Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Advanced Health Clinic: Congratulations to Martha Bray!

Advanced Health Clinic: Congratulations to Martha Bray!: "Holistic Family Nurse Practitioner Martha Bray, FNP-BC, APRN, BCIM, of Farmington, UT, has been awarded Diplomat of the College of Whole Med..."

Monday, August 15, 2011

Simple & Natural Tips for Overcoming Urinary Tract Infections

Simple Tips for Overcoming Urinary Tract Infections Safely and Naturally

Up to 60 percent of women will experience a urinary tract infection (UTI) at some point in their lives. UTIs are one of the most common reasons why women visit their healthcare professionals and women are 10 times more likely to get a UTI than men. With an estimated 150 million cases in the world each year, the resulting healthcare cost is around $6 billion, not to mention the lost time from work and other normal activities.

Women are 10 times more likely to suffer from urinary tract infections than men.
UTIs can result in a range of symptoms from mild pain and discomfort to more serious cases that involve your kidneys and renal system and require hospitalization.
Sexual activity is one of the most common risk factors in acquiring a UTI and is part of the reason why so many women will experience a recurrence of the infection -- 30-40 percent of women will get another UTI within six months of the first infection. Over time, the conventional treatment, which is almost always antibiotics, stops working as well, requiring stronger or new antibiotics that can cause potentially harmful side effects and make your body more resistant to antibiotics when you really need them.
Signs and symptoms of a UTI include:
  • Burning or pain when urinating
  • More frequent than normal urination or a sudden, urgent need to urinate
  • Lower abdomen pain or cramping
  • Blood or pus in your urine or a strong smell to your urine
  • Painful sexual intercourse
  • Fever, chills, nausea or vomiting
What Causes UTIs?
UTIs are caused by bacteria entering the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of your body. Your body produces lots of natural agents inside the bladder, which keep urine sterile, but if bacteria enters the urethra, the bladder or urinary tract can get infected. The bacteria can come from a number of sources, but in most cases a UTI is caused by bacteria in fecal matter that travels to the area around the urethra. This bacteria, most commonly E. coli (Escherichia coli), is the infecting agent in 70-75% of UTI cases.
However, there are other risk factors that make you more likely to develop a UTI as well. These include:
  • New or multiple sex partners or frequent or intense sexual intercourse
  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Irritation from harsh skin cleansers or contraceptives like diaphragms or spermicides
  • Taking birth control pills
  • Having a history of UTIs, especially if you had more than one in six months
Conventional UTI Treatment
If you suspect you have a UTI, your health care provider will feel your abdomen and the area around your kidneys and will also do a urine test to check for infection. The typical medical treatment for a UTI is a 1-10 day round of antibiotics. However, patients with frequent urinary tract infections may also be placed on a low-grade dose of antibiotics that they take every day as a way to prevent new UTIs from occurring.
The most common antibiotic used for UTIs is trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX, brand names Bactrim, Septra). But, unfortunately, new antibiotic-resistant strains of E. coli have begun appearing that don't respond to treatment with TMP-SMX. So health care professionals have begun to try other antibiotics in the penicillin, cephalosporins, or fluoroquinolone families. It is feared that the bacteria may become resistant to these antibiotics as well.
Problems with Conventional Treatment
The first problem with conventional antibiotic treatment of UTIs is that antibiotics often have unpleasant and potentially dangerous side effects. These can include:
  • Stomach upset, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Vaginal itching or discharge
  • Allergic reactions
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Photosensitivity (making it easy to get sunburned)
  • Convulsions
The second problem with antibiotic treatment of UTIs is that bacteria can become resistant to them, making it harder and harder to treat the next infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antibiotic resistance is a major public health problem because almost every type of bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics with overexposure to the antibiotic. In fact, the CDC says that it is frequent and inappropriate use of antibiotics that causes bacteria to become drug-resistant. Then when a UTI or other infection occurs, the antibiotic won't work as well -- or at all. Once this happens, treating the infection becomes more difficult, requiring stronger antibiotics, which may have harsher side effects, and leaving you vulnerable to the more serious repercussions of an uncontrolled infection.
What Are Probiotics?

