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Blog: On Health. On Writing. On Life. On Everything.

Walking Pneumonia

September 2, 2011

Tags: order, herbs, acne, Alzheimer's, antibiotics, blindness, blister, bronchitis, cancer, cold herbs, diagnosis, GAIA herbs, GSE - Grapefruit Seed Extract, head cold, inflammation, lung, oregano, pneumonia - walking, rheumatoid arthritis, rinsing nose with saltwater, Walking Pneumonia

You are familiar with the term of "walking pneumonia", I guess. "Walking pneumonia" is unknown to other medical cultures. I always stumble over the expression. After all these years in this country, it still has the capitalistic notion to it: "Sick - but not too sick to work."

A friend adamantly denies "walking pneumonia" has to do with mean bosses who force their employees to work, whatever deplorable state they might be in. She maintains the term has been around forever, and simply discerns between one who is sick and still can walk, and one who is sick and can't get out of bed.

I can follow my friend there. BUT: Any pneumonia has inflammation in the lung tissues, and warrants treatment with antibiotics. And: We don't do this with other diseases - combining a diagnosis like "pneumonia" with a description of the state of the patient like "walking".

We make no difference between "walking cancer" and "non-walking cancer", or "walking rheumatoid arthritis" or "non-walking rheumatoid arthritis".

For me, "walking pneumonia" sounds decidedly odd. Thinking about it - and playing with it as the doctor-writer I am - also decidedly funny. Begging your pardon for poking fun of serious conditions, but they popped up:

"Limping foot blisters"
"Still mumbling Alzheimer's"
"Groping legal blindness"
"Absolutely, totally mortified acne".

If you ask me, pneumonia is pneumonia. Walking or not.

Oh, and by the way: If you have a bad head cold or a bad bronchitis, make sure they don't develop into pneumonia. Rinsing your nose with saltwater, taking extra deep breaths, quitting smoking, taking GSE (Grapefruit Seed Extract) 16 drops three times a day with lots of water, or Oregano capsules (GAIA has a reliable formula) or some herbs against colds might prevent ... pneumonia.

The Role of Your Neck in Urge Incontinence

February 21, 2011

Tags: order, Alzheimer's, bladder, childbirth, diapers – adult, food allergies, gluten intolerance, idiopathic, incontinence - urinary, inflammation - local, mitochondria, MS, multiple sclerosis, muscular strength, neck, nerve – pinched, neurogenic, observations – medical, overflow incontinence, Parkinson’s, posture, spina bifida, stress incontinence, stroke, urge incontinence, Wikipedia

As a physician I sometimes make observations that strike me as plausible – but I don’t have the wherewithal or time to scientifically check on them. Writing a blog might be one method to test an idea, and find out if others made similar observations.

So, here is my first one, pertaining to urge incontinence.

Wikipedia defines urge incontinence as “involuntary loss of urine occurring for no apparent reason while suddenly feeling the need or urge to urinate.” What really happens is the patient makes it to the stall but then goes before she has a chance to pull down her pants. Or she hears water tinkling, and tinkles herself.

The two other forms of urinary incontinence are stress incontinence and overflow incontinence. Stress incontinence comes from weak pelvic floor muscles – when you sneeze or run or laugh, you suddenly can’t hold your urine. Overflow incontinence is a constant dribbling of urine – as if the faucet can’t be shut off. All three forms are common in people of a certain age – therefore the hilarious TV ads for adult diapers. But according to my patients, incontinence is no laughing matter. People thus afflicted (women are in the majority here, probably because of what childbirth can do to one’s organs) are on the constant lookout for the nearest restroom.

The interesting part of Wikipedia’s definition of urge incontinence is “for no apparent reason.” Urge incontinence has been linked to stroke, Alzheimer’s, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s – they all can lead to urge incontinence. All are neurogenic causes (stemming from the brain and the nerves) – we lump them in one group, but still they are poorly understood. And then there is “idiopathic” urge incontinence. Idiopathic means: Doctors have no clue at all. But they think it has to do with local inflammation around the bladder.

Years ago a patient with urge incontinence told me that she could make the urge disappear (at least long enough to make it to the bathroom), if she stretched her neck. For a while I was not sure if any sudden distraction – like clapping your hands or hopping up and down – would do the same. But lately I returned to my first hypothesis, namely that the stretching of the neck works best. Because I have observed that the condition occurs more often in people with less than stellar posture, especially the ones whose head is slightly bent most of the time. Standing tall and erect, at least for a moment, seems to release the urge.

