Medical News

WdiologonewMedical Report:  Fish Oil

Fish oil has long been lauded as a great source of heart-healthy fat and new research from Harvard University shows that it also helps the body reduce inflammation. The body converts an active ingredient found in fish oils, known as DHA, into a chemical called Resolvin D2.

Researchers studied the effects of this chemical on mice suffering from full-body inflammation and found that Resolvin D2 was able to dramatically reduce this inflammation and increase survival rate. Inflammation occurs when the body’s natural defenses against infections are mistakenly directed at healthy tissue. This means that in order to combat inflammation, most drugs currently used must also suppress the immune system , something that can be dangerous for patients whose bodies are already weakened by infection. In the study, they found that Resolvin D2 was not only a powerful anti- inflammatory, but it was able to reduce inflammation without affecting the immune system. Because of this, researchers feel that this active ingredient in fish oil has great potential as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and stroke.


Published: October 19, 2009

If you have ever slept on an arm and awakened with a “dead” hand, or sat too long with your legs crossed and had your foot fall asleep, you have some inkling of what many people with peripheral neuropathy experience day in and day out, often with no relief in sight.

And numbness and tingling are hardly the worst symptoms of this highly variable condition, which involves damage to one or more of the myriad nerves outside the brain and spinal cord. Effects may include disabling pain, stinging, swelling, burning, itching, muscle weakness, twitching, loss of sensation, hypersensitivity to touch, lack of coordination, difficulty breathing, digestive disorders, dizziness, impotence, incontinence, and even paralysis and death.

I realize now that I had a mild, reversible bout of peripheral neuropathy several decades ago when a misplaced shot of morphine damaged a sensory nerve in my thigh. It took three years for the nerve to recover, and for much of that time I could not tolerate anything brushing against my leg.

One of my sons, too, was afflicted when a nerve behind his knee was injured during a basketball game. He had no feeling or mobility in his foot for nine months, but after several years the nerve healed and he regained full use of his foot.

And a good friend was nearly paralyzed, also temporarily, following a flu shot, by a far more serious form of peripheral neuropathy — an autoimmune affliction called Guillain-Barré syndrome, in which one’s own antibodies attack the myelin sheath that protects nerves throughout the body.

There are hundreds of forms of peripheral neuropathy. A medical guide describing them, compiled by a team of neurologists at the behest of the Neuropathy Association, fills a booklet the size of a two-year wall calendar.

The association, which sponsors research and provides education and support for patients and families dealing with peripheral neuropathy, estimates that the disorder afflicts more than 20 million Americans at any given time. If the cause can be corrected, peripheral nerves can regenerate slowly and patients can recover, although not always completely.

But many people never recover. They must learn to live with the disorder, with the help of treatments and devices that can ease their discomfort and disability. With such a wide array of symptoms and causes, getting a correct diagnosis is often a challenge. Worse, frustrated patients are sometimes told, “It’s all in your head.”

Causes Behind an Ailment

There are three types of peripheral nerves: sensory nerves, which transmit sensations like pain, touch, heat and cold; motor nerves, which control the action of muscles throughout the body; and autonomic nerves, which regulate functions that are not under conscious control, like blood pressure, digestion and heart rate. Symptoms of neuropathy depend on what nerves are involved.

Someone with damaged sensory nerves might not feel heat, for example, and could be scalded by an overly hot bath. Neuropathy of the motor nerves can result in weakness, lack of coordination or paralysis; neuropathy of the autonomic nerves can lead to high blood pressure, irregular heart rate, diarrhea or constipation, impotence and incontinence.

The list of possible causes of neuropathy is far too long for this column. They include inherited conditions like Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease; infections or inflammatory disorders like hepatitis, Lyme disease, AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus; organ diseases like diabetes, hypothyroidism and kidney disease; exposure to toxic substances like industrial solvents, heavy metals, sniffed glue and some cancer drugs; trauma to or pressure on a nerve from an injury, cast, crutches, abnormal body position, repetitive motion (as in carpal tunnel syndrome), tumor or abnormal bone growth; alcoholism; and deficiency of vitamin B12.

