Blooming Wellness https://www.bloomingwellness.com Health & Wellness Blog by Dr. Eeks Wed, 01 Apr 2020 23:05:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 Intermittent Fasting with Dr. Mark Mattson https://www.bloomingwellness.com/2020/04/intermittent-fasting-with-dr-mark-mattson/ https://www.bloomingwellness.com/2020/04/intermittent-fasting-with-dr-mark-mattson/#respond Wed, 01 Apr 2020 23:04:47 +0000 https://www.bloomingwellness.com/?p=19136 It’s not every day you get to chat with a world expert on intermittent fasting, but that’s what happened on my Causes or Cures podcast. If you read my author’s bio on Amazon or here on Blooming Wellness, you’ll learn that I am a fan of intermittent fasting. I fell into it randomly. It’s no […]

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It’s not every day you get to chat with a world expert on intermittent fasting, but that’s what happened on my Causes or Cures podcast.

If you read my author’s bio on Amazon or here on Blooming Wellness, you’ll learn that I am a fan of intermittent fasting. I fell into it randomly. It’s no secret that I struggled with bulimia for years: From the end of my senior year in high school, all through my years at West Point, all of my twenties and into my early thirties. I’m very open about my struggle and write about it in great detail in my book Manic Kingdom. One thing that always struck me about bulimia was its addictive nature. No matter how many times I wanted to quit the “binge and purge” cycle, my body was wired against me. My brain craved the endorphin rush that always happened after binging on high sugar/high fat foods and throwing them up. The only thing that genuinely helped me was mindful eating. I taught myself mindfulness-based stress reduction, which organically led me to apply mindfulness to each element of my life: exercise; relationships; analyzing data; writing and, of course, eating. The more I practiced mindful eating techniques, the more I learned about my emotional and physiological connection to food. I got better at figuring out when I was actually hungry and when I was eating food as a way to manage an uncomfortable emotion: fear, anxiety, or sadness. With time and practice, I learned healthier ways to manage those emotions. I learned to “sit with” the frustrating physiological side effects of being “addicted” to bulimia: the urge to binge; the growling, acidic stomach; the obsessive thoughts about running to the grocery store to buy binge food. At first, it was really tough and uncomfortable…there were times I wanted someone to tie me down in a chair so I wouldn’t storm out the door to the store. But then you get used to it. And once you sit through a few of the urges and manage them with mindfulness, it gets easier and easier and easier, till the urges no longer control you.

For me, intermittent fasting was a natural effect of mindful eating. Before I dove deep into mindful eating, I ate three meals a day. It’s what I did as a kid, a teen and as a cadet at West Point. I just assumed, without question, that eating three meals a day was the recommended, healthy thing to do. Boy, was I wrong. The practice of mindful eating made me realize that by following the “3 meals a day” recommendation, I was often forcing myself to eat when I wasn’t hungry. How is forcing myself to eat when I’m not hungry a healthy thing to do? It’s not. Instead of following the cliché, government-recommended standard, I decided to tune in deeply and listen to my body instead. Intermittent fasting was the result of that practice. It wasn’t a diet I heard about online and signed up to follow, it happened organically. As weird and “woo-rific” as this sounds, my body guided me to intermittent fasting. And now, I’m a massive fan, and, though this is subjective, I think I look better and feel better than I ever did.

Intermittent fasting potentially has health benefits. Like, a lot. I read about them online, but also in peer-reviewed, top notch journals, like the New England Journal of Medicine. It’s not easy to get a paper in there, but Dr. Mark Mattson did. His article on the benefits of intermittent fasting was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, and it was so interesting and so good that I decided to reach out and see if he’d be a guest on my Causes or Cures podcast. Lucky for me, and my listeners, he said yes.

Dr. Mattson is a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins University and founding editor of NeuroMolecular Medicine and Ageing Research Reviews. He is the former Chief of the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute of Aging and The National Institute of Health considers him “one of the world’s top experts on the potential cognitive and physical health benefits of intermittent fasting.” On this particular Causes or Cures podcast, Dr. Mattson discusses the potential health benefits of intermittent fasting, including Alzheimer’s Disease prevention, reduced memory and cognitive decline as we age, improved balance and coordination, the prevention of Type 2 Diabetes and obesity, and improved prognosis for other diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis. Dr. Mattson also discusses how intermittent fasting may be an effective lifestyle intervention for children with autism, which is both intriguing and hopeful, since parents of children with autism are constantly on the search for effective lifestyle modifications. In addition, Dr. Mattson gives his opinion on how intermittent fasting compares to the Keto diet ( discussed on a previous Causes or Cures episode) and how it compares to calorie reduction. Hope you listen ( Click here to listen)  and get something out of it.

Other blogs or Causes or Cures episodes that might interest you:

The Social Brain Hypothesis of Depression: Hardly ever discussed in the mainstream media

Wireless technology and the risk of cancer, with Dr. Fiorella Belpoggi 

Julie Ryan: Medical Intuitive 

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Ban Live Meat Markets and Aggressively Address the Driving Factors of Emerging Infectious Diseases https://www.bloomingwellness.com/2020/03/ban-live-meat-markets-and-aggressively-address-the-driving-factors-of-emerging-infectious-diseases/ https://www.bloomingwellness.com/2020/03/ban-live-meat-markets-and-aggressively-address-the-driving-factors-of-emerging-infectious-diseases/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2020 16:19:47 +0000 https://www.bloomingwellness.com/?p=19114 It’s time. There has to be a much stronger international effort to ban live meat markets and come down harder on the illegal wildlife trade. It didn’t happen after SARS, but it needs to happen now. Turning a blind eye to them is the equivalent of playing an international game of Russian Roulette. Both are […]

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It’s time.

There has to be a much stronger international effort to ban live meat markets and come down harder on the illegal wildlife trade. It didn’t happen after SARS, but it needs to happen now. Turning a blind eye to them is the equivalent of playing an international game of Russian Roulette. Both are long known to be significant factors that contribute to emerging infectious diseases, and if they continue, we will certainly have another Disease X. And we’ll have another one after that, and another one after that…, and one of those Disease Xs will be far more lethal than COVID-19.

Outbreaks might have been kept more localized before rampant air travel and high-speed railway, but they aren’t anymore. Take Wuhan, for example. COVID-19 is linked to originating from the Huanan South China Seafood Market- a live animal market. Genomic sequencing showed that COVID-19 was 96% identical to a bat coronavirus, meaning the bat was most likely the original host. COVID-19 is a zoonotic infection, meaning it doesn’t cause disease in bats, but it does when it jumps species, for example to the human species. How does a virus jump to the human species? When humans come in close contact with bats. Some research also suggests that minks and snakes were intermediate hosts for COVID-19. Either way, bats, minks and snakes were all sold at the market.

Wuhan is a city of 11 million with a high-speed railway system & airline flights connecting it to other cities in China, but it’s also connected internationally via direct and indirect flights. According to transportation data I saw, in one month ( January), there were close to 700,000 passenger bookings from Wuhan. Given a virus like COVID-19, one that has a long serial interval time (time between appearance of symptoms in the index case to appearance in secondary case) and a long incubation period (5-6 days, maybe longer) leads to a high level of asymptomatic spread. A high level of asymptomatic spread plus a high level of both domestic and international travel can lead to an international public health and economic disaster.

We will get through this pandemic and reach a much more optimal equilibrium with COVID-19: One where we are ahead of the virus and not playing catch-up; one where the viral reproductive number shifts closer to 1; one where the viral doubling time will lengthen (which will significantly slow down its exponential growth), and one where the susceptible population will decrease. The best treatment drugs will be determined via randomized controlled trials and a vaccine will be developed. However, a lot of lives will be lost in the process. Some might be our friends and family members. That’s a permanent and devastating loss, and there’s no coming back. The economy will be damaged, but at least that has the opportunity to bounce back. My one hope is that when this new, relatively-normal equilibrium is reached, and when we’re back to socializing, shopping, living a care-free, mask-free life with an abundance of ventilators, toilet paper and hand sanitizer, we won’t forget about the factors that lead to new emerging infectious diseases, like COVID-19.

I’ve mentioned two driving factors, live meat markets and the illegal wildlife trade, that are specific to the spread of COVID-19. There are many other driving factors, all well-researched and documented, and all having to do with how humans interact with the environment and its various species. These include: antibiotic resistance due to overuse in farm animals or over-prescription; eating bush meat or raw meat; land misuse; deforestation; building pools of standing waters, such as dams and irrigation systems ( mosquito-borne illnesses); unsafe sexual practices; burial practices ( Ebola outbreak); ineffective or lack of vaccination; war; famine; migration; certain agricultural practices and more. One can classify historical outbreaks by the driving factors, which is one of the things I did during my Public Health internship.

Lately, coronaviruses in bats ( the reservoir) have been implicated in serious respiratory diseases in humans. Bats aren’t the problem. In fact, bats are essential. They pollinate fruit trees and control the insect population. They are an excellent organic public health intervention for controlling mosquito-borne illnesses, like malaria and Dengue fever. Bats are great, as long as we don’t come too close. Unfortunately, human ignorance is forcing an unprecedented closeness. Let’s use Southeast Asia as an example. Over the last 40 years, Southeast Asia has experienced a huge amount of deforestation, losing between 30-40% of its forests. This is due to expanding agriculture and land development. Though deforestation cuts into the “bats’ land,” bats are incredibly adaptable creatures. They can adapt to a more agrarian and developed environment ( a house can make a great bat cave), but this increase our chance of close contact: through direct means; through domesticated and farm animals; or through bat urine and feces. That means a bat coronavirus can more easily jump from a bat to one of our domesticated or farm animals, or it can jump to us directly. It’s suggested that the Middle Eastern Respiratory Outbreak (MERS) started this way. MERS-CoV may have first jumped from fruit bats to dromedary camels, and then to humans who came in contact with infected camels.

 

So, don’t forget. When we emerge on the other side of COVID-19, don’t forget. It’s that simple. Prepare for outbreaks, always. But if we don’t address the factors leading to emerging infectious diseases, we will have many more Disease Xs.

 

Erin Stair, MD, MPH  

 

Yours in Wellness, Krystal Heeling– Grab a copy of my comedy book from Amazon.  🙂

ZENTones –  Check them out. For stress relief, sleep help and more.

