Dr. Mark Stengler

  1. C. diff cure might be more C. diff bacteria

    Breakthrough "hair of the dog" superbug treatment could beat C. diff

    One of the deadliest germs in the country may have just met its match

    Clostridium difficile, aka C. diff, sickens 500,000 Americans every year and kills 29,000 -- and in many cases, it's getting difficult or even impossible to treat as the bacteria becomes resistant to many drugs.

    But there's a potent new weapon in the fight against C. diff... and it's not a new drug.

    It's the C. diff bacteria itself.

    Cutting-edge new research finds that a non-toxic strain of C. diff can overwhelm its deadly brothers, take control and help ensure that you don't get sick.

    This is one of the basic principles of probiotic therapy, of course, as "good" bacteria are known to fight and overwhelm the bad ones that can make you sick. The key is in finding the right good bug to kill off the bad ones -- and in this case, it's the very same germs that cause the superbug infection in the first place.

    What makes it so effective is that it does an end run around the very trait that makes C. diff so deadly in the first place: stubbornness.

    C. diff is typically treated with antibiotics and in many cases the drugs work -- at first.

    But for nearly a third of all patients, it comes back.

    When that stubborn trait rears its ugly head, you're in serious trouble, because the second infection is often resistant to the very drug that worked the first time around.

    In the new study, 125 patients who fought off C. diff with antibiotics were given this probiotic form of the bacteria after treatment to see if it would stop it from coming back.

    And it worked like gangbusters!

    Six weeks later, just 11 percent of the patients suffered a second infection instead of the expected 30 percent. And in one group of patients given an even higher dose, that rate plummeted all the way down to 5 percent.

    While this is encouraging, I think there's an even better way to use this therapy -- and that's to give it to patients BEFORE the disease strikes, not just after.

    Why let anyone suffer the misery of a C. diff infection in the first place?

    We already know who's likely to get infected: Patients given an antibiotic for another, unrelated, infection and usually seniors, especially those in hospitals and care facilities.

    The drug kills off the first infection as well as most of the good bacteria in your gut. But since C. diff is resistant, it survives -- and without much competition from good bacteria in your gut, it thrives.

    It grows unchecked, and you get sick with diarrhea so severe it could kill you.

    If the new treatment is as effective as this study suggests, then clearly the best time to start using it would be any time a patient is given an antibiotic, especially patients in care facilities.

    It's not clear when this safe form of C. diff will be available to the public, but in the meantime there's another natural option. A strain of probiotic yeast called Saccharomyces boulardii, available in any decent vitamin shop, can prevent C. diff and even help treat the infection if you have it.

    If you take an antibiotic, I recommend taking a probiotic blend with S. boulardii both during your treatment and for several weeks afterward.

  2. Chamomile fights thyroid cancer

    Crush thyroid cancer risk by up to 80% with a regular cup of this tea

    There's no better way to unwind at the end of a long day than with a piping hot cup of tea -- and no better tea to have before bed than chamomile.

    This tasty herbal beverage contains the opposite of caffeine: natural compounds that can help you to relax, unwind and drift off to dreamland.

    Now, new research reveals how chamomile can fight more than just stress. It can beat back one of today's leading killers.

    It can ward off cancer, especially cancer of the thyroid.

    Drink between two and six cups a week, and your risk of thyroid cancer could plunge by 70 percent, according to the study in the European Journal of Public Health.

    The more you drink it, the lower your risk. And if you stick to a regular chamomile habit for 30 years, your thyroid risk plummets by a staggering 80 percent.

    Both sage tea and mountain tea can also help fight cancer, according to the study, but neither of them will do the job as well as plain old chamomile (and neither taste as good either, if you ask me).

    The study doesn't spot the reason, but I can name two: apigenin and luteolin. These potent flavonoids have been shown to have antitumor activity and are specifically known to block thyroid tumors.

    Apigenin is so effective that it's being looked at right now as a potential new drug for thyroid cancer.

    But you know the story with that, right? In order to patent it, Big Pharma will have to create a synthetic version -- and whatever they brew up will end up being dangerous, expensive and not nearly as effective.

