August 24, 2010
Faster Dental Healing
No one I know loves going to the dentist, especially for oral surgery or a tooth extraction -- these procedures leave you with a sore, swollen mouth that seems to take forever to heal. Now, however, that process can be made far faster and less painful if your dentist uses an innovative treatment pirated from the world of sports medicine -- platelet-rich plasma (PRP), which has been found to improve bone growth and speed healing after tooth extraction.
Way Faster Healing
Though the study that examined how well PRP worked for oral surgery was small -- just six patients -- the results were remarkable. Each patient had teeth removed from both sides of the mouth and received PRP treatment on one side, while the other side was allowed to heal on its own. The results? The PRP sides healed and in just seven to 10 days reached the same level of restored bone density that the untreated side took six weeks to achieve.
Here’s a quick refresher on PRP:
You may recall that I wrote about PRP a few months back (See Daily Health News
, January 18, 2010
), but I’ll summarize it here. This treatment uses your own blood to help you heal faster. The blood is drawn in the conventional way, mixed with an anticoagulant, and spun on a centrifuge, which separates it into several components -- red blood cells settle at the bottom, the middle layer contains a mix of platelet-rich plasma and white blood cells, and the top layer is platelet-poor plasma. The top and bottom aren’t used, but the platelets from the middle layer contain growth factors that stimulate healing... separating them from other blood components creates a solution that is eight to 10 times richer in growth factors than what’s found in the same volume of blood. Treatment involves simply injecting this platelet-rich plasma into the area that needs healing.
What makes using PRP for bone growth different from the soft-tissue applications (which is how it’s used for athletes) is that it must be processed in a way that preserves a special growth factor (TGF-β 1) for bone, I was told by James Rutkowski, DMD, PhD, a general and implant dentist in Clarion, Pennsylvania, and the study’s author. Otherwise it’s the same, a once-and-done treatment that puts the healing process on fast-forward.
Dr. Rutkowski said that another advantage is that the PRP injection eliminates the risk of excessive bleeding at the surgery site, even for those with decreased platelets or diminished clotting ability. The potential risks are small -- just the slight chance of infection and bleeding that’s associated with any blood draw. PRP for oral surgery is inexpensive (Dr. Rutkowski charges $35/treatment) and some, but not all, dental insurance plans will cover this treatment.
If you need to have oral surgery, such as a tooth extraction or in preparation for dental implants, ask your surgeon whether he/she has experience with PRP. If not and you want to look into it, ask for a referral or contact the American Academy of Implant Dentistry at www.aaid-implant.org
to obtain the names of local practitioners who’ve been trained in using PRP.
August 23, 2010
Toxic Chemical Overload -- You, Too?
Appalling as it has been to see the grand-scale toxic contamination resulting from the BP oil spill, in some ways it’s even more horrifying to consider that the sad truth of modern life is that we’re all soaking up dangerous chemicals all the time. Studies show that the vast majority of us harbor traces or metabolites of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, bisphenol A, heavy metals and other hazardous substances in our bodies. This toxic load contributes to a wide range of maladies ranging from "mere" confusion and fatigue to diabetes, lupus and cancer.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless in the face of information like this -- but don’t. Most people can achieve real health benefits by incorporating detoxification into their health routines, said Walter J. Crinnion, ND, chair of the environmental medicine department at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences in Scottsdale, Arizona, and author of the just-published Clean, Green & Lean
, a book about getting healthy and slim by cleaning up your diet. Dr. Crinnion’s suggestions for how to clean up your system aren’t extreme -- you’ll barely notice you’re making an effort, but I bet you will
take note of how much better you feel!
Contaminated at Birth
Toxic exposure begins in the womb and worsens over time as chemicals accumulate in your body. A recent study detected 232 chemicals foreign to the human body in the umbilical cord blood of 10 newborn babies from the US! The Environmental Protection Agency and World Health Organization report that about 85,000 different chemicals are currently registered for use in manufacturing and 800 new ones are introduced each year, many of which have little or no data on toxicity.
