Category Archives: Health & Lifestyle

lemon and salt

Lemon & Salt Tonic

lemon and salt

There are many potential benefits of real sea salt and lemon. The sea salt has been proven throughout the years and through science that moderate levels of this is actually good for your heart health and does not negatively affect blood pressure.  Stephen Seifert wrote an article reviewing the benefits of sea salt combined with lemon.

At the start of our day, we all have that special health practice or routine to take us through the rest of the day that is vital to health and happiness.  How about trying a glass of warm lemon water with Himalayan salt? This simple little drink each morning may boost your health and wellness regimen, and it is so very easy to make. Many of the professional athletes and Olympians start their morning out with lemon and salt water.

Just a mere 10-ounce glass of warm lemon water with Himalayan salt can increase your immune function, improve digestion, decrease uric acid to fight inflammation and balance your overall body. 

As we all know, lemons are excellent for fighting inflammation as they can dissolve the uric acid in your joints and help to build and repair tendons, ligaments, and bone. The American College of Physicians study on osteoarthritis confirms that lemon may be especially beneficial for those with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

A glass of this mixture of lemon water with Himalayan salt might provide a better overall mineral balance that will promote proper food and water absorption in your body that will allow essential nutrients to get where they should be. The lemon has alkalizing effects and coupled with natural salt, are highly useful for managing your body’s pH balance, which is crucial for the optimal functioning of the body’s systems. A lemon will provide up to 139% of your daily value for vitamin C and could be an alternative to that vitamin C supplement you might be taking.

Other benefits are to use as a detox for your cells, reducing problematic cellulite, clearing up skin and adding a fresh glow, using for allergy season, paving the way for better sleep, helping to control blood sugar, detoxifying your liver, freshening your breath, helping you to chill out, reducing blood pressure and boosting your libido. This little drink in the morning may also get you hydrated right at the start, serve as an antioxidant powerhouse, improve your heart health and promote digestive health.

Why take the supplements when a very natural lemon and Himalayan salt may do the trick? Just look at all the benefits you may reap from adding this morning ritual to your daily routine.  Try it, you might like it!

Dr Fredda Branyon

cancer mortality dropped

Cancer Mortality Dropping

cancer mortality dropped

According to the latest Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, with the exception of two forms, the 5-year survival rates for almost all cancer types have increased significantly. Ana Sandoiu has posted the findings of this document.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) who are both part of the Department of Health and Human Services, together with the American Cancer Society and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR) have collaborated to create the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer.

Information is offered in this document on the incidence and mortality trends currently in the United States.  The previous report was published in March of 2016 where data was gathered between 1975 and 2012 that revealed an increase in the incidence of liver cancer.  The Journal of the National Cancer Institute published the latest report on clinical data collected between 1975 and 2014 that shows a significant decrease in the number of deaths caused by nearly all types of cancer with the exception of only two.

Ahmedin Jemal, Ph.D., of the American Cancer Society led the study in which he also looked at survival rates as a way of evaluating the progress made in the fight against cancer.  Trends in death rates are the most commonly used measure to assess progress against cancer, according to Jemal, and survival trends are also an important measure to evaluate progress in the improvement of cancer outcomes.

Comparing the 5-year survival rates for cancers diagnosed from 1975 to 1977 to those diagnosed between 2006 and 2012, the findings revealed a marked increase in 5-year survival rates during the latter period.  Only cervical and uterine cancers were the exceptions.

Leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, myeloma, prostate, and kidney cancers had the largest increase in survival rates. These forms of cancer had survival rates that had increased by 25% or more. Thyroid cancer, melanoma and breast cancer in women also were also among the greatest survival rates.

Those that were diagnosed between 2006 and 2012 with the lowest survival rates were cancer of the pancreas, liver, stomach, esophagus, and brain. A special section on cancer survival in 2004 revealed the survival improved over time for almost all cancers at every stage of diagnosis, but survival remains very low for some types of cancer and for most types that are diagnosed at an advanced stage.

These reports can be seen as encouraging, but the need for more preventive measure and resources for identifying risk factors that could help to stave off cancer are needed. The report also found that tobacco-related cancers have low survival rates, which underscore the importance of continuing to do what we know works to significantly reduce tobacco use. We also need to support communities and families in prevention approaches that can help reverse the nation’s obesity epidemic.

This overall cancer death rate in the U.S. is welcome news, reflecting improvements in prevention, early detection, and treatment, but it also shows us that progress has been limited for several cancers and should gain our commitment in efforts to discover new strategies for prevention, early detection, and treatment, and to apply interventions broadly and equitably. I have to add my own opinion though, I wonder what is “fake news” and what is not.

Dr Fredda Branyon


Genetic Immunodeficiency In Children


Prof. Adrian Liston and prof. Isabelle Meyts, along with a team of scientists, were able to characterize a new genetic immunodeficiency resulting from a mutation in a gene named STAT2. Patients with this mutation are extremely vulnerable to normally mild childhood illnesses such as rotavirus and enterovirus. The analysis of the genetic defect allows clinicians to provide children with the proper therapies before their illnesses prove fatal.  These findings have been published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

It has become possible for researchers to identify extremely subtle defects of the human immune system with the recent advancements in technologies and tools. Prior to these many patients with hidden immunodeficiencies, or defects that were not obvious from the beginning, often became extremely ill or even died before their genetic disorders were diagnosed. The team was able to identify a gene mutation causing an immunodeficiency that can be fatal during childhood, enabling children to be diagnosed, monitored and preemptively treated for the disorder.

These immunodeficiency disorders are not rare. They range from as severe as the well-known “bubble boy” to nearly impossible to detect “hidden” defects.  Immunodeficiencies are more common than scientists previously thought and they have only just begun to scratch the surface when it comes to defining these latter types of immune disorders that can be specific enough to make sufferers highly susceptible to just one or two types of diseases.

Prof. Adrian Liston stated he wouldn’t be surprised if they discover that up to 1 in 100 children are affected at the completion and identification of all genetic immunodeficiencies. The “hidden” ones are especially insidious because they do not present as obviously as other genetic immune disorders. One patient in their study did, unfortunately, die before a diagnosis could be made.  Another patient is alive and well since being diagnosed and is being carefully watched. If they can identify them, they can do something about most immunodeficiencies.

They stress the importance of assessing the severity of childhood illnesses on the part of parents and suggest that parents look for helpful information online and raise the possibility of a potential genetic immunodeficiency with a pediatrician.  Severe common illnesses may signal immune disorders. They feel that when an otherwise healthy child experiences extremely severe infection with a common pathogen like the flu or chickenpox virus, or when a child is particularly vulnerable to infection with a single pathogen, there is most likely an underlying defect in the immune system.  If there is a history of a child in the family succumbing to infection, this should alert the family and the clinician. Identifying the causative gene defect allows for genetic counseling and preventive measures to be taken.

Prof. Adrian Liston’s lab has developed a unique immune phenotyping platform and gene discovery program that can help identify previously unknown immune system defects and inflammatory diseases, aiding in new treatments that can be administered in a timely way to unravel “hidden” immunodeficiencies.  They seek to identify every possible cause of genetic immunodeficiency so that every child displaying warning signs can be tested and treated before it is too late.

Dr. Fredda Branyon

lower back pain

What Is Pheochromocytoma?

lower back pain

Pheochromocytoma is a rare tumor that usually grows in the middle of your lower back in your adrenal glands.  This is most commonly found in adults ages 30 to 50, but those of all ages can have it. About 10% of all cases are made up of children.  Few of these tumors spread to other organs but can be dangerous and should be treated right away.

The adrenal glands make hormones that control your metabolism, blood pressure and other important function.  Hormones are released by pheochromocytoma at much higher levels than normal. The hormones that are made by these tumors cause high blood pressure that can damage your heart, brain, lungs, and kidneys.

People with high blood pressure all the time sometimes have these tumors. For other people, it goes up and down. This may also be your only symptom but usually at least one of the following exists as well:

  • Constipation
  • Dizziness when standing
  • Nausea
  • Pale skin
  • Racing heartbeat
  • A severe headache
  • Stomach, side or back pain
  • Unusual sweating

You can experience these symptoms suddenly like an attack, several times a day. They might also happen just a few times a month, but as the tumor grows, these attacks may become stronger and happen more often.

