Author Archives: Sarah

About Sarah

Dr. Sarah Khan is a graduate of Albany College of Pharmacy and a retail pharmacist. She has close relationships with her patients, and specializes in diabetes management. She's also a proud wife and mother who can't get enough top 40 music!

Slice of Life Diabetic Health: A Nutritional Supplement For Diabetes

Gummy vitamins have become increasingly popular for both children and adults alike. Most vitamins are difficult to swallow and are what I like to call “horse pills.” However, medication in a more appealing vehicle makes it more likely for a person to remember to take them every day. And with all the seriousness of diabetes, a gummy multivitamin may help to provide a nutritional benefit with a little bit of fun.

Slice of Life Diabetic Health is a gummy multivitamin that contains cinnamon extract. It touts that it is sugar, dairy, and gluten-free and contains no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.

Some supplements included in the product include alpha lipoic acid – a fatty acid that helps to better utilize blood sugar; chromium and biotin, which are believed to have effects on lowering blood sugar; and lutein, which is commonly found in eye vitamins to delay the progression of macular degeneration since one of the complications of diabetes and poor blood sugar control are vision problems and possible blindness. (more…)

Montel Williams Uses SafSlim Supplement to Manage His Weight and MS Symptoms

Montel Williams is championing a new product that targets fat about your midsection. With swimsuit season right around the corner, could this product help you have the confidence to go from a one-piece to a bikini?

First I had to ask myself why Montel Williams, a known TV-talk show host with no background in nutrition, is promoting a weight loss product. This is what Ryan Bilvas, a representative from SafSlim told me.

“Montel has personally struggled with body and emotional eating issues and for years has been searching for a natural way to help with his weight and snacking problems. He asked his assistant to find a natural product to help him manage his weight and hunger issues and she ordered him SafSlim after hearing about it from friends. He used it for three months and after seeing his weight go down and his urge to eat all the time decrease, he contacted the company to see how he could help other people experience these results. Montel is known for his passion, he gains happiness and personal achievement by helping others and seeing them live well.”

MS is Multiple Sclerosis, a neurological disorder that can affect so many different parts of the body including vision, muscles, control of bowels and urination, and the list goes on and on. I commend Montel for wanting to take control of his health and pay it forward to others.

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Qnexa’s Side Effect Profile has Critics Concerned

With the obesity epidemic on a collision course with no stop in sight, the FDA and drug developers are feeling the pressure to approve and develop weight loss drugs at a fast clip. Qnexa could be approved by the FDA by April but some people are wondering how this could happen when it was initially rejected by the FDA advisory committee a couple years ago.

Qnexa, which is a combination drug of phentermine and topiramate, was initially brought to the FDA advisory committee’s attention in 2010. The committee basically told the drug maker Vivus to go back to the drawing board and give them more concrete data about the phentermine portion of Qnexa would not lead to cardiac events like heart attacks even with its side effect of increased blood pressure. The committee also wanted a plan in place to prevent women of childbearing age from being exposed to topiramate’s birth defect potential if they became pregnant while on Qnexa.

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Why pAGG is Not Worth the Money

GNC recently signed a contract to exclusively market a new diet supplement called pAGG in its 1900 stores. PAGG is an acronym for its ingredients policosanol, alpha-lipoic acid, decaffeinated green tea, aged garlic extract and biotin. So is this the next weight loss miracle supplement? This supplement was recently discussed in the New York Times Bestseller The 4-Hour Body and its supplier NewHealth Solutions says to look no further for a fast and effective way to lose weight. I say let’s take a closer look.

It’s hard to know where to begin on this one. I see a lot of red flags. Policosanol is a mixture of fatty alcohol most commonly made from sugar cane wax. This product has been extensively studied in Cuba and is used there as a cure for almost anything. Policosanol is indicated for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Not only have many trials shown that policosanol does not significantly decrease cholesterol levels but that it also could increase the risk of bleeding, specifically from the gums or nose. Fish oils may be a better alternative to achieve healthy cholesterol levels.

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Birth Control’s Benefits Reach Farther Than Just Preventing Pregnancy

President Obama recently asked all employers, other than houses of worship, to pay for free contraception for all their female employees. There was much opposition from religious institutions like hospitals that follow Roman Catholic beliefs and are pro-choice. I don’t want to get into a pro-choice/pro-life debate here. What I’d like these institutions to understand is that there are numerous uses for birth control other than preventing pregnancy.

Birth control can help to stabilize someone’s hormones that are out of whack. It can help make a woman more “regular” for those who have irregular or no periods due to stress, low body weight and excessive exercise. In some cases, birth control can treat endometriosis, a condition that causes severe cramps or pelvic pain. Most of these women take birth controls continuously to avoid having their periods, which has not been shown to negatively effect a woman’s health, or have a period four times a year when using contraceptions like Seasonale.

Birth control also helps to lighten heavy periods by reducing the amount of bleeding and length of time the period sticks around. Another added benefit is that women who have lighter or less frequent periods are less likely to experience anemia, or low red blood cell count. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the rest of the body.

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Qnexa is One Step Closer to FDA Approval

If, at first, you don’t succeed try, try again. That’s what Vivus, the makers of a diet drug called Qnexa did by resubmitting their drug approval application to the FDA advisory committee and it is now one step closer to being approved. The initial application was rejected because of two main concerns: risk of cardiac events like heart attacks and risk to women of child bearing age and women who may be pregnant.

