Search This Blog

16 May 2008

Do You Have a Lactose-Intolerant Child?

I have many stressed-out mothers in my practice who are convinced that their children are intolerant to cow’s milk-based formulas. I explain that children are rarely born lactose intolerant and most likely their son or daughter has an allergy to processed, pasteurized cow’s milk. I usually try to get the mother to exclusively breast feed and not supplement with a commercial formula, which usually fixes the problem because human breast milk is the perfect food for infants.

However, if breast milk was never started, a soy milk formula is often recommended because it’s not a cow-based milk. There can be a problem with that since 30 percent of the children are also allergic to soymilk, and soymilk presents its own challenges. (Visit to learn about the potential dangers of soy-based formulas.) In these cases, we often have to resort to elemental formulas on the market.

I also tell the parent that when the child is older and weaned off the breast, I recommend trying goat’s milk before they try cow’s milk again. Children manifest an allergy to cow’s milk formula by gastrointestinal symptoms through vomiting and diarrhea, respiratory symptoms like constant sneezing, coughing, and congestion, and even with skin complications, like eczema. Those who are highly allergic need to use goat’s milk or another formula, like Jordan’s homemade formula.

My response is that nearly all infants drink breast milk—their tender stomachs can’t handle any solid foods—but breast milk has lactose. So breast milk, a food that nourishes and sustains newborns and infants while carrying the mother’s antibodies to the baby, is obviously a good thing.

When infants are weaned from breast milk, they are fed formula—a highly processed dried dairy product made from cows that are not fed well or raised properly. Babies sometimes react poorly to commercial formula by screaming to the high heavens, prompting concerned mothers to immediately blame “lactose intolerance” as the cause of their child’s ills.

Many switch to soymilk or a soy-based formula, but as I stated earlier I’m not a total fan of soy products. Here's why: most soy protein comes from genetically modified soybeans. According to Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions, soybeans are high in phytic acid, which can block the complete intake of essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc into the intestinal tract. Soy protein must be processed at high temperatures to reduce phytic acid levels, which pretty much destroys the “good proteins” in soy, such as lysine.

Ms. Fallon also points out research showing that soy formulas lack cholesterol (essential for brain development) and lactose and galactose, which play equally important roles in the development of the nervous system.

Most children are not lactose intolerant; otherwise they couldn’t tolerate breast milk. The reason for their stomach distress has more to do with an allergy or sensitivity to the processed protein in the formula, not any abdominal intolerance to lactose.

If your child does not respond well to conventional infant formulas, look for a natural and organic infant formula at your local health food store or try Jordan’s formula recipe found in this issue’s recipe section.

by Dr. Fiona Blair, contributing author for Jordan Rubin’s Children’s Health book

13 May 2008

Staying Out of Sun Proven to Increase Depression

Older people with low blood levels of vitamin D and high blood levels of parathyroid hormone are more likely to be depressed, according to a new report. It remains unclear whether these are causes or consequences of depression.

Past studies have linked altered levels of vitamin D and parathyroid hormone with depression, but the relationship has never before been studied systematically. Researchers examined more than 1200 men and women aged 65 to 95.

Nearly 40 percent of the men and 57 percent of women had low levels of vitamin D in their blood; vitamin D levels averaged 14 percent lower among the 195 people suffering from depression. Blood levels of parathyroid hormone, which increase with vitamin D deficiency, were 5 percent higher in people with minor depression and 33 percent higher in those with major depression.


* Reuters May 5, 2008

A Controversial Cancer Treatment in Cancun

Some Americans are going to Mexico for a prostate cancer treatment that is unobtainable in the United States, even though it was developed in the U.S. and is legal nearly everywhere else in the world.

The treatment is called HIFU, or high intensity focused ultrasound. It literally burns away cancerous cells using focused ultrasound waves. Europe, Canada, Japan, Mexico and many other countries have accepted the science behind HIFU, but the U.S. FDA has demanded lengthy scientific trials before approving the technology.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in U.S. men, and it is usually treated with surgery, radiation or hormone injections. All of these options have devastating potential side-effects on urinary and erectile function.


* ABC News May 7, 2008

Reasons to Work Out That Have Nothing to Do With a Sexy Bod

Motivation can be the greatest challenge in developing a permanent exercise habit. Vanity is one of the most common motivators, but it isn’t a great one for many people. When you associate exercise with rewards beyond physical appearance, you may find yourself hitting the gym far more often.

