Thursday, April 24, 2014

Prestigious hospitals embracing alternative meds

Sumath Reddy, WSJ, Apr 22, 2014, says some "big" hospitals--such as The Cleveland Clinic--are giving herbs and alternatives a throw.

Apparently these herbs and herbal combinations have stood the test of thousands of years of use--in China and elsewhere.

One woman with digestive issues was given a concoction that translated into "free and easy wanderer." She was also told to give it some months to show a result.

The Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern also reports more referrals from physicians. At first, they said, they were pounding on doors to prove they weren't crazy. Now docs come to them.

The problem is FDA-type proof of effectiveness and randomized trials are largely lacking. In its place--the experience of millennia.

The Cleveland Clinic's herbalists sees people on Thursdays. Chinese checkups are prolonged, many questions, pulses are taken at various body points. A the Cleveland Clinic, the consultation is $100 and followups $60. The herbs are about $60. No insurance.

Often the herbs eliminate symptoms, although they don't "cure."

And sometimes patients see no difference--even after months.

So you take your chances--like all medicine.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

We are blobs of microbes

According to the review of two books, The Amoeba in the Room by Nicholas P. Money, and Missing Microbes by Martin J. Blaser (WSJ, Sam Kean, Apr 19-20, 2014), bacteria found in the oceans alone weigh more than millions of times all the elephants on earth.

Ten thousand bacteria could be squeezed into this period--> .

We have 30 trillion cells each--but 100 trillions microbes. We need them--many--to perform functions, absorbing nutrients, and who knows what.

Well, doctors want to know what. They are wondering if killing microbes leads to autism, gluten allergies, peanut allergies.

The mystery within.

I just took a strong antibiotic, which permeated me, made me smell funny and killed who knows how many critters, good and bad. I no longer have pneumonia, but I still feel funny.

And not "funny" ha ha.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Dirty money

Luckily, I have no money. But recently, for those of you who do, New York Univ did a study on microbes clinging to currency. Robert Lee Hotz, WSJ, Apr 19-20, 2014, wrote about it.

Probably this is one of those things better to not think about.

Hundreds of types of bacteria ride along on money as it changes hands. Three thousand types!

Most of these were not even known to doctor-kind.

The most abundant one was the microbe that causes acne.  Others were linked to ulcers, pneumonia, food poisoning, and staph infections.

Microbes even grow and reproduce on money. It's because wallets are body temperature. Also human DNA is found on money and is a growing medium.

So, what to do? Hope for antibodies?

I remember reading that all paper money has some cocaine on it. That was more amusing.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Yes, I went to the ER

I try to do all this stuff so you readers don't have to. Aren't I nice?

I have had trouble breathing for about five weeks. Really gaspy. Finally, I called my doctor and asked for ...I didn't even know...a referral to a lung doctor? Ten days went by.

Finally I got up, was breathing like a fish on the dock, and my daughter and I got a cab to the ER. I thought about urgent care, but what if they sent me to the ER anyhow--I was pretty wrung out--even getting in the stupid Prius cab with my bad knees was daunting.

Basically, the ER means asking for other other opinions. First, I talked briefly to one ER medical doctor, who informed me that I was too wordy and incapable of giving a short answer. This--30 seconds into his so-called history-taking. (It was 8 AM--not busy. Guess he had somewhere else to be.)

Then I was put in a mid-level area--no gown, no bed--just tests. Blood tests and chest x-ray.

Then a Physician Assistant showed up--he informed me I had pneumonia and probably Congestive Heart Failure. What? Well--go see a lung and a cardiologist.

So now I am tagged with a "Big Diagnosis"--seeing my "real" doctor tomorrow. I have had eight cardiologists--and in the course of this, several treatments that almost killed me and one that did render my right eye sightless.

So now what?

Is the ER doc right, my doc wrong...I have to decide. The medications they gave me to "drain" my legs etc made me nauseated and sick for almost two weeks. Am I to be on this the rest of my life?

But hey--this morning I walked the length of my house and was not winded! Yay!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Gateway prescriptions

I don't know if drug dealers do this anymore--probably not--but they used to give you the first shot free to get you hooked.

According to Karen Kaplan (LA Times, Apr 16, 2014), now, docs hand out "free" samples--but according to the JAMA on Dermatology, this benefits the drug companies, not the patients.

In fact, Kaiser, the VA, the US Military and many private clinics forbid this.

Yet, in 2011, $6.3 billion in freebies were handed out.

Stanford took at a look at this when it came to acne medicine. A quarter of prescriptions came with a free sample.

Surprise--the free sample ones were the ones most often prescribed later.

Also, the free samples didn't save patients much.

The free samples, JAMA concluded, belong not in the doctors' closets, but their dust bins.

I would add to this that sometimes the older, cheaper drugs are as good or even better.