Doctors don’t really know why most of these tumors form, but about 30% seem to run in families and are more likely to be cancerous than ones that appear randomly.  

They can also spread to other parts of your body, including your liver, lungs or bones.  They are also more common in people with inherited disorders or conditions that include Multiple endocrine neoplasias, type II, Von Hippel-Lindau disease, Neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1) and Hereditary paraganglioma syndrome.

Many who have pheochromocytoma are never diagnosed as the symptoms are so much like those of other conditions, but there are ways to find out if you have one of the tumors, such as:

  • Blood or urine tests to tell if you have high levels of hormones in your body
  • An MRI which uses powerful magnets and radio waves to make images of organs and tissues to check for a tumor
  • A CT scan which puts together several X-rays taken from different angles to see if there’s a tumor.

If you test positive, your doctor may recommend tests to see if it was caused by a genetic disorder and if you are at risk for more in the future.  They will also tell you if your children and other family members are at higher risk.

There is a 50% chance of passing it to a child if the parent has a damaged gene. Surgery is most likely needed to remove the tumor but the surgeon using tiny cuts instead of one large opening.  This is called laparoscopic or minimally invasive surgery that will shorten your recovery time.

If there are tumors in both glands, your surgeon may remove just the tumors and leave part of the glands. If both are removed you can take steroids to help replace the hormones your body usually makes. Chances are good that your symptoms will go away and your blood pressure will return to normal. Radiation and chemotherapy may be used if your tumor is cancerous.

Dr. Fredda Branyon

social media icons

Social Media

social media icons

Can social media leave you socially isolated?  Randy Dotinga from HealthDay Reporter addressed this issue in a recent article.  

When young people spend a lot of time on social media, mainly websites designed to bring people together, it seems to isolate them, according to new research.

They also found that the heaviest users of social media had about twice the odds of feeling socially isolated compared to their less “web-connected” friends.

Study lead author Dr. Brian Primack says that research suggests that those who use social media the most are especially isolated, even though those studies have been small. The new study is an analysis of social media users and so-called social isolation in a large group of people from across the U.S. However, at least one social media expert says the study leaves too many questions unanswered to offer people any practical advice.

This particular study included 1,800 people aged 19 to 32 who completed a 20-minute online questionnaire in 2014.  Half of the participants were female and 59% were white. Income for more than 1/3 was at least $75,000 a year. Those taking part in the research received $15 for the survey.

They were asked questions about how isolated they felt and how often they used Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Vine, Snapchat and Reddit. Those who used the services more in terms of the number of times or in the total amount of time spent were more likely to report feeling isolated from others. Those in the top quarter who frequently checked social media (58+ times a week) were about 3X as likely to have increased social isolation than those who checked the least and visited social media sites less than 9X a week.

The average time that most spent on social media were 61 minutes per day.

Those who spent more than 121 minutes a day had about twice the odds of feeling isolated than those spending less than 30 minutes a day, however, the study had limitations.  It wasn’t designed to prove a cause-and-effect relationship and it’s not clear which came first – the social media use or the feelings of isolation. The study also only looked at those aged 32 and under, so the findings may not be the same in older people.

The study examined people’s use of social media as a whole and not specific sites.  There’s no way to know if people who read glowing posts about their friends’ perfect vacations on Facebook are more or less isolated than those who prefer to watch YouTube videos of cats or bitterly argue about politics on Twitter.

What’s going on if there is no link between social media use and isolation? People who feel more socially isolated do use a lot of social media to try to increase their social circles, but both directions may be at work.  Those feeling socially isolated may reach out on social media to self-medicate, but this might only increase perceptions of social isolation. In conclusion, the findings suggest that people who feel isolated may generally be unable to find a connection through social media and the answer just might be going offline.

