What is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s Disease is a slowly progressing and irreversible brain disorder named for German physician, Alois Alzheimer, who described the disease in 1906. While working in a city mental hospital in Frankfurt, Germany, the doctor had a 51 year old female patient whose symptoms did not fit into any previously recognized category. She had declining memory capability, confusion, disorientation, and delusions. Her symptoms continued to worsen and according to the doctor, she once said, “I have lost myself.”

This is an apt description of the disease that would eventually be known as Alzheimer’s. After her death in 1906, Dr. Alzheimer performed an autopsy on her brain and discovered that it had shrunk greatly. He also discovered unusual clumps of protein or plagues in the patient’s brain. These were the plagues and tangles that are now associated with the disease. The disease is also known as senile dementia of the Alzheimer type.
Alzheimers Symptoms and Treatment

Characterizing Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is characterized by memory impairment and problems with reasoning, perception, and language. It gradually destroys memory and thinking skills necessary to function and live independently. During the course of Alzheimer’s, plagues and tangles develop inside the brain and cause brain cells to die. In most cases, Alzheimer’s patients show a deficiency in certain essential brain chemicals. Though there are drugs that may slow the progression of the disease, there is currently no cure.

Alzheimer’s does not by itself shorten a person’s life expectancy. Rather, it is the complications caused by the disease that contribute to death. As the disease progresses, sufferers are less able to care for themselves and they may not get the help they need for infections or illness. The period of time between diagnosis and death can be anywhere from one to fifteen years, though it is usually six to ten years.

What are the Symptoms?

The first sign of Alzheimer’s is memory loss that affects your daily life. Often misplacing items is a common early symptom of the disease. Other symptoms include difficulty in planning or solving problems, completing familiar tasks, confusion with place and time, problems writing or speaking, withdrawal from work or social activities, and the loss of the ability to see accurately the visual world and to understand these visual images.

How is Alzheimer’s Diagnosed?

There are no blood test, urine tests, biopsies, or MRIs that can diagnose Alzheimer’s. A brain scan may help to identify irregularities in the brain, but no doctor can be 100% certain that a patient has the disease until after death when the brain can be examined for plagues and tangles.

However, doctors can be reasonably certain of a correct diagnosis for Alzheimer’s from various cognitive tests that examine language, memory and mathematical skills. From these tests a doctor can often determine if an individual has the disease and what stage of Alzheimer’s the patient is suffering from. Blood tests, urine tests, and MRIs are often utilized to rule out other potential problems. After a proper diagnosis, the physician can prescribe the proper medication and determine the correct level of care needed.

Stages of Alzheimer’s

Specialists dealing with Alzheimer’s have identified stages of the disease that occur in many individuals. These stages have common symptoms and allow for patients and their families to understand what comes next as the disease progresses.

Stages 1, 2, and 3

Stage 1 is the beginning of the disease and no impairment is noticed. During stage 2, some cognitive decline may be noticed, though it may be difficult to tell whether this is normal age related decline or the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Stage 3 shows mild cognitive decline with decreased memory, a decline in the ability to organize or plan, and the misplacement of common items. It is during this stage that doctors may be able to first diagnose the disease.

Stages 4 & 5

In Stage 4, an individual would exhibit moderate cognitive decline and would have greater memory loss, less ability to remember recent events, and may become more withdrawn. This is usually considered early stage Alzheimer’s. Stage 5 is characterized by moderately severe cognitive decline. This is considered mid-stage Alzheimer’s. Individuals in this stage can become confused about date and place. They may also have trouble remembering familiar information such as their address or phone number. Assistance with day to day activities becomes essential during this stage.

Stages 6 & 7

Stage 6 is still considered mid-stage Alzheimer’s but the disease progresses and the individual experiences severe cognitive decline. In this stage, the disease affects one’s ability to remember names of family members, to recall recent events, and to properly take care of basic needs like dressing, bathing, and hygiene.

They may also begin to have delusions and experience personality changes. Stage 7 is the final stage of Alzheimer’s and is characterized by very severe cognitive decline. Individuals may lose their capacity to speak properly, to walk without assistance, and to eat without help. Eventually they may lose the ability to control movement.

Causes of Alzheimer’s

The principal risk factor is increasing age. As our population ages and our average lifespan increases, the numbers of those with Alzheimer’s increases. It is estimated that 10% of the population over 65 years of age have Alzheimer’s, and 50% over the age of 80 have some level of the disease. It is estimated that there are currently over 5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s and that number is predicted to grow to nearly 15 million by the year 2050.

Genetics can increase the likelihood of developing the disease. Many people with early onset Alzheimer’s (in their 40s and 50s) have genetic mutations that make them more prone to the disease. Scientists have discovered one risk gene for Alzheimer’s. This is the APOE-e4 gene that is one type of APOE gene. Everyone inherits one APOE gene from each parent; if one of those happen to be the APOE-e4 gene, then that individual has a greater chance of developing Alzheimer’s and also has a greater possibility of developing the disease at a younger age.

Additional Risk Factors

Scientists have also discovered a deterministic gene that guarantees the development of Alzheimer’s. This gene is only found in a few hundred families in the world and only accounts for less than 5 percent of all Alzheimer’s cases.

Other identified risk factors include high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, and diabetes. If you are a woman, you are more at risk for developing Alzheimer’s. Scientists are not certain why, however this increased risk may be due to the fact that women live longer than men. There is also some evidence that those who have completed less than eight years of schooling have a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Does our Modern Diet Cause Alzheimer’s

Many doctors, scientists, and nutritionists are beginning to believe that our modern diet contributes to the development of Alzheimer’s. They believe that our consumption of sugar, fat, chemicals, pesticides and pharmaceutical drugs may lead directly or indirectly to the development of this disease. Some evidence shows that obesity in middle age can increase your risk of Alzheimer’s. Diabetes and stress are also believed to increase your chances of developing the disease. Eating a healthy diet, exercising daily, and controlling stress may lower your chances of developing Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimers Remedies
A study done at a Rhode Island hospital discovered a significant correlation between nitrates in our food and our environment and increased death rates form certain diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Humans are exposed to nitrates through processed foods and fertilizers. This is merely another warning that we should examine our modern lifestyle and attempt to make changes that will lessen the risk of these “modern lifestyle” diseases.

Outlook for Cures

While the progression of Alzheimer’s can be slowed and the mental abilities of patients can be improved for a time with certain prescribed drugs, there is no medication that will cure Alzheimer’s. There are several prescription drugs that have been approved by the FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration) to treat people who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

These include cholinesterase inhibitors for mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. Cholinesterase inhibitors often slow down the progression of the disease for six to twelve months, though some patients experienced longer delays. The names of some of these include, galantamine, rivastigmine, and donepezil. It is believed that these drugs prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a brain chemical that is believed to be vital for thinking and memory. Side effects of this drug include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.

Memantine is a medication that has been approved for moderate to severe forms of the disease. This drug protects brain cells from damage caused by a chemical messenger called glutamate. The drug has shown to increase mental function for a period of time and has minimal side effects. None of these drugs cure the disease, the merely slow down the progression or lessen the severity of the symptoms.

Natural Cures

Before deciding to rely on natural cures to treat Alzheimer’s, please consult your physician and do your own research. Most natural cures have not been tested under proper clinical conditions to prove or disprove their effectiveness and safety. However, for those people who believe in the healing power of foods, herbs, botanicals, and supplements, there are a few choices that may show promise in the fight against Alzheimer’s. It is probably wise to use natural cures in conjunction with prescribed medicine to get the best results.

Some studies have shown a possible benefit from taking antioxidants such as Vitamin E and Vitamin C to delay the progression of the disease. B vitamins are essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system and should be taken while battling the progression of Alzheimer’s.

New research has indicated that alpha lipoid acid and acetyl L-Carnitine help to slow down the disease. Alpha lipoid acid can lower oxidative damage to the brain and improve memory performance. Acetyl L-Carnitine works by preventing a buildup of amyloid plague that causes damage to brain tissue.

Huperzine A

Huperzine A has been promoted by some as a possible natural treatment for Alzheimer’s. It is a moss extract that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years. Some evidence has shown that Huperzine A may work in a similar way as cholinesterase inhibitors, but much research is needed before this can be a recommended course of action.

Group Therapy

Another form of treatment is group therapy. The goal of group activities and discussions is to stimulate the brain. There are conflicting opinions on whether this method is effective, but it stands to reason that some benefit may be derived from using the brain and stimulating memory and language skills.

Ways to Prevent

Move! And keep moving! And move some more! Most experts agree that a sedentary lifestyle will cause an individual to age faster and have a greater risk for developing age-related diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s. These experts also agree that exercise has the greatest impact on delaying age related diseases. Do you want to live longer, be healthier, and delay the effects of aging as long as possible? Get off the couch and get moving.

Eat healthy

Don’t consume too much sugar. The over consumption of sugar helps to create a chemical process called glycation. Some experts believe that glycation and its by-products (called Advanced Glycation Endproducts or AGEs) contribute to the alteration of proteins in the brain that cause Alzheimer’s. Eat as much natural food as possible. Avoid processed foods, fast food, and food that comes in boxes, cans, and packages.

Eating a diet high in Omega-3 fatty acids may help. Fish, such as salmon and mackerel are high in this important nutrient. Supplementation of Omega-3 fatty acids may also help.

Exercise the Mind

Learn new things and work out your brain, riddles, puzzles, and brain games help keep your mind working. Practice memory skills, vary habits, eat with a different hand; these things can all contribute to a healthy, agile, and youthful mind. Read, keep a journal, try new experiences, vary your route through as much as you can; these things may help keep your brain stimulated. By maintaining an active brain you may help to ward off Alzheimer’s.

Avoid Aluminum

The exposure to aluminum in the environment has been linked to Alzheimer’s. You should avoid deodorants containing aluminum (most do), throw out the aluminum cookware, and stay away from foods packaged in aluminum cans.

Sleep and Stress

Failing to get the proper nightly rest may not only make you tired and cranky, it may also damage your brain. Getting enough sleep and having regular sleeping patterns are important to the health of you brain. You should also learn to manage stress as much as possible.

Cortisol, a stress hormone can cause premature aging, increase cognitive decline, and contribute to diseases such as depression and diabetes. Deep breathing, taking regular breaks to relax throughout the day, meditating, doing yoga, and maintaining a strong support system of friends, family and co-workers all help to lower stress levels and prevent stress from accelerating the aging process and contributing to Alzheimer’s.

What the Future Holds?

Researchers and doctors will continue to seek better methods to prevent, diagnose, and treat Alzheimer’s disease. Doctors should be able to improve techniques for identifying those at greater risk for developing the disease. Identifying biological markers in blood, urine, and spinal fluid may help specialists detect those that may need early treatment. Improved imaging techniques may allow researchers to get a better understanding of the brain by viewing plagues and tangles in patients living with Alzheimer’s. This increased knowledge will help them diagnose and treat future patients.

Researchers will also focus on developing better treatment options. Currently, treatment only slows the progression of the disease and limits the symptoms. Long term efficacy of current medications is lacking. The future hope is to find treatments that stop the progression of the disease and eventually cure those who suffer from Alzheimer’s.

Positive Outlook

Physicians and researchers dream of a future where a patient could get a specific test that would predict a risk for developing Alzheimer’s. If the test comes back with markers that show too high a risk, then the patient would be prescribed a medication that stops the disease in its tracks. Is this possible? We have learned a great deal in only a few short decades of Alzheimer’s research, and our knowledge will continue to expand.

Those in the field of Alzheimer’s research feel that they are on the threshold of developing new therapies and medicines that will have a major impact on Alzheimer’s prevention and treatment. If researchers and doctors continue to learn about and develop therapies for the disease at the same pace, predicting, controlling and curing Alzheimer’s is definitely a future possibility.


Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes Mellitus: Management and Remedies

Diabetes mellitus is the inability or compromised ability for the body to produce or assimilate insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by beta cells in the pancreas and released into the bloodstream to help regulate serum glucose (blood sugar) levels. Insulin helps to transport glucose to cells, where it is either converted to energy for use or stored as glycogen, or fat. Inadequate assimilation of insulin prevents the body from efficiently converting glucose to energy. The inability to convert glucose to energy results in high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia), which manifest with various symptoms collectively known as diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, 23.6 million people in the United States have diabetes (2007 data).

When glucose cannot be transported to the cells, excess glucose remains in the bloodstream. The body has several mechanisms to get rid of this excess. Water is excreted by the kidneys so that the glucose is diluted and eliminated through urine. Thus, people who have diabetes may experience thirst and frequent urination. Urine may also have a “sweet” smell. If glucose is not available for use as energy, the body then begins to use fat cells to produce energy, which can have serious side effects.

Types of Diabetes

Several types of diabetes have been identified, including prediabetes, type 1, type 2 and gestational.
Treating Diabetes Mellitus
Prediabetes is a condition which may lead to diabetes. People diagnosed with prediabetes can often prevent the onset of diabetes by establishing healthy eating habits and exercising. Symptoms may be subtle or non-existent. The condition is identified in consultation with the physician who will perform a series of tests and examinations. People who are overweight have a higher risk of becoming diabetic.

