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Nurse Bridgid

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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Herbal tripping?

I am an avid Howard Stern fan and I listen every single day- really it's the only reason I got satellite radio, I digress.  Robin Quivers recently had an experience where she met with a shaman and took some herbal supplements and basically took and herbal "trip".  I had been asked about this a couple of years ago, but never paid it much mind because this trend seemed to be with really eccentric A-list celebrities, and it was kind of a quite thing, not really talked about.  Now that Robin has shared her experience, I hear a lot of buzz surrounding Ayahuasca and the resulting hallucination trip that can take place. So, I want to give you guys the scoop on the pluses and minuses....and who should definitely not try this one out!

So what is Ayahuasca?
Basically it is a mixture of a few different herbs (banisteriopsis and dimethyltryptamine containing shrubs from the psychotria genus) into a tea; these  herbs separately would have minimal if any effect on you, but when mixed together, they can cause a hallucinogenic response.  It has been used for years in South American cultures as a part of healing and soul searching or as a religious sacrament.  It was first discovered by Westerners in the 1950's by a Harvard botanist Richard Schultes.

What's the deal?
Ayahuasca is totally shaman dependent and each brew is different than another because it depends what herbs are used (there are tons of variations), how long it is brewed, etc.  But when it is used medicinally, as intended, it has a hallucinogenic effect that last about 6 hours and peaks within 2 hours of ingestion, and you can start to feel the reaction within 30 minutes of ingesting the brew.

What are the Physical Effects?
It raises your heart rate pretty significantly and causes and increase in diastolic blood pressure. Your visual and auditory centers are stimulated which causes a good amount of the hallucinogenic trip, but it can also cause fear, paranoia, it can also cause really high spirits/excitement, and illumination/insight. One major downside is that it also causes a purge of your system, as it was used to rid the body of parasites and worms, so it unfortunately causes vomiting and/or diarrhea (I'll be honest with you, not really a plus in my book  at all).  But because it purges your body of toxins, and it is normally ingested by people of the rainforest with a really clean diet, you need to change your diet to be clear of spices, fats, salts, caffeine, and citrus, along with abstain from sex before, during, and after a ceremony.  Also you need to rid your diet of foods containing tyramines, which are found in any meats that are pickled, spiced, fermented, smoked, aged, or marinated and can be found in many aged cheeses and condiments; tyramine can interact with Ayahuasca and can cause a hypertensive crisis.

Is it legal?
The rub is that a lot of the plants used in making these brews/teas are legal, so I guess technically they are legal BUT the derivative found in the teas is illegal and considered a Schedule 1 drug.  Some religions do use this as a part of their religious ceremonies, so there are still some suits going on currently as to the use and legalities of these it definitely straddles the line here in the US.  It is considered illegal in most of the EU and legal for religious uses in most of South America.

I understand that people are looking for these religious experiences, and I think that whatever brings you to that higher plane and makes you feel happy, healthy, and at peace is the way to go.  My fear is that these various compounds can so easily interact with many modern medicines (I would actually say all) so I wouldn't suggest you taking these if you are on any sort of medication, and I really would encourage you to stick to the diet beforehand.  Also, you should want to be with someone who has taken the drug and knows the effects, just in case you get fearful or paranoid, you have someone who can talk you through the experience, and you can feel safe and comfortable. Whatever you choose to do, just know that there is a right way to prepare for this experience, and if you don't feel well or are predisposed to increased heart rate or blood pressure, be aware that you are at risk for a hypertensive crisis, in which case you need to go to an Emergency Department immediately.  It might have been the right thing for Robin Quivers to do, and she might feel awesome about it, but put some thought into it before you jump on the new trend to try Ayahuasca.

Yours in Good Health

Friday, May 27, 2011

Quit Juice

I know that all of you who are avid readers of mine, k now how much I despise smoking, right?  No shock there, an HCP that hates smoking?!?!?  And I know that I have written about helpful tips on how to quit smoking , but there is a new product available, for those of us in the US only currently (but stay tuned for all of you outside the US, it will hopefully be coming to you soon!) and it isn't a miracle pill, but it will help you to quit!

