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Is Stress Causing your Pain, or is Pain Causing your Stress?

By Guest Contributor Christine Prohl, BodyMind Coach and Integrative Massage Therapist

Edited by Mila McManus MD

We live in a world that values busyness and achievement and we’ve been taught to ignore the warning signs our bodies are sending us.

BodyMind coaching is a combination of a massage and a structured coaching conversation which helps guide people back into their bodies to create simple, yet powerful shifts so that they can move out of pain and frustration and into freedom and ease. It addresses all aspects of stress, physical and emotional.

A Custom Integrative Massage uses various advanced techniques which are customized to the individual client’s needs. For example, a person may have tight fascia with constant muscle aches, or might retain fluid that needs draining by stimulating lymph flow. Another person may need to focus more on relaxation and mood with a lighter massage and some essential oils.

Sessions may include any combination of the following:

  • Swedish Massage – The most commonly offered and best known type of massage.  Excellent for stress relief, boosted immune system, improved sleep, reduced anxiety and reduced fatigue.
  • Deep Tissue Massage – Similar to Swedish but with deeper more specific pressure. Designed to increase circulation and reduce restriction and pain in the fascia and muscle tissue.
  • Neuromuscular Therapy – NMT  is a form of soft-tissue manipulation designed to treat the underlying causes of chronic pain involving the muscular and nervous systems.  It benefits you through reducing pain, improving posture, relieving trigger points. This type of massage is beneficial for relief of chronic pain, recovery from injuries such as whiplash or sports injuries, repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, postural problems, etc.
  • Sports Massage – Techniques designed to help prepare for or recover from strenuous activity or an athletic event.  It’s not just for athletes! It’s great for someone getting back into a workout routine or a weekend warrior who did too much yard work all at once.
  • Lymphatic Drainage – a very light touch technique to help clear out areas of lymph congestion.

Additional services that can be scheduled as individual appointments or as add-ons to the Custom Integrative Massage session include:

  • FasciaBlasting – Incorporates a massage tool specifically designed to reduce restrictions, adhesions and distortions in the fascia system of the body.  Great for pain relief and improved circulation.
  • Cupping – Includes the use of special cups on your skin to create suction.  Benefits include decreased pain and inflammation and increased circulation.
  • Infrared Sauna – There are many benefits to sitting in an IR sauna including pain relief and detoxification.
  • Essential Oils – Can be added to any service.  Certified pure therapeutic grade oils have been shown to help relieve pain, improve mood and promote a sense of relaxation.

Through a powerful combination of coaching and bodywork, we will notice where and how stress shows up in your body and learn to shift toward experiencing more clarity and contentment.  This intentional conversation is followed up with amazing bodywork to integrate these new insights on a physiological level.

The Woodlands Institute for Health & Wellness welcomes Christine Prohl to our facility!

She moved her office here on April 1, 2019.  She has been Dr. McManus’ personal massage therapist for years, and Dr. McManus recently transitioned to BodyMind coaching with her.

Testimonial from Dr McManus: “Christine is amazing at what she does! I’ve never known a massage therapist who offers, and excels at, so many different techniques.”

If you’d like to learn more about BodyMind coaching or integrative massage, you can contact Christine Prohl at 832-338-7792.

By |2019-04-23T13:47:03-05:00April 23rd, 2019|Articles, General|

Supplement of the Month: Botanicalm PM & Cerenity

This month we are introducing two supplements by Orthomolecular Products that we carry at TWIHW.

Botanicalm PM*is formulated to induce the relaxation needed to support better sleep for those experiencing temporary sleeplessness.  The formula includes valerian root, a well-known herb used to help with sleep-related issues and to produce a state of relaxation.  Passionflower and jujube have been used historically to produce a state of relaxation and have been used in those with overstimulation and scattered thoughts.  L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, supports resilience to stress by increasing alpha brain wave activity.  Hops strobile extract works in synergy with these ingredients to naturally reduce stress and induce sleep.

