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Sunscreen Dangers in Children

Get Outside and Enjoy the Sunshine

By: Dr. Melissa Sonners

Recently, information has been published regarding initial opinions on the safety of three UV filters, oxybenzone, homosalate and octocrylene. These are three of the most common ingredients in many sunscreens.

The findings suggest that sunscreen manufacturers are legally allowed to use these ingredients at concentrations well above the proposed limit.  Many sunscreens in the U.S use concentrations of these ingredients that far exceed the standards of other countries which continue to be far ahead of us when it comes to health standards for our food, personal health products and more.

We now know, based on many studies, that these ingredients are linked to hormone disruption, skin irritations and allergies and more.  These ingredients are all absorbed into the skin and body after just one use and can be detected on the skin and in breast milk and urine samples weeks after application.

The CDC found that in American children, adolescent boys with higher oxybenzone measurements (one of the most common ingredients in sunscreen) had significantly lower testosterone levels. (

Many rely on the FDA to protect them from safe products, but currently the agency does NOT require companies to test their products for contamination and many companies that contain toxic, carcinogenic ingredients are not revealed until many have been using them for years.  We must be educated consumers and look out for what is best for our personal health and family’s health without depending on outside agencies to do it for us.

While much is not known and further research needs to be completed, we don’t yet know if these ingredients are “safe & effective.”

Ingredients to avoid:

  • Avobenzone

    • Endocrine disruptor and can cause allergic reactions

  • Benzene

    • Known carcinogen widely found in aerosol sunscreens

  • Homosalate

    • Widely used in sunscreens.

    • Penetrates the skin

    • Disrupts hormones and produces toxic breakdown byproducts

  • Octinoxate (Octyl Methoxycinnamate)

    •  Animal studies show hormone effects on the metabolic system

    • Affects thyroid hormone production and can impact androgen and progesterone signaling

    •  Can cause allergic reactions to exposure to UV light.

  • Octisalate

    • May affect endocrine system

  • Octocrylene

    • Absorbs through the skin at 14 times the FDA cutoff for systemic exposure

    • Causes aquatic toxicity harming marine animals & coral health

    • Often contaminated with the known carcinogen benzophenone

  • Oxybenzone

    • The most “worrisome active ingredient in sunscreen” according to scientific research.

    • Readily absorbed through the skin.

    •  Behaves as an endocrine disruptor and causes greater harm in children (FDA 2019).

Lotion is safer in general than aerosol as it is less likely to contain a potentially carcinogenic ingredient, Benzene.   Benzene is a petroleum-derived toxic chemical widely known to cause cancer and other serious health effects.  Currently, there is no established level of Benzene that is considered safe for human exposure.  Recently, many common brand-named sunscreens were recalled due to traces of Benzene in them.

In our family, we don’t avoid the sun.  Sun exposure plays an important role in so many of our body’s vital functions. Sunlight is essential for generating the production of Vitamin D, supporting bone health, lowering blood pressure, preventing disease and promoting mental health.  It also strengthens our immune system, improves sleep, reduces stress and fights off depression.  Exposure to sunlight also increases the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin which boosts our mood.  Serotonin is also the precursor to our sleep enhancer, melatonin.  Ever wonder why a day outdoors promotes such great sleep? You can thank the sun for helping you make serotonin for that.

At the same time, we do know some sun protection is important.  Recently, much research is being revealed that fragile, processed oils like soybean oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, shortening, corn oil, margarine, sunflower oil and safflower oil will make your skin more sensitive to sun damage.  I can personally attest to this as a child who used to BURN all the time.  My diet was full of seed oils and I also now know that much of my burn and skin irritation was directly caused by the ingredients in sunscreens that I was sensitive to.

We tend to spend time in the sun during off peak hours and spend more time in the shade during peak sun.  We wear hats and clothes that protect our skin when we feel it’s time to give our skin a break.

In addition, at times we use Shea butter as a protective layer. Although it provides very low SPF (about 7), we find it’s often enough when we are aware of our peak time exposure.

For people wanting traditional sunscreen options I have scoped out the best of the best and will share them here.  Thank you to the Environmental Workers Group for making this simple. (

EWG is a  non-for-profit whose mission is to empower you with breakthrough research to make informed choices and live a healthy life in a healthy environment.  You can share your email address with them and you will get monthly informative emails on the best sunscreens, household products, personal products and more.  You can also enter any product into their search engine and they will rate the level of toxicity so you can make informed decisions on what is best for you and your family.

They rate products on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the most toxic.  I prefer to only use products rated as a 1, however I have also included some rated as a 2 below in case it makes access easier.

Additionally, when choosing a sunscreen be sure to check the ingredient label and ensure all ingredients are safe.

Ingredients considered safe:

Zinc Oxide & Titanium Dioxide– these should be the only two main ingredients.  Be mindful of other “inactive ingredients” as often those make up 70% or more of the product so be sure to read the full ingredient list.

