In July 2015, the US Food and Drug Administration warned of increased risk of heart attacks and strokes associated with the use of non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs. Earlier this month, a different class of pain relievers, collectively known as opioids, was also linked to higher rates of early death primarily due to cardiovascular complications. As disturbing as this is, there is still a large segment of the population that will continue to use these medications in the short term and, sometimes, chronically.
Tags: Colic, Lavender, Rose Oil
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Mental Health, Women's Health | 10 Comments & Updates
Hormones play a pivotal role in sexual desire in both men and women. Perhaps the most recognizable examples are the changes that are precipitated during andropause and menopause. Prescription hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can address some of the symptoms of these processes. But, HRT is not without contra-indications and risks. One of the more interesting aspects of flibanserin, the so called “Female Viagra”, is that it addresses hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) in older and younger women, whether premenopausal, perimenopausual or postmenopausual. And, flibanserin does so without affecting hormone levels.
Tags: Estrogen, Ginkgo Biloba, Testosterone
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutritional Supplements, Women's Health | 5 Comments & Updates
Men with erectile dysfunction (ED) have access to several medical options to improve sexual function. Popular medications, including Cialis, Viagra and testosterone replacement top the list of medically-approved, male performance aids. What isn’t discussed as much is that many women also deal with a related condition known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). Obviously, the mechanism involved is somewhat different. Nevertheless, the end result is similar: compromised sexual desire and enjoyment. This may soon change. Flibanserin, a medication intended to treat premenopausal HSDD, is on the brink of FDA approval. If approved, it is likely to become as big a blockbuster as its male counterparts.
Tags: Pilates, Sex, Yoga
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Mental Health, Women's Health | 6 Comments & Updates
These days, I don’t how many kids are familiar with old adage, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. At some point in my own life, I heard it or read it and from that point forward, it was mysteriously ingrained in my psyche. That started me wondering about where it all started. Who said it first and why? According to Caroline Taggart, the author of the 2009 book entitled, “An Apple a Day: Old-Fashioned Proverbs and Why They Still Work”, the phrase originated in Pembrokeshire, Wales in the 1860’s. During that era, the phrasing was a bit different: “Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread”. Many years later, I vividly recall attending a presentation by Dr. Julian Whitaker, the famed integrative doctor, in which he proclaimed an apple a day as one of his personal healing traditions. And now, once again, modern science is coming around to offer support for an old fashioned notion.
Tags: Apples, Cancer, Diet and Weight Loss
Posted in Food and Drink, Nutrition, Women's Health | 12 Comments & Updates
PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome is estimated to affect between 5 – 10% of girls and women of childbearing age. Signs of PCOS vary, but are typically characterized by several of the following symptoms: acne, abnormal menstrual cycles, hair loss and/or excessive body and facial hair growth, infertility, mood disorders, ovarian cysts, overweight and sleep apnea. The commonality among most of these symptoms is an overproduction of male sex hormones (androgens) emanating from the ovaries. Insulin resistance is another factor in PCOS. Therefore, the conventional treatment of this prevalent condition usually involves birth control pills to moderate sex hormone concentrations, diabetes medications to improve insulin sensitivity and fertility aids for women who have difficulty getting pregnant.
Tags: Exercise, Insulin, PCOS
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutrition, Women's Health | 22 Comments & Updates
Long time readers of this site know that I’m not a big fan of juicing. Sure, some juices are better than others i.e. those made from low glycemic, nutrient dense vegetables and small amounts of fruit. But, in most cases, they’re simply not as health promoting as eating the whole foods which are the starting points of the juices. What’s more, juices are often too high in naturally occurring sugar and deficient in dietary fiber which supports optimal blood sugar response. Still, it’s important not to paint virtually any food category with too broad a brush.
Tags: Inflammation, Organic, Tomatoes
Posted in Food and Drink, Heart Health, Women's Health | 14 Comments & Updates
Many holistically-minded consumers have heard of and/or tried Maca – a root vegetable belonging to the mustard family which has been used medicinally for thousands of years in the Andean region of South America. In health food stores, you’ll frequently find it in supplements intended to support athletic performance, hormonal regulation and virility. In addition, Maca powder is sometimes featured in juices and smoothie concoctions for added nutrition and unspecified health benefits. In essence, Maca has taken on a similar reputation as ashwagandha or ginseng, as an adaptogen which promotes balance in various systems in the body. However, not all Maca products are created equal.
Tags: High Blood Pressure, Maca, Menopause
Posted in Bone and Joint Health, Nutritional Supplements, Women's Health | 5 Comments & Updates
The number of scientific studies devoted to specific natural remedies and traditional foods is difficult to predict. For instance, it’s possible to have a few to several studies published in one year and then virtually nothing more for another decade. Certainly, this is partially due to economics. Big cash crops and patented products tend to receive more scientific attention because of funding and financial interests. On the other hand, more generic herbs and nutraceuticals often fall into the previously mentioned, erratic pattern of research. Pumpkin seed oil is an example of the latter.
