Living Well Blog: Saratoga's Holistic Health Forum

March 2012 Archives

March 2012 Top Reads

Throughout every month, I gather highlights of interesting health stories to post on my webpage. The result is a monthly posting of "Top Reads" that summarizes, in an easy to read format, the most recent and relevant news in holistic medicine. Recently, I posted the Top Health Stories of March (on my homepage at www.dr-lobisco.com).

These headlines included:

1. Important Brain Foods you can add to your diet

2. Links between nutrients and digestive health

3. Women's Health:

Another viewpoint on Mammograms
Updated position paper on Hormone Replacement by NAMS
4. The link between Alzheimer's and Cholesterol

5. The Dangers of Sleeping Pills

6. MMR Vaccines and why it's not the cause of Autism but may be a contributor for Some

7....much more

As loyal Saratoga.com readers, I've added some additional stories, exclusively available to you!

1. The Total Toxic Load of Life....

By now, many of us may have heard that the chemicals in our environment are affecting our body in a negative way. These effects can occur quickly, through a large exposure at one time, or slowly with time from a buildup in our tissues.

How these toxicants affect one's health all depends on the total toxic exposure through a lifespan and an individual's capacity to detoxify them. This means that those born with the good detoxifying genes may be able to withstand more exposure than those who are extra sensitive due to sluggish livers.

A recent article in Environmental Health News discussed this topic and provided confirmation that low doses of environmental chemicals over a long period of time create negative health consequences.

According to Environmental Health News:

In the new report, researchers led by Tufts University's Laura Vandenberg concluded after examining hundreds of studies that health effects "are remarkably common" when people or animals are exposed to low doses of endocrine-disrupting compounds. As examples, they provide evidence for several controversial chemicals, including bisphenol A, found in polycarbonate plastic, canned foods and paper receipts, and the pesticide atrazine, used in large volumes mainly on corn.

Source: Marla Cone. Low dose, big effects:Scientists seek 'fundamental changes' in testing, regulation of hormone-like chemicals. Environmental Health News. March 15, 2012. http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2012/low-doses-big-effects

Why Organic?

Animal lovers and vegetarians everywhere have heard of the atrocities of confined conventional meat production. The good news is that organically certified meat is not just more nutritious, but also cruelty free.

According to Dr. Mercola:

Animals raised at CAFOs are treated like objects, not animals -- stuck in cages, overcrowded, covered in feces -- which is not only hard to watch, but also hard to stomach. It is not at all unusual for animals to be abused in these circumstances; the very conditions in which they live are abuse in their own right. "CAFO: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories" Web site briefly describes some of the horrors of industrial food production:iii

"Poultry Prisons: The world's tens of billions of meat chickens--"broilers"--grow at a freakishly fast pace. Concentrated in houses with upwards of 20,000 to 30,000 other birds, each full-grown chicken gets less than a square foot of living space. Modern broilers spend their short 7-week lives on top of their own waste encrusted bedding, which the industry refers to as "cake" or "poultry litter," and sometimes enters the food chain as a cattle feed supplement.

Cow Concentration Camps: Today it is not uncommon for a single feedlot to hold 100,000 animals at a time. While corn is the king of cattle feed, many industrial food animals are fed just about anything that can add weight cheaply and quickly, regardless of how unappetizing or sadistic it may seem. Some commonly used cattle feed additives include: hydrolyzed poultry feathers, by-products of slaughtered animals, inter-species waste such as swine manure and poultry litter, antibiotic drugs, cement dust, newspaper, and plastic roughage replacements.

That's enough reading torture, but there's more at the link including:

Artificial Milk Machines

Confined Swine

Egg-Laying Slaves

Mercola, J. Gov. Dept. Works With Major Corporation to Hide Animal Abuse. Posted By Dr. Mercola. March 22 2012. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/03/22/animal-feeding-operations-contamination-abuse.aspx?e_cid=20120322_DNL_art_2

Coffee in the AM May be Good for you....but....

Who doesn't want an excuse to drink coffee? While, here's one.... but you need to exercise after you drink it in order to boost brain power and provide the muscle strengthening effect.