Cerenity* is designed to address daily stress by increasing production of the neurotransmitters serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain.  Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers that regulate mood, memory, sleep cycle and daily stress.  High levels of stress, dietary deficiencies, genetic factors, medications and toxins all play a role in neurotransmitter depletion and imbalance.  The nutrients in Cerenity support healthy neurotransmitter levels for balancing the stress response.  L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, has been shown to quickly improve stress perception and resilience.  PharmaGABA, a patented and naturally sourced form of GABA, has been shown to promote relaxation in the central nervous system. 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an amino acid intermediate that is directly converted into the mood-regulating neurotransmitter serotonin.  Taurine is an amino acid that activates GABA receptors. Inositol is crucial for the release of neurotransmitters from within nerve cells.  The essential micronutrients included in Cerenity aid in the synthesis of serotonin and GABA.  The support of these neurotransmitters helps promote a relaxed mental state, positive outlook and restful sleep cycle.


*These statements have been provided from OrthoMolecular Products practitioner catalog. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

By |2018-03-25T11:51:36-05:00March 16th, 2018|General|

Got Chaos?

10 Ways to Reduce Family Stress

by Nancy Mehlert, MSfamily stress

As the new school year begins and your family settles into the routines for the school year, we encourage you to consider how stress is impacting your family.  Do your own stressors trickle down to have a negative impact on the rest of your family? Do your children’s stressors trickle up to you?

The newest and most powerful stressor in life is the information age.  The explosion of information and our access to it is overwhelming. Distributed in real time, this constant, seemingly uncontrollable bombardment of communication, information, education, and sensationalism has arrived, and our heads are spinning. Most of us never saw it coming, and it has changed our lives in good ways and bad. It requires us to examine ways to turn it down, turn it off and buffer ourselves and our children from it. It has compounded our stressors and is taking a heavy toll on our physical, mental and spiritual health, as well as the health of families and relationships.

Interested in stopping the madness?  Here are 10 ways to help yourself and your family to reduce the stress:

Create technology free zones.  Create family times together that are technology free – no cell phones, tablets, or television.  Promote eye to eye contact, heart to heart communication, and quieter moments. This also reduces drama and control issues by helping children see that not everything is an emergency, not everyone has the right to demand your time anytime they wish, and not every text or post requires an immediate response.

Create “white space” on your kids and your calendars.  We need more peace and quiet and rest in this hectic, crazy world.  This is unassigned time without commitments, appointments, duties, or work.  This space is reserved for renewal of the mind and heart.  It is intended to be reserved for thankfulness, quiet time, meditation, stretching, being in nature, loving on pets, coloring, painting or doing things that are relaxing and peaceful. Teach your children the value of silence, stillness, appreciation and thanksgiving.

Get outdoors for exercise, restoration and fun. Walk, ride bikes, sit on the porch together.  Walk the dog or wash the car.  Work together as a family in the yard or plant a garden. Take off your shoes and stand in the grass, feeling the earth beneath your feet.  This is called “grounding” and it helps your body to resonate and re-calibrate to the fundamental frequencies of the earth that your body requires for health and healing. Allow the sun to warm your skin for 15 minutes, allowing your body to get the best form of Vitamin D for a strong immune and better health.

Cook together. Let’s face it. Fast food is not helping our stress or our health.  Every child needs to know how to cook and prepare a basic meal as a core life skill.  Eating at home can save time and money and can be an enjoyable time to learn together. Get everyone involved, share the duties, take turns, allow creativity and include the children in choices of new vegetables, recipes and foods to try.

Encourage, teach, and promote healthy sleep patterns.  Establish and maintain bedtimes and wind-down times when phone calls and texting need to stop, television must be turned off, and preparations for a restful night of sleep should begin. If possible, turn off the household wi-fi to promote better sleep. Establish age appropriate routines and curfews to teach self-care and responsibility.  Make the end of every day a time for hugs, reflection, words of encouragement, expressions of love and thankfulness.

