Thursday, December 27, 2007

Massage Provides Pain Relief Following Surgery

Nurses don't have time to perform massage in the hospital. This wasn't always the case. Massage used to be taught as a normal part of Nursing curriculum. Massage time meant that you could speak with your patient, assess their pain status and perform a good overall examination that included providing comfort and healing touch. Now there are just too many time constraints and this practice has been eliminated.

Massage is being revisited as a means to help patients manage pain following major surgery. This stems from a trial that is published in the December publication of the Archives of Surgery. The study results suggest that pain management after surgery should probably involve more than one approach.

The study was performed on Veterans, between Feb, 2003 and Jan, 2005. During the first four days following surgery, the group of Veterans who received either individualized massage from a therapist, or an evening backrub, had a faster decline in pain. The participants also described less "unpleasantness" associated with pain.

Since massage is much less dangerous that medications, the authors of the study suggest using massage as a safe therapy for managing pain after major surgery, and that Nurses become properly trained to provide bedside massage.

I think it's a great idea to reintegrate massage as a routine part of patient care. Massage has so many benefits. I'd personally like to see every hospital admission kit stocked with a bottle of healing massage oil. I also think that the long term outcomes should be studied.

Ref: Arch Surg. 2007;142:1158-1167. ◦

Thursday, December 20, 2007

December Health News

Update on Animal Cruelty
Mars Candy Animal Research - New Video

Walk to Reverse Metabolic Syndrome

Brisk walking is now more definitively seen as a means to successfully manage metabolic syndrome. A new study has provided evidence that it is not necessary to perform intense exercise to receive substantial health benefits and reverse metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a combination of conditions, consisting of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, low levels of HDL (the good) cholesterol, high triglycerides, and abdominal obesity, or increased waist circumference.

The STRRIDE (National Institutes of Health-funded Studies of a Targeted Risk Reduction Intervention through Defined Exercise) trial, published in the December 15,2007 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology has produced results indicating that moderately intense exercise can significantly reduce metabolic syndrome. The benefit was evident even when no dietary changes were made by the study participants.

In the past, walking was viewed as a means to modify the components that make up metabolic syndrome,that is to reduce hypertension, manage diabetes and cholesterol and help control weight. Now moderate exercise is viewed as a means to treat metabolic syndrome in total,leading to an increase in overall health.

Each STRRIDE study participant had at least three components of metabolic syndrome. The groups were assigned different levels of exercise. At the end of the study, it was determined that the group who performed high intensity exercise did not receive any greater reduction in metabolic syndrome than did the low exercise group.

The reason is quoted here:

..Rigorous exercise recruits more fast-twitch muscle fibers and utilizes glucose to a much greater extent than low-intensity exercise. Low-intensity exercise, on the other hand, tends to recruit slow-twitch fibers and uses free fatty acids as a substrate for energy. This.. is more beneficial for preventing or reversing the metabolic syndrome.

This is good news. We knew walking was beneficial for many health conditions. Now it's clear that walking has great overall health benefits.

Read more about Metabolic syndrome and why it's important to target this health issue:

Metabolic syndrome: new guidance for prevention and treatment
Metabolic Syndrome - What is It?

Honey - A Safe and Inexpensive Remedy for Your Child's Cold Symptoms

Honey has been widely used for the treatment of cough that accompanies upper respiratory infections. Honey has been recently studied to see if it might be beneficial to treat cough and provide rest in children who are less than twelve months of age to provide relief of cold symptoms. The use of honey to treat a cough has long been endorsed by the World Health Organization.

Children’s cough remedies, purchased over the counter have not been very successful, and their safety has recently been under fire.

Ian M. Paul, MD, MSc, an associate professor of pediatrics and public health sciences at the College of Medicine, Pennsylvania State University has studied whether or not honey might help relieve cough and cold symptoms in children. Dr. Paul felt that since honey is a natural, inexpensive choice that it should be further investigated by obtaining feedback from parents who enrolled in the study.

During the study, children either received no treatment, buckwheat honey at bedtime, or honey flavored DM (dextromethorphan).

Parental satisfaction was highest in the group that was given a single dose of honey at bedtime. Satisfaction was low when no treatment was provided. Past studies showed that using DM is not effective, plus the cumulative effects of this medication are risky because it can cause hallucinations.

The conclusion:
Try honey to treat cough in children. It could decrease visits to the hospital when combined with traditional treatment, such as a humidifier, fever control and nasal irrigation with saline.
You should be aware, that during the study there were complaints of nervousness, hyperactivity and irritability in the group that was given honey, but it was mild. Since buckwheat honey was used, recommendations for the use of other types of honey cannot be substantiated.
Investigation will be ongoing. It is assumed that honey should provide cough relief for adults.

