The People's Pharmacy Radio Program Everything from home remedies to the latest breakthrough drugs are discussed on The People's Pharmacy. Pharmacologist Joe Graedon and medical anthropologist Terry Graedon talk to leading experts to discuss issues relating to drugs, herbs, home remedies, vitamins and related health topics.
The People's Pharmacy Radio Program

The People's Pharmacy Radio Program

From North Carolina Public Radio

Everything from home remedies to the latest breakthrough drugs are discussed on The People's Pharmacy. Pharmacologist Joe Graedon and medical anthropologist Terry Graedon talk to leading experts to discuss issues relating to drugs, herbs, home remedies, vitamins and related health topics.

Most Recent Episodes

Show 1327: What Have We Learned About Long COVID?

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, it seemed there were only two outcomes from an infection. Either you died (as far too many people did) or you survived and moved on. Now, physicians, researchers and a growing number of patients are coming to grips with symptoms that persist months or possibly years after the initial infection. What have we learned about long COVID? We talk with two scientists about their research initiatives. Possible Causes of Long COVID: There are so many possible symptoms of long COVID that we may eventually need to break it into multiple different conditions, for easier diagnosis and more effective treatment. Among the 200-plus symptoms that have been identified, multiple organ systems are affected. Some symptoms are related to the circulatory system, while others are neurological in nature. Some people develop symptoms of autoimmune conditions, and even autoantibodies. Many victims experience overwhelming exhaustion and post-exertional malaise similar to that reported by people suffering from myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). What do the conditions have in common? What Have We Learned About Long COVID? Scientists are collecting information on how many people end up with long COVID. They are still attempting to figure out whether certain characteristics make patients more vulnerable to persistent problems. They have found that even people who had mild or nearly asymptomatic infections can suffer from long COVID later. However, those who had severe infections or needed hospitalization appear to be at higher risk. Vaccines appear to lower the risk somewhat, possibly because they reduce the likelihood of serious infections. The National Institutes of Health are collecting information for future analysis through their RECOVER Initiative. It aims to understand the long-term implications of long COVID. How to Find Pathogens Causing Chronic Problems: Long COVID is not the first condition to appear after an acute infection. Although some infectious disease experts are skeptical, gradually many have begun to accept that ME/CFS seems to be a reaction to a viral infection. Lyme disease is another controversial topic, yet some people who have had an infection end up suffering for an extended period of time. One guest, microbiologist Amy Proal, suggests that we should not be looking for pathogens in the blood. Viruses and bacteria are far more likely to be hiding out in cells and tissues where the immune system is less likely to encounter them. One well-known example of a virus that does this is herpes. Herpes zoster can cause shingles decades after a chickenpox infection. We may need an entirely new way to think about clearing such pathogens from the body. Will What We Have Learned About Long COVID Help with Treatment? We are only at the beginning of finding treatments effective for this condition. So far, most clinics refer patients to treatment for specific symptoms. However, scientists are beginning to consider treatments like antivirals and anticoagulants. (Some of the lasting damage from COVID is thought to be due to microscopic clots and damage to the lining of blood vessels.) Other suggestions are less mainstream. For example, some physicians are stimulating the vagus nerve that connects gut and brain. Others are considering glycyrrhizin, a compound in licorice with effects on inflammation. Naltrexone, a drug that interferes with opioid activity, may help at very low doses, but no one understands exactly how. Yet another approach might include rebuilding the body's microbiota after it has been disrupted by COVID. If you have found a practice or medication that helps you with symptoms of long COVID, please leave us a comment. We're very interested in your experience and what you have learned about long COVID. This Week's Guests: Leora Horwitz, MD, is Professor in the Department of Population Health at NYU Grossman School of Medicine at NYU Langone Health. She is also Professor in the Department of Medicine at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and Director of the Division of Healthcare Delivery Science. In addition, she is Director of the Center for Healthcare Innovation and Delivery Science. Dr. Horwitz is part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health's RECOVER initiative that aims to understand the long-term impacts of COVID-19. The website is Leora Horwitz, MD, NYU Grossman School of Medicine Amy D. Proal, PhD, is a microbiologist who studies the molecular mechanisms by which bacterial, fungal and viral pathogens dysregulate human gene expression, immunity and metabolism. Dr. Proal is the founder of the PolyBio Foundation and the chief science officer and co-founder of the Long COVID Research Initiative. Listen to the Podcast: The podcast of this program will be available Monday, Jan. 23, 2023, after broadcast on Jan. 21. You can stream the show from this site and download the podcast for free. Download the mp3

