CharleneDeGidio never smoked marijuana in the 1960s, or afterward. But a year ago, after medications failed to relieve the pain in her legs and feet, a doctor suggested that the Adna, Wash., retiree try the drug.
Ms.DeGidio, 69 years old, bought candy with marijuana mixed in. It worked in easing her neuropathic pain, for which doctors haven’t been able to pinpoint a cause, she says. Now, Ms. DeGidio, who had previously tried without success other drugs including Neurontin and lidocaine patches, nibbles marijuana-laced peppermint bars before sleep, and keeps a bag in her refrigerator that she’s warned her grandchildren to avoid.
“It’s not like you’re out smoking pot for enjoyment or to get high,” says the former social worker, who won’t take the drug during the day because she doesn’t want to feel disoriented. “It’s a medicine.”
For many patients like Ms.DeGidio, it’s getting easier to access marijuana for medical use. The U.S. Department of Justice has said it will not generally prosecute ill people under doctors’ care whose use of the drug complies with state rules. New Jersey will become the 14th state to allow therapeutic use of marijuana, and the number is likely to grow. Illinois and New York, among others, are considering new laws.
As the legal landscape for patients clears somewhat, the medical one remains confusing, largely because of limited scientific studies. A recent American Medical Association review found fewer than 20 randomized, controlled clinical trials of smoked marijuana for all possible uses. These involved around 300 people in all—well short of the evidence typically required for a pharmaceutical to be marketed in the U.S.
Doctors say the studies that have been done suggest marijuana can benefit patients in the areas of managing neuropathic pain, which is caused by certain types of nerve injury, and in bolstering appetite and treating nausea, for instance in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. “The evidence is mounting” for those uses, says IgorGrant, director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego.
But in a range of other conditions for which marijuana has been considered, such as epilepsy and immune diseases like lupus, there’s scant and inconclusive research to show the drug’s effectiveness. Marijuana also has been tied to side effects including a racing heart and short-term memory loss and, in at least a few cases, anxiety and psychotic experiences such as hallucinations. The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate marijuana, so the quality and potency of the product available in medical-marijuana dispensaries can vary.
Though states have been legalizing medical use of marijuana since 1996, when California passed a ballot initiative, the idea remains controversial. Opponents say such laws can open a door to wider cultivation and use of the drug by people without serious medical conditions. That concern is heightened, they say, when broadly written statutes, such as California’s, allow wide leeway for doctors to decide when to write marijuana recommendations.
But advocates of medical-marijuana laws say certain seriously ill patients can benefit from the drug and should be able to access it with a doctor’s permission. They argue that some patients may get better results from marijuana than from available prescription drugs.
GlennOsaki, 51, a technology consultant from Pleasanton, Calif., says he smokes marijuana to counter nausea and pain. Diagnosed in 2005 with advanced colon cancer, he has had his entire colon removed, creating digestive problems, and suffers neuropathic pain in his hands and feet from a chemotherapy drug. He says smoking marijuana was more effective and faster than prescription drugs he tried, including one that is a synthetic version of marijuana’s most active ingredient, known as THC.
The relatively limited research supporting medical marijuana poses practical challenges for doctors and patients who want to consider it as a therapeutic option. It’s often unclear when, or whether, it might work better than traditional drugs for particular people. Unlike prescription drugs it comes with no established dosing regimen.
“I don’t know what to recommend to patients about what to use, how much to use, where to get it,” says Scott Fishman, chief of pain medicine at the University of California, Davis medical school, who says he rarely writes marijuana recommendations, typically only at a patient’s request.
Researchers say it’s difficult to get funding and federal approval for marijuana research. In November, the AMA urged the federal government to review marijuana’s position in the most-restricted category of drugs, so it could be studied more easily.
Gregory T. Carter, a University of Washington professor of rehabilitation medicine, says he’s developed his own procedures for recommending marijuana, which he does for some patients with serious neuromuscular conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, to treat pain and other symptoms. He typically urges those who haven’t tried it before to start with a few puffs using a vaporizer, which heats the marijuana to release its active chemicals, then wait 10 minutes. He warns them to have family nearby and to avoid driving, and he checks back with them after a few days. Many are “surprised at how mild” the drug’s psychotropic effects are, he says.
States’ rules on growing and dispensing medical marijuana vary. Some states license specialized dispensaries. These can range from small storefronts to bigger operations that feel more like pharmacies. Typically, they have security procedures to limit walk-in visitors.
At least a few dispensaries say they inspect their suppliers and use labs to check the potency of their product, though states don’t generally require such measures. “It’s difficult to understand how we can call it medicine if we don’t know what’s in it,” says StephenDeAngelo, executive director of the Harborside Health Center, a medical-marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Calif.
Some of the strongest research results support the idea of using marijuana to relieve neuropathic pain. For example, a trial of 50 AIDS patients published in the journal Neurology in 2007 found that 52% of those who smoked marijuana reported a 30% or greater reduction in pain. Just 24% of those who got placebo cigarettes reported the same lessening of pain.
Marijuana has also been shown to affect nausea and appetite. The AMA review said three controlled studies with 43 total participants showed a “modest” anti-nausea effect of smoked marijuana in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Studies of HIV-positive patients have suggested that smoked marijuana can improve appetite and trigger weight gain.
DonaldAbrams, a doctor and professor at the University of California, San Francisco who has studied marijuana, says he recommends it to some cancer patients, including those who haven’t found standard anti-nausea drugs effective and some with loss of appetite.