The most common cause, accounting for nearly a third of neuropathy cases, is diabetes, especially among those whose blood sugar levels are poorly controlled. Half of all people with diabetes eventually begin to lose sensation and develop pain and sometimes weakness in their feet and hands. In people with diabetes, even minor injuries to the feet, if not quickly and properly treated, can result in gangrene and amputations.

In nearly a third of cases, no cause is ever found, leaving patients with no other recourse than treatment of their symptoms.

Suspected cases are best referred to a neurologist, who should begin by taking a complete personal and family medical history and performing a physical and neurological examination, checking on reflexes, muscle strength and tone, sensations, balance and coordination.

A complete workup is likely to include blood tests, urinalysis, a nerve conduction study and electronic measurements of muscle activity. Imaging studies, like a CT scan or an M.R.I., may reveal a tumor, vertebral damage or abnormal bone growth. In some cases, a nerve or muscle biopsy may be done.

Relief and Restoration

If the underlying cause cannot be corrected, the goals of treatment are relief of symptoms and restoration of lost functions. Pain control is paramount. Effective relief may come from over-the-counter remedies or a lidocaine patch but sometimes requires prescribed opiates.

Many with neuropathic pain have benefited from drugs licensed for other uses, including antiseizure medications like gabapentin, topiramate (Topamax) and pregabalin (Lyrica) and antidepressants like the tricyclic amitriptyline and the selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor duloxetine (Cymbalta).Vitamin B12 deficiency can be treated with supplements and fortified cereals or by judicious consumption of meats, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products.

And since alcohol and tobacco are particularly risky for people with neuropathy, or a health problem that predisposes them to it, they have every reason to quit smoking and to drink only in moderation.

Many patients are helped by physical therapy, occupational therapy and devices like braces, splints and wheelchairs. Railings on stairways and in the bathroom, elimination of tripping hazards like scatter rugs, and improved lighting (including night-lights) can reduce the risk of falls. For those insensitive to heat, a thermometer should be used to test water in a tub, shower or sink. Orthopedic shoes are invaluable to patients with lost sensitivity in their feet or impaired balance.

A variety of mechanical aids can make it easier to live with peripheral neuropathy, among them kitchen tools made by Oxo. Those with digestive problems might try eating small frequent meals and sleeping with their heads elevated.

Other helpful sources include the book “Peripheral Neuropathy: When the Numbness, Weakness and Pain Won’t Stop” (Demos Health, 2006), by Dr. Norman Latov, professor of neurology and neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medical College; and the Neuropathy Association, 60 East 42nd Street, Suite 942, New York, N.Y. 10165-0930 (800-247-6968, or online at The association maintains a list of support groups and of centers that specialize in diagnosing and treating neuropathy.

*Oct 02 - 00:05*BY Katie Charles

Wednesday, October 7th 2009, 4:48 AM

The specialist: Dr. Douglas Jabs on uveitis

A professor and the chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at Mount Sinai, Jabs has specialized in treating uveitis for 25 years.

Who’s at risk

Uveitis is an inflammatory process that affects the interior of the eye and can cause blindness. “The first thing to understand is that uveitis is about 30 different diseases, all characterized by inflammation inside the eye,” says Jabs. “Uveitis falls into the uncommon-disease category – it affects a fraction of 1% of the population,” he adds, but it is still among the leading causes of blindness in this country.

The 30 forms of uveitis can have different origins, but most cases are due to autoimmune or autoinflammatory responses. “In those diseases, the body’s infection-fighting system, the immune system, after some environmental insult, begins to attack the body, and in this case the eye,” says Jabs. “We actually don’t know what triggers most autoimmune diseases, but in those cases where we do know, it’s often an infection, not in the eye, but elsewhere in the body.” The autoimmune disease develops after the body clears the infection. Some autoimmune diseases attack the whole body, and others attack a particular region. In a minority of cases, uveitis is caused by an infection of the eye, or by systemic infections like Lyme disease.

