Archive for the ‘Infections’ Category

Staying Healthy This Winter

Posted on: November 20th, 2011 by doctor No Comments

Between colds, flus and the winter blahs, winter can be a tough season.  Here are some  natural steps to ensure a healthy winter season for you and your family.

  • Get your rest – sleep is a nutrient that is important for health and happiness.
  • Use a humidifier – dry winter air contributes to the increased rate of respiratory tract infections.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables, including fruits (yes, fruits are vegetables).  Vegetable soups,  roasted vegetables, and bean dishes are very warming in winter months.  Fruits always make a healthy snack or dessert.
  • Make sure you are getting enough vitamin D – up to 2,500 IU daily for children 1 year or older and up to 4,000 IU daily for anyone 9 years or older.  This almost always requires supplementation since we get no vitamin D from sunlight in winter months and a glass of milk has only 100 IU.
  • Omega-3 essential fatty acids are so important for healthy immune function and mood – they also help prevent cracked lips and dry hands.  If you like fish, great sources that are low in mercury and other environmental toxins include sardines, Alaskan salmon, herring, cod, and mackerel.  If you don’t like fish, taking fish oil capsules will do the trick – just make sure your brand is tested for rancidity, heavy metals, and environmental toxins.
  • Stay active – getting outside when the sun is out can have a remarkable affect on our health in the winter months.
  • I know, I know it is not fair to bring up during the holidays, but sugary sweets slow down the function of white blood cells that devour bacteria and can have negative affects on mood.  Refined carbohydrates like sugar (white, brown, sugar cane crystals, dehydrated cane juice, etc.) corn syrup, honey, and maple syrup are all culprits.  For homemade sweets, stevia extract is a wonderful, healthy, natural sugar substitute.  Apple pie, anyone?

If cold or flu symptoms start, liquid extracts of echinacea root and elderberry taken by mouth help symptoms while reducing the duration of illness.  Goldenseal (warning – a very bitter herb) works great in a neti pot for reducing nasal congestion or by mouth for sore throats.

Be Well,

Richard Malik, ND

Top 5 Recommendations for your Family Doctor

Posted on: May 31st, 2011 by doctor No Comments

According to the National Physicians Alliance, the 5 steps your family doctor can take to most likely improve the quality of care you and your family receive are:

  1. DON”T do x-ray, MRI, or CT imaging for low back pain within the first 6 weeks unless red flags exist for other serious conditions that present with low back pain.  Low back pain in the 5th most common reason for a visit to the doctor.
  2. DON’T prescribe antibiotics for most cases of sinusitis unless severe, and symptoms of colored nasal discharge, facial pain, or dental pain last 7 or more days.  Most cases of sinusitis seen in clinics are due to viral infections that will resolve on their own.  Still, antibiotics are prescribed for 80% of these patients.
  3. DON’T order electrocardiogram (also known as EKG or ECG) for patients without cardiac problems or at high risk of cardiac problems.  Without symptoms or being at high-risk, EKG testing is likely to cause more problems than it is likely to help.
  4. DON’T perform Pap tests for patients younger than 21 years (most abnormal results resolve on their own) or women with a hysterectomy without a medical history of cancer of the reproductive organs.
  5. DON’T use bone mineral density testing to screen for osteoporosis in women younger than 65 year or men younger than 70 years unless there is another medical condition that increases the risk of osteoporosis.  Bone mineral density results have surprisingly little ability to identify a patient’s risk of fractures if the patient does not have a history of fragility fracture.
Being an educated patient and discussing your concerns with your doctor is the best way to ensure you get the best quality care possible.  By avoiding unnecessary procedures and treatments you are less likely to experience adverse effects and help to keep health care costs down for everyone.
Be well,
Richard Malik, ND

Back to School, Back to Wellness

Posted on: August 24th, 2010 by doctor No Comments

It is a great time of year to improve the health of your family.  While preparing for the coming school year, it can take only a few moments to identify simple steps that will substantially improve your family’s wellness and make your life simpler.

Sleep is important – I consider it an essential nutrient.  Some medical studies show that decreased sleep can increase your chances of getting a cold.  Healthy amounts of sleep also improve mood and support weight loss.  Keeping regular bed times and avoiding stimulating activities (i.e. movies, wild play, caffeine, and sugar) before bed can go a long way to getting your family to bed at a reasonable hour and waking refreshed.

