House Calls

  1. Clearing the air on asthma remedies

    We've all seen about a million television shows or movies where it seems like the villain is about to get caught, and then he somehow makes a daring escape.

    I'm often reminded of that frustrating plotline when I read medical research. Sometimes the researchers are so close to understanding a fundamental truth… to uncovering the real culprit behind a disease… that it breaks my heart when they don't.

    Case in point, researchers from the West Virginia School of Medicine recently took a group of kids with allergies and asthma and moved them from an Italian city to the countryside for a week of camp.

    After just one week in the countryside, they all improved. They were able to breathe easier, and their lungs functioned better in clear and measurable ways, according to the results published in the March issue of Pediatrics.

    Unfortunately, the researchers were achingly close to making a conclusion that would have helped an awful lot of asthmatics… but they didn't. Instead, they concluded that we need to improve air quality in cities and reduce pollution so that our children can breathe better.

    That's an admirable goal – but for all the folks suffering from asthma right now, it's not going to be of much use.

    The real message of this study should be that asthma is an autoimmune disorder, triggered by allergens. So if you live in a city and have asthma, there may be some allergens in the air (or just in your home, for that matter) that are helping cause it. Get yourself away from those allergens, and you could start to feel better.

    Now, as a longtime resident of Montana, I have to say I'm a little biased towards fresh air and open skies. But we have folks here who suffer from asthma and other illnesses because they're allergic to ragweed pollen. Or all the timothy grass you'll often find on the vast ranches and prairies. Or the majestic elms that dot our great state.

    See, battling asthma isn't about urban areas versus rural ones – it has more to do with identifying the specific allergens in your life, and removing them. In this case, rather than remove the allergen, they removed the people. That can work, too, as long as the allergen is not present in your new location – but it's not really a practical solution for most people.

    So for the rest of us, we need more accurate and thorough testing for our allergies, so that we can better understand what is triggering our symptoms. Then, rather then moving away, see if you can remove those allergens.

    Much like the kids in this study, I think you'll see improvements, and relatively quickly. Our bodies have an amazing capacity to heal themselves when given the chance, and you don't need a vacation in the Italian countryside to enjoy that everyday miracle.

  2. A study only Big Pharma could love

    You may have noticed by now that I'm always suspicious of studies that "prove" the only solution to a health problem comes on a prescription pad.

    Take this new survey out of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, which concluded that patients suffering from high blood pressure get better results from drugs alone than from drugs and lifestyle changes combined.

    Since this flies in the face of all clinical evidence, the researchers concluded that people in the "real world" must be making lifestyle changes differently than people being studied in a clinical setting.

    I can buy that… I truly can. And the next step should be to find out how to duplicate the clinical success of lifestyle changes in the real world.

    But, of course, the researchers went in a different direction – and you'll have no trouble believing the direction they chose. They outrageously concluded that drugs are the only real and certain solution for lowering blood pressure.

    All I can say is, try telling that to my patients. I cure high blood pressure all the time, and I'm not relying on dangerous prescription drugs to do it. In fact, many of my patients come to me after they have unsuccessfully tried prescription drugs for years.

    You see, high blood pressure is often the result of an imbalance of epinephrine and norepinephrine, which are produced by your adrenal glands. This imbalance can be caused by a simple nutritional deficiency. Fix the deficiency, and you can fix the high blood pressure.

    That may seem overly simple, but I've seen it work time and again. In fact, I'll be sharing the nutrient regimen I recommend to my patients with high blood pressure in the May issue of Health Revelations. Click here to sign up for Health Revelations today! 

    I've also seen patients experience remarkable results from lifestyle changes, like altering their diets, exercising more and managing stress.

    You've got to realize that developing hypertension is not like catching a cold. You don't go to bed one night perfectly healthy and wake up the next morning suffering from consistently high blood pressure. It's something that develops over time. Lifestyle modifications can take you at least part of the way back, but how far – and how long it'll take – will depend in part on the severity of your high blood pressure and what's causing it.

    But don't believe for a second that lifestyle changes can't help. I have too many patients who are living proof that they can make a big difference. And, unlike prescription drugs, the only side effect of lifestyle changes is overall better health.

  3. A little truth could go a long way with drug ads

    I've found that people are quite capable of deciding on their own when they have enough information. That old saying "knowledge is power" is true.
  4. A fistful of pills brings a bucket full of trouble

    There's a growing feeling among patients and even doctors that many of these pills are simply unnecessary and making lives worse, not better.
  5. Your health, outsourced to the lowest bidder

    In fact, as of November 2007, a third of all clinical trials were being conducted overseas, in many cases in Third World countries, according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine.
  6. What twins are telling us about premature aging

    We know that hormonal changes affect all of us – not just women – as we age. But what many people don't realize is how we are, to a certain extent, in control of them. Our actions cause their reactions.
  7. Non-bioidentical hormone unleashes cancer on study group

    I've always worried about the dangers of non-bioidentical hormones. And after you read this, you'll be worried too.
  8. Some common sense in the hunt for Alzheimer's cure

    A recent study out of California found that a naturally occurring brain protein could slow or even stop the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
  9. Researchers going pointlessly high-tech to treat rheumatoid

    There is a highly successful treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, and it's a lot simpler than many people want you to believe.
  10. Docs looking to "see no evil" after bad antidepressant news

    When researchers from the World Health Organization reviewed eight studies, they determined that certain antidepressants increase suicide attempts by younger people, especially those in the 18-25 age group.
  11. The cocaine of the playground

    It's bad enough when Big Pharma tries pushing dangerous and unnecessary drugs on adults. It's far, far worse when they do it to our children.
  12. Ignorance isn't bliss when it comes to doctor's appointments

    A University of Michigan study that looked at how 3,000 patients made decisions about their health found most of them to be badly informed.
  13. Vitamin research doesn't pass the sniff test

    The latest study on multivitamins concluded that women who take multivitamins face the same risk of cancer and heart disease as women who don't.
  14. Worried about dementia? Relax!

    A study found that people who have less stress have a lower risk of dementia. It also found a lower risk in people who are more socially active.
  15. Asthma drug could be a prescription for misery

    A recent study found that people with severe asthma who have fungal allergies might benefit from taking itraconazole, an anti-fungal drug sold as Sporanox.
  16. Big Pharma’s statin monster looking to grow

    A new study, called JUPITER, shows that statins can help lower levels of C-Reactive Protein, or CRP, in people with normal LDL cholesterol.
  17. Antidepressant research looks for best of a bad lot

    A recent study concluded that Zoloft and Lexapro are the best antidepressants. The catch? They’re the “best” only when compared to the current generation of other Big Pharma antidepressants.
  18. Better living… through starvation?

    The latest fad that doesn’t live up to the hype is ultra-low-calorie dieting.
  19. Prostate cancer study dances around surgery question

    A recent study found that older men with early stage low- or moderate–grade prostate cancer are more likely to die of something other than the prostate cancer.
  20. Americans skimping on health care to make ends meet

    According to new research from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 53 percent of Americans said they or someone living with them had cut back on health care in the past year to save money.

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