Health

One of the biggest health fads over the last few years has been the Paleolithic--or Paleo, for brevity's sake--Diet. Shunning all carbs besides vegetables and a little fruit (remember carbs and veggies are both technically carbohydrates), and eating mostly protein and fat, those on the Paleo diet, some critics of the strict food plan argue, are missing out on many antioxidant compounds because of the avoidance of grains. 

As I wrote in an article for the Mother Nature Network on the Paleo Diet, it is not true that grains did not exist during the caveman or paleolithic era. Though it's true that many of today's grains are devoid of much of the nutrition that ancient grains contained, due to food processing, pesticides and mineral depletion in soils, it is possible to eat a diet rich in what would be considered healthy grains. 

These healthy grains are called "heirloom" varieties. Heirloom grains (or vegetables and fruits) have been grown the same way for generations, never hybridized or genetically altered. 

Let's take a specific grain as an example, starting first with a little true or false: brown rice is healthier than white rice. 

The answer: barely. 

Brown rice does contain more nutritional value than white rice as well as more fiber. In the production of brown rice, the husk is removed, but the bran remains, which is the reason why brown rice contains more fiber than white rice. 

But brown rice is not the healthiest grain you can eat. There are heirloom varieties of brown rice, assuring that the batch has not been stripped of its nutritional value, but there are better, more nutritious, and some would say tastier rices, such as wild rice (technically a grass). 

A little-known rice called Wehani is red in color and is reminicent of Indian-style Basmati rice. 

Many people who watch what they eat try to reduce their consumption of wheat because it can cause food allergies. But heirloom varieties of wheat exist, meaning that their nutritional component and method of processing more closely mirrors how it was cultivated thousands of years ago. 

Barley, bean flour pasta, spelt, kamut and emmer wheat are other examples healthy grain alternatives that provide an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, a macronutrient that probably should not be avoided for excellent health, despite the glut of fitness articles recommending grains all together. 

 

 

 

 

I just returned from my week-long destination wedding at an all-inclusive resort in the Mayan Riviera (the Carribean side of Mexico, on the Yucatan peninsula, in the prettiest part of the country, in the state of Quintana Roo). 

The wedding was perfect and I had a great time with friends and family celebrating. But most weddings only involve a rehearsal dinner and the party the next day. Not a big problem if you over-indulge one or two meals per week. But what to do when your vacation involves a tasty breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet and pool-side service of endless pina coladas and other delicious tropical drinks, and my favorite adult beverage: margaritas?

Let's start with the margaritas. I try not to drink much alcohol on a normal schedule but on vacation, I was definitely over-indulging. Margaritas usually contain sweet and sour mix, with one serving of sweet and sour loaded with at least 20 grams of sugar, not to mention food coloring. I ordered the margaritas without the sweet and sour, and instead with lime juice. Let's say I drank two margaritas a day over the week (a very conservative estimate). That means I saved my overloaded liver and potentially-bloated abdomen 280 grams of sugar alone from cutting out the sweet and sour mix.  

I also didn't drink beer, which tends to bloat. If you want to celebrate with alcohol, stick to low-sugar drinks like vodka. 

I also brought with me an arsenal of supplements, including milk thistle, which helps with blood sugar levels (possibly by supporting the liver). And after every meal, many of which consisted of foods I wasn't used to, I popped a peppermint pill which helps cool the intestines and prevent acid reflux (and the burping up taste). The other main supplement I took every day was probiotics, which I take every single day. I upped my dose while in Mexico to give my GI tract/immune system extra support. I take a 10 billion organism per capsule pill and took a few every day. 

The best strategy for dealing with over-indulging while on vacation is to learn how to indulge without over-eating. Try new foods, eat more often, but eat smaller portions so you don't feel bloated. 

I adopted these strategies and am proud to say I came home without any extra weight around the middle!

