Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Ads for Pfizer's Celebrex downplays risks

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Although Celebrex has been through the ringer in recent years as the painkiller category where it is sold has been linked to heart problems, the advertising for the drug looks to be not telling the whole story.

A consumer group asked that ads for Pfizer's Celebrex stop being run across the nation since this new marketing appears to downplay the safety differences between Celebrex and other painkillers.

After two years of no advertising on the Celebrex front, critics are sure to keep Pfizer on its toes about telling a balanced story on that product from here on out. Kudos to them.

Another prescription drug linked to heart problems

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It's always a very good idea for patients to ask doctors about remedies for certain ailments outside of prescription drugs (how about lifestyle changes). In my view, there are many prescription drugs that have such horrid side effects a radical change in behavior seems easier than dealing with possible side effect complications.

In the latest news about prescription drugs having heat problem side effects, British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline stated that a drug to treat gastrointestinal side effects of opioid painkillers was indeed linked to higher risk of heart attacks and other serious heart problems.

So, we have another painkiller that causes heart issues as a side effect. Which is worse -- getting rid of pain with an increasing potential for heart problems? You have to make that call.

Fat negates benefits of Vitamin C

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If you have a high fat intake in your diet, be aware that having more than needed fat in the stomach's acid may results in negating the anti-cancer effects of vitamin C, according to new research.

Research out of Scotland concluded that vitamin C (ascorbic acid) mopped up potential cancer-causing compounds that are made when saliva and food mixes with stomach acid. When fat was added to the mix, vitamin C could no longer convert the hazardous compounds into safe ones.

In effect, fat was causing the vitamin C to not be effective at one of the key things it is used for -- fighting cancer inside the body.

Non-drinkers smell like alcohol on certain diets

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A Virgin Airlines pilot was recently suspended from duty, and interrogated by police after an airport worker told officials the pilot smelled of alcohol. Now, even though his breath initially tested positive for booze, he's been re-instated.

"Virgin Atlantic can confirm that the pilot who was questioned by police on 31st March ...will not be charged with any offense," the airline said earlier today.

So what gives?

Apparently, the pilot's diet made him smell like he'd been drinking, even though he hadn't. In his case, the culprit was his low-carb diet, but you apparently you can also test positive for alcohol if you're suffering from heartburn or acid reflux (as they both cause alcohol and to travel from the stomach back to the throat and mouth).

As this pilot almost discovered, appearing intoxicated when you're not can carry serious consequences. Especially given the popularity of Atkins and other low-carb diets -- it's a side-effect you should be aware of.

Dieting is all about how you look at it

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Trying to lose weight by dieting? It may be as simple as changing the way you look (or don't look) at food. Research shows that taking an out of sight, out of mind approach to serving and storing food might actually help you control your appetite.

For instance, try using smaller bowls, plates and spoons. The concept is so simple, it almost seems juvenile, but if your plate looks full, you're more inclined to think you've eaten a substantial portion -- and vice versa on a larger, but more empty-looking plate. You can also buy smaller portions to begin with, and keep temptation at bay by immediately putting away those leftovers -- before you have a chance to go for seconds (or thirds).

Speaking of leftovers, if it's something high-calorie, you might just want to throw it out. At the very least, keep the food in an inconvenient place or in an opaque container. Seeing high-calories grub makes you feel like eating -- even when you're not hungry.

For more information, read the April issue of the Mayo Clinic Health Letter, or visit the Food and Nutrition section of their website.

[via Medical News Today]

A quick checklist for ADHD

Although I am no fan of psychiatric drugs that are used to treat ADHD, the fact is that they are sometimes required for children and adults to function to the norms of society. Using alternative methods of treatment (usually, radical nutrition changes and jettisoning poisonous foods and drinks) sometimes is not enough.

How do you know if your child (or yourself) even has ADHD? There are many medical opinions that believe ADHD is genetic more than environment. A quick checklist would include these observations:

  • Are you distracted by irrelevant sights or sounds?
  • Do you find yourself missing details or making careless mistakes?
  • Do you have difficulty following instructions?
  • Do you find yourself losing and forgetting things?
  • "Can't sit still" - The adult version of what you'd consider "hyperactivity" in a child.
  • Impulsive behavior - Especially as a consistent part of your everyday actions.
  • Do you take action before you think about the consequences?
  • In conversation, do you interrupt others, or blurt out inappropriate comments?
  • Do you experience difficulty waiting in line or for your turn?

