Catalog                                                        April 2010
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Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. 
~World Health Organization, 1948 
The risk of medication side effects was a significant factor leading to my pursuit of Alternative Medicine approaches in the early 70's.  In medical school in the 60's, I was taught there were approximately 100,000 "iatrogenic" or  "medical treatment caused" deaths in the U.S. yearly.  This was alarming to my conservative nature.
Ideally, one of the first steps in evaluating any new patient is a detailed review of the potential side effects and interactions of any medicines they are taking.  The Dr needs to be sure none of the symptoms for which they are seeking treatment are medication caused.
The inducement for this months newsletter topic was a recent visit from a new patient.  She began having serious grand-mal seizures a few years ago.  The seizures were traumatic enough to break an arm, pull a tendon, cause a severe bite of her tongue, gash her head, and cause some  general bruising, aches, and pains.  Now she was on 3 seizure meds, could not drive and restricted her life, fearing the next episode.
There had been numerous medical evaluations and consultations.  Since I was sent partial medical records and the list of the 11 medications the patient was taking in advance, I could leisurely investigate each one.
The very first drug Paxil (Paroxetine) , an antidepressant, clearly stated in bold black print in the PDR (Physicians Drug Reference)   the potential side effect of seizure.  Use was to be discontinued if a seizure occurred.  It also said to use with caution in those with liver disorders.  This patient had a liver disorder.
The next drug, Diovan (for high blood pressure) also listed the possibility of seizure.
The next drug Acyclovir ( an antiviral med often used for herpes) also listed a side effect of seizures.
All of these medicines had been taken for years, plus numerous other drugs  not so closely implicated.  When the seizures started, two anticonvulsant meds had been started, and when they failed to work a third had recently been added.
Shocking to me?  Yes, even after all these years of seeing this kind of situation over and over again.  We have to ask the question, whose responsibility is this?  Ideally, you would say it is the Doctors, but, let's face it, busy Drs, rushed, time pressured are usually not going to carry a PDR around with them and sit to review the details of  drugs.  Often their information comes from the drug company sales reps who visit them with free samples, charts, and lists of the indications for and benefits of a particular drug.  The idea is sales.  Would they want to point out or emphasize the drawbacks?
The person I have been writing about was disappointed none of the doctors had considered drug side effects as a possible cause of the seizures, especially when other causes had been ruled out by various tests.  I suggest it is naive to believe you will be consistently looked after in this way.  That is why I suggest the responsibility rests with you and or your family members to be informed, as much as possible, about what goes in to your body.
In this day of quick internet access to the information of the world, you can check for side effects at Rx List (an A-Z internet drug list) , or even purchase your own Physicians Desk Reference (PDR) at  The PDR usually has more details than anywhere else, but the link I gave you is a good medication information source.
The importance of knowing side effects increases if any new symptoms develop while taking medications.  This is obviously difficult for those who are more ill and hospitalized.  When possible, they need a family member to inquire about medication details if all is not going well.
It is a surprise to me how many people avoid learning about their meds, preferring to passively put themselves in the hands of the Dr and know nothing more.  Some still have the idea of the Dr as the health God who knows all, sees all, takes care of all.  They feel loathe to inform themselves adequately or perhaps afraid to step on the Dr's toes.  This may work okay, until things go wrong.

