Wednesday’s Ask Dr. Walt — Rx for international travel

General Health
Dear Dr. Walt, I am a 55-year old lady who will soon be traveling to a developing country, which I do often. The medications in my emergency medication kit have all expired. I have a history of recurrent kidney stones and bee sting allergy. I am otherwise well. My medication kit includes ciprofloxacin, loperamide, oxycodone, and an epinephrine auto-injector (EAI). What do you recommend? Should I just call my doctor for refills? Agnes in Ashtabula. Dear Agnes, I'd recommend a consultation with a travel health professional at a health department or private travel clinic such as Passport Health. Here's a guiding site from the CDC: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/find-clinic. It's not just an "emergency kit," you want advice on, but it's also checking up on all needed/required vaccines, health alerts, security alerts, etc. A travel…
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Fit over 50 Update — Walking 8,000/day lowers death risk 50%

General Health
In my and Phil Bishop’s book, Fit over 50: Make Simple Choices Today for a Healthier, Happier You, we write: A 2015 study found that people who replaced “some of their sitting time with a light-intensity activity like strolling gained a substantial benefit in terms of mortality risk.” In fact, if participants “replaced as little as two minutes of sitting each hour with gentle walking, they lowered their risk of premature death by about 33 percent, compared with people who sat almost nonstop.” A study in Circulation of adults age 45 to 64 suggested that individuals “can make up for years of sedentary behavior with two years of exercise.” In fact, participants who had worked out at least four days a week with a regimen of weight training, balance work, and yoga had healthier hearts…
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What about COVID-19 and CBD?

General Health
Long-time readers know that my "go-to" sources for natural medicines (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) are ConsumerLab.com and Natural Medicines(TM). ConsumerLab has posted about coronavirus and CBD: CBD (cannabidiol) has been heavily promoted to prevent coronavirus. For example, former NFL player Kyle Turley, who owns a line of CBD products, has tweeted that CBD can prevent and cure the coronavirus, and scammers have been sending text messages promoting CBD for the virus.  While CBD has been shown to inhibit certain viruses in laboratory studies, there is no evidence that it can prevent or treat COVID-19 in people. In a recently published review, researchers cited the lack of clinical evidence for CBD's antiviral effects and cautioned "CBD sellers should stop promoting claims that are not backed by scientific evidence." (Tagne, Cannabis Cannabinoid Res 2020).  In fact, animal studies generally indicate that CBD dampens the immune…
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Does Apple Cider Vinegar Protect Against COVID-19?

General Health
Some social media postings claim that gargling with vinegar can eliminate the coronavirus in the throat before it reaches the lungs. Is this true? Here is the advice from ConsumerLab.com's fabulous and frequently updated resource Natural Remedies and Supplements for Coronavirus (COVID-19): While all varieties of vinegar, including apple cider vinegar, contain acetic acid, which has antibacterial and antiviral properties, there is no evidence that gargling with vinegar is useful for preventing or treating colds, sore throats, or COVID-19. Further, there is also SIGNIFICANT concern about the safety of using vinegar this way. Regular consumption of apple cider vinegar can cause tooth enamel loss and low blood levels of potassium.  Vinegar may be used to clean surfaces but are not as effective a disinfectant as bleach and may take as long as 30 minutes sitting on a surface,…
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What about COVID-19 and melatonin?

General Health
Long-time readers know that my "go-to" sources for natural medicines (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) are ConsumerLab.com and Natural Medicines(TM). ConsumerLab has posted about coronavirus and melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate sleep and can trigger sleep in people with sleep disorders. Melatonin has also been suggested on some websites as a potential treatment in COVID-19, although there are no reports of such use or of a proven benefit.  Rationale for use of melatonin in COVID-19 appears to stem from the fact that it can affect immune responses. Experiments in mice, for example, have shown melatonin to increase levels of certain cytokines (immune-regulating molecules) in those infected with various viruses and to reduce virus-related mortality, but this benefit has yet to be demonstrated in human clinical trials. Another rationale given for use of melatonin…
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Monthly Family Update – April 2020

General Health
Here are the contents of this month’s newsletter: “Best Medicine” Catalog CopyWant to Read “Best Medicine” before everyone else?A Christian Healthcare Worker’s Response To COVID-19Blogs on COVID-19 and SupplementsUnexpected praise from North CarolinaAnswers to last month’s prayersPrayer requests for this monthPast Issues 1) “Best Medicine” Catalog Copy Baker Publishing has released its September-December catalog. My next book, “Best Medicine,” is prominently featured. We’re still on for an October 6 release? Would you like to read it before it’s released? If so, see the next item. 2) Want to Read “Best Medicine” before everyone else? On October 6, 2020, my first book about my practice days in Kissimmee (1985-2001), “The Best Medicine: Tales of Humor and Hope from a Small-Town Doctor,” will be released. I'm trying to recruit 100 folks to…
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What about COVID-19 and astragalus?