Written by Nancy Dickenson
Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Between 10 million and 20 million Americans suffer from peripheral neuropathy (PN), likely the most common disease you never heard of. The disorder of the peripheral nervous system manifests in many different symptoms, including pain, numbness and weakness, and makes life difficult for many.

The peripheral nervous system transmits information from the brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system) throughout the body and back again. If you feel pain when you stub a toe or burn a finger, your peripheral nervous system is at work. When those nerves are damaged, such signals are disrupted, resulting in neuropathy that can result in a wide array of symptoms. In fact, there are more than 100 types of peripheral neuropathy, each with its own characteristic set of symptoms, pattern of development and prognosis.

The impact of peripheral neuropathy on those afflicted can be mild or severe, ranging from temporary numbness, tingling and pricking sensations (paresthesia), to more extreme symptoms, including burning pain (especially at night), muscle wasting, paralysis and organ or gland dysfunction. In the most extreme cases, breathing may become difficult or organ failure may occur.

There are many causes for PN. Diabetes is the most common, but traumatic injuries, autoimmune disorders, infections, medications, exposure to poisons, alcohol abuse and vitamin deficiencies are often culprits.


arthritis-3By Gary Bryant, M.D. – Source: University of Minnesota

(AXcess News) Minneapolis – Ever wonder about that aching in your knees? Or that pain in your hands? It could be arthritis. Arthritis is a group of disorders that causes pain, stiffness, and sometimes loss of function in the body’s joints. In severe cases, arthritis can affect a person’s organs.

With more than 100 types of arthritis, there is no exact underlying cause or cure for this common disease. Arthritis pain most often occurs in the weight-bearing joints of the body. These include the knees, hips, and spine. Factors such as prior injury to a joint area and advancing age can make a person more susceptible to developing arthritis. Lyme disease, which is most common in the upper Midwest, may also cause an acute arthritis.

The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis typically affects 1 to 2 percent of the population, and is three times more common in women than men. Lupus, another rheumatic disease with prominent symptoms of arthritis, also is more common in women; 90 percent of those diagnosed are female.

Despite the variations between sexes, arthritis pain in both men and women is often triggered by a number of different factors. Changes in weather can cause increased pain in the joints. This is possibly due to barometric changes. Therefore, warm and dry environments are typically best for arthritis patients because this weather produces fewer symptoms. Other factors that contribute to arthritis include remaining inactive for any amount of time, overusing a joint, or exercising too early or strenuously after an injury.

Treatments for arthritis include educating oneself about the disease and consulting with a physical therapist or occupational therapist to learn about appropriate exercise and joint protection. Prescription or over-the-counter medications also are good options; these help diminish pain and inflammation.

Basic science researchers have proven to slow the progression of arthritis and diminish symptoms. These developments give researchers and physicians hope for decreasing pain, maintaining function, and finding a cure for arthritis patients in the future.

While there are current treatments available for arthritis patients, it is best to take steps to actively prevent arthritis before it develops. Maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle by eating a balanced diet, strengthening muscles, and exercising regularly can lower the risk of developing arthritis.

Meanwhile, physician scientists will continue doing bench research and conducting clinical trials with the goal of discovering the fundamental causes of arthritis and related rheumatic diseases. These specialists are always on the lookout to test new and promising therapies to find better treatments going forward.

Gary Bryant, M.D., is associate professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School. He also serves as vice chair for clinical affairs in the Department of Medicine.

vision-loss-dizzy-confusion-235x300Personality changes and headaches (together) are often symptoms of conditions or diseases such as Lyme disease or depression, but could also be side effects associated with certain medications. Below is a list of diseases and conditions associated with symptoms like personality changes and headaches, as well as a list of medications related to similar side effects.

We are not medical professionals, and these may not be comprehensive lists. Please contact your doctor if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms or side effects, or similar health issues.

