Archive for September, 2009

PEOPLE’S PHARMACY: Natural remedies for head lice

Q. I teach elementary school, and lice are an ongoing, frustrating problem. Many low-income families struggle with the high cost of treatments, which often are not effective. I have two suggestions that are natural and quite effective (given to me by my students’ families).

1. Coat the affected head entirely with mayonnaise and cover with a shower cap. Leave on head for at least one hour. (Watch a movie or read a story.) Rinse and shampoo as usual. I am told this drowns the lice.

2. When the affected head is dry, put the child in the bathtub and pour salt on the scalp, taking care to keep it out of the eyes. Rub in with fingers for several minutes. This is supposed to loosen the nits. Rinse and then wash hair as usual.

When my own daughter got head lice at age 6, I was appalled at how her tender scalp turned red and irritated at the commercial treatments. We used these two inexpensive, natural suggestions a few times during a two-week period and were lice-free. I suggest …

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ASK DR. H: Mercury contamination and high fructose corn syrup

Q: A friend of mine told me that certain foods made using high fructose corn syrup may be contaminated with mercury. What are those foods? Why isn’t the FDA doing something about it? – V.W., Philadelphia

A: What you’re referring to is a study published in the Jan. 26, 2009, issue of Environmental Health that found mercury (a known poison to the brain and nervous system) contamination in nine out of 20 foods containing high fructose corn syrup.

High fructose corn syrup has largely replaced cane sugar in many foods we eat every day, ranging from soft drinks to ketchup. The research was actually conducted in 2005, and representatives from the Corn Refiners Association say that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) manufacturers have stopped using mercury in production years ago.

Why would mercury be used at all? Apparently, some HFCS manufacturers use or have used a mercury-based caustic chemical to separate corn starch from the corn kernel. And while the Corn Refiners …

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HEALTHY EATING: Menus change with the seasons


Fall fashions with richer colors, sleeker shapes and sturdier fabrics signal a time to put summer’s gauzy pastels away and get ready for a change in the weather.

The same thing’s happening on seasonal restaurant menus as chefs turn to autumn’s rustic flavors.

eatingout.0930Melons and berries make way for baked apples and roasted acorn squash. Citrus sauces recede, and toasted nuts arrive.

“It’s actually one of the easiest seasons to cook from,” said Clifford Pleau, executive chef and director of culinary development for Seasons 52 restaurants, “because summer’s sun leads to autumn harvests.”

So why not enjoy three varieties of squash at once?

Pleau created a squash trio of delicata, acorn and butternut, but rather than slathering on the butter, he livens up the vegetable side dish with a tasty glaze of maple syrup, chipotle, mint and lime juice.

Even though the menu at Seasons 52’s two Atlanta restaurants boasts the light promise of “every item …

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THINNER YOU: The Soccer Mom fitness trap


Always on the run, but no time to jog? Or bike, hike, swim, or otherwise participate in activities that would mean better health, more energy, and even fun?

If this sounds like your life, maybe it’s time to consider how you can get off that routine treadmill of busyness and blaze a new trail that allows you to be physically active while completing important tasks

175318_MINIVAN_SALES_MIPS10For inspiration, meet 46-year-old Taimi Henderson (pronounced Tammy), who had three kids in two years and eight months, raised them as a single “soccer mom” — before that term existed — and survived to smile about it all.

Acknowledging the hard lessons of organizing life with two young daughters and a son, Taimi admits feeling envious when she heard other adults say they were heading off to the gym or signing up for aerobics classes: “I would think, ‘I so want to exercise!’ But I couldn’t. I was too busy to be active.”

Faced with mounting mounds of laundry and pre-teens who would …

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DOCTOR IS IN: Nation moves quickly toward H1N1 vaccine


Assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine; Medical director of the Hope Clinic of the Emory Vaccine Center; investigator in the adult H1N1 influenza clinical trials.

With the arrival of fall, and schools and colleges well under way, Georgia already has seen a substantial number of cases of novel H1N1 flu. Although it appears that most cases have been mild, there have been more serious cases, just as there are every year with seasonal flu.

Doctors in the region have noted serious illness not only among individuals with underlying medical conditions but also among young, previously healthy individuals.