In one study of women with nearly constant UTIs, after taking oral probiotics for several days a number of the women had all of their symptoms disappear.
The term probiotic comes from the Greek words meaning "for life," just as antibiotic means "against life." Whereas antibiotics are meant to kill bacteria, probiotics are meant to help other healthy microbes grow. They are live, beneficial bacteria that help keep a healthy balance of microorganisms in your bowel, vagina, and body in general. Keeping the right balance of healthy, bacteria-fighting microorganisms can help reduce the occurrence of infection.
Probiotics occur naturally in fermented foods like yogurt but are also available in supplement form. In some countries, probiotics are considered a normal part of daily nutrition and digestive health.
In the United States, interest in probiotic foods and supplements is on the rise. Some health care professionals have begun recommending probiotics for digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome. Research also indicates that probiotics may help prevent and treat UTIs.
Probiotics for UTIs
In the healthy vagina and urogenital area, there are more than 50 different microorganisms. Depending on your age and your exposure to different factors, the composition of these microorganisms changes. When you take antibiotics or use products like spermicide, the balance can be disturbed. The same can happen when E. coli or other bacteria are introduced.
In premenopausal women, a healthy vaginal environment is dominated by a type of microorganism called lactobacilli. When a UTI occurs, tests show that the lactobacilli are greatly depleted. However, probiotics may help keep the population of lactobacilli healthy and strong, which can help prevent bacteria from gaining hold and turning into a UTI.
In one study, lactobacilli probiotics were administered by vaginal suppository to women who had a history of recurrent UTIs. Results showed that 27% of the placebo group had another UTI within 10 weeks, whereas only 15% of the women taking the probiotic had another UTI in the same time period.
In another study, women who douched with a probiotic solution had a significant increase in the time between infections. A second phase of the study showed that the use of probiotic vaginal suppositories reduced the recurrence of UTIs by 79% over a year. Success has also been seen when taking probiotics following treatment with antibiotics. The antibiotics kill both good and bad bacteria, which means they also kill the lactobacilli. Probiotics help restore the lactobacilli before bacteria can re-infect the urinary tract.
Although vaginal application of lactobacilli seems to have the most impact on preventing or reducing UTIs, oral ingestion of probiotics can help as well. A daily dose of probiotics can travel through the gut, exit the rectum and support the lactobacilli in the vagina.
In a study of women who suffered from nearly constant UTIs, after taking oral probiotics for several days a number of the women had all of their symptoms disappear. The researchers estimate that between 50-90% of women would have healthier levels of vaginal lactobacilli within 1-2 weeks of taking daily probiotics.
Probiotics for General Health
Probiotics have also shown promise in treating certain digestive disorders. The most promising treatments have been seen for infants and children who have infectious diarrhea. With probiotic treatment, studies show a reduction rate of up to 60% as compared to a placebo. Several studies show that probiotics can also help prevent recurrences of ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. A healthy digestive tract also promotes a healthier immune system in general.
Some preliminary research shows that probiotics may also:
  • Help prevent the development of allergies in children
  • Help patients deal with negative antibiotic side effects
  • Decrease the risk of certain cancers
  • Help prevent cavity-producing bacteria in your mouth
You may want to ask your health care practitioner about Probiotic Synergy™, one such high-quality product that may help alleviate symptoms associated with diarrhea, constipation, dysbiosis, bacterial infections, and yeast overgrowth.
With probiotics, it's all about survival. Probiotic organisms must survive three critical barriers to be of benefit -- the manufacturing process, time on the shelf, and most importantly, transit through the acidic environment of your stomach. Probiotic Synergy™ is formulated to handle all of the above, presented in moisture-resistant BIO-tract Probiospheres® that enhance stability and the ultimate delivery of probiotic organisms to your intestinal tract.
More Natural Help for UTIs
In addition to taking probiotics, there are other natural ways you can help prevent the recurrence of UTIs. Certain lifestyle changes can help, such as:
  • Drinking plenty of fluids like water and herbal teas and avoiding caffeinated and high- sugar beverages
  • Drinking unsweetened cranberry and blueberry juice
  • Urinating before and after sexual intercourse
  • Avoiding sex while you are under treatment for a UTI
  • Eating antioxidant-rich and high-fiber foods while avoiding refined foods that contain trans fats and sugar
  • Ask your health care practitioner about taking daily multivitamins and supplements such as vitamin C, omega-3 fats and L-glutamine. UT Synergy is another promising option, which features UTIrose™, a patented extract of the hibiscus species designed specifically for urinary tract infections that is high in certain organic acids and polyphenols, especially flavonoids and proanthocyanidins.