Personality Changes and Headaches Are Symptoms Of:

Post Concussion Syndrome: Post concussion syndrome (PCS) occurs after a concussion and does not require loss of consciousness. Symptoms may not appear for days or weeks after injury and are often intermittent. PCS symptoms can include headache, personality changes, sleep disorders, difficulty concentrating, memory loss, and mood swings.

Lead Poisoning: Lead poisoning can occur in adults and children. Symptoms include abdominal pain, personality changes, headaches, a metallic taste in the mouth, nausea, constipation, and a loss of appetite. Lead poisoning in adults can lead to complications including damage to the reproductive organs, nerve disorders, and muscle and joint pain.

Alzheimer’s Disease: Alzheimer’s slowly destroys the brain. Early signs include personality changes, repeating oneself, memory loss, losing things, and poor judgment. People with Alzheimer’s tend to have an increase in headaches.

Lyme Disease: Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks. It often goes overlooked and can have elusive symptoms including personality change, headaches, pain that moves around in the body, heart palpitations, and increased sensitivity to noise.

Depression: Headaches and personality changes are common markers of clinical depression. If these two symptoms are combined with feelings of depression, fatigue, suicidal thoughts, anxiety and other signs of clinical depression there may be a link you should discuss with your doctor or counselor.

Personality Changes and Headaches Are Side Effects Associated With:

Raptiva: Raptiva is used to treat psoriasis by suppressing immune function. It has been linked to a brain infection called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). Symptoms of PML include personality changes, memory loss, headaches, weakness, and vision problems. PML is often fatal.

Accutane: Accutane (isotretinoin) is used as a last resort to treat severe nodular acne that does not respond to other treatments. Side effects of isotretinoin include headaches, personality changes, suicidal thoughts, and an extreme risk of birth defects. The brand Accutane is no longer on the market, but isotretinoin is still sold generically.

Chantix: Chantix is a smoking cessation aid. It works by blocking the pleasurable effects of smoking in the brain. Side effects include personality changes, suicidal thoughts, anger, drowsiness, headaches, skin rash, insomnia, and nausea.

Yasmin: Yasmin is a birth control pill containing drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol. Yasmin has been linked to serious, and even fatal, side effects including blood clots, deep vein thrombosis, stroke, heart attack, and gall bladder disease. Less serious side effects include headaches and personality changes.


raisinsWritten by Jessica Smith
Saturday, 26 September 2009

It may sound silly the first time you hear it. Eating gin-soaked raisins for arthritis is often touted by its faithful as a natural “cure” or an effective folk remedy for arthritis pain.

The consumption of homemade gin-soaked raisins has become a popular folk remedy for arthritis, destined to take its place among other unproven arthritis folk remedies such as copper bracelets, bee stings, certo fruit pectin and magnets.

When most hear of this practice, their response tends to be something like “are you serious?”. Some are serious and swear that the gin and raisins remedy helps relieve their arthritis pain.

Gin-Soaked Raisins for Arthritis: What is the Recipe?

Although there are several versions and variations of the gin-soaked raisin remedy, the general recipe seems to go something like this:

– take a box of golden raisins. (note: they must be the golden variety, sometimes called white raisins, not ordinary black raisins).
– place the raisins in a shallow container.
– cover the raisins with gin.
– let the raisins soak in the gin for a few weeks until the gin evaporates.
– you then eat nine of these drunken raisins a day to help your arthritis. (note: nine a day is the number you see most often, but you’ll find many variations of the number).

Gin-Soaked Raisins for Arthritis: What is the Background?

Where and when did this remedy start? Since this is a folk remedy, it’s hard to say just when and where it got its start. Purportedly the remedy got its first real boost in the 1990’s when radio icon Paul Harvey mentioned the remedy during one of his popular broadcasts.

After the remedy got press, it made its way into media outlets across the country. Several versions of the recipe, including many convincing testimonials on its effectiveness, have now been included in several books about home and folk remedies.

