Man’s Best Friends: Natural Antimicrobials, Featuring the Giant Panda

By Karin Krisher

In light of the giant news that giant panda blood contains peptides that act as potent antibiotics, we’re showing off the other members of our natural world who contribute antimicrobial blood or secretions to the fight against human-attacking superbugs. Here are our favorite warriors:

Giant Panda

Would you expect any different? This news is amazing! A compound called cathelicidin-AM flows in their blood, but we don’t need to access it through holding these guys captive. Instead, scientists have figured out how to synthesize it for human use. Cathelicidin-AM can kill some bacteria in one-sixth the time it takes other common antibiotics!

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Vitamin D: User’s Guide

By Karin Krisher

Vitamin D is probably the most talked about and controversial of the letter vitamins. And it isn’t even a vitamin in the traditional dietary sense. You know about cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) and ergocalciferol (vitamin D2), and how mammals can synthesize vitamin D from sunlight. But your patients may not be as familiar with the aptly coined sunshine vitamin. Here, they’ll find a user’s guide.

 What Are Some Health Supportive Qualities Of Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is widely associated with calcium. Supplemental vitamin D supports calcium and phosphorous absorption, crucial for the body’s development and maintenance of healthy teeth and bones. * It also may support immune system function through support of healthy cell growth.* Vitamin D is responsible for supporting healthy calcium metabolism in the body, which is necessary for normal functioning of the nervous system.* Further, vitamin D may support cardiovascular health and cellular differentiation.*

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Do You Believe In Medical Record Transparency?

By Karin Krisher

We know that many of our customers (you!) focus on naturopathy, chiropractic care or other forms of alternative medicine. But we still think there is much to be learned about managing a practice and your patients’ care from classic hospital docs. That’s why we highly recommend checking out current studies and new information about doctor/patient relationships that may not directly apply to your specialty.

We ran across an article today about openness; specifically, about medical record transparency. We wanted to greatly encourage you to read this article, as a mere blog post synopsis can’t do all of the information justice.

We also wanted your feedback. What do you think about medical record transparency? Are you for or against it? And why? Many doctor subjects of the studies discussed here were once afraid of that transparency, and discovered their fears were unfounded. Have you ever had an experience like this in your practice?

We know that the world of medicine is ever-evolving, and want to get the conversation started about this critical subject. Tell us your thoughts in a comment!

Organic Brown Rice Protein: Something To Write Home About

By Karin Krisher

As your resident blogger, I don’t usually do the product recap thing. I try to keep it educational—the point of this blog is to start conversations and help your patients—not to tell you what to do, buy, or think. But this time around, I can’t help myself. This product is one you and your patients should definitely have on the radar.

I might be a resident blogger, but I’m also a resident fitness buff, and our new product is right up my alley. DaVinci’s Organic Brown Rice Protein is on sale today, ready to be mixed and loved.

What makes it so special?

In short? Everything. Brown rice is so commonly known as a starch that it might be hard to wrap your head around the idea of it as a complete protein with a complete amino acid profile. But that’s what DaVinci has created, through a low temperature, hexane free extraction process, wherein the carbohydrates are fermented away and the protein is here to stay.

To that end, each serving provides 22 grams of high quality, vegetarian protein to support muscle metabolism and cellular structure.* In addition, each scoop also includes 5 grams of fiber to support digestion and proper toxin elimination, thereby supporting proper absorption of the many nutrients in this formula.* (All with only 140 calories!)

There are two other features of DaVinci’s Organic Brown Rice Protein that might also spark your patients’ curiosity: It contains non dairy probiotics and offers a complete amino acid profile to support all areas of wellness.*

The non dairy probiotics are important because protein requires efficient breakdown in order to play its role in supporting health.* Probiotics support normal microflora growth and nutrient absorption and breakdown, to help your patients get the most of every nutrient available.*

Wait—There’s More!