According to Mercola:

That said, the reason I include the mention of coffee here is because recent research, which Ori has written about in his book Unlock Your Muscle Geneiv, has shown that coffee also triggers a mechanism in your brain that releases a growth factor called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which in turn:

Activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons, and
Expresses itself in your muscles by supporting the neuromotor, which is the most critical element in your muscle. Without the neuromotor, your muscle is like an engine without ignition, and neuro-motor degradation is part of the process that explains age-related muscle atrophy
What this means is that caffeine may help rejuvenate both brain- and muscle tissue! Research has also found that consuming the equivalent of two cups of coffee an hour before training can also help reduce post-workout muscle soreness by up to 48 percent, beating out both naproxen and aspirin in terms of effectivenessv. Coffee increases your metabolism by up to 20 percent, according to Ori's research. And according to Ori, it can actually be quite beneficial if consumed before exercise. Ori has experimented using it before training, and claims it works.

"Coffee before training allows you fast energy to initiate your workout. For people who train in the morning, having coffee before training is a great advantage," he says.

However, you do want to be careful and moderate in the amounts you drink. Coffee can affect your adrenal glands so if you have an issue with decreased adrenal function, use care with coffee. Also remember we're talking about black coffee--no sugar added. Ori recommends having just one cup of coffee or one shot of espresso in the morning or before training, and that's it for the day. If you exercise in the morning, have your coffee prior to your workout, not after.

Next month, I'll highlight some more coffee facts.

Source: Mercoal, J. Boost Your Metabolism, Burn Pounds...with this DNA Changer. mercola.com. March 23, 2012.http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2012/03/23/interval-training-and-metabolism.aspx?e_cid=20120323_FNL_art_1

Why Do Women Crave Chocolate?

Chocolate lovers unite! An update on the power of chocolate is here! More studies are coming together to support this previously tagged "villain of indulgence" into a healthy supplement recommended by various professionals! Could it be that women knew this well-known secret intuitively for ages?

Chocolate and heart health:

An abstract from BMJ evaluated 4576 references, with seven studies meeting involving 114, 009 participants meeting inclusion data. The analysis included two independent analyzers and a third to reach consensus. Based on the studies analyzed, the researchers concluded that levels of chocolate consumption were associated with a reduction in the risk of cardiometabolic disorders.

Another summary in the journal Circulation supported the above metanalysis giving specific cardiometabolic measures that chocolate seemed to attenuate. Remember if it's good for your heart, it will also affect inflammation and blood sugar- the power triad in health! According to Circulation:

Indeed, recent research demonstrates a beneficial effect of cocoa on blood pressure, insulin resistance, and vascular and platelet function. Although still debated, a range of potential mechanisms through which cocoa might exert its benefits on cardiovascular health have been proposed, including activation of nitric oxide and antioxidant and antiinflammatory effects. This review summarizes the available data on the cardiovascular effects of cocoa, outlines potential mechanisms involved in the response to cocoa, and highlights the potential clinical implications associated with its consumption.

The mechanism behind these heart benefits may be due the flavonoid antioxidants that dark chocolate contains.  Antioxidants are powerful compounds that exist in foods, nutrients, vitamins, minerals, supplements, and plants which help disrupt excess free radicals from creating damage to your body. We naturally need some free radicals to help with the balance of breakdown and building in our body, but most people have an excess of inflammation and oxidative stress due to modern day living. According to an article in ScienceDaily:

Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which are antioxidants. Antioxidants have positive effects on many different body systems including the cardiovascular system. The high concentration of cocoa in dark chocolate appears to be what offers the flavonoid benefit.

"Dark chocolate has been shown to be associated with lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar levels and improvement in the way your blood vessels dilate and relax," Damp said. Further study is needed to know exactly which type of chocolate and how much of it is the most beneficial, but studies have shown that people who eat chocolate more than once a week have lower risks of heart disease and stroke compare to people who eat it less frequently. "Fat and calorie content of chocolate also needs to be taken into consideration and kept consistent with a healthy, balanced diet," Damp said.

Chocolate and the Brain

According to Brain Neurologist, Daniel Amen, MD:

What is good for your heart is good for your brain, so pay attention to this study. Although it didn't differentiate between dark chocolate and milk chocolate, I can tell you that dark chocolate contains more brain-friendly antioxidants than milk chocolate.

