Category Archives: Health & Lifestyle

Cancer & Night Sweats

Typically cancer symptoms will vary from person to person and will depend upon the type of cancer, where it appears, its size and severity as well as how it affects the body.  

Lowering body temperature is the result and purpose of sweating.  The heat escapes through the skin when the water and salt are released from the sweat glands.  The sweat glands all over the body are controlled by nerve cells in the layer of the skin and not always visible, but the body constantly sweats.  The amount of sweat that is produced depends on factors such as what you are doing, your emotional state and temperature.  A sudden temporary feeling of warmth throughout the body that can lead to sweating is called a hot flash, and commonly linked to women during menopause and not normally a concern.

Night sweats and hot flashes can sometimes signal a medical problem and doctors will check for the underlying condition if it is not due to the menopausal state.   

The hot flashes can be accompanied by:

  • Light or heavy sweating
  • Racing heart
  • Feelings of irritability

Excessive sweating in male and female cancer patients may be due to cancer treatment.  In some cancers and cancer survivors, night sweats typically affect women but do also occur in men.  Menopause affects women and can be due in part to natural, surgical or chemical causes.

Some treatment drugs that can also cause sweating and hot flashes are:

  • Aromatase inhibitors
  • Opioids
  • Tamoxifen
  • Tricyclic
  • Steroids

There can be medicines to treat night sweats but they can cause side effects such as:

  • Antidepressant may lead to nausea, drowsiness, dry mouth and changes in appetite
  • Anticonvulsants can cause drowsiness, dizziness and trouble concentrating
  • Clonidine has been linked to dry mouth, drowsiness, constipation and insomnia

Patients will respond differently to drug therapy treatment programs.  

Hyperhidrosis is a condition that causes people to sweat excessively during the day or night and usually does not pose a big threat.

Other issues that can cause night sweats include:

  • Menopause
  • Infections
  • Low Blood Sugar
  • Hormone disorders
  • Neurological conditions such as stroke
  • Anxiety or stress
  • Alcohol or drug withdrawal or abuse

Medications can also cause night sweats as a simple aspirin.  Night sweats are uncomfortable but are usually harmless.  Drink lots of water to make up for the amount of fluid lost and to prevent dehydration.  Just remember that sweats can be a sign of additional problems, so contact a doctor to work out the cause as well as a treatment plan, especially if the sweats are accompanied by rapid weight loss or gain, tiredness or breathing trouble.  Seek immediate care if these indicators are present.

–Dr Fredda Branyon

 

 

Benefits of Clothing Conscious

The foods you choose to buy have an enormous impact on our health and the environment, but so do the clothes you buy, wear and wash.  Eileen Fisher, a clothing designer who was honored for her environmental work at the 2015 Riverkeeper’s Annual Fishermen’s Ball, stated the clothing industry is the second largest polluter in the world and second only to oil.  There is a dirty downside to keeping your clothes clean.  Many of the laundry detergents that we purchase contain toxic chemicals that contribute to water pollution and pose a hazard to people with chemical sensitivities.  Dry cleaning your clothing is also notorious for the toxic chemicals involved and can off-gas for days after.  Microfibers are also released from your clothes during washing, contributing to declining water quality and destruction of wildlife.

Our price for “fast fashion” is steep.  Closets are overflowing with clothes we never even wear, as the price tag is low today.  Each and every item has a significant toll on the environment and on human health across the globe.  Cotton has led to severe ecological devastation.  Depletion of water in the Aral Sea and the subsequent failure of fisheries in the area are partly attributed to cotton.  Organic cotton is more sustainable and accounts for a mere 1% of the cotton grown across the globe, but still requires a lot of water and contains dye with potentially hazardous chemicals.   Every year half a trillion gallons of fresh water is used in the process of dyeing textile, putting added strain on declining fresh water supplies.

Toxic garment dyes wreak havoc in our seas and oceans, traveling across the globe with the currents.  Textile chemicals discharged by China are estimated at 40%.  Final clothing items contain nonylphenol and may take several washes before it’s all washed out, therefore the chemical is also entering the local sewer system.

