Thursday, June 30, 2011

Autism is Complicated

Finally, we know why research has been a total bust to find a cause and standard treatment for Autism. The Los Angles Times reported that two recent studies showed that Autism is apparently related to as many as 300 spontaneous genetic mutations. They do not yet know what is causing the mutations but it makes sense that multiple environmental and chemical exposures stimulate these abnormalities in susceptible children. That is why some parents adamantly link their child’s illness to various immunizations, while research has not proven the association in large studies. It also explains why certain children respond to some treatments, while others do not. Multiple therapies need to be tried in order to find a few that are effective. A more natural approach, in my opinion, would be more likely to reverse genetic expression than drugs.

See LA Times article reprinted in The (Toledo)Blade, June 10, 2011, p. 4.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Should Breast–fed Infants Receive Iron Supplements

There is a great controversy on this recommendation in the world of pediatrics. The American Academy of Pediatrics section on breastfeeding has suggested that the current guideline that all breastfed babies get iron supplements beginning at 4 months of age be eliminated. Dr. Richard Schanler of Albert Einstein College of Medicine states, “No one has shown any benefit for doing that.” He suggests that another way to increase iron stores in newborns is delayed cutting of the cord. Even without this simple measure, there is enough iron in infants to last at least 4 months. Iron containing solid foods can be added at 6 months. Some pediatricians adamantly advocate iron for breastfed infants and others for all infants. They site slightly lower hemoglobin levels in children where this is not done. Testing for iron deficiency can get expensive. The best approach is probably individualized from the overall risk status of the infant and the desires of the parents.

See Family Practice News (click here), December, 2010, p. 12-13.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Conventional Medicine Moving Toward Holistic Ideas

A survey of randomly selected conventional primary care doctors conducted by Holistic Primary Care showed that 80% are incorporating some modalities from holistic medicine. Nutrition and stress relief head the list. But there is a greater interest in supplements as well. One-fifth use some form of manual medicine. As often the case, a large number of practitioners use supplements, exercise regularly, and buy organic food for their own use, more so than those who recommend such measures for their patients.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Do Biphosphonate Drugs Cause Fractures Rather than Prevent Them?

Drugs such as Fosamox and Boneva are commonly prescribed to prevent fractures in patients with osteopenia and osteoporosis. Randomized trials have shown that long-term use (> 5 years) of these drugs can reduce the usual fractures that occur in old age. However, a large study reported in JAMA also showed that unusual fractures below the hip are increased somewhat with minimal trauma in patients who have used these drugs long-term. The authors suggest that long-term use of these drugs should be re-evaluated. In my experience, the more vigorous use of vitamin D, magnesium along with lower doses of calcium, natural progesterone, exercise, and sometimes strontium is often a better approach than reaching for the prescription pad for such patients.

See Park-Wyllie,, JAMA, Feb. 23, 2011, p. 783-789.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Correcting Low Vitamin D Reduces Breast Cancer

The ridiculous recommendation by the Institute of Medicine that only 600iu of vitamin D is indicated for prevention of disease has been rebuked by another study. Katherine Crew was the lead investigator at Columbia University for a study that showed that females with vitamin D levels less than 20 mg/ml had a 40% higher risk of developing breast cancer than those with levels greater than 50. Oral doses up to 10,000 iu a day were proven safe to use in patients with low levels. Vitamin D testing should be routine. I like to see optimal levels at 60 iu or higher.

See (click here), editor Erik Goldman’s blog.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Prevention of Fractures Depends on Bone Flexibility as Well as Density

Just like heart attack prevention depends on a lot more than lowering cholesterol, effective fracture prevention is not simply increasing calcium density. A piece of chalk packed full of calcium breaks easily when dropped. Collagen supports the bone matrix flexibility and gives bone the ability to absorb stress and bend with trauma. Two simple ways to improve bone collagen are glucosamine/chondroitin and vitamin K. The former is frequently given as a supplement for osteoarthritis. The best source of vitamin K is green, leafy vegetables, but it also can be taken as a supplement in the form of 45 mg a day of K2, sometimes combined with vitamin D3. Those who are taking warfarin should not take vitamin K.

See John Neustadt, To Prevent Fractures, Consider Bone Density, Not Just Mineral Density, in Holistic Primary Care, Spring, 2011, p. 1-2.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dogs Make You Healthy

Dr. Mathew Reeves of Michigan State University was the lead author of a study that showed that dog-owners get significantly more exercise and are thus healthier than those who do not own a dog. It is widely recognized that good health requires 150 minutes of exercise a week. Only one-third of those in the study who did not own a dog reached that level. Those with dogs not only exercised more frequently at that level but also were more likely to participate in leisure time sports. Another study at University of Missouri indicated that dogs were more effective companions than other humans to stimulate regular exercise.

See Marilou Johanek’s article in the Toledo Blade, March 17, 2011, section A, P. 9 or contact her at

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

“Bath Salts” to Get High

A new and dangerous craze is smoking, snorting, injecting or swallowing a product labeled as “bath salts” or “plant food”, which has been available at some convenience stores. On the street, it goes by such names as Cloud 9, Blizzard, Ivory Snow, Vanilla Sky, and Red Dove. Poison control centers are getting 10 X more calls for this substance than last year. The drug can cause paranoia, suicidal thoughts, violence, and death. Some states, but not all, have made the product illegal.

See Prescriber’s Letter, March, 2011, p. 18

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Chronic Disease, Obesity and Poor Nutrition

Harvard pediatrician, David Ludwig, wrote a short but powerful article in a recent journal of the AMA calling for a reduction in processed foods, a restructuring of agricultural subsidies to promote high-quality foods, upgraded school lunch programs, restricted fast food advertising targeting children, and a general transition to whole-food, lower glycemic index consumption. Such measures would greatly reduce our obesity epidemic and reverse our dramatic increase in chronic degenerative diseases. We need to do our part on a personal level, and also to influence Congress to reset our country’s priorities.

See Technology, Diet, and the Burden of Chronic Disease. JAMA, April 6, 2011, vol. 305, 1352-1353. (see comment for the article).