Obesity and Fitness

People who are obese, but physically fit have a lower chance of dying from overall risks, such as stroke, or heart attack, than those who are inactive and not overweight.

A study* targeting people who were over age sixty showed that people who are physically fit live longer, even after other factors are taken into account, such as waist circumference, smoking, and percentage of body fat. Of course, the risk is decreased even more for persons who have normal weights and higher levels of physical fitness.

It is suggested that walking for 30 minutes several days a week (or everyday) can cut the risk of deaths from all causes. Doctors should probably suggest fitness for their patients rather than weight loss. It's discouraging to exercise, try to eat well and not gain more weight, but to never drop the pounds. Now, evidence shows that activity is good for you regardless.

It's still important to try to address the obesity problem, but the truth is, that's been going on for about the last twenty years, yet obesity is currently an epidemic.
This is good news, and should make the prospect of a healthier lifestyle more attainable, even if you have felt discouraged about being overweight.

It has been only recently that waist circumference was believed to be one of the biggest predictors of overall mortality risk. This new study adds another dimension to how we approach self help for overall health and well being.

* Included were 2603 adults aged 60 years or older (mean age, 64.4 years; 19.8% women) enrolled in the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study who completed a baseline health examination from 1979 to 2001.

Smoking Vaccine

A vaccine that produces antibodies to Nicotine has been tested and proven to been successful when compared to placebo. People in the group who were given a placebo experienced a 6% success rate in smoking cessation after 12 months. The group receiving the nicotine vaccination had 16% success after 12 months.

The vaccine, Varenicline (NicVax), was responsible for a threefold increase in success when compared to the group that merely received a placebo. The use of other smoking cessation aids, such as Nicotine patches and medication made it twice as likely that people will stop smoking without assistance.

The vaccine contains a chemical which is connected to a protein. The chemical is similar to nicotine, but it produces antibodies. This chemical prevents the way the brain responds to nicotine, rendering it less addictive and not enjoyable. Varenicline prevents nicotine from crossing the blood/brain barrier, so your brain never gets the signals telling you that nicotine is a pleasure. Varenicline vaccine provides a specific target for smoking cessation when compared to other medication.

NicVax is still in the production phases. The FDA has not approved it until further studies are done. The availability of even more methods to cure nicotine addiction should make it easier for everyone. There is no one thing that works for everybody, and the more methods that are available, the better. ◦

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Random Acts of Kindness

12/17/07 Today's Act of Kindness Bloggers Unite

Today is the day. Mine has just ended. I really didn't know what I would do today, so I decided to sit still and listen to my inner voice.

I recently had a friend who has had a terrible misfortune. The story starts eleven horrible days ago. My friend has lost everything, ending up at the Salvation Army, starting his life all over again.

We have become Internet friends, through a mutual admiration of each other's blog: e-mailing and visiting each other's postings. My friend had been very productive, on sabbatical up until eleven days ago when he decided it was time to get back to the real world. But the world as he knows it became surreal.

I received a message saying that he had no had been stolen and squandered away while he was gone; having entrusted his money management to a relative. He had nowhere to go, and no money to get there. He was arrested for vagrancy and jailed.

Through a leap of faith and against the advice of everyone I know, I decided to lend a hand. I've managed to help him get through this.

I now have a friend for life. I may never have put myself on the line without the impetus offered by Blog Catalog to perform this kindness.

All if well; the world isn't so ugly, and not everyone you meet on the Internet is a creep.

Read more at Blog Catalog

I'm a member of BlogCatalog. On December 17th, participating BlogCatalog members are devoting themselves to acts of kindness.

The excitement and community input has been uplifting. BlogCatalog has members from all corners of the globe. What a wonderful way to spread good will. Kudos to the administrators for their promotion of such an endeavour.

Watch the video that this community has put together. Join in. How could this ever be anything but sooo right?

What do you think is most needed?

Tell me what you think. If you were the recipient of that act of kindness, would it open your eyes and heart? Would you believe that the world is indeed a better place because of this?

Please join us.

Here's a wonderful video from anoher member of BlogCatalog.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

November Health News

High Blood Sugar

Maybe you've been diagnosed with diabetes, or maybe your doctor has told you to watch your diet in order to control your blood glucose levels. Here are some highlights, recently published from the Institute for Point of Care Testing regarding hyperglycemia.

