Chiropractic’s Positive Impact on Allergies/Wellness: Q&A with Dr. Ashley Waggoner-Jones

By Julie E. Williamson

A brief note from me, Julie Williamson: I’m no stranger to chiropractic care. In fact, my foray into the world of chiropractic began when I was just four years old (as a result of my at least once-a-week migraines and a peculiar and undetermined condition that, out of the blue, left me unable to walk in the mornings; I don’t recall those months of not being able to walk, but my parents paint a vivid picture of me crawling out of bed and landing with a thud on the floor, and then dragging my little body to the bathroom, as if paralyzed from the waist down. Thankfully, by about noon each day, my legs would begin functioning normally). When no medical doctor could get to the bottom of the problem, my parents turned to chiropractic. Weekly adjustments (which proved helpful) became my weekly staple, along with my allergy shots; however, after a number of years, we eventually stopped with the regular chiropractic appointments. Life got in the way a bit, and when my kind, gentle, knowledgeable, but newly-retired chiropractor offered to continue treating me from a drafty room in his century-old home that looked like a setting for a Hitchcockian thriller, I begged my parents for another solution (we lived in a very small town in Northeastern Ohio, so our options were quite limited). Reluctantly, my folks agreed to stop the weekly treatments and only go on an as-needed basis. It was a decision that resulted in a reactive, rather than proactive approach to health and wellness (in other words, as long as the migraines weren’t too terrible and my hips weren’t obviously misaligned, we wouldn’t make an appointment). Big mistake.

At age 19, after years of no chiropractic care, I experienced 24/7 sciatica that made comfort an impossible quest (couldn’t sleep, walk, sit or lie down without searing pain that felt like a toothache, except it originated in my butt cheek and radiated down the back of my leg). Several months later, after unsuccessful physical therapy and bed rest (NOT an easy thing for a college freshman!), I underwent a five-hour-long surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., to repair a severely ruptured disk. For some strange reason, I kept chiropractic care on the backburner for another good many years…until I entered my 30s and one day found myself with nine (yes, NINE!) dislocated ribs that made me cry in pain, prevented me from turning my head or taking deep breaths, and made walking (and even lying down) feel like an exercise in medieval torture. My chiropractor, Dr. Ashley Waggoner-Jones, whom I had previously seen with terrific results, but whom I had stupidly stopped seeing as part of a proactive approach to wellness, had me feeling like a normal, healthy person after just several treatments; however, the gift she gave me went far beyond that. She opened my eyes to the fact that chronic inflammation (a problem I battle because of my food allergies and MTHFR genetic mutation) can force the body into a state of imbalance and unwellness that may lead to widespread pain and discomfort (including forcing ribs out of their normal position), and a host of other physical and mental challenges (gastrointestinal problems, acid reflux, sleep disturbances, anxiety, depression, etc.). Through her knowledge and care — and my weekly standing appointments – I’ve seen firsthand the vital role chiropractic plays in widespread wellness, and through this Q&A with Dr. Ashley, it’s our hope that you, too, will see chiropractic care as a valuable component to achieving and maintaining health, wellness and balance.

Dr. Ashley Waggoner-Jones, DC

Dr. Ashley Waggoner-Jones, DC

Q: Aside from alignment of the skeletal system, what other bodily systems and functions can a well-skilled chiropractor manage/address? How might chiropractic positively affect our mental and emotional wellbeing?

Dr. Ashley: There is no system, organ or cell in the body that is not controlled by the nervous system. When there is interference in the nervous system, there is definitely going to be a negative effect in the body. Depending on the type and level of interference, the effect can be as serious as death or as mild as feeling tired. If an injury causes a break in the cervical spine (the neck), from that point down there is no life, no movement and no function. If the break is high enough, it causes death. Keep in mind that the break interferes with the spinal cord and the nerves, but there is still blood supply, lymph, muscles and all other structures, but the interference with the nerve ends all communication with the brain, thereby ending all function to the affected areas.

