Empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options. 921997
Here's the Latest Episode from The People’s Pharmacy:
The microbiome–the genome of our collective microbiota–has become a trendy topic in medicine lately. With more microbial than human cells in our bodies, it’s becoming clear we should think of ourselves as collectives. Citizen scientists have been contributing to the understanding of microbiota biodiversity through the American Gut Project. Yet most of us don’t really consider that when we eat, we are feeding our microbes just as much as ourselves. What would you eat to optimize your microbiome?
Optimize Your Microbiome with Fiber:
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz is a fiber evangelist. Feeding our microbiota with plants, especially high-fiber plants, helps the healthful ones flourish. In fact, the American Gut Project showed that the best predictor of microbial diversity is the number of unique plant species a person eats. A wide range of plants presumably encourages different microbes to flourish, and healthful species tend to predominate. When we eat a variety of plants, we are getting both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Junk food, on the other hand, seems to promote the growth of pathogenic varieties. Find out how our microbiota influence the immune system, metabolism, hormone balance, cognitive function and other significant aspects of our health. Moreover, find out why they love broccoli sprouts, leafy greens, lentils and beans. What else do they appreciate? Fermented foods, probiotics and prebiotic fibers. In summary, think of the FGOALS: Fruit, Fermented Foods, Greens, whole Grains, Omega-3 fats from flaxseed, chia and hemp seed, Aromatics (onions, shallots, leeks, garlic, etc.), Legumes, ‘Shrooms, Seaweed and Sulforaphane. Given such fuel, you can optimize your microbiome so that the very diverse organisms that comprise it will produce the short chain fatty acids (SCFA) you need.
Can You Reduce Flatulence?
What can you do to reduce problems with intestinal gas as you are gearing up your diet to optimize your microbiome? Traditional cuisines that focus on many of these foods include other plants such as asafoetida, fennel, ginger or mint tea to help control flatulence.
This Week’s Guest:
Will Bulsiewicz, MD, MCSI, is a gastroenterologist, gut health expert and the author of more than twenty articles in the top American gastroenterology journals. He’s a graduate of Georgetown University School of Medicine and was chief medical resident at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and chief gastroenterology fellow at the University of North Carolina Hospitals. He lives in Charleston, South Carolina, with his wife and two children. His book is Fiber Fueled: The Plant-Based Gut Health Program for Losing Weight, Restoring Your Health, and Optimizing Your Microbiome. The photo of Dr. Busiewicz in the greenhouse is by Margaret Wright.
Listen to the Podcast:
The podcast of this program will be available Monday, August 3, 2020, after broadcast on August 1. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.
A couple of decades ago, most people had never heard of celiac disease. Many doctors had never diagnosed a case, and they had often learned it was an extremely rare condition. Following a gluten-free diet, the only treatment, was really difficult.
Today, millions of people avoid gluten in their diets. Not all of them have been diagnosed with celiac disease, but nearly all of them have heard of this autoimmune condition. Has there been a big increase in celiac disease?
What Is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that is triggered by a complex of proteins called gluten. This protein is found in wheat, barley and rye, so people with celiac disease need to avoid these grains and any foods that contain them. When susceptible people react to gluten, the consequence is damage to the intestinal lining. As a result, the digestive tract has trouble absorbing nutrients properly. A wide range of symptoms ensue. There are, of course, digestive problems, but there are also systemic disorders such as anemia, osteoporosis, fatigue, inflammation, bruising and headaches.
Diagnosing Celiac Disease:
Celiac disease runs in families. Susceptibility depends upon a particular genetic makeup, but not everyone with those genes eventually develops celiac disease. The first step in diagnosis is an antibody test, and it is very important to get this done before changing eating patterns. Once celiac disease is confirmed, the treatment is a strict gluten-free diet. But going gluten-free before the test could lead to a false negative and delay the diagnosis unnecessarily. If the antibody test is positive, the doctor generally confirms the diagnosis with endoscopy and a biopsy.
Who Gets Celiac Disease?
Doctors used to think that that this was a very rare disease that only manifested in young children. We now know that it is not rare, but affects about 1 percent of the population. Moreover, you can get a celiac disease diagnosis at any stage of your life.
We don’t know why there seems to be a recent increase in celiac disease. Experts suspect that some change in the immune system may kick it off. They know that children may first show signs of celiac disease after a viral infection. Older adults may also have an immune trigger. Heavy metals might also contribute.
Environmental Pollutants and the Increase in Celiac Disease:
A recent study in children suggests that people exposed to persistent organic pollutants are more likely to be diagnosed with celiac disease. Some of these are chemicals that provide stain resistance. Others are “forever” chemicals like PFAs or metabolites of pesticides. Most are endocrine disruptors. Perhaps the dramatic increase in celiac disease is linked to environmental pollution.
This Week’s Guests:
Joseph A. Murray, MD, serves as a gastroenterologist in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Dr. Murray runs the celiac disease research and clinical program that focuses on epidemiology, complications and mouse models of gluten sensitivity. In addition, Dr. Murray is a Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He serves as a Consultant to several companies and has broad experience with clinical trials. Dr. Murray is the section editor for Gastroenterology for the Mayo Clinic Proceedings as well as an expert reviewer for many scientific journals.
Dr. Murray is the author of Mayo Clinic Going Gluten Free: Essential Guide to Managing Celiac Disease and Other Gluten-Related Conditions. You may be interested in this article he published on the epidemiology of celiac disease in Gastroenterology Clinics of North America, March 2019. The photo is of Dr. Murray.
Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP, is an international leader in children’s environmental health and professor in pediatrics, environmental medicine, and population health at New York University. He is also the Director of the Division of Environmental Pediatrics and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Pediatrics at NYU School of Medicine. Dr. Trasande is the author of Sicker, Fatter, Poorer: The Urgent Threat of Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals to Our Health and Future . . . and What We Can Do About It. His website is leotrasande.com The research he published on environmental pollutants and celiac disease appeared in Environmental Research, July 2020. Dr. Trasande also joined colleagues on this plea for more thoughtful regulation of endocrine-disrupting chemicals just published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, August 2020.
Listen to the Podcast:
The podcast of this program will be available Monday, July 27, 2020, after broadcast on July 25, 2020. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.
When Jim Kwik was a little boy, he had a bad fall that resulted in a concussion. He struggled with learning problems throughout elementary school and even later. But he eventually learned to stop thinking of himself as the boy with the broken brain. In fact, he now has mastered accelerated learning and teaches the rest of us how we can learn faster and remember more, too.
How Do You Learn FAST?
The word FAST offers a superb mnemnomic (memory tip): F is for forgetting what you thought you knew about the topic (because what you know that just ain’t so can really trip you up). A is for active; active learning is faster and sticks with us better. S is for state and T is for teach. If you really want to remember something, figure out how to teach it to someone who doesn’t know it. It’s a great way to discover how well you actually understand your topic, to wrap your mind around it and remember more.
The Digital SuperVillains:
Digital devices are part of our life, and we can’t change that. But we can watch out for the supervillains that can interfere with us utilizing our brain power effectively. There’s digital deluge and distraction. What about digital dementia? We don’t remember things because our devices do. When is that appropriate and when does it become a problem? What can we do to hone our critical thinking skills and remember more?
All Your Hats:
When we look at a new problem, we need a lot of hats to consider it thoroughly. The white hat is for logical analysis; a red hat helps us recognize our feelings. The black hat can be our critic, while the yellow hat is a sunny optimist evaluating an opportunity. Put on your green hat for growth, and lastly, your sky-blue hat can oversee and manage the whole show.
We’ll also review the ten things we can do to improve our memory and a PIE technique for remembering things more easily. P for place, I for imagine, E for entwine. Don’t take our word for it–listen to the end of the show and learn how to remember more.
This Week’s Guest:
Jim Kwik is a world expert in speed-reading, memory improvement, and optimal brain performance. He is the CEO and Founder of Kwik Learning, a leader in accelerated learning with online students of every age and vocation in over 150 countries. For over two decades, he has served as a brain coach to students, seniors, entrepreneurs, and educators, as well as professional athletes, political leaders, and corporate clients such as Google, 20th Century Fox and Cleveland Clinic, and such institutions as the United Nations, Caltech and Harvard University.
Jim Kwik is the author of Limitless: Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional Life His website is https://jimkwik.com/
The photo of Jim Kwik is by Nick Onken.
Listen to the Podcast:
The podcast of this program will be available Monday, July 20, 2020, after broadcast on July 18. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.
In these challenging times, keeping our brains healthy and working well is important. Social isolation can be debilitating, but there are approaches that can help counteract these difficulties.
Research on Maintaining Memory:
What does new research tell us about achieving maximum memory fitness? How important is it for us to take care of conditions like high blood pressure or impaired hearing? How much do diet and exercise actually affect our cognitive health?
Easy Steps to Achieve Maximum Memory Fitness:
Dr. Cynthia Green outlines important strategies to help us with our memories. To keep our brains healthy, it is imperative to maintain our physical and emotional health. To accomplish that, stay physically active and follow a healthful diet. In addition, we must address problems like depression that can undermine cognitive function.
In addition, she offers a number of memory tactics, such as repetition or connecting a new name or fact you want to remember to something you already know. Another approach is more complex, but appeals to many people: create a mini-movie in your mind demonstrating the words or concepts. To-do lists and specific forget-me-not spots for items like keys or wallets can be very useful in eliminating those where-did-I-put-it moments.
Caring for Elders:
Regular interaction with our older relatives can help them avoid social isolation. Simple activities that help them connect to things like tastes or songs from their childhood may help those with dementia. Following Dr. Green’s recommendations should help us stay alert for signs that we ourselves may be developing cognitive difficulties in time to seek intervention.
This Week’s Guest:
Cynthia R. Green, PhD, is a nationally recognized expert on memory fitness and brain health who lectures extensively on memory improvement, brain fitness, successful aging and related topics. Dr. Green is the president of Total Brain Health Brands, a leading provider of brain fitness programs that help people build better brain health.
Dr. Green has served on the faculty of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the Mount Sinai Medical Center since 1990. She is currently an assistant clinical professor there in the Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Green is the author of several books, and co-author with dementia and activities expert Joan Beloff of the recently released 2nd edition of Through the Seasons: An Activity Book for Memory-Challenged Adults and Caregivers. Her website is www.totalbrainhealth.com
Listen to the Podcast:
The podcast of this program will be available Monday, July 13, 2020, after broadcast on July 11. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria have been cropping up around the world. These superbugs cause serious problems, especially when they fail to respond to increasingly potent medications. One approach may be to put a very old, natural treatment to work. The theory is that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Enlist viruses that infect these bacteria. How well do such bacteriophages work for killing superbugs?
Killing Superbugs with Bacteriophages:
The use of viruses for killing superbugs got its start many decades ago, even before there were superbugs. Researchers in the former Soviet Union (especially in the Soviet state of Georgia) developed bacteriophages to treat serious bacterial infections. Western countries were developing antibiotics at the same time, so they paid little attention to these viruses.
Now, however, as bacteria have developed resistance to many antibiotics, researchers in the US are taking a second look at using bacteriophages for killing superbugs. We hear from a scientist at the University of California, San Diego, who is developing phage mixtures to treat multidrug-resistant pathogens.
Saving Her Husband’s Life:
We also speak with an epidemiologist and public health expert who mobilized a last-ditch effort using bacteriophages for killing superbugs that threatened her husband’s life. He had gone into a coma and was facing death because no antibiotics were working. So Dr. Steffanie Strathdee sought out bacteriophage researchers who could help. The effective strain of bacteriophage virus came from purified sewage from Texas. The UCSD team that saved his life has established a center further refining the use of these viruses.
This Week’s Guests:
Steffanie A. Strathdee, PhD, is Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences and Harold Simon Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Johns Hopkins and Simon Fraser Universities. She co-directs the UCSD Global Health Institute and the International Core of the University’s Center for AIDS Research. She is also co-director of UCSD’s new center for Innovative Phage Applications and Therapeutics (IPATH) https://ipath.ucsd.edu To email IPATH: IPATH@ucsd.edu
Dr. Strathdee’s TEDX talk is here. She is the author, with Tom Patterson, of the just-released The Perfect Predator: A Scientist’s Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug: A Memoir.
You’ll find more information about the UCSD program on bacteriophages here.
Saima Aslam, MD, MS, is a board-certified infectious disease specialist. Her expertise is in caring for solid-organ transplant candidates and recipients as well as other immunocompromised individuals. Dr. Aslam directs UC San Diego Health’s Solid Organ Transplant Infectious Diseases Service, which provides expert care in the prevention and management of infectious diseases in organ transplant donors and recipients.
Listen to the Podcast:
The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.