Hyperglycemia is associated with a number of serious health complications, especially in the presence other medical disorders. Critically and acutely ill patients with elevated blood glucose levels experience higher rates of complications during hospitalization. Serious infections following surgery are more common. Death is more common in the Intensive Care Unit.

Hospitalized patients experience spikes in blood glucose levels, perhaps as the result of stress; as a means for the body to adapt to illness. The phenomenon exists even in non diabetic patients.

Aggressive treatment of new hyperglycemia in hospitalized patients has not been routinely targeted. It is not uncommon to see glucose levels above 200. The normal range is 80-110. It is now obvious that hyperglycemia results in higher death rates following surgery, trauma to the head, burns, stroke and heart attack. Hyperglycemia increases the severity of strokes and heart attack.

The risk is worse in persons who are not diabetic, in other words, new onset of hyperglycemia.

The DIGAMI (Diabetes and Insulin-Glucose Infusion in Acute Myocardial Infarction) study has shown that providing insulin therapy for three months following new onset of hyperglycemia decreased the relative risk of death from complications by 30%. Follow up at 3.4 years showed an absolute reduction in deaths of 11%. The risk reduction was seen in diabetics who had not previously been on Insulin and who had no risk factors for heart attack.

To summarize, intensive control of blood sugar is needed to help the body fight infection, prevent death from complications of illness, reduce the extent of heart attack and stroke, slow the progression of damage to the organs and improve overall quality of life.

If you are diabetic, or have been told that your blood sugar levels are high, take care with your diet. Monitor you blood sugar levels and report abnormalities to your physician. Though it may seem harmless, the risks associated with high blood sugars have a definite negative impact on the body's ability to heal. Hyperglycemia clearly contributes to complications of existing illness.

If you have a family history of diabetes, see your doctor for regular screening and follow up.

Free Diabetic Supplies

Fasting May Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints (LDS) live longer than the non LDS population. Researchers have investigated lifestyle to determine what might account for the increase in longevity. The Mormon population regularly fasts for twenty four hours once a month, and is a non smoking group.

It's possible that regular fasting plays a role. There also seems to be a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease among non LDS members who regularly fast; 66% lower for LDS members and 61% lower for non LDS study participants who regularly fast. Dr Benjamin Horne (Intermountain Medical Center, Murray, UT) presented the results of the study during the American Heart Association (AHA) 2007 Scientific Sessions.

The Intermountain Heart Collaborative Study first conducted interviews with 4600 participants. Risk factors for coronary artery disease were determined among the participants. Of the 4600 people, 1467 regularly fast and are not part of the religious group. Both groups, regardless of religious beliefs, had a lower risk of heart disease when coronary angiogram (cardiac catheterization) was performed. Angiography was performed on 515 members of the study.

To explain the effect, it’s possible that fasting signals the body's metabolism to "dip" into its storage of nutrition, altering the way the body processes glucose (sugar) and insulin. It's also speculated that people who fast may simply have better overall control over their dietary habits.

Further investigation is needed to completely define what role fasting seems to play in cardiovascular health. Presently, the potential benefit is just implied. Diabetics should not consider fasting as an option for the reduction of heart disease.

It's a concept that hopefully will be further explored. It should be noted that people who restrict their intake of calories also live longer.

Qigong (Chi Gung) Exercise Shown to Reduce Neck Pain

Qigong has its roots in traditional Chinese medicine. Qigong or Chi Gung exercise involves breathing and movement designed to provide harmony to the body.

In the aforementioned study, one group received exercise, the other Qigong therapy. The participants all had been experiencing long term neck pain. Those excluded from the study included chronic tension-type headache, migraine, traumatic neck injury, neurologic findings, rheumatic diseases, fibromyalgia or other severe physical diseases, and treatment with antidepressive and anti-inflammatory drugs.

The study was performed between 2001 and 2004 and involved exercises over a period of three months for twelve treatments. Both groups showed improvement, making Qigong and exercise equally effective for the treatment of neck pain.

The researchers report that improvement was greater than 50% in both groups and was maintained for six to twelve months following therapy.

The study group was admittedly small and was not compared to a group receiving no therapy. It is felt however, that it would be safe to offer Qigong as a method for self management of unspecified chronic neck pain.

The results come from a study performed by Lansinger and colleagues.

Watch the video. Notice the flowing movements. Qigong is a very gentle way to help your body promote healing.

Reach for the moon with Llewellyn
Purchase ChiGung for Beginners $8.42 (cost effective therapy) - click the image to review.