Type 1 Diabetes

In type 1 diabetes, previously known as juvenile-onset or insulin-dependent diabetes, the pancreas is unable to produce insulin. In this type of diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the beta cells in the pancreas, resulting in the inability to produce insulin. Scientists do not yet know why this occurs, but it is not caused by overeating, poor diet or other controllable variables. Type 1 diabetes is relatively uncommon and often develops at an early age, or before the age of 30, although it can occur at any age.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes, also known as adult-onset or non-insulin-dependent diabetes, is the condition in which the body does not produce enough insulin or cannot effectively utilize the insulin produced. In some instances, insulin is produced but is not utilized by the cells of the body; this condition is termed “insulin resistant” or IR.

Type 2 diabetes is more prevalent in certain population groups including Native Americans, Hispanics, African Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, although it occurs in all population groups. Once considered to be a disease that manifested later in life, it is now becoming prevalent at alarming rates in younger adults and children. Type 2 diabetes can often be prevented and controlled by diet and exercise. Obese people are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes is the occurrence of raised blood glucose levels in the mother during pregnancy, usually after the 20th week, when the mother has not previously been diagnosed as having diabetes. After delivery, the condition often resolves by itself, but some women with gestational diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes later in life.

Symptoms of Diabetes

The symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are similar but may vary in intensity. Symptoms of type 1 diabetes may occur quickly, whereas symptoms of type 2 diabetes may be more gradual and less intense. People with type 2 diabetes may be undiagnosed for years because the symptoms are mild or occur gradually and are not noticed.

The most common symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Constant hunger

Additional symptoms may include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
  • Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal
  • Frequent infections or recurring infections that are slow to heal

The release of energy from fat cells produces ketones, which make the blood too acidic. This can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis, more prevalent in untreated type 1 diabetes. Symptoms of ketoacidosis include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive thirst
  • Rapid breathing
  • Breath has “chemical” smell like nail polish


To diagnose diabetes, a fasting blood test is done, normally after eight hours or overnight without food. Fasting blood levels should fall below100 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter). Two occurrences of fasting blood sugar levels higher than 126 mg/dl indicate diabetes. Blood testing after food can also be used to determine glucose levels. Glucose levels over 200mg/dl indicate diabetes. Based on these tests, the doctor will discuss treatment options with the patient, taking into account the type of diabetes, stage of the disease, lifestyle, age and diet.

Complications and Risk Factors of Diabetes

Many serious health conditions can occur as a result of diabetes. Risk factors increase over time and are higher with poor management of the disease. High levels of glucose in the blood over time result in narrowing of blood vessels and build-up of fatty acids in large blood vessels. This, in turn, affects circulation. The most common complications include neuropathy, atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke. Other complications include kidney failure, muscle deterioration, poor circulation, increased infection, resistance to healing and blindness.

Diabetic neuropathy is present in the majority of patients with diabetes. Numbness, tingling and pain in hands and feet are common; because blood flow is reduced, nerve damage results. This can affect the ability to feel injuries or for wounds to heal, resulting in chronic or recurring infections and even gangrene. In severe cases in which gangrene is present, amputations may sometimes be required.

Nerve damage can also affect the stomach and intestines, resulting in nausea, ineffective intestinal contractions or slow emptying of food from the intestines.

Diabietes and Heart Disease

More serious is the relationship between diabetes and heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among diabetics. High blood pressure, heart attack and stroke occur at higher rates among diabetics. Because of the damage to nerves and poor nerve receptivity, chest pain and other symptoms associated with a heart attack may not be felt by a diabetic patient.


Proper diet and exercise are critical elements in the control and treatment of all types of diabetes.

In type 1 diabetes, insulin must be used to regulate blood glucose levels. Insulin must be used for life. Several types of insulin are available, classified by the length of time it takes to reach the bloodstream and the amount of time it remains in the bloodstream. Selection of the type of insulin to be used is made in consultation with the doctor and dietician. Lifestyle, age, commitment to management of the disease and diet are considered in the decision about which type of insulin to use.

Careful monitoring of insulin levels is important. A drop in insulin levels can result in hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Symptoms include disorientation, weakness, headache, trembling or unconsciousness. This condition requires immediate intervention by administering oral glucose such as fruit juice, sugar water, candy or honey if the person is conscious. If the person is unconscious, glucagon should be injected.

In type 2 diabetes, several options are available for patients, including medicine, diet and exercise. Diet is perhaps the most effective and the most manageable remedy in the control of type 2 diabetes. Recent research has substantiated the importance of a diet high in complex carbohydrates, high in fiber, low in fats and moderate in protein. The goal in management of diabetes with diet is to regulate the amount of insulin that enters the bloodstream. Thus, consuming small meals throughout the day, eating at regular times and carefully selecting foods can have a dramatic effect in the positive management of diabetes. Avoiding foods that cause insulin levels to rise or spike is important.

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index is often used to identify foods that are high in carbohydrates, which may exacerbate surges in blood sugar levels and insulin production. The glycemic index measures how much blood sugar is raised after eating a food. Low glycemic index foods are slow to be digested and absorbed, causing a low rise in blood sugar. Although the glycemic index has application to diabetics, the amount of dietary fiber in the diet is equally important. Often foods high in fiber have a low glycemic indexl. Foods with high levels of dietary fiber cause a slow rise in blood glucose levels and help to keep insulin production stable. Examples of foods with high fiber and a low glycemic index include:

  • Whole grains
  • Oats
  • Lentils and other beans such as chick peas or black beans
  • Spaghetti
  • Some fruits such as apples, cherries and grapefruit

Exercise has been proven to ameliorate the complications and intensity of diabetes. Because the complications of diabetes affect many systems of the body, exercise is a main factor in leading a healthy, longer life as a diabetic. Exercise lowers blood pressure, lowers bad cholesterol levels and lowers the risk of stroke and heart disease. It also lowers blood glucose levels, helps to keep the circulation system healthy and contributes to weight loss. Exercise also helps to reduce stress. It provides muscular fitness, which helps to avoid falls and provides overall strength.
Diabetes Mellitus Symptoms
Medications may be prescribed to help control type 2 diabetes. Several types of oral medications are available: those that stimulate production of insulin in the pancreas, those that lower blood sugar and those that slow digestion of starches. One of these types, or a combination, may be suggested by the attending physician. If type 2 diabetes eventually results in lack of insulin production, the patient must then also use insulin.

Alternative Treatments

Alternative treatments for diabetes have been used in other cultures around the world for centuries. Allopathic medical research is now exploring many of the medicines, herbs and treatment methods used in these other systems. Often, as new potential treatments are identified, these discoveries are lauded by the media as wonder cures. Over time, as research progresses, scientific evidence provides a more balanced view.


Ayurveda, meaning science of life, originated in India and is practiced in many countries in Asia and around the world. Ayurveda uses herbs and other natural substances to treat many health conditions including diabetes.

Ayruveda is a system of medicine with treatment given by a trained vaidyan, or Ayurvedic doctor. Medicines are carefully chosen for the specific condition to be treated. Many vaidyans prepare their own medicines, or work in treatment centers that prepare medicines. These remedies are usually in the form of tonics, oils, powders and pastes which combine specific ingredients in carefully measured amounts to produce a formulated concoction prescribed for specific symptoms.

Rather than focusing on a named disease or syndrome such as diabetes, the vaidyan takes into account the entire medical condition of the patient. Age, specific symptoms, diet, stage of the disease, body structure and lifestyle are among the factors considered. Patients may be asked to severely modify their diets, such as avoiding all fat or not eating any acidic foods, while under treatment.

Treatments Under Scrutiny

Some of the herbs used in Ayurveda are under study by Western medical practitioners and are advocated by consumers who want natural treatments. The temptation to select a “natural herb” as a treatment for diabetes should be done with caution because the herb used in isolation, or the part of the herb used, may not provide the desired results. For example, the herb Ficus racemosa is used to treat several conditions including diabetes; however, the latex sap is used for diarrhea, the leaves are used for bilious excesses and the root is used for diabetes. Combinations of different herbs also produce different results; particular combinations may promote weight loss, open blood vessels or lower cholesterol levels.

Herbal Remedies

The National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine provides discussion of specific herbal remedies for diabetes. The summaries include results of studies and clinical trials, side-effects and proven efficacies. Some herbal therapies have shown promise in lowering blood sugar levels or stimulating production of insulin in the pancreas; people on insulin using these remedies are advised to closely monitor insulin levels to avoid hypoglycemia.

Some herbal remedies that may be effective in controlling diabetes and the complications resulting from the disease are as follows.

Coccinia Indica

Coccinia indica, kovakkai, is a small cucumber-like vegetable consumed in India. Some studies show promising effects in its ability to lower blood glucose levels. A study in rats combining this vegetable with Abroma augusta suggested that the combination has a greater effect that either one by itself in lowering glucose levels.

Curcuma Longa

Curcuma longa, turmeric, is used to treat many ailments. It has known anti-inflammatory properties, and has been shown to improve circulation and reduce cholesterol. Turmeric is used for treatment of diabetes in India. Clinical trials in animals show promising results for glycemic control. Its other effects are of benefit to diabetics as well. .

Gymnema Sylvestre

Gymnema sylvestre, cluster fig, is a tree native to southern India. Encouraging research suggests this herb may reduce blood sugar levels. It is also suggested that it may block sugar receptors on the tongue, thereby reducing appetite and sugar cravings.

Momordica Charantia

Momordica charantia, bitter gourd, is a vegetable used in India in the treatment of diabetes. The vegetable is diced and boiled in water, which is consumed as a broth. Scientific studies evaluating its effectiveness in reducing blood sugar levels are inconclusive.

Trigonella Foenum-Graecum

Trigonella foenum-graecum, fenugreek, is traditionally used in India in the treatment of diabetes. The seeds are roasted and ground, added to water and consumed one hour before food each morning. The fiber-rich seeds slow the absorption of glucose, which aids in lowering blood glucose levels and regulating insulin production.

The use of herbs as a part of the treatment regimen for control of type 2 diabetes is promising. Western medical scientists are evaluating these potential treatments through controlled studies and clinical trials.

Costs of Diabetes Treatment

The primary costs of diabetes treatment can be relatively low if the disease is well-managed and the patient does not develop complications. Proper diet and exercise are key factors in achieving health and lessening the risks of complications. Poorly managed diabetes can lead to other serious health problems. The costs associated with the complications of diabetes can be high.

For people with type 1 diabetes, daily insulin injections are required. Regular medical check-ups are advised to ensure that other health problems do not go unchecked. The costs of insulin, needles or insulin pumps and glucose monitors and strips are basic to proper care for type 1 diabetes.

People with type 2 diabetes may have costs for oral medications, glucose monitors and strips and routine doctor’s visits. Costs for prescription medications vary; calling pharmacies to determine prices can help to keep costs down. If more than one type of oral diabetes medication is required, the combination may be available as a single pill rather than two, which can help to reduce costs.

Avoiding Treatments

Skipping doses in order to save money is not cost-effective. Unchecked high blood glucose levels will require more medication in the long run and the risk of developing other complications of diabetes increases.

Because heart disease is more prevalent in diabetics, additional medication for cardiovascular management may be required. Kidney failure is another serious complication prevalent in diabetics, often resulting in hospitalization and dialysis.

Although the costs of medications may appear to be high, not taking them, or not making regular visits to the doctor can result in serious health problems that may require hospitalization and days away from work. Actively managing diabetes by adhering to a proper diet, taking medications as directed and exercising is the best way to reduce overall costs and maintain health.


Oral Candidiasis

Overview of Oral Candidiasis

Oral candidiasis is a fungus that causes infection of the oral cavity in humans. It is a type of yeast that lives almost everywhere, including in the human body. The immune system usually keeps it under control but under certain circumstances, the fungus can grow quickly and become a health threat. Due to the pain and discomfort associated with oral candidiasis, which causes difficulty in eating, it can lead to poor nutrition and a prolonged recovery. There are many species of the Candida strain.

The most common species is Candida albicans which is generally called “thrush.” The incidence of contacting oral candidiasis depends on many factors including age, health, and other predisposing factors. There are three broad groups: Acute and chronic candidiasis and angular cheilitis. There are many risk factors associated with oral candidiasis. These factors include smoking, diabetes mellitus, wearing dentures, immunosuppressed conditions and other factors. It can become fatal if it is not treated and it spreads throughout the body. Management of thw infection includes proper diagnosis, laboratory tests, and use of antifungal drugs. In most cases, the prognosis for recovery is very good.

Defining Oral Candidiasis

Oral candidiasis is a fungus and was first isolated in the sputum of a tuberculous patient in 1844. It is the most common fungal infection of humans and is caused by the overgrowth of a yeast-like fungus in the oral cavity. The most important species of this fungus are: C albicans, the most common one, C tropicalis, C glabrata, C stellatoidea, C guillierimondii, C krusei, C parapsilosis, C lusitaniae, and C pseudotropicalis. Thrush is a common name for Candida albicans. Although it primarily occurs most often in babies, it also affects toddlers, elderly people, chronically ill people and people with weakened immune systems.
Oral Candidiasis Symptoms


Candida fungal infections arise as a result of a change in the defenses of the host or a disruption in the structure of the normal flora in the body.