Dr. Fredda Branyon

meals trigger inflammation

Meals Trigger Inflammation

meals trigger inflammation

We are not only taking in nutrients when we eat we are also consuming a significant quantity of bacteria. That’s certainly not fun to think about! In order to fight these bacteria, our body is faced with the challenge of simultaneously distributing the ingested glucose and fighting these bacteria. An inflammatory response is triggered that activates the immune systems of healthy individuals and serves as protection. Doctors from the University and the University Hospital Basel have proven this for the first time. This inflammatory response fails dramatically in overweight individuals and can lead to diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is an adult-onset type that leads to chronic inflammation with many negative impacts.  Diabetes, by impeding the over-production of a substance involved in this process called interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta), has been the treatment in a number of clinical studies.  This triggers chronic inflammation and causes insulin-producing beta cells to die off.

There are some positive sides of inflammation that was reported in the journal Nature Immunology.  Researchers from the Department of Biomedicine at the University and the University Hospital Basel have reported these findings. Short-term inflammatory responses play an important role in sugar uptake in healthy individuals and the activation of the immune system.

Professor Marc Donath, head of the Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at the University Hospital Basel and his research team have demonstrated the number of acrophages, a type of immune cell around the intestines, increases during mealtime. These are called scavenger cells that produce the messenger substance IL-1beta in varying amounts. This depends upon the concentration of glucose in the blood and in turn, stimulates insulin production in pancreatic beta cells. The macrophages are then caused to increase IL-1beta production, while along with insulin, they work to regulate blood sugar levels and the messenger substance IL-1beta ensures that the immune system is supplied with glucose and remains active.

The mechanism of the metabolism and immune system is dependent on the bacteria and nutrients that are ingested during meals. The immune system is able to adequately combat foreign bacteria with sufficient nutrients, but when there is a lack of nutrients, the few remaining calories must be conserved for important life functions at the expense of an immune response.  This may help to explain why infectious diseases occur more frequently in times of famine.

Dr. Fredda Branyon

Source of carbohydrates

Surprising Sources Of Carbs


The normal foods that we associate carbs with are bread, pasta and cake.  We avoid these to keep the blood sugar level down. Carbs, however, can lurk in many less obvious places that we need to be aware of when counting carbs.

Most people with diabetes aim for 45-60 grams of carbs per meal; however, each person needs to discuss this with your doctor to learn the correct amount of carbs for you.

Surprising sources of carbs are:

1. Milk substitutes

Great options are organic soymilk and almond milk for those who are lactose-intolerant.  Watch for the flavored varieties that have more sugar. Vanilla almond milk has 16 grams of carbs and a cup of chocolate soymilk has 23 grams, compared to plain soymilk that has about 12 grams of carbs.

2. Yogurt

This is a good source of calcium and probiotics but some low-fat, fruit-flavored varieties have upward of 40 grams of carbs for 8 ounces.  Try to use organic yogurt.

3. One cup of Canned Baked Beans

Has 54 grams of carbs that could be the entire amount budgeted for one meal.  They provide protein and fiber but limit yourself to a ½ cup serving. If possible, it’s actually better to cook your own baked beans rather than eating from a can.

4. Tomato sauce

In a jar, you can count on there being added sugar and carbs. (about 12 grams per ½ cup). Check those nutrition facts and notice that many brands are high in sodium.

5. Salad Dressing

Nearly any bottle you reach for will have added sugar, so check those labels.  Try making your own with olive oil and vinegar. Otherwise, a tablespoon or two is unlikely to send your blood sugar soaring, but watch the amount you use.

6. Barbecue Sauce

One tablespoon will cost you about 7 grams of carbs.  Limit that dipping and dipping where you might end up with ½ cup and have eaten 59 grams of carbs.

7. Orange Chicken

Each eaten individually is healthy.  But orange chicken has 146 grams of carbs.  Better skip this dish when ordering at the Chinese restaurant.

8. Split Pea Soup

The starch in peas will yield a hefty 26 grams of carbs per cup along with those other nutrients like fiber.  There is usually a lot of added salt in soups, so choose those reduced-sodium varieties.