Side effects can be a problem for some people. TheaSagen, 62, an advanced neuroendocrine cancer patient in Seaside, Calif., says she expected something like a pharmacy when she went to a marijuana dispensary mentioned by her oncologist. She says she was disappointed to find that the staffers couldn’t say which of the products, with names like Pot ‘o Gold and Blockbuster, might boost her flagging appetite or soothe her anxiety. “They said, ‘it’s trial and error,’ “she says. “I was in there flying blind, looking at all this stuff.”
Ms.Sagen says she bought several items and tried one-eighth teaspoon of marijuana-infused honey. After a few hours, she was hallucinating , too dizzy and confused to dress herself for a doctor’s appointment. Then came vomiting far worse than her stomach upset before she took the drug. When she reported the side effects to her oncologist’s nurse and her primary-care physician, she got no guidance. She doesn’t take the drug now. But with advice from a nutritionist, her appetite and food intake have improved, she says.
Other marijuana users may experience the well-known reduction in ability to concentrate. At least a few users suffer troubling short-term psychiatric side effects, which can include anxiety and panic. More controversially, an analysis published in the journal Lancet in 2007 tied marijuana use to a higher rate of psychotic conditions such as schizophrenia. But the analysis noted that such a link doesn’t necessarily show marijuana is a cause of the conditions.
Long-term marijuana use can lead to physical dependence, though it is not as addictive as nicotine or alcohol, says MargaretHaney, a professor at Columbia University’s medical school. Smoked marijuana may also risk lung irritation, but a large 2006 study, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, found no tie to lung cancer.
Some studies and reviews examining the possible medical uses, and side effects, of marijuana are being conducted by.
* Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, University of California
* American College of Physicians
* Institute of Medicine
To read more on Marijuana and its effectiveness, the following periodicals have spent time reviewing certain aspects of medical marijuana.
Here Are Some Terms Used in Homeopathy – Easier to Understand
Terms of homeopathy seem confusing sometimes particularly for them who never know about homeopathy before. Basically, homeopathy is formed from the word “Homeo” and “pathy”. “Homeo” means similar or same, while “pathy” means pain. The base of this alternative medication is concentrates on the use of natural substances to stimulate the mind and the body in order to heal the diseases. For detail knowledge of terms of homeopathy, you might need to read the information below.
Glossary of Terms
In the terms of homeopathy, you’ll find aggravation. It is a name for an obvious enhancement in the symptoms of the disease. Then there’s also an antidote for a material or a remedy that neutralizes the effects of homeopathy medication. Dose that is recommended might be given an antidote to counteract the effect when the patient is not responding well to the homeopathy.
Tissue salts termed as cell salts and biochemic remedies are several of the most important terms of homeopathy. According to homeopaths, use twelve dissimilar salts are significant for the functioning of the body. These cell salts are prepared in low potency and used under homeopathic signs.
Symptoms that are general to a specific sickness or disease like yellow skin in jaundice are known as a common symptom. In terms of homeopathy, symptom of concomitant refers to the symptom that happens at the same time as the main complaint. Those symptoms that refer to location etiology, concomitants sensation and modalities all together give what is known as complete symptom.
Centesimal is one of the three effectiveness scales used in the homeopathy pharmacy. It’s the process of repeated dilutions and successions. In terms of homeopathy and its standards, it’s notated by 10 or 100 scales.
Taking one part of the medicinal substance, tincture or dry blended with alcohol or 99 parts of lactose, and shaken will result 1c potency. In the other hand, taking 1 part of this potency and mixing it with 99 parts of lactose or alcohol and then shaken will yield 2c. A 300c has gone through this process 300 times. A 1M has gone through the process 1000 times.
Furthermore, the decimal scale is the other potency scale in terms of homeopathy. This is a process of taking one part of the medicinal element and blending it with 9 parts of diluents, and shaken well determines a 1X (D) potency.
One part of this potency and 9 parts of diluents, then successes, yields 2X (D) potency. This continuous till the desired potency is reached. The third potency scale is the LM(50 millesimal, Q) conceived by Hahnemann. Effectiveness refers to the strength of homeopathic remedy in terms of homeopathy.
If you’re keen on implementing homeopathy into your life, you are recommended to comprehend the terms of homeopathy. By knowing the terms of homeopathy before implementing homeopathy into life, it will make you easier to gain its advantage.
Anyone living with Parkinson’s disease knows that there are good and bad days. For days when there are challenges, a new treatment, one that is relatively inexpensive, effective, and safe has been discovered.
Not only is this a safe solution for treating Parkinson’s disease, it is also highly effective. This means people with this disease have a fighting chance for normalcy. While it does not cure the disease, IVGlutathione therapy does slow down the progression.
In clinical trials, results show that up to 90% of participants using Glutathione therapy experience significant improvement. In the case of Parkinson’s, the brain’s dopamine receptors lose their sensitivity but with Glutathione, the receptors are restored to normal function.
With this form of treatment, dopamine within the brain is able to function more effectively. This means dopamine sensitivity is improved, as well as the brain’s serotonin levels that can help decrease levels of depression.
In most cases of Glutathione therapy and Parkinson’s, the patient is given 1,400 milligrams on a daily basis with saline. Using an IV drip for ten minutes, three times each week grants the medication to enter the bloodstream so it can get to work swiftly.
Although there’s oral Glutathione medication, IVGlutathione therapy is the only way in which Parkinson’s disease should be treated, making it much more effective. Depending on the physician providing the treatment, some will also add various drugs and herbs such as milk thistle and amino acids.
The advances seen over the years pertaining to IVGlutathione therapy are incredible. This allows Parkinson’s patients to get off medications such as Levodopa that have harsh side effects. Anyone interested in this treatment option should remain on any prescribed drugs and then speak to their doctor about eliminating them and switching over to Glutathione therapy.