(The information and medical advice expressed here are not a substitute for conventional medical service. Consult your doctor or health professional before beginning any supplement regimen.)

 

 

 

 

The following article is a blog I wrote for Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation. Copyright is owned by PPNF. Visit their blog here.
 
Hal Huggins is known as ‘the most controversial dentist’ for his anti-amalgam/mercury filling stance, and anti-root canal crusade, via lectures, books, articles and TV appearances. Consider him the arch-enemy of the American Dental Association, an organization whose members administer over 25 million root canals a year.

Huggins has been practicing dentistry since 1962 and received a post-doctorate masters in immunology/toxicology. These days, Huggins still maintains a practice and runs a dental DNA lab, where he continues to make discoveries linking autoimmune diseases to root canals.

To date, Huggins has successfully treated--and pioneered many of the treatments--over 5,000 patients with autoimmune disorders, caused by dental toxins.

You could say Huggins has come a long way, considering that for 25 years, he modestly acknowledges that he was “quite good” at doing root canals.

So what changed?

Huggins was introduced to the work of Weston Price, DDS, who, in the early 20th century, was one of the first dentists to make the astute observation that infected teeth from root canals led to chronic disease in many of his patients.

Supporters of PETA might be upset to learn how Price verified his hypothesis: he removed from his patients the tooth (or teeth) that had been administered a root canal and inserted fragments of said tooth under the skin of a live rabbit. Incredibly, the rabbit would develop the same disease as his patient, arthritis for example.

Although animal lovers might shudder to learn that Price’s studies involved some 60,000 rabbits, according to Huggins (who once joked “That’s why there are no rabbits left in Ohio,” referring to Dr. Price’s home state), keep in mind that in the early 1900s, animal welfare lacked the consciousness and support of contemporary times; through his studies, Price and subsequent dentists who studied and advanced his work, such as Huggins, have been able to reverse autoimmune disorders in thousands of patients.   

What is a root canal?

In an attempt to save an infected tooth, a dentist will recommend a root canal, perhaps out of noble intentions or perhaps out of economic incentive: root canals are the most profitable dental procedure.

The pulp chamber (a mini-canyon) in all 32 teeth house blood vessels and nerves. Conventional dental schools teach future dentists that each tooth has one to four major canals. But Dr. Price discovered up to 75 ancillary canals in some teeth, forming an intricate maze similar to how the human body’s large blood vessels trail off into tiny capillaries. On a micro level, the roots of our teeth are like the Pentagon, containing a maze of tubules that if stretched out would extend for a mind-boggling three-and-a-half miles, Dr. Price discovered.

This complex network of tubules are rooted into the jawbone, bound by the periodontal ligament.

Now that you have a picture of this micro superhighway of dental arteries, ask yourself if a root canal makes sense, whereby a dentist drills into the pulp chamber and “sterilizes” (at least that’s what the dentist thinks is happening, says Huggins) the canal with chemicals. Where the nerves once were, the dentist fills in a wax, which is dipped with a lubricating agent (containing the potentially toxic poison, chloroform, which Huggins says can easily vaporize) and heated.

The dentist performing the root canal then jams the wax into the end of the removed nerve canal. Huggins refers to this procedure as a “violation of physics.” Even though the chloroform is heated, the wax cools and shrinks. This, says Huggins, in a lecture he delivered at the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, results in “bacterial heaven.”

Root Canals Lead to Bacterial Infections

Huggins deftly explains that antibiotics (the good, natural pathogen-fighters found in our bodies, not the pharmaceutical-created derivatives) and white blood cells (also microscopic pathogen fighters) cannot get into the sealed-off canal, but food can, leading to a horror-show of surviving and mutating bacteria.

Normal, ordinary and harmless bacteria do an about face, akin to Dr. Jekyl morphing into Mr. Hyde, becoming nefarious due to oxygen deprivation around the deadened nerve canals.

