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.More from The People's Pharmacy Radio Program »

Most Recent Episodes

Show 1134: Can You Control Your Blood Pressure Without Drugs?

High blood pressure is an important risk factor for heart attacks and strokes. A recent change in guidelines urges doctors to treat people whose blood pressure would not have been considered particularly high a few years ago. (Here is a link to the guidelines, published in March 2018.) Most of the time, that treatment consists of prescription medications, all of which have some potential side effects. Is there a different way? The European Society of Cardiology and European Society of Hypertension have just published their new guidelines. Unlike the American medical societies, the Europeans declined to lower the threshold for treatment. It remains at 140/90 for most patients. The Relaxation Response: One approach that works very well for some people with hypertension is termed the relaxation response. Though it requires regular practice, people who use it can often control their blood pressure without medication. If they need medicine, they may be able to take less. What is the relaxation response, and how can you benefit? Sitting in a Sauna: In Finland, many people use a sauna bath as part of their routine. It even fits into their social life. Research reveals that regular sauna use can help lower blood pressure. Would that work for you? This Week's Guests: Dr. Katy Bell is an National Health and Medical Research Council Senior Research Fellow in Public Health in the School of Public Health at The University of Sydney School of Medicine. That is in Sydney, Australia. Her website is here. Her article on the benefits and harms of the 2017 US guidelines for blood pressure was published in JAMA Internal Medicine (June 2018). Randall Zusman, MD, is the Director of the Division of Hypertension at Massachusetts General Hospital's Corrigan Minehan Heart Center and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. The telephone number for the Benson-Henry Mind Body Institute that offers relaxation response training is 617-643-6090. His article on changes in gene expression resulting from the relaxation response was published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, May 2018. (The ScienceDaily report on this research is here.) His previous study on the effectiveness of the relaxation response was published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in March 2008. Jari Laukkanen, MD, PhD, is a cardiologist and head of the Department of Medicine at the University of Eastern Finland and Central Finland Health Care District. His research on sauna bathing and high blood pressure was published in the American Journal of Hypertension in November, 2017. The research on sauna reducing the risks of Alzheimer disease was published in Age and Ageing in March, 2017. His recent review of the health effects of sauna bathing was published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings (August 2018). https://twitter.com/laukkanenjari?lang=fi https://twitter.com/saunastudies Listen to the Podcast: The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99. Buy the CD Download the mp3

Show 1100: What Is the Story on Celiac Disease? (Archive)

At one time, doctors believed that celiac disease was extremely rare, that the few children who had it would outgrow it and that the symptoms were primarily digestive. We now know that none of these axioms are true and the story on celiac disease is different. What is it now, and why does it matter? What Is the Story on Celiac Disease? Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which the body's reaction to the protein in gluten damages the digestive tract. This disorder is far more common than doctors once thought. According to current statistics, as many as 1 person in 120 or 140 has celiac disease. Since susceptibility is partly determined by genetics, people with a family member who has celiac disease are consequently at much higher risk of the disorder. Celiac disease can cause gastrointestinal symptoms, but it also damages numerous other body systems. An inability to absorb vitamins and minerals can result in nutritional deficiencies that may affect the blood, bones, brain or skin. Anyone with severe anemia or unexpected osteoporosis should be tested for this condition. How Do You Know If You Have Celiac Disease? This is not a disorder that lends itself to self-diagnosis. Blood tests can give a strong indication, though they are not entirely foolproof. A biopsy of the small intestine is the gold standard for diagnosis. It is very important that anyone who suspects they might have celiac disease NOT start immediately on a gluten-free diet, as that could interfere with the accuracy of the diagnostic tests. You need to get the true story on celiac disease without distortion. How Is Celiac Disease Treated? The only treatment currently is complete gluten avoidance. Unfortunately, this is much easier said than done. Wheat, barley and rye all contain gluten. These grains (especially wheat) are found in a surprisingly large number of processed foods, sometimes as texturized vegetable protein. At the same time, people following a gluten-free diet may need to make a special effort to get all the nutrients they need in addition to shunning gluten. Should Others Follow a Gluten Free Diet? As it happens, the question of non-celiac gluten sensitivity is quite controversial. After ruling out a celiac disease diagnosis, some people still feel better if they skip wheat and other gluten-containing foods. By following a diet focused on whole foods, especially vegetables and meats, which are naturally gluten free, such individuals can get a balance of nutrients. This Week's Guest: Joseph A. Murray, MD, is a gastroenterologist in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. He is also Professor of Medicine there, and runs the celiac disease research program. It focuses on epidemiology and complications of celiac disease and mouse models of gluten sensitivity. Dr. Murray is the section editor for Gastroenterology for the Mayo Clinic Proceedings. He serves as a consultant to several companies and has broad experience with clinical trials. His book is: Mayo Clinic Going Gluten Free: Essential Guide to Managing Celiac Disease and Other Gluten-Related Conditions. Listen to the Podcast: The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99. Buy the CD Download the mp3

