In the spirit of National Watermelon Day, we bring you our article in LA Yoga Magazine. Check it out to learn more about the health benefits of watermelon AND a recipe for a watermelon refresher to help you stay cool this summer.
What a wonderful day to celebrate! National Doctors’ Day was first observed in 1933 when general anesthesia was used during surgery for the first time & was officially made a national day of celebration in 1991 (Public Law 101-473.)
Check out my blog post on KevinMD from 2014 for more fun facts about doctors:
and don’t forget to show your favorite doctors some love on this special day!
If someone told you that just a few minutes a day of a particular practice could help you reduce your pain and anxiety, improve how you respond to stress, and better your brain, how long would it take you to make this a regular part of your day? Probably not long, right? Well get ready, because meditation has been found to help with all those symptoms and more.
Meditation is just what you think it is: A stress-relieving practice that involves choosing a focal
point, calming the mind, and repeating a mantra. It’s been practiced for thousands of years, and has evolved to include several different types. For example, gong bath meditation relies on the repetitive sound of a gong to guide meditation and help relieve stress. Yoga, on the other hand, gives practitioners aphysical practice to guide the focus of meditation.
It’s that time of the year when many people are getting sick. Unfortunately there is no cure for the common cold, but a few home remedies may be all you need to help manage your symptoms as your body fights off the infection. Here are some great ways to get yourself through the next week of the cough and congestion.
1. The Secret
Support your immune system in every way possible. Eat a light diet filled with warm, fresh, cooked foods. Avoid sugar, alcohol, smoking, stressful situations and even strenuous exercise. Read on to number 2 below.
When you are sick your immune system is in overdrive, so the more rest you get, the better your body will be able to effectively use its resources to fight off the infection.
All that mucous, coughing and immune system activation can lead to dehydration, making you feel even weaker. Adequate hydration with water, fresh juice and light broth based soups can help prevent dehydration and make the mucous secretions less sticky and uncomfortable.
4. Saline Rinses
Saline is probably one of the most underutilized cold fighting modalities. Since cold and flu virus enter the nose or throat, rinsing with saline can help keep these areas clean, not to mention clear all the mucous secretions. The neti pot and warm salt water gargles can also provide relief of stuffy nose and sore throat symptoms respectively.
5. Stay Warm
There is truth to this old wive’s tail. Cold temperatures can affect the immunity of your nasal passages where the cold virus enters, so make sure to bundle up when going outside. From an Ayurvedic perspective, the cold and the flu result from an imbalance of the Vata and Kapha dosha. Balancing Vata and Kapha requires heat whether it be from drinking hot tea or eating warm, easily digestible foods. This is one of the reasons why salads, raw foods, cold beverages and ice cream are advised against when you are sick. Find more about how to boost your immunity from an Ayurvedic perspective here.
6. Eat Ginger and Turmeric
8. Vitamins and Supplements
9. Essential oils
One study showed that a blend of eucalyptus, sweet orange, myrtle, and lemon essential oils helped with respiratory symptoms experienced in colds.
Halotherapy or salt inhalation therapy has been shown to help with respiratory symptoms of colds and asthma. You can perform halotherapy with a himalayan salt inhaler at home or at a halotherapy center in your area.
It’s important to be patient during this time. Stressing about getting better will only make things worse. Chances are you may have gotten sick due to recent stress or lack of sleep, so this is a chance to recuperate on many levels.
You DON’T need antibiotics!
I wanted to note one last thing about antibiotics. Many people come to me because they want antibiotics for their cold, not realizing antibiotics are incorrectly prescribed by many clinicians. Antibiotics are NOT indicated for colds as cold are caused by a virus. Cold symptoms usually resolve on their own in about a week. There are other over the counter options available to manage cold symptoms and sometimes a doctor’s visit may be in order to assess severe symptoms or those that do not resolve after several days. As always, prevention is your best bet when it comes to staying healthy and make sure to consult with your healthcare provider when treating your symptoms.
