Herbal remedies need real regulation

Alternative Medicine
In my best-selling book, Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook, I explain the reasons that natural medications (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) received so little regulation in the United States, and the many problems this causes for health consumers. Now, David Frum, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, the author of six books, including "Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again," and the editor of frumforum.com, has weighed in with a thoughtful article on CNN: Did you know that there exists an all-natural remedy for memory loss? Weight gain? Macular degeneration? Prostate enlargement? These products are so successful that clinical testing has already begun! Just listen to the following testimonial from an unidentified person ... As these ads blare at you from your favorite AM radio station, perhaps you wonder: How…
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Some herbal supplements associated with dangerous blood lead levels in women

Alternative Medicine
Reuters Health carried a very interesting report indicating that some herbal supplements may boost the levels of lead in the blood of women. A study, published in November showed that among 12,807 men and women age 20 and older, by Dr. Catherine Buettner, at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, and colleagues found blood lead levels about 10 percent higher in women, but not men, who used specific herbal supplements. When they examined herbal supplement use among women of reproductive age (age 16 to 45 years old), "the relationship with lead levels was even stronger, with lead levels 20 percent higher overall, and up to 40 percent higher among users of select herbal supplements compared to non-users," they report in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. Lead accumulates…
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Experts: Placebo effect behind many ‘natural’ cures

Alternative Medicine
We've known for years, that when it comes to doing randomized controlled trials of natural medications (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) as well as alternative therapies (everything from acupressure to zen), that the people in the placebo end of the study have very high, albeit short-lived, response rates. The reason, according to an article in USA Today can be based upon two words: "I believe." Here's the article: It's the placebo effect — the ability of a dummy pill or a faked treatment to make people feel better, just because they expect that it will. It's the mind's ability to alter physical symptoms, such as pain, anxiety and fatigue. In just the past few weeks, the placebo effect has demonstrated its healing powers. In tests of a new drug to relieve…
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Give Thanksgiving leftovers a healthy and delicious overhaul

Nutritional Health
One of the wonderful things about Thanksgiving dinner is there are often lots of delicious leftovers. You can just warm up a few of your favorite dishes or make a simple turkey sandwich. But for healthful alternatives, USA Today asked the Food Network's Ellie Krieger, the editors of EatingWell and Cooking Light to share some nutritious recipes that use Thanksgiving leftovers. I hope you try them out. Greek salad pitas with feta spread and turkey Ingredients: 3 tbsp non-fat plain yogurt 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice 2 tsp dried oregano 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper 4 whole-wheat pita breads 4 large pieces of romaine lettuce, torn in half 1 English cucumber, sliced into half moons ¼ cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves ¾…
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Spare the Rod? Is Spanking a Child Harmful or Helpful? – Part 11 – Is spanking ever necessary?

Children's Health, Parenting
Opposition to parents spanking their children has been growing significantly in elite circles over the past few years. And, my blogs on spanking are among the most read of those I publish. Therefore, I’ve decided to, with the help of the research of my friends Den Trumbull, MD, S. DuBose Ravenel, MD, to look a the arguments used against spanking, to see if they hold any water. This is the last of my 12 part series on the topic Argument #11: Spanking is never necessary. Counterpoint: All children need a combination of encouragement and correction as they are disciplined to become socially responsible individuals. In order for correction to deter disobedient behavior, the consequence imposed upon the child must outweigh the pleasure of the disobedient act. For very compliant children,…
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How to Keep Normal Labor Normal – Part 12 – Prayer

Woman's Health
This blog series is designed to help women who are developing a birth plan join together with like-minded birthing professionals so as to have a shorter and safer labor and birth. Although written primarily for professional birth attendants, I hope information will be helpful to lay women planning their birth. Today we’ll look at the tenth “P” of my 10 “P’s” of keeping labor shorter and birth safer — prayer. Although labor and delivery has been considered a “spiritual event” by midwives at least since the publication of Spiritual Midwifery(82) in the 1960’s, there is some recent literature that looks at the influence of spiritual beliefs on labor and delivery outcomes. One study which examined whether family physicians were aware or not of their patient’s spiritual belief systems stated, “these results…
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Go Healthy, Not Hungry for Thanksgiving Eating

Nutritional Health
The holiday season means you'll be faced with a seemingly endless buffet of food temptation. While some people simply give in and eat too much, others deny themselves any holiday treats. But there are ways to navigate between overindulgence and deprivation, according to Julie Redfern, manager of Nutrition Consult Services at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. She offers the following advice (in a report by Health on the Net Foundation): Eat a light snack before you go to a holiday party. That will prevent you from arriving hungry and overeating or gobbling down foods high in calories and saturated fat. When you're invited to a party, offer to bring a healthy food dish. Research how you can use healthy ingredients in your favorite holiday recipes. For example, using 1…
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How Much Water Per Day Do You Really Need?