Is religion clouding your doctor's judgement?

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Where's the line between religion and medical science? While there's passionate opinions on both sides of this debate, a recent survey finds that -- at least in some way -- most doctors include their faith in their practice.

For better or for worse, "This is yet more evidence that doctors are not just objective, neutral scientists. Their religious or secular commitments influence the way they respond to patients and the way they interpret data," Dr. Farr Curlin, the study's author, told Reuters.

Very few doctors seem to think religion has any effect on "hard" medical outcomes, like miraculous healing, but those who are most religious are significantly more likely to report patients bringing up issues of religion and spirituality, and many feel it has a positive effect on their patients.

Researchers say this indicates that doctors should keep a close eye of their own views, and how that might bias their decisions.

Hunting for a scrumptious energy bar?

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When I was training for a 3-day charity walk several years ago, I started snacking on energy bars for the first time. I relied on energy bars as I built up to twenty-mile walks and I was delighted to sample the many kinds in the health food aisle of my grocery store.

I found some that I loved and I found some that were packed full of sugar and I found some that tasted like I imagined the bottom of my shoe did after six or seven miles. Today, when I buy bars to stash in the glove box or fuel up for a weekend hike, I'm even more perplexed about which ones will hold up to my nutrition and taste standards. This $3 billion booming business means that more and more energy bars are hitting the shelves. So how can you find the kind that are not only healthy but also actually taste great?

First, focus on health. Dietitians advise opting for energy bars that have 200 calories and contain three or more grams of fiber and at least five grams of protein.

Next, dig into deliciousness. In a taste test of 100 varieties in four categories, these fared best:

Chewy: Gnu Foods & Flavor Cinnamon Raisin
Chocolatey: LäraBar Jocolat Chocolate
Crunchy: PowerBar Nut Naturals Fruit & Buts
Fruity: LäraBar Cherry Pie

If these bars and their runners up don't whet your whistle, this article also has some smart suggestions in your search for tasty energy bars.

30% of Americans needing mental health care don't get it

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It's estimated that nearly 30% of Americans need some form of mental health help or assistance. This can vary from mental health conditions that are considered minor to life-altering conditions that create severe mental handicaps.

The issue is that only about a third of those who need mental help end up actually receiving it, according to researchers who interviewed 816 people in Baltimore between 1993 and 1999.

The most common offenders? alcohol dependence (14%) and major depression (11%). About 33% of those with these conditions along with less-popular ones were not receiving any help or assistance.

Rev up your future workouts with the MX9 Workout Master

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Too often, though we've invested hundreds of dollars into it, our exercise equipment often gets turned into an expensive place to hang our laundry. Boredom is likely one of the reasons people drop their indoor exercise routines, as riding mile after mile on that stationary bike finally becomes too dull to continue.

Motivatrix's MX9 Workout Master promises to banish those workout boredom blues permanently. Though the machine is not yet ready for retail, it's future looks promising. Similar in concept to games like Dance Dance Revolution and Wii Sports, the MX9 Workout Master has sensors for the feet and even can register arm movements. Players can participate in a large number of games that build skill and fitness, dance to their own tunes, and even connect to the Internet to compete against other users.

Is the Workout Master the future of fitness? It's hard to say, but I can predict that anyone who puts one of these in their living room won't be hanging their underthings on it! Working out indoors has never looked like so much fun.

Child pneumonia rate decreases 39% with new vaccine

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Looks like vaccinations about pneumonia in children has led to a 39% reduction in hospital visits for kids who end up contracting pneumonia.

New research reports that the use of the PCV7 vaccine since 2000 has led to a dramatic decline in hospital admissions for pneumonia -- and especially for children younger than 2 years of age.

This is very good news for concerned parents who have had smaller children admitted to a hospital with a case of pneumonia. Lead researcher Dr. Carlos Grijalva stated that "A large number of pneumonia can be prevented with this vaccine."

It appears that the PCV7 vaccine is having an effect outside meningitis and bacteremia and into the realm of pneumonia and even ear infections.

