Archive for November, 2009

PEOPLE’S PHARMACY: Can sugar heal wounds?

Q: I have been in veterinary medicine for 15 years. Several years ago, we had a case of a dog that had been attacked by another dog. After initial surgery to repair wounds, the tissue over the largest area died and sloughed off, leaving nothing to sew back together.

We used sugar for healing. It took daily bandage changes initially and nearly six months of wound care.

However, our tough little patient healed beautifully.

The sugar did not allow the wound to become infected, and it also drew out extra moisture, which helped the wound to heal.

One thing we discovered was using a hand-held shower head to rinse off the sugar and gently remove the dead tissue, revealing healthy tissue underneath. After the rinse, pat dry with clean towels, pour sugar onto the wound and sprinkle to the edges. Apply nonstick pads and wrap appropriately.

A: Thank you for your story. It is always fascinating to hear from a health professional who has had success with an alternative healing …

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ASK DR. H: Breast lump linked to Zocor?

Q: I’m a 38-year-old man who saw the doctor a couple of months ago because of a tender lump in my right breast area. After bloodwork and a mammogram came back normal, he sent me to a surgeon. The surgeon thought that the Zocor I was taking for my cholesterol might have caused it. After being off the Zocor, the area does seem to be much less tender and smaller. How often does this happen from statin drugs? — S.C., Woodstock, Ga.

A: It’s not all that common, but statin cholesterol drugs and fibrate triglyceride-lowering drugs can cause “gynecomastia,” the development of increased breast tissue in a man. The exact reason why they can cause gynecomastia is unclear, but it’s believed that in some folks, the effect of these drugs on the cholesterol-forming pathways in the liver extends to the male sex hormone-forming pathways. This creates a hormonal imbalance between testosterone and estrogen. An interesting observation is that switching a patient from one statin …

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HEALTHY EATING: Sweet predicament at the table


Have you noticed how crowded the restaurant sugar bowl is getting? It’s a multicolored collection of little packets in pink, blue, yellow and green. Even sugar comes in two colors: white and brown. And some places add a packet of honey to the mix.

Sweeteners were invented to taste like sugar without all the calories. For instance, every time you choose a diet soft drink instead of the real thing, you consume 150 fewer calories.

But choosing a non-caloric sweetener for your morning coffee saves only 15 calories when you give up a teaspoon of sugar.

The weight control effect of substituting really depends on how much sugar you usually consume.

Turbinado sugar

Turbinado sugar is currently popular with consumers. Chris Hunt, for the AJC.

Still, the party line from the Calorie Control Council, a trade group representing companies that sell artificial sweeteners, is that the products are a valuable tool in the struggle to maintain caloric balance.

Dr. Adam Drewnowski, …

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DOCTOR IS IN: Mindfulness with medications

By Sylvia E. Morris, MD, MPH

Clinical Instructor, Hospital Medicine Section, Emory University Hospital Midtown, Emory Healthcare

When it comes to taking medications for illnesses or chronic health conditions, communicating with your doctor is key for safe and appropriate medication use, and better health. Whether it is taking medication once or twice a year for a sinus infection or a common cold, or taking daily medication for high blood pressure or heart disease, talking with your doctor about the benefits and risks of these drugs is very important.

Taking medications accurately can help prevent or delay more costly medical problems. It can also improve patient outcomes and quality of life.

When your doctor prescribes medication, whether prescription or over-the-counter, ask questions about taking the medication, including: How long must the medication be taken? Which other medications and foods should be avoided when taking a prescribed medication? What are possible side …

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PEOPLE’S PHARMACY: Home remedies for leg cramps

Q: I’ve read about drinking tonic water to prevent waking with leg cramps. Try coconut water instead! It is the best stuff for leg cramps.

A: When we looked this new product up online, we discovered that, in addition to health-food stores, several major chains carry it as well. We appreciate your testimonial. We remind readers, though, that too much coconut water might be constipating.

Q: When I read your column about gin-soaked raisins, I recalled a similar remedy I used several years ago. I don’t like gin. But the man who told me about using gin-soaked raisins for tendinitis also said that, according to his own doctor, apple-cider vinegar worked just as well as gin. The recipe I used very successfully to treat my tendinitis was golden raisins soaked in a combination of two parts apple-cider vinegar and one part honey. Cover and soak for three days, and take about 10 raisins a day. The tendinitis gradually disappeared. I had started on them before the doctor could …

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ASK DR. H: No basis for copper claim

Q: I’ve been wearing a copper bracelet for the past year because it helps my arthritis. Can you tell me how it works? — G.P., Mountaintop, Pa.

A: I’m glad that you’re finding some pain relief from wearing a copper bracelet.

They’ve been used for hundreds of years to relieve joint pain, and there are even some animal studies that show taking copper supplements by mouth can decrease arthritis progression.

Unfortunately, the pain-relieving benefits of wearing a copper bracelet have not held up to scientific scrutiny, and claims to the contrary are anecdotal.

The first randomized placebo-controlled (where neither the researcher nor the study participant knew whether a copper bracelet or a sham bracelet was being worn) study on the use of copper and magnetic bracelets was published in the Oct. 12 issue of Complementary Therapies in Medicine.

The researchers concluded that there was no meaningful difference between the copper bracelet and the sham bracelet in terms …

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HEALTHY EATING: Nuts get an image boost


There’s a nut war going on, and it’s more than the usual squirrel battle to gather the most food before winter sets in.

Growers of almonds, peanuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts are clamoring to communicate the big health benefits in each bite.

Nuts (and seeds) are a healthy snack choice. Photo by CHRIS HUNT/AJC Special

Nuts (and seeds) are a healthy snack choice. Photo by CHRIS HUNT/AJC Special

Nuts as a category have emerged as one of the health heroes in the food world. Not too long ago nuts suffered from an image problem because of their high calorie content.

But today studies show that people who regularly eat nuts — about 1½ ounces a day, five days a week — are at much lower risk of having their arteries clog than non-nut eaters. (By they way, 11/2 ounces is a handful, not a can full.)

“Nuts have gotten a bad rap for being ‘fattening.’ The truth is nuts are nutrient powerhouses full of anti-oxidants, protein, fiber and minerals,” said registered dietitian Marisa Moore, an Atlanta spokeswoman for the …

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DOCTOR IS IN: Keep kids safe during radiation procedures

By Kimberly Applegate, M.D., M.S., F.A.C.R.

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta radiologist and Vice Chair of Quality and Safety, Department of Radiology, Emory University School of Medicine.

kimberly applegate
When faced with the need for medical imaging tests in their children, many parents are afraid as they may not understand the technology or the reasons why a test is being performed. Parents also do not often understand the risks and benefits for their child. The diagnostic radiologist is a physician imaging expert. Most radiologists receive 13 years of extensive training (medical school, residency, subspecialty). Radiologists often also endure additional training in how to perform and interpret imaging in children safety.

Pediatric radiologists are careful with the risks that tests pose for children. One particularly important risk is from ionizing radiation. Pediatric radiology facilities use low radiation dosages that are tailored for the size of each child to minimize the radiation …

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