Sunflower Health & Wellness’ Unique Approach

Sunflower Health & Wellness, founded by Brenda Stephens, combines traditional medicine with complementary therapies to treat the whole person–body, mind, and spirit. SHWC takes a more holistic approach to caring for patients and requires the active participation of the patient towards their healing. Dr. Brian Paris sits down with Brenda Stephens to learn more about her unique practice.

Dr. Paris: Can you share the history of the creation of Sunflower Health & Wellness?

Brenda Stephens: I am a family nurse practitioner who provides primary care, as well as a certified clinical aromatherapist. I wanted to combine the two into one practice, so I started SHWC in October of 2014.

Dr. Paris: Does Sunflower Health & Wellness accept insurance?

Brenda Stephens: Yes, we accept most major commercial insurances like BCBS, Cigna, Aetna as well as Medicare & Medicaid.

Dr. Paris: What are integrative medical therapies?

Brenda Stephens: Integrative medical therapies combine traditional allopathic treatments with complementary alternative therapies to treat a number of different conditions.

Dr. Paris: What is a “green” patient?

Brenda Stephens: A “green” patient is one that is very concerned about their health & wellness, preferring to use alternative therapies as opposed to allopathic medicines.    

Dr. Paris: Our culture is riddled with chronic diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity. How does your practice differ from the traditional approach to treating these common conditions?

Brenda Stephens: At Sunflower Health & Wellness, we approach chronic disease from three different perspectives: medical, nutrition and emotional. We aim to help patients find out why they are overweight and work towards solutions to help them lose that weight permanently.  

Dr. Paris: Our current nutritional paradigm is a major factor in keeping people sick, overweight and unhealthy. What is the underlying philosophy of your nutrition program and why does it work?  

Brenda Stephens: Our nutrition program is intended to be individual and focus on whole, natural foods that are healthy and appealing, which makes it much easier to stick to the program. We really work together as practitioners to help the patient on their weight loss journey, customizing our programs to help the patient reach their weight loss goals.

Dr. Paris: What other conditions do you treat at Sunflower Health & Wellness?

Brenda Stephens: We are especially interested in patients with insomnia, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia which are all conditions that can be difficult to treat allopathically. We use essential oils, acupuncture, massage, nutrition counseling, reflexology and sometimes medications to treat these conditions.

Advanced Wellness Systems is dedicated to empowering patients to live more active and healthy lifestyles, regardless of where they are in their personal journey. Call (301) 710-9777 to schedule an appointment today.

6 Tips to Reduce Back Pain at Home

According to National Institute of Health, back pain affects 8 out of 10 people at some point during their lifetime. No matter when it appears or what may have caused it, back pain can be a real burden. Here are 6 simple tips you can use at home to relieve troublesome back pain quickly and effectively.

1. Work It Out

Often, when your back is in pain, the last thing you want to do is exercise. But certain exercises can actually reduce back pain. Adding yoga, pilates and core strengthening exercises to your workout routine will increase flexibility, balance and strength which, in turn will reduce back pain.

2. Use a Heating Pad or Ice Pack

Applying heat to your back can reduce pain, stiffness, cramping and muscle spasms, as warm temperatures loosen up the back muscles and relieve tension. Administer heat to your aching back with a hot compress, a dry or moist heating pad or with a hot bath. Ice tends to work better to reduce inflammation and swelling. A cold pack, iced towel/compress, or cool bath are all great ways to reduce back pain. But be sure to always wrap heating pads or ice compacts in a towel before use, as these treatments should never be applied directly to the skin.

3. Sleep With a Pillow Under Your Knees

Place a small pillow under the back of your knees to reduce stress on your spine and support the natural curve in your lower back while you sleep. By slightly elevating your legs as you sleep, you can greatly reduce pressure on your back.

4. Lose the Heels

Sorry, ladies. If you suffer from back pain, it’s time to say goodbye to your favorite pair of pumps. Comfortable, low-heeled shoes are your best bet for back pain prevention, as they reduce the strain on the back while standing. If you must wear heels to an event, consider swapping them with a non-heeled shoe on your way to and from the location.

5. Straighten Up

Good posture is key to both preventing and relieving back pain. Perform posture checks throughout the day and avoid rounding your shoulders, slouching, or bending sideways while standing.

6. Increase Your Vitamin D and Calcium Intake

Vitamin D and Calcium are essential for bone strength. Studies indicate that deficiencies of Vitamin D and Calcium lead to chronic pain in the lower back. So be sure to load up on plenty of  orange juice, dairy products, leafy greens, eggs and fish throughout the day to help reduce symptoms of back pain.

If you suffer from back pain, give us a call at 301-710-9777 to schedule an appointment today.

