Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Traditional Chinese Medicines – Some Are Dangerous

Herbal supplements

Herbal supplements (Photo credit: Ano Lobb. @healthyrx)

As I’ve stated in previous postings here, choose your alternative/traditional/complementary medicines and therapies wisely.
Also, include herbs, supplements and traditional medicines in “medications” lists you share with your healthcare provider, pharmacist, or any healthcare professional you are consulting.  Many of these non-prescription items can interfere with any prescription medicine you are taking.
The Related Resources section below has links to trusted resources. However, they are not meant to replace advice from you health care provider.

From the 14 April 2012 article at Medical News Today

Australian border officials seized 15 TCMs (traditional Chinese medicines), which researchers from the Murdoch University analyzed to reveal the animal and plant composition by using new DNA sequencing technology. The results, published in PLoS Genetics, showed that some of the analyzed TCM samples contained potentially toxic plant ingredients, allergens, as well as traces of endangered animals.Leading researcher, Dr. Bunce, and a Murdoch University Australian Research Council Future Fellow commented:

“TCMs have a long cultural history, but today consumers need to be aware of the legal and health safety issues before adopting them as a treatment option.”

Related Resources

  • HerbMed® 
    an interactive, electronic herbal database – provides hyperlinked access to the scientific data underlying the use of herbs for health. It is an impartial, evidence-based information resource provided by the nonprofit Alternative Medicine Foundation, Inc. This public site provides access to 20 of the most popular herbs.
  • Herbs at a Glance (US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine)
    a series of fact sheets that provides basic information about specific herbs or botanicals—common names, uses, potential side effects, and resources for more information.
  • Herbal Links
    a compilation of  sites that the researchers at the University of Iowa Drug Information Service consider to be the highest quality and most useful to pharmacists for finding information concerning herbal medicines.
  • Longwood Herbal Task Force
    This site has in-depth monographs about herbal products and supplements written by health professionals and students. It provides clinical information summaries, patient fact sheets, and information about toxicity and interactions as well as relevant links. The task force is a cooperative effort of the staff and students from Children’s Hospital, the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

  • Drug Information Portal (US National Library of Medicine)
    Search by drug.  Information includes some basic resources (as that at MedlinePlus) plus some more technical ones (as Toxilogical Data and Literature)

  • Dietary Supplements Labels Database Information about label ingredients in more than 6,000 selected brands of dietary supplements. It enables users to compare label ingredients in different brands. Information is also provided on the “structure/function” claims made by manufacturers.These claims by manufacturers have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Companies may not market as dietary supplements any products that are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
  • NCCAM Director’s Page – It’s Time to Talk (March 13, 2012)
    • Time to Talk is a recently launched NCAAM series which encourages folks to discuss complementary health practices with their health care providersThe director notes the following
      • We know that nearly 40 percent of Americans use some kind of complementary health practice. But we also know that most patients do not proactively disclose use of complementary health practices to their health care providers. Likewise, most providers don’t initiate the discussion with their patients. As a physician, I strongly believe that patients and their health care providers need to talk openly about all of their health care practices to ensure safe, coordinated care. Talking not only allows fully integrated care, but it also minimizes risks of interactions with a patient’s conventional treatments.
    1. List the complementary health practices you use on your patient history form. When completing the patient history form, be sure to include everything you use—from acupuncture to zinc.  It’s important to give health care providers a full picture of what you do to manage your health.
    2. At each visit, be sure to tell your providers about what complementary health approaches you are using. Don’t forget to include over-the-counter and prescription medicines, as well as dietary and herbal supplements. Make a list in advance, or download and print this wallet card and take it with you. Some complementary health approaches can have an effect on conventional medicine, so your provider needs to know.
    3. If you are considering a new complementary health practice, ask questions. Ask your health care providers about its safety, effectiveness, and possible interactions with medications (both prescription and nonprescription).

April 16, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Finding Aids/Directories, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The gender divide when it comes to health tracking online

From the 15 April 2012 article by Susannah Fox at KevinMD.com

Stephen Wolfram’s essay, The Personal Analytics of My Life, begins, “One day I’m sure everyone will routinely collect all sorts of data about themselves.”

A Pew Internet survey suggests we have a long way to go: a September 2010 survey found that 27% of internet users age 18+ track their own health data online. There may be more self-tracking happening offline — please post any measures of that phenomenon in the comments….

I did a quick search for more insights on this Mars/Venus divide and found Matthew Cornell’s post on the Quantified Self blog, Is There a Self-Experimentation Gender Gap? His rough analysis of QS comments, videos, and in-person meetings found a clear difference in participation: about 80% men, 20% women.

Christine McCaull echoed Schulte’s complaint in her comment:

… I’m just too damn busy to measure almost anything regularly except my bank balance, which is calculated for me. Like most women, I’m on a triple shift life plan. I work, I write, I keep a house and raise a big family…

And yet proponents of self-tracking in health need everyone to engage in it and see its worth, not just people with the leisure (or the extreme motivation of a life-changing diagnosis) to do so.

I went back to our data to see if there is a gender divide when it comes to health tracking online. Yes, there is: women are more likely than men to do it.

Breaking it down into the two categories we asked about, we find that 18% of women track their weight, diet, or exercise routine, compared with 13% of men. Twenty-one percent of women track some other health indicators online, compared with 12% of men…

 

April 16, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , | Leave a comment

[PDF Document] The Nature of Science and the Scientific Method

The Geological Society of America has recently published an eight page document explaining in some detail the five steps of the scientific method and an overview of what science is capable of.

While it seems to be a discussion aid in the evolution/intelligent design debate, it is a useful tool for any branch of science including medicine. The talking point section is a great summary.

The document entitled The Nature of Science and the Scientific Method may be found here.

 

April 16, 2012 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , | Leave a comment

[Infographic] Making Patient Experience a Priority & Link to Other Infogaphics by the Author

Created by Dan on Pinterest. Dan presently has 28 other health care related infographics at his Pintereset site.
Titles include Over Medicated America, How Technology Changed the Healthcare Industry, What Really Happens on a Hospital Night Shift, and Social Media in Healthcare

Source: berylhealth.com via Dan on Pinterest

 

Source: berylhealth.com via Dan on Pinterest

April 16, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

   

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