Diseases and Conditions

  1. Antacids linked to stomach bleeds

    Stop the burn... without causing a bleed

    Plop, plop. Fizz, fizz.

    You remember that old jingle for Alka-Seltzer. Those two tablets dropping into a glass of water and fizzing up made treating heartburn or stomach upset actually seem like fun.

    In its heyday, this ad campaign convinced younger people with no digestive issues to use it -- even if it was just to cure a hangover.

    But there's a reason why you should stop before you plop -- whether it's to stop reflux before it starts or to calm down the occasional stomach upset.

    A warning from the Food and Drug Administration links antacids like Alka-Seltzer to stomach bleeds -- and even death.

    According to the FDA, there were 41 cases of SERIOUS bleeding directly linked to these over-the-counter (OTC) antacids between 1969 and 2014.

    Now, that might not sound like much over the course of a couple of decades, but it gets scarier when you consider that ALL of those cases were bad enough to send the patient to the hospital. And of those, 21 patients lost so much blood that they required transfusions!

    And who's most "at risk?" Seniors over 60 -- especially those with a history of stomach ulcers.

    It's because the most popular antacids out there -- like Alka-Seltzer, Bromo Seltzer, and many others (including their generics) -- are loaded with aspirin.

    If you've followed recommendations from your doc, chances are you're ALREADY on a daily aspirin regimen -- but unless you read the label, you might not realize that you're adding yet ANOTHER dose of it to your day.

    In the case of aspirin, more is NOT better. And as you down those fun and fizzy drinks to relieve pain and discomfort, you put yourself more at risk. Aspirin has been proven to do a number on your gut.

    And it doesn't stop there. Prolonged aspirin use has also been linked to increased risk of stroke. That's why I keep a very close watch on my patients taking aspirin and keep them on the lowest possible dose as long as I'm certain they're not resistant.

    Fortunately, you can calm your upset stomach without making it bleed.

    As I share with you in the July issue of my Nutrition & Healing newsletter, capsules of Chios mastic gum can ease a number of digestive issues. You can even find mastic as an ingredient in some natural chewing gums -- and popping a piece after a meal is a good way to increase saliva and settle the stomach.

    I've also found a product called Iberogast to be an invaluable tool when I want to treat a patient's entire gastrointestinal system. Developed in Germany in 1961, it's a liquid blend of nine herbs, the main active one being Iberis amara (the "bitter candytuft").

    The others include peppermint, caraway, chamomile, licorice, milk thistle, and lemon balm -- all known to promote digestion.

  2. Eczema often caused by an allergy

    Ease irritated skin with herbs!

    Q: I've spent hundreds of dollars on different lotions, creams, body butters, etc., trying to soothe my eczema, which mostly manifests on my hands and mid-arm areas. Any suggestions?

    GR: Last week I answered a question about the dryness and cracking associated with psoriasis on the hands, so this week I'd like to continue the conversation by addressing a similar -- but entirely distinct -- skin condition known as eczema.

    It's one of the conditions we treat here at the Rothfeld Center in the Boston area, and the first thing we do, rather than try to band-aid the symptoms, is figure out the affliction's root cause.

    Eczema is often (but not always) caused by an allergy. If you have red, cracking skin on your hands and other parts of your body and have been diagnosed with eczema, food allergies are most certainly part of the problem.

    Eggs, dairy, and peanuts are the foods most likely to trigger allergies, but they're not the only ones. A doctor who's well-versed in nutritional medicine can work with you on an elimination diet that can help you identify the culprit of an allergy.

    However, food allergens and environmental allergens often go hand-in-hand, so comprehensive skin testing can also say a lot about the many factors that could be causing the irritation.

    So, avoiding exposure to the allergen and boosting immunity (or reducing the immune system's overreaction to the allergen) will go a long way in easing eczema. But sometimes, we can't just stop there.

    Eczema is also on a long list of diseases frequently associated with low stomach acidity!

    But while we're figuring out which root cause to address, our "go-to" therapies to alleviate our patients' symptoms include zinc, probiotics, and essential fatty acids. Fish oil in particular does a great job of reducing systemic inflammation -- and you can find it at just a fraction of the cost of a lot of the fancy creams and lotions out there.

    It's best to use these under the guidance of a doctor -- especially since you can get too much of a good thing when it comes to zinc.

    Finally, I find that patients can get tremendous relief from the topical use of herbs such as:

    • Tea tree oil: Made from a plant native to Australia, it also has powerful antifungal and antimicrobial properties
    • Aloe: In gel or ointment form, it can naturally soothe inflamed skin as well as moisturize and soften it.
    • Aspic oil: Cultivated in Spain from a variety of lavender, the aspic plant exudes an oil that's an excellent topical remedy for skin irritations.

    Have a question for me? Drop me a line at askdrrothfeld@nutritionandhealing.com, and I might choose yours to answer next week!

  3. Zinc protects against liver disease

    Liver health begins with this miracle mineral It clears out toxins... fights infection... helps with digestion... and stores vitamins. It even produces proteins, carbs, and fats for the rest of your body to use. It's a real workhorse, but you've probably never given this part of your innards much thought. I'm talking about your liver -- your body's unsung hero...
  4. Common insecticides boost risk of diabetes

    Could your garden be making you sick? You've planted the seeds... pulled the weeds... and now you get to sit back and enjoy the fruits (and veggies) of your labor. Whether you're enjoying cool cucumbers, juicy tomatoes, plump zucchini, or ripe melons, summer is a pretty delicious time to have a vegetable garden. But planting a garden isn't just a...
  5. Statins don’t help healthy seniors

    America's most-prescribed drug does more harm than good You're panting for breath... dripping in cold sweat... and your heart feels like it's being squeezed to a pulp. The symptoms of a heart attack are so frightening that you'll take ANYTHING your doc gives you to avoid that kind of torture to your ticker. Even if you're currently HEALTHY! Once you're...
  6. High-fiber diets reduce risk of osteoarthritis

    Take the "ouch" out of OA with this simple diet trick Your body is like a classic car: Certain parts break down over time, but you've got to keep driving it if you want it to run smoothly. And your knees are a little like your tires -- because you've got SO MUCH riding on them! They've led you to...
  7. Skipping sugar can protect against macular degeneration

    Starve your sweet tooth to protect your eyes You've been holding menus a mile away from your face... mistaking the salt for sugar... and whipping out a pocket flashlight just to settle the bill. If you're a little on the older side, it can feel like you need a pair of night vision goggles -- and a healthy sense of...
  8. Selenium protects against dementia

    Scramble up a shield for your brain You put an army of Post-It notes around the house... set alerts on your phone... maybe even tie a string around your finger. As we get older and our "senior moments" stack up, we need all the help we can get when it comes to remembering life's small details! That's why I'm glad...
  9. Shrink varicose veins with this Mediterranean shrub

    Ditch the long pants and get your legs ready for summer Q: Is there anything I can do about the varicose veins on my legs. They're not painful, but they're so ugly I don't want to wear shorts in the summer. What would you recommend that doesn't involve surgery? G.R.: If you're 65 or older, you have a greater than...
  10. Avocado reduces risk of metabolic syndrome

    Beat the odds with this 'forbidden' summer snack Well, another summer is upon us. School's out... the sun's out... and patio tables are full of all your favorite picnic treats. This is a great time of year to load up on all the great produce that's in season, whether it's strawberries, summer squash, watermelon, or corn on the cob. Go...

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