Blog Posts

Ancient Recipe Kills Modern Bacteria

May 26th, 2015

ancient medicine

Remember the 1992 movie Medicine Man with Sean Connery and Lorraine Bracco? He plays an eccentric scientist working on a cure for cancer in the Amazon jungle, on the cusp of a major discovery thanks to help from an indigenous medicine man. Naturally, a logging company is bulldozing the very jungle where he is conducting his research, so time is of the essence.

In the end – spoiler alert! – Connery’s character accidently discovers that it’s a rare species of ant that holds the key to curing cancer. It was the ants all the time! The ants!

As I read an article recently in The Telegraph, it got me to thinking about that movie. In particular, it got me to thinking about natural remedies, and that the cures we so desperately seek for diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s and more are, like the ants on the sugar bowl in Medicine Man, right under our noses.

The Telegraph article points to a study conducted at the School of English at Nottingham University in England in, where researchers may have found a remedy for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as the superbug MRSA.

Using – get ready for it – a thousand-year-old treatment for eye infections made up of cow bile, garlic and wine, Nottingham’s Dr. Christina Lee and microbiologist Freya Harrison came up with an ointment hat not only killed, but obliterated MRSA in tests.

The recipe, which was very detailed and required a brass pot, straining, and letting the concoction sit for nine days, came from Bald’s Leechbook, an Old English manuscript in the British Library that Dr. Lee, a Viking studies professor, translated.

“We were genuinely astonished at the results of our experiments in the lab,” she said.

“When combined according to the recipe, the MRSA populations were almost totally obliterated: about one bacterial cell in a thousand survived in mice wounds,” according to the Telegraph.

To ensure the salve’s success wasn’t a fluke, a team of scientists at Texas Tech University repeated the experiment with the same results. “The salve performed as ‘good, if not better’ than traditional antibiotics at tackling the superbug,” according to scientists there.

So what does this tell us? It tells us that the answers we need are already there. As Mother Nature provides the problem, so does she provide the cure – we just need to find it.

Maybe our scientists don’t need to spend billions of dollars in labs creating synthetic serums. Maybe we need to spend more time scouring the depths of the oceans, peaks of mountains and yes, fauna and flora of the jungles, to find the answers to how to cure our diseases.

Also, perhaps, we need to take another look at some old wives’ tales. Like a thousand-year-old recipe that is doing what modern medicine can’t, I think medical lore may have some merit. Do you know of any old-fashioned “cures” that should get a second look by modern medicine?

Cancer or a Common Skin Problem? What Do I Do?

May 18th, 2015

It started out looking like a tiny wart. Then it grew, rapidly, swelling to monstrous size in just a few weeks beneath the surface of the skin. It looked to me like it could have been some sort of cancerous growth.

I made an appointment with a dermatologist and it turned out to be something benign but also obscure…at least to me. It was called a pyogenic granuloma, also known as a lobular capillary hemangioma.

A pyogenic granuloma is a benign vascular tumor, which occurs primarily in the skin or mucous membranes. Most frequently found on the hands or feet, these lesions also commonly occur on the face, head, neck, or inside the mouth.

A pyogenic granuloma will initially appear as a pinhead-sized bump or nodule. Most range from dark pink to red in color. Within weeks, the lesion may expand to several centimeters in size as it begins to protrude from the skin.

One of the most distressing aspects of a pyogenic granuloma is that it is subject to persistent bleeding: the slightest bump in the area of the tumor can cause it to bleed profusely. Because the lesion consists of new capillaries, sometimes the bleeding does not stop within the timeframe of a normal wound.

Even more disturbing is the uncertainty of the condition when it has not yet been diagnosed; it is, after all, a tumor, so it looks like a cancer to the layperson.

Surgery is the only way to remove a pyogenic granuloma. For mine, the procedure was a simple outpatient procedure under local anesthesia, and took less than fifteen minutes.

Pyogenic granulomas are mostly just an unsightly nuisance, but their resemblance to malignant tumors makes them a priority when they do appear. Anyone with a suspicious bump on the skin should visit a dermatologist promptly.

Be Aware of Brain Attack! How to Recognize the Symptoms of a Stroke.

May 11th, 2015

StrokeiStock_000042417122

It’s May, which is National Stroke Awareness Month. Because strokes are a serious medical emergency, the health care community often refers to it as a “brain attack,” comparing it in urgency to a heart attack. The statistics from the National Stroke Association vary slightly from those of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), but the bottom line is strokes are a leading cause of death and disability in the United States, and most of them can be prevented.

