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Thursday, 22 December 2011

Nutritional Therapies Can Treat Common Mental Disorders

Nutritional supplements in appropriate doses can help treat the four most common mental disorders – major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), according to a study published in the Nutrition Journal as well as a number of other studies done over time.
Normally, mental disorders are treated using pharmaceutical drugs. Although these drugs are highly effective, some of them come with severe side effects. For example, lithium that is used in the treatment of bipolar disorder causes side effects such as weight gain, increased thirst and urination, muscle weakness, hand tremors, hair loss, impaired memory, drowsiness and decreased thyroid function.
Earlier studies have shown that a lack of certain dietary nutrients, especially, essential vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids contribute to the development of mental disorders. And daily supplementation of vital nutrients, more so, supplements containing amino acids can effectively reduce the symptoms of major depression, bipolar depression, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, ADD (attention deficit disorder), ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), addiction and even autism.
So, what does nutrition have to do with mental depression? ‘The brain is a chemical factory that produces serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and other brain chemicals 24 hours a day. The only raw materials for their syntheses are nutrients, namely, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, etc. If the brain receives improper amounts of these nutrient building blocks, we can expect serious problems with our neurotransmitters,’ explains Dr Rima Laibow from Natural Solutions Foundation.
For example, omega-3 and omega-6 are essential fatty acids that are obtained through diet. Omega-6 leads to production of arachidonic acid and eicosanoids which promote inflammation, platelet clotting and production of prostaglandins. Omega-3 produces eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) that possess anti-inflammatory properties and decrease platelet stickiness. When the proportion of omega-6 becomes 20 times that of omega-3, DHA depletes causing a change in neurotransmitter receptors leading to dysregulation of serotonins. In other words, omega-3 helps the brain to transmit signals that enable proper thinking, moods and emotions.
According to Dr Jerry Cott, a senior pharmacologist at the FDA Center for Drug Research and Review, countries in which individuals consume a large amount of fish are at lower risk for mental disorders such as major depression. This is because fish and fish oil contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
Shaheen Lakhan and Karen Vieira from the Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation, Los Angeles, reviewed the available literature on nutritional therapies for mental disorders focusing on the nutritional deficiencies that are associated with mental disorders and outlined how dietary supplements can be implemented in the treatment of four most common mental disorders: major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

This is what they came up with:
Major depression – Caused by a combination of stress, genes and temperament, major depression is a disorder that has symptoms viz. bad moods, sleeping problems, increased sadness and anxiety, loss of appetite and loss of interest in daily activities. In addition to omega-3, vitamin B (folate) and magnesium deficiencies are also linked to depression. Clinical trials and case studies show that 0.8mg of folic acid per day or 0.4mg of vitamin B12 per day or 125mg to 300mg of magnesium helps reduce depression symptoms.
Bipolar disorder – This disorder is characterized by debilitating depression, uncontrollable mania or a manic and depressive episode. Biochemical abnormalities include excess vanadium and acetylcholine, taurine (amino acid that plays a role in the brain by eliciting a calming effect) deficiency, omega-3 deficiency, and vitamins B and C deficiency. Vitamin C has been shown to protect the body from the damage caused by excess vanadium. A controlled study revealed that a single 3g dose of vitamin C could significantly decrease manic symptoms. Other studies show that 1 to 2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids in the form of EPA added to one's daily intake decreases manic/depressive symptoms. Interestingly, studies have shown that taurine can be used as an alternative to lithium (prescription medication for bipolar disorder). This is because taurine blocks the effects of excess acetylcholine that contributes to bipolar disorder.
Schizophrenia – It is a mental disorder characterized by abnormalities in the perception or expression of reality. It most commonly manifests as hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, and speech / thinking impairments. Studies have shown that EPA, which is found in omega-3 fish oils, can be used to treat schizophrenia. Trials reveal that 2g of EPA taken daily in addition to one's existing medication effectively decreases symptoms in schizophrenic patients.
Obsessive-Compulsive disorder – OCD is an anxiety disorder which causes recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and / or repetitive behaviors (compulsions), which are repeated in an uncontrollable manner as a means of repressing the stressful thought. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are known to help patients with OCD. A supplement called Amoryn with St. John's wort as its main ingredient, has been shown to help OCD patients better deal with their obsessions and compulsions.
The results depict that nutritive supplements can be effective treatments for mental disorders.
The authors concluded –
*Proper medical diagnosis and a clear description of all possible treatment options should always be the first plan of action when treating mental disorders. However, the final decision on whether or not to try nutritional supplements as a treatment must be based on the patient preferences’.
*Those with influence in this field should continue to examine natural treatments on the scientific level in order to increase the availability of grant money for this type of research’.
*Psychiatrists treating patients with mental disorders should be aware of available nutritional therapies, appropriate doses, and possible side effects in order to provide alternative and complementary treatments for their patients’.
Reference: Lakhan SE, Vieira KF. Nutritional therapies for mental disorders. Nutr J. 2008 Jan 21;7:2.

A Pen Helps Grand Old lady Create a Medical Record of Sorts

The British Medical Journal depicts an interesting case where a 76 year old woman referred to a GI specialist for diarrhea and weight loss was found to have a pen in her stomach, as revealed by stomach scans.The grand old Lady recalled a freak accident 25 years ago which had caused her to accidentally gulp a pen down her throat.
Her present condition, which is common in old people, diagnosed as severe diverticulitis, was not due to the presence of this foreign object, the doctors said.
The pen was surgically removed to reveal a wonder of wonders - it still had ink and worked. Another incredible fact was that the pen had not caused any damage to her GI tract for the past 25 years.
Though the lady and her husband had reported this matter to a specialist 25 years ago, X-rays done at that time did not show the presence of any foreign object and further, the doctors found her story rather unbelievable to investigate further.

Homelessness Linked to Reduced Life Expectancy

A new study carried out in England has found that being homeless reduces the life expectancy of an individual by more than 30 years.
The Sheffield University study, titled “Homelessness: A silent killer”, was carried out on behalf of homelessness charity Crisis. Researchers found that the average life expectancy of a homeless man was 47 years and that of a homeless woman was 43 years, more than 30 years lower than the overall average life expectancy of 77 years.
More than a third of deaths among the homeless can be attributed to drug or alcohol abuses the report said. The homeless were nine times more likely to commit suicide and three times more likely to suffer a fatal traffic accident compared to the rest of the population.
Commenting on the study, the chief executive of Crisis, Leslie Morphy said, “This report paints a bleak picture of the consequences homelessness has on people's health and wellbeing. Ultimately, it shows that homelessness is killing people.”

Severe Sepsis Can Lead to Immune Dysfunction: Study

When lung and spleen tissue from patients who died of sepsis were analyzed there were certain biochemical, cellular and histological findings that were consistent with immunosuppression, according to a study in the December 21 issue of JAMA."Sepsis is responsible for more than 225,000 deaths annually in the United States. Developing new therapies for sepsis has been particularly challenging, with more than 25 unsuccessful drug trials. Characterized by an initial intense inflammatory response or ''cytokine storm,'' patients with sepsis may present with fever, shock, altered mental status, and organ dysfunction," according to background information in the article. "Whether this hyperinflammatory phase is followed by immunosuppression is controversial. Animal studies suggest that multiple immune defects occur in sepsis, but data from humans remain conflicting."
Jonathan S. Boomer, Ph.D., of the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, and colleagues conducted a study to assess evidence of immunosuppression in sepsis and to determine mechanisms that might be responsible for the presumed impaired immunity. For the study, to characterize their immune status at the time of death (2009-2011), postmortem spleen and lung tissue harvest was performed on 40 patients who died in intensive care units (ICUs) with active severe sepsis. Control spleens (n = 29) were obtained from patients who were declared brain-dead or had emergency splenectomy due to trauma; control lungs (n = 20) were obtained from transplant donors or from lung cancer resections. Various tests were performed on the tissue samples to identify potential mechanisms of immune dysfunction.
The average ages of patients with sepsis and controls were 72 and 53 years, respectively. The median (midpoint) number of ICU days for patients with sepsis was 8, while control patients were in ICUs for 4 or fewer days. The median duration of sepsis was 4 days. Among the results of the researchers were that patients who died of sepsis had biochemical, flow cytometric (cell analysis), and immunohistochemical (process of detecting antigens in cells of a tissue section) findings that were consistent with immunosuppression, compared with the patients who died of nonsepsis causes.
"The present study has a number of important therapeutic implications. Most investigative agents in sepsis have been directed at blocking inflammation and immune activation. Although such therapies may be successful if applied early, they may be harmful if applied later in the immunosuppressive phase. As supportive therapies of sepsis have improved, early deaths have decreased and most patients enter a more protracted phase, with evidence of impaired immunity made manifest by infections with relatively avirulent organisms. An important part of implementing more targeted therapies will be to accurately determine the immune status of individual patients during their disease," the authors write.