For decades, the tobacco industry was able to ward off anti-smoking policy by claiming that science did not support it. In hindsight, it is clear that most epidemiologists came to the conclusion that smoking is bad for health without much delay. But tobacco companies were able to exploit disagreements over a few facts to sow doubt that held up public health policy for a long time. Our guest describes how industry manipulates science to downplay the risks to the public.
Science for Hire:
Evidence-based medicine is supposed to be based on science. We may think of scientists as secluded in academic laboratories, striving to uncover the truth. In fact, however, many scientists work for corporations and in industries where exposing the truth might interfere with profits.
How does the struggle between the desire to protect profits and the need for transparency play out? Our guest suggests that industry manipulates science as it did in the case of bisphenol A. This compound was found in plastic containers, the linings of cans or cash register receipts. Millions of people are exposed to products like BPA every day. Even when the hazards come to light, the compounds chosen as replacements may not be safe.
According to our guest, Dr. David Michaels,
“These deceptions affect every part of American life: the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the cars we drive, and the sports our children play.”
When Industry Manipulates Science to Produce the Opioid Epidemic:
The opioid epidemic is a particularly harsh example of this phenomenon. The companies producing narcotic painkillers knew quite well that their drugs would be addictive. But they took advantage of an informal observation–not a study–published years ago to suggest that, when used to alleviate pain, these medicines are not actually addictive. We have seen the dire consequences of manufacturers promoting this idea while pharmacies and healthcare providers accepted it uncritically: uncounted lives destroyed in every part of the country.
Big Pharma, Big Ag and Big Food are following the trail that Big Tobacco blazed. One of the weapons that they use to protect themselves from studies that show harm from their products is to declare them “junk science.” Research showing problems with the pesticides glyphosate and chlorpyrifos has been declared junk science. So have studies on asbestos in talcum powder, not to mention traumatic brain injury in football players.
Capturing the Regulators:
You probably imagine that organizations like the Food and Drug Administration or the Environmental Protection Agency are watching out for us. After all, their mission is to keep the American public healthy. However, here is another way industry manipulates science. Unfortunately, many industries have figured out how to take over the regulatory agencies that are supposed to protect the public. Because industry pays better, it isn’t unusual for staffers to take high-powered positions in industry. How does that impact the effectiveness of those who stay behind?
This Week’s Guest:
David Michaels, PhD, MPH, is Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. He served as Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2017, the longest serving administrator in the agency’s history. Prior to that, he served under President Bill Clinton as Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environment, Safety, and Health, charged with protecting the workers, community residents and environment in and around the nation’s nuclear weapons facilities. Professor Michaels is the author of Doubt Is Their Product and The Triumph of Doubt: Dark Money and the Science of Deception.
Listen to the Podcast:
The podcast of this program will be available Monday, June 29, 2020, after broadcast on June 27. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99. The podcast contains additional information on sugar and how that industry manipulated science. We also discuss the conflicts of interest that arise regarding drug research funded largely by the pharmaceutical industry. How do we decide that research has provided adequate information for action?
The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of having a healthy immune system. It appears that more than three-fourths of the people who contract the infection recover without hospitalization or obvious lingering effects. The others, however, get really sick. We can assume that our immune systems mediate our response to the virus. We want it to be able to beat the infection back. On the other hand, we don’t want it to overreact and create a cytokine storm. Are there ways you can keep your immune system strong?
Our guest, Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, is one of the country’s leading experts on scientific studies of botanical medicines and other supplements. She suggests that there are some vitamins and minerals you need to optimize if you want to keep your immune system healthy.
One of these is vitamin D. A new study shows that 95 percent of Americans don’t get adequate vitamin D from their diets. Some individuals may be getting plenty of vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, while others are careful to avoid sunshine unless wearing sunscreen. Apparently, people with inadequate levels of vitamin D are more susceptible to infection with SARS-CoV-2 as well as other pathogens. People with the lowest vitamin D levels have the poorest outcomes. Are you getting enough vitamin D to keep your immune system in shape? Dr. Low Dog suggests between 2,000 and 4,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily to ensure you can make antimicrobial peptides that ward off pathogens.
Nearly half of the American adults participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2005 to 2016 did not get enough vitamin A in their diets. Green leafy vegetables as well as orange or yellow vegetables are great sources. Getting enough vitamin A is critical for good respiratory health.
Vitamin C and the B vitamins are also crucial for your immune system function. Dr. Low Dog recommends that we get between 200 and 400 mg of vitamin C daily when faced with a challenge like COVID-19. You’ll also want to make sure you are getting good amounts of vitamin B12, B6 and folate.
You may not have thought much about zinc, but it is essential to maintain your immune system functioning well. Low levels of zinc are linked to a reduced ability to fight off infection. What are the clues? Sometimes, a loss of the senses of smell or taste may signal that a person has inadequate zinc. You should try to get about 20 mg a day, though elderly individuals might need 30 to 40 mg daily during an infection. (Losing the sense of smell could also be an early symptom of COVID-19.)
Herbs and Other Supplements:
You might be surprised at the idea that mushrooms can contribute to the health of your immune system. However, mushrooms like reishi, cordyceps and maitake are rich in compounds called beta-glucans. These can really improve your ability to meet pathogenic challenges.
Another supplement to consider is a probiotic. The gut microbiota serve as a signal hub for the immune system, and probiotics appear to help keep them alert and functioning well. The website Dr. Low Dog mentioned is usprobioticguide.com. She also mentioned a study published in The BMJ on June 13, 2018.
Traditional Chinese Herbs:
Astragalus is an herb from traditional Chinese medicine that has shown antiviral activity. It appears to help modulate the immune system for an appropriate response to pathogens. Garlic and licorice are two other herbs from the Chinese tradition that appear to benefit immune response.
Other Herbs and Supplements:
Other herbs from different regions of the world are also supported by studies: Andrographis, Eleuthero (which has shown activity against influenza in at least 30 studies), curcumin and elderberry. Moreover, you might want to consider N-acetylcysteine (or NAC) and quercetin (500 mg twice daily).
This Week’s Guest:
Tieraona Low Dog, MD, is an internationally recognized expert in the fields of integrative medicine, dietary supplements, herbal medicine and women’s health. Dr. Low Dog has served as the elected Chair of the US Pharmacopeia Dietary Supplements and Botanicals Expert Information Panel. She was appointed to the Scientific Advisory Council for the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Her latest book is Fortify Your Life: Your Guide to Vitamins, Minerals and More. For more information, see her website: drlowdog.com
Listen to the Podcast:
The podcast of this program will be available Monday, June 22, 2020, after broadcast on June 20. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.
The telomeres that cap our chromosomes are a good way to gauge biological aging. Dr. Elissa Epel, who studies aging and metabolism at UCSF, has found a link between soda consumption and cellular aging, even in young children (Childhood Obesity, April 2018). She and her colleagues took advantage of a natural experiment at the University of California, San Francisco, to see if making sugary beverages less accessible made a difference for people’s health.
Quite a few of the people who had been accustomed to consuming at least one sugary beverage daily had prediabetes. When the vending machines in their workplace no longer offered soda, many of them experienced lower insulin resistance, an indicator of better metabolic health. Drinking less (or no) soda would benefit our health. Many people have trouble overcoming a soft drink habit, though, since sugar can interfere with healthy decisions in subtle ways.
How We Make Decisions:
Neurologist David Perlmutter and his son, Austin Perlmutter, MD, have teamed up to write Brain Wash: Detox Your Mind for Clearer Thinking, Deeper Relationships, and Lasting Happiness. They describe the three layers of the brain and the importance of the prefrontal cortex for decision making. But can we make healthy decisions when sugar is appealing to an older, deeper brain layer we may not even be aware of?
In addition, advertisers of products for children may take advantage of the lure of sweets. Are they brainwashing American kids? What could we do about that?
Bringing Your Brain Back into Balance:
Phineas Gage was a 19th century railroad foreman who survived a dramatic accident after an iron rod went through his skull. This story illustrates the importance of the prefrontal cortex. His was destroyed in the accident, and shortly after that, he acted quite differently. Reportedly, his friends hardly recognized him as the same man. However, later in life he partially regained his previous skills and temperament. That demonstrates our brains’ plasticity.
How can we use that adaptability to overcome the siren song of sugar in the supermarket? In summary, the doctors Perlmutter offer us some simple steps to help us make healthy decisions. And, finally, they offer us a peek into their own grocery carts.
We did not discuss any connection with COVID-19 with the Perlmutters or Dr. Epel. However, you may be interested in Dr. Roger Seheult’s recent episode of MedCram.com (#83) in which he connects the hypothetical dots between a high fructose intake and greater susceptibility to a severe infection.
This Week’s Guests:
Elissa Epel, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, at University of California, San Francisco. Her research aims to elucidate mechanisms of healthy aging, and to apply this basic science to scalable interventions that can reach vulnerable populations. She is the Director of the Aging, Metabolism, and Emotions Center, and the current President of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research. Her research on a workplace sales ban on sugar-sweetened beverages was published in JAMA Internal Medicine on Oct. 28, 2019.
David Perlmutter, MD, is a Board-Certified Neurologist and five-time New York Times bestselling author. He serves on the Board of Directors and is a Fellow of the American College of Nutrition. Dr. Perlmutter is also the recipient of numerous awards, including the Linus Pauling Award for his innovative approaches to neurological disorders; the National Nutritional Foods Association Clinician of the Year Award; the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the American College of Nutrition; and most recently the 2019 Global Leadership Award from the Integrative Healthcare Symposium. Dr. Perlmutter is the author of several books, including Grain Brain, Brain Maker, and his most recent book, Brain Wash. His website is https://www.drperlmutter.com/
Austin Perlmutter, MD, is a board-certified internal medicine physician and New York Times bestselling author. His focus is in helping others to improve decision-making and quality of life. He is also interested in methods of understanding and reducing burnout in the medical field. Dr. Perlmutter is the co-author, with his father, of Brain Wash. He writes for Psychology Today on his blog, The Modern Brain.
Listen to the Podcast:
The podcast of this program will be available Monday, June 8, 2020, after broadcast on June 6. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.
Dr. David Fajgenbaum was a medical student in excellent health when he was struck with a mysterious disease. He nearly died before his doctors finally diagnosed him with a rare condition known as idiopathic multicentric Castleman disease. They hardly knew anything about it, and the few treatments that were available didn’t work for him. So he dedicated himself to finding a medication that did work. It turned out that an existing immune-suppressing drug called sirolimus was successful at suppressing the cytokine storms that put his life at risk.
What Does Cytokine Storm Have to Do With COVID-19?
One way that COVID-19 is killing people in this pandemic is by triggering the immune system. When it overreacts, the result is what doctors call cytokine storm. This causes high fevers, lung damage and terrifying respiratory distress. Cytokine storm or a similar immune overreaction may also help bring on MIS-C. (Multisystem Inflammatory System in Children) This is a complication affecting babies, children and young adults, in which multiple organ systems begin to fail. When immune system cells release a lot of cytokines, these pro-inflammatory compounds can also push blood to clot and harm organs throughout the body.
Are There Drugs That Can Calm Cytokine Storm?
Dr. Fajgenbaum has been leading a collaborative that is doing research on treatments for Castleman disease. He found himself thinking that someone should apply that research to help treat severe cases of COVID-19. When he didn’t see anyone else doing so, he realized he and his team had the skills and knowledge needed. Consequently, following his motto of turning hope into action, they went to work. Dr. Fajgenbaum shares this perspective and the progress they have made so far.
This Week’s Guest:
David Fajgenbaum, MD, MBA, MSc, is an assistant professor of medicine in the department of Translational Medicine & Human Genetics at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, he is Associate Director for Patient Impact of the Orphan Disease Center at the University of Pennsylvania. His book is Chasing My Cure: A Doctor’s Race to Turn Hope Into Action. The photograph of Dr. Fajgenbaum is by Rebecca McAlpin.
A patient who has experienced five cytokine storms similar to those caused by COVID-19 before identifying a drug to save his life, Fajgenbaum is also the Executive Director of the Castleman Disease Collaborative Network (CDCN) and Principal Investigator of the CORONA project. Dr. Fajgenbaum’s work has been highlighted extensively, including a cover story in the New York Times and the Forbes “30 Under 30” list. The website for the book is https://chasingmycure.com/ while the website for the CORONA project is https://cdcn.org/corona/
Listen to the Podcast:
The podcast of this program will be available Monday, June 8, 2020, after broadcast on June 6. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.
For decades, neurologists have been telling us that Alzheimer disease is driven largely by the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain. They have suspected that this is determined in large measure by genetics, and they’ve been searching for medications that can clear beta-amyloid out of the brain. But what if beta-amyloid is actually an innocent bystander doing its best to shield neurons from infection? Find out how to defend your brain from COVID-19 and other insults.