Best baby & kids sunscreen:

Rated as a 1 (least toxic) on EWG toxicity scale:

  • Raw Elements Baby + Kids Sunscreen Lotion Tin, SPF 30

  • Earth Mama Kids Uber- Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF

  • All Good Kids Sunscreen Butter Stick, SPF 50

Rated as a 2 on EWG:

  • Kiss My Face Organics Kids Defense Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30

  • Banana Boat Kids Sport Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50

  • Banana Boat Simply Protect Baby Sunscreen Stick SPF 50

  • Burt’s Bees Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30

  • Cerave Baby Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 45

Best Daily SPF:

Rated 1 on EWG:

  • Love Sun Body Glow Natural Tinted Mineral Sunscreen & Moisturizer Lotion, SPF 30

Rated 2 on EWG:

  • Beautycounter Countersun Daily Sheer Defense for Face, SPF 25

Best Recreational Sunscreen

Rated 1 on EWG:

  • Earth Mama Tinted Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 25 (rated 1 on EWG)

  • 365 Everyday value sport mineral sunscreen lotion SPF 30 (Rated 1 on EWG)

Rated 2 on EWG:

  • BeautyCounter CounterSun Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30 (rated 2 on EWG)

Worst Sunscreens.  Rated as a 7-10 (most toxic) on EWG:

  • Banana Boat Kids Clear Sunscreen Spray, SPF 65

  • Banana Boat Ultra Sport Clear Sunscreen Spray, SPF 100

  • Neutrogena Wet skin sunscreen spray, SPF 50 – carcinogenic ingredients, endocrine disruptor, biochemical cellular level changes

  • Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Continuous Spray, SPF 100

The ingredients in the products listed above are known to cause reproductive toxicity, allergies, immunotoxicity, endocrine (hormone) disruption & are persistently bioaccumulated

Sun exposure plays a vital role in our health & vitality.  We can take steps through our diet, as well as through planning out our exposure to off peak sun in order to keep our skin healthy.  There are also now many options for sunscreen that contain safe ingredients.  I hope this has helped make finding those products easy for you.

Be sure to follow our social media platforms where we share helpful tips and hacks for keeping your family healthy.

IG: @Drs_Sonners


Now get outside and enjoy that sunshine!

“Pick me up Buttercup!”
April’s Oil Spotlight…all things Citrus!
by Dr. Meagan McGowan

At one time, one of our smallest members of Core Therapies told me that Orange Essential Oil smelled like “sunshine in a bottle.” Well he now towers over me in height and since then I have forever referenced Orange as “sunshine in a bottle!”

Citrus essential oils, including but not limited to Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit, and Lime have a vast array of uses as many of the oils do.

  • They can be safely used topically to uplift your mood.
  • Try massaging a drop of Orange or Grapefruit into your scalp then cupping your hands around your nose and inhaling deeply.
  • Did you know Lemon essential oil can remove adhesive residue from a label or sticker? Rather than storing a chemical-ridden spray bottle of adhesive remover, you can feel more comfortable using a drop of lemon on a paper towel on that new toy or dish!
  • Forgot the lime at the store and making guacamole? No problem! Use a toothpick, insert it into your bottle of Lime essential oil, then give your guac a stir. Not strong enough? Grab another toothpick and repeat until your desired taste is achieved.
  • Don’t forget the kiddos! There is a beautiful line of essential oils dedicated to our kids (loved by adults as well!) and one in particular is a citrus based blend called “Kid Power.” Conveniently already diluted in a roller bottle, apply it to the inside of your kids wrist or dab it just underneath the ears to inspire and encourage feelings of strength and confidence. Its uplifting scent comes in a bottle as well and can be diffused while they do their homework or just need to relax!

Because Citrus essential oils are cold pressed from the rind, they can be safely ingested, inhaled, and applied topically. It is recommended that when using topically, that area not be immediately exposed to the sun due to photosensitivity properties. I always advise to start out with less or dilute a little bit more, because more can always be added, but essential oils are so heavily concentrated, a little goes much further than you would think!

For more information on Citrus oils, including our favorite diffusing blends, follow us on our social media pages.

Back pain treatments in NJ

A Natural and Effective Chiropractic Treatment for Spinal Pain

by Dr. Sebastian Poma

The vast majority of us experience pain and discomfort around our spine, muscles and joints at times. For certain individuals, pain turns into a constant condition that endures weeks, months or even years.

Prescription pain relievers can be useful at times; however, they often help only to address the symptoms and not the cause of the pain. Flexion-Distraction treatment (F&D), provides care to the joints and muscles naturally to remove discomfort and pain. 


What Is Flexion-Distraction Treatment?

Flexion-distraction treatment is performed on a sectioned table that moves as your doctor gradually puts the table into specific positions while stabilizing your spine in order to release segments, decompress the disc space and stretch the muscles. The table is used to stretch and depressurize your spine, thereby alleviating your back and radiating leg pain.