There are various types of oropharyngeal candidiasis which are divided into three broad categories:

Acute Candidiasis

Pseudomembranous candidiasis, commonly called thrush, is diagnosed by raised, white patches that are present on the buccal mucosa, hard and soft palate, surface of the labial, tongue, periodontal tissues and oropharynx.

Chronic Candidiasis

Types of chronic candidiasis and their symptoms are as follows:

  • Chronic hyperplastic candidiasis is found on the buccal mucosa or the side of the tongue as white lesions.
  • Median rhomboid glossitis is found on the front of the circumvallate papilla.
  • Chronic atrophic candidiasis, commonly referred to as denture stomatitis, is found on the tissues covered by dentures and usually occur on the palate and upper jaw.

Angular Cheilitis

Angular cheilitis is usually associated with an intraoral candidal infection and causes fissuring at one or both corners of the mouth.

Alternative Names for Oral Candidiasis

Candidiasis, thrush, moniliasis, fungal infection, yeast infection


Some symptoms, not listed below, may be connected to yeast and includes a craving for sugar, alcohol, or bread, digestive problems, fatigue, depression, and muscle or joint pains. The common symptoms of oral candidiasis are:

  • Creamy raised, white lesions on the tongue, gums, sides of the cheeks and in the back of the throat.
  • Red inflamed tissue, especially on the tongue.
  • Cottage cheese-like appearing lesions.
  • Pain when attempting to eat or swallow.
  • If the lesions are scraped, slight bleeding usually occurs.
  • Cracks at one or both corners of the mouth.
  • Loss of taste.

Breastfeeding Mothers and Infant Warning Signs

A breastfeeding mother should call the pediatrician if she notices white patches in her baby’s mouth, especially if she suspects that it might be due to thrush. The infant may be overly fussy and irritable. The mother’s breast may become infected and the pain can range from mild to severe with sensitive, red and itchy nipples.

Flaky or shiny skin on the areola, unusual pain, or stabbing pain within the breast can make it difficult to breastfeed. The thrush may pass back and forth between the baby and the mother. Using good hygiene and over-the-counter anti-fungal creams should clear up the problem.

What Causes Oral Candidiasis?

Contacting oral candidiasis can be a result of the failure of a host’s defense system due to a variety of different drug therapies, systemic diseases, or other conditions. At one time, thrush was rare until the advent of broad-spectrum antibiotics, birth control pills, glucocorticosteroid preparations, and tricyclic antidepressants were developed.

Oral candidiasis may persist and can become chronic. It can spread to the esophagus and then on to other parts of the body. People with conditions that weaken the immune system are more susceptible to it spreading to the liver, lungs, and digestive tract.

Risk Factors

The fungus can flare up and rapidly grow due to the following:

  • Birth control medications, pregnancy, newborn babies, breast feeding a baby with thrush
  • Oral and inhaled steroid medications, broad spectrum antibiotics, immunosuppressive drugs, chemotherapy
  • Uncontrolled diabetes, cancer, HIV/AIDS, Cushing’s syndrome, leukemia, most chronic and terminal illnesses
  • Impaired salivary glands, nutritional deficiencies
  • Smokers, denture wearers, poor oral hygiene
  • The very young or the elderly

When to See a Doctor

If signs and symptoms of thrush are present, see your doctor. The cause may be due to some underlying illness. Oral candidiasis can occur when the immune system is weak or certain drugs are ingested and disrupt the balance of microorganisms in the body, which are usually kept in balance by the immune system. Sometimes the immune system fails.
Oral Candidiasis Treatments
Oral candidiasis is usually not a serious problem for healthy children and adults. If you have a serious illness such as HIV/AIDS, the problem can become serious and spread throughout the body. The most common organs affected are the lungs, liver and digestive tract.

Questions to Ask a Doctor

Be prepared and write down any symptoms that you are experiencing. Write down relevant personal information, including recent life changes or major stresses. Make a list of all your medications, including vitamins or supplements. Be sure to mention if you have been taking any antibiotics or any corticosteroid drugs. Make the most of your appointment. Do not be afraid to ask the doctor to explain something that you do not understand.

Ask questions similar to the following:

  • What causes oral candidiasis
  • Do I need to have any tests done?
  • What are the treatments for thrush?
  • What are the side effects of these treatments?
  • Do I need to follow a special diet?
  • Can I purchase these drugs in the generic form?
  • How can I keep this from happening again?

Questions You Might Be Asked

The doctor may ask you questions similar to the following:

  • When did you notice the first symptoms?
  • Have you recently taken any antibiotics for an illness?
  • Do you asthma? Have you been taking prednisone?
  • Do you have a chronic illness?
  • Have you contacted any new illness recently?

Tests and Diagnosis

By examining the mouth, a doctor or dentist can diagnose thrush by the presence of distinctive white lesions in the mouth, or cheeks, or on the tongue. A light brushing of the lesions reveals a tender, reddened area that might bleed slightly.

If a diagnosis is uncertain, tests should be done to rule out other serious lesions such as squamous cell carcinoma. Examination of the tissue under a microscope can confirm the diagnosis.

If oral candidiasis extends into your esophagus, other tests may be needed to confirm the diagnosis; tests such as a throat culture, an endoscopy of the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine or taking X-rays of the esophagus.

Treatment and Management

Oral candidiasis, in the early stages, can be treated by eating plain yogurt and holding it in the mouth for about a minute. It must have ‘active culture’ listed on the label. Putting it into a blender and adding fruit and honey will make it more palatable. This helps fight the fungal infection by putting good bacteria into the system so that it does not spread to other parts of the body. Aside from eating yogurt, taking over-the-counter acidophilus capsules might help.

Rinsing the mouth with a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide several times a day might help. Getting blood sugar levels under control might be all that is necessary for a diabetic to clear up the thrush infection. Patients who have HIV/AIDS or are immunocompromised due to chemotherapy may require systemic treatment with oral or intravenously administered antifungals.

If the infection has spread throughout the body, systemic antifungals such as fluconazole and Itraconazole should be given. Itraconazole is used when fluconazole is not effective because it has a wider spectrum of activity against oral candidiasis. In some circumstances, prophylaxis treatment with antifungal drugs reduces and controls the incidence of oral candidiasis.

Commonly Used Drugs


It is virtually non-toxic with few adverse reactions and is commonly used at the onset of oral candidiasis. It is prescribed in both topical and oral form. To kill oral candidiasis, this medicine must come into contact with the fungus in order to kill it. Nystatin comes in a suspension, or liquid, and in a troche. The suspension is swished around inside the oral cavity and then swallowed. The troche dissolves in the mouth. The troches and the suspension are used several times a day until the lesions are completely gone.

Amphotericin B Suspension

It is a broad spectrum drug with several side effects and exhibits signs of toxicity. Blood tests should be administered to monitor the potential for liver damage. Creams for the corners of the mouth show no signs of systemic toxicity. The suspension is swished and swallowed several times a day until the oral candidiasis is completely gone.

Clotrimazole Troche

The troche is dissolved in the mouth several times a day until the lesions are completely gone.

Fluconazole pill

This medication is swallowed by mouth once a day for 5–10 days.

Possible Complications

If you are HIV-positive or receiving chemotherapy, due to the suppression of your immune system, Candida can spread throughout your body causing infection in your esophagus, brain, heart, joints, or eyes.


Thrush is commonly seen in infants. It is not considered serious in infants and usually lasts no longer than a couple of weeks. Thrush may be painful but is rarely serious. Because of the discomfort associated with thrush, it can interfere with eating. If it does not resolve on its own within two weeks, the doctor should be called.

Thrush that occurs in the mouth of adults can usually be cured. The immune system status plays a major role in overcoming the infection of oral candidiasis. The prognosis for a complete recovery is usually very good.


The doctor may recommend taking an antifungal medication on a regular basis for frequent outbreaks of oral candidiasis or if your immune system is suppressed.

Following the suggestions below may help to reduce the risk of developing candida infections:

  • Practice good oral hygiene. Clean and change toothbrushes frequently.
  • After using a corticosteroid inhaler, brush your teeth if possible.
  • When taking antibiotics, try eating fresh culture yogurt or take acidophilus capsules.
  • During pregnancy, treat a vaginal yeast infection as soon as possible.
  • If you have wear dentures or have diabetes, visit your dentist on a regular basis. Floss and brush your teeth at least twice a day.
  • Clean dentures every night by soaking them in a good denture cleaner.
  • To prevent spread of HIV infection, follow safe sex practices.
  • Limit the sugar and yeast containing foods in your diet.
  • When working with blood products, universal precautions should be in place.

During treatment for oral candidiasis, a prescribed therapeutic diet is necessary to prevent a regrowth of oral candidiasis. Alcohol, white flour, sugar, processed or refined carbohydrates, fruit, milk, dried or fermented foods, or any food that contains yeast products should be avoided.


D Vitamins

Vitamin D: How the Body is Affected by its Promotion and Deficiency

Vitamin D is an extraordinarily important vitamin which promotes the overall health of the body. Produced naturally in the human skin or in plant life through the exposure to sunlight, vitamin D, found in various forms in life, is necessary to regulate normal levels of calcium metabolism, which promotes the health of bones and blood and the possible prevention of various diseases.

The metabolism of vitamin D in the body is a complex process that begins with the photochemical process caused by the exposure of ultraviolet B rays in the sunlight on the epidermis of the skin, through the ingestion of foods that are a natural source of or are fortified with vitamin D, and through the ingestion of vitamin D supplements.
Glass of Milk
While there is still a great deal of ongoing research into how Vitamin D affects and prevents deficiencies, one thing is certain is that Vitamin D deficiency can be serious and life-threatening. It can not only affected the way the body functions and grows, but can quite possibly affect an individual’s mental and psychological well-being.

What Is It?

Vitamin D is a class of fat soluble vitamins that are made of secosteroids. Secosteroids are found naturally in the skin of vertebrates, including humans, and in plant life. They are divided into five forms of calciferols

  • Vitamin D1 (a molecular compound of ergocalciferol and lumisterol)
  • Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol)
  • Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol, which is produced by 7-dehydrocholesterol in the skin)
  • Vitamin D4 (22-dihydroergocalciferol)
  • Vitamin D5 (sitocalciferol, produced by 7-dehydrositosterol)

The two significant forms of calciferols are Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3, once activated by sunlight, will target at least 2000 genes found in the body, making up at least 10% of the human genome.

Sources and Discoveries

Vitamin D2 is synthesized mainly in plants, fungi, and invertebrates through the exposure of UVB light. There are some questions as to how Vitamin D2 functions in nonvertebrates. Vitamin D3 is synthesized in human skin after it has been exposed to UVB light. The process of synthesizing Vitamin D into fat-soluble vitamins first began in 1923, when scientists such as Alfred Fabian Hess, was able to irradiate 7-dehyrdocholesterol to produce the fat-soluble vitamin.

Later, Adolf Windaus of the University of Gottingen in Germany discovered a connection between the constitution of sterols and vitamins. His work won him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1928. During the 1930s, the chemical structure of Vitamin D3 was established.

Chemical Structure

The chemical structure of Vitamin D is composed of secosteroids, a form of steroids in which one bond of the ring is broken. Both Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3 differ in their chemical compositions. For instance, Vitamin D2, unlike Vitamin D3, has a double bond between carbons 22 and 23, as well as a methyl group of carbon 24 in its side chain. It is also found mainly in invertebrates, fungi, and plants, and responds to UV radiation.

Ergosterol absorbs UV radiation to protect the DNA, RNA, and protein and might possibly act as a protective mechanism for organisms. Choleciferol, or Vitamin D3, becomes synthesized when the chemical compound 7-dehyrdocholesterol is exposed to UVB light. This metabolism occurs in the skin of vertebrates. Humans and other vertebrates produce large quantities of choleciferol in the skin, so therefore the vast quantity of vitamin D metabolism occurs through exposure to the sun.

Activation and Function

Vitamin D generally maintains normal levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood and helps absorb calcium for bone strength. The process vitamin D undergoes after it has been synthesized by UVB light is complex and varied. Generally, vitamin D is inactive until it is metabolized biologically within the system.

This occurs either through the digestion of its food source or its supplemental form or when it is exposed in the epidermis of the skin through sunlight. Once activated, vitamin D circulates in the bloodstream and enters the liver. There, it is hydroxylated or synthesized into a prohormone called calcidiol (25-hydroxyvitamin D). This conversion is made possible through the circulation process within the bloodstream, thus making it more active in the kidneys as vitamin D or in the immune system as a monocyte-macrophages.

Increased exposure to sun or dietary intake also increases the 25-hydroxyvitamin D serum which is composed of calcidiol. The calcidiol is then converted into calcitriol. Once this synthesized process takes place, the calcitriol behaves like a cytokine, operating as a defensive mechanism against localized, invasive microbials. When the synthesized calcitriol reaches the kidneys, it circulates as a hormone and is transported to certain organs with vitamin D-binding protein binders, which in turn regulates calcium and a concentration of phosphate in the bloodstream. The vitamin d-binding protein (VDBP), which is a protein found in the plasma, binds itself to the calcitriol, acting as a transportational agent through the body.


Calcitriol also binds to a vitamin D receptor (VDR), a nuclei of target cells found in such organs as the brain, heart, skin, gonads, prostate, and breast. The vitamin d receptor belongs to a nuclear receptor superfamily of steroid/thyroid hormone receptors. These receptors perform any number of duties such as the promotion of healthy bone mineralization and the prevention of hypercalcemic tenany.

