Share Your KnowledgeAugust 12, 2011 Written by JP [Font too small?]
There is a grass roots way of improving the current health care system that very few patients, physicians and pundits acknowledge. It doesn’t involve increasing co-pays or taxes, dismantling Medicare or reforming health insurance. You don’t even need to organize with vast numbers of fellow citizens to make a difference. All that’s required is that you accept a basic precept and act upon it. Every single person reading this column is a unique individual with highly specialized information at their disposal. We’re exposed to different sources of anecdotal evidence, news and research. At any given point, some of this information may be of value to someone you know, be it a colleague, family member or neighbor. But how often do you make it a point to share something that you’ve heard or read when you’re not specifically asked? Taking the extra step to speak up can make a big difference in the way doctors practice medicine and those around us benefit from otherwise unknown information.
The very health issues that shape your life and mine frequently have little to no impact on the majority of people around us. Someone who “sleeps like a baby” is unlikely to spend much time contemplating insomnia. Those blessed with a beautiful complexion, may be completely unaware of inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis. And while balding men may fret about each lost hair, those with an abundance of follicles are often more perturbed by the time it takes to comb and style their hair. Simply put, human nature is such that we tend to focus on what directly affects our individual quality of life.
Share This: Natural Sleep Aids – Two herbal sleep remedies have recently graced the pages of prestigious medical journals. A current study in the journal Menopause reports that “about 50% of postmenopausal women experience sleep disturbances such as insomnia”. In the same publication, a randomized, triple-blind trial involving 100 postmenopausal women discovered that taking 530 mg of concentrated valerian root extract daily for 4 weeks lead to improvements in sleep quality in 30% of the participants. Only 4% of those receiving a placebo found similar benefits. A separate study that followed a group of cancer survivors documented a reduction in fatigue in valerian users over an 8 week period. However, since valerian is not effective for everyone, other options such lettuce seed oil may be worth considering. A 1,000 mg/day dosage of a patented lettuce seed extract (Sedan) recently demonstrated very positive outcomes in a group of 60 patients with insomnia. According to the authors of the research, improvements in the “State-Trait Anxiety Inventory and sleep rating scale scores were significantly greater in patients receiving L. sativa seed oil compared with those on placebo”. Both lettuce seed oil and valerian were found to be safe and side effect free in the previously mentioned studies. (1,2,3)
Share This: Nutrition for Psoriasis – A few years ago I suffered a serious, transient bout of psoriasis. I sought the advice of both alternative and conventional experts, but ultimately decided to address the symptoms myself via targeted nutrition and supplementation. One of the strategies I used was to increase my intake of omega-3 fatty acids. A new Spanish study supports this approach as an adjunct to conventional treatment. The details indicate that the addition of oral fish oil (Oravex) to a topical medication (tacalcitol) produced superior results as compared to the same medication taken with a placebo. Symptomatic endpoints evaluating erythema, “infiltration of the treated areas”, pruritus, scaling and scalp lesions all showed evidence of improvement. As an interesting side note, some researchers are also examining the potential of topical fish oil formulations for reducing psoriatic plaques. Another recent development in the field of natural medicine and psoriasis points to the safety and utility of traditional Indian medicine. An 8 week pilot study involving two “Unani” formulations reports that a combination of an oral (Majoon Ushba) and topical (Roghance Hindi) treatment effectively reduced the PASI (Psoriasis Area and Severity Index) in 20 patients receiving the intervention in comparison to a control group. While the safety of the herbal treatments was established, its availability may be an issue in some parts of the world. (4,5,6)
Fish Oil May Improve the Efficacy of Conventional Psoriasis Treatments
Source: Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2011; 4: 73–77. (link)
Share This: Integrative Hair Loss Treatment – There are many natural remedies on the market that claim to address hair loss and thinning hair. But very few of these products have been adequately tested. Over the past few months alone, herbs such as Chinese Knotweed and ginseng have been cited in the medical literature as hopeful agents for “follically challenged” men and women. However, I generally don’t mention such findings because they rarely, if ever, produce cosmetically relevant results. That’s why I’m happy to report that a publication in the July 14th, 2011 issue of the Journal of Dermatological Treatment offers something dramatically different – a human study with an optimistic outcome. According to the paper, a blend of the popular hair loss drug minoxidil and an extract of Curcuma aeruginosa (blue and pink ginger) may actually promote hair regrowth and reduce hair shedding. In vitro experiments indicate that C. aeruginosa extracts interfere with the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Lowering DHT in hair follicles may counteract the progression of androgenetic alopecia (AGA) or male pattern baldness. In the current trial, a 6 month intervention involving 87 men with AGA was undertaken. The study called for the volunteers to apply the herbal medication or an inactive topical formula twice daily. The conclusion of the paper states, “In men with hair loss in the vertex area of the scalp, the combination of 5% hexane extract of C. aeruginosa and 5% minoxidil slowed hair loss and increased hair growth”. (7,8,9)
If you’re hesitant about sharing any of the items in today’s column or other research you’ve come across, consider this. What you pass along may or may not be useful to the people with whom you share it, but it will almost certainly convey that you care. And although we’d all like to be heroes and provide information that will “cure” someone, that doesn’t have to be the primary motivation. What’s more important is that we reach out to support one another. This is something that everyone can do in the present regardless of the economic, geographical and political landscape in which we find ourselves. I believe that adopting this philosophy will likely result in a happier, healthier and more sustainable society.
Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!
Tags: Fish Oil, Psoriasis, Sleep
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Men's Health, Nutritional Supplements