America Public Health Association Takes a Stand on Climate Change

The American Public Health Association, (APHA) held their annual meeting. The executive director, Dr. Georges C. Benjamin has made a statement that the association is about to take a role in policies that affect climate change.

The effort is aimed at involving the public to make individual lifestyle changes. The goal is to improve our climate as it affects global health.

"Until now...most of the public dialogue has focused on ecological devastation. As a result, few Americans are aware of the very real consequences of climate change on their daily lives today," Dr. Benjamin said. "Climate change is one of the most serious public health threats facing our world, and public health needs to have a seat at the table for this conversation." Dr. Benjamin points out that what happens in one part of the world affects us all. He reminds us that we are globally interconnected.

Between now and April 2008, Dr. Benjamin will be designing a piece by piece plan to present to health practitioners to use in promoting public awareness and lifestyle changes. A plan will be devised to include simple steps that we all can take to diminish the effects of climate change. Examples of needed change include better urban design, decreased use of cars and more physical activity.

Dr. Benjamin states: "The prospect of $200 a barrel oil," more than twice the cost today, "is a very powerful incentive for major change." His belief is that people should be thinking about what they can be doing on a daily basis about climate issues that impact health.

Research will be needed to determine how to change existing behaviors. Considerations for economic impact must be also addressed. Participation in this endeavor will be facilitated through meetings with groups, individuals and through participation in the APHA blog which is expected to contain about 50,000 members.

Stay tuned for what you can do as an individual to improve the health of everyone by changing the way you live. Think about it every day. I urge you to do what you can.

Meat, poultry, vegetables feel heat from global warming

11/21/07 Updates: reprinted from Care 2
"Kansas Says No to Global Warming. On October 18, Kansas became the first state to reject a coal-fired power plant because of its global warming impacts. Kansas now leads the national surge against coal power expansion. Thanks to Earthjustice and to the many activists who took action to defeat the plant."

"Target Commits to Reduce PVC. Target has finally agreed to reduce its use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic. The company is reducing PVC found in many of its owned brand products including infant products, children's toys, shower curtains, packaging and fashion accessories. Thanks to Care2 members, concerned citizens and the Center for Health, Environment and Justice."

Watch the video. Breathe in and out slowly. Look at our beautiful world and see if you can "connect".

Simple Measure you can take:
Give Free Rice by Just Playing a Word Game
Visit Brilliant Energy
Thirty small suggestions
How to Save the Planet
Directory of Green Products

Do You Want to Stop Smoking?

I won't even try to talk about smoking. Everyone knows it's expensive.

Okay, if you think that was silly, then good. I'm soft peddling the issue. We all know it's bad for your health. Good news is here, and I think if you're serious at all about quitting, this should be encouraging.

Hypnotherapy has been again scrutinized as a viable means to help people stop smoking. Hypnotherapy outperformed all other methods after six months in terms of success. Fifty percent of patients who received hypnotherapy in the hospital remained smoke free when evaluated at six months as compared to those who tried to quit on their own. To further tout the advantage of hypnotherapy - that statistic is double the success rate when compared to those who used patches and nicotine replacement to quit.

All of the patients who entered the study decided how they wanted to quit smoking. Men primarily chose cold turkey; most of the women chose hypnotherapy and other chose a combination of nicotine replacement and hypnotherapy.

Please visit my partner for help on how to change your life - Order Subliminal Products Direct

Try it! What's to lose? Read more from the Mayo Clinic to dispel any myths and for a full explanation of hynposis and how it works. ◦

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Global Health

Okay, you will always find something here to do. On your list today, for the good of us all, for the health of YOUR earth and for your personal health, um, would you just consider, please signing this petition?

Here's the copied and pasted "skinny" from Care2:

"We need to take every step to reduce emissions contributing to global warming, and increasing the use of freight trains is a practical way to start.

Freight railroads are by far the most environmentally friendly mode of transportation. In fact:

A train can move a ton of freight 423 miles on one gallon of fuel.
One train can carry 280 trucks between cities, freeing up the highway for cars and commuters.
Since train fatality rates are four times lower than other modes of transporting goods, moving more freight by rail will also save lives.
Freight trains are more than three times as fuel-efficient as trucks. They’re also three times cleaner. Unfortunately, bills are going through Congress right now (S. 953 and H.R. 2125) that would reregulate the railroads and put the brakes on rail expansion!"

I know there is skepticism about greenhouse gas emissions. I understand that the UN's statement is under scrutiny. I'm not sure I want to debate this. What would be the point? Later on I can say, oops, they were right? At least read this balanced position statement from the Weather Channel.

Here's the link if you wish to sign the Care2 petition: