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!

Check in With Your Thyroid for National Thyroid Month

February is not just all about Valentine’s Day, chocolates and hearts. It’s also focuses on awareness of a butterfly-shaped hormone gland known as the thyroid. The thyroid has the difficult task of controlling your metabolism, growth, development, and body temperature. The thyroid gland is located on the throat and wraps around the windpipe. The presence of too much or too little thyroid hormone is determined by a blood test. So how will you know if you have an over or underactive thyroid and why would it happen?

There are many ways thyroid function to be affected, including the body attacking itself or cancers. Graves disease is an autoimmune disease that causes an increase in thyroid hormone. Overactive thyroid causes symptoms like more frequent bowel movements, feeling anxious, increased body temperature and sweating, loss of hair, increased heartbeat, and weight loss even with having increased appetite. It can also affect the menstrual cycle by causing lighter, shorter periods. It also possible to develop a goiter which is an enlarged thyroid gland. This condition is usually treated with medication to block the stimulation of the thyroid, removal of the thyroid, or radioactive iodine to help shutdown overactive thyroid cells. Many of these procedures end up causing patients to have an underactive thyroid that has to be treated with medication.

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Holly Madison’s NV Rapid Weight Loss Pill Warrants Caution by Unhealthy Consumers

Holly Madison, former Playboy Bunny and ex-girlfriend to Hugh Hefner, walks up to a retail store counter, drops her drawers, and says she needs a pair of jeans in a smaller size. She’s promoting a diet pill called NV Rapid Weight Loss that claims you can drop a jeans size in two weeks.

Most of the ingredients have antioxidant properties such as mangosteen, pomegranate and bilberry. Antioxidants can help slow down the aging process. Other supplements included in NV like turmeric interact with blood thinners, while Goji interacts with blood pressure and diabetes medications. If you take any of these medications you are at risk of having a hypoglycemic episode, low blood pressure, and risk of bleeding that won’t stop. Cranberry is also included in NV but is most commonly used to help prevent urinary tract infections. Goji and pomegranate can lower blood pressure, which might be why they are included in the product. They may negate the increase in blood pressure that the caffeine could possibly cause. (more…)

Slimweight Patches: A New Weight Loss Delivery System

weight loss patchIf you’re looking to avoid taking diet pills maybe a new diet aid that you stick on your skin might be the option for you. Slimweight Patch is claiming to provide excellent weight loss results. Though previously Slimweight patches promoted a patch with hoodia extract, a known stimulant found in many diet pills, the herbal patches appear to be the only product now available on their website. I broke down the patch ingredients to see what benefits and risks each might have towards weight loss success.

Fucus Vesiculosus

Fucus Vesiculosus, also known as bladder wrack, is a brown seaweed that is loaded with iodine. Iodine has an effect on the function of the thyroid which helps control metabolism. Too much iodine or extended duration of use could cause severe increase in thyroid function and eventually shutdown the thyroid.

5HTP

5HTP is used for insomnia, depression, anxiety, migraines and headaches. It reaches the brain and works to increase your supply of serotonin. There is a lot of controversy about the safety of this supplement. There have been reports that it may cause eosinophilia myalgia syndrome which involves severe muscle pain and a high white blood cell count. If you are currently taking an antidepressant like Paxil, or Zoloft you should avoid using Slimweight patch. Using the two in combination could increase your risk of an overproduction of serotonin called serotonin syndrome which could result in seizures.

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What First Time Diet Pills Users Need to Know

The diet pill aisle can be a pretty intimidating place especially for someone who has never taken them before. When diet and exercise have failed or you’ve plateaued for weeks, people look for other options to keep results moving. Here are some helpful tips for those venturing into the world of diet pills for the first time.