Even a simple interference to the spinal cord or nerves leads directly to dysfunction and disease in the body. The nervous system runs on frequency, whereas other systems of the body, like the circulatory system, run on the flow of fluid. Frequency can be increased to hyperactivity, decreased to hypoactivity or changed by structure and/or substances (chemicals, hormones, etc.). Structural changes in the spinal column can impinge, stretch, irritate, inflame or change the nerves and their signals. When this happens, the area receiving the messages from the nerves can overwork, underwork or change function completely. The heart can begin to beat too rapdly (tachycardia), the digestive system can slow way down, leading to constipation, acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, colic and more), and cells meant to be turned off can be turned on and cells meant to be turned on can be turned off (possibly increasing the risk of cancer and certain diseases). No area of the body is unaffected by the nerves that run them, so by making sure that the spinal column is in alignment, you are making sure that every system, organ and cell is sending and receiving 100% of the messages from the brain. By having the spinal column aligned, you are increasing the function, energy and effectiveness of every system, organ and cell. Spinal alignments help to boost the immune system dramatically, regulate the digestive system, balance neurotransmitters in the brain, and effectively help the entire body and brain to function optimally. Chiropractic care has been shown to not only help with pain relief, but also asthma, gastrointestinal disorders, high blood pressure, cholesterol, mental illness, anxiety, colic, breastfeeding challenges, ear infections, bed wetting, allergies, scoliosis, fibromyalgia, headaches, concentration issues, ADD/ADHD, and much more. Chiropractic does not focus on or treat symptoms, as we only remove subluxations of the spine that cause nerve interference. By removing those nerve interferences, however, the body is able to do what it was designed to do: heal itself.

Q: As a lifelong allergy sufferer and someone who regularly experiences full-body inflammation and chronic pain/discomfort, I’ve been amazed by how chiropractic has helped. Can you please explain to our readers how chiropractic can assist in reducing inflammation, chronic pain, etc., and, perhaps, alleviate common allergy-related symptoms?

Dr. Ashley: Allergies, inflammation and chronic pain are all possible dysfunctions in the body. They are all responses to environmental and/or internal conditions that may or may not be appropriate. Pain is a signal to us that something is wrong in our body, just as a fire alarm signals that a fire is present. We have to listen to this pain signal and figure out what is wrong, out of balance or infected. If all of the conditions that created the pain have been resolved and the pain is still present, the body is reacting incorrectly to itself. That is exactly what is happening in regard to allergies, inflammation and even autoimmune conditions. Once again, our nervous system controls our body’s response to internal or external conditions, so by removing any interference or incorrect signals, we can let the body heal itself.

Q: Are there any adjunctive therapies that you believe complement chiropractic especially well? If so, can you briefly explain how those treatments might assist with chiropractic care?

Dr. Ashley: There are many adjunctive therapies that have proven beneficial. I find the most important to be good nutrition, which is why I love the Fare Thee Well Health website and blog. Since the beginning of time, we’ve heard the importance of nutrition and how the lack of proper nutrition contributes to all disease and dysfunction — just as optimal nutrition contributes largely to full health and optimal function. There are so many challenges in the realm of nutrition today — from genetically-modified foods to a significant decrease in food’s nutritional value. As a result, we’re seeing a significant uptick in food allergies and sensitivities. May people are surprised to learn they have sensitivities to foods like apples, cashews, spices like black pepper, and even grains. Eating foods that trigger an allergic reaction can cause immediate and even life-threatening symptoms, such as severe swelling of the tongue or closure of the throat (an anaphylactic response), and even if one never experiences anaphylaxis, allergy symptoms such as headaches, hives, gastrointestinal problems and more, can be life altering and, at times, debilitating. Eating foods that cause sensitivity reactions can also cause symptoms like bloating, gas, indigestion, foggy thinking, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, mood swings, changes to blood pressure and more. It’s important to see a trained professional with experience in food allergies and sensitivities to determine exactly what each person needs to eat for their own body and what needs to be removed from the diet. I would recommend seeing a naturopathic physician or chiropractor skilled in this type of condition. Many traditional medical doctors and allergists may focus only on actual allergies (an IgE response) and fail to understand or recognize how food sensitivities (IgG response) can also negatively and significantly impact the body and mind.

