Monday, December 27, 2010

A Clue about Healing

This may offer a clue as to how placebos (and even regular meds) work:

Personally I can see that the ritual is part of the cure. If a person spends time doing something that is intended to heal, it can be helpful. They are sending a positive message to the mind: "I am working on getting better. I want this illness to leave me."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Herbs and Pregnancy

Herbal medicine is an ancient tradition. Some herbs are pretty strong and we should be cautious with them. Pregnant women should be especially careful.
  • Toxic doses of nutmeg are known to induce abortion in pregnant women (note the word toxic... do not try this at home).
  • Saffron promotes production of gastric juices. Large doses cause contractions in the smooth muscle of the uterus and may induce abortion. Poisoning is a significant danger when this herb is used to induce abortion.
  • Many herbs including parsley are used to cause abortion and have been for centuries. Some are dangerous. See Herbal Contraception and Implantation Inhibitors
  • From Medline: Extracts of rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis L., have been used in folk medicine as a diuretic, an emenagogue, an antispasmodic and its aqueous extract does not present toxicity to man, presenting, however, abortive effects. In order to evaluate if this plant induces abortion and/or interferes with the normal development of the concepts, doses of 26 mg were administered to pregnant rats... This result suggests that rosemary extract may present an anti-implantation effect without interfering with the normal development of the concept after implantation.
Women who fear an unintended pregnancy should not take a herbal concoction to avoid implantation without expert advice. Some of the traditional herbs for this purpose are very dangerous. Also, some non-herb supplements are also suspected of having this effect, especially vitamin C in large doses. Read Sister Zeus on this - even this everyday vitamin can have side effects.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Royally Bad Coffee

We signed up for a cruise. I was a little concerned about finding allergy-safe food but with assurances from Royal Caribbean personnel and a choice of three restaurants on board, I felt that I could find adequate food. (However, I did bring a bag filled with snacks just to be sure. )

Since I recently started on a heartburn medication, I was looking forward to being able to drinking decaf coffee with meals. At the first dinner, I had a rude awakening.

My cup of decaf had a scorched, acrid smell. I asked the waiter if any other kind was available. "No madam," he informed me, "All the coffee on the ship is Shattle's Best." That's how he pronounced it, but I knew what he meant.

I asked if another restaurant would have a different brand. I don't care for Seattle coffee, and the so-called "Best" is actually the city's worst, at least in the decaffeinated version. Even if I could get past the odor, the taste is not pleasant and I'll always associate it with the severe chest pain I suffered after drinking it at Burger King.

But no, the entire ship serve's Seattle's Best exclusively. And not only do they not provide coffee makers in the staterooms, they don't allow passengers to bring their own. I imagine I could have got away with bringing in a French press but I did not pack one.

So there I was at the dinner table, horrified with the prospect of spending nine long days on a ship without decent coffee. And when my dinner arrived, it was mediocre. I ate part of it, trying not to look unhappy in front of the strangers we were seated with. But before dessert was served, I made an excuse and left. I made it back to our room before letting the tears of frustration flow.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Lactose Intolerant? It's Normal.

Wow, 60% of adults can't digest milk! If your ancestry is not northern European, the odds are that you can't handle lactose.
"Somewhat less than 40% of people in the world retain the ability to digest lactose after childhood. The numbers are often given as close to 0% of Native Americans, 5% of Asians, 25% of African and Caribbean peoples, 50% of Mediterranean peoples and 90% of northern Europeans."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

In a word: GERD

I got the results from a recent endoscopy: I have GERD. That's Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. The usual symptom is heartburn, which I get once in a while but not so often that I expected it to show up on the examination. And I thought I was controlling it through diet, but apparently not that successfully.

It turns out that there other symptoms of GERD. Ones that I often had were chest pain and coughing.

The gastroenterologist gave me samples of Nexium. It seems to be working and I have had decaf coffee several times in restaurants without getting chest pain, and I even had a meatloaf lunch that usually causes heartburn without experiencing it. So I'm happy that the medication is effective.

A nurse told me that it can actually cure the condition so I won't be on the pills forever. This is great news, but for now I'm thrilled to be able to eat out without getting sick.

See: NIH page on GERD

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Our Tap Water is Not Bad but ...

I had a lab test samples of our tap water just in case it was contributing to unresolved health issues. The results finally came back and in some ways they were good.

Our water is clean. No significant contaminants or e. coli bacteria were found.

The negative finding is that the water has a pH of 6.34 which is somewhat acid. It is quite low in minerals such as calcium which normally bring the pH up to a normal level which is between 6.5 and 8.5. (Low pH is acid, high pH is alkaline.)

Perhaps this is a temporary situation brought on my acid rainfall. I'll have to repeat the pH test to see.

Low pH in water can cause corrosion in pipes. Healthwise, the corresponding lack of minerals in the water might contribute to osteoporosis so I need get plenty of minerals by eating enough vegetables.

Related articles on the web:

Friday, October 22, 2010


My chiropractor suggests that I increase my consumption of foods rich in manganese. He did not recommend a supplement because you can overdo it.

HealthVitamins has an article on manganese which lists these foods:
Good natural sources of manganese include avocados, nuts and seeds, seaweed, tea, raisins, pineapple, spinach, broccoli, oranges, beans, whole grains, blueberries, egg yolks, dried peas, and green leafy vegetables.

Many herbs also contain manganese, such as alfalfa, burdock root, chamomile, dandelion, fenugreek, ginseng, hops, horsetail, lemongrass, parsley, peppermint, wild yam, and raspberry.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I've Got Bruises (and they have names)

I received several large bruises when our car was hit from behind a few days ago. We had stopped behind a car which was turning when a vehicle behind us did not stop in time. My car was totaled but our injuries were not serious.

I've decided to name my bruises Lucky, Caution, and Nagging.
  1. Lucky because I was really fortunate that I was not seriously hurt.
  2. Caution because I must remember to use caution while driving. For instance, the next time we have to stop for traffic, I will turn on the flashers to be sure drivers coming up behind me can see me sooner.
  3. Nagging because not only does the largest bruise produce nagging pain, but also because nagging someone can be a positive thing! I'm glad I nagged my husband to wear his seat belt; it may have saved his life.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Coffee Enzymes and Acidity Can Cause Problems

I've given up coffee again. This time it's decaf, even the morning cup I had with breakfast.

Last week I had a cup of decaf in a local restaurant with lunch. About an hour later the pain hit me! It was in the upper abdomen and chest. I've had this reaction to restaurant coffee before, but it used to happen rarely and only last a few hours. Now it happens about a quarter of the time I drink restaurant coffee unless I stick to a tried-and-true eatery, and this time it lasted until bedtime and was so painful that when I got home, I went to bed and stayed there for the rest of the afternoon. The next day I still felt some residual pain.

I decided to give up all coffee for a while to see what happens. So far so good -- and I actually feel less fatigue.

The Help for IBS site has an article that helps explain why even decaf causes problems.
...just one cup of coffee is all it takes to completely disrupt the gut of most people with IBS. Coffee is a very powerful GI tract irritant - and it's NOT the caffeine that's the culprit. Caffeine is a stimulant, so it can aggravate IBS as well, but this just means that regular coffee has an awful double whammy.

Decaffeinated coffee is still practically guaranteed to trigger abdominal spasms, diarrhea, and a very unpleasant sense of urgency. Why? Because all coffee beans, decaf included, contain an enzyme that irritates the entire digestive tract.

...Coffee is also highly acidic, and acidic foods can aggravate IBS as well as upper GI disorders such as GERD.
Since I am allergic to tea, I really hate giving up coffee. I may go back to having an occasional cup of mild-brand decaf at home after cold weather moves in. But the risk of drinking it in restaurants is no longer worth taking. Chest pain is scary as well as uncomfortable, and enduring it for over nine hours is something that I won't forget anytime soon.

By the way, I have not been diagnosed with IBS, but I do have a sensitive digestive system and a low tolerance for acidic foods.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ticks, Food Allergies, and an Antibody Assay

Okay, I must have missed the report saying that ticks can cause food allergies! It seems weird to me but allergies can be pretty strange anyway.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Dr. Galland on Leaky Gut

The Huffington Post ran an article on Leaky Gut Syndrome by Leo Galland. It may be useful to some readers, but I find the link to Dr. Galland's article Breaking the Vicious Cycle to be more helpful. I've bookmarked it because there's so much information to consider.

Three points that caught my eye are:
  1. "Following exposure to allergenic foods, permeability sharply increases. Most of this increase can be averted by pre-treatment with sodium cromoglycate."
  2. "Dietary supplementation with betaine hydrochloride is usually helpful but intermittent short courses of bismuth, citrus seed extract, artemisinin, colloidal silver and other natural antimicrobials are often needed."
  3. "Quercetin and related flavonoids inhibit the release of histamine and inflammatory mediators. Taken before eating, they may block allergic reactions which increase permeability."