    These compounds give UTIrose™ anti-microbial (especially against E. coli and C. albicans) and bacterial anti-adhesive properties. In an in-vivo study, patients receiving 200mg daily of UTIrose™ experienced a 57% reduction in urinary tract infections after 3 months and a 77% reduction in urinary tract infections after six months of use.
Be sure that you tell your health care provider what supplements you are taking. Also consider making an appointment with your health care provider to discuss whether probiotics or another natural option might be the right course for you in treating and preventing UTIs.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2001; 73(suppl):437S-43S
Medscape News Today April 20, 2011
Clinical Infectious Diseases May 15, 2011
Medscape General Medicine. 2001;3(4)
MedGenMed. 2004; 6(1): 49.
European Review of Medical Pharmacological Science 2004 Mar-Apr;8(2):87-95
Postgraduate Medical Journal 2003 August; 79(934): 428–432.
Nutritional Clinical Care 2002 Jan-Feb;5 (1):3-8
FEMS Immunology and Microbiology
University of Maryland Medical Center
The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide
BMJ Volume 322 30 June 2001
Current Opinion in Clinical Nutritional and Metabolic Care 2009 Nov;12(6):583-7.
European Urology Volume 47, issue 3, pages 273-426, March 2005
University of Maryland Medical Center
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work

© 2011 Health Realizations, Inc

Monday, August 8, 2011

Depression Drugs - What Does the latest Research Show?

Depression Drugs: Do They Work As Well As Everyone Says?
New Research Points to "No"

When antidepressant medications first hit the markets in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, flocks of frenzied masses ran out to buy the drugs because they were hailed as a cure for depression and other mood disorders. Pharmaceutical companies, many scientists, and even doctors were quick to prescribe the new medications (most of which were selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs) to patients suffering from depression because they showed promising results in published clinical trials.

Is medication really the best option for treating depression? Get the facts before you decide.
However, these “published” results were only half of the real story behind the popular pills.

The Real Facts about Antidepressants

A recent research study published in the journal PLoS (Public Library of Science) revealed a less flattering view of antidepressants’ abilities because it combined research from several trials instead of just one.

The report argued that "each individual trial provides some information about the new drug's effectiveness but additional information can be gained by combining the results of all the trials in a “meta-analysis,” a statistical method for combining the results of many studies."

What was most intriguing about this meta-analysis was the fact that much of the research had not been released to the public before. Upon retrieving the full set of results about some major medications from the FDA under the Freedom of Information Act, the researchers found information that showed how the effects of many SSRI antidepressant medications were not much more significant than the effects of placebos.