When the vitamin D receptor is activated in the intestines, bone, kidney, and parathyroid gland cells, it maintains levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood and promotes bone strength. Vitamin D receptors help proliferate and differentiate cells to prevent the growth and proliferation of cancer. Vitamin D receptors are concentrated in white blood cells, including monocytes and activated T and B cells, as well.

Sun Effect

The sun is the most important factor in the metabolism of vitamin D in human and plant life. The photochemical process begins with the exposure of UVB light, but the length of exposure to sunlight is extremely significant. For instance, 10 to 20 minutes of exposure to the summer sun can produce in the skin at least 10,000 IU. This is 50 times more than the 200 IU the United States government recommends on a daily basis. Some researchers suggest that adequate exposure to UV radiation to synthesize vitamin D should occur twice a week for approximately 5 to 30 minutes between 10 AM to 3 PM, when the sun is at its peak of UV radiation intensity.

Yet factors such as season, geographic latitude, time of day, weather, smog, melanin content, and sunscreen use can all affect whether vitamin D will be properly synthesized in the skin due to UV radiation. For instance, during the winter months between November and February, some areas aligned along the northern border of California to Boston, lack the UV radiation intensity to generate vitamin D synthesis in the epidermis of the skin. In other northern latitudinal areas, this decrease in intensity can stretch up to 6 months.

Areas below latitudes of 34 degrees, found generally in the United States in an alignment between Los Angeles and Columbia, South Carolina, have conditions that allow for adequate vitamin D metabolism throughout the entire calendar year.

Other Weather Factors

Weather factors and indirect exposure to the sun can greatly affect the photochemical synthesis of vitamin D. Overcast skies can decrease UV radiation by 50%, while shade or shadowy cover from the sun can decrease it by 60%. Sunlight filtered through windows does not create the photochemical process to synthesize vitamin D in the skin.

However sun exposure is primarily the means in which vitamin D is synthesized in the skin and provide and maintain health benefits in humans. For instance, ten minutes of sun exposure is sufficient enough to prevent most deficiencies such as rickets or osteomalacia. In order to make up the daily recommendation of sun light exposure, one will have to ingest 50 glasses of milk or digest 10 tablets of multivitamins a day to maintain comparable levels of vitamin D in the system, neither of which is feasible.

A combination of sun exposure, diet, and dietary supplements are recommended to reach the full benefits of vitamin D in the body.

Health and Deficiencies

Vitamin D plays a tremendous role in maintaining health and the possible prevention of certain diseases. Vitamin D deficiencies have been known to cause pathogens for at least 17 types of cancer, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune disease, diabetes, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth defects and periodontal disease.

The lack of sun exposure might also explain outbreaks of influenza during the winter season. Researchers are continuously discovering the potential benefits of vitamin D sufficiency in preventing or treating any one of these diseases.


Vitamin D deficiency or a severely limited exposure to the sun can also lead to such deficiencies as rickets in infants and children. Rickets is primarily the failure of bones to mineralize. Its effects are most prominent in rapidly growing bones, which explains why infants and children are the most vulnerable to contracting the deficiency, since their bones are constantly growing at a fast rate.

While rickets does not slow down the expansion rates of bone growth, it does cause the bowing of bones in arms and legs and the disfigurement of the rib cage. In the most severe cases of rickets, infants and children suffer from seizures caused by hypercalcemia.


Vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteomalacia in adults. Osteomalacia is a condtion that causes the weakening or softening of bones. While bones in adults stop growing, they do continue a process called remodeling, which maintains bone strength.

Osteomalacia causes a progressive loss of bone minerals which can lead to bone pain and the weakening and softening of bones.

Weakness and Pain in the Muscles

A lack of exposure to sunlight and a vitamin D deficiency can lead to weakness and pain in the muscles. This condition is often prevalent in the elderly. In a randomized controlled study, scientists discovered that elderly women who were placed on a three month regimen that included vitamin D supplements at 800 IU per day along with 1,200mg per day of calcium saw an increase in muscle strength and a 50% decreased risk of falling.


The lack of differentiation or specialization and the rapid growth define the characteristic behavior of cancer cells. Epidemiological studies have suggested that vitamin D can aid the growth and differentiation of these cells, though a cautionary note should be added that such studies can’t adequately prove an association between the two. What is known is that vitamin D plays some vital role in preventing at least 17 different forms of cancer.
This is largely because vitamin D receptors are present in malignant tumors, usually prevalent in breast, lung, skin (melanoma), colon and bone cancers. Biologically, once certain forms of vitamin D, such as 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D and its analogs are activated, it has the possibility to stimulate cell differentiation that are both cancerous and noncancerous in some cell cultures.

The limitation of sun exposure as it applies to geography might also play a role in who is considered to have a high factor risk in contracting cancer. In a 2006 study, using data collected on over 4 million cancer patients spread throughout 13 different countries, scientists have uncovered the possibility that individuals living in countries with a low exposure to the sun are most likely to have high risk factors.

Mental Health

Though the research in how vitamin D affects mental health is still ongoing, there have been some studies which suggest a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and depression and other mental health afflictions. Geographical factors regarding low sun exposure might also play a role in mental health risks.

Aging and Mortality

Researchers, using data collected by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, have uncovered a link between vitamin D and mortality. Following a group of 13,331 Americans over the age of 20 over a 6 year period, the study was able to correlate possible links between vitamin D deficiency and mortality rates through cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Vitamin D might play a role in preventing premature aging as well.

This is occurs through the preventative nature of vitamin D in the inflammation of leukocyte telomeres, a gene that marks aging, and through the lengthening of the gene which can slow down aging.

High Risk Factors

People with a high risk for these deficiencies generally tend to be found among the elderly, who have a reduced capability to generate vitamin D through naturalized forms of sunlight exposure. They are also more likely to stay indoors and use sunscreen, which blocks the metabolism of vitamin D.

The obese, infants who are primarily breastfed (mother’s milk only has 25 IU of Vitamin D3 per liter, which is an insufficient amount for infants according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommends 400 IU of vitamin D per day); those who have a severely limited exposure to sunlight; and victims of malabsorption syndromes such as cystic fibrosis, and inflammatory bowel diseases such as Chrohn’s Disease are all likely to fall within the risk factors of individuals who suffer from vitamin D deficiency.

Skin Color

Skin color can play a role in vitamin D deficiency as well. Individuals with dark skin are less capable of metabolizing vitamin D through exposure to UVB light. Those who live further away from the equator are at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency. In a U.S. study, researchers have determined that African American women are 42% more likely to develop vitamin D deficiency, as opposed to white women who only have a 4% risk factor.

Body Coverage

Vitamin D deficiency is also documented among women who cover all areas of their skin due to religious or cultural practices, which conforms to a study performed on Arab and Danish Muslim women in Denmark who have shown a higher propensity toward muscle pain and weakness, two symptoms of vitamin D deficiency. Sunscreen can block the metabolism of vitamin D in the skin as well. Sunscreens with a SPF factor of 8 greatly decreases vitamin D by 95%.

Nutritional Value

Vitamin D is produced naturally by sunlight, with different forms (Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3) found in plant life and the skin of vertebrates, including humans. Vitamin D, though, can also be found in food, though this source is rather limited.

Foods that have a natural source of Vitamin D can include fatty fishes (catfish; cooked salmon, mackerel, and eel; sardines cooked in oil and drained; and tuna that has been canned in oil); whole eggs, particularly the yolks, cooked beef liver, 1 Tbs of fish liver oils, such as cod liver oil; and mushrooms, which make up the only vegetable containing vitamin D.

In certain countries such as the United States, other foods are fortified with Vitamin D3. These include milk, yogurt, margarine or oil spreads, breakfast cereals, pastries, and breads.


The general dosage of vitamin D varies between children and adults. For adults, the Adequate Intake (AI) recommendation of vitamin D for adults is 50 IU to 1,000 IU. This differs depending on age. Adults under 50 are generally recommended to take 50mg of vitamin D a day. Adults between the ages of 50 and 70 are recommended to take 10mg daily, while adults over the age of 70 are recommended to take 15mg a day.
Vitamin D Supplements
There are differing opinions on exactly how much Vitamin D adults should take daily based on how much sun a person is exposed to during the day. Some opinions suggest that the AI recommendations might be inadequate for such exceptions. Not all doses, though, are effective for all conditions, such as rickets or osteomalacia. Generally, in such cases, it is recommended that a person takes 400 IU to 800 IU per day, while an oral dose of vitamin D might be necessary to combat and prevent osteoporosis.

Children’s Dosage

It is recommended that children older than 1 year should not exceed 50mg of vitamin D a day, while children 1 year and younger are recommended to take 25mg a day.

Other Forms of Intake

While the more popular form of vitamin D supplements are found in softgels, capsules, and tablets, they can also be taken in liquid form.

Warnings and Side Effects

There are various side effects and warnings associated with vitamin D. Overdosage is possible. The Adequate Intake limit of dosage is set at 2,000 IU. Anything higher is extremely toxic. Anything within the Adequate Intake levels though are tolerable for ingestion. Excessive amounts of vitamin D can cause hypercalcemia, or excessive bone loss. Hypercalcemia can also cause kidney stones and the hardening of the heart and kidneys if left untreated. Some vitamin D analogues have been known to cause some daytime drowsiness.

Some allergens are also caused by Vitamin D, so it is important to know beforehand if one is allergic to vitamin D. Excessive amounts of orally ingested vitamin D in infants can cause health risks as well in the form of high blood calcium levels (hypercalcemia), which can lead to major bone loss. Individuals with a high risk for hyperparathyroidism, kidney disease, sarcoidosis, tuberculosis, histoplasmosis, and chronic hypercalcemia are steered away from taking vitamin D, as this might lead to serious and possibly life threatening health problems.

Pregnant mothers are recommended to take the same daily dosage of vitamin D as nonpregnant women. It is recommended that infants who are exclusively breastfed take vitamin D supplements after the age of 2 months to make up for the insufficient amount of the vitamin found in breast milk.

Interactions with other Medications

Vitamin D supplements can be inhibited or enhanced through the interaction of other drugs. Drugs that increase the metabolism of vitamin D and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels include:

  • phenytoin (Dilantin)
  • fosphenytoin (Cerebyx); phenobarbital (Luminal)
  • carbamazepine (Tegretol)
  • rifampin (Rimactane).

Drugs and other agents that decrease absorption of vitamin D in the intestines and should be avoided when taking the supplement include:

  • Cholestyramine (Questran)
  • Colestipal (colestid)
  • Orlistat (Xenical)
  • Mineral oil
  • Olestra

Otherwise healthy men who take ketoconazole with vitamin D will experience a decrease in seum levels of 1,25-hydroxyvitamin D. The drug also blocks the 25-hydroxyvitamin D3-1-hydroxylase enzyme.




As science continues to push the boundaries in a search for new ways to extend and improve the life spans of humans, it should come as no surprise that many of the cures are found in substances and organic materials that have been a part of our environment for thousands of years.

The latest example of this is the recent discovery of how flavonoids can act as a possible deterrent against some forms of cancer and possibly extend the natural lifetimes of humans. This article will briefly examine what flavonoids are, where they can be found, some of the facts and myths surrounding the usage of flavonoids and where they can be found today. It will also examine the legality of flavonoids and what possible side effects, if any, are associated with flavonoid usage.
Types of Flavonoids

What are Flavonoids?

Flavonoids, also referred to as bio-flavonoids, are naturally occurring biological compounds that are often found in plants. Quercetin, Kaempferol, Catechin and EGCG are examples of flavonoids. They are actually a type of anti-oxidant that act as a secondary metabolite.

This simply means that they do not participate in the actual growth process of the plants. Flavonoids come from plants and are the materials that give many plants their vibrant colors. They also participate in plant’s defensive mechanisms since they help prevent insect and microbe attacks.

Flavonoids are often found in the following food types:

  • Blueberries
  • Red beans
  • Cranberries
  • Blackberries

Many other types of food also contain flavonoids including red wine, many types of nuts and fruits, and vegetables.

Flavonoid History

Flavonoids actually have a long and varied history. Since as early as 1936, consumers have been ingesting flavonoids in an attempt to improve heart health and overall well being. In the early years, the primary delivery mechanism for flavonoids was citrus fruits. As research continued, however, it was found that many other food types contain flavonoids. Some additional foods containing flavonoids included chocolate and different types of tea.

The news about dark chocolate caused quite a stir as it seemed counter-intuitive that something so decadent and tasty could contain physical properties that extend the average person’s lifespan. They same process occurred when many doctors actually recommended a glass of red wine every because of the flavonoids content. At this point, many researchers are actually trying to develop a type of pill that can be taken daily as a substitute for drinking a glass or two of wine.

Flavonoid Benefits

There are many documented benefits associated with partaking in a diet that is rich in flavonoids. A few of the health benefits include:

  1. A reduced risk of cancer due to the powerful way they help the body build immunity and fight off unhealthy “scavengers.”
  2. Flavonoids have also been found to help fend off the onset of cardio-vascular diseases and may help prevent related consequences such as heart attack or stroke.
  3. The anti-inflammatory properties of flavonoids also help the body fight off the worst affects of allergies. This is great news for millions of people who suffer every year from the ravages of hay fever.
  4. Flavonoids have also been found to inhibit the formation of blood clots, which also prevents the onset of heart attack and strokes.
  5. Recent studies have also shown that flavonoids have properties which also prevent ulcers.