Here are some powerful reasons to work out that have nothing to do with looking good.


For men especially, when you lift weights and gradually increase the level of resistance, your muscles produce testosterone, giving you the energy, stamina, and aggressiveness you need to take on the world.

Clarity and Concentration

An active body has been linked to an active mind. The more consistently you exercise, the less prone you’ll be to grogginess and lapses in concentration.


Exercise is a time to let your mind unwind while your body does the work.


There are many enjoyable ways to exercise, such as going for a run or bike ride along a beautiful route.


Sweating regularly through exercises removes toxins.

Better Sleep

Studies have shown that exercise improves sleep.

Longer Life

People who exercise regularly live longer and stay healthier into old age.

Stress Relief

Exercise has also been shown to reduce stress.

Superior Strength and Endurance

By exercising regularly, you’ll be better able to live and act, and in the event of an emergency, seize the moment.

Self Confidence

The sum of all these benefits is self confidence. Self confidence drives success, so its value can’t be underestimated.


* Pick The Brain April 3, 2008

New Anti-Obesity Drugs Can Stunt Kids' Brains

A study found that cannabinoid receptor antagonists, a relatively new class of weight loss drugs, stunted the brains of juvenile mice. It is possible that such drugs could have similar effects on human children.

Several new anti-obesity treatments, including Merck's taranabant and rimonabant -- sold in Europe as Acomplia -- reduce appetite by blocking the brain's cannabinoid receptors. But they also have disturbing side effects that are only now becoming apparent.

Other researchers have found that cannabinoid receptor blockers interfere with neural connectivity in rat brains -- a phenomenon associated with depression in humans. The FDA has so far refused to approve Acomplia because it appears to cause anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.


* Wired May 7, 2008

Obesity linked to increased risk for dementia

Obesity may increase adults’ risk for having dementia, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Their analysis of published obesity and dementia prospective follow-up studies over the past two decades shows a consistent relationship between the two diseases. The results are published by The International Association for the Study of Obesity in the May, 2008 issue of Obesity Reviews.

“Our analysis of the data shows a clear association between obesity and an increased risk for dementia and several clinical subtypes of the disease,” said Youfa Wang, MD, PhD, senior author of the study and associate professor with the Bloomberg School’s Center for Human Nutrition. “Subjects with a healthy body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference saw a decreased risk for dementia than their counterparts with an elevated BMI or waist circumference.” Wang adds, “Preventing or treating obesity at a younger age could play a major role in reducing the number of dementia patients and those with other commonly associated illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease by up to 20 percent in the United States.”

Lead researcher May A. Beydoun, along with Wang and H.A. Beydoun attribute these findings to a systematic review of 10 previously published studies that examined the relationships between dementia or its subtypes and various measures of body fat. Based on a pooled analysis of their findings from 7 of the studies, baseline obesity compared to normal weight increased the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 80 percent on average. The team further concluded that being underweight also increases the risk of dementia and its subtypes. The studies cited in the meta-analysis were conducted in a number of countries, including the United States, Finland, Sweden and France, and contained middle-aged and older adults.

Previously published research defines dementia as not a single disorder, but a number of syndromes characterized by diverse behavioral, cognitive, and emotional impairments. The most common form is Alzheimer’s disease, with an estimated 5 million adults living with the disease in the United States alone.

“Currently, Alzheimer’s disease is the eighth leading cause of death among the elderly population in the United States. While more studies are needed to determine optimal weight and biological mechanisms associated with obesity and dementia, these findings could potentially decrease the number of people diagnosed with dementia and lead to an overall better quality of life,” said May A. Beydoun, a former postdoctoral research fellow at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

But First, Doctor, What Was Your Marathon Time?

YOU are an athlete, or, at least, very active. Should you seek doctors who are athletes, too? After all, some obese people pass around lists of “fat friendly” doctors who treat them with respect. Women often want female doctors.

Are athletes also a special group? And, if so, do they fare any differently if they see doctors who are athletes?

“Nobody knows,” said Dr. James Fries, a 20-mile-a-week runner and a professor of medicine at Stanford. “There’s no data.”

There are some hints, though, said Dr. Ronald Davis, who is the president of the American Medical Association and a specialist in preventive medicine at the Henry Ford Health System, which includes hospitals, clinics, a managed-care plan and a large physician group practice.

