|Issue #95 - August 2010|
Welcome to this issue of Naturopathic News, issue #95. It's my mission to help you find optimal solutions to health problems. This newsletter is one way to do that. The more educated you are about your health options the better able you will be to take control of your health. If you would like to stop receiving my newsletter please send me an email and let me know. If you have a friend or family member who you think would appreciate the information provided, send me their email address.
Recently I saw a study that looked at what were called communication discrepancies between patients and their doctors. It compared patient and physician perceptions about their care. The researchers administered two surveys from October 2008 to June 2009. A total of 89 hospitalized patients and 43 associated internal medicine residents and attending physicians responded to the surveys.
One of the aspects that were looked at was whether the physicians explained things in a comprehensible way. Only 58% of patients thought that was the case. More than half of the patients said that their physicians never talked to them about their fears or anxieties.
Other significant differences existed between patients' and physicians' impressions about patient knowledge and care received.
Do I explain things in an understandable way? Do you think we have had discussions about your fears and anxieties? Any other questions; communication breakdowns?
Let me know what you think.
Communication Discrepancies Between Physicians and Hospitalized Patients. Arch Intern Med 2010 Aug 9/23;170(15):1302-130.
PLASTICS TOUGH ON PREEMIES
Researchers have shown a connection between substances that make plastics more pliable, and inflammation in newborns. They are encouraging limiting the use of what are called ‘plasticizers’. These are made up of chemicals called phthalates. Premature babies are exposed to extraordinarily high concentrations of phthalates due to exposure to plastic medical equipment used during neonatal intensive care.
Many of the diseases unique to premature babies, including the lung disorder bronchopulmonary dysplasia and the intestinal ailment necrotizing enterocolitis, are associated with excessive inflammation.
"... [There is] direct evidence that the presence of phthalates prolongs the survival of white blood cells, which supports the idea that they are contributing to damage and to inflammation ... phthalates encourage cells to produce hydrogen peroxide, which ... can kill cells and damage tissue."
Pediatric Research August 2010; 68(2):134-9
DR. PAIS’S COMMENTS: Yet another reason to stay away from plastic, especially for children. In Puerto Rico, nearly 1% of girls have premature breast development by the age of two years. More than two-thirds of girls with premature breast development had significant levels of phthalates in their blood, compared with only 3% of children with normal development. The phthalates identified in these girls’ blood were confirmed in earlier research to be hormone-disrupting chemicals.
HONEY HELPS HERPES
Conventional physicians usually prescribe Acyclovir ointment or other topical medications to treat herpes outbreaks. But this new research shows that nature may have a sweeter answer. Not only does honey work faster than any of the conventional treatments, it has fewer side effects.
Sixteen subjects with a history of recurrent labial and genital herpes attacks used honey to treat one attack, and a commonly prescribed antiviral drug, acyclovir cream, during another. For labial herpes, the mean healing time was 43% better, and for genital herpes, 59% better than acyclovir.
Pain and crusting was also significantly reduced with the honey, compared to the drug. Two cases of labial herpes and one case of genital herpes remitted completely with the honey treatment, whereas none remitted while using acyclovir.
The researchers concluded that "topical honey application is safe and effective in the management of the signs and symptoms of recurrent lesions from labial and genital herpes."
According to Nutrition and Healing:
"None of the volunteers experienced any side effects with repeated applications of honey, although three patients developed local itching with the Acyclovir."
Nutrition and Healing November 2004
Medical Science Monitor 10(8):MT94-98; August 2004
DR. PAIS’S COMMENTS: Herpes is usually separated into two main viral infections:
Herpes simplex (oral and/or genital herpes)
Herpes zoster (also known as shingles; a reactivation of the chickenpox virus)
It’s not surprising that honey has been shown to be effective here. It’s been used for wound healing for a very long time. This is an interesting extension of the same idea. To use the honey most effectively apply it directly to the open sore. You want keep the area continuously covered with honey. I would use raw organic honey, local if available. Manuka honey in particular has been shown to be very effective. Standard filtered honey will not do the job.
One thing to remember is that neither the drug nor the honey is curative. It’s just that the honey works faster and doesn’t have side effects. So it’s a better choice of caring for the lesions while you’re trying to cure with homeopathic medicine.
Honey works in the following ways to heal wounds:
The high sugar content actually suppresses microorganism growth
It draws fluid away from the wound
Worker bees secrete an enzyme (glucose oxidase) into the nectar, which then releases low levels of hydrogen peroxide when the honey makes contact with your wound.
COLORECTAL CANCER AND VITAMIN
This meta-analysis looked at 13 studies from Asia, the United States, and Europe. A combined total exceeding 440,000 adult subjects all together. Cases of colorectal cancers (CA) from studies with follow-up intervals lasting 5 to 18 years were paired against baseline assessments of vitamin B6 intake (9 studies) or blood levels of pyridoxal 5'-phosphate (PLP)-B6 inside the body, (4 studies).
