|Issue #48 - September 2006|
I'm excited to announce the availability of my website www.foroptimalhealth.com on Friday October 6. Initially you will find my monthly newsletters, a frequently updated blog with online health commentary, a store to order products, and a calendar where you can post your own events and find my upcoming events. In the next few months there will be added content-background articles, resources for homeopathy, nutrition, herbs, and other modalities, as well as ongoing development of tools to help you improve your health. If you have comments or suggestions about my site I'd love to get your feedback.
"A DAY IN THE LIFE" OF A HOMEOPATHIC CASE
Part 4 revisited
"Same as it ever was...", "It's always the same", "There's been no change", and other variations on the theme. People are quick to make such superficial assessments concerning their response to homeopathic care. There are a number of reasons why this happens.
It's frequently the case that people seek care at my door as a last resort. Their MD has tried everything (sic), they've been told it's all in their head; they've dealt with the problem for years, etc. Their symptoms are so entrenched, it seems almost impossible for them to move or change.
Sometimes it's the 'forest for the trees' syndrome. Attention has been so focused on the pain in the big toe that the fact that they're sleeping deeply through the night and experiencing less anxiety has escaped their attention.
Often the change in health takes place at such a deep level, without side effects, that they just 'forget' about their symptom. "What about the daily headache you told me about at the last visit?" "Oh, I forgot all about that. It went away about a week after I saw you".
Occasionally there is a reluctance to hope that improvement is occurring. As if it will disappear if it's noticed. When you're told for so long that "there's nothing wrong with you", even though you're very ill, it's easy to doubt yourself. You doubt your ability to know what's going on. So it makes sense that you will doubt the improvement that you feel.
These and other reactions are just the manifestation of the individual's chronic disease (unhealthy state). If you think of this state as an internal imbalance that creates disharmony on the mental, emotional, and physical levels, it makes sense that even your interpretation of your symptoms can be distorted.
That's where your feedback comes in. All that's necessary is to describe what you experience in as great a depth as you can access. Focusing on who, what, where, when, how, why, etc., is one way to organize all the information. Even if the symptom has remained the same, you might use a different word in the retelling that helps me understand what you mean. Your language is very powerful in this regard. It's a great communication tool that can be more useful than a lab test. You just have to use it.
So, the next time you get an email from me that asks you to describe any changes, dig a little deeper. If there's an initial "there's been no change'', think about it a bit more. Look at things from a different angle. Turn it upside down and inside out. There might not be a $50 bill inside but you'll at least get your 2 cents worth. And that may be just enough to make all the difference in the world.
FOOD LABELS-TRANS FATS
This is the start of a new ongoing series of articles to help you understand what's in the foods that you buy.
Since January of this year the FDA has required that Food Labels list the amount of trans fat in a particular packaged food. Trans fatty acids, also known as trans fat, is an artery-clogging fat that is formed when vegetable oils are hardened into margarine or shortening. It is found in many other foods besides margarine and shortening, however, including fried foods like french fries, fried chicken, doughnuts, cookies, pastries and crackers. The typical french fry has about 40 percent trans fatty acids and many cookies and crackers range from 30 percent to 50 percent trans fatty acids. Doughnuts have about 35 percent to 40 percent trans fatty acids.
Trans fat raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad" cholesterol, while lowering levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), known as "good" cholesterol. It also causes arterial obstruction, increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other serious health problems. Many food companies use trans fat instead of oil because it reduces cost, and extends the storage life of products.
Until this year food companies weren't required to list it on nutrition labels so there was no way to know how much you were consuming. One additional clue to determine the amount of trans fat in a food is to read the ingredient label and look for shortening, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil. The higher up on the list these ingredients appear, the more trans fat.