The aforementioned periodontal ligament accumulates toxins and becomes impossible to clean. Bacteria becomes more concentrated and migrates to different parts of the body. The bacteria detects rotten tissue and becomes attracted to it as if the tissue is an all-you-can-eat hot fudge sundae buffet.

Bacteria, such as forms of streptococcus, duplicate in the canal by double every 24 hours. One cell of strep mutates into one billion in just one day. These anaerobic bacteria eventually leads to chronic disease.

Painful teeth are good

Dr. Huggins explains that a painful tooth signifies that the immune system is doing its job, trying to fight unwelcome bacteria; if the pain goes away, it’s quite possible, Huggins warns, that the bacteria may have migrated, perhaps to the heart, possibly leading to heart disease or a heart attack. Huggins strongly suggests that Crohn's Disease, ALS, Alzheimer’s and other chronic and autoimmune diseases are relative newcomers, first appearing shortly after heavy metals first became administered in dental practices, such as the use of amalgam (mercury and copper) fillings. 
 
More on mercury/amalgam fillings role in a forthcoming article, as well as ways to reverse chronic diseases for those people who have had root canals or amalgam fillings.

Until then, consider this: how many medical procedures leave deadened tissue in the body? The answer is just one...root canals. It’s no wonder that many people who have received a root canal have their immune systems go hay wire.

The following is a sidebar from a much longer article on influenza vaccines, published in Price Pottenger's Nutrition Foundation's quarterly Journal of Health and Healing. To receive the journal and become a member, click here

Other factors that may have caused global pandemics

There are other factors besides influenza viruses that may be culpable for the deaths of millions during the last few significant influenza pandemics. Perhaps the most notorious of these pandemics occurred in 1918, as the first World War was coming to an end. Commonly known as the “Spanish flu,” this major outbreak resulted in the deaths of between 30 and 100 million people. 

Sherri Tenpenny, DO, writes in her book Fowl! Bird Flu: It’s Not What You Think, “The highest mortality rate occurred among those who developed a rapidly progressing pneumonia. Because penicillin was not discovered until 1928, many deaths were most likely due to secondary bacterial infections and could have been preventable today.” Even the use of intravenous therapy was rare in the early twentieth century. During that time, the rudimentary care provided included aspirin, oxygen, and, mostly, rest, she explains. 

Tenpenny also suggests that malnutrition played a role in the 1918 epidemic. During wartime, limited rations and an absence of clean water led to a global immuno-compromised population. She quotes Anthony Fauci, ND, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, who in 1985 stated, “Malnutrition was the most prevalent cause of immune deficiency diseases throughout the world in humans and undoubtedly played a hefty role in the large number of deaths during the 1918 pandemic.”

The Vietnam War was a probable factor during the Hong Kong flu pandemic of 1968-1969. The World Health Organization attributed the outbreak in the U.S. to the return of American troops to California from Southeast Asia. Many of us can imagine how poor hygiene, emotional stress, pre-deployment vaccines, and chemical exposures could have contributed to the weakening of immune systems and the subsequent outbreak of influenza. 

The underlying health conditions of those who died in these and other pandemics were largely unknown. Underlying and secondary factors such as bacterial infections or congestive heart failure could have been the prime culprits; there is no definitive proof that the deaths were caused by influenza viruses.

Many voices in the mainstream medical community praise vaccinations of all kinds for exponentially reducing mortality rates. But Lawrence Palevsky, MD, in the documentary The Greater Good, says that vaccinations, in general, do not account for the impressive declines in mortality seen in the first half of the twentieth century. 
 
Citing an article in the journal Pediatrics, he discusses child mortality rates in the U.S. between 1900 and 1998. The death rates from certain diseases were declining significantly before their corresponding vaccines were developed. The DPT (diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus) vaccine was introduced in 1949, but Palevsky states those diseases were already on their way out, and rates of measles were declining before the measles vaccine was introduced in 1963.   
 