Qnexa is a combination drug of phentermine and topiramate. Both these drugs are currently available by prescription which makes the approval process a little bit easier for Qnexa because there already are a lot of clinical trials and data available about these drugs. Phetermine increases metabolism while topiramate is used for seizures, migraine prevention and as an adjunct therapy for conditions like bipolar disorder. Weight loss for topiramate is really more of a glorified side effect that is believed to be caused by an increase in energy for the patient and increased feeling of fullness after eating because the digestive tract is slowed down.

Qnexa is a capsule made up of immediate release phentermine and extended release topiramate which would have a longer duration of action and is taken once daily. Vivus is currently studying the use of a low, moderate and high dose combination. Qnexa is indicated for people who have a BMI of 30 or higher or overweight patients with a BMI greater than 27 who have other conditions like hypertension, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and fat that is most prominent on the abdomen also known as belly fat. The most common side effects of this combination drug include a prickling or tingling sensation, dry mouth, constipation, and headache.

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Buyer Beware of Raspberry Ketone Scams

If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. With raspberry ketones being touted as the newest weight loss “miracle” it’s my job to weed through all the information and give you the facts. The fact is there are lots of online con artists feeding into the raspberry ketone craze. Here are some tips of how to recognize a scam product.

Step 1: Site Reliability

If you’re looking to purchase raspberry ketones what I imagine most people would do is a simple online search. Once you find a site where you can purchase the product, scroll down to the bottom and find out when the site was copyrighted or created. If it says 2012 it may just be someone trying to jump on the ketone bandwagon and may not be a reliable or legitimate site. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, websites like Amazon.com or Drugstore.com are established sites that are concerned with customer service and satisfaction. I feel there you’d be more likely to get the product and be able to return it if you were unhappy with it. (more…)

Raspberry Ketone Side Effects May Impact Thyroid Health

The amount of questions that came pouring in to my pharmacy about raspberry ketones just hours after Dr. Oz’s episode about them makes me think I need to start DVRing the show. Being in the health care field I feel it is my responsibility to stay current with the latest drug and supplement information. Dr. Oz has a tremendous influence on his audience and I feel it’s important to dig a little deeper and not just take his word for it.

Raspberry ketones work in two ways for a possible weight loss effect. They increase the metabolism by increasing the release of a hormone called norepinephrine. When I think of norepinephrine I think what would happen to me if I were being chased by a bear. My heart rate speeds up and I may even have some palpitations, there’s a good chance I’ll be running the fastest I ever have. My body is going to release some glucose into my blood to give me more energy so I can outrun this bear. I’m sure that I will feel nervous, hot and that I’ll be panting for air even after I stop running. I would imagine that at this point I would not be hankering for food because my focus is to stay alive causing my appetite to be suppressed. My vision may become blurry and I may feel the need to throw up or even feel nauseous. I may also have difficulty falling asleep after my run-in with the bear. (more…)

Diet Supplement Comparison: Raspberry Ketones vs. Hoodia vs. Acai

Let’s face reality. As much as doctors and pharmacists will tell you there are risks in taking diet pills and the effects they could have on your health, people take them anyway. What I do believe in is the power of knowledge and educating yourself before taking any chances. Let’s take a look at three pretty popular diet aids and how they compare to each other: Acai, Hoodia, and Raspberry Ketones, the newest craze.

RASPBERRY KETONES

Raspberry Ketones were recently discussed on the Dr. Oz show and hours later pharmacies were getting calls from patients. “Where can I get it, is it safe?” Well I can tell you that not many pharmacies or stores carry this product yet.  It’s believed that raspberry ketones help burn fat by increasing the release of  norepinephrine in your body. This causes the body’s temperature to rise and in doing this increases the body’s metabolism. Increased norepinephrine could causes an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. Currently most of the raspberry ketone studies conducted were done in mice and we don’t have much to go on for how this will affect humans.

HOODIA

Hoodia is derived from a plant located in Southern Africa called hoodia gordonii. Commercially you can buy it in capsules, tablets, chocolate chews, and a variety of other forms. There are numerous websites selling hoodia, but because the products are not regulated by the FDA it’s possible you won’t be getting any of what you paid for.

There are few studies to support the effectiveness of hoodia. Pfizer was looking to enter the diet pill market and developed a molecule called P57, which was very similar to hoodia, but in 2003 decided to discontinue their research and give the rights to the other company they were working with, called Phytopharm.

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CDC Now Recommends Hepatitis B Vaccine for Diabetics

We are now in the era of preventative medicine. Susan G. Komen’s recent reversal of their funding to Planned Parenthood was mainly due to the protest by people because their funding helps provide mammograms to detect breast cancer in women who can’t afford them. Thousands of free flu shots are provided in low income areas. Recently the Centers for Disease Control released new recommendations for 2012 that include Hepatitis B vaccine recommended for diabetics.

Diabetics have a lot on their plate, figuratively speaking of course. Not only is it their responsibility to monitor their blood sugar, food intake, exercise and medication usage, but they also have to make sure they have yearly dilated eye exams, do daily foot exams, and twice a year dental exams and cleanings. Complications of diabetes include effects on the eyes like blurred vision and possible blindness, gum disease, and nerve pain that results in lack of sensation in the extremities like the feet. That’s why all these screenings are so important to diabetes care. With having weakened immune systems diabetics are encouraged to get flu and pneumonia vaccines. Added to this conversation now is the Hepatitis B Vaccine. (more…)