According to Dr. Crinnion, toxic chemicals can attack three primary body systems:
- Your immune system. By weakening your body’s defenses, toxic chemicals contribute to allergies, asthma, autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, chronic viral or fungal infections, chemical sensitivity, cancers, etc.
- Your nervous system. Chemicals can affect mental function, leading to fatigue, confusion, poor concentration, memory disturbances, mood swings, anxiety, depression, headaches, nerve pain, balance problems, tremors, muscle weakness and more -- even, potentially, Parkinson’s disease.
- Your endocrine system. Damage to the hormonal system can potentially cause early puberty and reproductive difficulties, ongoing hormonal problems, diabetes, obesity and cancers, such as liver cancer and leukemia.
Purge Your Body of Toxins
To stimulate excretion of toxins, Dr. Crinnion recommends...
- Drink three cups of unsweetened organic green tea daily -- it’s rich in antioxidant polyphenols, which help flush the toxins from your body.
- Eat organic brown rice several times a week -- its fiber helps move toxins out in your stool. If you don’t like brown rice, take a rice bran fiber supplement.
- Include more chlorophyll in your diet. Known as "nature’s cleanser," chlorophyll neutralizes destructive chemical pollutants and prevents the build-up of toxins. Good food sources include green, leafy vegetables... seaweed... and green drinks such as wheat grass juice "shots" available at health-food stores. Another option: Blue green algae supplements such as spirulina and chlorella, also available at health-food stores.
- The less sugar you eat, the better. It suppresses your immune system and your liver’s ability to purge toxins.
- Sweat it out. With your doctor’s okay, take a sauna (about 135°F) several times a week to release toxins in your sweat. Enhance your ability to detoxify by using a loofah to remove dead skin cells and unclog pores.
Do You Need a Detox Expert?
Dr. Crinnion suggests everyone should follow the above strategies -- but if, after giving this detox lifestyle a try for two months, you still find that you are experiencing problems such as allergies, brain fog or fatigue, consult a physician who is knowledgeable about environmental toxins. You can find a list of physicians who have studied with Dr. Crinnion at his Web site, http://www.CrinnionMedical.com/referral.php
. A trained and experienced doctor will help you identify and eliminate toxic exposures and cleanse harmful chemicals from your body with a personalized program that may include diet, supplements (e.g., magnesium, vitamin B-6, selenium and glutathione), hydrotherapy and other strategies.
Read on to see what Dr. Crinnion has to say about eliminating toxins from your home and food...
August 19, 2010
Magic Muscle-Cramp Cure
After a long day of gardening last week, I awakened with an intense muscle cramp in my leg that was so painful I might have been worried -- except that I knew what I could drink to make it go away (you won’t believe that I could it get down at 3 am -- I’ll tell you what it was in a minute). But sometimes muscle cramps aren’t so easy to get rid of and, in fact, sometimes they are a sign of a serious illness. And, of course, not everyone knows about my magic cure... so I thought this was a topic you might like to know some more about.
Who Gets Muscle Cramps?
Muscle cramps are a common problem -- medically speaking, a muscle cramp is a sudden, involuntary contraction of one or more muscles that can be very painful, sometimes leaving tenderness for up to 24 hours after the cramp subsides. Aging and overuse of the muscles are two common causes, but other triggers can include dehydration... low blood sugar... calcium, sodium and/or magnesium deficiency... underactive thyroid... kidney or liver dysfunction... peripheral vascular disease (which restricts blood flow to the legs)... nerve compression... Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS)... brain tumors/cancer... multiple sclerosis... well, you get the picture.
What you need to know
To get some useful advice, I contacted Barry Wiese, DC, a board-certified chiropractic neurologist in private practice in Rochester, New York, whose specialty work with geriatric patients and background as a marathon runner have given him especially unique expertise on this topic. Cautioning that there is no surefire, works-every-time solution, he told me how to differentiate a run-of-the-mill (if excruciating) cramp from one that you must tell your doctor about.
