Testosterone Lowers Male Heart Disease Risk

In the last couple of years, studies looking at the correlation between testosterone levels and heart disease in men have yielded mixed results. However, if you look more closely at the data, most of the reports showing negative associations with testosterone failed to factor in other independent risk factors that can lead to heart disease. The negative studies also used inaccurate laboratory methods and reference ranges to reach their conclusions, inflating the risks of testosterone. [Read more…]

Light Therapy Not Just For Seasonal Affective Disorder

Since it was first described by psychiatric journals in 1984, artificial light therapy has been used successfully to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This therapy is meant to simulate exposure to sunlight in winter months, preventing people with SAD from suffering as much during periods where exposure to sunlight is more limited. In the past few years, more evidence has suggested that light therapy may be beneficial for other types of depression as well. In 2005, for example, a study in the American Journal of Psychiatry reported that the effects of light therapy are comparable to those found in many clinical studies of antidepressant drug therapy for mood disorders. [Read more…]

Does Arthritis Originate in the Gut?

I see quite a few patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune arthropathies, and what is the first thing I do?  Give them anti-inflammatory medications? Give them immune-modulaters? No! Chances are, their rheumatologists have already done this. The first thing I will always do with patients in this category is address their digestive health. What does digestion have to do with systemic inflammation? Everything! [Read more…]

Mold: Not Just an Allergy

It’s not an uncommon scenario. Someone comes to my office complaining of headaches, recurring sinus issues, a nagging cough, “brain fog”, and other chronic symptoms. They’ve already had complete medical work-ups, and were most likely prescribed multiple rounds of antibiotics, to no avail. “My allergist said that all of my test results were normal”. The first thing that comes to mind for me?  Mold toxicity. [Read more…]

Are Annual Exams Really Necessary?

I hear it at least every week, if not more. “My doctor gave me a clean bill of health.” OK. So maybe the annual battery of tests and exams didn’t reveal any serious underlying diseases, but that hardly equates to being healthy. Unfortunately, we’ve become so accustomed to physical exams, even the insurance companies consider them “preventive care.” The chief cited rationale is that the annual offers a regular opportunity to address risk factors and health or life concerns. There may be some truth to this, but both insurance companies and doctors could be doing so much more to provide preventive care for patients. [Read more…]

What Can I Do About C. diff?

A patient came to me recently after finishing her 2nd course of antibiotic treatment for Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infection. Despite some temporary relief during while taking the medication, her symptoms were beginning to return to the same level of intensity that she was experiencing before the treatment. The patient’s gastric distress was so severe that she barely had the ability to function at work, having to take both prescription and OTC pain relievers just to get through the day. She was reluctant to go through another round of antibiotics, since they weren’t giving her any relief, and were causing other side-effects as well. [Read more…]

Understanding and Effectively Treating PMS

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is one of the most common female problems, affecting 30-40% of women during their reproductive years. The most severe cases occur in approximately 2% of women between the ages of 26 and 35. PMS is characterized by recurrent symptoms that appear 7-14 days before a woman has her menstrual period. These symptoms often include decreased energy, irritability, increased appetite (usually sugar cravings), acne, and bloating. Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea), while technically a separate diagnosis, can also be attributed to the same hormonal fluctuations that cause PMS. [Read more…]

Acid-Blocking Medications Aren’t Meant For Long-Term Use!

While I may have written about this more than once in the past, I feel like it’s a topic that continues to need revisiting.  A recent New York Times article highlights the many reasons why proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s), such as Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid, can cause more harm than good when used beyond the recommended window of 8 to 12 weeks.  While it seems to come as a surprise to the doctors who are handing out these medications like candy, our stomachs are supposed to make hydrochloric acid! This is essential for initiating the digestive cascade that leads to the proper assimilation of nutrients. As the article points out, blocking stomach acid production for an extended period of time can lead to a host of nutritional deficiencies, including iron, vitamin B12, and magnesium.  A decrease in stomach acid also takes away the protective barrier meant to protect us from harmful bacteria, setting up an environment that’s more prone to infection with Clostridium and other pathogenic bacteria. [Read more…]

Osteoporosis: Exploring the Alternatives

In the recent past, it wasn’t uncommon for most women to be placed on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for easing the symptoms of menopause, in addition to protecting them from osteoporosis. But that standard of care has since changed with the discovery that HRT may increase the risk of breast cancer and heart disease. Without the use of HRT, it has become increasingly challenging to treat and prevent osteoporosis. Many women have turned to other pharmacological options, like selective estrogen receptor modulators (raloxifene; Evista) and bisphosphonates (alendronate; Fosamax), but these medications aren’t without their side effects, either. Raloxifene can increase the risk of blood clots in the legs (deep vein thrombosis) and the lungs (pulmonary embolism), while alendronate can cause severe damage to the esophagus and may increase the risk of thigh bone fracture. [Read more…]

Why Will I Gain Weight If I’m Not Sleeping Well?

As bizarre as it sounds, how well we sleep can have a direct impact on the amount of weight we gain. While doctors often talk about how poor sleep impacts immune function and stress hormones, we’re only more recently beginning to understand how hormones that control appetite are also affected. [Read more…]