  The number of medication related deaths is hard to clarify for obvious reasons, including the fact that only a fraction of medical errors are reported.  How many doctors, hospitals, or drug companies want to admit their activities contribute to death statistics?  They have a strong incentive not to identify  drug events.  They have a strong incentive to avoid medical legal consequences.  You can believe the number we actually know about is considerably scaled down.
There are 2 categories of drug hazards: 
 Errors in medication dosing & adverse drug reactions (ADR'S).  ADR's cause more problems than medication  dosing errors. The information & statistics vary widely, though all are unsettling.  
The 1998 Journal of the American Medical Association reported  106.000 yearly deaths from drug side effects in American hospitals . These deaths  are only in hospitalized patients and represent  a small percentage of those at risk since most fatal medication errors occur at home.  It is easy for medication to not be perceived as the culprit unless an autopsy and toxicological studies are performed.  Without such clarification the cause of death can easily be listed as any other condition from which the patient may have suffered.
From 1998-2005, 467,809 known medication related deaths were reported to the FDA.  The FDA only finds out  about such instances when no cover up or avoidance of facts is possible.
The National Academics Office of News & Public Information reports medication errors injure 1.5 million Americans yearly.
Gary Null, reports in his book, Death by Medicine  that 783,936 Americans die yearly from conventional medicine mistakes. If this is true it would move medication related deaths to the number 1 cause of death in the United States.
Will these numbers increase with more people in the United States having access to health care? After all health care in the United States has been more about making drugs available to everyone, than it has been about education, proper diet, lifestyle changes,  exercise and alternative non drug methods of treatment. 
Can we expect better from the new Health care bill when we know the pharmaceutical industry controls congress?  For more information on the relationship between the government and drug companies, see the book The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It  by Marcia Angell M.D.

Enjoy Your Coffee More Knowing it may Help to Prevent Alzheimer's Disease
Alzheimer's Disease is characterized by a beta amyloid build up in the brain which changes brain structure and function.  Mice were genetically engineered to develop the same kind of plaque and it impaired their memories.  Adding caffeine to the water of half the group improved their memories over those not receiving caffeine.  Caffeine had an antioxidant and anti inflammatory function in the brain for those who were impaired.  Memories were not improved by caffeine in those who were normal.
Other studies have suggested a history of lower caffeine intake in humans who develop Alzheimer's.  Ongoing studies re caffeine and Alzheimer's are continuing.
So don't go crazy with the caffeine, but feel free to enjoy the equivalent of 2 Starbucks size cups daily, if there are not other health reasons why you need to avoid caffeine.

The factors that dictate the length of your life are dictated by  your genes, and by how well you live. Of course, making it to the ripe old age of 100 is much more likely if your parents did it, simply because they might have shared with you some of the genes and behavior traits that got them there.
1. Move around. This goes without saying. Study after study has documented the benefits of exercise to improve your mood, mental acuity, balance, muscle mass, bones, circulation, and on and on. A commitment to lifetime exercise can be your personal fountain of youth.
 2. Consume whole foods in the form of colorful fruits and vegetables and dark whole grain breads and cereals with their host of nutrients. Strong evidence suggests that people who have high blood levels of selenium, beta-carotene, vitamins C and E age much better and have a slower rate of cognitive decline.
3. Always stay active, even after retirement. Work in your garden, pursue a hobby, get involved in your community. A mix of activities will help you stay busy and connected.
4. Get at least six-eight hours of sleep each night. Our bodies need sleep for recovery, to regulate and heal cells. Good quality REM sleep is a top priority for centenarians.
5. Floss every day. This keeps your arteries healthy by reducing bacteria that can enter the bloodstream and trigger inflammation that increases your risk of heart disease.
 6. Take a minimum of a good multivitamin mineral daily.  Add other supplements if you have conditions for which they would be useful. Multiple studies have shown the benefits of basic multivitamin mineral support, the most recent being Effects of Multivitamin and Multimineral Supplementation in Obese Women.
7. Chill out. Centenarians tend to be emotionally resilient, possessing a deep understanding of how to cope with their troubles and not harbor patterns of tension. You can find ways to manage your stress by practicing yoga, tai chi, meditation, or deep breathing.  It is also known that centenarians tend to be those who prefer single tasking to multi tasking.
8. Become a creature of habit. Centenarians tend to eat the same kind of diet and do the same kinds of activities throughout their lives. Going to bed and waking up at the same times, for instance, keeps your body in a healthy state of equilibrium.
9. Make your social life a priority. Regular contact with friends and loved ones is key to avoiding depression, which can lead to premature death. Connect with someone daily, be it a family member or people you work/volunteer with. Join a book club, a walking group, any group pursuing interests which you also enjoy, or meet friends for tea.  A key word is ENJOY.  Be sure to find and do what you enjoy doing with those you enjoy BEING with.
PRISCILLA SLAGLE M.D. or Cathy Jones, Assistant
Phone: 1 (760) 322-7797
FAX : 760 322-7608
In this Issue:

