Posts tagged with "medical"

Stethoscope illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

TMS Therapy

What is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation/TMS Therapy?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation, otherwise known as TMS therapy, is a non-invasive technique where magnetic fields are used to stimulate the brain.

TMS therapy is used in people suffering from depression. It is an alternative to other forms of treatment like psychotherapy and antidepressant medications. TMS therapy is painless and highly preferred by most patients.

How does TMS Therapy Work?

TMS treatment for depression follows a certain process. The therapy is conducted by a TMS physician/TMS technician.

Before the therapy begins, you should get rid of any magnetic-sensitive objects or items on your body like credit cards and jewelry. For comfort and ear protection, you’ll be asked to put on earplugs. Also, the process is conducted while the patient is sitting.

The therapy involves placing a magnetic coil against the scalp close to the forehead. Before the coil is placed on your head, the therapist must conduct various measurements to determine the right position of placing the magnetic coil. The coil conveys a magnetic pulse stimulating the nerve cells in the part of the brain that manages depression and mood control.

The physician then applies multiple brief pulses to measure the patient’s motor threshold. This ensures that the treatment settings are personalized according to the patient’s motor threshold.

During the TMS therapy, the patient will experience a sequence of clicking sounds and a tapping sensation under the coil.

Depending on various factors, the TMS treatment can last anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes, and you’re good to resume normal activities afterward. However, you’ll need to come back for the same procedure about five days a week and continue doing so until five to six weeks. However, this period can vary depending on how the patient responds to treatment, among other things.

Why Go for TMS Therapy?

There are many reasons why most patients go for transcranial magnetic stimulation/TMS therapy. First, the treatment is non-invasive. This means nothing will be inserted into your body during the treatment. Also, the treatment is painless. Pain is not something most people love. Anyone will always go for a painless alternative if it’s available.

In addition, TMS therapy has reported a high efficacy rate compared to other depression treatment methods like antidepressants. When it comes to health matters, effectiveness is essential.

Furthermore, TMS therapy is an outpatient treatment that allows patients to get treatment while continuing with their daily activities.

The FDA approved transcranial magnetic stimulation in 2008 for the treatment of depression. This means it is a safe method. And in the future, we could see TMS therapy being used to treat other brain disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), Tinnitus, generalized anxiety, and cognitive impairments.

Side Effects and Cons of TMS Therapy

Despite its high efficacy, TMS therapy has some cons and side effects.

Patients experience mild to moderate side effects which disappear after some time. The possible side effects include.

  • Headache
  • Lightheadedness
  • Tingling, twitching, or spasm of facial muscles
  • Scalp discomfort

Some patients experience seizure and hearing loss, especially if their ears are not well covered during the therapy. Those with bipolar disorder complain of mania. However, such cases are rare.

One of the downsides of TMS therapy is that the patients keep visiting the treatment center until they get well. This can be tiresome, especially if you do not respond to the treatment in a short period. It can also be expensive if you have to cover a long distance to get the treatment. You’ll need to pay for transport costs daily.

 TMS therapy takes a long time; for instance, a patient may need more than 30 treatments to get better. Also, some insurance policies may decline to cover your TMS therapy costs. You should find out if your insurance policy will cover the costs.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation/TMS therapy is a non-invasive and painless procedure used to treat depression. The procedure is conducted by a TMS technician or physician, and it follows a specific sequence. The treatment is an outpatient service, has high efficacy, and is FDA approved. However, it has some side effects, including headache and scalp discomfort, which go away after multiple sessions. The therapy takes time to work, usually four to six weeks of regular visits.

Child with phone illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Children and Screens Announces Grant

­CHILDREN AND SCREENS ANNOUNCES $100,000 GRANT SUPPORTING NEW RESEARCH INTO DIGITAL MEDIA USE AND BRAIN DEVELOPMENT

Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development is pleased to announce that it has awarded a grant of $100,000 to Marc Potenza, Ph.D., MD, Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University, Yihong Zhao, Ph.D., member of the Center of Alcohol and Substance Use Studies at Rutgers University, and their interdisciplinary, interinstitutional team, in support of their research exploring the associations between screen media activity and brain development in school-aged children. 
 