Specifically they said:
"...compared with placebo, the new-generation antidepressants do not produce clinically significant improvements in depression in patients who initially have moderate or even very severe depression, but show significant effects only in the most severely depressed patients. The findings also show that the effect for these patients seems to be due to decreased responsiveness to placebo, rather than increased responsiveness to medication."
The research, done by Professor Irving Kirch and colleagues, was ground-breaking because it opened the floodgates for a wave of backlash against the governing bodies that are in charge of accepting and rejecting new drugs into the mainstream market. About these governing bodies, the report stated:

"Although the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), and other licensing authorities have approved SSRIs for the treatment of depression, some doubts remain about their clinical efficacy."

So Does that Mean All Antidepressant Medication is Dangerous?

As with all medication, careful study and application is required to ensure that it is suited to the people taking it. While some people find positive results from mainstream SSRI medication, it is important to be aware of ALL the research out there. While Prozac’s makers (Eli Lilly & Company) claim that:
"In controlled trials used to support the efficacy of fluoxetine (the clinical name for Prozac), patients were administered morning doses ranging from 20 to 80 mg/day. Studies comparing fluoxetine 20, 40, and 60 mg/day to placebo indicate that 20 mg/day is sufficient to obtain a satisfactory response in Major Depressive Disorder in most cases."
Professor Kirch's study found that:
"Given these results, the researchers conclude that there is little reason to prescribe new-generation antidepressant medications to any but the most severely depressed patients unless alternative treatments have been ineffective."
So who do you believe in the war of words surrounding antidepressants?

The research in the latter study combines results of all trials, as opposed to just one, so it may bode well for all sufferers of depression to take note of it. Also the research comes from a group of doctors not affiliated with major pharmaceutical companies.

In addition to the controversy surrounding the benefits of these drugs in tests, there are other problems that have been linked to modern SSRI antidepressant medications that you should be aware of.

What are the Other Dangers of SSRI Medications?

There are many side effects to most major antidepressants on the market today. Some of them are:
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Anorexia
  • Reduced libido
  • Tremors
Most troubling, however, are the side effects published in the black box warning label of the drug itself. The warning found on the Prozac packages states:
"Antidepressants increased the risk compared to placebo of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children, adolescents, and young adults in short-term studies of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and other psychiatric disorders."
The warnings don’t stop there though. In the book Talking Back to Prozac by Peter Breggin, MD and Ginger Ross Breggin, the authors found some more concerning findings about the antidepressant drugs. It says:
"Nine of fifteen recently approved medications developed serious postapproval [by the FDA] risks, including one that had to be withdrawn from the market...after it was found to cause potentially fatal immune system disorders."
In addition, they also found that Xanax, another medication often used to treat depression, was found to cause "paradoxical rage reactions."

All these facts make mainstream antidepressants sound rather scary, don't they?

Are There Alternatives to Antidepressants for Depression?

Exercise is proven to benefit people with depression, and often the improvements rival those experienced by people taking antidepressant drugs.
There are many alternative treatments for depression out there today. Many experts, including The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), recommend that patients try counseling and psychotherapy before they turn to prescription antidepressants.

In addition to psychotherapy, many scientists agree that people suffering from depression must also make efforts to:
  • Eat healthy
  • Exercise regularly
  • Sleep regularly
  • Reduce their stress level
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol
If you are suffering from depression there are also natural herbal remedies, which are proven to improve mood disorders without the heavy side effects often found in common drugs.

Supportive nutrients to ask your health care provider about include:
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, such as OmegAvail™ Lemon Drop Smoothie, which is packed with 1100mg of EPA and 720mg DHA (a total of 1820mg) and is manufactured using a proprietary emulsification technology that significantly reduces the size of fish oil molecules, resulting in enhanced absorption.
  • Vitamin B12 (such as methylcobalamin)
In addition there are many natural supplements that combine specially designed herbs and vitamins for mood stabilization. One such supplement you can ask your health care provider about is NeuroCalm™, which promotes activity of GABA and serotonin, and may help improve mood and support greater feelings of calm and satisfaction.

The controversy surrounding antidepressants (their dangers versus their benefits) will, likely, rage on for years. The real side effects of drugs usually take decades to surface, so in the meantime, it is important for anyone suffering from depression to be aware of ALL the information out there.