In a study reported by VitalChoice, a UEA team conducted a yearlong trial including 93 postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes. Half of women were given two small placebo chocolate bars daily (poor things) and the other half were given the flavonoid-rick dark chocolate bars. The women continued their regular medications during the trial and 10 year follow up. The good news: 

The women in the test chocolate group were 3.4 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack in the next decade. This may sound like a small impact, but it would be considered a very substantial preventive effect for any "dietary intervention". Better yet, their insulin resistance and cholesterol levels were significantly lower than the control (placebo chocolate) group. As Dr. Cassidy said, "These results are significant from a public health perspective because they provide further concrete evidence that diet has a beneficial clinical effect over and above conventional drug treatment." (UEA 2012)

Another study showed the brain boosting of chocolate. The evaluation of chocolate, wine, and tea was studied in relationship cognitive performance amongst 2031 participants, 51% women.  The results showed a positive association between all three foods and cognitive performance, in a dose dependent matter!

Stress and Chocolate

Is it the naturally occurring magnesium that calms the brain, the arginine and and other amino acid profile that can build mood supporting neurotransmitters, or the dilatory effects of the theobromine content that bring oxygen to our brain, that explain why chocolate may calm our stressers? It's not conclusive, but the fact that chocolate helps mood can be unscientifically validated by any woman. Now, research is echoing our drive for chocolate:

The "chocolate cure" for emotional stress is getting new support from a clinical trial published online in ACS' Journal of Proteome Research. It found that eating about an ounce and a half of dark chocolate a day for two weeks reduced levels of stress hormones in the bodies of people feeling highly stressed. Everyone's favorite treat also partially corrected other stress-related biochemical imbalances.

A Cautionary Word

All these positive effects of chocolate! Still, don't go too crazy on processed milk chocolate bars! The studies are all using dark, unprocessed cocoa that has high flavonoid content. Milk chocolate does not contain the beneficial content of these flavonoids and can be full of ingredients that many are sensitive to, such as milk, sugar,  and gluten.

Remember to also check out my latest blog at www.dr-lobisco.com! 

My latest blog discusses the road blocks to eating healthy in our modern society. It's hard to deny that one of the main contributors to our obesity epidemic is the increased consumption of over-processed sugary carbohydrates. Still, it's hard to drop that cannoli when we are swayed daily to make fast paced food decisions, that don't necessarily favor nurturing our bodies with a well cooked and planned meal.

A wave of dietary books on paleolithic eating and cutting carbs has become a solution by many health experts to slim down America. Still, many dislike the idea, or taste of, a more animal based diet...so the situation brings to question, "Is Soy ok?"

Well, first, let me say as far as for eating more protein, I agree that its a solution for balancing blood sugar, decreasing cravings, and trending away toward sugary treats (read my latest blog at www.dr-lobisco.com for why). I recommend healthy, organic meats and wild caught fish, various nuts, seeds, and legumes. But Soy?

Let's look at this... onto soy..... or not to soy....

It's been exalted, it's been cursed, it's caused mass confusion, it's created great debate amongst health experts......I'm talking about soy. Poor little bean!

Below is a summary on the controversy and the rebuttal from two famous medical doctors.

Side 1: Villain (Dr. Mercola)

Soy. Many protein bars contain soy, either as their dominant or secondary source of protein. The soy industry's media blitz has been so phenomenally successful that nearly everyone has been brainwashed into thinking soy is actually healthy.

Enlightened consumers avoid unfermented soy because it contains:

  • High levels of phytic acid, which reduces assimilation of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc - and is known to cause growth problems in children.
  • Trypsin inhibitors interfere with protein digestion and may cause pancreatic disorders.
  • Phytoestrogens disrupt endocrine function and can potentially cause fertility problems and breast cancer.
  • The processing of soy protein forms a toxin, lysinolalanine, and a carcinogen, nitrosamines. Soy also has high aluminum levels, which are toxic to your nervous system and kidneys.

Furthermore, soy increases your requirements for vitamin D and B12... and hinders thyroid function, making it extremely challenging to lose weight, besides other problems.