An apple a day keeps the asthma away

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Pregnant? If so, you are probably watching your diet to ensure your body and the developing one inside are being nourished with the right kinds of foods and minerals that lead to the most successful pregnancy possible.

If so, are you noshing on apples quite a bit? A new study concludes that one apple a day may help expectant mothers prevent their children from developing asthma later in life.

That is as good a reason to eat fresh fruits as any I've seen. If you're an apple fan, munch up those as healthy snacks every day and you'll be shining as good as you possibly can -- for you and your baby.

Pollution, stress start affecting Chinese men

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China's explosive growth in industry and its economic base over the last 10-15 years has been staggering. But, all that growth in such a short time can overtax a country's workforce and physical environment. Things like stress and air pollution are growing in China at a staggering rate according to many experts.

Both of those areas are resulting in a rise Chinese infertility. In particular, sperm counts had fallen noticeably since the 1970s according to an expert at Shanghai's Jiaotong University, who stated that "A certain percentage of the sperm donated by seemingly healthy college boys to our sperm bank in Shanghai is not eligible in terms of sperm count or motility."

What is China to do? Like the U.S. before it, rising wealth resulting from the country's economic explosion has contributed to the problem in helping promote unhealthy lifestyles. Tens of millions of Americans are unhealthy and obese -- so is this a pattern soon to emerge in China as well?

Some nausea drugs to stop being sold in U.S.

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U.S. health officials are starting to ensure that companies selling suppositories that contain trimethobenzamide (to combat nausea) stop selling those products.

The reason? Well, these drugs and medicines have not been proven effective according to health officials in the U.S. Products containing trimethobenzamide are frequently used to combat nausea and vomiting and are available with a prescription only.

The brand names that are affected are Tigan, Tebamide, T-Gen, Trimazide and Trimethobenz, all of which have not been approved by the FDA.

Americans getting bigger an an alarming rate

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Despite a major push to draw attention to the obesity epidemic in America, Americans just keep gaining weight. In fact, recent statistics say that the number of Americans who are morbidly obese, or have a BMI over 40, increased by 50% between 2000 and 2005. And the number considered severely obese, or with a BMI over 50, increased by a whopping 75%.

Despite the headlines and the growing popularity of weight loss surgery, it appears that the number of of people who fall into these categories continues to rise. With 30% of Americans already considered overweight, these numbers are startling, to say the least.

It's no easy feat to lose 100 pounds or more, but that's no reason to give up hope. If you have a lot of weight to lose, here's an excellent article on getting started. The key point seems to be that what works for those with 20 pounds to lose may not work with those who have 100 to lose, so see your doctor and develop a plan that works for you.

Fit Links: Stretching to reach your goals

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As fabulous as we at That's Fit think this blog is, the truth is there are hundreds of wonderful blogs on healthy living to be seen all over the blogosphere. So in this feature, Fit Links, we'll introduce you to some that have caught our eye.

I remember back in elementary school gym class, when we all had to do 5 minutes of stretching before every game of dodgeball. Back in those days, I loved stretching. In fact I wished those 5 minutes could last the whole gym class so I wouldn't have to inevitably (and repeatedly) get hit it the head by a big rubber ball.

But once I got older and started finding sports and workouts I actually enjoyed, stretching started to feel like a waste of my precious time. But don't be tempted to skip the stretches before your next workout! They not only protect you from injury but also add to your results. This week, check out these fitness blogs with helpful stretching information:

Fitness Fixation is a blog that adds a bit of humor to health and fitness blogging but also feature some really useful partner stretches.

Even stretching has become controversial lately! Does stretching while standing really improve your range of motion while you're moving? For the stretching skeptics, read what Jason Ferruggia Uncensored has to say.

And last but not least, Get Great Legs, is well... pretty self explanatory! Check it out for some stretches to help tone and shape your legs, just in time for swimsuit season.
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You Are What You Eat: But why would you eat Brussels sprouts?

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brussels sproutsWhy, you say? Why? Why do I have to eat this super-weird Super Food that isn't a regular on my shopping list?