Show 1326: Think Different About Alzheimer Disease

This week on our nationally syndicated radio show, we consider the causes of Alzheimer disease. For decades, one theory has dominated. It suggests that the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques found in the brains of people with dementia cause the problem. Is it time to think different about Alzheimer disease? Beta Amyloid and Alzheimer Disease: What, you may wonder, is beta amyloid and why does it accumulate in the brain? Previous scientists have found that amyloid precursor protein (APP) becomes beta amyloid when pathogens attack the brain. However, researchers have reacted in quite different ways to that information. Some have suggested that we should be looking at brain infections and ways to protect against them. The dominant approach, though, has been to try to get beta amyloid out of the brain. Drugs That Reduce Beta Amyloid Plaque: Recently, the FDA has granted accelerated approval to two separate drugs that reduce beta amyloid plaque in the brain. One is aducanumab (Aduhelm), while the most recent is lecanemab (Leqembi). Although they appear to lower the amount of plaque in the brain, researchers have not presented strong evidence that they will help patients stay out of nursing homes. In addition, each drug can cause some very serious side effects. Is it time to think different about Alzheimer disease? How to Think Different About Alzheimer Disease: Our guest is a medicinal chemist as well as a respected neurologist. He and his team are working on developing medications that could help people prevent or overcome Alzheimer disease. His biggest contribution is finding a way to think different about Alzheimer disease and beta amyloid. With all the evidence that has accumulated, it doesn't make sense to dismiss beta amyloid as unimportant. On the other hand, research efforts concentrated solely on beta amyloid have not yielded treatments that are clearly safe and effective enough for most people. Instead, Dr. Donald Weaver suggests that we should look at this compound as a desperate attempt by the brain in the throes of an autoimmune disease. Autoimmunity and the Brain: So far, we have only a hypothesis that Alzheimer disease is the result of the body attacking the brain. However, many of the factors that can contribute to dementia are the sorts of insults that can kickstart an immune response. These include things like air pollutions, infection (such as with herpes virus) and head trauma from sports, accidents or domestic violence. Dr. Weaver draws a distinction between autoimmunity related to the adaptive immune system and that linked to the innate immune system. We have many examples of the former, such as rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). We don't yet have other examples of the innate immune system attacking to cause autoimmune conditions. We'll be watching for more research. Fighting Autoimmune Disease in the Brain: Dr. Weaver and his lab hope that their research will lead to diagnostic approaches as well as therapeutics. He has been investigating the metabolism of tryptophan in the brain as a precursor of dementia and beta amyloid (Alzheimer's & Dementia, April 6, 2022). If this approach as a way to think different about Alzheimer disease pans out, it could lead to blood tests many years before cognitive symptoms appear. In addition, scientists may be able to develop drugs that can calm the cytokine storm in the brain that appears to trigger the damage (Alzheimer's & Dementia, Sep. 27, 2022). This Week's Guest: Donald Weaver, MD, PhD, is both a medicinal chemist and clinical neurologist, focused on the design and development of new therapies for Alzheimer disease and related dementias. Dr. Weaver is Senior Scientist at the Krembil Brain Institute at the University Health Network, Toronto, Canada. He is a professor of Medicine (Neurology), Chemistry, and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Toronto and a neurologist at the Toronto Western Hospital. Dr. Weaver is also Chief Medical Officer of Treventis Corporation and is the former President of Epilepsy Canada. His website is Donald Weaver, MD, PhD, Senior Scientist at the Krembil Brain Institute at the University Health Network, Toronto, Canada. Listen to the Podcast: The podcast of this program will be available Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, after broadcast on Jan. 14. You can stream the show from this site and download the podcast for free.