Palevsky credits governments on all levels for facilitating the decline of highly contagious diseases by promoting hygienic consciousness. 
 
Could it be that frequent hand washing and proper sanitation played a bigger role than vaccines in preventing disease?

 

 

arthritic hands

Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the United States, limiting the activities of nearly 21 million adults, according to the CDC. Those with arthritis, though, don’t have to be slaves to their genetics or gym injuries; there are several natural arthritis remedies to help heal joint pain and inflammation. 

What is arthritis and what causes it?

The two most common forms of arthritis are rheumatoid (RA) and osteoarthritis. The latter is often associated with the wearing down and tearing of the cartilage, or simply not having enough cartilage after a while in a particular joint.

RA is an autoimmune disease, in which the body attacks itself. In addition, “-myalgia” diseases like fibro- and poly-, could be considered varieties of arthritis as they both share similar painful symptoms in joints and muscles.

All forms of arthritis have one major root cause in common: inflammation.

One major cause of inflammation: poor diet
From a natural, holistic perspective, the foods we eat play a significant role in inflammatory responses. David Getoff, Vice President of the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation and a certified clinical nutritionist believes that frequent consumption of allergy-inducing foods like wheat or soy, as well as  anything loaded with sugar, or quickly converts into sugar (alcohol, most grains) can promote inflammation and wreak havoc on the body’s joints.

The inflammation can be so bad that it could trigger a storm of cytokines—protein molecules, secreted by cells—that attack the immune system protector cells and tissue. This is the case in RA.

“We are living organisms that contain a masterful, self-healing ability,” says Getoff. “If we feed our bodies’ the right foods and additional nutrients, our bodies can begin to heal on their own, perhaps without having to take potentially-harmful drugs.”

Getoff advises eating healthy and free of allergy-promoting foods, for at least two months. According to him, it takes six weeks for wheat to clear out of the system. Perhaps due to its modern, stripped-of-nutrition, hybridized ubiquity, wheat may trigger an auto-immune reaction in many people. Make sure to cut out foods that may seem more innocuous than regular table sugar, but also may promote inflammation, like fruit, honey, molasses and agave.

Supplements for arthritis
A good brand of Glucosamine/Chondroitin sulfate, at the right dose, may help some arthritis sufferers.  The same goes for hyaluronic acid, which is used in beauty treatments much for the same reason it may help some with arthritis, due to its hydrating properties. The fatty acid, Cetyl myristoleate, also seems to be an effective joint lubricant and anti-inflammatory.  It was isolated in Swiss albino mice, which for some Darwinian wonder, never develop arthritis.

Reduce exposure to pollutants and help purge your body of poisons
Even if you eat a wholesome diet loaded with antioxidants, if you are exposed to high levels of environmental pollutants such as mercury, lead, aluminum and inorganic plastic compounds, you may still develop arthritis. Various lab tests can analyze the amount of chemicals in your body. Your cookware can also be a common source of poisons entering your body.  High blood levels of a man-made chemical (Teflon) used in non-stick coatings are associated with a raised risk of arthritis.

You need lots of friendly bugs in your gut
The billions and billions of bacteria in our guts are like an army, defending our immune system from constant bombardment. If you’ve taken several doses of antibiotics over the years and haven’t eaten healthy, take a probiotic that contains several billion micro-organisms per capsule to repopulate the gut with good bacteria. Perhaps you’ll keep autoimmune diseases such as RA at bay.

What other natural arthritis remedies can I try?
Holistic options such as acupuncture, chiropractic medicine and rehabilitative therapy may help alleviate joint or muscle pain, even in pets.

Ice or heat?
Ice seems to be more effective for arthritis pain than heat. Especially when symptoms appear in the first 24-48 hours, use ice.

To exercise or not exercise?
If you can go through a range of motion without feeling pain in a particular joint, then exercise, cautiously. When in doubt, visit a physical therapist. 