Most laundry detergent contains harmful chemicals and the garment itself may contribute to the problem of toxic pollution by releasing chemicals and fibers such as:

  • Flame-retardant chemicals
  • Phthalates
  • Microfibers

A direct link between plastics and man-made fibers to the pollution in fish has been made in a study from the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB).  These fibers are easily consumed by fish and other wildlife, while accumulating in the gut, and concentrating in the bodies of other animals higher up the food chain.

The toxic impact of laundry detergents to pollute rivers and lakes, contribute to algae overgrowth and fish die-offs.  Surfactant and phosphates used to soften the water and suspend dirt, are among the most destructive pollutants.  Even biodegradable detergents can be problematic when used in massive quantities by hundreds of millions of people.

Mother Earth News reported sodium nitrilotriacetate (NTA) and organic polyelectrolytes could be used as substitutes for phosphates.  They are believed to be biodegradable and would pose far less of a risk to the environment.  Enzyme “pre-soak” stain removers may be the worst, as they contain 2/3’s phosphate.

Fabric softeners are loaded with harmful chemicals as well, according to the Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia.  They contain quaternary ammonium compounds, or “quats”, and imidazolidinyl, both of which are known to release formaldehyde.  This chemical can cause joint pain, depression, headaches, chronic pain and other symptoms.  It can also damage your DNA and may lead to cancer.  

Using the dryer sheets give off toxic vapors that are released into your house, thereby compromising your indoor air quality and into the neighborhood.  Opt for organic cotton, opt for unscented and nontoxic alternatives, try DIY recipe for fabric softeners, dry clothes naturally on drying racks and skip the dryer sheets.

Dr Fredda Branyon

 

img c/o pixabay.com

Bladder Cancer & Vitamin D

Other than the already known benefits of Vitamin D, could there be yet another important benefit?  Our vitamin D intake is important, as low levels have been linked to a risk of bladder cancer.  These findings are coming from results presented recently at the Society for Endocrinology conference in the United Kingdom.

Evidence has already been shown that low vitamin D is detrimental to our health.  Some of it comes from a good diet, and good sources will include fatty fish and fish oil, dairy products, mushrooms, liver and egg yolks.  It is mostly synthesized when the body is exposed to sunlight.  It has been found that our dietary sources alone cannot normally provide sufficient vitamin D.

This particular vitamin helps our bodies to maintain healthy levels of calcium and phosphates and low levels are linked to a range of health problems.  If a child has low levels of vitamin D it can lead to bone deformities, such as rickets.  In time with age, a lack of vitamin D can lead to osteoporosis, especially in postmenopausal women.  The low levels have also been linked to cognitive impairment, cardiovascular disease, cancer and autoimmune conditions.

This condition is common among people with limited exposure to sunlight and includes those populations from northern regions where winter days are short, and also those in climates where it is too hot to spend time outdoors.  Those who cover up or use sunscreen with a strong SPF factor to avoid sunburn or skin cancer are at risk of the lack of vitamin D.  Low levels also include those who cover their bodies for cultural or religious reasons, those who stay out of the sun to keep their skin pale and people with darker skin who are also more prone to low vitamin D levels.

Drinking those sugary drinks may also have an impact on their vitamin D levels.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States noted that between 2002-2006, about 8% of the population aged 1 year or over were at risk of vitamin D deficiency, 24% at risk of inadequacy, and only 17% met the desirable levels.  Less than 1% raised concerns about an excess of vitamin D.  About 1.4% of the men and women in the U.S. are expected to develop bladder cancer.  This accounts for 4.6% of all new cancer cases and responsible for 2.8% of all cancer deaths.  

Dr. Rosemary Bland from the University of Warwick and Coventry in the U.K. led researchers who wanted to know more about how synthesis of vitamin D might affect immune responses in specific tissues.  The team had a systematic review of 7 studies to investigate the link between vitamin D and bladder cancer.  They had 112 to 1,125 participants per study and some of the studies measured vitamin D levels before diagnosis, some during and some at the follow-up stage.