Show 1325: Recognizing the Ravages of Silent Inflammation

This week on our nationally syndicated radio show, our guest describes the causes and consequences of silent inflammation. Usually, inflammation (redness, swelling, heat, pain) is a tool the immune system uses to fight infection. But what happens when it gets out of control? The Dangers of Silent Inflammation: A number of factors might help explain how an immune system creating acute inflammation in response to infection might not be able to calm itself afterwards. Viruses or bacteria can trigger a cytokine storm that may throw the body out of balance. Air and water pollution or exposure to chemicals in common products such as fast food packaging may also encourage this trend. In addition, our modern American lifestyle, with too little physical activity and too much ultra-processed foods, probably contributes. What can we do to recognize and counteract this problem? Recognizing the Ravages of Silent Inflammation: Our guest, Dr. Shilpa Ravella, shares a story about a close friend from medical school who suddenly developed an alarming condition. He ultimately became unable to hold up his head and required a brace from his waist to his skull. Doctors had difficulty diagnosing the problem, which was eventually declared an atypical autoimmune disease. It seems he was the victim of an especially vicious case of silent inflammation. Chronic Conditions Linked to Inflammation: Although the story focused on a very unusual case, hidden, lingering inflammation is at the root of many of our most common chronic conditions. When the lining of blood vessels (endothelium) becomes inflamed, the consequence can be cardiovascular complications, including heart disease and stroke. Statins may benefit heart patients partly because they reduce inflammation. When our digestive tracts become chronically inflamed, the results can be devastating...from irritable bowel syndrome to inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. In the brain, inflammation may contribute to dementia. The Role of Diet: The microbes that populate our digestive tracts are in a constant, intimate conversation with the immune system cells that surround it. Consequently, our dietary choices are critical. Maintaining a healthy and diverse microbiota is key to keeping inflammation under control. An American diet full of meat and ultra-processed foods leads to an impoverished microbiota. Investigators demonstrated this when they had two groups of people swap diets for two weeks. When people from Pittsburgh ate the kind of food popular in South Africa, full of whole grains and vegetables, they increased their microbial diversity. On the other hand, the South Africans who consumed burgers and French fries, among other foods, for two weeks ended up with less diverse microbes. Scientists are still exploring how this affects silent inflammation. Most agree, though, that a diet consisting mostly of whole foods, as unprocessed as possible, rich in fiber, offers significant advantages. Controlling Silent Inflammation: Doctors don't often test for silent inflammation because it is difficult to measure. However, cardiologists may test for high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), a way of assessing how inflammation may be affecting the blood vessels and the heart. Other red flags include belly fat. This indicates visceral fat that acts to ramp up inflammation in many cases. Another clue: high blood sugar. When the pancreas isn't able to produce enough insulin to lower circulating glucose, it is often a signal that it is struggling with inflammation. This Week's Guest: Shilpa Ravella, MD, is a transplant gastroenterologist with expertise in nutrition and an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Digestive and Liver Diseases at Columbia University Medical Center. Her TED-Ed lesson, 'How the Food You Eat Affects Your Gut,' has garnered over five million views. Dr. Ravella is the author of A Silent Fire: The Story of Inflammation, Diet, and Disease. Her website is: The photograph of Dr. Ravella is copyright Anshul Mathur. Listen to the Podcast: The podcast of this program will be available Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, after broadcast on Jan. 7. You can stream the show from this site and download the podcast for free. Download the mp3

Show 1262: How to Manage Your Anxiety (Archive)

More than two years of living through a pandemic has really increased anxiety for a lot of people. If we define anxiety as worry or unease about an imminent event with an uncertain outcome, it's easy to see why. However, it really isn't healthy to feel anxious all the time, even when outcomes are uncertain. Anxiety started rising even before the start of 2020, though. Anxiety as a Survival Tactic: Evolution gave us the ability to remember where food is, so we can find it, and where danger is, so we can avoid it. But the cerebral cortex, which is presumably more recently evolved, tries to overcome uncertainty by hunting for additional information. We could lean into uncertainty, especially where it is likely. However, sometimes we start to obsess on worst-case scenarios instead. Rather than helping you manage your anxiety, that could make it worse. Identifying Chronic Anxiety: Our guest tells the story of developing irritable bowel syndrome in college. He couldn't imagine that it was due to anxiety until after several other types of treatments failed to resolve the symptoms. In addition, anxiety hides in our habits as well as in our bodies. Habits like overeating or alcohol misuse can be ways that we try to manage our anxiety. In fact, sometimes anxiety itself can become a habit. We may use it as a way to try to deal with anxiety, but unfortunately it isn't any more effective than eating or drinking too much. What You Can Do to Manage Your Anxiety: Do you like to hope for the best and plan for the worst? A lot of us do, but we need to make sure that we truly are planning and not just worrying. Going over something for the fifth or sixth time is not really helpful. Instead, it's a sign of anxiety. Three Gears to Help You Manage Your Anxiety: Habit loops can be hard to identify. But once you are able to spot how the trigger is driving your behavior, you can see the result. That identification is the first gear. The second gear is to change the value of the reward that results from the behavior. One person who found that he was stress-eating realized that it wasn't helping his anxiety. That helped him stopped. The question to ask: what am I getting from this? The third gear is to find something that has a higher reward value. Dr. Brewer looks for a bigger better offer (BBO) for the brain. BBOs often involve either curiosity or kindness. In addition to helping overcome anxiety-driven habits, these tools can help us improve our relationships as well. Instead of self-judgment, imagine trying kindness towards yourself. Mindfulness Apps Can Help Manage Your Anxiety: Dr. Brewer's research lab has created a couple of mindfulness apps that are very helpful in breaking anxiety-driven habit loops. One is designed to help with stress eating: Eat Right Now. The other is Unwinding Anxiety. Once you've listened to the show, you'll know exactly what that one is for. This Week's Guest: Dr. Judson Brewer is an internationally renowned addiction psychiatrist and neuroscientist. He is an associate professor in the School of Public Health, and Medical School at Brown University. His 2016 TED talk, "A Simple Way to Break a Bad Habit," has been viewed over 16 million times. He has trained Olympic athletes and coaches, government ministers and business leaders. Dr. Brewer is the author of The Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love – Why We Get Hooked and How We Can Break Bad Habits, and his latest book is Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind. Listen to the Podcast: The podcast of this program will be available Monday, January 2, 2023, after broadcast on Dec. 31. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. In the podcast, Dr. Brewer explains why we can't count on willpower. You didn't hear that on the radio. Download the free mp3

