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Wed, 28 Jun 2017
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Drug safety expert urges doctors to stop prescribing antipsychotic for insomnia

Recently, after morning rounds seeing patients admitted to his hospital through emergency, Dr. David Juurlink tweeted: "Can the next doctor wanting to prescribe Seroquel for sleep," he said, "just not?"

Of the roughly 20 patients he saw that morning, four had been prescribed Seroquel, an antipsychotic, for insomnia.

Seroquel and its generics aren't approved as sleeping pills. Quetiapine, the active ingredient, has been officially approved in Canada for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression only. Yet drug safety experts are growing increasingly alarmed by the drug's use as a doctor-prescribed nightcap for insomnia, with a 10-fold increase in quetiapine prescriptions for sleep problems in Canada between 2005 and 2012 alone.

Quetiapine is sedating. Like over-the-counter sleep aids, it makes people drowsy. But it also comes with a multitude of potential side effects, experts say, including an odd sensation of tension and restlessness (akathisia), Parkinson's-like tremors and movement abnormalities, weight-gain, high blood sugar, new or worsening diabetes and, in rare cases, heart arrhythmia that can cause sudden cardiac death. A recent Health Canada review linked quetiapine and other so-called "atypical" antipsychotics to an increased risk of sleep apnea —breaks in breathing during sleep.

Juurlink, a clinical toxicologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, said quetiapine could also cause a particularly nasty complication known as neuroleptic malignant syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening reaction to antipsychotics or major tranquilizers. "Over the last decade, I have seen several patients who have had quetiapine as part of, or one of the contributing causes to NMS," said Juurlink, whose frustrated tweet to doctors last week was a repeat of one he has sent before.

Comment: You know it is pretty bad when you need a chemical lobotomy in order to sleep peacefully at night.

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Health

Improve lymph flow and more with dry skin brushing

Want to have smooth, drool worthy, silky skin? Can't get rid of cellulite? Have you ever tried dry brushing? This ancient technique, that only takes five minutes, is considered helpful for detoxification and supporting lymph flow, as well as balancing hormones and immune function.

Dry brushing is also known as an Ayurvedic practice called gharsana. It is commonly combined with drying and stimulating powdered herbs like trikatu (a blend of black pepper, long pepper, and ginger), triphala ( a blend of haritaki, bibhitaki, and amla fruits), or ginger to assist in unclogging pores, improving circulation and excreting toxins that get trapped beneath the skin.

Benefits of Dry Brushing

Our skin is our largest organ. We both detox and absorb through our skin. The job of our lymphatic system is to filter our blood and dispose of toxic and acidic waste. Without it, our tissue, organs, and cells would become overloaded with toxins. An unhealthy or sluggish lymph system could lead to a chronic fatigue, weakened immune system, bloating, aches and pains, cellulite, fibromyalgia, poor digestion, and so much more.

Health

Vagus nerve stimulation dramatically reduces inflammation and the symptoms of arthritis


Vagus nerve in yellow.
Inflammatory responses play a central role in the development and persistence of many diseases and can lead to debilitating chronic pain. In many cases, inflammation is your body's response to stress. Therefore, reducing "fight-or-flight" responses in the nervous system and lowering biological markers for stress can also reduce inflammation.

Typically, doctors prescribe medications to combat inflammation. However, there's growing evidence that another way to combat inflammation is by engaging the vagus nerve and improving "vagal tone." This can be achieved through daily habits such as yoga and meditation—or in more extreme cases of inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA)—by using an implanted device for vagus nerve stimulation (VNS).

The vagus nerve is known as the "wandering nerve" because it has multiple branches that diverge from two thick stems rooted in the cerebellum and brainstem that wander to the lowest viscera of your abdomen touching your heart and most major organs along the way. Vagus means "wandering" in Latin. The words vagabond, vague, and vagrant are all derived from the same Latin root.

Comment: Forget the drugs and the implants! For a free and easy way to stimulate your vagus nerve try Éiriú Eolas here.


Pills

Medical malpractice and misuse of antibiotics are leading to dangerous resistance

Over a six-year period, Deepti Chavan received more than 400 injections, took as many as 20 pills a day and had a lung removed.

The drugs were so toxic that they changed the colour of her skin, damaged her hearing and vision, caused excruciating joint pain, triggered bouts of psychosis, left her constantly nauseous and unable to eat. At one point, she was a skeletal 70 pounds and coughing up blood daily.

