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The Hottest Fashion Accessory of This Year’s World Series: the Magic Necklace

By Matt Brignall
October 30, 2011
File under: Homeopathy, Natural Health, Uncategorized

I’m a big baseball fan. Even though none of my teams are in the World Series this year, I’ve been tuned in as much as my busy work schedule has allowed. It’s hard not to notice that pretty much all the pitchers this year (and more than a few of the hitters) are wearing flashy cord-like necklaces.

Now, not being much of a fashion devotee, I just figured it was another trendy flourish. With the number of players sporting tatoos, piercings, and weird facial hair, the necklaces seemed like just another goofy thing. Until I came across this.

It turns out that the necklaces are being used as a performance-enhancing tool, and that the titanium ions are believed by some to aid recovery and prevent injury. This is almost certainly a fanciful claim. …read more of The Hottest Fashion Accessory of This Year’s World Series: the Magic Necklace here

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Misinterpreting Research to Reassure the Public – an Object Lesson

By Matt Brignall
October 7, 2011
File under: Childrens Health, Diet, Natural Health, Nutrition, Uncategorized

A new study published in the journal Toxicological Sciences looked at the concentrations of a toxin called bisphenol A (BPA) in the blood and urine after a single-day moderate dietary exposure. The authors found that people eating three meals per day from cans lined with BPA had large spikes in their urinary output of the chemical, but that very little BPA was found in the blood stream.

An industry group quickly released a statement suggesting that this article was definitive evidence of the safety of BPA exposure from cans. It is in fact no such thing.

First of all, the study provides definitive proof that BPA from cans leads to spikes in urinary output, a finding that would be impossible if it were not absorbed. Second, this study included no measures of safety, only measuring some of the ways BPA travels through the body (a study called pharmacokinetics).

…read more of Misinterpreting Research to Reassure the Public – an Object Lesson here

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A New Life For an Old Idea

By Matt Brignall
July 5, 2011
File under: Diet, Health Concerns, Illness Prevention, Natural Alternatives, Natural Health, Nutrition, Sustainable Food, Uncategorized


In the same way that a broken watch is right twice a day, every once in a while the nutrition beliefs of the natural health community and the academic community line up in unexpected ways. This is the case with the reanimated recommendation of Meatless Monday.

The concept of a Meatless Monday as a means of conserving scarce resources is nearly 100 years old. It was developed in response to food shortages during World War I, and was revived during World War II. But once peacetime rolled around, the programs were placed in the same mothballs as the Send Over Smokes program and the Liberty Bond.

In 2003, as part of the Healthy Monday series of campaigns, the guy responsible for the advertising catch-phrase “don’t squeeze the Charmin” revived the Meatless Monday program. …read more of A New Life For an Old Idea here

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What Is Tartrazine, and Why Should I Care?

By Matt Brignall
May 20, 2011
File under: Diet, Food Allergies, Natural Health, Nutrition, Uncategorized


Tartrazine is a food coloring also referred to as yellow #5. It has been approved by the FDA for use in foods since 1969, and is widely distributed throughout the American diet. It is also frequently found in cosmetics and medications.

For the vast majority of people, there may not be much reason to care about tartrazine. It is not known to be carcinogenic, nor does chronic toxicity appear to be an indentifiable problem at common dietary exposure levels.

But for an unlucky few, exposure to tartrazine can be a big contributor to some pretty serious problems. The amount of people who have intolerance reactions to tartrazine is still being determined, but the number looks pretty small - no more than a tenth of a percent of the population. …read more of What Is Tartrazine, and Why Should I Care? here

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E-Cigarettes – Friend or Foe?

By Matt Brignall
May 9, 2011
File under: Health Concerns, Illness Prevention, Uncategorized


This week, the local board of health in my community has been deliberating on whether to impose a ban on the use of electronic cigarettes (or E-cigarettes, for short) in public places. Several areas throughout the country already have similar bans in place.

Our local debate comes just a week after the US Food and Drug Administration chose to regulate E-cigarettes as cigarettes rather than as medical devices. If they had chosen to regulate them as medical devices, the E-cigarette industry would almost certainly have gone away almost overnight.

E-cigarettes are battery operated devices that vaporize a nicotine solution, allowing the user to inhale the vapor in a way that closely resembles smoking a cigarette. The difference, though, is because no smoke is being created, a number of the most toxic constituents of cigarettes (e.g., tar, carbon monoxide) are no longer being inhaled or released into the room. …read more of E-Cigarettes – Friend or Foe? here

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A Hard Lesson To Learn

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


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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