Vitamin D is important for both neurological and immune function.  Vitamin D is produced in the skin when exposed to direct sunlight – something that does not occur in cooler months of the year.  2,000 IU of vitamin D per day is safe for adults and children older than 12 months.

Healthy food is the cornerstone of good health.  Most people know that vegetables, fruits and whole grains are health foods, but many don’t realize the many negative effects of refined carbohydrates.  Beyond encouraging obesity, refined sugars cause emotional agitation and reduce immune function; some studies show that sugar, honey, and maple syrup reduce the ability of white blood cells to destroy bacteria by as much as 50%!  Simply reducing – it is not necessary to eliminate – intake of refined carbohydrates can have many positive health effects for your family.

Imagine what your family’s school year could be like with less illness and irritability.  Imagine how this can improve your stress level and support the time and energy required for raising a family and having fulfilling relationships.  Sometimes, great changes can result from the simplest of interventions.

Be Well,

Richard

Antibiotic Effectiveness for Cough Questioned in Medical Journal

Posted on: September 3rd, 2009 by doctor No Comments

A recent original research article in the British Medical Journal finds in a multi-country European study that antibiotic recommendations for acute respiratory tract infections vary from practice to practice with no difference in effectiveness between antibiotic course OR no antibiotics prescribed.  This information is consistent with CDC recommendations to forego antibiotics in acute respiratory tract infections as most are of viral origin.  The major caveat to this is strep throat – a bacterial respiratory tract infection that should be treated with antibiotics.

Be Well,

Richard

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Natural Swine Flu Recommendations

Posted on: September 2nd, 2009 by doctor No Comments

Centers for Disease Control recommendations for preventing the spread of influenza include:

  1. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  2. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners* are also effective.
  3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  4. Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  5. If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.) Keep away from others as much as possible to keep from making others sick.
While there is no scientific evidence showing any natural therapies are effective against swine flu, there is good evidence for some therapies against influenza. I thought I would share the recommendations I make to family and friends for the upcoming flu season.
There are no medical studies looking specifically at swine flu and natural therapies because it is a relatively recent medical concern.  However, the natural therapies with the best medical research supporting their use for influenza are Andrographis, Echinacea, Elderberry, and Siberian Ginseng.  For Swine Flu prevention, I recommend:
  1. get your rest
  2. avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates (honey, maple syrup, white flour) as they reduce immune function
  3. humidify your environment – good research indicates that flu season occurs because of less humid air in winter.  However, humidifiers need to be clean to prevent mold problems.
  4. make sure your vitamin D status is optimal (at least 45ng/ml on a 25-OH vitamin D test).  This usually requires 2,500 to 5,000 IU per day, but you should get checked for safety
  5. take your multi-vitamin
Many more people are exposed to swine flu than you might think because their immune systems handle the infection well.  If you start to feel ill, I recommend:
  1. Andrographis and Echinacea are excellent immune stimulating herbs.  I recommend Andrographis Complex by MediHerb
  2. Echinacea, Elderberry, and Pelargonium Herbal Extract (a custom herbal formula I prepare for children and adults)
  3. Other herbs for your specific symptoms (cough, nasal congestion, runny nose, etc.)
  4. Sugar-free zinc lozenges – Zand makes a good product
Be Well,
Richard
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Childhood Vaccinations Podcast

Posted on: May 28th, 2009 by doctor No Comments

Many families struggle with the decision to vaccinate their child. While the Centers for Disease Control vaccine recommendations and schedule are very clear, there is plenty of scary information on the internet linking vaccinations to neurological disorders, attention deficit disorder, autism, auto-immune disease, and chronic health concerns. This podcast lays out the known benefits and risks of vaccinations and explains what we don’t understand. It also includes information about optimizing your child’s immune function through nutrition and common sense recommendations for the prevention of infection.

You can listen to it in iTunes or in your web browser. Enjoy.