COVID-19: Why we can’t only shut down the cities

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COVID-19: Why We Can’t Only Shut Down Cities Like NYC https://www.bloomingwellness.com/2020/03/covid-19-why-we-cant-only-shut-down-cities-like-nyc-and-need-to-shut-down-everywhere/ https://www.bloomingwellness.com/2020/03/covid-19-why-we-cant-only-shut-down-cities-like-nyc-and-need-to-shut-down-everywhere/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2020 09:05:21 +0000 https://www.bloomingwellness.com/?p=19043   By Erin Stair MD, MPH Most of America has been ordered to shut down as we brace for the uphill battle against COVID-19. Yet, despite overwhelming consensus from the medical and public health community, there has been shouts to open up America, restart our economy and allow people to work. There has been a lot […]

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By Erin Stair MD, MPH

Most of America has been ordered to shut down as we brace for the uphill battle against COVID-19. Yet, despite overwhelming consensus from the medical and public health community, there has been shouts to open up America, restart our economy and allow people to work. There has been a lot of activity on Twitter around this issue, and from what I’ve seen, mostly political pundits and politicians urging the President to turn America back on. If I was to organize their responses, I’d use categories such as: Fear of total economical collapse; Denial of a pandemic; Fear that socialism is taking over, and Anger over a perceived violation of personal liberties. Such politicians and pundits have offered alternative solutions, some more ridiculous than others, such as: Quarantining all nursing homes and letting young people live their lives, “Only shutting down commie cities, like NYC,” and the suggestion of a “Less of a shut-in” from Larry Kudlow earlier this afternoon. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around those, considering many older people in the high-risk group are NOT in nursing homes. Many are living very active lives. And Larry, really? Less of a shut-in? Is that like one foot out-the-door and one foot in quarantine? What didn’t stand out among the anti total-shut-down advocates is their knowledge of public health, infectious disease, epidemics and medicine.

The fact is, in the fight to get ahead of COVID-19, we will experience loss of personal liberties. The economy will suffer, tremendously. People will lose jobs and suffer financially. These are terrible things that we will have to address as a nation. But what’s worse than all of those things put together? Mortality. Morbidity. Losing lives because we ignored the wisdom of seasoned medical and public heath experts. Old people, young people, immunocompromised people, completely healthy people…the virus has killed people from every group.

Today, the campaign to turn America back on seemed to have gained traction, even though the virus isn’t predicted to peak for weeks out. I found myself both equally baffled and angry. I live in New York City. The governor is begging for ventilators, there are tents set up outside traditional hospitals, the number of cases and death rate are increasing daily, some of my doctor friends are being move from traditional hospital rooms to the ICU (as patients), and the notion that our healthcare system will be dangerously overwhelmed is written on the wall. That’s New York City, they say. It’s a dense population and now America’s epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis. Smaller towns, less dense states and rural areas don’t have to worry, they say.

Oh, but they do. I will try to explain why in a simple way.

First, they’re right about population density. The more dense a population, the easier a virus will run through it. When it comes to population density, New York City, and other cities, are at a clear disadvantage when it comes to controlling an airborne infectious disease like COVID-19. But that doesn’t mean less dense areas are completely out of the woods, and that has a lot to do with the epidemiological characteristics of the virus and our response thus far. Also, let’s not lose sight of the fact that cases have traveled in and out of cities, and we now have positive cases all over the country.

I’ll start by explaining the epidemiological characteristics that make COVID-19 a particularly contagious and lethal virus.

1) COVID-19 has a high Ro number

Ro represents the reproduction number for any virus. In a nutshell, it’s the average number of secondary cases generated from a primary case, if the entire population was susceptible. If it’s greater than 1, the number of infections are likely to increase. If it’s less than 1, transmission is likely to die out. COVID19’s Ro is high. I’ve read one analysis that averaged it to be 3.3. The World Health Organization has a slightly lower Ro. From other countries’ data, COVID19 had a high Ro even when case isolation was used early and strictly enforced. To me, that indicates the possibility of a lot of asymptomatic spread. COVID19’s Ro, from what I’ve read, is higher than during the SARS outbreak (a sister Coronavirus) and we know that COVID-19 is already more widespread than SARS. ( The goal is to get Ro to 1 or below 1. That means you have a good shot of beating an epidemic.)

2)COVID-19 has a long serial interval time

It’s estimated to be between 4-8 days. The serial interval time is the time from symptom onset in the “index” or “first” case to the secondary case. In comparison, H1N1 has a shorter serial interval time, which means that symptoms manifest faster… so it would be easier to recognize and isolate people.

3) COVID-19’s Potential Asymptomatic Spread:

The incubation period for COVID-19 is 5-6 days. That’s relatively long. This plus a long serial interval time creates the potential for a lot of spreading. This is also where COVID-19 differs from SARS. SARS didn’t have a long incubation period, which made it easier to control asymptomatic spread.

4) COVID-19’s Case Fatality Rate

Folks have been tossing around mortality rates that are cringe-worthy. They’ve wrongly compared mortality rates to other outbreaks and made false conclusions. What one should pay attention to, when it comes to mortality rates, is the denominator. You want to make sure you compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. The case fatality rate is the death rate in the number of cases that tested positive. It’s not the death rate for the entire population. While it isn’t a perfect measurement, because not all positive cases will be documented, it’s a good measurement when comparing outbreaks. The case fatality rate for COVID-19 varies a lot, as one would expect for a new infectious disease, but right now, it clearly is significantly higher than the seasonal flu. So when people say, “the flu kills more people than this,” they’re simply wrong.

5) COVID-19’s Morbidity & Health System Use

Morbidity, here, refers to any lingering effects after recovering from a viral illness. There hasn’t been much of a discussion around morbidity and COVID-19. However, I have read reports of permanent lung damage in patients who have recovered. If we look at SARS, there was significant morbidity after patients recovered. There were changes visible on lung scans. Others were diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis and restrictive airway disease. Some patients had muscle weakness, poorer lung function and shortness of breath. Psychologically, many had issues with anxiety and depression.

In addition to the above epidemiological characteristics of COVID-19, which show it’s a contagious and deadly virus, one needs to consider our initial response to the outbreak. The initial response to an outbreak, especially an airborne one, is the most critical. If we get that wrong, we will be playing catch-up with the virus for a long time. I’m not here to blame anyone, but our response was slow. SUPER slow. If we instead swiftly and aggressively identified positive cases, isolated them, traced all of their contacts and quarantined them, we would be in a better spot than our current one. Singapore, a highly dense population, did this extremely well and has efficiently curbed viral spread. I hope we model Singapore’s approach in future outbreaks ( there will be future Disease X’s), but we fell short this time and the virus spread like fire. In the coming weeks it will overwhelm our health system, first in cities like NYC, and then elsewhere as more and more people become symptomatic. Small towns will be hit. Rural hospitals will be hit. Hospitals in poorer, rural areas that are often understaffed and under-resourced will feel those hits hard. That said, because the population in those areas is naturally less dense, fast isolation of positive cases and fast quarantining of all contacts via tracing right NOW can help slow the storm about to hit their hospitals.

I also want to stress two important facts that we don’t have a lot of data on: A lot of people from surrounding suburbs and small towns commute to cities for work. I’ll use NYC, Long Island and the Delaware Water Gap area in Pennsylvania as an example. People drive in or take the Long Island Railroad to NYC from Long Island daily for work. The same goes for the Delaware Water Gap. People drive in or take the Martz bus in daily for work. Then what do they do at the end of the work day? Take the same transportation home. This means that we’ve had a constant influx and efflux of potential cases into and out of NYC, up until Gov Cuomo completely shut us down. A similar trend happens with other cities, as cities have most of the jobs. Also, people have been exiting NYC and retreating to summer homes, friends’ places, hotels, etc. in surrounding areas for over the last 2 weeks. They’re still doing it. While the streets have become emptier and emptier here in NYC, so have apartments and town homes. The occupants are now in a new geographical location. Though Dr. Fauci recently requested that folks who left NYC, and other cities, self-isolate for up to 14 days, we know that probably didn’t happen. At least not for everyone. Were some of those people positive? It’s very possible, and only furthers my opinion that we need to remain shut down to slow the spread in the most optimal way for everyone.

Let’s not forget this either: Other diseases and ailments and medical emergencies didn’t get together and suddenly go on holiday. They’re still around, will require medical attention, and will only add to burying our health system in the age of the Coronavirus.

And if we open back up too soon, before we have a solid grip on the virus, what will THAT economic damage look like? Will we immediately shut down again? Is there a model for that very real and potential outcome?

Given the facts as they stand today, my opinion is that it’s in the public’s interest for America to remain shut down. That’s our only chance of getting ahead of COVID-19 and saving the most lives.

I hope this makes sense. It’s a quick summary, it’s my opinion, but if you have any questions, please post below and I will try to answer.

Thanks,

Erin

You may also want to check out:

Anecdo or Anecdon’t? Traditional Science vs Anecdotes in The Age of  the Coronavirus 

The Art of Social Distancing in the Throes of COVID-19

My new Parody on the Wellness Industry & Big Pharma: Yours in Wellness, Krystal Heeling.

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Anecdo or Anecdon’t? Traditional Science vs Anecdotal Evidence in The Age of the Coronavirus https://www.bloomingwellness.com/2020/03/traditionalsciencevsanecdotalevidenceintheageofthecoronavirus/ https://www.bloomingwellness.com/2020/03/traditionalsciencevsanecdotalevidenceintheageofthecoronavirus/#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2020 22:59:19 +0000 https://www.bloomingwellness.com/?p=18974 By Erin Stair, MD, MPH As COVID-19 takes over our entire lives, one thing is evident: No one definitively knows how to treat it. This makes sense, because it’s a new infectious disease; the new kid on the block who everyone is desperately trying to understand. Treatment is supportive, essentially keeping fevers from getting too […]

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By Erin Stair, MD, MPH

As COVID-19 takes over our entire lives, one thing is evident: No one definitively knows how to treat it. This makes sense, because it’s a new infectious disease; the new kid on the block who everyone is desperately trying to understand. Treatment is supportive, essentially keeping fevers from getting too high, airways open and oxygen flowing into infected lungs. In its most serious form, COVID-19 can lead to an aggressive form of pneumonia that rapidly progresses into Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome and death.

The fact that there is no approved drugs or vaccines for COVID-19 has created a situation in which new drugs and therapies are being used. Perhaps one of them, or a combination of them, will work. This sentiment makes sense. We are fighting a deadly epidemic that is overwhelming healthcare systems and killing thousands of people, there is no approved treatment(s), we don’t have time for randomized controlled trials, so let’s just try something. Anything. Let’s see what happens, and really, what do we have to lose? Given our dire straits, even the strictest, traditional scientists and doctors are relaxing standards about what should be used as medicine and what shouldn’t.

We also live in a social media-obsessed world, where anyone with a large enough following, degree of likeability and ability to portray a level of expertise can act as a health and wellness expert. Or at least be viewed as one. Nowadays, they have easy access to user-friendly tools to create professional-looking posts, charts, pictures and infographics that they can share on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, with the potential for others to see them, share them and make them go viral. Some of these people might be incredibly sharp and share helpful information, but there’s no quality control, no requirement for showing evidence, no need to have any credentials, no risk of losing any kind of license and no oversight committee to answer to. They can say whatever they want, and they often have a deep distrust of traditional medicine and doctors. Instead of the Wild West, I often refer to this phenomenon as Wild Wellness. Some are very good at what they do (and I mean very good) though I wish we could have a ranking system to weed out the good and helpful from the misinformed and dangerous.

