Archive for August, 2008



August 25, 2008

I recently came upon some very good foods that actually tested very well when I motility tested them. They actually tested as good as exceptional supplements. They have a lot of research behind them and have been shown to provide many health benefits. But many times even foods and supplements which have these claims don’t test well. Sometimes they are low grade or contaminated or for whatever reason just don’t test well. But these foods tested very well and I wanted to share them with you.

They come from a company called Guanni Organic and the foods that tested well were Yacon, a natural sweetener and Cacao, a high grade Peruvian chocolate.

They can be used in a blender with coconut milk, sprouted sunflower seeds, and ice to make a delicious chocolate smoothie that is actually as good for you as exceptional supplements.

Yacon root is high in fructo-oligosaccharides, a unique sugar which helps good bacteria and inhibits bad bacteria in your gut. There is much written about the health benefits of this plant which is related to the sunflower and dahlia plant.

Cacao, especially Criollo Cacao is high in polyphenols and antioxidants and have positive effects on the heart and the gut especially serotonin levels. Most cacao is not Criollo but instead Forastero. Look for the Criollo Cacao.

If you read the last blog post, try motility testing these two products. They test exceptionally well. If you want to know what a food or supplement should test like, try the Cacao and Yacon!

For more information on these high quality foods please check their website at

Ralph Havens, PT, OCS, IMTC


How to Test Food and Supplements: How do you know what is good for you and what isn’t!

August 25, 2008

Hippocrates over 2500 years ago said, “Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food”. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the principles of health start first with mindfulness followed closely by diet. Supplements or herbal remedies and manual therapies such as acupuncture are 7th and 8th on the list of what is to be used when working with someone to help them overcome illness and regain health.
But how do you make food your medicine? How do you know what to do? I mean we have all heard that eating more green leafy vegetables are good for you, but besides that what can you do to eat foods that help you regain health and overcome illness? And when it comes to supplements, how can you be sure what you are buying and taking is actually doing your body good? Now in the news, we hear of most vitamins we take are actually coming from other countries and not regulated or tested.

What I want to tell you about is a way to test your foods and supplements and see and feel what foods and supplements are actually OK for you, which ones are good for you, and which ones are exceptionally good for your health. Shouldn’t supplements you buy and ingest be in the latter category? And with all the news about tainted spinach, tomatoes, peppers, and other foods, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to know if a food is good for you or not. Also with the rise in food poisoning, it would be a way to save yourself a lot of grief and pain if you could test your food before eating it.
The method we use is called motility testing. Motilities are small circadian ryhthmns and with some practice you can perceive changes in these motilities. If you know what to look for you can practice and start to make it a useful tool for yourself. Then you will be able to test your foods, supplements or water before you ingest it!

We can teach you how to do this motility testing but it takes one on one training or group training. There are specific things to feel and notice; But, I will show you a way to start on your own with a simplified version. First I want to make a point so you can wrap your intellectual mind around what I will show you. If you have one-celled organisms, like amoebas in a dish and you place some poison in the dish, the simple amoeba will move away from it. If you place some nutrient in the dish the amoeba will move towards it. Even one-celled organisms respond to toxic substances one way and differently to food. In similar ways, our cells respond when placed next to toxic substances and behave differently when placed next to nutritious foods.

You can use these principles in this way. Place a packet of a toxic substance such as aspartame (NutraSweet) on the table and a few feet away place something nutritious such as good water (Fiji water works well for this) or an organic green leafy vegetable. Now place a hand on your body and touch the other hand to the NutraSweet packet and just notice what you notice with your hand on your body. Next place your hand on your body and touch the good water or the organic green leafy vegetable. See if you can notice a difference whether you touch one or the other.
With practice you can start to discern the difference between toxic and healthful substances using your hands! As you get more confident in your ability you can tell whether or not you’d like to eat a food or take a supplement.
If you’d like even more help learning this skill, please contact us and we can let you know when our next community evening is scheduled and we’ll show you more ways to test food and supplements. There are specific things to feel and notice and with some training and practice you can become quite skilled in this!

In my next blog, I will tell you about some products I tested while at the farmer’s market in San Diego (Hillcrest area) today, which I found to be very healthful.

My best to you,
Ralph Havens, PT, OCS, IMTC


Why Vertigo?

August 25, 2008

It seems that we have recently had an influx of people with “vertigo” or balance issues. Many are unaware as to the cause of balance impairments. There are three components of balance control: vision, somatosensory and vestibular. They each give us meaningful information about our surroundings and where we are in space.