Bee Sting Venom as an Anti-Aging Treatment

Some of the biggest celebrities in the world are opting for an unusual form of anti aging treatment after a group of South Korean researchers found that bee sting venom was one of the most effective ways of stopping the process of aging.Researchers led by Dr Sang Mi Han conducted the decade lone study for New Zealand beauty company, Manuka Doctor and the treatment will be available for use at Holland & Barrett shops from Monday.
The treatment has already attracted some of the big celebrities with Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, and Dannii Minogue having reported to have undergone the £55 bee venom facial treatment. The company claims that the treatment is the “next best alternative to botox, in a jar”.
Dr Han revealed that the bee sting venom helps prevent sun damage and restore collagen formation. “Exposure to the sun is one of the main causes of wrinkles because UV light increases levels of proteins which are responsible for the degradation of collagen in the skin This is what leaves it lacking in elasticity, sagging and wrinkling as we age”, Dr Han said.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Hormone Might Ease Menopause, Boost Women's Sex Life: Study

A hormone called DHEA appears to help ease women's menopausal symptoms and also improve their sex life, a small, new study says.
This is the first evidence that low doses of DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands, can help sexual function as well as menopausal symptoms, according to the researchers at the University of Pisa in Italy.
The study included 48 postmenopausal women who'd experienced troubling symptoms for a year. They were divided into four groups: 12 took vitamin D and calcium to prevent osteoporosis; 12 took a low dose of DHEA; 12 were given standard hormone replacement therapy (HRT) of estrogen plus progesterone; and 12 took tibolone, a synthetic steroid.
The women's menopausal symptoms and levels of sexual interest and activity were monitored for a year.
At the end of that time, all the women receiving the hormone replacements showed improvements in menopausal symptoms, but there was no significant improvement among those taking vitamin D and calcium.
The study also found that women taking DHEA had a statistically significant increase in sexual interest and activity, with similar results for women in the HRT group. Sexual activity was also higher among the women taking tiboline, but the increase was not statistically significant.
The findings, published in the December issue of the journal Climacteric, indicate the need for larger clinical trials to confirm the benefits of DHEA in women after menopause.
"This is the first time that a controlled trial has shown that low doses of the hormone DHEA may be able to help women deal better with menopausal symptoms, as well as helping their sex life. The work shows that DHEA has potential, especially for those women who may have problems in taking more conventional HRT. But this is a small study, a proof of concept. What we need to do now is to look at a larger study, to confirm that these initial results are valid," study leader Professor Andrea Genazzani said in an International Menopause Society news release.
"This is an interesting result, although we must bear in mind that this is a pilot study with a small sample. Nevertheless, it does indicate that DHEA has potential as a therapy to help women deal with the physical discomfort of the menopause, as well as helping them sexually," journal co-editor Dr. Anna Fenton said in the release.
"We can't yet say that this study means that DHEA is a viable alternative to HRT, but what we can say is that we should be looking to do larger studies to confirm these initial results," she added.
More information
The U.S. government's Office of Women's Health has more about menopause symptom relief and treatment.

2011: A Year of Firsts Ushers in New Era for Advancing the Science and Medicine of Lupu

The Lupus Foundation of America (LFA) is celebrating a year of historic lupus firsts generated during 2011 that have contributed to advances in the science and medicine of lupus, improved awareness of the disease, and heightened understanding of lupus and its impact.
#1--First Lupus Treatment Approved in More than 50 Years After waiting more than five decades, people with lupus applauded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's decision to approve BENLYSTA(R), the first drug ever developed specifically to treat lupus. Benlysta is the first entry in what is expected to become an arsenal of new, safe, effective, and tolerable lupus treatments.
#2--Lupus Flare Defined, Published Provides Valuable Tool for Clinicians and Investigators The journal LUPUS published the first-ever global definition of a lupus flare, the Lupus Foundation of America Flare Definition (LFA-Flare). The flare definition was the result of a four-year worldwide initiative lead by the LFA involving more than 120 lupus experts from 11 countries, the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, and federal agencies. The definition will provide a valuable tool for evaluating the effectiveness of potential new treatments for lupus.
#3--Analysis Takes Tough Look at Why Treatment Trials Fail The LFA released early data from the first-ever study to use pooled data from industry-sponsored lupus treatment trials. The findings showed that background medications taken by individuals enrolled in these trials greatly impacted trial outcomes. The initial conclusions were presented to lupus clinicians and researchers during the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting, and to an elite group of researchers at a landmark meeting on lupus biomarkers sponsored by the Food and Drug Administration. The LFA initiative, known as the LFA Collective Data Analysis Initiative (LFA-CDAI) seeks to provide insight and identify trends from previous lupus clinical trials in an effort to improve the design of future trials required to build a full arsenal of new therapies for lupus.
#4--More than 20,000 People Unite to Further Lupus Clinical Studies The LFA Center for Clinical Trials Education (LFA-CCTE) served as a resource for more than 20,000 people interested in lupus clinical trials and helped connect potential volunteers with studies in their areas. Approximately 500 volunteer opportunities at nearly 30 different clinical studies were available across the United States during 2011, demonstrating expanded efforts by industry, academic and medical institutions, and clinicians to help provide more lupus treatment options.
#5--Research Discovers More People Have Lupus than Previous Estimates Early data from the Georgia Lupus Registry (GLR) indicates higher overall prevalence of lupus and a significantly higher incidence of lupus among black women than has been reported previously in the scientific literature. The GLR is part of a broader national epidemiological study on lupus that has received more than $18 million in federal funding as a result of LFA advocacy efforts.
#6--Lupus Flares Infrequent During Pregnancy for Most Women with Stable Lupus Women with lupus who are considering becoming pregnant received reassuring news from a large study which found that most women with stable lupus or only mildly active disease experienced infrequent flares during their pregnancies and delivered healthy babies. This study is significant since lupus predominately develops among young women of childbearing age.
#7--Lupus Voices Captures National Spotlight as Part of Multimedia Outreach Efforts The LFA launched Lupus Voices Across America(TM), a new Web-based community for people with lupus to share what they want the public to understand about lupus. Celebrities such as Julian Lennon, Eduardo Xol, Busy Philipps, Kalenna Harper, Chris Wilcox, and Whoopi Goldberg also helped LFA efforts by educating their fans about lupus. Their support helped generate record visits to the LFA's Web site during Lupus Awareness Month in May. Traffic to approached four million visits during 2011, placing it among the top disease-related sites on the Internet. In addition, The Ad Council reported that total donated media for the national lupus awareness campaign, "Could I Have Lupus?" surpassed $67 million in 2011. In all, LFA media outreach during 2011 generated nearly 100 million impressions.
#8--Critical Research Studies Help to Advance the Science and Medicine of Lupus In 2011 the LFA supported lupus research studies in critical areas, including cutaneous (skin) lupus, pediatric lupus, stem cell transplantation, and neuropsychiatric lupus (affecting the brain and nervous system). The LFA also led efforts to help secure millions of dollars in additional federal and state funding to support studies on lupus, including work supported through the National Institutes of Health, the largest single source of funding for lupus research. LFA efforts also included helping secure an additional $4 million during 2011 for lupus studies funded through the Department of Defense Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
#9--Lupus Information Provided to More than 200,000 Individuals The LFA and its national network assisted approximately 200,000 individuals by providing information about lupus, referrals to physicians, and support services. The LFA also debuted new educational materials, produced audio podcasts about lupus research, sponsored teleconferences and symposia on living with lupus, and published LUPUS NOW(R), the only national magazine focused exclusively on lupus.
#10--LFA-Funded Research Presented at 2011 ACR National Meeting Data from several studies funded by the LFA's National Research Program were presented during the 2011 American College of Rheumatology Scientific Meeting, including research on male lupus, pediatric lupus, quality of life issues, lupus diagnostic criteria, lupus biomarkers, and neuropsychiatric lupus. The studies are critically important to advancing the science and medicine of lupus, and improving the quality of life for individuals affected by this unpredictable and potentially life-threatening autoimmune disease.
About Lupus
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the immune system is unbalanced, causing inflammation and tissue damage to virtually any organ in the body. Lupus can be unpredictable and potentially fatal. An estimated 1.5 million Americans and at least five million people worldwide have a form of lupus. Its health effects include heart attacks, strokes, seizures, miscarriages, and organ failure.
About the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA)
The LFA is the nation's foremost nonprofit voluntary health organization dedicated to finding the causes of and cure for lupus, and providing support, services, and hope to all people affected by lupus. The LFA and its network of chapters, branches, and support groups conduct programs of research, education, and advocacy.

SOURCE: Lupus Foundation of America

IPA wants health ministry to widen role of pharmacists in healthcare system

The Indian Pharmaceutical Association (IPA) recently sent a representation to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoH&FW) demanding the government to ensure that, all the pharmacists are given equal opportunity to do their part in the drug distribution system. It has stressed that the government should take pro active steps to involve the pharmacists from the country in logistics and all other aspects of drug procurement and distribution system.