The really twisted piece here is how the 'trans fat' part of nutrition labels has a huge confusing loophole. That is, if one serving of food has less than 500 milligrams (less than 1/2 gram) of trans fat, the label can legally say the food has 0 trans fat. I'll say it again. It is legal for a food to list, on its nutrition label, that it has 0 trans fat, and still contain up to 500 mg. trans fat in one serving. This may not seem like much but given the prevalence of these fats in the standard American diet it would be easy to consume several grams per day of these fats while thinking that they were consuming 0 trans fat. Even the conservative American Heart Association will tell you that's too much.
One solution is to look for the words "No trans fat" on the label. This is a more accurate distinction and will give you a better chance of not consuming any trans fats.
NEW YORK CITY MAY BAN TRANS FATS IN RESTAURANTS
Three years after New York City banned smoking in restaurants, health officials are talking about prohibiting artificial trans fatty acids.
The city health department unveiled a proposal on September 26 2006 that would bar cooks at any of the city's 24,600 food service establishments from using ingredients that contain the artery-clogging substance, commonly listed on food labels as partially hydrogenated oil.
Artificial trans fats are found in most shortenings, margarine and frying oils and turn up in foods from pie crusts to french fries to doughnuts. Nutritionists agree that trans fats are unhealthy in almost any amount.
This proposal would create a huge problem for national fast food chains. Among those that would need to get an overhaul or face a ban: McDonald's french fries, Kentucky Fried Chicken and several varieties of Dunkin' Donuts.
Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden acknowledged that the ban would be a challenge for restaurants, but he said trans fats could easily be replaced with substitute oils that taste the same or better and are far less unhealthy. "It is a dangerous and unnecessary ingredient," Frieden said. "No one will miss it when it's gone."
One year ago New York's health department asked restaurants to impose a voluntary ban but found use of trans fats unchanged in recent surveys. Under the New York proposal, restaurants would have to remove artificial trans fats out of cooking oils, margarine and shortening by July 1, 2007, and all other foods by July 1, 2008. It would not affect grocery stores. It also would not apply to naturally occurring trans fats, which are found in some meats and dairy.
Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard University School of Public Health, stated "Artificial trans fats are very toxic, and they almost surely causes tens of thousands of premature deaths each year," he said. "The federal government should have done this long ago."
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: In February of this year McDonald's revealed that its fries had 33% more trans fats than previously stated. That means the level of artery-clogging trans fat in a portion of large fries is eight grams, up from six, with total fat increasing to 30 grams from 25. This after promising in 2002 that they would change the oil they fry their foods in to reduce trans fats. This promise, not just broken but also self-servingly destroyed, brought them lots of positive publicity. Patrons were manipulated into believing they were eating healthfully. What a joke!
SEVEN UP-100% NATURAL???
Do you believe that 7 Up is natural? What does that mean to you? When the commercial shows someone picking a 7 Up can from a fruit tree does that convince you that it's a healthy drink? It's easy to be manipulated by such deceptive images.
This marketing campaign is patently ridiculous when further examined. But that hasn't stopped 7 Up from increasing their sales 18% since this campaign started. Like many conglomerate food companies they are trying to ride the wave of consumer interest in healthier foods. 'Natural' is such an abused term anyway. One working definition is a food or ingredient is natural if found in whole, unprocessed foods in nature.
One of the main ingredients in the new, "100% natural" 7 Up is high fructose corn syrup. This substance is anything but natural. It takes extensive processing to produce this substance from corn. "Natural flavor", another ingredient, may have little to do with anything natural by our definition. It is a government-manipulated term that encompasses substances not found in nature.
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: There is nothing natural or healthy or wholesome about consuming soda. No matter how successful the deception there is no way one can ignore the health effects of soda consumption. Obesity, insulin resistance, high triglycerides, impaired glucose tolerance all are associated with the consumption of empty calories. Last year soda replaced white bread as the leading source of calories in American's diets.
Don't let yourself be persuaded by this transparent attempt to co-opt natural and healthy options. Water is still your best choice of beverage. It doesn't have to be vitamin water, or special extra hydrogen atom water, or some boutique brand. Just clean, pure H2O.