How about because it is a rich source of folate (folic acid), so it will help you prevent birth defects if you eat it while pregnant. They contain lots of vitamin K and vitamin C, for beautiful skin and increased immune function. Haven't convinced you yet? Well, OK, eating Brussels sprouts can actually help prevent cancer, particularly of the colon. Still not enough? They help increase the ability of your cells to detoxify and regenerate. And they really do taste delicious, especially when you know how to cook them right.

Continue reading You Are What You Eat: But why would you eat Brussels sprouts?

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Getting fit with the right attitude to guide you

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Are you in the throes of a workout program or have recently "given up" on one? The biggest obstacle in a fitness program (at least initially) is the wherewithal to continue with it over time with all the other daily roadblocks that can get in the way.

How about some tips fromJohn McDermott with www.getfit121.com.au? Here are some pointers that sound easy, but are really required if you want to step up to that plate.
  • Set yourself a goal (write it down and place it somewhere visible to see daily).
  • Visualize yourself attaining that goal (spend about 5 minutes a day with your eyes closed and 'see' yourself having attained that goal).
  • Write out a plan (How are you going to achieve your goal? Set yourself a program).
  • Stay with your program (Getting fit is not something that will come overnight. It takes time and an effort however, your goal WILL be reached PROVIDED you stay focussed on attaining your goal - 'Your goal is tomorrow, today you have to cover the distance in order to reach your goal').

2008 Olympics to be safer from disease

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I haven't read much about the upcoming 2008 Olympics, and although it's good that they're preparing for the worst, I was surprised that some of the first of news I came across was about how Beijing is setting aside thousands of hospitals beds in case of an infectious disease outbreak. Not about swimmers or track runners, but the fear of a pandemic.

But this is a particularly big deal because China has a negative history surrounding the handling of infectious outbreaks in the past (i.e. SARS), so the fact that Beijing has made such an effort and reduced the reporting time for an outbreak from what used to be a week to as little as 10 hours is a good thing. China has also been making some positive moves in the fight against bird flu as well.

So, fun or not, positive moves like this should get press too.

Cigarettes and Hollywood: should filmmakers cut smoking from certain movies?

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When you see Hollywood's latest "it" actor lighting up on screen, do you think anything of it? As adults, it may not even register, but Harvard's School of Public Health is worried that when cool characters light up on screen, teens think it's cool to light up too. The group is out to stamp out the practice for good.

Smoking is no stranger to modern movies; 66% of the top grossing films from 2004 to 2005 showed characters smoking, 68% of PG-13 films during that time period depicted smoking, while R-rated features had an average of 20.4 light-ups per hour. The MPAA recently met with industry leaders, the Harvard group, and academics from John Hopkins to discuss adding smoking to the rating system. Harvard School of Public Health dean Barry Bloom pointed out that "No one has died from hearing the f-word" but that smoking is a major health issue in America today.

So I'm curious to hear what your opinions. Obviously, we don't want our children and teens to start smoking, and marketing cigarettes to these young age groups through movies is a harmful practice, there's no doubt. But should cigarette use in movies be added to the ratings system already in place? Should a PG rating be an assurance to parents that not only will there be no drug use, but no cigarette use as well? What do you think?

(via Cinematical)

We love to gawk at fit celebs: Mr. & Mrs. McDreamy

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Looky here: Patrick Dempsey and wife Jill got all geared up and biked about together.

Whether they are the kind of couple who prefers cycling over move-and-sushi date night out or this is on the happy end of tandem work outs, it is nice to see two folks smiling while they sweat.

Considering the McDreamys just added twins Darby and Sullivan (joining sis Talula) to the family, this pedal pushing scene is like the perfect post-partum poster for taking time for yourself, carving out bits of time with your partner and feeling good in a post-delivery body. Plus, it is nice for Jill that she'll be able to add these pics to the baby book rather than the (*cringe*) a stack of photos of mama on the couch in squeezy yoga pants that some of us (ugh) have diligently hidden away.

Go Dempseys Go!

Get rid of cellulite! Once and for all

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Cellulite is the worst! And lots of other people must think so too because the "anti-cellulite" industry is absolutely enormous -- I've contributed my share of dollars buying creams and treatments along with everyone else. But the real trick to getting rid of cellulite, and I think I knew this somewhere in the back of my mind all along, is really just to lose weight.