In the battle of COVID-19, I’m witnessing both rigorous, traditional scientists and social-media fueled health gurus share a slew of anecdotes about what might work against the virus. This is expected, as we are in a race against time, folks are dying, and everyone is anxious and desperate for a cure. In some ways, everyone is on the same playing field, and it’s a matter of observational skills. What helped? What doesn’t? How many observations equal a safe amount of data to dictate a broader action? Does it even matter in a pandemic? If someone in your family has the virus and is knocking on Death’s door, wouldn’t you try anything? Anecdo or Anecdon’t: that IS the question.

I don’t have a problem with anecdotal evidence. In fact, I practice several wellness routines and ingest homemade “health” concoctions that are not supported by one iota of a randomized controlled trial. The thing is, I know that. I know what I’m doing is rooted in anecdotal evidence, but I do it anyway. Perhaps it’s because I know no one would ever fund or conduct a randomized controlled trial on what I’m doing, what I’m doing is super low risk compared to what I perceive as benefits, or I’ve been impressed with smaller studies and anecdotes. Just because something isn’t supported by a randomized, placebo-controlled trial, doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. However, I’m fully aware that what I’m doing or swallowing is not supported by a randomized, placebo-controlled trial, which is, hands down, the gold standard of evidence. As long as I’m aware, I’m okay, and as long as you’re aware of the level of evidence for a perceived treatment or intervention, I’m okay too. It’s all about being honest about the level of evidence.

Why is a randomized, placebo-controlled trial considered the gold standard? Because it’s the only legitimate way to prove that the outcome(s) you are observing are due to the treatment or intervention in question. Ideally, it’s best to have repeat randomized, placebo-controlled trials showing the same outcome. That’s a stronger level of evidence. Randomization is important to minimize for bias and to ensure that the characteristics of the treatment group and the control group are similar. Finally, our eyes and minds trick us, all the time, which is why it’s important to control for placebos. There are additional ways to make a study “stronger,” but those are the basics.

There are a lot of reasons why randomized, placebo-controlled trials don’t happen, for example lack of time, interest or funding. It’s often said that unless something can be “patented” and turned into a profit, it won’t get funding for a study. That’s probably true. 80% of my “wellness routine” can’t be patented, so I doubt it’d ever receive funding. Randomized, placebo-controlled trials aren’t cheap either. That’s why a lot of them are conducted by drug companies looking to patent a drug for a particular condition. Drug companies are rich and can pay for them, and they have access to top researchers at top universities and hospitals.

So when there’s no interest, time or funding for a randomized, placebo-controlled trial to test a particular treatment, what should we do? I’m not an expert on ethics, but I think the answer is: Just be honest. Tell people the truth. I work in the “world of wellness” and I often see home remedies, essential oils, supplements, anti-aging creams, diets and detoxes, with zero randomized, placebo-controlled trials to support them, presented as game-changing miracle cures: “This absolutely works,” “This is so amazing,” “This has the potential to change your life,” “This will make you better,” “This kills the virus.” Subsequently, people get so excited about these marketed products and start buying them off the shelves. I saw this type of advice a lot in the last weeks- from specific oils that destroy COVID-19, to steam treatments, to a commissioner in Florida telling folks to hold a blow dryer up to their noses. For some reason, folks don’t ask too many questions. They just want to believe. This trend always felt like a religion to me, hence my drawing. The drawing is from my new comedy book, Yours in Wellness, Krystal Heeling, in which I talk about anecdotes vs the scientific method A LOT.

Recently the president tweeted that the combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin “might be a game-changer” in the fight against COVID-19. While hydroxychloroquine has/is being used in China and elsewhere ( even here in the US), my understanding is that his tweet stemmed from a study conducted in France. The president, obviously, has a lot of influence. When he tweeted that the combination of drugs was a potential game-changer, people immediately tried to get them. Now there are shortages. Later that day, while I was out walking my dog Barnaby, I ran into a guy who manages a hotel near me. I kept six feet away, at least. He told me that he felt “super confident” that this will “all be over soon” because of the “new malaria drug Trump tweeted about.” That made me pause. I tried to explain to him that the drug combination may not work, and it’s still too early to say, but he didn’t pay attention to me. I don’t have the power Trump has. Then I started to think: What if this “potential game-changer” changes the way people behave? Will people become more lax about social-distancing and hand-washing? How far will their optimism carry? If too far, that’s a public health official’s biggest nightmare.

Later in the day, I sat down to read the  French study.  Obviously, it wasn’t a randomized, placebo-controlled trial and it was very small. Originally, 26 COVID-19 positive patients received hydroxychloroquine and 16 control patients received treatment as usual. Of the 26, 6 were lost to follow up and not included in the final analyst. I tried to figure out what happened to them. From the study, it looks like several were moved to the ICU ( did they die?), one died and another discontinued treatment. If they weren’t included in the final analysis, would that skew the results in favor of the drug combination? Yes, absolutely.

Of the 20 patients remaining, who were all taking hydroxychloroquine, only 6 were given Azithromycin. The primary endpoint was virological clearance at Day 6, not symptom improvement. The study concluded that the group taking the combination of drugs had a statistically significant improvement in viral clearance. How were they clinically? I couldn’t tell from the write-up. My understanding is that the authors did not release that information. And this is only 6 people.

Based on the methods and data, was the president’s tweet overly optimistic? I think so. I think it’s way too early to even hint that the drug combination is a “game-changer,” plus one must always consider the potential side effects of one or both drugs, but I also understand why the president is hopeful. I just think it’s important to be honest about the level of evidence. Someone who criticized me for my critique of the president’s tweet asked me if I’d use the drugs if my family member had COVID-19 and was going downhill fast. If nothing else was working? Yes. I probably would and hope like Hell for the best. But I know I’d be dealing with an anecdote, not a miracle drug.

And what about you…Anecdo or Anecdon’t?

Thanks for reading-  Erin

Check out Yours in Wellness, Krystal Heeling on Amazon.   🙂

Yours in Wellness, Krystal Heeling

Natural tips for the flu and cold 

How to use the Neti Pot: Just Say No to Amoebas

A Supplement for Bulimia? 

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The Art of Social Distancing in the Throes of COVID-19 https://www.bloomingwellness.com/2020/03/social-distancing-in-the-throes-of-covid-19/ https://www.bloomingwellness.com/2020/03/social-distancing-in-the-throes-of-covid-19/#comments Tue, 17 Mar 2020 11:13:14 +0000 https://www.bloomingwellness.com/?p=18948 Nothing has brought the United States to its knees faster than a microscopic strand of genetic material that had its start in a small town in China and has since captured the world. A serial attacker that indiscriminately invades bodies, kills people, holds people hostage in their homes, shuts down cities, destroys world markets, overwhelms […]

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Nothing has brought the United States to its knees faster than a microscopic strand of genetic material that had its start in a small town in China and has since captured the world. A serial attacker that indiscriminately invades bodies, kills people, holds people hostage in their homes, shuts down cities, destroys world markets, overwhelms health systems, ruins small businesses and tests the world’s experts and leaders like they were never tested before; all that, and it’s a thousand times smaller than one bacterium on your cell phone.

I’m typing this from my apartment in New York City. It’s Monday, late afternoon. Pasta is boiling on the stove, onions and garlic are chopped on the counter, and my laundry is tumbling in the dryer down the hall. Schools were ordered closed and the mayor and governor just ordered all gyms, bars and restaurants closed by 8PM tonight. There’s a new, eerie feeling in the air as the city that doesn’t sleep is abruptly ordered to become the city that sleeps. Shut down. Social distancing is the name of the game.

I’m a natural at keeping my distance from crowds. On a normal, non-pandemic day, I shun crowds like people shun the Coronavirus. I think it’s because I’m really awkward at small talk, and I feel claustrophobic. I have no doubts that if I had a therapist, he or she would tell me to go out more. Get out there and socialize, Erin. But, nope. Instead I’ll stay home and sketch Anhedonia with colored pencils. I’d put the smart money on me having the same Myers-Briggs as Emily Dickinson, though she’s a much better poet than I’ll ever be.

Though I have no issues entertaining myself when naturally social distancing throughout the year, now that it’s a government-ordered trend, I’ve decided to try new things. Nothing as cool as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s video of him feeding his pet ponies in his really nice kitchen, but just little things to feel part of the trend. For example, last night I was all set to make gluten-free, hemp-seed, strawberry pancakes- the coconut oil was in the frying pan and everything- but instead, I made an abrupt switch and used the pancake mix to make cupcakes. Rather large cupcakes–an unplanned largeness that revealed itself at the 15-minute mark in the oven. They were really good, surprisingly good. I’m always surprised when something I bake or cook is good. I also set a knife on fire while social distancing. My nose felt congested and my throat felt dry, and since any symptom during a pandemic makes you think you have THE virus, I decided to make a homemade humidifier from a pot of boiling water, Eucalyptus oil and Tea Tree Oil. While the pot was boiling, I watched what was maybe my fourth press conference of the day. In the throes of COVID-19, press conferences are pure adrenaline rushes. A higher death rate; something new closes; an emergency room doctor gets put on a ventilator; a new case pops up in a new town; a new law is passed to prevent price gougers from selling toilet paper for 500$. The adrenaline is because the virus moves at an exponential rate and we’re always lagging behind it, trying to catch up. So while I was mesmerized by the latest press conference, I smelled something burning and saw flames coming from a place on my stove where flames shouldn’t come from. A knife I left drying on the stove was suddenly on fire. Luckily, I threw it in the sink, turned on the cold water and put out the flames. Phew. Then I chuckled, because I felt the irony of my imaginary obituary: Woman goes up in flames while social distancing from COVID-19 after a knife she didn’t see catches fire on her stove while attempting to boil a pot of water with essential oils to make a homemade humidifier to help alleviate symptoms that she thought were from the deadly virus.


 

Yesterday afternoon, I listened to my friend, actor and editor Gabriel Nathan, read Rudyard Kipling’s The Elephant’s Child on Facebook Live. He’s using his social distancing time to read short stories. How good does it feel to be read to? Read to by an entertainer who can pronounce all of the words?  I loved it and hope he starts reading short stories even when a deadly pandemic doesn’t have us imprisoned. I think we need it. Then last night, I watched John Mayer’s Live Instagram show, Current Mood, which I believe he started to help people feel less anxious on Sunday nights, a documented time for high anxiety as folks dwell on the work week ahead. Of course, anxiety levels are higher with a deadly virus on our minds. The theme of the show was social distancing, and even though he’s a celebrity and celebrities often feel not relatable, he made you feel like we were all in this together- sunk in bean bags wearing cheap pajamas and tacky socks, with a half-empty bag of Nachos and jar of salsa on the floor.

I’ve also taken social distancing to the streets. New York City is congested with humans, so you can never really be 100% isolated once you leave your apartment and head to the streets. I haven’t been leaving my apartment much, because I’m doing my part for the greater good. The greater good is slowing down the virus, so we don’t end up overwhelming our health system and, to put it bluntly, killing more people. In addition to what the experts have been preaching night and day, I know from my knowledge as an MD/MPH and work I’ve done at an organization whose sole purpose is predicting emerging infectious diseases, that social distancing works, but only when mostly everyone does it. We are hosts for the virus. The virus needs us to survive AND thrive. It takes over our cellular machinery and makes us its bitches. Once we minimize the number of available hosts, the virus will slowly, but surely, die down. The only way to do that is through social distancing. I know folks have been driving home this point, but that goes for the young, healthy, old, and folks with preexisting conditions. In fact, younger & healthier people can be the worst offenders when it comes to spreading the virus, because they are more mobile and always on-the-go.