There are so many wonderful benefits associated with IVGlutathione therapy but the number one is the elimination of side effects, something no patient wants to deal with. Not only do many of the traditional medications have side effects but some also come with serious health risk factors to include stroke and heart attack.
Although the cost of Glutathione therapy is a little higher than other options, it works exceptionally well. The good news is that most insurance companies are now providing partial or full coverage of this substance because it has been approved by the FDA.
Within a short time of a person with Parkinsons Symptoms being put on IVGlutathione therapy, they start to respond to the treatment. This means the patient starts to take back some control over his or her life. As you can imagine, both patients and medical professionals are anxious to get this treatment option out to the public. Although IVGlutathione therapy is used commonly to Parkinson’s, physicians are finding that it also helps with other health problems such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and so on.
If you’ve Parkinson’s disease or another illness mentioned and find that current treatment is not providing you with the needed relief, then Glutathione therapy could be the perfect solution. More and more, this treatment option is becoming accepted among medical professionals and it might be the exact treatment you need.
US House Bill 3962 – WillLimit Alternative Health Care
House Bill 3962, in an effort to control costs, creates a new layer of government bureaucracy that inserts itself between the doctor and the patient.
A national health commissioner and task forces will evaluate and decide everything from what medications a physician will be allowed to prescribe for a patient, to what surgery will be approved, to what outcomes will be expected for a particular medical condition.
The ‘universal healthcare Czar’ along with the task forces will also decide whether or not hospitals will be reimbursed for care rendered based on predetermined outcomes. For example, if a patient is re-admitted within a prescribed number of days after discharge, the hospital will not be reimbursed for care given. It does not take into account factors such as how ill a patient may be.
This new layer of government effectively removes the power of the individual physician and patient to decide what is the best course of treatment.
Why should you care?
You should care because the application of evidence-based medicine can potentially limit health choices of both patients and physicians.In the reformed healthcare system recommended by Congress, alternative treatments will be pressured to end, and physicians who practice alternative medicine in extreme cases will be criminalized. The money in the system will continue to flow to well funded studies underwritten by the pharmaceutical industry, and those companies without deep pockets will continue to be unable to afford the cost ofin depth studies to critically evaluate the efficacy of such treatments.
Alternative treatments will fail to pass the standard of evidence-based medicine precisely because they lack the funds to enter the game, and thus the cycle will continue. In short, if alternative treatments are not evaluated by the guidelines of evidence based medicine, they will never be accepted as a valued treatment option.
It can also be argued that evidence-based medicine has exponentially increased the cost of health care. In theory, the essence of evidence-based medicine is science. However, in practice it has become more about money. The system has become one where the pharmaceutical industry has been given the edge. For example:
* Many of the prescription drug trials are not independent
They are often funded by the very drug companies that stand to gain if their drug is found to be effective in trials and is approved
* The relationship between medical societies and the pharmaceutical industry raises questions.
Over the past 10-15 years there has been a change in the parameters of our most common diseases (hypertension, obesity and high cholesterol ). For example, in the past normal blood pressure was 120/80, and nowit is 115/75. In fact, those with a blood pressure of 120/80 are now considered to be pre-hypertensive and are eligible for medication.
The body mass index (BMI) number for obesity decreased from 40 to 30 while the parameters for being overweight have expanded from a BMI of 27.8 in 1995 to less than 25 today. High cholesterol (LDL) is now < 200 instead of the old parameter of< 250.
The change in parameters have meant both a dramatic increase in the number of people who meet criteria for treatment with prescription drugs along with a resultant rise in the cost of healthcare. The question that has yet to be answered – why are we less healthy despite taking ever increasing amounts of prescription medication?
* There is a tight financial relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and the medical industry.
The AMA, medical education and the underwriting of medical research has given the pharmaceutical industry a great advantage in the shaping of medical opinion and by extension evidence-based medicine.
* There is a revolving door between those who work for the FDA and those who have worked in the pharmaceutical industry.
This cozy relationship raises the importance of Big Pharma and relegates natural/alternative methods to junk science. Inherently, this should make those of us who are critical thinkers question the statements that summarily denigrate the supplement industry which makes products, that in many cases are in direct competition with the drugs that are manufactured by pharmaceutical companies, but don’t need patents.
A more balanced approach to our healthcare system is necessary. If the same standard is applied to both alternative and conventional treatments, each will be given a level playing field to determine efficacy. This change would go a long way towards accomplishing the task of improving the health of Americans without bankrupting them.
Let’s try something new likepromoting prevention and wellness instead of just talking about it or actually givingdoctors and patients the freedom to choose how they approach health choices. No one can argue with the fact that a healthier population, will lead to a significant decrease in healthcare costs.The current system clearly is not working.
True free-range eggs are far more nutritious than commercially raised eggs.
Compared to official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs, eggs from hens raised on pasture may contain:
* 1/3 less cholesterol
* 1/4 less saturated fat
* 2/3 more vitamin A
* 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
* 3 times more vitamin E
* 7 times more beta carotene
These dramatically differing nutrient levels are most likely the result of the differences in diet between free-range pastured hens, vs. commercially farmed hens.
Without citing any research of their own, most egg industry advocates hold fast to their claim that commercially farmed eggs are no different from pastured eggs, and that hens’ diets do not alter their eggs nutritional value in any significant way.
Eggs are one of the healthiest foods in the world, and at their very best if you eat them raw. But the quality of your eggs is also important.
The REAL Definition of Free-Range Eggs
As this article clearly states, the nutritional difference between true free-range eggs and commercially farmed eggs is not an occasional fluke or misprint, as these findings are being backed up with a mounting body of evidence.
