Thursday, March 31, 2011
The adrenals are small, triangular glands located on top of each kidney. They secrete hormones that affect metabolism, including cortisol, which controls the body’s use of fats, proteins and carbohydrates; and corticosterone, which helps to suppress inflammation and affects the immune system. They also help the body to cope with stress by secreting adrenaline, which increases heart rate and facilitates blood flow to the muscles and brain; and noradrenaline, which increases blood pressure.
Because managing stress is so dependent on optimal adrenal function, if you feel that yours may be suppressed, a simple saliva test of your cortisol level can indicate if there is an issue. For children in particular, a groundbreaking study published in the journal Hormones and Behavior, links cortisol levels not simply to behavior problems, but to the length of time individuals have experienced behavior problems.
Researchers analyzed saliva samples taken from young people during early adolescence. They then matched cortisol levels to behavioral assessments taken in childhood and again during adolescence. Problem behaviors were classified as either "internalizing" (depression and anxiety) or "externalizing" (aggression, attentional problems). Youngsters who developed depression-like symptoms or anxiety problems in adolescence had high levels of cortisol. However, those who developed symptoms earlier had abnormally low cortisol levels. Why?
Cortisol levels go up when individuals are first stressed by depression or anxiety, but then decline again if they experience stress for an extended period. It seems the body adapts to long-term stress, such as depression, by blunting its normal response. Eventually, cortisol levels become abnormally low. In the short term, high levels of cortisol help the body respond to stress. However, in the long term, excessive levels of cortisol are linked to a range of physical and mental health problems. So, to protect itself, the body shuts down the cortisol system -- which is not good either.
This study suggests interventions should begin as soon as a behavioral problem appears. For children with severe externalizing problems, this may be very early, perhaps even when they are preschoolers or toddlers.
For all Americans, adrenals are dependent on mental and emotional health. This cannot be accomplished without dietary and nutritional support. Vitamin C, B-vitamins and magnesium are crucial, since levels of these nutrients in the adrenals are lost during periods of great stress. There are also many herbs that are used for adrenal support, are so dependent on individual need that we cannot recommend them without the expertise of a licensed health professional.
"There's a funny thing about schizophrenia, turns out that quite a few of the adult schizophrenics on an inpatient psychiatric unit in 1967 happened to have a major history of celiac disease (gluten/wheat intolerance) as children. As in 50-100 times the amount of celiac disease that one would expect by chance. Celiac doctors also noticed their patients were schizophrenic about 10X as often as the general population. That's a lot! In addition, epidemiological studies of Pacific Islanders and other populations showed a strong, dose-dependent relationship between grain intake and schizophrenia. The gluten-free populations had extremely rare occurrence of schizophrenia - just 2 in 65,000 versus about 1 in 100 as we have in the grain-eating West. When populations Westernized their diets (flour, sugar, and beer), schizophrenia became common. In some clinical trials, gluten made new-onset acutely ill schizophrenics much worse, but only occasional long-term patients responded to gluten restriction. The long-term sufferer has already had a lot of damage - if wheat somehow toxic to the brain, then it would be vital to stop the insult early on in the course of the disease to see improvement."
The entire article can be read here.
Bonnie - it seems elementary does it not? When the gut encounters a substance (gluten) over and over again which it deems toxic, why should we be surprised that it affects the brain adversely?
For the study, the team took blood samples of participants and observed the prevalence of DNA strand repairs both with and without the administration of antioxidants. They specifically watched for the quantity and presence of a certain type of protein complex that is known to bind to damaged DNA sites and repair them. Upon analysis, the team found that the antioxidant-supplemented blood had fewer proteins than did normal blood, indicating that far less DNA damage had taken place due to the presence of free radical-scavenging antioxidants.
"Pre-administering this formula before a medical imaging exam may be one of the most important tools to provide radioprotection and especially important for patients in the getting CT scans," added the lead researcher. Based on team's observations, the antioxidant blend visibly reduced DNA damage by as much as 50 percent.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
"Better products are truthful in their marketing claims and free of potentially worrisome ingredients. Some products might make claims like "gentle" or "natural," but since the government does not require safety testing, personal care product manufacturers can use almost any chemical they want, regardless of risks."
Know the ingredients in your personal care products.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
This report is among the first to look at the issue of conflicts among experts who write clinical practice guidelines.Kirkpatrick and colleagues analyzed financial disclosures listed in the 17 most recent guidelines from the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association through 2008.
Bonnie - we reported on this every time they came out with new cholesterol guidelines. The most egregious issue was the continual reduction of what they considered normal cholesterol levels, paving the way for most of the US adult population to be prescribed statins. Many of the experts putting together the guidelines had some kind of financial tie to statin manufacturers.
