“The health of our family is always a dynamic flow which weaves through the ever changing landscape of life experience. From the scraped knees in T-ball to the emotional pressures of a stressful, unsatisfying work place, the family health is affected. Families do take on a life of their own that is separate from the lives of the individuals. 

In my work as an osteopath, I am always considering which dimension of relationship we need to work with in order to help my patients find their way back toward a balanced life path. Good food, good water, good rest, good body motion, good relationships, are all important in balancing a healthy life experience.

Families supporting families, friends helping friends—Healthy relationships are the key element in staying healthy. Our primary relationship is the one we hold toward our own body. The way we view our own space and our relationship to the environment determines what degree of health we can achieve. Our body then does the best it can to do what we ask it to do.
 Here are some of my thoughts on health and answers to patient questions.”

—Dr. Daniel Allen, D.O.

(Select a question and be transported to the answer!)

1. What Is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy is a branch of medicine that is solely dedicated to bringing people back to life. Osteopathy is an originally American form of medicine. It grew out of the heartland of this continent. The discoveries of the practice of Osteopathy were the result of living on the frontier of American culture and existing in harmony with and observing the natural world. The primary motivations for this science was to search for an understanding of the mechanical basis for human disease and dysfunction. Its originators were also influenced by the Shawnee Indians and other residents at the Shawnee Indian Mission in Kansas.

The art and science of Osteopathy brings peaceful awareness of the natural life processes to the practice of medicine. These discoveries were brought to the attention of the regular medical and academic communities. Each time these communities rejected the ideas and concepts.

Through multiple clinical successes and improved life experiences, the work of osteopathy grew steadily through the turn of the twentieth century. In fact, rapid growth of the profession along with outstanding clinical outcomes caught the attention of the regular medical physicians. Prior to the use of antibiotics in the 1940's, the osteopathic surgeons had a much higher success rate with lower mortality than their MD counterparts.

To a large extent, the original success of the Mayo Brothers in Rochester, Minnesota was due to an osteopathic anesthesiologist who used his osteopathic skill to sustain patients and improve their abilities to recover and fight off post operative infections.
The osteopathic profession continued to gain popularity until the widespread use of early antibiotics gave regular medicine the advantage of a "silver bullet" approach to disease.

Today, modern medicine is suffering from an intrinsic breakdown. Human values and natural life processes have been ignored as a result of rapid technological advances. The scales are now starting to tip back to a more balanced position where quality of life is a consideration. Raw technological survival has its place in the emergency situation, but the natural integrative life process from birth to death is once again gaining respect in the consciousness of human experience.

Basic life processes of breathing, movement, and smooth fluid flow are becoming recognized as the basic building blocks of a healthy human experience. Modern Osteopaths, who have remained focused on developing their seeing, thinking, and feeling hands through the practice of medicine, continue to work to help bring medicine back.

2. My son has been on antibiotics three times in a row for ear infections. My doctor suggested tubes in the ears. What else can I do?

Answer: When was the last time you thought about the eustachian tube as a vital organ? The eustachian tube is the passageway between the middle ear chamber (the place behind the ear drum where the tiny ear bones are) and the back of the mouth. When this tube functions well, it equalizes pressure on both sides of the ear drum. Because it is open directly with the back of the mouth, the normal mouth bacteria have easy access to the middle ear. Normally there is a slight flow of moisturizing secretions that move from the middle ear along the tube and into the back of the mouth. This keeps the passageway and the middle ear from drying out and keeps the bacteria from getting into the ear.

The eustachian tube is formed through bone on the ear end and fleshy tissue and muscles on the mouth end. When you yawn, the tissues which form the tube are pulled up and open the tube. This is why your ears "pop" sometimes when you yawn. The tube opens and the pressure equalizes with a "pop."

Almost all ear infections are the result of poor function of the eustachian tube. This allows normal fluids to build up in the middle ear. No self respecting bacteria could resist such a wonderfully inviting warm moist space as a place to set up house. Antibiotics do work well to "kill" the bacteria, but they do not help the eustachian tube.