“It is vital to investigate what ever-increasing digital media engagement means for developing brains, especially in middle childhood when children’s devices and brains are working on overdrive. Technology is advancing rapidly, and we hope to do our part to help science keep up; we are delighted to create opportunities to advance scientific research on this topic through the Institute, which I founded 13 years ago.” Dr. Pam Hurst-Della Pietra, President and Founder, Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development 
 
Drawing on longitudinal data from the NIH’s landmark Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study, Dr. Potenza, Dr. Zhao, and their associates intend to utilize state-of-the-art statistical methodology and predictive modeling to investigate the relationships between digital media use and changes in brain structure and function, as well as the associated clinically relevant behaviors. The study, which was proposed following the Institute’s March 2020 Digital Media and Developing Brain Research Retreat, will examine the effects of a variety of specific media-based activities and will focus on children from ages 9-12. The results of this research will yield benefits and insight not only for the research community, but also for families, clinicians, and policymakers.
 
“The advances in ‘big data’ approaches have led to an unprecedented increase in our understanding of how brain structure and function relate to specific behaviors. With the support of Children and Screens, we aim to apply novel and innovative big data approaches to ABCD data to understand how brain structure and function relate to, and importantly may be impacted by, types and patterns of screen media activity. Dr. Martin Paulus and colleagues used a portion of the first wave of ABCD data to identify patterns of cortical thinning associated with screen media activity. We hope to build off and extend this work by examining the full initial sample and subsequent waves of ABCD data to determine brain-behavior relationships with respect to youth screen media activity. We hope to communicate these findings in order to advance prevention and policy efforts that promote healthy childhood development in environments increasingly involving digital technologies.” – Dr. Marc Potenza, Grant Recipient
 
Bridging the medical, neuroscientific, social scientific, education, and academic communities, the Children and Screens’ interdisciplinary scientific research grants program was conceived as part of a larger research program to advance and support study, knowledge, and scientific collaboration. Developed in 2017, the grants program provides researchers with access to the early-stage financial support necessary to pilot worthy new projects studying the impact of children’s engagement with current and evolving technologies.
 
In addition to the research funds awarded as part of the retreat program and those granted to explore the impacts of digital media during the current health crisis, Children and Screens’ regular Tips for Parents newsletter provides evidence-based, practical advice for families coping with the unprecedented realities of the pandemic, including changed economic circumstances, health concerns, lockdowns, social distancing, remote learning, and working from home. Each newsletter features insights from world-renowned experts, who share tips and advice about managing screen time, social media use, gaming, technology addiction, privacy, parenting, and more.
 
In addition, our popular, bi-weekly Ask the Experts virtual workshop series features dynamic conversations among international, interdisciplinary experts in the field of digital media and child development. Each discussion explores a different digital media challenge associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and presents families with current scientific research, clinical advice, and practical, evidence-based advice. Panelists include leading parenting experts, former AAP Presidents, top child and adolescent psychiatrists, high-impact journal editors, leading researchers, well-known authors, and others. To date, the series has reached parents, researchers, educators, clinicians, government agencies, and public health professionals in over 30 countries and all 50 states.
 
About Children and Screens:
Since its inception in 2013, Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development, has become one of the nation’s leading non-profit organizations dedicated to advancing and supporting interdisciplinary scientific research, enhancing human capital in the field, informing and educating the public, and advocating for sound public policy for child health and wellness.

Piggy Bank illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Future Fax Filing Tips

Tips for Tax Filing in the Future

Tax time is near, and soon everyone will be rushing to get their taxes filed. Last year, Americans were met with quite a few delays in getting their refunds with the onset of the pandemic.

If you have a refund coming, the sooner you file, the sooner that refund will make its way into your bank account.

If you’re like most tax filers, you probably want to do everything you can to reduce your overall tax bill. We know that taxes are needed to run the government, but there’s no need for you as an individual to pay more than you need to.

Here are a few areas to consider or understand for future tax filing years:

  • Funding tax-preferenced accounts. One way to save on taxes is by putting money in various tax-preferenced savings accounts such as an IRA, a 401(k), and others. Depending on the account type, you can deduct your contribution each year, defer paying taxes on growth or take withdrawals tax-free. In health savings accounts (HSA), you can do all three. There are eligibility requirements you need to meet. An HSA can only be used for medical expenses.  With a traditional IRA, you don’t pay taxes on your contributions, and you defer taxes on the account’s growth. You do pay taxes on withdrawals you make in retirement. A Roth IRA has different advantages. You can’t deduct your contributions now, but your money grows tax-free, and you aren’t taxed when you make withdrawals.
  • Using a 529 for K-12 private or college education. Many people are familiar with 529 plans, but they often think of these solely to save for a college education fund. But a 529 can also be used to pay for a private school in elementary and high school. The significant tax advantage with a 529 is that you don’t pay federal income taxes on the account’s growth. However, you must spend the money on qualified educational expenses and nothing else. This is essential to remember and understand because if you use the money for other reasons, you will pay taxes on that withdrawal, and you will also pay the penalty. A 529 account is something to consider if you have children or grandchildren and want a tax-efficient way to save for K-12 or college education.
  • Making charitable donations. Charitable donations are a great tool for reducing your tax bill. They come with the bonus of allowing you to make a positive impact in your community. Through charitable donations, you can reduce your income tax, capital gains tax, and estate tax. Some people view this most straightforwardly – you choose an organization that qualifies under the tax rules to donate to. There are other ways to contribute as well: You can establish a donor-advised fund, which is a personal charitable account opened in the name of the donors and held by a nonprofit organization. For example, let’s say you sell a stock and, instead of paying the capital gains tax, you choose to place the proceeds in a donor-advised fund. You can claim the total amount as a charitable deduction, although you don’t have to donate the money in one lump sum. The money remains in the fund and can be donated in small amounts over a period of years while drawing interest.

