Archive for the ‘Kids’ 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

Simple Solutions for Seasonal Allergies

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

As many as 25% of Americans experience a runny nose, itchy eyes, or asthma due to seasonal allergies.  There are some simple mainstream and alternative approaches that can alleviate symptoms in allergy sufferers.

An allergy is a type of response that occurs when the immune system is reacting to things in the environment that are not in and of themselves a threat.  For example, the danger in a person with a severe allergy to peanuts does not come from the peanut itself, but instead solely from the immune system’s extreme response.  Similarly, pollens, dander, dust mites, and other common allergens do not actually cause the symptoms of seasonal allergies, but trigger immune reactions that cause common symptoms.

The mainstream medical approach to seasonal allergies includes anti-histamines and other drugs that block the immune system’s ability to release natural chemicals that cause allergic symptoms.  These work for many, but not all allergy sufferers.  Another mainstream medical approach is immunotherapy – injections of small amounts of allergens that are designed to decrease your body’s sensitivity to identified allergens.

Another approach that helps many allergy sufferers reduce their symptoms and need for medication is identification and avoidance of non-seasonal allergens that a person’s immune system is reacting to.  This approach reduces a person’s total allergy burden and frequently reduces seasonal allergy symptoms.

Common non-seasonal allergens include dust mites and dander.  Simple steps that can have dramatic effects include: have pets sleep in another room, use dust mite covers on bedding, frequently vacuum with an effective HEPA vacuum, and use indoor HEPA air-purifiers.

Another common non-seasonal allergen is mold.  While HEPA vacuums and air filters can be helpful, the most effective approach is addressing the cause; identify damp places in the home and remedy them with a dehumidifier and, when necessary, minor renovations.

Another common non-seasonal allergen is mold.  While HEPA vacuums and air filters can be helpful, the most effective approach is addressing the cause; identify damp places in the home and remedy them with a dehumidifier and, when necessary, minor renovations.

Lastly, many chronic seasonal allergy sufferers see marked improvement when they identify foods they regularly consume that contribute to their reactions.  Offending foods can be identified through strict dietary avoidance (usually for several weeks) with controlled reintroduction to monitor changes in symptoms.  The hard part is knowing which foods to avoid.  Some specialty lab tests can be very helpful in this process, but many people end up reacting to one or more of the following foods: dairy, eggs, gluten containing grains, soy, or yeasts.

Lastly, many chronic seasonal allergy sufferers see marked improvement when they identify foods they regularly consume that contribute to their reactions.  Offending foods can be identified through strict dietary avoidance (usually for several weeks) with controlled reintroduction to monitor changes in symptoms.  The hard part is knowing which foods to avoid.  Some specialty lab tests can be very helpful in this process, but many people end up reacting to one or more of the following foods: dairy, eggs, gluten containing grains, soy, or yeasts.

There are a couple important things to remember:

  • if you have a serious anaphylactic allergy, always avoid that allergen, and
  • if experimenting with dietary avoidance, make sure the diet still has adequate options, calories, and nutrients – especially for children – because eating should always be fun and healthy.
Be Well,
Richard

Vitamin C and the Brain

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

When the body needs a specific nutrient to do a specific job in a specific organ, that nutrient is found in higher concentrations in that organ. Vitamin C is found in high concentrations in many organs including the brain.

Vitamin C is important for many functions in the brain. As an antioxidant, it plays an important role in protecting brain cells from oxidative damage – the kind of damage implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamin C is also important for neurotransmitter synthesis – improving neurotransmitter levels is the therapeutic goal of many psychiatric medications. Vitamin C can be a basic part of many natural protocols for depression.

Vitamin C can can cause loose stools if taken in too large doses (this can be used to help with constipation). It is commonly used as a basic, supportive therapy for mood concerns like depression or anxiety.

Be Well,
Richard

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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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Acai: Scam and Deception

Posted on: May 17th, 2009 by doctor No Comments

I am receiving so many junk mails about the AMAZING effects of Acai products.  In general, I am very skeptical when anything is advertised as a cure-all.  Acai certainly is marketed as an effective therapy for a vast number of health concerns.

Based upon my exposure to research from Acai manufacturers, the primary value of Acai is its high anti-oxidant activity.  ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) is one measure of antioxidant activity.

Promotional materials for Acai claim that the ORAC value of Acai is several times higher than other anti-oxidant rich foods.  As with all statistics and marketing, the devil is in the details.

According to one freeze-dried Acai supplement manufacturer, the ORAC value of 100 grams (about 3.3 ounces) of freeze-dried Acai is 5,500 ORAC or about twice that of 100 grams of blueberries.  That is very good.

However, this manufacturers supplement contains 1,000mg (one gram) of freeze-dried Acai per 2 capsules.  This provides an ORAC value of 55!  The ORAC value of one cup of blueberries is between 9,000 and 13,000 or equivalent to 260 servings of Acai freeze-dried supplement.

One $40 (discounted from $50!) of Acai supplement provides sixty 1,000mg servings of Acai.  In other words, $40 provides you with the anti-oxidants activity of 1/4 to 1/3 cup of blueberries.  

Bottom Line:

Anti-oxidants are very important and promote health, however you would get many times more anti-oxidant effect at a small fraction of the cost from eating some blueberries each day.

Be well,

Richard Malik, ND

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