Are You Using the Wrong Weight Loss Products?

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Posted by Mia Ponzo | Posted in Complementary Alternative Medicine, Natural Alternative Diet, Natural Beauty, Natural Health, Natural Weight Loss | Posted on 01-10-2015

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Diet-Pills

The other day on Dr. Phil there were some young ladies on the show who were suffering from a variety of diet disorders, including addiction to diet pills. That is exactly why I began this series, and if you have seen the program, you would know how dangerous this problem is. Many, if not all, of these pills are extremely dangerous, and it so happens that the ones that this particular young lady was taking contained ephedrine, but there are so many out there on the market that it is difficult to keep track of them!

The following are some more of the choices out there on the market today. Good or bad, they are widely available and generally easy to get.
Fat Blockers (Chitosan)

This supplement, also known as D-Glucosamine, has also been touted “the fat magnet”, but is it really safe and effective? This supplement is made from the skeletons of crustaceans, such as shrimp, crabs, and lobsters. Some studies have shown that it can help lower cholesterol levels slightly, so the idea is that it will help prevent fat digestion by binding to it. This has never been tested or shown, so the jury is still out with this one. While this product isn’t usually very dangerous, there is a lot of doubt out there as to whether or not it lives up to its claim. So, let the buyer beware, unless you like throwing your money out.

Guar Gum

This supplement is derived from the “cluster bean”. While guar gum has conventionally been used as a thickening agent in many packaged foods, it is now being marketed as a diet aid. It, like chitosan, is supposed to block the absorption of dietary fats. It is also supposed to help to make you feel fuller (this is from the fact that this is a fiber). While guar gum is considered a fairly safe supplement, in general, it does come with certain side effects, including fluctuations in blood sugar levels (hence not safe for diabetics), bloating, cramping, flatulence, diarrhea, and more. Since this is a bulking agent, we must also remind you of the chance of this supplement causing an obstruction either in the esophagus or another place in the gastrointestinal tract. Some of the cases where this has occurred have led to death. In fact it seems that the US has banned the inclusion of this supplement for this very reason. While guar gum is still approved for use in foods (in small amounts), it is considered an unsafe diet supplement. So, guar gum is not a very good choice in your quest for weight loss, even if it is still available in various forms.

Chromium

This dietary supplement comes in many forms, including GTF Chromium and Chromium picolinate, which are basically minerals found in every day foods. The claims on this supplement are that it can help to increase weight loss, increase muscle mass, increase insulin efficiency, regulates fat production, gives more energy, etc. Several studies have been done on this supplement, and it seems not to live up to any of the claims that have been made for it. There were no beneficial differences found between experimental groups and control groups. On the contrary with some obese patients, it has even been shown to be counter-effective, in fact increasing the body weight. Some studies have even found it to be cell mutating, which is really scary. It has also been noted in some isolated situations that this supplement has caused side effects including disorientation, disruption of motor abilities, and irregular heartbeat. So spending a lot of money on chromium supplements is not your most consumer conscious way to go. All those claims of fat burning and exercise-free dieting seem to be bosh, and people would be better off steering clear.

Herbal Laxatives/Diuretics

These are the variety of herbal tea blends that are being marketed all over the world (including Kuwait) as diet teas. These blends contain herbs that act as either a laxative (moving the bowels) or a diuretic (causing increased urine output). When people diet it is not normal, nor is it recommended for them to flush out the food, fat or fluid from their bodies with artificial means like these teas. You need your fluids and your nutrients, and flushing them out quickly is not a good idea. So, the next time you see a diet tea on the shelf read the ingredients. If it contains herbs like senna, cascara, aloe, cassia angustofolia, locust plant or any of the stimulants that we mentioned last week, such as guarana, kola nut, ephedra, etc., leave it there on the shelf. This type of diet aid can be dangerous and addictive. These teas can cause severe cramping, bloating, diarrhea, nervousness, vomiting, nausea, sleeping problems, and even breathing problems and death!

Aristolochic Acid

This is a plant substance that is found in many so-called “natural” diet pills. These products are often herbal products, particularly Chinese blends. The herbs themselves are probably safe, but this ingredient can cause renal failure, and has caused many people to need kidney transplants. It is also carcinogenic. Unfortunately, even with all these problems, it is still being used and marketed as a weight loss supplement, so, again, let the buyer beware!

Carb Blockers

One of the newest products to hit the diet and weight loss market are “carb blockers”, that are supposed to block carbohydrate metabolism. This is supposed to mean that you can eat a high carbohydrate meal without any of the backlash and weight gain. The important ingredient in these products is a constituent of white beans, which is called “phaseolamin”. The idea is that it binds the carbohydrates in order to prevent absorption. There are some studies that seem to show some metabolic inhibition when ingesting carbohydrates, but there are no long term studies in this regard. The problem with this product is the side effects, which can include severe bloating, digestive upset, abdominal pain or cramping, diarrhea, and more. Is discomfort worth the benefit though? In any case, so far the jury is still out with regard to the safety of this supplement, but it looks clear at this point. The good thing is that they are not very expensive, so you won’t be putting your pocketbook out much if you decide to try them.

If you really want to lose weight safely, try these…

The New Atkins   Practical Paleo   Against all Grain

Just click on the books to buy from Amazon.

(To be continued)

Email me: miaponzo@yahoo.com

Weight Loss Products: Their Dangers and Benefits

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Posted by Mia Ponzo | Posted in Complementary Alternative Medicine, Information About Herbs, Natural Alternative Diet, Natural Beauty, Natural Health, Natural Weight Loss | Posted on 25-09-2015

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weight loss

Since practically everyone is concerned with their weight these days we need to be aware of what is going on in the world of weight loss products. Your awareness is imperative so that you don’t get caught in the scams that are out there, and it is important that you have as much information on the various products that are available in the market, with some of the products being safe and useful, and others being useless or downright dangerous.

Considering the vast amount of weight loss products out on the market today, we will not be able to touch on all of them, but over the next few weeks we will certainly delve into many of them, and attempt to be as thorough as possible, so that you will be able to make your own informed choice, either to use or not to use the particular weight loss product that you were pondering.

I am going to begin with the so-called “natural” products that are being marketed as “safe”, “natural”, “healthy”, and more.

Caffeine Products

There are many products on the market now that contain caffeine. The idea is that caffeine is supposed to help people to lose weight. One of the ideas is that it should help people to be more active, pick the heart rate up, gets the metabolism going, suppresses the appetite, and often acts as a diuretic (increases urinary output). In reality though, caffeine actually slows weight loss down in many (if not all) cases. There is evidence that it makes people crave high carbohydrate foods, and raises certain hormones in the blood that make weight loss more difficult. While many of the concoctions being sold for weight loss contain chemical caffeine, many of the caffeine containing weight loss products are actually herbal, either in part or in whole. Herbal dietary aids such as Yerba Mate, Guarana, black tea, green tea, and coffee (of all types) contain fair amounts of caffeine, and while caffeine isn’t considered a seriously dangerous ingredient, nonetheless, it is probably not ideal. After all, anything that artificially speeds up the systems in your body isn’t the best choice. If you want to speed up your metabolism in a safer way, just exercise!

weight loss 2

Ephedra Products

Ephedra is the herb that has been in the news lately. It seems like people everywhere are talking about it. Some say it’s very dangerous, and others say it’s very safe. The bottom line is that, even though it’s an herb, it is a strong herb, and must be taken with extreme care. This means that products containing ephedra should definitely NOT be sold over the counter. This is not to say that ephedra doesn’t have plenty of benefits, because it does, and is a very valuable medicinal herb. But this herb should be taken under professional medical guidance only. Ephedra also goes under the Chinese herbal name “Ma Huang”. It is extremely great for dealing with asthma, or other allergic manifestations, but as beneficial as it is for some, likewise, its misuse could cause problems, even death. For this reason, using ephedra as a stimulant (as is done with dieters) is really not a good idea at all. Some people use it to make them feel more energetic, stronger, and it speeds up the metabolism to some degree. It speeds up everything in the body though, and thus, people who are suffering from high blood pressure and several other medical problems shouldn’t take it at all.