In its simplest sense, a stroke occurs when the blood flow to an area of the brain is interrupted. As a result, the cells in that area don’t get the necessary oxygen, glucose and other nutrients normally provided by the blood, and the cells begin to whither and die. This cell death is what causes the disability associated with stroke.

There are two primary types of strokes. Blood flow can be blocked by a blood clot, called an ischemic stroke, or interfered with due to bleeding in the brain, called a hemorrhagic stroke. Ischemic strokes are much more common, accounting for about 80 percent of all strokes. Sometimes, blood flow is interrupted very briefly, but the person experiences some stroke-like symptoms. These are called transient ischemic attacks or TIAs.

A big cause of ischemic stroke is atherosclerosis,2 that ugly build-up of fatty plaque deposits on the walls of your arteries. When it builds up in the carotid arteries in your neck, the arteries become narrow and the blood flow to the brain becomes restricted, leading to a TIA or stroke. Hemorrhagic strokes often occur as a result of a ruptured aneurysm (a bulge in a blood vessel) in the brain, but can also result from an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) or from prolonged high blood pressure, the leading risk factor for stroke.

Like many conditions, stroke has both controllable and uncontrollable risk factors. Some of the uncontrollable factors include things like age, gender, race, family history and the presence of arterial abnormalities like aneurysms and AVMs. It’s the controllable risk factors you want to concentrate on, because changing a few behaviors just might help prevent disaster.

The basics of good health apply to stroke prevention, too, so it’s important to manage those controllable risk factors, such as smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. To reduce your risk, quit smoking, maintain a healthy weight, eat a proper diet and avoid excessive alcohol use. If you have high blood pressure, atherosclerosis or high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes or another chronic disorder, make sure you keep your condition well under control.

Before you go, know the signs of a stroke. And remember, a stroke is an emergency. If you notice the signs of a stroke in someone, don’t hesitate. Call 911 right away. According to the NINDS, the symptoms of a stroke are distinct because they happen quickly.4 Signs of a stroke include the sudden onset of:

  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Severe headache with no known cause

 

Here’s My Beard: Ain’t It Weird?

May 8th, 2015

Waiting Room Cover

Not since the days of George Carlin’s famous Hair Poem have beards been so popular. They’re back in fashion again; although, there might be an unfortunate aspect to facial hair that the medical community is acknowledging in a rather public manner.

According to recent news reports, beard swab tests in New Mexico revealed that the subjects’ facial hair held a host of bacteria more commonly associated with urinary tract infections or rest rooms.

“I’m usually not that surprised; I was surprised by this,” notes Quest Diagnostics microbiologist John Golobic. “These are enterics, the kinds of things that you’d find in feces. It certainly shows a degree of uncleanliness that is somewhat disturbing.”

Not surprisingly, a face full of hair is simply capable of holding onto all sorts of bacteria longer than a face that is clean-shaven on a daily basis. Studies by the International Foundation for Dermatology and the journal Anaesthesia have documented problems with the spread of staphylococcus. Folliculitis, or infection of hair follicles, is common among bearded men.

However, there’s no need for panic. In spite of numerous studies showing that facial hair traps dirt and germs more easily, men can still enjoy their furry faces as long as they maintain excellent hygiene. Keeping a beard neatly trimmed, washing it regularly, and applying conditioner can all keep cleanliness at a fairly healthy level.

Golobic recommends a thorough beard scrubbing, as well as frequent hand washing, and adds, “Try to keep your hands away from your face as much as possible.”

So before you kiss that bearded dude, you might want to run him through a hot shower.

Welcome to The Waiting Room!

May 4th, 2015

Welcome to “The Waiting Room,” a blog presented by Florida Health Care News to offer knowledge and insight into various medical subjects. In this room, you will meet people from all walks of life who will share their stories, struggles and insight with you.

This blog will share information on medical-related topics and will be written by various individuals, including Florida Health Care News staff and guest bloggers from our clientele of medical professionals.

Our goal is to provide inspiration, support and encouragement on the latest developments, research and technologies in the health care industry.

We will also, from time to time, share our personal medical stories in an effort to connect with you, our readers. Seeking commonalities with one another makes us feel comfortable with each other. We want to share our own experiences and ask you to also share yours by interacting with us in our comments section!

So, stop in, take a seat and happy reading!

A few of our bloggers:

Judy Wade Headshot

Judy Wade is the Editorial Manager for Florida Health Care News. A graduate of the University of South Florida, she has over 25 years of experience as a writer and editor for both print and digital news in the Tampa Bay area. She joined Florida Health Care News in 2012.

