This is the time of year that patients come in with many questions about the cold and flu. Should I get the flu shot? What happens if I get the flu? What do I do for the common cold? Though there are many things you can do to avoid catching these nasty viruses this winter, there is one remedy in particular that everyone should know about. Black elderberry has a long history of use in colds, and several studies in humans have shown that black elderberries not only reduce the severity, but also the duration of influenza. As a matter of fact, when the H1N1 flu was going around, the National Institute of Health screened a wide range of natural products to see if they had antiviral activity, and black elderberry ranked very high. Black elderberry has both antiviral and antibacterial properties, having effectiveness against influenza A, influenza B, and several gram positive and negative bacteria. Elderberry can be safe and effective for many of the common respiratory complaints people have during the cold and flu season. It’s safe for children, and safe for adults as well, making elderberry an essential member of your medicine chest this winter. I personally get my elderberry from www.mindfullymadeforyou.com to support local small business!
Leaves of three, let them be!! Hairy vine, no friend of mine!! Raggy rope, don’t be a dope!! Berries white, run in fright!! Growing up in the midwest, most of us are well informed of this itchy summer issue. We know to avoid the plant, wear protective clothing, and wash the oil off as soon as exposed.
As a young child I was never allergic and spent most of my summers exploring the woods, marveling at the wonders of nature. When I developed a rhus (poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac) allergy as a young adult, it seriously impacted my enjoyment of the summer!!
Five years ago I heard of a pharmacy in Warsaw, Missouri offering a poison ivy prevention treatment. My husband and I had recently purchased a farm with extensive poison ivy actively growing. I had spent the last 3 summers requiring multiple steroid injections for poison ivy so both of us decided to give this a try.
And it WORKED!! Each year it works even better. Some people get complete immunity. I have never been that lucky but have significant less skin eruption with direct contact of the plant and no spread. I have not required steroid treatment for 4 years now and might get one small blister in the area of direct skin contact with the plant.
This is a homeopathic treatment and does not impact medications or supplements. Poison Ivy Oral Solution is designed to work as a preventative to help protect against getting poison ivy. The cost for members is $40 and the cost for non-members is $60 at Direct Medical Care. This solution is held in the mouth for 30 seconds and then swallowed. Poison Ivy Solution is best taken between meals. Mint flavored foods or mouthwashes must be avoided 30 minutes to one hour before and after administration. The first dose of the medication should be administered in a physician’s office, the other’s may be taken at home. Patients taking the Poison Ivy Solution during the plant’s active growth phase (late spring and summer) should keep away from the plant until all three vials have been taken.
First dose monitoring in the doctor’s office is related to the active ingredient in the solution. It contains a dilution of the resin of the plant Rhus Toxicdendron. I have not seen a case of allergy to the solution, but it is theoretically possible.
The treatment success I have experienced is part of the reason I pursued integrative medicine. It opened my eyes to the possibilities of alternative treatments. I typically order my own solution in March and will be putting an order in soon.
Are you ready to ditch the itch?
Beckie Moore, Integrative Family Nurse Practitioner
The recent commercial promoting screening for hepatitis C in the Baby Boomers has scared many of my patients and their friends. Scare tactics usually work for a desired action, but is this really necessary? I would argue it is not.
Hepatitis C is a virus that is transmitted by blood exposure. It is estimated that almost 3.2 million people in the United States have the virus.
The hepatitis C virus cancause liver damage, can cause cancer, and can cause death because of the liver damage or cancer. You can also have the virus and never develop symptoms.
Risks for acquiring hepatitis C:
tattoos, blood transfusions, organ recipients, accidental needle sticks, IV drug use, and sexual intercourse
Pharmaceutical companies that have a vested interest in the drugs used to treat hepatitis C have a lot to profit with increased diagnosis. With increased screening, we get increased diagnosis which leads to increased usage of medications which leads to huge monetary gains for the pharmaceutical companies. While we do not include hepatitis testing in our routine labs we do recommend annual evaluation of liver enzymes which indirectly looks for the presence of hepatitis C.
And while I have certainly lost patients from a variety of disease processes, I have never had a patient die from hepatitis C…don’t be scared regarding this issue, talk to your doctor.