It used to be quite simple to buy ephedra-containing products over the counter, but due to a few deaths, ephedra is becoming more and more controlled. This is actually a good thing, as ephedra use was getting out of hand. But, I will repeat that ephedra use, when it is extremely moderate is a natural medicament and has been used for centuries, and as such is safe. It’s just the indiscriminate use as a weight loss panacea that made ephedra get its bad name as a dangerous supplement. Indeed, when used in that way, it is certainly a perilous endeavor.

power pops

Hoodia

This is one of the most up and coming new weight loss gimmicks around. It is advertised practically everywhere. It usually comes in an all natural form, and is generally considered safe (so far). What it is said to do is to stave off hunger pangs. Apparently it was discovered by the Kalahari tribesmen, who used to chew it in order to help them to avoid feeling hungry on their long desert treks. Since it has been used for thousands of years it seems to be safe, although the quantity that these tribal men use is much different than the daily usage of some dieters, so beware. It is probably best to use it sparingly, and to try and fend off hunger by eating healthy, filling choices. It is important to buy from a reputable company though, because apparently there have been some hoodia scams out there in the market, where people were selling something similar to hoodia instead of the real thing.

curb bites

With the above-mentioned natural weight loss aids less is more. That is what I always say, and that is the best policy to keep, particularly when it comes to natural things like herbs. So, even with things like caffeine-containing drinks, don’t overdo. Take it easy, and remember to check out what you are talking for weight loss. Don’t just walk into a store or a person’s house and let them pressure you into taking something that may or may not make you feel comfortable. But, in moderation, and for the right purpose, the above-mentioned items are safe, particularly when taken under supervision. Consult a medical practitioner before beginning any questionable product.

(To be continued….)

Email me: miaponzo@yahoo.com

 

Dangerous Artificial Sweeteners

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Posted by Mia Ponzo | Posted in Natural Alternative Diet, Natural Health | Posted on 06-09-2015

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Deadly-artificial-sweeteners1

There are so many sugar substitutes out in the market today that it’s difficult to choose one, or even to decide if we want to risk the use of any of them at all! It’s certainly not easy to decipher all the hype that the various companies bombard us with all the time in the media. So, what do we do? Well, the best way to protect ourselves is with knowledge.

Right now, here in Kuwait, you can buy three well-known brands of artificial sweeteners off the shelf in almost any of the local supermarkets. Also, since diabetic and weight-loss products have become so popular here in Kuwait, there are other sweeteners that can be found in the ingredients lists of many prepared foods. For better or for worse, these sweeteners can be both helpful and detrimental to our health, so the better we understand them, the more informed choices we can make. And, information is almost never a bad thing!

Saccharin

This artificial sweetener has been around for ages, more than 100 years, to be exact. It has had bad hype and good hype, but how safe is it really? While it went through a ban several years ago, due to studies that seemed to show that it was a carcinogen (caused cancer) in animals, its reputation has been vindicated since, with multitude studies that seem to show that saccharin is safe after all. In fact, saccharin is the most tested additive in the world and probably the most widely used around the world right now. Although, there are some researchers who still claim that scientific studies have shown saccharin to be dangerous even in humans, so it looks like the jury is still out in the matter of the safety of saccharin.

Saccharin is mostly known around the world as “Sweet and Low” and “Sugar Twin”. It is a non-caloric, non-carbohydrate sugar substitute. It was discovered by scientists while working with “toluene”, which is a coal tar derivative. It is basically a sodium salt, and is 300 times sweeter than sugar. Nowadays, though, it is synthesized from other bases mostly. One of the drawbacks of saccharin is its bitter aftertaste. But, the benefits of saccharin are that it doesn’t get digested in the body at all, and has no impact whatsoever on the blood sugar of human beings. It is inexpensive, and has a long shelf life (unlike many other artificial sweeteners). It doesn’t degrade when heated. Thus, diabetics and others who cannot take sugar can eat foods sweetened with saccharin and have no side effects, keeping their diets and health in good stead.

Aspartame

Another of the most popular artificial sweeteners is aspartame, which also goes by the names of “Nutrasweet”, “Spoonful”, and “Equal”, as well as being marketed in many “sugar-free” products. Since I have recently done an entire article on this sweetener, we will not drag on about it here (if you want a copy of the article email me and I will send it to you). But basically, what you need to know is that aspartame is a chemical sweetener made of 10% methanol (Yes, can you believe it? That is wood alcohol and deadly!) It also contains 40% aspartic acid (which basically induces your brain cells to die, “excites them to death”), and 50% phenylalanine (which is particularly dangerous to people who are suffering from PKU, which is a genetic disorder causing the inability of the body to process phenylalanine). It is 180 to 200 times sweeter than sugar. One of the differences between saccharin and this sweetener is that aspartame is digested by the body, and thus, there is more of a chance that it can have a detrimental effect on it. And on the downside, aspartame has an extremely short shelf life. It also cannot be heated safely in cooking, so even if you choose to use aspartame to artificially sweeten your food, you must be very careful to use to prudently.

While the FDA gives aspartame a thoroughly clean bill, and states that aspartame is totally safe, based on studies that they have done, there are literally thousands of complaints that have been lodged with them about this sweetener. There are a host of side effects that are caused by aspartame ingestions, and these effects can be brought out even at fairly low doses. Thousands of people have connected side effects to the use of aspartame. Things like allergic reactions, certain types of brain damage, learning problems, vision problems, hearing problems, memory loss, bodily pain, headaches, dizziness, depression, birth defects, and more. It also has been linked to the mimicking or triggering of many other very dangerous diseases, such as MS, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, ADD, and more! In fact, there are over 92 documented symptoms that seem to be directly related to aspartame use!

There are others who even claim that the use of aspartame as a diet product is counter productive, actually causing people to crave food, fat, carbohydrates, and more sweetness. This problem is, apparently, even more pronounced for people suffering from diabetes (often exactly those who need artificial sweeteners the most), with aspartame seeming to be related to retinopathy, and uncontrolled blood sugar levels, which are problems with diabetics anyway, with extreme cases of aspartame use even causing coma and death!

Again here the jury is out. There are tens of thousands of reports of problems with people who use aspartame, yet there are over 100 scientific studies that seem to show that aspartame doesn’t cause any problems at all, with a few, more recent, studies showing that it does. Keep yourself posted, but better yet, just don’t use it!

 

Part 2

To continue with our discourse on sugar and sweeteners, today we will talk about two types of sugar substitutes, sucralose and sugar alcohols. Both of these types of sweeteners are widely used in diet foods as of late, and although they are touted as being safe and wonderful, they are not always all they are cracked up to be. Again, though, there are pros and cons about both types of sweeteners, the choice is in your hands as to whether or not you will use one or more of these in your food. But, once you are aware of the scientific information about these, you will be able to make an intelligent choice, and be less influenced by advertising and media hype.

Sucralose

Sucralose is one of the newest products to hit the stores. It is normally marketed under the name of Splenda, but also appears in many dietary food items as sucralose, and in Europe goes by the name of E955 (food additive). Sucralose is actually a sugar derivative, and one of the selling points that the company that makes it is always touting is that it tastes so good and natural because it is really sugar. Well, not exactly. Actually, sucralose is a chemical compound derived from sugar but replaces the hydrogen and oxygen molecules in sugar with chlorine atoms consisting of: 4-chloro-4-deoxy-galactose (4CG) and 1,6-dichloro-1,6-dideoxyfructose (1,6 DCF). (This basically makes sucralose similar to pesticides!) It is 600 times sweeter than sugar. It can apparently be used in cooking and baking as well, and has a longer shelf life than many other artificial sweeteners.

Sucralose is marketed as a sweetener that is totally non-caloric and doesn’t affect the blood glucose levels, thereby making it safe for diabetics to use and also people on diets. It is claimed that it isn’t absorbed by the body at all. This is unfortunately incorrect information, as it is indeed metabolized by the body. In some studies it has been shown that as much as 20, 30, and even 40% of it can be metabolized by the body, although there are also studies that show that sucralose is excreted from the body almost entirely in its original state, meaning that it is not metabolized much or at all. What is worse is what it breaks down into, 1,6-dichlorofructose, the side effects of which are totally unknown. There is also evidence that the use of sucralose actually causes people to gain weight instead of lose it, because it increases the cravings for carbohydrates and sweets. There is also known evidence that many of the chemicals found in sucralose have been found to be carcinogens.

Studies have found that the use of sucralose causes the thymus gland to shrink (don’t forget that this gland is of importance when it comes to our immune systems). It has also been shown in certain other animal studies to increase the size of the kidneys and liver, among other things. There are also many other symptoms that seem to be related to sucralose use including: digestive problems, headaches, heart palpitations, depression, dizziness, joint pain, weakness, tingling sensation in mouth and surrounding areas, as well as the hands and fingers, facial swelling, redness and allergic-type reactions, blurred vision, and much more.

The fact is that there are absolutely NO human studies that have been done with sucralose, and that is probably one of the reasons that its use has not been approved in many countries, even though the FDA approved its use in the USA. Keep in mind also that sucralose has been associated with many problems, including those mentioned above and more, and the full story isn’t even close to being divulged, so think more than twice before using Splenda or sucralose containing products in your diet.

