Monthly Archives: October, 2013

Oil Pulling for Overall Health

A recent report by Time Warner Cable draws attention back to oil pulling, an ancient Ayurvedic remedy involving swishing teaspoonfuls of pure oil. The report discusses that by pulling out harmful bacteria, toxins and other organisms out of the oral cavity, oil pulling improves both oral and overall health. Some suggest that oil pulling helps with skin conditions such as acne as well as diabetes and asthma. The most effective oil pulling is done by placing around a tablespoon of cold pressed organic sesame or coconut oil into the mouth and swishing the oil around for 20 minutes and then spitting it out into the garbage.

What are your thoughts and experience with oil pulling? How often do you recommend oil pulling? What are some other benefits of oil pulling?

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Changing hospital lighting to help hospitalized patients

Published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, preliminary research suggests hospital lighting may affect the comfort of hospital stay. The study was performed on 23 women and 17 men and measured the effects of lighting on patients’ mood, sleep, and pain. Patients who had lower lighting for 24 hours slept poorly, experienced more fatigue, and experienced more pain. The investigators hypothesize that changing the lighting patterns in the hospital may regulate sleep-wake cycles and ultimately have better patient outcomes. An inexpensive way to bring comfort to a hospitalized patient, adjusting lighting patterns may make the hospital stay less disconcerting. How does natural or artificial lighting affect your mood? What specific devices do you recommend to your patients to regulate your sleep/wake cycle and their mood?

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Green Thumb Linked to Longer Life

According to a study published in British Journal of Sports Medicine,  older adults can cut their risk of heart attack and stroke and reduce their risk of death by as much as 30% by being generally active. Researchers followed 4,232 Swedish adults aged 60+ for 12 years and evaluated lifestyle parameters including range of daily life activities such as  gardening, home improvement, car maintenance, and blackberry picking. The study discovered that individuals who were more active on a daily basis had a much lower cardiovascular risk profile than individuals who were generally sedentary, irrespective of how much formal exercise they took. Authors suggested that these findings are important for older adults because it is difficult to achieve recommended exercise intensity level this population.

What are some other physical activities you recommend for older adults? How else can we promote and encourage active lifestyle to reduce risk of heart disease?

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Looking at stressors “in a positive light” only helpful in some

If you have ever looked a situation in a “more positive light”, you have practiced cognitive reappraisal. According to a study published in Psychological Science, cognitive reappraisal is beneficial in improving depression but only in situations that are uncontrollable. In the study, Allison Troy and colleagues recruited subjects who had a recent stressful life event. The subjects’ cognitive reappraisal ability (CRA) was measured by having them watch sad films and using cognitive reappraisal amongst other tests. Troy found that despite having high CRA, people in stressful situations that were controllable (i.e. poor performance at work) had higher level of depression compared to those who have uncontrollable situations. Troy also adds that cognitive reappraisal may negatively impact these situations because people would be “less inclined to attempt to change the situation.” What are some other methods/coping mechanisms to reduce depression from different life stressors?

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Stroke Occurring In More Young People

brainAccording to a study published in The Lancet, stroke rates among young and middle-aged adults are growing on a global scale. Researchers analyzed data gathered between 1990 and 2010  and found that the number of strokes among people aged 20 to 64 increased 25% during that time and that this age group now accounts for almost one-third of the total number of strokes. Another study found that hemorrhagic, or bleeding strokes were the most common in low- and middle-income countries and was strongly responsible for stroke related disability and deaths.

How do we educate patients about this information? What preventive measures do you recommend to reverse this trend?

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Image courtesy of [ddpavumba]/


Beauty over health? Decorative contact lenses

A consumer update provided by the FDA warns consumers to be cautious when purchasing decorative contact lenses. These contact lenses change how your eye appears with different colors and designs and are not meant to correct your vision. It may be surprising to some that contact lenses are considered medical devices per the FDA so selling them as cosmetics without a prescription is illegal. An eye specialist should measure your eyes so the contacts fit properly to prevent infections, decreased vision, and corneal scratches. The FDA warns to never buy lenses from street vendors, halloween shops, or beauty supply stores. How often do you see questionable uses of medical devices or cosmetics? What are some other potentially harmful use of medical devices or cosmetics?

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Kids + Exercise = Better Grades?

According to a study published in the  British Journal of Sports Medicine, there is link between better performance scores in English, Math and Science and children who participate in daily vigorous exercise. The study evaluated nearly 5,000 11-year old students (specifically concentrating on intensity and duration of exercise) and discovered that the more intense the activity, the greater the impact on scores in all three subjects. Additionally, the link maintained at ages 13, 15, and 16. Researchers suggested that the findings could be explained by the fact that physical activity has positive impacts on brain structure and function, time on task in the classroom, and self-esteem.

What physical activities do you suggest children participate in? How do we educate our school systems to value and incorporate physical activity to improve academic performance?

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New approach to keep brain from aging: a step away from word puzzles

New research published in Psychological Science showed that elderly patients who participate in more mentally challenging activities showed greater mental improvement. The 221 participants in the study were between the ages of 60-90 and were selected to perform different activities such as learning digital photograph and/or quilting or word puzzles/other social events for 3 months. The patients who participated in unfamiliar activities like digital photography were able to challenge their memory and cognition and achieve more mental “sharpness” compared to those who participated in less mentally challenging activities. The authors concluded that to maintain cognition, one needs to find activities that are not only engaging but mentally stimulating too.  What are some other activities to keep the mind young?

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Breast Milk Bought Online Found to be Contaminated

A recent study performed at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio discovered high levels of harmful bacteria and contamination in breast milk purchased over the internet. The study analyzed 101 batches of milk that were purchased on milk sharing websites and found that 74% of the samples contained harmful disease-causing bacteria like E. coli, Streptococci and even Cytomegalovirus. Researchers determined those samples to be unsafe to give to infants, especially preemies. Although the FDA does not recommend feeding babies breast milk acquired via the Web, its sale is not regulated online.

How often do you counsel your patients who are new mothers about the benefits of breastfeeding? What are some safer alternatives to purchasing breast milk online?

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Cinnamon’s potentially promising role in infertility

According to a small study at Columbia University Medical Center (New York City), women who suffered from polycysticovary syndrome (PCOS) and took cinnamon were able to regulate their menstrual cycle. The nature of PCOS causes disruption of the ovulation cycle so women may have difficulties getting pregnant. Women in the study who received cinnamon supplementation had about twice as many menstrual cycles compared to those who received placebo. After 3 months of supplementing, 2 women had spontaneous pregnancies. What natural medicines do you currently recommend to enhance fertility?

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