There was a 10% reduced risk of colorectal CA observed in the highest-versus-lowest category of B6 intake. In regard to the studies looking at blood levels of PLP, there was a remarkable significant 48% reduced risk in the highest-versus-lowest level. For every 2 standard deviations of increase in blood PLP, colorectal CA risk was virtually cut in half.
Larsson SC, Orsini N, Wolk A. vitamin B6 and risk of colorectal cancer--a meta-analysis of prospective studies. JAMA 2010;303:1077-83.
DR. PAIS’S COMMENTS: The physiological effects of vitamin B6 have caused researchers to speculate that this vitamin might help avert certain forms of CA, particularly CA of the colon and rectum. The findings of this meta-analysis add considerable weight to this view but do not directly address the issue of whether supplemental B6 would prove preventive.
All but two of the individual trials in the meta-analysis deal exclusively with food sources of B6. None separates out the effects of supplemental B6. Dietary intake never exceeded a mean of 5.4 mg/day, placing it far below most supplemental intakes.
vitamin B6 is found in cereals, vegetables, poultry and fish as well as in some fruits like bananas and avocados.
When I work with patients that have a family history of colon or rectal CA or they are believed to be at risk (e.g. as a result of consuming a significant amounts of red meat, a prime risk factor) I consider discussing these findings while acknowledging the lack of supportive evidence from intervention trials. However, given the low cost and safety of B6 at doses likely to raise PLP levels to or beyond those associated with protection in the current report (15-25 mg per day), some patients consider long-term supplementation until these issues are resolved.
In the US, according to JAMA, 20% of men and 40% of women over the age of 50 do not take in sufficient vitamin B6.
FRUCTOSE INCREASES RISK OF HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
People who eat a diet high in fructose have an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, or hypertension. The results of this study suggest that cutting back on foods and beverages containing a lot of fructose might decrease your risk of developing hypertension.
"The study involved 4,528 US adults 18 years of age or older with no prior history of hypertension. Study participants answered questions related to their consumption of foods and beverages such as fruit juices, soft drinks, bakery products, and candy."
Journal of the American Society Nephrology July 1, 2010
DR. PAIS’S COMMENTS: Hypertension is a major risk factor for heart and kidney diseases. It may be no coincidence that an increase in the general consumption of fructose, which is used to sweeten a wide variety of processed foods, has occurred at the same time as a rise in the prevalence of hypertension. Yet another good reason to stay away from high fructose corn syrup.
Read your food labels!
VITAMIN D CUTS BREAST CANCER RISK
New research from Canada shows that taking vitamin D in supplement form may be protective against breast cancer.
Given these new findings on vitamin D supplements, "it looks promising for vitamin D," Laura N. Anderson, one of the study's authors and a doctoral student at Cancer Care Ontario in Toronto, told Reuters Health. "We certainly need more research done in this area," she said.
Some prior studies have suggested that vitamin D may reduce breast cancer risk. Breast cells have receptors for vitamin D, Anderson noted, raising the possibility that the nutrient could help regulate the division and proliferation of these cells; there's also growing evidence that vitamin D could help protect against other types of cancer.
Anderson and her team sought to separate out the effects of vitamin D and calcium on breast cancer risk by surveying 3,101 breast cancer patients and 3,471 healthy controls about their intake of food and supplements.
Women who reported taking at least 400 international units of vitamin D every day were at 24% lower risk of developing breast cancer.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, online April 14, 2010.
DR. PAIS’S COMMENTS: The interesting piece here is that there seems to be a particular value in supplementing with vitamin D. Most practitioners working with vitamin D think that doses higher than 400IU are useful, probably necessary.
Here are some pages that are of particular interest:
Store: There are 294 products from Emerson listed on this page. If yours isn’t one of them please let me know and I will add it so you can order online. This is particularly convenient after hours or on the weekend. Of course, you can always order by phone from Emerson at 800-654-4432.
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LET ME HELP YOU MAKE WISE SUPPLEMENT CHOICES
As is often the case, a recent new patient asked if I would review their choice and use of supplements and herbs. Why does this happen so often? For many, taking a vitamin or herb is their introduction to natural medicine. Their desire to be healthier drives them to take supplements and herbs. The death, pain, discomfort, and side effects experienced with over the counter and prescription drugs compel people to look elsewhere. It’s very different with supplements and herbs which, when used correctly, have an incredibly low risk of harm.
