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Learning More About Niacin

By Matt Brignall ecomii.com
June 7, 2011
File under: Health Concerns, Illness Prevention, Medical Care, Supplements

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A major clinical trial that added niacin to statin treatment for people with a history of heart disease was closed early due to lack of clinical benefit, according to a news release from the American Heart Association. These results are being interpreted as a disappointment in some early media reports.

The trial was based on a belief that simultaneously lowering bad LDL cholesterol (with a statin class medication) and increasing good HDL cholesterol (with niacin) would be superior to simply increasing LDL alone. This combination treatment has been associated with promising outcomes in previous studies, including one published just over a year ago in the New England Journal of Medicine. …read more of Learning More About Niacin here

 
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A New Class of Antidepressants Looks Like an Old Dietary Supplement

By Matt Brignall ecomii.com
May 24, 2011
File under: Health Concerns, Medical Care, Natural Alternatives, Natural Health, Supplements

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An article scheduled for publication in the next issue of the Lancet looks at the efficacy of a new class of antidepressant. This medication class includes a number of new melatonin-like molecules, none of which are currently approved for therapeutic use in the United States.

But melatonin is widely available over-the-counter in this country. Would melatonin supplements potentially have the same therapeutic effect as the pharmaceutical versions? Maybe, but let’s take a little detour first.

For the past 50 years, drug therapies for depression have focused on a group of neurotransmitters called monoamines. In particular, serotonin has been the major therapeutic target, so much so that many modern theories about the cause of depression focus on disruptions in production of this chemical. …read more of A New Class of Antidepressants Looks Like an Old Dietary Supplement here

 
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Does Anyone With Adequate Vitamin D Have A Heart Attack?

By Joseph Katzinger ecomii.com
April 21, 2011
File under: Diet, Health Concerns, Illness Prevention, Natural Health, Nutrition, Supplements

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Well, the short answer is yes. However, a study released online from the American Journal of Cardiology suggests that it is a lot less likely than previously thought. In a sub-study of what is known as the TRIUMPH study (Translational Research Investigating Underlying Disparities in Acute Myocardial Infarction Patients’ Health Status), the 25-OH vitamin D levels were checked in 239 patients (about 3/4 men) who had just had a heart attack.

They analyzed a diverse set of patients, enrolled in 20 different centers around the United States. They reported an astoundingly high prevalence of suboptimal vitamin D: 96% total…. 75% had levels so low they were considered deficient (25-OH Vitamin D of 20ng/mL or less), while 21% had insufficient vitamin D (25-OH vitamin D of 21-29ng/mL). Thus, only 4% of patients having a heart attack had what is generally considered adequate vitamin D levels.

A few things that are worth noting. The big one is that this study does not show causation. It does not show that having low levels of vitamin D causes a heart attack, or even that having optimal levels is protective against one. To show either of these relationships requires a different kind of study. …read more of Does Anyone With Adequate Vitamin D Have A Heart Attack? here

 
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A Hard Lesson To Learn

By Matt Brignall ecomii.com
April 19, 2011
File under: Medical Care, Natural Alternatives, Natural Health, Supplements, Uncategorized

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One of the reasons that being a doctor is hard is that patients want to feel better RIGHT NOW. There is a natural temptation toward intervention vs conservative treatment, more medication vs less.

But there is a problem with this. Every time a doctor makes a health intervention, there can be a potential downside. Sometimes, the downside is immediate and obvious (think major surgery). Other times, the risks may come much later, and may not even be known.

Every once in a while, we see a research study that highlights this uncertainty. …read more of A Hard Lesson To Learn here

 
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Natural treatments for insomnia – anything new?

By Joseph Katzinger ecomii.com
April 13, 2011
File under: Health Concerns, Natural Health, Supplements

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I’m often surprised by the connections between poor sleep and the diversity of other health concerns. Certainly obstructive sleep apnea (and other sleep-related breathing disorders) has been well-linked to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and obesity, but even plain-old insomnia (persistent trouble falling or staying asleep, waking up early, or waking up still feeling tired) has consequences.

As I mentioned in my last blog, this appears to include a risk for obesity and trouble losing weight, but it is also linked to a higher risk of motor-vehicle accidents (2.5x the risk), depression, anxiety, immune dysfunction, and even type 2 diabetes and poor glucose control.

A good starting point to address insomnia is getting a good assessment to identify and treat any medical conditions which may affect sleep, and adopting some basic sleep-related hygiene. A couple of the most successful are stimulus control therapy and progressive muscle relaxation. Stimulus control therapy is based upon the idea that too many stimulating activities (TV watching, eating, etc.) are done in the same room as sleeping, and that using the bedroom for sleeping only helps …read more of Natural treatments for insomnia – anything new? here

 
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Surprise, Doctors Use Supplements, Too

By Matt Brignall ecomii.com
March 24, 2011
File under: Natural Health, Nutrition, Supplements

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According to a study published in the Nutrition Journal, medical doctors from three different specialities use nutritional supplements frequently in their personal life. A clear majority of physicians are also prescribing supplements as part of their clinical practice.

These data were generated by a study called “Life….Supplemented” Health Care Professionals Impact Study. It was conducted by on-line survey in 2008, and was sponsored by a prominent nutritional supplement trade group.

This research continues to demonstrate that American physicians are about as likely to use nutritional supplements as any other group of adults. It also demonstrates an openness about using them in clinical settings that has grown quickly over the last generation. …read more of Surprise, Doctors Use Supplements, Too here

 
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Fish Oil Improves Chemotherapy Outcomes

By Matt Brignall ecomii.com
March 10, 2011
File under: Health Concerns, Natural Alternatives, Natural Health, Supplements

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A new study published this month in the American Cancer Society’s Cancer journal offers some of the most definitive evidence yet that high doses of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil offer significant benefits during cancer chemotherapy.

In this new study, lung cancer patients taking fish oil had a stronger tumor response to treatment, maintained their weight better, and were more likely to survive longer than people taking placebo.

For this research trial, the authors recruited 15 people treated with carboplatin-based chemotherapy regimens for locally-advanced or metastatic lung cancer. Each of these patients took 2.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil every day. They were compared to 31 similar patients taking a placebo medication. …read more of Fish Oil Improves Chemotherapy Outcomes here

 
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Treating and preventing the common cold with zinc

By Joseph Katzinger ecomii.com
February 18, 2011
File under: Childrens Health, Health Concerns, Illness Prevention, Supplements

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As I write this blog, my entire family is getting over a cold, so in between coughs and sneezes I’m paying close attention to any research that might help speed up the process. As luck would have it, the Cochrane Collaboration (an international independent network which reviews health-care related issues) has just released their latest review of over 15 randomized trials of zinc for both the prevention and treatment of the common cold.

While it may seem like a minor inconvenience, the authors of the review point out that the common cold costs the US economy at least $20 billion for cold-related work loss, as well as billions more for doctors’ visits and symptomatic treatments. It also can lead to more serious complications, such as ear, sinus, and lower respiratory tract infections. Before I dive into their conclusions, I think it’s important to note that Cochrane reviews are usually fairly conservative, often concluding that it is difficult to confirm or deny benefit for the treatment in question. Also, no single treatment has found wide acceptance as a proven treatment for the common cold (despite a plethora of cold remedies on the market), so a positive finding is really quite a big deal.

What was the conclusion of this review?  …read more of Treating and preventing the common cold with zinc here

 
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