natural medicine

Prevent, Reduce and Stop Headaches

Natural Medicine & Rehabilitation offers many treatment options to help prevent, reduce and stop headaches.  Headaches are one of the most common complaints that bring a person to a healthcare provider.

What causes your headaches?  Headache triggers are detected by centers within the brain.  These centers control many vital body processes: sleep/wake cycle, hunger, hormone and involuntary nervous system regulation.  Chemical messengers are released in response to your personal triggers.  These chemicals produce a number of body responses.  The most significant to headache is the dramatic effect to the blood vessels in the head, face and neck and to the neuronal activity in the brain. These vascular changes appear to be instrumental in the altered brain activity of those with migraine type of headache.  Depending on which vessels and areas of the head and brain are most affected, headache and the associated symptoms of headache occur such as pain, nausea, visual and vestibular symptomsThe more triggers one is exposed to, the greater the headache!

A quick fix (using migraine medications, aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen) generally works by creating various affects on blood vessels within the head or the neuronal activity within the brain.  When used frequently many of these medications can create rebound headaches.  Rebound headaches are typically even stronger headaches and create a vicious cycle of increased frequency & intensity!

Chronic sinus problems, allergies, poor posture, neck problems, a lack of exercise and un-tempered stress all contribute to your threshold to headaches.  Tension headaches are caused by muscle contractions in the head and neck regions.  A variety of foods, activities, and stressors can cause these types of contractions.  Natural Medicine & Rehabilitation manages these problems through clinical nutrition, rehabilitation & therapeutic lifestyle changes to significantly improve your threshold to headaches.

DSCN0017Acupuncture can provide drug-free relief for people suffering from headaches & migraines with virtually no side-effects.  Acupuncture stimulates the nervous system to release pain-relieving chemicals & hormones.  These chemicals are the body’s natural painkillers!

Biofeedback Therapy can reduce or eliminate the need for medications or may be an option when medications haven’t worked well. Stress is one of the main triggers that can bring on a headache or migraine.  When you are stressed your forehead muscles frown and tighten, jaw muscles tighten and clench and your shoulder muscles hunch and tighten.  Biofeedback sensors on these muscles can show how your body responds to stress.   Biofeedback therapy gives you instant feedback and helps you develop the ability to recognize and reduce stress & muscle tension to help prevent, reduce and stop a headache! 

Our doctors will also look at your nutritional habits to see if food may be contributing to the headache and migraine pain you are experiencing. Optimizing nutrition and hydration is critical to reduce cravings, improve energy, lose weight, prevent illness, reduce inflammation, and symptoms of disease.

Learning healthy lifestyle behaviors and increasing your awareness of things that cause physical stress and physical pain like bracing/guarding, poor posture, and improper lifting will enhance your results.  Chiropractic adjustments are very effective for treating tension headaches, especially headaches that originate in the neck.  Therapeutic Massage is used to apply pressure to soft tissue effecting changes by relaxing contracted muscles, increasing circulation and improving range of motion by stimulating the stretch reflex of muscles and overlying fascia (connective tissue).

Natural Medicine & Rehabilitation offers many treatment options to help prevent, reduce and stop a headache.  We also have a Workplace Wellness lecture on Headaches that we offer to local corporations to help educate their employees on preventative healthcare. Call 908-252-0242 for a free new patient consultation or to set up an Employee Workplace Wellness Program.


Acupuncture has been a component of Traditional Chinese Medicine that originated over 5000 years ago and is now being offered as a holistic approach to pain management at Natural Medicine & Rehabilitation!  Acupuncture can provide drug free pain relief for people with chronic pain and suffering by encouraging the body to promote natural healing.  The needling of acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release pain-relieving chemicals (endorphins & serotonin) and hormones in the muscles, spinal cord and brain.  These chemicals are the body’s natural painkillers.  The body produces them to influence its own internal regulating system and healing abilities to fight disease and maintain a healthy physical and emotional state.

Acupuncture is a drug free way for our patients to receive pain management and help them progress along more quickly in their rehabilitation program.  Physical rehabilitation plays a critical part of most patients care at NMR.  Joint, muscle and spinal problems demand stability, strength and conditioning if one is not only to feel better but also to restore function and prevent similar or worse problems in the future.  Incorporating acupuncture into a rehabilitation program can help people with chronic pain or suffering from such things as:

Headaches & Migraines          Trigeminal Neuralgia

Back, Neck & Joint Pain         Menstrual Cramps

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome        Osteoarthritis

Fibromyalgia                           Sciatica

Myofascial Pain                      Tennis Elbow

Acupuncture compliments the services provided at NMR to help patients with their pain management and move them toward not only feeling better, but actually being better and stronger!

Day #100. Weight loss goals met! The first 100 Day: A journey to health & wellness






2014 Boston Marathon Volunteer recap: Kristen, a Licensed Massage Therapist stretched and massaged runners after they finished the marathon. Sean, a Registered Nurse cared for runners along the course who could not finish the race.

