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H1N1 Inflation and Vaccine Hoopla November 25, 2009

Filed under: Complementary Therapies,Medical Ethics?,Physical Wellness — aprasek @ 10:05 am

After my H1N1 post yesterday, I came across two great discussions about the potentially inflated statistics for H1N1 and on the safety of the H1N1 vaccine. Surprisingly good stuff by CBS:

Watch CBS News Videos Online

What are your thoughts? Can the public handle full disclosure in regard to public health issues? Will you be taking the vaccine?


Elderberry VS H1N1 November 24, 2009

Filed under: Complementary Therapies,Nutritional Wellness,Pharma — aprasek @ 2:13 pm

I got a phone call from a good friend the other night…

“Ummm, Aimee, I ju- [coughs] just thought you sh- [clears throat, coughs] should know that I have H1N1.”

Awesome. (Here are a few of my thoughts on H1N1 if you missed my earlier post.)

Six of us were hanging out with our H1N1 buddy the same night she went to urgent care to get the diagnosis. We were all digging our hands into a bowl of pretzels, sitting close, giving hugs, playing board games… all sorts of dirty-germ-spreading things.

Hubby was hanging out at the H1N1 party as well. That means double our chances of getting sick. Additionally, it’s the end of the semester, so I’ll be a bit more crazy than usual (which also results in driving the hubby more crazy). Thus, it’s definitely time for some immune-boosting measures and some extra prophylactic pig flu duties.

We’re making sure we get enough sleep, taking the usual public health measures, popping our multi-vitamins, adding an extra boost of Vit C and Zinc, ingesting lots of ginger and garlic, drinking some teas and we’ve added this:

New Chapter: Immunity Take Care

The above is a product from New Chapter, called “Immunity take care,” which is really just an elderberry extract (sambucus nigra). The stuff isn’t cheap– I got a bottle of 30 lozenges, which is a one month supply for $30. I buy this brand because of its potency and similarity to the full herbal chemistry of elderberry as it is found in nature.

Elderberry has been used for thousands of years to boost the immune system and there’s a lot of research to support its use today. The most interesting study is a recent one that put elderberry flavonoids up against H1N1. Amazingly, elderberry held its own. The authors of the study claim that the elderberry flavonoids compare to the anti-influenza activities of Tamiflu. (I’ll leave the Tamiflu discussion alone for the time being…)

The study was funded by HerbalScience Singapore, a life sciences company that also has a relationship with New Chapter. The authors are also affiliated with HerbalScience. Even so, the research is pretty interesting. And at the very least, it suggests that more research on elderberry and H1N1 is needed.

So, for the next 2 weeks, hubs and I are pumping the elderberry (and the rest of our anti-flu goodies) and we are NOT getting sick. Not getting sick. Not getting sick. (Adding positive affirmations as well.)

If you have any other immune-boosting practices, please share them in the comments below!


NeuroStar TMS Therapy System November 17, 2009

Filed under: Healthy Mind — aprasek @ 1:28 am

The video above is pretty lame, so if you didn’t watch it, here’s my summary: the TMS Therapy system uses a targeted magnetic field to stimulate an area of the brain associated with mood. Treatment lasts 40 minutes daily for four to six weeks. Neuronetics, the developer of the TMS Therapy, claims the device is “an effective option for treating major depressive disorder.” Learn more from the TMS website.

Brain stimulation therapies like this have been around for a long time. Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) was developed in 1938 (see earlier WG post on ECT) and I suppose we could go as far back as 10,000+ years when trepanation began. Trepanation is a surgical procedure to create a hole in the skull. Sharp stones, knives and “drills” were used to remove bone and sometimes surgeons would dig further to remove brain tissue. In the case of mental illness, trepanation was mainly believed to release evil spirits. And the treatment is actually still in practice today in small tribal cultures. Learn more about Trepanation (AKA trephination)– it’s a seriously fascinating read.

Back to TMS… It’s important to know that researchers are uncertain as to how brain stimulation techniques might work and if they are truly successful. In the case of TMS, there is no evidence to support the details of the treatment. Specifically, is TMS targeting the right area of the brain? Why have the treatment for 40 minutes? Why 20-30 sessions? Are there long-term side effects? TMS is really only backed up by two studies and there are concerns about the accuracy of the findings.

But, here’s my main issue with TMS: there are serious financial side-effects from this contraption. Individual sessions cost around $300. That means the full treatment would set you back $6,000 to $9,000. Individuals dealing with major depression who are unresponsive to traditional treatment are in a vulnerable state and are often desperate to find some sort of relief. And based on the crazy price for this treatment, I think TMS is taking advantage of this.

Believe me, I understand that when an individual is fighting against suicidal thoughts, some side effects just aren’t important anymore and any bit of relief can be a blessing. But, if the treatment is no more successful than doing absolutely nothing (which, in my opinion, has yet to be determined for TMS) then, why not spend a lot less money on a treatment (perhaps in combo with medication) that offers at least a little evidence of success (e.g., holistic psychotherapy, acupuncture, herbal tonics and supplements, MBSR, nutritional interventions, yoga…)?

I would love to hear some other thoughts on this treatment (or other brain stimulation therapies), so please share your thoughts by commenting below 🙂


Million Baby Crawl November 11, 2009

Babies have good reason to be colicky. And so do adults. Products that we use every day in our homes are full of toxic chemicals (learn more by watching the “10 Americans” video in an earlier WG post). The problem is that manufacturers of these products go through little (if any) red tape before they throw out a new “recipe” that includes the latest– and potentially more dangerous– chemicals. In the last 30 years, the EPA has required testing on only 200 of the 80,000+ chemical compounds now in use.

Here’s more info from Dr. Alan Greene about chemicals and how we can take action to clean up these nasty products:

Sincere thanks to Seventh Generation and other companies who actually care enough to create safe and effective products. Here’s how you can get involved:

Free & Clear laundry detergent

Natural Glass Cleaner

Organic Chlorine-free Tampons (also available at Trader Joe’s– they’re in a different package though)

Automatic Dishwasher Gel (in grapefruit)

Natural Dish Liquid (in lemongrass)

The goal is to get one million babies crawling to Washington, so be sure to share this info!


Toxic Cleaning in Schools November 3, 2009

Filed under: Environmental Wellness,Physical Wellness,Take Action! — aprasek @ 11:17 pm

A study conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) revealed some dirty info about cleaning products used in U.S. schools:

EWG’s tests showed that as a group, these 21 products release into the air no fewer than 457 distinct chemicals, some of which are no doubt the source of that nice clean smell. The trouble is, six of those airborne substances are known to cause asthma and another 11 are known, probable or possible cancer-causers in humans.

Read more from the study here.

Unlike adults, children are still in fragile states of development and in effect, toxins can have more harsh consequences to these younger bodies and brains. And the worst part of all this is that these cleaning products are completely unnecessary. There are cleaning products available that are 100% natural and are as effective as the toxic ones.

The video below is awesome. It discusses more about these chemicals and how they make their way into our bodies. It’s pretty crazy…

Take action by signing the petition for the “Kid-Safe Chemicals Act.” (FYI if you sign the petition, you’ll get emails from EWG- a few per week. If you don’t want to get them you can immediately unsubscribe after signing.)