Friday, September 3, 2010


I had minor foot surgery and the doctor used a local anesthetic called carbocaine. She said it was milder than some of the alternatives, which seemed like a good thing since I have had unpleasant reactions to novocaine. Well, I had the same reaction to the carbocaine injection. I got nauseous and light-headed. A nurse had to help me to the car. Fortunately my husband was with me and drove me home.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cyber Diagnosis?

I found an interesting article on diagnosing yourself on the internet. Amanda Stevens concludes in it that WebMD's Symptom Checker and the Mayo Clinic Symptom Checker are reliable sites for finding information on your condition. Sounds like solid advice.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Excessive tea drinking linked to skeletal fluorosis

Excessive tea drinking linked to skeletal fluorosis: "New research conducted on four advanced skeletal fluorosis patients suggests that the fluoride in their tea could have been responsible for the condition."

The people studied were drinking a gallon or more of tea daily!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Interesting Article on Pseudomonas Infections

Research could lead to non-antibiotic treatments for hospital infections tells how "Lack of an adequate amount of the mineral phosphate can turn a common bacterium into a killer, according to research to be published in the April 14, 2009, issue of the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science... Pseudomonas aeruginosa is one of ...hundreds of bacteria that colonize the human intestinal tract, usually causing no apparent harm. However once its host is weakened by an illness, surgical procedure, or immunosuppressive drugs P. aeruginosa can cause infection, inflammation, sepsis and death."

Read the article here.

Not Much of a Vacation

I just got back from a week-long trip. I'm not going to call it a vacation because we only had short periods of fun surrounded by stress and fatigue. My spouse broke our no-yelling-in-the-car rule so many times that I've come up with a new policy: separate vacations!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Eating Meat an Evolutionary Advantage

There was an interesting story on NPR about how a Meat-based Diet Made Us Smarter. It tells how eating calorie-packed meat freed our ancestors from having to eat all day long. It also required tools (like stone knives).

Another point: cooking made food more digestible. (Raw-food faddists will find this as objectionable as vegans find the main point of the article.)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Cocoa and Coffee Can Cause Bloating

Just saw this on AOL Health:
As a high-acid food, cocoa can cause bloating in sensitive individuals... Alcohol, fruit juice, coffee and tea are additional high-acid culprits, but the reaction may not be immediate: "It may take up to 48 hours for a sensitivity to appear," says Weatherwax. To find out if one of these foods is causing your bloating, cut out the suspected problem food or drink. Then consume it and wait 48 hours to see if you have a reaction.

The Solution: Limit cocoa-based beverages and foods if it causes bloating within 48 hours of consuming them.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Gluten Found in Foods Considered Gluten-free

A lot of us have suspected this: Many foods that are considered gluten-free are actually contaminated with gluten. Researchers found that "seven of the 22 foods would fail the FDA's test" for being free of gluten. "One of the products they analyzed, a flour made with soy, contained 3,000 parts per million of gluten, they said. They also identified a millet grain and flour, a buckwheat flour and a sorghum flour that weren't completely gluten-free."

Note that these were NOT labeled "gluten-free" but were simply products normally considered to be free of gluten.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Interesting article on Nightshades in Foods. I avoided nightshades for about three weeks but noticed no difference in my health. Avoiding potatoes is especially tricky for me because they are sometimes the only wheat-free starch served in restaurants.

Did you know you should store potatoes in a dark place?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lotsa Protein

I took a nutritional typing test on I've taken different self-quizzes on my nutritional type and they give slightly different results but they all agree that I should eat plenty of protein. This one differs in that the recommendations include eating the protein first before eating other foods. Interesting.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Small Cyst

I had a pelvic ultrasound to try to find a cause for abdominal pain I was having. It revealed a small cyst but the doctor says it is unlikely to cause pain and may shrink over time.

My pain was probably caused by a digestive problem because it occurred after I ate in a restaurant and my abdomen was swollen for several days. Probably there was either a little dairy hidden in the food or else the coffee was the kind that gives me gas. I've eaten at this particular restaurant before without a problem but now I don't want to go there any more.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Calories May Not Mean What You Think

Newsweek's article on How Bacteria May Make You Fat is intriguing. It explores recent research on intestinal bacteria and how it effects weight gain.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Change in Natural Hormone Prescription

My doctor has changed my prescription for topical hormones based on blood test results. My estrogen was low and my progesterone was high. She said that could be contributing to the fatigue that I have been experiencing.

