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Sat, 10 Dec 2016
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Health & Wellness


The Federal Trade Commission's war on homeopathy

© japantimes.co.jp
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is coming after the centuries' old natural medicine system known as homeopathy.

In a notice filed in November 2016, the FTC stated that in order for homeopathic remedies to claim they are effective, their makers must provide proof. If no proof is provided, the remedies must state there is "no scientific evidence that the product works."

In order to not mislead consumers, the FTC further stated that homeopathic remedies lacking sufficient proof must communicate to consumers that "the product's claims are based only on theories of homeopathy from the 1700s that are not accepted by most modern medical experts."1

About 5 million U.S. adults, and 1 million U.S. children, use homeopathy every year, and the remedies are known to be "generally safe and unlikely to cause severe adverse reactions," according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.2

So why is the FTC slapping its makers with increased enforcement? According to Business Insider, which advocates more stringent rules on homeopathic remedies, it's to hold these products to the same standard as other, similar products, which means going through the same rigorous studies as synthetic drugs made by pharmaceutical companies.


Prevent hearing loss with nutrition and exercise

You're probably aware that certain nutrients can support optimal vision, but did you know your hearing may benefit from certain foods as well? If you have trouble hearing, or notice that your hearing is not as good as it used to be, your diet (and/or additional supplementation) may hold the answer.

In fact, nutritional imbalances are increasingly thought to be a causative factor in hearing loss.1 Age-related hearing loss is actually not due to any kind of mechanical dysfunction in your ear. Rather it's how your brain processes information that results in reduced hearing.

Furthermore, it's your brain's ability to provide proper feedback to your ear, by filtering out unwanted information, that declines when you reach your 40s and 50s. Without this filtering system, you're more likely to be overcome by a mass of information that is difficult to sort out.

The good news is age-related hearing loss may be reversible. Tinnitus, which is typically caused by noise-induced damage, may also be greatly improved, as can sudden loss of hearing.


Estrogen therapy found to increase the risk of kidney damage

Estrogen treatment after menopause increases the risk of new kidney damage, according to a study by Tulane University School of Medicine researchers published in the American Journal of Physiology--Renal Physiology.

Estrogen seems to protect against high blood pressure, one cause of kidney damage. Since fewer premenopausal women have high blood pressure than men of the same age, the study focused on a breed of rats that mimic this gender-specific blood pressure difference to determine the effects of long-term estrogen therapy on women.

Promoters of bio-identical hormones claim that they are anti-aging, increase sex drive, prevent cancer and have little to no risks or side effects. However, they often are not safe and not natural.

The research team studied three groups of middle-aged rats without ovaries, which simulates the low estrogen environment of menopause. One group ("short-term") was given a short course of estrogen. A second group ("long-term") received a longer regimen of estrogen. The estrogen groups were compared to a control group that did not receive hormones.

Comment: Unsafe at any dose: Hormone therapy boosts cancer death risk


'Thunderstorm asthma'? 5 people die in Kuwait following storm

© Getty Images
Five expatriates had died from severe asthma attacks as torrential rains hit Kuwait last Friday. The phenomenon is said to be similar with the one that killed eight people in Australia a few days ago.
Last November, a freak illness called "thunderstorm asthma" had hit the Australian city of Melbourne, killing at least eight people.

A week later, the same phenomenon had had the Middle-Eastern country of Kuwait, when a torrential rain hit the country. Five expatriate workers had reportedly died from severe asthma attacks and breathing difficulties following the freak storm, the Kuwait Times reports.

According to Kuwait's local media, casualties included two Egyptians aged 46 and 34, and an Indian immigrant aged 35 who all passed away at Mubarak Al-Kabir Hospital from asthma attacks during the storm. Two other expatriates also died of asthma after reporting to a health center in the district of Al-Farwaniya.

Seven other expatriates were kept in the intensive care unit at Mubarak Al-Kabir Hospital, while 15 others have been discharged after receiving treatment.

"Hospitals received 844 emergency cases in two days, five of them died, three in Mumbarak Hospital and two in the Amiri Hospital," Khaled Al-Sahlawi, health ministry undersecretary, said in the report. "Twenty-six cases were admitted to intensive care units and 45 to rooms. The rest received treatments."