What Is the Role of Beta-Amyloid in the Immune System?
Scientists have now accumulated significant evidence that beta-amyloid, also referred to as A-beta, is an important part of the innate immune system. If it is, will it ramp up when a person becomes infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19? How does COVID-19 affect the nervous system? Vascular complications and oxygen restriction could put the brain under significant stress.
Bolstering Our Defense Against COVID-19:
Even before the pandemic started, scientists were paying attention to the effects of infections and toxins on the brain. To defend your brain, you will of course need a good diet. But you may also want to add a few supplements that you didn’t know much about beforehand. How much zinc is appropriate? Should you be taking glutathione or AHCC? Dr. Bredesen describes a beneficial regimen.
Measuring Your Micronutrients:
Calculating whether your diet is actually optimal to protect your brain can be tough. Dr. Bredesen suggests an app called Cronometer. It can help you track your micronutrient consumption as well as your exercise to figure out how well you are doing in following a brain-bolstering eating pattern. You’ll want to make sure you are getting plenty of flavonoids. People who eat the most of these plant compounds from colorful veggies and fruits have the lowest risk of developing dementia.
Drugs and the Brain:
What in the world could a heartburn medicine have to do with your brain health? It turns out, according to scientists in Sweden, that drugs like lansoprazole (Prevacid) or rabeprazole (AcipHex) block the enzyme that the brain uses to make acetylcholine. This compound is a crucial neurotransmitter. There are dozens of other medications that can interfere with its activity. When people have too many of these anticholinergic drugs on board, it can seriously affect their cognitive capacity. That’s why reducing the anticholinergic burden is an important step to defend your brain.
People also need to be aware of the toxins they encounter, from mold to heavy metals like mercury or lead. Find out how to take good care of your brain and reduce your risk of Alzheimer disease even in the face of the pandemic.
This Week’s Guest:
Dale Bredesen, MD, is an expert in aging and neurodegenerative diseases. He is a Professor of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at UCLA. Dr. Bredesen is also the founding President and CEO of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and the Co-founder of MPI Cognition. Dr. Bredesen is the author of the New York Time’s best seller The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline. His new book, The End of Alzheimer’s Program: The First Protocol to Enhance Cognition and Reverse Decline at Any Age, will be available on 8-18-20.
Listen to the Podcast:
The podcast of this program will be available Monday, June 1, 2020, after its broadcast on May 30. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.
What comes to mind when you think of COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus? Chances are, you think of the lungs. There’s been a tremendous amount of attention to the breathing difficulties the disease can cause. Hospitals in northern Italy and New York City have been overwhelmed because they didn’t have enough ventilators. […]
Do you know who tests the chemicals we use to see if they are safe or harmful? The profession of toxicology focuses on these questions. Our guest is one of the country’s leading toxicologists. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences: One of the Institutes under the umbrella of the US National Institutes of Health studies […]
Dr. Ralph Baric has been studying coronaviruses for 35 years and is one of the world’s leading experts on these pathogens. In this interview, you will learn how the virus jumped from bats to people and how it replicates. Moreover, Dr. Baric was already studying remdesivir, a medication being utilized against this infection. He will […]
Are you drinking too much coffee? Is coffee actually bad for you anyway, or might a few cups have health benefits? Have you heard about the health benefits of tea? Dr. Tieraona Low Dog delves into the plant compounds contained in our favorite beverages. How do they affect our physiology? Green, Black and White Tea: […]
When hospitals are overstressed and understaffed, as they have been during the COVID-19 pandemic, medical errors are hardly surprising. Back in 2016, a group of doctors published an analysis in the BMJ claiming that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the US. Could this really be true? Learn how a thoughtful […]
Schools are closed and kids are home so that they don’t catch COVID-19 and spread it to family members. Of course, parents don’t want their children to get sick, either. How are we keeping kids healthy in the age of coronavirus? Why Are Children Less Likely to Become Very Ill? Most infectious diseases, especially respiratory […]
With nearly six million Americans living with Alzheimer disease, this condition is a serious public health problem. It robs people of their memories, their ability to function independently and even their very identities. When Alois Alzheimer published the first report on the brain disease that was later named for him, he described distinctive plaques and […]
Staying at home and maintaining safe physical distance means that some primary care practices are not functioning normally during the pandemic. However, you may still want to connect with your doctor. In fact, you may have urgent questions about how to stay healthy or what to do if you become ill. Do you have a […]
Information on the coronavirus pandemic is changing hourly. The US now has more COVID-19 cases than any other country. For this live coronavirus update on March 28, 2020, we have asked infectious disease expert and epidemiologist Dr. David Weber to answer your questions about COVID-19. Learn how you can protect yourself and your family. To […]
How do doctors figure out what is wrong with a person and how they can be treated effectively? Traditionally, medicine has put great emphasis on the patient’s history, which usually means the patient has to tell a story. What hurts? When did it start? What happened next? One drawback of the way medicine is currently […]
Mental health problems cause widespread disability in today’s world. Large numbers of people suffer with depression or severe anxiety. While these ailments are real, we may not be considering their causes carefully enough. Our guest, Dr. Daniel Amen, suggests that the trouble underlying most mental illness is disrupted brain function–poor brain health. SPECT Scans of […]
Stress is nearly ubiquitous in modern life. We all know it isn’t healthy, but we may not have a lot of tools for escaping or alleviating it. People under stress may feel they don’t have enough time for yoga. Just trying to meditate may send their minds spinning into overdrive about everything waiting to be […]
In our modern world, many people have become disconnected from the source of their food. Unlike our distant ancestors, who hunted and foraged for their meals, or even our great-grandparents who raised their food on farms, most folks now eat out of the supermarket. Following a diet full of highly processed foods can result poor […]
Diagnosis is a crucial first step for medical treatment. In some situations, recognizing the condition as soon as possible makes a big difference in the outcome. However, doctors may have difficulty with certain diagnoses. If patients can help recognize when they are in trouble and ask questions, certain hard-to-diagnose conditions may be identified more quickly. […]
Why is nutrition advice so controversial? Often, it seems as if food fights are the fiercest disagreements in medicine. Have you had trouble making sense of changing nutritional guidelines? Changing Nutritional Guidelines: For years, nutrition scientists have been telling us that people who eat red meat are putting their health in danger. Then a few […]
Doctors rarely study spontaneous remissions from serious diseases. Why not? They are unpredictable, for one thing. For another, they are said to be exceedingly rare. Despite this, Dr. Jeffrey Rediger has found that most of his colleagues are aware of at least one case that defies explanation by conventional science. He set out to learn […]
Whoever said growing old isn’t for sissies really got it right. But not everyone has the same experience with aging. Why do some people do well up to and into their 90s, while others are over the hill in their 70s? Genetics certainly plays a role, but it is not the whole story by any […]
Have your pharmacy bills been going up? When Consumer Reports surveyed its readers, 30 percent of them reported that their cost for a drug they take on a regular basis rose during 2019. About 12 percent of readers said their costs had soared by at least $100. What is going on here, and how can […]
Low thyroid function is a very common problem, affecting an estimated 20 million Americans. That is nearly 12 percent of the population. Most doctors are convinced that all they need is one lab test–TSH–and one medication–levothyroxine–to treat hypothyroidism. Why don’t all patients agree? The Problem with Thyroid Treatment: The thyroid gland produces at least two […]
People who have suffered with back pain for a long time may be told that spine surgery is their last resort. But far too often, spine surgery does not relieve back pain. Sometimes, people even feel worse afterwards. How can you tell if spine surgery would be right for you? Mark Owens’s Story: Mark Owens […]
Do your New Year’s resolutions include getting more exercise? By now, everybody knows exercise is good for us. But a lot of people view it as a chore or a bore instead of a delight. How can you experience the joy of movement? Humans are built to move, and anthropologists have offered a hypothesis that […]
Angiogenesis–the growth and development of blood vessels in the body–may seem like an obscure topic. However, angiogenesis is a critical phase in the development of tumors. If it can be blocked when it is inappropriate, we don’t get cancer. If not, we may need all the resources of modern oncology to help us recover. Is […]
A healthy young medical student, David Fajgenbaum, had been a student athlete in college and maintained his extraordinary level of fitness through much of medical school. His friends called him The Beast because of his athleticism. When he suddenly found himself deathly ill with an undiagnosed condition, it was a real shock. Eventually, his doctors […]
You may have heard about antibiotic-resistant bacteria. They can greatly complicate the treatment of infections. But have you ever heard of antifungal-resistant fungus? Infectious disease experts knew nothing about a scary fungus, Candida auris, less than two decades ago. It has acquired resistance to a number of potent antifungal medications. Consequently, it now poses threats […]
For centuries, people have been using home remedies as their first treatment for common ailments. With easy access to over-the-counter drugs, though, people have turned away from home remedies in the last several decades. There are still plenty of inexpensive options that work well, however. Which are your favorite home remedies? Apple Cider Vinegar: One […]
A national survey just a few years ago showed that Americans fear losing their vision more than they fear losing a limb, their hearing, their ability to speak or even their memory (Scott et al, JAMA Ophthalmology, October 2016). What do you know about how to take good care of your eyesight? What Can You […]
At a time when opinions about nearly everything are highly polarized, how can you have a civil discussion? What do we do when we encounter a person who is extremely angry? For that matter, how do we handle our own emotions? What works to defuse anger and what sorts of responses just make it worse? […]
If you like to cook, you are no doubt aware that favorite recipes change with the times, just like fashions in clothing. But a lot of Americans don’t like to cook. They may not have tried acquiring the skills or even more likely, they don’t have the time to do anything very complicated in the […]
Many indigenous peoples around the world have developed traditional uses for psychedelic compounds. In Western medicine, these were mostly unknown until Albert Hoffmann synthesized LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) in 1938. He later tried to figure out how it might be used after having an extraordinary personal experience. By the mid to late 1960s, psychedelic drugs […]
Last summer, a major review of research on supplements to improve heart health concluded that most do nothing to prevent heart attacks, strokes or premature death from cardiovascular causes (Annals of Internal Medicine, Aug. 6, 2019). In other words, they are a waste of time and money. (The possible exceptions include omega-3 fats and folate.) […]
The People’s Pharmacy radio show and podcast are supported in part by sponsorship. One of our sponsors is KayaBiotics, a German company that makes high-quality probiotics from all-organic ingredients. Germany has rigorous oversight of supplement manufacturing, and we are pleased that such products are available to our listeners. The Benefits of Probiotics: Most people think […]
When you get sick, you need a diagnosis. If the diagnosis is wrong, the treatment won’t be appropriate. What happens when doctors make diagnostic errors? We talk with a leader in the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine about his recent research. What Diagnostic Errors Are Most Serious? Clinicians make an estimated 12 million diagnostic […]
Every day, an average of 750 senior Americans are hospitalized as a result of medication reactions and interactions. Part of the problem is that as we grow older and accumulate more health conditions, we also end up with longer lists of prescription drugs for them. In addition, many of us also take medicines to prevent […]
Marvelous technology like CT and MRI imaging, genotyping and microbiome analysis have given health professionals more power than ever to learn what is going wrong with an individual. Special tools like robotic surgery can help doctors treat complex problems. Highly advanced prosthetics can help people recover from devastating accidents or radical operations. Problems with Technology: […]
Do your feet hurt? Foot problems can interfere with both work and leisure time activities. You won’t want to walk the dog or go dancing, not to mention stand at a cash register or move about a clinic with foot pain. What can you do about it? How Dangerous Could a Pedicure Be? A pedicure […]
Does medicine mean “drugs and surgery” to you? That is certainly how a lot of people see it. However, physical activity–exercise–has powerful abilities to help us heal. How can we use exercise as medicine? What does it mean to use exercise as medicine? The concept may seem a bit strange unless you have encountered cardiovascular […]
Do you love your hair the way it is? Many of us wish our hair were different–curlier, straighter, darker or lighter. But what people worry about most with their hair is when they lose it. Can you keep your hair from falling out? Why does hair loss affect some people, including women as well as […]
You know your body needs food to fuel it. You’ve probably thought about whether you should be eating more fat or less, how much protein you might need and if you are getting enough vegetables and fruits. But have you thought about how you should eat to nourish your brain? Managing Your Mood: Millions of […]
Have you ever had horrible heartburn or a really bad bellyache? Most of us have experienced digestive distress at one time or another. When do you need to seek medical attention for your problem? What Causes Digestive Distress? When the gastrointestinal tract is working as it should, you chew your food and swallow it. Then […]
Pain is a difficult topic. To begin with, the experience of pain is completely subjective. There are no independent objective measures that doctors can use to assess a patient’s pain. They have to take her word for it. Second, pain has a very significant emotional component that must be addressed along with any physical causes. […]