Helpful Ingredients

So what properties in flavonoids provide all of these healthful benefits to people? As a class of compounds, flavonoids have been referred to as “nature’s biological response modifiers” because of their ability to modify the body’s reaction to other compounds such as allergens, viruses, and carcinogenic properties. In addition, flavonoids act as powerful antioxidants by providing remarkable protection against oxidative and free-radical damage.

Flavonoids possess antioxidant and free radical scavenging activity, and epidemiological studies indicate that consumption of these compounds is associated with a reduced risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Many of the medicinal actions of foods, juices, herbs, and bee pollen are directly related to their flavonoid content. Although not considered vitamins, flavonoids have a number of nutritional functions have been described as biological response modifiers; most act as antioxidants, and some have anti-inflammatory properties.

Common Flavonoid Myths

Myth 1

Flavonoids are not as prevalent in food as they are in beverages. This statement is only true if a person’s diet only consists of hamburgers and pizza. If a balanced diet is followed, including plenty of fruits and beverages and the occasional glass of wine then it is fairly certain that plenty of flavonoids will be consumed.

Myth 2

Without additives, flavonoids will not have an impact. This is also untrue. While the environment does affect the potency of flavonoids found in many foods, it really does not impact the effectiveness of a strong tea containing flavonoids. Sometimes a single serving of tea will contain up to 200 mgs of health boosting flavonoids.

Myth 3

One flavonoid alone will make a difference. Research has found that flavonoids do work best when they are ingested in pairs or groups. This is why a diet containing many flavonoids or anti-oxidants will prove much more effective in the long run than taking a single pill.

Flavonoids Today

There are a wide variety of ways to take flavonoids today. Some of the most popular ways people take flavonoids at the most basic level is to alter what they eat and what they drink. Many people are switching to diets that are heavy in fruits, vegetables and nuts. They are supplementing this diet by enjoying the occasional piece of dark chocolate. As far as liquids are concerned, the biggest change people are making is to make sure they enjoy a cup of green tea every day.

While many teas carry certain types of anti-oxidants and flavonoids, green tea has been shown to have the best combination of flavonoids. Red wine is also now a popular supplement as a number of studies have shown that a glass or two of red wine a day provides a number of health and longevity benefits for people.
Obtaining Flavonoids
Now there is a more advanced way for consumers to ensure that they get their daily dose of flavonoids. There is a large and ever-growing market of consumers who would like to enjoy the benefits of flavonoids, but they may not have the time to gather the ingredients every day to eat a consistent diet of foods high in flavonoid content.

Mass Marketing

Now researchers are mass marketing flavonoid capsules that provide a daily dose of flavonoid content in one capsule. One example of this is the product, Isoquercetin. This product is all natural, so there are not any side effects but the long term positive effects can be dramatic.

Another example of this that is not out in mass quantities yet, but should be soon is the supplement based on red-wine called resveratrol. In certain studies, resveratrol has been shown to dramatically increase the life expectancies of mice. There is great hope for the future with this promising supplement.

Protection Benefits

It has been fairly well established that flavonoids offer a high level of protection against toxicity and a large number of potential diseases. It is important to know that in this case there may be a chance that there is too much of a good thing.

There have been a couple of studies that have shown that in certain cases, an introduction of an exceptionally large number of flavonoids and anti-oxidants have actually created some cancer cells to start growing. There is a misconception out there that a mega-dose of a “good” thing will provide more benefits. This thinking can lead to the introduction of flavonoids at a rate that can cause some pretty serious unintended consequences for the human body.

What Is the Right Amount?

So what is the proper way to take flavonoids and what is the right amount? Well, the basic answer is that it is thought that a typical person should consume 20 to 100 grams of flavonoids each day. This is the amount that is consumed in many Asian countries through their normal diets and it has been found in study after study that residents in Asian countries live longer on average than those in western countries who do not take the same amount of flavonoids in their diets.

It is entirely possible to ingest this amount of flavonoids through a daily, healthy diet. The danger actually comes with supplements. Some of the supplements on the market have doses that range from 100 to 500 grams of anti-oxidants and flavonoids daily. It is also normal for people to double up and take this dose for different types of anti-oxidants.

Healthy Diet

It would be wise for a person to eat a little citrus in the morning, followed by a snack of nuts and vegetables at mid-morning. At lunch, a serving of healthy meat with tomatoes would contain a decent amount of flavonoids, especially if this is followed by a late afternoon cup of green tea or even coffee. At dinner, another salad and then a side of vegetables will be beneficial, especially if the beverage accompanying the dinner is a glass of red-wine.

This leads to a quick note about children. Can children enjoy the same benefits of flavonoids even if they cannot enjoy the benefits of a glass of wine? The short answer to this question is a definite yes. Obviously, growing children will not need the same amount of flavonoids as an adult so if a child’s diet is altered to include a few fruits, vegetables and an occasional piece of dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate then it is a certainty that they will get the flavonoids needed to improve health and vitality.


Of course, it is not always possible to eat all of the fruits and vegetables required to get all of the needed flavonoids. In that case, supplements offer a decent alternative. It is important, however, to pay attention to the dosage and to stay away from pumping too many flavonoids and anti-oxidants into a diet.

There are a large number of websites that sell flavonoids and anti-oxidants. Many are now produced by the same companies that produce vitamins and other supplements. Always keep in mind, however, that this is not the same as eating a diet high in flavonoids.

It is also possible to get pretty significant discounts when purchasing flavonoids online. Typically, a consumer can earn a large percentage off of their purchase by purchasing more than one bottle or two different types of flavonoids.

Flavonoids Conclusions

This concludes this brief examination of flavonoids. They have been our food sources basically since we began eating plants but it is only just now that we are truly discovering how beneficial they are to the human body. Eating a diet high in flavonoids can help a person fight off diseases and extend life. Expect more breakthroughs in the future as scientists continue to unlock the beneficial secrets of flavonoids.


Tinea Versicolor

Tinea versicolor, known as Dermatomycosis furfuracea, Pityriasis versicolor, and Tinea flava, is a benign fungal infection that is characterized by a rash and abnormal patches of pigmentation on the on the chest, arms, legs, and back. This fungus, called malessizia furfur, is a type of yeast that naturally is found on the body.

At times, this fungus can become stimulated and reproduce rapidly, resulting in a rash or series of spots and patches on the skin. Hot and humid conditions can aggravate tinea versicolor, causing it to overproduce. The spots or patches caused by the fungus can be flakey or scaly in appearance, can either lighten or darken skin, and are typically found on the more oils parts of the skin. This chronic, long-term condition can be difficult to prevent from reoccurring in many individuals.
Tinea Versicolor Images


The cause of tinea versicolor is the yeast-like fungus malessizia furfur, and is not contagious. Typically, bathing or showering daily will prevent any fungus from developing onto the skin, but in certain conditions, washing cannot prevent the onset of tinea versicolor.

People who live in tropical areas with high humidity are more likely to contract the condition, as this type of environment allows the fungus to thrive and grow rapidly.Those with an impaired immune system are also more likely to contract the fungus because the body is weakened and cannot fight off the fungal infection.

Certain antibiotics, birth control pills, and corticosteroids may make the body more susceptible to the fungus. As you age you, your skin becomes less oily, making you less likely to suffer from the fungus In the United States, tinea versicolor is most commonly diagnosed in individuals age 15 to 24.

Who is at Risk

While tinea versicolor is most commonly diagnosed in teens and young adults, it can develop in people of all ages, of all races, and gender.

Those who are most susceptible to the fungus live in tropical areas with high humidity; however, the condition also affects individuals in more mild and moderate climates. In many tropical countries, approximately 50% of people are infected with the fungus whereas in countries such as Sweden that have colder climates, approximately 1% of the population is infected.

Children and the Elderly

Though uncommon in children and adults over the age of 65, some cases of tinea versicolor have been diagnosed.The fungus is likely to overproduce in those who are pregnant, malnourished, are prone to oily skin, who sweat excessively, who are using corticosteroids or cortisone, and those who have or are taking medication that weakens the immune system.


Those who suffer from malnutrition, due to high fat diets or starvation, are prone to tinea versicolor. Malnutrition weakens the immune system and can cause an increase in fungus. Many people who have Cushing’s disease, a hormonal disease, are more likely to develop yeast infections.


Unfortunately, some people are genetically predisposed to developing tinea versicolor. Medical studies have been conducted and found that some families suffer from the condition over several generations.


Symptoms of tinea versicolor can vary from person to person.

Typically, the fungus is distinguished by small oval or round spots that range in size from 1 to 3 centimeters. Over time, these spots can fuse together, creating large, discolored patches. The color of these spots and patches range from pale, almost white in color, to dark tan, to pink with red undertones. These spots can have a flakey or scaly appearance in certain individuals.

Some people experience itching, stinging, or a pinprick feeling, which exercise or a hot environment can aggravate. The infection only affects the top layer of the skin. During the winter months, the appearance of tinea versicolor can diminish as the skin is less oily and the environment is less humid.


A doctor will take a skin scraping to gather a sample of the fungus and examine it under a microscope to determine if it is tinea versicolor. Another way to diagnose the fungus is to use a black light. The fungus will glow yellow to yellow-green under the black light.


There are many products available to treat tinea versicolor. Some require a prescription, but many others can be purchased from pharmacies, drug stores, or supermarkets.


Antifungal creams and be purchased over the counter at a pharmacy or prescribed by a doctor. A clinical trial showed that by applying a 2% ketoconazole cream one a day for 2 to 3 weeks, 70% of the people in the study had noticeable improvement. Over the counter antifungal creams such as Lamisil also work to treat and rid the body of tinea versicolor.


Antifungal pills can be prescribed for tinea versicolor, but often have side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, and can potentially harm the liver. 
Prescriptions such as Itraconazole
or Fluconazole often work faster than topical creams, but the fungus often comes back. Take antifungal pills as directed for 2 to 3 for best results.


Dandruff shampoos are often the first choice in treating tinea versicolor because they are inexpensive and easy to find. These shampoos are often less effective than creams and prescription medications and can cause skin sensitivity. Many individuals use Selsun Blue dandruff, which is sold at drug stores and many supermarkets, to treat tinea versicolor.
Symptoms of Tinea Versicolor
Selsun Blue and many other brands of dandruff shampoos contain the antifungal ingredient selenium sulfide. Coat the skin with a thin layer of dandruff shampoo once a day for 10 to 14 days. Allow to dry, then rinse off with water or simply take a shower. The dried shampoo may be difficult to remove; using a washcloth will help to remove the shampoo easily and effectively. Often there is a reoccurrence of tinea versicolor after using dandruff shampoos, so always pay attention to your body and check if any spots or patches have developed.

Other types of dandruff shampoos contain pyrithione zinc, which can also treat the effects of the fungus. Use the shampoo as a lotion, allow to dry, then rinse it off or take a shower to remove the shampoo. Mane’n’Tail and Head & Shoulders are two popular pyrithione zinc shampoos that can be found at most supermarkets and drug stores.

Home Remedies

Many of the creams, pills, and shampoos contain harmful chemicals and cause unpleasant side effects. There many home remedies that are natural and equally as effective as chemical treatments.


The fungus that causes tinea versicolor is yeast-related. Applying yogurt to the patches on the skin helps to neutralize the yeast. Unflavored, natural fresh yogurt is recommended for applying to the patches. You can also eat yogurt to help fight the yeast internally. While this treatment may take a long amount of time, it is a permanent way of treating the fungus.


Using vinegar that contains garlic and oregano is another useful treatment of the fungus. All 3 of these ingredients have powerful antifungal properties. Simply dip a cotton ball or washcloth in the vinegar and gently rub it on the affected areas of the skin. This process must be done daily and may take several months but has been shown to return the skin pigment to normal in many individuals.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil naturally dries up excess oil on the skin and has antifungal properties. Apply the tea tree oil to the spots or patches using a cotton ball or washcloth. Be sure to dap the tea tree oil around the outside of the skin surrounding the spots. Cut a piece of gauze and tape it to the spot with medical tape.

Allow the tea tree oil to soak into the skin for at least 1 hour before removing the gauze. Tea tree oil can stain clothing so be sure to remove the oil using a cotton ball dipped in alcohol or by taking a shower.

Turmeric Paste

Once of the most popular natural remedies is making a paste using turmeric powder, clarified butter, and sandalwood powder. Apply the paste to the spots for at least half an hour. Use on a daily basis until the spots no longer appear.


Showering daily and using a washcloth or sponge to exfoliate the areas will help to remove the flakey, dead cells and reduce the amount of fungus on the skin. Be sure to wash your clothes, towels, and washcloths in hot water to get rid of any fungi that have become attached to the material.


Proper nutrition can stimulate the immune system and help to rid the body of the fungus. Drinking plenty of water daily can also flush the system of toxins that can damage the immune system.