The fact that the USDA and other organizations (which are often funded or influenced by industry) refuse to acknowledge that there is a direct link between the diet of the bird and the nutritional value of their eggs, is a clear indicator that there are strong financial incentives at work – not nutritional science. Because clearly, “garbage in, garbage out” applies here as well. This general rule will never change – it applies equally to hens, beef cattle, dairy cows, and your own body.
And don’t be fooled by the egg industry’s double-speak definitions of what free-range really is. True free-range eggs are from hens that range freely outdoors on a pasture where they can forage for their natural diet, which includes seeds, green plants, insects, and worms. A hen that is let outside into a barren lot for a few minutes a day but is fed a diet of corn, soy, and cottonseed meals, plus synthetic additives, is NOT a free-range hen, and will not produce the same quality eggs as its foraging counterpart.
An additional issue that is important, but not discussed here, is the fact that the main ingredients of commercially raised hens’ diets are genetically modified (GM).
The three main GM ingredients in the United States’ food supply are corn, soy, and cottonseed. All the more reason to stay away from commercial eggs, even if they state “free-range” on their label.
Which Eggs to Buy, and Which You Should Avoid
Additionally, I would STRONGLY encourage you to AVOID ALL omega-3 eggs, as they are actually LESS healthy for you. Typically, the animals are fed poor-quality sources of omega-3 fats that are already oxidized. Also, omega-3 eggs do not last anywhere near as long as non-omega-3 eggs. Remember, omega- 3 eggs are highly perishable and should be avoided.
If you have to purchase your eggs from a commercial grocery store, I would advise getting free-range organic. Ideally, if at all possibleit would be far preferable to purchase your eggs directly from your local farmer, because this way you can be certain of the quality. This may not be as hard as you think. In my experience, this is one of the easiest foods to find from local farmers. To find free-range pasture farms you can try you local health food store ortry:
If you cannot find a farmer to sell you eggs directly, and you’re not interested in raising your own, then organic eggs from the store would be your next best option.
It is also wise to NOT refrigerate your eggs. If you have ever been to Europe or South America and gone into the grocery stores, you will know that this practice of non-refrigeration is common in those countries.
How to Eat Your Eggs for Maximum Health Benefits
Eggs are often one of your most allergenic foods, but I believe this is because they are cooked. If you consume your eggs in their raw state, the incidence of egg allergy virtually disappears. Heating the egg protein actually changes its chemical shape, and the distortion can easily lead to allergies.
It is my belief that eating eggs raw helps preserve many of the highly perishable nutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which are powerful prevention elements of the most common cause of blindness: age-related macular degeneration.
Fresh raw egg yolk tastes like vanilla. It can be eaten “Rocky style,” combined with avocado or in a shake with whey protein powder, raw kefir, or a small amount of berries. However, egg protein is easily damaged on a molecular level, even by mixing/blending. If you choose not to eat your eggs raw, cooking them soft-boiled would be your next best option.
Scrambling your eggs is one of the worst ways to eat eggs as it actually oxidizes the cholesterol in the egg yolk. If you have high cholesterol this may actually be a problem for you as the oxidized cholesterol may cause some damage in your body.
If you are not used to eating fresh raw eggs, you should start by eating just a tiny bit of it on a daily basis, and then gradually increase the portions.
For example, start by consuming only a few drops of raw egg yolk a day for the first three days. Gradually increase the amount that you consume in three-day increments. Try half a teaspoon for three days, then one teaspoon, then two teaspoons. When you are accustomed to that amount, increase it to one raw egg per day and subsequently to two raw eggs per day or more.
One should not consume raw egg whites without the yolks as raw egg whites contain avidin, which can bind to biotin. If you cook the egg white the avidin is not an issue.However if you consume them with raw egg yolk (whole egg) there is more than enough biotin in the yolk to compensate for the avidin binding.
There is a potential problem with using the entire raw egg if you are pregnant. Biotin deficiency is a common concern in pregnancy and it is possible that consuming whole raw eggs would make it worse. If you are pregnant you have two options. The first is to actually measure for a biotin deficiency. This is best done through urinary excretion of 3-hydroxyisovaleric acid (3-HIA), which increases as a result of the decreased activity of the biotin-dependent enzyme methylcrotonyl-CoA carboxylase.
Alternatively, you could take a biotin supplement, or consume only the yolk raw (and cook the whites).
If you choose not to eat your eggs raw, cooking them soft-boiled would be the next best option.
A Bangladeshi telemedicine company is set to provide healthcare services for more than five million South Asian workers in the Middle East and Malaysia in a couple of months.
Telemedicine Reference Centre Ltd (TRCL) has already signed agreements with around 25 Gulf and Malaysian companies that recruit workers from South Asia.
Telemedicine is a rapidly developing application of clinical medicine where medical information is transferred through the phone or the internet.
TRCL will launch the mobile phone-based service, said DrSikderMZakir, managing director of the company.
“Under the project, we will start providing medical call-centre services to two million Bangladeshi, 1.5 million Indian and two million Nepalese and Pakistani workers,” Zakir added.
Prime Bank and two investors from the US and India are funding the project, he said.
TRCL has also signed deals with seven mobile phone companies in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Qatar and Kuwait.
The company is working to set up multilinguistic medical call centres in India, Pakistan and Nepal, from where dedicated physicians will provide healthcare advice to the expatriate workers.
All the workers under the 25 recruiting companies will be registered with TRCL to get the services free of cost. They will call a particular number and get advice in their own language.