I get the Rx as a cream from a compounding pharmacy.

New Rx: E2= 1.25, E3= 1.5, P= 75, T= 0.1

Old Rx: E2= 0.75, E3= 1, P= 100, T= 0.1

Monday, May 31, 2010

Am I an Emotional Overeater?

I saw Dr. Daniel Amen on PBS and went to his website and found the free questionnaire. The results are based on my stating that I have frequent fatigue and feel worse in the winter.

Automated suggestions were provided for me including taking vitamin D and these:
The following behavioral changes may boost mood to help SAD or emotional overeaters:
  1. Exercise to increase blood flow and multiple neurotransmitters in the brain.

  2. Kill the ANTs (automatic negative thoughts) that steal your happiness.

  3. Write down five things you are grateful for everyday (this has been shown to increase your level of happiness in just three weeks).

  4. Volunteer to help others, which helps to get you outside of yourself and less focused on your own internal problems.

  5. Surround yourself with great smells, such as lavender.

  6. Try melatonin to help you sleep.

  7. Work to improve your relationships.
See Type 4: SAD or Emotional Overeaters Plan – Amen Clinics

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Study Links Heptachlor, PCBs and Form of Vitamin E to Diabetes

"An analysis of 266 potential environmental contributors to type 2 diabetes published May 20, 2010 in the online edition of the journal PLoS ONE, links the disease to individuals who have higher levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and the pesticide heptachlor, as well a form of vitamin E found at high levels in soybean and corn oil, in their bodies compared to the general population. PCB was banned in 1979 and most uses of heptachlor were canceled between 1978 and 1989 (except for limited control of fire ants, which continues), but the compounds persist in the environment, especially near former industrial sites or contaminated soil. Environmentalists point to the fact that chemicals banned decades ago are still increasing people’s risk of disease, as a reason to take a precautionary approach when evaluating and registering chemicals.

The analysis, led by Atul Butte, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medical informatics and pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine, drew on data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to examine a wide range of environmental influences on type 2 diabetes."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cancer Prevention - Exposing the Nonprofits

A recent article in the New York Times mentioned some of the shocking points you'll find on the Cancer Prevention Coalition's website. Some of the big "not-for-profit" organizations that are supposedly fighting cancer are actually in bed with the industries that contribute to the increase in cancer!

Be sure to browse the site to learn more about cancer and how the ACS has actually opposed measures to reduce the risk of cancer.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Diatomaceous Earth

I've used diatomaceous earth as a barrier against bugs, but when I found out some folks I know are taking a special grade of it as a supplement, I was surprised. The only information I can find on it is from companies that sell it (like EarthworksHealth) plus one scientific study that says it can lower high blood pressure. My holistically-inclined physician found the information and says it cannot recommend it at this time.

The active ingredient appears to be silica. A traditional supplement for silica is the herb horsetail, but silica is also found in many vegetables.

On the other hand, food grade diatomaceous earth has been used in animal feed for a long time. It sounds like it is safe to put in pet food to control parasites. Just be sure to use "food grade" instead of the kind you put on your lawn.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fast-Food Frustration

I don't want to be the customer from hell. I'd like to treat everyone with respect and make them feel good. But sometimes people make it hard. And my frustration over food issues makes it difficult to maintain patience.

Today we had our dog in the car because we had taken him to the vet. My husband did some shopping while I waited in the car and we both got hungry. I didn't want to leave the dog alone in the car while we ate in a restaurant so I drove to a fast-food drive-thru. My husband loves fast food. I tried to order a low-carb burger because I'm allergic to wheat. I don't tolerate dairy either. I told the unseen clerk on the other side of the intercom that I wanted a low-carb burger and asked "Do you know what that is?"

She mumbled something unintelligible. I don't like talking down to people but half the time my orders come out wrong so I try to be very clear. "I only want the burger patty and lettuce. No cheese, that's important. No bun, no sauce."

She did not read our order back to us and of course, when I opened the bag, my order was wrong. It had a bun. "Can't you just take it off?" asked my husband, although he knew the answer. With allergy, a few crumbs can cause a reaction. I took the sandwich into the restaurant so I could communicate face-to-face. After a short wait in line, I explained what I needed again. The man at the register relayed my instructions to the clerk, who appeared to have a limited command of English. In about two minutes the man gave me a cheeseburger patty with lettuce.