This demand comes in the wake of the planning commission’s strategy to roll out free medicines to all in the public hospitals and IPA wants government to insist the state governments to follow the model adopted by the Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation and develop a logistic system involving pharmacists as a vital part of it. Raj Vaidya, vice president-chairman, community pharmacy division, IPA said, “The government should realise that the pharmacists in the country are well educated and trained enough to handle drugs and can play a vital role in ensuring better access of medicines to the patients along with providing counselling and patient support. But for this it is essential that our role is well identified and recognised in the society by the government and the industry. We want the government to make us part of all the discussions undertaken by the decision makers so that even we have a say in the process related to the use of medicines in the country at various levels.”

In the representation sent on December 7 to the Department of Health, the association insisted on widening the scope of the pharmacists by utilising their professional services in the healthcare system. It demanded that the entire pharmacy department should be headed by a chief pharmacist having minimum qualification of M Pharm and other requisite training and experience as per the NHRC guidelines. But most importantly it stated that the government should constitute a Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee (PTC) with chief pharmacists as its member secretary to compile and regularly update hospital formulary and standard treatment guidelines (STGs).
“Our main agenda is to ensure that all the pharmacists are given their due which will ultimately result in benefiting the society in general. We believe that by involving pharmacists in all national health programmes and giving them a fair chance to utilise their full potential will improve the rational use of medicines and patient compliance in the country,” Vaidya pointed out.
The recommendation stressed that the dispensing of medicines should be strictly done only by a registered pharmacist. It also pointed out that to widen the scope, the pharmacy department should be given the responsibility to look after the purchase, inventory control, storage and dispensing of medicines along with other activities like pharmacovigilance, drug information services, attending ward rounds, bedside counselling, maintaining patients medical records, carrying out prescription audits etc.

Mediterranean Diet Boosts Longevity

A Mediterranean diet with high consumption of fish and vegetables and a low consumption of animal-based products gives longer life, show studies.Scientists at the Sahlgrenska Academy have now studied the effects of a Mediterranean diet on older people in Sweden. They have used a unique study known as the "H70 study" to compare 70-year-olds who eat a Mediterranean diet with others who have eaten more meat and animal products. The H70 study has studied thousands of 70-year-olds in the Gothenburg region for more than 40 years.
Chance of living longer: The results show that those who eat a Mediterranean diet have a 20% higher chance of living longer."This means in practice that older people who eat a Mediterranean diet live an estimated 2 3 years longer than those who don't", says Gianluca Tognon, scientist at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.
Support in other studies: These results are supported by three further as yet unpublished studies into Mediterranean diets and their health effects: one carried out on people in Denmark, the second on people in northern Sweden, and the third on children."The conclusion we can draw from these studies is that there is no doubt that a Mediterranean diet is linked to better health, not only for the elderly but also for youngsters", says Gianluca Tognon.

Heat Linked To Stillbirths And Shorter Pregnancies

Researchers with the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) have sought to link stillbirths and shorter pregnancies to rise in temperature.Associate Professor Adrian Barnett of Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI) led a study that looked at the incidence of still and premature births in Brisbane over a four-year period from 2005.
Professor Barnett said a total of 101,870 births were recorded throughout the period and of these 653 or 0.6% were stillbirths.
"We found that increases in temperature increased the risk of stillbirth, and this was particularly true in the earlier stages of pregnancy before 28 weeks," he said.
"Our estimated numbers were at 15°C there would be 353 stillbirths per 100,000 pregnancies, as compared with 610 stillbirths per 100,000 pregnancies at 23°C.
"Increased temperatures also shortened gestation times, which means more preterm babies who often have serious long-term health problems such as cerebral palsy and impaired vision and hearing."
Professor Barnett's study recorded weekly temperature, humidity and air pollution levels for each pregnancy.
He said that the lowest risks were in the coolest weeks, and that warm temperatures with weekly means of 23°C were just as dangerous as the hottest weeks.
"This could be because most pregnant women would be more conscious of trying to remain cool on the hottest days and would generally seek air conditioning," he said.
While other studies have looked at the relationship between temperature and pre-term births the QUT study is the first to investigate the relationship between temperature and stillbirth.
Professor Barnett said as global temperatures rise, the study could have serious public health implications.
"Pregnant women should protect themselves from overheating to reduce the likelihood of pre-term or stillbirths," he said.
"Stillbirths are obviously devastating for families, and many stillbirths have an unknown cause so more research is needed to help prevent them.
"It is known that women should avoid hot tubs or Jacuzzis during pregnancy as this can cause a pregnancy termination, and that dehydration caused by heat stress and sweating could be harmful to a foetus and induce birth."
Professor Barnett's research paper 'Maternal Exposure to Ambient Temperature and the Risks of preterm Birth and Stillbirth in Brisbane, Australia', has just been published in the American Journal of Epidemiology
As the temperature rises, pregnant women should guard themselves from medical conditions to stay safe and healthy. Expert offers tips to make pregnancy during summer a pleasant experience.

Ramada Ajman partners with Ayurvedic spa expert

Ramada Hotel & Suites Ajman has outsourced the management of its Shapes Spa to Al Shifa Ayurvedic Treatment Centre.
The hotel expects the partnership to meet the increasing demand of hotel guests looking for complete wellness and relaxation.
Ramada Ajman general manager Iftikhar Hamdani said: “We are pleased to announce our collaboration with Al Shifa to manage our Shapes Spa. We receive a good number of leisure travellers who are looking for body massages and healing treatments for complete body rejuvenation and relaxation.
“Al Shifa is known for its Ayuverdic treatments which are delivered by the loving hands of specially trained therapists so guests are assured of absolute relaxation.”
Al Shifa specialises in authentic Ayurveda treatments such as Panchakarma — the ultimate Ayurvedic detox, Shirodhara and Abhyanga — the Ayurvedic oil bath and massage, as well as specially formulated Ayurvedic packages for rejuvenation, beauty and weight loss.
Shapes Spa will offer qualified Ayurveda doctors and therapists from Al Shifa to administer treatments ranging from therapeutic massages to more rigorous modes of toxic elimination.
Al Shifa Group managing director K.T. Suneer commented: “We are glad to sign a contract with one of the largest hotels in the northern emirates that is famous for having high occupancy all year round. This venture will be beneficial to both Ramada Ajman and Al Shifa Spa because we guarantee the best Ayuverdic treatment for any type of body needs”.

New Twist in the Debate on Syphilis Origins

A new argument in the syphilis debate is that Columbus' crew could have brought into Europe a progenitor of syphilis on their return from the New World.
Skeletons don't lie. But sometimes they may mislead, as in the case of bones that reputedly showed evidence of syphilis in Europe and other parts of the Old World before Christopher Columbus made his historic voyage in 1492.
None of this skeletal evidence, including 54 published reports, holds up when subjected to standardized analyses for both diagnosis and dating, according to an appraisal in the current Yearbook of Physical Anthropology. In fact, the skeletal data bolsters the case that syphilis did not exist in Europe before Columbus set sail.
"This is the first time that all 54 of these cases have been evaluated systematically," says George Armelagos, an anthropologist at Emory University and co-author of the appraisal. "The evidence keeps accumulating that a progenitor of syphilis came from the New World with Columbus' crew and rapidly evolved into the venereal disease that remains with us today."
The appraisal was led by two of Armelagos' former graduate students at Emory: Molly Zuckerman, who is now an assistant professor at Mississippi State University, and Kristin Harper, currently a post-doctoral fellow at Columbia University. Additional authors include Emory anthropologist John Kingston and Megan Harper from the University of Missouri.
"Syphilis has been around for 500 years," Zuckerman says. "People started debating where it came from shortly afterwards, and they haven't stopped since. It was one of the first global diseases, and understanding where it came from and how it spread may help us combat diseases today."
'The natural selection of a disease'
The treponemal family of bacteria causes syphilis and related diseases that share some symptoms but spread differently. Syphilis is sexually transmitted. Yaws and bejel, which occurred in early New World populations, are tropical diseases that are transmitted through skin-to-skin contact or oral contact.
The first recorded epidemic of venereal syphilis occurred in Europe in 1495. One hypothesis is that a subspecies of Treponema from the warm, moist climate of the tropical New World mutated into the venereal subspecies to survive in the cooler and relatively more hygienic European environment.
The fact that syphilis is a stigmatized, sexual disease has added to the controversy over its origins, Zuckerman says.
"In reality, it appears that venereal syphilis was the by-product of two different populations meeting and exchanging a pathogen," she says. "It was an adaptive event, the natural selection of a disease, independent of morality or blame."
An early doubter
Armelagos, a pioneer of the field of bioarcheology, was one of the doubters decades ago, when he first heard the Columbus theory for syphilis. "I laughed at the idea that a small group of sailors brought back this disease that caused this major European epidemic," he recalls.
While teaching at the University of Massachusetts, he and graduate student Brenda Baker decided to investigate the matter and got a shock: All of the available evidence at the time actually supported the Columbus theory. "It was a paradigm shift," Armelagos says. The pair published their results in 1988.
In 2008, Harper and Armelagos published the most comprehensive comparative genetic analysis ever conducted on syphilis's family of bacteria. The results again supported the hypothesis that syphilis, or some progenitor, came from the New World.
A second, closer look
But reports of pre-Columbian skeletons showing the lesions of chronic syphilis have kept cropping up in the Old World. For this latest appraisal of the skeletal evidence, the researchers gathered all of the published reports.
They found that most of the skeletal material did not meet at least one of the standardized, diagnostic criteria for chronic syphilis, including pitting on the skull known as caries sicca and pitting and swelling of the long bones.
The few published cases that did meet the criteria tended to come from coastal regions where seafood was a big part of the diet. The so-called "marine reservoir effect," caused by eating seafood which contains "old carbon" from upwelling, deep ocean waters, can throw off radiocarbon dating of a skeleton by hundreds, or even thousands, of years. Analyzing the collagen levels of the skeletal material enabled the researchers to estimate the seafood consumption and factor that result into the radiocarbon dating.
"Once we adjusted for the marine signature, all of the skeletons that showed definite signs of treponemal disease appeared to be dated to after Columbus returned to Europe," Harper says.
"The origin of syphilis is a fascinating, compelling question," Zuckerman says. "The current evidence is pretty definitive, but we shouldn't close the book and say we're done with the subject. The great thing about science is constantly being able to understand things in a new light."