Are there toxins in your home? As it turns out, many houses hold furniture, electronics and other products that have been treated with toxic chemicals such as stain repellents and flame retardants. Some of these are there because of misguided legislation requiring them in the past. What are the consequences of chronic exposure to compounds […]
Can you tell what your dog is thinking? Chances are, you have a good idea much of the time. And likewise, your dog pays close attention to your expressions and behaviors to decipher your mood. What are the health implications of our relationships with animals? Empathy Cements Our Relationships with Animals: The capacity for empathy […]
We invite you to learn more about our sponsor, Verisana Lab. We have long been advocates of home testing to monitor your health. This German-based clinical laboratory makes it easy for you to learn about many hitherto hidden aspects of your health. You can listen to our interview with the CEO, Christian Ziegert. He will […]
When a doctor is diagnosed with cancer, you can bet he will try to find the best possible treatments for the disease. Dr. Timothy McCall has long added yoga and Ayurvedic medicine to his standard medical toolkit. So when he was diagnosed with neck cancer and couldn’t schedule the first allopathic (Western medicine) treatment right […]
Have your summer evenings outside been spoiled by the whine of a mosquito coming in for a bite? How do you deal with the resulting itch? Mosquito bites usually itch for a while and then go away, but some people suffer excessively. Do you have skeeter syndrome? Although it sounds fanciful, we actually found this […]
Diabetes has nearly become an epidemic, both in the US and around the world. This metabolic disorder interferes with the way the body processes energy and affects more than 30 million Americans. That’s approximately one person out of every ten. Type 1 and Type 2: Do you know the difference between type 1 diabetes (once […]
The distinction between pleasure and happiness might seem like a philosopher’s quibble. Fat Chance author Dr. Robert Lustig tells us why this difference is vitally important to our national wellbeing. Corporations are hacking the American mind because of our ignorance about the difference between them. Pleasure vs. Happiness: Dr. Lustig describes the neurochemical foundations behind […]
Antibiotics are crucial for treating serious infections, but the specter of bacterial resistance to antibiotics is scary. Many public health experts have called for more diligent antibiotic stewardship to protect the usefulness of these medication. How Might Antibiotics Affect Your Brain? Some physicians point to other, equally compelling reasons to use antibiotics more judiciously. They […]
The American health care system is a $3 trillion mess. Although it has significant technological sophistication, this big business doesn’t seem consistently able to get appropriate treatments to the patients who need them. Millions of people have no insurance, or the insurance they have doesn’t cover the care they need. Increasing premiums and unexpected bills […]
Diverticulitis can cause excruciating pain. What causes this problem, and how can you prevent it? As we grow older, many of us acquire little pouches, pockets or potholes in the large intestine. Doctors have a term for the presence of these diverticula: they call the condition diverticulosis. However, if food or feces get trapped in […]
Have you ever wondered how your immune system manages to ward off infections? This “elegant defense” is sometimes described as though it were an army fending off all invaders, but that metaphor can be misleading. Perhaps we’d do better to think of immune system cells as a peacekeeping force. Maybe they act as bouncers for […]
You may not be aware that the vast majority of medications Americans take are generic drugs. This helps hold down the costs that patients have to pay, especially if you are taking one of the medicines offered for an extra-low rate, like $4 a month, at a big-box store. That certainly sounds great, unless you […]
When you think about heart health, you may not think about any gender differences in symptoms or treatment. Most doctors don’t, so why would patients? However, women don’t always experience the classic symptoms of crushing chest pain that we expect from tales of men’s heart attacks. Sometimes, they may be bothered with back or jaw […]
For some years, emergency doctors and allergists were puzzled by people who started having extremely serious allergic reactions in the middle of the night, a long time after they had eaten or drunk anything or had any contact with obvious allergens. Smart sleuthing from our guest and his colleagues determined that a tick bite can […]
Do you sniffle through spring or feel crummy in the fall? Many people suffer with seasonal allergies, and trying to figure out which medicines make sense is no easy task. To start with, how do you know if you are sneezing from a cold or from hay fever? Why does the answer change the kind […]
We all prefer to interact with people who are friendly, supportive and helpful. But when it comes to health care providers, does “bedside manner” really make a difference? Or is a doctor’s positive attitude irrelevant to the medical outcome? Does Your Doctor’s Positive Attitude Affect Your Health? We talk with a scientist who has looked […]
Dr. Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928, after observing horrific lethal infections on the battlefields of the first World War. It was the first antibiotic to defeat a wide range of terrifying diseases. Today, however, there are frequently shortages of this critical medication. In addition, penicillin and related antibiotics may not kill emerging superbugs. Less […]
Do you use mail order for your prescription drugs to get a better price? Many insurance companies strongly encourage people to order online from preferred sources so they can control how much they have to pay. Most of us like to save money. However, are there any downsides to getting your medicines mailed instead of […]
The thyroid gland on your neck is not very big, but it is super important. It secretes hormones that control the activity of every cell in your body. Consequently, the thyroid regulates your metabolism, your heart beats, your bowels and even your thinking. What happens when the thyroid doesn’t work as it should? How do […]
For decades, public health experts have been admonishing Americans to cut the salt in our diets. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends that we limit ourselves to 2,300 mg of sodium daily. That’s about one teaspoon. Ideally, the AHA says, we would get less than 1,500 mg of this crucial mineral every day. Should […]
You may have read or heard that adequate sleep is a pillar of good health, like exercise and a healthy diet. Sleep affects blood pressure and heart disease, metabolism and obesity, the immune system, cognitive function and mood. But if you can’t get enough sleep, that information is more frustrating than helpful. What is interfering […]
The past few months have produced some fascinating science stories from international sources. We interviewed two scientists in far-flung places to learn more about unexpected ways that microbes interact with us and affect our health. One researcher has developed some unique ways to study the microbiome of our digestive tract. Another is examining whether the […]
Over the last several decades, our environment has changed enormously. Comparing a playground in 1962 to the same playground in 2019 gives some sense of how thoroughly we have surrounded ourselves and our children with chemicals that may have profound impacts on the hormones in our bodies. As just one example, bisphenol A found in […]
You may think your home is sparkling clean. But even a clean house harbors a host of small creatures that have a fascinating web of interactions with each other and with the humans who live there. What do you know about the ecology of your home? How does the dust that accumulates in the corners […]
Research over the past few decades has revealed that we humans host a bewildering variety of invisible creatures, our microbiota. We can almost envision the collective genome of all these microbes, the microbiome, as a sort of second genome for human individuals. Unlike our human genome, the microbiome can be altered based on our diet […]
If you watch television, you can’t avoid TV drug commercials for maladies from type 2 diabetes to auto-immune diseases like psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis to refractory cancers. Do you see these ads as providing the information you need about your medicines? Or do you perceive them as pushing viewers to request drugs that they may […]
Have you ever thought about how a bad habit gets started? You can blame the neural wiring and chemistry we share with all animals. When we do something that feels good in the moment, we remember it and are likely to repeat that action. But “feels good” doesn’t always translate into “good for you.” How […]
Back at the turn of the 20th century, the only treatment for most types of cancer was surgery. When a young New York doctor lost his first patient to sarcoma despite treating her by the book, he began to look for other approaches. What he came up with was actually the first immunotherapy for cancer. […]
Decades ago, the relationship between a patient and a doctor was often asymmetrical. The doctor decided what treatment was needed and issued “doctor’s orders.” Patients were expected to follow through, no questions. In most cases, they couldn’t ask questions because they didn’t have access to enough information to formulate reasonable queries. How 20th century! Today, […]
The diet wars have been raging for years. Each side has ardent proponents–those who insist that a low-fat diet is the best way to control weight and those who are convinced that a low-carb diet is better have had a hard time finding common ground. Even those who endorse a more moderate approach can be […]
Kidney stones afflict an estimated three million Americans each year, resulting in at least half a million trips to the emergency department. But what are they and what can you do about them? How do they form and how might you prevent them? We hear from a listener who has first-hand experience of the pain […]
What causes heart disease? There are a number of risk factors, including cigarette smoking, sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, diabetes and others. One well-known risk is high cholesterol. Has your doctor told you that you need to control your cholesterol? New Guidelines for Cholesterol Control: The principal cardiologists’ organizations in the US recently updated their […]
Life is never completely smooth and easy. Along with bruised shins and skinned knees, we all experience hurt feelings from time to time. Perhaps we got left out of the game, or our best friend decided to hang out with somebody else. What do you do in a situation like this? How can you learn to […]
Millions of people take medicines like Prevacid, Prilosec or Nexium every day. But while such proton pump inhibitors may ease symptoms of heartburn, they can also lead to serious side effects. Dr. Philip Gorelick, spokesperson for the American Heart Association, describes the research linking these heartburn drugs to an increased risk of stroke. Alternatives to PPIs? What […]
Facts are essential for scientific understanding. Stories are critical for wisdom, understanding the arc and meaning of our lives. Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, author of two wonderful books about stories, describes how some stories can diminish us and our view of ourselves. Others give us strength and hope. Stories can reveal deep meaning in our […]
Heartburn is a common problem. Many people take powerful acid-suppressing drugs like Nexium or Prilosec every day to treat gastro-esophageal reflux disease or GERD. If untreated, chronic irritation of the swallowing tube can lead to Barrett’s esophagus. Do you have to take medications forever to treat this condition? Are there better ways to heal your […]
In a cruel world, compassion might seem like a frivolous pursuit. But our guest expert argues convincingly that we need this emotion now more than ever, if only to keep from falling into despair. What is compassion, and what does science have to do with it? The Science of Compassion: Compassion is a response to […]
Type 2 diabetes has reached epidemic levels in the US and around the world. Although endocrinologists consider it a chronic, progressive disorder, some experts have seen that it is potentially reversible and may be preventable. What approaches are helpful? What role could fasting play? Nephrologist Jason Fung, MD, says that you can’t manage a dietary […]
Over the years, we have heard about scores upon scores of home remedies for everything from arthritis to warts. Some make sense intuitively, while others seem silly. Most have never been subjected to scientific scrutiny. Is there any science behind home remedies? We may never know the full answer to that question, but occasionally we […]
Do you enjoy a glass of wine from time to time? If so, were you alarmed to read headlines last fall announcing that ANY amount of alcohol is problematic? Here’s how those headlines came about. The researchers wrote in The Lancet (Sept. 22, 2018), in their interpretation of their meta-analysis of the health risks, world-wide, […]
More than 50 million adult Americans have been diagnosed with arthritis. While osteoarthritis is the most common form, there are many others, including rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriatic arthritis and even fibromyalgia. What are the similarities and differences between these various inflammatory conditions? What are the best ways to manage arthritis pain? How Does Arthritis Affect […]
For years, people were urged to take calcium supplements to avoid losing bone density. This advice was aimed particularly at menopausal and postmenopausal women because they are especially susceptible to bone fragility and fractures. All the same, calcium supplements were often recommended to all older adults. Will taking calcium pills really keep your bones strong? Seniors […]
Yoga has become extremely popular over the last few decades. You have probably seen photographs of fit-looking young people in stretchy clothing and improbable poses and wondered why they are so enthusiastic about this practice. However, yoga is not about extreme poses or looking good. Practicing yoga is a path to good health. What exactly […]
Viagra became a household name almost as soon as the drug was introduced. Before that, though, few men were willing to talk about erectile dysfunction. When it comes to women’s sexual health, we seem to still be in the whispering stage. The only drug to have been approved for women’s sexual function, Addyi, is largely […]
Americans take a lot of medications. We appear to have adopted the advertising-based attitude that there is a pill for every ill. But while some medicines may be helpful or even essential in some circumstances, a lot of people end up taking too many of them. Sometimes doctors end up prescribing one drug to counteract […]
Doctors have been advocating evidence-based medicine for a few decades, but a surprising amount of medical practice is based on tradition. How can you sort out the value of evidence-based medicine from eminence-based medicine? (That is, what the most influential experts recommend, based on their own experience or beliefs.) The Fate of Medical Mythbusters: Collecting […]
Nails rarely get much medical attention. They just don’t seem as urgent as high blood pressure or diabetes. Despite this, nails are part of the way we present ourselves socially. Consequently, most people are quite concerned about the appearance of their nails. What should you know about keeping them healthy? Nail Problems as Red Flags: […]
High blood pressure is an important risk factor for heart attacks and strokes. A recent change in guidelines urges doctors to treat people whose blood pressure would not have been considered particularly high a few years ago. (Here is a link to the guidelines, published in March 2018.) Most of the time, that treatment consists […]
Plant-based oils often carry the scent of the plant. Plants may use them to attract insects, but people have found numerous uses for them as well. Some can be used in skin care, while others may be used for relaxation or to improve digestion. What Are Essential Oils? The volatile aromatic compounds found in plants […]
At one time, doctors believed that celiac disease was extremely rare, that the few children who had it would outgrow it and that the symptoms were primarily digestive. We now know that none of these axioms are true and the story on celiac disease is different. What is it now, and why does it matter? […]
Nearly 40 million Americans know the nausea and throbbing pain of migraine headaches. This debilitating condition that can create one-sided head pain may make it difficult or impossible to carry on with work or everyday tasks. How Can You Prevent Migraine Headaches? There are drugs that can be used to treat migraine headaches, but the […]
Do you know where your medicines come from? It can actually be something of a challenge to find out, because unlike shirts or apples, drugs do not have to be labeled with country of origin. As it turns out, over the past two decades, the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry has followed the same route as many […]
Have you ever thought of your body as a machine and the doctor as its mechanic? It’s a common metaphor, but one that can get us into a lot of trouble. Machines can’t heal themselves, but our bodies have superb capacities to do so, if we help them. It turns out that there is more […]
Complementary medicine has become popular in the US. Many people pay out of pocket for treatment by Ayurveda practitioners, massage therapists or chiropractors. Others take a range of herbs and other natural products as dietary supplements. Some of these practices are controversial, but conventional physicians are beginning to integrate some ideas, such as dietary advice […]
If you’ve spent time out in the woods this summer, or if you hope to hike or bike outside, you need to know about ticks. Ticks are not just icky; they can also carry dangerous diseases. In fact, tick-borne diseases are increasing as ticks increase their range. Tick-Borne Diseases: Not all tick bites lead to […]
Since 1995, the world has experienced twenty of the hottest years on record. The wildfires raging across western states are expected to burn more acreage than last year’s devastating fires. Hurricanes like Sandy, Harvey, Irma and Maria have caused enormous destruction. And less conspicuously but just as ominous, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have […]
What could be more natural than eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full? That simple approach is far from easy for many people. Hunger and eating get disconnected in eating disorders. How can these complex problems be recognized and treated? How Common Are Eating Disorders? Many people think of anorexia nervosa […]
People around the world have learned how to use the plants in their vicinity to heal themselves and make life better. Not surprisingly, many cultures have found plants that can improve your sex life. What are they? The Medicine Hunter: Our guest is Chris Kilham, known as the Medicine Hunter. He travels to remote locations […]
People get excited about their favorite diets. Maybe you do, too. Are you a low-carb champion or a low-fat fan? Which one really is your best diet? The DIETFITS Study: A big study from the Stanford Prevention Research Center assigned 600 people to either a healthy low-fat diet or a healthy low-carb diet. (No junk […]
What is the value of vitamin supplements? There is no consensus on whether most people would benefit. Much of the research on multivitamins does not show a strong effect in preventing cardiovascular disease or cancer. Consequently, doctors often conclude that vitamin supplements are unnecessary. What Is a Well-Balanced Diet? Instead, they suggest that everyone follow […]
Medical devices are far more common than you might imagine. One American in ten has an implanted defibrillator, pacemaker, artificial hip or knee joint, surgical mesh or other device. How rigorously are such devices tested before they can be used? How Does the FDA Regulate Medical Devices? You would imagine that the Food and Drug […]
Fast food is taking over the American diet, and the effects are deadly. Processed meats, such as pepperoni or bologna, could be considered carcinogenic. Moreover, highly processed foods and fried foods set us up for heart disease and dementia. All the foods in bags and boxes with white flour and synthetic ingredients are a major […]
Since the middle of the last century, more than 85,000 chemicals have been developed and used. In many cases, they persist in the environment long after their immediate utility has vanished. The World Health Organization attributes more than one-third of childhood mortality to environmental causes. Are environmental poisons contributing to the troublesome rise in childhood […]
Prescription drugs cost more in the US than in any other country. Prices have been rising far more quickly than the cost of living, and the proportion people must pay out of pocket has also been increasing. As a result, many patients are finding it difficult to afford their medicines. Are you among them? Is […]
Chances are you know someone who has had difficulty conceiving a child, though you may not be aware of their struggle. Endocrine disruptors are widespread in our environment, and may be affecting sperm counts or female fertility. Modern medicine has a lot to offer couples who are having trouble with fertility. Men with low sperm […]
Lithium rich water from hot springs such as those at Lithia Springs, GA, have long been sought after for their healing properties. This element was used for decades to treat some forms of mental illness, but high doses can be dangerous. As a result, this treatment fell out of favor although it can be effective […]
More Americans are living to old ages, but frequently their later years are plagued with chronic diseases. Is there a way to stay healthy into the ninth and tenth decade of life? To find out, we take a virtual trip to visit centenarians in a remote village in southern China. Visit to Longevity Village: Dr. […]
About 15 percent of American adults have problems with their balance. Even children are not exempt, with about 5 percent suffering from dizziness. What causes dizziness, and what can be done about it? A Definition of Dizziness: Dizziness is a terrible term because it doesn’t actually tell the doctor what the patient is feeling. It […]
Why do some people appear to age more rapidly than others? Not only might they look older, they actually feel older as well. A check of their telomeres indicates that they are aging more rapidly at the cellular levels. Their telomeres are shrinking. Small telomeres foretell a shortened healthspan. Learning About Telomeres: So what is […]
Americans love laxatives. Millions of people rely on such products to stay regular. But you can conquer constipation without depending on these medications. Medications That Cause Constipation: A surprising number of common medicines can cause constipation as a side effect. Opiates are notorious for this, of course, but people may not think about the antihistamine […]
It is hard to feel good if your feet hurt. Dancing, running, playing golf or tennis and many other forms of recreation are no fun if you have painful bunions or plantar fasciitis. So how can you keep your feet happy and healthy? And what can you do about common foot problems? Ask the Podiatrist: […]
Nutrition experts have demonized a lot of foods over the past several decades. Eggs, shrimp, butter, cheese and meat were all taken off the table because they are rich in fat and cholesterol. No cholesterol, but too much fat doomed nuts, coconut and avocados. More recently, wheat and foods made from it, like bread, crackers, […]
How should you be keeping your heart healthy? Recent headlines have brought some controversies in cardiology to public attention. Defining High Blood Pressure: The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association issued guidelines on blood pressure control in 2017 (Hypertension, online Nov. 13, 2017). These cardiology groups recommend that anyone with blood pressure […]
Many families struggle to get their children and teens to follow healthful diets. But there is a good reason that grandmothers have been urging kids to eat their vegetables, going back at least a century. Poor eating habits contribute to many health problems. How can we get children to love healthy food? Dr. Yum to […]
When you go to see the doctor because you are sick, the first order of business is to get a diagnosis. How does the doctor arrive at that? What does she need to know? And is there any way you can help your doctors with diagnostic challenges? Meeting Diagnostic Challenges: Getting the right diagnosis is […]
Do you wish you could hear better? Do you have trouble hearing what others are saying? Many people find it difficult to follow a conversation with multiple voices, especially in a crowded restaurant. In fact, by 2060, more than 70 million Americans will probably be experiencing hearing loss. Most of them will be over 70. […]
When a child is diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), many parents are faced with a difficult dilemma. They want their child to be able to focus in school and at home, but they may be uneasy about the medications the doctor is prescribing. While stimulant medicines can sometimes be very helpful for people […]
Experts agree that exercise is crucial for good health, especially when it comes to preventing chronic diseases. Movement helps every bodily system function better. So why do so many people find it difficult to make the time to exercise? Our technology has lured many of us into a sedentary lifestyle sitting at a computer. Dr. […]
Spine surgeon David Hanscom does some of the most complicated surgery you can imagine on bad backs. But his patients get even more relief from chronic pain by employing the nonsurgical techniques he offers them in preparation for surgery. Sometimes they feel so much better they don’t even need to go under the knife. How […]
At midcareer, neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki had numerous scientific awards and accomplishments. She was studying what makes a brain healthy. But she didn’t have much of a life outside of the lab, and she wasn’t happy. She decided to make some changes, starting with a stop at the gym. How Does Moving Your Body Make Your Brain […]
For decades, we’ve been told that we need to avoid fat if we want to lose weight. So Americans turned to highly-processed low-fat foods that are full of sugar. Is it a coincidence that we are fatter than before? More than two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese. Turning the Food Pyramid Upside Down: […]
Why do some relationships last for decades and just seem to get stronger, while others wither? Is there a secret to lasting relationships? Kindness, Generosity and Science: Decades ago, psychologist John Gottman began studying how newlyweds interacted with each other. He and his colleagues created a “Love Lab” in which they took careful notes and […]
Sperm counts have been falling around the world for the last several decades. In some regions, such as Europe and North America, the counts are down as much as 60 percent. What could account for this dramatic drop? Are Endocrine Disruptors to Blame? Compounds in many ubiquitous products, such as the BPA found in hard […]
Dr. Allan Hamilton is a neurosurgeon, a teacher and a horse trainer. Those activities may not seem to have much to do with each other, but Dr. Hamilton has found that horses have a lot to teach us about life and health. Lead with Your Heart: His book on the wisdom of horses, Lead with […]
For years, we’ve been hearing from listeners who swallow a shotglass of pickle juice or a spoonful of yellow mustard to make a muscle cramp disappear. They often report relief within a few minutes. How could such a weird remedy work so quickly to alleviate muscle contraction? Muscle Cramps Strike at Sea: Neurobiologists Rod McKinnon […]
Consumer Reports recently had a cover story on “Too Many Meds? America’s Love Affair with Prescription Medication.” It turns out that half of American adults take at least one prescription drug. Actually, the average number of prescriptions is four. That’s a lot more pills than people in other countries, and it is more than we […]
Although lifespans have been increasing, so has the burden of chronic disease. When a person is diagnosed with a serious illness such as cancer, cirrhosis, kidney disease, heart failure or Parkinson’s, medical science may not have a cure. But doctors shouldn’t say, there’s nothing more we can do. Instead, they should ask, how can we […]
Being able to see is something most of us treasure, especially if we imagine being deprived of good vision. But do we know how to take care of our eyes to keep them healthy and working well? Our guest, Dr. Peter McDonnell, is an ophthalmologist. He describes the most common problems that can rob us […]
An estimated 20 million Americans have trouble with their thyroid glands. Doctors have become accustomed to making the diagnosis of hypothyroidism based on a single blood test. Often they prescribe just one medication for treating thyroid disease. But does that work equally well for everyone? Genetic Variations That Make a Difference: New research shows that […]
Heart Disease and Inflammation: Is cholesterol the main problem leading to clogged arteries and heart attacks? It certainly is important, but a brand-new study suggests that inflammation may also be critical. The study was called CANTOS (for Canakinumab Antiinflammatory Thrombosis Outcome Study). Canakinumab (Ilaris) is a medication that is approved for treating inflammatory diseases such […]
For decades, epidemiologists have noted that people who eat breakfast seem to weigh less and live longer. But it hasn’t been clear if eating breakfast helps people stay healthy, or if healthy people tend to eat breakfast. How much does that matter when people in the US appear to have switched from eating three meals […]
Osteoporosis, weakened bones, affects about 10 million Americans. But low bone density is even more common. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, about half of adults over 50 are at risk for a fracture. How can you minimize your risk and keep your bones strong? Preventing Osteoporosis: Some of the factors that lead to osteoporosis […]
Do home remedies have a role in skin care? Dan Siegel, MD, says that dermatologists can find a lot of medicinal uses for botanical products, and that helpful home remedies are great. Hemp Oil for the Skin: Find out about the benefits of hemp oil. Although it is related to marijuana, this product is not […]
More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer disease and are gradually losing their abilities to think and remember. Most of the medications that are available to treat this degenerative condition are unimpressive at best. Is there any way to overcome Alzheimer disease? The Shortcomings of Medication for Alzheimer Disease: Most of the medicines that doctors […]
Summer is a great time to enjoy being outdoors. But vacation travel and playing in the back yard both offer potential hazards, such as sunburn, bug bites, poison ivy or blisters. How do you handle such everyday problems? We’ll take your calls and questions about common summertime troubles and home remedies that can help ease […]
Parkinson’s disease makes it difficult for people to move. In addition to tremors or twitches, people with Parkinson’s often feel stiff and find it difficult to walk easily. Their handwriting shrinks, and their voice may become hoarse or soft. How Intense Exercise Affects Symptoms: While there are medications to treat Parkinson’s disease, recent research suggests […]
When your doctor speaks, do you understand what you are hearing? Do you know how to describe your health problem so your doctor will “get it”? Why Communication Is Critical: Communication between doctors and patients is at the heart of health care. It is essential for accurate diagnosis, and crucial for patients to understand the […]
If you’ve ever found yourself ruminating over mistakes you made during the day and wishing for a do-over, you might want to change your perspective. In traditional psychiatry, you might focus on problems in your relationship and learn how to fight fair. Positive psychology, a science supporting health and wellness, would teach you how to […]
Dogs and Babies’ Health: Most young kids love their dogs. New research shows that even babies too young to play with the pet benefit from a dog in the house. What is the story on pets as probiotics? How do dogs affect the microbiome of a household, and how does that help babies’ health? What Are […]
Cardiologists agree that we should all be getting regular exercise and eating a healthful diet with lots of vegetables and fruits. But they don’t agree on which of us should be taking statins to protect our hearts. Just how much do these cholesterol-lowering drugs actually reduce the risk of a heart attack? The answer to […]
Our daytime functioning depends in large measure on the sleep we get at night. No doubt that helps explain why we spend approximately 36 percent of our lifetimes sleeping. How can we embrace bedtime instead of resenting it? Can you reset your body clock along with your alarm clock? How to Set Your Body Clock: […]
People facing a life-threatening cancer diagnosis may struggle with more than the medical treatment. They sometimes experience an existential crisis, in which life loses its meaning. In such situations, anxiety and depression may overwhelm and paralyze them. To address this problem, some psychiatrists decided to see whether the hallucinogenic compound psilocybin could make a difference. […]
You’ve probably heard that lifestyle is the most important factor in keeping your heart healthy. Don’t smoke, exercise, and eat right seem simple. But what does it really mean to eat right? Should you be avoiding sat fat? How Big a Problem Is Sat Fat? Experts have been telling us for decades that we must […]
When you listen to bird song, smell pine needles or watch tree branches swaying in the wind, what is happening in your brain? For that matter, what is happening in your body? Does your level of stress drop when you are out in nature? The Nature Fix: When writer Florence Williams moved from Boulder, Colorado, to […]
There’s been a big increase in mouse populations in many places over the past year. As a result, the number of ticks is booming, and you have a greater chance of being bitten when you go outside. Could a bite put you in danger from Lyme disease? The Basics of Lyme Disease: Lyme disease is […]
Most Americans are not familiar with the principles of Ayurvedic medicine. Despite its thousands of years of tradition, it seems exotic and possibly irrelevant for today. How Ayurvedic Medicine Principles Can Be Integrated into Neurology: Learn how a neurologist re-discovered the importance of Ayurvedic approaches when she found that her own migraines did not respond […]
Pain is one of the most common reasons people seek medical care. But physicians often face a dilemma when they treat joint pain, back pain or muscle spasms with prescription pills. Drugs that relieve pain effectively frequently carry frightening side effects, especially over the long term. Problems with NSAIDs for Pain Relief: Doctors usually rely on a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory […]
Which fabulous foods can make a difference for our health? There might be too many to count. For this show, we are focusing on the science supporting the health benefits of just three power-packed foods: olive oil, curcumin and cherries. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Is One of the Fabulous Foods: Olive oil is a pillar of the Mediterranean […]
Americans are taking more pills than ever before. Last year we shelled out more than $400 billion for prescription drugs alone. Over-the-counter medicines are also extremely popular. But all those drugs also carry some risks. Around half a million people suffer serious adverse drug reactions every year. Are there drug-free alternatives that would help many common […]
Stiff painful joints can interfere with activities like gardening, cooking, playing tennis, climbing stairs or walking the dog. While we think of osteoarthritis as a condition that primarily affects older people, it turns out that most people with this condition aren’t yet eligible for Medicare. As many as 30 million people may suffer with this condition. How […]
Many of us are aware we could be at a healthier weight. Perhaps we’ve even tried to drop some pounds but found that we were always feeling hungry and grumpy on a diet. Perhaps counting calories could help us lose weight for a while, but we gained it back again. Why Is a Low-Fat Diet […]
The FDA is charged with making sure that prescription drugs are both safe and effective. But questions have been raised about antidepressants and other drugs for mental illness. Exactly how effective are these medications to treat psychiatric conditions? Are they safe? How Well Do Antidepressants Work? Dr. Peter Gøtzsche, a founder of the nonprofit Cochrane […]
Medical errors and misadventures account for surprisingly high mortality in the U.S. Some experts estimate that they should be considered the third leading cause of death in this country. Many such mistakes could be prevented. How can you protect yourself or a family member from becoming a victim of medical errors? Many major causes of […]
Dan Ariely is a behavioral economist with a genius for figuring out why we do the things we do. His popular column in The Wall Street Journal is called “Ask Dan.” Listeners have the chance to do just that this week. What’s Your Motivation? Dr. Ariely’s latest book is Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes […]
We rely on our feet to carry us throughout life, every day. What should we do to keep them from complaining? Taking Care of Your Feet: Podiatrist Georgeanne Botek explains how to manage warts, bunions, hammertoes and other common foot problems. Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain. What causes it, and how can […]
The treatment of mental illness has a discouraging history in this country. Even in the 21st century, psychiatrists rely principally on antipsychotic medications without much else in the way of support. These drugs have serious side effects, and although they are helpful for those who truly need them, they are too often prescribed inappropriately. Finding […]
We often associate the term “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” with military veterans. Indeed, war creates many traumatic experiences, but it is not the only source of reactions that may cause people to shut down or blow up. Car, train or plane crashes, a life-threatening illness episode, family violence or other events can create a dysfunctional reaction […]
If you were to list the organs of the body, would it occur to you to include fat? Most people think of fat as a nuisance, an intruder or even an enemy to be overcome. But fat is crucial for normal physiological processes. What should you know about the secret life of fat? Discovering the […]
In this show, we explore the stories behind some health headlines: the drawbacks of OTC sleeping pills and the best way to use them; whether arthritis drugs cause heart attacks; and how to afford a drug with a narrow therapeutic index. When researchers discovered that the pain reliever Vioxx was associated with an increased risk of […]
Have you ever started taking a medication and discovered that it produced an unpleasant side effect? That’s not uncommon. Sometimes the doctor responds by prescribing an additional drug to manage a side effect from the first one. Occasionally a person will get caught in a cascade that results in several drugs to treat side effects caused […]
The idea of yoga classes usually brings to mind images of young, fit people twisting their bodies into difficult poses while breathing deeply. But does yoga benefit people who don’t fit that stereotype? Yoga for People with Pain or Disability: Both our guests teach yoga to people who are neither young nor fit. These are […]
Medications are often crucial for maintaining our health, but every drug you take has potential side effects and may interact with other medicines. What do you know about these hazards? Understanding Benefits and Risks: Our guest, Dr. Russ Altman, suggests that physicians should exercise more restraint in prescribing and patients should ask more questions about […]
Habits-things you do on a regular basis without even thinking about them-can have a huge impact on our health. But it isn’t easy to drop old habits that aren’t serving us well, like eating a pint of ice cream every night. Nor is it always easy to adopt healthier habits that could be more helpful, like […]
Dr. Andrew Weil, the country’s leading expert in integrative medicine, believes that good health begins in the kitchen. It’s hardly revolutionary to propose that diet matters when it comes to our health, but so many people feel that eating delicious, healthy home-cooked meals isn’t possible for them. They don’t have time, they say, or they […]
Occasionally a medication that has been on the market for some time is found to do unexpected harm. That happened with Vioxx, and led researchers to take a closer look at all NSAIDS. A large trial showed that the NSAID pain reliever celecoxib (Celebrex) is no worse than naproxen in raising the risk of heart attacks. […]
When two people join to form a family, they bring with them lots of habits and expectations based on the families they grew up in. Sometimes these constitute big differences, but more often they are little things. Who does the dishes? Do you agree on how that should be done? How can you keep those […]
In the recent election, voters in several more states approved the use of medical marijuana. Now more than half the states in the US accept the medicinal use of cannabis, but the federal government does not. As a recent New York Times article about a cannabis company in California illustrates, that creates a certain amount […]
Nearly half of all marriages end in divorce, if we are to believe the statistics. Despite that, there is significant social pressure on married couples to stay together, even though the relationship may be unraveling. What Are Sacred Cows? Our guests examine the rationalizations the friends and family members often employ when a marriage starts […]
This show will be broadcast live on November 12, 2016, at 7 am EST. We discuss a number of fascinating health news stories from recent weeks. Fidgeting: If you find yourself tapping your foot or jiggling your knee, you just might be doing your legs a favor. We talk with a researcher who found that […]
The original air date for this radio show is November 5, 2016, at 0700 EDT. In this season of colds, do you know how to improve your immune response and lower your susceptibility? Dr. Tieraona Low Dog discusses a wide range of natural approaches to improving your immunity to respiratory viruses. You could start with simple steps like […]
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme: Could rosemary in your food be part of the secret to long life? Will sage make you smarter? Will garlic, leeks and onions help you keep your heart healthy? Cinnamon, fenugreek and turmeric all appear to help regulate blood sugar. Could they be useful in warding off type 2 diabetes? […]
Do you know how to treat a headache, beyond taking aspirin or acetaminophen? Can you get into trouble by taking your medication too frequently? (The answer is yes; this can make headaches worse.) Ways to Treat Serious Headaches: Cluster Headaches: Cluster headaches recur with such extreme pain that they are sometimes termed “suicide headaches.” There are […]
There is considerable confusion over cholesterol and its connection to heart health and longevity. Should cholesterol be lowered at all costs? We’ll discuss the evidence for and against focusing on cholesterol. We also get good advice on the best lifestyle practices for maintaining a healthy heart. What Are the Benefits and Risks of Statin Drugs? […]
Ever since penicillin was discovered, scientists have realized that bacteria could develop resistance to antibiotics. In the last decade or so, these fears have become more acute. Many dangerous pathogens have evolved to become resistant to multiple antibiotics. Some have become impervious to drugs that are generally reserved for last-resort use. With the common use of many antibiotics to promote […]
Research makes it clear that what we eat makes a difference for our health. But there are many different diet patterns that have been promoted as healthy. Some people are vegetarians, while others embrace a high-fat, low-carb Atkins-type eating pattern. Is there one that is optimal for you? What Should Vegetarians Consider for Complete Nutrition? […]
Years ago, doctors thought that celiac disease was incredibly rare among Americans. In this auto-immune condition, exposure to gluten found in barley, rye and wheat causes the body to attack the lining of the digestive tract. The damage that is done interferes with the ability of the intestines to absorb nutrients properly and that can […]
For millennia, when people stopped breathing, they stopped living. The classic test for determining whether people were asleep or dead was whether they could fog a mirror. Resuscitating the Drowned: In the eighteenth century, the citizens of Amsterdam became alarmed at the number of residents perishing by drowning in the canals. They started a Society for […]
The Zone diet popularized by Dr. Barry Sears was one of the earliest to emphasize the importance of balancing protein, fat and carbohydrate consumption at every meal. Dr. Sears pioneered the idea that the food we eat is more powerful than any drug in controlling the activity of multiple hormones in our bodies. Many studies […]
Prescription medications cost more in the US than anywhere else in the world. What’s behind the high cost of these drugs? How are insurance companies and other payers coping with costs? Is there any way to save money on a prescription? How Can You Save Money on Your Prescriptions? With the price of medicines rising […]
Montmorency cherries are rich in polyphenols. Scientists in England have been studying their ability to help athletes recover more quickly from strenuous exercise. The latest research was conducted with soccer players and published in Nutrients (online July 22, 2016). Do you ever get muscle cramps, either during athletic activity or in the middle of the […]
What do you know about the popular cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins? Are they miracle medicines that save lives, or do they represent a menace to health because of possible side effects? Get the truth on statins and heart disease. Two Views on Statins: We speak with two experts on statins and heart disease to get […]
Do you think of yoga as exercise? Many people don’t. Yoga doesn’t seem like exercise that can combat osteoporosis. Yet physiatrist Loren Fishman, MD, has shown that certain yoga poses can improve bone mineral density and reduce fractures. People do need to practice these poses conscientiously. When they do, they experience virtually no side effects-except they stand […]
An ancient Chinese medical modality is gradually gaining converts in the US. In acupuncture, a skilled practitioner inserts thin needles into specific points on the body. The problems that may be treated this way range from allergies and sinusitis to heartburn, PMS, menstrual problems and hot flashes. In addition, this approach is frequently helpful for painful conditions such as headaches, tender […]
If you are hiking in the hinterlands this summer, what first aid should you take along? We talk with Dr. Jim Hubbard, author of The Survival Doctor’s Complete Handbook, about what to do when you can’t get to the doctor. Home Remedies for Summertime Maladies: Dr. Hubbard also shares some of his favorite home remedies. […]
Stress is bad for our health, isn’t it? It has been linked to everything from psoriasis to asthma to heart disease. It may even make us more susceptible to cancer. Is the Emphasis on Stress Reduction Misplaced? It is no wonder, then, that wellness advocates emphasize stress reduction, whether it is yoga, meditation, a walk […]
As we grow older, the risk of two different cancers looms ever larger: breast cancer for women and prostate cancer for men. Whether you are a woman or a man, how can you reduce your risk from breast or prostate cancer? Unscrambling the Controversies: There have been controversies over the best methods for detecting and […]
