Author Archives Mark Croucher


Posted by Mark Croucher
on July 17, 2017
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Another strike against nonnutritive sweeteners

Nonnutritive sweeteners like aspartame and stevioside might be making you more obese and also may pose cardiovasular risks. That from a recent meta-analysis in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Scientists looked at 37 studies that evaluated at the effects of artificial sweeteners in 400,000 people over age 12.

Problems like obesity, Type 2 Diabetes and metabolic syndrome seemed to get worse the more people used artificial sweeteners.

Dr. Harlan Krumholz, editor-in-chief of NEJM Journal Watch Cardiology, comments: “This study raises the concerning possibility that not only have these sweeteners not helped people manage their weight, but may have actually jeopardized their cardiometabolic health.”


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Better recovery from heart surgery

Posted by Mark Croucher
on February 6, 2017
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New Study: Manual therapy helps patients recover from heart surgery.

When patients undergo open heart surgery there can be quite a difficult recovery.  One of the reasons is that they have their breast plate (sternum) removed during the surgery.  This can lead to a lot of pain and limitation in movement and longer hospital stays.

A study published in 2017 in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery suggested that manipulation therapy can be of great benefit.  The patients targeted in the study had recently gone through open heart surgery.  They found the manipulative care to significantly reduce pain and improve recovery when compared to regular care.   Also, their hospital stays were shorter.  

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Brain aging

Posted by Mark Croucher
on February 1, 2017
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Are you worried about how your brain will age? You should be.

As we get older one of our main concerns is that our brain will deteriorate.  The good news is there are a lot of ways to improve the health of your brain.  Steps can be taken, but you’ve got to be proactive.  The human brain can shrink as we age.  There are a great deal of things that can make this problem worse. I’ll touch on that a little as this article goes on.

Eating a Mediterranean diet has been shown to help our brains as we age!  Generally, the diet consists of eating mostly plants and more fish instead of red meat.  Evidence shows that eating this way can lower inflammation in your brain and body and help the brain to last longer.  So, do most of your shopping at the produce section and avoid the middle of the grocery store.  Simple first step.

Another issue is controlling fluctuations in your blood sugar.  If your blood sugar is always out of whack, you have a better chance of damaging your brain.  That’s why a diet high in plants instead of baked goods is so helpful.  Eating tons of carbohydrate rich foods has a nasty effect on your blood sugar.  Especially if you don’t exercise daily.  So keep the pasta, baked goods, sweets and other high carb foods to a minimum.  Eat your veggies!

Studies show that some of the chemicals that are added to packaged foods can cause brain damage. They’re called excito-toxins.  The most common are the artificial sweeteners like nutrasweet, but there are many.  When these chemicals get into your brain they can cause the connections in the brain to break down, like burning a bridge.  That destroys brain tissue.  Do yourself a favor and eat whole foods.  Pre-prepared food and drinks are often loaded with junk.  You’d probably do yourself another favor if your veggies were organic.  Certain plants get a lot more pesticides sprayed on them so learn about that.  Keep it simple.

Chronic pain has also been shown to cause your brain to shrink.  If you’re dealing with ongoing pain you should try to address this issue in a healthy way instead of just adding more pain killers.   Chiropractic care, daily exercise, yoga and meditation are some easy and effective choices that may really help you.

Finally, you have to exercise!  It has the opposite effect that all those bad chemicals have on your brain. There is a great deal of evidence showing how exercise influences the good kind of chemical stimulation in the brain.  This can increase the nerve connections in your brain.  The process is called synaptogenesis and neuroplasticity. The ability of exercise to improve brain function might even represent an important non-pharmacological strategy to improve resilience to Alzheimer Disease.  Get moving every day!


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Got Medicare?

Posted by Mark Croucher
on January 31, 2017
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Medicare has great coverage for chiropractic care.  They just don’t pay for maintenance care.  They leave that up to the patient.  In fact, there are often many services that doctors provide that insurance companies won’t pay for.

Doc, I’m feeling pretty darn good, but I want to come in monthly so I stay this way.

Great idea!  Guess what?  That’s maintenance care.  It’s a great idea to help you stay feeling good.  But you have to pay for it.  I understand that patients don’t know the law.  Many doctors don’t either.  But we do and we go out of our way to explain it.  My short answer is this.

Providers who continue to bill Medicare for supportive maintenance care are typically subject to considerable fines, loss of license and/or criminal penalties.


