Drugs Are the New Blankets

July 13, 2009

Science Daily today posted a study summary that concludes “that simply warming the skin [with a blanket] can decrease shivering in many patients, without the need for drugs.

What does this say about the state of our treatment regimens when before a shivering person is given a blanket she is given drugs?

It tells me that hospitals have a knee jerk reaction to giving drugs and give them for anything immediately. I think it’s safe to say that most people at home taking care of a sick family member who is shivering would get him or her a blanket.

Apparently this has to be proven to the healthcare industry and the article goes on to quote a clinician who actually has to explain the benefits of using a blanket over medication:

“[the blanket's] simplicity, low cost, widespread availability, lack of adverse effects, and the potential to avoid sedation … make it an attractive treatment option.”

It looks like instead of studies that focus on developing new treatments, we are having to backtrack to correct treatment mistakes of several years. Of course there have got to be treatment manuals with guidelines for helping patients, but who could blame the writers of these manuals for assuming doctors and nurses would have the basic human decency to get someone a blanket if she is cold?


Cheerios’ Cholesterol Claims Under Fire by FDA

May 19, 2009

Think Cheerios lowers your cholesterol? You’ve had good reason to think so. You’ve seen it on the Cheerios boxes, the commercials, the website (if you’ve looked), and apparently, you could have heard it blasted to you over your “supermarket public address systems.

Well, according to CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest), the FDA has demanded “that General Mills halt its grossly exaggerated and misleading health claims for Cheerios cereal.

What are the claims?

  • Cheerios can reduce “bad” cholesterol levels by 4 percent in just 6 weeks
  • Cheerios can ward off heart disease and cancers of the colon and stomach

These are pretty serious claims and General Mills doesn’t provide any evidence to back them up (the actor on the commercial definitely doesn’t count).

According to CSPI, the FDA does support a general claim that “eating diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and high in fiber-containing fruit, vegetable, and grain products may reduce the risk of heart disease. But the claims for Cheerios portrayed the mentioned diseases not included in the FDA-authorized claim and failed to mention the importance of eating a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol.” So General Mills ran with this just because Cheerios has some processed wheat in it.

This is a very strong move by the FDA, and if General Mills does not comply, Cheerios will be taken off the shelf and possibly taken to court. What products could be next? The CSPI legal director Bruce Silverglade explains, “the FDA is signaling the entire food industry that the Bush era policy of lax enforcement has come to an end. The FDA should also stop misleading claims for so-called ‘whole grain’ products that are mostly made with white flour and foods claimed to be made with fruit when they only contain trivial amounts of juice.” That is probably half of most grocery stores!

If you were looking to lower your cholesterol with Cheerios, don’t fret. There are several alternative treatments that have been proven to do the trick, including garlic, artichoke, and good ole vitamin B3. Check About.com: Alternative Medicine for more.


Salient News To Remember: Zen Edition

April 27, 2009

Patients Do Better With Psychotherapist Who Practice Zen Meditation, Study Suggests – Science Daily. ‘Mindfulness’ is the key, apparently. Live in the now, carpe diem, we’ve heard this before; but now it’s SCIENCE!

Meditation Associated With Increased Grey Matter In The Brain
– Science Daily. This is a good thing.

Buddhist Deity Meditation Temporarily Augments Visuospatial Abilities, Study Suggests – Science Daily. Looks like DY meditation might need to be added to the lots of sleep & good breakfast test-taking regimen.

And this is mostly unrelated and a little older, but I hadn’t heard this until today:
Scientists Find ‘Baffling’ Link between Autism and Vinyl Flooring – Scientific American. Chemicals are the culprit, again.


Children With ADHD Use Movement to Focus, Of Course

March 12, 2009

A study recently outlined by ScienceDaily.com describes how ADHD children need to move around more than their non-ADHD peers to help themselves complete challenging tasks like manipulating numbers. The article advises teachers not to severely limit this activity.

Is this really such a surprise and actually a problem?