When it becomes difficult to get in enough of the necessary nutrition, glandulars or even hormone precursors, supplementation may be necessary. Remember that supplements are not evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and manufacturers are not held to high standards, so some over the counter supplements could be more dangerous than not supplementing at all. Some formulars may contain pesticides and heavy metals, or simply not contain the ingredients listed. I am very specific about the supplements I use to guarantee their therapeutic benefit and ensure they will pose no additional risk. I exclusively use Standard Process and Biotics Research, along with Natural Partners formulas. Most of these products are only available through doctors, so people can’t order them on their own. To simplify this process, our office provides nutritional consultations in-office, over the phone and also online, so anyone living anywhere in the country can get what they need.

I also love that patients today have easy access to essential oils, which I often recommend for conditions commonly treated by pharmaceutical medications. Essential oils are making a comeback, but have been around since before biblical times (and let’s not forget how the three wise men gave the powerful essential oils frankincense and myrrh as a gift to newborn Jesus). Pure essential oils have been shown to cure and inhibit infections, improve a wide range of diseases and other mental and physical conditions; some literature even points to its efficacy against certain cancers. There are ways to determine one’s need for essential oils — from physician consults and evaluations to the iTovi test, which we perform in our office. Essential oil use has changed the lives of many patients in my practice and I’m sure it will continue to improve the quality of life for many people.
That being said, It’s important to understand that not all essential oils are created equal, just as not all supplements are created equal. The oils must be pure, unadulterated and safe. Using synthetic oils can cause damage and negative side effects. I have evaluated many companies and personally prefer Young Living brand (there are other good brands available, however, so be sure to do your research and choose a brand with which you feel most comfortable– and, ideally, one approved by a healthcare professional who is knowledgeable with essential oils and their application). Keep in mind, also, that pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils are incredibly powerful and should be used with great care. It’s important to discuss the use of oils with your healthcare provider, so you know exactly how to use them and what to use them for. If you don’t have access to a healthcare provider who is knowledgeable about the use of essential oils, do your research so that you can use them safely. There are some terrific books and other resources on this subject, but the Internet is full of misinformation as well, so be sure the information you receive is credible and reliable.

Beyond that, acupuncture, homeopathy, massage therapy, physical therapy, and traditional oriental medicine are all fantastic adjunctive therapies when performed by great practitioners.
When deciding which type of healthcare provider to seek for a particular complaint, it’s best to ask yourself what you need to return to health. If you have a broken bone, a bacterial infection or appendicitis, for example, a medical doctor is your best bet. Traditional medicine is best for acute injury and illness. If you’ve had chronic symptoms, recurring illnesses, or symptoms that your doctor isn’t addressing then it’s best to see a qualified provider who will evaluate and determine the underlying cause of the condition. I recommend a chiropractic physician, naturopathic physician, acupuncturist or Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Chiropractic care is easy to consider when you’re dealing with back pain, neck pain, headaches or joint pain anywhere in the body because those are the conditions one most associates with chiropractic care; however, chiropractic care can effective address and manage many more conditions. Many people may not realize that chiropractic care can help them effectively treat and manage common infant issues like colic, acid reflux, ear infections, constipation or diarrhea – or other common childhood issues like scoliosis, headaches, growing pains, bed wetting or asthma and allergies. Chiropractic care should start immediately following birth. Getting rid of nerve interference that started in pregnancy or delivery will put babies on the right track for optimal health. If babies have symptoms of colic, acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea, breast feeding challenges, gas, ear infections, etc., it’s important to have them evaluated by a chiropractor that focuses on pediatrics. These symptoms tell you that something is wrong and ignoring it or masking it with medicine are not healthy options. Ensuring the baby’s body is functioning correctly and increasing the communication between the brain and body is a healthy and non-invasive option.