Americans have been admonished to reduce the amount of sodium in our food. In fact, the American Heart Association has said that all of us should be cutting the salt we eat and aiming for 1500 mg of sodium daily, if not less. That is an amount that is achieved by only a few hardy […]
More children than ever suffer with allergies, asthma, ADHD or eczema. Sometimes these allergies can affect their ability to focus in school or get along with friends. It might be hard to see what is causing these problems. Could it be something they are eating? Do they need the dirt cure? A pediatric neurologist who […]
An increasing proportion of Americans are at risk for type 2 diabetes. In 2012, 86 million adults had prediabetes, which is elevated blood sugar that doesn’t quite reach the cut-off for a diabetes diagnosis. Frequently, people with prediabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes, but they don’t have to. You can reverse prediabetes by […]
People who have had difficulty getting an accurate diagnosis of their ailments may feel that their doctors are not taking them seriously. Perhaps if they had MD degrees themselves, they imagine, the diagnostic process would be more productive. A Medical Mystery This is not always the case, however. Our guest, Neil Spector, MD, is a […]
Why do couples who love each other often experience diminished desire? Relationship expert Esther Perel says that achieving intimacy sometimes removes the mystery that makes sex so exciting. Keep the Spark: Drawing upon her decades of experience as a couples and family therapist, the author of Mating in Captivity tells how to keep the spark […]
Why can’t the medical experts make up their minds? That’s a question we hear often when the guidelines for eating a healthy diet, treating high blood pressure or lowering the risk of heart attacks suddenly change. Many people complain about medical flip-flops. How Medical Flip-Flops Affect Medical Practice: It isn’t only patients who become frustrated about […]
Americans take a lot of pills with the goal of staying healthy-pills to lower cholesterol, pills to control blood pressure, even pills to keep bones strong. How can we use fewer pills but still maximize our health? What Is Exercise Good For? It shouldn’t be surprising to learn that both diet and exercise are important […]
You may not think of bees as domestic animals, but any beekeeper would set you straight. Bees range far and wide when they forage for nectar and pollen, but they return home to the bee hive. Products of the hive have long been used for healing. Healing with Products of the Bee Hive: We get […]
How Helpful Is Lowering Cholesterol? This week, the American College of Cardiology met and revealed surprising data on some new studies. What is the best way to lower cholesterol? Do healthy people get any benefit from taking cholesterol-lowering drugs? How did doctors determine that some patients really do suffer from muscle problems when they take […]
Our immune systems are supposed to protect us from attack. Viruses, bacteria and fungi that try to invade can all trip alarm signals that awaken the body’s natural defenses. Cancer is not an invader, however. A tumor is made of our own cells, although they are growing out of control. Sparking the Immune System into Action […]
How can animals break through the barriers created by traumatic events and help people heal? We’ll learn about horses that interact with people with dementia, and dogs who visit patients in hospitals. Therapy Animals and Service Dogs: We’ll also find out how service dogs can improve life for people with disabilities. If you have a story […]
Alzheimer’s disease is a prospect as frightening to many of us as cancer, and the treatment options are not promising. Most of the costly medications used in treating this type of dementia do little more than delay its progression by a few weeks or months. The idea that anything might be done to turn back […]
Heart disease is still the number one killer of women in the US, though the words “heart attack” usually conjure up an image of a gray-haired man. The symptom of chest pain or tightness is the most common signal of a heart attack in either males or females, but the American Heart Association says women […]
When computer game expert Jane McGonigal suffered a concussion, she had a hard time recovering from the constant headaches, fatigue, confusion and depression. To give herself achievable goals and make her recovery more attainable, she invented a game she calls SuperBetter. The Benefits of a Gameful Mindset: You can use the gameful approach she describes […]
America’s most popular heartburn drugs might be harming our kidneys. Research published in the February issue of JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that regular use of drugs like Nexium, Prevacid or Prilosec is associated with a higher risk of chronic kidney disease. While the research shows an association and doesn’t establish that the drugs are causing kidney […]
What do you know about your digestive tract bacteria? Normally, a wide range of bacteria helps us digest our food and works together to keep us healthy. But when infections or antibiotics intervene, the variety of beneficial bacteria drops and undesirable strains like Clostridium difficile can gain the upper hand. What About Probiotics? Could probiotics […]
Are you getting all the nutrients you need from the food you eat? We are often advised to eat a well-balanced diet, but many people find that difficult. In today’s fast-paced world, it can be hard even to know what it means. Should You Take Dietary Supplements? Dr. Tieraona Low Dog suggests that many of […]
Chronic pain is often invisible, but it undermines the quality of life of a hundred million Americans. Many of these people face a terrible dilemma: without medication, they suffer dreadfully. But if they use narcotics to control chronic pain, they may be treated with suspicion or disdain. Measures designed to reduce drug abuse put many […]
As we start the new year, many of us use the opportunity to try to change the habits that affect our health. Last week we heard from Gretchen Rubin, author of the book Better Than Before. How to Change Our Bad Habits: This week, we touch base with Dr. Wendy Wood, whose research focuses on […]
Chocolate has long been considered a sinful indulgence, definitely not a food that belongs in any “healthy” diet. But over the past few decades, evidence has been building that consuming chocolate actually offers specific health benefits. What are they, and what is the best way to get your dose of beneficial cocoa compounds? What Are […]
We are accustomed to hearing, “Eat this, don’t eat that.” Nearly everyone who makes such a pronouncement is convinced that he or she has discovered the one and only diet that will solve the problem of obesity in America and help all of us avoid weight gain. If only it were that simple! The US […]
The tropical rainforest of Belize is full of medicinal plants. The knowledge of these plants and their uses has been considered secret, closely guarded by the traditional Mayan practitioners of shamanism. Rosita Arvigo and Remedies from the Rainforest: But several decades ago, an inquisitive, well-prepared and persistent American woman showed up and became a shaman’s […]
The thyroid medicine levothyroxine (Synthroid) is among the top ten drugs dispensed in the US. The inevitable conclusion is that thyroid malfunction is extremely common. Even after diagnosis and treatment, however, many people continue to feel bad. Research has found a genetic basis that explains some people’s problems with levothyroxine. Would a new approach to […]
Does your mood affect how much you eat? While serious depression or anxiety are known to change appetite, even milder changes in mood can have surprising effects. You might be surprised to learn that food rituals, such as saying grace, can also alter our eating behavior. Expressing gratitude before starting a meal helps people moderate […]
Bacon and Cancer: Not long ago, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Cancer Research stirred up a lot of controversy by announcing that processed meats such as bacon or hot dogs should be classified as human carcinogens. What does this pronouncement actually mean? Has it changed the way you cook or eat, and should […]
Head injuries are all too common, affecting millions of Americans every year. They can result in brain injury if the brain gets jostled inside the skull. This can be a problem even if the incident did not result in a loss of consciousness (a “blackout”). Around 5,000 people daily experience a concussion as a result […]
Sports are a great way for kids to get physical activity and learn teamwork. But how vulnerable are kids’ brains when they play sports? In many popular sports such as football, soccer or lacrosse, players may collide with each other or with the ball. How could a bump on the head affect the brain? What […]
We air this show in memory of Dr. Mitchell Gaynor, who died last month. He was a frequent guest on The People’s Pharmacy and we are sorry to learn of his unexpected death. Genetic Destiny: We are all born with certain genes that help determine our height and the color of our eyes as well […]
It may sound far-fetched to propose that someone has an addiction to candy or soft drinks. But brain scans show that some of the reward pathways associated with a sweet taste are very similar to those linked to addictive substances. Might you be addicted to sugar? People at Risk for Sugar Addiction: Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum […]
The proportion of children with autism has increased dramatically over the last several decades. The CDC estimates that 1 out of every 68 American youngsters could be diagnosed as belonging on the autism spectrum. While most parents assume that this disorder is irreversible, there are some children who no longer fit the diagnostic criteria after early, intensive […]
The Institute of Medicine released an important report on diagnostic error this week, Improving Diagnosis in Medicine. The issue of medical mistakes is a serious problem that has not disappeared. Admitting Medical Mistakes: If a doctor or a hospital makes a mistake, will it be admitted? Research shows that many health care providers are not […]
Once fall begins, lots of Americans start to suffer. Up to a third of us struggle with sneezing, sniffling, congestion, itchy eyes and post-nasal drip as a result of hay fever (really ragweed pollen reaction) or other allergies. Avoiding Allergy Triggers: The best chance for managing allergies is to identify and avoid the triggers. But […]
Millions of Americans rely on popular pain relievers such as celecoxib, diclofenac, ibuprofen, meloxicam, naproxen and other NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). The fact that some of these medications are available without prescription in products such as Advil, Aleve or Motrin IB gives many of us the impression that they must be safe. Balancing Benefit & […]
Dr. Oliver Sacks was much more than a neurologist. In his books, he invited us to imagine the world from wildly different perspectives than our own. When he described individuals with neurological differences (that would be termed “deficits” by most doctors and other people), he helped his readers recognize the special gifts these people were […]
Have you ever wondered about the big words your doctor uses? Physicians have a language all their own. Not only do they have specialized technical terminology, but they also have their own slang. What Should Patients Know About Doctors’ Secret Language? Find out about the argot, jargon and slang that abounds in hospital settings. What […]
If you have ever wondered whether there is a good way to take fewer prescription medicines and treat more of your everyday ailments with natural approaches, Dr. Tieraona Low Dog has good news for you. She reviews the evidence on herbal and botanical remedies and reassures us that many common health complaints are best treated […]
Tick-borne diseases are extremely widespread, but they seem to be difficult to diagnose and hard to treat. Science has now recognized many more conditions that result from tick bites than were known even a decade ago. Lyme Disease: The diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease, caused by Borrelia burgdorferi and transmitted by a deer tick […]
Until fairly recently, no one was really interested in the denizens of the digestive tract except for a few gastroenterologists and a few more microbiologists. But now research has shown that the bacteria in our bowels form complex ecological systems, and interest in the microbiome has gone mainstream. Bowel Bacteria as a Source of Inflammation: […]
People have been using plants to take care of skin problems for hundreds or thousands of years. Which natural products really work? Our expert guests discuss the power of a fresh aloe vera leaf to help soothe a burn, including a sunburn. You’ll also find out how to prevent sunburn naturally. Some plants (tomatoes, chocolate, […]
This is the thousandth episode of The People’s Pharmacy, and we are celebrating. We invited local listeners who support our host station, North Carolina Public Radio, WUNC, to join us for a live performance of the show. BJ Leiderman Played our Theme: Adding to the celebratory mood, we were joined by noted NPR composer BJ […]
At one time, most Americans were mystified by meditation and wary of yoga. There is now increasing recognition that both meditation and yoga can have profound health effects. Meditation and the Brain How does meditation alter the brain? Our expert guests explain the significant physiological changes that happen at the level of the neurons, genes […]
Inflammation is a primary cause of many chronic conditions, from Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis to asthma and inflammatory bowel disease. But what causes the inflammation? Could infectious agents be the root of most of our chronic disease–including cancer? The New Germ Theory: Find out about the new germ theory linking infections and mental illness. Is […]
Diagnosis is the very foundation of medical care. Without an accurate diagnosis, doctors have no way of determining the appropriate treatment. Decades ago, doctors used to rely heavily on the patient’s account of her problem (called the “history”) and the doctor’s direct physical examination of the patient. Medical students still learn these skills, but in […]
We don’t always pay attention to our sense of touch, though it is critical to survival. Sensations of pain, heat or cold protect us from injury. But the importance of touch goes far beyond that. Pain and Pleasure: Our sense of touch also provides us with great pleasure. Caress is an essential element of bonding […]
Dr. Peter Gøtzsche worked for the pharmaceutical industry years ago supervising clinical trials and working in regulatory affairs. But this industry insider has become the toughest of critics. Dr. Gøtzsche is concerned about the impact that big pharma exerts on health care. Pharmaceutical firms are among the most profitable in the world. In the US […]
Most of us know what we should do to clean up our lifestyles–eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, and so on ad nauseum. You’ve heard it all before. But we don’t necessarily do the things we know that we ought to. Perhaps we think it doesn’t really matter for us, at least not right now. […]
Americans frequently boast that we have the best health care in the world. While that may be debated in some quarters, no one doubts that our health care system is the most expensive. What makes American health care so pricey, and is there anything that could be done about it? Evaluating Obamacare One approach that […]
Dizziness is a common problem, but not easily diagnosed. A little lightheadedness could be a reaction to dehydration or blood pressure medication. But when the room is spinning, walking can become difficult or even dangerous. A fall, especially for an older person, can have very serious consequences. When Is Dizziness Dangerous? When does vertigo signal […]
Every five years, the US Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services collaborate on producing Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These are supposed to tell us what we should be eating. They are also used to shape institutional food choices, such as those in schools or prisons. Changes Expected Will there be any changes in […]