"This is wrong. I can't have cheese. Please get me a burger patty and lettuce ONLY." He did and I thanked him. But I'm sure he could tell I was upset. I was close to tears.

I felt sorry for myself. But we had one more stop, the hardware store. Again I sat in the car while my husband shopped. I listened to a program on public radio about a photography exhibit on hunger. Soundbites from several people were played, people who suffered from hunger. A woman talked about how hard it was to go to bed hungry. I stopped feeling so sorry for himself. At least I had found something to eat.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Agave Syrup: Not So Good for You

Why is agave syrup NOT a good idea? It's very high in fructose... but there are other problems with it. Dr. Mercola writes that agave syrup is worse than HFCS.

Well, I haven't tried this syrup and since I have a limited ability to handle sweets, I don't plan to try it. But I am concerned about insulin resistance and I was especially interested in some of the points Mercola makes in the article:
  • While fructose does not increase insulin levels, what it does do is radically increase insulin resistance, which is FAR more dangerous because it’s normal for your insulin levels to rise; you just don’t want these insulin levels to remain elevated, which is what insulin resistance causes.
  • Fructose is not intrinsically evil -- it is just the MASSIVE DOSES you are exposed to that makes it dangerous. Because it is so cheap and makes foods taste better, it is added to virtually every processed food. People are consuming fructose in quantities that are 400-800 percent higher than they were 100 years ago.
  • Fructose is broken down in your liver just like alcohol and produces many of the side effects of chronic alcohol use, right down to the "beer belly."
  • Fructose also elevates your uric acid levels, causing chronic, low-level inflammation.
  • Fructose activates its own pathways in your body—those metabolic pathways become "upregulated." In other words, the more fructose you eat, the more effective your body is in absorbing it; and the more you absorb, the more damage it can do.
  • You become "sensitized" to fructose as time goes by, and more sensitive to its toxic effects as well.
  • Exercise can help modulate the negative effects of fructose.
See the article on

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ever heard of Senomyx?

I hadn't heard of Senomyx until I saw it mentioned on Natural Health News blog. Senomyx is a food additive that got approved very quickly. It can enhance flavors and even block bitter flavors. I looked up Senomyx on Wikipedia and found no comfort there. Companies can include put it in food without saying so!
"Senomyx has identified the receptors in the mouth responsible for sensing bitter taste (nature’s way of warning us against ingesting poison) and developed a chemical additive to knock out these receptors..." How's that for a bad idea?
As a person with food allergies and sensitivities, I object to any additive being allowed without being identified. If I should be have a reaction to the additive, how could I identify it and later avoid it?

Could Senomyx be one the secret "natural flavors" in Truvia? Could it be the one that has caused gastric distress in the dozens of people who have complained about Truvia here?

Link Explored: Insulin Resistance and Free Radicals has an article explaining how antioxidants are helpful in fighting diabetes.
Managing insulin resistance is not a single-step process. It’s clear that slowing the descent toward full-blown diabetes—not to mention the long list of other complications linked to insulin resistance—requires both superior antioxidant support and blood sugar control.
VRP markets supplements so naturally the article discusses nutrients and herbs that help control blood sugar, including NAC, grape seed extract, rosemary, goat's rue, cinnamon, chromium, quercetin, and vanadyl sulfate.

New Study on High-Fructose Corn Syrup - AOL News

New Study Fuels Bitter Debate Over Use of High-Fructose Corn Syrup - AOL News

The researchers found that rats fed HFCS were far more likely to gain weight and exhibit signs of obesity, even when their overall caloric intake was the same as the rats consuming table sugar.

NOT ALL CALORIES ARE EQUAL! Evidence that our commonly-accepted knowledge on weight loss is false.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Coffee researchers consider blocking hydrochloric acid

Coffee researchers identify stomach friendly ingredient: Beverage Daily says "New research into the causes of stomach problems sometimes experienced by coffee drinkers has uncovered an ingredient that could pave the way for gentler brews."