Don’t be afraid to get help when needed.  Recognize that events resulting in grief, anger, anxiety or sadness need healthy resolution for all of us. Parents and children alike need someone they can trust to express their feelings to reach healthy resolution of traumatic events, difficult seasons or concerning behavior patterns.  Seek out support groups, on-line forums, and professionals or techniques such as journaling and Emotional Freedom Techniques (tapping) to deal with emotions in a healthy way. Remember that unresolved emotional issues can and do manifest in physical ill-health.

Make One Better Food Choice – Getting healthier can seem overwhelming and stressful itself.   Often, small steps generate better long term results. Virtually everyone can benefit from improvements in the diet. There are plenty of reasons to get healthier and stay healthier. Illness derails plans, reduces income potential, and makes us our worst self.  Sugar and food allergies are highly correlated with inflammation, congestion, weight gain, fatigue, body pain, digestive issues, brain fog and frankly, addiction and disease.  Lack of vegetables in the diet leaves us all constipated, nutritionally bankrupt and stressed out.  Simple changes in diet can make a huge difference in everyone’s relationships, productivity and happiness. Do something… one more vegetable, one less soft drink, no more fast food, dump the cereal, avoid the gluten, increase healthy fats….Make at least one better choice this year.

Everyone needs Friend Time. No one prospers in isolation.  We need laughter and encouragement.  We need to know someone else understands us.  We flourish when we can help and be helped by others. Spending time with our friends in person, not via text or Facebook, is healing and restorative.

Practice Nose Breathing.  A recent article by Dr. Mercola discussed the Buteyko method of breathing for relaxation which is in contrast to the concept of deep breathing. It promotes a slow and light breathing through the nose to promote calm, improve oxygenation and reduce stress. It is a great way to help your kids stop wiggling or to prevent your own anxious moment.

Laughter is still great medicine. Increase the frequency of moments of getting into a deep, side splitting laugh. It’s contagious too! Laughter lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormone levels, works out your abs, releases endorphins, and boosts your immune system. So go rent a hilarious movie, read the funnies, listen to a good comedian, or tickle each other silly.  Laughter is a great stress reducer.


By |2016-09-07T05:26:48-05:00September 6th, 2016|Articles, General|

Stress Support Complex

by Complementary Prescriptionsstress support

Designed to promote relaxation and assist with sleep, this stress support complex combines the benefits of Ashwagandha, Valerian extract, L-theanine and GABA.  Ashwagandha and Valerian extract are both herbal ingredients that are highly regarded for their ability to increase resistance to stress and fatigue while having a high degree of safety. Called adaptogens, these herbal ingredients have a normalizing effect on endocrine, immune and other body systems and have been the subject of decades of scientific research.   L-theanine is an amino acid that some call “Nature’s Xanax”. Similarly, GABA is a neurotransmitter with a calming effect.

By |2016-08-24T14:00:19-05:00August 24th, 2016|General|

Magnesium-The Antidote to Stress

magnesium for stressThink of magnesium as the relaxation mineral.

Anything that is tight, irritable, crampy, and stiff — whether it is a body part or even a mood — is a sign of magnesium deficiency.

This critical mineral is actually responsible for over 300 enzyme reactions and is found in all of your tissues — but mainly in your bones, muscles, and brain. You must have it for your cells to make energy, for many different chemical pumps to work, to stabilize membranes, and to help muscles relax.

Much of modern life conspires to help us lose what little magnesium we do get in our diet. Magnesium levels are decreased by excess alcohol, salt, coffee, phosphoric acid in colas, profuse sweating, prolonged or intense stress, chronic diarrhea, excessive menstruation, diuretics (water pills), antibiotics and other drugs, and some intestinal parasites. In fact, in one study in Kosovo, people under chronic war stress lost large amounts of magnesium in their urine.