Worse yet, soy is one of the world's most genetically modified products.

The bottom line?  In my opinion, soy is NOT a health food. Soy's media hype only makes you believe it is.

Source: Dr. Mercola. "Chocolate Breakthrough: Eat This to Help Build Muscles and Fight Aging". March 8, 2012. http://proteinpowder.mercola.com/whey-protein-bars.html?e_cid=20120308_DNL_art_1

Side 2: Questionable Hero:

The Soy Controversy (Dr. Hyman)

Breast Cancer
How soy lands in the "harm" camp has to do with the protein receptors contained in and on the surface of many human cells, including cancer cells. Receptors have a particular affinity for certain molecules and are very finicky about what shaped molecule they will accept. It must be a fit, like a key fits a lock. The hook-up is important because it tells a cell how to behave. It can be a neurotransmitter chemical or a hormone such as estrogen, even a specially designed drug. Some "keys" will activate a cell's activity (agonist) and some will block one from occurring (antagonist). Studies show soy can do both. Cells can't distinguish soy molecules' plant-derived estrogens from human estrogen because it has the same shaped key. Some cancer cells have estrogen receptors that fuel their growth. In fact, one treatment strategy for women with estrogen-positive breast cancer is to rid or block the body of any estrogen. The theory holds that the phytoestrogens in soy may act similarly to human estrogen causing breast cancer cells to grow. On the other side of the argument, some think that the plant estrogen could protect against breast cancer by hedging into the receptor slot in place of human estrogen, derailing estrogen's ability to fuel cancer growth. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (December 2009) tracked 5,000 women with breast cancer living in Shanghai, China and found that those who ate diets high in soy - more than 15 grams a day - had a 29% reduced risk of death and a 32% decrease in the risk of cancer recurrence.

Thyroid:
A review of the research found no significant effects of soy on the thyroid except in people who are iodine deficient -- a condition that is rare in this country.Another well-designed study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (iii) studied the effect of realistic amounts of soy protein on hormones, including thyroid hormone. It found that soy had no significant effects on these hormones.

Baby Formula Yet the only large, long-term study on humans, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, (ii) found that there were no major health differences in 811 men and women between the ages of 20 and 34 who had been fed either soy or milk formula as infants.More recently, a report issued by the National Toxicology Program Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction concluded that there just isn't enough human or animal data to say for sure whether soy formula harms a baby's developmental or reproductive health.

Bottom Line:
When you are considering the media reports about soy, here are some things to remember:
1. The dangers of soy are overstated (and the benefits may be, too).
2. We eat far too much processed soy (and processed foods in general). Stay away from those in your diet including soy protein concentrates or isolates, hydrolyzed or textured vegetable protein, hydrogenated soy bean oil, non-organic sources of soy, and soy junk food like soy cheese and ice cream. Don't eat them. 3. Whole soy foods can be a source of good quality protein and plant compounds that help promote health.
4. Eat only organic soy. Stay away from genetically modified versions.
5. Replace soy oil with olive oil, fish oil, nuts, and seeds.


Source: Hyman, M. Dr. Hyman's Discussion about Soy on the Dr. Oz Show. September 9, 2010. http://drhyman.com/blog/2010/09/29/dr-oz-show-soy/

My opinion:

Here's my take. I do concur that fermented and non-GMO soy products are the way to go if one consumes soy. Dr. Hyman and Dr. Mercola agree with me, yeah! :)  It's known that non-organic soy does contain aluminum, GMO, pesticides, and many imbalanced phytohormones from processing.

I enjoy Dr. Hyman's suggestions because it puts it back to bio-individuality and to the very educated consumers or practitioners hand. It's true with any food, for some man it's a cure, another a poison. How do you know? Listen to your body, if your confused, research and ask for help. That's what we're here for! 

Now, click over to my "Drop the Cannoli, Grab a Whole Food" blog on my homepage and read about other hints to get back into your optimal food vibe! :)


What are your thoughts??

.....I'd like to hear from you.......