Know what your getting yourself into

Diet pills are loaded with caffeine and laxative-like ingredients, so between the two, you’ll be running to the bathroom all day. Diet pill packaging usually will tell you if their products contain caffeine and approximately how many cups of coffee you would need to drink to get the same effect. If you are a caffeine novice like myself jumping from none to the equivalent of 3 cups per day may make you feel jittery, agitated and possibly give you palpitations or increase your blood pressure.

Diet pills may interact with your medications or cause birth defects, which is especially important for women who are within childbearing age. Diet pills like Qnexa, which is looking for approval from the FDA sometime in 2012, will not be recommended for women within child bearing age for this exact reason. It may only help you for a limited amount of time. Diet pills like phentermine are only recommended to be used for up to 12 weeks. Studies have shown that results is not significant enough for someone to continue taking it after 12 weeks. In 2009, Hydroxycut received much criticism because of its effect on liver enzymes and one death was reported due to liver failure. It was recalled and has since been reformulated. Hydroxcut previously contained ephedra but the FDA asked that it be removed from their product when they discovered it caused heart problems and some deaths.

Don’t believe the hype

On most diet pill packaging you will see pictures of toned celebrities and models promoting the success of the product. Let’s be real here: diet pills alone are not going to produce amazing results, which is why they are technically called diet aids. Some products even throw some clinical trial information on the box to make it seem more enticing. Keep in mind that these trials usually only have a small amount of participants and this can skew the results to make their product look better than the placebo. Good luck trying to get a hold of the companies if you have questions. Most are not available by phone or even Internet.

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Managing Your Diabetes With Free iPhone Apps

My life, like many others’, is centered around my iPhone. I can’t imagine my life without it. Web developers realize the increase in smartphone use could be helpful in managing diabetes and there are apps that can help diabetics count carbs and track their blood sugar trends. I reviewed a few of the free apps for the iPhone to see if they could be beneficial for diabetics.

Bant

This is a great starter app but there are definitely some limitations. It logs glucose readings but doesn’t indicate a before meal reading or post-prandial (1 hour post meal). These readings are the best for truly seeing how well the sugar is being controlled or how different foods can affect the blood sugar. It has the ability to upload your information to Twitter (#bant) and there is an online community for support and to share ideas. You can also upload your results to websites like www.healthvault.com so your doctor can see your trends at your next appointment. I think adding a medication reminder to help taking insulin or oral medications would be a useful tool to help people stay on track. Currently this app does not have nutritional information to help with tracking calories and carbohydrates.

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Medication Mix-Up Forces Recall of Excedrin, No Doz, Gas-X and Others

The FDA has announced the recall of yet another batch of over the counter medications. Novartis Consumer Health, Inc. has voluntarily recalled all lots of No Doz and Excedrin with expiration dates of December 20, 2014 and sooner, and Gas-X and Bufferin products with expiration dates of December 20, 2013 and earlier. The reason for the recall is because these bottles may contain tablets from other over the counter products. With different medications possibly being in the same bottle there is a risk of side effects. For example, you purchase Bufferin, which is an aspirin-containing pain reliever, but it has random tablets of No Doz, which is a high-dose caffeine tablet that could make you feel agitated and make it difficult for you to sleep. The recall is precautionary which means not all products may be affected, but Novartis wants to protect the safety of consumers.

If you take any of these products, talk to your pharmacist about an alternative until more is reproduced. The plant that produced the majority of the medications was based out of Lincoln, Nebraska and will slowly start production once plans to prevent contamination from happening again. Check your bottles at home and if you have any of these products you should contact Novartis to return the product to them and receive a refund. contact the Novartis Consumer Relationship Center at 1-888-477-2403 (available Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time) to get the details.  You can also go to www.novartis-OTC.com to download a form to receive a refund. (more…)

High Fructose Corn Syrup in Many Cough and Cold Syrups

High fructose corn syrup, found in sodas, cereals and baked goods, has become a food bad guy for its link to obesity and diabetes but it might not only be food the sticky stuff is lurking in. Some common cough and cold syrups use high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as their sweeteners, the most popular offenders including Vicks, Delsym and Robitussin brands.