Some people take this to an extreme and take every supplement or herb that someone tells them is ‘good for them’. It might be a clerk, an internet ‘expert’ source, or a friend who is marketing the latest or greatest fad. Most of these individuals or companies have no professional training or experience in the medical use of the supplements or herbs that they’re selling. The people they’re selling to come into my office with 5,10, 15, or more supplements that they’re taking. Sometimes it’s been so long since they started taking them that they don’t remember why they’re doing it. When I ask, they can’t tell me what, if anything, a particular product is doing for them. Yet, they can be quite fearful of stopping any of these items, as if their health would careen off a precipice without them.
Why do I think my approach is any different? Partly, it’s because of my background. I’ve literally been working with nutritional supplements since 1974. That’s 35 years assessing the quality and effectiveness of supplements. Starting in 1980 I started working with Western and Chinese herbs. The quality of herbs used and how they’re combined together has the greatest effect on the efficacy of the final product. Because I’ve grown, identified, harvested, and produced medicinal herbal products I recognize a good formula when I see one.
Licensed naturopaths like me receive the most extensive academic and clinical training in the use of nutritional supplements and herbal medicines of any professional in the United States. Nothing can substitute for such hands on experience, especially when you see, and are responsible for, the results of your treatments. Very different from the clerk in the store, or coworker who’s part of a MLM scheme.
What I’m offering to is easy access to this experience and training. Both for you and your family. If you have questions about the supplements or herbs you are taking, or are thinking about taking, now is the time to ask. Send me an email with the brand and name of the product you’re taking. Let me know that you want to bring the bottles in at your next visit, so I can see what you’re taking. Start a discussion on my Facebook fan page. Either way I’ll give you honest feedback about what I think is good, or what isn’t. We’ll fine tune what you’re taking to maximize effect and eliminate waste.
Let me hear from you and we’ll get started.
GET YOUR VITAMIN D TEST WITH ZRT LABORATORY
It just happened again the other day. A patient sent me a copy of the vitamin D test she just had done. With frustrating results. The wrong test was done. After all these years, and all the information available, MDs and laboratories still order the wrong test. What a waste of money and time.
For a long time I looked for a home vitamin D test. One that would be simple, easy, and accurate to do on your own. I finally found one. ZRT Laboratory in Beaverton OR. ZRT emphasizes research and technological innovation.
Until now, venipuncture blood serum has been the standard medium for testing vitamin D. ZRT has developed and refined vitamin D testing in blood spots. A few drops of blood from a quick and nearly painless nick of the finger, placed on a filter paper to dry are all that is needed. The total 25 (OH) vitamin D is then determined by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). This method has been shown to be as accurate as the assay standard.
Ordering A vitamin D Test
ZRT allows anyone to order a vitamin D test kit for $95 plus shipping and have it sent to their home. ZRT will let me prepay for kits and send them to my office for $55 each. I am charging $65 per kit for patients to cover my overhead and analysis of results.
If you are interested in getting a vitamin D test done through my office please prepay so I can order you a kit. Then you can either pick it up at my office or have it shipped to your home. Once you’ve taken the sample and sent it back to ZRT it’s only a matter of time before your results are sent back to me. I can even look at them online before the mail arrives.
If your doctor has refused to order a vitamin D test or worse, ordered the wrong one, this is the fastest, least expensive, most accurate way to do it ourselves. Once we know what your vitamin D levels are, the next step is making sure that you achieve optimum levels for prevention of disease and maintenance of health.
ITHACA OPTIMAL HEALTH
I’m excited to announce that I have opened a new office in Ithaca, New York. Why Ithaca? We feel very drawn to the area—socially, culturally, and politically. Now with the help of some friends we’re practicing there. Joy Weber, a massage therapist, has graciously opened her massage space to me, every 2nd Saturday of the month. I’ll be seeing patients there starting August 8. If you have any friends or family in the area let them know.
My Ithaca office address is 329 South Geneva St., Ithaca NY 14850.
I am often asked what supplements I recommend. Many of you have been surprised to discover that I favor food over pills; lifestyle changes over fads. I have been working with nutrition for over 30 years, herbs for over 20 years. Where and when appropriate I recommend them to my patients. I strive to act from knowledge, experience, and research.
Emerson Ecologics (800-654-4432) carries almost all of the nutritional supplements and botanical extracts that I think are useful. Their customer service is excellent and their delivery is reliable (often only 2-3 days to this region). It’s a great way to get physician quality products at reasonable prices.
To offset the cost of shipping, reference my name when you establish your account and receive a 10% discount on every order. If you have any questions about these items feel free to email me.
That’s it for this issue of Naturopathic News. If you’ve thought a bit extra or learned something new, then I achieved my goal. As usual, if you have questions or concerns brought up by these subjects, let me know.
Gregory Pais, ND, DHANP
580 E. 3rd. St.
Williamsport PA 17701