Food high in magnesium: Kelp, wheat bran, wheat germ, almonds, cashews, buckwheat, brazil nuts, dulse, filberts, millet, pecans, walnuts, rye, tofu, soy beans, brown rice, figs, dates, collard greens, shrimp, avocado, parsley, beans, barley, dandelion greens, and garlic

  • The RDA (the minimum amount needed) is about 300 mg a day. Most of us get far less than 200 mg.
  • Some may need much more depending on their condition.
  • Most people benefit from 400 to 1,000 mg a day.
  • The most absorbable forms are magnesium citrate, glycinate, taurate, or aspartate, although magnesium bound to Kreb cycle chelates (malate, succinate, fumarate) are also good.
  • One potential side effect is diarrhea, which can be avoided if you switch to magnesium glycinate or a topical form.
  • Taking a hot bath with Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) is a good way to absorb and get much needed magnesium.

People with kidney disease or severe heart disease should take magnesium only under a doctor’s supervision.

The above is taken from: http://drhyman.com/blog/2010/05/20/magnesium-the-most-powerful-relaxation-mineral-available/#close

By |2015-04-23T12:40:49-05:00April 23rd, 2015|Articles, General|

Healthy Tips on How NOT to Catch The Crud

We all hope it won’t happen to us, but somehow as late winter and early spring roll around, the bad germs and blooming plants abound and, before you know it, it seems like everyone around you has the flu or a cold or that mysterious thing that hangs on forever, lovingly called “The Crud”. Especially prevalent where people gather in larger numbers, office workers and school attendees are especially susceptible.  If you have been fortunate to avoid it so far this year, or you want to make sure you don’t get hit again, there are many things you can do wherever you are to minimize your risk of getting sick this time of year.  Here is a list of proactive things you can do to protect yourself:

Vitamin Vigilance – Now is an especially important time to be diligent about taking your vitamins.  We know that a multi-vitamin, probiotics, vitamin D, vitamin C, and Zinc are effective in supporting healthy living and boosting the immune system.

Allergy Awareness – If you know you struggle with environmental or food allergies, do your best to minimize exposure where possible and seek quality treatment for your allergies.  Left to fester, the relentless attack on the immune system and the resulting inflammation often leads to infection and illness.  Today, there are numerous effective treatments to minimize the effects of seasonal allergies and promote healthy living and immune function.  Call our office to speak to a wellness consultant about sublingual allergy drops!

Hand Hygiene – Our hands are useful and relentlessly busy, and this means they touch many surfaces and people throughout the day.  Unfortunately, we also eat with them, touch our noses and lips, and cough into them.  As a result, they are a major carrier of germs to and from other people and high-traffic surfaces.  Here are some easy health tips: Keep hands clean using soap and warm water or citric acid/essential oil-based anti-bacterial hand sanitizer.  Keep your hands away from your nose and mouth and never eat food with your bare hands without washing them well first.

Germ Gatherings – So where do these pesky little microbes tend to hang out together?  Most of us fear public toilet seats, but you may be surprised to know that studies have shown they are one of the cleaner surfaces found in public areas because restrooms are generally cleaned on a daily basis.  Do you work in a healthy workplace? The greatest populations of viruses and bacteria are found on surfaces that are used often, but not cleaned regularly.  The germiest include desktops, office break room tables, restaurant tables (the rags to wipe them are usually not sanitized after each wipe), phones, computer mice and keyboards, grocery cart handles, and escalator rails.  Cleaning your personal workspace daily, washing your hands after using others’ workspaces and encouraging others to do the same, are ways to minimize your exposure.  It is a good idea to carry an antibacterial hand sanitizer to use after coming in contact with grocery carts, escalator rails, and other heavily handled surfaces.