Ms. Chavan lost track of how many times doctors told her family she would be better off dead. "I myself often felt that dying would be easier, too," she added.

Yet, Ms. Chavan considers herself lucky. She survived and was cured of tuberculosis - multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.

On Monday in Montreal, she told her MDR-TB ( multidrug-resistant strains) horror story to a rapt audience of the Global Health Program at McGill University.

It is a cautionary tale, one that highlights how ancient diseases such as TB are not only making a comeback but becoming more deadly, how the misuse of antibiotics is leading to dangerous resistance and how good diagnostics are essential to successful treatment.

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Ebola virus leaves unique scar inside survivor's eyes

© lmstockwork/Shutterstock
In some Ebola survivors, the virus leaves a unique scar at the back of the eye that can be seen long after they are cured of the disease, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed information from 82 Ebola survivors in Sierra Leone and 105 people who lived in the area but never had Ebola. All participants took a vision test and had the back of their eyes examined with an ophthalmoscope. Among Ebola survivors, more than a year had passed, on average, between the time they were cured of the disease and the time of the eye exam.

When asked to read letters on an eye chart, the Ebola survivors tended to perform just as well as those who'd never had the disease, meaning their infection didn't seem affect their vision.

But about 15 percent of Ebola survivors had a unique scar on their retina — the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. The people who had never contracted Ebola did not have this particular type of scar, the study found.

Bacon n Eggs

Saturated Fat: Health Food or Health Hindrance?

The latest advisory issued by an American Heart Association released report on June 15, 2017 seems to be causing quite a storm of controversy online, as well as generating a lot of confusion in a whole lot of people. I was rather surprised at the number of emails I received from those that had read it expressing concerns about coconut oil, which has otherwise actually enjoyed quite a bit of cause célèbre as a bit of a rock star in health circles in recent years. The AHA article even spurred BBC News one day later, on June 16 to proclaim coconut oil 'as unhealthy as beef fat and butter'. In fact, there was almost what seemed like a carpet bombing of articles and anti-saturated fat propaganda surrounding the AHA advisory, originally published in the journal, Circulation titled, "Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease: A Presidential Advisory From the American Heart Association". The AHA decree offered essentially a reiteration of its own absurdly antiquated recommendation to curb the intake of saturated fats in favor of supposedly "heart healthy" unsaturated/polyunsaturated fats.

The AHA's "new" declaration was so nonsensical and full of errors that there is widespread speculation that all of this must be a hoax. - "Fake News", as it were. - Would that it were so (well, it is and it isn't).

Nonetheless, on the American Heart Association website the following headline was emblazoned: "Advisory: Replacing saturated fat with healthier fat could lower cardiovascular risks"

Wow....really? Is the world STILL flat?

The authors of the article in the journal Circulation stated
"Taking into consideration the totality of the scientific evidence, satisfying rigorous criteria for causality, we conclude strongly that lowering intake of saturated fat and replacing it with unsaturated fats, especially polyunsaturated fats, will lower the incidence of CVD [cardiovascular disease]."
Ummmm yeah. And I've got some swampland in New Jersey to sell you. The nutritionally illiterate AHA really still thinks they can sell this obsolete swill to us? This AHA declaration basically does little more than echo the long-since tired and thoroughly debunked, decades-old failed policy of our USDA government guidelines.

Comment: For another invaluable perspective, see: Nina Teicholz: The Big Fat Surprise! (Video)


Health

Cannabinoids for Autoimmune Disease


This unjustly demonized plant is about to change the scope of medicine and disease management as we know it.
Historical Maligning of Marijuana

Although legalizing recreational marijuana is a polarizing political issue, the ceremonial and medicinal use of this botanical agent dates back thousands of years (1). Paleobotanical, anthropological, and ethnographic records date the first human interactions with marijuana to 11,000 years ago, in the Holocene era, when human groups in the Eurasian continent used the seeds and stalks as sources of food and fiber, and the resin-laden female flowers within spiritual contexts (2, 3, 4). According to Wei and colleagues (2017), the medicinal actions, as well as the heightened euphoria, modified time perception, intensified sensation, and sense of tranquility produced by consuming the flowers or inhaling their smoke was "intimately woven into religious ritual" (p. 1). Marijuana was likewise used to cement social bonding during weddings, funerals, supernatural rites, and festivals, from cultures ranging to the Scythians inhabiting the Eurasian steppe to the Hindus of the Himalayan mountains (5).