We cannot live without Vitamin B6.  The active form of it is Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate (P5P). Please go briefly to the link to see the numerous benefits of P5P.   If you receive the pyridoxine HCL form of B6, , your body has to convert it to P5P which requires adequate Vitamin B2, magnesium, and a properly functioning liver.  So P5P is the preferred form for supplementation.
Recently the FDA gave the pyridoxamine natural form of this critical vitamin to a BioStratum drug company for it's exclusive use. They were able to remove the supplement from the market and claim exclusive use of it as a prescription drug.   Now, Medicure Pharma wants the sole use of P5P and has petitioned the FDA to ban the use of this supplement as well.  The drug companies are starting to try to pick off some of the more critical nutrients to claim as their own.
The drug companies must not be allowed to make life critical nutrients prescription only monopoly drugs.

Pepper & Turmeric May Help Prevent Tumor Growth
 There could be good news on the horizon for folks who enjoy the spicier things in life. Researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center say compounds derived from pepper and turmeric could help prevent breast cancer. The study, which appears online in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, shows that by limiting the growth of stem cells that produce tumor growth, curcumin (from turmeric) and piperine (from black peppers) may be attractive candidates as potential cancer treatments.
Curcumin may decrease swelling and inflammation.  Inflammation plays a role in cancer development.  Curcumin lab and animal research has shown it may slow the spread of cancer cells, limit the growth of blood vessels to new tumors, and cause cancer cells to die.  It has been studied for use in treating or preventing colon, prostate, pancreatic, and breast cancers.
While these dietary compounds may kill cancer cells, they probably aren't strong enough to stand alone in the fight against one individuals case of cancer. They may be useful, however, in conjunction with other therapies. Talk to your doctor before adding curcumin or piperine supplements to your diet.

New Hope for Autism
Autism: Oxytocin improves social behavior of patients, study finds  adminstration of the homone oxytocin has been found to improve social functioning in high level autistic adults.  They responded more to others and engaged in more socially appropriate behavior after inhaling Oxytocin.  
Previous research demonstrated lower levels of Oxytocin in autistic verses normal children.
Other previous research suggested Oxytocin reduced the severity and number of different types of repetitive behaviors in those with autism.
Oxytocin is a hormone which acts as a brain neurotransmitter. Oxytocin is implicated in social recognition, pair bonding, maternal behaviors,  trust, love, orgasm, and  anxiety. It is nicknamed the "cuddle hormone"
Current research with the hormone Oxytocin is fascinating.  If I had clones, would devote one of them  to a lifetime of studying this hormone. 
Oxytocin triggers maternal bonding and caring behavior of the mother for the infant.  In this way it helps to  perpetuate the species.  A mother releases large amounts of it when giving birth to her child.  It is the hormone that causes uterine contraction during labor, and causes the breasts to release milk
Fortunately it is now being investigated for its implications with  autism, anxiety, social recognition, social phobias, trust, maternal behaviors, love, romance, memory,  and orgasm, to name a few.  You can imagine the possible treatment implications in all those with personality and  behavioral disorders, as well as violent and criminal disorders related to problems with bonding. 

Recipe: Chilled Cantelope Soup
For the dessert deprived, there is a wholesomely smooth  
1 cantaloupe
2 C orange juice
1 tbsp lime juice
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1. Peel, seed, and cube the cantaloupe
2. Combine cantaloupe and 1/2 cup orange juice in a food processor, process until smooth.
3. Pour mixture into a large bowl. Stir in the rest of the orange juice, the lime juice, and the cinnamon. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Garnish with mint if desired
The Way Up • 946 N. Avenida Palos Verdes • Palm Springs, CA 92262
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