Patti DiPanfilo Headshot

Patti DiPanfilo has been a health care writer and editor for close to 25 years. She is a graduate of Gannon University In Erie, Pa, and is experienced in both marketing and educational writing. She joined Florida Health Care News in 2013.

 

Help Prevent a Measles Outbreak

February 6th, 2015
Child with Measles, Help Prevent this eradicate this disease

Measles is a serious illness. It’s a respiratory virus that can cause blindness, deafness, and even death.

Florida Health Care News and the Centers for Disease Control agree that physicians who do not take a stand in support of childhood vaccines enable parents to leave their children unvaccinated, thereby putting others’ health at risk. The recent Disneyland outbreak of measles points to the troubling consequence that “opting out” of childhood vaccinations can pose.

Read More about Preventing a Measles Outbreak.

Gail Goldy in the “News”

March 31st, 2014

Felicia Rodriguez and Paul Lagrone, anchors with ABC WPBF 25 News, pictured with our Senior Sales Associate Gail Goldy, “Like” Florida Health Care News!

 

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29th Annual Best of Tampa Bay

March 20th, 2014

The staff of Florida Health Care News will be enjoying a night of wonderful cuisine and music at the 29th Annual Best of Tampa Bay on Saturday April 5th at 7 p.m.  We hope to see you there!

Click below for more information:

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http://www.strazcenter.org/bestoftampabay

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February 5th, 2013

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Time for Some Real Changes

August 24th, 2012

There’s not a day that goes by that there’s not some news story about Obamacare or Medicare or the costly health care system. I’ve decided to throw my two cents in and talk only about Medicare and how to help save the very beneficial program for seniors.

Most people don’t pay a Part A premium because they paid a rather small Medicare tax (1.45%) while working, and this same amount is paid by the employer. The first part of my proposal is to increase the Medicare tax to 1.60% for all individuals earning over $75,000 per year. For an individual that earns $100,000 per year, the current Medicare
tax would be $1,450 per year. My proposal would increase that by $150 per year, or less than $3.00 per week. The employer would also be responsible for a similar amount.

With this slight increase that would affect approximately 37% of the working population, it would increase the Medicare coffers by approximately $890 million per year.

The second part of my proposal has to do with Medicare deductibles. According to CBS Money Watch, Medicare Part B premiums went up $3.50, to $99.90 per month in 2012. The Medicare Trustees report had previously projected an increase of $10.20, to $106.60 for 2012.

CBS Money Watch reported that “Premiums have not increased for retirees since 2009, thanks to a ‘hold-harmless’ provision – since there were no cost of living increases in the Social Security income benefit for 2010 and 2011, Medicare premiums could not rise without effectively reducing seniors’ Social Security income. Typically, Medicare Part B premiums are deducted from Social Security income checks.

“The premium for new retirees in 2011 was $115.40; this group of retirees now pays the standard premium of $99.90 per month, for a reduction of $15.50 in their monthly premium. New and prior retirees will receive a net increase in their Social Security check, given the recently announced cost-of-living increase (COLA) for 2012 of 3.6%. The 2012 COLA will increase Social Security monthly checks by an average of $43 per month, more than offsetting the modest Part B premium increase for prior retirees.

“The good news didn’t stop there – the Medicare Part B deductible actually decreased by $22, from $162 last year to $140 for 2012. The deductible for Part A hospital coverage increased from $1,132 in 2011 to $1,156 in 2012, a lower-than-expected increase, below increases in prior years, and below the rate of inflation. This comes on top of news that premiums for Medicare’s Part D, the prescription drug program, would decline ever so slightly, too.”

My proposal for Medicare Parts A, B and D deductibles is a little more complicated than the increase in Medicare Part A payroll taxes. For seniors with incomes of $25,000 or less, I propose reducing the deductible by 40% to 50%. For seniors with incomes of $25,000 to $50,000, the deductible would remain the same. For seniors with incomes of $50,000 to $100,000, the deductible would increase by the cost of living, even if there’s not a COLA for Social Security. For seniors with incomes greater than $100,000, the deductible would increase by 10%.

With these adjustments, the lower income seniors would probably no longer have to debate about seeing the doctor or having food on the table. For the higher income seniors, the modest increases in deductible would only mean a shorter cruise on their next vacation. For the Medicare trust fund, it would only mean an extra $100 million per year.

My final recommendation is for the primary care physicians to receive a greater fee from Medicare, and the specialists receive a greater fee directly from the seniors with incomes greater than $100,000.

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