Show 1212: Should You Worry About Forever Chemicals?

Virtually everyone in the US has been exposed to PFAS chemicals. That stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances found in fire-fighting foam, nonstick coatings, food packaging and waterproofing or stain resistant chemicals used on clothing, furniture and carpets. Pesticides are also an important source. These are also referred to as "forever chemicals" because they persist in the environment for so long. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) announced on June 15, 2022, that you should worry about PFAS chemicals. These compounds end up in the air we breathe, the dust in our homes, the food we eat and the water we drink. They are suspected of disrupting our hormones as well as negatively affecting many other health systems in our bodies. Limiting PFAS in Drinking Water: The EPA is expected to set standards soon limiting the amount of forever chemicals in drinking water. An analysis by the Waterkeeper Alliance this year found PFAS in 83 percent of the waterways analyzed. With such broad exposure, more than 98 percent of Americans have detectable levels in their blood. The EPA will propose standards for only two of these compounds, PFOA and PFOS. People who live on or near military bases, where firefighting foams are used in training, and those near chemical plants are highly exposed, but most of the rest of us have also been exposed to PFAS. These chemicals may disrupt hormones. In addition, scientists have linked PFAS exposure to kidney and testicular cancer, pregnancy-induced hypertension, thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis and high cholesterol. The compounds are difficult to remove and will require water treatment plants to invest in new technologies. Two major manufacturers, 3M and Monsanto, have recently announced intentions to stop making PFAS compounds in the future. Even then, however, reducing exposure will be an ongoing challenge that will probably take years to achieve. PFAS in Your Home? Where would you find forever chemicals in your house or your car? Let's start with carpets, furniture and mattress pads. Remember, PFAS compounds are great at resisting stains. As a result, many fabrics get treated with these chemicals to make life "easier." Some clothing, shoes and boots are treated with water and stain-resistant PFAS products. There are nonstick frying pans that contain forever chemicals. Certain products are advertised as being PFOA- or Teflon-free. But there are thousands of PFAS chemicals. Companies can substitute compounds that are not on a hit list, but that does not mean they are PFAS-free. The FDA points out that: "Certain PFAS are also intentionally added as ingredients in some cosmetic products, including lotions, cleansers, nail polish, shaving cream, foundation, lipstick, eyeliner, eyeshadow, and mascara. These PFAS are used in cosmetics to condition and smooth the skin, making it appear shiny, or to affect product consistency and texture." PFAS in Your Tap Water? The EPA announced this week that forever chemicals are more dangerous than scientists once believed. In particular, PFOA and PFOS levels in drinking water could have negative health consequences even at very low levels. Scientists are warning that such compounds could impact the immune system as well as the cardiovascular system. That brings us to a new study suggesting that forever chemicals could have an impact on blood pressure. PFAS and Hypertension: A new study (Hypertension, June 13, 2022) reveals a connection between high levels of PFAS chemicals and high blood pressure in women. More than 1,000 middle-aged women participated in the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN) for 20 years. Those with the highest levels of PFAS compounds in their blood stream were at greatest risk for hypertension. The conclusions of the study: "Several PFAS showed positive associations with incident hypertension. These findings suggest that PFAS might be an underappreciated contributing factor to women's cardiovascular disease risk." The senior author goes on to emphasize: "We hope that these findings alert clinicians about the importance of PFAS and that they need to understand and recognize PFAS as an important potential risk factor for blood pressure control." National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences: One of the Institutes under the umbrella of the US National Institutes of Health studies whether man-made compounds in our environment have deleterious effects on our health. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences strives to understand how the environment affects human disease so that it can promote human health. Until her recent retirement, Dr. Linda Birnbaum directed the NIEHS. We interviewed Dr. Birnbaum about PFAS chemicals for our syndicated public radio show. Here are some of the things we discussed. Does Dose Matter? The sixteenth-century alchemist Paracelsus famously said, "Solely the dose determines that a thing is not a poison." In most cases we are familiar with in everyday life, a lower dose of a dangerous compound might be less dangerous. Is that true for the PFAs, or could they still cause trouble even at low levels? Other Compounds in Our Daily Lives: Scientists have studied one chemical very well. Bisphenol A was first synthesized more than a hundred years ago. Its estrogenic activity was noted in the 1930s. But it wasn't until about three decades ago that scientists realized the BPA used in hard clear plastics like laboratory flasks and baby bottles was leaching into the foods and liquids in these containers. Because it can mimic estrogen, it has the potential to disrupt the balance and activity of hormones in the human body. Consumer alarm has led many manufacturers to replace BPA in their polycarbonate containers with other compounds. Are they any safer? The Precautionary Principle: Many European countries utilize the precautionary principle when regulating manmade compounds. Manufacturers are expected to demonstrate that a compound is actually safe before large groups of people are exposed. In the US, on the other hand, scientists or the government have to demonstrate that a compound is harmful before it is regulated. Other Compounds of Concern: Toxicologists are examining other agents beyond BPA and the forever chemicals. They have been debating the safety of the herbicide glyphosate (known by its trade name Roundup). An insecticide known as chlorpyrifos has also generated controversy. How do scientists assess the benefits and harms of such chemicals? Our Guest Expert: Linda S. Birnbaum, Ph.D., D.A.B.T., A.T.S, is Scientist Emeritus (Retired) and Former Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program. In addition, Dr. Birnbaum served previously as president of the Society of Toxicology. She was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 2010. Listen to the Podcast: The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. We interviewed Dr. Birnbaum again several weeks ago along with a reporter from Consumer Reports. You will be surprised to learn that PFAS chemicals are also found in lots of food packaging! Here is a link to Show 1301. Download the mp3 for Show 1212