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

ICMR launches programme to fund 'multidisciplinary consortia' for medicines research & development

n order to meet the challenge of appropriate use of existing drugs and development of (national and global) need based, new drug and drug delivery systems, the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has launched a separate programme under which it will provide funds for forming a 'multidisciplinary consortia of excellence' for medicines research and development.
The council has invited proposals from country's premier institutions such as IITs, NIPERs, IISc and ICTs, medical colleges, pharmacy colleges, engineering colleges, science colleges and other public health departments for forming a multidisciplinary consortia of excellence for medicines research and development.
The institutes and colleges should have previous track record of good work. The multidisciplinary consortium of excellence grant will provide funding for infrastructure, staff, consumables and contingency for 5 years. Applicant should provide a concept note outlining investigators, institutions involved, plan for specific projects/idea with phase wise plan and budget for 5 years.
Senior officials say that medicines form 10-25 per cent of healthcare budget. Rational use of medicines, a priority in the 11th Plan and a thrust area in the 12th Plan, is crucial for ensuring safe, effective treatment and optimum use of available budget at all levels of healthcare -- primary, secondary and tertiary.
Knowledge of pharmacogenetics, adverse drug reactions and drug resistance should be advanced and used for fostering individualized medicine as well as public health practice. With formation of WTO and obligation to comply with TRIPS provisions, it is imperative that drug discovery and development program is strengthened in the country. Though there have been efforts by industry and academia in past few years, they were inadequate to meet the challenges.
Officials said that there is need for multidisciplinary basic research as well as translational research with collaborations between pharmacology, clinical pharmacology, other clinical departments, public health department/divisions, biology, biotechnology, chemical technology, pharmacy and other basic sciences to meet the challenge of appropriate use of existing drugs and development of (national and global) need based, new drug and drug delivery systems.

Effect of Diet on the Brain

A strict diet could save brain from aging, say scientists.
The research, published in the US journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is based on a study of mice that were fed a diet of about 70 percent of the food they normally consumed.Scientists found that the calorie-restricted diet triggered a protein molecule, CREB1, that activates a host of genes linked to longevity and good brain function.
"Our hope is to find a way to activate CREB1, for example through new drugs, so to keep the brain young without the need of a strict diet," said lead author Giovambattista Pani, researcher at the Institute of General Pathology, Faculty of Medicine at the Catholic University of Sacred Heart in Rome.
Researchers have previously discovered that mice on diets show better cognitive abilities and memory, less aggression, and tend to avoid or delay Alzheimer's disease. But they have not known exactly why.
"CREB1 is known to regulate important brain functions as memory, learning and anxiety control, and its activity is reduced or physiologically compromised by aging," said the study.
Mice that were genetically altered to lack CREB1 showed none of the same memory benefits if they were on a low-calorie diet as mice that had the molecule, and showed the same brain disabilities as mice that were overfed.
"This discovery has important implications to develop future therapies to keep our brain young and prevent brain degeneration and the aging process."

Pregnant Woman Fired from Job for Morning Sickness

A pregnant woman working at a nuclear arms factory has said that she was fired because she told her bosses of her pregnancy and morning sickness.Jennifer Cox alleged that she lost her job as a result of morning sickness after deciding 'honesty was the best policy' and telling her bosses she was expecting a child.
Cox, 33, had worked for the Ministry of Defence police at the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Aldermaston, Berkshire, as its website manager in charge of updating information on the base's intranet.
She had been hired on a part-time basis and within five weeks of the start of her job, she told bosses she was pregnant and began taking time off due to morning sickness and attending antenatal appointments.
This delayed progress on the website's development and as a result, she said her line manager Ray Cross had a 'threatening conversation' with her.
"He just told me to stop going off sick... I didn't want to be sick, I couldn't help it," the Telegraph quoted her as saying.
"The threatening and intimidating conversation left me leaving work feeling very miserable and low," she said.
She is charging her bosses with unfair dismissal due to sexual discrimination.
Cox told the tribunal panel that when she informed her superiors of her condition it led to her newly formed job becoming 'at risk'.
"I had made the decision to notify my line manager, thinking that honesty was the best policy, which I now regret," she said.
Martin Downs, representing the MoD, said Cross was not angry at her for missing work because of her sickness.
"This was not with focus on absence in mind... all Mr Cross was concerned about was the output on the intranet," Downs said.
Her employment with the MoD ended on July 12, 2010. She had been employed on a six-month short-term casual contract for three days a week.
Cox said she was led to believe it would become permanent position.
However, that appeared to have changed several months later, the tribunal was told.
"Mr Cross told me that if things didn't start to develop on the intranet soon he would have no option other than to end my contract and remind me that my contribution to the business was being evaluated while on a casual contract," she said.
The case was adjourned with a reserved conclusion from Judge Robin Lewis expected in the New Year.

Study Reveals Acupuncture Reduces Protein Linked to Chronic Stress

Acupuncture was found to significantly reduce levels of a protein in rats linked to chronic stress, according to researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC).
Researchers say their animal study may help explain the sense of well-being that many people receive from this ancient Chinese therapy. Published online in December in Experimental Biology and Medicine, the researchers say that if their findings are replicated in human studies, acupuncture would offer a proven therapy for stress, which is often difficult to treat.
"It has long been thought that acupuncture can reduce stress, but this is the first study to show molecular proof of this benefit," says the study's lead author, Ladan Eshevari, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Georgetown's School of Nursing & Health Studies, a part of GUMC. Eshkevari, who is also a nurse anesthetist as well as a certified acupuncturist, says she conducted the study because many of the patients she treats with acupuncture in the pain clinic reported a "better overall sense of wellbeing — and they often remarked that they felt less stress."While traditional Chinese acupuncture has been thought to relieve stress —in fact, the World Health Organization states that acupuncture is useful as adjunct therapy in more than 50 disorders, including chronic stress — Eshevari says that no one has biological proof that it does so. So she designed a study to test the effect of acupuncture on blood levels of neuropeptide Y (NPY), a peptide that is secreted by the sympathetic nervous system in humans.
This system is involved in the "flight or fight" response to acute stress, resulting in constriction of blood flow to all parts of the body except to the heart, lungs, and brain (the organs most needed to react to danger). Chronic stress, however, can cause elevated blood pressure and cardiac disease.Eshevari used rats in this study because these animals are often used to research the biological determinants of stress. They mount a stress response when exposed to winter-like cold temperatures for an hour a day.
Eshevari allowed the rats to become familiar with her, and encouraged them to rest by crawling into a small sock that exposed their legs. She very gently conditioned them to become comfortable with the kind of stimulation used in electroacupuncture — an acupuncture needle that delivers a painless small electrical charge. This form of acupuncture is a little more intense than manual acupuncture and is often used for pain management, she says, adding "I used electroacupuncture because I could make sure that every rat was getting the same treatment dose." She then selected a single acupuncture spot to test: Zuslanli (ST 35 on the stomach meridian), which is said to help relieve a variety of conditions including stress.
As with the rats, that acupuncture point for humans is on the leg below the knee. The study utilized four groups of rats for a 14-day experiment: a control group that was not stressed and received no acupuncture; a group that was stressed for an hour a day and did not receive acupuncture; a group that was stressed and received "sham" acupuncture near the tail; and the experimental group that were stressed and received acupuncture to the Zuslanli spot on the leg. She found NPY levels in the experimental group came down almost to the level of the control group, while the rats that were stressed and not treated with Zuslanli acupuncture had high levels of the protein.In a second experiment, Eshevari stopped acupuncture in the experimental group but continued to stress the rats for an additional four days, and found NPY levels remained low. "We were surprised to find what looks to be a protective effect against stress," she says.
Eshevari is continuing to study the effect of acupuncture with her rat models by testing another critical stress pathway. Preliminary results look promising, she says.