Read about how to prevent yourself from getting sick 10 Natural Ways to Stay Healthy this Cold and Flu Season.
What natural ways do you use to treat cold symptoms?
We are amidst the cold and flu season, and the expectation for antibiotics is so common that I find myself spending most of my time explaining why antibiotic use for colds are inappropriate. It’s time that I feel people would benefit from resting at home, letting their bodies recover. Sometimes I wish I could create a PSA or scream at the top of my lungs that
Colds are caused by a virus! Antibiotics are for bacterial infections. Get some rest, fluids and let your body heal naturally!
(I also have a few choice words for anyone who continues to inappropriately prescribe antibiotics for a cold and perpetuate the unreasonable demand… Should I tell you how I really feel?)
I am absolutely thrilled that the American College of Physicians (ACP) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published an article in the Annals of Internal Medicine that gave specific recommendations to physicians for appropriate scenarios to prescribe antibiotics. The article recommended the following valuable guidelines:
- NOT prescribe antibiotics for patients with the common cold. (AND I REPEAT, CLINICIANS SHOULD NOT PRESCRIBE ANTIBIOTICS FOR THE COMMON COLD)
- NOT perform testing or initiate antibiotic therapy in patients with bronchitis unless pneumonia is suspected.
- Test patients with symptoms suggestive of strep throat by rapid antigen detection test and/or culture for group A Streptococcus and should treat patients with antibiotics ONLY if they have confirmed streptococcal pharyngitis.
- Reserve antibiotic treatment for acute rhinosinusitis for patients with:
– persistent symptoms for more than 10 days
– onset of severe symptoms or signs of high fever (>39 °C)
– purulent nasal discharge or facial pain lasting for at least 3 consecutive days
– or onset of worsening symptoms following a typical viral illness that lasted 5 days that was initially improving (double sickening).
The article also states that sinus infections usually clear up without antibiotics even if bacteria are to blame, and that antibiotics in these cases cause more adverse effects. The guidelines also recommend the following remedies for symptom relief:
Analgesics for pain
Antipyretics for fever
Systemic or topical decongestants
Saline nasal irrigation
Cough suppressants (dextromethorphan or codeine)
First-generation antihistamines (diphenhydramine)
The cold virus will eventually run its course. Often catching a cold happens during times of high stress and lack of sleep, so it’s important to allow yourself to rest.
Antibiotic resistance is a serious health threat and not to be taken lightly. Again, it requires a commitment from both physicians and patients. So save yourself some time and healthy gut bacteria and stay home and rest. Your cold will get better and if not, I’ll be here to help.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
The World Health Organization has declared this week to be “World Antibiotic Awareness Week,” which is dedicated to bringing awareness to the global health epidemic of antibiotic resistance. It’s also “Get Smart About Antibiotics Week” here in the United States. According to the CDC 2 million people in the United States become infected with antibiotic resistant bacteria and 23,000 people die from such infections each year. What’s worse is that antibiotic resistance continues to increase.
“To give you an idea of how high the pressure is to prescribe antibiotics, I didn’t get a job once because during the interview I told the lead physician that I only prescribe antibiotic prescriptions when they are warranted.”
Following Darwin’s theory of the survival of the fittest, bacteria normally evolve in such a way that they evade destruction by antibiotics. However, inappropriate antibiotic use in healthcare settings and increasing antibiotic administration to farm animals is creating a rising number of “superbugs” such as MRSA and drug resistant E. coli. Even simple urinary tract infections are becoming difficult to eradicate. The few effective second line treatments that are available are usually expensive and require hospitalization. Antibiotic resistance is only a part of the problem, as antibiotics are also not free of side effects. Certain antibiotics can cause vomiting and diarrhea, tendon rupture and even heart arrhythmias. Since antibiotics also decrease the beneficial bacteria that live within our bodies, yeast and the bacteria Clostridium difficile, which are normally contained by our body’s “good” bacteria, can overgrow and lead to deadly infections.