Show 1133: How Can You Overcome Migraine Headaches?

Nearly 40 million Americans know the nausea and throbbing pain of migraine headaches. This debilitating condition that can create one-sided head pain may make it difficult or impossible to carry on with work or everyday tasks. How Can You Prevent Migraine Headaches? There are drugs that can be used to treat migraine headaches, but the FDA recently approved the first drug specifically to prevent them. What should you know about Aimovig, the brand name for erenumab? How does it work? We'll also discuss price and whether insurance companies are likely to pay for it. What Should You Know About Migraine Headaches? Our guest expert describes the range of symptoms that can accompany migraine headaches. Find out about triggers such as chocolate or a change in the weather. Medications for Migraines: What are the medications used to treat migraines? We discuss their effectiveness and the limits on how often they can be used. What else can you do to prevent the onset of a migraine? Treating Cluster Headaches: In addition, we discuss another variety of excruciating headache called a cluster headache. How do these differ from migraine headaches and what is the best way to treat them? This Week's Guest: Jennifer S. Kriegler, MD, is director of the Headache Medicine Fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic. She is part of the Center for Neurological Restoration and the Headache Section of the Neurological Institute in the Department of Neurology of the Cleveland Clinic. Listen to the Podcast: The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99. Buy the CD

Show 1132: Are Infections to Blame for Alzheimer Disease?

With nearly six million Americans living with Alzheimer disease, this condition is a serious public health problem. It robs people of their memories, their ability to function independently and even their very identities. When Alois Alzheimer published the first report on the brain disease that was later named for him, he described distinctive plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain. That was in 1906. Ever since then, scientists have been trying to figure out what causes those plaques and tangles and how we can prevent them. Researchers have known for decades that the plaques that characterize Alzheimer disease contain a lot of beta-amyloid peptide. They call it A-beta. Drug companies have been struggling to find pharmaceuticals that can clear this bad actor out of the brain. Unfortunately, the agents they have tested so far have been disappointing at best. What Is A-Beta Doing in the Brain? Neuroscientists have assumed that A-beta is toxic to neurons, and that it has no legitimate business in the brain. But that assumption may be mistaken. New research demonstrates that A-beta is part of the brain's immune defenses. It seems that it has played an important role in protecting the brain from infection throughout human evolution. The Microbiome of the Brain: Our guest, Robert Moir, and his colleagues have found that the brain has a complex, previously unsuspected, microbiome. The A-beta compound that makes up amyloid plaques is a powerful antibiotic–100 times more potent than penicillin. He is now studying ways to find anti-inflammatory compounds that target innate immunity of the sort found in the brain. He suggests that all of us can help our brains by eating a heart-healthy diet (it's good for the brain, too), staying fit with regular exercise and drinking alcohol in moderation if at all. If A-beta is actually acting to protect the brain, it could be a mistake to try to get rid of it. Instead, perhaps we should figure out how to help it. Our second guest, Dr. Dale Bredesen, also has a number of suggestions on how we can do that and reduce our risk of Alzheimer disease. He suggests measuring ketones and aiming for a sweet spot between 1.5 and 4 millimoles of beta-hydroxy-butyrate. This Week's Guests: Robert D. Moir, PhD, is Assistant Professor in Neurology at Harvard Medical School. He is also Assistant Professor in Neurology at MGH Neurology Research. His research focuses on the biochemical and cellular mechanisms involved in neurodegeneration in Alzheimer disease and aging. His most recent publication is on herpes virus and beta-amyloid in Neuron, July 11, 2018. The photo is of Dr. Moir. Dale Bredesen, MD, is an expert in the mechanisms of neurodegeneration and has served on the faculty at the University of California, San Francisco, and UCLA. He directed the program on Aging at the Burnham Institute prior to joining the Buck Institute for Research on Aging as its founding president and CEO. We spoke with him via Skype. His book is The End of Alzheimer's: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline. If you want to read some of Dr. Bredesen's scientific publications, we suggest "Ayurvedic Profiling of Alzheimer's Disease," with DV Rao (Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, May 2017) or "Reversal of Cognitive Decline in Alzheimer's Disease," with numerous colleagues (Aging, June 2016). Listen to the Podcast: The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99. Buy the CD