Show 1284: The Book of Hope–A Survival Guide for Trying Times (Archive)

Jane Goodall is an eminent naturalist who spent years studying chimpanzees in their natural habitat. It was she who first reported that we humans are not the only primates to make and use tools. She transformed our understanding of these animals. Now she is an elder stateswoman speaking out for action to help reverse climate change. Over the last few years, she and author Doug Abrams had in-depth conversations about her reasons for hope that we can act in time. The Book of Hope: Jane Goodall warns that we should not confuse hope with wishful thinking. Turning to fantasy won't help, nor will wallowing in fear. But with hope, we can identify realistic goals and a possible pathway to reach them. We also need confidence and social support. According to Jane Goodall, hope is a survival trait. It is also a social gift. Four Reasons for Hope: The Book of Hope explores in depth the four reasons that Jane Goodall holds up for hope that we can make change in time. They include the amazing human intellect that could be deployed in the service of positive change. She also sees the resilience of nature, the power of young people and the indomitable human spirit as factors that can help us. When we combine the powers of head and heart, we end up with wisdom. Eco-grief is essential to allow us to process our pain and motivate action. When we rise to our human potential, we can look to a future that is better than the present. What we are learning now is crucial to allow us to face our challenges with grit and courage. Both the book and the conversation are uplifting. This Week's Guest: Douglas Abrams is co-author of the New York Times bestseller, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, with the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. His latest book, co-authored with Jane Goodall, is The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times. Douglas is also the founder and president of Idea Architects, a literary agency and media development company helping visionaries to create a wiser, healthier, and more just world. The photo of Mr. Abrams is by Dina Scoppettone. Listen to the Podcast: The podcast of this program will be available Monday, Dec. 26, 2022, after broadcast on Dec. 24. You can stream the show from this site and download the podcast for free. Download the mp3

Show 1284: The Book of Hope–A Survival Guide for Trying Times (Archive)