 

With recent research proving that the more we sit for prolonged periods, the earlier we may die, standup desks are becoming increasingly popular in the workplace.

Approximately five years ago, a new aquatic fitness fad emerged on lakes, inlets, rivers and oceans: standup paddleboarding, aka ‘SUP,’ which involves navigating with carbon-fiber paddles on boards resembling surfboards on steroids. 

In 2013, another wellness fad is in its embryonic stages: standup desks. Perhaps they will eventually be referred to as ‘SUDs’; henceforth in this article, they will be. 

Last year, one of the biggest health stories was the study of over 200,000 adults that concluded, “Prolonged sitting is a risk factor for all-cause mortality, independent of physical activity.” 

In other words, even if you manage to hit the gym for an intense 60-minute cardio-blast class a few times a week, if you’re seated or inert for the other 23 hours of the day, there’s a good chance you won’t live as long. 

This well publicized study and others like it (there were at least three different well-publicized sedentary studies published in 2012) perhaps serves as the catalyst for the growing number of desk-jockeys who now use a SUD at their work stations. 

Several online furniture and office equipment retailers offer SUDs; Do-it-yourself, crafty types can create their own SUD with minimalist tools. (Click here to access the list of equipment that only costs $22 to build a makeshift SUD.)

How popular are standing workstations?
With the latest research estimating that approximately 80 percent of our workday is spent seated, it’s no wonder that sales of SUDs are increasing. Although total sales figures for these ergonomic alternatives are hard to come by, Steelcase, a leading brand of high-end office furniture, reports that sales of its non-seated workstations have increased five-fold in the last five years; today, these healthier work stations generate more than $40 million for the company.

Another company, Ergo Desktop, sells a version of a SUD that converts standard desks to a standup variety. Ergo predicted last year that sales figures for their SUD attachment was triple that of 2011.

Internet behemoths like Facebook and Google are adding dozens of these standup stations at their campuses.

What type of standup desk should I get? 
It depends upon budget and how much space you need. Frugal varieties can be purchased for under $200. Rolls-Royce varieties of standing desks sell for almost $10,000 (chauffeur not included). 

One of the higher-end varieties of standing work stations is a treadmill work station (which typically are priced from approximately $1000-$3000). Some companies sell stations that include a brand-new treadmill; others sell attachments that you can mount if you already own a treadmill.

If you prefer to alternately stand at sit at your workstation, several different models starting at approximately $160 are available. More expensive varieties feature programmed settings that with the touch of a button will raise or lower the desk.

If your workstation requires more than one monitor and room for several files or papers, curved standing desks are an option. 

Need room for only a laptop? One model features a pneumatic lever that can be adjusted for standing or seated positions. It also has a tray that pops out either on the left or right side; a cup holder, a fan and USB plug to keep your computer’s internal fans from overheating; a tilting shelf for better eyesight alignment and rolling casters for easy relocation. This model costs roughly $200 (and is the one I use; see picture above). 

Should I try to stand all day at work from now on?
At least one prominent researcher says “no.” Alan Hedge directs the ergonomics program at Cornell University. Quoted in a New York Times article, he suggested that working from a standing position has been long known to be problematic, in part because it dramatically increases the risks of carotid atherosclerosis because of the additional load on the circulatory system. Standing all day, he said, also increases the risks of varicose veins. 

A good compromise, then, would be work desks that can be alternately raised or lowered. While lowered, it might be ergonomically prudent and healthier for blood circulation to be seated on an exercise ball.

With nearly 20 percent of the U.S. government’s budget spent on healthcare, much of it paying for highly-preventable chronic conditions due to sedentary lifestyles, such as obesity, SUDs offer an affordable and simple solution to get Americans off their butts more--though one variety of a healthier workspace allows the user to be seated while exercising: The FitDesk, a stationary bike with a laptop stand.