Nutritional Health
This is not an infrequent question for me to be asked. And, a very nice article by Mara Betsch at Health.com will give you the information you need to answer this question for yourself, your family, and your friends: You’ve heard it before: Drink eight glasses of water a day to keep your body trim, healthy, and happy. Though water is vital in a variety of bodily functions and processes, you may not have to drink as much as you think. Unlike other vital nutrients, water doesn’t have specific daily requirements. Just like everyone has different caloric needs, a person’s water intake is affected by age, weight, activity level, and environment. In a report from the Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine, the group offers a ballpark…
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Horror Show = Movie Popcorn = 3 Burgers + 12 Pats of Butter

Nutritional Health
According to a report from Fox News, "The food at movie theaters is scarier than 'Nightmare on Elm Street,' a frightening new study reveals." The double-features of artery-clogging tubs of fatty-fried popcorn and sugary, super-sized drinks — not to mention high-calorie candy — is nothing short of a health hazard, according to a study from the Center for Science in the Public Interest called, "‘Two Thumbs Down’ for Movie Theater Popcorn." The CSPI sent food from three national theater chains to a lab and found they may have to soon start installing extra-wide seats. The worst offender, the study found, was Regal Cinemas, where a medium popcorn contains 1,200 calories oozing with coconut oil and saturated fat. The lab calorie counts were higher than claimed by Regal. The company said…
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Daycare May Feed Your Kids’ TV Habit

Children's Health, Parenting
According to a AP story, "Parents who thought their preschoolers were spending time in home-based day cares, taking naps, eating healthy snacks and learning to play nicely with others may be surprised to discover they are sitting as many as two hours a day in front of a TV, according to a study published Monday." When added to the two to three hours many parents already admit to allowing at home, preschoolers in child care may be spending more than a third of the about 12 hours they are awake each day in front of the electronic baby sitter, said Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician at Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle and a researcher at the University of Washington. That's double the TV time he found in…
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Handheld Ultrasound: A Peek at the Future of the Pro-Life Movement?

Bioethics, Children's Health
Ohio Law To Allow Women to See Ultrasound Before Abortion Will Save Lives There a new technology that's being hailed as a stunning leap forward in modern health care. And, it may be about to give pro-life advocates unheard-of power to save a life -- in the palm of their hand. According to a story by LifeSiteNews.com from the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, General Electric unveiled the ultraportable and user-friendly Vscan, an ultrasound machine about the size of a large flip phone. Dubbing it "the stethoscope of the 21st century," the company offered various scenarios in which the device could vastly advance the landscape of diagnostics. For pro-lifers on the front lines, the new gadget could hugely improve abortion-bound women's access to ultrasounds, which have been found highly…
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Partnership Between Family Physicians and Coca-Cola Poses Ethical Problem

Children's Health, Nutritional Health, Parenting
What does my national academy of family physicians, the AAFP (American Academy of Family Physicians) and Coca-Cola have in common? The common sense answer should be, "Nothing." The actual answer is, "$500,000." Ouch! Here's the story and an opinion about this type of relationship from a family physician that was posted on the ABC News web site: The American Academy of Family Physicians announced this month that it has received a $500,000 donation from Coca-Cola as part of their Consumer Alliance Program. In theory, this program seeks "to develop robust new programs and educational materials" to help patients and health care providers make "better choices ... to achieve a healthy lifestyle." According to its Consumer Alliance Web site, the Academy recognizes the "significant influence" that corporations have over consumer choices…
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Spare the Rod? Is Spanking a Child Harmful or Helpful? – Part 10 – Does spanking lead a parent to use harmful forms of corporal punishment which lead to physical child abuse?

