June 2011

The More Things Change The More Things Stay The Same…

The story of castor oil is an interesting one. It comes from the seeds of the herb called Ricinus communis from Africa and India. My grandmother thought it was good for everything from constipation to achy joints.I thought it tasted horrible. In ancient Egypt it was used as a medicine and in the Middle Ages in Europe as well. The famous medical intuitive Edgar Cayce claimed it helped to heal lymph tissue in the small bowel and thus promoted tissue growth and repair in the body.

What is it being used for now? It might surprise you.Of course it is still used by some as a potent laxative. It is often used as a warm compress to promote lymph drainage in various body parts.

What is fascinating is that now oncologists are using castor oil to deliver chemotherapy to cancerous tumors. Unfortunately, it can cause allergic reactions. At the present time, scientists are studying ricin, which is a strong poison (the same compound used by terrorists) that comes from the castor bean. When combined with an antibody to protect healthy cells, it seems to be shrinking tumors in lymphoma patients.

Although castor oil has been around for ages it can cause problems and even death if not used properly and if given to pregnant and nursing women and small children and animals. It can cause abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, and allergic reactions. Long-term use can result in fluid and electrolyte imbalances.It is important to talk to your doctor if you might want to take castor oil or use it as a compress.There are risks but who knows what other uses are in store for this very old herb?

I Love Lucy

As I was getting ready to walk my dog Lucy, it dawned on me that I have never been healthier. I owe some of the credit for this to her. Lucy is part basset hound and German shepherd. She is one of the funniest looking dogs on the planet. She has front legs that are shorter than her back legs and she doesn’t walk; she hops. Everyone who sees her starts smiling and laughing almost immediately.

She urinates on my husband’s pillow when she gets angry with him (because he is the disciplinarian) , and one time she got so angry that she moved half his clothes out onto the deck through an open window. But, she is loving, always happy to see us, and she makes us laugh when we are sad. She puts her funny looking head in my lap whenever I am upset and I feel better. She also has a negative trait that has worked in my favor; she is incredibly demanding. I call her the entitlement princess, because she harasses me to take her on at least three walks a day. I have concluded that Lucy is good for my health.

Research confirms my conclusion. Studies have found that those who own a pet have lower blood pressure and less anxiety than non-pet owners. Dogs and cats improve feelings of loneliness and isolation. Pets decrease the chance that children will develop allergies and asthma, and they are a great way for people to get out and mingle. Alzheimer’s patients with pets are less likely to have anxious outbursts. Heart attack patients with pets live longer than those without pets.

If you are looking for a miracle treatment that will get you exercising, lower your blood pressure, calm your nerves and increase long-term survival you can find it at your local humane society. My miracle therapy is named Lucy. What is the name of yours?

Are You Angry?

Have you ever had one of those weeks where every step you take, something or someone is making you angry? I was having one of those weeks until I heard a quote on a daytime talk show taken from St. Augustine: “Resentment and anger is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die”. First, this wisdom immediately deflated my anger and then it led me to question the point of anger in the first place.

Anger has been with us since the beginning of mankind. The emotion of anger has intrinsically been an impetus for change. It may cause discomfort, however when dealt with constructively, it moves us to act and improve the circumstance causing the discomfort. When dealt with destructively, anger can cause violence, self-loathing and depression.

As a physician, I see the physical effects of this on a daily basis. Depression, heart disease, and obesity (that can cause diabetes, high blood pressure and certain cancers) can often result from prolonged anger, resentment and hostility. Many patients I see heal and improve when we address the underlying anger and resentment in their lives.

With all that is going on in the world right now, it seems there is anger at every turn. The media is busy reporting various feuds; politicians are angry with one another, and the opposing parties. Staffers are walking out en mass in protest of their candidate. Doctors are angry with insurance companies, and patients are angry because they are not getting what they want from their doctors.

I think if we all stopped for a moment when we become angry and truly thought about what was going on internally, we could make great changes in ourselves and in the world. If we find that anger is consuming us, it is time to get help before it destroys us.

“The best work of the world is done in the tension between anger and control.” ~ G. Stanley Hall

June is Fruits and Vegetables Month

In honor of this, let me tell you some things you may not know about two popular fruits. They taste great and may even help you to lose weight. Let’s start with my favorite, grapefruit. Then we will move on to raspberries.

Grapefruit has many of the vitamins of the other citrus fruits but is has a lower Glycemic Index. That means that sugar is released slowly in the body rather than in one quick rush.

The results of a 12-week study linking grapefruit to weight loss done at the Scripps Clinic in 2004 put 100 men and women on a diet that included half a grapefruit or grapefruit juice three times a day with a meal. The average weight loss was 3.6 pounds for those who ate their grapefruit, 3.3 pounds for those who drank it. However, many reportedly lost more than 10 pounds. Grapefruit has chemicals that may lower insulin levels and expedite weight loss. The only problem with it is that it can interact with certain medications. It is important to check with your doctor or pharmacist to find out if you are on any of these medications. If so, you need to avoid it. (Sorry about that)

Raspberries are rich in antioxidants. Eating three or more servings per week have been found to lower the risk for age related macular degeneration. The anthocyanins (important antioxidants) in raspberries have been found to delay the effect of aging. Although raspberries contain sugar it does not seem to affect blood sugar in a significant way. Red raspberry ketones are currently being used in Japan as a weight loss supplement. Red raspberry seed oil has attracted the interest of the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries because it is rich in Vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acid and has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 24-50.

Celebrate this month by eating your favorite fruit or vegetable and enjoy!


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