Dr. Davis cited a study by Dr. Erica Frank, who is now at the University of British Columbia. Her study, published a few years ago, involved a survey of about 4,000 female doctors and found that those who were at least moderately active were much more comfortable advising patients about exercise and encouraging them to exercise.

A doctor who is physically active, Dr. Davis said, “is more likely to provide advice on exercise that will be meaningful to patients.”

That stands to reason, Dr. Fries and other physicians said. Doctors who are athletes, he added, are less likely to say “untoward things like that running destroys the knees or that you need an electrocardiogram before you can exercise.”

But it is not always obvious whether a doctor is an athlete. Some tell their athletic patients about their exploits. Some have photos in their offices showing them crossing finish lines. With others, though, unless you ask, you may never know.

Of course, good doctors can be sedentary and terrible doctors can be athletic. What matters most is the doctor’s skill and training and whether you feel comfortable with the doctor. Some active people, in fact, say they had an awful experience when they sought out an athletic doctor.

But in general, doctors who are athletes tend to be more aware that active people want to stay active more than anything else, said Dr. William Kraus, 53, a cardiologist who is a professor of medicine at Duke and runs 35 miles a week and finishes 5-kilometer races in about 20 minutes. He said athletic doctors are less likely to take the easy way out and tell an active person who is injured or ill to stop exercising.

“For many of us, that’s just unacceptable,” Dr. Kraus said.

That was the reaction of Richard Hulnick, 40, a manager for business development at the New York Road Runners, when an orthopedist told him to stop running. He saw the doctor because his knee was bothering him. But the doctor, who, Mr. Hulnick said, “did not look like an athlete,” told him to take up another sport.

“I wanted to get better,” Mr. Hulnick said. “I wanted someone to work with me, but he didn’t tell me what to do.” So Mr. Hulnick walked out of the doctor’s office and resumed running. His knee recovered on its own and he never saw that doctor again, he said. Since then, he has completed six marathons and an Ironman distance triathlon.

Dr. Paul Thompson, a 60-year-old marathon runner (he finished second in his age group in the Chicago Marathon last year) and the director of cardiology at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut, said he often finds himself giving different advice to athletes than he would to more sedentary patients.

For example, he said, a woman with a malfunctioning heart valve came to him for a second opinion. Another cardiologist had told her there was no need to replace the valve because the woman had no symptoms. But she had been a competitive triathlete. So when she told Dr. Thompson that she had recently run a five-mile race in 50 minutes, he was suspicious. He asked her if that was her usual pace, and she told him that her time was actually much slower than in the past.

“To me, it was quite clear she was limited in her exercise tolerance,” Dr. Thompson said. He recommended she have the valve replaced, and she did.

Dr. William Roberts, a runner, skier and sailboat racer who is a professor of family medicine at the University of Minnesota, said active people sought him out to such an extent that his practice gradually turned into one made up mostly of athletes.

“They know I like physical activity and I am willing to try to find ways to keep them active,” said Dr. Roberts, a former president of the American College of Sports Medicine. He recently saw a patient with atrial fibrillation, a heart disorder. The man said other doctors had told him to stop exercising, so he had come to Dr. Roberts hoping to hear a different message.

He did. Dr. Roberts said he told the man that he could exercise as long as he kept his heart rate from going too high, and as long as he had no chest pain or shortness of breath.

Some athletes, like Jon Luff, a 40-year-old aerospace engineer who ran the New York City marathon in 2:39:59 said that if experience is any guide, stay away from doctors who know nothing about training. Mr. Luff’s wife is a doctor, as are three close friends, so he said he shouldn’t speak too freely. But then, just thinking about doctor problems, the floodgates opened.

“I have a story concerning heart rates,” Mr. Luff said. “I have one concerning tendinitis. I had a doctor tell me once that I had mono and had to stop everything.” Mr. Luff was 18 at the time and withdrew from two national competitions. It turned out he had only a cold.

Mr. Luff also has a good friend, Bill Burke, who was initially turned down by the Air Force because he has a resting heart rate of 33. Mr. Burke, who was the national champion in 1,500 meters in 1993, said he had to go to a cardiologist for a medical waiver, which allowed the Air Force to accept him. The cardiologist, Mr. Burke said, told him, “You’re either about to check out, or you’re going to be around for a very long time.”

Then there is the story of a Harvard professor, a surgeon. “He once told me that nobody should run marathons because it destroys knee cartilage,” said Mr. Luff, who knows, however, that most research, including a major study by Dr. Fries, has found that runners actually have a lower risk of knee arthritis.