Sugar Alcohols

There are several different types of sugar alcohols (also known as polyols), including Xylitol (which is from straw, corncobs, cereal, mushrooms, etc), Sorbitol (which comes from fruit and vegetables, including corn), Mannitol (occurring in seaweed, carrots, pineapple, sweet potatoes, and olives), and Maltitol, to name a few. (Others include: Galactitol, Erythritol, Inositol, Ribitol, Dithioerythritol, Dithiothreitol, and Glycerol). Technically, they are reduced hydroxel group carbohydrates that have been hydrogenated. They are less sweet than table sugar, and are often used with other artificial sweeteners in order to improve the flavor of foods. They are not absorbed by the body, contribute extremely low calories, and thus are useful for people who need to be on a low carbohydrate diet, including diabetics. But, again, there is the danger of overeating when using these products on a daily basis, so care must be taken. Also, there is the danger of higher blood sugar levels when sugar alcohols are overeaten.

Sugar alcohols (yes, they are called “alcohols”, but don’t contain ethanol, as in alcoholic drinks, it is just a name that was given due to their similarity to sugar and alcohol from a chemical point of view) have been around for a fairly long time, and have been found to be generally safe. The problem with sugar alcohols is that they cause digestive disturbances to many people (if not all). These problems include bloating, flatulence, intestinal cramping and diarrhea. Most foods that contain sugar alcohols carry a warning to this effect. This is why sugar alcohols should be consumed in very small amounts, if at all. They do have many beneficial effects as well though, including the inhibition of the growth of bacteria, which is particularly beneficial when it comes to preventing cavities in the teeth. This is one of the reasons that there are the sweeteners used in artificially sweetened gum.

While these sweeteners seem to be safer than most, you can see that even these have unpleasant side effects that you would probably not like to experience, and would better avoid. So, here as before, you have an informed choice to make. Often regular old sugar in moderation might be better than these artificial sweeteners.

Check out this video…

Email me: mia@yournaturalhealthonline.com

 

What good sweeteners are there for low carb, ketogenic, Paleo eating? (Part 1)

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Posted by Mia Ponzo | Posted in Complementary Alternative Medicine, Information About Herbs, Medical Terminology, Natural Alternative Diet, Natural Beauty | Posted on 27-08-2015

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sweeteners

 

One of the misinformed dieting fads in Kuwait is using fructose in cookies and cakes and calling it part of a weight loss or low carbohydrate diet. This is part of a campaign in which many companies are marketing various “diet” desserts in bakeries and various supermarkets around the country. The first time I ever encountered this phenomenon here I took the time to call up the so-called “doctor” and discuss it with her. When I asked what sort of sugar substitute was in the desserts, she said fructose. I was quite surprised, knowing full well that fructose reacts the exact same way in a body as glucose does. She informed me that there were some other sugar substitutes as well, but mostly fructose. She argued that it is better than “regular” sugar and is metabolized differently. I, naturally, disagreed and informed her of the correct scientific facts, which we will discuss below. She continued to argue her point, and only after I brought up more and more information did she finally remain quiet, admitting defeat. The worse part is that she isn’t the only person out there who is confused. Although her confusion is inexcusable, (particularly because she is a health professional in the field of dietary medicine), she is certainly not alone.

So, when is sugar not sugar? Never! (That is unless it has been chemically altered, and we will discuss that later). While we have several kinds of sugar substitute, sugar is always sugar, no matter which name you decide to call it, and it has plenty of names. The bottom line is that when the body takes in sugar it reacts the very same way no matter where it was from (unless you have a food sensitivity to beets, for example, in which case you will react to that sort of sugar).

Sugar goes by many aliases, including the following:

*sugar (sucrose, fructose, etc)
*glucose (pure sweetness found in fruits, honey, and vegetables)
*sucrose (table sugar)
*fructose (sugar from fruit)
*saccharose
*(crystalline) solid disaccharide
*cane sugar (sugar made from sugar cane)
*beet sugar (sugar made from beets)
*lactose (milk sugar)
*galactose (found in dairy products)
*dextrose (pure sugar from fruit
*maltose (sugar formed as a breakdown of starches)
*trehalose (sugar disaccharide)
*disaccharide (double molecule sugar)
*monosaccharide (single molecule sugar)
*ribose (kind of sugar found in human cells, often used as a supplement for athletes, particularly body builders)
*white sugar (basically table sugar made from either sugar cane or beets, also known as granulated sugar)
*brown sugar (which is just white sugar with molasses)
*table sugar (pure sugar, normally consisting of one molecule of sucrose and one of fructose)
*castor sugar (super finely ground)
*powdered/confectionary sugar (finely ground)
*fruit sugar (fructose, often said to be absorbed slightly slower into the blood, but having almost the same rating in a glycemic index, which judges rates of use by the blood)
*raw sugar (initial pressing of unrefined sugar)
*turbinado sugar (filtered through wood charcoal)
*muscovado sugar (a type of less refined sugar with some molasses content, thus more nutrients)
*demerera sugar (a type of raw cane sugar, thus more nutrients)
*honey (what bees make)
*molasses (the byproduct of sugar production, full of nutrients)
*corn sweetener (sugar derived from corn)
*corn syrup (sugar derived from corn)
*maple sugar/syrup (sugar/syrup derived from the maple tree, full of nutrients)
*high fructose corn syrup (sugar derived from corn)
(The following are sugar alcohols, which are not supposed to act quickly on the blood, and thus are suitable for diabetics and low carbohydrate dieters).
*sorbitol
*xylitol
*mannitol
(This is one of the newest forms of sweetener. This one is derived from sugar but isn’t supposed to react in the body as sugar).
*sucralose (otherwise known as Splenda)
(There are other artificial sweeteners as well, but we won’t go into them right now).

While each of these sugars is different in a variety of ways, they are still all sugar. While they don’t act on the body in exactly the same way, they are all basically the same in the long run, as they increase the level of sugar in our blood, thereby requiring that our bodies deal with it, which can cause a variety of symptoms including weakness, exhaustion, and worse, in certain cases. In fact, all this hype about fructose and other so-called “diet” sweeteners being healthier looks like it is going to go the opposite way as scientific studies delve into the side effects and detriments of using it. Tune in right here next week to get the low down on what that research is discovering.

There are millions of people out there desperately trying to be healthier, lose weight, or keep their weight at a normal level. I am one of them, and I am certainly one of those people who have tried a variety of sugars and sugar substitutes in my quest to be healthier and thinner. The problem with this is that it is apparently not working. There are several reasons for this, and the main one is that the information that business minded people are giving out is incorrect. It is simply not true! Giving these companies the benefit of the doubt, the probably have good intentions most of the time, but still, regardless of their intentions, millions of people are being misled by false advertising with regard to these sugars and sugar substitutes that are being marketed.

Let’s take the fructose issue, since that seems to be one of the more sensitive ones. Here in Kuwait and all over the world there are people who are marketing fructose as a healthy alternative to sugar. Well, the lowdown is that fructose is just another kind of sugar. In fact it is sweeter than table sugar, and while you need less of it to get your foods sweet, the basic analysis of its use is something you’re going to want to hear.

There are several reasons why fructose isn’t a great idea, even though in some forms it has a lower glycemic index than table sugar (remember in the form of high fructose corn syrup its glycemic index is very high). According to studies that have been done, diabetics and heart patients often have adverse effects from the use of fructose because of how it raises their blood lipid levels abnormally, specifically cholesterol and LDL, which are fats that you don’t want to have, and this is apparently true for diabetics particularly, and in men this reaction is higher than in women. It also increases blood clotting, which is another dangerous side effect, particularly when you are suffering from heart disease or a circulatory disease. Don’t forget that diabetics have a higher rate of heart disease than most other people too, so the use of fructose is definitely a dangerous endeavor for them. Fructose has also been found to affect the natural absorption of certain minerals, including copper, which is important for healthy blood. It has also been linked to the heightened process of aging, and causing the skin to deteriorate resulting in wrinkles, lines and age spots.

Naturally though, practically anything in small enough quantities isn’t going to have an adverse effect on much, but still, quantities can add up when you’re not looking! Fructose and its not-so-nice sister high fructose corn syrup are not diet foods and are implied in many studies showing detrimental effects to our health when we eat them, even for normal weight people.