9. Sugar-free Cookies

Take another look. Just because these are sugar-free it doesn’t mean carb-free.  There are nearly as many carbs in sugar-free cookies per serving as their regular counterparts. And let’s not forget to look for what other chemicals are added in order to make it sugar-free but still sweet tasting.  Again, check those nutrition labels before making your choice.

10. Protein bars

Many of these bars, especially if aimed at athletes who need that extra energy, have plenty of carbs.  Try a banana with 1 tablespoon of almond butter for that healthy snack before your workout. This might be a better option.

Bottom line?  Check those nutrition labels as some foods just might surprise you with the amount of carbs they contain.

Dr Fredda Branyon

be kind

Can Kindness Improve Your Health? — Science Explains

Did you know acts of kindness can cause several positive effects on your health? Kindness or benevolence is the quality of being friendly, empathetic, generous, and considerate. If you treat others the way you want to be treated, science says it may improve your quality of life.

Here is what happens to your body after showing kindness towards others.

Kindness triggers the pleasure centers in your brain

Have you ever noticed how happy you feel after completing a good deed? Showing kindness boosts your serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating moods. Similar to when you exercise, showing kindness releases endorphins through a phenomenon known as “helper’s high.”

When you extend a helping hand or act upon feelings of care and compassion, science claims you will feel happier and content.

Kindness can strengthen your heart

Altruism — the belief in or practice of selfless concern for others — releases the hormone oxytocin, which is occasionally referred to as the “love hormone.” According to Dr. David Hamilton, author of How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body and several other wellness books, oxytocin releases nitric oxide, a chemical that dilates (expands) the blood vessels. Dilation of arterial blood vessels reduces blood pressure. Therefore, oxytocin is a cardioprotective hormone due to its ability to protect the heart by maintaining healthy blood pressures.

Kindness maintains your youth

The love hormone additionally decreases inflammation and free radicals, two contributing factors to aging. Further research suggests that compassion increases the activity of the vagus nerve, which helps reduce inflammation.

Kindness keeps anxiety at bay

Anxiety, whether in the form of moderate nervousness or severe panic, is a natural and universal human experience. There are many ways to reduce anxiety, including yoga, meditation, prescription medication, and natural remedies. However, a study on happiness states that showing kindness is one inexpensive way to lessen feelings of anxiety.

According to the researchers, “social anxiety is associated with low positive affect (PA), a factor that can significantly affect psychological well-being and adaptive functioning.” Positive affect regards a person’s experience of positive emotions, such as pleasure, care, and diligence. The authors found that those who performed good deeds showed a significant increase in PA.

Whenever you feel anxious, look for opportunities to help others. Anything from helping the elderly cross the street, smiling at your local barista, or complimenting a stranger can make a big difference in easing your worries.

Kindness can improve your immune system

Kindness strengthens the immune system, and believe it or not, it even improves immunity in people who observe benevolence in action. A group of researchers at Harvard University showed students a 50-minute video about Mother Teresa and her work among the poor of India. After which, they measured the saliva level of immunoglobulin, an antibody that plays a vital role in immunity. The results revealed a notable increase in the antibody in all 132 students.

Unhappiness is a growing epidemic, and the cure may be right under our noses. If kindness is the secret to a healthy and happy life — cheer up someone, start a fundraiser, volunteer, pray for a friend in need or simply help others in general. You have nothing to lose — only gain.


Emu Oil

emu bird

Emu oil has many uses, benefits and also side effects. Jon Johnson has written an article that was reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT on the benefits, possible risks and side effects of emu oil. The popularity of emu oil usage has increased recently due to health claims surrounding its uses and benefits. Be sure to understand what it is used for and what your possible health benefits might be. More importantly, learn about the possible risks and side effects of using the oil.

The flightless emu bird is scientifically named Dromaius novaehallandiae and is native to Australia. Because of a rising popularity of nutritious emu meat and medicinal emu oil, it is now found in many countries. The oil is a bright yellow liquid made up of mostly fat, which is collected from the deposits below the skin of the bird. The fats are collected and then passed through various filters and processed until pure oil is produced. This is a product with unique benefits that is widely used. Emu oil comes in different types, based on different levels of filtration and processing. Most of the oils go through full processing in order to reduce bacteria and contaminants, but some are refined in order to create higher contents of fatty acids.