General Health
Long-time readers know that my "go-to" sources for natural medicines (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) are ConsumerLab.com and Natural Medicines(TM). ConsumerLab has posted about coronavirus and astragalus: Astragalus (or Huang qi) has been promoted on some websites to help protect against COVID-19. Astragalus is an herb that has traditionally been used in Chinese medicine to strengthen the immune system and to treat colds, among many other uses. It may be sold as a root powder, extract or tea, as a single ingredient or as part of an "immune-boosting" formula.  Laboratory and animal studies suggest polysaccharides, astragalosides and other compounds in astragalus increase the production of white blood cells, particularly T cells and macrophages, and other cells important for immune system function (Block, Integr Cancer Ther 2003). It has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-viral effects,…
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Coronavirus and Supplements – Part II

General Health
After an overwhelming response and high volume of questions I received to my blogs over the last 10 days about the new (novel) coronavirus and supplements, I thought I'd share the conclusions of the research team at LabDoor (an independent group that tests supplements for quality). I found their in-depth article on vitamins C and D, as well as zinc lozenges, very helpful and hope you'll enjoy it and share it with interested friends.  The new coronavirus disease has a lot of people worried, and this has created an ideal breeding ground for misinformation. You’re probably aware of the chain emails, online health articles, and even news stories that have been touting new ways to prevent or treat the disease. Supplements companies are getting in on it, too, with claims that supplements…
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Can I get coronavirus taking supplements from China?

General Health
Long-time readers know that my "go-to" sources for natural medicines (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) are ConsumerLab.com and Natural Medicines(TM). ConsumerLab has posted an answer to this question: Many of the ingredients used in dietary supplements come from China. Even supplements that are "made in the U.S." may include ingredients from China, where the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is believed to have originated. Due to temporary shutdowns of businesses in some areas of China, there may be disruptions in the supply of these ingredients from China. There is no requirement for a dietary supplement to list the country of origin of its ingredients, so your question is a valid one.  However, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC), "In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there…
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What about COVID-19 and ANY dietary supplement?

General Health
Long-time readers know that my "go-to" sources for natural medicines (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) are ConsumerLab.com and Natural Medicines(TM). ConsumerLab has posted about coronavirus and supplements: Although several supplements may potentially reduce symptoms of a cold or flu, none can prevent infection with coronavirus or any other virus. Nevertheless, it is always worthwhile to fortify yourself to be in the best position to fight infection. In addition to getting adequate sleep and general nutrition, the safest way to do this with supplements is to be sure you are getting sufficient vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc, as all are important for a well-functioning immune system. As described in our posts this last week, this can typically be done with foods and/or supplements.  You can also get good amounts of vitamins C and D, zinc, and other essential…
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Myths About Supplements and Coronavirus Prevention or Treatment

General Health
I've been blogging the last 10 days or so about many of the myths and deceptions circulating on the Internet about preventing or treating the Coronavirus, COVID-19, with unproved and sometimes dangerous supplements. My friends at ConsumerLab.com have produced an incredible resource on the topic. I thought you'd like to know about it. Question: What are natural remedies for coronavirus (COVID-19)? Do supplements like zinc, vitamin C, or herbals work?  Answer:Many supplements and natural or other alternative treatments are being promoted to prevent or treat coronavirus (COVID-19). None have been proven to work, but some have potential benefit. Here's what you need to know, and we've grouped these approaches in the following categories:  Vitamin and minerals that can help with coronavirus if you're not getting enough Supplements that may possibly help reduce symptoms of coronavirus Supplements and products unlikely to help…
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A Christian Healthcare Worker’s Response to COVID-19

General Health
I was delighted to join about 30 other Christian healthcare professionals in writing the just-released ebook “A Christian Healthcare Worker’s Response to COVID-19.” The ebook was produced by my dear friend, Will Rogers, and his team at Medical Missions. The ebook is free and available here. Order Here My chapter, "How COVID-19 Presents Unique Opportunities To Share The Gospel," is on page 17. Will Rogers writes: Times like these are rare, but they also present such an incredible opportunity for us to share the light of Christ in a way that may not be as easily shared. The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing everyone to rethink so many things in life, especially for those on the front lines serving others in these times. We have a unique responsibility in times like…
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What about COVID-19 and turmeric and curcumin?