How am I practicing social distancing on the street? For one, I’m not socializing with anyone for a long period of time. But if I chat with anyone, I’m at least 6 feet away. The one issue I’ve run into is my dog, Barnaby. Pandemic or not, I have to walk him. The problem is that he happens to be the friendliest dog in New York City. I wish that was an exaggeration, but it’s not. If the dog ran for mayor, he’d win. He insists on saying hello to everyone and making each person feel like the most important soul on the planet…, worthy of all his love for the next 20 seconds. Then it’s on to the next person. His friendliness has made social distancing on the streets challenging. To address this, I started wearing a surgical mask. I realize that a lot of people are wearing various types of masks-ones with filters, surgical, and I’ve even seen a lot of homemade masks. Yesterday, I saw a guy with a piece of plaid fabric over his mouth and nose, held in place with a pink ribbon that was tied in a bow. He looked like a terrified Christmas present. The thing with masks is this: they make people uneasy. Even when they’re expected, like during a pandemic, they still make people anxious and uncomfortable. Two days ago there were two women wearing masks at the post office. Another woman in a wheel chair came in, took one look at them, turned to me and said, “Do you know why they’re wearing those? They must be sick. Only sick people wear masks, so I guess they’re sick.” I just nodded in agreement, because… what the Hell us would I do? Anyhow, I started to wear a surgical mask when I walk my dog to “encourage” people to stay away from both of us. I’m worried about people petting Barnaby and transmitting the virus to his fur, thereby making him a fomite, or an object that can transmit a virus. It’s definitely possible and since he’s impossible to bath in my apartment without a dramatic scene and destroying half the furniture before landing in the tub, the mask is my one great hope. So far, I have good news to report: It’s working. The mask is keeping people away.

Most people. There was a man, a pale red-head, who had a camera in his hands and asked to take a photo of Barnaby. This happens a lot to me. Barnaby is like a celebrity, and me, his other half on the other end of the leash, is the unpopular Siamese Twin.  I agreed and the man snapped away, failing to get Barnaby to look at the camera for 99% of the shots. (It’s tricky.) Then he asked me if I wanted the photo, and I asked to see it first…of course from 6 feet away, because social distancing. He turned his camera around to show me and since I don’t have Inspector Gadget’s neck, I only saw a peach splotch. Then he started talking…about how he couldn’t handle social distancing anymore and needed to get out of his apartment to take photos. He said he was shooting on the Upper East Side- the back of a woman who was carrying a dog on her right shoulder- and the woman became angry with him and told him that he did not have her permission to take her photo. He argued that he wasn’t shooting her face, and was just trying to capture the dog looking over her shoulder. So I said maybe she was just stressed from all the Coronavirus drama. I ended up giving the man my number so he could text me the picture of Barnaby, which is posted below. I texted him “thank you” after he sent the photo, but he didn’t respond. Digital social distancing. Of course, that’s normal these days.  I’m pretty sure we’re dating now.

Ahem.

Take care of yourselves and your fellow brothers and sisters. That’s the whole point of social distancing. And don’t forget that social distancing doesn’t mean that you have to stay locked in your house or apartment 24/7. That’s a sure formula for turning into Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Classic movie, but you don’t want that. I mean, you might, but that’s between you and your DIGITAL therapist… (Social Distancing).  Go for walks, talk to people on the phone…and especially reach out if you start to feel lonely, depressed or anxious. Thoughts can be more dangerous than a deadly virus when you’re alone too long.

Before I sign off,  it’s time for some shameless self promotion: I hope you guys check out my new book- Yours in Wellness, Krystal Heeling. It’s a comedy- as much a parody on the wellness industry as on Big Pharma- so hope you read it. I also illustrated it. With colored pencils. If you’re feeling bored during your social distancing time, why not read it?  It’s short though, so you should probably buy a few more books along with it to kill the time. Or better yet, coloring books. Wellness guru Krystal Heeling is a huge fan of color therapy.

Always,

Erin

Podcasts to check out during this time:

Killer Selfies: How Selfies Kill People with Dr. Roger Byard  

Polygamy: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly  

Neuticles: Fake Balls for Dogs

All About Vaccines

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5 Tips for a Healthy Camping Trip https://www.bloomingwellness.com/2020/03/5-tips-for-a-healthy-camping-trip/ https://www.bloomingwellness.com/2020/03/5-tips-for-a-healthy-camping-trip/#respond Fri, 13 Mar 2020 17:20:29 +0000 https://www.bloomingwellness.com/?p=18922   Guest Post by Boris Dzhingarov A camping trip is a fun and an environmentally friendly way to get away from the stresses of the real world. It can be enjoyed on your own, with a friend or loved one, or with your family. There are an unlimited number of campsites across the country and […]

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Guest Post by Boris Dzhingarov

A camping trip is a fun and an environmentally friendly way to get away from the stresses of the real world. It can be enjoyed on your own, with a friend or loved one, or with your family. There are an unlimited number of campsites across the country and camping really is a type of vacation that will be unique each time you go. Wherever you choose to camp, preparation is essential for a camping trip. You will need to make sure that everyone will be catered for and that you have enough supplies to last the trip. To help you on your way, here are five tips for a healthy camping trip.

Pre-plan Your Meals

Pre-planning your meals before you set off is a great way to ensure everyone gets the right amount of food each day and that you have enough supplies to last the entire trip. Planning will help you to create a grocery list to shop from. Try to think of nutritional meals, but also fun ones too. S’mores will be a lot of fun for the kids, but everything from pasta to rice can be cooked on a camping stove.

Keep Fresh Food Cold

The majority of healthy foods are fresh and will need to be stored in the right way so they don’t go off. Meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables will need to be kept as cool as possible. A high-quality ice box, containing plenty of ice packs will help keep food cool. Opening the bung at the bottom of your portable cooler will drain the melted ice away, which will keep the remaining ice intact.

Purchase a Water Filter

It is not easy to predict how much water you will need during your camping trip. The weather, how active you are, your health conditions, and the location in which you choose to camp will determine how much water you require each day. To ensure that you never go thirsty, you should pick up a camping water filter from the Discount Filter Store. This will transform water from any source into a high-quality beverage.

Take the Right Tools

The right tools are essential for a healthy camping trip. The more tools you have, the easier it will be to make healthy meals similar to those you could make at home. The basic requirements for healthy camp cooking include a portable, 2-burner gas stove, a gas bottle, a non-stick frying pan, a chopping board, a sharp knife, a mixing bowl, a saucepan, a kettle, tongs, a spatula, extra-virgin olive oil and seasoning.

Create and Plan Activities

Eating healthy and drinking enough water is essential for a healthy camping trip, but being active is equally as important. Creating and planning activities can be fun for all the family, and it’s recommended that you do this before your trip, so you again bring everything you need with you. Each activity you choose to do should not be seen as a task. You can incorporate activity into your trip via games, dance, and walks to fun and beautiful destinations.

When it comes to a healthy vacation, camping is definitely a great option!

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Grain-Free Diet for Dogs & Vaccine Protocols: With Dr. Jean Dodds https://www.bloomingwellness.com/2020/03/grain-free-diet-for-dogs-vaccine-protocols-with-veterinarian-dr-jean-dodds/ https://www.bloomingwellness.com/2020/03/grain-free-diet-for-dogs-vaccine-protocols-with-veterinarian-dr-jean-dodds/#respond Mon, 02 Mar 2020 22:35:03 +0000 https://www.bloomingwellness.com/?p=18818   I’m really excited to have had Dr. Jean Dodds on my latest Causes or Cures podcast to discuss the grain-free diet for dogs and its link to heart issues. That’s the second part of the podcast. In the first half of the podcast, she discusses her recommended vaccine protocol for dogs and cats. I […]

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I’m really excited to have had Dr. Jean Dodds on my latest Causes or Cures podcast to discuss the grain-free diet for dogs and its link to heart issues. That’s the second part of the podcast. In the first half of the podcast, she discusses her recommended vaccine protocol for dogs and cats. I feel like every dog parent has heard about the potential, health issues with the grain-free diet for dogs, but no one person can really wrap his/her head around it. Recently, I had a good friend write me and tell me that he “killed his dog.” He was inconsolable. His veterinarian had diagnosed his dog with heart failure and said it was due to the grain-free diet. My first response was to consider how awful that must make someone feel: The idea that you may have played a part, albeit unwillingly, in your dog’s death. My second response was to dig deeper into the connection between the grain-free diet in dogs and heart problems.

Recently, the FDA issued a report citing 16 dog food brands linked to cases of dilated cardiomyopathy ( DCM), essentially a form of heart failure. Specifically, the FDA linked grain-free diets and “exotic” foods to DCM. The proposed mechanism of action is that the grain-free diet for dogs  lead to a depletion of taurine, a non-essential amino acid made from cysteine and methionine in the liver, which then leads to cardiomyopathy. As one can imagine, the FDA’s report caused massive panic amongst dog parents who worried that their dogs, if on a grain-free or exotic diet, may be at risk for DCM. In the second half of this podcast, Dr. Dodds discusses the FDA report, the data for and against the notion that grain-free diets cause DCM, bias in the reporting of cases to the FDA, benefits vs risks of a grain-free diet for dogs, and what dog parents can do if they are worried about their dog having DCM.

Vaccines, of course, are always in the news. In the first half of this podcast, Dr. Dodds discusses her recommended vaccination protocol for dogs and cats, the concept of vaccinosis, dogs at the highest risk for vaccinosis, lifestyle vaccines ( Leptospirosis, Lyme Disease, Bordetella and Canine Flu) vs core vaccines, and why she recommends getting titer tests vs getting boosters.

Who is Dr. Jean Dodds?
Dr. Jean Dodds received her doctorate of veterinary medicine in 1964 and has been a clinical research veterinarian and hematologist for over 5 decades. She was a grantee of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and has authored over 150 peer-reviewed publications in top journals. She started HemoPet, the first national nonprofit blood bank for animals, in 1986. Some of the services HemoPet provides include: Providing canine blood components, adopting retired Greyhound blood donors as companions and the Hemolife diagnostic division which focuses on hematology ( the study of blood cells), blood banking, immunology, endocrinology, nutrition and holistic medicine. She invented NutriScan, a food sensitivity and intolerance diagnostic test for dogs, cats and horses and is also a Co-Trustee of the Rabies Challenge Fund, a nonprofit project for assessing the duration of immunity and safety of current rabies vaccines in animals. She’s an active member of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association and the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Foundation. She has a lot of published studies in peer-reviewed journals related to her vaccine protocol and she is publishing a study related to the grain-free diet in dogs and the link to cardiomyopathy.