F&D can be used effectively with patients exhibiting at least one of the following:

  • sacroiliac condition
  • ankylosing spondylitis
  • sciatica
  • spondylolisthesis
  • disc herniations

But Flexion-Distraction can also be exceptionally impactful in treating muscle related issues or low back pain where there is no obvious precipitating condition. The procedure is delicate enough to be used following spinal medical procedures and can be a significant piece of a post-procedure therapy plan. 


Potential outcomes of Flexion-Distraction treatment

Patients receiving F&D are likely to experience:

  • less strain on spinal nerves and discs
  • reduced swelling of herniated discs
  • greater scope of movement and versatility
  • relief from constant back pain
  • reduced neck and low pain and migraines
  • less need for medical procedures (cortisone injections or surgery)
  • decreased back, glute and leg pain/discomfort
  • advanced overall well-being

Used frequently by chiropractors to mitigate effects of spinal stenosis, Flexion-Distraction treatment can be utilized to lessen pain and discomfort in the spine and muscles around it. It’s a great way to preserve our bodies and assist healing naturally. 


What is Drop Table (Thompson) Technique?

What is Drop Table (Thompson) Technique?

By Dr. Derek DeCagna

Chiropractic spinal manipulation is both a science and an art.  As such, it can be administered in a variety of ways to best meet the needs of a patient and the practitioner.  Drop Table Technique, a.k.a. Thompson Technique, is a form of spinal manipulation that utilizes gravity through a “drop” to make segmental corrections.  More specifically, Drop Table Technique requires the use of a special chiropractic table that is divided into various pieces.  These pieces have the ability to be raised between 1 to 2 inches relative to a neutral flat-lying surface and their “tension” or relative ability to drop back to neutral can be modified.  


How is a chiropractic adjustment delivered using a Drop Table?

The patient is always asked to place his or her area of focus on top of one of the drop pieces.  The practitioner will then set the desired tension of the drop piece to adequately counterbalance the patient’s weight.  The drop piece is then lifted, and a manual chiropractic adjustment is delivered to the patient so that the drop piece releases and falls back to its neutral position.  Once the drop piece comes to a rest, the momentum gathered from the drop continues through the patient for a very short period of time.  This transfer of energy creates a summative, amplifying effect on the force of the chiropractic adjustment, while creating a relatively mild sensation for the patient.    


What is Drop Table (Thompson) Technique?


What does Drop Table (Thompson) Technique feel like?

Typically, drop table adjustments are experienced as a “gentler” form of spinal manipulation because they require less power from the practitioner and less ancillary movement and/or special positioning by the patient.  Drop pieces magnify the thrust of a chiropractic adjustment in a way that minimizes the force and pressure experienced by the patient for an adjustment.


How is the magnifying effect of a Drop Table achieved?

A great way to examine the physics at play when a drop piece is utilized is to look at the scenario in terms of energy.  When an object is at rest, its gravitational potential energy can be represented as follows:




PE = potential energy

m = mass

g = gravitational constant

h = height


Moreover, the potential energy of an object at rest can be transferred to another object if all of its energy is converted to kinetic energy.  In this particular hypothetical example, the potential energy of a patient lying over an elevated drop piece can be described as: 




PE = potential energy

m = mass of patient 

g = gravitational constant

h = height of drop piece 


When a chiropractic adjustment is delivered, the energy of the thrust is added to the potential energy of the patient:


ETotal= EThrust+PEDrop


ETotal= EThrust+mgh


Since the drop piece must be elevated prior to a chiropractic adjustment, the energy of the chiropractic adjustment must be greater than the potential energy of the drop piece in order for the piece to fall.  The amount of energy required to make the drop piece fall is dependent upon the tension that is determined by the patient’s weight and the judgment of the chiropractor.  Taking this into consideration, one can see that the total energy exerted during a drop piece adjustment must be greater than 2x the amount of energy required to keep a patient elevated on a drop piece: 


ETotal  mgh+mgh


ETotal  2mgh



  • Drop Table (Thompson) Technique is a viable form of chiropractic manipulation that can be used to treat the spine and extremities.
  • Drop Table (Thompson) Technique is usually experienced as a milder form of chiropractic manipulation compared to techniques that require more power and special positioning.
  • Drop Table (Thompson) Technique utilizes gravity and the patient’s own weight to make an impactful influence on the force of a chiropractic adjustment.
Child fever

Getting Sick Is An Important Part of Being Healthy

By Dr. Melissa Sonners

Getting sick is an important part of being healthy.  Our bodies are incredible self-healing, self-regulating organisms when given the proper environment with limited exposures to chemical, physical and balanced emotional stressors. 

There are many miraculous processes in our bodies that kick into gear when we get sick, that help us stay healthy.  Primary among them:  Fevers and glutathione.  My hope in writing this is that it empowers you to trust in these and perhaps step back and let the body “do its thing” the next time a fever presents itself.  