Turmeric, the yellow spice in curry and yellow mustard, has an active component called curcumin. This compound is the subject of more than 7,500 studies that show it has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activity. How Does Curcumin Work? Recently scientists discovered exactly how it boosts the activity of a treatment for colorectal cancer. We talk with […]
An ever-increasing appreciation of the complexity of ecosystems has begun to change farming practices so that they become more sustainable. Science is demonstrating that our human bodies are also complex ecosystems, made up of more microbes than human cells. Could some of the principles of sustainable farming help us stay healthy too? Dr. Daphne Miller […]
Heated disagreements about whether or not Americans all need to reduce their salt intake have reached the Wall Street Journal. Many public health agencies recommend that we cut back on salt to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. But how well does that approach work? We talk with contrarian […]
An amazing number of American youngsters is considered to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In some states, CDC data show that more than 10 percent of school children carries this diagnosis. You will find a thorough discussion of the symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and potential consequences of ADHD here. Alternatives to Ritalin The usual treatments for […]
A recent investigation by the New York Attorney General’s office provoked scandalized headlines. They indicated that important herbal supplements from four major retailers did not actually contain the herbs they purported to provide. What was detected by the DNA barcode test was rice, soy or wheat, possibly used as fillers. But was the DNA barcode […]
Americans tend to equate more tests and more aggressive treatment with better quality care. This approach does result in more expensive care. The US spends more on health care per capita than any other country in the world. But we lag behind other industrialized nations on important measures of public health. Challenging Assumptions Many of […]
Antidepressant medications have become part of popular culture ever since Prozac came on the market in the mid-1980s. Only those who have weathered a suicidal crisis themselves or watched a loved one face such an emergency may truly appreciate how inadequate our current antidepressants are in such circumstances. Ketamine An old drug, ketamine, is now […]
Many people currently carry around tiny but powerful computers in their hip pockets or pocketbooks. We use our smart phones to check our bank accounts, keep up with our friends or get a weather report. Apps are also proving as good as dedicated fitness trackers at telling us how much we are moving. Before long, […]
For decades, the diet dictocrats have warned us to back away from the butter, minimize the meat and skimp on the salt. The recommended menu might not taste terrific, but it was supposed to prevent heart disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions. Unfortunately, the evidence to back these dietary policies up has never been supported […]
Taking medications that affect brain chemicals can alter our risk of developing dementia. Find out which prescription and over-the-counter drugs are associated with a greater risk of an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis. There is a list of common anticholinergic drugs here. Stroke Treatment A Dutch study last month showed that using a special device to reach […]
We often take our sight for granted, and wrongly assume that there is nothing that can be done to keep vision problems from occurring. Our guest has combed the medical literature to find ways to prevent or even reverse conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma with natural approaches. Myopic Youngsters Around the world, […]
The flu season started early this year and is now in full swing. What do you need to know about influenza to keep from becoming a sad statistic? Anti-Anxiety Medicines and the Alternatives Doctors prescribe anti-anxiety drugs in huge numbers. When does anxiety need treatment, and what can be done besides take a pill? What […]
Television ads warning men of the dangers of “low T” (inadequate testosterone) have become commonplace, but they rarely explore the risks of taking testosterone replacement medications. That may be partly because, like hormone replacement therapy for women years ago that supplied estrogen and progesterone, testosterone treatment has not been fully studied. It isn’t necessary to […]
We often think of vulnerability as a weakness, but being open and vulnerable with those we care about actually requires courage and strength. When we manage it, vulnerability also strengthens our most precious human connections. Dr. Brené Brown has inspired millions of people with her TED talks on the power of vulnerability. Learn why striving […]
Living in the modern world means being exposed to a great many chemical compounds, from those in our shampoo to the ones that make up that unforgettable new-car smell. The safety of many of these compounds is unknown, but others have recognized toxicity. And simple actions, like eating soup from a can, could raise our […]
The FDA has insisted for years that generic drugs are identical to their brand-name counterparts. Physician and medical historian Jeremy Greene writes: “Generic drugs never were–and still are not–exactly the same as their brand-name counterparts, but they are similar in ways we deem to be important.” We discuss the value of generic drugs and the […]
At some point during our lives, most of us will have at least one episode of back pain. Sharp or dull, the pain can come on at an unexpected moment and dominate our lives for days or weeks, until it disappears as mysteriously as it came. When Pain Becomes Chronic For some people, however, low […]
Is rest a waste of time? Many of us think so, but burning the candle at both ends has its costs. Eventually, the result is burnout along with physical and emotional exhaustion. Balancing Rest and Activity While sleep is crucial for good health, sleep alone may not suffice to restore health. Dr. Matthew Edlund believes […]
According to a new global survey, older adults in the United States take more drugs for more chronic health problems than seniors in ten other countries. Why do so many people suffer with chronic illnesses as they age? The diseases that afflict them are due in part to genetic susceptibility for heart disease, diabetes or […]
Hydrocodone Painkillers Last month, the Drug Enforcement Administration changed its classification of hydrocodone containing pain relievers. The new rules will make it more difficult for some patients to get their medications. What will they mean for you? Movember By now, everyone is pretty well aware that October is colored pink to draw attention to breast […]
Are you deficient in magnesium? Chances are you’ve never thought about it. Magnesium is a fascinating mineral that every cell in the body uses for a variety of activities. Yet very little attention is paid to this nutrient. Learn why magnesium is so vital and how to tell if your levels might be low. Which […]
Many couples struggle to conceive. Even healthy young couples may be less likely to have success with conception than is commonly believed. Without using protection of any kind, such a couple might expect to conceive in one cycle out of five. While most healthy couples do manage a pregnancy over the course of a year, […]
More than 30 million Americans have trouble hearing as well as they would like. Some assume there is nothing that can be done to help them, while others imagine that their hearing loss is not so great that it needs to be addressed. Are they mistaken? Hearing aids are expensive and somewhat mysterious. Technological Advances […]
For decades, Americans have been warned to step away from the cheese and leave the butter untouched. Saturated fat was believed to clog the arteries and lead to heart attacks and early death. But what was the basis for those admonitions? Where’s the science? The science of the popular prescriptions for a low-fat diet […]
Dishonesty in Health Care Health care, it seems, is not immune to the dishonesty that prevails in many other parts of society, whether it is the polite lie that someone looks good (despite a hospital pallor) or a more serious deception or omission, such as a provider’s financial relationship with a drug or device manufacturer. […]
Gluten has become a household name in the last few years, with many crackers, cereals and other food products advertised as gluten free. What is gluten, and should you be avoiding it? In the past, the only people who paid much attention to gluten were those with celiac disease. This condition was thought to be […]
Playing a sport, leading an active lifestyle or taking an unexpected tumble can lead to joint injuries such as a sprained ankle or a torn rotator cuff in the shoulder. Sometimes joints just start complaining because of accumulated wear and tear. Sports medicine specialists often need to evaluate the best methods for overcoming pain and […]
More than a million Americans suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are usually considered autoimmune conditions, although it is not necessarily clear what may trigger the immune system to attack the lining of the digestive tract. Find out about the symptoms of IBD and how it is distinguished from IBS, […]
Most of us have experienced the frustration of a phone tree that seems designed to keep us from speaking to the person who could actually do what needs to be done. Have you ever considered the impact of an insurance pre-authorization requirement on a physician’s work day? We speak with Dr. Danielle Ofri about a […]
Most people are familiar with tick-borne diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or Lyme disease. But other diseases transmitted by ticks and fleas and biting flies may be flying under the radar. One such organism is called Bartonella. More Than Cat Scratch Fever Bartonella is known as the cause of cat scratch fever, but […]
People often hold fast to their favorite dietary dogma and get annoyed if it is challenged. But lately there has been a great deal of controversy about the best diet for good health, especially for people with diabetes or heart disease. One sign of a possible paradigm shift is the publication of three different articles […]
Tune in to our radio show on your local public radio station, or sign up for the podcast and listen at your leisure. Here’s what it’s about: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. What does a diagnosis of ALS mean, and how do doctors and patients work together to improve […]
Tune in to our radio show on your local public radio station, or sign up for the podcast and listen at your leisure. Here’s what it’s about: Hot summer temperatures can be uncomfortable for anybody, but for some folks they may be downright dangerous. Which drugs require extra caution because they make a person more […]
What can we learn from people who have experienced spontaneous remissions of serious cancers? Doctors recognize that such remissions sometimes occur, but they rarely study them. The problem is that remissions are uncommon and unpredictable, and consequently difficult to study. The Research Psychotherapist Kelly Turner interviewed more than a thousand people who had undergone a […]
Do you take antibiotics for granted? Many of us do. After all, these drugs have been saving lives for decades, serving as magic bullets against deadly infections such as pneumonia, gangrene or blood poisoning since the middle of the 20th century. Superbugs Sneer at Antibiotics: Unfortunately, the bacteria that cause infections have been evolving and […]
Susannah Meadows’s son was only three years old when he developed terrifying symptoms of a disabling disease, juvenile idiopathic arthritis. His parents were frantic to help him feel better, but conventional medicine was slow to go into effect. Could a Leaky Gut Have Activated His Immune System? They decided to explore an alternative approach as well. […]
Over the last several months a number of studies have found that multivitamins are not an effective way to prevent Alzheimer’s or heart disease. But are they really a waste of money, as one editorial suggests? We talk with Dr. Tieraona Low Dog about the evidence base for vitamin use. How Scary Is Aspirin? Similar doubts have […]
Tune in to our radio show on your local public radio station, or sign up for the podcast and listen at your leisure. Here’s what it’s about: The new guidelines brought forth by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology call for a large proportion of senior citizens to take statin-type cholesterol-lowering […]
Tinnitus, often referred to as ringing in the ears, can be a terrible problem. The sufferer hears a sound that no one else perceives, whether it is hissing, booming, buzzing, chirping or clicking. Treating tinnitus effectively is very difficult. People are rarely able to get the sound to stop and some victims find it is […]
Tune in to our radio show on your local public radio station, or sign up for the podcast and listen at your leisure. Here’s what it’s about: Worldwide attention has been riveted on the fate of a Malaysian Airlines jet with 239 people on board. Since flight 370 disappeared on March 8, more than 16,000 […]
Tune in to our radio show on your local public radio station, or sign up for the podcast and listen at your leisure. Here’s what it’s about: A number of foreign drug firms have been cited by the FDA for poor quality control (and in some cases data manipulation). Perhaps in response, the agency has […]
Tune in to our radio show on your local public radio station, or sign up for the podcast and listen at your leisure. Here’s what it’s about: We rarely hear about bladder cancer, but it is the fourth most common cancer of men in the U.S., and the toll it takes is underappreciated. We hear […]
Summer vacation is right around the corner. We hope you have delightful travel plans, whether they will take you across the country, around the world, or just beyond the back yard. What can you do to stay healthy while on vacation? Pack Your First-Aid Kit: What are the best first-aid items to tuck in your […]
How do you handle the fever of flu? Many people turn to OTC flu remedies for symptom relief, but nearly all of them contain a fever reducing medication such as aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen. While these may help you feel better temporarily, such medicines may prolong the infection or help it spread. The Benefits of […]
Summertime offers great opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, but sometimes there are risks that might be hard to avoid. Chiggers, ticks and mosquitos can make you miserable. What can you do to avoid them or manage the itch that results? Summertime Remedies: This summer has broken heat records in many places. Is your medication putting […]
Sugar for Wounds: Sugar seems like an improbable treatment for hard-to-heal wounds. But the ancient Egyptians used honey and animal fat for battle scars. How does that treatment hold up under modern scrutiny? Holiday Remedies: When friends and family gather for the holidays, little mishaps may happen. What home remedies can help ease minor problems […]
One American man in every six is diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point, so it is not surprising that proposed changes to prostate cancer screening have created controversy. When the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended dropping the PSA (prostate specific antigen) test as a routine measure, many urologists and their patients protested. The […]
For years, women have been admonished to drink milk and eat yogurt so that they will have enough calcium to keep their bones strong. Calcium supplements have become big business, and foods like orange juice have been fortified with calcium. How good is the science supporting all this calcium to fight bone loss? We talk […]
Dr. Ruth Westheimer is America’s most renowned sex expert. She shares her decades of experience answering questions on sex. What are the most common concerns facing couples? Is there hope for sex after 50? Can Female Sexual Dysfunction Be Overcome? The husband and wife team of Irwin and Sue Goldstein have blazed a trail for […]