  I will use the Giardia infection as an example for this post however; other intestinal parasites can cause the same problems.  Although the severity, type, and duration of symptoms may vary, the long lasting effects can be disastrous for your health if left untreated.

Giardia is a single cell protozoan with a very tough protective cyst form that can be resistant to even chlorine.  While it is true that the body can rid itself of this and other intestinal parasites, the ongoing assault of chemical, physical, and emotional stress of modern living on our bodies make this less likely.  Giardia can live in the small intestine for many months or years wreaking havoc on the body.

If left alone the presence of parasites like this can lead to a myriad of seemingly unrelated symptoms such as flu like symptoms, chronic fatigue, muscle aches, anemia, lactose intolerance, colonic dumping leading to yeast overgrowth, and a host of other problems.  What can be surprising is that sometimes there are no GI symptoms present at all.  People with long term problems that have been unsuccessfully treated by previous doctors can often be helped by eliminating the root cause of the problem such as a GI infection, including Giardia.

I have had several patients who have had symptoms improve with the discovery and treatment of parasites like this one.  As an example, I obtained permission from a patient to report of his battle with this parasite.

The patient complained of whole body aches and fatigue.  He reported feeling as though he had a “flu all the time” for years.  Often times he would miss quality time with this family as a result of the severity of his complaints.  Among other things, I had him run a 401H, a test that detects parasites such as Giardia, with Biohealth Labs.  It came back positive. I sent him to a medical doctor for allopathic care.  Two months following antibiotic treatment specific for Giardia, the body aches and flu like symptoms disappeared.  We retested in four months and the parasite was gone.  He had his life back!

Obviously prevention is the best option.  The CDC’s recommendations for prevention of Giardia can be found at

The CDC suggests such antibiotics as metronidazole, tinidazole, and nitazoxanide can be used to treat a Giardia infection.  The CDC indicates paromomycin, quinacrine, and furazolidone can also be used as alternatives.

If you think you have this infection it is necessary you see your health care practitioner for a full evaluation which should include a stool test.  It is important that you seek a provider that fully understands this infection and other parasitic infections and the ramifications if it is left undiagnosed.

I would suggest that if a parasite is found it is very important to retest in about 6 months.  As the gut heals, hiding spots for parasites previously undetected may open up.  These bugs should be diagnosed and treated as well.  Also, remember that as the gut heals symptoms may worsen off and on for about six months as the hiding spots that were previously closed off from the rest of the gut, open up and release their contents.

It is important that the stool test and associated lab are sensitive to the importance of proper diagnosis.  For parasite lab testing, I have helped many patients using the 401H test with Biohealth Labs.  Here is the link that describes the 401H:  I found the short video by Dr. Kalish helpful.

Note:  I do not receive compensation for promoting Biohealth Labs. I have had patient’s with false negatives with other labs only to retest using the 401H to find the first lab had missed the problem.

In addition, if you have any of the symptoms mentioned in this article it is important that you consult your health care provider for further evaluation as parasites and other serious conditions may be present.

I hope this information is helpful and I would welcome any comments.

Yours in Health,

Sean Ripp, D.C.

Good Idea Gone Bad

Trans fats were created to mimic saturated fats’ ability to maintain a product’s solid form at room temperature without the adverse health effects of saturated fats. Saturated fats are found in meats and oils, such as palm oil. They are known to raise LDL (bad) cholesterol, therefore being associated with cardiovascular disease. It was a belief that if an alternative was made, it could be used without the health issues that are caused by saturated fats. Saturated fats remain solid at room temperature due to the saturation of hydrogen atoms within their molecular structure. Unsaturated fats are not fully saturated with hydrogen atoms and maintain a liquid form at room temperature. Trans fats were created by man adding hydrogen to an unsaturated fat. This gives it the same baking characteristics as a saturated fat. Trans fats also increase the shelf life, so the food item can stay on the shelf longer before expiring. Trans fats appear on the nutrition label as ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially hydrogenated’ oil. The problem is that unsaturated fats, such as canola oil, olive oil, and corn oil have a molecular structure of ‘cis’, which is recognized and used by the body. Trans fats have a ‘trans’ structure, which is not naturally used by the body and has actually been shown to increase LDL (bad) cholesterol and decrease HDL (good) cholesterol. This increases the risk for heart attacks and strokes more than saturated fats. Some studies also suggest that trans fats can increase the likelihood of cancer and type 2 diabetes.