On a personal note, Dr. Dodds has played a role in my life since I was three years old. In fact, she was considered a guru who we all adored from afar for one very important reason: She kept our beloved Chesapeake Bay Retriever alive.

My family dog, Hemor, was a hemophiliac. ( I guess my parents like to name their dogs after their diseases.) Hemophilia is a clotting disorder, so we had to be very cautious around Hemor and make sure he didn’t get any cuts or bruises. He couldn’t wear a collar around his neck, and he couldn’t play with other dogs. Still, despite our greatest efforts, sometimes he’d get a bleed, and he wouldn’t stop bleeding. There would be blood all over our house, and it literally looked like a multiple homicide. Luckily, my mom stored plasma in our kitchen freezer, next to her frozen fruits, and my dad, a veterinarian, would transfuse a very weak Hemor on our dining room table. When we ran out of blood, the neighbors would bring their dogs to the veterinary hospital to donate blood. The whole community was involved in saving Hemor! When Hemor was at his worst, my dad consulted with Dr. Dodds via phone, being that she was a hematologist and founder of the first canine blood bank. Her advice always worked for Hemor and she brought him back from the dead on many occasions. In fact, he lived longer than most hemophiliac dogs are expected to live. So, I guess you can say that this was a very special podcast for me.

If you have any questions for Dr. Dodds on the grain-free diet for dogs or if you want to learn more about her vaccination protocol, please click here. 

If you have any questions for me, write me through my website.

Also, to read my new comedic book on the wellness industry and Big Pharma, click here: Yours in Wellness, Krystal Heeling!

( Promise, you will laugh.)

Check out other podcasts:

Alkaline Water & Its Faulty Health Claims

An interview with the founder of Neuticles, testicular implants for dogs

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Everything You Should Note when Proposing Medicare Advantage Plan to Your Customers https://www.bloomingwellness.com/2020/03/everything-you-should-note-when-proposing-medicare-advantage-plan-to-your-customers/ https://www.bloomingwellness.com/2020/03/everything-you-should-note-when-proposing-medicare-advantage-plan-to-your-customers/#respond Sun, 01 Mar 2020 12:25:23 +0000 https://www.bloomingwellness.com/?p=18793   Guest Post by: Ashley Lipman When a person gets health insurance, they have many different potential options they can choose from. People can get health insurance from the public marketplace, their employer or a private company. Going with a private company can offer benefits that you may not get from your employer or the […]

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Guest Post by: Ashley Lipman

When a person gets health insurance, they have many different potential options they can choose from. People can get health insurance from the public marketplace, their employer or a private company. Going with a private company can offer benefits that you may not get from your employer or the public marketplace.

 

Even those who qualify for Medicare have some choices and can benefit from working with a private company. This is through a Medicare Advantage plan. Also known as Part C, this plan is popular and used by many people instead of original Medicare.

 

However, if you’re a private company, what are the benefits of these plans that you should make your customers aware of? Well, if that is a concern you have, you’re in luck. Without any further ado, this article is going to look at some things you should be sure to make note of when pitching a Medicare Advantage plan to your customers.

 

They Often Offer Additional Coverage

If you are only covered by traditional Medicare, there are several holes in coverage that many people will want filled. These can be things like dental, vision, massage, prescription drugs and potentially others. While some are fine without these being covered, many want (if not need) them. These can cost hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars a year if not covered, so be careful if you go without being insured in these areas.

 

A Medicare Advantage plan offers you the same coverage as original Medicare, only with the options for this additional coverage. There is no other way to get them added other than going to a private company and enrolling in Medicare Part C. So if your customer wants something additional that isn’t included in Part A or Part B, be sure to let them know about Medicare Advantage. If not, they may not be able to affordably get the coverage they want.

 

More Customization Options

However, just because you go with a Medicare Advantage plan doesn’t mean that you are getting the same additional coverage as anyone else. There is a ton of potential for customization when it comes to Medicare Part C. One person’s plan could have a bit of dental coverage and a lot of vision coverage, while another might need a lot of dental coverage but no vision. The opportunities are endless and these plans can be personalized just for you.

 

This truly gives customers more of a say as to what they want to be paying for and what they don’t. No matter the needs of your customer, you should be able to design them the perfect Medicare Advantage plan. They can be a one-stop-shop for all of your needs, which can be very convenient in our often-busy lives.

 

Medicare Advantage Plans are Often Cheaper

While this isn’t always the case, a Medicare Advantage plan can often be cheaper for individuals. Of course, the price varies from plan to plan and will depend on what type of coverage is included. But some Advantage plans will have no costs for some premiums or deductibles, which can equal lots of savings.

 

Also, Medicare Advantage plans have a yearly maximum when it comes to out-of-pocket costs, which will surely make it cheaper for most people. Things like your cost-sharing could also see a reduction. If you want prescriptions in original Medicare, you need a standalone plan which also may not come cheap. Be sure to go over with your customer and their unique situation to see if a Part C plan can save them money.

 

In conclusion, this article has mentioned just about everything you should make your customers aware of when proposing a Medicare Advantage plan.

 

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Cell Phones and Cancer https://www.bloomingwellness.com/2020/02/cell-phones-and-cancer-and-airpods-and-wireless-headphones-and-the-link-to-cancer-and-infertility-and-more/ https://www.bloomingwellness.com/2020/02/cell-phones-and-cancer-and-airpods-and-wireless-headphones-and-the-link-to-cancer-and-infertility-and-more/#comments Sun, 16 Feb 2020 17:55:31 +0000 https://www.bloomingwellness.com/?p=16184 Cell Phones and Cancer, and let’s talk about AirPods and Wireless Headphones too. I never paid attention to the issue of cell phones and cancer. Like the majority of the population, I used my cell phone and wireless headphones throughout the day, sometimes falling asleep with one or both of them in my bed. It […]

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Cell Phones and Cancer

Cell Phones and Cancer, and let’s talk about AirPods and Wireless Headphones too.

I never paid attention to the issue of cell phones and cancer. Like the majority of the population, I used my cell phone and wireless headphones throughout the day, sometimes falling asleep with one or both of them in my bed. It just wasn’t on my radar. Everyone used their wireless headphones and cell phones all of the time, so clearly they were safe, right? My attitude abruptly changed when I was about to make a Bluetooth version of the ZENBand.

The ZENBand is a very simple relaxation tool that I make and sell. It’s  a soft headband, that comes in a variety of colors and fun designs, made to be wide enough to pull over one’s eyes, with removable flat, custom-made speakers that make it easier for someone to rest on his/her side or sleep while traveling. It’s a side business, nothing glorious, but at some point my customers requested I make a Bluetooth version, since the phone companies were dropping the headphone jack. I was fine with it. Bluetooth is incredibly cheap to make ( in China), and wires started to feel retro, even antiquated. But I was still interested in any potential health risks attributed to EMF radiation exposure, especially since the ZENBand goes around someone’s head. EMF stands for electro-magnetic field. It’s non-ionizing radiation, and how things like our cell phones, microwaves, Wifi and Bluetooth operate. I began casually searching studies and contacting researchers so I could pick their brains. One doctor I came across was Dr. Joel Moskowitz, director of community health at the University of California, Berkeley. I sent him an email inquiring about Bluetooth and health risks. He didn’t mince words in his reply. He wrote me, “Wireless headphones are the opposite of wellness.”

I was a bit stunned, given the ubiquitous nature of wireless technology. I mean, it’s literally everywhere. Still, I put the wireless production on hold and began to dig deeper. The tedious systematic literature review and search for experts ensued. For my initial literature search, I used ResearchGate and Google Scholar and typed in search words such as “cell phones and cancer,” “EMF radiation and cancer,” “EMF radiation and health risks,” and “Bluetooth and health risks.”  To my surprise, a lot came up.

Trying to make a health assessment on a “new” exposure is tricky. When a new tech product comes to market, no robust studies are required to prove that it’s safe for our health. It’s not like a drug that requires several levels of testing. A randomized controlled trial involving humans, the gold standard of evidence, would be unethical. This means that when assessing the safety of an exposure like EMF radiation, we can’t ethically achieve the gold standard of  evidence from the get-go. Hence, we have to rely on randomized controlled trials in animals, epidemiological data in humans and analyze trends. Essentially, is the epidemiological data trending with the results of controlled animal studies?

My search uncovered that 250 scientists and doctors from around the world had sent a petition to the World Health Organization warning about the potential health problems from wireless technology. The petition was signed prior to the rise of wireless headphones and earbuds, and mostly focused on cell phones. Cell phones emit more EMF radiation than Bluetooth, but my concern with Bluetooth devices was their proximity to the head and brain, and how often people wear them.

That was just one petition, and I wasn’t convinced. Plus, everyone I talked to about cell phones and cancer usually called me a “Quack” for even expressing concern. I was the object of numerous eye-rolls. Clearly, if there were no stark, widespread warnings, and wireless was everywhere, there couldn’t be any deleterious health effects. Right….RIGHT?!?

My mom always taught me to get information “straight from the horse’s mouth,” so that was my next step. I contacted some of the signers of the petition in hopes of setting up interviews or at least an email correspondence. My hope was to have them on my Causes Or Cures podcast. Several agreed, and so far, four podcasts related to EMF exposure and health problems are posted. I plan on posting more.

The first person I interviewed on the topic of wireless and health was Dr. Fiorella Belpoggi. She is the head of research at the Ramazinni Institute in Italy and director of the Cesare Mal-toni Cancer Research Center. She has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers and has conducted the largest animal study to date on EMF exposure and cancer. Her study found that EMF exposure increased the risk of gliomas, a type of brain tumor and schwannomas, a type of heart and ear tumor. The results of her study were consistent with the results of another million-dollar study conducted by the U.S. Health and Human Services’ Department of Toxicology. I want to emphasize that both studies showed an increase in the same type of rare tumors. ( The Dept of Toxicology also found a link to pheochromocytomas, tumors of the adrenal gland.)  So, the two largest animal studies on EMF exposure and cancer showed consistent results, although one was not statistically significant. During my interview with Dr. Belpoggi, she stated that there is no question that EMF radiation affects mammalian cells. When I asked her about potential mechanisms of action, given that EMF radiation was non-ionizing, she told me that the fact that it is non-ionizing is “nonsense” when studies clearly show it affects mammalian cells. To listen to her podcast, click here. For those who’d rather read, I wrote a separate blog post summarizing her points and recommendations for mitigating risk from exposure.

Next, I interviewed Dr. Anthony Miller, a trained medical doctor and Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto’s Dall Lana School of Public Health. He is a longtime advisor to the World Health Organization and was the Senior Epidemiologist for the International Agency for Research on Cancer. He’s published numerous studies on the epidemiology of cancer and environmental causes of cancer, so I wanted to ask him about cell phones and cancer, or more generally, wireless exposure and health. When I asked him to rate the evidence for potential harm from wireless technology, he unequivocally told me that it was robust. He said that he expected an epidemic of  pediatric brain tumors related to EMF exposure. I then asked him how it was possible to make such a strong statement against wireless technology, when it’s used everywhere and people are either listening with their wireless headphones or on their cell phones most of the day. He told me that tech and phone companies are extremely powerful enterprises with a lot of ad money. In short, money talks, but you and I already know that, don’t we?  On a promising note, he said that the World Health Organization will most likely reopen the analysis of EMF radiation and its current carcinogenic ( cancer-causing) ranking, though there is question to how biased that process will be. You can listen to my podcast with Dr. Miller here.