Children's Health, Parenting
Opposition to parents spanking their children has been growing significantly in elite circles over the past few years. And, my blogs on spanking are among the most read of those I publish. Therefore, I’ve decided to, with the help of the research of my friends Den Trumbull, MD, S. DuBose Ravenel, MD, look a the arguments used against spanking, to see if they hold any water. This is the eleventh of a 12 part series. Argument #10: Spanking leads a parent to use harmful forms of corporal punishment which lead to physical child abuse. Counterpoint: The abuse potential when loving parents use appropriate disciplinary spanking is very low. Since parents have a natural affection for their children, they are more prone to underutilize spanking than to overutilize it. Both empirical data and professional…
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How to Keep Normal Labor Normal – Part 11 – Payment

Woman's Health
This blog series is designed to help women who are developing a birth plan join together with like-minded birthing professionals so as to have a shorter and safer labor and birth. Although written primarily for professional birth attendants, I hope information will be helpful to lay women planning their birth. In this blog, we’ll look at the ninth “P” of my 10 “P’s” of keeping labor shorter and birth safer — payment. Interestingly, if operative deliveries and cesareans can identify labor or delivery processes that are not normal, then the medical literature lists several payment mechanisms that may be associated with keeping normal labor normal. First, is the capitation of maternity care services, as “…the probability for cesarean section is lower for an HMO delivery than for a fee-for-service delivery …”(79)…
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The Grass Is Not Always Greener: A Look at National Health Care Systems Around the World – Part 10 – Switzerland

Bioethics, Medical Economics
In the midst of our national debate about healthcare reform, people on both sides of the debate seem to pick and choose among the facts and myths about the nationalized healthcare available in a number of other countries. The fact is that every nationalized health care system in the world is battling issues of rapidly rising costs and decreasing access to care. But, these systems also have some very attractive benefits. So, in this last blog of this 10-part series, let’s take a look at the pro’s and con’s of the Swiss system. Michael Tanner, the director of health and welfare studies at the Cato Institute, is the coauthor of Healthy Competition: What’s Holding Back Health Care and How to Free It and the author of this series: I have…
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New guidelines: Women can get Pap smears every two years

Woman's Health
The AP has a nice report on another set of guidelines just out that declare, "Most women in their 20s can have a Pap smear every two years instead of annually." The new guidelines conclude, and I agreed, that is more than frequent enough to catch the very slow-growing cervical cancer. The change by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists comes amid a completely separate debate over when regular mammograms to detect breast cancer should begin. The timing of the Pap guidelines is coincidence, said ACOG, which began reviewing its recommendations in late 2007 and published the update Friday in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. The guidelines also say: Routine Paps should start at age 21. Previously, ACOG had urged a first Pap either within three years of first…
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Deaths from H1N1 vaccine = ZERO. Deaths from H1N1 illness approaching 7000.

Children's Health, Men's Health, Parenting, Woman's Health
As of 15 November 2009, the World Health Association (WHO) is reporting that worldwide more than 206 countries and overseas territories or communities have reported laboratory confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1 2009, including over 6770 deaths. So, the outlandish predictions that the Swine flu vaccine would cause illness and deaths appear to be false. According to a Reuters report, The WHO is saying that the pandemic vaccine is as safe as the seasonal flu vaccine used for more than 60 years. "No new safety issue has been identified from reports issued to date ... Reporting so far reconfirms that the pandemic flu vaccine is as safe as the seasonal flu vaccine," Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO's top vaccine expert, told a telephone conference. Governments have so far reported that 65 million vaccine doses have…
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Marriage is Positive for Kids

Children's Health, Marriage and Family Health, Parenting
http://www.citizenlink.org/content/A000011469.cfm Having a married mom and dad has an impact on a child's future, according to data http://www.heritage.org/Research/Family/Map_of_Religion.pdf from The Heritage Foundation. The group used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to look at marriage and the role it plays in raising healthy children. Christine Kim, policy analyst for The Heritage Foundation, said healthy marriage role models affect kids' future married life and family formation. "If they come from a family with divorced parents," she said, "that might impact their likelihood of getting divorced in the future as well." The study, called "A Portrait of Family and Religion in America," found families with a high level of conflict had an impact on children later in life. "Their marriage may be less functional" Kim said.  "There might be…
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Experts Urge School Screening of Athletes’ Hearts with EKGs