Cough and cold syrup makers could use other sweeteners like sucrose but HFCS is inexpensive to manufacture. High fructose corn syrup is a chemically made sugar that primarily contains fructose (fifty-five percent,) glucose (fourty-five percent) and water. The good news is that the companies clearly list HFCS as an inactive ingredient on their labeling, which means it will have no effect on suppressing a cough, for example.

“One teaspoonful of pure HFCS has 3.8 grams of carbohydrates and is about 15 calories,” Mary Hartley, RD, our registered dietician, states, “but 1 teaspoonful of cough syrup is not one-hundred percent HFCS.” The amount HFCS that is in cough syrups compared to the rest of the ingredients is not something that is clearly labeled on their packaging. When I tried to contact a representative from Vick’s about how much of the sweetener was in their product, the rep told me the information was proprietary and legally they may not be allowed to release the information.

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Pfizer Developing Weight Loss Drug that Suppresses Appetite

With Lipitor becoming generic, Pfizer pharmaceuticals has decided to venture into the realm of weight loss medicine. Currently the only approved weight loss drugs that are available by prescription are Xenical and stimulants like phentermine, Adderall or Ritalin. Utilizing a different pathway, Pfizer hopes to control a patient’s appetite as opposed to stimulating the body’s functions to possibly control the market once more.

The new drug currently called OAP-189 is an appetite suppressant and mimics the body’s hormones that signal when someone feels full. Like adopotide, this currently is a drug injected into the subcutaneous fat in the skin. More research will need to be conducted to see if an oral option could still provide the same results. The most common side effect right now appears to be nausea and the researchers are hoping that by purifying the compound it will more closely mimic the body’s natural hormones that control hunger thereby minimizing side effects.

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Lipitor Now Available as Generic Atorvastatin

The prayers of many who have high cholesterol have been answered: Lipitor has finally gone generic. Atorvastatin may be here but Lipitor’s maker Pfizer is not going quietly into the night- they would like to keep their 100 million dollar weekly sales in tact. So here’s what you should know if you want to jump on the number one’s statin band wagon.

Lipitor is a cholesterol lowering drug called a statin that mainly works on the LDL, or the “bad” cholesterol. As far as potency, Lipitor is more potent than simvastatin (Zocor) but not as potent as Crestor for reducing LDL after the first dose is taken. Here’s some downsides to statin, including an increase in liver enzymes. Elevated liver enzymes could affect liver function and cause myopathy or muscle pain. If this occurs stop taking the statin and call your doctor. The most dangerous and rare side effect is called rhabodomyolysis. This causes the breakdown of muscle and can eventually lead to kidney failure, but overall, statins are a great drug to lower LDL and help prevent heart disease and heart attacks.

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Meals to Live: Healthy Frozen Entrees for Diabetics

The frozen food aisle can be a forbidden realm for anyone on a diet or participating in a healthy lifestyle. Meals to Live frozen entrees want to change that perception with meals targeted specifically at diabetics who lead an active lifestyle and may not always have time to cook a fresh meal.

Based out of Dallas, Texas, Meals to Live boasts a team of nutrition experts and chefs that help to tailor their frozen entrees to provide nutritional value while still having a fulfilling taste. Currently there are eight frozen flavors available ranging from a White Chicken Burrito, to Turkey Meatballs to a Spinach Omelet as a breakfast option. They also market a pixie-stick like powder called Glucose Quick Sticks. They come in Sour Apple and Watermelon flavor and can be used to prevent low sugar episodes.

Meals to Live is currently available at over 1,100 stores with local retailers like Walgreens, Meijer and Kroger in twelve states. Their website has a store locator option to find one nearest to you. If you would like to request this product in your area there is a form available to give to your local retailer. Amazon.com also sells the Meals to Live products on their website.

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