As for the mechanism – are certain spinal nerve fibers pinched when the head is bent? We need more research on that.

Poor posture is more common in people with gluten intolerance and food allergies – it seems as if they don’t have the muscular strength to keep their heads straight on their shoulders – perhaps on the basis of poorly functioning mitochondria (this is all speculation on my part; I would be happily disproved).

If urge incontinence is your problem, try this out – nod a bit, stretch your neck - and write me if it works for you! Perhaps one day a peer-reviewed study will be done.

Have You Coddled Your Hippocampus Lately?

February 2, 2011

Tags: movement, water, herbs, food, Alzheimer's, blood fats, bone loss, brain, brain function, cold – common, cold shower, cold stimulus, daylight, diabetes type II, flu, freezing temperatures, Have You Coddled Your Hippocampus Lately?, high blood pressure, hippocampus, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, ice, immune function inflexibility – mental, junk food, longevity, lunch hour, memory, menopause, metabolic syndrome, mood, mood booster, muscles, New England, obesity, osteoporosis, pebbles, plasticity – mental, Parkinson’s, PMS, snow, vitamin D, walking, weight

A recent study shows that brisk walks boost memory in older adults. And makes your hippocampus swell visibly on MRI. I bet this also applies to younger people.

The hippocampus is a worm-like structure deeply buried in your brain that is involved in memory formation. In Alzheimer, it is the part of your brain that will show the first signs of degeneration. A youthful hippocampus gives you mental plasticity, the opposite of which would be the obnoxious inflexibility that some older people show. About six to nine miles a week in this study was linked to better brain function. Walking even more did not seem to have more effect on the brain.

It comes down to walking ten minutes in one direction, turning around and walking back ten minutes, which can be done during lunch hour.

Another study showed that people who walk faster live longer. That bodes badly for me – I am a slow poke. But we can safely deduct that people who don’t walk will not make it long at all.

Walking also boost mood. If I would be a moody person (which I am not), I would do three things: go for a daily walk during daylight, end every hot shower with a cold one, and take herbal preparations – in women particularly, herbs against PMS or helping with post-menopause. Not to mention that I would turn to fresh, nourishing food and away from junk.

Walking per se is good for you. Two other studies have shown, that the effect is even better if you walk on uneven surface – like on pebbles, at a beach or in hilly terrain. Walking on pebbles decreases high blood pressure, and makes you less likely to get Parkinson’s. Using more muscles and consequently more brain can explain these results.

The most dramatic effect, I think, that daily walking can have – besides on memory, longevity, hypertension, Parkinson’s and mood – is that light boost vitamin D production under your skin – even if it is just the pale little area of your face reaping the rays. Vitamin D has become an important research focus as it wards off bone loss, cancer, multiple sclerosis and infections.

Walking will also lead to less weight and fight the dreaded metabolic syndrome (diabetes, high blood fats and hypertension) better sleep – all exercise does. And better sleep has been shown to increase overall performance, mood and resistance to infections.

In New England presently, walking the icy streets among huge snow banks is not that enticing. But I bet snow shoveling has all the above benefits, too – if you avoid hurting your back and don’t slip on the ice. At least I hope. Because I spend the morning digging out our walkway and garage driveway. At least this I know: The cold stimulus is a trigger for better immune function: Snow-shoveling in freezing temperatures improves my ability to better fend off flu and the common cold.

Smile Away?

June 13, 2010

Tags: order, Alzheimer's, gratefulness, happiness, journal writing, longevity, smile, Smile Away?

Because a recent study has shown that people who smile fully (meaning: not faking it!), live longer. Another study showed that people who find a meaning and purpose in their life, succumb less to Alzheimer’s. I hope these are good studies, adjusted to social class, income, education and such because obviously it is easier to smile if life has been good to you.

But it does not take much to smile: If you have some measure of health in your life, and have friends and/or family, you are already blessed. Take a moment each day for gratitude. Say a prayer over each piece of meat or fish that you prepare in the kitchen: An animal died so we can eat. If you have a happiness issue, write a journal every night and jot down for what you can be full of thanks.

Every morning, say hello to yourself in the mirror before you leave the house – with a smile on your face.
Aspen eyes, by Peggy Peters

Iguazu Falls, by Xin Liu

Alexa Fleckenstein M.D. 2012, by Lolita Parker jr.

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