But not all ways of losing weight are equal, especially when it comes to reducing the appearance of those horrible dimples. Crash dieting won't help because your skin loses elasticity -- and what you want is healthy stretchy skin that doesn't show every little bump and lump hiding underneath. It will also help a lot if those bumps and lumps underneath are not only smaller (dieting) but firmer (toning and strength training). See here for an entire workout plan specially designed for helping to tone up and reduce the appearance of cellulite.

Be patient, stick with it, and good luck! (I know I'll need it)

People with melanoma surviving more

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Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, has seen its survival rate increase in the last 25 years according to German researchers.

Melanoma is easy to banish from the body in many cases when caught early; but, the German researchers who stated that melanomas have caused less deaths in the last few decades stated that early detection was not part of the increase in melanoma survival rates.

According to the researchers, variables like tumor thickness, ulceration, age, gender, anatomical site, and period of primary diagnosis were used to independently predict overall survival. The overall good news is that less people are finding that melanoma is a terminal form of cancer.

Whole wheat pastas -- how do they compare?

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When whole wheat pastas started showing up on grocery store shelves a few years ago, I took the leap. Actually, it was more like a small step, since I started with a whole wheat blend pasta. I cooked it up with some spaghetti and we hardly noticed the difference. When the true 100% whole wheat brands came along a few months later, I bit the bullet again and served whole wheat lasagna for dinner. I'm not going to say the taste is for everyone, but in our house the transition was a cinch and we enjoy the hardier, nuttier taste of whole wheat pasta over white.

There are a lot of reasons to love whole wheat pasta: more fiber, more nutrition, and you don't have to avoid it completely when you're trying to lose weight. That said, there are going to be some of you who try it and simply can't get used to the taste. Luckily, there are options, even for the most hard core white flour pasta fans. This article from WebMD compares some of the more popular brands of healthy pastas, including Barilla Plus. This enriched pasta isn't entirely whole wheat, but it comes with added fiber, protein, and omega-3s that boost it's nutritional content AND it tastes very close to traditional pasta. Another option is pasta made from spelt, which is an ancient variety of grain similar to wheat. Though it contains gluten, it appears to be easier to digest for many people than wheat.

The USDA recommends you make at least half your grains whole, but I say why stop there? If you love the taste of whole grain pasta, breads, and cereals, then try to make as many of them whole as possible!

Antisocial boys grow to be unhealthy men

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In a study that followed over 500 men for the last 30+ years some disturbing, but perhaps helpful, information was discovered: boys who display antisocial behavior in childhood and through young-adulthood grow up to be unhealthy adults. The negative outcomes later in life include injuries, STDs, heart problems, decreased immunity, and even poor dental health.

Researchers believe now that helping children with antisocial behavioral problems at a young age could help decrease many of the health issues doctors see in adult men. I do, though, have a question that this article doesn't address: what was their definition of "antisocial behavior?" How can you tell if your child is just shy, versus actually antisocial?

Jogging for Normal People: Admiting the Truth

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I've recently come to terms with the fact that I look stupid when I run.

This is something I've known for some time. I've always been tall, and lanky, and grew just fast enough that my coordination couldn't quite keep up. In grade school I played soccer, and looked so awkward that I'd occasionally hear opposing coaches mocking me from the sidelines. In high school I played basketball, and tripped on my own feet more often than I was fouled by the opposing team.

But I got older, gained some self-confidence, started to feel good about my new foray into fitness, and forgot that -- at least in motion -- I look like a jack ass.

With that in mind, there's a few points in particular during my nightly (or almost nightly) jogging vigil that I'd like to rectify with reality.

1. The bold beginning. What I think I look like: A man alone with the night. Stoically setting off into the darkness -- with poise, purpose and conviction. Like Ray Liotta emerging from the corn fields as Shoeless Joe in "Field of Dreams." What I actually look like: some unshaven, scrubby-looking dude with a weird, self-important look on his face. If he wasn't wearing yuppie running clothes that were obviously a Christmas gift you might think he was a) one of the students at the nearby college, or b) out to mug one of the students at the nearby college.

2. My first pause for breath. What I think I look like: An athlete. A warrior. A Nike/Gatorade commercial celebrating humanity's relentless drive toward excellence. What I actually look like: Someone who's just been punched in the stomach. Or someone having an asthma attack. Or a college student that's just been mugged for his iPod Nano.