The American Emu Association and some other organizations have certification programs that aim to ensure that the emu oil we buy is pure, and that the emus enjoyed the best possible lives. The completely pure oil will always be fully refined and is the type of emu oil studied for its beneficial effects. The emu is the second largest living bird by height.

The use of emu oil originates from the Australian Aborigine culture and been used for over 40,000 years. Relieving minor aches and pains, helping wounds to heal quicker and protecting skin from the elements are some of the oil’s uses. It was originally introduced into the European culture by the Aborigine as a natural sunscreen and moisturizer. They soon adopted the use of the oil and many other natural remedies that the Aborigines provided. People have since discovered many more benefits.

Using the emu oil as an anti-inflammatory is the most popular benefit. Researchers noted that the anti-inflammatory effect of this oil may be beneficial in treating conditions like ear inflammation, inflammatory bowel syndrome and even to prevent bone loss. Massage therapists use it to help treat people with arthritis. Emu oil is easily absorbed into the skin that will help lock in skin moisture, making the skin less prone to cracking or drying out. During cancer radiation, it is also suggested for dry skin treatment. This absorbable trait can be passed on to other compounds when they are mixed together.

Other uses for the emu oil is to help increase the number of healthy skin cells and conditions like alopecia, rosacea, hypopigmentation, shingles and dermatitis. It can be applied to small wounds, cuts, bruises or burns and to ease the pain of minor wounds and protect the skin from additional damage. Use it as a bug repellant because of the substances called terpenes found in the oil. More uses are reducing cholesterol, ulcers, and for use in breast sensitivity.

Emu oil contains high amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants and compounds as omega-3, omega 6 and omega 9 fatty acids. It also contains vitamin A and additional compounds like carotenoids, flavones, polyphenols, tocopherol and phospholipids.

There are few documented side effects as emu oil is a natural product. Applying directly to the skin as a topical may cause some skin irritation, so use a small patch of skin as a test.

Dr Fredda Branyon


Facts About Melatonin


The pineal gland, a small gland in the brain, makes a hormone called Melatonin. This helps control your sleep and wake cycles. You can find very small amounts of it in foods such as meats, grains, fruits and vegetables and can also buy it as a supplement.

We all have our own internal clock within our body that controls our natural cycle of sleeping and waking hours. This body clock controls how much melatonin our body makes. Our melatonin levels normally begin to rise in the mid- to late- evening and then remain high for most of the night. Then it drops in the early morning hours. How much melatonin our body produces is also affected by light. When the days are shorter during the winter months, the body may produce melatonin either earlier or later in the day than usual and can lead to symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or winter depression. Our natural melatonin levels slowly drop with age and some older adults make very small amounts of it, or none at all.

Some supplements are used to treat jet lag or sleep problems and other good uses are:

  • Treating seasonal affective disorder
  • Helping to control sleep patterns for those who work night shifts
  • Preventing or reducing problems with sleeping and confusion after surgery
  • Reducing chronic cluster headaches

Please remember, you do not want to play with your hormones. Melatonin supplements are safe in low doses for short-term and long-term use, but be sure to talk with your doctor about taking them. Too much melatonin can actually cause a pineal tumor. Melatonin supplements should not be taken by children and pregnant or nursing women, without consulting a doctor first.

There are some side effects that will go away when you stop taking the supplement such as:

  • Sleepiness
  • Lower body temperature
  • Vivid dreams
  • Morning grogginess
  • Small changes in blood pressure

Do not drive or operate machinery when you are taking melatonin if it makes you feel drowsy. Tell your doctor if you are taking melatonin during health exams and let him know if you are having trouble sleeping. It may be related to a medical problem.

Melatonin in adults should be taken in doses from 0.2 mg to 9 mg, based on the reason for its use. The dosage will vary widely from one person to another so talk with your doctor to get the right dosage and to find out if melatonin is right for you. These supplements can be purchased without a prescription at health food stores, drugstores and online, and should be taken only in its man-made form.

Dr Fredda Branyon