The common cold is back with a vengeance this year, at least in my neck of the woods. And, while “it” never really goes away, the common cold certainly becomes more prevalent during the winter months and is as dependable as clockwork or rush hour traffic. Researchers are continually on the lookout for natural and safe ways of managing and preventing symptoms associated with upper respiratory infections (URIs). As a result, each year there are more and more holistic and integrative options to consider if you hope to avoid the seemingly inevitable coughing, runny nose and sneezing that comes with the season.
Tags: Cold, Garlic, Probiotics
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Children's Health, Nutritional Supplements | 3 Comments
Walk down the supplement isles of most health food stores and pharmacies and you’ll undoubtedly see bottles that are seemingly filled with enticing candies. These days, calcium, fish oil, multivitamins and other dietary aids are often being sold in the form of chocolates, gummy bears and even jelly beans. Some of these products are 100% natural – after all, corn syrup and glucose are natural. Others are loaded with the same types of artificial ingredients you’d expect to find in conventional candy. The one common denominator is the attempt to popularize supplement use in segments of the population that don’t normally buy them.
Tags: Calcium, CoQ10, Inulin
Posted in Children's Health, Food and Drink, Nutritional Supplements | No Comments;
In last week’s interview with Jonny Bowden, the good doctor mentioned L-carnitine as a noteworthy supplement that benefits heart health. A recent review in the journal Current Drug Metabolism concurs and describes several mechanisms that make this so. Among them, the authors cite carnitine’s ability to transport “fatty acids into the mitochondrial matrix, thus allowing the cells to break down fat and get energy from stored fat reserves”. They go on to report that carnitine reduces oxidative stress and may, therefore, be a helpful adjunct in conditions including angina, heart failure and even overweight. But, this “endogenous molecule” has plenty to offer beyond the confines of the cardiovascular system.
Tags: asthma, Carnitine, Liver
Posted in Children's Health, Diabetes, Nutritional Supplements | No Comments;
A recent study published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine supports the notion that prenatal nutritional counseling can significantly improve the health of mothers and newborns alike. In the highlighted research, a group of 53 pregnant women took part in a “pragmatic nutrition awareness program”. An equal number of expectant mothers acted as a control group and proceeded without any specific guidance about their unique dietary needs. On average, those receiving nutritional counseling gave birth to babies with a higher birth weight and experienced lower incidence of pregnancy-related complications. But, what exactly constitutes a healthy diet during pregnancy? Of late, several scientific publications have offered specific advice beyond the basic tenants of avoiding “junk food” and taking a prenatal multivitamin.
Tags: Anemia, Pregnancy, Vitamin D
Posted in Children's Health, Nutrition, Women's Health | No Comments;
The “heart health” sections of most health foods stores are flush with supplements containing coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), a naturally occurring compound found in small quantities in fish and organ meats. There’s good justification for this strategic product placement. In fact, the most current studies using CoQ10 in patients with cardiovascular disease have turned up very positive findings. In particular, improvements in endothelial function, oxidative status and physical performance in those with coronary artery disease and chronic heart failure have been noted. But, there’s much more to the CoQ10 story than just that. Because this coenzyme possesses antioxidant properties and the ability to support cellular energy, it also has applications in other areas ranging from aging skin to migraine headaches.
Tags: Fibromyalgia, Migraine, Skin Care
Posted in Children's Health, Heart Health, Nutritional Supplements | 6 Comments
The current issue of The Lancet, a prestigious medical journal, features a meta-analysis assessing the efficacy of influenza vaccines. The review evaluated 14 observational studies and 17 randomized controlled trials. The conclusions of the summary brought forth several key findings. Among them, the researchers noted that the effectiveness of the vaccines was not consistent across all age groups and varied from season to season. For instance, live attenuated influenza vaccines (LAIV) were found most protective among young children aged 6 months to 7 years. On the other hand, the authors commented that, “Evidence for protection in adults aged 65 or older is lacking”. Ultimately, a call for new and improved vaccines is trumpeted as a necessity in order to reduce “influenza-related morbidity and mortality”.
Tags: Flu, Green Tea, Probiotics
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Children's Health, Nutritional Supplements | 4 Comments
When I search for new topics in medical databases and journals, I frequently stumble upon a promising item or more about black, green or white tea. This is the latest batch of gems I’ve discovered about Camellia sinensis. In July 2011, a study was published in the journal Experimental Dermatology that offers hope for the millions of men concerned about male pattern baldness. The experiment describes how the topical application of EGCG, a component of green tea, counteracts testosterone-induced death of hair follicles. Direct contact with green tea can also protect your teeth. Just last month, researchers from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil discovered that the addition of green tea to conventional soda limits the extent of erosion caused to dentine. In Japan, an evaluation of 2,050 elementary school students determined that drinking 3 to 5 cups of green tea daily resulted in a 38% to 46% lower likelihood of influenza infection as compared to drinking <1 cup/day. In addition, the track record of green tea vs. cancer was recently bolstered by a Chinese study involving over 60,000 middle aged to senior men. In the examination, consuming green tea at least three times a week afforded significant protection against colorectal cancer (-46%). The authors of the trial explained that a 12% decline in risk was found for every cup of tea consumed by non-smokers.