Comment: What is "Thunderstorm Asthma"?


Can intermittent fasting boost your metabolism?

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that involves periods of food restriction (fasting) followed by normal eating.

This pattern of eating could help you lose weight, reduce your risk of disease and increase your lifespan (1, 2).

Some experts even claim that its beneficial effects on metabolism make it a healthier way to lose weight than standard calorie restriction (3).

Comment: More helpful information on intermittent fasting:


Understanding the mind-body link is crucial in preventing dementia

© geralt/Pixabay
A study published by the University of Glasgow shows that preventing high blood pressure, diabetes or coronary heart disease (CHD) may delay cognitive decline and even dementia.

The study

Researchers found that people who have high blood pressure, diabetes, or CHD perform worse on mental tasks of reasoning, memory and reaction time. Authors also highlight that:
...having two diseases was worse and three worse still, particularly for reaction times and reasoning.
Previous research has made the link between these diseases and cognitive decline. But the effect of having more than one disease on cognitive skills had not been properly examined until now.

The implications of this study are far-reaching. After all, multi-morbidity (where people are living with more than one chronic disease) is common. 6.75 million people in the UK have more than one long-term condition.


'Seriously mentally ill' dying 25 years prematurely: Is society or psychiatry to blame?

The uncomfortable fact is that many of us don't care about the seriously mentally ill.

"Adults in the U.S. living with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than others, largely due to treatable medical conditions," according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. This is not controversial, as establishment psychiatry and its critics agree.

What is controversial is who is to blame—society, psychiatry, or the victims themselves? And what is too taboo for the mainstream media to even discuss is whether many of us, privately, don't care—or may even want this population to disappear.

If we could admit that our society's entire way of thinking about people diagnosed with "serious mental illness" has failed, we might become curious about other societies that view this population very differently—and have gotten very different results.


Back pain may raise risk of mental health problems

© unknown
According to recent findings, back pain and mental health are deeply linked.
A study, involving almost 200,000 participants, finds that individuals who have back pain are more likely to also experience a range of mental health issues. Knowing about these links could form a more successful treatment plan for both sets of conditions.

Back pain is a leading cause of disability across the globe. In fact, it causes more global disability than any other condition.

According to the Global Burden of Disease study, lower back pain affects almost 1 in 10 people.

There is also a wealth of evidence that back pain negatively impacts quality of life and heightens the risk of other physical health problems. Additionally, it comes with substantial healthcare cost.

One earlier study of note used data from the World Mental Health Survey and found that chronic back or neck pain was associated with increased risk for mood disorders, alcohol abuse, and anxiety disorders.

Comment: See also:


Circadian rhythms: Disrupting daily routine of gut microbes can be bad news for whole body

© Darryl Leja, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health
Micro changes have macro results
We've known that bacteria live in our intestines as far back as the 1680s, when Leeuwenhoek first looked through his microscope. Yogurt companies use that information in the sales pitch for their product, claiming it can help keep your gut bacteria happy. The bacteria growing on our skin have also been effectively exploited to sell the underarm deodorants without which we can become, ahem, malodorous. Until fairly recently our various microbes were thought of as freeloaders without any meaningful benefit to our functioning as healthy human beings.

However, that view has changed in a big way over the last couple of decades.


New evidence suggests Parkinson's might start in the gut, not the brain

© ktsdesign/Shutterstock.com
A new study adds to a growing body of research that suggests we might have been thinking about Parkinson's disease wrong this whole time.

Instead of being isolated to the brain, new evidence in mice suggests that the condition might actually start in the gut. And it could explain some of the strange coincidences seen in the disease, such as why most Parkinson's patients complain of constipation up to a decade before other symptoms arise.

Parkinson's disease is most commonly associated with tremors, stiffness, and difficulty moving, caused by neurons deep in the brain being killed off.

Although there are treatments to slow the progress of the condition, there's no way to prevent or cure it, and researchers still don't really understand what causes it and how it progresses.

Comment: See this article also:

Can Parkinson's disease be connected to bacteria in the gut?