“It wasn’t the antibiotic that cured your cold; it was likely a tincture of time and possibly even the placebo effect.”
So why is there an inappropriate use of antibiotics? Ask any doctor and you will find that there are high expectations from patients for antibiotic prescriptions, especially for colds. However, many people do not realize that colds are usually caused by viruses and viruses are not treatable with antibiotics. (It wasn’t the antibiotic that cured your cold; it was likely a tincture of time and possibly even the placebo effect.) Healthcare providers are also at fault. Many providers give into pressure from patients, sometimes writing antibiotic prescriptions and advising patients not to fill them just for patient satisfaction. To give you an idea of how high the pressure is to prescribe antibiotics, I didn’t get a job once because during the interview I told the lead physician that I only prescribe antibiotic prescriptions when they are warranted. I was also threatened once by an asymptomatic patient who wanted antibiotics because her son had a cold.
So what can be done to decrease antibiotic resistance? Prevention is always key to avoiding any disease in the first place. Eating a healthy diet, managing stress, getting adequate sleep and staying physically active are all great ways to boost the immune system and promote overall health. Consistent hand washing is also paramount as our hands are a primary means of spreading germs. It’s also important to take antibiotics exactly as prescribed. This means that the leftover antibiotic originally given for a skin infection, which should have been completed in the first place, may not cover that urinary tract infection.
It’s up to physicians to educate patients on the risks and benefits of antibiotics use. I find that most of my patients feel comfortable when I educate them about their symptoms and reassure them that I will be available to prescribe antibiotics if necessary. As for patients, your involvement and accountability for your health could be the reason you and your family members survive an antibiotic resistant infection in the future. As always, make sure to see a healthcare provider if you think you need antibiotics.
Western medicine does wonders when it comes to diagnosing and treating emergent medical issues such as pneumonia or broken bones. There is, however, a much larger epidemic of diseases that our healthcare system has not been able to adequately manage. Greater than 50% of healthcare costs are caused by chronic medical conditions such as hypertension, coronary artery disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; diseases which can be prevented and even effectively reversed with a healthy lifestyle. What’s even more disheartening is that the third leading cause of death in America is thought to be related to medical interventions.
Why then with all of the available advanced medical technology and breakthroughs, do we still have such a broken system? it isn’t so much an issue of a lack of access to healthcare, as it is about the access to actual quality care. A doctor’s job doesn’t only involve treating diseases; it’s also about preventing them from happening in the first place. It is much easier to prevent a disease, than it is to treat it at a critical stage when most healthcare costs are often spent and possibility for recovery is the poorest. Our healthcare system has unfortunately become a “disease care” system.
Quality healthcare involves time, patient education and addressing the whole individual, not just the disease. The word doctor means teacher in Latin, and it’s up to medical professionals to educate their patients. Many people do not know that most health issues have roots that can be traced back to an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, tobacco and alcohol use and inadequate stress management. Yet, many doctors are forced to see more patients in a short amount of time to make ends meet, leading to fragmented care and the inability to get to the root cause of issues. When you have twenty-five, 15-minute slots to meet with people, it’s difficult to address everything and often a prescription for a pill is the quickest solution. Pills however are superficial bandages to a deeper multifaceted issue, and often come with unpleasant side effects. It’s no wonder people have become frustrated with the healthcare system and are looking for alternatives.
Integrative medicine provides many solutions to the chronic disease epidemic. It is a patient centered, wellness-oriented approach to healthcare that embraces both conventional and alternative modalities. Just like in many Eastern healing traditions such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, the focus is directed on addressing all aspects of an individual’s existence- mind, body and spirit. Western medicine is beginning to appreciate the benefits of alternative modalities such as acupuncture, yoga and meditation, which come with fewer side effects than pills. In fact, integrative medicine relies on a multidisciplinary team approach to care that involves the expertise of acupuncturists, psychologists, nutritionists and more. The team approach extends to the patient-healer relationship as well, as the patient is considered to play an integral role in healing.