OOPS, THEY'VE DONE IT AGAIN
In the August 24 2006 issue of the New York Times there was an article about a new drug from Merck. Merck is trying to bring Arcoxia to market. This drug is the designated successor to Merck's withdrawn painkiller Vioxx.
In 2004, after it was found that Vioxx increased the risk of stroke and heart attack, it was taken off the market. Since then more than 11,000 lawsuits have been filed, alleging that Merck was aware of the problems with Vioxx and should have warned doctors and their patients.
Merck is promoting Arcoxia as they have results from one study suggesting there is no more heart risk from Arcoxia then there is from diclofenac (Voltaren), an older generation anti-inflammatory. These Arcoxia studies have looked at a total number of 34,000 patients.
However, there were some warning signs. Many patients stopped taking Arcoxia because of problems with high blood pressure, and there was a slightly greater chance of developing congestive heart failure for those on the drug. Given that Voltaren might also cause some risk of heart disease it's no feather in the cap for Arcoxia not to be any worse.
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: Arcoxia (etoricoxib) is a COX-2 selective inhibitor, like Vioxx, Bextra, and Celerbrex. This class of very expensive drugs was promoted as being more effective and less harmful to the digestive system then the drugs they replaced.
Being that it is estimated that Vioxx killed 40-60,000 people why would anyone take a drug-Arcoxia-with the same pharmacological action? Because the message is, there is no other option. Blatantly false, but this is the message nonetheless.
COENZYME Q10 USE AFTER STATIN DRUG THERAPY
This study of 50 new patients on statin drug therapy (for an average of 28 months), was carried out to determine possible adverse statin effects, such as - myalgia, fatigue, dyspnea, memory loss and peripheral neuropathy. All patients were advised to discontinue statin therapy due to various side effects and were put on supplemental CoQ10.
The patients were followed for an average of 22 months, 84% were followed for more than 12 months. Improvements over the initial exam were noted in most patients. Decreases in fatigue from 84% to 16%; myalgia from 64% to 6%; dyspnea from 58% to 12%; memory loss from 8% to 4%; and peripheral neuropathy from 10% to 2%, were reported. Two patients died from lung cancer and one patient died from aortic stenosis. No cases of strokes or heart attacks were reported.
Measurements of heart function either improved or remained stable in a majority of the patients despite discontinuation of statin therapy. No adverse consequences from statin discontinuation were observed. The authors go on to state, "we conclude that statin-related side effects, including statin cardiomyopathy, are far more common than previously published and are reversible with a combination of statin discontinuation and supplemental coenzyme Q10."
"Treatment of statin adverse effects with supplemental Coenzyme Q10 and statin drug discontinuation," Langsjoen PH, Langsjoen JO, Langsjoen AM, and Lucas LA, BioFactors, 2005; 25(1-4): 147-152.
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: Statin drugs are used to lower cholesterol. The most well known being Lipitor-the most profitable drug in the world. They are prescribed as if there are no important health concerns. Even though they will tell you to come back for periodic tests to check for liver function. If you are on statin therapy, be very cognizant of the numerous side effects of these drugs and bring them to the attention of your physician.
The main pharmacologic action of these drugs is to interfere with the synthesis of the cholesterol molecule. At the same time, they interfere with the production of coenzyme Q10. This is a dose dependent relationship. The greater the effect on lowering cholesterol, the greater the effect on lowering CoQ10. CoQ10 is in every cell of your body, and is the co-enzyme for the production of cellular energy or ATP in your cells. It is responsible for over 80 per cent of energy production.
The tissues and organs that use a lot of energy are the first to be affected. The heart, for example, uses a huge amount of energy and if you cut it back with the use of a statin, what you start having is a lack of energy-you start getting sluggish. These changes-fatigue, getting winded when you're walking up the stairs-are frequently attributed to being older or out of shape. Side effects of stain drug use are not recognized as such and therefore are often missed.
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 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