Show 1324: The Hidden Epidemic of Eating Disorders

This week on our nationally syndicated radio show, our guest has been recognized internationally for her work on overcoming eating disorders. There are several different types of eating disorders, and they are far more common than most people realize. With so much emotion surrounding food and body image, you might have a hard time understanding how to help someone suffering from this hidden epidemic. Types of Eating Disorders: Dr. Cindy Bulik points out five types of eating disorders that have been recognized. The first is known as anorexia nervosa, a condition in which a person has a distorted body image and does not eat enough to maintain good health. Another is bulimia nervosa, in which a person may eat excessively with compensatory mechanisms such as exercise, vomiting or laxative use. The third, binge eating, consists of excessive intake without compensatory mechanisms. The fourth, ARFID (avoidant restrictive food intake disorder), is similar to an extreme form of picky eating. Finally, "atypical anorexia" is inadequate food intake by a person with a larger body. The New York Times article, "You don't look anorexic," offers an excellent example of this disorder. All eating disorders are dangerous, but this last "atypical" form may be especially insidious. Recognizing Eating Disorders: Part of the reason eating disorders have remained a hidden epidemic to a large extent is that you cannot tell by looking at someone if they are suffering. A teenager may simply refuse to eat with the family and layer on clothing so that it is hard to see just how much weight they are losing. In addition, a person in a larger body who is starving themself may encounter bias against overweight that keeps health professionals and family members from appreciating their distress. What Causes Eating Disorders? Researchers still have many questions about the causes of eating disorders. They have, however, learned some important things about this hidden epidemic. First, such a condition NOT a choice, not any more than asthma or type 1 diabetes is a choice. Second, and perhaps equally important, families do not cause eating disorders. In fact, the best evidence-based treatments incorporate the entire family, not just the patient. Moreover, people can suffer from such a problem at any life stage. That is part of what makes this a hidden epidemic. An Important Role for Genes: Scientists who have studied the role of genes in this hidden epidemic have discovered, to their surprise, that several eating disorders are correlated with metabolic conditions. A genome-wide association study found that people prone to anorexia nervosa have genes that lower their risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity. The investigators propose that such disorders should be classified not as purely psychiatric syndromes, but as metabo-psychiatric conditions. Dr. Bulik conceptualizes the role of genes as two suits in a pack of cards. Clubs might perhaps represent the genes that make people more vulnerable to abnormal eating patterns. There are other genes that can help buffer that risk, however. Imagine them as the spades. Environmental factors are also critical. In your hypothetical card deck, diamonds could be environmental factors that tend to tip a person in the direction of abnormal food intake. But there are also the hearts, the environmental factors that seem to be protective. Overcoming Eating Disorders: People in different cultures perceive these conditions in different ways. In Sweden, for example, people are far more open about their own experience with eating disorders. They are far more likely to imagine that sharing their experience could contribute to the global good. We don't have medications to prescribe for curing these conditions. Instead, the most effective treatments are rooted in the patient's social context. For children, family-based treatment is most effective. For adults, therapists turn to couple-based treatment. Dr. Bulik urges family members and friends to remember that recovery is not linear. Instead, it may be more like a roller coaster, with plenty of ups and downs. It is important to keep supporting the person and remember not to make any comments about shape or weight. Stick to letting them know how pleased you are to see them. Show an interest in the other aspects of their life. The most important thing to keep in mind is that recovery is possible. Don't give up. This Week's Guest: Cynthia Bulik, PhD, FAED, is a Distinguished Professor of Eating Disorders and Founding Director of the University of North Carolina Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders and Professor of Nutrition at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. She is also Professor in the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, where she directs the Center for Eating Disorders Innovation. In June 2022, Professor Bulik received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Academy for Eating Disorders in recognition of her pioneering contributions to the field of eating disorders. Professor Bulik is the author of several books, including Binge Control: A Compact Recovery Guide and Midlife Eating Disorders: Your Journey to Recovery. Look for them at Listen to the Podcast: The podcast of this program will be available Monday, Dec. 19, 2022, after broadcast on Dec. 17. You can stream the show from this site and download the podcast for free. Download the mp3

Show 1298: The Health Benefits of Tart Cherries (Archive)