Here’s a recent story on this subject.  Pts are looking to be able to continue care even when patients are NOT improving.   Click here


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Susan’s story

Posted by Mark Croucher
on January 30, 2017
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This is the story of my patient Susan.  She is a college professor who developed severe neck and arm pain with numbness and weakness into her arm. MRI scans showed a large bulging (herniated) disc in her neck and Susan was referred to the neurosurgeon.

The surgeon explained that he would remove the disc, fuse the vertebra and screw in a metal plate to stabilize her neck.  Susan was afraid to undergo the surgery, so instead her neurosurgeon referred her to our office to see if we could solve the problem.

When Susan and I first spoke she explained that she was desperate.  She said she was “a mess, both physically and emotionally”.  She was also terrified that I was going to “crack” her neck.  I explained that with our approach, that was not necessary.  The fact is many chiropractors use low force techniques and will work hard to apply treatments that are not only effective but very comfortable.  We work with these injuries every day.

I examined Susan, reviewed her MRI findings and we moved forward with a treatment plan to help her.

The Result

Susan began to feel improvement with every treatment.  After two weeks, she experienced 40% improvement. After eight weeks, 90% improvement and nearly complete use of her left arm.

Of her experience, Susan says: “I have never had a Doctor as careful about listening to me and explaining the diagnosis and how to treat it, as Dr. Croucher.  He did not sugar-coat anything.  He was conservative in his outlook and delivered incremental, perceivable results.”

At The Spine Center of Williamsburg, our doctors of chiropractic have over 20 years’ experience in dealing with chronic spinal pain, spinal stenosis, disc herniation and painfully degenerative spinal disorders.

If you have a painful spinal issue and would like to see if modern chiropractic can help, call The Spine Center of Williamsburg today.

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You can’t outrun a bad diet!

Posted by Mark Croucher
on January 29, 2017
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 You can’t outrun a bad diet!

There is a bundle of evidence that traditional hunter-gatherers, who are substantially more physically active, burn the same number of daily calories as moderately active Americans.  The average numbers state that men need around 2600 calories per day.  Women need about 1900. Sedentary people obviously need fewer calories each day.  That means if you sit for a living, you might need to put the fork down.

We know that exercise in itself has numerous benefits.  I’m a HUGE proponent of daily exercise!  It helps us to age more gracefully encouraging better moving joints, less inflammation, better heart function and even better immunity.   Huge benefits to be sure.   But looking to exercise as the only way to lose weight might be a road to frustration.  Many of you may have noticed this.   “But doctor, I go to the gym 5 days a week and I weigh exactly the same as I did 6 months ago!”

You might be looking at this the wrong way.  Try thinking of exercise as a way to make you stronger, more flexible and more fit.  Lifting weights can make your muscles grow, making you stronger and that can potentially increase your caloric need.  That can potentially allow you to eat more.  Routine cardio training can increase your heart and lung capacity dramatically.  A good thing for sure!   But what about the food??

Think of your eating habits as a road to a better birthday suit.  If you need to lose weight and you can’t, you might try to figure out how many calories you actually consume in a day and try dropping it down a few hundred calories. Next you could consider the timing and makeup of your food.  For example, consuming a lot of carbohydrate dense food 15 – 30 minutes prior to vigorous exercise can motivate your body to take all that increase in blood sugar and push it into your muscles.  GREAT!!  If however, you consume the same meal prior to staring at the computer for 3 hours you body will likely store that stuff as fat.  Not so great.

When energy needs are lower, like sleeping, watching TV or reading, you don’t need an increase in blood sugar.  So keep the carbs lower then.  During those times, try focusing on fewer calories made of good fats and proteins. Leave the carbohydrate rich foods for times when you need them.  Food is fuel.  Eat for what you are about to do.


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stroke and physical activity

Posted by Mark Croucher
on January 11, 2017
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October 2014 427The Importance of Physical Activity in Preventing Recurrent Stroke

When a patient suffers a stroke, their life changes forever.  Drug therapy is typically noted as the number one tool in the fight against having another stroke.  A recent study is underway lead by Dr. S. Chaturvedi, a professor of Clinical Neurology at the University of Miami.  In a recent summary, he points out the importance of exercise in patient recovery and survival.

Exercise is associated with many potential benefits, including lower BP, decreased arterial stiffness, increased high-density lipoprotein levels, decreased insulin resistance, and augmented collateral circulation. This analysis reminds clinicians that increased physical activity is an important “prescription” in the fight against recurrent vascular events. Community or hospital-based exercise programs should be strongly considered for optimal stroke prevention.

