Mindful gratitude is healthy practice to participate in

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

The mind can only hold one thought or emotion at a time. With the noisy daily news of right vs. left, black versus white, Muslim versus Muslim, Democrat versus Republican, and so on, it is easy to slip into a pattern of negative thinking and low expectations.

Polarities in the world exist, of course, and it is worthwhile to pay attention to them.

However, we often can get pulled into reacting out of conditioned patterns of thought and emotion thus perpetuating the clamor and rancor rather than bringing politeness, perspicacity, and peace to situations around us.

Stress is in many cases self-induced and is always experienced personally. Choosing how to react in an healthy fashion often requires a few mindful steps — like pause, presence and proceed. Continue reading

Jumping into Schizophrenia

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

Many think their genetic information is permanent, that whatever we inherit from our parents gene-wise is what we are stuck with — that genes don’t change. But that’s not the case. Genes can not only change throughout our lives, but they can move or jump from one place in the genome to another. Science shows these jumping genes are linked to certain diseases in humans, but they may have positive effects as well.

Most genes are located in the same place on the same chromosomes in everyone. But small pieces of DNA called retrotransposons, or jumping genes, can relocate to other parts of the genome. In their new locations, they can stay silent, create their own products, or alter the activity of nearby genes. Jumping genes have been implicated in some cancers and neurological disorders.

Autopsies of people with schizophrenia showed their brains had more of these jumping genes than other people. Furthermore, the more a schizophrenic had been exposed to environmental factors known to influence schizophrenia, the more jumping genes they had. Schizophrenia is a condition that can cause hallucinations, delusions and cognitive defects and occurs in about 1 percent of people. A number of genes and environmental factors are associated with developing schizophrenia. Continue reading

Book offers advice for dealing with children with ADHD

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

Dr. Michael Reiff, editor, explores Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder myths and realities in the book “ADHD: A Complete and Authoritative Guide.” Reiff and his colleagues note that some of the most prevalent misconceptions are these:

  • “He’s just lazy and unmotivated.” A child who finds it almost impossible to stay focused at school or complete long tasks may try to “save face” by acting as if he or she doesn’t care or doesn’t want to do the task. That is masking a serious difficulty in his ability to function.
  • “He’s a handful or she’s a daydreamer but that is normal. They just don’t let kids be kids.” All children are impulsive, active and inattentive at times. But a child with ADHD has a serious problem fitting into family routines, keeping friends, avoiding injuries and following rules. Continue reading

Google Sugar Lens

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

Like the wearable glasses-style computer called Google Glass, Google Inc. has invented another new device for your eyes: a contact lens that measures blood sugar levels in the wearer’s tears.

Who needs to measure their blood sugar? The answer: the 26 million people (8.3 percent of the U.S. population) who have diabetes. Currently, diabetics must poke their fingertips, or a few other locations, with a needle called a lancet and place a drop of blood on a test strip that’s inserted into a blood sugar monitor. Many diabetics must repeat this multiple times a day, adding up to a lot of pokes — not to mention the cost of each test strip and lancet. But maintaining a healthy level of glucose, the basic sugar that is used by all cells of the body for energy, is crucial for people with diabetes.

Diabetes is a group of diseases characterized by high levels of glucose in the blood. It occurs because the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin or the rest of the cells in the body do not respond properly to insulin or both. Insulin efficiently gets glucose into cells. Without it, glucose builds up and some of it is excreted in urine while the body’s cells are starved of this key nutrient.

If diabetics misjudge the amount of sugar in their meals and take too much insulin, the sugar levels in their blood will fall, causing headaches, sweating, blurred vision, trembling, confusion and loss of consciousness. If left untreated, this hypoglycemia can cause permanent neurological damage and death. On the other hand, too much glucose in the blood causes symptoms of increased thirst, urination, hunger and weight loss. However, in the long-term, it can lead to blindness, kidney failure and amputation. Hyperglycemia also increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Continue reading

Take steps to not leave children in hot vehicles

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

Hot weather is here. Every year, there are new reports of children dying after being left in hot cars.

We have already had our first reported death of a toddler left in a car.

The inside of a car can heat up very quickly — even when the temperature outdoors is mild.

On an especially hot day, the interior of a car can heat up to 122 degrees in less than 20 minutes; within 40 minutes, it can get so hot that a child left inside a car for that length of time can die.

Many parents think that leaving the window of the car open slightly will keep the temperature lower, but fail to realize that it will still remain too hot in the car for the child.

Young children, especially infants, are more sensitive to heat than adults because their bodies do not regulate temperature as well as an adult’s body does. A child left in a hot car can suffer from heat stress, dehydration and shock. Continue reading

Shellfish are healthier than you realize

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

When I mention shellfish, do you think of it as healthy?

Shrimping, one of our primary local industries, brings us lots of wonderful shellfish, which are high in protein, essential minerals and actually low in saturated fat and calories. Surprised?

Well, so was I as I looked into the health benefits of shellfish. By now, we all know about the health benefits and anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids that come from cold-water seafood like salmon, tuna, halibut, sardines and herring.

Shellfish also contain significant levels of these healthy fats, though overcooking can reduce the levels.

Shellfish include lobsters, shrimp, oysters, scallops, clams, crabs, prawns, squid, octopus and mussels.

Shellfish are quite low in fat. Even shrimp and lobster have less than 1 gram of fat per serving, and very little of the fat they contain is saturated fat.

Of course you can load on unhealthy fats by frying and adding heavy toppings. Broiling, boiling, steaming or grilling are heart-healthy choices. Continue reading

It Came From the Ice

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

From the ice, scientists hauled a monster of unimaginable size. It was larger than any of its kind, and it was alive. Luckily, it wasn’t the Yeti, but Pithovirus sibericum, an abominable snow virus of sorts.

P. sibericum is the largest virus ever discovered. It’s about 1.5 micrometers, larger than some bacterium (a single-celled organism). All things considered though, it’s still microscopic – 1,333 copies of P. sibericum would fit on top of a pin. Luckily, this gigantic virus only infects amoebas, single-celled protozoans that live in bodies of water including lakes, ponds, streams, rivers and even puddles. Some amoebas are associated with diseases such as dysentery.

This newly discovered virus was named P. sibericum because it was found in a sample of permafrost from Siberia, hence the word sibericum. The scientists who discovered it were French, and they were inspired by its shape to call it a Pithovirus from the ancient Greek word pithos, which were large containers used to store wine. They estimate the virus had been in the deep freeze for at least 30,000 years before they resurrected it this year. In 2012, the French scientists also resurrected an ancient plant from fruits buried in the same Siberian permafrost, which led them to search for the virus. Continue reading

Legal for medical research: Marijuana is beneficial for cancer patients

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Rocky Mountain high. Imagine my surprise when I returned to visit the tiny mountain hamlet in Colorado where I was in solo practice as the country doc for nearly a decade back in the 1980s and ’90s and discovered a new clinic on main street.

The town is in a mountain valley situated at 7,500 feet above sea level. So, the new clinic was appropriately and whimsically called The High Valley Cannabis Center.

Medical marijuana had come to a town long known for its aging hippies and artists who were no strangers to its usage. Many not only inhaled weed in the ’60s, but I suspect a number had never exhaled.

As more states, now numbering around 15, approve marijuana as legal for medical, or even recreational, use, as recently occurred in Colorado, we come inevitably to the question of is this a good idea for sick people or is it a social folly? Continue reading

Be on look out for swimmer’s ear in children

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

Swimming is a great way for kids to stay active, especially during the summer months.

However, the combination of heat, humidity and water can lead to an ear condition called acute otitis external, more commonly known as swimmer’s ear. The infection often is caused by bacteria being carried into the outer ear canal.
Symptoms of swimmer’s ear include redness, swelling, itching, drainage of pus and pain.

Following are some tips from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent and treat swimmer’s ear: Continue reading

Hope for those with rheumatoid arthritis

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

For the 1.5 million people in the United States who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, there may be new hope. Scientists have discovered an inflammatory stress response that drives the development of RA and a specific inhibitor that could be used to block it.

While the immune system normally protects us from infections, autoimmune disorders like RA cause the immune system to attack its own body. RA produces chronic inflammation that can damage many organs, especially flexible joints. It mostly affects women between the ages of 40 and 60, although it can develop at any age. There appears to be a genetic component as well as an environmental trigger that contributes to RA. Continue reading