    Why even bother?

    Fortunately, you don't need to wait for a chamomile "drug." You can go right to the source and get the benefits from chamomile itself, as it's a great bedtime beverage.

    Check the ingredients carefully as there are two kinds of chamomile: German and Roman. While both may be effective, the German type is what's used in most research, and is generally lower in pesticides. And of course organic German chamomile will be lowest of all.

    I recommend making fresh tea using between a half a teaspoon and one full teaspoon of dried organic chamomile flowers per cup of water.

  3. Resveratrol can help protect against diabetes damage

    Protect critical cells from diabetes damage with powerful fruit extract

    When you think of the damage diabetes does in the body, you probably think of what it does to your vital organs -- how it wrecks your heart, rots your brain and absolutely knocks the pants off your poor pancreas.

    But all that big damage starts out very small. It begins in your cells, especially the cells that line your blood vessels.

    Protect those critical cells, and you can protect your entire body from the ravages of this life-ruining disease -- and now, the latest research shows one remarkably easy way to do just that. Continue reading

  4. Pine bark extract can improve your heart health

    The secret to avoiding heart attack or stroke hidden inside tree bark?

    Everyone's hunting for the next great heart-protecting "wonder drug." But it looks to me like it's already here -- and it's not actually a drug at all.

    There's a safe and natural supplement hiding in plain sight that can do for your heart what all the statins and beta-blockers in the world can't: It can protect your ticker and help prevent heart attacks without bringing new risks along for the ride.

    It's a supplement called Pycnogenol, an extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, and it's been used for decades to treat for everything from tinnitus to headaches to PMS.

    But new research shows how Pycnogenol has another trick up its bark -- one that could transform this extract from a handy thing to have for certain conditions to a "must-have" supplement for people facing heart risk and diabetes. Continue reading

  5. Ease seasonal allergies with probiotics

    Seasonal allergies making you miserable? Fight them WITHOUT drugs

    Spring has finally sprung. After a seemingly endless winter, and months of cabin fever, it's finally time to get outside and enjoy the great weather.

    But mere minutes after firing up the BBQ for the first time this season you feel it... that first tickle in your nose and itch in your eyes that lets you know Mother Nature has other plans.

    That tickle turns to a sniffle, and then that sniffle turns into a full-blown attack of sneezing, wheezing and watery eyes that can only mean one thing: It's allergy season.

    A round of hay fever won't just spoil your perfect spring day. Allergies can flat-out spoil spring itself, especially with the off the charts pollen counts we're seeing this year. Continue reading

  6. Mediterranean diet can stop cognitive decline

    "Perfect diet" prevents dementia and protects precious memories

    Some docs will tell you that avoiding dementia is all about good genes and good luck.

    I'm here to tell you they're wrong -- because a good diet will trump both every time.

    It's true that genes can play a role in dementia risk, and it never hurts to have a little luck on your side. But what you eat (and, more importantly, what you don't eat) plays a much bigger role in your overall health, especially your brain health.

    Eat junk, and your brain will pretty much turn into those Cheez Doodles you're chowing down on. Continue reading

  7. Dementia caused by high blood sugar

    Critical blood sugar warning for NON diabetics could save your brain

    If you're like most folks who don't have diabetes, you probably never give your blood sugar a second thought. Oh, perhaps you glance at it when you have your annual checkup, but for the most part it flies under the radar.

    Well it's time to change that, because it turns out diabetics aren't the only ones who need to be concerned about controlling their blood sugar. And ignoring your elevated levels could lead to some serious -- and even deadly -- health issues, even if the disease never strikes.

    High blood sugar, even in non-diabetics, increases your risk of heart problems and death from heart problems. And all that extra sugar rushing through your brain leaves behind a trail of garbage that could one day lead to brain damage. Continue reading

  8. Cholesterol drugs can't save your life

    "Breakthrough" cholesterol drugs another dangerous Big Pharma Myth

    Once again Big Pharma is confusing cholesterol with a game of limbo. When will this "How low can you go?" madness end?

    The "lower is better" mantra for cholesterol has been disproven by mainstream science time and time again, yet the drug industry keeps cranking out cholesterol meds like there's no tomorrow.