A diet high in vitamins C, E, B complex, and A help to give your immune system a healthy boost. These can be found in citrus fruits, whole wheat, and many raw fruits and vegetables. Reduce the amount of carbohydrates in your diet as carbohydrates can help to stimulate yeast production. Instead, try eating foods with probiotics such as yogurt, sweet potatoes, fresh garlic, coconut, and raw pumpkin seeds.

Drinking clove tea, kifer, or water mixed with a little lemon juice and apple cider vinegar all help to rid the body of excess yeast.



Acidophilus is in supplement form contains live beneficial bacteria that help maintain a natural balance of yeast within the body. Lactobacillus acidophilus, or L-acidophilus is recommended to take to stabilize yeast levels and help to reduce the presence of tinea versicolor. These supplements can be found at supermarkets, pharmacies, and drug stores.


Selenium is a trace mineral foods, water, and soil. It is a common ingredient in dandruff shampoos, which have shown to be effective in treating tinea versicolor. Taking a selenium supplement daily can help to regulate the body and fight the fungus.


Tinea versicolor that is pale in color clears more easily than other colors of the fungus. Over time, the area will be able to tan normally. There are some white markings, however, that will remain permanent. There is no scientific evidence explaining the cause of this phenomenon. Spots that are pink or brown in color are more likely to reoccur. Antifungal treatments should be repeated to decrease reoccurrence.


There are a few steps you can take to prevent reoccurrences of tinea versicolor. Keeping your body clean, oil free, and dry can reduce the ability of the fungus to multiply. Try to keep out of the heat or environments that can cause sweating. Wearing clothing that has a thin weave and keeps you cool is also a good way to reduce sweating. If you have a history of tinea versicolor, try to avoid tanning.

Tanning can make the spots more noticeable and could further exacerbate the condition. Washing with an antibacterial or antifungal soap on a regular basis can keep the yeast in balance. Avoid oily lotions or body washes as they can worsen the appearance and create an ideal environment for the fungus to grow.



What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is any kind of persistent noise that doesn’t have any external source, and seems to originate in the ear or head. Many patients perceive it as an unpleasant high pitched ringing, shrieking or whistling noise, a sound like crickets, buzzing, wooshing – like the sound of loud wind – or as a hissing sound. Others hear a percussive clicking or a sound associated with their own heartbeat, a condition called pulsatile tinnitus.

Generally, the sound is one that only the patient can hear. When tinnitus can only be heard by the patient, it is called subjective tinnitus, which is by far the most common type of tinnitus. Much rarer is objective tinnitus, or tinnitus that other people can also sometimes hear. Tinnitus isn’t a disease itself, but rather a symptom that can be caused by dozens of different diseases and conditions, both physical and mental. Most people will experience tinnitus at least once in their lives as a temporary condition that resolves on its own.

For those whose tinnitus is chronic, it can be a debilitating condition that adversely affects everyday activities like concentrating on work or falling asleep at night. Many people with tinnitus suffer from depression and anxiety caused by their condition. Abut six percent of the world population experiences or has experienced severe tinnitus, making tinnitus

What Are Some Other Names for Tinnitus?

Many people do not recognize the word “tinnitus,” but will refer to the condition as “ringing in the ears” or similar descriptions of the condition. In fact, the word tinnitus derives from the Latin “tinnire,” which means “to ring.” Tinnitus is pronounced as either ti-NIGHT-us or TIN-it-us.

What Causes Tinnitus?

Tinnitus can be caused by problems in any part of the ear, as well as occasionally by damage to the brain. However, the most common cause of tinnitus by far is hearing loss. As people grow older, or when they do damage to their ears (often by listening to loud music or working in extremely noisy environments without ear protection) the cochlea can lose its ability to transmit sounds to the brain.
Symptoms of Tinnitus
Scientists believe that, in the absence of information coming in from the ears, the brain becomes “confused” and begins producing its own sounds to replace the sound that should be coming in from the ears. This type of subjective tinnitus is usually experienced in both ears. The people most often affected by tinnitus are older people, particularly older men, and people who have continuously been exposed to loud noises without ear protection, such as soldiers, construction workers, and people who have worked around jet engines.

Additional Types of Causes

Certain diseases that affect the inner ear, such as Menier’s syndrome, and overexposure to certain drugs and chemicals, such as Aspirin, can also lead to damage that causes tinnitus. The condition can be aggravated by anything that hinders normal hearing, such as a buildup of earwax, further exposure to loud noises etc. Subjective tinnitus can also very rarely be caused by a brain tumor, though this type of tinnitus is usually only perceived in one ear, rather than in both.

Causes of objective tinnitus are usually easier to find that causes of subjective tinnitus. Pulsatile tinnitus can be caused by several different conditions that affect blood pressure, including pregnancy, anemia and certain types of tumors. Clicking sounds in the ear can also be caused by a misaligned jaw joint, also known as “TMJ,” or by muscle twitches near the ear or throat.

How is Tinnitus Prevented?

The best way to reduce your chances of developing tinnitus is to avoid exposure to loud noises that can do damage to the sensitive nerves in the inner ear. Anyone who is serious about wanting to avoid inner ear damage should wear ear plugs or hearing protective devices when around loud noises, such as firearms, motorcycle engines or wood shop equipment.

How is Tinnitus Diagnosed?

As tinnitus is a symptom and not a disease itself, generally only the patient knows if he or she has tinnitus. A doctor can, however, diagnose most of the conditions that cause tinnitus, so anyone experiencing tinnitus for a prolonged period of time should see a doctor.

Anyone experiencing tinnitus in only one ear, tinnitus that begins very suddenly, or tinnitus that seems associated with the heart beat (pulsatile tinnitus) should see a doctor immediately, as these types of tinnitus can be symptoms of serious problems such as certain brain tumors.

How is Tinnitus Treated?

There is no cure for tinnitus, but there are many treatments available, and the effectiveness of each depends on both the type of tinnitus and the severity of each individual case. Because there is no cure for tinnitus, many people prefer to use natural remedies to try to relieve their symptoms.

Surgical Treatments For Tinnitus

In extremely severe cases of tinnitus, surgery is sometimes an option to try to relieve the symptoms. The most severe cases of tinnitus involve the patient hearing sounds that are so loud and unpleasant that they completely disrupt the patient’s ability to lead a normal life. Cases like this are most often found in people who have suffered serious injuries to their inner ear or who are profoundly deaf.

Surgery for tinnitus involves dividing the auditory nerve, and is beneficial in about half of all cases of severe tinnitus that it is used to treat. When it fails, it is because the tinnitus is “rerouted” to reoccur within the brain itself, so that surgery cannot be used to treat it.

Pharmaceutical Treatments for Tinnitus

Many people have found that antianxiety medications such as Xanax are extremely helpful in abating symptoms of their tinnitus. In one study, more than 75% of participants found that antianxiety medication reduced their symptoms by forty percent or more.

Other people with tinnitus may be helped by anticonvulsants, which are commonly used to treat seizure disorders, antihistamines, which most people are familiar with as allergy medicines, and certain drugs used to treat heart problems. One thing that is important to remember when it comes to treating Tinnitus with drugs is that Aspirin should never be used to alleviate headaches brought on by tinnitus, as it can often make the condition worse.

Treating Tinnitus with Sound

“Masking” is a natural, safe, and often free or inexpensive way of treating tinnitus that is recommended both by many doctors and by many sufferers of tinnitus. In order to determine if sound masking will be an effective way to treat a patient’s tinnitus, there is a simple, easy test that patients can perform by themselves at home. All that the patient needs to do is turn on the bathroom faucet.

If the sound of the faucet seems to lessen or eliminate the sound of the tinnitus, then masking could be a good way for the patient to deal with their tinnutus symptoms. Masking is simply using white noise — the sound of running water, radio static, or even the sound of an electric fan — to cover up the sound of the tinnitus.

While many people find the idea counterintuitive, it might seem pointless to simply replace one sound with another, the type of sound makes a big difference. Most tinnitus sounds are high pitched, grating, and otherwise distracting and difficult to ignore, whereas soothing white noise is easy to adjust to, often to the point that someone listening to white noise will cease to hear it at all.

Ways to Mask Tinnitus

There are many different options available for people who want to mask their tinnitus. Wearable maskers are available from audiologists, who will first administer tests to determine what kind of masker is best suited for each individual. For some people with hearing loss, simply wearing a hearing aid to amplify ambient sounds is enough to improve symptoms of tinnitus. For others white noise is more effective, while for others a combination of both is necessary to mask their tinnitus.

For those who do not wish or cannot afford to see an audiologists, there are many easy do-it-yourself methods to mask tinnitus. White noise machines or nature sounds CDs, water sounds, which contain all frequencies, are excellent for masking tinnitus. The popularity of MP3 players now means that most people can bring white sounds around with them wherever they go. Simply turning on household appliances like fans, dishwashers, and radios tuned to pick up static are also excellent ways to mask tinnitus.

Treating Tinnitus with Therapy

Many people find that talk therapy is very helpful for treating their tinnitus. Often, tinnitus can become a terrible feedback look; tinnitus causes stress and anxiety, the stress and anxiety further aggravates the tinnitus etc. Although therapy cannot affect the symptoms of tinnitus per se, it can help patients to deal with their symptoms in a way that does not create the stress and anxiety that can make tinnitus worse.

Alternative Remedies for Tinnitus

Because there is no cure for tinnitus, most people who suffer from it will at one time or another try alternative ways to treat their symptoms, often in conjunction with medication, sound masking techniques or talk therapy. Many people with tinnitus have found that changes in their diet — especially eliminating certain substances such as alcohol and caffeine, which can have an effect on blood pressure — can help to alleviate the symptoms of their tinnitus.

Tonic water should also be avoided, as the quinine it contains has also been found to worsen tinnitus. Other people with tinnitus believe that certain dietary supplements, particularly gingkoba, B-12, magnesium and zinc, have been very helpful in alleviating their symptoms. Other people try to eliminate foods that contain salicylates, or chemicals similar to aspirin, which has been proven to aggravate tinnitus. Some foods that contain higher than usual amounts of salicylates are almonds, tomatoes, cherries, peaches, grapes, cucumbers, plums and wine.

Natural Stress Relieving Activities

Meditation, yoga, and biofeedback training are all excellent ways to reduce stress, improve circulation, and gain more control over one’s own body, all of which can significantly affect the severity of tinnitus symptoms and stress or anxiety related to those symptoms. Hypnosis and acupuncture have also been helpful to many people dealing with tinnitus, though they are most helpful when used by people who are already familiar and comfortable with these types of treatments.

As stress or unease is never helpful to someone who is suffering from tinnitus, it is very important that any course of treatment undertaken is one that the patient feels comfortable and happy participating in. Although there is no easy cure for tinnitus, every person who suffers from it should feel free to experiment with all of the many approaches to dealing with it until they discover what suits their own unique circumstances, and devise a course of treatment that reduces symptoms, alleviates stress, and allows him or her to lead a happy and healthy life.


Dry, Cracked and Chapped Lips

Dry or chapped lips are often the most prevalent during the cold winter months when the humidity levels drop and our homes become dry from the use of heat. This condition can start out as a mild annoyance and quickly become a painful situation with a risk of infection. Children and the elderly are often at a higher risk for developing chapping and cracking due to either age related changes, or in children, the inability to properly care for themselves.

As with any medical condition, elderly patients who may be suffering from dementia or another condition that limits communication may not be able to describe or indicate symptoms.
Immune System Disorder

However, there are a few things to watch out for and steps that you can take to treat and prevent dry, chapped and cracked lips.

Symptoms of Chapped and Dry Lips

  • Dryness of the lips as well as the area surrounding the mouth
  • Inflammation and redness.
  • A tingling or burning sensation.
  • Tightness, peeling and cracking when speaking or smiling.
  • Bleeding.
  • Excessive licking may lead to chapping that extends outside the lip line, creating a ring around the mouth.


There are a variety of factors that can contribute to the occurrence of dry or chapped lips, including:

  • Prolonged exposure to inclimate weather that may cause the occurrence of windburn or sunburn.
  • Medications, particularly those used to treat acne as these medications typically promote drying as a way to deal with pimples and blemishes.
  • Allergies to not only environmental factors but to skin care products and cosmetics.
  • Dehydration as a result of illness or lack of fluids.
  • Dry, cool weather paired with low humidity, or being exposed to harsh, cold wind.
  • Smoking or excessive drinking.
  • Dental disease or other dental related issues like over or under-bite.
  • Dry Mouth, which can occur through the aging process, or as a result of medications or an illness.
  • A pre-existing skin condition such as eczema.
  • Underlying health issues such as diabetes, anemia and certain vitamin and/or immune deficiencies.


If left untreated, chapped lips can grow quite severe and lead to inflammation, bleeding, scarring and even infection. Licking the lips, which is often a natural response to dryness, can lead to further chapping and is common in children and the elderly. If left untreated, the area affected can spread as far as the chin and cheeks.


If your chapped lips become inflamed and painful, or seem to occur on a regular basis or persist for more than a few days or weeks, you may need to schedule a visit with your doctor to not only prevent further chapping, but to avoid putting yourself at risk for developing an infection. Your doctor will do a visual and physical exam of the affected area to check for causes and potential problems, and may request your medical history to rule out any underlying health issues. Your doctor will also look for sores that may occur as a result of severely chapped lips, or to rule out a virus known as cold sores as a potential cause.