So much of the process of quitting smoking is related to behavioral changes; people get in habits of smoking after a meal, when they wake up, on the ride to work, etc. and the hardest part of quitting is making that change because you've grown so accustomed to just grabbing a cigarette and smoking without thinking about it- all mindless.  But there now is a new way to help you change that, and it is all managed by YOU!  Quit Juice will aid in your quitting by sending you information in quick little snippets, at the times that you choose via voicemail, SMS, or email and YOU decide what time of day to receive the messages....perhaps around the time that you most CRAVE cigarettes?  They are simple, easy to read messages, that contain medically research based (not to mention current) info on the bad effects of smoking, quitting tips, etc.

This is part of a whole new wave of "Mobile Medicine" helping us to get healthier using the mobile devices that most of us have attached to us at all times anyway! This is a new product on the market and the first of its kind, but all of the feedback has been super positive; HCP's all over the world have been trying to find new ways to aid in smoking cessation, and this may be one of the most innovative and effective ways in communicating with people daily to keep them from quitting without the use of medications, or along with medications.

What's the rub?
NurseBridgid readers who want to quit smoking can do so with ONE FREE MONTH of Quit Juice and the offer is good until August 1st!  So, if you have thought about quitting, now is the time to get healthy and you get a month FREE to trial Quit Juice....why wouldn't you?!?!  The code is: BRIDGID

So, sign up, drop those EXPENSIVE cigarettes in the trash, and start doing something healthy for you and your family!  Give me feedback and let me know what you think of the product and if it helps you!

Yours in Good Health

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Another reason to curb eating out

Eating out at restaurants can be fun, delicious, and SO much easier than cooking for yourself and then cleaning up the kitchen and dishes afterwards.  And, I will be honest with you, there are certain things that I just don't cook/make well, like sushi, so I always go out for it!  But, we all know the downside of going out for meals, usually things taste so delicious because usually food is laden with butter and oil and all things yummy that are horrible and clog our arteries!

A recent bit of research in the International Journal of Obesity pinpoints just how bad eating out can be for you, especially for men.  The information was gathered from over 24,000 randomly selected patients in the EPIC (European Prospective Investigation of Cancer and Nutrition).  The EPIC study gained information from 10 nations in the European Union to determine cancer rates related to lifestyle and nutritional choices in the years 1995-2000.

What was derived from the information is that BMI's (Body Mass Index) are much higher and there can be significant weight gain from higher calorie intake, especially by men, when eating at restaurants as opposed to eating a meal brought to work or a homemade meal at home.  So, I know that this doesn't seem like rocket science BUT people really don't think about how many calories they ingest when at a restaurant...between drinks, food cooked in a different way, AND appetizers along with bigger portions than you would normally eat.

I know in the modern day we seem to be a culture of eating out because of working long hours and so much stress, but try to plan meals ahead of time, go grocery shopping with a set list and  plan of meals for the week, you will be more apt to stick to it if you already have the food that will go bad if not used. Instead of going out to dinner with friends, make meals and eat at each others homes, that way everyone can chip in and you can experience different foods. And, save going out to dinner for a truly special occasion....your wallet AND your waistline will thank you!

So, we didn't ned this study to learn anything new, but it is a good bit of knowledge to think about when making the choice whether to eat out or stay in!!

Yours in Good Health

Monday, May 16, 2011

Antidepressants and Heart Attacks

Many people these days take antidepressants for all types of different reasons; depression and anxiety are usually the top culprits, but for whatever the reason, people take these drugs to help them get through their days in a healthy way.  After heart attacks (AKA Myocardial Infarctions "MI's"), many people suffer from depression, and the depression that can ensue increases your risk of death (either from another heart attack or other reasons).  The risk of heart attack from the use of antidepressants has not really been well putting people on antidepressants after a heart attack to prevent post-heart attack depression might not be a good idea, right?