The U.S. government declared the H1N1 outbreak a public health emergency in April 2009, and two months later the World Health Organization classified the outbreak a pandemic, reflecting its widespread nature. To minimize the impact of H1N1 flu in our …

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AGING & CARING: 20 easy ways to boost your memory


Worried about fading brain power? If you’re older than 27, you have good reason. That’s the age when cognitive skills start to decline, according to new University of Virginia research. But while some changes in thinking and memory are inevitable as we age, the good news is that lifestyle seems to be able to blunt those effects — and keep many minds working sharply well into old age.

That’s reassuring, given headlines from the Alzheimer’s Association’s new annual report showing that every 70 seconds, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s (the most common form of dementia).

Debilitating memory loss doesn’t happen to everyone, though. Learn what you can do to preserve yours.

1. Take the stairs

stairsExercise benefits your head as much as the rest of your body, a growing number of studies indicate. Overall cardiorespiratory fitness also lowers the risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems — all known risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. …

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ASK DR. H: ‘No scar’ procedure shows promise

Q: What can you tell me about “no scar abdominal surgery?” Why aren’t more doctors doing it? – F.H., Huntsville, Ala.

A: The surgery you’re describing is not yet “ready for prime time,” although it definitely shows promise as an alternative to a number of laparoscopic and traditional abdominal surgeries. It’s called NOTES, an acronym for Natural Orifice Transluminal Endoscopic Surgery.

NOTES eliminates the need for traditional incisions and, for the right type of patient, results in much less painful surgery with a much more rapid recovery time. Two examples of NOTES surgery are a transvaginal appendectomy and a transvaginal cholecystectomy (gall bladder removal), where a small incision is made through the vaginal wall to gain access to the abdominal cavity and its organs. Each requires only two small incisions — one in the abdomen and one in the vagina.

Another surgical area where NOTES surgery holds tremendous promise is bariatric weight loss surgery. …

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PEOPLE’S PHARMACY: Hair loss attributed to vitamin A

Q: I found out recently that the hair loss I’ve been experiencing during the past couple of years was directly attributable to vitamin A. I was taking 25,000 IU a day of vitamin A in my daily vitamin pill. Apparently that is toxic and causes hair loss. I just wanted to warn others.

A: Too much vitamin A can cause hair loss, along with loss of appetite, skin problems, headache, fatigue and many other problems. The usual recommended intake is 5,000 IU daily for adults, so you were definitely getting far too much.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist and Teresa Graedon is an expert in medical anthropology and nutrition. They can be reached at

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HEALTHY EATING: Snacks can fill hunger and nutrition gaps


Weight control research shows that the best way to distribute calories throughout the day is to eat three meals and a snack or two, depending on your schedule and the size of the meals and snacks, of course.

Snacking in between breakfast, lunch, dinner and bedtime has become a way of life for many Americans. According to a survey conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, 85 percent of women eat between meals, with an average of two snacks per day. Twenty-four percent of snackers said they crave chocolate, while 19 percent preferred something salty, such as chips or pretzels.

Regardless of what you crave, when the snack attack hits, there are lots of choices to satisfy the sweet or salty urges in lower-calorie ways — from frozen chocolate pops made with skim milk to baked chips made with whole grains.

The good news is that snacks are not only OK, they can be a healthy addition to your daily diet.

Registered dietitian Lanier Thompson put …

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DOCTOR IS IN: Common injuries in young lacrosse players


Medical Director, Sports Medicine Program, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Clinical Assistant Professor, Emory University School of Medicine

DavidMarshallAlmost 300,000 children play lacrosse, making it one of the fastest-growing sports in the U.S. While both boys and girls participate in the sport, the style of play for each gender is different.

Overall, participation in lacrosse is safe and the injury rate among young athletes is actually very low. Because of rules differences for the boys and girls games, some injury patterns in male and female players differ as well.

In the boys game, body checking is allowed. Male lacrosse players wear protective equipment—helmets, facemasks, mouthguards, padded gloves and pads on their shoulders, ribs, arms and elbows.  The goalkeeper is also required to wear a throat protector and chest protector.

Conversely, female lacrosse players wear only mouthguards and eye goggles, as body checking is not allowed. Goaltenders …

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