There are always major risks that come with taking medication, so make sure you always check with your health care practitioner before starting ANY program. Most importantly though, be proactive about finding out everything – including the good, the bad, and the controversial – about your medication before you decide to take it– it could change your life forever.

Time.com February 26, 2008
Eli Lilly. Prozac prescribing information 2007-06-21. (PDF)
Significance, Volume 5, Number 2, June 2008 , pp. 54-58(5)
U.S. FDA "Clinical Review: Relationship Between Antidepressant Drugs and Suicidality in Adults" (PDF)
Does B12 deficiency lead to lack of treatment response to conventional antidepressants?
Treatment of depression: time to consider folic acid and vitamin B12.
The methylation, neurotransmitter, and antioxidant connections between folate and depression.

© 2011 Health Realizations, Inc

Monday, August 1, 2011

Coumadin - What Are Your Choices

Should You, Can You, Get Off Coumadin?

Millions of Americans take the anti-coagulant (blood-thinning) drug Warfarin, known by the brand name Coumadin. This drug, which decreases the clotting ability of your blood, has been found to reduce the risk of stroke by one-third to one-half, and is widely prescribed to prevent blood clots from forming.

Millions of Americans take Coumadin, a medication initially developed as a rat poison, to help thin their blood.

Among the many conditions for which Coumadin is prescribed are irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), venous thrombosis (blood clot in a vein), pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung), and atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythm). Coumadin is also sometimes prescribed for people who have suffered from a previous heart attack or have a prosthetic heart valve.
Although the drug is effective at thinning blood and helping prevent the formation of blood clots in your arteries, veins and heart, this drug is extremely complicated, and potentially dangerous, to use.
The Dark Side of Coumadin
Coumadin was initially developed for use as a rat poison and it is still used for this purpose, which gives you an idea of just how deadly it can be when taken in excess.
The problem is there is a very narrow margin between a dose that's effective and a dose that's dangerous, so people taking the drug must have a lab test done, typically monthly, called the International Normalized Ratio (INR). The INR helps physicians ensure their patients' dosages of Coumadin stay in just the right range, helping to prevent clots rather than trigger excessive bleeding.
Yet, even then it's extremely difficult to keep the drug within this small window of safety. According to the Chicago Tribune:
"Even in the best clinical trials, only about 70% of patients are able to keep the drug within the desired therapeutic range."
Complicating matters further, about one-third of people taking Coumadin have genes that make them especially sensitive to the drug, increasing the risk of serious bleeding and making it even more difficult to determine proper dosages.
Even under normal circumstances, since the drug thins your blood so efficiently you must seek medical attention even from minor falls, cuts or scrapes when taking the drug, due to the bleeding risk. Patients are also warned to use caution when shaving, brushing and flossing teeth, trimming toenails and performing other normal daily activities. It's even recommended that you not use toothpicks while taking the drug.
And there's more.

If you take Coumadin along with other medications or supplements -- and many do -- you could be at risk for dangerous drug interactions.