New Labeling on This Popular Class of Cholesterol Medication Sparks Hot debate in Medicine
By Sarah LoBisco, ND

In February, the FDA issued a change to the labels of various statin medications. These changes included:

1. A warning of increased Hemoglobin A1c levels (a lab measure of the average amount of glucose in your blood)
2. A warning of increased risk of cognitive impairment
3. The discontinuation of monitoring liver enzymes with treatment. Instead, measuring liver function enzymes is encouraged at the start of treatment
4. Lovastatin included additional warnings in that should not be used in combination with certain antiretrovirals, antifungals, and certain macrolide antibiotics and their derivatives.

An article in Medscape describes the reasons for the changes:
February 28, 2012 (Silver Spring, Maryland) -- Taking a statin can raise blood sugar and glycosylated hemoglobin HbA1c levels, according to  a new labeling change approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today for the entire drug class [1].

As reported by heartwire , recent studies of popular statins showed a significant increase in the risk of diabetes mellitus associated with high-dose statin therapy. The Justification for the Use of Statins in Primary Prevention: An Intervention Trial Evaluating Rosuvastatin (JUPITER) trial showed a 27% increase in diabetes mellitus in patients taking rosuvastatin compared to placebo. Also, the Pravastatin or Atorvastatin Evaluation and Infection Therapy: Thrombolysis In Myocardial Infarction 22 (PROVE-IT TIMI 22) substudy showed that high-dose atorvastatin can worsen glycemic control.

The labeling changes approved by the FDA also include new information on the potential for usually minor and reversible cognitive side effects. Also, the label for lovastatin has been significantly updated to provide information on contraindications and dose limitations for the drug in patients taking other medicines that may increase the risk for muscle injury.

The FDA says it is also eliminating the recommendation that patients  on statins undergo routine periodic monitoring of liver enzymes, because this approach is ineffective in detecting and preventing the "rare and unpredictable" serious liver injuries related to statins. Statin therapy should be interrupted if the patient shows signs of serious liver injury, hyperbilirubinemia, or jaundice. The statin therapy should not be restarted if the drugs cannot be ruled out as a cause of the problems, the labeling will now state.

This sounds very similar to me....oh, I know why. Remember, I wrote about it in 2009?..... on this very site:

In this article, Dr. Diva explains the biochemistry behind high blood sugar and cholesterol. While traveling in the blood stream, glucose interacts with proteins such as the collagen in arterial walls and the lipoproteins of cholesterol. This interaction creates a cross-linkage through a process called glycation resulting in protein and lipoprotein structural changes. The results are more rigid arteries and LDL cholesterol molecules with decreased efficiency in ridding the body of excess cholesterol- (2) major hits in causing damage to arterial walls. Furthermore, this issue is compounded in that it increases the risk for  developing insulin resistance, a major factor in developing type 2 diabetes.(http://www.saratoga.com/living-well/2009/08/blood-sugar-and-cholesterol.html.)

Doctors are being informed of the changes and being encouraged that the benefits outweigh the warnings. Furthermore, some evidence dose exist that  statins have prevented some cardiovascular deaths.I agree to a point, in relation to prevention of secondary heart attacks in men. However, do the risks outweigh the benefits? Hmmm. 

In 2011, I spoke about the the cholesterol-heart link and the studies proving their effectiveness:

Recently, I was fortunate to hear a seminar with Dr. White, an integrative DC & Nutritionist. He concluded:
The original study of cholesterol done in the 1960s on approximately 240,000 subjects found that cholesterol levels above 300 directly associated itself with an increased risk of heart disease. What was also reported in the same study also was that cholesterol less than 130 directly associated itself with an increased risk of cancer. 

Furthermore, we need to look at the individual and what is the best treatment for each individual. If inflammation and cholesterol is dangerously high, perhaps the short term use of statin medications could be helpful in preventing damage to the heart.  However, what about the connection between a change in lifestyle that not only produces lowered cholesterol levels, from the body healing, but other positive benefits. As Mark Hyman, MD reports:

I recall reading a scientific paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association a number of years ago by Dr. David Jenkins from the University of Toronto. He showed that using a combination of soy, fiber, almonds, and plant sterols (cholesterol-lowering fats) could lower cholesterol levels as much as statin medications.(i) Diet can lower cholesterol as much as statins--a surprise to many but common in my practice. Using a comprehensive approach of diet and lifestyle change, I routinely see effects that are more powerful than any medication. That was not why the article struck me. It was a finding buried in the text of the paper.