    And docs keep giving them to their patients, whether they need them or not.

    This profit driven "drug 'em all" approach has been a windfall for Big Pharma, turning statins into some of the best-selling drugs of all time despite the fact that they don't treat, prevent or cure any disease. Continue reading

  9. Urinary tract infections resist antibiotics

    "Untreatable" UTIs a frightening reality as antibiotic resistance grows

    One of the most common infections of all -- especially among women -- is becoming difficult, and in some cases impossible, to treat.

    Every year, nearly 10 million American women visit a doctor because of a urinary tract infection -- and most of them leave the clinic with a prescription for an antibiotic.

    Now, many of them are learning the hard way that the drugs can make the condition worse instead of better.

    Many UTIs are caused by the E. coli bacteria, and frightening new research shows how rapidly this common germ is becoming resistant to antibiotics. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of samples resistant to the drug Cipro increased by nearly 600 percent. Continue reading

  10. Milk won't protect your brain

    Don't fall victim to the dairy industry's latest milk PR campaign

    It's time to say goodbye to those milk mustache ads and say hello to the milk mind ones instead. Because there's a brand new study out that claims drinking plenty of milk can protect your brain and prevent Alzheimer's disease -- and if that sounds like the kind of research that was bought and paid for by the dairy industry, that's because it was.

    Looks like they got their money's worth, because the media covered this dubious study with sensational headlines like "3 Glasses Of Milk A Day May Keep Dementia Away" despite the fact that the study proved no such thing at all.

    And naturally, none of those reports bothered to mention that the study was funded by the Dairy Research Institute. Continue reading

  11. Frozen shrimp covered in bacteria and antibiotics

    Supermarket shrimp crawling with disease-causing germs

    Memorial Day is just around the corner, and with it the unofficial start of barbecue season.

    If you believe a barbecue just isn't a barbecue without some savory shrimp sizzling on the grill, then I've got a warning you should read before your next big cookout -- because if you buy supermarket shrimp, you could be serving your friends and family the worst case of food poisoning ever.

    New tests from Consumer Reports finds stomach-turning, infection-causing, nausea-inducing bacteria on 60 percent of the frozen raw shrimp tested! It reads like a who's who of food poisoning bugs including salmonella, vibrio, Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli and listeria. Continue reading

  12. Chemo brain proven real by landmark study

    'Chemo brain' confirmed! Here's how to prevent the damage

    Your oncologist has given you the good news you've been waiting for: There's no trace of the tumor left, and you're officially cancer free.

    You should feel like celebrating. But instead, you feel downright awful -- and it's not just because you're worn out from a battle with this deadly disease.

    Something feels wrong upstairs; your brain doesn't seem like it's firing on all cylinders. You can't think straight... can't concentrate... and can't even remember what you had for breakfast some days, much less anything important.

    Complain to your doctor and he'll likely leave you feeling like an ingrate. After all, he did his job and got rid of the cancer.

    He might even suggest the problem is all in your head. Continue reading

  13. Hospitalization can cause functional decline

    WARNING: Checking into the hospital could put you in diapers

    I see it happen all too often: A vital and active senior checks into the hospital for a condition that should be completely treatable. But he checks back out as a sickly old man.

    Sure the condition might be better... but everything else is worse.

    Too many seniors who spend even a few days in a hospital emerge suffering serious, debilitating and independence-robbing functional decline.

    It's like visiting a mechanic who fixes your engine, but destroys your tires.

    Older folks who could walk just fine before their hospital stay emerge with a walker or even in a wheelchair.

    Seniors who had never had a urinary problem in their life are sent home in diapers. Continue reading

  14. Fluoride levels cut by feds

    Feds confirm: Fluoride levels are dangerously high

    Not long ago, just mentioning your concerns over fluoride would be enough to earn you funny looks from your friends.

    At least a few might even have dismissed you as some kind of tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorist (if not to your face, then behind your back). But it looks like those doubters are going to have to eat some crow.

    Because now the feds have FINALLY admitted that we have dangerously high levels of fluoride in the water in much of the country. And the Department of Health and Human Services has just issued a new set of guidelines slashing the recommended levels by nearly half.