I also interviewed Dr. David Carpenter via Skype audio, but sadly my recording didn’t record. (I am not the best with technology.) Dr. Carpenter is a public health physician and director of the Institute for Health and the Environment, a collaborating center of the World Health Organization. He’s a professor at the University of Albany’s School of Public Health, where he previously served as Dean. Dr. Carpenter received his medical training at Harvard medical school, has over 400 peer-reviewed publications and wrote 6 books. He echoed what the other researchers/doctors told me: that there is significant evidence that EMF radiation causes harm and that the World Health Organization has a duty to address it. I remember him telling me that his daughter is a veterinarian and when she ran around seeing animals, she’d put her cell phone in her bra, because it was a convenient place to put it. He scolded her, told her to never do that, because he was worried about the increasing rates of breast cancer. I related to that story, because when I’m running around without a purse, etc., I’m always wondering where to stick my cell phone. It’s ended up in my sports bra a few times- but I’ll never do that again! Dr. Carpenter also said there is zero proof that any of the EMF shields/ protection devices now flooding the market truly work. That’s worth digesting, because a person might feel protected with a “shield” and not cut back on their use of EMF-emitting devices, when there’s no solid evidence to suggest they are even remotely effective.

Prior to these interviews and even my notion of creating a wireless ZENBand, I had interviewed Dr. Hugh Taylor, the chief of Ob/Gyn at Yale New Haven Hospital. He is the editor-in-chief of Reproductive Science and editor of Endocrinology. Dr. Taylor published a randomized controlled trial showing that cell phone exposure in pregnant mice led to offspring that exhibited symptoms that would be classified as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ( ADHD).  You’re probably saying to yourself, “But those are mice. And how in the world does one identify ADHD in mice?”  Fair question, and I’m linking to the interview here. The most compelling finding of Taylor’s study is that he also had objective evidence to support the observed behavioral changes. He and his team took pathological samples, or sections of the fetal mice brain, and analyzed them for differences. The pathological specimens between the fetal group exposed to cell phone radiation were different than the pathological specimens of the group not exposed to cell phone radiation. That’s a compelling objective finding. Several other researchers have observed decreased fertility in men when exposed to cell phone radiation, and I plan on exploring these areas more in the future. (I also plan on exploring how EMF affects the microbiome, our memory and our cognitive ability overtime.)

Next, I interviewed Dr. Paul Heroux. He has his PhD in physics and runs InVitro Plus, a toxicology laboratory out of McGill University Health Center, dedicated to studying the therapeutic and pathological effects of electromagnetism. He, like the others, stated that exposure to EMF radiation has been shown to cause harm, and he also said that most of the popular “EMF shields” on the market don’t work. In fact, he mentioned that if they do anything at all, they might actually increase our exposure to EMF radiation by making our EMF-emitting devices work harder. This was a buzzkill for a lot of my blog readers and podcast listeners who stick those tiny EMF shields on the backs or fronts of all of their devices, thinking they are protecting themselves from exposure. They’re not.

Many times, when I bring up the issue of cell phones and cancer and why folks may want to consider minimizing their use of wireless headphones, people respond with, “It’s not ionizing radiation, so it’s not harmful.” If I got a dollar every time I heard that, I’d be rich. I brought this up with Dr. Belpoggi, Dr. Heroux and Dr. Miller in my correspondences with them. As mentioned above, Dr. Belpoggi called it “nonsense,” and Dr. Miller stated that there are several proposed mechanisms of action for harm that do not involve ionization. I asked Dr. Heroux over email and he responded with the following, that I think is worth posting here:

 If you believe that explanation of theirs, I have another one for you:
“Bacteria and viruses cannot harm you, because they are much too small.”

 Industry has created Mickey Mouse science, falsehoods that can be easily
communicated to an uninformed public, that has little time to think about the question,
to gain masses to their cause. Since they should know better, their actions are morally reprehensible.

On a more technical level, there is no need for radiation to ionize anything for an effect to exist on biological systems.
Biological systems have delicate processes of charge transfers (electrons and protons, ie oxydative phosphorylation,
among others) that are easily influenced by very small fields. Industry knows this, but prefer to look the other way.

I want to note that everyone I spoke to did not mention ditching our phones and wireless devices and going back to the Stone Age. They all were advocating for additional safety measures, that’s it. All of them mentioned that the distance between the EMF-emitting device and one’s head/body is highly significant. Specifically if you increase the distance between your body and your EMF-emitting device, your exposure decreases by the square of the distance. That’s a lot, and in our tech-infested lives, it’s good news. It means I can put my phone on speaker if I need to make a call, use wired headphones and keep all EMF-emitting devices off of my body.

In summary, the studies above are a mere sliver of the expanding body of evidence showing that EMF radiation can be hazardous to our health. The researchers mentioned above are a small proportion of the growing number of doctors and laypeople interested in this topic. Heck, France has an entire movement called Phonegate , run by a doctor, dedicated to informing the public about health issues related to EMF radiation. That’s why, when I see the media running headlines like “There is no evidence that Cell Phones Cause Cancer” after the FDA posts another “systematic review,” I quiver with frustration. First, they’re wrong. There is evidence. Secondly, the FDA’s most recent report dealt only with the outcome of “cancer” and no other health effects, such as cognitive issues in kids exposed in utero and infertility in men. Thirdly, the FDA was NOT conclusive, stated that more research is needed, and mostly discussed their inability to come to a decisive conclusion because of the inaccuracies and variances in the animal studies they analyzed. I also have to comment on the timing of their review: They published it at a time when big tech and phone companies want to roll out 5G as fast as possible yet are receiving a lot of pushback from concerned citizens. I also want to point out that there are no studies on 5G, at least none that have been published yet. Whether you’re for it or against it, I certainly wouldn’t call it safe when it hasn’t been studied.

Also, we should be even more concerned when we consider our increasing reliance on technology, kids’ increasing use of wireless, and the time we spend on wireless devices. We should be concerned about exposure in vulnerable groups, such as children and pregnant people. In the spirit of the oath I took in medical school, “First Do No Harm,” we shouldn’t choose to do anything with the potential for great harm if it’s not necessary, and we should uphold the Precautionary Principle. For those unfamiliar with the Precautionary Principle, it’s this: “The principle that the introduction of a new product or process whose ultimate effects are disputed or unknown should be resisted.”

Not making a Bluetooth ZENBand is a horrible marketing decision for me, but it’s the one most consistent with my ethos as a doctor turned owner of a small  business and proponent of public health. Just like I won’t fry my brain and walk around with two microwaves in my ears, I won’t wear Bluetooth or wireless headphones, so I won’t sell them to you. If I sold them to you, I’d be a hypocrite. Nowadays, I rarely use my phone, often use an old MP3 player,  turn my phone and wireless off at night and keep it out of my bedroom when I’m sleeping. Am I a quack? Maybe. Sure, call me one. But I’m confident in the homework I’ve done.

Finally, for the wireless-and-health-risks dedicated doubters, I hear you. But remember the story of cigarettes. Cigarettes were immensely popular and mainstream for years and years. It took a very long time for the giant health risks of cigarettes to catch up with the popularity and profitability of smoking and the formidable power of the tobacco industry. Think about Roundup, the world’s most popular pesticide. These exposure stories usually follow a similar plot, and luckily for us, the truth eventually comes out.

 

To follow Erin on Instagram, click here.

Grab a copy of Dr. Stair’s new book now! A parody on the wellness industry:

Yours in Wellness, Krystal Heeling

Yours in Wellness, Krystal Heeling

Shop ZENBands here

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The Healthiest Sugar: Regular, Artificial, Stevia, Monk Fruit… https://www.bloomingwellness.com/2020/02/the-healthiest-sugar-monk-fruit-stevia-coconut-sugar-what-sugar-do-i-use-and-why/ https://www.bloomingwellness.com/2020/02/the-healthiest-sugar-monk-fruit-stevia-coconut-sugar-what-sugar-do-i-use-and-why/#respond Sat, 15 Feb 2020 19:29:49 +0000 http://www.bloomingwellness.com/?p=11680   By: Erin Stair, MD, MPH, follow on Instagram  Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, what’s the Healthiest Sugar of All?  I feel like everyone is always searching for the answer to that question. I’m not a big sugar person, but I’m also not one of those “sugar is the enemy” people. My diet is rooted […]

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The Healthiest Sugar

 

By: Erin Stair, MD, MPH, follow on Instagram 

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, what’s the Healthiest Sugar of All?  I feel like everyone is always searching for the answer to that question.

I’m not a big sugar person, but I’m also not one of those “sugar is the enemy” people. My diet is rooted in moderation, not elimination. No matter what sugar you eat, Sucrose, Stevia, Splenda.., moderation is key. In the wellness world, it’s easy to fall prey to reductionism, or when we start labeling individual ingredients as “bad” or “good.” I’m mindful not to do that, because: 1) such thinking can make you paranoid and create excess stress; 2) I firmly believe the toxicity is in the dose; 3) no one makes it out of here alive. Going back to number 1, I often say that people who try to avoid all the toxins and “bad” things in the world are afflicted with Wellness Paranoia Syndrome. I made that up, yes, but if you want to dive into it deeper, read my new book when it comes out, Yours in Wellness.

So when I talk about the healthiest sugar, here’s the scoop: Healthy should refer to how much and how often you eat any sugar ( no matter what it is), versus focusing on the sugar itself. A little of ANYTHING, won’t kill you. (Sans cyanide et al, you get it…)  I don’t use a lot of sugar, but when I do, I use regular, organically-farmed sugar and add cinnamon to whatever I’m putting the sugar in. I choose to eat organically to avoid pesticides and plus, it’s kinder to Mother Earth. Why do I add cinnamon?  Cinnamon helps lower the glycemic index, which means that it helps lower the level of sugar in your bloodstream after you eat a meal, and therefore helps lower insulin release.  In randomized controlled trials, cinnamon has also been shown to improve BMI, lower body fat and lower visceral fat. If you prefer regular ol’ (organic) sugar like I do or want to help prevent Diabetes, I highly recommend adding cinnamon, whether to baked goods, coffee or something else you cook. If you don’t like cinnamon for some reason, you can drink diluted Apple Cider Vinegar after you eat something sugary. Apple Cider Vinegar has been shown to lower the glycemic response after high carb meals and high sugar foods. ( I realize that people claim Apple Cider Vinegar cures everything, but this mechanism of action has actually been studied and documented in randomized controlled trials. You can read more about Apple Cider Vinegar here.)