More recently, according to a report in the New York Daily News, on the 2004 presidential campaign trail, Teresa Heinz Kerry (wife of democratic presidential candidate John Kerry) ended a Nevada visit to discuss health care with a discussion on what she called “a highly effective” remedy for arthritis that drew laughter and some skepticism from the audience. She was reported to have said, “You get some gin and get some white raisins – and only white raisins – and soak them in the gin for two weeks. Then eat nine of the raisins a day.” Needless to say, the political bloggers had a heyday with her comments, which only added to her quirky image.

Gin-Soaked Raisins for Arthritis: Does it really work?

– To date, there have been no placebo-controlled double-blind studies to prove the efficacy of the remedy. However, many “theories” do exist as to why this remedy might have some value. Some think it’s the sulfur or sulphides used in the process of making the “white” or golden raisins. However, according to the Raisin Administrative Committee, “In much of the world, including the USA, the golden raisin is also referred to as a “bleached raisin.” This is an incorrect term, as the dark raisin is not bleached. Rather, the enzymatic browning that normally occurs in a fresh grape is slowed down by treatment of sulfur dioxide gas. The raisin is preserved in a glimmering golden color. In the USA we call this a “golden” raisin.”
– Some think it’s the juniper berries used in gin. According to Barry Lazar from, “The flavour of gin comes from juniper berries. These come from conifer plants, evergreens common in Europe and North America. New berries appear in the fall and can take two or three years to ripen. They are rich in vitamin C and terpenes, the essential oil which, in large quantities is manufactured into turpentine. During the Middle Ages the berries were kept in nosegays to help block the scent of the plague. For centuries, medicinal usage favoured using them in anti-inflammatory prescriptions.”

– Some think it’s the raisins. As stated in the Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook on Mother, “If you benefit from gin-steeped raisins, the raisins probably do you more good than the gin. Grapes and raisins contain many pain relieving, anti-arthritic and anti-inflammatory chemicals.”
– Some think it’s the placebo effect. It is known that when people believe strongly in a treatment their endorphins and natural pain mediators are enhanced. Also, arthritis characteristically has periods of flares and remissions. You may attribute feeling better to the gin and raisins when it’s truly due to a remission.
Gin-Soaked Raisins for Arthritis: The Bottom Line

Never begin any new treatment without first consulting your doctor. If you are considering this remedy, you should discuss it with your doctor. There could be negative interactions with your current treatment. As a guideline, when home remedies are considered, they should be “in addition to” rather than “instead of” current medical treatment.

Do you think a “sin tax” will curb obesity in America?  //Kim

shmerlingHow inflammation from the infection plays a role.

By Robert Shmerling, M.D., Harvard Health Publications

Q: What joints other than the knee can be involved in arthritis symptoms from Lyme disease? Does the location of the tick bite have any connection with what joint is affected? Does Lyme-induced arthritis usually affect the knee because most people receive tick bites on the leg?

A: Just about any joint can be affected by Lyme arthritis. Although the knee is by far the most common, other commonly affected joints include the ankle, elbow and shoulder.

The location of the tick bite does not determine which joints are affected. In fact, most tick bites are not near the knee.

It’s thought that arthritis occurs in Lyme disease because the bacterium that causes Lyme disease (called B. burgdorferi) travels from the tick into the bloodstream and is deposited in the joint where the body’s immune response causes inflammation.

It’s not clear why the knee if the favored joint or why only one or a few joints are involved in most cases. It’s also unclear why up to 40% of people with untreated Lyme infection never get arthritis at all.


Copyright © 2009 by the Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College. Used with permission of StayWell. All rights reserved. Harvard Medical School does not approve or endorse any products on the page. Harvard is the sole creator of its editorial content, and advertisers are not allowed to influence the language or images Harvard uses.

by Linda Fehrs, LMT

Although Lyme disease was first identified in 1975, it is still classified as an emerging infectious disease. It is the most common tick-borne disease in the Northern Hemisphere with the greatest number of reported cases in the Northeastern states, as well as Minnesota and Wisconsin. Learn more about this disease and how complementary treatment can assist in healing from it.


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