These are just a few things you can consider as you look for ways to reduce your tax bill. Your financial professional will be able to help you work your way through the process and find what works best for you and your situation.

Marijuana illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Honest Marijuana Company

In the old days of illegal weed, the price you paid for your weekend toke depended mostly on who was selling it to you. These were behind-the-scenes transactions, with no recourse for a deal gone bad and no way to price compare with a competitor. You paid the price asked or you went without.

Now, as state legalization grows and the chatter about federal legalization becomes less talk and more reality, the game has changed forever for the buyer. So, it’s a good time to be clear on what you’re paying for before you go to your local cannabis boutique, or even the corner store, if you should be so lucky to have marijuana available for sale there!

First off, price comparing starts with quantity

If you want to look at what your weed is going to cost you, and even compare different strains, it’s best to pick a quantity. From state to state, the price of quantity X will vary, based on factors we’ll discuss later, but for now, it’s important to understand what quantities you can order in. 

The most common quantities you can buy cannabis in are a gram, eighth of an ounce, quarter of an ounce, half an ounce, and a full ounce. Notice how the common quantities mix metric and Imperial measuring units? A gram is 1/1000th of a kilogram and an ounce is 1/16th of a pound. Typically, you’ll find that dispensaries will use ounces for larger quantities, and grams for a smaller purchase.

What does a gram look like? It’s about the size of a bottle cap, which gives you a visual point of reference to figure out what you’re getting for what price. The average joint is about 0.7 grams of weed so a gram will give you about 1.5 joints. Here are the other measurements, to give you a rough idea of what you’re getting:

  • An eighth of an ounce (which is roughly 3.5 grams) will give you just about 5 joints.
  • A quarter of an ounce (7 grams) will net about 10 joints.
  • A half an ounce (14 grams) will give you about 20 joints.
  • A full ounce (28 grams) is just about equal to 40 joints.

From Alaska to West Virginia, that price per ounce of medium quality weed can run anywhere from $6 to $12.

Quality is the next factor

If you look at average prices of weed across the country, they’re pretty stable and typically refer to medium quality cannabis. When you want to compare a gram of cannabis from one shop to another, a major increase in price could be because of the quality of the product. 

For example, an organic and locally indoor grown variety might be more expensive than a mass produced, imported one. You really do have to compare apples to apples, if you want to be sure you’re getting the right picture.

Other factors that will influence the price of weed

Your state’s legal stance toward cannabis

If you live in a state where cannabis isn’t legal in any form, obviously you’re still operating in the old ways of quiet deals made with people who don’t really care to negotiate the prices they feel like charging. After all, they risk going to jail for providing you with your ‘chill’ so there’s a premium attached to that.

In the states that have legalized recreational marijuana (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington), you’ll find competition higher and prices that reflect that.

The remaining twenty-one states that have legalized medical marijuana require a doctor’s note to obtain it, which isn’t a particularly challenging hurdle in most places, so this doesn’t affect the prices too significantly.

One place where cannabis is particularly expensive? Washington D.C. Despite legalization of medical and recreational use, they didn’t legalize the purchase of cannabis. That little detail is reflected in prices that are almost twice the national average for legalized / decriminalized states!

The physical geography of where you live

Cannabis isn’t an overly fussy plant to cultivate but it does prefer warm, stable temperatures, averaging in the daytime around 80 degrees. Places that have daytime temperatures that run hotter than 88 degrees or colder than 60 degrees have a harder time growing—it’s a slower process—and can end up with plants that have lower THC content and therefore lower overall quality.