As it so happens...
A large study from one of the Veteran's Affairs Hospitals in the US, looking at people from mid 20's-80's who were on antidepressants, for whatever reason, and patients post heart attack with and without antidepressant medications, to compare their rate of heart attacks after 12 weeks of use.  The patients on antidepressants had a HUGE reduction in risk of death 6 months after heart attacks when they took antidepressants as part of their follow-up care.

Are any drugs better?
SSRI's -serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors  (like Paxil/Prozac/Celexa/etc)
SNRI's -serotonin noreipnephrine reuptake inibitors (like Effexor/Cymbalta/etc)
TCA's- Tricyclic Antidepressants (like Elavil/Noveril/etc)
Basically, all of the antidepressants worked the same, and had the same result rates, which is a significant reduction in heart attacks or death after a heart attack.

Why do they work??
It really is unclear, at this point.  It is assumed because stress levels are reduced and people are feeling better, less depressed, and it leads for a reduced risk of further heart attacks.  As well, there is an assumption that it might be related to compliance with taking medications; people who need to take medications at a certain time, are usually more apt to take all of their medications on time and every day.

So, what it comes down to is: who knows why antidepressants help people after a heart attack to not have another one?  But they do!  They help stave off post heart attack depression, making people feel better AND actually be physically better!  If you have suffered from a heart attack or know someone who has, and if they are suffering depression, then talk to your HCP about the risks and benefits of antidepressant use.  It may be the right choice for you!

Yours in Good Health

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Does Sensa really work?

I have seen tons of informercials and commercials touting the weight loss properties of Sensa, a weight loss supplement, that claims to help people lose on average around 30lbs (or 15% of their body mass) in 6 months.  That is a pretty intense claim, and I must say, I am going into this a non-believer, but I cannot deny science, and there are some pretty big claims!

What is it?
Sensa is a "natural" weight loss supplement that is made in a lab (please feel the sarcasm about it being natural....I meant to lay it on thick!) that is supposedly odorless, but not tasteless.  Some of them are salty and some are sweet and they are all different colors. The makers claim that you shake it on your food (every meal) and it stimulates the hormones in your body that signal to your brain that you are satiated and no longer need to eat.

How Does it work?
This is where the "science" behind it all gets a little confusing.  These odorless crystals made of a corn product (maltodextrin), silica (which is NOT good for you), and some fillers, somehow stimulate the hormones in your body that signal satiety.  The claim is that it makes you eat less because you feel fuller sooner, while eating the same foods and getting the same amount of exercise.  If it does allow you to feel full faster, you will lose weight because you are taking in less calories, so you should see some immediate effects

What is the long term deal?
So, its great that you will lose weight by eating less, but over time your body will adapt to that, and you will need to go the old fashioned route and start eating healthier and exercise...or else you will start to gain weight.  Your body is very smart, and works like a well oiled machine (when treated as one), and the less calories you take in, your body will adapt and be less efficient, by slowing your metabolism so that it is almost in starvation mode- you need a certain number of calories to function, and when we stop hitting those numbers, your body starts holding on to calories in the form of fat to use when it is truly starving.

Are there any studies?
The people who created this diet supplement, performed a study looking at around 1400 people and got results of an average weight loss of 30.5 lbs in 6 months while those in the control group only lost 2lbs.  The only independent study performed was performed over the same amount of time, and people were told not to change their diets; it was found that the Sensa users lost 27.5 lbs and the control group people gained 0.5lbs.  What we don't know is if this "independent" lab was funded, how many people were involved, any other factors that may have effected the outcomes.

The Verdict?
It seems a little odd to me, and I don't think that this will solve your weight loss woes; it will just be, yet ANOTHER, yo-yo diet supplement.  You will take it, lose weight, and then either take it forever OR stop and you will probably gain weight again because you are not making any healthy lifestyle changes.

If you want to take this, I would talk to your HCP first because there are no side effects listed, but you should be under the guidance of medical care because this product is not FDA approved.  I would also suggest making some healthy lifestyle changes as far as diet and exercise are concerned because it is the healthiest choice for you in the long run and will only benefit you!