Because certain issues related to a dry mouth and chapped or cracked lips can be indicative of a dental problem, you may need to schedule an appointment with your dentist to rule out disease or alignment issues that may be contributing to your condition. Your dentist will perform a general examination to check not only your overall dental health, but to look for any possible causes that may be contributing to chapped lips. People with braces often experience irritation around the mouth and lips that can lead to chapping. Your dentist may provide wax that should be applied to any edges on the braces that are causing pain and leading to excessing licking.

Clinical Treatment

Your doctor may prescribe a medicated balm or salve to not only help heal your dry lips, but to also shield them from environmental contaminates that may lead to infection. If an infection is present, he may also prescribe an antibiotic.

Home Treatment

Some natural remedies you can try to help alleviate chapped lips include:

  • Regular exfoliation to remove dead and flaking skin cells. A mixture of honey and sugar, or olive oil and sugar provide natural moisture and exfoliation. Regular exfoliation also promotes healing. Many lip balms include honey as one of the main ingredients due to its anti-fungal and healing properties.
  • Aloe Vera is a plant that contains vitamins, amino acids and can not only be used to treat chapped lips, but burns and rashes as well. It also provides a decent level of moisturization.
  • Zinc Oxide, which is often used on the nose as an extra measure to protect against sunburn, can also provide protection for chapped lips.

Be sure to read the labels on any products you apply to your lips to avoid ingesting any potentially toxic substances.

Side effects

Side effects for antibiotics can include allergic reactions, diarrhea, headache and in women, yeast infection. If you experience any adverse side effects, contact your doctor to talk about trying a different antibiotic. Women who experience yeast infections may request an additional medication to take care of the problem, or may ask their doctor for a new prescription that shows a low risk for yeast infections.
Immune System Disorder
If the affected area has become inflamed and painful, application of any topical treatment may result in an initial burning sensation, but should subside once healing begins.

Effectiveness and Cost

Balms or salves are generally effective and low cost and are most likely covered by insurance. Antibiotics, which are very effective in treating infections, can be a little more expensive, but should also be covered under most insurance plans. Contact your insurance provider to establish what treatments are covered.

Home remedies are surprisingly effective and can cost as little as a few dollars.


Prevention is really the key when it comes to combating dry, chapped lips. There are a few steps that you can take to reduce your risk of developing this often painful condition.

During the cold winter months, use a humidifier to keep the air in your home moist. This can not only prevent chapped lips but can even improve the overall health of your skin. Smoking, which can cause the evaporation of the natural oils in your lips, is a common contributor to chapped lips. Quit smoking to not only keep your lips soft and moist, but to improve your general health as well.

Use sunscreen regularly, even during the winter to avoid sunburn. Use a beeswax based lip balm, or petroleum jelly to shield the lips from both windburn and sunburn, as well as to lock moisture in. Avoid using products that may irritate your skin such as harsh cleansers or skin care products that you may cause an allergic reaction. Choose hypo-allergenic products instead.

Stay hydrated. Drink at least six to eight glasses of water each day. If you plan on being outside a lot during the warm summer months, be sure to drink enough water to avoid not only dehydration, but heat stroke as well.

Cracked Lips Overview

Cracked lips are often a separate issue from chapped lips and have different causes and treatment options.

Alternative names include perleche, angular stomatitis, angular cheilitis.


  • Cracking that typically occurs at the corners of the mouth.
  • Can become painful when opening the mouth.
  • The corners of the mouth may become inflamed.


  • Excess moisture at the corners of the mouth.
  • Frequent licking of the lips.
  • Dentures that do not fit properly.
  • Dental issues such as alignment problems, dry mouth or dental disease.
  • Cracking at the corners of the mouth may also be in indicator of an underlying health issue like diabetes, anemia and immune or vitamin deficiencies.


People with cracked lips often lick the affected area to temporary provide moisture and alleviate pain. However, licking leads to further cracking and will aggravate the problem.

The risk of leaving a condition like cracking untreated are the growth of bacteria and fungus that can result in infection. Severe cracks can also lead to scarring.


Your doctor will want to check for the presence of bacteria or fungus as well as infection. Because cracking can be indicative of an underlying health condition such as diabetes, your doctor may request a blood analysis. He will also ask questions relating to your medical history that may include dental or skin issues.

Clinical Treatment

When bacteria or fungus are present, your doctor may prescribe a topical steroid or antifungal medication, or oral medication to kill the infection.

If your condition is due to dental issues such as disease, ill fitting dentures, alignment issues or dry mouth, your dentist may take appropriate action, such as re-fitting your dentures, or she may fit you for a retainer to help with the any alignment issues.

Home Treatment

Because cracked lips are often a sign of a more serious condition or an infection, at-home treatment can only provide a level of comfort and perhaps prevention. Keeping the corners of your mouth as dry as possible to avoid the build-up of bacteria and fungus is the best way to keep infection risk low.

Side effects

Side effects for topical and oral medications can include allergic reaction, diarrhea and headache.

As with chapped lips, any topical treatments may produce a burning sensation once applied, but should improve as the medicine takes effect.


Topical steriods, antifungal medications and oral antibiotics are often very effective in treating infection. However, some bacteria and fungi can be resistant and may require a longer period of treatment until the affected area is cleared up.


Antifungal medications, steroid treatments or oral medications are often more expensive, but are also typically covered under most insurance plans. Check with you provider to determine coverage for any treatment your doctor suggests.


The best way to prevent the occurrence of cracking is to keep the corners of the mouth dry, but the lips from chapping. Applying a balm or salve can protect the corners of your mouth from bacteria and will also shield against excess moisture from your mouth that will only aggravate the condition.

Because dry air can contribute to the problem, using a humidifyer in the winter, as well as sunblock during the summer, can help prevent the dry lips that can lead to excess licking.

If you have a health concern that may lead to dry mouth, dental issues or any other condition that could potentially contribute to cracking of the lips, talk to your health care provider before the issues lead to complications. If you are currently taking a medication that is causing other side effects, be sure to mention your dry, cracked or chapped lips as this may be a side effect as well.


Low Immunity

Low immunity is when the body’s defensive system is in low working order. Called the immune system, it is made up of lymphocytes and antibodies, and works together with other parts of the body such as the spleen, thymus glands, bone marrow, and much more. It is by far the most complex and involved function in the entire human body.

Everything from a cold to the flu to cancer must first bypass the immune system before infecting the body. The immune system, once recognizing the invading bacteria or virus as a threat, works to abolish it before the damage increases. It is the body’s main defense against the bacteria and viruses that continually hammer our body. The immune system fights off these diseases, keeping us healthy and able to go about our day. When it is down, it is not as able to perform as well, increasing the risk of illness.
Immune System Disorder

Signs & Symptoms

Signs of low immunity include frequent colds, headaches, chronic infections, and sore lymph glands. Though sometimes these can be signs of more serious problems, quite often recurrent illnesses are a result of having low immunity.

When a person has low immunity, it means their immune system is not running in its full capacity, allowing dangerous substances to slip by and infect the rest of the body, causing aches, swelling, redness, congestion, and other common signs of illness. At times these can lead to more serious problems. For example, certain cancers, such as leukemia, are an infection of the immune system itself.

Contributing Factors

There are many factors which can contribute to having low immunity. Some are serious conditions, and their damage is nearly irreparable and difficult to treat. These include diseases such as AIDS, Lupus, or inflammatory bowel disease.

Many of these diseases attack the immune system, leaving the body vulnerable to secondary diseases which originally would be of little threat, but in this case would pose a dangerous menace. In some cases, the immune system itself becomes a threat. Powered by the very disease that infected it, it turns and begins to attack the human body instead.

These diseases are quite deadly, and should be treated by a doctor. The solutions listed below are merely supplementary, and do not replace actual medical treatment. However, though they are not specifically for treating these diseases, they can still be beneficial even in these cases.

In general, however, low immunity is a result of not having the proper nutrients which boost the immune system, and it is easily treatable. There are different factors which may deplete the body’s limited stores and affect the immune system. Surgery or other medical treatments open the body to a flood of bacteria which hammer the immune system, overwhelming it beyond capacity and allowing secondary infections to set in. Other things such as emotional trauma or stress put unusual pressure on the immune system, forcing it to work overtime and leading to low immunity. Diet can also become involved, as the body depends heavily on the nutrient intake supplied by food and drink.

Ways to Cure Low Immunity Issues

One of the best and easiest is to have a clean diet. A healthy diet alone can boost the immune system, preventing a wide range of illnesses. Simply adding or removing certain food substances provide the body with the proper nutrients it needs to thrive while removing those chemicals that suppress it, allowing it to perform much better.


Sugar causes the white blood cells in the immune system to run sluggishly. The sugar affects a type of cell called neutrophil, which combats the bacteria by engulfing and then destroying it. Its effectiveness is decreased by as much as %40 within two hours of eating food containing sugar. Lessening the sugar in a diet could significantly improve the efficiency of the immune system. As there are different kinds of sugar, this can be applied most specifically to artificial sweetener. Natural sugars such as those found in fruits can be quite beneficial in boosting energy and vigor, if taken in moderation.


Often recognized as a necessary part of the diet for a diabetic, protein is good for anyone else as well. Eating foods that are high in protein such as lean meats like fish and poultry boosts the immune system, reducing the risk of illness. This element is absolutely essential for the creation of white blood cells, antibodies, and other particles of the body’s immune system.


Many foods are found to be high in saturated fat and cholesterol. People who suffer frequently from colds or the flu often have a diet that is high in fat, as well as what is known as triglyceride, similar to cholesterol. High levels of these substances suppress the immune system; adjusting the diet to bring down these levels does a great deal in lessening the risk of illness.


Easily the most important and most easily attained nutrient for our bodies, it is often also the most neglected. Water is vital to the growth and sustaining of human life, but most people do not get enough of it. Pure, fresh water not only supplies good nutrients but also washes out the harmful toxins that infect the body. Drinking plenty of water- as much as 10-12 8 oz glasses a day- on its own can have a noticeable effect.
Immune System Disorder

Herbs & Natural Remedies

In addition, there are many herbs and other natural or home remedies that are both safe and easy to use. Most of these can be easily attained at a local drug or grocery store, or, depending on the product, sometimes it may be found only in such places as a Chinese market.

Some are more common and well-known than others, but all have a positive effect on the entire body, supplying it with a healthy dose of what it needs to stay healthy. Since these are natural products and therefore do not contain the toxins and chemicals that are found in most medications, it is difficult to overdose.

However, as with any product, it is important to take it in moderation, as too much of anything can have an adverse effect on the body.


Chinese culture is often well recognized for its wide knowledge of herbs and medicine. Officially listed amongst the fundamental herbs that are used in traditional Chinese medicine, the Astralagus plant has many uses, such as aiding in the healing of injuries.

The root is dried and then used to make an herbal tea or soup, often in conjunction with other herbal remedies. Besides stimulating white blood cells, the plant also helps in the production of a particular compound, called interferon, which is produced to fight off viruses.

Green Tea

Green tea is well-known for its health benefits to the human body. Originating in China, it has been commonly associated with many Asian cultures and in recent years has become popularly accepted in the Western world. Green tea is made with the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, and contains a chemical substance called polyphenol. Polyphenol checks for the radicals that have a harmful effect on the immune system.


This small shrub is grown in the area in and around India. The plant contains a substance which works as an adaptogen, which helps the body’s resistance to emotional trauma, stress, tiredness, and other such symptoms. Excessive levels of anxiety and tension overwork the immune system, making it more vulnerable to diseases. The calming effects of Ashwaghanda help counter the stress, relieving the body of added pressure and helping it to resist illness.


Echinacea is native to various parts of North America, most specifically eastern and central, where the land is open with a fair balance between moist and dry. It is commonly characterized by the bright, bold, flowers that bloom in the summer. This plant boosts lymphatic function as well as stimulates white blood cells, both of which are vital to the functionality of the immune system. It can be easily obtained either in its original form or taken as an extract in a capsule.


Mumio is a natural substance found in the high mountains of Russia and surrounding areas. It seeps from rock crevices and is formed from a combination of bees’ productions such as fossilized honey, beeswax, and bees’ nests. It is resinous in texture and appearance, and can be taken in capsule form. This substance has a very wide range of capabilities that have a positive effect on the body. It has a high content of antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and immuno-modulating properties, which strengthens the immune system.

Traditional Medicines

Aside from herbal and natural remedies, there are also solutions found in the pharmaceutical department. Certain drugs can be taken to assist the immune system, but generally it is not recommended to take them regularly, since bacteria and viruses tend to develop their own immunity to these drugs, and can even use them to have the opposite effect on the body. These render the drugs entirely useless and in some cases even harmful. Depending on the drug and also the intended result, the amount and length of time for a specific dosage may vary, and it is important to follow the recommended dosage as prescribed by a physician or pharmacologist. Too much dosage or taking these medicines for long periods of time not only lessens their effectiveness but also increases risk for drug-related problems, such as overdose or addiction.

However, despite these and other risks associated with pharmacy drugs, properly attributed they can provide their own range of benefits. Though many can be obtained either by special order or at a local drugstore, it is important that one should consult a doctor before taking any drug. Some of these medicines do not specifically boost the immune system, but most of them do aid it in fighting infection.