Tags: Hair, Menopause, Prostate
Posted in Men's Health, Nutritional Supplements, Women's Health | 7 Comments & Updates
Recently, a client inquired about the use of DHEA supplements as a means of counteracting male aging. Before I address that specific question, here’s a brief primer on DHEA. Dehydroepidandrosterone (DHEA) is an adrenal hormone which is considered “a reliable endocrine marker of aging because in humans and nonhumnan primates its circulating concentrations are very high during young adulthood, and the concentrations then decline markedly during aging”. This is of consequence because circulating DHEA is documented as having anti-diabetic, anti-obesity, cardioprotective and immune enhancing activity. However, controlled studies evaluating the efficacy and safety of DHEA supplementation have demonstrated inconsistent and mixed results. This begs the question: Is there a good reason to attempt to manipulate the predictable decline in DHEA in aging men?
Tags: Exercise, Meditation, Yoga
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Men's Health, Women's Health | 7 Comments & Updates
There are very few trends you can count on in the field of modern medicine and nutrition. The “stock” of virtually every food and/or supplement tends to go up and down more erratically than the Dow Jones or Nasdaq. One day coffee is bad for you, the next it’s being touted as a preventative for Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and liver cancer. For years, doctors have been recommending supplemental calcium for just about everyone. Now, there’s a grand debate about potential cardiovascular side effects involving this essential mineral. And, the examples go on and on. However, if there is such a thing as a bankable food/supplement which has sustained its sterling reputation over the years, it is most certainly green tea.
Tags: Diabetes, Green Tea, Liver
Posted in Food and Drink, Heart Health, Women's Health | 4 Comments & Updates
The hair and skin care aisles of most health food stores are stocked with multiple creams, ointments and shampoos containing tea tree oil (TTO). In fact, the popularity of this native Australian export has even made its way into many mass market products. The crossover appeal of TTO is largely due to its documented antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. In terms of practical applications, you’re likely to find TTO in remedies intended for acne prone skin, flakey scalps, gingivitis, toe nail infections and much, much more. But, just because tea tree oil is already well established in the beauty and health care sectors, doesn’t mean that there isn’t more to learn about it.
Tags: Eyes, Hair, Hemorrhoids
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Men's Health, Women's Health | 5 Comments & Updates
Cheerio! I’m back in jolly old England to share some of the local healing tradition. The inspiration for today’s column comes courtesy of the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine (RLHIM). There, patients are offered the best of both complementary and conventional care in an outpatient setting. The RLHIM administers an impressive array of holistic healing modalities including aromatherapy, homeopathy and reflexology. Also popular at this healing institution is a form of bodywork known as craniosacral therapy or CST.
Tags: Anxiety, asthma, Fibromyalgia
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Mental Health, Women's Health | 10 Comments & Updates
According to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 19% of women report frequent postpartum depressive symptoms. Postpartum depression or PPD describes a broad set of symptoms which often include feelings of anger, hopelessness, inadequacy and overwhelment. The onset of PPD can occur almost immediately after giving birth and may extend as long as one year. Changes in hormone levels (estrogen, progesterone, thyroid) and various emotional and lifestyle factors, such as difficulty breastfeeding, poor sleep quality and psychological stress, have also been noted as probable contributors. In the conventional medical system, antidepressants, counseling and hormone replacement are the mainstay treatments. However, there are also several alternative and complementary options that ought to be considered.
Tags: Aromatherapy, Fish Oil, Massage
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutrition, Women's Health | 17 Comments & Updates
Holistic practitioners pride themselves in treating individuals based on their unique needs and requirements. However, even when dealing with a holistic physician, it’s still important to make sure that you are indeed receiving personalized care. For instance, the effects of any given supplement may have slightly or significantly different effects based on age, gender and medical history. In practice, this could mean that one form of fish oil is better suited for pregnant women and another for those trying to improve exercise performance.
Tags: Diabetes, PCOS, Skin Care
Posted in Heart Health, Nutritional Supplements, Women's Health | 7 Comments & Updates
A new study appearing in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine has the potential to change the way urinary tract infections are treated from this point forward. In the 12 month trial, specific probiotics (Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14) were compared with antibiotic therapy for the prevention of recurrent urinary infections. The test subjects in the experiment were a group of 252 postmenopausal women. The results of the research determined that supplemental probiotics were almost as effective as prescription antibiotics. By “almost”, I mean about -13.8% less effective. However, probiotic therapy features a significant advantage over antibiotic treatment – it doesn’t lead to antibiotic resistance. With antibiotic resistance, patients and physicians encounter difficulties managing both minor and serious infections. This is why preserving antibiotics for truly essential purposes is of the utmost importance.
Tags: Cranberries, Probiotics, Vitamin C
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutritional Supplements, Women's Health | 8 Comments & Updates
In the course of my consulting work, many questions and answers emerge that I think would be of interest to readers of this site. Recently, a client inquired about an herbal extract commonly known as chasteberry or Vitex. Historically, Vitex agnus castus has been used to address irregular periods and symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS). In modern times, concentrated and purified extracts of chasteberry have been subjected to some degree of scientific scrutiny. For the most part, the results of these controlled trials have been positive. However, it’s important to note that not all Vitex supplements are created equal. In fact, only a few products have actually undergone clinical testing and proven effective.
Tags: B Vitamins, Herbs, PMS
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutrition, Women's Health | 13 Comments & Updates