The recruiting firms will pay the service charge to TRCL on behalf of the workers, which is no more than one US dollar a month for a person, Zakir said.
They will also be referred to hospitals if necessary.
Zakir said TRCL is now setting up branch offices in nine countries including Malaysia, UAE and Saudi Arabia to comply with those countries’ regulatory requirements.
“It’s a milestone for telemedicine service. The sector is getting institutional shape,” he added.
Established in 1999, TRCL is operating the first medical call centre or electronic referral centre manned by physicians for the largest cellphone operator in Bangladesh — Grameenphone. More than 10,000 people are using the service by dialling a hotline number (789) from their mobile phones every day.
KUWAIT- The Cabinet has approved the establishment of a new 300-bed capacity hospital for alternative medicine and rehabilitation at a total cost of KD 30 million, announced the
The new hospital will built on the site where the current alternative medicine hospital is situated. A state-of-the art, fully equipped hospital will replace the existing building. It will include a rehabilitation center for the disabled, senior citizens’ care centers among other facilities offered.
The hospital will also be connected to one of the most advanced international centers in the field of alternative medicine, said Al-Abdulhadi. It is expected to be ready within five years, reported Al-Qabas.
On a separate note, Al-Abdulhadi announced that the decision concerning the appointment of new directors for medical, technical divisions will be made soon, especially after the Ministry completes the process of electing the most qualified candidates for the posts in coordination with the regulations of the Civil Service Commission(CSC).
Meanwhile, Al-Abdulhadi addressed the issue of health insurance hospitals, stating that the project to establish these hospitals still await a decision made by the Cabinet before it is set up. These facilities are expected to provide citizens and residents with the best medical care services.
LOSANGELES – A new survey shows more than 75 percent of medical students believe patients would benefit if physicians were knowledgeable about complementary medicine—practices such as massage therapy and chiropractic—as well as conventional medicine. Almost three-quarters of respondents also say our medical system should include complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).
In the largest national survey of its kind, researchers from UCLA and UC San Diego measured medical students’ attitudes and beliefs about CAM.
Among the results:
* 77 percent of participants agreed to some extent that patients whose doctors know about complementary and alternative medicine in addition to conventional medicine, benefit more than those whose doctors are only familiar with Western medicine.
* 74 percent of participants agreed to some extent that a system of medicine that integrates therapies of conventional and complementary and alternative medicine would be more effective than either type of medicine provided independently.
* 84 percent of participants agreed to some extent that the field contains beliefs, ideas and therapies from which conventional medicine could benefit.
* 49 percent of participating medical students indicated that they have used complementary and alternative treatments; however, few would recommend or use these treatments in their practices until more scientific assessment has occurred
“Complementary and alternative medicine is receiving increased attention in light of the global health crisis and the significant role of traditional medicine in meeting public health needs in developing countries,” said study author Ryan Abbott, a researcher at the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine, in a press release. “Integrating CAM into mainstream health care is now a global phenomenon, with policy makers at the highest levels endorsing the importance of a historically marginalized form of health care.”
The findings were published recently in the online issue of Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (eCAM).
Beta-carotene is one of a group of natural chemicals known as carotenes or carotenoids. Carotenes are responsible for the orange color of many fruits and vegetables such as carrots, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes.
Beta carotene is converted in the body to vitamin A. It is an antioxidant, like vitamins E and C.
Good sources of beta-carotene include dark green and orange-yellow vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, apricots, and green peppers.
Beta-carotene is not an essential nutrient, although vitamin A is.
Why Do People Use Beta-Carotene?
Prevention against cancer and heart disease
To slow the progression of cataracts
To prevent macular degeneration
To boost immunity
To protect the skin against sunburn
High blood pressure
Beta carotene is relatively safe. There is some concern that high doses of beta-carotene can cause a slight increase in the risk of heart disease and cancer, especially in people who smoke cigarettes and who consume excessive alcohol.
Other side effects include diarrhea and a yellowish tinge to the skin, both of which subside then the intake of beta-carotene is lowered.
Other Names: Lycium barbarum, wolfberry, gou qi zi, Fructus lycii
Goji berries grow on an evergreen shrub found in temperate and subtropical regions in China, Mongolia and in the Himalayas in Tibet. They are in the nightshade (Solonaceae) family.
Goji berries are usually found dried. They are shriveled red berries that look like red raisins.
Why do people use goji berries?
Goji berries have been used for 6,000 years by herbalists in China, Tibet and India to:
* protect the liver
* help eyesight
* improve sexual function and fertility
* strengthen the legs
* boost immune function
* improve circulation
* promote longevity
Goji berries are rich in antioxidants, particularly carotenoids such as beta-carotene and zeaxanthin. One of zeaxanthin’s key roles is to protect the retina of the eye by absorbing blue light and acting as an antioxidant. In fact, increased intake of foods containing zeathanthin may decrease the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in people over the age of 65.
In recent years, goji juice has become popular as a health beverage. Companies marketing goji juice often mention the unsupported claim that a man named Li Qing Yuen consumed goji berries daily and lived to be 252 years old. Marketers also list extensive health benefits of goji juice, even though there are few published clinical trials in humans.
What research has been done on goji berries?
Goji has only been tested on humans in two published studies. A Chinese study published in the Chinese Journal of Oncology in 1994 found that 79 people with cancer responded better to treatment when goji was added to their regimen.
There have been several test tube studies that show that goji berry contains antioxidants and that goji extracts may prevent the growth of cancer cells, reduce blood glucose, and lower cholesterol levels. However, that doesn’t necessary mean that goji will have the same benefits when taken as a juice or tea.