Treating the eustachian tube is the key to treating ear infections. When the ear drum is bright red with infection, and the child is crying in pain at three in the morning, there is nothing better than the right antibiotic, a decongestant, and some Tylenol for the pain, but then you must seek out the root cause of the poor eustachian tube drainage. Allergies and food sensitivities can be a contributing factor since this can cause the lining of the tube to swell. Typically though, the tubes are blocked from a subtle twist in the tissues. These twists can result from difficult births, falls, family patterns, or postural positions. Craniosacral work is probably the best for identifying and treating these subtle tissue twists.

Surgical placement of drainage tubes through the ear drum should definitely be left until the last resort. At least investigate treating the eustachian tube dysfunction first.
Ask Dr. Dan #4 June 1997

3. Eczema........Help!

Answer: Wow, this is a hard one. Ec•ze•ma describes a generalized form of noncontagious inflammation of the skin. There are many different types based on the exact character of the appearance or cause of the inflammation. The appearance is often like the body is trying to "ooz" out of itself. Common medical thought is that the skin is demonstrating an allergic reaction to either an internal or an external substance.

Other than the visible appearance, the intense itching is the biggest complaint. This itching symptom can be treated with topical steroids and other heroic medications to block the inflammation. This can provide some relief, but what is the cause?

If it is an allergic reaction, then trying to identify and then avoid the allergen is useful. Again, what is the cause? Why is the body reaction so boldly and in such a visible and irritating way to its environment?

Lets assume, just for a moment, that our body is our friend, and that it is trying to get our attention to tell us something about our own existence. What better way than with an itching, crusting, swelling skin lesion to get our attention. Think about toxic events that the body may be needing to get rid of. Toxic foods, toxic chemicals, toxic thoughts, toxic emotions, toxic relationships.

The specific part of the body that is affected can also give clues. For example, the hands may be saying you need to get a grip on life. Areas on the head may be indicating that you are being too head strong, or not head strong enough.

Life is a mystery, and our job is to discover how we each fit into the soup. Look at your body as a friend, and ask what it might be trying to tell you.

And, try not to scratch, it only makes it worse.

4. Alternative care vs Regular medical care

I was thinking the other day about the rapidly changing health care environment and how to describe it. I have heard several heated discussions about the topic recently. Alternative care verses regular medical care. Who can you trust? Who is right? How can surgery and herbal therapy be considered as quality care for the same patient? I admit it is quite confusing. Even the professionals can't understand each other.

Remember that you know your body better than anyone else. It's OK to trust your inner feelings about what's good for you. And it's OK to ask questions of your professional helpers.

Most of modern medical care is based on fear. Fear of pain, fear of disease, fear of dying. Fear is a very valuable emotion. It gets our attention. It arouses our nervous system. However, fear usually does not allow the living body to grow and blossom into its true loving beautiful form. So, beware of fear based directions. Guilt is another good way to sell health services. If the information arouses your guilt feeling just say thank you and walk away. Again, trust yourself to know how you feel.

Lastly, decide if the therapy is directed toward the structure of the physical body or the "goo" of the living mechanism. Both are important, but different levels of injury require different treatments. For example, a sprained ankle may need rest, ice, and some compression to feel better, but if you do not deal with the distraction that pulled your thoughts away from your walking path, you may continue to sprain your ankle again and again. And, if you fall and sprain your ankle, your whole body was in the fall. Headaches could very easily be the direct result of a sprained ankle and the altered body mechanics. If this is the case, aspirin is not the best remedy.

5. What do you think about baby carriers?

Many times we will see someone carrying a small baby in one of those large plastic go everywhere do everything baby buckets. There are some fancy ones too, with ergonomic handles, and special attachments that snap on to strollers, car seats, and grocery carts. I realize there are some times when it is useful not to have to wake up a sleeping baby after the car ride and carry the baby, detachable plastic bucket/car seat and all in to the store or restaurant, but lets think about it.

First of all, I have never seen anyone look very comfortable carrying one. The carriers are usually quite wide so that you must hold them out away from your body. Then they usually bang into your leg with each step. This whole set up puts an abnormal strain on the low back of the person. The subsequent low back pain that develops is know as "baby in a bucket syndrome" in medical circles.

Next time you have a chance to watch someone doing this, pay close attention to how the baby is being bounced around with each step. Some how it just doesn't seem right to bounce this little sacred light being off your leg as you walk into Raley's.

In defense of baby bucket fans, for the times when it has to happen, try carrying the bucket like a laundry basket up high and close to your chest. This will be better for your back and you can also maintain eye contact with your baby. Even better is to carry your baby in your arms and let a companion carry the bucket separately.