Trans fats can be found in prepackaged bake goods, peanut butter, fast food restaurant items, fried foods margarine, microwave popcorn, and numerous other products. The FDA has required that trans fats be listed on all nutrition labels (excluding fast food items) as of January 1, 2006. There is still a problem. A product can boast that it has zero trans fats on the package but still have half a gram of trans fats per serving. So what can you do? Read labels and look for the words ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially hydrogenated’ in the ingredients. These are trans fats. Look at the serving size as well. If there are several servings in one container, it is very easy to compound the amount of trans fats without realizing it. It is good to limit the amount of saturated fats in your diet as well. Remember, when choosing your food at the grocery store it is easy to remember to shop along the perimeter of the store, with the exception of margarine, staying mostly away from the isles.

Yours In Health,

Sean Ripp, D.C.

The great distraction.

As I normally travel the one and a half hour drive I have driven many times before to visit a loved one, I typically think of things on my to-do-list, the week’s events, listen to music or an audio book, or in other words be involved in the busyness of life. However, this time was different. On this trip, I was thinking of what the loss would mean to everyone she knew.  It will be difficult for sure on those closest to her including myself. Then I wondered how their friends and family will be affected by creating this ripple effect that transcends through family and friends. As I was driving, I was forced to come to terms with what I already knew, but sometimes neglect in everyday life.

When someone has ill health or they have lost the battle altogether, it really does affect everything they do and everyone they know. It is a shame that even for me I can at times, lose sight of this reality. The rebirth of this message began to once again resonate through me like it has so many times before.

Now that almost a month has gone by I feel compelled to dig deeper into this idea.  Life is truly a gift and a fleeting one at that. Of course, the way we spend time on this planet is up to each of us. For some of you, sitting down and playing with your kids for a little while during even the busiest of days may bring meaning to your life. Others may want to spend an uninterrupted one to two hour quality meal with their family or friends once or twice a week. Still, others may have a passion that excites them. Whatever the occasion, poor health can get in the way.

Taking care of your body is often neglected and sometimes ignored totally as we rush around in life chasing a never ending supply of things to do. Yet good health is one of the most important things to keep in mind as we go through our daily routines. Maybe if we start today, we can take the time to make better choices. Beyond the mainstream health sources, which can be enlightening, I encourage you to print, read or reread, and take notes on the post Should You Start Here for in-depth information on the importance of lifestyle on health. In addition, the other articles on this blog are dedicated to helping you add life to your years and years to your life.

Yours in Health,

Sean Ripp, D.C.

What does organic mean to you?

It is my belief is that when the body is exposed to toxins through the food we eat, air we breathe, or skin contact, it has to get rid of them. The body does this through elimination processes that involve such organs as the skin, kidneys, GI tract, and liver. Some toxins have a difficult time being excreted as they adhere inside certain cells within the body. As the body is inundated with these chemicals it overloads these detoxification systems leading to further toxin build up which places stress on the organs responsible for detoxification as well as other organs in the body. This toxic build leads to a situation where optimal health is compromised. There is an understanding that it is not understood how all the different chemicals we are exposed to interact with each other in the human body. This interaction could be cumulative and compound negatively on the body. Although it is impossible today to avoid all chemicals in the environment we should work to significantly reduce exposure as an individual and for the environment we will someday pass to our children.


What is organic?

The word “organic” refers to the way agricultural products are produced that reduces the amount of chemicals released into the environment as well as natural resources to produce the food. The production of organic food means:

No antibiotics are used.

No growth hormones are used.

Products are made without using most conventional pesticides.

No fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge is used.

No use of ionizing radiation.

No genetic engineering.

As a result organic farming practices reduce chemical exposure not only to the consumer but, to the farmer as well.

With the increasing demand for organic products the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) was passed as part of the 1990 Farm Bill. The OFPA provided that the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) develop national standards for organic products.

The USDA administers these standards through the National Organic Program (NOP) which was created in October 2002. The NOP reorganized into three branches as of February 4, 2008 due to the growth in the organic industry. The three branches are now Standards Development and Review, Accreditation, Auditing and Training, and Compliance and Enforcement. The USDA accredits agencies through the NOP to certify companies that are in compliance with organic standards.

The OFPA set up the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). The role of the NOSB is to advise the secretary of agriculture on the development and maintenance of organic standards and regulations. One of their roles is to recommend changes to the National List of Approved and Prohibited Substances in the organic food industry.