Judd Handler is author of "Living Healthy: 10 Steps to Looking Younger, Losing Weight and Feeling Great" and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For my last Fit Friday column of 2012, I'd like to focus on some goals and tips to improve your health for the New Year. Forgive me if I wrote about them last year or the year before; they're still vital to good health.

Goal #1 for 2013: Don't Worry About Your Cholesterol

True or false: The people who live longest have higher cholesterol numbers.

Over 90 percent of people reading this will answer, empathetically, "FALSE!" But the answer is "true."

The statement that people with low cholersterol are more likely to die an untimely death due to heart disease than those with high cholesterol, will either be considered a misprint or an egregious lie.

But like every other wellness advice I've written about in the dozens of health articles I've had published, I'm referencing studies in peer-reviewed journals by medical doctors that have thankfully refused to be brainwashed. They bucked the ignorant trend and did their own independent studies, such as this one in the Journal of the American Medical Association disproving that cholesterol, the waxy substance our liver makes and recycles, is responsible for heart disease. 

I'm very selective about hyperlinks I click, in part, because, who has time to click them all? But if you really want to hear the truth from the proverbial horse's mouth about cholesterol, you need to read a relatively-short article by Uffe Ravnskov, M.D., Ph.D., called "The Benefits of High Cholesterol."

Choleseterol is a repair substance. It's an antioxidant that metabolizes into your sex hormones like testosterone. One reason older populations see their cholesterol levels rise is because the older we are, generally speaking, the more we need of this repair substance. It's a little insane to take a pill and ask your liver to make less of this critical, natural substance. It's sort of asking firefighters not to respond every time there's a structure fire. 

Essential for brain, muscle and cell function, cholesterol, back in the 1970s, had a 'normal' level of 240. U.S. consumers were then advised to eat a low-fat diet, which in turn, lead to the eating of more carbohydrates, many of them quickly converting to sugar and creating resistance to the blood-sugar-regulating-hormone, insulin.

It's no coincidence that as more simple carbohydrates  were eaten in the SAD (standard American diet; complex carbs, though better, are not necessarily off-the-hook and non-culpable), cholesterol levels began to climb.

And thus, doctors, perhaps (many would say 'definitely) under the influence of the pharmaceutical companies, began to revise their cholesterol suggested levels, which are now considered high if it's above 200. (If anything, pay attention to triglycerides, which should remain well below of 125.)

So don't be deatlhy afraid of cholesterol; be deathly afraid of low cholesterol.

(It's difficult to say for everyone what a danger zone would be but if total cholesterol were below 150, I'd consult with a naturopathic doctor who knows the truth when it comes to cholesterol.). 

If you don't want to raise your cholesterol levels, keep sugar, starches and alcohol as to a minimum.

Goal #2: Eliminate foods that quickly convert into sugar

As a continuation of the first goal, this one, I know all too well from self-experimention: every time I've come down with a cold or allergy attack, in the preceding several days, I overindulged in sugar. Sugar is an immunocompromiser. 

Being a compromiser might be good if you're in politics--or married, but you don't want your immunity compromised. Simple sugars that are in baked goods and candy, etc... quickly convert into sugar. For the new year, eat foods that convert into sugar very, very slowly. In the winter, sweet potatoes and squash are enjoyed as comfort food, but eat a lot of them, with little of high-quality protein and natural fat, and you're plate of these popular winter veggies will rapidly convert to sugar, and thus can impair your immune system. Eating plenty of natural sources of fats will help slow conversion so eat plenty of them. Remember: There are 9 calories in one gram of fat versus 4 calories in one gram of carbs. 

So yes, fat is more than twice as dense and caloric as carbohydrates but with good quality fats you'll need to eat less of it than you would carbohydrates to feel full.

Goal #3: Cook more, eat out less

A personal goal of mine is to cook more at home. I know I feel energetically better and mentally  when I cook at home. When I eat out, even if I order a seemingly and relatively-healthy dish, say a veggie omelet loaded with spinach, brocolli, and a bit of feta cheese, I have no control of the oils that are used. 