Did you know that fructose metabolism causes the body to store fat more than regular sugar? Indeed, when it is metabolized in the liver (which is the only place it is metabolized), as opposed to glucose (which is used by the entire body), it is almost completely converted to fat. Also, another interesting fact is that since fructose doesn’t stimulate insulin production, and because of this, it encourages overeating. In fact, over time, it can even create insulin resistance! In addition to that, fructose doesn’t contain even one single vitamin, mineral, or enzyme, and in its metabolism by the body, these things are actually leached from our bodily store of them!

I bet you didn’t know that most of the fructose out in the market today isn’t even derived from fruit, did you? It’s derived from corn for the most part, and corn alone is one of the grains that I always tell people to stop eating when suffering from any kind of health problem, particularly allergies and food sensitivities. It can also be made from beets, sugar cane and other plants. Hmm…. that is exactly where table sugar comes from! In fact high fructose corn syrup has been linked directly to the increase in obesity of children and adults all over the world, due to its high use in processed foods everywhere. It is turning up in foods that don’t even need to be sweetened! And, apparently, according to the research, the fatter you are the worse you are affected by fructose!

So, reading ingredients lists is your first defense. Just don’t buy products containing fructose, corn syrup, or high fructose corn syrup. When you begin reading, you will be surprised at what you will find. High fructose corn syrup is everywhere! You will find it in cereals, soft drinks, bottled and canned juices, fruits, and vegetables, canned foods (such as sauces, soups, etc), grain products, frozen prepared products, prepared spice blends, and more! And you will find tons of it in fast foods, even in the most unlikely places, like in your “healthy” salad dressing, for example!

Now, keeping in mind that some forms of fructose are better than high fructose corn syrup, still the better route is to go as natural as possible. The best idea is to completely cut the sugar out. The bottom line is, if you want high quality, “good for you” fructose, eat whole fruit! You can’t go wrong with a couple pieces of healthy, preferably organic fruit a day. Try to choose fruit with plenty of fiber for the best results.

More on Sweeteners in the next post (stay tuned)… but in the meantime… check out my two favorite natural, safe, GMO-free, sweeteners that can be effective with low carb, ketogenic, and Paleo diets.

xylitol zveet   eryrthritol

 

 

Quick and Easy Way to Get Rid of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

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Posted by Mia Ponzo | Posted in Complementary Alternative Medicine, Information About Herbs, Natural Health, Quick and Easy Natural Remedies You Can Do At Home | Posted on 15-08-2015

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ibs

Irritable Bowel Syndrome isn’t the most pleasant of topics that we ever attempted to broach. But, there are millions of people around the world who suffer daily from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) (also known as spastic colon), thousands of them right here in Kuwait, and something needs to be done to help them.

If you aren’t sure what IBS is, here are some of the possible symptoms:
• bloating or gassiness (sometimes very severe)
• diarrhea
• constipation
(or vacillating between the two for no apparent reason)
• mucus in bowel movement
• abdominal pain (either in one place or radiating)
• cramping (sometimes severe)
• pain in legs, back, sides
• tightness in chest (sometimes it seems like a heart attack)
• nausea
• headaches
• stomachache
(and more)

In reality, IBS is basically a catch-all term for all those symptoms that were mentioned above, when they don’t have any obvious organic reason. After all the normal testing is done, including barium enema, barium drink, scopes (possibly upper and lower), and more, and nothing noteworthy shows up, the label IBS is attached. IBS can be chronic or acute. There are people who suddenly suffer from certain symptoms, and after testing comes up negative on everything, are diagnosed with IBS, and then soon after spontaneously recover. Others suffer for years and even while taking medication, never really feel much better for very long. Treating IBS is also a challenge for conventional medicine, since it is often merely a diagnosis of the process of elimination lacking the presence of organic evidence of anything else, so how do you treat it? Normally it is only the symptoms that are treated, for example the upset stomach, the gas, and the constipation or diarrhea, often with little or no relief.

Alternative medicine takes a bit of a different view when it comes to IBS. I have been successfully treating IBS for years, with an almost 100% success rate. How is that? My view (along with many other alternative practitioners) is that IBS is basically a result of sensitivities or allergies of one sort or the other. These sensitivities (or allergies) manifest themselves in a variety of ways, including sinus problems, skin problems, migraines, and IBS. So, one way to treat IBS is to treat the underlying sensitivity or allergy. While this isn’t a simple task, it isn’t difficult to do, and there are basic rules that seem to apply to most people and work in most cases

The diet is one of the most important areas to look at when dealing with IBS. Dietary changes are often all that is needed to “cure” the problem. In fact, the elimination of high carbohydrate foods is often all that is required. Foods like potatoes, bread, rice, sugary foods, and more are often the problem. For some reason, it seems that many people simply cannot process these foods and thus, suffer with the symptoms of IBS when eating them. If you suffer from IBS try cutting out these things, along with artificial colorings, preservatives, additives, soy (and its byproducts), dairy (and its byproducts), corn (and its byproducts), tomatoes, high citrus fruits, tea, coffee, chocolate, and anything else that causes discomfort when eaten.

Stress also plays an important part in the manifestation and treatment of IBS. So, keeping your stress levels down is always going to help. Now, while I am well aware that in this day and age, keeping stress low is going to be an almost insurmountable task, it can be done, nonetheless. You must do whatever it takes, as your health depends on it. So, if you suffer from this or other stress-related diseases lowering the stress in your life is of utmost importance. This can be done in many ways, including decompressing in a warm bath, taking a leisurely walk, reading a good book, relaxing with good friends, meditating, playing your favorite sport, going horseback riding, painting, or whatever it is that you like to do. Don’t keep on saying, “later”, because later will never come.

reflexology tutor

Click HERE to buy this book from Amazon.

There are many alternative therapies that have been found to have good results for IBS, including: reflexology, aromatherapy, Chinese acupressure (and acupuncture), hypnotherapy, ayurveda, yoga, and more. These can be used together or individually, and are often so effective that they can even completely cure the problem.

In our herbal pharmacy, we have many choices, and most of them can be found right in our own kitchens! Herbs like peppermint, fennel seed, anise seed, chamomile, thyme, sage, ginger, rosemary, and marjoram, to name a few. Some other herbs that, while they probably aren’t going to be available in your own pantry, are widely available in the herbal marketplace worldwide are: marshmallow leaf, slippery elm, psyllium husks, ginseng, evening primrose, golden seal, Echinacea, and more.

Here are some good choices for herbal remedies that you can do easily at home:

marshmallow herb

Click HERE to buy marshmallow leaf herb from Amazon.

slippery elm

Click HERE to buy Slippery Elm Bark from Amazon.

psyllium husks

Click HERE to buy Organic Psyllium Husks from Amazon.

kefir starter

Click HERE to buy Kefir Starter from Amazon.

Clearly IBS is a miserable problem that no one wants to suffer from. It is painful and embarrassing. So, for those who suffer, a solution is extremely important. The solution that you look for is right here in the world of alternatives, and right there in your own kitchen!

Email me: miaponzo@yahoo.com

This article first appeared in the Arab Times newspaper in Kuwait in July 200.

Some Medical Terminology to Get You Started

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Posted by Mia Ponzo | Posted in Medical Terminology | Posted on 15-02-2014

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Most people on the street have little trouble understanding ordinary English, but even the most fluent English speaker has trouble with medical terminology. Some of the worlds are strange and don’t sound even remotely like what they mean. When you go to a doctor, whether the doctor is a conventional one (allopathic) or an alternative one (holistic), it is important to be able to understand what he (or she) says. Also, when you are written a prescription, whether it is for a conventional (chemical type) medication, or an alternative (natural type) one you may not even be able to understand what it is for.

 

            If you read books about alternatives, particularly aromatherapy, you will need to know several terms that are used throughout when describing the properties of the various oils. When I did the recent essential oil articles I tried not to use too many of these terms without explaining what they were, but you will hear these terms in your life, on the news, at the doctor, and it is better if you know what they are. So here we go!

 

Useful Medical Glossary (remember this is, by far, not exhaustive, and is a general help when it comes to alternative medicine, if you wish to get more depth in your glossary, then there are several excellent glossaries on the Internet):

 

Acute: Of abrupt onset, in reference to a disease. Acute often also connotes an illness that is of short duration, rapidly progressive, and in need of urgent care.

Allergen: A substance that is foreign to the body and can cause an allergic reaction in certain people. For examples, pollen, dander, mold.

Amenorrhea: Absence or cessation of menstruation. Amenorrhea is conventionally divided into primary and secondary amenorrhea:

  • Primary amenorrhea — menstruation never takes place. It fails to occur at puberty.
  • Secondary amenorrhea — menstruation starts but then stops.

Analgesic: A drug that relieves pain. With an effective analgesic, there is an inability to feel pain while still conscious.

