According to the New York attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman, four major retailers are accused of selling fraudulent and potentially dangerous herbal supplements. Authorities conducted tests on top-selling store brands of herbal supplements at four national retailers — GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart — finding 4 out of 5 of the products did not contain any of the herbs on their labels. The products contained cheap fillers like powdered rice, asparagus and houseplants, potentially dangerous to those with allergies. “Mislabeling, contamination and false advertising are illegal,” said the state attorney general. The FDA has now threatened to take legal action if the companies do not resolve the problem. In response, Walgreens has agreed to remove the products nationwide, not just in New York. GNC is also willing to
cooperate with the attorney general “in all appropriate ways,” but stands behind the quality and purity of its store brand supplements. Target could not be reached for further comment. How often do you discuss the quality concerns with your patients? What are you typically looking for in a product in terms of quality? What are some of your favorite trusted companies?
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A 6 year research lead by Dr. David Llewellyn and his team at the University of Exeter Medical School, concluded that low levels of vitamin D in older people are linked to the risk of developing dementia. Vitamin D can be found in foods, such as oily fish, supplements, or exposure to sunlight, however elderly people have less efficient skin and must be supplement in other ways. The team found that in 1,169 subjects with sufficient levels of vitamin D, there is a 1 in 10 chance of developing dementia. In 70 subjects with deficiency, there was a 1 in 5 risk of getting dementia. They cannot say that low vitamin D causes dementia but it is worthwhile to continue studying the connection. What are your thoughts on the association of dementia risk with low vitamin D?
For additional information, please see BBC News.
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The Director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Josephine Briggs, MD shares her thoughts on a recent publication in the journal Headache by Robert Cowan, MD. Both are trying to raise awareness of what patients visiting clinicians might be utilizing in terms of conventional and complementary approaches. There are more Evidence-Based resources available to conventional practitioners on CAM than ever before. What are your thoughts on Dr. Briggs commentary?
For additional information please see, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
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While hand shakes are the traditional professional greeting, a recent study published in the American Journal of Infection Control says that it is also a great way to transfer bacteria. The researchers dipped latex gloves in Escherichia Coli, and then either shook hands, gave high-fives, or fist bumped. According to the results, a fist bump transferred the least amount of bacteria between gloves, and the hand shake transferred the most. Firmer handshakes, longer fist bumps and high-fives were also determined to be better ways of transferring bacteria. This could mean a change in the way health care professionals greet each other, especially in hospitals where bacterial resistance has become a problem. What measures do you take to reduce bacteria transmission?
Find out more from The New York Times
Can a higher education do more than get you a better salary? Results of a new study published in Neurology suggests that a higher education may help provide some cognitive protection from traumatic brain injury. The study found people with a college education were four times more likely to recover and return to work or school with no disability compared to those who did not finish high school. Although the exact mechanism is unknown, a few theories suggest that the brain can develop better coping strategies when knowledge expands with higher education. What are some of your favorite strategies in exercising your brain?
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FDA has released a warning about an herbal supplement by the name of S.W.A.G. or “sex with a grudge” because it has traces of generic Viagra. This product can be purchased online and advertised to “increase blood flow” and improve sexual health, unbeknownst to buyers however, this product can potentially be fatal. The manufacturer claims that there are no interactions seen similarly in medications such as Cialis, Viagra or Levitra but the FDA warns consumers that it may have severe interactions with nitrates. The FDA advises those using this product to immediately dispose of it and side effects such as dizziness, fainting, or heart attack/stroke may occur. How familiar are you with the mechanisms of reporting adverse effects and interactions related to herbal supplements?
For additional information visit Cleveland.com
As a growing number of states legalize marijuana for recreational and medicinal use, the negative effects are beginning to surface in research. A recent study published in the Journal of Neuroscience scanned the brains of forty young adults from Boston University who smoked marijuana. Results of the brain scans revealed that among those who smoked more, a portion of their brain was structurally altered; the part that is involved with decision making, motivation, and emotional behavior. It is important that results of this small study cannot be generalized, however, it serves as a foundation for further research on marijuana smoking and potentially permanent cognitive abnormalities. How will the findings of this study influence the acceptance of recreational versus medical marijuana? What recommendations would you give to your patient seeking marijuana?
For additional information, please visit The Boston Globe
The Department Agriculture is suffering from a shortage of inspectors which could increase the possibility that contaminated products could reach consumers. A week ago a recall was made for beef processed at the Rancho Feeding Corporation in Petaluma, California after it was distributed to about 1,000 retailers. Stan Painter, president of the National Joint Council of Food Inspection Locals and a meat inspector said that the recall may be due to the lack of inspectors available to properly examine the meat. Due to the shortage, the department of Agriculture has started a new program that allows poultry plant employees to inspect their own processing line and Agriculture inspector does the final check on meat before it is shipped. How often do you recommend to your patients to consider switching to local and/or organic meat, poultry and dairy?
For additional information please see New York Times.
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A research team from Weill Cornell Medical College linked a toxin made by a rare species of Clostridium perfringens to MS-like damage in the brain of mice. This same team discovered the toxin-generating strain of C. perfringens in a young woman with MS. C. perfringens is anaerobic, spore-forming bacteria found in soil, the intestinal tract of humans and animals and contaminated meat. The Weill researchers isolated epsilon, a toxin produced by Type B of C. perfringens, with the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and kill myelin-producing cells. Myelin is a substance that surrounds and protects nerve fibers, and is damaged in individuals with MS.
What types of questions do patients ask about food borne illnesses?
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In an analysis conducted by the Food and Drug Administration on the use of antibiotics in animal feed, scientists found that 18 out of 30 of them may increase the risk of human exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. There was insufficient information for the scientists to review the other 12 antibiotics. Even though the FDA has made efforts to reduce the use of antibiotics in animals, it is still broadly used. What are your thoughts about this article? What are your recommendations to minimize human exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria?
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