Vision is very important to help us navigate our environment. It is important to get your eyes checked regularly as fall risk increases when vision is impaired. Our somatosensory system tells us where our body parts are in space and whether or not we are walking on stable ground. Balance is affected by conditions where sensation may be impacted (in the feet) such as diabetes or peripheral vascular disease.

If one system is impaired, you may have to rely heavily on the other system. Hence getting your vision checked is important is you have damage to the nerve receptors in your feet, as you may rely heavily on vision to keep you upright!

Lastly we have the vestibular systems which involve sensors in your inner ear that sent messages to the brain relaying how the head is moving in space. The brain then, in turn, relays messages to the eyes and the muscles to let them respond appropriately. There are a myriad of diseases that cause vestibular disorders – not all balance issues are vestibular disorders.

It is important to find the cause for balance issues as rehabilitation is possible. Physical therapy treatment for balance problems may consist of exercises for balance, maneuvers to relocate particles in the inner ear, exercises for gaze stability, habituation exercises and lots of education.


Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or CRPS Treatment

August 4, 2008

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), commonly referred to as reflex sympathetic dystrophy or RSD, is a syndrome in which pain, usually burning type, is out of proportion to the injury (either nerve or no nerve involvement). The pain may spread through the entire limb and/or to other parts of the body. Examples of precipitating events that may cause CRPS include the following: fractures, surgery, frostbite, soft tissue trauma, burns, MS, tight cast, strokes, heart attack and amputations. The symptoms are characterized by autonomic dysregulation such as swelling, vasomotor instability (skin becoming pale/cool/cyanotic or red/warm/dry), abnormal sweating, trophic changes (course hair, thick rigid or brittle nails, skin may become coarse or thin, smooth, and tight), hypersensitivity, abnormal motor activity, and decreased bone density.
Medically, CRPS is managed by a variety of medications aimed lowering the rate of nerve firing, reducing inflammation, reducing anxiety, and reducing pain. More invasive measures include sympathetic nerve blocks in the spinal column or ganglion blocks, implanted dorsal column stimulation or decompression, all of which carry the same risks of any invasive procedure.
The main reason for this entry is to share a positive treatment outcome for CRPS using IMT. In general, the physical therapy treatment for CRPS includes reduction of pain to allow the pt. to maintain function. Traditional forms of exercise such as aerobic, pool therapy, ROM, joint mobilization/soft tissue mobilization, exercise emphasizing compression and distraction, functional ex. and exercise that increases blood flow to the extremity or increase proprioception to the spinal cord may be beneficial All exercise must be extremely gentle and nonaggressive especially if not initiated during times of sympathetic blocks.
My past experience with CRPS includes most patients unable to tolerate any manual techniques and very minimal exercise resulting in extremely slow progress. It has been shown in research that early intervention with physical therapy is extremely important to minimize loss of function. The earlier the intervention the more likely to reverse the dysfunction.
Recently I evaluated a pt. with CRPS onset following a bunionectomy. The pt. presented 3 months post op with extremely antalgic gait, inability to bear more than 30% weight on the affected foot, and requiring a walking cast boot to tolerate being on her feet. The patient’s foot was swollen, reddened, and there was no active mov’t in the big toe. Within 5 treatments of IMT including light touch on areas of the body specific to affecting the autonomic nervous system and indirect myofascial release (vs. more aggressive direct techniques) the patient is able to bear 50-50% body weight, ambulate w/o the walking boot with more normality. Gait quality still consisted of slight antalgia, decreased push off and mild trunk shift but the patient is able to walk further and have more energy throughout the day to function. The skin has returned to a more normal color and edema has decreased resulting in less smooth/shiny appearance. The slough and calluses which persisted on her incision long after surgery fell off naturally within 1 week and active ROM has returned in the big toe. Range of motion home exercises are being performed in a warm bath and also passively to isolate different joints of the toe. Ankle ROM exercises are also completed in the bath. In no way is this patient healed or pain free but the quality of the toe/foot appearance, gait quality and tolerance have progressed more rapidly than I have ever seen in the past.
I know I’m more than a little biased towards IMT but I want people out there to know that there is gentle, effective treatment out there that can make life a lot easier and functional if you have CRPS. Please spread the word!!

Sally Skurdahl, MPT


Shift in Consciousness – what to do!