The article goes on to discuss how N-methylpyridium (NMP) in coffee seems to block the ability of the stomach cells to produce hydrochloric acid and could provide a way to reduce or avoid stomach irritation. The researchers seem to assume that blocking hydrochloric acid is a good thing. Perhaps for some people... but for some of us, we already produce too little acid to digest protein and break down minerals, so the special coffee being proposed could interfere with digestion at mealtimes.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Comment on Health Care

I don't know what will happen with Congress and the health insurance debate but this is what I do know:
  1. Health insurance has become unaffordable for many working people. My own policy went up a hundred dollars last month and is now costing me over $400 monthly! Yet I have a $1200 deductible to meet before I collect anything.
  2. Executives at health insurance companies are paid huge amounts of money.
  3. Health care in the US is not as good as it should be.
Part of our medical problems are due to lifestyle choices, and another part is due to greed - greedy insurance execs, greedy pharmaceutical corporations, and no doubt other groups too. Something needs to change and soon.

Too Much Cortisol

A lab test for adrenal function shows that my adrenal glands are over-active. The doctor says they are pumping out too much cortisol and I should take vitamin B5 to support them. He believes I am under too much stress.

I looked on the popular Mercola website and found these effects listed from excess cortisol:
  • Diminished cellular utilization of glucose
  • Increased blood sugar levels
  • Decreased protein synthesis
  • Demineralization of bone that can lead to osteoporosis
... and more (see Mercola's article on adrenal function).

My doctor previously talked to me about blood sugar and the importance of avoiding glycemic overload. Mercola offers some additional tips such as having a little fat with every meal and:
  1. A small meal or snack every three to four hours
  2. Eating within the first hour upon awakening
  3. A small snack near bedtime
  4. Eating before becoming hungry.

Also worth reading: Causes of Excess Cortisol in Wikipedia.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pine Nuts may leave bitter taste...

What is that bitter taste? Maybe it was those pine nuts you ate - San Jose Mercury News
I've had that bitter taste but did not associate it with pine nuts... next time I will look back at what I've eaten. I wonder if other foods can cause this?

I've heard of metal poisoning causes a bad taste, and have experience a bitter taste after taking Flagyl (yuck!).

See also's list of causes of a bitter taste, which include insect bites.

Pain Relievers May Cause Hearing Loss

The new study by researchers at the Channing Laboratory and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston published in the most recent issue of the American Journal of Medicine suggests that men under 50, in particular, who took acetaminophen two or more times weekly showed more than twice the risk for hearing loss when compared to men who are not regular pill poppers.

The active ingredient in Tylenol and numerous other OTC painkillers, acetaminophen wasn't the only culprit. The study also showed that men under 50 who regularly took non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such asibuprofen -- the active ingredient in Advil and Motrin, also had an increased risk or hearing loss. Aspirin users had about a third increased risk.
Read the rest here

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Necator americanus

Sounds almost patriotic: Necator Americanus. Unfortunately the name refers to a parasite, a species of hookworm that infests people.

When a laboratory sent test results to my doctor saying that I have this parasite, I was taken aback. I always associated hookworm with barefoot children walking in mud in warm climates. I don't fit that profile at all.

I looked up hookworm on Wikipedia and other sites and did not find that I was wrong, except that hookworm used to be common in temperate climates such as in Virginia. But I don't go barefoot except at the beach, and the last time I went to a beach was one time in August. I really don't know how I contracted this parasite!

The doctor prescribed medication which I took as directed. It works 80% of the time, so I don't know whether it worked for me. I guess I'll be retested somewhere down the road.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Birth Control that Doesn't Work is Given Positive Spin

Good grief! A study shows that the difference between condoms and withdrawal is 1% to 2% as far as preventing pregnancy, and goes on as though that makes withdrawal a smart choice! People, a difference of a percent or two does matter!

Quote: "in perfect use -- meaning the man pulls out every time -- withdrawal has a 4 percent failure rate, as compared to condoms, which have a 2 percent failure rate. " Four percent in perfect use doesn't sound good too me! I'd want a failure of less than one percent. And in real life use, the failure rates for these methods are 17 and 18 %. Whoa! No wonder there are so many kids!

If your brakes failed 17% of the time, you wouldn't drive the car, at least not for long because you'd wind up in a wreck. Even a 1% failure would be an unacceptable risk.

It amazes me that birth control has progressed so little over the last 50 years. We have methods that fail a lot and methods that are risky because of side effects. That's the way it's been since I was a teen and that's still how it is.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

When Does Human Life Begin?

This is an ancient and important question. People try to debate the ethics of abortion but how can they have an intelligent discussion when there is no agreement on precisely when human life begins. Sure, there are philosophical opinions and religious ideas but those are not facts.