Non-invasive treatment is at the heart of the matter

Recently, Art of Living Foundation introduced the facility of non-invasive treatment for heart diseases—called Enhanced External Counter Pulsation (EECP)—at its ashram on city outskirts
The founder of AoL Foundation, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, inaugurated the facility at the Art of Living International Centre recently.
He said EECP is one of the first allopathic treatments that do not involve invasive procedures or medication but bring about improvement in cardiac patients in a natural way.
“It works like a natural bypass,” said Dr Keshav Prasad, chief operating officer, Sri Sri Ayurveda Panchkarma, about the EECP procedure.
‘Clinically proven’
Dr Prasad elucidated that the treatment significantly improves blood supply to the heart muscle.
He said recent clinical evidence and trials establish that significant improvement in blood flow takes place with the help of EECP procedure. He said this has been confirmed by PET scan and angiogram.
The inauguration took place at Sri Sri Ayurveda Panchakarma, AoL’s Ayurveda and wellness spa, in collaboration with The Global Heart Foundation, Pune.
The non-invasive treatment facility will be operated by Enhanced Hearts, one of the pioneers of EECP.
Holistic heart care
The centre will focus on holistic heart care, offering specialised yet low-cost treatment through a combination of state-of-the-art EECP therapy with herbal medicines and panchakarma therapies, blending modern medicine with Ayurveda.

The Intricate Hide and Seek Signals of the Immune System

Previous research has shown that the white blood cells that fight disease and help our bodies heal are directed to sites of infection or injury by 'exit signs.' The latter are chemical signals that tell them where to pass through the blood vessel walls and into the underlying tissue.New research at the Weizmann Institute, which appeared in Nature Immunology online, shows how the cells lining blood vessel walls may act as 'selectors' by hiding the signals where only certain 'educated' white blood cells will find them.
In previous studies, Prof. Ronen Alon and his team in the Immunology Department had found that near sites of inflammation, white blood cells rapidly crawl along the inner lining of the blood vessels with tens of tiny legs that grip the surface tightly, feeling for the exit sign. Such signs consist of migration-promoting molecules called chemokines, which the cells lining the blood vessels – endothelial cells – display on their outer surfaces like flashing lights.
In the new study, Alon and his team, including Drs. Ziv Shulman and Shmuel Cohen, found that not all chemokine signals produced by endothelial cells are on display. They observed the recruitment of subsets of immune cells called effector cells that are the 'special forces' of the immune system: They receive training in the lymph nodes, where they learn to identify a particular newly-invading pathogen and then return to the bloodstream on a search and destroy mission. Like the other white blood cells, effector cells crawled on tiny appendages along the lining of inflamed blood vessels near the site of pathogen entry, but rather than sensing surface chemokines, they used their legs to reach into the endothelial cells in search of the migration-promoting chemokines.
As opposed to the external exit signs, these chemokines were held in tiny containers – vesicles – inside the inflamed endothelial cell walls. The effector cells paused in the joins where several cells met, inserting their legs through the walls of several endothelial cells at once to trap chemokines as they were released from vesicles at the endothelial cell membrane. Once they obtained the right chemokine directives, the immune cells were quickly ushered out through the blood vessel walls toward their final destination.
The researchers think that keeping the chemokines inside the endothelial cells ensures, on the one hand, that these vital signals will be safe from getting washed away in the blood or eaten by various enzymes. On the other hand, it guarantees that only those effector cells with special training – that can make the extra effort to find the signals – will pass through.
Alon: 'We are now seeing that the blood vessel endothelium is much more than just a passive, sticky barrier – it actively selects which recruited cells actually cross the barrier and which will not. The endothelial cells seem to play an active role in showing the immune cells the right way out, though we're not sure exactly how. Moreover, we think that tumors near blood vessels might exploit these trafficking rules for their benefit by putting the endothelial cells in a quiescent state or making the endothelium produce the 'wrong' chemokines. Thus, immune cells capable of destroying these tumors will not be able to exit the blood and navigate to the tumor site, while other immune cells that aid in cancer growth will.'

Monday, 19 December 2011

PCI soon to release new education regulation with focus on science-centric curriculum in D Pharm

The Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) will soon come out with a new education regulation 2011 to update the syllabus of Diploma in Pharmacy (D Pharm) which is to be implemented from next academic year. The Council has completed the preparation of the syllabus and will now submit the same for clearance from the ministry of health and family welfare by the month end.
The last regulation was implemented in 1991. Going by the changes in the pharma sector, we need to upgrade the education standards of D Pharm as the industry is looking for candidates from this specialization, PCI president Dr B Suresh told Pharmabiz.
Although PCI has mandated the need for B Pharm as the basic qualification for entry into the industry, there is considerable demand for diploma holders not just by the pharmacy trade but by the industry too. The current pharmacy education regulation is almost two-decades-old and the practises are out-dated. This called for a need to revise the existing pharmacy’s education standards with the inclusion of the latest industrial and hospital pharmacy practices, he added.
In order to address the challenges of international quality by 2020, there is an urgent need to restructure the pharmacy education and scope of pharmacist and reengineer pharmacy education. This is where the revised pharmacy new regulation 2011 will give a fillip to the standard of syllabus and course curricula, said Dr. Suresh.
In this regard, PCI is looking into devising a competency framework to ensure a quality assurance system, and building academic and institution capacity, among others, he informed.
“Pharmacy educational systems and pharmacy institutions which are designed for a by-gone age have to realize the need to reshaping into learning organizations, where conversations on how actionable change is brought about in a global perspective, that benefits the learner and teacher, customer and expert, have become more important,” said Dr. Suresh.
India has experienced an expansion of its pharmacy educational centres but an uneven distribution has left poorer states with proportionally fewer colleges and the quality of the education is variable. Presently pharmacy education in the area of D Pharm has 660 colleges with an effort to increase to 72 additional colleges taking the student strength from the current 39,147 to an additional 4,280 taking the total number of candidates to 43,427. In B Pharm, there are 837 colleges with an additional 423 coming in which would take the total from 36,238 to 61,573 candidates. There is considerable interest evinced by the industry to hire D Pharm and B Pharm candidates.
As clinical services provided by pharmacists are fairly new to India, which has traditionally been industry-focused in its pharmacy degree programmes, there is also a shortage of clinical pharmacy trainers. There are approximately 50 pharmacists per 100,000 people at present, with a large urban-rural disparity.
Therefore we need to expand the D Pharm candidates who are currently manning pharmacy stores. Moreover, keeping in sync with the Pharmacy New Education Regulation 2011, we need to fit in community pharmacy not just for drug dispensing but also with focus on community and industrial pharmacy. The curriculum will move from patient-centric to science-centric touching up need for drug safety. In fact, the 2011 regulations will arm the D Pharm candidate with confidence of authority to create an indispensable role in the healthcare space, said Dr Suresh who is also chairman, scientific body, Indian Pharmacopoeia and Vice Chancellor, JSS University, Mysore.

India will be the pharmaceutical superpower in 2020: Expert

Pressure on the big multinational pharmaceutical companies, mandating them to evolve a model with optimum use of resources and cost-cautious operations would now open opportunities for Indian pharma, stated Subodh Priolkar, president, 63rd IPC, and regional managing director, Colorcon Asia.
In his presidential address at the event in Bengaluru which kicked off the scientific sessions, Priolkar addressed the theme of the 63rd IPC: 'Vision 2020: India: The Pharma Powerhouse’.
“There is a massive and aggressive cost cut-down initiative being planned by Big Pharma in the regulated markets. Their strategy is to reduce costs by US$ 2 billion by closing five research facilities, shutting down or selling three manufacturing facilities and reducing 10 per cent of workforce which is estimated to be around 10,000 people,” he said.
The clarion call across the Big Pharma is to ‘outsource as much as 30 per cent of manufacturing which is the double the effort from the current 15 per cent to facilities in Asia, mainly India and China’; to ‘reduce costs by US$ 900 million by 2011 by reducing 11 percent of global workforce which cover over 7,000 jobs; to issue stop production orders in most of its 23 manufacturing sites and start outsourcing to China, India and East Europe; to close its in-house production of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) for conventional drugs; and to start outsourcing more advanced manufacturing & logistic operations, Priolkar informed.
Further, there is intense effort to bring down cost by US$ 1.5 billion through a restructuring program targeting sales and manufacturing. In fact globally 28 plants cease to exist and the 80 plants currently operating are expected to be reduced further by 2011. Global big pharma is now looking to outsource the manufacture of off-patent products and the outsourced drug candidates to eventually in-house discovered drugs.
Over the next few years, big pharma would also look to bring down general and administrative operations by simplifying, standardizing outsourcing processes and services which will help to save another US$ 1.5 billion over next 3 years.
There will also be a marked reduction in the number of its brands and mature products portfolio by 60 percent over the next four years ensuing out of more than half the number of manufacturing facilities by being shut down in 2010.
Therefore there is immense pressure on big pharmaceutical companies. With drugs worth US$35 billion going off patent in 2012 will now see increased penetration of generics in markets where innovators have traditionally been strong. There is drastic reduction in drug approvals from US FDA. With regulations becoming more stringent, the pharmaceutical companies have to do extensive work on safety profile of the drug as well as robustness of the formulation.
All of these have led to tremendous escalation in the new drug development costs, said Priolkar adding that India has every chance to capitalize the opportunity to become a Pharmaceutical Superpower in 2020 and a hub for all pharmaceutical manufacturing & research needs. To achieve this it will need to over-haul the pharma education system; making it more relevant to the changing needs of the profession, he concluded.