Anemia: The condition of having less than the normal number of red blood cells or less than the normal quantity of hemoglobin in the blood. The oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood is, therefore, decreased.

Antibacterial: Anything that destroys bacteria or suppresses their growth or their ability to reproduce. Heat, chemicals such as chlorine, and antibiotic drugs all have antibacterial properties.

Antibiotic: A drug used to treat infections caused by bacteria and other microorganisms. Originally, an antibiotic was a substance produced by one microorganism that selectively inhibits the growth of another.

Anticoagulant: Any agent used to prevent the formation of blood clots.

Anticonvulsant: A medication used to control (prevent) seizures (convulsions) or stop an ongoing series of seizures.

Antidepressant: Anything, and especially a drug, used to prevent or treat depression.

Antiemetic: 1. As a noun, a drug taken to prevent or treat nausea and vomiting.
2. As an adjective, pertaining to the prevention or treatment of nausea and vomiting.

Antifungal: A drug used to treat fungal infections.

Antihistamines: Drugs that combat the histamine released during an allergic reaction by blocking the action of the histamine on the tissue. Antihistamines do not stop the formation of histamine nor do they stop the conflict between the IgE and antigen. Therefore, antihistamines do not stop the allergic reaction but protect tissues from some of its effects.

Antimicrobial: A drug used to treat a microbial infection.

Antipyretic: Something that reduces fever or quells it.

Antiseptic: Something that discourages the growth microorganisms

Antispasmodic: 1) A medication that lowers the incidence of or prevents seizures. 2) A medication that lowers the incidence of or prevents muscle spasms.

Antiviral: An agent that kills a virus or that suppresses its ability to replicate and, hence, inhibits its capability to multiply and reproduce.

Arrhythmia: An abnormal heart rhythm. In an arrhythmia the heartbeats may be too slow, too rapid, too irregular, or too early. Rapid arrhythmias (greater than 100 beats per minute) are called tachycardias. Slow arrhythmias (slower than 60 beats per minute) are called bradycardias. Irregular heart rhythms are called fibrillations (as in atrial fibrillation and ventricular fibrillation). When a single heartbeat occurs earlier than normal, it is called a premature contraction.

Arteriosclerosis: Hardening and thickening of the walls of the arteries. Arteriosclerosis can occur because of fatty deposits on the inner lining of arteries (atherosclerosis), calcification of the wall of the arteries, or thickening of the muscular wall of the arteries from chronically elevated blood pressure (hypertension).

Arthritis: Inflammation of a joint. When joints are inflamed they can develop stiffness, warmth, swelling, redness and pain. There are over 100 types of arthritis.

Asphyxia: Impaired or impeded breathing.

Asthma: A common disorder in which chronic inflammation of the bronchial tubes (bronchi) makes them swell, narrowing the airways. Asthma involves only the bronchial tubes and does not affect the air sacs (alveoli) or the lung tissue (the parenchyma of the lung) itself.

Atherosclerosis: A process of progressive thickening and hardening of the walls of medium-sized and large arteries as a result of fat deposits on their inner lining.

Autoimmunity: A misdirected immune response that occurs when the immune system goes awry and attacks the body itself.

Bacteria: Single-celled microorganisms which can exist either as independent (free-living) organisms or as parasites (dependent upon another organism for life). Examples of bacteria include:

Bacteriocidal: Capable of killing bacteria. Antibiotics, antiseptics, and disinfectants can be bactericidal.

Basal cells: Small, round cells found in the lower part, or base, of the epidermis, the outer layer of the skin.

Basal metabolic rate: A measure of the rate of metabolism. For example, someone with an overly active thyroid will have an elevated basal metabolic rate.

Benign: Not cancer. Not malignant. A benign tumor does not invade surrounding tissue or spread to other parts of the body. A benign tumor may grow but it stays put (in the same place).

Beta carotene: A vitamin that acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells against oxidation damage. Beta carotene is converted by the body to vitamin A. Food sources of beta carotene include vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach and other leafy green vegetables; and fruit such as cantaloupes and apricots. Excessive carotene in the diet can color the skin yellow, a condition called carotenemia.

Biliary: Having to do with the gallbladder, bile ducts, or bile. The biliary system itself consists of the gallbladder and bile ducts and, of course, the bile.

Blood clot: Blood that has been converted from a liquid to a solid state. Also called a thrombus.

Blood glucose: The main sugar that the body makes from the food in the diet. Glucose is carried through the bloodstream to provide energy to all cells in the body. Cells cannot use glucose without the help of insulin.

Blood group: An inherited feature on the surface of the red blood cells. A series of related blood types constitute a blood group system such as the Rh or the ABO system.

Blood pH: The acidity or alkalinity of blood. The pH of any fluid is the measure of the hydrogen ion (H) concentration. A pH of 7 is neutral. The lower the pH, the more acidic the blood. A variety of factors affect blood pH including what is ingested, vomiting, diarrhea, lung function, endocrine function, kidney function, and urinary tract infection. The normal blood pH is tightly regulated between 7.35 and 7.45.

Blood pressure: The blood pressure is the pressure of the blood within the arteries. It is produced primarily by the contraction of the heart muscle. It’s measurement is recorded by two numbers. The first (systolic pressure) is measured after the heart contracts and is highest. The second (diastolic pressure) is measured before the heart contracts and lowest. A blood pressure cuff is used to measure the pressure. Elevation of blood pressure is called “hypertension.”).

Blood-thinner: A common name for an anticoagulant agent used to prevent the formation of blood clots. Blood-thinners do not really thin the blood. They prevent it from clotting.

Boil: A skin abscess, a collection of pus localized deep in the skin. A boil usually starts as a reddened, tender area and in time becomes firm and hard. Eventually, the center of the abscess softens and becomes filled with white blood cells that the body sends to fight the infection. This collection of white cells is the pus

Botulism: An uncommon but potentially very serious illness, a type of food poisoning, that produces paralysis of muscles, via a nerve toxin called botulinum toxin (“botox”) that is manufactured by bacteria named Clostridium botulinum. There are various types of botulism, including:

  • Food-borne botulism — from eating food that contains the botulinum toxin.
  • Wound botulism — caused by the toxin produced in a wound infected with the bacteria Clostridium botulinum.
  • Infant intestinal botulism — when an infant consumes the spores of the bacteria, the bacteria grow in the baby’s intestines and release toxin.
  • Adult intestinal botulism — due to infection with Clostridium botulinum in adults, typically following abdominal surgical procedures.

The symptoms of botulism can range from mild, including transient nausea and vomiting, to severe cases that progress to heart and lung failure and, sometimes, death. Food-borne botulism occurs typically in unrefrigerated or poorly refrigerated foods and foods without preservatives (especially uncooked or half-cooked meats). It can be prevented by careful use of refrigeration and preservative techniques, and the toxin can be destroyed with heat.

Brown fat: Brown adipose tissue, a rapid source of energy for infants in whom it forms about 5% of their body weight. It is brown because the cells in it are packed full of small cellular organs called mitochondria, which are energy factories, and it has a rich supply of blood vessels. Brown fat is virtually gone by adulthood.

Caffeine: A stimulant found naturally in coffee beans, tea leaves, cocoa beans (chocolate) and kola nuts (cola) and added to soft drinks, foods, and medicines. A cup of coffee has 100-250 milligrams of caffeine. Black tea brewed for 4 minutes has 40-100 milligrams. Green tea has one-third as much caffeine as black tea.

Capillary: One of the tiny blood vessels that connect the arterioles (the smallest divisions of the arteries) and the venules (the smallest divisions of the veins). The capillaries form a fine network in many parts of the body.

Although minute, the capillaries are a site where much action takes place in the circulatory system. The walls of the capillaries act as semipermeable membranes permitting the exchange of various substances between the blood stream and the tissues of the body. The substances that are interchanged through the capillary walls include fluids and the key gases oxygen and carbon dioxide.

The word “capillary” originally had more to do with hair than blood vessels. It comes from the Latin “capillaris” = hair-like, which was derived from “capillus” = a hair of the head and “caput” = head.

Carbuncles: A skin abscess, a collection of pus that forms inside the body. Antibiotics are often not very helpful in treating abscesses. The main treatments include hot packs and draining (“lancing”) the abscess, but only when it is soft and ready to drain. If you have a fever or long-term illness, such as cancer or diabetes, or are taking medications that suppress the immune system, you should contact your healthcare practitioner if you develop an abscess.

Carcinogen: A substance or agent that causes cancer.

Cardiac: Having to do with the heart.