So, if you live in Alaska or New Hampshire, for example, your weed has most likely been brought in from elsewhere, which means added costs in transportation and labor, to package and ship.

How your weed is grown

How your preferred brand is grown makes a difference on quality. 

  • Are they grown outdoors where light, water, soil, and ambient daytime temperatures are all free for the asking and therefore don’t add to the cost of production? 
  • Are they grown indoors, where special electrical lighting, watering and feed systems, and climate control are all required and add to the cost of production? 

Outdoor grown weed can be lower quality in that there aren’t many ways to control Mother Nature. Being able to control elements through technology can yield a higher quality product. From pest and humidity control to very specific watering schedules, as well as the use of light waves to maximize growth and intensity, indoor growers have the keys to control quality in ways that outdoor growers really cannot.

Factor in also whether the grower is using organic production methods, as this will definitely yield a higher quality product. No toxins from pesticides means a cleaner experience for you.

Where you buy your marijuana

Are you buying from a boutique dispensary or a corner store? Are you buying from a chain of cannabis stores or from a one-man dealer? Which way you go will affect the price you pay.

Dispensaries have overhead and staff to pay, which adds to the cost. However, they also have guidelines to follow in terms of packaging and labeling, as well as a vested interest in pleasing their customer, so they’re a good bet. You will know exactly what you’re getting, including the sourcing, THC content, whether it’s organic or not and so on. If you buy from a dealer, who is claiming to sell high quality products, you have no guarantees whatsoever that they are telling the truth.

Competitors drive the price down

Supply and demand is an easy equation. If there are several dispensaries with similar offerings in your area, the price per gram will be lower than in an area with no competition for your one dispensary. There is less supply for potentially similar demand, which can easily affect the price. The key as a consumer is to know your average pricing so you can tell whether or not you are getting a good deal.

Taxation and legalization go hand in hand

The states that have legalized marijuana have also clued in that it is an important revenue source. Sales tax, if the state has one, is applied to cannabis too. The rate can be higher for weed than for other products, as it is in Colorado. They have a state sales tax rate of 2.9% but the rate for weed? 10%.

In addition to sales tax, legal sellers are faced with taxes in production, purchasing, packing and transportation, costs that are typically downloaded to the end consumer.

The timing of your purchases

Time of year can impact the price of weed. Like most cultivated crops, the largest amounts are harvested in and around the month of September. Result? The supply is up, and prices should go down a little. 

As legalization continues to expand, state to state and even federally, the pricing will become more standard and easier to predict. At that point, the quality of the weed will be the big differentiator and as the end consumer, that’s not a small factor to consider. Buy with care and enjoy yourself!

Bio:

Anthony Franciosi, also known as Ant, is an honest to goodness farmer whose fingers are as green as the organic cannabis he grows. He is the proud founder of Honest Marijuana– an all-natural, completely organic marijuana growery in Colorado.

Medical illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Top 5 YouTube Doctors

Since YouTube was founded in 2005, it has become something we take for granted as a source of information. If you want a taste of other ways of life, search YouTube. If you need to know how to do something, watch a YouTube video. If you need advice, find an expert on YouTube.

When it comes to the medical profession, however, YouTube experts need to walk a delicate line. Giving general advice regarding medical treatments can put undiscerning viewers at risk. At the very least, it can cause the doctor tremendous legal and career issues.

The best YouTube doctors have found that balance and give information and tips without crossing over into medical guidance. Here are the 5 doctors who do it best.

1. Doctor Mike

Dr. Mikhail Varshavski is a Russian-born American medical expert. He became popular online when he was named People Magazine’s Sexiest Doctor Alive. However, he is far more than a pretty face (with an adorable dog). Doctor Mike has millions of followers, to whom he provides health tips (but not medical advice). He explains different medical conditions and terms as well, along with lifestyle changes for improved health.

During the early days of the COVID-19 crisis, he used his channel to debunk false information, providing a clear vision of the real risks of the virus.

2. Dr. Joseph J. Allen

In the realm of eye care, there is no one better than Joseph J Allen OD. Dr Allen dispenses information via his YouTube channel, Doctor Eye Health. He is also the CEO of Vision Excellence Eye Consulting LLC.

In his videos, Dr. Allen shares interesting facts about the eye, important eye health tips, and insight into both common and rare eye conditions. He also recommends some of the best eye care products available. With over 250,000 subscribers to his channel, he is extremely influential and uses his platform carefully and responsibly.

Go to GlassesUSA.com to read some of the latest health articles, with whom Dr. Allen collaborates.

3. Dr. Dray

There is one type of health care that is a basic responsibility of each and every person. Skincare. Not everyone takes skincare as seriously, but proper care is not only important for aesthetic reasons but for general health as well. Skin issues may be a sign of illness, and overexposure to sun can contribute to skin cancer.

Dr. Dray is a dermatologist who uses her channel to dispense tips and review various skincare products. Considering that the variety of skincare products is huge, it is great to get a professional opinion on which actually work.

4. Dr. Robert Morsand

Dr. Morsand differentiates himself from the other doctors on this list because he doesn’t just provide general tips. He posts extensive Q&A sessions in which he answers people’s questions about a myriad health issues in depth.

There is a lot to learn from Dr. Morsand’s decades of experience, and you’ll find more specific information on his channel than on most others.

5. The Junior Doctor

Dr Ezgi Ozcan is a junior doctor in the UK who records vlogs about her life. Rather than providing medical advice, she shows what the daily life of a junior doctor is like. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, junior doctors are essentially the British equivalent of American residents.

Having recently given birth, she is portraying what it is like to be a mother in this line of work as well. Her channel is entertaining, informative, and she is incredibly personable.

Medical illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Mental Illness × Addiction Crisis

With Pandemic Worsening the Mental Illness and Addiction Crisis, Biden Administration to Provide Nearly $2.5 Billion to States, Territories for Treatment, Prevention Aid

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Funding to Support Comprehensive Community Prevention, Treatment, Recovery and Health Services

The Biden Administration will provide nearly $2.5 billion in funding to states and territories to address the nation’s mental illness and addiction crisis, which has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will direct $1.65 billion in Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant funding and $825 million in Community Mental Health Services Block Grant funding to states and territories. The Community Mental Health Services Block Grant program allows states and territories to provide comprehensive community mental health services and address needs and gaps in existing treatment services for those with severe mental health conditions. The Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant program allows states and territories to plan, implement and evaluate activities to prevent and treat substance use disorder. This funding will also allow recipients to maximize efficiency in existing treatment and recovery infrastructure, promote support for providers and address unique local needs to deliver substance use disorder prevention.

“We know multiple stressors during the pandemic – isolation, sickness, grief, job loss, food instability, and loss of routines – have devastated many Americans and presented unprecedented challenges for behavioral health providers across the nation,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Tom Coderre. “During this time of increased urgency, we want to assure them that funding is in place to help states and territories provide pathways to prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery services, especially for underserved populations.”

Recently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data confirming a rise in fatal overdoses during the pandemic. This year’s increases in calls to helplines across the country indicate growing anxiety, depression, and trauma in Americans. The COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding economic crisis have been especially devastating for Black and Latino communities, which are experiencing a disproportionate number of COVID-19 infections and deaths as well as higher-than-average unemployment rates.

“SAMHSA resources connect Americans to evidence-based treatment and services every day,” said Coderre. “Focusing on both mental and substance use disorders – challenges that pre-date the COVID-19 pandemic but that have worsened over the past year – will be a crucial part of SAMHSA’s approach to helping the nation move forward.”

In addition to the $2.5 billion awarded today, SAMHSA has awarded $686 million in Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC) Expansion Grants; Emergency Grants to Address Mental and Substance Use Disorders During COVID-19 (Emergency Response COVID-19), and supplements to the fiscal year 2020 Emergency Response COVID-19 grant recipients.

Funding allocation tables can be viewed here:

FY 2021 Community Mental Health Block Grant Program COVID-19 Supplemental Awards

FY 2021 Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant Program COVID-19 Supplemental Awards

People searching for treatment for mental or substance use disorders can find treatment by visiting SAMHSA’s website or by calling SAMHSA’s National Helpline,
1-800-662-HELP (4357).

vegetables by Nicole salazar for 360 magazine

Show your heart some love on more than just Valentine’s Day 

By Nutrition Myth Buster Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., CNS

Experts aren’t sure why people are more likely to have a heart attack during the winter than any other time of year. If Valentine’s Day and Heart Health Month are inspiring you to take better care of your ticker, here’s big news. 

A 12-month human clinical study involving 577 participants conducted in Malaysia reveals we aren’t doing our hearts any favors by eating a high-carb diet. Researchers looked at different patterns of eating, from high-fat to low-fat, high-carb to low-carb, and measured the effect each way of eating had on the risk for heart disease. Turns out, fat intake didn’t move the risk needle one way or the other. The higher carb diets, on the other hand, were associated with greater cardiovascular ris. 

I wasn’t the least surprised by this study’s findings! I’ve been saying for years that fat has been wrongly demonized. If anything, it’s sugar – not fat – that’s causing us to go off the metabolic rails. In this study, low-carb diets performed considerably better than high-carb diets.

The study found that healthy adults who ate higher proportions of carbohydrates (compared with the amount of proteins or fat they consumed) tended to develop several elevated risk factors for cardiovascular disease including high blood pressure and more plaque-promoting small LDL cholesterol particles. Higher proportions of dietary fat intake were not associated with elevating these risk factors.

A hormone called insulin – and a condition called insulin resistance – are at the core of pre-diabetes, and are turning out to be early warning signs for heart disease. And the results of this study showed that insulin measures were considerably better when people ate diets with a lower amount of carbs, and that was true regardless of the amount of fat consumed. 

It’s insulin resistance, not cholesterol, that is the root cause of heart disease and, according to other research, probably many other chronic underlying conditions plaguing our world. 

The good news is that insulin resistance is treatable, preventable and mostly reversible by diet alone. It’s time we get off the toxic diets that are causing this condition in the first place! It’s time we understand that saturated fat and cholesterol are not the problems. When you remove that outdated thinking, the current dietary guidelines collapse like a house of cards. 

What’s good for the heart is good for the brain, and vice versa. I haven’t found one exception to that case. The right diet for the heart looks exactly like the right diet for the brain. And sadly, the  diet we SHOULD be eating is exactly the opposite of the diet we’ve been told is heart-healthy. 

Easy, no-fail heart-healthy eating changes

Most attempts to eat healthier fail quickly because the changes are too big and unmanageable. Instead of trying to completely overhaul your diet, start by making a few small changes. Here are a few simple suggestions that may have a healthy impact on your heart: 

First, remove these items from your kitchen: 

  • Corn oil and canola oil. These seed oils are filled with omega-6 which is very pro-inflammatory. 
  • Sugar. Let’s be realistic. I know you’re probably not going to give up your favorite sweets entirely. But be kind to your heart by restricting those goodies to just a few days a month.
  • Canned soups, salad dressings and pasta sauces. These are often loaded with hidden sugars and a ton of sodium. Instead of relying on these cooking shortcuts, do an internet search for simple recipes you can make from scratch.  
  • White flour and white rice. These are heavily processed and raise your blood sugar almost as much as pure sugar. And – don’t shoot the messenger – products made with ‘whole grains” don’t do much better. Whole grains still raise blood sugar, and still contain gluten, so they may not be the solution for everyone. 

Then, add these items to your fridge and pantry: 

  • Palm oil. You can find this online and in specialty markets. Millions of people around the world use it as their everyday cooking oil. Malaysian certified sustainable palm oil is rich in nutrients such as brain- and heart-healthy vitamin E tocotrienols. 
  • Butter. This was never bad to begin with! It was banished from our tables because of our ill-advised fear of saturated fats. So we replaced it with something much worse!
  • Stevia and monk fruit. These are natural sweeteners that have no effect on your blood sugar.” 
  • Nuts: People who eat more nuts have lower BMIs. Their diets are higher in magnesium, higher in fiber, higher in poly- and monounsaturated fats, all of which can have a profound effect on your health. But nuts are also easy to overeat and contribute to weight gain, so just be careful about the amount you consume.
  • Egg yolks: What a relief that you don’t have to suffer through one more tasteless egg white omelet! The advice to eat egg white omelets is way past its expiration date! 
  • Dark chocolate (minimum 60% cocoa on the label): Chocolate contains cocoa flavanols; beneficial plant-based phytonutrients that support cardiovascular health.
  • Grass-fed beef. Grass-fed beef contains anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and less inflammatory omega-6s. It’s also free of hormones, a very big plus indeed. If you follow this suggestion, you’ll never have to worry about how much marbling is in your steak, or if your hamburger is 70/30 instead of 90/10 or 80/20. It won’t matter. 
  • Dark meat poultry: The USDA data shows that there are mere milligrams of differences in the nutritional content of white and dark meat. 

Here’s more advice: Stick with the basics. I’ve always said that the only rule you really need to follow in nutrition is to eat real food, food your great-grandmother would have recognized as food. Eat from what I call the “Jonny Bowden Four Food Groups”: food you could hunt, fish, gather or pluck. Stay away from overly processed and get back to basics. 

That doesn’t mean you can never snack. Get organic (non-GMO) popcorn with minimal chemical processing. Get away from that chemical soup called “butter flavoring” and look for a microwave popcorn that contains palm oil, because palm oil doesn’t burn easily so your popcorn will taste better.  

This year, you can finally make commitments to a heart-healthy diet that are easy to achieve. These tips will help you take better care of your heart throughout the winter and may become heart-healthy habits you’ll want to follow all year long.  

Biography: Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS

Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, (aka “The Nutrition Myth Buster”) is a nationally known expert on weight loss, nutrition and health, and the best-selling author of 15 books on health. Dr. Jonny — a former professional pianist and conductor — earned six certifications in personal training and fitness, has a Master’s degree in psychology, a PhD in holistic nutrition and is board certified by the American College of Nutrition. He has written, contributed to or consulted on hundreds of articles in publications as diverse as the New York Times, People, Us, O the Oprah Magazine, In Style, Vanity Fair Online, People, GQ, Forbes Online, Clean Eating, the Huffington Post and countless others.

He is the best-selling author of 15 books, including “Living Low Carb”, “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth” and his latest, the revised and expanded version of “The Great Cholesterol Myth” (2020). 

COVID-19 Trial Tests if Common Drug Can Keep Patients Out of Hospital

At-risk people diagnosed with COVID-19 across the United States and Canada can participate in a clinical trial testing whether a common drug can keep them from getting sicker and keep them out of the hospital.­­

The trial, conducted by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, is based on a discovery by the University of Virginia School of Medicine’s Alban Gaultier, PhD, and a former graduate student, Dorian A Rosen, PhD.

Gaultier and Rosen found last year that the antidepressant fluvoxamine may stop the deadly inflammation known as sepsis, in which the immune response spirals out of control. The drug’s apparent benefit for dampening dangerous inflammation prompted the Washington University researchers to begin investigating its potential benefit for COVID-19, which can also cause dangerous overreactions of the immune system.

“If this clinical trial is proven successful, fluvoxamine could become a standard treatment for patients newly diagnosed with COVID-19, especially patients at risk,” Gaultier said. “Even the best vaccines do not protect 100% of the population, and discovery of safe and affordable treatments to prevent COVID-19-associated complications is critical.”

Fluvoxamine and COVID-19

Earlier this year, the Washington University researchers launched their first clinical trial of the drug in patients with COVID-19. That trial compared fluvoxamine with a harmless placebo in 152 adult outpatients. None of the 80 participants who received fluvoxamine became seriously ill after 15 days, while six patients who received placebo did. Of those six, four were hospitalized, for periods ranging from four to 21 days. One was on a ventilator for 10 days.

Based on those initial results, Washington University is now launching a much larger trial open to residents across the United States and Canada. The trial is seeking approximately 880 at-risk participants, age 18 and older, who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are experiencing mild symptoms.

Participants will be provided with either fluvoxamine or a placebo for approximately 15 days. No face-to-face contact is required; everything necessary will be sent to the participants’ doorsteps.

Contactless Check-Ins

The researchers will track the patients by videochat, email or telephone to determine if fluvoxamine provides a benefit and helps keep participants out of the hospital. During brief daily check-ins, trial participants will report their oxygen levels, blood pressure and temperature, along with whether they are feeling shortness of breath or have had any other problems.

The study team will continue to follow the participants for approximately 90 days after they have finished taking fluvoxamine or the placebo.

The trial is open to people who have at least one risk factor for severe COVID-19, such as being 40 or older, being part of a high-risk racial/ethnic group (such as African-American, Hispanic, Native American or biracial), or having one or more medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, a lung disease or an immune disorder such as rheumatoid arthritis.

For more information about the trial, visit this website.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Hits High Point During Winter

Carbon monoxide is winter’s “silent killer.” Unintentional carbon monoxide deaths kill more than 400 Americans each year and sicken many others. It’s a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas undetectable to the human senses, so people don’t realize that they are being poisoned. Tragically in 2020, California lost a number of residents from carbon monoxide poison related to faulty wall heaters and other sources of carbon monoxide. Watch the video https://youtu.be/3BT_hDb4uqE.

Products that are typically involved in poisonings include malfunctioning fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, ranges, water heaters and room heaters; engine-powered equipment such as portable generators; fireplaces; and charcoal that is burned in homes and other enclosed areas.

Symptoms can be variable, ranging from headache, fatigue, shortness of breath and dizziness to loss of consciousness and chest pain. Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen slowly or swiftly depending on circumstances. In an effort to raise public awareness, California Poison Control offers 10 tips to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

1. Have all heating equipment installed properly, and have a home or rental’s heating system inspected by a professional prior to turning the heat on when cold weather begins.

2. Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed in all homes, apartments, mobile homes and workplaces. When a detector goes off, assume that a real danger is present, and get all people and pets out of the structure immediately. Do not re-enter until a heating professional, the gas company or the fire department has declared the area safe.

3. During home renovations, ensure that appliance vents and chimneys are not blocked by tarps or debris. Make sure appliances are in proper working order when renovations are complete.

4. Do not cover the bottom of natural gas or propane ovens with aluminum foil.

5. Never use fuel-burning camping equipment inside a home, garage, vehicle or tent unless it is specifically designed for use in an enclosed space and provides instructions for safe use in such an area.

6. In climates with snow, make sure that chimneys and vents do not become blocked with snowfall.

7. Never operate a portable generator or any other gasoline engine-powered tool either in or near an enclosed space such as a garage, house or other building, or outside of an open window.  Keep the generator as far from the house as possible.

8. Do not use charcoal or hibachi grills indoors to cook with or for heat under any circumstances.

9. Do not attempt to heat your home by turning on the oven or clothes dryer and leaving the door open.

10. Never let a car engine run inside a closed space such as a garage. Drive out promptly after starting the car, and turn the car engine off as soon as you drive into an enclosed space. Never have a garage door closed with a running vehicle inside, even for a few seconds.  

About California Poison Control

CPCS is dedicated to providing the most up-to-date information regarding poison prevention. In case of an accidental poisoning, consumers should immediately call the nationwide number from any state1-800-222-1222. Pharmacists, nurses, physician-toxicologists and poison information providers are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to help.

Weekly tips about safety are available by texting TIPS to 20121 for information in English or text PUNTOS to 20121 for Spanish. Follow CPCS on Facebook and on Twitter @poisoninfo. CPCS is part of the University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy and is responsible to the California Emergency Medical Services Authority.

Kaelen Felix Illustrates a COVID-19 Article for 360 MAGAZINE

Antidepressant x COVID-19

Based on a trial from the University of Virginia School of Medicine, the antidepressant fluvoxamine appears to prevent COVID-19 infections from worsening, even keeping patients out of the hospital.

The clinical trial was conducted by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Fluvoxamine was compared with a placebo in 152 adult patients who were infected with the coronavirus.

80 participants received the fluvoxamine, and not one of the 80 became seriously ill after 15 days. Six patients receiving the placebo became seriously ill with four being hospitalized for between four and 21 days. One of the four in the hospital was on a ventilator for 10 days.

Though the sample size was relatively small, the data is believed to be statistically significant. The plan is to launch a larger trial in coming weeks.

Eric J. Lenze, MD, of the Washington University School of Medicine, said patients who took fluvoxamine did not require hospitalization because of issues in lung function.

“Most investigational treatments for COVID-19 have been aimed at the very sickest patients, but it’s also important to find therapies that prevent patients from getting sick enough to require supplemental oxygen or to have to go to the hospital,” Lenze said. “Our study suggests fluvoxamine may help fill that niche.”

UVA’s Alban Gaultier, PhD, and former graduate student Dorian A. Rosen, PhD, found in 2019 that fluvoxamine may stop sepsis, a deadly inflammation causing the immune system to spiral out of control. The findings of Gaultier and Rosen inspired the tests at the Washington University School of Medicine.

Gaultier and Rosen determined that fluvoxamine reduces the production of cytokines, which have been linked to deadly cytokine storms, which are thought to occur in severe cases of COVID-19

“Because elevated cytokines levels have been associated with COVID-19 severity, testing fluvoxamine in a clinical trial made a lot of sense to us,” said Gaultier. “We are still unclear about the mode of action of fluvoxamine against SARS-CoV-2, but research is under way to find the answer.”

Washington University’s Angela M. Reiersen, MD, said the drug works by interacting with the sigma-1 receptor to reduce the production of inflammatory molecules.

“Past research has demonstrated that fluvoxamine can reduce inflammation in animal models of sepsis, and it may be doing something similar in our patients,” Reiersen said.

The limitations of the research were emphasized. The small sample size was noted along with the fact that 20% of participants stopped answering surveys during the trial. Though the researchers could rule out hospital visits for those who stopped answering, they did believe it possible that the participants sought treatment elsewhere.

Because of the limitations, the findings should be considered encouraging and worthy of further research rather than iron clad truth.

Gaultier said, “If a larger clinical trial (phase III) confirms the results, fluvoxamine would be a perfect treatment for COVID patients newly diagnosed. Fluvoxamine is not an experimental drug, it is cheap and safe and could be available as a first line of defense to unburden the hospitals that are overwhelmed by the COVID health crisis.”

For more medical research news from UVA, you can click right here.