Be well,
Richard

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Podcast On Lyme Disease

Posted on: May 20th, 2009 by doctor No Comments

Lyme disease is an infection with a tick borne bacteria called Borrelia that can cause an expanding bull’s eye rash, fever, joint inflammation and pain, neurological problems, and other symptoms.  In this podcast, you can learn just about everything you need to know about the prevention, transmission, and treatment (including effective natural therapies) of Lyme disease. 

You can listen to it in iTunes or in your web browser. Enjoy.

Be well,
Richard

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swine flu, Swine Flu, SWINE FLU

Posted on: May 2nd, 2009 by doctor No Comments

The recent outbreak of swine flu is certainly a serious health concern, but far from a reason to panic and even further from a reason to profiteer!

Networks are trying to profit from increased viewership through fear-mongering.  Spam emails are being sent.  Some of the supplement companies I work with are getting into the act, too by sending emails with the CDC recommendations and THEN a LENGTHY list of supplements I should be recommending for all of my patients.  kaching, Kaching, KACHING!

Let’s keep it simple.  To get the best information about the swine flu go directly to the people who know the most about it and where all other sources are getting their information – the CDC.  Here is a link to the facts and all the information you could want.

If you want my recommendations (what I am doing), here they are:

  1. Follow the CDC recommendations for washing hands, covering your cough, staying home if sick, etc. – they are good scientists with the best intentions doing excellent work.
  2. Take care of yourself STEP 1: eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, healthy proteins, and healthy whole grains
  3. Take care of yourself STEP 2: avoid sugar, honey, maple syrup, and other refined sweeteners – they reduce immune function.
  4. Take care of yourself STEP 3: get adequate sleep.  You are getting enough sleep when you awake naturally without an alarm clock (or kids jumping on your bed).
  5. Take care of yourself STEP 4: continue to make sure you have healthy vitamin A, zinc, and vitamin D status – these nutrients are important for immune function as a deficiency increases the likelihood and severity of infection.  However, recommendations 1 through 3 will get you most of the way there.
Be well & keep it simple,
Richard
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Getting the Right Blood Tests for Inflammation and Cardiovascular Risk

Posted on: April 6th, 2009 by doctor No Comments

I have seen several patients recently that simply had the wrong tests ordered by their MDs when assessing inflammation or cardiovascular risk. To prevent these testing errors, I encourage patients to better understand these tests and make sure their doctors are ordering the right ones.

A common test for inflammation is the Eosinophil Sedimentation Rate (ESR).  It measures the tendency of red blood cells to clump together – rouleaux or stacking formation.  This test is still offered by laboratories only because doctors not familiar with newer and superior tests still request it.  ESR tests can provide inaccurate results (false positives or false negatives) for many different reasons.

C-Reactive Protein (C-RP) directly measures a liver enzyme that is an acute phase reactant.  This enzymes rises quickly when inflammation is present and falls quickly when inflammation resolves.  Therefore, it is an excellent marker of inflammation; better than the ESR which is more likely to be falsely positive or stay elevated after inflammation has resolved.  It is the best blood test to help determine if a patient’s symptoms are due to trauma, injury, infection, auto-immune reactions, or cancer.

High Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein has many acronyms (HS-CRP, CRPHS, or Cardio C-RP).  It is a test that provides an assessment of an individual’s cardiovascular risk that is independent of other measures like total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, or homocysteine.  HS-CRP measures a person’s baseline levels of inflammation and has been found to be an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease because the formation of arterial plaques and clots that cause myocardial infarction and ischemic strokes are encouraged by chronic states of low-grade inflammation.  While high sensitivity C-RP is a good measure of risk of heart attack or stroke, it is not a test to assess inflammation from trauma, injury, infection, or auto-immune disease.  Frequently, this test is selected for patients when the normal C-RP is the right test.  I think this happens because clinicians are assuming that the “high sensitivity” test must be better than the normal test.

Be well,

Richard

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Podcast on Vaginitis

Posted on: April 5th, 2009 by doctor No Comments

Vaginal itching, irritation, pain, or discharge are common concerns for women. Many cases of vaginal irritation and inflammation are due to infection with fungal, bacterial or parasitic organisms. My most recent podcast explains these concerns, helps you know when you should see your gynecologist, and provides specific suggestions that are often curative and can be used at home. You can listen to it in iTunes or in your web browser. Enjoy.

Be well,
Richard

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