Interdisciplinary Setting an Advantage for Acupuncturists

An interdisciplinary model of care is an ideal situation for practitioners and patients. Many in healthcare believe that this is the model that must be utilized to maximize patient care. According to recent research, the lack of communication has resulted in 70 percent of the adverse affects of a patient.Unfortunately, there are definitely a number of realistic stumbling blocks to achieving this goal of an interdisciplinary setting. I have had the fortunate experience of working in an Ontario hospital as a massage therapy clinic supervisor and I am currently working in two different clinics that have two different approaches. One is multidisciplinary and the other interdisciplinary.
There are struggles and advantages of these two different settings. What I would like to discuss are the stumbling blocks of an interdisciplinary model. These hurdles extend out to acupuncturists and TCM practitioners. At times, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary modes will be compared.
In Ontario and in Canada in general we have a two-tiered system of healthcare. We have a social system and a private system. To some it may seem unfair to have two different systems. There are two reasons for this, among others. The first reason is that at times both systems lack harmony, in terms of communication from practitioner to practitioner (usually MD to complementary therapist or vice-a-versa). This is a frustrating situation for a patient who seeks proper treatment and wants those involved with their care to communicate about progress, treatment, potential stumbling blocks etc. Also, many healthcare practitioners lack the understanding of what other disciplines may do and their function within the healthcare system.
There are many misunderstandings as to what each does. Two good examples of this are: "acupuncture only treats pain" and "massage is only for relaxation." Of course those in the field and who have had treatments from these two disciplines understand that these two forms of healthcare do much more than that.
Complementary therapies are generally part of the private system in Ontario. This includes massage therapy, chiropractic, naturopathy, acupuncture and TCM as well as homeopathy. We find these modes of therapies in privatized clinics. What may seem disconcerting is that it was found that 26 percent of those that used these therapies fell in the highest income group, while only 13 percent of those in the lowest income group had used these therapies.2 It is rare to actually find any of these types of practitioners being salaried employees at a hospitals. Generally hospitals in Ontario fall into the social medicine system.
So, how does the interdisciplinary approach relate to acupuncture in a wellness clinic?
First off, we have to differentiate between multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary. What are the key differences? In a multidisciplinary setting each practitioner is a "specialist" in a particular discipline such as massage or chiropractic. In this setting the healthcare provider works with the patient according to his/her specialty and assesses and treats them according to the particular specialty and its philosophy. They are generally an "island" unto themselves. The practitioner may refer out to another therapist. In this setting you will potentially see each provider having separate files for the patient. To see 3, 4 or 5 different files for one patient is common in this setting.
According to author Rebecca Jessup, "Interdisciplinary team approaches, as the word itself suggests, integrate separate discipline approaches into a single consultation."3 Basically the patient would have the healthcare team performing the health history, assessment/diagnosis and treatment plan altogether in one appointment. The team would bring in their specialty together and gather the information concurrently to form an integrated plan for treatment. The patient has a strong say in their treatment plans and both patient and practitioners have an "even" understanding of the state of all that is involved.
In this setting, there would be one file where all the particular providers would write their findings. This system allows other providers treating that particular patient to view what others are doing or have done.
There are significant advantages for an acupuncturist/TCM practitioner with this system. In Ontario, acupuncture is a relative newcomer to be regulated in the province. It is critical that the acupuncturist communicate and educate other health care providers of what acupuncture could treat. In an interdisciplinary setting, the acupuncturist will be able to communicate relatively freely with other providers and share any findings that may help in a patient's treatment. If you were to compare this to a multidisciplinary setting, each practitioner is seemingly more concerned as to what their individual therapy can provide.
One of the goals for the acupuncturist in this setting is to gain the trust of other practitioners. This will happen over time with constant communication. More trust will lead to further referrals allowing the acupuncturist to flourish. Along with this, the patient will view the acupuncturist/TCM practitioner as an equal profession relative to the others in the consulting group.
The positive reasoning for the use of interdisciplinary approach has been discussed, but what are the stumbling blocks to a full interdisciplinary approach?
The first question that must be asked is, is it practical? It is an ideal situation but is it more cumbersome for the patient and therapists? In a wellness clinic situation you will generally have practitioners such as massage therapists, acupuncturists/TCM practitioners, naturopaths, homeopaths, chiropractors and potentially physiotherapists all working under one roof. You may also have medical personnel such as family doctors or sports medicine doctors.
What has been found in the interdisciplinary clinic I practice in, is that there is a chance for redundancy. In particular the physiotherapist and chiropractor. In this situation the patient first is assessed by the chiropractor and then the physiotherapist in separate appointments, usually back to back on the same day. Eventually what happens is both practitioners get together and formulate a treatment plan. Almost, a high-breed between multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary.
In Ontario there is much cross-over between chiropractors, physiotherapists and massage therapists in terms of their scope of practice.
In the above situation it would be more ideal for the patient to be assessed by the entire group of practitioners in one appointment as to reduce the redundancy. This is probably the best way to deal with patients. As you will see later, this may be ideal from one dimension, but from a business or therapist perspective, working in a private setting, it may be least ideal.
Timing can be an issue with the private interdisciplinary model. What generally happens in a private model is that therapists may have other appointments and it may be very difficult to bring them together for one particular appointment to meet the patient, diagnose/assess, discuss the treatment plan etc. This becomes even more difficult when the clinic becomes busier if they are an upstart clinic. Eventually what may happen is that the clinics' philosophy eventually goes back from interdisciplinary to multidisciplinary to accommodate timing issues.

The private wellness clinics in Ontario are driven by the insurance companies. You could see this most evident when massage therapists are generally the busiest approximately 6-8 weeks before the end of December. The reason for this is that these individuals understand that their work benefits end at the end of the year and start up again in the new year. Knowing this, most patients in the know decide to "use up" their benefits before year end.
In Ontario, regulated health professionals have a registration number that is put on receipts so that patients can send these receipts to their insurer for reimbursement.
In the case of a true interdisciplinary setting, where the practitioners initially meet with the patient together, it would be very difficult to bill for multiple practitioners when the actual assessment has been performed. When you have for example a naturopath, who can also do acupuncture/TCM assessments and an actual acupuncturist/TCM practitioner or a physiotherapist and a chiropractor who have tremendous cross-over of scope, it will be difficult to bill for separate appointments and to justify the separate billings to the insurance company when the assessment is done as a team in one appointment.
So, how do you break down the actual cost of the "team" assessment? In Ontario, most private centered clinicians work under a percentage split or on a per patient basis.
When the actual team interdisciplinary assessment process occurs, how will the clinic bill?
Will it be a "one shot" fee? And, if so how will that be divided amongst all the therapists involved with the assessment/initial meeting? Will it be 3 or 4 or 5 different receipts billed as one appointment? or will their be a breakdown of costs for the patient, i.e. $90.00 for chiropractic assessment, $90.00 for physiotherapist assessment, $110.00 for naturopath etc?
One of the issues that will come up for this is the actual "out-of-pocket" expense for the patient. It would be a first time expense that would cost $500 or more for the initial visit. This is an estimate based on current fees of healthcare providers.
This initial cost would scare off many would-be patients of a clinic. Their insurance may reimburse them, but it is a seemingly steep price for the first initial appointment. One solution for this may be to direct bill an insurer for the first appointment.
Realistically from a business perspective, how does one recoup if a patient misses their appointment or cancels within an allowable time frame? If a person fails to show for an appointment the clinicians and clinic could lose a large sum of revenue.
The clinic would be in a "triple whammy" situation whereby they would lose on the missed appointment, plus potentially lose that ability to book another individual who could have shown up.
Finally, that person seeking that particular appointment may decide to go to another clinic on the basis of the inability to be booked in.
In a multidisciplinary setting you may have one particular therapist who loses an appointment because of a cancellation, but it is just one therapist as opposed to multiple therapists waiting on a particular patient to show up.
In socialized medicine such as that in Ontario hospitals, the interdisciplinary approach works better.
The reason for this is that the providers are paid, generally on a per hour basis or salaried unlike the example of privatized wellness clinics.
Doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and other health care practitioners can meet with a particular patient together without having the hurdles that have been listed above.
They get paid on an hourly basis and have less fear of losing income because of a patient failing to show.
How the initial assessment will be billed is a non-worry or how their "piece of the pie" will be broken up for them is also less of a concern.
Health care practitioners may have decided to go a certain path for noble reasons, but if that particular clinic or career path they have chosen fails to generate a decent living, that individual may decide to find another clinic or a career altogether to fit this need.
Realistically a private clinic must find a balance of generating money and providing outstanding care for a particular patient.
In a perfect world the perfect wellness clinic would be generating substantial amounts of revenue and be profitable, clinicians would have tremendous satisfaction in what they do from both a "healers" perspective and from generating a good income, the patients would be satisfied with their care and the clinic is well integrated with the social part of the healthcare system.
The interdisciplinary approach is the way to go.
Acupuncturists/TCM practitioners should find practices that will get them thoroughly involved with this model.
The acupuncturist/TCM practitioners should also be part of solving these issues that potentially could be walls to a successful clinic or career.
The more aggressive we are in our participation particularly in our infancy as regulated health professionals, will lead to further benefits to the acupuncture/TCM industry in the future.
Interdisciplinary collaboration for healthcare professionals, Fewster-Thuente L, Velsor-Friedrich B.
Park, USE OF ALTERNATIVE HEALTH CARE, Health Reports, Vol. 16, No. 2, March 2005 Statistics Canada
Interdisciplinary versus multidisciplinary care teams: do we understand the difference?, Australian Health Review / August, 2007
By: Alfie Vente, RMT, D. Ac (Cand.)
Source:Acupuncture Today
January, 2012, Vol. 13, Issue 01