What I found fascinating was that the patients who lowered their cholesterol with statins had higher levels of insulin, while those who lowered their cholesterol through diet had lower insulin levels.
In closing, I'd like to reverberate what I wrote in my above mentioned blog:

High cholesterol in itself is not necessary an issue. The problem lies in when the cholesterol gets oxidized or inflamed and sticks to artery walls. Correcting hormonal imbalances, high blood sugar, sources of infection and inflammation, and addressing stress all can prevent this unwanted effect.

As a Naturopathic and Functional Medical Doctor, I practice upstream medicine. This means, I am looking for the cause of the problem. Blaming cholesterol for heart disease is like blaming a witness at the scene of the crime. We need to look at why the body is producing the cholesterol.

Cholesterol is needed in the body for a variety functions, it forms a protective layer around every cell in your body. It is a pre-cursor to important sex hormones, fat-soluble vitamins (including Vitamin D!), and is needed to make bile salts for the breakdown and use of dietary fats. Cholesterol is found in large amounts in the brain, adrenal gland, and nervous system. It is estimated that the liver actually makes about 40-50% and that only 50% of cholesterol from food is absorbed.

Cholesterol is so vital for health of the body, if it is reduced to too low of an amount; the liver is put to work and produces more. Due to its variety of functions, cutting it down so low, below 200, could be causing negative side effects outside of the heart. (http://www.dr-lobisco.com/is-cholesterol-the-bad-guy/.)

You can find additional information on my website and this site.

References:

Reed Miller. FDA Adds Warnings to Statin Label. Medscape Today. 2/28/12. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/759335?src=ptalk. 

Howard S. Weintraub, MD. The Statin Labeling Changes: Don't be Spooked. Medscape Today. 3/6/12. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/759735?src=ptalk.

Laurie Scudder. Statins: The Story Behind the Label Changes. An Expert Interview with FDA's AMy G. Egan. 3/6/12. Medscape Today. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/759736?src=ptalk. 

Michael Mogadam, MD .Statins and Risk for Diabetes: Deconstructing a Flawed Study. Medscape Today. 2/24/12.http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/759041?src=ptalk.

Brenda Goodman.Stroke Risk Triples After a Decade with Diabetes. WebMD. 3/1/12. http://diabetes.webmd.com/news/20120301/stroke-risk-triples-after-decade-with-diabetes?ecd=wnl_hyp_030812.

Hyman. M. Do Statins Cause Diabetes and Heart Disease. Huffington Post. 9/10/10. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/do-statins-cause-diabetes_b_712929.html.

The problem with antibiotic resistance and the inefficiency of treatment of "superbugs" continues to make headlines in various medical journals. One solution has been a rush to create stronger antibiotics to these mighty pathogens that are resistant to last year's most powerful antibiotic. However, the resultant solutions seem to only strengthen these powerful critters morphing power. For example Mr. MRSA (methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus ) becomes Mr. VRSA (vancomycin-resistant staphylococcus aureus).

What happens when our most powerful weapons against these invaders fail? The creation of fear amongst the physicians and their patients diagnosed with these bugs hoping they won't escape the local site of invasion and create systemic damage. What to do?

First, remove the obstacle that is making more and more of these super-mighty-bug-critters. For example, various studies have demonstrated that one reason for antibiotic resistance is from an overuse of them. Various studies have shown that "bacterial symptoms" were actually due to different types of pathogens, such as a virus or fungus. Secondly, let's stop eating excessive antibiotics in conventionally raised farm animals. More exposure means more opportunity for these bugs to learn to morph.

See, the body's balance of microbiotia is in a delicate balance. Medicine is getting confused with treating the overgrowth of beneficial bacteria, already present in the body with specific functions, and killing off a pathogenic bacteria that enters an immune compromised system, in the same manner.

In one of the latest articles on this subject from my February 2012 issue of Holistic Primary Care, Dr. Ivker describes how the reflux approach to reach for antibiotics isn't working:

Despite the conclusions of the important studies cited above, physicians continue to reflexively prescribe antibiotics to treat the problem. In the vast majority of cases these patients do NOT have a bacterial infection that would respond to an antibiotic. It's nearly always caused by either a virus (typically a cold virus) or some other allergic or environmental trigger causing severe inflammation of the mucous membrane lining the nose and sinuses.