He points out that a recent 3 year follow up showed that physical activity was noted as the most important factor in lowering the risk for recurrent stroke.

Doctors need to take the “prescription” of exercise much more seriously.  Patients also need to understand the vital importance of increasing their physical activity.

Seemant Chaturvedi, MD, is Professor of Clinical Neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. He is also Vice Chair for Veterans Affairs Programs within the Department of Neurology. Dr. Chaturvedi completed his neurology residency at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center and a stroke fellowship at the University of Western Ontario.

Dr. Chaturvedi has coedited two books, Transient Ischemic Attacks (2004) and Carotid Artery Stenosis (2005). He has been involved with several guideline writing committees for the American Academy of Neurology and American Stroke Association and is on the steering committee of several clinical trials.

This information is taken directly from a recent post in NEJM Journal Watch Neurology from the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Sitting to death

Posted by Mark Croucher
on December 14, 2016
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spine-center-postureAre you sitting to death?

A recent systematic review in LANCET showed that high levels of moderate exercise can reduce the risk of increased DEATH that is associated with lots of daily sitting.  Study on more than 1 million men and women.  They found that about 60-75 min per day of exercise seemed to be enough.  However, this does not eliminate the increased risk associated with high TV-viewing time.

We all know the benefits of physical activity.

Less pain

More energy

Less fat

And…it will probably reduce your chances of dropping dead.

What are you waiting for? Get up and get moving!!

Does physical activity attenuate, or even eliminate, the detrimental association of sitting time with mortality? A harmonised meta-analysis of data from more than 1 million men and women.
Ekelund U, et al. Lancet. 2016.
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Parkinson’s research

Posted by Mark Croucher
on December 14, 2016
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Parkinson’s research

Considerable evidence has been mounting supporting a relationship between the gastrointestinal system and Parkinson’s disease. Many pathologists and neurologists believe that Parkinson’s disease may start in the gut, however this view remains speculative.

The discovery that a bug in the gut called H. Pylori could underpin gastrointestinal disease and also lead to ulcer formation was one of the most important observations in modern GI medicine.

The most recent study on gut bacteria and Parkinson’s was published by a Finnish group led by Dr. Scheperjans. The authors of this study point out that the “intestinal microbiota interact with the autonomic and central nervous system via diverse pathways and that these areas are susceptible to Parkinson’s pathology”.

Nielsen and colleagues in 2012 examined H. Pylori infection, and the risk of Parkinson’s disease in a study published in the European Journal of Neurology. There were 4484 Danish patients included and they were drawn from the Danish Civil Registration System. The use of H. Pylori eradicating drugs was associated with a 45% increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Similarly, the use of proton pump inhibitors was also associated with a 23% increased risk for the development of Parkinson’s disease. The authors speculated that chronic H. Pylori infections and also gastritis could possibly be related to the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, though there were many methodological issues limiting the overall study interpretation.

  • The decision to treat H. Pylori should be made in consultation with both the GI specialist and the neurologist, especially since the infection commonly occurs in 2/3 of the population, and the GI specialist may in some cases need to perform follow-up testing (e.g. a scope to visualize the stomach and intestines).

All information taken from:


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Does gluten make you fat?

Posted by Mark Croucher
on October 31, 2016
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The average American consumes about 132 pounds of wheat per year.  Gluten is the main protein in wheat and in most of the grains Americans eat.  The problem is, our bodies do not have the proper enzymes to completely break down the gluten protein.  That can potentially lead to problems.  In some people this can lead wheat allergy, celiac disease, and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.  People complain of stomach pain, bloating and gas.  Others feel that the gluten makes them experience pain and fatigue.

Observational studies have shown that whole grain diets seem to improve people’s health.  These studies are largely observational surveys instead of experiments.

Modern wheat has been crossbred dramatically to improve bread making, to help with higher yields and to prevent plant disease.  Modern wheat is therefore very different from the ancient forms of wheat. These genetic differences may make ancient wheat safer to consume than modern wheat.

Avoiding gluten has become a billion dollar industry.  It has been recommended for a number of chronic conditions and also for weight loss.  With that said, there really isn’t a lot of evidence that avoiding gluten can lead to weight loss.  A 2013 study on mice showed that when mice were fed the equivalent of 20 slices of whole wheat bread daily, it increased fat gain.  This also had negative affects on insulin sensitivity, energy and lead to higher levels of inflammation.  This evidence may play out differently when studied in humans.

One could argue that a diet without wheat and other gluten containing grains could be beneficial.  Certainly future human studies will help clear this up.


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