Although goji berries like the ones used in traditional Chinese medicine aren’t very expensive, goji juice is very pricey. Considering that a 32-ounce bottle of goji juice (about an 18-day supply) can run as high as $50 USD, the evidence isn’t compelling enough at this time to justify the cost of goji juice.
Also, we don’t know the side effects of regular goji consumption, or whether it will interfere with treatments or medications.
What do goji berries taste like?
Goji berries have a mild tangy taste that is slightly sweet and sour. They have a similar shape and chewy texture as raisins.
In traditional Chinese medicine, goji berries are eaten raw, brewed into a tea, added to Chinese soups, or made into liquid extracts.
Goji juice is also available, usually in 32-ounce bottles.
Goji berries have appeared in snack foods in North America. For example, the health food store Trader Joe’s sells a goji berry trail mix.
Possible drug interactions
Goji berries may interact with anticoagulant drugs (commonly called “blood-thinners”), such as warfarin (Coumadin®). There was one case report published in the journal Annals of Pharmacotherapy of a 61-year old woman who had an increased risk of bleeding, indicated by an elevated international normalized ratio (INR). She had been drinking 3-4 cups daily of goji berry tea. Her blood work returned to normal after discontinuing the goji berry tea.
Where to find goji berries
Whole goji berries are available at Chinese herbal shops.
Goji juice can be found in some health food stores, online stores, and through network marketers.
Consumers are very interested in foods that promote healthy blood glucose: 69 per cent of primary grocery shoppers are extremely or very interested in buying or using foods or drinks if they can help manage blood sugar. In addition, 43 per cent of primary grocery shoppers believe that “helps maintain healthy blood-sugar levels” is an extremely or very important claim on food labels, according to the 2009 HealthFocus Trend Report.
No disease is as closely linked to nutrition as diabetes. Diabetes is the fifth leading cause of death in the US and contributes to higher rates of morbidity — people with diabetes are at significantly higher risk for heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and other chronic conditions.
Prediabetes is usually intertwined with being overweight and, of course, increases the risk by about 80 times of a bona fide type 2 diabetes diagnosis (not to mention heart disease). Indeed, blood-sugar issues and being overweight are usually the start of a host of health conditions. An estimated 121 million American adults (out of 184 million) are overweight, with about 60 million being actually obese — 30 pounds over their ideal weight. If trends continue, an incredible 80 per cent of Americans are estimated to be overweight by 2030.
About one-third of diabetics take supplements. The top ingredients include fibre, B vitamins, magnesium and chromium, according to Nutrition Business Journal.
A recent Swedish study found that taking a whey supplement with meals can help stimulate insulin release in type 2 diabetics. When diabetic subjects took whey at the same time as a high glycaemic-index breakfast and lunch, they had lower blood-sugar response and a higher insulin response. The findings suggest whey can help diabetics improve their blood-sugar control.
In another nod to the broad efficacy of vitamin D, insufficient and deficient levels of vitamin D may increase the risk of metabolic syndrome by 52 per cent, according to a 2009 Anglo-Chinese study.
This study backs an earlier study that found women in the 84,000-strong Nurses’ Health Study who consumed a daily intake of greater than 800IU vitamin D and 1,200mg calcium had a 33 per cent lower risk of type 2 diabetes compared with those to took in less than 600mg calcium and 400IU vitamin D.
Cinnamon makes insulin work more efficiently, which gets excess sugar out of the blood and into cells, where it can be burned as fuel. Cinnamon works in two ways. First, it inhibits the enzymes that cause insulin resistance. And second, it increases sensitivity to insulin.
Preliminary results from a University of Surrey clinical study found that the consumption of Hi-maize brand resistant starch, from National Starch, significantly increased insulin sensitivity in individuals with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.
“These improvements are actually bigger than you get with most blood glucose-lowering drugs,” says DeniseRobertson, PhD, lecturer in nutritional physiology within the Postgraduate Medical School at the University of Surrey and the principal investigator of the study. “We are finding that subjects at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, such as those with metabolic syndrome, are more responsive to the insulin-sensitizing effects of resistant starch than people with normal blood-glucose levels.
GENEVA – The most dangerous place in the world to travel on roads is in the impoverished East African state of Eritrea, says the World Health Organisation (WHO) in its first report on global road safety.
To identify the most hazardous roads, WHO experts sifted through a mass of data which showed that around 1.3 million people are killed each year on the world’s highways. A further 20 to 50 million people sustain non-fatal injuries.
The global record for road deaths per capita goes to the former Italian colony of Eritrea where figures showed an estimated 48 deaths per 100,000 people.
Road travel in the Cook islands in the South Pacific is nearly as dangerous too, with a statistical 45 deaths per 100,000. The archipelago north-east of New Zealand is home to just 13,325 citizens and five of them died in road accidents in 2007. Egypt (41.6) and Libya (40.5) also both had a poor road safety record.
Driving too fast, drinking and driving along with the failure to use seatbelts and talking on mobile phones while at the wheel were given in the report as key contributing factors to the high number of fatalities and accidents on roads around the world.
“These are stunning figures that need not, should not, be so high. Over 90 percent of these deaths occur in low-income and middle-income countries, which have less than half of the world’s registered vehicles. This is another statistic that tells us something is wrong,” WHO Director General Margaret Chan said in a statement.
Chan said the report’s findings would serve as a basis for discussion at the First Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety, which is due to take place in Moscow in November 2009.
“This will be a milestone event in international road safety that will serve as a call to action to reduce the impact of road traffic crashes over the next decade,” said Chan.
The safest road conditions were found amid the islands and atolls which make up the Micronesian nation of the Marshall Islands. Here 59,000 residents have a mere 2,487 vehicles between them. Only one fatal road accident was recorded in 2007.
