Supplements can be helpful but need better oversight

In February, NY State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman accused GNC, Target, Walgreen’s, and Walmart of selling supplements that contained little, if any, of the herb they purported to contain. This has caused tremendous uproar among consumers, providers, the dietary supplements industry, and retailers alike. The stores, in response, have pulled the products from their shelves. American consumers have been portrayed as stupid and gullible for using worthless and ineffective products. But what if the results of the tests aren’t credible?

The attorney general used a relatively new method of testing for the presence of herbs called DNA bar coding, but DNA testing isn’t particularly useful with herbal extracts, because little to no DNA remains after the commercial extraction process. Dr...

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Eating for Pleasure, Vitality, and Health

Diet fads come and go. Currently, there are many popular diets and a great deal of diet confusion! Gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan, organic, whole, raw, grass-fed, probiotic, non-GMO, no-carb, low-carb, slow-carb, Atkins, Paleo, Mediterranean.

With so many diets and options for selecting food, the best choices for our health are unclear and only seem to get more complicated. Why are so many people now avoiding dairy and wheat – foods once considered mainstays of the American diet?  Why are food allergies on the rise? Are fecal transplants really the future?  What do I need to know about the microbiome?

In this forty minute talk I will provide the current science to demystify the latest diet trends and offer strategies for selecting food for pleasure, vitality, and health.


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Practical Actions for a Healthier Pregnancy

Recent articles have raised concerns about whether taking antidepressants may increase the risk of having a baby with autism. While frightening, these reports help raise awareness of the value of a careful self-assessment before you become pregnant. I recommend that you ask yourself these 10 questions before attempting to conceive:

1. Do you take prescribed medications? Find out if your medicine is safe during pregnancy by talking to your physician or pharmacist or look it up on this NIH website

2. Are you taking a prenatal multivitamin multi-mineral with folic acid, iron, and iodine? These multis are associated with easier conception, fewer miscarriages, fewer birth defects in your baby, and a reduced risk of autism in your child...

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An Online Program Shapes Doctors’ Minds—and Hearts

An Online Program Shapes Doctors’ Minds—and Hearts**

By Victoria Maizes MD

Nearly 14 years ago, the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine embarked on an experiment in online education that would have a major impact on the medical profession.

To meet the growing demand for training in integrative medicine—a healing-oriented practice that takes account of the whole person and makes use of all appropriate therapies—the center began offering the content of its residential fellowship online...

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Skin Deep App Makes Safer Product Search Easy

I am not really an app person.
Friends laugh when they see how few I have downloaded onto my smart phone. Still, I have to sing the virtues of the new, free Skin Deep app by the environmental working group. For many years I have instructed my patients to go to and look up their products on the Skin Deep website. Truth be told, it was slow going and cumbersome; but I promised patients and friends alike that once the effort had been made, they could shop with confidence for safer products.
More challenging was when a favorite product rated poorly; to find a better product required scanning through dozens of pages attempting to find a recognizable brand and a locally-sold product.Well, the new Skin Deep app has changed all of that...
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Going to the Chapel

Congratulations! You are about to get married. This is one of the happiest events of your life and if you are like most couples you have spent many months in wedding planning and preparation. Every detail has been carefully thought through to create your perfect day.

For many couples this is also the moment when you are ready to begin a family. While it may be easy to just stop using contraception and conceive, I recommend that you put as much effort into planning for your pregnancy as you did for your wedding.

On the one hand, the desire to have a child is a completely natural and straightforward part of being alive. Every day, women become pregnant, and in the United States, about 50% of the time it is unintentional...

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Dietary Supplements Demystified

What do you think about dietary supplements?  Do you use them? Do you find them helpful? Are you confused about choosing a high quality product?

On Friday, November 8th I was interviewed by Science Friday on the topic Navigating Dietary Supplements.  There were many excellent questions raised about the quality of products, the need for further regulation by the FDA, the evidence for herbs and the need for further research.    (If you would like to learn more about the challenges of bar coding as a method for assessing dietary supplements you can read this excellent article.)  I answered many of these questions on the segment; here I’d like to make available some of the resources that I find most useful.

One of the resources that people can use to find safer, better products is cons...

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OBGYNs embrace need for environmental counseling

On Sept. 24, 2013, The American College of Obstetricians (ACOG) and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) issued a landmark Joint Committee Opinion stating that “patient exposure to toxic environmental chemicals and other stressors is ubiquitous, and preconception and prenatal exposure to toxic environmental agents can have a profound and lasting effect on reproductive health across the life course.”

They joined a growing group of international scientists addressing this relatively unknown concern.  Indeed in May 2013, the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists issued Scientific Impact Paper No. 37 which included a powerful set of recommendations:

  1. Use fresh food rather than processed foods
  2. Reduce use of foods/beverages in cans/plastic containers, including th...
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Organic Matters

What a deceptive and misleading article Henry Miller has written in about organic food!

Even so, in his opening paragraph he acknowledges that non-organic fruits and vegetables have greater pesticide residue.  He then counters, “that more than 99 percent of the time the levels are below the permissible, very conservative safety limits set by regulators – limits that are established by the Environmental Protection Agency and enforced by the Food and Drug Administration…”

Many environmental scientists do not believe that these levels are safe.  While parts per billion sounds like an infinitesimally small number, recall that that is the very same dosage we use for many drugs, which we all agree effect human health...

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Integrative Medicine vs. The Naysayers

Do you use integrative medicine?  Are you baffled when detractors claim there is no evidence for it?

On July 6th I debated Dr Paul Offit on the radio program Science Friday.  During the debate, and in his book Do You Believe in Magic, he repeatedly claims that there is not enough evidence to include a variety of integrative medicine practices but he fails to actually investigate the evidence that exists.  He also asserts that these alternative medicine practices are quite dangerous.

Listen here and judge for yourself.  Then decide if what is really needed are open-minded skeptics.  People willing to look at the full body of evidence and determine the safety and efficacy of a various therapeutic practices.

While we will always need more research, there is abundant evidence to suppo...

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