Out of 7 studies performed, it was found that 5 had a risk of bladder cancer going up when vitamin D levels are low.  The higher levels also correlated with better survival and outcome in those with bladder cancer.  They also examined the transitional epithelial cells that line the bladder and found these cells can activate and respond to vitamin D.  They can also synthesize enough vitamin D to trigger a local immune response by recognizing the abnormal cells before they develop further.  Their conclusions are that bladder cancer risk correlates with low serum (vitamin D) levels and if confirmed, administering supplementary vitamin D could be a safe and economical means of prevention. More studies are required to test this association.  

–Dr Fredda Branyon

 

Alternative Medical Bill

I recently read an article written by Nicholas Bakalar on the costs of alternative medical care.  Americans are currently spending $30.2 billion a year on alternative and complementary medicines and procedures, including $1.9 billion on children ages 4 to 17 years old.  Nothing is paid by insurance on any alternative medicine treatments, but rather is all paid out of the patient’s pocket.  

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, they maintain a continuing health survey of Americans that concludes 55.2 million adults and 4.4 million children received some type of alternative care.  About $14.7 billion, or almost half of the money, was spent visiting practitioners like acupuncturists, homeopaths, naturopaths, chelation therapists, mind body experts, energy healing specialists, hypnotists, massage therapists and traditional healers.

The natural product supplements cost $12.8 billion, excluding vitamin and mineral diet supplements, and $2.7 billion was paid for self-care, including expenses for books and educational materials on diet-based therapies, guided imagery, meditation, tai chi, movement therapies, biofeedback and other treatments.  This is quite a lot of money spent for care that the medical community deem worthless.

The $30.2 billion is only 1.1% of the nation’s total health care bill, which is $2.82 trillion.  However, the $12.8 billion spent on natural product supplements is 24% of the $54 billion spent out of pocket on prescription drugs, and $14.7 billion spent in visits to alternative practitioners and is nearly a third of the out-of-pocket expenditures for visits to conventional physicians.

The figures we see and compare are valuable data because it shows us just how much people value these alternative approaches, according to Richard L. Nahin, an epidemiologist.  Some people might use a therapy if it’s free but not if they have to pay for it.  When people are willing to pay for it out of their own pocket, they must really value and believe in alternative medicine.

Expenditures for a family increased with their income.  Those families with less than $25,000 a year spent an average of $435 a year on alternative care.  For lower income families, this only shows their trust and faith in taking advantage of alternative medicine, that could very well be a hardship for these families.  Their money would not be spent if some kind of results for their hard earned money weren’t realized.

I felt this pretty well summed up just how much of the population believes in this type of treatment, so there must be some validity in the overall success of alternative medicine. Insurance companies need to wake up!

–Dr Fredda Branyon

 

 

Alternative Care

I read an eye opening article written by a woman who is a cancer survivor.  Her story was uplifting and proves to me that alternative medicine is the perfect alternative to the immune destroying chemo treatments.

The lady in the article was told by her doctor that there was nothing further he could do for her. She had experienced a near death reaction to their poisonous chemotherapy.  She felt he had made all the money he could off her and was at the end of her treatment.  She chose as a last resort to enter one of the alternative care facilities in Mexico.  This was in 2007 when she was sent home to die by the oncologist.

She feels very fortunate at being a survivor and able to recommend alternative treatment in Mexico after surviving for 9 more years to date cancer free.  She arrived at the facility in a wheel chair with only several weeks to live.  Weak and feeling next to death, she fortunately still had the will to live.  After only several weeks of natural cancer treatments, she professed being a new person.  She felt strong and alive.  She walked out of the clinic beside her husband with huge smiles on both their faces.  At this point, she knew she would live.  

Upon returning home she visited her conventional oncologist who was shocked after receiving the results of her “after” PET-scan test, compared to her first test.  He professed never having seen anything quite like it.  Her blood tests were perfect and the PET-scan did not detect ANY CANCER at all.  She left him bewildered and confused at leaving, without even telling him she had been to Mexico for treatment.

This generous lady shared her story in the hopes that others out there having been given the death sentence would reach out to the possibility of alternative cancer treatment.  Many testimonies like this one are posted every day.  Don’t block out the possibility and hope that your life is NOT over, just temporarily sidetracked!

