July 2016

Time to Dance-with Parkinson’s Disease By Robin Miller, MD & David Kahn, MS

Parkinson’s is a disease of the brain. It’s progressive. It gets worse over time, usually many years, even decades.
Top Five Signs and Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (note: there are more)
5. Tremors and shaking, upright posture becomes a stoop, and gait slows down.
4. Fatigue and weakness, loss of appetite, and problems with memory are common, along with a
softening of the voice.
3. Sexual problems.
2. Pain and progressive body stiffness and balance issues worsen as the disease progresses.
1. Physical and mental incapacitation.
For more information, check out the National Parkinson Foundation website. It’s excellent: http://www.parkinson.org/. You will find that it is not contagious and it doesn’t seem to be hereditary. In short, the researchers don’t have the answer. Yet.
Did we mention there is no cure? True. Despite the millions of dollars and countless hours poured into research, once someone has Parkinson’s, they have it.
Hope?
Yes! Dr. Rafi Eldor, a leading Israeli economist, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Rather than let the disease take its course, he decided to do something proactive. He started ballroom dancing. (http://www.dancingthroughparkinson.com/rafi-eldor-dancing-through-parkinson/).
By dancing, he has maintained normal body movement 8 YEARS after his initial diagnosis despite the progression of the disease. He has actually won competitions and is changing the way Parkinson’s disease is being treated in Israel, where he lives. He is living a normal life!
TEDx did a talk on his story. Definitely worth a watch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cBYGh2E6t4
What is the basis for this improvement of movement?
Parkinson’s disease affects the part of the brain called the Globus Pallidus. This area of the brain becomes deficient in dopamine, a hormone that is important for movement.
There is growing evidence that dance, specifically ballroom dance, can make a big difference for those struggling with this disease. Studies have found that ballroom dancing requires the use of external cues such as music and touch for movement. These cues bypass the part of the brain that is damaged and create new nerve pathways in the brain.
Tango?
Ballroom dance, in general can do this, however, tango has been found to deliver the most benefit. The reason is that the forward and backward movements along with long strides are particularly therapeutic. Brain scans have confirmed that the damaged part of the brain shows increased activity when patients do the tango, particularly when the music has a regular beat.
Exercise is tough to do for those who don’t have a movement problem. Imagine how hard it is for those who are rigid, stiff and fight for balance due to this disease. Fortunately, dancing makes it fun and much easier for patients to exercise, and as Dr. Eldor has found, it has allowed those who are regular dancers to maintain normal function despite progression of the disease.
If you or someone you know has Parkinson’s disease, NOW is time to find a place to dance. There are ballroom dance programs in almost every city and town. Find one and do it!

A Natural, Inexpensive Treatment for Herpes By Robin Miller MD, MHS & David Kahn MS, CPT

The sores are ugly and painful, often right on your face where you can’t hide them. Because herpes is so easily transmitted, it’s more likely than not that you already had to deal with this nasty virus. If you’ve never had them before, you’re actually in the minority. At least twice as many people have it as those who don’t. According to the World Health Organization, a staggering two-thirds of the world population (the US included) suffers from oral herpes, while the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reports at least an additional 15% suffers from genital herpes. That means that in some populations, 9 of 10 people have herpes!

The herpes virus is responsible for causing cold sores, also known as fever blisters, and genital herpes. Generally herpes virus 1 (HSV-1) causes cold sores and herpes virus 2 (HSV-2) causes genital herpes. Of course, you really don’t want either one, but it’s statistically likely you’ll contract it even if you haven’t already. But there is good news:

Lemon balm! Also known as Melissa Officinalis, Lemon balm is a great natural treatment for these viruses. There are properties of the plant that explain its therapeutic effect. The leaves contain plant substances called tannins and terpenes that give the plant its antiviral effects. They also contain eugenol, which helps with pain and discomfort and kills bacteria.

There are studies that have shown topical lemon balm cream and ointments can heal cold sores. In one study of 66 people, lemon balm cream was applied and patients experienced significant decreased redness and swelling after just two days. Unfortunately, the cream did not effect the scabbing and discomfort.

A series of impressive studies were done in Germany. The results showed when lemon balm was used to treat a first time infection of HSV-1, not a single recurrence was found. In addition, it reduced healing time of both genital and oral herpes.

How can lemon balm be used?

Lemon balm can be found in ointments and creams. Soaking a cotton ball in lemon balm extract and dabbing it on the cold sore can also be very effective. Lemon balm tea can be used as a facial or body wash or soak. Lemon balm soft gels can be taken orally. Preparations are relatively inexpensive, and if you want to be even more natural, you can grow the plant in your garden and make your own teas and extracts.

When should it be used?