It was our pleasure to lend our skills to the marathon runners and to the city of Boston. We meet some amazing people, heard some incredible stories and witnessed “wicked” strength & fearlessness.

Day #100

The first 100 days: A journey to health and wellness:

We started this project because we wanted to learn how to lose weight and maintain weight loss, long term. For 100 days we shared our measurements and our experiences, good and bad. We also offered helpful tips that we learned along the way. Tips about nutrition, healthy lifestyle habits, exercise, healthy recipes and goal setting.

Why 100 days?

  • 100 days allows enough time to create new habits and new routines. Even when given all the tools to be successful, success does not happen overnight. Nearly every day we learned something new about ourselves (willpower, wants vs. needs, motivation and commitment) or about the science of weight loss/ weight management (muscle, fat, metabolism, nutrition, and aerobic vs. anaerobic exercise).
  • Weight loss plateau is inevitable. 100 days allowed us time to hit a plateau, make necessary changes and continue losing weight.
  • 100 is a nice round number.

What did you eat?

Our nutrition changed throughout the 100 days. The first 7 days is considered a “food detox” made up of mostly vegetables, low glycemic fruits, nuts and protein shakes. The detox “resets” the digestive system by eliminating foods that cause inflammation and reduces unhealthy food cravings. After the detox, we slowly incorporated starchy vegetables and lean animal proteins. Now we follow the 50-25-25 rule. Each main meal is portioned into 50% vegetables, 25% complex starches (example: quinoa, brown rice, sweet potatoes) and 25% lean animal protein. Snacks include low glycemic fruits, nuts and protein shakes.

Our daily intake of dairy, gluten and sugar is very limited. There are many types of food that claim to be healthy, we have learned that most of those claims are false. We now read nutrition labels and the list of ingredients. We stay away from foods that contain ingredients we cannot pronounce, artificial sweeteners and pre-packaged foods that contain more than 5 ingredients.

One day per week we have a “free” day. We rarely take full advantage of a “free” day because it is hard work to get back on track and we typically feel “hungover” after eating a lot of sugary, salty, and/or fatty foods.

Did you exercise?

Yes we did. Prior to starting this project 90% of our exercise was aerobic exercise, we are runners. We are runners that love to eat. One of our bad eating habits, included “rewarding” ourselves with high calorie/high fat foods after we ran. That was just the start of our bad eating habits.

During this project we learned how the food we eat can cause local and systemic inflammation, inflammation that causes aches and pains throughout the body. We also learned to the value of weight training. Weight training builds muscle that increases basal metabolic rate = increasing the amount of calories burned at rest. Since increasing our anaerobic exercise routine, we have seen many changes in our physique and overall strength.

To be honest, we did not exercise as often as Dr. Sferra suggested (4-5 days per week). We are getting better about making exercise a priority, we now exercise for 1 hour per day at least 3 days per week. We must admit we have better weight loss results and feel better when we exercise 4-5 times per week.

How much weight did you lose?

Weight loss goals met!

Kristen lost 15 lbs. and a total of 10.5 inches.

Sean lost 22 lbs. and a total of 10 inches.

**Kristen’s mom and Sean’s dad are also following Dr. Sferra’s plan. Kristen’s mom has lost 30.8 lbs. (since January) and Sean’s dad has lost 20 lbs. (since February).**

The project is over, now what?

Now we do more of the same. We have new routines that we follow that keep us on track. We will work on our new weight loss and fitness goals. We would like to achieve those goals before we get married in October.

 The first 100 days: A journey to health and wellness project has without a doubt changed our lives. Below are a few things we learned about nutrition, exercise and ourselves:

Note from Sean:

Nutrition – What you DO eat is just as important as what you DON’T eat.

Exercise – I learned the importance of frequent exercise and weight training.

Myself – I don’t need my vices (diet soda, coffee with Splenda, bread with every meal, etc), but I do need nutrient rich foods. I now choose to feed my body, not my cravings.

Note from Kristen:

Nutrition: I have learned to eat to run instead of running to eat.

Exercise: I was surprised to learn that I actually enjoy weight training! I have seen my body transform. I am much stronger than I once thought.

Myself – I still love sweets, that will never go away but I have learned that I have the power to walk away. It also helps to not have junk food in the house.

 If you would like to start your own weight loss journey call 908-252-0242 and mention the First 100 Days Project to receive a FREE consultation that will outline and explain YOUR individual weight management program.

Day #90. Finish Strong. The first 100 days: A journey to health & wellness.




Day #90

 We did not post an update last week because we realized that somewhere along the way we got 1 week ahead of ourselves (human error). Today Monday April 21, 2014  is in fact day #90.

Today we are volunteering our time and skills at the 2014 Boston Marathon. Our assignments will keep us busy until 7:00pm, we will post information about our experience in our day 100 update.

Kristen’s assignment: Licensed Massage Therapy, providing massage services for runners post-race.