This drug is often used on cancer patients and those afflicted with HIV or other autoimmune diseases. During illness, it reduces the severity of symptoms as well as reducing the duration of the sickness. It enhances the immune system so that it is stronger and better able to fight off disease, thereby reducing not only the severity and duration of the illness, but lessening the frequency of occurrence as well.

As with most pharmaceutical drugs, Isoprinosine may cause side effects in a patient, including such symptoms as dizziness, stomach pains, or irritated skin. These should not be viewed with alarm, though if the problem worsens a doctor should be consulted and the dosage paused until further medical advice is given, particularly in the possibility of an allergic reaction such as breathing troubles or chest pains.


Zithromax, also known as azithromycin, is a macrolide antibiotic that is effective against a wide range of bacteria. It works by interfering with the bacteria’s ability to produce protein. Since the bacteria is unable to produce the protein, it cannot grow, slowing or even halting the effects of the disease. Zithromax is used in the treatment of such diseases as bronchitis, tonsillitis, pneumonia, and many others.

Zithromax should only be taken on an empty stomach; at least two hours after a meal, or an hour beforehand. It should not be taken with antacids such as Pepcid Complete or Rolaids. Side effects of this drug include stomach problems such as abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea; however, in general these effects are only very mild or in some cases moderate.


This antiviral drug is very effective against the flu virus, by disallowing the production of the virus as it spreads from cell to cell. In this way it aids the immune system in fighting off diseases which can be deadly, especially in the elderly or those who already suffer from a weak immune system and are therefore more vulnerable to viral attacks. If administered soon enough after being exposed to the flu, Tamiflu can be used to prevent the onset of illness, but even after a person has already contracted the disease it still aids in lessening both of the symptoms and the duration. It can be administered either as syrup or as a capsule.

There are very few, if any, medical drugs which can be taken without due caution. Tamiflu is no exception. Patients who are administered with the drug should be warned that certain side effects, though as yet unproven to be directly related to the drug, may occur. These include potentially deadly allergic reactions in the form of a skin condition called Steven-Johnson syndrome, as well as some neurophychiatric events, and in a very few cases, death.


Ciprofloxacin is an antibiotic drug, used to fight bacteria in the body. It aids the immune system to fight against the harmful diseases which inflict the body, relieving some of the stress off of the immune system. The drug interferes with the infected cell’s DNA, preventing it from copying itself and spreading the disease.
Though not true in all cases, Ciprofloxacin is known to be associated with a higher risk of Tendinitis, which is an inflammation of the tendons. This weakens the muscle tendons, sometimes leading to a very painful tendon rupture. This is especially true for those elderly in age, or those patients who have before received organ transplants of the lung, kidney, or heart.

With the immune system being the main fortification standing between the human body and the swarm of germs that inhabit every environment, low immunity can be a serious risk factor. However, with a few simple measures- most of which can easily be taken care of with a trip to the local grocery market- this risk can be drastically reduced. The immune system is the first line of defense against infection and disease; as such, it is vital to keep it in good working order. A proper diet and herbal supplements, and in some cases pharmaceutical treatment, can help boost the immune system to ensure that it is in good working order. When this happens, the rest of the body will generally follow, no longer being hammered with all sorts of diseases.



What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis, also called plaque psoriasis, is an unpleasant dermatological condition that affects about 2% of the population, roughly six million people. It is characterized by red, scaly and itchy skin. Depending on the severity and stage of the rash, it can also appear silvery, shiny and flaky. Psoriasis is not a medical emergency; rather it is a chronic disorder that has periods of increased flare-ups as well as calming periods. The exact cause of Psoriasis is unknown.

Some researchers believe that it is a disorder of the immune system, while others think it is more of an allergic reaction to ambient stimulants. Gene mutation has also been suggested as a possible cause of Psoriasis. There are variants of the disease and the names reflect the differences. For example, when there are distinct teardrop-shaped red marks it is called “guttate psoriasis”, (guttate is Latin for “drop”). Other types of psoriasis include pustular psoriasis in which postules are also present with the rash; inverse psoriasis, where the rash affects areas where skin touches skin such as under breasts, in folds of genitals and armpits; and erythrodermic psoriasis, where there is pronounced reddening and the rash is more widespread.
Psorasis Symptoms

Where Does it Occur?

Psoriasis break-outs occur most often on the areas of the body where there is movement. That is, where there are flexor muscles, such as the elbow, knees, arms and legs. It spreads along the outer part of the limbs, such as the shins and outer-arm. Other common sites are the scalp, palms and plantar aspect of the foot. However, it can occur just about anywhere on the body including the face, back and stomach.

This disease does not just affect the skin. It can also be present in fingernails, toenails, genitalia and inside the mouth. When it occurs in these more tender areas, it is uncomfortable and more difficult to treat. Also, in about one million psoriasis sufferers, the joints become inflamed as well. When this happens it is known as psoriasis arthritis.

What are the Symptoms of Psoriasis?

Psoriasis can be difficult to diagnoses and treat because it can be quite complicated. The patient could have one or more types of psoriasis at the same time and/or at different times in her life. Since there is more than one type of psoriasis, there are differing symptoms according to which type of psoriasis is affecting the patient. But the general characteristic that is present in virtually every variety of psoriasis is an inflamed rash, a silvery appearance and scaly, itchy patches. The rash has a distinct edging so that the healthy skin and the affected skin are side by side and there is an obvious distinction. Also, all types of the disease heal from the inside out. The affected area is quite unsightly and sufferers are understandably self-conscience when the outbreak is in an area of the body that is not covered by clothing.

What Causes Psoriasis?

The causes of psoriasis are not known but most in the medical and scientific community agree that there is a connection to a gene mutation. It is generally thought to be an autoimmune disease where there is a problem with the immune system caused by a white blood cell called a “T” cell. These cells are charged with defending the body against infection and viruses. However, in psoriasis, the “T” cell misfires, and instead of protecting against a foreign agent, it turns on normal, healthy cells by multiplying much faster than it should. This causes the hallmark inflammation. In about a third of the patients there is a familial history of the disease. This strengthens the argument for a mutant gene.

Psoriasis is not always acute, however. There are periods of calming until such time as an episode triggers a flare-up. The triggers are not always obvious, and include stress, infections, certain types of prescription medications, changes in climate, sunburn, injury to the area and even a specific nutritional deficiency- low levels of calcium.

What are Some of the Risk Factors for Psoriasis?

Since psoriasis is thought to be mostly hereditary, there is not much one can do in order to avoid psoriasis. However, patients almost always report their first outbreak to be after a streptococcal infection, great periods of stress, or in the presence of certain prescription medications. Smokers and people dealing with obesity are also more at risk for psoriasis, as are people afflicted with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

There is very little one can do to avoid psoriasis if it is part of the body’s chemical makeup. But keeping the skin well hydrated, avoiding stress, smoking, obesity and heavy alcohol consumption seems to help control psoriasis outbreaks. As with just about everything else, getting enough rest, eating a healthful diet that is rich in calcium, and controlling the amount of sunlight one is exposed to all seem to be good ways to avoid psoriasis as much as possible.

Are there Diagnostic Tests for Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is usually diagnosed in the doctor’s office because of its distinct appearance. Upon hearing the patients’ chief complaint and examining the affected area, the general physician or dermatologist is able to make a diagnosis of psoriasis. In some cases, a dermatologist will take a small skin sample to study under a microscope. If this is called for, it can usually be done in the office employing a small amount of local anesthesia.

A doctor may elect to do this to rule out some of the other diseases that can look very much like psoriasis. These diseases include seborrheic dermatitis, (the most common cause of dandruff), lichen planus, ringworm (tinea corporis), and pityriasis rosea, a common skin condition that looks very much like psoriasis. Therefore, in order to be absolutely sure that the disease is indeed psoriasis, a biopsy may be necessary since all of these diseases call for different treatment plans. In place of an actual biopsy, the doctor may also take a small scraping. At this time there are no simple blood tests or other diagnostic tool to make a psoriasis diagnosis. It is important to note that psoriasis, unlike some of the other skin disorders, is not contagious.

How is Psoriasis Treated?

Psoriasis is a lifelong challenge for those who are afflicted, as there is no cure. So, treatment for psoriasis is necessarily long-term and depends greatly on the patient, doctor and their individual philosophies. Though self-diagnoses of psoriasis at home is never recommended, once a definite diagnosis is made, the patient is welcome to try home remedies. Many patients swear by herbal and homeopathic remedies to keep their psoriasis in check.

Home, Herbal and Homeopathic Remedies

The Aloe Vera plant, a succulent that is comprised of a gel-like substance inside its leaves, is pressed into service to remedy everything from a severe sunburn to a minor bug bite. To use it, one slices the leaf open exposing the watery jelly inside. Using ones’ index finger to scrape out the jelly, the patient will then gently apply the gel to the affected area.

If using the actual plant is not an option, there are creams, gels, lotions and sprays that contain Aloe vera and are quite effective in calming the redness, heat and itching of psoriasis. Aloe vera would need to be applied several times a day for a month or more before improvement begins to show. It is not a potion that leads to instant gratification.

It may seem counterproductive, but capsaicin cream is also used. Where the Aloe vera cools and calms the rash, capsaicin, extracted from chili peppers, has been known to ease the itching and reduce the inflammation of psoriasis. It is important to wash the residue off the hands after applying as it can cause discomfort and pain if it comes in contact with the eye or mucus membrane.

Fish Oil

Fish oil, the kind that is available in capsules, is also a favorite home remedy. The Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties. This is taken orally, and very little, about 3 grams a day, is needed to get the desired effect.

Bath Treatments

Bath treatments and the application of moisturizers have been known to have a soothing effect. Available also are over-the-counter bath additives, or they can be made at home with Epson salts and oatmeal. Some patients swear by a mixture of wheat germ oil and castor oil in equal parts applied to the affected area. A tea made with marigold blossoms is also employed by some who want to use only an herbal, non-medicinal remedy.

Topical remedies can be difficult to maintain, especially if the affected area is widespread. It takes time to apply topical remedies such as the ones mentioned above, and in most cases the application must take place several times a day. So some patients may elect to try drugs to treat their disease.

Pharmaceutical Intervention

There are oral and injectable medications that are used to keep psoriasis in check. When electing this type of systemic treatment, the patient must be carefully followed to insure that there are no adverse effects because some of the drugs can be quite toxic. Blood tests and liver function tests are routinely done at intervals during the treatment so that the physician can insure that all is well. Women of child-bearing age are cautioned to avoid pregnancy as these drugs are not recommended during pregnancy. If a woman becomes pregnant while being treated, the treatment will stop immediately and the pregnancy carefully followed.

Some of the drugs that are incorporated into psoriasis therapy include methotrexate and cyclosporines, which are immunosuppressant drugs, and retinoids, which contain a synthetic form of Vitamin A. Corticosteroids are also sometimes prescribed. Drugs which are used for other diseases have sometimes been found to be effective for psoriasis treatment. Certain types of cancer drugs, drugs that treat leukemia, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are all useful in some psoriasis cases. There are even drugs that are prescribed after an organ transplant to avoid organ rejection that have been found to treat psoriasis as well. This is not as unusual as it seems, however, since the drug is being used as an immunosuppressant in both cases. Antihistamines, while not a cure, can and do relieve the itching caused by psoriasis.

Side Effects

As with every drug, there are always side effects to be considered and the patient must weigh the risks and benefits. Psoriasis is an uncomfortable, distressing disease that adversely affects a patient’s quality of life. Many psoriasis patients also suffer from clinical depression secondary to a lower self-esteem and extreme self-consciousness due to the unsightly nature of the illness. This can lead to social isolation, which only exacerbates an already stressful situation.
Effects of Psoriasis
Other serious complications include bacterial skin infections resultant from repeated and aggressive scratching in attempt to gain relief from the itching. Skin infections can become quite serious and will have to be treated with antibiotics.

Another complication of untreated or undertreated psoriasis is an electrolyte imbalance in the presence of serious pustular psoriasis.

Psoriatric arthritis can be excruciating and debilitating and can lead to erosion of the joints. So when weighing the risks, benefits and costs associated with these treatments, the patient should take into consideration his quality of life, the affect his psoriasis is having on other parts of his life such as his family and his job, and whether or not the disease is relatively quiet and slow to flare up, or aggressive and intrusive.

There are studies underway to determine if phototherapy, or the application of light, is useful in the treatment of psoriasis. In countries such as Croatia, Ireland, Turkey and Serbia, doctors are treating psoriasis with a cure that involves tiny fish, called “Doctor Fish” that live in outdoor ponds but are employed to eat away at the dead psoriatic skin when it appears on feet or hands. These tiny fish gnaw away at the dead skin, leaving healthy, untouched skin beneath it. The treatment usually takes place in a spa setting, and must be repeated every few months.

Climate Change

Finally, there is the geographic cure. Some patients have found that a change in climate has eliminated or drastically cut down on instances of outbreaks of psoriasis. Areas around the Dead Sea and where the climate is sunny, hot and humid seem to be relatively psoriasis free zones, giving the impression that psoriasis may have been eliminated for those who have the luxury to move far away from their home, their stressors and their lifestyle.