If I ask you what the healthiest sugar is, and you say artificial sweeteners, I’ll tell you that you’re wrong, or at least, that the evidence doesn’t support you. I avoid artificial sweeteners, because they make me moody and make me bloat. Many holistic doctors suggest avoiding them as they can make irritability, depression and bipolar disorder worse. Studies suggests that artificial sweeteners alter the gut microbiota, which potentially is a mechanism for mental disease. As discussed in a previous blog, alterations in the gut microbiome have been linked to mental illness. I also find formaldehyde, one of the byproducts of the popular artificial sweetener aspartame, to be especially toxic and unappealing. And as someone who used to chew a lot of sugarless gum, I’ve noticed that all artificial sweeteners make me bloat. Stevia, a natural sweetener from a plant, has become very popular and is said to be 300 times sweeter than sugar. I don’t like the taste at all, and its ingredient, Rebaudioside A, has also been shown to alter the microbiome and induce insulin release.  Just because something is “natural” doesn’t mean it’s good for you. These sweeteners were once considered metabolically inert, but I think as we learn more and more about the microbiome, we’ll continually prove that premise false.

Artificial nor natural sweeteners by themselves are shown to decrease weight or improve body fat composition, especially in the long-term. One randomized study in humans showed that, compared to sugar, artificial sweeteners had no impact on post-meal glucose or insulin levels, nor did they reduce calorie consumption. In a 12 week long randomized trial, Aspartame was not shown to reduce weight nor appetite, nor was it shown to increase weight or appetite. It didn’t do anything significant. A randomized trial in obese, diabetic patients showed that Stevia, often marketed as the healthiest sugar, did not significantly reduce post-meal blood glucose or insulin when compared to regular sugar. A randomized controlled trial in rats showed that natural and artificial sweeteners did not result in a significant reduction in appetite nor weight loss when compared to regular sugar.

We all know that guy or gal who eats horrifically but washes everything down with a diet coke. Am I right? Artificial sweeteners have also been linked to weight gain. A randomized controlled trial compared obese women who drank artificially-sweetened drinks to women who replaced artificially-sweetened drinks with water, and after 18 months, the women who drank water lost more weight and showed improved insulin-resistance. Other analyses, including this review, show that low-calorie sweeteners are associated with weight gain, diabetes and metabolic issues, but if combined with cognitive and behavioral interventions, may result in weight loss. I think the end result of the cognitive and behavioral interventions is to make people more aware of their eating patterns and when they are doing things like eating their feelings or eating their stress away. It’s never a bad thing to be more mindful of what you eat, when you eat, how you feel when you eat, and how your daily events and behaviors relate to your weight, energy level and overall health status. In fact, “mindful eating”  and “mindful living” might be the most natural, effective ways to achieve optimal weight and, most importantly, optimal health. I’ve repeatedly written this over and over again in this blog, but mindful eating was the ONLY thing that helped me overcome bulimia and get on track to a healthier lifestyle.

What sugar do you use? Feel free to post below.

Thanks for reading! If you haven’t checked out my podcast, Causes or Cures, yet, please do! There are a lot of interesting people on it, talking about timely health and wellness topics.

Other topics in my blog that may interest you:

A Supplement for Bulimia AND OCD: Here is what the evidence says

Natural, evidence-based ways to prevent Bloat.

Also, check out the new mugs, t-shirts and funny wellness gifts in our shop!

High on Placebos Organic Tote Bag artwork by me.

I Love it When You Call Me Big Pharma Organic Tote Bag

 

And if you haven’t got on board as to why you should ditch your wireless headphones and Airpods, please read this here:

Why I will Never Make a Bluetooth ZENBand 

 

 

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Bacteria on Our Phones : Melting Pots of the Microbial World https://www.bloomingwellness.com/2020/02/bacteria-on-our-phones-cell-phones-what-sort-of-bugs-are-living-on-our-phones-and-for-how-long/ https://www.bloomingwellness.com/2020/02/bacteria-on-our-phones-cell-phones-what-sort-of-bugs-are-living-on-our-phones-and-for-how-long/#respond Fri, 14 Feb 2020 22:11:31 +0000 https://www.bloomingwellness.com/?p=13107   By: Erin Stair, MD, MPH, follow on Instagram Let’s talk bacteria on our  phones, but first, a story: A young woman was walking slowly down the busy New York City sidewalk.  Her head was down and her eyes were glued to her phone as she typed something on the keyboard. I was walking in […]

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Bacteria On Our Phones

 

By: Erin Stair, MD, MPH, follow on Instagram

Let’s talk bacteria on our  phones, but first, a story: A young woman was walking slowly down the busy New York City sidewalk.  Her head was down and her eyes were glued to her phone as she typed something on the keyboard. I was walking in the other direction. I could have moved, but I didn’t. She walked right into me and was startled, as if she realized she was on a sidewalk and not at home on her couch. She then apologized. I walked by, wondering, “Should I have apologized to?” The answer is No. No, I shouldn’t have apologized, because she should be glad I wasn’t a bus. Folks, for a lot of reasons, we need to put away the phones and look up more.

The encounter got me thinking. How many ways can our cell phones kill us? I’ve already posted a few links and interviews that touch on my skepticism surrounding the notion that EMF radiation ( ElectroMagnetic Radiation) is completely safe. ( And if you don’t like to read, there are a ton of researchers of this topic featured on my Causes or Cures  podcast.)  In the  future, I’ll write about cases involving “cell phone neck” and “selfie wrist” and of course there is the ceaseless debate on how cell phones affect our mental health and ability to connect with one another in person. Perhaps because it’s flu season, I started wondering about the germs on our phones. What sort of bacteria are on our phones?  Even our headphones. Phones and headphones are fomites ( the official word for an object that carries germs) and since we touch them constantly, bring them everywhere, share them with each other and hold them up to our ears and mouths, I wanted to research the potential for germ growth and transmission.

Forty cell phones in a healthcare setting were analyzed for microbiological contamination. The healthcare setting is interesting because there are a lot of germs, a lot of sick people to spread germs, and a lot of sick people with low immunity who are more prone to being infected. Phones of  both healthcare workers and patients were analyzed. Results showed that ALL of the phones were contaminated. The most prevalent bacteria were Methicillin-Resistant S. aureus ( 52.5% of phones) ; Coagulase-Negative Staphylococci (50%) and Non-Anthracis Bacillus spp ( 42.5%).  Coagulase-Negative Staph was found most on doctors’ phones;  Methicillin-Resistant S. aureus  (MRSA) was found most on nurses’ and patients’ phones.

Methicillin-Resistant S. aureus mostly causes skin infections, but in more severe cases, pneumonia and sepsis. It’s more challenging to treat, because it’s resistant to several antibiotics. Coagulase-Negative Staph lack coagulase, an enzyme that causes fibrin in the blood to clot. Bacteria that have coagulase can create a protective barrier of clots, making it harder for the immune system to kill them. For this reason, Coagulase-Negative Staph are generally considered less dangerous than Coagulase-Positive Staph. Coagulase-Negative Staph are commonly found on the skin, and infections normally aren’t a problem. However,  infections from Coagulase-Negative Staph become a problem for individuals with poor immune systems; individuals with central lines; catheters; or prosthetic joints- you know, folks often in hospitals.  Bacillus spp ( the ones that don’t cause Anthrax poisoning) , are usually harmless unless, again, someone has a weak immune system, is an IV drug user, or has an indwelling device. Bacillus cereus is known for causing nasty bouts of food poisoning. Surgical patients with open wounds and premature babies are also at a heightened risk of Bacillus infection. In severe cases, it can cause pneumonia, endocarditis, meningitis, septicemia and death, especially in premature babies.

Another study analyzed 100 cell phones from 100 college students. All phones were contaminated with a wide-range of bacteria, proving that cell phones are the melting pots of the microbial world. Pathogenic bacteria made up 81% of all isolated bacteria, and antibiotic-resistant bacteria was present. Bacillus cereus was found the most, followed by Coagulase Negative Staph, Klebsiella pneumonia, Streptococcus pneumonia,  E coli, Salmonella spp and Shigella spp.  Also, the presence of E coli means that we have feces (poop) on our phones. That might make you cringe, but think about all the people who are probably scrolling on Instagram while on the throne.

What about surgeons who deal with the most intimate of the most intimate? Researchers analyzed 53 cell phones that belonged to 53 orthopedic surgeons. Phones were swabbed in the operating room, since phones are now commonplace in the OR. Results showed that 83% of phones had pathogenic bacteria, and one week out from disinfection, 75% of the phones had pathogenic bacteria. Like all of us, doctors, nurses and patients are addicted to their phones. It makes me wonder if we should rethink standard operating procedures for cell phone use in the hospital setting.

The good news is that we can clean and disinfect our phones without damaging them in the process. Microfiber cloths and alcohol-based lens wipes are shown to significantly decrease bacteria on phones. The surgeon study shows us that bacteria can rapidly recolonize on phones, so frequent cleaning is key. Also, live bacteria can thrive on phones from days to months. Generally, the greater the colonization of a bacteria, the longer it survives. This is different than the flu or cold viruses, which are shown to remain infectious on phones for only about 2 days. Other precautionary measures include not sharing phones, washing your hands frequently and not bringing your phone into places that have a lot of germs, like clinics and hospitals. Consider disconnecting for a bit, reducing the universal addiction to the phone and living a little bit of life without your phone. It’s possible, I promise. It’s actually quite freeing. You and your phone will both be okay. In fact, you can even get a beautiful relaxing bed for your phone, designed by Ariana Huffington. (It’s actually a killer self-care gift. ;))

Phones have a lot of germs, so what about their cousins, headphones and earbuds? They do, too, and even worse, they sometimes go right in the ear, making them clever vectors for pathogens. Bacteria that get into the ears can cause Otitis Externa, a painful infection of the outer ear and ear canal. Symptoms include pain, swelling, hearing loss, dizziness, vertigo, pus drainage, and ringing in the ears. One study showed that frequent use of earphones and frequent sharing of earphones leads to increased bacterial growth in the ears.  So, clean your head/earphones regularly and don’t share them. Or, buy a ZENBand from us instead. The pillow speakers are inside the band, don’t go in your ears, and the cloth of the band is porous, which is less likely to have viruses and bacteria than hard, solid surfaces.  ( Shameless plug, but not wrong.  😉 )

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Thanks for reading, gang. Stay tuned for more stuff. If you haven’t followed me on Instagram yet, now’s your chance! ( Dare to dream, I know…)  But we have a lot of giveaways, tidbits of wellness wisdom, pictures of my dogs and funny videos that all relate to health and wellness.

If you haven’t read Manic Kingdom yet, why not? Seriously, you’re missing out. ( But only if you can handle it. The book is NOT for everyone.)

And if you missed some of my other blogs, here’s a few good links:

The dangers of cell phones in pregnancy: Possible outcomes for the baby

Can’t sleep? Read the below.

Sleep like a Caveperson

Wireless and Health: Why I Won’t Make a Bluetooth ZENBand

Follow Dr. Stair’s Causes Or Cures Podcast!