Sugar, Stress, and Sleep Shortages – These little devils seem to hang out together when life gets busy and deadlines are looming. We become overly stressed, we have less time for a good night’s sleep or some exercise to relax us so we reach for a sugary treat to comfort our frustration.  Unfortunately, we have created the perfect storm for a bacteria or virus to jump on board and do a happy dance on us.  During this germy season, it is the very best time and reason to make wise snack choices, get a quick walk in during the lunch hour and get to bed on time. Avoid reaching for the bowl of candy at the office or resorting to the donut in the break room. Sugar can suppress your immune system and impair your defenses against infectious disease. Instead, keep pre-packaged single serving nuts, small mandarin oranges, low sugar KIND bars, and herbal teas at your desk (or in the office bowl of treats) to provide good nutrition and comfort.  Take a few minutes every hour or so to stretch, stand up, and take a deep breath to reduce stress and move the body.  Use 15 minutes of your lunch break to walk up a couple flights of stairs and back or around the building outside.  Then when you get home, be sure to get a good night’s sleep.

Sit and Stay! –If you are sick, stay home.  If you are a manager, encourage your team members to do the same thing.  If you are a parent, keep your sick children home. There are no heroics in bringing germs to the office or schoolroom to share with everyone else.  Rest will also allow the body to heal more rapidly.

By |2014-02-18T21:52:59-05:00February 14th, 2014|Articles, General|

The Healing Code

The Healing Code:  Address Your Stress

I first learned about a book called The Healing Code from a patient of mine and I think this is one of the most fascinating books I’ve read in a long time.  This book gives hope.

The premise of the book is that all disease stems from physiologic stress. If you deal with psychological stress, you can be assured that your body is experiencing physiologic stress; however, even if you do not feel anxious or stressed, it’s still likely that your body is under physiologic stress.

So what does this all mean? Well, for starters, when you are under physiologic stress, your body is in survival mode (aka “fight or flight”). This involves activating your sympathetic nervous system which raises blood pressure, increases heart rate, stresses your adrenal glands, and overrides the parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for digestion and for maintenance and repair of the body.

Instead of your body worrying about cancer cell over here, and virus over there, and digesting the food in your stomach, it’s worried about surviving the next few minutes. This means that people with chronic stress are bound to have digestive issues and are adversely affecting their body’s ability to heal itself.

The author of The Healing Code, Dr Alex Loyd, spent years trying to help his wife recover from depression. He even went back to school to get a PhD in Psychology to try to figure things out for her. One day, while flying home from a conference, he tells how this information appeared to him, and he knew how to help his wife when he returned home to her. He performed what he now calls the healing code with his wife and apparently she’s been great ever since. The co-author of the book, Ben Johnson, MD, DO, NMD, was diagnosed with ALS (a typically fatal auto-immune disease affecting the nervous system) and, knowing his fate, was seeking out alternatives when he came across the healing code. He began a diligent regimen of the healing code and reports that he cured his illness in 3 months.

In the book it’s explained how we accumulate memories, both good and bad, and that the bad memories can be constantly reactivated, even at a subconscious level, keeping you in a state of physiologic stress. Let’s say, for example, that you were in a terrible car accident 15 years ago with a red car. Ever since then, every time you see the color red, it may be causing you stress, whether you feel it (e.g. a random panic attack) or not (e.g. chronic high blood pressure or digestive issues without obvious cause).

The goal of this book is to teach you how to neutralize your body’s physiologic stress response with a simple 6 minute exercise done once daily which in turn would dampen the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, helping to lower blood pressure and heart rate, and allow the parasympathetic nervous system to take over again, thereby improving digestion and allowing the body to heal itself.

What have you got to lose? Maybe $15 for the book and the time to read it? I’ve already received positive feedback from others to whom I’ve recommended the book, such as lower blood pressure, less anxiety, resolving reflux, better sleep, etc.     Whatever ails you, why not give it a try?


By |2014-06-30T14:34:40-05:00April 30th, 2013|Articles, General|