Tags: Cancer, Flu, Green Tea
Posted in Children's Health, Food and Drink, Men's Health | 8 Comments
Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is a commendable thing to do. Getting sick because you do seems just plain wrong. But it does happen on rare occasions and it should serve as a reminder that we’re not the only organisms running the show. A microscopic bacterium known as Escherichia coli is naturally present in our intestines and in some of the food we eat. In most cases, it doesn’t cause a problem. It’s kind of like background noise that is below a level of detection. However, every once in a while a particularly virulent strain of E. coli drops by to wreak havoc. Read more »
Tags: Cranberries, Fiber, Probiotics
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Children's Health, General Health | 10 Comments
Medical research usually comes in one of two forms. There’s the common sense variety of information that reports seemingly obvious findings that most people already know. Then there’s the revelatory type, which reports new insights or unique ways of looking at old data. On the face of it, the revelations may appear to be the more important of the two. But a good reminder can have a great, if not greater impact on your health than new scientific discoveries. After all, both new and old research is only beneficial if we’re consciously aware of it and put it to good use. Read more »
Tags: Autism, Sarcopenia, Vitamin D
Posted in Children's Health, Diet and Weight Loss, Exercise | No Comments;
Think of all the pregnancies that take place during the course of a given year. Thankfully, most are relatively free of serious complications. But, about 5% to 8% of all expectant mothers must contend with a condition known as preeclampsia (PE) that threatens both woman and child. Preeclampsia is characterized by a dangerous rise in blood pressure that occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy. Some of the possible symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision with the appearance of auras and spots, and swelling in the eyes, face and hands or edema. According to the Preeclampsia Foundation this contributes approximately seven billion dollars a year in US health care spending alone. Worldwide, it may account for as many as 76,000 deaths annually. (1,2,3) Read more »
Tags: Arginine, High Blood Pressure, Pregnancy
Posted in Children's Health, Nutrition, Women's Health | 3 Comments
There’s a fine line between being informed about the dangers in the environment and being paranoid about every move you make. An imbalance in this perspective could lead one not to exercise because there’s pollution in the air, avoid fruits and vegetables because they contain pesticide residues and even to become a recluse for fear of germs spread through casual contact with other human beings. Clearly, a balance needs to be struck. Read more »
Tags: Antioxidants, BPA, Phytoestrogens
Posted in Children's Health, Detoxification, Women's Health | 4 Comments
Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that asthma rates are on the rise although pollution and second hand smoke exposure is declining. According to data collected in 2009, approximately 25 million Americans are now living with this inflammatory lung condition which causes coughing fits, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest and wheezing. What’s more, no age or ethnic group is immune to this trend. However, those without medical insurance are more at risk because the typical price tag associated with conventional asthma treatment rings in at over $3,200 per person/year. This explains why roughly 40% of uninsured asthma patients report that they’re unable to buy the prescription medications needed to address their symptoms. (1) Read more »
Tags: asthma, Curcumin, Inflammation
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Children's Health | 3 Comments
I was recently interviewed about the role of natural medicine in the context of health care spending. One question posed inquired about which remedies I thought should be integrated into modern medicine in order to save lives and money. My answer was a surprise to the interviewer. “I think nutritional experts should reach out to leaders of their respective communities and explain the importance of eating a nutrient-dense, whole food breakfast”. I went on to point out that five recent studies directly linked eating breakfast to: a) lower concentrations of lead in the blood; b) reduced likelihood of overweight and; c) improved cognitive functioning. The majority of this research focused on adolescents and young children. Imagine the financial ramifications of dramatically lowering obesity/overeating and the medical management thereof in the youth population alone. Now, add to the picture the academic and economic value to society if more children improved scholastic performance due to healthier nutrition and protection from lead toxicity. (1,2,3,4,5)
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Tags: Carotenoids, Gluten, Low Carb
Posted in Children's Health, Nutrition, Recipes | 6 Comments
In case you haven’t already noticed, the slogan for this website is “Your Natural Health Critic”. And while I tend to focus on the more positive developments in the field of integrative and natural medicine, at times it’s necessary to point out some troubling trends as well. This year’s Natural Products Expo West was an excellent opportunity to flex my critical thinking in precisely this arena. In a recent press release, Adam Anderson, a spokesman for the Anaheim-based trade show, commented that “While the economy recovers, the natural and organic industry continues to grow. 2010 metrics including attendance and hundreds of new product introductions at Expo West are proof positive of the strategic value surrounding in-person business events”. The introduction of new products to the marketplace is an opportunity to show how innovative the natural health community can be. However, more often than not, the products in question fall short of my expectations.
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Tags: Agave, Diabetes, Gluten, Heart Health
Posted in Children's Health, Nutritional Supplements, Product Reviews | 2 Comments
Today’s column deals with three distinct nutritional strategies that have the potential to dramatically change your life. Does that sound like the beginning of an over-the-top sales pitch? Maybe so. But the only thing I have to sell right here and now is free information that you can use, if you so choose, to help yourself and others to live more healthfully and peacefully. Whether or not you decide to apply this information will likely depend on how well I “sell” the concepts and your willingness to do what it takes to adopt them. That, in a nutshell, defines natural medicine. It works best when the information provided is accurate, non-manipulative and requires dedication from those who hope to benefit from it.
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Tags: ADHD, Fiber, Viral Infections
Posted in Children's Health, Heart Health, Nutrition | 2 Comments
The way you perceive things can dramatically influence the results you find. I think many people accept this concept as true to some extent. But how many of us actually keep this philosophy in mind when applying it in practical terms? For example – when psychiatrists throughout the world prescribe a medication for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or clinical depression, most patients are inclined to believe that it will relieve their symptoms. However, would the same mindset hold true if a physician “prescribed” eating more fish or supplementing with fish oil for the same conditions? Setting aside the relative efficacy of the respective treatments, it’s important to understand that the way you think about any given therapy is likely to affect the outcome – for better or for worse.
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Tags: ADHD, Depression, Fish, Fish Oil
Posted in Children's Health, Detoxification, Mental Health | 3 Comments