I came across a fairly full discussion of this question at Development Biology Online. Read it if you want to be prepared for any sort of argument over abortion. Points that stand out for me include:
  • At week 5 the first neurons begin to appear
  • At 7.5 weeks the embryo displays its first reflexes in response to stimulus
  • Around week 8 the embryo has a basic three-neuron circuit
  • Not until around 20 weeks is the completion of the development of the thalamus, a region of the brain which enables the integration of the nervous system.
If you are concerned about causing pain, you might support an early abortion but not a later one. I'm not seeking to start an argument but it's something to think about.

Truvia Post Draws 50 Comments

The post on Truvia and gastric distress has had 50 comments to date. I still don't know why so many people have had a reaction to the product. I suspect that my personal unpleasant experience was due to the erythritol but it could also be due to the unspecified "natural sweeteners."

Since writing the original post, I have discovered that I no longer tolerate significant quantities of fructose. This is a huge challenge in planning meals. I will ask the doctor to test me for fructose intolerance.

Anyway, here is what Cargill says about erythritol:
"Erythritol is an all-natural, non-caloric sweetener, used as an ingredient that provides bulk for the tabletop form of Truvia™ rebiana. Bulking agents are additives that increase the bulk and contribute to the texture of a food. Erythritol has been part of the human diet for thousands of years as it is present in fruits such as pears, melons and grapes, as well as foods such as mushrooms and fermentation-derived foods such as wine, soy sauce and cheese. It is added to foods and beverages to provide sweetness, as well as to enhance taste and texture."
I don't tolerate any of the foods mentioned very well, so I guess I should have done more research before trying something that contained erythritol. Fermented products are a problem for many of us who have allergies to yeast and mold.

Also, the online FAQ for Truvia gives this evasive answer to a question about what are the natural flavors in the product:

"Natural flavors are used to bring out the best of Truvia™'s natural sweetener, like pepper or salt or any other spice that would be used to heighten the taste of food."
Huh, that tells me nothing. Must have been written by a political speechwriter!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Click to Help

Child Health Site graphicThe Child Health Site provides help for children in need and all you have to do is Click.

Another place where your click makes a donation is Click to Help Haiti. These sites work because they have advertisers who pay for donations in return for internet exposure.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Endobarrier May Reverse Diabetes and Obesity

An amazing medical device is being tested and shows great promise as a non-surgical alternative for weight-loss surgery: The Endobarrier Gastrointestinal Liner. Read about it and see what you think.

I'm a bit put-off by the fact that it's inserted through the mouth, but that's much safer than surgery. Also, the photo suggests a lengthy cellophane condom topped by barbed wire... they really need a better illustration!

Does low-fat food cause weight gain?

Nutritionist Jonny Bowden contends that low fat diets caused the obesity epidemic. I suspect he's right on some counts. He goes back to the start of the low-fat craze.
"The race was on to produce low-fat and no-fat foods, and to engineer the saturated fat out of everything. This, in turn, led to a slew of "food-like" products, manufactured and processed edible substances bearing little resemblance to whole foods, and to idiotic experiments like margarine. Add to this witches' brew the invention of high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils (to replace saturated fat) and you had the perfect dietary storm."
Sally Fallon wrote about the fallacies of low-fat cooking in her book Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. She tells us how
  • Your body needs old-fashioned animal fats.
  • New-fangled polyunsaturated oils can be bad for you.
  • Modern whole grain products can cause health problems.
Disclosure: If you buy her book from the link above, I get a small credit from Amazon which I can eventually use for buying my own books.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Experts Say a Big Butt is Healthy!

Having a big bum, hips and thighs 'is healthy' reports on the BBC. Here are highlights from the report:
  1. Hip fat mops up harmful fatty acids and contains an anti-inflammatory agent
  2. Having too little fat around the hips can lead to serious metabolic problems, as occurs in Cushing's syndrome.
  3. "Fat around the hips and thighs is good for you but around the tummy is bad."
  4. Fat around the thighs and backside is harder to shift than fat around the waist.
Ha, tell me about it!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Can Stevia Help Fight Osteoporosis?

A self-healing website published a page on stevia as a fighter against brittle bones. Japanese researchers have found that the herb stevia increases calcium density in animals. It also decreases body fat. Whether this translates to a medical use in humans remains to be proven. But as a stevia user, I find it intriguing.

By the way, always read the labels on sugar substitutes. The inactive ingredients (fillers) can be a problem for some people.