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The Effect of Lavender Oil in Patients with Renal Colic

ID-100313187A study recently published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine assessed the use of lavender oil as an add on therapy to treat pain associated with renal colics. The study evaluated 100 patients ranging in age range between 19 and 64. Fifty of the participants received the standard treatment of injection of diclofenac, while the other 50 also received lavender oil in addition to diclofenac. Pain was evaluated using the visual analogue scale (VAS), and was assessed at the beginning, 10 minutes and 30 minutes after treatment. The study showed that at the beginning and 10 minutes after medication was received the VAS scores was similar in both groups. However, thirty minutes later the group that received an additional lavender treatment had VAS scores that were lower compared to those who only received standard treatment of diclofenac. Have you ever experimented with use of lavender oil for pain?  Would you consider recommending lavender oil to someone interested in slowly tapering off their pain control medications?

For more information please see The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

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Coffee drinking may lower inflammation, reduce diabetes risk


In a new study conducted by the department of Nutrition and Dietetics at Harokopio University in Athens, Greece and published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers evaluated coffee drinking habits of more than 1,300 men and women age 18 years and older. 385 of the participants drank more than 1.5 cups of coffee per day thus were considered ‘habitual’ drinkers, while 816 drank less than 1.5 cups of coffee par day and were considered ‘casual’ drinkers; the rest of the participants didn’t consume coffee at all. Levels of inflammatory protein markers and anti-oxidant levels were measured as an indication of the body’s ability to minimize free radicals effect that causes cell damage.  Previous studies suggest that oxidative stress accelerates the dysfunction of pancreatic beta-cells. Scientists  confirmed in this research that blood levels of the anti-inflammatory marker, amyloid, were lower in the habitual coffee drinkers group. After ten years, 191 study participants developed type two diabetes. Habitual coffee drinkers were 54% less likely to develop diabetes compared to non-coffee drinkers. What are some of your main reasons (other than the stimulant effects) why you consume coffee?

For additional information please visit Reuters.

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Calcium Supplements Tied to Macular Degeneration

ID-10020472A study published in JAMA Ophthalmology has found that elderly individuals with an intake of more than 800 milligrams of calcium a day are twice as likely to be diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The study included 3,191 people ages 40 and older. The link to AMD, which causes severe vision loss, was only found in people 68 years of age and older. The participants self-reported their use of calcium supplements. The results were that 248 people diagnosed with AMD. Although the link between AMD and calcium intake is interesting, the study did not prove a causal relationship. The self-reporting of the amount of calcium intake may not have been accurate for all participants. Furthermore, researchers did not evaluate the possible effects of calcium intake from one’s diet can have on the results. What are your thoughts about these findings? How often do you discuss calcium intake with your patients? 

For more information, please see WebMD and JAMA Ophthalmology.

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Safety of Herbal Supplements Pulls Prosecutors Together

ID-10026139Several major retailers were recently forced to pull supplements from their shelves due to alleged fraud and quality control issues associated with them. Claims were made that these products contained little or none of the herbal ingredients marketed. This has prompted the formation of a coalition by a group of attorneys general from New York, Connecticut, Indiana and Puerto Rico. The purpose of this coalition is to help ensure safety of herbal supplements. Several groups argued that quality testing that led to the initial accusations is not appropriate for herbal extracts and that plant DNA would not be discovered because it would be destroyed during the extraction process. Whether or not the quality of these allegedly misbranded products is acceptable is not known however, this coalition is determined to make sure that the herbal supplements are pure and marketed as labeled. What are your thoughts about this controversy? What herbal supplement brands do you trust?

To learn more about this topic, please visit NY Times, American Botanical Council and American Herbal Products Association.

NY Times:

American Botanical Council:

American Herbal Products Association:

Image courtesy of [Carlos Porto]/

Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D may control brain serotonin, affecting behavior and psychiatric disorders

neurology picScientific evidence supports the utility of both omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D in behavioral and psychiatric disorders. However, the mechanisms by which these two micronutrients exert their effects are not completely understood. A recent study published in The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology suggests that serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for many cognitive functions including mood, behavior and decision-making, is affected by omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. The investigators demonstrated that vitamin D regulates the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin while omega-3 fatty acids increase presynaptic serotonin release and serotonin accessibility to its receptor, thereby increasing serotonin production and activity. How often do you discuss with your patients the need for omega-3 fatty acids/vitamin D supplementation? Have you noticed clinical improvements in patients with behavioral/psychiatric disorders who use these nutrients?

