Weekly health watch with items on home remedies, a genetic link to childhood obesity and new disclaimers for some osteoporosis medications.
Many home remedies can help save money –– and preserve your health –– when used wisely to supplement care from your doctor.
"While patients should always see their doctors for regular checkups and treatment for significant medical issues, it is possible to supplement that care with cost-effective home remedies," said Dr. Philip Hagen, a preventive medicine expert at Mayo Clinic and editor-in-chief of the new "Mayo Clinic Book of Home Remedies." "Common ailments often have simple treatments that could save families hundreds of dollars in medical costs each year."
A host of ailments can be addressed with home remedies, including ear pain, minor eye ailments and varicose veins.
"Home remedies may not be appropriate for treating every situation all the time; when in doubt, it is always best to consult a medical professional," Hagen said. "But it may be possible to care for minor health issues at home, or to use home remedies to enhance the care you're already receiving from your doctor."
Here are some home remedies to try from the Mayo Clinic experts:
Chili pepper seed, when used as a rub applied directly to the skin, may ease aching joints.
Ginger is thought to relieve nausea, and many Asian cultures incorporate it into their diets as a digestive aid.
Insomniacs may find relief by inhaling the fragrance of lavender.
Plant-derived compounds like soy have estrogen-like effects that may help ease hot flashes for menopausal women.
A humidifier may help ward off colds by increasing the moisture in the air of your home. Cold viruses thrive in dry conditions.
Vinegar is thought to reduce nail fungus. Soak your feet for 15 to 20 minutes in a mixture of one-part vinegar and two-parts warm water. Rinse your feet well and pat dry when done.
Experts also recommend you keep certain items on hand for general care and minor first-aid issues:
Bandages of various sizes, gauze, paper or cloth tape, antibacterial ointment and antiseptic solution to deal with cuts.
Cold packs, gauze, burn spray and an antiseptic cream to treat burns.
Aids like a thermometer, aspirin (for adults only) and acetaminophen (for children) to treat aches, pain and fever.
Cold packs, elastic wraps and finger splints for sprains, strains and fractures. Remember, however, that serious injuries require treatment from a medical professional.
New Research: Love is a drug
Researchers at Stanford University Medical Center in California have found that romantic love (in this case, the wildly passionate kind experienced in the first few months of a new relationship) affects the feel-good area of the brain in much the same manner as cocaine and powerful pain relievers. So, in a neuroscience perspective, love can be considered a drug.
Did You Know?
The Dumont-UCLA Transplant Center performed its 5,000th liver transplant on Sept. 26 and is only the second program in the world to ever reach this goal.
Health Tip: Diets restrict vital nutrition
Dieting may sound like a healthy option, but many simply restrict the important nutrition your body needs, and they often fail in the long run. In the end, the key is to make a lifestyle change: eat healthy, exercise regularly and balance the number of calories you consume with the number of calories your body expels.
Number to Know
65: The number of hospitalizations for diabetes in the U.S. rose 65 percent from 1993 to 2006, according to a study at the University of Michigan.
Children’s Health: Genetic link found in childhood obesity
Studies at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania have revealed that individuals who have certain copy number variations (deletions or duplications of DNA sequences) are at a very high risk of obesity.
“Our study is the first large-scale, unbiased genome-wide scan of CNVs in common pediatric obesity,” said study leader Dr. Struan F.A. Grant. “We found CNVs that were exclusive to obese children across two ethnicities: European-Americans and African-Americans.”
Health officials have implicated the dramatic influx of obesity cases in the last decade to environmental factors, like a sedentary lifestyle. This study, in conjunction with other research, has given ground for scientists to recognize the genetic component of obesity, as well.
The study examined 1,080 obese children (ages 2 to 18) of European-American decent and 1,479 obese children of African-American decent against a group of lean children from the same decent. Researchers then identified multiple CNVs that occur in both groups of obese children but not in the groups of lean children.
Since most obesity-related research is based on adults, this study is a welcomed piece of the puzzle for childhood obesity. When scientists and doctors fully understand childhood obesity is when preventive measures and treatments can start taking place.
Senior Health: FDA implements disclaimers for osteoporosis medication
The Food and Drug Administration is warning that there is a possible risk of two rare types of bone fractures in people who take drugs known as bisphosphonates, which slows the loss of bone mass, to treat osteoporosis.
The agency issued the warning because the rare types of fractures (subtrochanteric femur fractures and diaphyseal femur fractures) have been predominantly reported in patients taking these prescription medications, though it is unclear whether bisphosphonatesare is the sole cause of these reported fractures.
“In the interim, it’s important for patients and health care professionals to have all the safety information available when determining the best course of treatment for osteoporosis,” said FDA medical officer Dr. Theresa Kehoe.
From now on, bisphosphonates that are approved for osteoporosis treatment, such as Actonel, Atelvia, Boniva, Fosamax and their generic products, will implement a change of labeling to reflect the possible risk of thigh and hip fractures. In addition, a medication guide will be included with prescriptions to explain the risk and symptoms in more depth.
If you are taking bisphosphonates for your osteoporosis, continue to do so unless you are told to stop by your health care professional. Read the medication guide to learn what symptoms to watch out for and tell your doctor if you experience any thigh or hip pain. As always, if you have any questions or concerns about your medication, contact your doctor.
GateHouse News Service