 

Cardiac arrest: A medical emergency with absent or inadequate contraction of the left ventricle of the heart that immediately causes bodywide circulatory failure. The signs and symptoms include loss of consciousness; rapid shallow breathing progressing to apnea (absence of breathing); profoundly low blood pressure (hypotension) with no pulses that can be felt over major arteries; and no heart sounds.

Cardiac arrest is one of the greatest of all medical emergencies. Within several minutes, there is lack of oxygen (tissue hypoxia), leading to multiple organ injury. Unless cardiac arrest is quickly corrected, it is fatal.

Cardiovascular: The circulatory system comprising the heart and blood vessels which carries nutrients and oxygen to the tissues of the body and removes carbon dioxide and other wastes from them.

Cataract: A clouding of the lens of the eye. The normally clear aspirin-sized lens of the eye starts to become cloudy. There are many causes of cataracts including cortisone medication, trauma, diabetes, many other diseases and simply aging. Cataracts will affect almost all people if they are fortunate enough to live long enough. The symptoms of cataracts include double or blurred vision and unusual sensitivity to light and glare. Cataracts can be diagnosed when the doctor examines the eyes with a viewing instrument.

Cathartic: A laxative.

Cellulite: Popular term for deposits of fat that have a cottage cheese-like or puckered texture. Medically, cellulite is not considered abnormal.

Cerebral: Pertaining to the brain, the cerebrum or the intellect.

Cervical: Having to do with any kind of neck including the neck on which the head is perched and the neck of the uterus. The word “cervix” in Latin means “neck”.

Cholesterol: The most common type of steroid in the body, cholesterol has gotten something of a bad name. However, cholesterol is a critically important molecule. It is essential to the formation of:

  • Bile acids (which aid in the digestion of fats)
  • Vitamin D
  • Progesterone
  • Estrogens (estradiol, estrone, estriol)
  • Androgens (androsterone, testosterone)
  • Mineralocorticoid hormones (aldosterone, corticosterone) and
  • Glucocorticoid hormones (cortisol).

Cholesterol is also necessary to the normal permeability and function of cell membranes, the membranes that surround cells.

Cholesterol is carried in the bloodstream as lipoproteins. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is the “bad” cholesterol because elevated LDL levels are associated with an increased risk of coronary artery (heart) disease. Conversely, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is the “good” cholesterol since high HDL levels are associated with less coronary disease. After the age of 20, cholesterol testing is recommended every 5 years.

Although some cholesterol is obtained from the diet, most cholesterol is made in the liver and other tissues. The treatment of elevated cholesterol therefore involves not only diet but also weight loss and regular exercise (and, occasionally, medications).

Chronic: This important term in medicine comes from the Greek chronos, time and means lasting a long time. A chronic condition is one lasting 3 months or more, by the definition of the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics. In ancient Greece, the “father of medicine” Hippocrates distinguished diseases that were acute (abrupt, sharp and brief) from those that were chronic. This is still a very useful distinction. Subacute has been coined to designate the mid-ground between acute and chronic.

Circulatory: Having to do with the circulation, the movement of fluid in a regular or circuitous course. Although the adjective “circulatory” need not necessarily refer to the circulation of the blood, for all practical purposes today it does. A circulatory problem is taken usually to be a problem with the blood circulation, for example with heart failure.

Clinical: 1. Having to do with the examination and treatment of patients. 2. Applicable to patients. A laboratory test may be of clinical value (of use to patients). The term comes through the French “clinique” from the Greek “kline” (a couch or bed). Clinical medicine was (and is) practiced at the bedside.

Clinical depression: Depression that meets the DSM-IV criteria for a depressive disorder. The term is usually used to denote depression that is not a normal, temporary mood caused by life events or grieving.

Clinical psychology: A professional specialty concerned with diagnosing and treating diseases of the brain, emotional disturbance, and behavior problems. Psychologists can only use talk therapy as treatment; you must see a psychiatrist or other medical doctor to be treated with medication. Psychologists may have a master’s degree (MA) or doctorate (PhD) in psychology. They may also have other qualifications, including Board certification and additional training in a type of therapy.

Clinical trials: Trials to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of medications or medical devices by monitoring their effects on large groups of people.

Clinical research trials may be conducted by government health agencies such as NIH, researchers affiliated with a hospital or university medical program, independent researchers, or private industry.

Usually volunteers are recruited, although in some cases research subjects may be paid. Subjects are generally divided into two or more groups, including a control group that does not receive the experimental treatment, receives a placebo (inactive substance) instead, or receives a tried-and-true therapy for comparison purposes.

Typically, government agencies approve or disapprove new treatments based on clinical trial results. While important and highly effective in preventing obviously harmful treatments from coming to market, clinical research trials are not always perfect in discovering all side effects, particularly effects associated with long-term use and interactions between experimental drugs and other medications.

For some patients, clinical research trials represent an avenue for receiving promising new therapies that would not otherwise be available. Patients with difficult to treat or currently “incurable” diseases, such as AIDS or certain types of cancer, may want to pursue participation in clinical research trials if standard therapies are not effective. Clinical research trials are sometimes lifesaving.

There are four possible outcomes from a clinical trial:

  • Positive trial — The clinical trial shows that the new treatment has a large beneficial effect and is superior to standard treatment.
  • Non-inferior trial — The clinical trial shows that that the new treatment is equivalent to standard treatment. Also called a non-inferiority trial.
  • Inconclusive trial — The clinical trial shows that the new treatment is neither clearly superior nor clearly inferior to standard treatment.
  • Negative trial — The clinical trial shows that a new treatment is inferior to standard treatment.

Clone: Literally a fragment, the word in modern medical science has come to mean a replica, for example, of a group of bacteria or a macromolecule such as DNA. Clone also refers to an individual developed from a single somatic (non-germ) cell from a parent, representing an exact replica of that parent. A clone is a group of cells derived from a single ancestral cell.

Cluster headache: A distinctive syndrome of headaches, also known as migrainous neuralgia. There are two main clinical patterns of cluster headache — the episodic and the chronic:

  • Episodic: This is the most common pattern of cluster headache. It is characterized by 1-3 short attacks of pain around the eyes per day, with these attacks clustered over a stretch of 1-2 months followed by a pain-free remission, a breathing spell. The average length of remission is a year.
  • Chronic: Characterized by the absence of sustained periods of remission, chronic cluster headache may start with no past history of cluster headaches, or it may emerge several years after the patient has experienced an episodic pattern of cluster headaches.

The episodic and acute forms of cluster headache may transform into one another, so it seems most likely that they are merely different-appearing clinical patterns of one and the same disease.

Although the mechanisms underlying cluster headache and migraine may have a degree of commonality, cluster headache looks to be different and distinct as a disease from migraine. For example, propranolol is effective for migraine but not cluster headache while lithium benefits cluster headache syndrome but not migraine.

Coagulation: In medicine, the clotting of blood. The process by which the blood clots to form solid masses, or clots.

More than 30 types of cells and substances in blood affect clotting. The process is initiated by blood platelets. Platelets produce a substance that combines with calcium ions in the blood to form thromboplastin, which in turn converts the protein prothrombin into thrombin in a complex series of reactions. Thrombin, a proteolytic enzyme, converts fibrinogen, a protein substance, into fibrin, an insoluble protein that forms an intricate network of minute threadlike structures called fibrils and causes the blood plasma to gel. The blood cells and plasma are enmeshed in the network of fibrils to form the clot.

Cognitive: Pertaining to cognition, the process of knowing and, more precisely, the process of being aware, knowing, thinking, learning and judging. The study of cognition touches on the fields of psychology, linguistics, computer science, neuroscience, mathematics, ethology and philosophy.

Congenital: Present at birth. A condition that is congenital is one that is present at birth. There are numerous uses of “congenital” in medicine. There are, for example, congenital abnormalities.

Versus “genetic”: One dictionary erroneously defines “congenital” as meaning: “Occurring prior to birth, due to parent’s genetic input.” Congenital does not mean genetic. Something that is congenital may or may not be genetic (inherited). For example, congenital syphilis is present at birth but is not genetic.

Timing: Something that is congenital may or may not occur “prior to birth.” The essential feature is that it is there at birth (if not before).

Etymology: Congenital comes from the Latin congenitus which is made up of com-, with + genitus, the past participle of gignere, to bring forth. The word “congenital” has not been used in English since its birth but first appeared in 1796. The term “congenital” is synonymous with “innate.”

Cosmeceutical: A cosmetic product claimed to have medicinal or drug-like benefits. Cosmeceutical products are marketed as cosmetics, but reputedly contain biologically active ingredients. Examples include anti-wrinkle skin creams with ingredients such as alpha lipoic acid and dimethylaminoethanol and creams containing “cellular replenishment serum” that supposedly have “antiaging properties.”