Dr. Brian Paris Examines “Healthy Baller”

Dr. Brian Paris of Advanced Wellness Systems sits down with Blair O’Donovan, Co-Owner and Lead Trainer of Healthy Baller, to get the inside scoop on the state-of-the-art sports performance center that has a fresh take on training student athletes in Montgomery County.

Healthy Baller specializes in performance testing, training and nutrition, but Blair says what makes the performance center so unique is Healthy Baller’s personal, hands-on approach. “Part of working as a Healthy Baller team member is you have to know every little bit about your athlete, what their goals are and what their direction is,” Blair explains. Much like Dr. Paris, Blair is passionate about creating strong bonds and relationships with his clients at Healthy Baller — forming a “Healthy Baller tree,” as he calls it.

Blair and his Healthy Baller team also implement a dynamic training method, that prioritizes movement over weightlifting and bodybuilding. “We want movement to be a high priority here. Because if the kids are moving well, they’ll have a much less chance of being injured,” says Blair. Dr. Paris agrees, noting that although there are more trainers, knowledge and fancy equipment available in 2016, he sees more injuries today than ever before.

Over the last several years, Advanced Wellness Systems and Healthy Baller have developed a strong relationship, due in part to the value both Dr. Paris and Blair place on heart and hustle. “If there’s an [injury related] issue that we just are not familiar with or just feel like it needs a higher level of attention, the first call we make is to Advanced Wellness,” says Blair. “I’ve never experienced any group treat pain and treat clients as comprehensively as I’ve seen done there.”
Watch the full Healthy Baller interview here to learn how the sports performance center is bringing athletic training to a whole new level.

4 Tips for Protecting Your Joints This Winter

It’s that time of year again, winter weather is back bringing holiday greetings and frosty temperatures. But cooler months can also bring achy, swelling pain that takes a toll on your joints.

According to The National Institute of Health, change in weather has a direct impact on the pressure in your joints. When barometric pressure drops, the tissues around your joints expand, putting more pressure on your joints, which triggers swelling and stiffness. That’s why many people say they can predict the weather just by the pain in their joints.

Don’t let the winter weather stop you from staying active this season. Follow these 4 tips  to stay active and pain free this winter:

START SMALL

If you’re going to exercise, start with small warm-ups to reduce the pressure put on joints before you head out. Low impact warm-ups such as yoga or walking are not only easier on joints, but they also enhance your mobility and range of motion.

BUNDLE UP

If running is your go-to outdoor exercise, staying layered is crucial to protecting yourself from hypothermia and troublesome joint pain.

  • Start by choosing a base layer that is soft, comfortable and tight fitting. This will help regulate your body temperature by moving sweat away from your skin.
  • The second layer helps insulate the body in order to trap and retain heat. Be sure to find a layer that maximizes warmth and comfort, without unnecessary bulk.
  • Consider the final layer a shield against harsh winds, rain, and snow. Don’t rely on this layer for warmth, as the base layer is what secures body heat.

STAY HYDRATED

According to a study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, dehydration can make the body more sensitive to pain. Keep in mind that you must match your hydration with the amount of exercise you are doing. After more than an hour, add electrolytes and carbohydrates to increase your fluid intake.

Doctors also recommend drinking warm or room temperature liquids, as the body absorbs them more quickly than cold drinks. When exercising in frigid temperatures, warmer liquids are also essential to optimizing internal temperatures.

EAT SMARTER

If you’re exercising outside, it is important to load up on foods full of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Vitamin C and Vitamin K. The Omega-3 acids in foods such as salmon and nuts are known to curb inflammation and stop joint pain in its tracks. To up your Vitamin K intake, think green. Foods like spinach, kale, cabbage and more are crucial to soothing pain. Don’t be afraid to add color with Vitamin C rich foods such as red peppers, oranges, papayas, and broccoli. These foods are known to reduce cartilage loss that causes joint pain and stiffness.

10 Foods May Cause Headaches and Migraines

More than 37 million Americans are affected by debilitating head pain. Many of these migraines and headaches are caused by hormonal changes, stress and TMJ, but what you may not know is migraines are also often triggered by certain foods. Here’s a list of 10 foods to avoid in order to minimize your migraines:

  1. Avocado –  Although loaded with healthy fats, avocados contain tyramine, which has been linked to migraines.
  2. Citrus Fruits – Similar to bananas, citrus fruits include the same migraine-inducing duo compounds, tyramine and histamine.
  3. Processed Meats – Tyramine and the preservatives in processed meats are found to be followed by a migraine. Be especially cautious of bacon, hot dogs and sausage.
  4. Yeast Breads – Coumarin is a natural chemical in yeast which causes migraines.
  5. #Aged Cheeses – Manage your migraines by avoiding this tyramine-packed culprit.
  6. Whole Milk – Avoid the double whammy of choline and casein found in whole milk.
  7. Beans – From kidney beans to string beans, the tannins found in most beans are a headache…literally.
  8. Alcohol – The tyramine found in wine and spirits can induce head pain. Specifically, be extra cautious with red wine which contains both tyramine and sulfites.
  9. #9: Artificial sweeteners –  The excitotoxins found in these sweeteners make neurons fire spasmodically and are therefore thought to be linked to migraines. It’s worth noting that some migraine sufferers are triggered by all sweeteners, while others are only affected by a select few.
  10. #10: Vinegar – Steer clear of red and balsamic vinegar and choose a white vinegar instead. The tyramines found only in red vinegars are linked with triggering migraines.

If chronic head pain makes it difficult to live comfortably, visit Headaches Go Away to learn about our revolutionary FDA-approved treatment for migraines and headaches.

GMW: Dr. Brian Paris Shares Natural Ways to Stay Energized

Energy Crisis

More than half of American adults drink at least three cups of coffee a day. While most of us need a cup of Joe to start the day, Dr. Brian Paris of Advanced Wellness Systems says too much caffeine has its downfalls. On air with Good Morning Washington anchor Larry Smith, Dr. Paris shares natural ways to stay energized throughout the day without $5 lattes and miniature energy shots.

“We have an energy crisis,” warns Dr. Paris. Society’s chronic fatigue triggered by stress, sleep deprivation, and poor nutrition is causing dependency on short-lived and unhealthy “pick me ups.”

Surprisingly, coffee, in moderation, isn’t as bad as you think. Because coffee is natural, its antioxidants and amino acids can fight conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. However, caffeinated sodas, energy drinks and coffee-based beverages (like those syrup-ladened iced coffees) lead to dehydration, sleep deprivation and irritability, because they’re loaded with refined sugars and preservatives.

Dr. Paris recommends substituting less caffeinated drinks and healthy foods for coffee for natural energy. If you must have a little caffeine in your system, particularly when you want to linearize your thoughts while completing tasks, turn to herbal teas and drinks Yerba mate that are less acidic. Super foods likes apples, avocados, apples, chia seeds, kale and strawberries provide a natural boost of energy too.

Watch Dr. Paris on NewsChannel 8 above.

55 Foods for Arthritis and Joint Health

Millions of American suffer from arthritis. 52.5 million to be exact. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports arthritis, characterized by inflammation and loss of function in parts of the body, is a public health problem. The numbers are alarming:

  • The number of adults with arthritis is expected to increase to 67 million by 2030.
  • Although arthritis is most prevalent among adults aged 65 and older, nearly two-thirds of people with the condition are younger than 65.
  • Arthritis is the nation’s most common cause of disability and limits the activities of 22.7 million Americans.
  • Nearly half of American adults suffering from arthritis have at least one other chronic disease or condition such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity.

Diet plays a major role in joint health, and the right foods and nutrients can minimize inflammation and make managing arthritis easier.

In general, a joint-friendly diet should include fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, legumes and healthy oils. Look for foods rich in Omega-3 and other heart-healthy fats, and Vitamins C, D and K. Limit or avoid red meat, daily, saturated fat and sugars, which all cause increases in inflammation and pain.

The next time you head to the grocery store, take our list of 55 Arthritis-fighting foods foods.

Printable Version

Vegetables

  1. Bell Pepper
  2. Bok Choy
  3. Broccoli
  4. Cauliflower
  5. Celery
  6. Collard Greens
  7. Egg Plant
  8. Garlic
  9. Ginger
  10. Kale
  11. Leeks
  12. Onion
  13. Shallot
  14. Spinach
  15. Squash
  16. Sweet Potato

Fruits

  1. Avocado
  2. Apricot
  3. Blackberries
  4. Blueberries
  5. Cherries
  6. Grapefruit
  7. Grapes
  8. Lime
  9. Mango
  10. Orange
  11. Papaya
  12. Pineapple
  13. Raspberries
  14. Strawberries
  15. Tangerine

Protein

  1. Edamame
  2. Herring
  3. Kidney Beans
  4. Mackerel
  5. Pinto Beans
  6. Salmon
  7. Sardines
  8. Soybeans
  9. Tofu
  10. Trout
  11. Tuna

Nuts & Seeds

  1. Almonds
  2. Flaxseeds
  3. Pine Nuts
  4. Pistachios
  5. Walnuts

Grains

  1. Brown Rice
  2. Oatmeal

Healthy Oils

  1. Avocado Oil
  2. Olive Oil
  3. Safflower Oil

Liquids

  1. Almond Milk
  2. Green Tea
  3. Water

Download and print our joint-friendly foods list here.