Ricky's Riffs:

Random Thoughts on Travel, Education, Health, and the World in General


In Guatemala with the Integrative Health Project

April 2nd, 2019

I just returned from a week in Guatemala, where I worked with the Integrative Health Project.  The project was started by a few acupuncturists about eight years ago.  They wanted to work with the underserved, indigenous population living around Lake Atitlan, a beautiful, fertile and impoverished region in the Guatemalan highlands.Read the rest of this entry »


Book Review: “The United States Of Opioids” by Harry Nelson, JD

January 17th, 2019

There is a growing canon of work on the opioid epidemic. The best of these books include “Dreamland” by Sam Quinones, “Dopesick” by Beth Macy, and “Chasing the Scream” by Johann Hari. Each tells the story from a different angle.  Together, they describe the confluence of heroin, Oxycontin, and fentanyl, the complicity of Big Pharma, and the failed “war on drugs.”

There is a new book to add to the list: “The United States of Opioids,” by Harry Nelson, JD.  As a practicing health care attorney, Harry brings a legal eye—as well as a deep heart of compassion—to this very complex subject.Read the rest of this entry »


On Low Back Support Belts

January 25th, 2018

I just returned from a relaxing week-long vacation in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  The ocean was beautiful, the sunsets magnificent, and the tequila sweet, strong and flowing.

My wife and I stayed at a large resort, supported by lots of local workers: gardeners, maids, cooks, waiters, maintenance people, and many others.

As a chiropractor, I could not help but notice that many of the workers were wearing lumbar (lower back) support belts.  These are the cloth and Velcro braces that can be wrapped tightly around one’s waist.  The reason workers use these is to prevent low back injury, which is the most common work injury.

So, is it a good idea to wear them?Read the rest of this entry »


Welcome to “Condition: Health News That Matters”

December 11th, 2017

For quite some time, I have been thinking about writing a book.  I believe I have a unique perspective on health and healing and that this perspective might be interesting and useful to others.  After all, I’ve been in practice for more than 30 years.  I’ve taught undergrad and graduate level coursework in the history and philosophy of science, as well as complementary and integrative medicine.  I’ve worked as a chiropractor in private practice, public health, and occupational (worker compensation) medical settings.  My experience has been broad and deep in the field of integrative health.  And I definitely have a point of view!

But the more I thought about my book, the more pause I took.  My friends have written books.  Some are established authors with reputable publishers, and are paid in advance for their work.  But most are people who—like me— want to write to express something they have been carrying within themselves; to articulate their unique perspective. Many in the latter group may spend years on the project, self-publish their work, and, at the end of this long process, have 20 or 30 of their friends and relatives buy the book.  The rest may go into storage, or be given away.  (Of course, there’s always the possibility that the book might become a great bestseller, and one might join the ranks Dr. Oz or Deepak Chopra. But there’s an even better possibility that those books will stay on the shelf.)Read the rest of this entry »


The HAG Capisco: Best Chair in the World?

August 28th, 2017

Growing up, I remember my parents sitting in front of the television set in their big faux leather Lazy Boy recliners.  They would lean back and the foot supports would rise as they sank into their chairs dreamy soft cushiness.  Usually, after about twenty minutes, they would be asleep and when they finally trudged off to bed, it would usually be with aching backs.  Another chair related “injury!”Read the rest of this entry »