Cutaneous: Relating to the skin.

Cyst: A cyst is an abnormal, closed sac-like structure within a tissue that contains a liquid, gaseous, or semisolid substance. A cyst can occur anywhere in the body and can vary in size. The outer, or capsular, portion of a cyst is termed the cyst wall.

Cystitis: Inflammation of the bladder. Cystitis can be due for example to infection from bacteria that ascend the urethra (the canal from the outside) to the bladder.

Symptoms include a frequent need to urinate, often accompanied by a burning sensation. As cystitis progresses, blood may be observed in the urine and the patient may suffer cramps after urination. In young children, attempts to avoid the pain of cystitis can be a cause for daytime wetting (enuresis). Treatment includes avoiding irritants, such as perfumed soaps, near the urethral opening; increased fluid intake; and antibiotics. Untreated cystitis can lead to scarring and the formation of stones when urine is retained for long periods of time to avoid painful urination.

Dandruff: A mild skin condition that produces white flakes that may be shed and fall from the hair.

Dandruff is due to the sebaceous glands overworking. (The sebaceous glands keep the skin properly oiled.)

Another cause of dandruff is fungus, especially one called Pitrosporum ovale. (Most people have this fungus, but people with dandruff have more.)

For dandruff, there are several tiers of treatment:

  1. First-tier dandruff treatment: A good quality upper-end shampoo (e.g., Paul Mitchell, Aveda, Redken). If several weeks using a good quality shampoo does not stop the dandruff, it can be helpful use the second-tier of dandruff treatment.
  2. Second-tier dandruff treatment: An antifungal shampoo, (e.g., (in alphabetical order) Denorex, DHS Targel, ionil-T plus, MG217, Neutrogena T/Gel, Scalpicin, Sebulex, Selsun Blue, Tegrin, Zircon).

Decongestant: A drug that shrinks the swollen membranes in the nose and makes it easier to breath. Decongestants can be taken orally or by nasal spray. Decongestant nasal sprays should not be used for more than five days without the doctor’s advice, and if so, usually only when accompanied by a nasal steroid. Many decongestant nasal sprays often cause a rebound effect if taken too long. A rebound effect is the worsening of symptoms when a drug is discontinued. This is a result of a tissue dependence on the medication. Decongestants should not be used by patients with high blood pressure (hypertension) unless under doctor’s supervision.

Dehydration: Excessive loss of body water. Diseases of the gastrointestinal tract that cause vomiting or diarrhea may, for example, lead to dehydration. There are a number of other causes of dehydration including heat exposure, prolonged vigorous exercise (e.g., in a marathon), kidney disease, and medications (diuretics).

Dehydration: Excessive loss of body water. Diseases of the gastrointestinal tract that cause vomiting or diarrhea may, for example, lead to dehydration. There are a number of other causes of dehydration including heat exposure, prolonged vigorous exercise (e.g., in a marathon), kidney disease, and medications (diuretics).

Depression: An illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts, that affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about things. A depressive disorder is not the same as a passing blue mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be wished away. People with a depressive disease cannot merely “pull themselves together” and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people with depression.

Dermal: Pertaining to the skin. From the Greek word derma for skin.

Dermatitis: Inflammation of the skin, either due to direct contact with an irritating substance, or to an allergic reaction. Symptoms of dermatitis include redness, itching, and in some cases blistering.

Detoxify: To reduce or eliminate the toxicity of a substance or poison. To promote the recovery of a person from an addictive drug such as alcohol or heroin.

Diabetes: Refers to diabetes mellitus or, less often, to diabetes insipidus. Diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus share the name “diabetes” because they are both conditions characterized by excessive urination (polyuria).

The word “diabetes” is borrowed from the Greek word meaning “a siphon.” The 2nd-century A.D. Greek physician, Aretus the Cappadocian, named the condition “diabetes.” He explained that patients with it had polyuria and “passed water like a siphon.”

When “diabetes” is used alone, it refers to diabetes mellitus. The two main types of diabetes mellitus — insulin-requiring type 1 diabetes and adult-onset type 2 diabetes — are distinct and different diseases in themselves.

Diuretic: Anything that promotes the formation of urine by the kidney. (The word “diuretic” comes from a combination of the Greek “dia-“, thoroughly + “ourein”, to urinate = to urinate thoroughly).

Diuresis may be due to a huge number of causes including metabolic conditions such as diabetes mellitus (in which the increased glucose level in the blood causes water to be lost in the urine); substances in food and drink (such as coffee, tea, and alcoholic beverages); and specific diuretic drugs.

All diuretic drugs — which are usually called, more simply, diuretics — cause a person to “lose water” but they do so by diverse means, including:

  • Inhibiting the kidney’s ability to reabsorb sodium, thus enhancing the loss of sodium in the urine. And when sodium is lost in the urine, water goes with it. (This type of diuretic is called a high-ceiling diuretic or a loop diuretic).
  • Enhancing the excretion of both sodium and chloride in the urine so that water is excreted with them. This is how the thiazide diuretics work.
  • Blocking the exchange of sodium for potassium, resulting in excretion of sodium and potassium but relatively little loss of potassium. These diuretics are therefore termed potassium sparing diuretics.

Some diuretics work by still other mechanisms. And some diuretics have other effects and uses such as in treating hypertension.

Dropsy: An old term for the swelling of soft tissues due to the accumulation of excess water.

In years gone by, a person might have been said to have dropsy. Today one would be more descriptive and specify the cause. Thus, the person might have edema due to congestive heart failure.

Edema is often more prominent in the lower legs and feet toward the end of the day as a result of pooling of fluid from the upright position usually maintained during the day. Upon awakening from sleeping, people can have swelling around the eyes referred to as periorbital edema.

Dyspepsia: Dyspepsia refers to a condition (disease) in which there are upper abdominal symptoms which may include upper abdominal pain, bloating (a feeling of abdominal fullness without objective abdominal distention), early satiety (a feeling of unusual fullness with very little intake of food), nausea, or belching. The symptoms often are provoked by eating.

Dyspepsia is considered a functional disease. (Another functional disease is irritable bowel syndrome or IBS.) Functional diseases are diseases in which no abnormalities can be seen anatomically, for example, on x-rays, or histologically under the microscope. The abnormalities are believed to be due to altered function, primarily of the muscles and nerves of the gastrointestinal tract.

E. coli: Short for Escherichia coli, the colon bacillus, a bacterium that normally resides in the human colon. E. coli has been studied intensively in genetics and molecular and cell biology because of its availability, its small genome size, its normal lack of pathogenicity (disease-causing ability), and its ease of growth in the laboratory. Most strains of E coli are quite harmless. However, some strains of E. coli are capable of causing disease, sometimes disease of deadly proportions. For example, an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 bacteria in the water supply hit Walkerton, Ontario in the year 2000; the E. coli affected about 2,000 people in and around Walkerton and were responsible for the deaths of some 18 people. E. coli 0157:H7 is a major health problem. About 20,000 cases of hemorrhagic (bloody) colitis (inflammation of the bowel) due to E. coli 0157:H7 occur each year in the U.S. E coli O157:H7 produces toxins (poisons). The toxins produced by E. coli 0157:H7 can damage the lining of the intestine and are thought to participate in all of the diseases caused by E. coli 0157:H7. The hemorrhagic diarrhea (bloody colitis) caused by E. coli 0157:H7 is severe with painful abdominal cramps, gross blood in the stool, and lasts for 6 to 8 days. Children with E. coli 0157:H7 can develop a disease called the hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), a major and sometimes fatal “Hemolytic” refers to the breakup of red blood cells. This leads to anemia and a shortage of platelets (thrombocytopenia) which causes abnormal bleeding. “Uremic” refers to the acute kidney failure. Central nervous system problems with seizures and coma can also occur. HUS is the most common cause of acute kidney failure in infants and young children.Persons who get E. coli 0157:H7, particularly the elderly, can develop a syndrome similar to HUS called thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) with anemia due to fragmentation of red blood cells, shortage of platelets (thrombocytopenia) with easy bruising, neurologic abnormalities, impaired kidney function, and fever. Most commonly, E. coli 01257:H7 comes from eating raw or undercooked ground beef (hamburger) or from drinking raw milk or contaminated water. Less commonly, E coli O157:H7 can be transmitted from one person to another.

EEG: Electroencephalogram, e technique for studying the electrical current within the brain. Electrodes are attached to the scalp. Wires attach these electrodes to a machine which records the electrical impulses. The results are either printed out or displayed on a computer screen. Electroencephalogram is abbreviated EEG.