The OFPA and the NOP assure consumers that the organic agricultural products they purchase are produced, processed, and certified to consistent national standards and are labeled accordingly. The labeling requirements are based on a percentage of organic ingredients in a product.

The following are the categories indicated by the USDA and can be found at this address.

100 percent organic

Products labeled “100 percent organic” must only contain organically produced ingredients excluding water and salt. Any processing aids must be organic. The certifying agent must be listed on the product information panel. The USDA ORGANIC seal may be used on product packaging and advertisement.


Products labeled “organic” must consist of at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients excluding water and salt. Products meeting this requirement may display these terms and percentage of organic content on their principle display panel. The certifying agent must be listed on the product information panel. The USDA ORGANIC seal may be used on product packaging and advertisements. The ingredients that are organic must be specified in the ingredient list on the information panel.

Made with organic

Processed products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients can use the phrase “made with organic ingredients”. The percentage of organic content and the certifying agent mark may be used on the principle display panel. The USDA seal cannot be used anywhere on the package. The ingredients that are organic must be specified in the ingredient list on the information panel.

At least 70 percent organic ingredients

These products may use “made with organic (insert up to three ingredients or ingredient categories)”. The USDA organic seal must not be anywhere on the product label. The ingredients that are organic must be specified in the ingredient list on the information panel. The certifying agent must be listed on the product information panel.

Less than 70 percent organic ingredients

These products must list the organic ingredients on the ingredients as organic and the percentage of organic ingredients. The USDA organic seal must not be anywhere on the product label.

NOP does not cover non-food products. Therefore, personal care products such as soap, toothpaste, shampoo, lotion, and make-up do not fall under NOP rules and regulations. At this point such products can have the word “organic” in the product name or brand name and it may not be organic unless it has the USDA ORGANIC symbol on the label. A person needs to keep themselves educated and read labels looking for synthetic ingredients many of which are petrochemicals.


Some of the ingredients to avoid are:

Parabens – This may appear as Ethylparaben or Methylparaben or some other long name ending in paraben. This chemical is used as a preservative in body care products and in some food. They have been shown to mimic estrogen in the body and have been found in high concentrations in breast cancer tumors. Methylparaben appears to have a damaging effect to the skin when it is exposed to UVB.

BHT/BHA – These petrochemicals inhibit the oxidation of fats thereby decreasing rancidity of the fat in foods and personal care products. It is currently inconclusive as to whether these chemicals cause cancer. Some studies indicate a link to cancer. However, Vitamin E can be used for the same purpose without the possible side effects.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate – This is a detergent found in many personal care products. It has been found to irritate the skin. It can also dry out the skin as it removes lipids. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate can combine with other nitrogen containing chemicals to form Nitrosamine a known carcinogen (cancer causing). Sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl ether sulfate can cause irritation to the skin in some people.

Acylamide – Increasing evidence that acrylamide may be a risk factor for cancer.

Phenol or Carbolic acid – Phenol is corrosive and prolonged contact may cause dermatitis. Phenol vapors can be corrosive to the respiratory tract, eyes, and skin. A concern with cosmetics is that phenol is absorbed through the skin as readily as it is inhaled. It may cause heart problems, convulsions, and coma. Children may be more susceptible to Phenol’s harmful effects. Exposure to phenol can be fatal.

1, 4, Dioxane – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services considers 1,4-dioxane as a possible human carcinogen. The state of California has labeled 1, 4, Dioxane as a carcinogen. This chemical is also known to be a possible toxin to the kidneys, nervous system, and respiratory tract according the California EPA. Dioxane can be found in some cosmetics, shampoos, lotions, soaps, bubble baths, and detergents. However, it is not listed on the ingredient label as it is created from a type of chemical reaction called “ethoxylation during the production of the product. As this chemical is easily absorbed through the skin, contamination of the product should be avoided when the following words or part of the word on the ingredient label contains: “myreth,” “oleth,” “laureth,” “ceteareth,” any other “eth,” “PEG,” “polyethylene,” “polyethylene glycol,” “polyoxyethylene,” or “oxynol,”.

Toluene – Adverse nervous system affects. This chemical may be linked adversely to the health of the fetus.

I hope this information helps arm you with information when it comes to understanding the word “organic” and what it actually means to your well-being.,ref


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Okamoto Y, Hayashi T, Matsunami S, Ueda K, Kojima N. “Combined activation of methyl paraben by light irradiation and esterase metabolism toward oxidative DNA damage”. Chem Res Toxicoi. 2008 Aug; 21(8)1594-9. Epub Jul 26


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