Children's Health, Parenting
A very interesting new study may change my practice. I've been doing sports medicine for nearly 30 years, 10 of those as a volunteer physician with the US Olympic Committee and as a subspecialist with a Certificate of Added Qualification in sports medicine. So, I've always tried to keep up with the data in this arena and nothing in recent history has surprised me as much as a study showing that an inexpensive EKG has the potential to reduce the risk of sudden death among high school athletes. According to a news report, U.S. researchers are saying "this new, inexpensive screening method could help reduce the risk for sudden cardiac death among high school athletes." No, EKGs are not "new," but using them for preparticipation sports exams would be new.…
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New mammogram guidelines are spurring huge controversy

Woman's Health
This controversy is receiving massive media coverage for the second consecutive day, and being covered on every major network -- the controversy is swirling around the new breast cancer screening guidelines from the US Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF). The news is sparking a surprising amount of anger, skepticism, and confusion among women and those who love them, as well as healthcare professionals and and public health experts. The CBS Evening News (11/17, story 3, Couric) reported that "new government guidelines for breast cancer screening" that "say routine mammograms are not necessary for most women in their 40s" are "upsetting many patients and their doctors." The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends that "women at low risk should not get screened until they're in their 50s and then every other…
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Readers ask about my response to the Zetia / Vytorin study that is all over the news

Heart Health, Men's Health, Woman's Health
Cholesterol Drug Controversy Continues Some of you are wondering about my response to this news. First of all, you should know that I'm on Vytorin. My doctor had recommended a statin, along with omega-3 fatty acids for my increasing triglycerides and decreasing LDL (lethal) cholesterol. When my cholesterol particle counts (we don't just follow my lipid profile) didn't meet goal, my doctor added Zetia (using the statin and Zetia combination drug of Vytorin). Voilà, my particle counts are way normal. Does this new information change my view about the reasonableness of adding either nyacin or Zetia to a statin as add-on drugs? Absolutely not. You can read my previous blogs on Zetia here: Cholesterol Drug Controversy Continues A trusted expert speaks out on the Vytorin fiasco (for doctors) In the…
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Dark chocolate may lower stress hormone levels

Nutritional Health, Obesity
Under the "it sounds too good to be true" category, comes a new study, concluding that "a dose of dark chocolate could cheer you right up by lowering your stress hormone levels." The study is published online in the October issue of the Journal of Proteome Research. HealthDay reported that after following 30 "volunteers who said they were highly stressed," researchers found that "a daily consumption of 40 grams [1.4 ounces split into two 0.7 ounce servings twice a day] during a period of two weeks is sufficient to modify the metabolism of healthy human volunteers" by helping "correct other imbalances in the body that are related to stress." Reuters reported, “The study . . . comes amid growing scientific evidence that antioxidants and other beneficial substances in dark chocolate…
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Debate: Do calorie counts on fast-food menus gives diners pause?

Nutritional Health, Obesity
In my book, SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat, I suggest: "We believe Congress and state or local legislatures should require 2 food-service chains with ten or more units to list the calorie, satu- 3 rated and trans fat (combined), and sodium contents of standard 3 menu items. Where space is limited, restaurants that use menu 3 boards should be required to provide at least calorie information 3 next to each item on their boards." I also write, "We also believe that labeling should be required for foods and bever- ages sold “to go” at food retailers such as cookie counters in shopping malls, vending machines, drive-through windows, and convenience stores. Further, nutrition information should be required to be listed as prominently as price and…
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Study points to chewing gum as weight loss aid

Nutritional Health, Obesity
The Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/10/AR2009111001029.html reports that for anybody trying to lose weight, "taking up gum-chewing might not be a bad idea," as "there's actually a bit of scientific evidence showing that chewing gum helps fight fat in a number of ways." The research, sponsored by the Wrigley Science Institute, has suggested "that chewing gum may help reduce cravings, particularly for sweet snacks, and spur people to cut their daily intake by about 50 calories." The findings were presented at the annual scientific meeting of the Obesity Society last month, and "showed that gum-chewing people consumed 67 fewer calories at lunch and didn't compensate by eating more later in the day." For anybody trying to lose weight, a new report says that "taking up gum-chewing might not be a bad idea,"…
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Guys, keeping your cholesterol low may reduce your prostate cancer risk

