Archives for Health Matters Blog

“Are there Benefits to having Bipolar disorder?”

Let me start by acknowledging what is well known: Manic Depression or Bipolar disorder can be a devastating illness. Affecting at least 1% of the population, it can, untreated, result in suicide, ruined careers and devastated families. Bipolar disorder is often accompanied by alcohol and drug abuse and addiction, criminal and even violent behavior. I acknowledge this, because I do not want to make light of the burden this illness places on people’s lives, their families and communities. On the other hand, the history of the world has been influenced very significantly by people with manic depression – from actors and
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More on ‘Medicine Masquerading as Science’

In a previous blog, I talked about how many doctors and patients do not know the full story about their drugs or medical treatments because of a widespread problem involving unpublished or biased clinical trials. Here is an update on what is happening. As I mentioned, frequently, medical journals or pharmaceutical companies that sponsor research will report only positive results, leaving out the non-findings or negative findings where a new drug or procedure may have proved more harmful than helpful. “A new review of research about this problem points to hidden or misleading studies for all sorts of conditions, including
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Scrub the Soap to Save Your Thyroid?

There are over 900 ‘new to nature’ chemicals in our environments, in our blood, and many are even in the blood of unborn children. Now, following the heightened concern regarding bisphenol A (in clear plastics, such as baby bottles), the FDA is beginning to set its sights on Triclosan. Triclosan is an antibacterial preservative used in “76% of liquid soaps and 29% of bar soaps”. Aside from soaps, triclosan is also used in toothpastes, cosmetics, shoes, socks, workout clothes, and many personal care products. Triclosan has been detected in the urine of 75% of Americans, 60% of US streams, and
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The Teenagers Brain

If you are reading this, you are probably a parent, a teacher, or perhaps even a teen yourself. In any case, you feel confounded by unpredictable and volatile behavior, emotions which seem to arise like tornados from out of the blue, and a parade of identities which seem to change as fast as a runway model’s wardrobe. What causes all this chaos and confusion? In this article I will summarize some of the new research findings, which shed light on this most vibrant phase of life in the teen brain. The structure of the brain I often describe the overall
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Letter to the Editor of the New York Times

The New York Times had a front page article on May 12th, 2010 entitled: “Doubt is Cast on Many Reports of Food Allergies“. The article reviewed a government report on the concept and prevalence of food allergies. From the NY times report (I have not read the article, as it is not available yet) there are some valid points (e.g., a food allergy must involve the immune system, certain food reactions are not true allergies, such as lactose intolerance). However my concern is twofold: The NY Times summary of the article, and perhaps the publication itself, seem at this point
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Obesity, Insulin Resistance, Diabetes and Mental Health: Part II

As I mentioned in part I of this blog, there is a strong association between insulin resistance, diabetes and mental health. Caught and treated early, insulin resistance is reversible in >90% of patients, and there is a clear improvement in well-being associated with this reversal. To get to the foundation of the problem, you must do a diagnostic work-up, to identify and deal with the layered factors which promote insulin resistance and diabetes. Factors to be assessed include: a) Cortisol-levels which are too high, (as might be the case in anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and psychotic disorders) cause insulin to
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Obesity, Insulin Resistance, Diabetes and Mental Health: Part I

Insulin resistance is a fully reversible condition in which the cells of the body become insensitive to the insulin signal, which itself is designed to take glucose (sugar) out of the blood and into the cells (for energy). If insulin resistance becomes severe enough, it progresses into type II diabetes. Diabetes is more difficult to reverse, and is associated with frequent urination, increased weight, increased thirst, and a host of other problems. The connection between obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes and mental health problems is no longer questioned. There are number of reasons for the association, including the use of psychotropic
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Fractured Families – a good thing?

I was thinking about the high rate of fractured families and the lack of community in the US, when I began to look at the issue from a different perspective. Fractured families may not be pathological from the planet’s point of view. The earth’s limited resources, or at least the way we are using them, cannot sustain the increasing numbers of human inhabitants. These days, it is clear that the tide has changed; we are not living in a time of easy expansion, which has been present for years. We are now at a point where resources are becoming scarce,
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PMS and Insomnia: What to do?

Insomnia, an all too common problem, is usually attributed to stress, depression, anxiety, alcohol or caffeine use, poor sleep hygiene, restless legs syndrome, and sleep apnea. Hormonally, thyroid abnormalities, and unusually low levels of melatonin can cause insomnia as well. While all of these syndromes should be considered in evaluating insomnia, the role that PMS and female hormones (progesterone, estrogens) play in insomnia is rarely discussed. Background In healthy women sleep disturbances occur twice as often as they do in men. Insomnia is also often more common in the 1-2 weeks before menstruation begins (the luteal phase of the cycle),
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Mitochondria and inflammation

New research indicates that in cases of closed crush injury, runaway inflammation is not due to infection, as previously thought. Never able to find the source of the supposed infection, doctors and researchers were baffled until now. It turns out that when there is such an injury, the mitochondria, which are the energy powerhouses of the body, are released into the circulation. Since mitochondria are thought to be energy producing bacteria-like organisms it’s not surprising that the immune system would mount a response to these usually cell bound parts of us. Mitochondria are not usually present in the blood stream,
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