Here’s a list of questions to ask yourself:
Are my cramps random? According to Dr. Wiese, a cramp that comes on suddenly and inexplicably is usually not a problem. Noting that the majority of random cramps are no big deal, he suggested that it’s fine to try the "old standby" cures, including eating a banana (for potassium)... drinking more water to counter dehydration... light stretching of the affected area... self-massage... and heat packs to relieve pain and tenderness.
Are my cramps becoming more frequent and/or following a pattern? Cramps that begin to establish themselves in a predictable pattern -- such as at a particular time of day or when you walk -- may be a worrisome sign that you should discuss with your doctor.
Did I do something that might explain this cramp? If you realize that you are getting cramps often, even predictably in certain situations, start a log of when they strike including time of day... what you’ve eaten... how long they last... how painful they are (consider a score between one and 10)... and what you were doing before and during the episode. Share this information with your doctor.
Should I see my doctor? With persistent or worsening muscle cramps, you need to see your doctor to discuss potential causes and treatments. Though muscle cramping represents abnormal function, it’s only rarely serious, Dr. Weise said. However, he pointed out that "many disease processes include cramping in their list of symptoms... and for many of those, the earlier you get treated, the better the outcome -- so it pays to follow a conservative, cautious route until proven otherwise."
You’ll be asked about your medical history, and your doctor may suggest some tests, including blood work, to find the root cause. Treatment options could range from vitamin B supplementation... to prescription medications, such as diltiazem (a calcium-channel blocker) and baclofen (a potent muscle relaxant sometimes used to treat muscle spasms in patients with MS and ALS)... and possibly even quinine, the malaria treatment, though it’s used only in extreme cases because of the potential adverse side effects.
Of course, you know already that my muscle cramp fell into the "random and not worrisome" category, painful as it was. So now I will tell you about my secret cure... pickle juice! (You could also just eat a pickle.) No, I’m not kidding, and you may be surprised to learn that Dr. Wiese didn’t even find it strange when I told him. I learned about pickle juice from my college field hockey coach, who suggested drinking it -- and/or eating mustard -- when players complained of muscle cramps. Both contain acetic acid, salts and other ingredients that help neutralize the compounds or electrolyte deficiencies that may cause cramps. Other helpful remedies you may be able to pull out of your kitchen cabinets include apple cider vinegar (mix two teaspoons with one teaspoon of honey into a glass of warm water), which works much like the pickle juice... and chamomile tea, which contains glycine, an amino acid that helps relieve muscle spasms.
August 16, 2010
Got Goat, Sheep or Buffalo Milk?
He made his first diagnosis at age seven. Daily Health News contributing editor Andrew L. Rubman, ND, told his parents, "No more milk." Sure enough, that spelled the end of his trouble with fatigue, runny nose and other allergy symptoms, not to mention the beginning of a lifelong habit of challenging accepted health-care wisdom.
Dr. Rubman is still not a milk drinker, but he agreed to share his thoughts about the slew of "new" milks on the shelves of health-food stores and even mainstream supermarkets. For a variety of reasons, milk from other animals -- including goats and sheep -- might be more beneficial to your health than cow’s milk. And, believe it or not, the FDA recently removed the legal barriers that have thus far prevented milk from camels, llamas, reindeer, moose and donkeys from being sold in the US -- though I’d be very surprised if those show up in many retail stores anytime soon, since distributors must prove that those milks are processed according to the same standards that are required for cow's milk.
Why Drink Milk?
Most of us grew up hearing that we should drink lots and lots of milk -- three glasses a day -- to help us grow big and strong. The health claims are not without merit. Cow’s milk, and indeed all mammalian milks, naturally contain a mixture of healthful compounds, including protein, fat, calcium and other minerals and vitamins. However, each species produces the specific blend of nutrients best-suited for its own offspring, Dr. Rubman explains -- calves grow best with cow’s milk, lambs with sheep milk and so on. It’s therefore no surprise that for humans, milk from an animal -- any animal -- is more allergenic and difficult to digest than what nature intended, which is, of course, milk from our own mothers.