    So much for that tinfoil hat! Continue reading

  15. New mammogram guidelines fail women

    New mammogram guidelines cause confusion and hurt women

    We've reached the point where even many in the mainstream say we've gone too far with mammograms.

    They haven't just been overused. They've been abused -- and as a result, they've hurt more women than they've ever saved.

    So what's the U.S. government doing? They're trying to make it even easier for more women to get screened more often, including women who have no actual medical need for a mammogram.

    I only wish I were making this up. But it's true -- because the same U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that called for fewer mammograms in its last set of guidelines just issued a bizarre clarification. Continue reading

  16. Garlic can cut your blood pressure

    Garlic breath could be the key to slashing blood pressure

    Is there anything better than the smell of garlic cooking in the kitchen at dinnertime? I sure can't think of it right now -- and garlic brings more to the table than that terrific smell and the power to perk up any meal.

    It's also a potent health-booster, able to fight off bacteria and viruses and slash inflammation.

    And now, the latest research finds it can even lower your blood pressure.

    Supplements with allicin, the active compound in garlic, can cut your systolic blood pressure ("top number") by an average of 6.71 mmHg and the diastolic blood pressure ("bottom number") by an average of 4.79 mmHg, according to the analysis of seven randomized, controlled trials. Continue reading

  17. Supplements cause cancer? Not so fast!

    Behind the headlines: The REAL story about vitamins and cancer risk

    It was plastered all over the news like cheap wallpaper. Screaming headlines were everywhere warning people to stop taking their vitamins after a new study found they can supposedly cause cancer.

    But you don't have to do much digging to uncover the problem with this "study," because it's a case of selective science at its absolute worst.

    See, it's not a new study. In fact, it's not even a study at all. It was a presentation based on an old commentary that itself was based on old studies. And it didn't even try to be comprehensive in any way, shape or form. Of the thousands of studies on vitamins and supplements done over the years, the folks behind this one magically selected just a few to focus on.

    And, wouldn't you know it, they honed in on only those studies that proved their pre-determined point. Continue reading

  18. Exercise won't lead to weight loss

    The exercise lie that's keeping you from losing weight

    I've seen it happen time and time again. When someone wants to lose weight, they throw themselves headfirst into an intensive fitness program.

    For weeks, they sweat and strain and try every piece of equipment in the gym.

    And then, when they step on the scale after all that hard work... nothing.

    They haven't lost an ounce. In some cases, they may have even gained a little weight.

    Frustrated? You bet they're frustrated -- and that's when they come to me, and I have to break the news gently that they've been doing it all wrong. Continue reading

  19. Proton pump inhibitors linked to kidney failure

    Your heartburn drug could be killing your kidneys

    I've seen patients with reflux so bad they felt as if they were choking on their own stomach acid after nearly every meal. So believe me, I understand the allure of drugs such as proton pump inhibitors.

    But if you're battling a stomach acid problem of your own, don't touch that pill -- because new research finds it could shut your kidneys down.

    The risk is being described in the media as "low," but I'll let you be the judge of that, because I've got the numbers right here: 13.49 of every 1,000 seniors who take a PPI drug will end up in the hospital with kidney failure.

    That's more than double the rate of seniors who don't take the drug, and adds up to 4 cases of kidney failure for every 300 seniors who take a PPI.

    I wouldn't call that low at all. Continue reading

  20. Even a little bit of sugar can hurt you

    The moderation myth can turn a soda into a death sentence

    Water's wet, the sky is blue and sugar is bad for you.

    You won't find anyone with even half a brain who'd argue with that. Yet millions of people are under the illusion that you can get away with having just a little bit of sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.

    I call it "the moderation myth," and it's not based on science. It's a scheme cooked up by marketing teams as soda sales went flat, a slick deception that has millions of people believing that they can make room in their diet for a treat such as a can of soda.

    But new research pops the top off this lie, showing how the amounts of sugar even the U.S. government will tell you are perfectly safe could do the kind of metabolic damage that will set the stage for a lifetime of chronic disease. Continue reading

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