Yours in Good Health

Monday, May 9, 2011

Yeast: not just for bread

I know this is not going to be everyone's favorite BUT it is something that affects a lot of women...and can affect men too!!  3 in 4 women experience candidiasis (a yeast infection) at least once in their lifetime and it causes itchiness, discharge, and some discomfort.  Men can get a similar rash on their penis, not as a intense as a womens yeast infection, and not sexually transmitted, and is more likely to be a problem in men that are immunosupressed (chronic illness, after a transplant, etc) or with an HIV infection.  Although, yeast infections can be transmitted through oral-genital sex (either partners infection can infect the other).  It's a bummer that the vagina is a warm, dark place, where yeast just loves to grow BUT there are plenty of ways to ensure that this doesn't happen to you!

What are the symptoms?
-Itchiness and irritation in the vulva and in the opening of the vagina
-Burning sensation during sex and while peeing
-Vaginal pain and soreness
-Thick, white odor-free discharge that looks like cottage cheese

What are the causes?
-Antibiotic use can cause the good bacteria to die and change the pH in your vagina (allowing for yeast to grow)
-High blood sugars in a diabetic
-From vaginal changes (douching, excessive sex, lack of lubrication)
-Impaired immune system (as listed above)
-Pregnancy (high estrogen levels)

What are risk factors?
-Sex without lubrication
-Antibiotic use
-Uncontrolled blood sugar levels
-Impaired immune system

What do you do if you think you have a yeast infection?
You can buy an OTC Vagisil testing kit that will tell you if your symptoms are actually a yeast infection (vs. another STD) and if you DO have a yeast infection, you can then buy an OTC yeast infection treatment like Monistat (miconazole) or Lotrimin (clotrimazole)one day treatment or the generic equivalent.  If that doesn't relieve symptoms, or if this is the first time you are having these symptoms, I suggest going to see your HCP.  Your HCP can do a pelvic exam, take a swab to ensure that your symptoms are from a yeast infection, and suggest the best treatment for you, which could be a one time treatment of an oral Diflucan (fluconazole).  Plus, some people get recurrent infections (due to risk factors above) and your HCP can help to come up with a plan on ways to prevent them.  For men, the best treatment is Lotrimin or Monistat creams directly on the penis and the symptoms should go away within days.  Also, it is best to abstain from sex while you have symptoms and are being treated.

Are there any alternative treatments?
Lactobacillus, a probiotic found in many yogurts, have been found to help treat yeast infections when taken orally or place intravaginally; some small studies have shown that yeast cultures are decreased and symptoms are diminished.  A few treatments that are said to work, but have yet to be studied are: vinegar (white) douches, tea tree oil cream, and garlic vaginal suppositories.  Honestly, I would prefer to try the yogurt, as when I take antibiotics, I ALWAYS increase my yogurt intake to prevent a yeast infection, and I couldn't imagine walking around with garlic in my vagina... To each his/her own, and I appreciate all sorts of alternative therapies, but I feel like messing with the pH of your vagina even more isn't really the best strategy (vinegar douche) and the tea tree oil will have a similar effect.  I think that the yogurt treatment is the best alternative, along with being cheap, and easily available.

The best way to prevent?
-Avoid scented pads & tampons
-Avoid bubble baths and feminine hygiene products (feminine deoderant sprays, etc)
-If you are prone, wear cotton underwear and loose fitting clothes (in breathable/natural fibers- like cotton)
-Change out of wet clothes or bating suits as soon as possible

And remember, if you (or your partner) have an active yeast infection, abstain from being sexually active until the infections have been treated, and if you are having these symptoms for the first time (man or woman), it is best to go see your HCP and discuss the infection and treatment options.  Plus, this is nothing to be embarrassed about, and HCP's see this all the time!!

Yours in Good Health

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

'Tis the season...for blisters!!