General Health
Long-time readers know that my "go-to" sources for natural medicines (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) are ConsumerLab.com and Natural Medicines(TM). ConsumerLab has posted about coronavirus and turmeric and curcumin: Turmeric and curcumin (a major constituent of turmeric) are best known for their modest anti-inflammatory effects. Curcumin has also been shown to inhibit certain viruses in laboratory studies, including a study published online (but not in a peer-reviewed journal) suggesting that curcumin may inhibit the virus that causes COVID-19. In animal studies, curcumin injections have been shown to protect the lungs from injury and infection, including viral-induced acute respiratory distress syndrome, possibly by reducing inflammatory cytokines and other mechanisms. However, there are no studies in people showing that turmeric or curcumin supplements can prevent or reduce the symptoms of viral infections such as colds, the flu, or COVID-19.  The…
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What about COVID-19 and quercetin?

General Health
Long-time readers know that my "go-to" sources for natural medicines (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) are ConsumerLab.com and Natural Medicines(TM). ConsumerLab has posted about coronavirus and quercetin: Quercetin and its major metabolites, such as quercetin 3-beta-O-d-glucoside (Q3G, also called isoquercetin), have been found in laboratory studies to inhibit a wide variety of viruses, including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), which is related to COVID-19. For example, one of these studies showed that when mice were injected with high doses of Q3G before being infected with a lethal dose of the Ebola virus, they survived Ebola infection, while none of the mice that did not receive Q3G survived. According to preliminary research, quercetin appears to work by preventing viruses from entering cells, thereby reducing "viral load." A clinical trial that will investigate the use of oral quercetin in patients…
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What about COVID-19 and Miracle Mineral Solution (Sodium Chlorite) and Chlorine Dioxide Kits?

General Health
Long-time readers know that my "go-to" sources for natural medicines (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) are ConsumerLab.com and Natural Medicines(TM). ConsumerLab has posted about coronavirus and Miracle Mineral Solution (Sodium Chlorite) and Chlorine Dioxide Kits: Miracle Mineral Solution (which contains 28% sodium chlorite in distilled water) and chlorine dioxide "kits" are not a solution for COVID-19 and are dangerous to drink. A number of websites and social media posts promote these products to combat coronavirus. F or example, on her website, marketer Kerri Rivera touts Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS) as a "secret weapon" to fight coronavirus and keep the illness from progressing. (She was banned in the state of Illinois in 2015 from making any earlier claim that MMS can cure autism.) Ingesting these products has not been shown to prevent or treat coronavirus.  These products typically contain sodium chlorite solution…
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What about COVID-19 and NAC (N-acetyl cysteine)?

General Health
Long-time readers know that my "go-to" sources for natural medicines (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) are ConsumerLab.com and Natural Medicines(TM). ConsumerLab has posted about coronavirus and NAC (N-acetyl cysteine): NAC (N-acetyl cysteine) is a synthetically modified form of the amino acid cysteine (cysteine occurs naturally in foods, whereas NAC does not). In the body, NAC is converted to the antioxidant glutathione. There is very preliminary evidence that NAC may improve certain blood markers of immune system health but there is not sufficient evidence to suggest that NAC supplementation improves the immune system to the extent that it will reduce the occurrence of illness, nor prevent coronavirus infection. A clinical study using 600 mg of NAC taken twice daily during flu season found that it did not prevent infection but fewer infected people were symptomatic. Evidence is…
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What about COVID-19 and coconut oil?

General Health
Long-time readers know that my "go-to" sources for natural medicines (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) are ConsumerLab.com and Natural Medicines(TM). ConsumerLab has posted about coronavirus and coconut oil: Two researchers have highlighted preliminary research on the anti-viral effects of lauric acid, found in coconut oil, and the metabolite of lauric acid — monolaurin. They have proposed a clinical trial using virgin coconut oil (3 tablespoons daily), monolaurin (800 mg daily), and/or monocaprin (800 mg daily) in patients with COVID-19. Their suggestion was published on the Integrated Chemists of the Philippines website. They note that coconut oil, lauric acid, and monolaurin have been used to help prevent viruses in farm animals, and two small trials in people with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) given coconut oil showed some improvements in immune system blood cell counts. However, there is no…
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What about COVID-19 and vitamin D?