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Evidence for the Keto Diet https://www.bloomingwellness.com/2020/02/evidence-for-the-keto-diet-with-dr-shivam-joshi-on-causes-or-curse-podcast/ https://www.bloomingwellness.com/2020/02/evidence-for-the-keto-diet-with-dr-shivam-joshi-on-causes-or-curse-podcast/#respond Thu, 13 Feb 2020 16:12:27 +0000 https://www.bloomingwellness.com/?p=18556 What is the evidence for the Keto diet? Do the risks outweigh the benefits? The Keto diet is incredibly popular. Passionate followers say they feel significantly better on the Keto diet, lose weight and even have better lab values. I have a few friends ( and readers of the Blooming Wellness blog) who tell me […]

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Evidence for the Keto Diet

What is the evidence for the Keto diet? Do the risks outweigh the benefits?

The Keto diet is incredibly popular. Passionate followers say they feel significantly better on the Keto diet, lose weight and even have better lab values. I have a few friends ( and readers of the Blooming Wellness blog) who tell me that their triglyceride levels lowered and their sugar is better controlled. And, they lost weight. Keto recipes and tips are all over the internet, as it’s a favorite diet of many wellness proponents.  Yet others claim there is more hype than health benefits to the Keto diet, and that it doesn’t really live up to its many claims. Who’s right? What does the evidence say? Are there long-term health concerns we should be highlighting more? How does it compare long-term to other well-studied diets, such as the Mediterranean Diet? ( That’s a diet that has been studied in many randomized controlled trials.)

Before anyone writes and asks me, I don’t follow the Keto diet. I mostly eat plant-based, however I do make some exceptions. The only diet I follow is Mindful Eating, which isn’t a diet at all. A lot of it is knowing when I’m actually hungry, eating when I’m hungry and not eating when I’m not hungry, rather than following an issued schedule for “feeding” times. That in itself has led to some helpful, yet bizarre, revelations.  Mindful eating is the only thing that works for me, and I still plan on writing a whole piece on how and why it works for me. I suppose I don’t eat much meat, because I don’t like to eat a lot of animal meat, and  I also try to follow an ethical eating plan, because I’m lucky enough to have that choice. I don’t have to eat just anything to survive. I eat organic, try to eat local, and I stay far, far away from anything that comes out of a factory farm. Those things are the epitome of Hell on Earth. I also don’t eat dairy much at all, unless it’s from a farm I trust and know is ethical- like the Hillside Dairy Farm in Trucksville, PA. I grew up adjacent to it ( quite literally) and they treat their cows like family. ( Thank God they did, because I probably would have broken in and freed all the cows if they didn’t.) Folks experiencing with new kinds of proteins, such as insects, have tried to get me excited about eating those, but I’m not there yet. I realize that protein sourced from insects is a logical approach to global food shortages, but I’d…you know, rather stick to my plants. One thing I know about diets is that each person has to figure out what works for him and her. If you have ten people in a room, I promise that they all have different diet patterns. Even in my own family, my mom follows a combination of the American Heart Association Diet and the Mediterranean Diet, my dad couldn’t eat fish if you paid him, my one sister doesn’t eat any red meat, and my other sister is a passionate, die-hard Vegan, who I believe is launching her own line of Vegan baked goods ( They are amazing.) We are all unique with different hang-ups, preferences, lifestyles and activity levels. Diets are easy in the short-term, right? We all can follow any diet for the short-term, but the trick is finding a diet that is healthy and one that we can maintain for the long-term. Okay, back to the evidence for the Keto diet, because my podcast guest is a really smart guy who dove into the evidence base.

On my Causes or Cures podcast, Dr. Shivam Joshi will discuss the evidence for the Keto Diet, how it compares to other diets that have been studied, health risks and what impact it has on diabetes, obesity and lab values long-term. He also talks about good carbs vs bad carbs and areas of future research that we should pay attention to. Dr. Joshi is a board-certified physician who earned his medical degree at the University of Miami and completed his residency in internal medicine at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital. He completed his nephrology (kidney) fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania and currently works as a clinician and clinical assistant professor at Bellevue Hospital in New York University. He has published over a dozen papers on various topics related to diet and health, including plant-based diets and the management of kidney disease, the Keto diet and its effect on obesity and Type 2 Diabetes, and the effect of unrefined carbohydrates on Type 2 Diabetes. He is currently writing a book on how a carnivorous diet impacts health.

Click to listen to Causes or Cures on Apple: Evidence for the Keto Diet

Click to listen to Causes or Cures on Spotify: Evidence for the Keto Diet

I hope you subscribe to the podcast and please, message me and tell me what sort of topics you want to hear about.

In other news, check out ZENBands in our shop and read all about why I’m pushing for safer technology!  I recently listed several new products in the store, to go along with a new book I’m launching soon called Yours in Wellness, Krystal Heeling. It’s a short parody on the wellness industry, but I spare no one, and it was so much fun to write AND illustrate.

Thanks everyone-  Erin  🙂

 

 

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A Supplement for Bulimia and OCD : Myo-Inositol https://www.bloomingwellness.com/2020/02/myo-inositol-for-bulimia-and-ocd/ https://www.bloomingwellness.com/2020/02/myo-inositol-for-bulimia-and-ocd/#respond Wed, 12 Feb 2020 21:50:40 +0000 http://www.bloomingwellness.com/?p=10630   By: Erin Stair, MD, MPH, follow me on Instagram!  A Supplement for Bulimia and OCD: Myo-Inositol Rates of Bulimia, OCD and panic attacks are increasing around the globe, as is the search for alternative treatment approaches. Can Myo-Inositol be used safely as a supplement for Bulimia and OCD? What about panic attacks? Let’s take […]

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A supplement for bulimia

By: Erin Stair, MD, MPH, follow me on Instagram

A Supplement for Bulimia and OCD: Myo-Inositol

Rates of Bulimia, OCD and panic attacks are increasing around the globe, as is the search for alternative treatment approaches. Can Myo-Inositol be used safely as a supplement for Bulimia and OCD? What about panic attacks? Let’s take a look at what Myo-Inositol is and the evidence.

Myo-Inositol is an isomer of glucose, or basic sugar, and naturally consumed in an average human’s diet. It is used in the phosphatidyinositol cycle, a metabolic process that helps mediate hormones, and it is also part of a second messenger system at the cellular level, including messenger systems that lead to the production of serotonin and noradrenalin. Myo-Inositol’s exact mechanism of action is beyond the scope of this blog, so just remember that it helps serotonin and noradrenalin function more effectively, and remember that low or altered production of serotonin is implicated in many anxiety and depressive disorders. Let’s take a look at randomized controlled trials (the gold standard of evidence) that support the use of Myo-Inositol for Bulimia and OCD.

Bulimia is a very difficult illness to treat. I know, because I suffered from it for years. It almost took my life in more ways than one, and I was constatnly on the look out for ANYTHING that would reliably help me overcome bulimic cravings. The cravings are a nightmare, but once you get them under control, recovery IS possible. That said, what’s the evidence for using Myo-inositol as a supplement for bulimia? A double-blind trial compared Myo-Inositol to placebo in patients with either bulimia or binge eating disorder. For six weeks, bulimic patients were given either 18g/day of Myo-Inositol or placebo. The Myo-Inositol group showed a significant reduction in bulimic symptoms compared to the placebo group. (When I was really struggling with the binge/purge cycle, I supplemented with Myo-Inositol to help get me through.) Since we’re focusing on Myo-Inositol as a supplement for Bulimia and OCD, I want the world to know that I view Bulimia as an obsessive/compulsive disorder (OCD), in the sense that you are plagued with intrusive thoughts about binging on certain foods, especially when under stress, and then compelled to act on those thoughts: shopping for food, binging, and finally purging. Health professionals will disagree with me, so I want to make it clear that bulimia as a form of “OCD” is just my opinion.  I wanted to point that out, however, because next I’ll mention a study in which Myo-Inositol was effective for OCD.

In a randomized, double-blind controlled trial, patients with OCD were given either 18 g/day of Myo-Inositol or a placebo. At the end of 6 weeks, the group taking Myo-Inositol significantly improved more than the placebo group. Another study showed no significant improvement when Myo-Inositol was tested as an add-on treatment for individuals with OCD who were already taking an antidepressant(SSRI).

I’ll quickly mention a study that tested Myo-Inositol for panic attacks. A double-blind, randomized controlled trial compared 18g/day of Myo-Inositol with Fluvoxamine ( an antidepressant) in patients with panic disorder. Fluvoxamine is often prescribed for panic disorder. At the end of one month, Myo-Inositol reduced the number of panic attacks by 4 compared to 2 for Fluvoxamine. This is encouraging, because Myo-Inositol isn’t known to have any significant side effects, and comparing it to an actual medication (active comparator)  is a much stronger study than comparing it to a placebo. Also, the group who took Fluvoxamine complained significantly more of nausea and tiredness, common side effects of antidepressants.

We covered evidence for using Myo-Inositol as a supplement for Bulima and OCD, but where can you get it? You can buy supplements in capsule or powder form. I prefer it in powder form. I don’t use it regularly or daily, but sometimes when I’m feeling anxious or obsessive, I use the powder to make a smoothie. I mix it with yogurt, ice cubes, strawberries, banana and spinach, but obviously you can blend whatever you want together. The powder is white and has a sweetish taste. Interesting random fact: Folks used to smuggle cocaine by putting it in Myo-Inositol containers. But don’t worry. Go through a reputable company and you’ll be fine. )

If you decide to try Myo-Inositol as a supplement for bulimia or OCD, how much should you take?

One Tsp equals 3 grams. The randomized controlled trials mentioned above used 18/g day, so that’s 6 Tsps/ day. I usually put something close to that in my smoothies. Of course you can try smaller doses, especially if you are testing for any intolerances. Myo-Inositol has a very safe side-effect profile, but some people have complained of nausea, diarrhea or an upset stomach. I had zero side effects. Please note that it’s not recommended with pregnancy, as it has been linked to uterine contractions.

 

If you use Myo-Inositol for Bulimia or OCD, let us know if it helps you. Of course, always discuss with your doctor before adding ANY supplement, and keep in mind that this blog is information only and NOT medical advice.

 

P.S.:  Several of our customers have had luck with our Anxiety Relief ZENTones. when it came to reducing anxiety or bulimic episodes linked to anxiety. The ZENTones are safe, natural and definitely a good tool to add to your “stress reduction” toolbox.

Other Stuff : 

Listen to my podcast, Causes or Cures, which features experts on timely, often controversial , health topics.

Try ZENBands : Safe Tech for Relaxation

(Plus loads of other goodies in our wellness store!)

Manic Kingdom on Amazon :  Read my novel, based on a provocative true story, and one that will make you question mental illness, craziness and sanity.  (The book talks a lot about bulimia by the way. The main character, based on me, has bulimia and the story covers her unconventional path to healing.)

Follow me on Instagram for wellness tips and giveaways!

Cell phones ,Wireless and Risks during Pregnancy – You want to read this!

Migraine Prevention Tips

 

 

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