Fevers are often the solution, not the problem

From an article in Medical News Today: “Fevers are more than just a symptom of illness or infection,” claim researchers. They found that elevated body temperature sets in motion a series of mechanisms that regulate our immune system and go on to state that “an elevated body temperature triggers cellular mechanisms that ensure the immune system takes appropriate action against the offending virus or bacteria.” 

In our home, we have noticed that a fever often means we are going to have a more intense, but quicker period of illness, whereas a cold may linger for days or weeks at a time.  To us, fevers mean rest, fluids, movies, snuggles and books.  We watch our kids and ensure they are hydrated and resting, but are not quick to give fever reducers just for the sake of “making them comfortable.”  We find they do just fine under our watchful eyes without the need of outside interference.  

According to an article in the Journal of Thoracic Disease, “treatment of fever is common in the ICU setting and likely related to standard dogma rather than evidence-based practice.”  

Although much is still unknown and science is always evolving, in our family we tend to give the body space to heal itself.  We also know that giving fever reducers inhibits one of our bodies main regulating antioxidants—glutathione.  Glutathione, an antioxidant in plants, animals, fungi, and some bacteria and archaea, has crucial anti-inflammatory and immune regulating properties and, according to Wikipedia, is capable of preventing damage to important cellular components caused by reactive oxygen species such as free radicals, peroxides, lipid peroxides, and heavy metals.

Glutathione Fights Inflammation

High levels of inflammation are present in virtually every chronic illness including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. However, inflammation in short bursts is also healthy and necessary to fight infectious invaders.

Injury can also incite an inflammatory response. Whether you are talking about trauma, infection, toxins, or allergies, your immune system answers the same way.  First, the blood vessels in the injured area begin to expand and open wide to allow your body’s natural healing compounds to reach the injured site as quickly as possible. Because of this increased blood flow, fluid and immune cells flood the area often in overwhelming amounts.

This increase in permeability of the blood and lymph vessels is what causes the physical manifestations of acute inflammation, namely redness, pain, stiffness, and swelling.  After the infection or injury is repaired, the acute inflammatory response normally subsides and goes away. 

In an ideal world, the inflammatory response comes to your rescue when it’s needed and cools itself off once the healing is complete. 

But we don’t live in an ideal world.

In the real world, environmental toxins, your diet, stress, and other lifestyle issues have disabled the checks and balances of this system and inflammation doesn’t subside and go away as it is meant to. As a result, many people suffer from chronic, systemic inflammation.

When this happens, you’re in trouble. You’ll need a lot of extra protection and that’s where glutathione can help.

Glutathione (GSH) controls needed inflammation increases or decreases, by instructing and influencing our immune white cells. This is a completely separate mechanism from glutathione’s antioxidant properties.

Rebalancing glutathione levels reduces chronic inflammation and restores immune function.

Glutathione and the Immune System

Glutathione helps your immune system stay strong and ready to fight infections. While vitamin C seems to get all the accolades when it comes to immunity, glutathione is the under-recognized supporting actor who deserves the starring role.

Research shows that active glutathione (GSH) primes white cells such as natural killer (NK) and t-cells, your body’s front-line infection fighters.  GSH-enhanced t-cells are able to produce more infection-fighting substances, controlling both bacterial and viral infections.

One clinical trial in particular found that GSH doubled NK cells’ ability to be cytotoxic (kill invaders) after just six months of use. Glutathione actually has a potent antibacterial effect as it helps the immune cells called macrophages fight the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (mycobacterium tuberculosis).

In another study, researchers found that GSH modulates the behavior of many immune system cells, affecting adaptive immunity and protecting against microbial, viral and parasitic infections.

There are many chronic infections such as EBV, hepatitis, herpes viruses and Lyme, to name a few, which can deregulate and suppress the immune system. Glutathione can modulate and reverse this suppression. Autoimmune diseases also appear to be hallmarked by imbalanced glutathione levels.  There are just so many ways in which glutathione levels can support our overall health.

Unfortunately, commonly-used acetaminophen (Tylenol) actually inhibits glutathione, as do many other external factors from artificial sweeteners like aspartame to alcohol and household chemicals.  

If fever and glutathione both play an important role in our immune regulation, would giving fever reducers negate that system?  Quite possibly so. Letting the fever run and permitting glutathione to do what it does may just be what we all need to effectively fight off viruses and bacterium. 

In conclusion

When dealing with a virus that presents a fever or when post-vaccination, it is important to let our glutathione levels remain high for the sake of inflammation, immune regulation and detoxification.  Oral levels of glutathione can be taken and levels should be determined by your alternative health practitioner.   For further questions or comments feel free to email me at


Chiropractic Is A Lifestyle

Chiropractic Is A Lifestyle

by Dr. Jason Sonners


“The body is self-healing and self-regulating.” 

This basic tenet of chiropractic has been the philosophy behind Core Therapies’ approach to patient care since the very beginning.  

When we break a bone, cut ourselves, shiver when it’s cold, sweat when it’s hot and sleep when we are tired, we’re seeing all 70 trillion of our cells working together to try and keep us functioning optimally.  Those cells rely on signals from the world around us telling our body what to do; we then need to coordinate a plan and respond appropriately. The nervous system (our brain and all of our nerves) is primarily in charge of this process of sensing changes in our environment, communicating these changes and responding. As long as this system is working well without any interruption or interference, we can assume our cell signaling is intact.

The quality of our lives is directly related to the quality of this cell signaling. The faster and more accurately we can perceive environmental changes (stimuli), process them and coordinate a plan of response, the healthier we are and the better we feel and function. Whether these signals are telling us about temperature change, food we’ve just eaten, infection that has snuck into our system, the stress of an argument or an injury we just sustained, the efficiency with which this complex cascade of cell interactions and communication occurs is often the difference between a positive or negative outcome.

At this point you might be asking, “What does this have to do with Core Therapies or chiropractic?” The answer is… everything!  As chiropractors, we understand the nervous system controls this entire series of events and that interruption of this process often stems from inflammation and irritation of the nervous system. The more sources of inflammation or irritation we have, the more divided the attention of our cells becomes.  Think of it this way:  In our lives, the more divided our attention becomes, the more multitasking we try to do, and the less likely we are to do any one thing really well. 

These irritations of the nervous system can come from physical issues (the movement or stiffness of our bodies), emotional issues (what we think about) and even chemical issues (all the things we eat, drink and pills we take). 

As chiropractors, our primary role is to look for as many of these sources of irritation as possible and help remove them and the resulting stress. We know that by alleviating stress from the system, your body will immediately and more effectively process and respond to other stimuli. Reducing the toll these stressors have on our bodies is a sure path to improved health.

As many of you know, the chiropractors and other providers at Core Therapies have different specialties, different techniques and different approaches to the things we focus on when you are in the room with us.  That said, we all agree that the body is self-healing and self-regulating. We all agree that taking care of your body and finding outlets for your stress will lead you to a higher quality of life.  And we all agree that working together on that—making chiropractic care, massage, acupuncture, body work, emotional counseling, nutrition and exercise a priority for you and your family—will be a pivotal component of ensuring you get well and stay well for many years to come.

If you are not sure who you should see for some of your health goals or health concerns, please reach out and ask. Email us or ask our front desk staff. We love helping patients find the right match and try a new provider or service to make sure everyone is getting the results they need and want.


This Women’s Retreat could not have come at a better time. 

This Women’s Retreat could not have come at a better time. 

by Dr. Melissa Sonners

As a mama, woman, friend, healer, and entrepreneur, my bucket was full.  Being there for everyone and everything that needed my attention left me with little time or energy for myself. I needed a little (BIG) something just for me. 

So, this past weekend I attended a women’s retreat in Sedona.  I, along with 32 other Ultimate Achiever Women Chiropractic Entrepreneurs, embarked on a weekend of personal and  professional growth. 

Our workshops and empowering lectures were interspersed with time to integrate and process amidst the beauty and magic of Sedona. The “sound healing” – forever part of my new routine – vortex hikes, and fireside chats were incredibly restorative, but the endless incredible conversations with strong and impactful leaders were inspirational. 

Hands down, my favorite part of the Retreat was The Strength Finders Assessment

If you haven’t yet done this, I highly recommend it.  This is an assessment meant to reveal your distinct “talent DNA” ranked in order based on your responses.  The goal is to help you maximize your infinite potential.

We can become better versions of ourselves by working on our weaknesses.  We can also understand our strengths on a deeper level.  For me, this has created a much greater understanding of myself, the boundaries that I felt I needed and now know I need, and so much more.

This Women’s Retreat could not have come at a better time. 

Here is what this test helped me understand about myself:

I am futuristic:  I am a dreamer who sees visions of what could be. I cherish these visions. The future fascinates me.  I love dreaming, visualizing and creating. I was so missing carving out this space for myself to just be, dream and create. 

I love and need input: I eagerly welcome opportunities to think out loud about ideas, theories or philosophies.  So true!  I love being surrounded by big thinkers and creators.  I could spend all day talking about ideas.  I despise small talk, gossip and talking endlessly about problems. 

I am responsible: I take ownership of what I say I will do.  I am committed to honesty and loyalty.  I need to get better at saying “no” and not taking on too much as I give 100% to everything I commit to. 

I am fascinated by ideas: I thrive in environments where I must deal with unexpected requests, unanticipated problems or changing priorities.  I have a hard time understanding when people say “because we have always done it this way.” 

I am extraordinarily positive:  I have contagious enthusiasm and get people excited about what they do. People are attracted to me and I positively impact those around me. I now also realize I need to carve out more space for myself where I can just be and recharge. 

This assessment has taught me so much about myself, especially things I instinctively knew I needed, but haven’t been the best at creating boundaries for or honoring. I hope that in sharing this, it inspires others to take this online quiz to learn more about themselves and those around them. 

