Herbal supplements are a multi-billion dollar industry, but do consumers really know what they’e ingesting? A new study shows that supplement pills may actually contain a high amount of filler including wheat and rice, the wrong herb entirely, and sometimes ingredients that are downright dangerous.
Canadian researchers selected popular medical herbs and then purchased 44 bottles of varying brands from 12 local stores. The products were tested by using DNA bar-coding. Their findings concluded that many bottles were mislabeled or diluted. A staggering one-third of the plants advertised on the bottle had been replaced with another plant entirely. Customers were not getting what they paid for, and they were often receiving products with ingredients that could have annoying and potentially lethal side effects.
We reached out to our resident registered dietitian, Mary Hartley, for her thoughts on the study. “If one-third of the supplements showed outright substitution, then this is a huge, huge supplement industry problem,” she said. “Not only are the supplements ineffective, but they may contain harmful ingredients.”
With serious health problems like obesity and type 2 diabetes on the rise in the U.S., the number one cause of death in our nation remains cardiovascular disease from heart attack and stroke. This is typically a result of atherosclerosis, which is a condition in which the walls of the artery become diseased and block blood flow to the heart.
According to recent calculations, half of all adult Americans have abnormal lipids, or cholesterol levels. As for what the best solution is, Dr. Eliot Brinton – director of the National Lipid Association – suggests that while cholesterol medications, or statins, are the most common answer, many patients are hesitant to comply.
In fact, recent studies indicate that nearly 75 percent of new statin users stop therapy by the end of the first year. This is especially concerning considering statin adherence often leads to an increased risk of adverse cardiovascular outcomes that contribute to the rising costs of heart disease, which is expected to reach $818 billion by 2030.
According to Brinton, statins are the number one class of drugs in the U.S. in terms of cost and sales. “We use statins because they are very affective at lowering levels of the bad cholesterol and reduce cardiovascular events by one-third.” (more…)
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…)
by Dani Stone
If you’re watching your diet and sticking to an exercise routine but the pounds don’t seem to be coming off or worse, you’ve gained a few, the problem may not be what’s in your refrigerator, it may be in your medicine cabinet. Common prescription medications used to treat high blood pressure, diabetes, seizures and even depression could be adding those unwanted pounds.
When prescription medications cause weight gain, sometimes as much as 10 pounds in one month, it happens for a variety of different reasons, depending on what the drug is being used for and how the body reacts to it. Corticosteroids like prednisone, used by many patients for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and asthma, allow the body to retain salt and fluid, increasing fat stores. Mood disorder drugs including antipsychotics (Clozaril, Zyprexa, Seroquel) and antidepressants (Paxil, Zoloft, Elavil) have a hormonal component. When patients feel better, their appetite returns.
When patients correlate the weight gain to their medications, they often quit taking them and that can be dangerous. Whether the drug is an oral contraceptive, seizure medication, high blood pressure medication, steroid, or any other long term drug, they cannot be stopped abruptly without having serious side effects. Madelyn H. Fernstrom, PhD, director of the Weight Management Center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center advises, “Even if a medication causes weight gain, an extra 10 pounds may be worth the trade-off of what that medication is doing for your overall health.”
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.
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.
People are now looking behind the pharmacy counter for help losing weight. A recent article published in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) discussed doctors prescribing medications that are not typically used for weight loss and not currently FDA approved for it. Let’s take a look at some of the controversial weight loss prescriptions and how effective, and dangerous, they can really be.
Medications for Diabetes: Byetta and Metformin
Most diabetes medications cause weight loss because blood sugar levels are more properly managed. Byetta works by slowing the rate at which food empties from the stomach. Many of my diabetic patients tell me they feel more full and do not eat as frequently when on the medication. The biggest side effect with Byetta is nausea which is why the dose starts lower and increases from once to twice daily. This is a self administered injection into the fat of the abdomen, upper arm or thigh. If you are willing to give yourself a possibly painful injection to lose weight, you probably could stick to a healthy and natural nutrition and exercise plan just as easily.
The word is out: Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann suffers from occasional migraines and she’s not alone. Millions of people have to deal with the pounding, pain and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines not only cause pain and suffering but also can cause people to miss days at work- bad news for Miss Bachmann, because the President doesn’t get sick days.
The letter released from her doctor states that she is aware of her triggers. Examples of migraine triggers can be hormone-related (pre- or post-menopause), stress, too much exercise, warm weather and strong smells. Food and drink triggers included things like aged cheeses such as blue cheese, feta, mozzarella and Parmesan, red wines and certain liquors. Tyramine is the culprit and is a chemical substance that is contained in both. You might also be able to blame your migraines on your Mom or Dad because they are sometimes hereditary. There has also been a possible link drawn between obesity and increased occurrence of migraines.
Congresswoman Bachmann was diagnosed with “migraines with aura”, which are migraines accompanied by spots in vision and possibly temporary vision loss. The aura usually appears 20 minutes to an hour before the migraine itself. Patients usually experience throbbing pain in one or both temples, have difficulty dealing with strong odors, like perfumes or cologne, and excessive light or noise, accompanied by some form of nausea, vomiting, or dizziness.
Stopping by the pharmacy is usually an inconvenient and time-wasting errand most people don’t look forward to. Long lines and lots of waiting, all surrounded by sick people trying not to get coughed on doesn’t make for a place you want to hang out at for long.
Unfortunately, the pharmacy gets a bad rap. As a pharmacist, I know it’s not just about sick people and picking up your pills. The pharmacy can be a great health resource for you and your family, if you know how to take advantage of it, and how to get in and get out quickly. Here are 10 ways you can make your trip to the pharmacy more efficient.
1. Use the pharmacy services that are available.
If you are sick, the best thing you can do is use the drive-thru or have someone else drop off and pick up your prescription. If you need a refill for a maintenance medication for cholesterol, blood pressure or even birth control, request a fill over the phone or online. Many pharmacies are doing automatic refill by filling prescriptions a few days before you are due for your next refill. This will keep your more compliant and you won’t have to worry about running out of medication. This will save you time and gas as it will hopefully be ready at the time you request.
Do you take prescription medications? Do you sometimes forget to take your medications? It happens to everyone: life is busy, hectic, and just plain ole out-of-control at times, and you forget to pop your daily pills. But, thanks to AT&T and Vitality GlowCaps, you never have to miss your medication again.
Vitality GlowCaps are pill caps that use flashing lights, audio reminders, phone calls, and SMS messages to remind you when it is time to take your medications. These nifty little devices will help you make sure that you stay at your healthiest state possible by buzzing, flashing, and doing whatever it takes to catch your attention and remind you it’s time to take your pills.
In addition to reminding you to take your medicine, Vitality GlowCaps also create progress reports for you, your doctor, and anyone else that you approve to have access to this information. These progress reports track how often you open your pill bottles and automatically refill your prescriptions when you are starting to run low, taking one less thing off your to-do list for you.