People are complex and have many layers that contribute to what is seen on the surface of their issues. It takes time, effort and teamwork to stay healthy. Health comes from addressing diet, lifestyle, emotions and psychosocial factors, and not from a pill. The future of medicine will still include emergency rooms, surgery, medications and the scientific breakthroughs Western medicine has to offer. Everything has its place. However true wellness lies in embracing all safe and effective healing modalities that empower an individual to uncover and utilize his or her own inherent healing potential, a source that exists within us all.
If you live in the Los Angeles area, be sure to check out Lotus East-West Medical Center. Here you can find experts in integrative medicine, Ayurveda, acupuncture, psychology, thermography, homeopathy, meditation, reiki, naturopathy & more all under one roof!
Have you had any experiences with integrative medicine? If so, share your comments below!
Fall is finally here and with it comes the cooler weather, pumpkin spice lattes and the dreaded cold and flu season. Here are some tips for staying healthy over the next several months:
Optimize your immune system
The most effective way to prevent colds, the flu, and many other diseases, is with a healthy immune system. Our immune system has special cells and molecules that recognize and fight the viruses that cause the common cold and flu. The flu vaccine is not 100% effective for the flu, and does not prevent colds, which are caused by a completely different virus. In fact, last year the flu vaccine was only about 20% effective in preventing the flu. A healthy lifestyle can potentially cover the other 80%. A healthy balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep and stress management are simple, yet incredibly effective ways that have been scientifically proven boost the immune system.
Use nasal saline rinses
The entry point for cold and flu viruses occurs primarily through the nasal passages. Use a Neti pot daily to rinse your nasal passages with saline solution to flush out viruses, preventing them from spreading throughout the respiratory tract.
Gargle with warm salt water
Gargling with warm salt water has been scientifically proven to prevent colds. Like saline nasal rinses, gargling with warm salt water daily can help prevent cold and flu viruses from replicating and progressing in the body.
The old wives tale of staying bundled up has some merit. While cold temperatures are not the direct cause of colds and the flu, scientists have found that exposure to cold air may decrease the local immune response in our nasal passages. One of the main reasons we catch colds during colder seasons is because many people spend time indoors, thus making it easier to be exposed to cold and flu viruses. If you do decide to get some fresh air, make sure to bundle up and keep your face and neck covered.
Take vitamin D
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that vitamin D supplementation in children decreased the risk of contracting the flu. Homeopathic remedies such as probiotics, vitamin C and oscillococcinum may help, but studies have not yet shown definitive evidence for their use in preventing colds and the flu.
Drink Ginger Turmeric tea
In Ayurveda, colds and the flu are thoughts to be due to an imbalance of Vata and Kapha dosha. Turmeric and ginger can balance these doshas. In fact, both ginger and turmeric have been scientifically proven to strengthen the immune system and work against cold and flu viruses.
Cover your mouth
Cold and flu viruses are transmitted through air droplets, so there is some merit to covering your mouth when sneezing or coughing, especially if you have symptoms.
Wash your hands
While air droplets transmit cold and flu viruses, you can still spread the virus with your hands. Since cold and flu symptoms may not appear for up to one day after being infected, it’s that much more important to wash your hands frequently. Also, avoid touching your face to prevent the cold and flu viruses from entering your nose.
Disinfect your home
This goes along with tip #8. Disinfect commonly touched places in your home, such as doorknobs and light switches.
Avoid contact with sick people
The influenza virus is contagious so make sure to limit your exposure to those who are infected. If you happen to be sick as well, stay home and get some rest!
Stay ahead of the cold and flu season!
These prevention strategies are worth a cold and flu- free fall and winter season for you and your family. Make sure to practice a healthy lifestyle all year round.
Feel free to share ways in which you have been able to prevent yourself from getting sick in the comments below!