Electrolyte: An electrolyte is a substance that will dissociate into ions in solution and acquire the capacity to conduct electricity. The electrolytes include sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium and phosphate. Informally, called lytes. (The clue to the word electrolyte is in the lyte which comes from the Greek lytos meaning that may be dissolved.)

Embolism: The obstruction of a blood vessel by a foreign substance or a blood clot blocking the vessel. Something travels through the bloodstream, lodges in a vessel and plugs it.

Foreign substances that can cause embolism include an air bubble, amniotic fluid, a globule of fat, a clump of bacteria, chemicals (such as talc), and drugs (mainly illicit ones).

Blood clots are the most common cause of embolism. A pulmonary embolus is a blood clot that has been carried through the blood into the pulmonary artery (the main blood vessel from the heart to the lung) or one of its branches, plugging that vessel.

article about a medical subject.

Emetic: Something that causes emesis, that makes you want to vomit. For example, ipecac is an emetic. From the Greek emein (to vomit), from the Indo-European root wem- (to vomit), the source of the words such as wamble (to feel nauseated) and vomit.

Empirical: Based on experience and observation, rather than systematic logic. Experienced physicians often use empirical reasoning to make diagnoses, based on having seen many cases over the years. Less-experienced physicians are more likely to use diagnostic guides and manuals. In practice, both approaches (if properly applied) will usually come up with the same diagnosis.

Endemic: Present in a community at all times but in relatively low frequency. Something that is endemic is typically restricted or peculiar to a locality or region.

Epidemic: The occurrence of more cases of a disease than would be expected in a community or region during a given time period. A sudden severe outbreak of a disease such as SARS. From the Greek “epi-“, “upon” + “demos”, “people or population” = “epidemos” = “upon the population.” See also: Endemic; Pandemic.

Epidermal: Pertaining to the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin.

Essential fatty acid: An unsaturated fatty acid that is essential to human health, but cannot be manufactured in the body. There are three types of essential fatty acids (EFAs): arachnoidic acid, linoleic acid, and linolenic acid. When obtained in the diet, linoleic acid can be converted to both arachnoidic and linolenic acid. It is commonly found in cold-pressed oils, and is particularly high in oils extracted from cold-water fish and certain seeds. Recent research has explored the role of EFAs in the nervous system health. Supplementation with certain EFOs appears to be useful as a treatment for certain neurological disorders. However, arachnoidic acid may lower the seizure threshold. For that reason, always consult a knowledgeable physician before starting a program of EFA supplementation.

Essential oil: An oil derived from a natural substance, usually either for its healing properties or as a perfume. Some pharmaceuticals, and many over-the-counter or “holistic” remedies, are based on or contain essential oils. Examples include products containing camphor or eucalyptus that help relieve congestive coughs, and the essential oils used in the practice of aromatherapy.

Exacerbate: To make worse.

Expectorant: A medication that helps bring up mucus and other material from the lungs, bronchi, and trachea. An example of as expectorant is guaifenesin which promotes drainage of mucus from the lungs by thinning the mucus and also lubricates the irritated respiratory tract. Sometimes the term “expectorant” is incorrectly extended to any cough medicine. From the Latin expectorare, to expel from the chest, from ex-, out of + pectus, chest.

Fascia: A flat band of tissue below the skin that covers the underlying tissues and separates different layers of tissue. Fascia encloses muscles. Inflammation of the fascia is referred to as fasciitis.

Fat, saturated: A fat that is solid at room temperature and comes chiefly from animal food products. Some examples are butter, lard, meat fat, solid shortening, palm oil, and coconut oil. These fats tend to raise the level of cholesterol in the blood.

Fat, trans: An unhealthy substance, also known as trans fatty acid, made through the chemical process of hydrogenation of oils. Hydrogenation solidifies liquid oils and increases the shelf life and the flavor stability of oils and foods that contain them. Trans fat is found in vegetable shortenings and in some margarines, crackers, cookies, snack foods and other foods.

Trans fats are also found in abundance in “french fries.” To make vegetable oils suitable for deep frying, the oils are subjected to hydrogenation, which creates trans fats. Among the hazards of fast food, “fries” are prime in purveying trans fats.

Trans fats wreak havoc with the body’s ability to regulate cholesterol. In the hierarchy of fats, the polyunsaturated fats which are found in vegetables are the good kind; they lower your cholesterol. Saturated fats have been condemned as the bad kind. But trans fats are far worse. They drive up the LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. which markedly increases the risk of coronary artery heart disease and stroke. According to a recent study of some 80,000 women, for every 5% increase in the amount of saturated fat a woman consumes, her risk of heart disease increases by 17%. But only a 2% increase in trans fats will increase her risk of heart disease by 93%!

The US FDA in 1999 proposed that the Nutrition Facts labels on vegetable shortenings and some cookies, crackers, margarines, and other foods may soon carry information about trans fatty acids, or trans fats. Beyond requiring that some labels list the amount of trans fats in the food, the FDA rule would also define the term “trans fat free” and limits the use of certain nutrient or health claims related to fat content, such as “lean” and “low saturated fat.”

In the realm of dietary dangers, trans fats rank very high. It has been estimated that trans fats are responsible for some 30,000 early deaths a year in the United States. Worldwide the toll of premature deaths is in the millions.

Fatigue: A condition characterized by a lessened capacity for work and reduced efficiency of accomplishment, usually accompanied by a feeling of weariness and tiredness. Fatigue can be acute and come on suddenly or chronic and persist.

Fatty acid: One of many molecules that are long chains of lipid-carboxylic acid found in fats and oils and in cell membranes as a component of phospholipids and glycolipids. (Carboxylic acid is an organic acid containing the functional group -COOH.)

Fatty acids come from animal and vegetable fats and oils. Fatty acids play roles outside the body; they are used as lubricants, in cooking and food engineering, and in the production of soaps, detergents, and cosmetics.

Febrile: Feverish.

Flatulence: Excess gas in the intestinal tract.

Flora: The population of microbes inhabiting the outside or inside surfaces of people (or other animals). Also, the population of plants including flowers, usually in a particular area.

Freckle: A flat circular spot on the skin about the size of the head of a nail that develops after repeated exposure to sunlight, particularly in someone of fair complexion. Freckles may be red, yellow, tan, light-brown, brown, or black. They are always darker than the skin around them since they are due to deposits of the dark melanin, a dark pigment.

There are two basic types of freckles — ephelides and lentigines. Ephelides (singular: ephelis) are flat red or light-brown spots that typically appear during the sunny months and fade in the winter. Lentigines (singular: lentigo) are small tan, brown, or black spots which tend to be darker than an ephelis-type freckle and which do not fade in the winter.

The sun is not the only factor that induces freckles. Heredity also influences freckling, as witnessed by the striking similarity in the total number of freckles on identical twins. Such similarities are considerably less marked in fraternal twins. A gene for freckles has been mapped to chromosome 4q32-q34.

Freckles are harmless. They may sometimes be confused with more serious skin problems. Conversely, more serious problems such as skin cancer may at times be passed over as a mere freckle. Anyone who has one or more pigmented spots of which they are not certain should be seen by a physician (or dermatologist). Effective treatments are available to lighten or eliminate those freckles whose appearance bothers their owners.

Fungal: Pertaining to a fungus. For example, a fungal skin infection.

Gangrene: The death of body tissue due to the loss of blood supply to that tissue, sometimes permitting bacteria to invade it and accelerate its decay.

The word “gangrene” comes from the Greek “ganggraina” denoting “an eating sore that ends in mortification” (of the flesh).

Gas gangrene involves the invasion of a deep penetrating wound (in which the blood supply is compromised) by anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that can survive with little or no oxygen) such as members of Clostridium family of bacteria. The bacteria generate gas and pus. Gas gangrene is an acute, painful, dangerous condition.

Dry gangrene is the death of tissue due to vascular insufficiency without bacterial invasion. The tissue simply dries up and shrivels.

Gastric: Having to do with the stomach.

Generic: 1. The chemical name of a drug. 2. A term referring to the chemical makeup of a drug rather than to the advertised brand name under which the drug may be sold. 3.A term referring to any drug marketed under its chemical name without advertising.

Generic drugs marketed without brand names are generally less expensive than brand-name drugs, even though they are chemically identical to brand-name drugs and meet the same standards of the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) for safety, purity and effectiveness. Generic drugs can be legally produced in the US if a patent has expired, or for drugs which have never been patented. The expiration of a patent removes the monopoly of the patent holder on drug sales licensing.