Just 6 days previous to announcing this study, ScienceDaily discussed a study that showed that doodling while listening to a tape allowed members of the research panel of the Medical Research Council’s Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge to remember information more clearly.

Looks like it’s actually beneficial for everyone to have something going on on the side to help with concentration. The folks studying the kids found this was true for all of the young students as well: both ADHD kids and non-ADHD kids were still and calm when they were painting on a computer program while watching Star Wars.

A few schools in Wisconsin and Minnesota seem to get it. The New York Times has a piece about schools that have switched over to using desks that allow children to sit or stand. Most of them stand most of the time. And fidget as much as they want to.

“At a stand-up desk,” Ms. Seekel said, “I’ve never seen students with their heads down, ever. It helps with being awake, if they can stand, it seems. And for me as a teacher, I can stand at their level to help them. I’m not bent over. I can’t think of one reason why a classroom teacher wouldn’t want these.”

Researchers are currently studying these children to see if it does significantly change their performance and even how much it might accelerate their calorie-burning.

Whatever the long term benefits may be, Sarah Langer, 12, sees the advantage of a stand up desk pretty simply:

“At least you can wiggle when you want to.”


Gerber Sued for Misleading Marketing

January 4, 2009

This could be a big win for consumer rights and safety. A private citizen brought a lawsuit against The Gerber Products Company which was initially dismissed, but has now been reinstated by the US Court of Appeals. A product of Gerber, formerly called “Fruit Juice Snacks” depicts real fruit on the packaging when its key ingredients are corn syrup and refined sugar. Gerber has now changed the name to “Juice Treats”, which hasn’t really changed much since juice is still not a major ingredient.

The Court of Appeals sided with the private citizen and decided consumers should not be “expected to look beyond misleading representations on the front of the box to discover the truth from the ingredient list in small print on the side of the box.”

The lawsuit will continue with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) as counsel. Unfortunately in the meanwhile, the product will remain with baby and toddler food at the supermarket, instead of in the candy isle.

Gerber is definitely not the only offender of deceptive food product marketing, and hopefully a ruling against the company will help shape future marketing of unhealthy foods. If all is handled correctly, the candy isle will soon become half of the grocery store.


Pesticides Make Farmers Depressed. Literally.

October 18, 2008

Pesticides are poison. They are used to kill living creatures. In order to kill those living creatures, humans apply the pesticides. We also eat what’s left of them.

We’ve seen handlers of banana pesticide sterilized, a young couple who worked with pesticides give birth to a limbless child, and a pesticide singled out as a cause of Colony Collapse Disorder.

The latest research found among a group of farmers that long term application coincided with a 50% higher chance of clinical depression. And these men were “80% more likely [to have depression] if they had applied a class of insecticide called organophosphates.”

What about for those of us who eat small doses of them everyday? Direct contact to the targeted lifeform causes death. Direct contact with humans who administer them causes major reproductive issues, birth defects, and depression. So what happens when you come in contact with a lower amount of pesticides daily by eating them?

Because of the widespread medical conditions that have resulted from high exposure to pesticides, one can only assume they must hurt consumers in varied and unpredictable ways as well. What about those nagging symptoms that won’t go away or a diagnosis that you can’t explain? Could pesticides and chemicals be contributing to or causing your problem? Even law firms are ready to back you up if your doctor won’t. Steigerwalt & Associates know “that as science developed more sophisticated pesticides they did not take in to account the long term affects of these chemicals on the environment and surrounding human populations. Some common side effects of pesticide poisoning include cancer, birth defects, and fertility problems.”

Choosing organic is the best option when it comes to avoiding chemicals in your food; this ensures the food has not been grown with chemical pesticides. The Environmental Working Group tested produce to see just how much was found on the food at the store and compiled a list for consumers to use when buying produce. This list can be used to choose which fruits and vegetables to choose when organic is not available, or which are safest and may not require the organic alternative.