Practically everyone knows that some people have trouble digesting milk, but not so many people realize that there are actually two different reasons why that’s so. Some people have sensitive or allergic reactions to one or more proteins found in one or more types of milk, while others cannot tolerate the sugar (called lactose) that is found in all mammalian milk. Why? With age, some people lose the natural ability to produce lactase, the digestive enzyme that breaks down lactose. Symptoms of both problems are the same -- intestinal gas, diarrhea, runny nose, nasal congestion, asthma, wheezing, vomiting and skin rash.
Cow’s Milk -- The Worst!
Economics are a key reason why cow’s milk became so popular -- cows produce more milk than goats and other mammals, and at a lower cost.
However, with high levels of alpha-S1 casein protein (a major allergen), lactose and large fat globules, cow’s milk happens to pose the greatest challenge of all milks to humans. Dr. Rubman said that some who can’t tolerate cow’s milk do fine with milk from another animal, however.
Next Best: Goat’s Milk
You may be surprised to hear that worldwide, more people drink goat’s milk than cow’s milk, and lately I’ve noticed cartons of it in the dairy section of my local supermarket. Easier for many people to digest, goat’s milk contains a bit less lactose and higher amounts of protein and fat and in forms that are more digestible than cow’s milk. It also contains a bit less lactose.
Milk from goats contains more of other nutrients than cow’s milk as well. For example, it has 13% more calcium and greater amounts of healthful short- and medium-chain fatty acids. Proponents prefer its tangy flavor and like that it is usually produced on small farms, free of antibiotics and growth hormone. (To verify, look at the label for certification that the production method is antibiotic and/or growth-hormone free.) Expect to pay more for milk from goats -- one popular brand, Meyenberg (www.Meyenberg.com
), is double the price of cow’s milk... but enthusiasts say they don’t mind, since they like the taste and the increased nutrition. People who like and easily tolerate goat milk will likely also find that goat cheeses, yogurts and ice creams go down easily.
Sheep and Buffalo Milk: Up Next?
If you can find them in your health-food store, sheep and buffalo milks are a tasty -- but considerably more expensive -- alternative. Both resemble cow’s milk in taste but have a thicker, creamier texture. Like goat's milk, milk from ewes has more short- and medium-chain fatty acids than cow’s milk and smaller fat globules, which makes it healthier and easier to digest for humans. It also packs more calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and vitamins A, B (especially B-6 and B-12) and E. Buffalo milk has more calcium than milk from cows, goats or sheep... contains more butterfat and protein than cow’s milk... and is a rich source of phosphorus, vitamin A and iron.
On the other hand, both sheep and buffalo milk have more lactose than cow’s milk, so avoid these (and other products made from them) if you are lactose-intolerant. Common sheep milk products include yogurt, ice cream and cheeses (Feta from Greece, Roquefort from France, Pecorino Romano from Italy, Manchego from Spain, etc.). As for the buffalo, in addition to the milk you can find yogurt, ice cream and cheeses including, of course, the gourmet buffalo mozzarella.
While camel milk is popular in the Middle East and Africa, the FDA still hasn’t approved its sale in the US -- but camel milk enthusiasts, especially one in particular, are working on that. Holistic health practitioner Millie Hinkle, who "fell in love with camel milk" on a trip to the United Arab Emirates, has made it her mission to market it here in the US.
If camel milk marketers can get over the FDA approval hump, they face a few other challenges -- one is its somewhat salty taste, and the other is that camels are pretty uncooperative about being milked. The milk can boast some major nutritional advantages over cow’s milk, however -- it has less lactose (as much as half) ... three times as much vitamin C... and slightly higher levels of iron, unsaturated fatty acids and B vitamins. Camel milk afficionados also insist that their beverage of choice is an aphrodisiac -- and you can bet that claim will make it into their marketing materials! You can find out more about camel milk at www.CamelMilkUSA.com
The complexities of milk selection don’t end here, however. Read on to learn about the newest controversy in milk-drinking circles....
people who have chronically dry skin may be lacking essential fatty acids, important in supporting immunity. Also, many people are deficient in vitamin D.
- Consider taking probiotics. This is especially important for people with ongoing digestive complaints -- see your doctor to determine which type to take.
Meanwhile, I will follow this important story to keep you apprised of new developments.