Yet not every mistaken doctor is a nonathlete. Those who are athletes can be wrong, too.

That is what Patricia Sener, 43, an open-water swimmer who lives in Brooklyn, discovered when she had a problem and went to a doctor who specialized in treating athletes. The doctor pointed to a gray spot in an M.R.I. of her knee and told her she might need a major operation to replace her anterior cruciate ligament. But he said he would not know for sure until she was on the operating table.

“I’m training for the English Channel,” Ms. Sener said. “I’m on a time line. I can’t afford six months off.”

She went to a different doctor, a swimmer, for a second opinion.

“He pointed to the exact same spot on the M.R.I. and said: ‘See this. It’s normal.’” All she needed, she said, was physical therapy to strengthen the connecting muscle and ligaments around her knee and stabilize it. She recovered.

Athletes, though, are not the easiest patients, doctors said.

“They drive you nuts,” Dr. Thompson said. “They are very demanding. They are innately a select group, and a lot of athletes have a superior attitude. They are a little bit defensive.”

They tend, in fact, to be like one of my running partners, who told me that when it comes to a diagnosis, she regards doctors mainly as a source for a second opinion. The first opinion is her own, she said.

Perhaps the best indication of whether athletes should seek fit doctors is to ask doctors who are athletes whether they choose athletic doctors for themselves.

Dr. Roberts said there was no question: he chose a doctor who is an athlete, and so did his wife, a skier. His doctor, David Thorson, is a skier who was his partner when he was in private practice.

“I recruited him in the early 1990s after we raced against each other in sailboats,” Dr. Roberts said. He has been Dr. Thorson’s patient ever since.

12 May 2008

Reversing Cirrhosis of the Liver

Scientists at Sapporo University Medical School in Japan may have developed a method to stop the progression of liver cirrhosis, and in fact, to actually reverse the disease. Until now, the disease has been considered incurable (at least by the medical community) with liver transplant the only real option.

Cirrhosis occurs when the liver becomes overtaxed by excessive consumption of alcohol or carbohydrates, or in response to certain diseases such as Hepatitis B and C. Hepatic stellate cells within the liver respond to liver damage by producing collagen, a fibrous, sticky substance, which in turn scars and hardens the surrounding tissue. To address this condition, the researchers developed molecules that actually block collagen production. They then found a way to encase the collagen-blocking molecules in vitamin A -- which the stellate cells naturally absorb -- and injected the "disguised" molecules into rats that had cirrhosis. The "tricked" stellate cells absorbed the disguised molecules, which in turn blocked continuing collagen production.

Apparently, after receiving the collagen-blocking molecules, the liver started to regenerate tissue. "We were able to completely eradicate the fibrosis by injecting this agent ... we cured them of the cirrhosis," researcher Yoshiro Niitsu said. He explained that the liver both creates the collagen and creates enzymes that dissolve collagen, once the cirrhosis is cleared.

My goodness, it sounds like they've been visiting my website. As I've been saying for the last twenty years, the liver has an "astounding ability to regenerate itself -- if given a chance." Now we see "scientific" evidence that by removing diseased tissue, the liver has the amazing ability to build itself anew. This makes clear how much benefit you can reap by improving your diet and cleansing your liver, even if your self-care hasn't been exemplary until now.

As I detail in Chapter 13 of Lessons from the Miracle Doctors, the liver is the largest organ in the body and certainly one of the most important -- if not the most important. The liver is the body's primary filter, responsible for over 200 functions. It regulates fat stores, destroys toxins and removes waste, aids in digestion by producing bile, stores vitamins, maintains hormone balance, produces immune factors, and so on. When the liver becomes damaged due to poor dietary choices, or from overeating or overdrinking, by toxins or drug residues, the toll on health is disastrous.

Liver dysfunction can lead to:

* Allergies
* Hypertension
* Low energy
* Diabetes
* Infertility
* Arthritis
* Obesity
* Constipation and digestive problems
* And, of course, death

To avoid these complications, give your liver a chance to heal itself. Avoid liver stressors by cleaning up your diet and exercising, cleanse and rebuild your liver by doing a couple of liver detoxes each year, and provide regular nutritional support for your liver with herbs such as milk thistle, dandelion root, the perennial herb picrorhiza kurooa (sometimes called kutkin, or "Indian milk thistle), and artichoke or beet leaf.

By: Jon Barron