General Health
Long-time readers know that my "go-to" sources for natural medicines (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) are ConsumerLab.com and Natural Medicines(TM). ConsumerLab has posted about coronavirus and vitamin D: Vitamin D supplements, taken daily in moderate doses, may help to reduce the risk of respiratory infections and viruses such as influenza A in children and adults who are deficient (< 20 ng/mL) or severely deficient (< 10 ng/mL) in vitamin D.  Although there is not currently any research suggesting vitamin D supplements decrease the risk of coronavirus infection specifically, maintaining an adequate blood level of vitamin D (25OH vitamin D, 20 to 30 ng/mL) by consuming vitamin D-fortified products (such as most milks, certain other dairy foods, and some plant-based milks), or taking a vitamin D supplement is a good, safe, preventative measure for protecting against respiratory…
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What about COVID-19 and garlic?

General Health
Long-time readers know that my "go-to" sources for natural medicines (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) are ConsumerLab.com and Natural Medicines(TM). ConsumerLab has posted about coronavirus and garlic: Garlic has been shown in laboratory studies to inhibit certain flu and cold viruses, and one clinical trial suggests garlic supplements may help to prevent colds. However, there is no current evidence that eating garlic or taking a garlic supplement can help prevent or treat COVID-19, as noted on the World Health Organization's Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Myth busters website.  There are many garlic supplements on the market. ConsumerLab has tested many of these and has published its Top Picks in its Garlic Supplements & Spices Review, which contains additional information about using garlic, its benefits, dosing, and potential side effects.  Of course, the most important thing you can do to avoid infection with…
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What about COVID-19 and elderberry?

General Health
Long-time readers know that my "go-to" sources for natural medicines (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) are ConsumerLab.com and Natural Medicines(TM). ConsumerLab has posted about coronavirus and elderberry: Elderberry extract has been shown in laboratory studies to inhibit the replication and hemagglutination of human flu viruses, including certain strains of Influenza A and B, and H1N1. Small, preliminary trials in people with the flu suggest that taken within the first day or so of experiencing symptoms, elderberry shortens the duration of the flu, but more studies are needed to corroborate this. There is no evidence that elderberry extract can prevent COVID-19 or reduce symptoms in people who have been infected.  Furthermore, concern has been raised on some websites about the potential for elderberry extract to cause a cytokine storm in reaction to a COVID-19 infection. A cytokine storm is…
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What about COVID-19 and echinacea?

General Health
Long-time readers know that my "go-to" sources for natural medicines (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) are ConsumerLab.com and Natural Medicines(TM). ConsumerLab has posted about coronavirus and echinacea: Studies in laboratories (but not in people) have shown that certain species of echinacea may inhibit coronaviruses.  However, there is no evidence at this time that taking this or any other echinacea product can prevent or treat coronavirus infections in people. A laboratory study that has not yet been peer-reviewed or published found that a particular branded form of echinacea inhibited specific coronaviruses, including (HCoV) 229E, MERS- and SARS-CoVs, and the researchers suggested it could potentially have a similar effect on SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, although it was not tested. The study was funded by a distributor of the product and authored, in part, by an employee of the manufacturer. Clinical…
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The President Declared a National Day of Prayer for TODAY

General Health
I just heard about this and wanted to pass it on to those of you who might be interested. President Donald Trump on Saturday declared Sunday, March 15, a "National Day of Prayer for All Americans Affected by the Coronavirus Pandemic and for our National Response Efforts." “I urge Americans of all faiths and religious traditions and backgrounds to offer prayers for all those affected, including people who have suffered harm or lost loved ones,” Trump said in his statement announcing the day of prayer. In his statement, President Trump noted that because of the coronavirus pandemic many Americans would not be able to attend their place of worship this week. “As we continue to face the unique challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, millions of Americans are unable to gather in their churches,…
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What about COVID-19 and colloidal silver?