Steve - not only does milk neutralize the polyphenols of tea (and coffee), but added sugar reduces the benefit even more. When drinking tea or coffee, think plain. There is scant data with regards to using milk and sugar substitutes instead of milk and sugar. If you can drink it plain, that is the most preferred method.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
Scientists have been studying links between religious behavior and health for years, and have found signs that there's a positive connection between the two. The studies suggest that religious involvement -- whether it's private or public -- is linked to things like better physical health, less depression and more happiness. But researchers have also found signs that people who attend services put on more weight.
In the new study, which will be released Wednesday at an American Heart Association conference, researchers sought to follow people over time to see what happened to them. They examined a long-term study that tracked 2,433 people who were aged 20 to 32 in the mid-1980s. Most of the participants were women, and 41 percent were black. After adjusting their statistics to take into account factors such as race, the researchers found that 32 percent of those who attended services the most became obese by middle age. By contrast, only 22 percent of those who attended services the least became obese.
What might explain obesity among those who attend services regularly? There are plenty of theories. One possibility is that those who attend services, along with activities such as Bible study and prayer groups, could be "just sitting around passively instead of being outside engaging in physical activity. Also, a lot of the eating traditions surrounding religion are not particularly healthy; for example, constant feasts or desserts after services or at holidays -- fried chicken, traditional kosher foods cooked in schmaltz (chicken fat), and so on.
Bonnie and Steve - this is one study, so it is hard to make any clear decision on the validity of the theory. However, we tend to agree with the possibility that religious activities that revolve around eating traditions that are far from healthy may be detrimental to the obesity epidemic.
In my personal experience (Steve), I am consistently appalled at the food and beverages I see presented at my place of worship. In addition, some religious customs are linked with "sweet" food items, which in a sense makes it easier for worshipers to consume them.
We believe that religion could serve a vital purpose in not just providing assistance with mental and emotional health to its worshipers, but physical health as well. But for that to happen, you must first "practice what you preach."
What do you think?
Thursday, March 24, 2011
The latest example is a provocative, detailed report concerning the American Cancer Society by renowned cancer advocate Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., Emeritus professor Environmental and Occupational Medicine at University of Illinois School of Public Health. The full report can be accessed here:
American Cancer Society: More Interested In Accumulating Wealth Than Saving Lives.
One organization that seems to be turning the corner in favor of saving lives, however, is the American Diabetes Association.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
The Dukan method proposes a healthy eating plan that returns to the foods which founded the human species, those eaten by primitive man, the hunter-gatherers, proteins and vegetables, 100 foods including 72 from the animal world and 28 from the plant world. This offer also features the magic words: As Much As You Like.
While some of the core principles I do agree with, I still consider this a fad diet, because it is promoting short-term weight loss, with no concern for long-term weight maintenance, is not geared towards the individual, and is not sustainable.
As recently as the mid-1990s, type 2 diabetes was almost exclusively a disease of adults. But apparently fueled by the childhood obesity epidemic, cases in people younger than 20 have ramped up from virtually zero to tens of thousands in the United States in little more than a decade. The children who have it are breaking new scientific ground: No one has any idea how they will fare over the course of a lifetime. Will these children suffer heart attacks in their 20s, need kidney dialysis in their 30s or go blind before they see their own children graduate from high school? Major lifestyle changes can control the disease. By exercising and cutting back on carbohydrates with high glycemic index, one can shed weight and reduce the number of daily injections, and ultimately, just use an oral drug, metformin or no drug at all.
While more than 25 million Americans have diabetes (more than 90 percent have type 2), according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases - an additional 79 million have a condition called pre-diabetes, in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not as high as in diabetes. If a large portion of these Americans become diabetic, it is likely that our healthy system will be unable to sustain care for this many.
Among the many ancillary maladies that accompany blood sugar diseases, a new study found that subjects with type 2 diabetes are 52% more likely to develop major depressive disorder (MDD), according to the Annals of Family Medicine.
New Data on Carbohydrate Control in Diabetics
Carbohydrate content might be less important for blood sugar control than glycemic load, according to a new study of healthy adults in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study questions the way patients with type 1 diabetes determine how much insulin they should take before meals. Researchers took finger-prick blood samples from healthy young people who ate a total of 120 different types of food -- all with the same calorie content. The glycemic load repeatedly trumped the carb count in predicting the blood sugar and insulin rise after a meal.
The glycemic load is calculated by multiplying the amount of carbs in grams per serving by the food's glycemic index divided by 100. Foods with a low glycemic index cause the blood sugar to rise slowly.
This was the first evidence that the gut microorganisms may play a role in innate immunological stress responses. The study reveals the dynamic interactions between multiple physiological systems including the intestinal microbiota and the immune system. Because gut bacteria have been linked to diseases like inflammatory bowel disease, and even to asthma, a future goal of the study is to determine whether alterations of gut bacteria is the reason why these diseases tend to be worse during periods of pressure.
