In Defense of Aging

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“When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good, you will not.” Jedi Master Yoda

My patients occasionally ask me “do you have something that will make me younger?” Sometimes they’re just joking and want to complain a bit about some indignity of getting older. But frequently they’re serious and would like me to reverse some ravage of time. What I find fascinating is that they don’t ask “Do you have something for wrinkles?” or “Can I have a medicine for ere...
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Home Exercises or Chiropractic Care Beat Medications for Neck Pain

Neck pain is a very common problem. Many of us have woken up with a painful neck and found that we couldn’t turn our head because of painful muscle spasm. Doctors use various treatments for neck pain. Pain medication, spinal manipulation by a chiropractor, and physical therapy for stretching exercises are all popular remedies, but there is very little scientific evidence to support any of them. I frequently used to prescribe anti-inflammatory pain medications as an initial treatment, but not any...
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Eat Right for Your Belt Size, Not Your Blood Type

Every couple of months I get asked this same question. “Doc, what’s my blood type?” I load my “why you don’t need to know your blood type” speech from my cerebrum and press replay, trying to add a little spontaneous variation for authenticity. “Actually, I’ve never checked it.” “I thought you check everything.” “Nobody checks everything. There are thousands of different available blood tests. Most of them would be completely useless to you.” “Well doc, could you check my blood type?” “I’m...
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Echinacea Still Unproven for the Common Cold

Many of my patients have come down with a nasty cold in the last two weeks – runny nose, cough, hoarseness, sore throat and the kind of fatigue that makes lifting your head off the pillow seem unnecessarily ambitious.  And just in time the Annals of Internal Medicine published a study to give them valuable advice. The effects of echinacea on the common cold have been studied many times previously, though never as rigorously as in this study.  A definitive benefit has never been proven. This st...
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Reservations Regarding Resveratrol

Resveratrol is a chemical found in the skin of red grapes, berries, plums and peanuts.  It is being widely promoted as the latest antiaging wonder drug.  Fortunately, to separate research from hype, this issue of The Medical Letter reviewed the current knowledge on Resveratrol. Resveratrol has shown some interesting benefits in animal experiments.  In obese mice, it increased insulin sensitivity and longevity.  In non-obese mice it did not improve survival but increased other markers of good he...
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The Smell of Quackery

I’ll post the last part of The Healthcare Meltdown later this week, but meanwhile a quick post that deserves your attention. What’s worse than a product that has never been shown to have any benefit whatsoever?  A product that has never been shown to have any benefit whatsoever and has serious side-effects. Last week the FDA warned that Zicam zinc-containing nasal cold-remedies have been implicated in over 130 cases of long lasting or permanent loss of smell.  (Here’s a fun new word for you.  ...
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Chronic Lyme Disease Still on the Fiction Bookshelf

At any given time thousands of people feel unwell and are dissatisfied with the diagnoses offered them by their doctors.  They struggle to understand their illness and frequently form patient groups for mutual support.  Every few years a new diagnosis captures their attention and becomes the latest vogue illness, usually without any scientific evidence.  Even worse, unscrupulous doctors latch on to these fad diagnoses to promise cures to patients who are desperate for relief.  A few years ago th...
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