 

Treating Pain Without Drugs

The United States released a federal report revealing that more than 54% of adults had some type of musculoskeletal pain disorder such as back, joint or neck pain in 2012. This is a leading cause of disability and major contributor to health care expenses and disability compensation, and a significant price Americans pay for pain. Those suffering from pain were significantly more likely to have used a complementary health approach compared to those without pain.

There was congressional testimony from the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians (ASIPP) that stated Americans consume 80% of the pain pills in the world. More than 2,000 pain patients in the U.S. said they were taking a dangerously addictive opioid pain medication. It has been suggested by research that these drugs work for only about three months and make changes in your brain that may lead to increased feelings of pain, along with added emotional upset. Feelings of hopelessness and desperation can be included.

Many suffering pain have tried nearly every treatment that conventional medicine has to offer such as medications, injections, surgery and more, only to find their pain hasn’t gotten better and they are struggling with treatment-induced side effects as well. At this point, it’s natural that they begin to seek other options, like holistic, complementary or “alternative” health care options for some relief.

Mayo Clinic Proceedings evaluated several complementary approaches for pain relief as listed below:

· Acupuncture
· Massage Therapy
· Relaxation Techniques
· Exercise
· Medical Marijuana

The therapeutic and psychoactive properties of marijuana occur when a cannabinoid activates a cannabinoid receptor. These receptors are in your brain, lungs, liver, kidneys, immune system and more. It is known that cannabinoid receptors play an important role in many body processes, including metabolic regulations, cravings, pain, anxiety, bone growth and immune function.

Turmeric contains curcumin, which has notable anti-inflammatory properties and has earned a reputation for being a multi-faceted healer. Essential oils for pain relief are: lavender, marjoram, chamomile, spruce, clove, ginger, sandalwood, fennel, wintergreen and frankincense.

Essential oils that help relieve RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) pain and inflammation include peppermint, orange, ginger, myrrh and turmeric.

Homeopathy is found to be effective for low back pain, and some common remedies include Aesculus, for dull pain with muscle weakness, Gnaphalium, for sciatica that alternates with numbness, Colocynthis, for weakness and cramping in the small of the back, Amica Montana, for pain as a result of trauma, Lycopodium, for burning pain, and Rhus toxicodendron, for stiffness and pain in the small of the back.

Your life can quickly be sidelined if you are in severe pain or struggling with chronic pain. Seek the help of a pain specialist who is familiar with alternative treatments. By identifying the underlying causes of your pain, a knowledgeable practitioner can help you to relieve your pain in the short term while healing the cause.

— Dr Fredda Branyon

 

Sugar Has Many Names

Sugar is supplied to our bodies from natural sources in our fruits and vegetables. Combining this with additional fiber, vitamins and minerals, natural sugar is processed slightly differently than the refined white sugar, or sugar by other names, to disguise sugar in your food. It’s difficult to avoid those foods that are laced with sugar, unless you have switched to a diet of nearly exclusively whole foods. Processed foods quite often come with the addition of sweeteners to tempt our palates.

Sugar can trigger an addiction that’s hard to break, and is one of the most damaging substances to your body. Sugar addition is unchecked in adults and children and defined as a specific “bliss point” for products by manufacturers, that bring customers back for more. The junk food industry doesn’t want us to know that sugar has significant and deadly effects on your health, therefore the label may not even list sugar as an ingredient.

About 45 grams of sugar was consumed every five days for people in 1812, which would equal the amount of sugar in one can of soda. Americans were consuming sugar in 2012 to the equivalent of 17 cans of soda every five days. That’s a jump that can have disastrous effects on our lives. Hiding sugar under names we aren’t aware of can have devastating effects.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) put out new Dietary Guidelines for Americans along with the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that limit the amount of sugar to 10% of your total daily calories. If you consume a 2,000-calorie diet this amounts to 10 to 12 teaspoons, which is over the amount of sugar in one 12-ounce coke. It is estimated by the National Cancer Institute that the average American consumes 15 teaspoons of added sugar every day. Not only is sugar in candy and sweet treats, but also those condiments, salad dressings, canned goods and drinks in addition to sodas.

You may not know by the labels of what sugar is contained in your foods, as they may be listed as sugar, sucrose, fructose, Dextran, Ethyl Maltol and Panela. Some companies are reducing their sugar content in some foods.