My favorite baby carrier is the over the shoulder wrap around kind where the babe can be held in close to the chest. These are quite comfortable and provide easy access for nursing. After your baby has good strong head control (eight months to a year), a baby carrying backpack can be alot of fun.

From a holistic health perspective, anytime you have the opportunity to hold your baby in your arms, take advantage of it and let your little love light shine. By far, this is the most cost effective way to keep your baby healthy.

Happy bucket watching.

6. Healing Journeys with Suzie Daggett

Suzie Daggett interviews Dr. Daniel Allen, DO an Osteopathic Physician whose specialty is Craniosacral osteopathy.

What sparked your interest in medicine?

I was raised on a farm, with horses, calves and life all around. Getting hurt and healing is a normal, natural process. In my pre-kindergarten years, I would follow behind the plow and see the earth worms surface. I wondered what made earth worms wiggle after you cut them in half, how can they still be moving? Then, I fell out of the barn when I was 6 and broke my leg. Watching the process of fixing my leg by the country doctor was fascinating and it stayed with me. In college, I was not good with reading or writing my areas of interest were math and science - I was a very good problem solver. One of my teachers knew I had an interest in medicine and introduced me to the idea of osteopathy, which he felt was a fit for me. It took some time because I was afraid of the intense studies demanded by the medical profession, but finally after procrastinating for a few years, I became an Osteopath.

What is osteopathy about?

Osteopathy a sub-specialty of medicine. It was started 100 years ago by A.T. Still, a core man in the Civil War, who learned medicine in the frontier of Missouri and Kansas. A frontier doctor needs to be resourceful, use his mind and use the tools around him. Dr. Still was traumatized by his life experience in the war, the loss of life of many of his children and his first wife due to disease. He thought deeply about the medicine being practiced, and found that the body is built to heal on it's own. His philosophy was that a human being is a living thing instead of a disease manifesting entity. He believed that the body is built for life, and by nature, it is built to heal. Instead of fighting disease, he suggested promoting health. He believed that the body can manufacture any inherent internal chemical that it needs for healing. We are now just beginning to find that there are receptors in the body for all sorts of chemicals that modern science had no idea existed, but exist in nature. The factory of health is in your body. Doctor Still taught his students to think, feel, listen and pay attention to the patient and the body. He stressed that we as doctors would teach our hands how to feel in the body. We learn to feel the difference between a diabetic body, a soft body, how the bones fit together, how the joints move, how the organs move, how the muscles interact – all by the feeling and paying attention process. We feel physical tissue, layer upon layer and instead of using instruments, we use our hands.

When someone comes to you, what do they experience?

It is all very individualized and many times, we start with a conversation. For some people, that may be all they need for the moment. I work with my patients to introduce positive language, moving from language like "I have bad knees that keep me from doing what I want" to "I have knees that are a pathway to going where I am going". The knees, like all parts of the body are a living element in the body, so we work with them to examine limited beliefs. Working with the patient's belief systems can create a positive life style and wellness. Since Osteopaths see the body as a fluid living model, not a static two-dimensional cut and paste model, we use many different tools to treat the whole body, such as Craniosacral work.

What is Craniosacral work?

Craniosacral is a simple yet very complex practice. It is also called the primary respiration mechanism. In a healthy person, the cells expand and contract in an organized manner. Through the cranio fluid, the components of oxygen and the movement of waste products are moved out across the cell membrane. When someone is healthy, the movement is free flowing. In patients who have suffered a trauma like a car accident or a fall (even from years before), the cranio fluids become static. I work to gently move the sutures of the head which helps relieve pain and discomfort and allows the fluids to move in their natural flow again.

How do people stay well?

The biggest factor against wellness is the misuse of time. That is the single most important medicine. Time, food and water are the basic components of health. We can do a lot of medicine with these three elements. If you have a healthy garden you do not have much of a pest problem. If you pay attention to the problems early on you can assist with your own health and wellness in a natural way.

What's the best part of your practice for you?

Being part of the sacred dance of life is so precious. All around us is the garden of Eden and it is so beautiful, it is something we can all tap into if we believe in the possibilities of health. It is so amazing to help people get life back in their eyes as the body is offered a natural chance to feel better.


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