In our nationally syndicated radio show this week, we talk with two scientists who have been studying how eating cherries affects our physiology. Both are experts in sports medicine who have done some intriguing research that may convince you to include tart cherries in your diet. Tart Cherries for Precovery: First we speak with Dr. Malachy McHugh about the concept of "precovery." His studies have shown that consuming 50 to 100 cherries or the equivalent in juice prior to strenuous exercise such as a long run speeds muscle recovery. In addition, there is evidence that cherry consumption lowers systemic inflammation and uric acid. Reduced uric acid means that a person is less prone to the painful joint inflammation called gout. Clinical trials on this effect are sparse, however. A British research group has published a protocol for a randomized controlled trial of tart cherry juice against gout (BMJ Open, March 15, 2020). However, they have not yet published results. Tart Cherries for Cognition: One of Dr. McHugh's colleagues, a British exercise physiologist, wondered whether the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of cherries would boost brain power. Dr. Glyn Howatson and his co-investigators recruited 50 middle-aged people and assigned them randomly to Montmorency cherry concentrate or cherry-flavored placebo. The volunteers performed computerized tests before and after the three-month trial. The researchers also measured their cerebral blood flow and analyzed blood samples (British Journal of Nutrition, Feb. 2022). People getting the cherry concentrate were more alert and accurate. They also reported less mental fatigue than those on placebo. The researchers detected different amino acids in the blood of those supplemented with tart cherries. They also noted: "the ability to improve sustained attention during times of high cognitive demand..." The dose in this study was 30 ml of concentrate (two tablespoons) twice a day. That's the equivalent of 90 fresh cherries. Dr. Howatson notes that tart cherries are not the only source of beneficial phytonutrients. Other foods, such as high-flavanol cocoa extract, also show benefit. This Week's Guests: Dr. Malachy McHugh has been the Director of Research at the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma (NISMAT) at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City since 1999. He leads a multidisciplinary research team including orthopaedic surgeons, physical therapists, exercise physiologists, nutritionists, biomechanists, medical engineers and athletic trainers. You can read his recent research on cherry juice and exercise recovery here: The photo is of Dr. McHugh. Professor Glyn Howatson is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES). He is on the Editorial Board for the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports and the European Journal of Sport Sciences. His research interests predominantly lie in the optimization of human performance where he focuses efforts on understanding the stress-recovery-adaptation continuum using training and nutritional interventions to manipulate human physiology. You will find his recent study here: Listen to the Podcast: The podcast of this program will be available Monday, December 12, 2022, after broadcast on December 10. You can stream the show from this site and download the podcast for free. Download the mp3

Show 1323: Practicing Compassion as a Wonder Drug

This week on our nationally syndicated radio show, we talk with one of the authors of Wonder Drug: 7 scientifically proven ways that serving others is the best medicine for yourself. A self-proclaimed data nerd, Dr. Steve Trzeciak and his coauthor were charged with improving performance and patient satisfaction for a large hospital. The consultants they brought in said that their healthcare personnel needed to practice compassion to accomplish those goals. To get their doctors to acknowledge that compassion is not just the nurses' job, they collected and examined reams of data. Their conclusion: compassion is powerful and heals not only the person on the receiving end, but those who offer it at least as much. Practicing Compassion: Human connection is the basis for rewarding interactions. Practicing compassion requires us to recognize another person's emotional state and to do what we can to alleviate their distress. In other words, empathy plus action equals compassion. It's no surprise that people who receive compassionate care are less anxious and more satisfied with it. What is somewhat unexpected is that large amount of evidence showing that people practicing compassion are less prone to burnout and more likely to exhibit both physical and mental health. As Dr. Trzeciak notes, relationships are the key to resilience. Motivation Matters: Numerous mechanisms explain how serving others can help us feel better ourselves. Altruistic behaviors activate the reward center in our brain and trigger the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine or endorphins. It fine-tunes the nervous system, so that the parasympathetic system wins out over the sympathetic fight-or-flight system. Taking care of someone else helps to reduce our own stress response and changes our gene expression to lower chronic inflammation. But if you take your action primarily to reap the benefits for yourself, your brain knows the difference. You won't get those benefits. Giving is not transactional, but transformational. That is why Dr. Trzeciak talks about people who live to give rather than those who give to take. Emotional Uplift from Observing People Practicing Compassion: When we observe an act of kindness, it gives us an emotional uplift that scientists call "elevation." The power of serving others could generate joy in the server, gratitude in the receiver and elevation in observers. Those are more positive and healthier emotions than the anxiety and distrust so prevalent in too many workplaces. This Week's Guest: Stephen Trzeciak, MD, MPH, is a physician scientist, professor and chair of medicine at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, and the chief of medicine at Cooper University Health Care in Camden, New Jersey. Dr. Trzeciak is a practicing intensivist and a NIH-funded clinical researcher with more than 120 publications in scientific journals. Dr. Trzeciak is the author of Compassionomics: The Revolutionary Scientific Evidence That Caring Makes a Difference, and his latest book, Wonder Drug: 7 Scientifically Proven Ways that Serving Others is the Best Medicine for Yourself (with Anthony Mazzarelli, MD). The photo is by Jonathan Kolbe. Listen to the Podcast: The podcast of this program will be available Monday, Dec. 5, 2022, after broadcast on Dec. 3. You can stream the show from this site and download the podcast for free. Download the mp3