Coumadin interacts with a laundry list of medications and herbal supplements, leading to a variety of dangerous effects. Among them (this is only a partial list):
  • Antibiotics
  • Aspirin or aspirin-containing products and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn)
  • Heparin
  • Medications for cancer, cholesterol, colds and allergies, depression, diabetes, digestive problems (including ulcers and heartburn), gout, heart disease, mental illness, pain, seizures, thyroid problems, and tuberculosis
  • Oral contraceptives (birth control pills)
  • Streptokinase
  • Ticlopidine
  • Urokinase
  • Bromelains
  • Coenzyme Q10 (Ubidecarenone)
  • Cranberry products
  • Danshen
  • Dong quai
  • Garlic
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Ginseng
  • St. John's wort
  • Fish oil and omega-3 supplements
  • Vitamin K
  • Alfalfa
  • Glucosamine
  • Evening primrose oil
Your Diet and Coumadin
Another tricky aspect to taking the drug is its tendency to react with certain foods. Among the most common are vitamin-K-rich foods, as vitamin K can lessen the effectiveness of Coumadin.
Many vitamin-K-rich foods are extremely healthy, including dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, chard, parsley and mustard greens, and patients taking this drug are often warned to stay away from them, thereby missing out on the health benefits of these foods.
Other foods also interact with Coumadin, including cranberry juice and alcohol, which increase the drug's effect and may cause bleeding problems. Quite simply, there are so many foods, drugs, and supplements that interact with Coumadin that taking it can be like playing a game of Russian roulette.
In fact, even under the best circumstances, the drug is riddled with potential side effects, including:
  • Severe bleeding
  • Black stool or bleeding from the rectum
  • Skin conditions such as hives, a rash or itching
  • Swelling of the face, throat, mouth, legs, feet or hands
  • Bruising that comes about without an injury you remember
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fever or flu-like symptoms
  • Joint or muscle aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty moving
  • Numbness or tingling in any part of your body
  • Painful erection lasting four hours or longer
  • Skin tissue death (necrosis) and gangrene requiring amputation
  • Gas
  • Feeling cold
  • Fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Changes in the way foods taste
  • Hair loss
Can You Get Off Coumadin?
It's important to understand that you should not stop taking Coumadin without the guidance of a knowledgeable health care practitioner. However, given this drug's side effects and risks, there is incentive to find a provider who can work with you to eventually get off the drug.
Solve the underlying reason why you're on the drug in the first place. This may mean you need to find out what's causing your arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation, blood clots or other issues, and will likely take the aid of an expert along with the guidance of a holistic practitioner who will help you determine and treat the underlying causes of your specific condition.
The second way to get off Coumadin, according to Dr. Bruce West, is by taking a combination of Nattokinase and omega-3 fats, like fish oil, daily. Nattokinase is an enzyme found in natto, a food made from fermented soybeans. In supplement form, Nattokinase has been found to help prevent and reduce the risk of blood clots, as well as provide heart-protective benefits. Some studies suggest that nattokinase can also reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
You will still need to have your blood closely monitored for clotting times if you take this regimen, and again you should not attempt this treatment without the guidance of your physician. However, it may provide a natural way for you to keep your blood thinner naturally, without all of the dangerous side effects of Coumadin.
You can also ask your health care provider about the following additional supportive supplements from Designs for Health, which may be beneficial in helping resolve some underlying causes of arrhythmia:
  • Q-Avail™: A high potency CoQ10 product, delivering 200mg of Ubiquinone in a single softgel.
  • Natto-Serrazime: Nattozimes® and Serrazimes® in studies, have shown to have the same thrombolytic and fibrinolytic activities as the popular enzyme products Nattokinase and Serrapeptidase therefore, they can be used as a 1:1 substitution for these applications.
  • OmegAvail Hi-Po: OmegAvail™ Hi-Po (formerly Omega Hi Po EE) provides the same high levels of omega-3 oils per serving -- a potent 1400mg of EPA/DHA.
  • Homocysteine Supreme: Synergistic nutrients, found in Homocysteine Supreme, facilitate the efficient metabolism of homocysteine, preventing toxic levels of homocysteine from accumulating.
Again, dealing with blood clots and other conditions that require anti-coagulant drugs is not something you should attempt on your own. However, with the help of a knowledgeable health care practitioner you may be able to address the underlying causes of your health condition so there's no need for a potentially dangerous "cure" like Coumadin.

Cleveland Clinic, Drugs & Supplements, Understanding Coumadin
MayoClinic.com Warfarin Side Effects
ChicagoTribune.com November 16, 2010
ScienceBlogs.com February 19, 2009
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Blood Thinner Pills
U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Warfarin

© 2011 Health Realizations, Inc.