The Secret to Winter Diets

Finding enough to eat is much more problematic in winter, although the temperate climates of central Europe provide plentiful food in summer.Many small mammals avoid the problem by hibernating but this survival strategy is generally not practised by larger animals. With the exception of some bears, large mammals remain fully awake throughout the year, yet they too must reduce their metabolism to cope with the comparative scarcity of food. Red deer, for example, are known to lower their heart rate and to allow their extremities to cool substantially during winter. These changes have been interpreted as a mechanism for conserving energy but could simply reflect the fact that the animals cannot find enough food to eat, as the act of digestion is known to have a direct influence on a ruminant's metabolism.
It is clear that red deer must minimise their energy requirements to be able to survive on little but their own body fat over the long winter season. To understand how they do so, Christopher Turbill and colleagues at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna inserted special transmitters into the reticulum (the foremost part of the stomach) of 15 female red deer and monitored the animals' heart rate and stomach temperature for a period of 18 months, including two winters. The deer lived under near-natural conditions but their food intake was tightly controlled, with the amount and the protein richness determined by the scientists. The air temperature was also recorded and statistical modeling was used to untangle the effects of the various different factors – including swallowing snow, which naturally led to a rapid and dramatic decrease in stomach temperature – on the animals' metabolism.
The slow season
The most striking result was that the deer lowered their heart rates in winter regardless of how much food they ate. A heart rate of 65-70 beats per minute in May declined gradually to about 40 beats per minute throughout the winter, even when the deer were supplied with plenty of protein-rich food. Heart rate is a good indicator of metabolic rate, so as Turbill says, "The decrease in metabolism occurred exactly when food is normally scarce – although our animals always had enough to eat – and this shows that the deer are somehow 'programmed' to conserve reserves during winter." The enormous rise in heart rate in spring, at the start of the breeding season, was not associated with any change in food availability so also forms part of the animals' internal programming. As expected, when the deer were offered less food, their heart rates dropped even further. Surprisingly, however, this effect could also be observed in summer and was not solely caused by the reduced amount of digestion, showing that red deer react both to the winter season and to food shortages by actively lowering their metabolism.
Turbill, Arnold and coworkers found that the lowered heart rate was associated with a reduction in stomach (core body) temperature, suggesting that the deer adjust energy expenditure by regulating their internal heat production. However, relatively small changes in stomach temperature had larger than expected effects on metabolic rate, implying that the animals have an additional mechanism for saving energy. The key to explaining the results came from previous studies in Arnold's group, which had shown that red deer can greatly lower the temperature of their legs and other extremities, especially during cold winter nights. It thus seems likely that a small reduction in stomach temperature indicates a much greater reduction in the temperature of the deer's entire body, which could explain the substantial reduction in heart rate and metabolism. "Perhaps larger animals are able to make use of their size to enable temperature gradients," Arnold proposes. "This would enable them to reduce their metabolism dramatically without requiring a big decrease in core body temperature. It seems as though peripheral cooling might be an important mechanism for red deer – and maybe other large mammals – to conserve energy during winter and when food is scarce."

Demand for More Funding for Complementary Medicine Research in Australia

An Australian complementary medicine body has urged the federal government to provide more money for research into complementary treatments.
The National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM) said that the federal government earns more than $100 million from such medicines and added that it is the duty of the government to provide more funding for the research into the effectiveness of such medicines so that the people are not put at a risk.
The NICM director Alan Bensoussan said that underfunding has led to some medicines coming into the market without any evidence that such as treatment works. “As a nation we collect at least $100 million in GST off complementary medicines, but I don't see any of that going back to shoring up the evidence for consumers. There's an obligation on government to do that for consumers”, he said.

Deadly Cancers may be Diagnosed by Simple Test

A simple online calculator that could offer family GPs a powerful new tool to tackle two of the most deadly forms of cancer has been developed by researchers.Academics from The University of Nottingham and ClinRisk Ltd have created two new QCancer algorithms, which cross-reference symptoms and risk factors of patients to red flag those most likely to have pancreatic and bowel cancer.
This could help doctors to diagnose these illnesses more quickly and potentially save thousands of lives every year.
"We hope these new tools will help GPs with the difficult task of identifying patients with suspected cancer earlier and that this in turn could help improve treatment options and outcomes for patients," said lead researcher, Professor Julia Hippisley-Cox in the University's Division of Primary Care.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Bitter Sweet Row: Big Corn Versus Big Sugar

Big Corn and Big Sugar caged in a legal and public relations battle over a proposition to change the name of a corn-based sweetener that got disrepute.The fight began last year when Corn Refiners Association, a trade association, proposed changing the name of high-fructose corn syrup to merely "corn sugar."
The group said the new name "more accurately describes this sweetener and helps clarify food products labeling for manufacturers and consumers alike."
But the sugar industry argued this change would be a bitter pill for US consumers and would only add to the confusion about a sweetener that has drawn criticism by some health advocates.
Sugar producers have filed suit alleging the corn industry has spent $50 million in "a mass media rebranding campaign that misleads the consuming public by asserting falsely that HFCS is natural and is indistinguishable from the sugar extracted from sugar cane and sugar beets."
The lawsuit, which seeks an end to the ads using the term "corn sugar," states that use of the corn syrup increased over 1,000 percent between 1970 and 1990 and that this rise "bears a strong temporal relationship to the growth in American obesity."
Sugar makers say the corn industry is making a desperate effort to salvage the product which consumers are increasingly avoiding.
Sugar Association lawyer Adam Fox told AFP the group is seeking to stop the ads because "it is absolutely false for them to characterize this as a natural product."
In its response, the corn industry says the sugar industry is trying "to stifle free speech" and seeking to vilify its corn products.
"The sugar industry is wrongfully alleging that high fructose corn syrup (a sugar made from corn) causes health issues that do not arise from consuming cane and beet sugar," said Audrae Erickson, president of the Corn Refiners Association.
"We believe that the sugar industry's views are misleading American consumers. The CRA will continue its work to educate consumers about high fructose corn syrup and will vigorously oppose the sugar industry's attempt to stifle public discussion of this important health issue."
The corn industry last year petitioned the Food and Drug Administration for permission to use the term "corn sugar" instead of high fructose corn syrup. But in the meantime it has launched television and print ads hoping to gain public support.
The campaign cites experts saying there is no difference between various sugars in terms of metabolism, calories or other nutritional values.
"Whether it's corn sugar or cane sugar, your body can't tell the difference. Sugar is sugar," one ad says.
Among the studies cited is a 2008 report by the American Medical Association which concludes "it appears unlikely that HFCS contributes more to obesity or other conditions than sucrose."
But a 2011 study cited by the sugar industry from the journal Metabolism concludes the fructose corn syrup leads to "significantly different acute metabolic effects" than plain sugar.
Some have linked the obesity epidemic to consumption of processed foods and soft drinks which use corn syrup in place of costlier cane or beet sugar.
Alternative medicine guru and author Andrew Weill writes that the corn product "is a marker for low-quality food and has no place in a healthy diet."
"The most widely used kind of HFCS may have disruptive effects on metabolism, as the body doesn't utilize fructose well. In fact, regular consumption of HFCS may contribute to obesity."
The National Consumers League has sent a letter urging the FDA to reject the renaming petition and noted that the corn sweetener in question "has received much negative publicity over the last several years."
"Questions have been raised concerning potential links to obesity and a variety of obesity-related health conditions including diabetes and heart disease," the letter said.
"Some consumers are concerned about emerging science regarding nutrition and health effects of HFCS, while others simply want to avoid highly processed sweeteners in favor of more natural substances."
Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University, said both sides are missing the point, which is that Americans consume too much sugar.
"Changing the name of HFCS to corn sugar is about marketing, not public health," she said.
"If the FDA decides to approve the change, it will not alter the fact that about 60 pounds each of HFCS and table sugar are available per capita per year, and that Americans would be a lot healthier consuming a lot less of either one."