It’s a tough time to live in when the price of a Happy Meal from McDonald’s is about the same price as one organic apple. It can seem like a hard choice to make when choosing between these options. It’s not as hard if you realize that you’re choosing between either saving money now or investing in your family’s health and future (and probably lowering your cost of future medical bills).


Bee Killing Pesticide Banned in 2 Countries, Still US Approved

September 12, 2008

For over 2 years, the science community and the general public have been baffled at the disappearance of honeybees. Several theories have been pondered; About.com: Insects suspects 10. Maybe they are all true, but one has been nailed down.

Germany and France have both been compelled to ban the pesticide clothianidin (commonly called Poncho). It is used deliberately to deter and kill insects that would interfere with food production, but it is now so strongly associated with the Colony Collapse Disorder, France and Germany have banned its use. Just as poisons are not programmed to act against specific lifeforms, but instead work on most (arsenic, anyone?), pesticides kill. Although used for specific purposes, their effects are far reaching.

Even though the Environmental Protection Agency has acknowledged that this pesticide is harmful to bees, it has not banned the pesticide. It also has not released results of studies it supposedly required the manufacturer of the chemical to submit when it approved the chemical for use by Bayer (yes, the makers of Aspirin) in the US in 2003. And for this violation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is suing.

In a time when humans are supposedly experiencing a major food shortage (although it is more currently a food distribution problem), how are we to react when a government agency made to protect us is seemingly more interested in protecting a corporation’s profits?

In Germany, not only has the pesticide been banned, but an organization called Coalition Against Bayer Dangers actually gets to sue Bayer for marketing the dangerous pesticide. Looks like our EPA might not only get sued for not disclosing its information on the pesticide, but could also get sued for approving it.

Let’s hope this all leads to bringing some bees back. But pesticides have a history of sticking around long after their use..


Urgent Action Needed: FDA Might Pull B6

June 26, 2008

Please follow this link and urge the FDA not to pull vitamin B6. Add your comment. If you do not currently take the vitamin, consider this research to understand how beneficial this vitamin is, and how it should continue to be available over the counter to the countless Americans already supplementing with it :

It has been proven to help protect heart disease, reduce the risk of cancer, reduce contraceptive pill side effects, help correct anemia, control blood pressure, and many others. See this research and more here.

It is not just an important vitamin to increase health, but having a B6 deficiency can actually reverse health and cause nerve damage.

The pharmaceutical company medicure is petitioning the FDA to ban the vitamin so it can release its own drug made from it. The same thing happened with red yeast rice. According to NaturalNews.com:

Drug companies ripped off the lovastatin molecules from red yeast rice, then patented them. Once they achieved FDA approval for their “statin drugs,” it was easy to file a petition requesting the outlawing of red yeast rice, claiming the supplement was “adulterated” with drugs! Which drugs? Statin drugs, of course — the very same drugs that were isolated from red yeast rice in the first place!

What the FDA has done and might do in this case seems inherently flawed. They are trying to make a natural component of some foods only available by a prescription. They could still make their own higher potency vitamin B6 drug WITHOUT pulling lower potency products from the shelves, and because of the benefits, many Americans would choose to go to their doctors. But not all. That’s competition, and unfortunately because modern medicine has been slow to catch on to the benefits of natural health products, this is the consequence it must face.

Pharmaceuticals do still have a monopoly, and as a result, we pay the highest amounts for drugs in the world! And unfortunately it seems that the FDA would like to ensure the future of pharmaceutical companies more than the American citizens, many of which pay outrageous amounts for health care, and may rely on vitamins and minerals they can buy at their local stores. The FDA, who receives major funding from pharmaceutical companies, and the pharmaceutical companies themselves, need to suck it up and face this loss.

If this goes through, we might soon have to get all of our vitamins from doctors, as it will continue to carve out the precedent that any vitamin can be pulled if a pharmaceutical company wants to market it. And why wouldn’t they? Americans spend $7.5 billion a year on vitamins.

Add your comment to the FDA:
http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocumentDetail&o=090000648051908f


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