August 3, 2008

Have you all noticed that lately the world is changing at an even faster rate than even a few years ago? Also, doesn’t it seem that more so than in the past, there is both a lot of good but also a lot of bad in the world. It is not always wise to label things as good or bad since we can’t see the bigger picture, but one of the phenomena I’ve noticed is the shift more and more lately to a consciousness developing in many more people than at any other time in history. It seems that many people are searching for a greater connection to their spiritual path and purpose. Echart Tolle’s new book ” A New Earth” made the Oprah book of the month selection and he even held a series of web based teachings on it. Millions of people worldwide tuned in and even now people are still visiting the archived classes. Many people are aware of the ancient Mayan calendar which has an interesting date December 21, 2012 which is their end date of time as we know it. If you want some interesting information on the science of the Mayan Calendar and what it means and what you can do about it, I highly recommend John Major Jenkins 3 CD set.

There also seems to be a lot of trials for people, higher gas prices, house foreclosures, banks collapsing, stock markets dropping, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Atrocities in many parts of the world. Many people are having to deal with very tough times.

From Asian teachings we know about Yin and Yang and how you cannot have one without the other. In our current state you cannot have good without bad. You cannot have cold without hot, etc etc. So while we have so many people having this shift toward higher consciousness and looking for the big spiritual answers, we also have people ( sometimes the same people ) dealing with big issues of financial, health, and even life and death issues at the same time.

You may wonder why I, as a physical therapist and integrative manual therapist am writing about these issues. We’ll what I’ve noticed is that when someone comes to look for help from us, there is usually a reason; sometimes it’s just they need to get their ankle fixed up so they can get back to walking; but other times people find their way to us with a chronic longstanding problem and pain and as we uncover the reasons and clear them and as the client begins to move better, feel better and get their life back, an interesting thing can happen. Many times these physical limitations were holding someone back; not allowing them to get on with what they are supposed to be doing. Sharon Giammatteo, PT PhD put it well when she said that part of her job was to not tell someone what wave to take ( surfing lingo) but to help someone get healthy enough so that they could get on their own surfboard and take the wave they’re supposed to take. I think it’s a great way to put it and it is what I’ve noticed in our work as well.

During this process, many things can happen; some can be labeled good and others bad, but when you look back many times you can see that both were part of a process; the clients own personal process of connecting to their path and purpose; what they are supposed to be doing; a developing consciousness.

In our work, there are many ways to help and get someone healthier so they can get on with life; hands on therapy, dietary recommendations, detox programs, exercise programs, and homework both physical and other. What I want to share with this post are some recommendations to help you get healthier on all levels; to get started on your own personal path and purpose; what we call the consciousness piece.

Some of the homework methods I’ve found powerful are listed below. At first glance they may not seem like powerful techniques, but I have seen the results clinically for over 8 years of work with Integrative Manual Therapy. I’ve seen lives changed and people blossom with this work. So I encourage you to not, not do it because of how simple it looks. It works on a more quantum, or homeopathic level. Consistent work with these techniques will make changes, as long as you do them! please call me or email me and let me know what changes you notice with even a few days of these methods.


Neurofascial Process: a homework method of hand placements to alleviate pain and change physical and non-physical issues. This work can be found in the book “Body Wisdom: Light touch for Optimal Health” by Sharon Giammatteo, PT PhD

Reflection Therapy is a simple easy to use method that uses homeopathic doses of color, shapes, and intention to make changes. Again very powerful. “Reflection Therapy” by Sharon Giammatteo PT, PhD and Tom Giammatteo, PT, DC, ND

And a simple take home technique that is so powerful most people won’t do it because it looks too simple. I’ll give it to you and let you know ,that if you do it every day, a few times a day, for the next year, your life will change, in ways that you can’t even imagine. Try it and let me know what happens! I learned it from many different people and methods but Eckart Tolle and John Major Jenkins describe it in the most simple and powerful ways. The technique is this:

Everyday, numerous times a day, notice your breath; notice your “in” breath and notice the “out” breath. And notice the space in between your “out” breath and the beginning of the “in” breath. Notice it for 3 cycles of in/out and then leave it alone. Get back to your life. You can do this while someone is talking to you, while driving, while resting quietly in bed, anywhere you are. Try it when you’re stressed and when you’re relaxed. Make sure you pay attention and notice what you notice. I won’t go into what it’s all about or why you do it. Read Echart Tolle or listen to John Major Jenkins and you can understand.

that’s it! have fun with it and let me know what happens!

Ralph Havens