Some of the sugars may be described as syrup or with an “ose” at the end of the word, such as galactose or fructose. Following is a list of some sugars under unknown names: blackstrap molasses, buttered syrup, cane juice crystals, evaporated cane juice, caramel, carob syrup, fruit juice, honey, fruit juice concentrate, brown rice syrup, corn syrup solids, Florida crystals, golden syrup, maple syrup, molasses, refiner’s syrup, sorghum syrup, sucanat, treacle, turbinado, barley malt, corn syrup, dextrin, dextrose, diastatic malt, ethyl maltol, glucose, glucose solids, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, d-ribose, rice syrup, galactose, maltodextrin and castor.

The liquid sugar is even more dangerous to our health than any other form of sugar. Fruit juice contains the same amount of sugar as other sugary drinks, even though they are marketed as healthier choices. They have the same negative effects on your body as other drinks with added sugar.

The other bad news is that cancer has a sweet tooth and thrives on sugar. Researchers have found through a study that sugar developed pancreatic cancer. Other research tells us cells thrive on sugar and don’t burn other fuel as effectively, and cancer cells rely on sugar to maintain cell function. Some strategies can help you to reduce or eliminate your intake of added sugars as: knowledge in power, reduce your net carbs, eat real food, read labels, use safe sweeteners, increase your healthy fat intake at meals, include fermented foods in your nutrition plan and try turbo tapping.

Remember that it’s up to each and every one of us to take control of our health and do everything possible to avoid the risk of cancer. Starting with our diet is an extremely important step.

Dr Fredda Branyon

 

Increase Vitamin E

How about tossing in some whole eggs to a colorful salad? According to research from Purdue University this will boost the amount of Vitamin E . Vitamin E is the second-most under consumed nutrient in the average American diet. This is problematic because this fat-soluble nutrient has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, according to Wayne Campbell, a professor of nutrition science. His belief is that by adding eggs to a salad with colorful vegetables, it will improve their diets.

Vitamin E absorption was 4 to 7 fold higher when three whole eggs were added to a salad, according to a study from Purdue’s Department of Nutrition Science. The study measured the absorption of Vitamin E from real foods, rather than supplements, which contain a mega-dose amount of Vitamin E.

Dietary fats and Vitamin E are absorbed and also found in oils, seeds and nuts. Amino acids are found in the nutrient-rich food, eggs. The research also highlighted how one food can improve the nutrition value of another food when they are consumed together. These findings are published in The Journal of Nutrition and are supported by the American Egg Board’s Egg Nutrition Center, National Institutes of Health and Purdue Ingestive Behavior Research Center.

This particular study is an extension of a study that Campbell and Jung Eun Kim, a postdoctoral researcher in Purdue’s Department of Nutrition Science, reported in June 2015 showing that by adding eggs to a salad there was an overall increased absorption of the vegetables’ carotenoids.

A previous study that was conducted by Campbell and Ferruzzi, a professor at North Carolina State University, has shown that more carotenoids are absorbed when one large salad is consumed at a meal, compared to smaller salads consumed at two meals during the day. The research also focused on understanding how dietary protein and exercise influence adult health as people age.

Dr Fredda Branyon

 

Craving Ice, an Iron Deficiency?

We all crave that cold, refreshing ice on a hot summer day to relieve the heat, but if you are craving it frequently, there just might be something more it’s telling you. The craving to eat something non-nutritional is called pica, and chewing ice is a symptom of this.

Most often pica is seen in children, but the addiction of chewing ice crosses all age boundaries. Usually this non-nutritional substance craving is related to a nutritional deficiency. Iron deficiency or anemia may be the case in some instances. To fit the addiction to chewing ice, or pagophagia, a person must persist in chewing ice for one month or more. Some people who are addicted to chewing ice will even go to the point of eating freezer frost to meet their needs. Not that’s just being desperate.

There is a complex interaction between nutritional requirements and behavior. Just simply supplementing with iron may fix the problem for many who are craving ice. Our iron levels can create significant problems when too high or too low, and it’s important to understand the process and monitor your iron levels.