Show 1322: Herbs for Healing and Optimal Wellness

This week on our nationally syndicated radio show, we talk with two physicians who have looked closely at the research on using herbs for healing. Sometimes, people dismiss the medicines we can find in plants as old wives' tales or silly home remedies. Increasingly, however, scientists are confirming that certain herbs can be very helpful to overcome chronic illness and improve wellness. Herbs for Healing: Culinary herbs like rosemary and thyme give our food flavor. But they can also do much more. In fact, use of such herbs might help account for the renowned health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Dr. Tieraona Low Dog describes how she uses herbs for healing. What are the differences between herbs and spices? In general, when people talk about herbs, they are describing plants from temperate zones. We generally use the leaves both for cooking and for healing. Spices more often come from the tropics and subtropics. Frequently they are parts of the plant like seeds, bark (cinnamon) or roots and rhizomes (ginger and turmeric). Researchers have studied turmeric and its main constituent curcumin extensively. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and has been used to improve memory and mood and to fight off cancer. In certain studies, turmeric is more effective than NSAIDs in easing the pain for knee arthritis. Rosemary and Thyme: Might consuming rosemary be linked to longevity? Some doctors think so. Studies are confirming what people discovered by experience long ago: Rosemary has beneficial effects on memory and cognition. Moreover, it has powerful anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects and may be used to combat H. pylori stomach infections. Like rosemary, thyme has antimicrobial effects. It is often used to help fight infection. In addition, it appears to help disrupt biofilms and can be useful against coughs. Dr. Low Dog advocates making your own thyme-based cough syrup to help ease the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections. Saffron Has Multiple Uses for Optimal Wellness: Saffron is another famous Mediterranean spice. It consists of the stigma of a domesticated crocus. Research suggests that it may be effective in treating depression and anxiety. In addition, scientists are exploring its possible use against certain types of cancer. Dr. Low Dog summarizes research on its use against metabolic syndrome and to treat the deleterious sexual effects of menopause. Some studies indicate that it may slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration. Another spice, cinnamon, also has multiple uses. It has anti-inflammatory activity that may be particularly helpful to treat menstrual pain and nausea. It is better known for its impact on blood sugar and triglycerides. There are several different types of cinnamon, and people who plan to use it regularly should learn about them. Cinnamomum verum, or Ceylon cinnamon, is safer than the more common cassia cinnamon we usually find in grocery stores. That's because it is free of the coumarin that cassia cinnamon may contain. This compound can be toxic to the liver. Boosting Cellular Wellness with Herbs for Healing: Our second guest, Dr. Bill Rawls, describes how herbs can help promote wellness at the cellular level. We should not expect quick results from this approach, but the benefits can be long-lasting and side effects are rare. It seems likely that many chronic illnesses are linked to dormant infectious agents. Conditions such as chronic Lyme disease or long COVID can be difficult to identify and even more challenging to treat effectively. However, restoring wellness at the cellular level can help bolster our body's natural defenses. That's why Dr. Rawls advocates using herbs for healing. Adaptogens as Herbs for Healing: You may not be familiar with some of the herbs that Dr. Rawls recommends. Nonetheless, scientific studies support the use of these herbs for healing. Adaptogens such as Rhodiola, reishi and shilojit can help overcome the consequences of chronic stress. He illustrates how they work synergistically for optimal cellular wellness. This Week's Guests: Tieraona Low Dog, MD, is a founding member of the American Board of Physician Specialties, American Board of Integrative Medicine and the Academy of Women's Health. She was elected Chair of the US Pharmacopeia Dietary Supplements/Botanicals Expert Committee and was appointed to the Scientific Advisory Council for the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Her books include: Women's Health in Complementary and Integrative Medicine; Life Is Your Best Medicine and Fortify Your Life: Your Guide to Vitamins, Minerals and More. Dr. Low Dog's eBooks include Healing Heartburn Naturally and Spices that Heal. Physical copies are available for purchase via Amazon: Click here. Her websites are and Dr. Bill Rawls discusses post-COVID syndrome As a 4th-generation physician, Bill Rawls, MD has dedicated his life to medicine. But when faced with a personal health crisis in his late forties with Lyme disease, everything changed. In his quest to regain his health, Dr. Rawls was confronted with the limitations of conventional medicine and knew he had to find his own path to restore wellness. For the past 15 years, he has extensively studied the science behind herbal therapies and new sustainable approaches for protecting health. His website is Dr. Rawls is the author of Unlocking Lyme: Myths, Truths, and Practical Solutions for Chronic Lyme Disease, and his most recent book, The Cellular Wellness Solution: Tap into Your Full Health Potential with the Science-Backed Power of Herbs. Listen to the Podcast: The podcast of this program will be available Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, after broadcast on Nov. 26. You can stream the show from this site and download the podcast for free. Download the mp3