Thursday, February 17, 2011

Zinc may help fight the common cold afterall!

A new review of previous studies on the effectiveness of zinc has been released. The review was performed by the Cochrane Collaboration. The most important part of this review, in their own words, is that "zinc supplementation for at least five months reduces incidence, school absenteeism and prescription of antibiotics for children with the common cold."

In addition to zinc, taking vitamins such as Vitamin C and Vitamin D have been shown to help fight the common cold. Various supplements, such as echinacea and probiotics, can help keep you healthy as well. Some of these will have side effects if taken inappropriately, so make sure to do your homework and talk to your doctor before starting any regiment of vitamins or supplements.

Still, there are some basic strategies that must be followed to ensure your immune system is running efficiently. First, be sure to get consistant sleep. There are some studies that say you need 8 hours of sleep, others state only 6 hours are needed. The important aspect of sleep is getting to bed at roughly the same time and getting up at the same in and day out! Also, diet plays a crucial role in immunity. Make sure to eat fresh foods, particularly fruits and dark green veggies. Stay away from processed and fast foods. These foods will simply stress your immune system, making you more susceptible to viruses. Instead, try to eat lean meats and fresh-water fish. As always, make sure to drink plenty of water!

With flu-season still upon us, be sure to wash your hands frequently and cover your mouth when coughing! These are just a few tips for staying healthy through the cold winter months!

If you would like more information about the zinc review, please follow this link:

If you have any further questions about how to keep yourself healthy this year, please call our office at (847) 673-6600 or visit us on the web at

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Do Your Meds Have Side Effects?

I was talking to my mother the other day about a relative who suffers from chronic heart disease. This relative is on numerous medications for such things as high blood pressure and cholesterol. This is certainly understandable as many prescription medications on the market today have been shown to greatly reduce risks associated with such conditions as heart disease. However, every medication has a price. The price for my relative was unbearable muscle soreness. After consulting his physician, the medication was changed. The surprising fact is that his medication wasn't changed because of the muscle pain, but rather his physician told him that the medication causing his pain may not be very effective at treating heart disease (more on that later).

Most patients who suffer from heart disease are most certainly on a medication to lower cholesterol. The leading class of these drugs are referred to as statin drugs. It is well accepted that statin drugs do a terrific job in lowering LDL levels (bad cholesterol) in individuals. What often is not addressed are the serious side effects that can go along with statin drugs. Besides for muscle pains like my relative experienced, side effects include liver damage, digestive problems and neurological side effects. If a person is aware that these side effects can occur, they will not be caught off-guard when they experience them.

Back to my relative coming off of his statin drug. I researched the particular drug and found that some studies have indicated that it shows no benefit to either lowering cholesterol or preventing heart disease. I simply wonder why this drug is being prescribed at the large amounts it is without proof of its effectiveness? I think that drugs like these that have the potential for serious side effects must be shown without a shadow of doubt to be beneficial to patients. If that benefit cannot be substantiated, then they should be pulled off the market. At the very least, doctors prescribing these drugs should have a high standard for the medications their patients receive.

I am not suggesting to avoid drugs such as statin drugs, but do educate yourself and have a conversation with your doctor. Along with your physician, decide on the appropriate way to treat you condition(s). Sometimes this decision may be to do nothing at all, and that's ok. The general perception is that todays drugs make us healthier and, while many have life-changing benefits, that may not always be the case.

If you have any questions about this topic, please feel free to call our office at (847) 673-6600. As always, check us out at!