For more information, please click here.

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Low Vitamin D in Childhood Linked to Later Heart Risks

A long-term Finnish study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism has reported that vitamin D deficiency in childhood may be linked to hardening of the arteries later in life. In 1980 the researchers enrolled 2,148 children aged 3 to 18 who underwent periodic physical exams measuring serum vitamin D levels and other cardiovascular markers until they were 45 years old. During this time, doctors used ultrasound to examine their arteries (including the carotid artery in the neck) for thickening as a marker of increased cardiovascular risk. After adjusting for age, sex and other cardiovascular risk factors, the results showed children in the lowest one-quarter for vitamin D levels were nearly twice as likely to have thickening of the carotid artery as those in the other three quarters. This evidence suggests Vitamin D is important for good artery health. What are your typical sources of Vitamin D? How often do you recommend your patients to get their Vitamin D levels checked?

For additional information click here

New York Attorney General Targets Supplements at Major Retailers

ID-10033583According to the New York attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman, four major retailers are accused of selling fraudulent and potentially dangerous herbal supplements. Authorities conducted tests on top-selling store brands of herbal supplements at four national retailers — GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart — finding 4 out of 5 of the products did not contain any of the herbs on their labels. The products contained cheap fillers like powdered rice, asparagus and houseplants, potentially dangerous to those with allergies. “Mislabeling, contamination and false advertising are illegal,” said the state attorney general. The FDA has now threatened to take legal action if the companies do not resolve the problem. In response, Walgreens has agreed to remove the products nationwide, not just in New York. GNC is also willing to
cooperate with the attorney general “in all appropriate ways,” but stands behind the quality and purity of its store brand supplements. Target could not be reached for further comment. How often do you discuss the quality concerns with your patients?  What are you typically looking for in a product in terms of quality? What are some of your favorite trusted companies?

For more information, please click here.

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Are Vitamin Drinks a Bad Idea?

ID-10020546The vitamins and minerals are in the news again, with all this being related to their addition to sports drinks, water and juices. Scientists suggests that consumers might be ingesting higher than necessary (and sometimes potentially harmful) amounts. When consumed in excess, water-soluble vitamins like B and C are in the urine, but fat soluble-vitamins including A, D, E and K, accumulate in tissues, posing potential risks. Some people (for example, pregnant or lactating women) will require additional vitamins and minerals, but for the majority of the population, these nutrients should be primarily acquired through daily diet. This discussion extends to antioxidants and the lack of information on the long-term supplementation effects. Scientists state that it is impossible to consume too much from foods but the exposure through supplementation may be too great. How do you counsel your patients about healthy diet and vitamin/mineral/antioxidant rich foods? For those who require supplementation, what are your typical recommendations?

For additional information click here
Photo courtesy of [Paul]

Curcumin may help lower inflammation in metabolic syndrome

ID-100149024Turmeric as well as one of its main ingredients, curcumin, are well-known for their anti-inflammatory activity. A new study from the journal of Clinical Nutrition evaluates curcumin’s ability to reduce inflammation in people with metabolic syndrome. In this randomized controlled clinical trial 117 participants, who had already been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, were split in half to either receive one gram of curcumin or placebo for 8 weeks. The researchers measured levels of three inflammation blood markers at the beginning and end of the study. They found the participants who took curcumin had improved blood levels of all three inflammatory biomarkers as well as reduced fasting blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c, a measure of long term blood sugar levels. “The findings of our studies, along with clinical findings reported by other groups, indicate the usefulness of daily use of curcumin supplement for the prevention and treatment of several diseases,” the study’s senior author states. Curcumin has strong antioxidant and antiinflammaotry properties which give the compound its therapeutic effects. The authors advise that even at high doses curcumin is a very safe natural supplement, but should be avoided in pregnant and lactating women. How do you incorporate curcumin and turmeric into your diet?

For additional information click here

Photo courtesy of [artur84]

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