Link Between Auto-immune Diseases and Wounds That Don’t Heal, Probed

Countless Americans suffer from wounds that don't heal. Though majority are usually diabetes related, new research has recognized another likely underlying cause, ‘autoimmune diseases’. The finding, published online Dec. 14th in the International Wound Journal, represents an unappreciated link that could lead to important new insights in wound healing, say researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center. (Data from this study were presented at the 2011 annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology.)
The study was sparked by the keen observation of Georgetown rheumatologist Victoria Shanmugam, M.D., who began noticing something rather unusual in her patients with autoimmune diseases — any open wound they had was very slow to heal. Their recovery was even more protracted than in patients with wounds who have diabetes, a disease that is notoriously damaging to blood vessels and to normal skin repair.
So Shanmugam and her colleagues conducted a chart review of people who sought care at a high-volume wound clinic at Georgetown University Hospital to determine the prevalence of autoimmune diseases. The study included patients with open wounds — usually leg ulcers who were treated during a three-month period in 2009. Of the 340 patients, 49 percent had diabetes, which she says is a typical rate.
"But what was surprising is that 23 percent had underlying autoimmune diseases, and the connection between these relatively rare disorders and wounds that don't heal is under-recognized," she says.
Of the 78 patients in the cohort who had autoimmune disease, most had rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or livedoid vasculopathy, a type of vascular disease.
Shanmugam says her findings also show that autoimmune disease-associated wounds were significantly larger at the patient's first visit. These non-healing wounds can be "incredibly emotionally draining and financially costly," Shanmugam says, because they require doctor visits over many months as well as an ever-present risk of serious infections. Sometimes, infections can lead to surgery and the amputation of limbs. More often, they require skin grafts or use of skin substitutes, which may still not solve the problem.
In fact, Shanmugam's study found that skin grafts were more likely to fail in patients with autoimmune disease-associated wounds.
Shanmugam hopes the link she has made between autoimmune diseases and wound healing will make its way into the consciousness of the general practitioner. While it is much too invasive and costly to recommend that all patients with wounds be tested for autoimmune diseases, she says, "If a doctor has a patient with a leg ulcer that won't heal after three or four months and they have done all the appropriate treatments, I hope they will look for the presence of an autoimmune disorder."

Well Cooked Eggs are Safe to Eat Post 'Best Before' Date- FSA

UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) recently issued a statement saying that store-bought eggs can still be safely consumed within a day or two after the expiry date, provided they are cooked thoroughly until both yolk and white are solid, or if they are used in dishes where they will be fully cooked, such as a cake
The FSA changed its original statement, which advised against eating eggs after their 'Best Before' date out of concern for salmonella poisoning.
The new announcement was made with a view to reduce food waste and the costs associated with it. Official figures reveal that Britishers currently throw away over $75 million worth of eggs per year, or roughly 660,000 eggs.
Besides eggs, most foods can be eaten safely after the 'Best Before' date, as this is mostly about quality rather than safety. Past this date, it does not mean that the food will be harmful, rather the flavor, color or texture of the food might begin to deteriorate.
But there is a difference if the food is marked with a 'use by' date. If it is marked with a 'use by' date, then it should not be used after this date as it could put your health at risk.


Exercise Drops from Adolescence to Adulthood

College going teenagers are less likely to indulge in physical activity like exercising, according to researchers at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.
Following the study of 683 Canadian adolescents (between 12-15 years), researchers found 24% decline in physical activity over the 12-years from adolescence to early adulthood. Young males are most likely to give up exercising compared to a modest 1.7% decrease in the overall activity levels among females.
However, it is important for adults to understand that physical activities not only keeps them active but also proves helpful in strengthening the immune system.
The study is published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Feds crack down on homeopathic weight loss remedy

The government is cracking down on companies that sell popular over-the-counter weight-loss products containing the hormone HCG.The Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission announced today that they have sent seven warning letters to companies that make the products, notifying them that they are violating federal law by selling drugs that have not been approved and by making unsupported claims for the substances.
There are no FDA-approved HCG products for weight loss, says Elizabeth Miller, the FDA's acting director of the division of non-prescription products and health fraud.
MORE: HCG weight-loss products are fraudulent, FDA says
VIDEO: HCG: Dangerous to Dieters
STORY: HCG diet's effectiveness debated in obesity battle
HCG weight-loss products, which promise dramatic results and claim to be homeopathic, are sold as drops, pellets and sprays in retail stores and on the Web, including GNC.
The homeopathic HCG products contain HCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, which is a hormone made by the placenta during pregnancy. The hormone itself is approved as a prescription treatment for infertility and other conditions, the FDA says.
Many of these products claim to "reset your metabolism," change "abnormal eating patterns" and shave 20 to 30 pounds in 30 to 40 days, the FDA says.
"These products are marketed with incredible claims, and people think that if they're losing weight, HCG must be working," Miller says. "But the data simply does not support this — any loss is from severe calorie restriction, not from the HCG."
The products are supposed to be used in combination with a very low-calorie diet of 500 calories a day so they are potentially dangerous and could lead to gallstone formation, electrolyte imbalance and heart arrhythmia, she says.
Miller says the FDA doesn't know how many consumers are using the products, "but we understand they are very popular." The products are mostly sold on the Internet, so it's difficult to track sales.
HCG began being used for weight loss in the 1950s when a British physician had a theory that it could help people on a near-starvation diet not feel hungry. Since then, there have been a number of clinical trials debunking that theory.
Duffy MacKay, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition, an industry group, says the HCG weight-loss products "are totally illegal," because they don't meet the criteria for either a dietary supplement ingredient or a homeopathic product.
"I am not aware of any scientific evidence that supports its use when taken orally for weight loss," he says.
Homeopathy is an alternative medicine practice of using very small or diluted preparations of medicines or remedies to treat a condition.
Donna Ryan, an obesity researcher with the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, says she is "delighted" by the government's actions.
"There is not a shred of evidence that HCG has any more than a placebo effect in promoting weight loss. It's yet one more unproven treatment for obesity that is unscrupulously marketed to patients," she says.
The companies have 15 days to notify the FDA of the steps they have taken to correct the violations cited. Failure to do so may result in legal action, including seizure and injunction, or criminal prosecution.
Source:USA Today

4 Homeopathic Remedies for Arthritis

While there are many great natural remedies for arthritis, homeopathy can be quite effective and is typically overlooked. This healing tradition is based on the ancient medical premise that “like cures like.” In other words, a natural substance that potentially causes a particular illness in the body can be used in a significantly diluted form to prompt the body to combat the illness and related symptoms. It sounds crazy but it is the philosophy now adopted by vaccine manufacturers when they develop flu shots and other chemical-based vaccines. Of course, homeopathy relies on only natural substances and avoids the toxic chemicals and additives found in most vaccines, thereby eliminating side-effects.
The most commonly used homeopathic remedies for arthritis include: rhus tox, bryonia, apis, and belladonna.
Rhus tox is best suited for people who experience symptom improvement from moving but tend to get stiff from rest.
Bryonia is best for people whose symptoms worsen from movement.
Apis is suitable for people with hot, burning, stinging pain and swelling.
Belladonna is best suited for people who experience a rapid and violent onset of throbbing arthritic pain and red, hot, and swollen joints.
Homeopathic remedies come in different potencies. The typical dosage is to start with a 6X or 30X remedy, taking three or four pellets and allowing them to dissolve under the tongue every 15 minutes for the first hour or two. After that, a typical dose is three pellets, three times daily.

Sense of Smell Helped Separate Humans From Neanderthals

Homo sapiens -- have a better sense of smell than their extinct Neanderthal cousins, which may be one reason why one thrived while the other died out, according to scientists.
Brain size is the same in both species, but differences in brain shape may indicate differences in brain organization that may be linked to behavior and cognition, which includes skills such as memory, problem solving, attention and producing and understanding language.
The international team of researchers used high-end imaging techniques to assess the internal structure of fossil H. sapiens and Neanderthal skulls. The scans revealed that modern humans have larger temporal lobes (involved in memory, language and social function) and 12 percent larger olfactory bulbs (involved in the sense of smell) than Neanderthals.
While other senses go through a number of brain filters, the sense of smell is directly connected to regions of the brain that process emotions, memory, fear, motivation, pleasure and sexual attraction.
"The sense of smell is directly linked to memories to an extent that no other sense is. This explains why smells immediately incite strong emotions concerning past events and also strong feelings about people," Katerina Harvati, of the University of Tubingen and the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoecology in Germany, said in a university news release.
The better sense of smell in H. sapiens may be related to the evolution of social functions such as recognition of related people, enhanced family relations, group cohesion and social learning, Harvati and colleagues suggested.
"Although traditionally olfaction in primates and humans has been considered a less important sense, our study reevaluates its potential significance for human evolution, and particularly for the social evolution of our own species, Homo sapiens," they concluded.
The study appeared Dec. 13 in the online journal Nature Communications.

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