Archive for November, 2011

Glass Half Empty or Glass Half Full?

November 24, 2011

I woke up this morning thinking about gratitude. As I lay in bed ruminating, I realized that over the years I had changed from seeing the glass half empty to seeing it half full. This metaphor for how our over-all frame of mind affects not only what we see, but how we feel about what we perceive, is also germane to how our immune system works. Our minds, emotions, thoughts are not discreet entities with only a passing acquaintance with our physical bodies. What we believe really does affect our health and the strength of our immune system.

There is a story about the placebo effect that I read years ago: a doctor was telling a patient who had a large number of warts that he, the doctor, had a brand new treatment to offer. The doctor then placed the patient in a room with a big piece of equipment, turned on a switch, and said, there we go, no more warts. A few days later the warts were gone. That miracle of belief is precious. So are all the blessings each one of us is surrounded by. May you and all your loved ones enjoy a happy, safe, and healthy Thanksgiving.

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Flu Shot? Maybe Not!

November 17, 2011

Before I get into the details: full disclosure: I have never gotten a flu shot. My only up close and personal experience with the flu shot was kissing someone who had just gotten their flu shot…we both got sick!

The number one reason why folks get flu shots is to prevent them from getting the flu. If you go HERE you will see evidence that very few folks actually benefit from the flu shots. You’ll read an article about a new scientific study in The Lancet that concludes that less than 2 out of 100 people actually benefit from the shot, not the 60% that the media touts.

Then there is the very real possibility of injury! Who knew…You can go HERE  to read an article about side effects.

If you are really brave, you can go to GreenMedInfo.com , and specifically HERE (my professional member access to flu vaccinations) and read about how to deal with the problems of the flu shot. Better yet, just don’t get one!

Increasing Our Immunity, Stabilizing Mood As Winter Approaches

November 8, 2011

Autumn is in full swing and winter is around the corner. With these changes, vitamin D levels among the population on the North American continent north of the Mexico border drop. The fact is above the 45th parallel it is reported that from November to February/March, even on a sunny blue-sky day, the angle of the sun is such that vitamin D production when bare skin is exposed is dramatically diminished.

Many of us experience shifts in mood during the winter months. To offset winter mood imbalances, alternative health practitioners recommend that folks have their vitamin D 25 OH levels measured. The range is 20-100 for most laboratories. Yet, falling within the range does not necessarily mean you are good to go. For many, a target  blood level of at least 55, for a 25 OH vitamin D blood test is considered beneficial. Of course the target blood range is different for everyone, and one’s health care provider can best determine what the best range is for a given individual. Also, it’s very important to take the blood test now through December, as Vitamin D declines in fall and winter if one isn’t taking any supplemental D.

From GreenMedInfo comes this great compilation of natural substances to take to increase immunity, or to hit a cold or the flu at the first signs:

While there are a broad spectrum of natural substanceswhich have been studied for their anti-influenza properties, vitamin D deserves special consideration due to the fact that it is indispensable to produce antiviral peptides (e.g. cathelicidin) within the immune system, and can be supported for pennies a day.

A study  published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2010, revealed that children receiving 1200 IUs of vitamin D a day were at 59% reduced risk for contracting seasonal Influenza A infection. Moreover as a secondary outcome, only 2 children in the treatment group versus 12 for the control group, experienced an asthma attack.

There are actually a broad range of preventive strategies that are evidence-based, and available without prescription.

    1)   Echinacea Tea: J Altern Complement Med. 2000 Aug;6(4):327-34
    2)   Elderberry:  J Altern Complement Med. 1995 Winter;1(4):361-9.
    3) American Ginseng:  J Altern Complement Med. 2006 Mar;12(2):153-7.
    4) Green Tea: J Nutr. 2011 Oct ;141(10):1862-70. Epub   2011 Aug 10.
    5) Probiotics: Pediatrics. 2009 Aug;124(2):e172-9.
    6) Vitamin D: PLoS One. 2010;5(6):e11088. Epub 2010 Jun 14.

And be sure to take Vitamin D3, which is the natural, assimilable form. Vitamin D2 is synthetic, and does not work as well.

Changing Seasons, Changing Clocks

November 4, 2011

Wandering about the internet yesterday, I found two interesting pieces of information: folks really are affected by the time change, and daylight savings really does help save electricity use. The first is more than the griping about how we get confused, cranky and  maybe sad (depending upon whether we like going on or off Daylight Savings) when the clock changes twice a year. Scientists in Europe have correlated more heart attacks to the stress of the time change. However, the second point, which was that going on Daylight Savings Time saves enough energy to power 122,000 homes…well, that means DST is probably here to stay. So our job is to make the transition from fall to winter less stressful. That will be my topic for the next few blogs.

The first way we can reduce stress (for any reason, not just time changes or winter on the way) is to focus on improving our sleep. Getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night is crucial for keeping our immune, nervous, endocrine, in fact, all our bodily systems healthy and functioning well.  One easy way to improve sleep is to NOT watch TV or play/work on the computer an hour before bed. Scientists have found that the type of light emitted by screens is not conducive to either relaxation or good sleep. Seems that the color of light, how much we get (think Seasonal Affective Disorder) is important not just to our mood but to our over-all health. We are mammals, and our bodies do rule.