At home, I know the grass-fed butter and/or coconut oil or olive oil I cook with is good for my health unlike the canola oil or cheap vegetable oil that most resaurants use, which become molecularly unstable when cooked, thus potentially leading to oxidation/free-radical damage to my cells and arteries. 

Goal #4: Get up at least once every 2 hours during the day and do one exercise to get the blood pumping. 

Even people hit the gym every day for a 90-minute workout are not operating at optimal health if for the rest of the day until they go to sleep, they are highly sedentary. Get out of your chair, jog in place, go for a walk, crank out a set of pushups, anything to get your blood pumping. 

Follow these four pieces of advice and 2013 will be a healthy year for you. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While these two medical approaches generally are complementary, they do have important differences.

 

pharmacy bottles of homeopathic medicinePhoto: Szasz-Fabian Ilka Erika/Shutterstock
Feel a cold coming on? You could nip it in the bud with conventional medicine, or you could consider a homeopathic or holistic approach — but what's the difference?
 
A holistic medical doctor combines modern, Western scientific treatment with alternative medicine or complementary treatments, such as chiropractic, acupuncture or massage. Both a homeopathic physician and a holistic medical doctor will look at the whole picture. How they differ is that the homeopathic doctor would prepare a remedy in liquid or tablet form, while the holistic doctor would provide a patient with the option of a pharmaceutical drug in addition to alternative treatments, which could include a homeopathic remedy.
 
Homeopathic treatment — often bashed by modern scientific institutions and doctors — in general falls under the holistic umbrella. Homeopathic medicine examines the whole person. It integrates a person’s constitution, diet, emotional and mental state and stressors, among other factors — hence the term holistic.
 
Homeopathy follows this theory:
  • A minuscule amount of what's bad for you is good for you.
  • “Like cures like.”
  • The body can trigger a healing response when given the least amount of medicine.
 
box of homeopathic medicineHomeopathy avoids narrowly examining specific symptoms and responding to those symptoms with a one-size-fits-all approach to healing. Homeopathic treatments can be packaged in lip-balm-sized tubes (below right) and include anything from aconitum napellus to zincum metallicum, or come in boxes similar to that of conventional medicine (right).
 
Another difference: Holistic medical doctors often encourage diagnostic testing (adrenal function and hormone levels, for example) in an attempt to find the underlying cause that led to the imbalance; homeopathic physicians treat the whole person, but generally do not suggest the use of modern diagnostic tests.
 
Despite the differences in how holistic doctors and homeopathic physicians treat the patient, if it’s your first time visiting either, expect your visit to last longer than an hour.
 
Let's look at a specific issue
With that in mind, here's an example to further illustrate the differences.
 
tubes of homeopathic medicineSay someone suffers from insomnia. A homeopathic treatment of coffea cruda, a diluted solution derived from coffee, may be prepared by a homeopathic physician, who would also consult with the patient about addressing underlying stressors leading to lack of sleep. A holistic medical doctor might prescribe a pharmaceutical (Insomulex, for example) but also would educate the patient about inducing relaxation through acupuncture, yoga or meditation techniques.
 
But is homeopathy always holistic?
 
No. If you have a cold, it’s easy to buy a homeopathic supplement from a health food store or supplement shop, and that might help you, but taking these pellets or solutions without examining why you got sick in the first place lacks a holistic perspective. The same could be said about over-the-counter drugs.
 
Most homeopathic practitioners are practicing holistic medicine; consumers who buy their own homeopathic remedies aren't necessarily doing so.
 
Have you ever visited a homeopathic doctor or holistic doctor? Let us know below.
 
Judd Handler is a health writer in Encinitas, Calif., and the author of Living Healthy: Simple Steps. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Several reports confirm that taking over-the-counter painkillers over a prolonged period of time may be associated with greater health risks than benefits.....