Overuse Drives Overgrowth

Rather than treating the underlying causes of sinusitis, antibiotics instead dramatically reduce the population of beneficial bacteria living in a homeostatic relationship with candida (yeast/fungus) in the respiratory and GI tract. This reduction, coupled with the fact that the good bacteria are the "natural predators" of the candida (primary food source for the probiotics), then creates a significant imbalance and a candida overgrowth. When candida is allowed to overgrow, it begins to release toxins that can have a devastating effect on the surrounding tissue, causing severe inflammation to the lining of the respiratory and GI tracts, as well as throughout the body, e.g. inflammation of joints and muscles, multiple food sensitivities and environmental allergies, extreme fatigue, weakening of the immune system.

The body has a unique ability to restore its own balance. As Integrative doctors, there are many tools to aid this process. Therefore, why not support the body's ability to protect itself, rather than giving something that may only kill off symptoms or create more problems that may be even more harmful than the initial invasion?

In a recent study with 166 adults randomized to the antibiotic amoxicillin vs. placebo, there was no improvement of symptoms at day 3 of treatment, but at day 7 the amoxicillin group did have some symptom improvement. However, there was no secondary symptomatic difference seen between the two groups after 10 days. Maybe the body just needed time?

Furthermore, antibiotics aren't without side effects. According to Dr. Ivker:

According to a 2008 article in Clinical Infectious Diseases, more than 142,000 people are rushed to the emergency room each year from adverse reactions to antibiotics, and an estimated 70,000 of those cases may be a result of unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions (Shenab N, et al. Clin Infect Dis. 2008;47(6):735-43). Over 100,000 Americans die every year from prescription drugs, many of which are antibiotics. In fact, medical treatment is the third leading cause of death (250,000 deaths per year) in the US, behind heart disease and cancer. There are over 13 million antibiotics prescribed each year in the US for sinusitis.

My conclusion:
It's important to know when to use the heavy hitting weapons of antibiotics and when to teach the body to be its own superhero. For example, when the infection is too high for the body to recover, antibiotics should be employed. However, if the issue is about balancing the terrain, there are many other options. The point is, give the correct treatment for the correct bug AS the obstacles to health are removed and the immune system is modulated by various other methods.

For more information on how to support the body verses fighting it, visit my website at dr-lobisco.com.

Sources:

Garbutt, J, Banister, C, Spitznagel, J, Piccrillo, J. Amoxicillin for Acute Rhinosinusitis: A Randomized Controlled Trial. JAMA. 2012;307(7):685-692. doi: 10.1001/jama.2012.138

Ivker, R. Amoxicillin No Better Than Placebo for Sinusitis. Holistic Primary Care. February 2012.

Mayo Clinic. MRSA. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mrsa/DS00735/DSECTION=symptoms


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Reisa Mehlman

As a New York State Licensed Aesthetician, New York State Licensed Nail Specialist, and the Director of Living Well Healing Arts Center & Spa, Reisa combines her love of spa services and healing arts to achieve optimum skin and nail health, create greater overall wellness and bring forth our optimal, individual beauty.

"I believe that the day spa should be an instant getaway; a place that is quiet without being stuffy, relaxed, elegant and yet entirely comfy. You should feel warm and welcome, surrounded by people who care about you and what they are doing. This is the environment we strive to create at Living Well Healing Arts Center & Spa. Here, you are never just the "next" number; we allow ample time for your services, offer a flexible schedule and can be reached after hours. After all, to me, spa craft is not really a business, it's a lifestyle." Read more...


Dr. Sarah Lobisco

Whether the goal is to lessen pain, find an alternative to pharmaceuticals, or improve your quality of life, Dr. LoBisco's Naturopathic Medicine lets you get the best of both worlds conventional medicine, combined with safe and proven complementary therapies.

Dr. Sarah LoBisco has been involved in wellness for over 8 years. Her experience includes mentoring with holistic practices throughout New York, Vermont, and Connecticut. Read more...