Steve - most of us go through multiple stressors on a daily basis. Continually repopulating the gut with positive microflora (probiotics) will encourage a large diversity and keep the immune system strong.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Allergic rhinitis at 30% among firstborns, 26% among secondborns, and 21% among third- and later-born children Allergic conjunctivitis at 27%, 25%, and 21%, respectively
Food allergy at 4%, 3.5%, and 2.5%, respectively
In infancy, eczema declined in prevalence for second- and later-born children compared with those who were their parents' first. The same was true for food allergy in infancy.
Prior pregnancies may change a woman's immunological milieu in ways that affect subsequent children, he suggested. Both agreed that whatever the mechanism, the results likely would generalize to other countries despite Japan's generally lower birth rate and smaller family size.
Pollen Levels Active Beyond Peak of Season
Pollen levels of certain plants, such as grasses and cupressaceae, can appear before or after the peak moment of flowering. This phenomenon is caused by the "resuspension" of pollen, and its dispersal over large distances by wind, and this is of great use in predicting allergies. There is of course a very close relationship between the moment at which pollen is released by plants and the data gathered by the traps used to measure these grains, but this is not always the case. Researchers found delays or advances of up to a week between the time when the pollen of allergenic grass species are present in the air and their flowering period. International Journal of Biometeorology
Monday, March 21, 2011
Friday, March 18, 2011
Vitamin D3 is 87 percent more potent at raising blood levels of the vitamin than vitamin D2, according results published in Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Vitamin D3 also produced a 2- to 3-fold increase in the storage of the vitamin, compared with vitamin D2.
Subjects were supplemented with 50,000 International Units (IU) of either vitamin D2 or D3 per week for 12 weeks. Results showed that about 17 percent of the D3 ingested was stored by the subjects, and the rest was consumed or metabolized or both. By the various measures employed, D3 was from 56 to 87 percent more potent than D2 in raising serum 25(OH)D, and more than three times as potent in increasing fat calciferol content.
Vitamin D refers to two biologically inactive precursors - D3, also known as cholecalciferol, and D2, also known as ergocalciferol. Both D3 and D2 precursors are transformed in the liver and kidneys into 25- hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), the non-active 'storage' form, and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25(OH)2D), the biologically active form that is tightly controlled by the body.
Vitamin D2 can be obtained by prescription only while D3 is widely available OTC.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Believe it or not, this information came directly from the FDA's website. It is good information.
Federal regulators continue to warn consumers about tainted, dangerous products that are marketed as dietary supplements. These fraudulent products can cause serious injury or even death.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found nearly 300 fraudulent products—promoted mainly for weight loss, sexual enhancement, and bodybuilding—that contain hidden or deceptively labeled ingredients, such as
- the active ingredients in FDA-approved drugs or their analogs (closely-related drugs)
- other compounds, such as novel synthetic steroids, that do not qualify as dietary ingredients
“These products are masquerading as dietary supplements—they may look like dietary supplements but they are not legal dietary supplements,” says Michael Levy, director of FDA’s Division of New Drugs and Labeling Compliance. “Some of these products contain hidden prescription ingredients at levels much higher than those found in an approved drug product and are dangerous.”
FDA has received numerous reports of harm associated with the use of these products, including stroke, liver injury, kidney failure, heart palpitations, and death.
Advice for Consumers
“We need consumers to be aware of these dangerous products and to learn how to identify and avoid them,” says Levy. Consumers should look for potential warning signs of tainted products marketed as dietary supplements, such as
- products claiming to be alternatives to FDA-approved drugs or to have effects similar to prescription drugs
- products claiming to be a legal alternative to anabolic steroids
- products that are marketed primarily in a foreign language or those that are marketed through mass e-mails
- sexual enhancement products promising rapid effects, such as working in minutes to hours, or long-lasting effects, such as working for 24 to 72 hours
- product labels warning that you may test positive in performance enhancement drug tests
Generally, if you are using or considering using any product marketed as a dietary supplement, FDA suggests that you
- check with your health care professional or a dietitian about any nutrients you may need in addition to your regular diet
- ask your health care professional for help distinguishing between reliable and questionable information
- ask yourself if it sounds too good to be true
- Be cautious if the claims for the product seem exaggerated or unrealistic.
- Watch out for extreme claims—for example, “quick and effective,” “cure-all,” “can treat or cure diseases,” or “totally safe.”
- Be skeptical about anecdotal information from personal “testimonials” about incredible benefits or results obtained from using a product.
- See FDA's website to help recognize fraudulent weight-loss products and claims.