Sean’s assignment: Registered Nurse, providing medical services on a course medical bus.

Weight loss/management Progress:

We continue to lose weight and lose inches at a slow and steady pace. At this point in our journey the nutrition portion of this program is a breeze and we are getting better at exercising 4+ times per week. (Check out our picture updates above.)

There were many weeks we didn’t lose weight, but we did lose inches from our chest, waist and hips. Here is some information about muscle vs. fat:

 Muscle vs. Fat

The key here is to understand the difference in muscle and fat. Because a pound is a pound no matter what you are measuring, one pound of fat is equal to one pound of fat. The common saying, “muscle weighs more than fat, ” is wrong. A pound is a pound, no matter what you measure. However, fat and muscle are composed of different substances, look different, have differing effects on the body and take up varying amounts of space in the body. Fat takes up more space in the body and has a lumpy appearance. Muscle, on the other hand, is lean and smooth. For visual purposes, picture a lean steak equal to the size of a regulation sized baseball. Now, picture approximately three times that much jello in a bowl. If these ingredients were placed in your body, would you prefer the lean, compact muscle or the jiggling bowl of jello? A person weighing 150 pounds, with 14% body fat will look much leaner than a person who weighs 120 pounds with 35% body fat.

Losing Inches Instead of Weight

 Now that you understand the different characteristics of fat and muscle, you are probably likely to reconsider your weight loss goals. Losing inches doesn’t seem so shabby when it’s put into perspective. The most common culprit for a loss of inches rather than a loss of pounds is that of muscle development. When fat is burned and muscle is replaced, your body may stay the exact same weight. However, you have replaced lumpy, jiggly and unhealthy amounts of fat with lean, solid muscle. An equal amount of muscle will take up approximately half as much space as the same amount of fat. (Source:

For more information about losing inches but not losing weight:


 The remaining 10 days:

We want to finish strong. We made a commitment to ourselves and this project to give 100% for 100 days.

Because we continue to have weigh loss results, we will follow the weight management plan as planned. Eating our bigger meals at lunch time and eliminating starches from our evening meals has made a big difference in how we feel as well as overcoming the weight loss plateau. We are currently exercising at least 4 times per week, our goal is to exercise 5-6 times per week.   

See you in 10 days!

Day #82. Beyond diet and exercise. The first 100 days: A journey to health and wellness.






Day #82

Beyond diet and exercise.

We have and continue to learn about nutrition, exercise and ourselves. We are often asked questions about nutrition and exercise. But in reality, the key to being successful is not merely eating healthy food and exercising frequently. If you want to lose weight and develop a healthy lifestyle you must take responsibility for your actions, habits, excuses, routines, and lifestyle choices.

Many people have a defeatist attitude about achieving their weight loss goals and developing a healthy lifestyle. There is a lot of contradictory weight loss information and it seems everybody is an expert, we hear “facts” from our friends, family and coworkers every day. Many of these “experts” want to lose weight and improve their health themselves.

Like Susan Powter says “Stop the madness”. If you would like to begin your journey to health and wellness, start by allowing yourself to begin. If you have a list of reasons why you can’t lose weight, then you have given up before you have even started.

Make a commitment to yourself. The joy of living is a much better motivator than the fear of dying. Losing weight and improving holistic wellness improves quality of life, imagine your life with less pain, less fatigue, less stress related illness.

Accept responsibility. “To be responsible is not to blame ourselves, it’s to empower us. If we’re just victims of our bad genes, bad karma, bad fate, or bad luck, then there’s not much we can do about it other than to suffer our destiny. But to the degree that we realize that we can do something about it, then we’re free to change our fortunes. How much you want to change your diet and lifestyle – if at all – is a very personal decision.” Dean Ornish, MD. (2008) The Spectrum. New York: Ballantine Books. (p.87)

Take a personal inventory. Make a 7 day diet and exercise diary and include ALL of the foods, drinks and exercise that you do each day. Once you gain some awareness, you may begin to understand why you are not losing weight or why you are gaining weight. The 7 day diary will help you identify areas that need improvement.

Quality over quantity. What you include in your diet is as important as what you exclude. Nutrients, nutrients, nutrients. You don’t need food, you need the nutrients in your food. Time is precious, don’t waste your time eating food that does not feed your body.

We love sharing our story and feel fortunate to have this opportunity. We hope that this blog and the conversations that we have with others will encourage people to start their own journey to health and wellness.

Dr. Sferra’s weight management plan is based on the non-disputable principles of fundamental healthy macro-nutrition, dietary glycemic control and metabolic repair. This plan is based on the science of nutrition and exercise, the exact formula to what we should and should not eat, and the type and duration of exercise change with our progress and our goals.

Natural Medicine & Rehabilitation

West End Physical Therapy, 10-12 West End Court, 2nd Floor, Long Branch, NJ 07740 | Phone 732.222.7799

399 Campus Drive, 1st Floor, Somerset, NJ | Phone 908.252.0242| Fax 908.252.0243