A study evaluated the behavior of 81 patients who suffered iron deficiency anemia and found pagophagia was a common form of pica. About 16% of the participants who experienced pagophagia exhibited relief from the symptoms faster with an iron supplement rather than the recovery of their hemoglobin levels may have indicated. Physicians should look closely for chronic blood loss in those patients who exhibit pica behaviors. It may be an indication of slow blood loss and iron deficiency. Anemia is caused when your level of red blood cells is lower than normal and reduces the amount of oxygen your body can deliver to your cells. Without oxygen, your body is unable to function effectively.

Chewing ice can damage your teeth and jaws and there is less damage than from those side effects of addiction to chemicals, such as tobacco, drugs or alcohol, but

it may cause dental damage, and lack of treatment of the anemia can cause heart damage. Some of the gastrointestinal symptoms of an iron deficiency are a sore tongue, dry mouth, altered sense of taste, difficulty swallowing and mouth sores. Other symptoms of iron deficiency and anemia are fatigue and exhaustion that can affect the cognitive skills and ability. Chewing ice may trigger changes in the brain’s vascular system that could lead to an increased amount of oxygen delivery.

Some effects of iron deficiency anemia can be gastrointestinal polyps, chronic heavy menstrual periods or chronic bleeding stomach ulcers. If you feel you are iron deficient, have a simple blood test called a serum ferritin test to measure the molecule in your blood that carries iron. A healthy range is between 20 and 80 nanograms per milliliter. Your iron level can be boosted by consuming beef, ham, lamb, turkey, chicken, veal, pork, shrimp, clams, scallops, oyster, tuna, spinach, sweet potatoes, peas, broccoli, string beans, beet greens, kale, watermelon, dates, figs, raisins, prunes, tomatoes, dried peas, lentils, dried beans, molasses and tomato products.

Choose your foods wisely and be sure to include the above foods in your diet to help keep your body and that of your family, healthy.

–Dr Fredda Branyon

 

Castor Oil Benefits

The castor oil seed has a very unique chemical composition.  The seed plant is native to India and 90% of its composition is ricinolete acid.  This is a fatty acid that is thought to be responsible for castor oil’s healing properties.  In Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, China, Persia and 17th Century Europe and the Americas, it was used for medical reasons.

There are many uses for castor oil besides medical such as food additive, flavoring agent, mold inhibitor, ingredient in skin care products and cosmetics, used in the manufacturing of plastics, rubbers, synthetic resins, fibers, paints, varnishes, lubricants, sealants, dyes and leather treatments.  In WWI it was used as an aircraft lubricant.  

Besides being used in the industrialized world, were you aware that castor seeds could be deadly?  The toxin ricin is made from a protein in the castor seed and if ingested, gets into the ribosomes of your cells where it prevents protein synthesis that kills the cells.  Mash that is left over after processing castor seeds into oil, makes the ricin.  Just 1 milligram of ricin is fatal if inhaled or ingested and eating just 5 to 10 seeds would be fatal.

There are modern medical uses for castor oil like topical applications for a variety of skin conditions like keratosis, dermatosis, wound healing, acne, ringworm, warts, other skin infections, sebaceous cysts, itching and hair loss.  More importantly it shows some promise in treatment of cancer.  The American Cancer Society reports that early clinical trials suggest that ricin, when combined with an antibody to confine this poison to malignant cells, will shrink tumors in lymphoma patients.  

Castor oil has also been used to treat multiple sclerosis, arthritis, epilepsy, appendicitis, colitis, Parkinson’s Disease, Migraine and other headaches, liver ailments, cirrhosis, AIDs, eye irritation, cerebral palsy, cholecystitis, scleroderma, detoxification and gynecological problems.

Castor oil can be used as topical massage oil and the castor oil packs can improve the function of your thymus gland and other components of your immune system.  

Some side effects, such as taking orally, may alleviate constipation but can irritate your intestinal lining causing digestive discomfort, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal side effects.  If you have cramps, irritable bowel, ulcers, diverticulitis, hemorrhoids, colitis, prolapses, or have recently had surgery, you should avoid castor oil due to the adverse effects.  It has been known to stimulate labor in healthy pregnant women and there have been reports of it causing nausea.

–Dr Fredda Branyon