The benefits of including a complete amino acid profile are endless. Rice protein is known for its high content of cysteine and methionine. When the body metabolizes cysteine, it produces glutathione, the master antioxidant in the body. Methionine can be converted to both SAMe and glutathione, helping to support detoxification, proper elimination of toxins, mood, joint health and more.*

Organic Brown Rice Protein also contains several other essential amino acids, including valine to support muscle growth, normal glucose levels and the transport of excess nitrogen from the liver to other body tissues as needed. *

Further, an advanced amino acid profile may support weight management and the provision of energy directly to muscle tissues.*

Is there anything this protein doesn’t have? Sure! It’s missing all the artificial flavors and added sugars of other products on the market. Give it a try today and let us know what you (and your patients) think in a comment!

Got Physician Burnout? You Aren’t Alone.

By Karin Krisher

physician burnoutEvidence that an American productivity schedule (8 to 5) isn’t ideal for maintaining productivity or motivation has been piling up for years. Now, the results of a survey of 7,288 physicians from June 2011 proves that doctors have it the worst: Physician burnout is reported at a much higher rate than the general  population, with nearly 1 in 2 physicians reporting symptoms.

I use the word symptom loosely. We’re not saying that every one of us who gets burned out has a malady that manifests in daily life. We are saying that doctors are being taxed—emotionally and physically.

The physicians surveyed were asked to fill out a questionnaire about burnout symptoms, such as emotional exhaustion, cynicism and loss of enthusiasm in work. The burned out are at risk for personal problems like addiction and depression, as well as professional problems, such as compromised care quality.

Writes Alexandra Sifferlin for, “The data showed that rates of burnout were high: 45.8% of doctors experienced at least one symptom of work-related burnout. When each symptom was considered separately, 37.9% of the physicians had high emotional exhaustion, 29.4% had high depersonalization and 12.4% had a low sense of personal accomplishment. U.S. doctors are burning out ‘at an alarming level,’ the authors write.”

Front-line care practitioners, such as emergency physicians, internal medicine and family medicine, had the highest burnout rates, while doctors of pathology, dermatology, pediatrics and preventative medicine had the lowest rates.

There’s more: Physicians work an average of 10 hours more per week than other people. While only 10.6 percent of the general population admits to working 60-hour (or more) weeks, 37.9 percent of physicians (the same percentage that reported emotional exhaustion) said the same.

The authors of the study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine proposed no real solutions for the issue of burnout. But we’re wondering if you have any tips.

Are you personally experiencing physician burnout, or burnout from another profession? What have you found to help you deal with these feelings? Share your story in a comment.

Talk to Your Patients Like you Mean it: How Doctors Lead by Example

By Karin Krisher

doctors lead by exampleA recent John Hopkins University study of physicians’ health behaviors led this writer to take a nice little walk down medical memory lane, pausing at each pivotal doorstep to recall the true nature of the encounter. Reading the study brought me to a lingering question: were my doctors telling me to do as they say, or as they did? Do doctors lead by example?

Because I didn’t delve into a reciprocal questioning process with any one of my many physicians, the answer escapes me. But there is a more important series of questions whose answers seem more clear: is consistency in personal health and recommendation a must? Is it even important? Why?

First, some background: The study was comparative, and noted some positives, like the fact that physicians are less likely to smoke, drink, or engage in other risky behaviors than the average American. However, when it comes to the hidden stuff, like cholesterol, BMI, frequency of exercise or quantity of vegetable consumption, physicians, as a group, seem to fall slightly short. Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that suicide and depression rates among physicians and medical students are higher than average.

So, is that important? When my doctor tells me how to deal with depression, or that my cholesterol should be lower, does she or he have to be healthier than I in order for me to understand and comply? It’s likely that most patients never question their doctor’s health. But for those few that do, of course it’s important. Of course one is less likely to comply with a hypocritical instruction. Though I hesitate to directly compare the authority or motive of doctors to mothers, my hyper, yellow-toothed doc telling me I shouldn’t drink coffee can be likened to a mother who smokes a pack a day telling her child never to pick up the habit: Somehow, the advice seems less poignant.