For those plagued with cold sores, we recommend patients apply lemon balm nightly to their lips to prevent them. It feels good, works well and keeps the lips from getting chapped. For outbreaks, we suggest applying the cream or ointment 4-5 times a day. For genital herpes, put the extract or tea in a bath and soak. It will be soothing at the very least, and many people find that it helps with the intensity and duration of symptoms. It is worth a try, and fortunately there have been no reported side effects.

Processed Foods: Death by Affection By Robin Miller MD, MHS and David Kahn MS, CPT

I admit it. I love a good sweet now and then. OK. I love them all the time, but I control myself. About two months ago I had a craving for oatmeal cookies. I bought a box from a local grocery store chain. I could only eat a couple of them, and then I gave Dave two of them (when they were fresh) and I saved the rest. Today, I was going through my cabinets and found the cookies. They were still moist and ready to eat, just like they were two months ago. That got me thinking. How good could processed foods with preservatives be good for us?

The answer, they are NOT.

What are processed foods?

When we refer to processed foods we are talking about those that are chemically treated. They contain refined ingredients and artificial substances. Of course, they have their positives, especially from the point of view of the sellers, but these substances can be quite harmful. Read on.

Additives

In order to keep the cookies fresh, preservatives are added. In many foods, color has been added to make them look more attractive to consumers. Additives for flavor and texture are also added to make them more palatable. When you look at the labels to see what’s added to many of these foods, the lists are long. These foods contain things that you would never consider eating. For the cookies, here are the ingredients:

Sugar, Bleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate Riboflavin and Folic Acid), Oats, Vegetable Shortening (Palm Oil), Raisins, Eggs, Butter (Milk), Water, Contains 2% or Less of each of the following: Molasses, Baking Soda, Salt, Spices, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Contains Milk, Egg and Wheat, May contain Soy, Peanuts and Tree Nuts.

Note that the US Food and Drug Administration requires that listed “ingredients [be] in descending order of predominance by weight, so the ingredient that weighs the most is listed first, and the ingredient that weighs the least is listed last” (FDA 2015). Dave’s cookies, despite being labeled as “oatmeal,” really ought to be called sugar cookies.

What about sugar?

Sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup

Processed foods are often loaded with sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Sugary foods and drinks are loaded with empty calories with basically no nutritional value. Excess dietary sugar leads to insulin resistance and type 2-diabetes. (And don’t be fooled by labels that claim “sugar-free” yet still admit to high levels of corn syrup—that’s legal, although not particularly honest.)

We have mechanisms in our brain and body that help us regulate energy balance in our bodies. Food manufacturers have found the combination of flavors and additives (such as sugar and salt) that bypass our regulatory abilities. As a result, processed foods are very rewarding to our brains and often lead us to overeat.

Refined Carbohydrates

Processed foods are high in refined or simple carbohydrates. When consumed, they release energy quickly, causing sugar spikes and an increase in insulin levels. They make us feel good initially and then there is an energy crash later. When we feel a crash coming on, we often crave more of the same foods that keep us “up,” which leads us to doing it all over again.

Nutrient-Poor Foods

In the processing of the food, nutrients are lost. Therefore, vitamins and minerals are replaced but not to the level of natural foods. If a person eats a diet based primarily in processed foods, they will likely be nutrient deficient.

Lack of Fiber

Fiber is important for general health, and again it’s often lacking in processed foods. Fiber slows down the absorption of carbohydrates, helps us maintain a normal weight, promotes good bacteria in the gut, decreases the risk of colon cancer and prevents constipation. Processed foods generally have the fiber removed. This makes it much easier to digest, requiring less energy. Eating processed food causes us to eat more and burn less than if we eat foods that are whole and unprocessed.

Trans fats

Processed foods are often loaded with these. Made with cheap vegetable oils that become trans fats, which are associated with inflammation and heart disease. That is why the FDA has banned them. That’s right—that’s how bad they are for you! But the ban does not start until 2018. That is why you need to look on the food label for partially hydrogenated oils and avoid foods that contain them. Just stay away. Now.

Needless to say, I am going to throw out the rest of the 2-month old cookies, and will avoid them in the future, and I have already apologized to Dave. After learning more about processed foods, it is clear it is best to avoid them. An occasional indulgence now and then is fine and love the taste and the false energy lift they provide, but indulge only on occasion; don’t make this stuff (it really is border-line poison) part of your daily menu. Sticking with whole foods is the key.

Otherwise, it could be deadly by leading to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and a variety of inflammatory ills.

 

Home | Janet Horn, MD | Robin H. Miller, MD | Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife and Beyond | Excerpt | Author Blogs | Audio/Video | Press Room | Contact

Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife and Beyond

Copyright © 2017 The Smart Woman’s Guide Blog. Designed for WordPress.