When we understand each other’s strengths, I believe we naturally have greater compassion and understanding of our own and each other’s behaviors and areas of opportunity for growth. 

“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” -A. Lorde 

This Women’s Retreat could not have come at a better time. 

To take the Strength Finders Quiz go to:



How can you get rid of a side stitch?

A Side Stitch Fix

By: Dr. Matt McGowan, DC


Most people who have run for fun or sport are familiar with the dreaded “side stitch.”  When present, a side stitch can be down right debilitating to the runner. It presents as pain located along either side of the torso near the lower ribs that can be described as a tightness, a cramping, or even a stabbing sensation.  

So what actually causes a side stitch?  How can we treat it?  More importantly, how can we avoid it?

A side stitch is actually a spasm or contraction of a section of your Diaphragm muscle which sits inside of your ribs and spans across your trunk like a trampoline. Its job is to separate the lungs from your intestines, but more importantly to aid in the inhalation and exhalation of air from your lungs.  As you inhale, the diaphragm has to relax and expand down into your abdomen to let the lungs fill with air.  As the diaphragm contracts it presses upwards on the lungs helping to expel air.  When the diaphragm goes into spasm or contracture, it pulls hard on the lower two ribs causing pain and difficulty breathing.  

There are several reasons why the diaphragm would go into such a contracture, but they are all caused by the same thing – improper breathing technique.  Many of us are “chest breathers,” meaning that we only inhale and exhale shallow breaths expanding the lungs to only a portion of their true capacity.  In this situation, the diaphragm is not relaxing and contracting through its full range of motion.  If we do this day in and day out, we are over-using the diaphragm in a suboptimal way.  It’s analogous to me giving you a weight and having you do a bicep curl, but only the top third of the range of motion. Obviously, this would not be the best way to use that bicep muscle.  Same thing with shallow breathing and the diaphragm muscle.

Many athletes seem to get side stitches only during a game or race and the reason for this is likely psychosomatic, meaning the increased level of anxiety of being in a game or race is making breathing more rapid and shallow than it was during a relaxed practice. Others seem to get side stitches only when running in the cold when, again, improper breathing and the failure of the lungs to maximally expand due to cold air can trigger the spasm.  Sometimes having eaten a larger meal too close to race time can make it more likely that you’ll experience a side stitch. The presence of food in your stomach affects the ability of the diaphragm to expand and contract.  

So how can you get rid of a side stitch?  Suggestions include pressing on the spot, stretching, and cessation of activity, but ultimately the correct answer depends on the situation you are in.

The best thing to do if you are simply running for exercise or at a practice is to stop the activity momentarily and practice some deeper slower breathing.  If it doesn’t subside, I would suggest lying on your back with your knees bent (like the start of a sit up) and practice taking slow deep breaths while expanding your abdomen out 360 degrees in all directions.  You can check for this by feeling the tension build in your abdomen and lower back with your hands.  Usually after two minutes of deep diaphragmatic breathing you will be good to go. 

If you’re in a game or race situation and cannot stop the activity, you need to focus on slowing your breath down and elongating the breath until the spasm stops.  During a side stitch, do not  drink a ton of water thinking the spasm is from dehydration, again the presence of extra water will fill your stomach and negatively affect the diaphragm.

If you’re someone who gets frequent side stitches, you need to re-evaluate your breathing techniques.  There are lots of great videos out there on youtube about “diaphragmatic breathing.”  I encourage you to check them out and see how you can incorporate some of those techniques into your activity.  If you have any questions about whether or not you breathe incorrectly, you can also come in and have one of us check it out for you.


ADHD in children

Understanding a Diagnosis of ADHD

by: Dr. Marc Funderlich


ADHD is the most common mood-related disorder in children and is being diagnosed more frequently, and at earlier ages than ever before. It affects about 10% of school age children (boys at a 4x higher rate than girls), an increase of 43% since 2003. Unfortunately, as high as 70% of these children will continue to be affected as adults. ADHD costs the United States $42.5 billion a year or about $14,000 per child. 


ADHD almost never lives alone. Two-thirds of children with ADHD have what is called a co-morbidity, meaning they have another symptom such as:


  • 50% dyscalculia, dyslectic
  • 50% movement disorder 
  • 40% oppositional behavior
  • 34% fear disorder
  • 25% autism, Asperger, PDDNOS 
  • 14% behavioral disorders
  • 11% tics
  • 4%   depression


It is important to note that children cannot be truly diagnosed with ADHD until the age of six.  If your child is under six and a provider wants to diagnosis them with ADHD, I would suggest this is ill-advised.  Taking medication at very young ages may do more harm than good. 


ADHD is defined as a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development, and characterized as Type 1 and Type 2. 