3. The last push/the home stretch. What I think I look like: Pick any Rocky movie, watch the final fight sequence, and you'll know where I'm coming from. I can see myself in slow motion. I can hear the thud of landing punches as my feet smack the pavement. I'm listening to the triumphant music of heavyweight champions as I push on toward my doorstep. What I actually look like: Have you ever seen an old, wooden wheelbarrow -- full of sod, or fertilizer, or whatever -- get away from whoever was pushing it, and rumble completely out of control down a bumpy hill? Can you at least picture that? It pretty much sums it up.

No, I may never look cool while I'm running. But that doesn't mean I can't lie to myself when nobody's watching.

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Erectile Dysfunction could be life saver

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It sounds odd that a condition like erectile dysfunction could end up saving a man's life, but that is precisely what a report form the New England Research Institute concluded.

The reason? Impotence is an indicator for metabolic syndrome, which can be a precursor to full-blown diabetes and heart disease.

So, if you've been diagnosed with ED in the past or now, there may be underlying ailments possible that would be best to have investigated if at all possible.

Herbal treatment may help treat UTIs

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Urinary tract infections are common, painful, and often recurrent. That's because the bacteria that cause the infection (usually E. coli) can hide in the nearly impenetrable wall of the bladder, where there are plenty of tiny niches for bacteria to ride out the course of antibiotics against them.

New research, however, shows that forskalin -- a common herbal extract -- excites cells and forces the bacteria back out into the bladder where antibiotics can reach it or where it can be vacated via urination. Though in testing forskalin was administered by IV or needle, studies are already beginning to see if the benefit can be found by taking the herbal remedy orally.

If forskalin works -- and it did appear to flush out 75% of bacteria in the study -- it would enhance the current regimen of antibiotic drugs used to treat infections, and lower the risk of side effects and drug-resistant bacteria as well. If you have recurrent urinary tract infections, talk to your doctor before taking anything new to treat them.

Six natural ways to fight acne

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Let's face it: sometimes stress can manifest itself in embarrassing ways, like acne. Treatment options for acne can span from controversial drugs to ancient wives' tales. But here is an interesting take on six natural methods for battling that sensitive subject.

Leading the crusade against dirty pores is garlic. Whether you eat it raw or take pills, garlic can kill bacteria under the skin which causes acne. Just remember to brush your teeth. Another method that may throw us for a loop is Kombucha tea. Never heard of it? Welcome to the club. After giving it some research, this elixir seems to be the hidden fountain of youth! All that aside, this ancient beverage is believed to promote healthy skin (among a slew of other things).

A couple of other treatments include eating foods with oxalic acid (almonds, beets, cashews) and keeping your body clean from toxins. To accomplish the latter, try upping your fiber intake or grab some yogurt which contains beneficial intestinal flora. Read on to learn more on these natural remedies for acne.

Rare Hepatitis transmission in dental office

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This story scares me a little: there really wasn't anything obviously done wrong in a dentist's office here in the U.S. when a rare case of patient-to-patient Hepatitis B transmission took place.

Investigators narrowed it down to a 36 year old woman who had several teeth extracted hours before a woman who came in after her ended up infected by the time she went home. Yeah, you're thinking this was some slummy office where they don't follow universal precautions properly, but it wasn't. The investigators have no idea what went wrong, they're just guessing that a spot must have been missed in the cleaning process. After all, the Hepatitis virus can live invisibly for up to a week on a dry surface.


Track your hydration with a water log

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Whether you're a committed guzzler or swig it in moderation, whether you're a sipper or gulper, it can be tough keeping track of how much water you actually drink during the day.

To get a tap on how much water you're really drinking, keep a "water log" for a week. Keep note in your day planner or on a sticky note on the fridge. If you want to keep your count close at hand, choose a water bottle you don't mind writing on. Use a Sharpie or similar permanent marker and add a slash mark directly to the bottle every time you refill. You can also make marks on masking tape that can be peeled off at the week's end.

By the time you prep sandwiches and schedules for the following week, you'll have a good idea of how much water you drink on a daily basis. With a quick glance at your water log, you'll also know if you need to pack an extra bottle of water to keep in the car, your work bag or on your desk.

Happy hydrating!