France and Germany suffered 7.5 and six fatalities per 100,000 respectively compared to Britain (5.4) and the US where more than 251 million vehicles are registered. The quota here was 13.9 fatalities per 100,000 people. A similar level could be found in Sri Lanka, Turkey and Azerbaijan.
BRAUNSCHWEIG – German scientists have shown how the bacteria migrate into tumors. SaraBartels and Siegfried Weiss, of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig, say that a messenger substance from the immune system makes blood vessels in the cancerous tissue permeable, and thereby enables the bacteria to conquer and destroy the tumour.
The researchers add that, simultaneously, blood streams from the vessels into the cancerous tissue, a so-called necrosis develops, and the tumor dies.
“This influx of blood was the starting point for our investigations. There is an immunological messenger present during bacterial elicited inflammation that causes this kind of reaction. We searched for it – and found it,” says Siegfried Weiss, Head of the Molecular Immunology group at the HZI.
The researchers have revealed that this messenger is named after its role in the immune system: tumor necrosis factor, TNF-alpha for short.
They say that immune cells produce TNF-alpha when recognizing salmonella, thus alarming other immune cells.
According to them, a small amount of TNF-alpha is subsequently enough to dissolve the walls of the blood vessels in the tumor and allow the blood to stream into the cancerous tissue.
They hope to be able to modify salmonella so that they can migrate specifically into tumors and cause them to die.
Since salmonella can live even in tissues that are badly supplied with blood, the researchers believe that they can be used in tumor therapy.
This is interesting because chemotherapeutics cannot be transported to an area where there is no blood flow, and even radiation therapy requires oxygen for its reactions in the tissue.
“We have obtained an important indication of how bacteria migrate into tumors. We can now try to manipulate these bacteria to use them in cancer therapy without causing deadly infections,” says SaraBartels.
“We need to find the right amount of bacteria aggressiveness, allowing the tumor to be colonized and destroyed without harming the patient,” she adds.
If the scientists succeed in accomplishing this feat, they may be able to take the next step forward: using salmonella to release therapeutic substances within the tumor and thus participate in its destruction.
“Our experiments are currently limited to absolutely basic research and experiments with laboratory mice. It may take years before this method is usable for human patients,” says Siegfried Weiss
The study has been published in the scientific journal PLoS ONE.
A person with agoraphobia fears being in places where there is a chance of having a panic attack that people may witness, and getting away rapidly may be difficult. Because of these fears the sufferer will deliberately avoid such places – which may include crowded areas, special events, queues (standing in line), buses and trains, shops and shopping centers, and airplanes.
A person with agoraphobia may find it hard to feel safe in any type of public place, especially where large numbers of people gather. Some people may have it so severely that the only place they feel really safe in is their home, and rarely ever go outside.
Agoraphobia is not the opposite of claustrophobia (fear of closed spaces, such as elevators) – it is not simply a fear of open spaces. Agoraphobia may result in a fear of being outdoors, a kind of open space – but it is not a fear of there being too much openness and no walls, ceilings or boundaries, etc. The fear of going outdoors results from a dread of becoming embarrassed, trapped and helpless somewhere while having a panic attack – this never happens inside one’s own home.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), USA, about 3.2 million American adults are living with agoraphobia. The median age of onset of agoraphobia is 20 years.
Physical symptoms of agoraphobia
Sufferers will usually only experience the symptoms when they find themselves in a situation or environment that causes them anxiety. Physical symptoms are rare because most people with agoraphobia avoid situations that they believe will trigger panic. When symptoms do occur, they may include:
* Accelerated heart beat.
* Rapid and shallow breathing (hyperventilating).
* Feeling hot, flushing.
* Stomach upset.
* Trouble swallowing.
* Breaking out in a sweat.
* Feeling light headed, as if one were about to faint.
* Ringing in the ears.
Psychological symptoms of agoraphobia
* Fear that people will notice a panic attack, causing humiliation and embarrassment.
* Fear that during a panic attack their heart might stop, or they won’t be able to breathe, and may die.
* Fear that the sufferer himself/herself is going crazy.
The following psychological symptoms are also possible:
* Low self-confidence and self-esteem.
* Feeling a loss of control.
* General feeling of dread and anxiety.
* Thinking that without the help of others the sufferer himself/herself would never be able to function or survive.
* Dread of being left alone.
Behavioral symptoms of agoraphobia
* Avoidance – avoiding environments and situations that may trigger anxiety. In some cases this may be mild, where the sufferer avoids going in a crowded train. In extreme cases the person finds it very hard to leave the house.
* Reassurance – the sufferer needs to be reassured by another person. Going out to the shops may only be possible if a friend comes along too. In extreme cases the sufferer finds being alone unbearable.
* Safety behavior – needing to have or to take something in order to confront situations or places that trigger anxiety. Some sufferers have to have an alcoholic drink before going into a crowded place, while others cannot go outside unless they are sure they have their tablets with them.
* Escape – leaving a stressful place or situation straight away and going back home.
What are the causes of agoraphobia?
Experts are not completely sure what the exact causes of agoraphobia are. Most believe that they are a result of physical and/or psychological factors.
* A complication of a panic disorder
Agoraphobia is thought to be a complication of a panic disorder – a disorder characterized by regular episodes of panic attacks (intense fear) which trigger severe physical reactions for no apparent reason. Panic attacks can be extremely frightening – causing people to think they are losing control, or even dying.