Show 1131: Was Your Medicine Made in China?

Do you know where your medicines come from? It can actually be something of a challenge to find out, because unlike shirts or apples, drugs do not have to be labeled with country of origin. As it turns out, over the past two decades, the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry has followed the same route as many other industries. Now, experts estimate that about four-fifths of the medications we take were made in China or India. A high proportion of these are generic drugs that the FDA has approved as equivalent to the brand name product. But how good is the quality control? FDA has limited ability and personnel to inspect manufacturing facilities in China. Valsartan Made in China: A recent recall underscores the potential hazards. On July 5, 2018, the European Medicines Agency recalled the blood pressure pill valsartan made by the Zhejiang HuaHai Pharmaceutical Company in Linhai, China. Apparently the pills had been contaminated with a probable human carcinogen, NDMA. A week later, on July 13, 2018, the FDA followed suit and recalled valsartan alone or in combination with hydrochlorothiazide from Major Pharmaceuticals, Solco Healthcare and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. Does It Matter If Your Pills Were Made in China? If Chinese companies suddenly stopped providing active pharmaceutical ingredients or finished pharmaceutical products to the US, the health care system would be in trouble within a short time. So many of our medicines are made in China that critical drug shortages would endanger lives. Our guest describes how the business of making drugs for the US market has changed and what the implications are. What, if anything, should we health care consumers do to protect ourselves? This Week's Guest: Rosemary Gibson is a senior advisor at the Hastings Center, a Health Care Ethics research institute, and is the author of numerous books investigating healthcare issues. Most recently she co-authored China RX: Exposing the Risks of America's Dependence on China for Medicine, with Janardan Prasad Singh. Their book documents what has led to China's increasing dominance in the manufacturing of medicine and the far-reaching consequences of this. Listen to the Podcast: The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99. Buy the CD Download the mp3: Choose MP3 on the pulldown menu just above the "Add to Cart" button

Show 1130: Exploring the Hard Science of Self-Healing

Have you ever thought of your body as a machine and the doctor as its mechanic? It's a common metaphor, but one that can get us into a lot of trouble. Machines can't heal themselves, but our bodies have superb capacities to do so, if we help them. It turns out that there is more to health than just physiology. Going beyond the machine metaphor can help us learn more about self-healing. Attitude may not be everything, but it makes a huge difference. Find out about the scientific evidence that shows hope can alter the course of an illness or a treatment. Our expectations about a therapy can shape our experience, a phenomenon known as the placebo effect. What Is the Placebo Effect? The placebo effect is frequently misunderstood. People sometimes take it to mean that when a placebo makes you feel better, it's "all in your head." To them, the placebo effect seems very soft and squishy, unsupported by genuine evidence. On the contrary, improvement from placebo treatments can be shown to be real. Moreover, our expectations also contribute to the effectiveness of pharmaceuticals as well. What should we know about the placebo effect, and how can we put it to good use? What do rigorous scientific studies tell us about the placebo effect? Stress and the Relaxation Response: Most of us experience stress in the course of a day or a week, whether we find stress at work or at home. How does stress affect our health? What do you define as stress? One way to manage stress is to invoke the relaxation response. How does that work? Studies demonstrate that the relaxation response can change blood sugar, blood pressure, immune system activity and digestion. What are the implications of this research? Our guest describes how we can optimize our bodies' abilities for self-healing. This Week's Guest: Dr. Jeremy Howick is the author of Doctor You, Introducing the Hard Science of Self-Healing, a book based on his own experience and research (which includes over 75 academic publications). He is also Director of the Oxford Empathy Program at the University of Oxford. He was recently awarded the British Medical Association Dawkins and Strutt award to pursue research on the health benefits of empathic care. His website is http://www.jeremyhowick.com/ Listen to the Podcast: The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99. Buy the CD

Show 1129: Is Complementary Medicine Good for Children?

Complementary medicine has become popular in the US. Many people pay out of pocket for treatment by Ayurveda practitioners, massage therapists or chiropractors. Others take a range of herbs and other natural products as dietary supplements. Some of these practices are controversial, but conventional physicians are beginning to integrate some ideas, such as dietary advice or meditation, into their practices. Kids Taking Alternative Medicines: A recent analysis of a decade of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 2003-2014) showed that approximately one third of youngsters under age 19 are taking some type of dietary supplement or alternative medicine (JAMA Pediatrics, online June 18, 2018). Many of these youngsters were taking multivitamins or vitamin C or D. Others, however, were using melatonin as a sleep aid or herbs to boost energy. Some teens took bodybuilding supplements, and some children were on probiotics or other digestive aids. Is this use safe? To find out, we talk with Dr. Amitha Kalaichandran, a resident in pediatrics with an interest in integrative medicine. When Complementary Medicine May Be Especially Helpful: We also talk with Dr. Alan Greene, a pediatrician in private practice, about times when doctors might wish to use alternative approaches. Pediatricians are beginning to change their way of treating ear infections, which are a common affliction in children. Instead of prescribing antibiotics immediately, they may now take a watch-and-wait tactic. At the same time, they can give parents ideas on how to calm the child's pain. It is important for parents to discuss everything their kids are taking with the pediatrician or other health care provider. That way, everyone can be alert for potential interactions and side effects that may occur. We also find out about encouraging kids to be active without putting them at high risk for injury. When they are playing outside in the summer, parents need to think about sunscreen and mosquito protection as well. What will parents think about this summer when it comes to keeping children staying safe and healthy? This Week's Guests: Amitha Kalaichandran,MD, is a resident physician in pediatrics at the University of Ottawa. Her interests are in integrative pediatrics, focusing on nutrition and mind-body medicine and specifically innovative ways of improving children's well-being. Dr. Kalaichandran is a Munk Global Journalism Fellow. Her articles on complementary medicine in children include a publication in Pediatric Emergency Care (online Feb. 28, 2018) and one in Paediatrics & Child Health (Feb. 2018). Alan Greene, MD, is a pediatrician in private practice and founder of DrGreene.com, a premier site for pediatric information. He was the founding president of the Society for Participatory Medicine and is the author of Feeding Baby Green, Raising Baby Green and From First Kicks to First Steps. Dr. Greene consults with a number of online and pediatric companies, including Scanadu, Plum Organics, PanTheryx and Lighting Science. In 2010 he founded the WhiteOut Movement and in 2012 he founded TICC TOCC. Listen to the Podcast: The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99. Buy the CD Download the mp3

Show 1128: What You Need to Know About Tick-Borne Diseases

If you've spent time out in the woods this summer, or if you hope to hike or bike outside, you need to know about ticks. Ticks are not just icky; they can also carry dangerous diseases. In fact, tick-borne diseases are increasing as ticks increase their range. Tick-Borne Diseases: Not all tick bites lead to infection, but numerous tick species can carry pathogens. The lone star ticks can carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever, while blacklegged ticks and western blacklegged ticks harbor Lyme disease. Diseases like anaplasmosis, babesiosis and ehrlichiosis may be less recognizable, but they can also cause health problems. What to Do About Ticks: Are there ways to minimize your chance of being bitten by a tick? What should you do if you find a tick has latched on? Find out how to remove a tick properly and how to recognize the symptoms of tick-borne diseases. Which treatments are effective? We'll also discuss diseases that may be transmitted by mosquitoes, biting flies and fleas. What can you do to protect yourself? Call Us: Dr. David Weber will answer your questions about infections transmitted by ticks and other biters. Join the conversation by calling 888-472-3366 on Saturday, July 14, 2018, from 7 to 8 am EDT or email radio@peoplespharmacy.com This Week's Guest: David Weber, MD, MPH, is Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at the UNC School of Medicine. Dr. Weber is also Professor of Epidemiology at the Gillings School of Global Public Health and Medical Director of UNC Hospitals' Departments of Hospital Epidemiology and Occupational Health Service. In addition, he is Associate Chief Medical Officer at UNC Health Care. UNC is the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Listen to the Podcast: The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99. Buy the CD Download the mp3 Choose MP3 from the pulldown above "Add to Cart" button

Show 1127: The Health Impact of Environmental Disaster

Since 1995, the world has experienced twenty of the hottest years on record. The wildfires raging across western states are expected to burn more acreage than last year's devastating fires. Hurricanes like Sandy, Harvey, Irma and Maria have caused enormous destruction. And less conspicuously but just as ominous, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have been creeping up. How does such environmental disaster affect human health? Here is a link to an analysis of how ongoing changes in climate will affect heat waves: http://www.climatecentral.org/gallery/maps/days-above-100f-projections And, if you need a bit more info on heat waves, this is from the Washington Post. CO2 and Food Crops: You might imagine that plants exposed to extra carbon dioxide would grow more quickly, perhaps providing extra food for an increasing human population. But did you know that a number of food crops have lower levels of crucial nutrients like zinc, iron, protein and certain B vitamins when they grow under conditions of enriched CO2 in their atmosphere? How will this alter the nutritional status of the populations that depend on these crops? Infectious Diseases and Their Vectors: As climate patterns change, arthropods like ticks and mosquitoes move around and adapt. A number of these blood-sucking critters carry dangerous diseases like Zika virus, dengue fever, chikungunya, Lyme disease or Powassan virus. Will warmer winter temperatures allow them to spread into new territory? Will the diseases go with them? What about malaria? It was once a serious public health menace for the eastern seaboard of the United States. Will it make a comeback? Mental Health Effects of Climate Change: Many people are extremely distressed by the idea of global climate changes and environmental disaster. Can parents help their children develop psychological resilience in the face of such challenges? What can people do to feel more empowered? This Week's Guests: Sam S. Myers, MD, MPH, is Director of the Planetary Health Alliance. He is a principal research scientist in the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. Dr. Myers works in the emerging field of planetary health, focused on the human health impacts of global environmental change. Websites: http://environment.harvard.edu/about/faculty/samuel-myers and https://planetaryhealthalliance.org Jonathan Patz, MD, MPH, is Professor and John P. Holton Chair of Health and the Environment at the University of Wisconsin. He is Director of the Global Health Institute. Website: Citizens Climate Lobby. https://citizensclimatelobby.org Lise Van Susteren, MD, is a psychiatrist in private practice in Washington, DC. A climate activist, she has a special interest in the psychological effects of climate change. Website: Climate Neutral Now https://unfccc.int/climate-action/climate-neutral-now Listen to the Podcast: The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99. Buy the CD Download the free mp3: Select MP3 from the pulldown that says "Choose CD or MP3 version"

Show 1126: Can You Find Your Best Diet?

People get excited about their favorite diets. Maybe you do, too. Are you a low-carb champion or a low-fat fan? Which one really is your best diet? The DIETFITS Study: A big study from the Stanford Prevention Research Center assigned 600 people to either a healthy low-fat diet or a healthy low-carb diet. (No junk food allowed in either one.) People followed their assigned diets for a year and then the scientists compared the amount of weight lost by each group. Average weight loss was astonishingly close. Altogether, people in the study lost a total of 6500 pounds. That might have been expected, since previous studies have shown a wide range of weight loss results within each type of diet plan and not much difference between them. The DIETFITS study (standing for Diet Intervention Examining The Factors Interacting with Treatment Success) planned to see if they could figure out which is the best diet for specific individuals. They looked at a metabolic marker, insulin secretion, and at a set of three genes that have previously been linked to weight. However, neither of these markers predicted who would do better on a low-fat regime and who would thrive on a low-carb approach. More Work to Do: Consequently, scientists have a lot more work to do before they can identify your best diet. But they did discover that emotional and psychological factors are important. People who were very successful at losing weight told the researchers that the study helped them change their relationship to food. Many found that becoming more mindful about their meals made a big difference. Find out more about the study and what we know about healthy eating. This Week's Guest: Christopher Gardner, PhD, holds the Rehnborg Farquhar endowed chair of medicine at Stanford University and is director of nutrition studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. The DIETFITS study he led was published in JAMA on February 20, 2018. Listen to the Podcast: The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99. Buy the CD or use the dropdown menu to download the MP3.

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