Many adult conditions have can also be improved with chiropractic care. Some of these conditions include depression, gastrointestinal problems, migraines, chronic pain, weight gain or high blood pressure. To maintain an optimally functioning body, a healthy nervous system is paramount, and chiropractic care keeps the nervous system free of interference, which allows the body to function optimally. Regular chiropractic care is the best healthcare plan available for this purpose, but it’s important to not just visit a chiropractor when pain or other outward symptoms are present. Preventive care and maintenance helps us keep our bodies in check. It’s not about just living life, but living life to its fullest.

Q: There are many chiropractic doctors out there and, like any other healthcare professional, they all aren’t created equal. What tips might you share with someone who has had a negative experience with chiropractic in the past — and are there any questions prospective patients should be asking to help find the best chiropractor for their particular needs?

Dr. Ashley: I hate to say that I’ve heard stories of bad chiropractic experiences, but it’s true. As much as I wish every chiropractor was amazing, it’s simply not the case. Not every doctor, regardless of their specialty, is great for every patient and not every doctor is great at being a doctor. If you’ve had a bad experience with a chiropractor, don’t give up. Just like you would find another attorney or accountant or even medical doctor if you don’t have a good experience, it’s equally important to find a chiropractor that is perfect for you – one who understands your unique needs and has the knowledge, skills and training to assist you on your wellness journey. Most offices offer free or low-cost consultations that allow you to meet the doctor and determine if they are a good fit for you, so I encourage you to take advantage of that. Another benefit is that you can assess the office itself and get an idea of whether the business has a loyal following. Are there a lot of patients or is the office empty? Are there patients there who appear to share your needs? Are there children there to see the doctor? Do the patients and staff seem happy and satisfied? These clues can tell you a lot about the doctor and the office. If that doesn’t give you enough information, you can always go online and read reviews/testimonials from patients (if you do this, be aware that most people go online to write a review when they have a complaint, so their reviews may not provide a full or accurate picture — still, if reviews indicate a pattern, that may be cause for concern).

Q: Is there anything you’d like to add?

Dr. Ashley: This is a difficult time in history because many of us have been misinformed about health, in general. Our healthy responses have been vilified and determined sickness to be treated. Our sicknesses are growing out of the realm of medicine. We may be the first generation to outlive our children. Pharmaceutical companies are billion dollar businesses effectively determining the field of medicine. Our foods are becoming food-like products instead of natural food. Our processed foods have become nutrient deficient and toxic. Our medical treatments work against our bodies natural processes of health. With so much information being readily accessible to the general public the truth has become harder to determine and the process to becoming healthy has become confusing. Finding a healthcare professional that you can trust is more important now than ever. If you have become hopeless and frustrated with your providers, it’s time to change to a provider that will take the time to listen, fully evaluate and give you the options that you deserve to know. Even if you’ve been told that there’s nothing else that can be done, I can guarantee that there are other options that you likely don’t even know exist. Don’t give up, don’t give in — find your partner in health!

About Dr. Ashley Waggoner-Jones

Dr. Ashley Waggoner-Jones, DC, graduated in 2007 from Palmer Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, the birthplace of chiropractic. Her decision to become a chiropractic physician literally happened by accident. While in college to study education and pre law, she was hit nearly head on by a young driver, which left her with severe headaches and, subsequently, a year of medical treatments that involved multiple medications, neurological testing and pain injections – all with little or no success. Depression eventually set in and left her more desperate than ever to find a solution to the physical and emotional pain. At the recommendation of a co-worker, she saw a chiropractor at Palmer Chiropractic. Without just one month of aggressive care, she was able to abandon all medications and weekly pain injections. The positive experience led her to pursue a career in chiropractic medicine, so she could help others with chronic, debilitative pain.
She opened her first practice in her hometown of Moline, Ill., in 2008, and when she was afforded an exciting opportunity to grow her practice in Arizona, she and her husband and two young children eagerly relocated to the Valley of the Sun. Ashley Chiropractic, located in Mesa, Ariz., offers care across a broad range of chiropractic specialties, including prenatal, pediatrics, geriatrics, sports, and more.

For more information about Dr. Ashley Waggoner-Jones and her practice, visit www.ashley-chiropractic.comFTWH_Brand_Sm