Extensive NSF analysis has shown that geranium oil—which is an approved food flavoring that is legal for use in dietary supplements—does not contain MHA. Manufacturers using MHA in their sports nutrition products say otherwise, but their main piece of evidence is one questionable study published by Guizhou University in China. The study was translated from Chinese to English and does not put any credence in the research. According to NBJ, which investigated MHA/geranium oil topic, the Chinese paper contains “a possible typo” — hexanamide is referenced, not hexanamine—that “calls the entire relevancy of the data into question.”
Aside from being a potential dietary supplement adulterant, MHA is also fueling worry because of its powerful stimulating effects. In a 2006 Washington Post article on the synthetic ingredient, Don Catlin, MD, CEO of the Anti-Doping Research Group, said the chemical structure of MHA is akin to amphetamines and ephedrine. MHA is a key ingredient in one of the most popular pre-workout sports supplements: USP Labs’ Jack3d—a product that can be found in high school locker rooms and weight rooms throughout the country. In its marketing for Jack3d, USP Labs touts the product’s ability to “give you the mad aggressive desire and ability to lift more weight.”
MHA was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency in 2010. Jack3d is on the list of products banned by the NCAA. MHA and geranium oil extract can be found in numerous other products including E-Pharm’s ClearShot,
At this point in time, there is absolutely no reason to take it.
That said, watchful waiting is in order. If and only if the situation in Japan worsens to the point that radiation is released in such high concentrations that it will affect the health of the population of the west coast, here are my recommendations:
For children and underweight adults, take 250 micrograms of potassium iodide daily.
If normal weight adult, take one ThyroComplex (iodine complex) or equivalent dose of potassium iodide recommended by your physician. If overweight, take two ThyroComplex or equivalent dose of potassium iodide recommended by your physician.
Sea vegetables also contain good amounts of iodine.
As a general preventative, because we are exposed to low levels of radiation on a daily basis, an optimal diet rich in carcinogenic-fighting vegetables such as those from the cruciferous family, is a good idea.
With regard to radiation affecting food coming from Japan, this is a very different situation. Great care must be taken to look at the country of origin on labels if possible. If a food was produced in Japan after the nuclear disaster happened, you should use your best judgment on whether to consume that foodstuff on a consistent basis. World experts are wary of contamination and there is no way the FDA is equipped to test every batch coming from Japan for high radiation. While the FDA is already barring certain foods from specific areas of Japan, cross-contamination that may occur in processed foods especially could be a major issue.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Despite extensive use in practice, the impact of noninvasive cardiovascular imaging in primary prevention remains unclear. Trials screened patients for inducible myocardial ischemia (2 trials), coronary calcification (3 trials), carotid atherosclerosis (1 trial), or left ventricular hypertrophy (1 trial). Imaging had no effect on medication prescribing overall or on provision of lipid-modifying agents, antihypertensive drugs, or antiplatelet agents. Similarly, no effect was seen on dietary improvement, physical activity, or smoking cessation. Imaging was not associated with invasive angiography. In conclusion, the researchers found limited evidence suggesting that noninvasive cardiovascular imaging alters primary prevention efforts.
Harvard researchers performed a dietary analysis on more than 38,000 women. funded partly by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and appears in the Archives of Ophthalmology. All of the participants were in their 40s at the time of enrollment in 1993, and none had AMD at the study's start. Eye health was also tracked over the course of a decade, during which time 235 women developed AMD. Those who consumed the greatest amount of one or both omega-3 fatty acids (DHA, EPA) were found to have a 38 percent lower risk of developing AMD compared with those women who consumed the least. Specifically, women who ate one or more servings of fish every week had a 42 percent lower risk of AMD than those who consumed fish just once a month or less.
The authors uncovered a suggestion that higher consumption of one of the omega-6 fatty acids (linoleic acid) might actually boost the risk for AMD, but that link was not deemed significant.
We love this quote from the piece: "For the first time, we have scientific evidence that indeed, gluten sensitivity not only exists, but is very different from celiac disease," says lead author Alessio Fasano, medical director of the University of Maryland's Center for Celiac Research.
Really? This shows how behind the times most gluten researchers are.
The article also says Dr. Fasano hopes to eventually discover a biomarker specifically for gluten sensitivity.
Here's a news flash: there already is a biomarker. We are one of the very few wellness centers in the world to have tested for gluten intolerance (IgG) for over a 15 years, with incredible success.
Let this article and study serve as reaffirmation to all of our clients, readers, and members of the public at-large who have been told by family, friends, coworkers, and doctors that they are crazy for going gluten-free after testing negative for celiac.
You are not crazy. You are brave individuals who are in touch with the way you feel and have not allowed yourself to be swayed. Often times, the path less chosen is the more difficult one. But in the end, it usually is the right path. Stay the course!
Feel free to leave your comments below.
Bonnie and Steve
Monday, March 14, 2011
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Any number of culprits cause the immune response to fail, including genetics, pollution, oxidizing free radicals, allergens, intolerants, aging and everyday stressors. Anything that stresses you stresses your immune system. Everybody deals with stress in a slightly different way. So every one of us has a personal immunity balance point. Diet is crucial to striking this balance because the gastrointestinal tract is a large immune organ. The gut mediates anywhere from 70% to 80% of immunity. Gastrointestinal mucosa, stomach acid and intestinal enzymes all participate in this interaction. Low gut mucosa, enzyme deficiencies, and overly alkaline gut environment can all be a factor in low immunity. Our natural gut flora—the beneficial bacteria adapted to inhabit our gastrointestinal (GI) tracts and aid in digestion—also plays a crucial role.
The microflora in your digestive system ‘talk’ to your immune system. The diet that you eat can change that microflora—the bacteria—in your digestive system. And if you change the population, then you change the conversation. Consuming beneficial probiotics, including lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria, appears to turn that conversation in an immuno-positive direction. Probiotics out-compete pathogens like Clostridium and E. coli for space and nutrition in the gut to grow. This lowers the incidence of illness—as does probiotics’ ability to alter gut pH to a level inhospitable to intruders. Probiotics also directly affect immune health—both innate and adaptive—by triggering proliferation of the cells that produce immunoglobulin A (IgA), an important mucosal antibody, and of T cells and natural killer cells.
Polyphenolic flavonoids such as quercetin have been shown to display a wide range of biochemical properties, including antioxidant and chemoprotective effects. Oxidation weakens the body’s natural defenses, so it’s no surprise that protecting against oxidation strengthens immunity. If you don’t have enough oxidative protection, then you deplete immune capacity and trigger inflammation, where cells are slowly going to give up their natural defense. Antioxidant vitamin stalwarts such as carotenoids, vitamin C, D, and E improve the capacity of innate immune cells to fight off infection and temper the proliferation of T-cells. Antioxidant minerals copper, zinc and selenium regulate redox-sensitive transcription factors, while also affecting cytokines. Physiological amounts of zinc have reduced morbidity and mortality associated with respiratory and diarrheal diseases in developing countries. Broad-spectrum coenyzmes such as lipoic acid and CoQ10 are also important.
Inflammation is a crucial step in the immune response. In the right place at the right time, inflammation is a good thing. It’s a sign that the immune system is bringing everything to bear on a problem. If you’ve got a cold or flu, you’re going to get inflammation in some of your nasal passages and your lungs, and this is the immune system doing what it’s supposed to do to fight off an infection. It’s when this inflammatory response goes into overdrive for no good reason that problems like allergies and autoimmune disorders result. Balance is key. Some foods and ingredients, and the compounds within them, help restore immunity’s balance by modulating the inflammatory response. What the right natural substance can do is not attack the symptoms, but attack the root cause, which is this imbalance in the immune system. One universally helpful substance for inflammation is omega-3s docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
Our gut is really the key to so many aspects of our health. An expert health professional should be able to discover a diet, lifestyle, and supplemental plan that is right for you.
While we are aware of the overwhelming estrogenic effects of rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) in dairy products, researchers have proven for the first time that the feed cows consume may also be contributing to the over-estrogenization of the American population.
Researchers measured equol concentrations, an estrogenic urinary metabolite which has been recently linked to estrogen-related cancers, including breast and prostate, in human subjects. According to the study, "the significant correlates for equol concentration were frequency of dairy consumption and daidzein intake, but a stronger correlation was observed with dairy products. These results suggest that, for the overall population, equol concentrations likely reflect the intake of foods of animal origin that contain equol. Unlike soy consumption in the US population, dairy product consumption is frequent. In our study population, 80% of individuals reported consuming dairy products at least once per day. Individuals who consume dairy frequently may have a low-level, chronic exposure to equol."
Low levels of equol exposure in some studies, primarily from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study (EPIC), suggest that urinary equol concentrations in low-soy-consuming populations may be positively or inversely associated with breast cancer risk, but other studies have observed no association between urinary equol and risk of colorectal or prostate cancer. The observations suggest that equol intake from foods of animal origin may influence disease risk, but consideration of the independent or interactive roles of equol and of dairy products is important. Equol is hypothesized to influence colorectal cancer risk through estrogenic effects on cell proliferation.
In conclusion, in individuals with detectable equol concentrations, dairy consumption significantly correlated with urinary equol, which may also have contributed to be the high percentage of individuals with detectable equol concentrations observed in this population.
What does this groundbreaking study really say? Cows should be eating a diet that is genetically compatible: grass! It also says that the estrogenic load Americans are exposed to is unsustainable. Environmental exposure alone in the form of plastics, pesticides, drug byproducts, pollution, among others, is enough. We do not need to compound the problem with estrogenic dairy products.
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
Participants in this study were 891 diabetic patients, treated between July 2006 and June 2009, by 29 physicians. Researchers used the Jefferson Scale of Empathy (JSE) -- developed in 2001 as an instrument to measure empathy in the context of medical education and patient care. This validated instrument relies on the definition of empathy in the context of patient care as a predominately cognitive attribute that involves an understanding and an intention to help.
To measure how a physician's empathy impacted a diabetic patient's treatment, the researchers used hemoglobin A1c test results to measure the adequacy of blood glucose control according to national standards. They also analyzed the patients' LDL cholesterol level. They believed that there would be a direct association between a higher physician JSE score and a better control of patients' hemoglobin A1c and LDL cholesterol levels. A1c and LDL tests were marked as following: good control, poor control and moderate control.
The likelihood of good control was significantly greater in patients of physicians with high empathy scores than in the patients of physicians with low scores. Conversely, the likelihood of poor control was significantly lower in the patients of physicians with high empathy scores than it was in patients of physicians with low scores. The same can be said for the LDL cholesterol portion of the analysis.
This data points to the conclusion that empathic engagement in patient care can contribute to patient satisfaction, trust, and compliance which lead to more desirable clinical outcomes. For those in primary care medicine who have devoted their working lives to developing empathic relationships with patients, research findings of improved patient outcomes among the more empathic physicians is gratifying.
By Robert Whitaker, Psychology Today
There has been an enduring controversy over whether psychiatric medications can trigger violent actions toward others. A review of the FDA's Adverse Event Reporting System by Thomas Moore, Joseph Glenmullen and Curt Furberg, which was published by PLoS One, found that such "adverse events" are indeed associated with antidepressants and several other types of psychotropic medications. To do their study, Moore and his collaborators extracted all serious events reports from the FDA's database from 2004 through September 2009, and then identified 484 drugs that had triggered at least 200 case reports of serious adverse events (of any type) during that 69-month period. They then investigated to see if any of these 484 drugs had a "disproportionate" association with violence. They identified 31 such drugs, out of the 484, that met this criteria.
The 31 "suspect" drugs accounted for 1527 of the 1937 case reports of violence toward others in the FDA database for that 69-month period. The drugs in that list of 31 included varenicline (an aid to smoking cessation), 11 antidepressants, 6 hypnotic/sedatives, and 3 drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Antidepressants were responsible for 572 case reports of violence toward others; the three ADHD drugs for 108; and the hypnotic/sedatives for 97. Of the 1937 total case reports of violence toward others, there were 387 cases of homicide, 404 physical assaults, 27 cases of physical abuse, 896 reports of homicidal ideation, and 223 cases of "violence related symptoms.
"The adverse events reported to the FDA are known to represent but a tiny fraction of all such adverse events. This study simply identified 31 drugs responsible for most of the FDA case reports of violence toward others, with antidepressants near the top of that list. In light of this finding, the many past shootings at school campuses and other public venues should perhaps be investigated anew by government officials, with an eye toward ascertaining whether psychotropic use may have, in the manner of an adverse event, triggered that violence.Moore and his collaborators concluded: "These data provide new evidence that acts of violence towards others are a genuine and serious adverse drug event that is associated with a relatively small group of drugs. Varenicline, which increases the availability of dopamine, and serotonin reuptake inhibitors were the most strongly and consistently implicated drugs."
Top Ten Legal Drugs Linked to Violence
By Maia Szalavitz, Time Magazine
10. Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq) An antidepressant which affects both serotonin and noradrenaline, this drug is 7.9 times more likely to be associated with violence than other drugs.
9. Venlafaxine (Effexor) A drug related to Pristiq in the same class of antidepressants, both are also used to treat anxiety disorders. Effexor is 8.3 times more likely than other drugs to be related to violent behavior.
8. Fluvoxamine (Luvox) An antidepressant that affects serotonin (SSRI), Luvox is 8.4 times more likely than other medications to be linked with violence
7. Triazolam (Halcion) A benzodiazepine which can be addictive, used to treat insomnia. Halcion is 8.7 times more likely to be linked with violence than other drugs, according to the study.
6. Atomoxetine (Strattera) Used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Strattera affects the neurotransmitter noradrenaline and is 9 times more likely to be linked with violence compared to the average medication.
5. Mefoquine (Lariam) A treatment for malaria, Lariam has long been linked with reports of bizarre behavior. It is 9.5 times more likely to be linked with violence than other drugs.
4. Amphetamines: (Various) Amphetamines are used to treat ADHD and affect the brain's dopamine and noradrenaline systems. They are 9.6 times more likely to be linked to violence, compared to other drugs.
3. Paroxetine (Paxil) An SSRI antidepressant, Paxil is also linked with more severe withdrawal symptoms and a greater risk of birth defects compared to other medications in that class. It is 10.3 times more likely to be linked with violence compared to other drugs.
2. Fluoxetine (Prozac) The first well-known SSRI antidepressant, Prozac is 10.9 times more likely to be linked with violence in comparison with other medications.
1. Varenicline (Chantix) The anti-smoking medication Chantix affects the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, which helps reduce craving for smoking. Unfortunately, it's 18 times more likely to be linked with violence compared to other drugs — by comparison, that number for Xyban is 3.9 and just 1.9 for nicotine replacement. Because Chantix is slightly superior in terms of quit rates in comparison to other drugs, it shouldn't necessarily be ruled out as an option for those trying to quit, however.
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
Unfortunately, a mandatory screening program of athletes that involves an electrocardiogram (ECG) before participating in sports does not reduce the incidence of sudden death, according to an upcoming a study in Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
How many more of these tragedies must we experience until magnesium supplementation and screening magnesium levels become mandatory for young athletes? Whether or not magnesium played a part in this boy's death, for those with silent heart issues, magnesium can be a life saver.
In the study, subjects did not experience visible signs of liver damage. Actually, 62 percent of those taking it had indicators of liver problems prior to the study and saw these indicators normalize at the completion of the study.
Numerous studies have shown that black cohosh is efficacious. A 2004 study from the Mayo Clinic, for instance, found that black cohosh reduces weekly hot flash averages by more than 50 percent. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists supports the use of black cohosh for treating menopause symptoms.
P.S. - for additional support, a study from Acupuncture in Medicine found that acupuncture useful in reducing the severity of hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. Half of the subjects received traditional acupuncture treatment. The rest were treated with “sham” acupuncture needles. A five-point scale was used to measure the severity of hot flashes, vaginal dryness, urinary symptoms, mood swings, and other symptoms in the postmenopausal women.
The women who received traditional acupuncture had significantly lower scores on the scale of menopausal symptoms after 10 weeks, compared to those in the sham treatment group. Researchers also found that the severity of hot flashes and psychological symptoms decreased significantly in the traditional acupuncture group after 10 weeks compared to the sham acupuncture group. Estrogen amounts were significantly higher, while luteinizing hormone levels were significantly lower in the group that received traditional acupuncture compared to the sham acupuncture group after 10 weeks.
Friday, March 04, 2011
Thursday, March 03, 2011
Little is known about corporate influence on educational medical journals, although physicians rely heavily on journals for continuing medical information. Many of these journals, which rely solely on advertising for revenue and contain easy-to-read summaries of published research, are sent free to physicians in countries around the world. The study, by German and Canadian researchers, looked at 11 different journals read by German physicians in 2007. They largely compared free journals -- those paid solely by advertising -- to journals funded by subscriptions.
The study showed that the tendency to positively recommend the use of a drug depends on the source of a journal's funding. Free journals almost exclusively endorse the use of the selected drugs, whereas journals that rely exclusively on subscription fees for their revenue are more likely to recommend against the use of the same drugs.
Covert promotion of pharmaceuticals is an important public health issue because it can contribute to the unnecessary overuse of certain drugs or lead to their off-label use without sufficient evidence of efficacy.
Prescription ulcer drugs such as AstraZeneca Plc's blockbuster, Nexium, will carry a new warning that long-term use may cause low magnesium levels. Low magnesium can lead to complications such as muscle spasms, irregular heartbeat and seizures. Patients may need to stop taking the drugs if magnesium supplements do not help, the Food and Drug Administration said.Most low-magnesium cases reviewed by regulators occurred after one year of use but some were as early as three months. In one-quarter of roughly four dozen cases, magnesium supplements did not help and the patients had to stop taking the medicine, the FDA said. Here is the official FDA statement:
[3-2-2011] The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is informing the public that prescription proton pump inhibitor (PPI) drugs may cause low serum magnesium levels (hypomagnesemia) if taken for prolonged periods of time (in most cases, longer than one year). In approximately one-quarter of the cases reviewed, magnesium supplementation alone did not improve low serum magnesium levels and the PPI had to be discontinued.PPIs work by reducing the amount of acid in the stomach and are used to treat conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), stomach and small intestine ulcers, and inflammation of the esophagus. In 2009, approximately 21 million patients filled PPI prescriptions at outpatient retail pharmacies in the United States. Patients who take prescription PPIs usually stay on therapy for an average of about 180 days (6 months).
Prescription PPIs include Nexium (esomeprazole magnesium), Dexilant (dexlansoprazole), Prilosec (omeprazole), Zegerid (omeprazole and sodium bicarbonate), Prevacid (lansoprazole), Protonix (pantoprazole sodium), and AcipHex (rabeprazole sodium). Vimovo is a prescription combination drug product that contains a PPI (esomeprazole magnesium and naproxen). Over-the-counter (OTC) PPIs include Prilosec OTC (omeprazole), Zegerid OTC (omeprazole and sodium bicarbonate), and Prevacid 24HR (lansoprazole). In contrast to prescription PPIs, OTC PPIs are marketed at low doses and are only intended for a 14 day course of treatment up to 3 times per year. FDA believes that there is very little risk of hypomagnesemia when OTC PPIs are used according to the directions on the OTC label.
Low serum magnesium levels can result in serious adverse events including muscle spasm (tetany), irregular heartbeat (arrhythmias), and convulsions (seizures); however, patients do not always have these symptoms. Treatment of hypomagnesemia generally requires magnesium supplements. Treatment in patients taking a PPI and who have hypomagnesemia may also require stopping the PPI. Healthcare professionals should consider obtaining serum magnesium levels prior to initiation of prescription PPI treatment in patients expected to be on these drugs for long periods of time, as well as patients who take PPIs with medications such as digoxin, diuretics or drugs that may cause hypomagnesemia. For patients taking digoxin, a heart medicine, this is especially important because low magnesium can increase the likelihood of serious side effects.
Healthcare professionals should consider obtaining magnesium levels periodically in these patients.Information about the potential risk of low serum magnesium levels from PPIs will be added to the WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS sections of the labels for all the prescription PPIs.Today's communication is in keeping with FDA's commitment to inform the public about its ongoing safety review of drugs. FDA is continuing to review reports of possible adverse events and drug interactions with PPI drugs submitted to our Adverse Event Reporting System.
Wednesday, March 02, 2011
Gardein Classic Style Buffalo Wings
Ingredients: Gardein Water, Soy Protein, Vital Wheat Gluten (Highly Concentrated Gluten), Ancient Grains (quinoa, amaranth, millet, and kamut), Natural Flavors, Potato Starch, Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Pea Protein, Modified Vegetable Gum, Carrot Fiber, Organic Beet Root Fiber, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice (Sugar), Yeast Extract (Monosodium Glutamate), Sea Salt. Sauce: water, buffalo wing glaze (sugar, spice (could be MSG), corn malotdextrin (Sugar), vinegar, onion powder, salt, garlic powder, citric acid, natural flavors), garlic, corn starch, organic evaporated cane juice (sugar), vinegar, modified vegetable gum, xantham gum.
Unfortunately, you will find many of ingredients in the majority of vegan packaged foods. Vegan or not, these foods are heavily processed and are certainly not natural to the human body. Please don't be fooled just because they are considered vegan.
Men who regularly take pain relievers such as ibuprofen and aspirin may be at increased risk for erectile dysfunction, new research suggests. Men who use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) three times a day for more than three months are at a 22% increased risk of erectile dysfunction, according to a study in Journal of Urology. Regular users were about 2.4 times more likely to have erectile dysfunction than men who didn't use those drugs regularly or at all.
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
According to the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, a review aimed to assess the efficacy of treating children with such coughs using honey or lozenges found that the efficacy of these treatments in treating acute cough in children has the potential to be beneficial in children over a year old. Further research evaluating the efficacy of honey and lozenges in treating chronic non-specific coughs in children is needed.
Swedish scientists released a study saying that not all fruits and vegetables are created equal when it comes to people with environmental allergies. They say that some proteins in fruits like apples and pears resemble the pollen parts that trigger hay fever, meaning that kids with existing allergies might react. We have been waiting for so long to for a mainstream journal like the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology to corroborate what we have been saying forever.
The researchers looked at data on nearly 2,500 eight-year-olds who had participated since birth in a larger Swedish study. Based on blood tests and questionnaires filled out by parents, the researchers found that 7% of the children had asthma. The rates of hay fever and skin rashes were more than twice as high. Kids with the biggest appetite for fruit had less than two-thirds the odds of hay fever than those who ate the least amount. Apples, pears and carrots appeared to be particularly helpful. However, it turned out that half the children with hay fever were sensitive to birch tree pollen, one of the pollens known to resemble the proteins in apples and carrots. When the team repeated the analysis excluding the 122 kids with food-related allergy symptoms, the hay fever link disappeared as well.
The researchers say more studies are needed, particularly in other parts of the world that may have a different variety of allergens. And those studies should not forget to look at how allergies might influence what participants eat, they add. "Studying diet it is not so easy when it comes to the relation with allergic disease, because it is such a complex disease pattern," the lead researcher said.
Bonnie - how man ways is this wrong?
- Using vitamin D2. The usable form is D3
- Most bread consists of empty carbs and contributes to weight gain, thus negating the benefits of whatever small percentage of vitamin D2 would get absorbed.
- With the number of gluten intolerant persons rising rapidly, there are better ways to fortify with vitamin D.
- Public health experts already had a wonderful solution for vitamin D deficiency before milk took over as the main vitamin D foodstuff...it was called Cod Liver Oil.