Some people may link their panic attacks to one or two situations in which they occurred. By avoiding those places or situations the sufferer believes he/she may be preventing future recurrences of panic attacks. If a situation or place has people – perceived as potential witnesses to a panic attack by the sufferer – they are more likely to avoid it.
Agoraphobia very rarely develops without an accompanying panic disorder. When it does, nobody knows what caused it.
* Some medications and substances
Long-term use of tranquilizers and sleeping medications, such as benzodiazepines, have been linked to agoraphobia. Health care professionals report that when benzodiazepine dependence is treated agoraphobia symptoms eventually improve.
* Difficulties with spatial orientation
Some studies have found a link between agoraphobia and problems with spatial orientation. Most people without agoraphobia can maintain balance by combining data from their vestibular (components in the inner ear) and visual systems, as well as their proprioceptive sense (the sense of the relative position of neighboring parts of one’s own body). A higher percentage of people with agoraphobia have weak vestibular function, compared to the rest of the population, and consequently rely more on tactile and visual signals. When visual signals are overwhelming, as may be the case in a crowded place, the sufferer is more likely to become disoriented.
* Some other factors
o A history of alcohol abuse.
o A history of drug abuse.
o A traumatic childhood experience.
o A very stressful event, such as bereavement, loss of a job, an explosion, war, or devastating earthquake.
o A history of mental illness, such as an eating disorder or depression.
How is agoraphobia diagnosed?
A GP (general practitioner, primary care physician) who identifies psychological symptoms of agoraphobia will most likely refer the patient to a psychiatrist – a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of mental illness. The GP may also examine the patient if there are physical symptoms to find out where there are any underlying physical causes.
The psychiatrist will ask the patient about his/her feelings, symptoms and general background. The specialist will also try to find out whether the agoraphobia is being caused by another mental health condition. If this is the case, it must be addressed first before being able to successfully treat the agoraphobia. For example, a person who avoids crowds because he/she has a fear of catching other people’s germs most likely has OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder).
According to the DSM-IV Diagnostic Criteria for Agoraphobia, a patient suffers from agoraphobia if:
* The person is anxious about being in a place or situation where escape or help may be difficult in the event of a panic attack, or panic like symptoms. Examples are being in a crowd or travelling on a bus.
* The person avoids these places (described above).
* The person endures these places (described above) with extreme anxiety.
* The person endures these places (described above) only with the help of a friend or companion.
* There is no other underlying condition that may explain the person’s symptoms.
Some experts criticize this classification system because it does not include people with agoraphobia who do not have other symptoms of panic disorder, including patients who have never had a history of panic attacks, or those whose agoraphobia is triggered by other fears not linked to panic attacks. Even so, panic attacks do not necessarily have to be present for a diagnosis of agoraphobia to be confirmed.
What are the treatment options for agoraphobia?
Treatment for agoraphobia usually involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy. In the majority of cases treatment is effective and the patient is either cured or learns to keep it under control.
Medications for agoraphobia
Anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants are generally prescribed for patients with agoraphobia and panic symptoms. In some cases the patient may have to try out some different medications before hitting on the best one.
* SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) – these antidepressant drugs include fluoxetine (Prozac, Prozac Weekly), paroxetine (Paxil, Paxil CR) or sertraline (Zoloft).
Side effects may include:
o Sexual dysfunction
* Tricyclic antidepressants or monoamine oxidase inhibitors – these antidepressant drugs may also be used to treat agoraphobia. However, they tend to have more side effects.
* Anti-anxiety medications (benzodiazepines) – examples are alprazolam (Xanax) and clonazepam (Klonopin). They are used to treat anxiety and can also help control the symptoms of a panic attack. If taken in doses larger than those prescribed, or for too long, they can cause dependence.
Side effects may include:
o Loss of balance
o Memory loss
Patients usually start off on small and gradually increasing dosages. At the end of treatment the doctor will probably gradually lower the dosage.
Psychotherapy for agoraphobia
Psychotherapy is treatment by psychological means. Psychotherapy may utilize persuasion, suggestion, reassurance, insight (perceptiveness, self-awareness), and instruction so that the person can see himself/herself and their problems in a more realistic way and wish to overcome and/or cope with them effectively. There are many types of psychotherapy, including cognitive therapy, interpersonal therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and family therapy.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – this type of therapy has two parts. The cognitive part focuses on learning more about agoraphobia and panic attacks and how to manage them. The patient learns what the panic attack or panic-like symptom triggers are, and what makes them worse. Coping techniques, such as breathing and relaxation exercises are taught and practiced.
The behavioral part involves altering unhealthy or undesirable behaviors. This may be done through desensitization or exposure therapy, also known as cognitive delivered exposure (CDE). The patient safely confronts the situations or places that cause problems, often in the company of the therapist. With practice and guided exposure the patient learns that what he/she feared might happen does not occur, resulting in a gradual decline of anxiety.
Sometimes the therapist may start sessions off in the patient’s home if venturing outside is too difficult. The first few appointment may also take place in a ‘safe zone’ if getting to the therapist’s office is perceived as having too many anxiety triggers. A good agoraphobia therapist should be aware of these problems and have practical options for the patient. Another possibility is to have the first few sessions over the phone.
What are the complications of agoraphobia?
Complications of agoraphobia may occur if the patient does not receive treatment.
An agoraphobia sufferer may eventually have a very restricted lifestyle. In severe cases the person will never leave the house and is dependent on other people. Being housebound usually means the patient’s job prospects are severely limited. His/her social life, opportunities for education and learning new skills, walking the dog, running errands, or taking part in various daily activities are affected.
People with untreated agoraphobia have a much higher risk of developing depression, further anxiety disorders, and turning to alcohol or other substances.