So, now that it is spring, we are all getting our claws out, getting pedicures, letting our tooties breathe, and rock sandals!  But, those cute (or super masculine) sandals can cause some discomfort and blisters until we "break them in".  What's better than knowing how to treat blisters?  Knowing how to prevent blisters and treat the ones that you may get anyway!!

What are blisters?
A small pocket of fluid that is created under the top couple layers of the epidermis (skin).  They are usually filled with a clear fluid (serum or plasma), but can be filled with blood, or pus (if infected).

How do Blisters occur?
Blisters are created through heat, sweat, and constant rubbing (friction).  So, in the heat of the spring/summer, with sweating and loss of electrolytes, we are at risk for those pesky blisters!  Plus with new shoes on, we are at a much higher risk from new straps rubbing against our feet.  The good news?  There are ways to prevent them and keep our feet happy and pretty!

How do I prevent blisters??
The best way to prevent is to try on your shoes, feel if any areas seem tight or uncomfortable, and use specific products to help prevent the formation. Band Aid brand has a Blister Block product, which is like a very thick second skin, that you can apply on top of toes, heels, ankles, really anywhere- you just need to apply the product to your skin, it is clear and slides on.  It creates a barrier between your skin and the strap/shoe and helps to prevent a blister from forming.  Spenco is a company that has the old tried and tested Second Skin product which is an adhesive product that sticks to your skin and creates a physical barrier over specific "hot spots" that you choose. But, my favorite that I apply when I wear ANY pair of new shoes? 3M No Sting Barrier Spray that you can just spray on your feet, or anywhere that chafing might occur, and it is a clear spray, that has a random but fresh scent, and it creates a thin film on your skin that helps to prevent blisters.  It is a little more expensive than the other products, but I think it is far superior!

What Happens if I get a Blister Anyway?
Despite the best plans, sometimes blisters still do occur, and I really need to urge people to try to NOT pop them!! I get the fever to pop anything and everything that pops out of my skin, but I suppress the urge with blisters because they heal best on their own!  I must say, if you are a diabetic, you should watch your blisters closely, and go to see your HCP if it looks infected or seems to be taking a long time to heal.
The best thing to do is keep the area clean and dry, and when you need to wear shoes that might rub the area, place some of the second skin or a light bandage over the area to prevent further rubbing (it is best to wear shoes that allow the area to be exposed and unaffected).
If the blister pops, then what do you do?  Wash your hands with antibacterial soap before touching the area. Leave the top layer of skin in place, and don't rip it off, it helps to protect the under layer that is technically an open wound; you are just leaving the bodies primary defense against bacteria in place as much as you can!  after washing your hands, as long as you have no allergies, apply a light layer of antibacterial ointment (like bacitracin) twice a day, and leave the area open to air as much as possible (like when hanging out at home watching TV or doing things around the house) but cover with a gauze or bandage (not too tight) when covering the area with a sock or putting the area at risk for more damage (like in a shoe).  Air helps to heal more than anything else; it allows the body to do its job and work like the well oiled machine that it is!
Assess the area a couple of times a day, and if there is heat, swelling around the area, if you notice redness around the blister site, or any pus (discolored) drainage, you should go see your HCP because it is most likely infected.  This is especially important for diabetics with poor glucose control, because you are at a much higher risk for infection. If you notice that you have a fever, swollen lymph nodes, or red streaks on your skin starting at the site and moving outwards, please go see and HCP immediately because you most likely have an infection that requires antibiotics or further treatment.

I hope that this helps you all keep happy, healthy, and pretty feet for the warm weather!  And use common sense with blisters, if something looks or feels wrong, go see your HCP.  But if all is well, treat yourself and go to a clean salon and get a pedi to make those tooties look beautiful!

Yours in Good Health

My Hiatus......

I have to apologize to all my loyal readers; I had a bit of a personal tragedy, but I am over it and will be back on track.  I just really needed to take some time for myself and work through my stress!

But, I am back, so keep sending your questions and we can get back on track!

Yours in Good Health