To maximize a patient’s chance of compliance, you don’t have to lie. You also don’t have to necessarily ignore the health issues that concern them simply because you aren’t compliant. Instead, to lead by example, simply start taking your own advice. While many patients won’t be acutely aware you’ve made this change, those that pay attention to your general demeanor, and not just what you say, will appreciate the level of sincerity that’s unveiled in the process. Plus, if you believe what you say, and you say what you believe, chances are your health is going to improve right along with your patients.

We’re all in this together. Tell us about your experience confronting a patient’s health issue with which you personally struggle. Did you reveal the truth or try to give advice without including your experience? Why did you choose that path? Share in a comment!

Talk to Your Patients About Donating Blood

By Karin Krisher

donating bloodToday, we want to talk about something that everyone seems to know, but few people seem to talk about: the number of people donating blood is fluctuating, leaving America’s blood supply is at its lowest level in 15 years.

The Red Cross has noted a lack of summer donors as a few bouts of severe weather have caused cancellation of drives around the nation. Even extreme temperatures are to blame, as donors don’t want to stray far from home or the air conditioner. Summer always sees a lull in drives and donations, but this year the turnout is especially sparse. The fact that the 4th of July fell on a weekday even had an effect.

All doctors know the importance of sufficient blood stores. Without them, surgeries and transplants can be called off altogether, putting lives at risk. In June, fewer than 50,000 donations came in. Today, after a total 10 percent drop in donations this year, there are 50 percent fewer blood products readily available than at this time in 2011.

Talk to your patients and family about donating blood. It takes just minutes and can provide a lifetime more. Visit to find a donation time and center near you.

Robots in Medicine? On the Rise

By Karin Krisher

robots in medicineThis post isn’t necessarily meant to offer advice, or too much insight. We just think advances in medical technology are really cool, and that these are ones you should definitely know about.

Robots in medicine are on the up and up. Just yesterday, news broke that RP-VITA (Remote Presence Virtual + Independent Telemedicine Assistant) will begin making bedside visits. And today, the FDA approved a robotic system to perform remotely controlled angioplasty.

If there’s fear these two robots will replace human docs, let’s dispel it now. Today’s tech is designed to make the doctors’ and patients’ experiences more successful and simple. It’s for us, not against us. In fact, both advents still involve patient/doctor interaction:

The former is designed to make rounds simpler. The robot’s head is a video screen that features the visiting doctor, who could be home sick in bed himself. High-definition camera eyes allow the clinician magnification and angular perspective so she or he doesn’t miss a beat or slight pupil dilation. RP-VITA also features a microphone that relays the doctor’s voice. Overall, it’s an incredible opportunity to allow more staff to attend to emergency or critical situations.

Clinical trials showed that the latter robot, named the CorPath 200, is 97.6 percent successful in its endeavor: holding open an artery and placing a stent. On top of that, it reduces lead exposure (to the surgeon) by 95 percent and gives doctors better precision and visualization. Patients should be more comfortable having a doctor who isn’t exhausted from standing on his or her feet draped in a lead cape for an hour or two, and doctors should feel good about added precision and mental acuity.

It’s no question that medical technology no longer refers solely to an EKG. Times are changing, and RP-VITA and CorPath 200 are just the newest reminders of how innovation will continue to shape the landscape of medicine as far as the eye can see.

What do you see for the future of robots in medicine? Are you excited, nervous, or even enthralled? Tell us in a comment!

Talk to Your Patients About Chronic Pain

By Karin Krisher

Chronic PainThe phrase “It’s all in your head,” really might bear some credence. Researchers at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine have shown for the first time that cross chatter in two regions of the brain is related to the persistence of pain. In other words, chronic pain is related to the brain’s original response to the pain.

Ten years of research led the team to conclude that in relation to chronic back pain, the injury itself was not enough to explain the pain, but the injury combined with brain state might very well be. The pain’s persistent nature could be related to an emotional response.