Type 1 ADHD: Inattention. Diagnosed when six (or more) symptoms have persisted for at least six months to a degree that is inconsistent with developmental level and that negatively impacts directly on social and academic/occupational activities.  Examples might be: 


  • Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work or during other activities (e.g., overlooks or misses details, work is inaccurate)
  • Often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities (e.g., has difficulty remaining focused during lectures, conversations or lengthy reading)
  • Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly (e.g., mind seems elsewhere even in the absence of any obvious distraction) 
  • Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (e.g., starts tasks but quickly loses focus and is easily sidetracked). 


Type 2 ADHD: Hyperactivity and impulsivity.  Diagnosed when six (or more) of the following symptoms have persisted for at least six months to a degree that is inconsistent with developmental level and that negatively impacts directly on social and academic/occupational activities:  


  • Often fidgets with or taps hands or feet or squirms in seat
  • Often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected (e.g., leaves his or her place in the classroom, office or other workplace, or in other situations that require remaining in place)
  • Often runs about or climbs in situations where it is inappropriate. (Note: In adolescents or adults, may be limited to feeling restless)
  • Often unable to play or engage quietly in leisure activities, often “on the go,” acting as if “driven by a motor” (e.g., unable to be or uncomfortable being still for extended time, as in restaurants, meetings; may be experienced by others as being restless or difficult to keep up with) 
  • Often talks excessively 


Type 3 ADHD will be diagnosed when the child exhibits symptoms of both Type 1 and 2.


Your doctor will rate the symptoms based on current severity: 

  • MILD: Few, if any, symptoms in excess of those required to make the diagnosis are present, and symptoms result in only minor functional impairments. 
  • MODERATE: Symptoms or functional impairment between “mild” and “severe” are present. 
  • SEVERE: Many symptoms in excess of those required to make the diagnosis or several symptoms that are particularly severe are present, or the symptoms result in marked impairment in social or occupational functioning. 


A complete diagnosis of ADHD should read like this: Patient Name exhibits a moderate combined Type 3 ADHD diagnosis. 


If your child has many of the symptoms from the above list or you have any questions about ADHD, give us a call and set up a complimentary consultation.  Let’s discuss what can be done for your child from a natural perspective!  



Hyperbaric Oxygen May Be a Missing Piece of the Puzzle

By Dr. Jason Sonners, DC, CHP, DCBCN

Clinic Director, HBOT USA, Inc.

In traditional medicine, hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been proven to be a very safe and effective tool for a wide variety of conditions. After thousands of research studies, it turns out that with all the different conditions where hyperbaric therapy can have a positive impact, the mechanisms for success are similar. These include, but are not limited to, reduced inflammation, increased stem cell release, nerve and brain tissue healing, increased oxygenation, new blood vessel growth, toxin inhibition and improved mitochondrial metabolism.

How does Hyperbaric therapy work?

The reason we absorb oxygen when we breath is because of pressure. Even right now, as you are reading this, you are surrounded by an atmosphere and that atmospheric pressure is what forces oxygen into your body when you take a breath in. We do not feel the pressure, but it is always all around us. If you have ever gone up to altitude, like on a big hike, you may notice that it seems harder to breathe. Some people say there is less oxygen at elevation, but this is not exactly true. There is always 21% oxygen in the air we breathe. The reason it is harder to breathe is because there is less atmospheric pressure the higher we ascend, and less atmospheric pressure means less driving force of oxygen into or body.  As a result, we absorb less oxygen with each breath. The opposite is true if we go below sea level; the “deeper” we go, the more pressure we are exposed to. This increase in pressure will increase the amount of oxygen we absorb as we breathe. 

The total amount of oxygen your body can carry is proportional to the amount of pressure and oxygen we are exposed to. Under normal atmospheric pressure, when your body absorbs oxygen, that oxygen is carried and delivered to your tissues by red blood cells and very little oxygen is carried by your plasma, the liquid portion of your blood. Under hyperbaric conditions, those red blood cells will still be fully saturated with oxygen, but in addition the plasma will become a reservoir of “extra” oxygen holding more than it is typically able to hold. This extra amount of oxygen is now free floating in your blood and able to deliver higher than normal amounts of oxygen to your cells.

Hyperbaric therapy can be delivered in a multitude of different oxygen percentages and pressures—from low or mild hyperbarics with about a 30% increase in pressure and oxygen absorption up to relatively high pressure and oxygen levels 10-12x the normal oxygen exposure. The amount of pressure and oxygen used depend on the clinical goals for the patient.


What we know about children affected by autism

Every family with a child on the spectrum has a unique set of circumstances and health concerns. I am yet to meet two children (even from the same family) who needed the exact same treatment protocols. This makes the process and journey of recovery often a long a winding road for most families seeking answers. 

According to the research, among children with ASD:

>70% have neuroinflammation

>75% have hypoperfusion to the temporal lobes

>80% have mitochondrial issues

>59% have gut issues

We also know that toxicity—including but not limited to heavy metals, pesticides, preservatives and mold toxicity—all play a role in the health of children affected by ASD.