Calories Consumed < Calories Expended= Weight Loss
It can be one misstep in your day that will sabotage all your good efforts. Stealing the term introduced to me by an inspiring patient, I would like to bring “the calorie creep” to life in the pictures below:
Keep in mind it does not have to be junk food that can be your calorie creep–avoid the creep in whatever form!
One of the most common allergens is grasses and specifically timothy grass. We are seeing these right now. While preventive treatment is ideal, treatment is currently focused on relieving the symptoms. There is a new option for allergy sufferers of common grasses for future seasons. The middle of freezing temperatures is when the grasses are dormant. It is that time that preventive treatment needs to start.
The newest option to treat for the timothy grass allergen is Grastek. This is immunotherapy in a pill. For those that have endured the weekly shots this is a novel, relatively painless approach to immunotherapy that can be done in the comfort of your own home.
Grastek covers Timothy grasses but also has cross coverage to other grasses.
It should be started for seasonal care 12 weeks ahead of pollen and throughout the season or taken consecutively for 3 years.
Click on the following link for more information on administration of Grastek.
Another common allergen that is on the horizon is ragweed. Fortunately, our timing of discussing this form of treatment is ideal. The same manufacturer of Grastek has developed a similar treatment for ragweed with the prescription drug Ragwitek.
Ragwitek like Grastek should be taken 12 weeks before the allergen season. In this geographic area the typical ragweed season begins about August 15. That gives an estimated start date of the medication in mid-May.
Ragwitek is taken similarly to Grastek with pre-seasonal and seasonal administration or continuous administration for 3 years.
TRADITIONAL ALLERGY CARE
Many other treatments remain the mainstay for allergy treatment:
While avoidance can be difficult here are some pointers that may help:
Stay indoors when the pollen count is high especially between 5AM to 10 AM when pollen counts are highest
Wear a mask when mowing or avoid mowing altogether
Choose grasses for your lawn that produce less pollen–dichondra and irish moss are some examples
Mow frequently to keep grass short
Keep windows closed
Avoid attic fans
Bathe pets frequently
Do not dry clothes outdoors
Minimize alcohol intake as it leads to dehydration and increased sensitivity to allergens
Another topic to come…How do I know what I am allergic to?
So it’s summertime right? …time for the beach, lake, swimming pool, water park, and baseball games. You pack up all your gear and head out to have some fun in the sun. And sometimes it’s hard to remember to pack the sunscreen, apply it, not to mention reapplying it all-day-long. Then there’s that nice tan glow we all love to have in the summer. But…..
“More than 3.5 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed in the US each year, and more than 73,000 cases of melanoma are expected to be diagnosed this year.”
One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, melanoma being the most deadly form. In fact, an estimated 9,940 people will die of melanoma in 2015. Prevention is obviously key when it comes to skin cancer. Daily use of a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher reduces your risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by 40 percent and melanoma by 50 percent.
It’s an easy thing to over-look…I mean it’s the sun, we go outside, we go inside, it’s our world, and therefore easy to forget. But trust me, for those of you that have been blessed to not have gone through it in your life, there’s nothing scarier than hearing that your best friend, your 36 year old sister, has been diagnosed with Stage II Melanoma. And there’s no time that is longer or goes by slower than the time it takes for lymph node biopsy results to come back. There’s no exposure, from the sun or tanning bed that is “better” for you or less harmful than the other. Sunless or “spray tan” is a good option to consider if you feel like you need some color or that summertime glow.
Another important step is having annual skin checks, as well as watching for any changes to existing or new moles on your body. This one, to me, is a no-brainer. Skin cancer is the one form of cancer that allows you to see your tumor…right there, in plain sight, on the outside of your body. The woman with the lump deep in her breast, guy with a tumor on his kidney or deep in his brain, or child with cancer in their bone marrow didn’t have that chance. It was hidden inside, not able to be seen, causing harm, just waiting to be found. So take advantage of the chance to have this particular cancer identified and stopped in its tracks as soon as possible.
“Each year there are more combined incidences of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung, and colon.”
There are some key characteristics, known as the ABCDEs of skin cancer, that you can look for to help identify a potentially dangerous mole.
So get outside this summer and have a blast enjoying this time of year and all the activities that go along with it! Just remember to drink plenty of water and make sure to wear sunscreen to protect yourself from the harm that our sun’s rays can cause….and hey, take heart in knowing that you’re preventing all those future wrinkles.