fever

  1. Garlic 100 times more effective than drugs at killing food-borne bacteria

    Take two cloves of garlic and call me in the morning

    You know what garlic does to vampires, but that's nothing compared to what it can do to bacteria.

    Garlic is one of nature's most powerful antibiotics -- so powerful it can cure MRSA and staph infections. And now, researchers say it can even wipe out the most common cause of food poisoning 100 times better than two powerful antibiotics.

    That's a claim as bold as the unmistakably pungent taste of garlic -- but it's backed by a new study in which a garlic-derived compound, diallyl sulfide, was put to the test against campylobacter bacteria.

    That's a fecal bug that often finds a way into food -- try not to think about it! --where it can cause days of misery in the form of diarrhea, stomach pain, cramps, fever and more.

    It's one of the bacteria often blamed for Montezuma's Revenge. And in extreme scenarios, it can even trigger Guillain-Barre syndrome, a nervous-system disorder that could lead to paralysis.

    But garlic wiped it out -- and wiped it out even when the bacteria was using the main trick that helps it beat antibiotics.

    Campylobacter likes to camp out behind biofilm. That's essentially a layer of slime -- but to antibiotics such as erythromycin and ciprofloxacin, it may as well be a brick wall.

    When campylobacter is behind biofilm, it's 1,000 times more resistant to antibiotics than in its free form.

    To the diallyl sulfide, however, that biofilm has all the strength of tissue paper, according to the study in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

    If that's not enough of a reason to start adding garlic to all your dishes, the same researchers found in earlier experiments that garlic can wipe out other disease-causing bugs often found in food -- including Listeria and E. coli O157:H7.

    Garlic is also a powerful antifungal agent, and I've given my patients garlic extract -- allium sativum -- for athlete's foot as well as the candidiasis responsible for both thrush and yeast infections, just to name two.

    It can also help lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol, fight inflammation, thin the blood, fight the flu, and lower blood pressure.

    All that, and it tastes great too.

  2. Another recall for children's Tylenol

    Talk about déjà vu all over again: Infant Tylenol is being recalled just months after being put back onto the market after the last recall.

    This is starting to feel like Groundhog's Day.

    Previous Tylenol recalls have been due to meds contaminated with bacteria and "tiny particles" and because they were made in nasty substandard factories crawling with filth.

    The latest recall is a little different. It's not because of a specific problem with the drug itself, but the design of the new bottle. Apparently, it's easy to accidentally push the protective cover into the medicine.

    But as far as I'm concerned, any excuse to get this stuff off the market is a good one -- because if there's any med as overused as Tylenol, even among kids, I can't think of it.

    Just as I can't think of any condition as over-treated as fever.

    Sure, it's scary to watch the numbers on the thermometer rise, especially when it's your child or grandchild. But fever is actually the body's natural defense against infection. Eliminating the fever also eliminates that defense.

    That's why there's more to handling a fever than simply swallowing meds any time the temperature hits a certain number.

    For babies in the first weeks and months, call your doctor anytime the thermometer reaches 101 (and take your baby to the ER if you can't reach the doctor).

    But after those first delicate months, fever care is as much about watching the kid as it is watching the thermometer. A child with a 101 fever who is tired and sickly is more of a concern than one with a 101 fever who's as playful as ever.

    If the fever does get too high, then the goal isn't to bring the child's temperature back down to the textbook 98.6 degrees. It's getting the fever down to a level where the child is more comfortable, but still high enough to let the body fight off any microscopic invaders.

    Dr. Mark Stengler, a naturopath who practices out of California, suggests one alternative to meds that can help do exactly that: the homeopathic remedy ferrum phosphoricum.

    Along with fever, Dr. Stengler says ferrum phos can help kids with sore throats, tonsillitis and earaches. It can even be crushed and used in minor cuts and nosebleeds -- and as is almost always the case with homeopathic remedies, there's virtually no risk of side effects.

    Can't say that about Tylenol.

    Have kids or grandkids? I'm not done with children's health yet -- keep reading for the latest on teens and sleep.

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