 


Aspirin in a bottlePhoto: Tim Boyle/AFP
When your back aches, do you pop an over-the-counter (OTC) painkiller? If so, here’s the good news, according to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association: for every dollar spent on OTC painkillers, the U.S. healthcare system saves $6 to $7. Put in another way, OTC painkillers provide more than $100 billion in value every year.
 
But here’s the bad news: More than 100,000 hospitalizations and 16,500 deaths a year are attributed to OTC painkillers. Is your OTC pain killer making you sick?
 
Here are some of the serious complications that can occur when OTC painkillers are misused:
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Stomach ulcer
  • Kidney problems, including edema and urologic cancer
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
 
So, considering the lethal consequences of a seemingly innocuous little pill, should you trash all your OTC bottles in your medicine cabinet and instead take some black mamba snake venom for pain relief? After all, several reports and studies now confirm that taking OTC painkillers over a prolonged period of time — even in low doses — may be associated with more health risks than benefits.
 
How extensive is OTC painkiller misuse or abuse?
survey prepared for the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE) reports that one-third of Americans admit that they have taken more than the recommended dose of an over the counter medicine. And while 95 percent of Americans read some portions of the label, only half (51 percent) say they seek out the packaging label for usage information when they plan to take an OTC medication for the first time.
 
“Many Americans believe if it’s an OTC medication, someone (the Food and Drug Administration) has vetted it as safe and therefore, one pill is good but two is better,” says Bill McCarberg, M.D., president of the Western Pain Society and Adjunct Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine.
 
How do complications arise from low doses of OTC painkillers?
McCarberg, who is also founder of the Chronic Pain Management Program for Kaiser Permanente in San Diego, says that frequently, a typical American consumer might take one OTC painkiller (more clinically defined as an NSAID, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug), say for a sore back, and another OTC like aspirin for cardiovascular support. Throw in a medication for arthritis and you have a potential killer chemical concoction.
 
If you try to hit the gym after work but typically suffer from pain or stiffness, popping two OTC pain killers before and after a workout could lead to some long-term serious consequences, warns McCarberg.
 
“If you’re taking a typical dosage of 400 milligrams twice a day, you will be at significantly greater risk for getting a stomach ulcer or internal bleeding of the stomach. If you’re also taking an aspirin for cardiovascular support, in addition to another OTC, you increase that risk substantially,” he says.
 
Signs of OTC painkiller complications
Dark black stools, acid reflux, heartburn, an ulcer, or pain in the pit of the stomach, or frequently feeling dizzy when changing positions can all be signs of complications from OTC medications, says McCarberg.
 
The protective mucousy barrier that forms the stomach lining erodes if OTC pills are overused. If you wake up with an acidy taste in your mouth, this could be another surefire sign that your stomach lining is being compromised. 
 
But not everybody will be clued in before it’s too late, says McCarberg. “A significant number of people don’t have any early warning signs, but could have massive bleeding and get dangerously ill.”
 
Why do drug companies make the instructions so small?
If after reading the dangers of OTC pain killers, even at low doses, you’re motivated to start reading labels more carefully, you may find yourself frustrated at the microscopic font size on labels. While McCarberg agrees that the dosage should stand out more clearly on OTC bottles, drug companies would need to include a mini booklet with every bottle sold if they were to spell out all the dangers and complications, not to mention all the ingredients and their primary functions. Thus, caveat emptor is the norm for OTC products.
 
The bottom line on OTC painkillers like aspirin, ibuprofen, Naprosyn (Tylenol is not included in the list as it is a completely separate class of drugs and not an anti-inflammatory): even at low doses, OTC pain pills can wreak havoc, most commonly on your stomach; secondarily on your cardiovascular system, and the third most common complications affect the kidneys.
 
“Just remember: more isn’t necessarily better,” says McCarberg, “One pill just might be as effective; two pills are clearly more dangerous.”

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