Nonetheless, the plant has been embroiled in a miasma of mythology and its reputation tarnished by its affiliation with counterculture, a segment of the population to which policymakers have harbored historical animus. According to Schafer (1972),
"Many see the drug as fostering a counterculture which conflicts with basic moral precepts as well as with the operating functions of our society....Marihuana becomes more than a drug; it becomes a symbol of the rejection of cherished values" (p. 9).

Comment: Read more about the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids:


Health

Study: Acupuncture safe and effective treatment for relieving pain in emergency room patients

The world's largest randomized controlled trial of the use of acupuncture in emergency departments has found the treatment is a safe and effective alternative to pain-relieving drugs for some patients.

Led by RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, the study found acupuncture was as effective as pain medicine in providing long-term relief for patients who came to emergency in considerable pain.

But the trial, conducted in the emergency departments of four Melbourne hospitals, showed pain management remains a critical issue, with neither treatment providing adequate immediate relief.

Lead investigator Professor Marc Cohen, from RMIT's School of Health and Biomedical Sciences, said pain was the most common reason people came to emergency, but was often inadequately managed.
"While acupuncture is widely used by practitioners in community settings for treating pain, it is rarely used in hospital emergency departments," Cohen said.

"Emergency nurses and doctors need a variety of pain-relieving options when treating patients, given the concerns around opioids such as morphine, which carry the risk of addiction when used long-term.

"Our study has shown acupuncture is a viable alternative, and would be especially beneficial for patients who are unable to take standard pain-relieving drugs because of other medical conditions.

"But it's clear we need more research overall to develop better medical approaches to pain management, as the study also showed patients initially remained in some pain, no matter what treatment they received."

Comment: Why acupuncture works
With documented use dating back more than 2,500 years, acupuncture is based on the premise that there are more than 2,000 acupuncture points in the human body, which are connected by bioenergetic pathways known as meridians.

According to traditional medicine, it is through these pathways that Qi, or energy, flows, and when the pathway is blocked the disruptions can lead to imbalances and chronic disease.

Acupuncture is proven to impact a number of chronic health conditions, and it may work, in part, by stimulating your central nervous system to release natural chemicals that alter bodily systems, pain and other biological processes.
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Health

Time doesn't always mend a broken heart: Rare syndrome leaves physical scars that never recover

Songwriters, poets and novelists have long mused over whether time truly heals everything.

Charles Dickens toyed over whether the bitter Miss Haversham would ever recover from being jilted at the altar, and for many historians, Queen Victoria's black dress came to symbolise her irreparable suffering over Prince Albert's death.

But a new study has apparently put their agonising to bed and concluded that not even the clock can always mend a broken heart.

A team of medical researchers from the University of Aberdeen have said that so-called "broken heart syndrome" can leave physical scars that never recover.

British Heart Foundation-funded study followed 52 patients over four months, aged between 28 and 87, who suffered with what is officially known as takotsubo syndrome.

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Lead in the US food supply: Is it decreasing our IQ?

© vchal/shutterstock.com
A baby plays with blocks spelling out one of the most famous formulas in history.
The environmental advocacy group Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) on June 15 released a study about dietary lead exposure, with a focus on food intended for babies and young children.

Using a Federal Drug Administration (FDA) database of food samples, EDF reported some pretty worrying numbers, most remarkably in fruit juice samples intended for children. For example, 89 percent of the baby food grape juice samples had detectable levels of lead in them.

As researchers who served as independent reviewers on the EDF report, we think it raises important concerns about the safety of our food supply. Since EDF primarily focused on exposure (whether lead was detectable or not), we were interested to see if we could get a better sense of the magnitude of risk. Specifically, we examined potential IQ loss and the percentage of samples with high lead concentrations.

Comment: How doctors use vitamin C against lead poisoning
We hear about the hazards of lead. We know that lead poisoning can cause severe mental retardation. Lead has been clearly linked with Alzheimer's disease. We have been told to avoid lead in our homes and in our water, and to clean up lead pollution of our environment. But we have not been told how to remove it from our bodies. Vitamin C megadoses may be the answer.