What we do not know about ASD

Even though the above has been shown to be true in the research overall, knowing exactly which conditions each child has and in which order we need to work on them in is the most obvious clinical deficiency. Creating the priority and order of procedure is where the art of being in practice and clinical experience comes in. Some, but not all of these issues can be tested and measured objectively like using a SPECT scan for observing brain oxygen metabolism, or stool testing to better understand, diagnose and treat gut microbiome issues. There are some tests for mitochondrial issues, but the lack of definite specificity makes them less accurate than we would like to best understand mitochondrial disfunction. There are also tests for objectively measuring toxin loads in order to assess the need for detoxification being part of the healing process.

All of these factors—low oxygen levels, high levels of inflammation, gut microbiome imbalance, mitochondrial dysfunction and toxicity—can be helped through the use of hyperbaric therapy.

Looking for common denominators

Therapies can be broken into two main categories: targeted and systemic. Targeted therapies specifically treat a particular identified issue, while systemic therapies are those that are purposely delivered to the entire body for a full body experience. Both strategies have value and most doctors will want to use both at different times throughout the journey.

Targeted therapies:

In order to decide on targeted therapies, we need to identify specific issues often through lab testing. Testing for all of the potential issues at the same time can be costly, time consuming and potentially invasive depending on which tests are chosen. Spending the time to try and prioritize the needs of the child in order to determine the most likely underlying issues is an important part of the process. 

Systemic therapies:

As noted above, the testing process can be difficult, expensive and time consuming. While it does have tremendous value, we are also looking for low invasive, low risk, high return types of interventions first. If we can offer single therapies that are safe, effective and have very broad reaching effects, we can often begin to see a positive healing response. This does two things: First it is therapeutic and begins to encourage healing within the child’s body, and second it is diagnostic and actually helps the helping identify what tests ought to be considered next.

Hyperbaric therapy is inherently safe and effective

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has a more than 350 year history of safely and effectively delivering an increased level of oxygen to the body and cells in need. Every cell we have (except for red blood cells) requires oxygen for optimal function. Our body uses that oxygen in order to burn fuel and make energy for each of our cells. In fact, the only reason we breath is to absorb and deliver oxygen to our cells for the purpose of making ATP or cell energy.

If we are not getting enough oxygen, it is impossible to make the appropriate amount of cell energy and that will have a negative effect on the tissue or organ that is low oxygen. Whether we are talking about hypoperfusion, mitochondrial dysfunction, toxicity or inflammation, all are capable of causing low oxygen levels in the various tissues in the body, not allowing those tissue or organs to function properly, heal properly, detoxify properly or process properly in the case of our brain.

Using hyperbaric therapy, we observe both short- and long-term categories of improvement:

  • Short term: Within minutes of each session and for hours after the session, the body will have absorbed more oxygen than it typically gets. With that increase in oxygen the cells will be much more able to receive oxygen and process nutrients increasing metabolism and cell energy production.
  • Long term: As a result of extended hyperbaric use, the body will begin to go through many changes. New blood cells will be created allowing better delivery of oxygen all over the body; inflammation will be reduced as well as the overall inflammatory response inside the body; growth factors will be release along with stem cell release increasing the ingredients the body requires to actually heal and recover. Additionally, intestinal function, liver function, toxin inhibition, improved immune system activation and microbiome balancing are all part of the longer-term benefits of prolonged hyperbaric use.

We all know that there is no single cure for ASD. Simplified, it is a process of removing as many of the ingredients that are causing inflammation and imbalance as we can identify and at the same time adding back all the necessary ingredients the body requires to heal, repair and ultimately recover.

Hyperbaric therapy by itself cannot cure this disorder, but it can absolutely add back Oxygen, one of the most foundational and important ingredients in the body.


Dr. Jason Sonners, DC, CHP, DCBCN


About Dr. Jason Sonners:

Dr. Jason Sonners is always working to integrate new knowledge and practical experience and is currently enrolled in the University of Miami School of Medicine earning his PhD in molecular biology with a concentration in regenerative medicine.  In addition to his Doctor of Chiropractic, he earned his Diplomate of the Chiropractic Board of Clinical Nutrition (DCBCN) and his Diplomate of the International Board of Applied Kinesiology (DIBAK).   

While serving on the faculty of the International Hyperbarics Association, Dr. Sonners is also a faculty member of MedMAPS, a group of professionals offering comprehensive education and fellowship to medical professionals for the care of children with autism spectrum disorders and related chronic complex conditions.  

Dr. Sonners and his wife, Dr. Melissa Sonners, are co-owners of Core Therapies Family Wellness Center in Northern New Jersey, a holistic center where he combines Chiropractic, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, Nutrition, Exercise, Detoxification programs and more to naturally support patients and guide them through their health challenges.  Core Therapies also offers acupuncture, massage, infrared, sauna, spinal decompression, yoga and laser therapies.  They are also the owners of NJ HBOT & HBOT USA.  



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