The study relied on fMRI scans to detect brain changes that happen early. The two parts of the brain involved, the insula and the nucleus accumbens, exhibited a much higher level of cross talk between them in study participants whose pain continued than in the participants whose pain faded. While the insula is active when people have an emotional response to an event or environment, the nucleus accumbens region is involved in teaching the brain how to respond to environmental changes.

The amazing part? The scientists found that their initial scans could predict the chronic nature of pain with 85 percent accuracy, suggesting that the more emotional the initial reaction to the injury was, the longer the pain will last. Further, the study found that participants with chronic pain lost gray matter density over time.

What does this mean for the future of pain? The researchers hope to develop new therapies for chronic pain based on the findings. Many medical endeavors are now leaning sharply toward the neurological, and pain is no exception. Pain is the main reason for medication, a driving factor behind disability, and some estimates note that in the United States, its chronic form could cost up to $635 billion per year.

Perhaps approaching pain from a neurological standpoint can help your patients who don’t even have chronic pain. Addressing this concept now could give patients the information they need to make rational decisions at the time of an injury, thereby avoiding the emotional burden and response chronicled in the study participants.

What kinds of chronic pain do you treat most often? What is your main course of treatment? Is there something you would suggest to other practitioners?


Talk to Your Patients About Sun Damage

By Karin Krisher

sun damageWe’ve all heard (and given) plenty of tips about avoiding sun damage.

Cover up if you can, slather on the sunscreen, don’t go tanning. The conversation about skin cancer might seem worn out, but given the constantly emerging tidbits of information about melanoma risk factors, newly approved drugs, and other harmful forms of tanning, I think it’s still fresh. And it might be time to talk to your patients about skin cancer—again.

What’s New?

A starkly asymmetrical photograph of a lifetime truck-driver’s wrinkled/smooth visage drew my attention back to the issue of sun damage, reminding me that melanoma is the most common form of cancer. Because there is a plethora of new information, we’ll simply list quick references here instead of going too in-depth—like we said, the conversation is a bit tired, but the new information makes it a necessary repeat.

That man’s sun-ravaged skin doesn’t seem so far fetched (no, it wasn’t Photoshop) when recent research confirms that older men are at higher risk for skin cancer. In fact, The American Academy of Dermatology’s data tell us that in men over 65, the number of melanomas has increased approximately nine percent since 2002.

Further, emerging research indicates that:

-Tanning just four times can present an increase of 15 percent likelihood of
developing skin cancer

-Smoking cigarettes might raise your odds

-Spray tanning chemicals have been linked to lung cancer (See? The sun isn’t always the bad guy, after all!)

-Childhood abuse, maltreatment or divorce experience exhibits some correlation with the development of skin cancer

The Good News About Sun Damage?

For every new fear about skin cancer-causing agents, there’s a way to assuage that fear. In the May 29 publication of “Cancer,” researchers revealed the possible benefits of ibuprofen and aspirin use in supporting skin cell health. The anti-inflammatory properties of these drugs may have some effect.

Yet another bone has been thrown my Irish/German way—caffeine consumption and exercise may lower my risk of skin cancer.

And finally, patents and licenses on skin cancer preventative drugs are on the rise. sun damageResearchers at the Society of Nuclear Medicine’s 2012 Annual Meeting  noted earlier this week that “a customized patch treatment for basal cell carcinoma completely destroys facial tumors without surgery or major radiation therapy in 80 percent of patients studied.” (ScienceDaily)


What You Can Do

All of your patients should be familiar with what to look for in a mole, and what to hope not to find. If you don’t have even a poster or a brochure on the topic, get some. Dispelling myths about sun protection is also part of the conversation: it’s not true that you can apply once and call it quits. It’s also not true that you can apply sunscreen and then jump right in the water, or that a light shirt will offer full protection.

Help your patients figure out a plan for their outings to ensure they are appropriately guarded, and most importantly, that they are able to enjoy the sunshine without once experiencing its lack of restraint.

Have you had to have a serious conversation about sun damage? Tell us about your approach in a comment!