Men's Health
There's good news for men concerned about developing prostate cancer. The AP reports, "Men may protect more than their hearts if they keep cholesterol in line: Their chances of getting aggressive prostate cancer may be lower." Want to learn more? Then, read on as scientists at two institutions have detailed the research that led them to that conclusion in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention. According to the AP report, even though the papers "are not definitive and have some weaknesses," they do "fit with plenty of other science suggesting that limiting fats in the bloodstream can lessen cancer risk." HealthDay reported that NCI investigators reviewed "data from a study that has followed more than 29,000 Finnish men for 18 years," finding that "cholesterol levels below the generally recommended 200 milligrams…
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How to Keep Normal Labor Normal – Part 10 – Positions

General Health
This blog series is designed to help women who are developing a birth plan join together with like-minded birthing professionals so as to have a shorter and safer labor and birth. Although written primarily for professional birth attendants, I hope information will be helpful to lay women planning their birth. Today we’ll look at the eighth “P” of my 10 “P’s” of keeping labor shorter and birth safer — positions (or position change). Many maternity caregivers forget that “ambulation is also a treatment,”(17) however, “most laboring women expect to and are expected to labor mostly in bed,”(61) despite the fact that “women seem to prefer freedom of movement”(27,61, 74) in labor. Avoiding the dorsal recumbent position in the labor bed, changing of positions in labor and delivery, and ambulation of the…
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The Grass Is Not Always Greener: A Look at National Health Care Systems Around the World – Part 9 – Italy

Bioethics, Medical Economics
In the midst of our national debate about healthcare reform, people on both sides of the debate seem to pick and choose among the facts and myths about the nationalized healthcare available in a number of other countries. The fact is that every nationalized health care system in the world is battling issues of rapidly rising costs and decreasing access to care. But, these systems also have some very attractive benefits. So, let’s take a look at the pro’s and con’s of the Italian system. (more…)
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New Study Shows 85% of Women Say Abortions Cause Mental Health Issues

Bioethics, Mental Health, Woman's Health
LifeNews.com is reporting on a new study from researchers at a university in New Zealand which found that 85 percent of women who had abortions report negative mental health issues as a result. The report is the latest from professor David Fergusson and his team showing abortions cause problems for women. According to the LifeNews report, the University of Otago team examined the medical history of over 500 women and concluded having an abortion generally “leads to significant distress" in women who have them. It noted women reporting adverse reactions to their abortions were up to 80 percent more likely to have mental health problems and risk of mental illness was “proportional to the degree of distress” associated with the abortion. The study, which appears in the latest issue of…
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More Than 90% of Women Carrying a Child With Down Syndrome Choose Abortion, but Parents Raising These Wonderful Kids Say They’re a ‘Gift’

Bioethics, Children's Health, Parenting
In a past blog, I told you, "'Safer' prenatal Down’s syndrome test” will likely result in more deaths among unborn children." I said then, "This whole prospect chills me – as I believe it’s going to lead to the unwarranted murder of many of these wonderful children – uncounted legions of precious children, like Trig Palin (Sarah Palin's son), who will never have the chance to be held or hugged by their moms and dads – but who will, I believe, be nestled in the arms of their Creator. Unfortunately, my prediction appears to be coming true. “Safer prenatal Down’s syndrome test” will likely result in more deaths among unborn children (more…)
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Spare the Rod? Is Spanking a Child Harmful or Helpful? – Part 9 – Is spanking an ineffective solution to misbehavior?

Children's Health, Mental Health, Parenting
Opposition to parents spanking their children has been growing significantly in elite circles over the past few years. And, my blogs on spanking are among the most read of those I publish. Therefore, I’ve decided to, with the help of the research of my friends Den Trumbull, MD, S. DuBose Ravenel, MD, to look a the arguments used against spanking, to see if they hold any water. This is the ninth of a 12 part series. Argument #8: Spanking is an ineffective solution to misbehavior. Counterpoint: Though the specific use of appropriate spanking has rarely been studied, there is evidence of its short-term and long-term effectiveness. When combined with reasoning, the use of negative consequences (including spanking) does effectively decrease the frequency of misbehavior recurrences with preschool children.[9] In clinical field trials…
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