General Health
Long-time readers know that my "go-to" sources for natural medicines (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) are ConsumerLab.com and Natural Medicines(TM). ConsumerLab has posted about coronavirus and colloidal silver : Colloidal silver (a solution with silver particles) has antiseptic (disinfectant) activity on surfaces and has been promoted by several companies to prevent or treat coronavirus. However ingesting colloidal silver has NOT been shown to prevent or treat coronavirus, and there are serious potential risks.  On March 9, 2020, the FDA and FTC sent joint warning letters to companies selling colloidal silver and other products to treat coronavirus. The agencies emphasized, "There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)."  Then, on March 12, 2020, the Missouri Attorney General announced that it sued the Jim Bakker Show for selling…
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What about COVID-19 and vitamin C?

General Health
Long-time readers know that my "go-to" sources for natural medicines (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) are ConsumerLab.com and Natural Medicines(TM). ConsumerLab has posted about coronavirus and vitamin C: Vitamin C is vital to the function of leukocytes (white blood cells that help to fight infections) and overall immune system health. Vitamin C is also important for iron absorption, and being deficient in iron can make you more vulnerable to infections in general.  However, even for viruses like colds, the evidence that vitamin C supplements can help is modest at best: Taking high-dose vitamin C (e.g., 500 mg twice daily) before getting a cold may slightly reduce the severity and duration of a cold, but, there is inconclusive evidence as to whether taking vitamin C will help after cold symptoms develop. Note that the normal, recommended daily intake of vitamin C for…
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What about COVID-19 and zinc lozenges?

General Health
Long-time readers know that my "go-to" sources for natural medicines (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) are ConsumerLab.com and Natural Medicines(TM). ConsumerLab has posted this about coronavirus and zinc. Zinc has become one of the most popular suggestions for reducing symptoms of coronavirus. Notably, an email written by a pathologist, Dr. James Robb, that recommends using zinc lozenges such as Cold-Eeze to ward off the virus, along with other tips, has gone viral.  Although there is no direct evidence at this time to suggest that using zinc lozenges can prevent or treat COVID-19 in people, zinc does have anti-viral properties and was shown in a laboratory study to inhibit the replication of coronaviruses in cells (te Velthuis, PLoS Pathog 2010).  Zinc lozenges or other orally dissolving zinc formulas containing certain forms of zinc have been…
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Coronavirus and Supplements – Part 1

General Health
One of my best-selling books is Alternative Medicine: The options, the claims, the evidence, how to choose wisely. In that book, Dr. O'Mathúna and I discuss the evidence supporting and refuting various supplements for colds and flu. So, I've been received requests to comment on supplements to prevent or treat the pandemic novel coronavirus or COVID-19. Order Here Myriad Internet advertisements are hawking vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc products -- among others. Along with this are countless social media posts with false information that high doses of these nutrients may cure you or prevent you from getting this pandemic virus. In fact, as pointed out by Reuters, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have sent warning letters to seven companies that they say…
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Dr. Walt on Prayer Video for Cancer Patients

General Health
I received this sweet note from Cecilia Tripp the folks at the 30 Days of Cancer Prayer event. I had been asked to do a short video prayer for cancer patients going through radiation. Hi Walt, I just wanted to extend our heartfelt thanks for participating in our 30 Days of Cancer Prayer event. We have already touched over 46,000 lives and the numbers are still growing! Can you believe it?!We wanted to make sure we sent you links to your prayer video for you to share if you needed. Below are links to your prayer video on Facebook and YouTube.Cecilia TrippCommunications Coordinator You can view the prayer here: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cancercomp/videos/1835286636606839/YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4e5fpUykKzU I was honored to join NFL star Kurt Warner, actor Kirk Cameron, and Christian recording artist, Francesca Battistelli in this…
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Fit over 50 Update — Go Outside for Your Health

General Health
In my and Phil Bishop’s book, Fit over 50: Make Simple Choices Today for a Healthier, Happier You, we write: Research published in the Journal of Positive Psychology in 2019 found that “participants who sat in an urban park for just five minutes showed significant increases in positive emotions compared to participants who sat in a windowless laboratory room.” Study co-author, Katherine D. Arbuthnott, said, “When you need an emotional boost, the fastest and easiest way is to spend a few minutes with nature. Actually, being outside is the best, but even contemplating a picture of a natural scene will make a difference.”Fit over 50, XOXO, Tip 6: Get Outdoors, page 125-126 Order Fo50 Here Visiting a park boosts your happiness like Christmas morning, new research shows “According to a new study by researchers…
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