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 1222: How Can You Optimize Your Microbiome?

The microbiome–the genome of our collective microbiota–has become a trendy topic in medicine lately. With more microbial than human cells in our bodies, it's becoming clear we should think of ourselves as collectives. Citizen scientists have been contributing to the understanding of microbiota biodiversity through the American Gut Project. Yet most of us don't really consider that when we eat, we are feeding our microbes just as much as ourselves. What would you eat to optimize your microbiome? Optimize Your Microbiome with Fiber: Dr. Will Bulsiewicz is a fiber evangelist. Feeding our microbiota with plants, especially high-fiber plants, helps the healthful ones flourish. In fact, the American Gut Project showed that the best predictor of microbial diversity is the number of unique plant species a person eats. A wide range of plants presumably encourages different microbes to flourish, and healthful species tend to predominate. When we eat a variety of plants, we are getting both soluble and insoluble fiber. Junk food, on the other hand, seems to promote the growth of pathogenic varieties. Find out how our microbiota influence the immune system, metabolism, hormone balance, cognitive function and other significant aspects of our health. Moreover, find out why they love broccoli sprouts, leafy greens, lentils and beans. What else do they appreciate? Fermented foods, probiotics and prebiotic fibers. In summary, think of the FGOALS: Fruit, Fermented Foods, Greens, whole Grains, Omega-3 fats from flaxseed, chia and hemp seed, Aromatics (onions, shallots, leeks, garlic, etc.), Legumes, 'Shrooms, Seaweed and Sulforaphane. Given such fuel, you can optimize your microbiome so that the very diverse organisms that comprise it will produce the short chain fatty acids (SCFA) you need. Can You Reduce Flatulence? What can you do to reduce problems with intestinal gas as you are gearing up your diet to optimize your microbiome? Traditional cuisines that focus on many of these foods include other plants such as asafoetida, fennel, ginger or mint tea to help control flatulence. This Week's Guest: Will Bulsiewicz, MD, MCSI, is a gastroenterologist, gut health expert and the author of more than twenty articles in the top American gastroenterology journals. He's a graduate of Georgetown University School of Medicine and was chief medical resident at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and chief gastroenterology fellow at the University of North Carolina Hospitals. He lives in Charleston, South Carolina, with his wife and two children. His book is Fiber Fueled: The Plant-Based Gut Health Program for Losing Weight, Restoring Your Health, and Optimizing Your Microbiome. The photo of Dr. Busiewicz in the greenhouse is by Margaret Wright. Listen to the Podcast: The podcast of this program will be available Monday, August 3, 2020, after broadcast on August 1. 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

Show 1221: What Explains the Recent Increase in Celiac Disease?

A couple of decades ago, most people had never heard of celiac disease. Many doctors had never diagnosed a case, and they had often learned it was an extremely rare condition. Following a gluten-free diet, the only treatment, was really difficult. Today, millions of people avoid gluten in their diets. Not all of them have been diagnosed with celiac disease, but nearly all of them have heard of this autoimmune condition. Has there been a big increase in celiac disease? What Is Celiac Disease? Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that is triggered by a complex of proteins called gluten. This protein is found in wheat, barley and rye, so people with celiac disease need to avoid these grains and any foods that contain them. When susceptible people react to gluten, the consequence is damage to the intestinal lining. As a result, the digestive tract has trouble absorbing nutrients properly. A wide range of symptoms ensue. There are, of course, digestive problems, but there are also systemic disorders such as anemia, osteoporosis, fatigue, inflammation, bruising and headaches. Diagnosing Celiac Disease: Celiac disease runs in families. Susceptibility depends upon a particular genetic makeup, but not everyone with those genes eventually develops celiac disease. The first step in diagnosis is an antibody test, and it is very important to get this done before changing eating patterns. Once celiac disease is confirmed, the treatment is a strict gluten-free diet. But going gluten-free before the test could lead to a false negative and delay the diagnosis unnecessarily. If the antibody test is positive, the doctor generally confirms the diagnosis with endoscopy and a biopsy. Who Gets Celiac Disease? Doctors used to think that that this was a very rare disease that only manifested in young children. We now know that it is not rare, but affects about 1 percent of the population. Moreover, you can get a celiac disease diagnosis at any stage of your life. We don't know why there seems to be a recent increase in celiac disease. Experts suspect that some change in the immune system may kick it off. They know that children may first show signs of celiac disease after a viral infection. Older adults may also have an immune trigger. Heavy metals might also contribute. Environmental Pollutants and the Increase in Celiac Disease: A recent study in children suggests that people exposed to persistent organic pollutants are more likely to be diagnosed with celiac disease. Some of these are chemicals that provide stain resistance. Others are "forever" chemicals like PFAs or metabolites of pesticides. Most are endocrine disruptors. Perhaps the dramatic increase in celiac disease is linked to environmental pollution. This Week's Guests: Joseph A. Murray, MD, serves as a gastroenterologist in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Dr. Murray runs the celiac disease research and clinical program that focuses on epidemiology, complications and mouse models of gluten sensitivity. In addition, Dr. Murray is a Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He serves as a Consultant to several companies and has broad experience with clinical trials. Dr. Murray is the section editor for Gastroenterology for the Mayo Clinic Proceedings as well as an expert reviewer for many scientific journals. Dr. Murray is the author of Mayo Clinic Going Gluten Free: Essential Guide to Managing Celiac Disease and Other Gluten-Related Conditions. You may be interested in this article he published on the epidemiology of celiac disease in Gastroenterology Clinics of North America, March 2019. The photo is of Dr. Murray. Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP, is an international leader in children's environmental health and professor in pediatrics, environmental medicine, and population health at New York University. He is also the Director of the Division of Environmental Pediatrics and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Pediatrics at NYU School of Medicine. Dr. Trasande is the author of Sicker, Fatter, Poorer: The Urgent Threat of Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals to Our Health and Future . . . and What We Can Do About It. His website is leotrasande.com The research he published on environmental pollutants and celiac disease appeared in Environmental Research, July 2020. Dr. Trasande also joined colleagues on this plea for more thoughtful regulation of endocrine-disrupting chemicals just published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, August 2020. Listen to the Podcast: The podcast of this program will be available Monday, July 27, 2020, after broadcast on July 25, 2020. 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 1220: How We Can Learn Faster and Better and Remember More

When Jim Kwik was a little boy, he had a bad fall that resulted in a concussion. He struggled with learning problems throughout elementary school and even later. But he eventually learned to stop thinking of himself as the boy with the broken brain. In fact, he now has mastered accelerated learning and teaches the rest of us how we can learn faster and remember more, too. How Do You Learn FAST? The word FAST offers a superb mnemnomic (memory tip): F is for forgetting what you thought you knew about the topic (because what you know that just ain't so can really trip you up). A is for active; active learning is faster and sticks with us better. S is for state and T is for teach. If you really want to remember something, figure out how to teach it to someone who doesn't know it. It's a great way to discover how well you actually understand your topic, to wrap your mind around it and remember more. The Digital SuperVillains: Digital devices are part of our life, and we can't change that. But we can watch out for the supervillains that can interfere with us utilizing our brain power effectively. There's digital deluge and distraction. What about digital dementia? We don't remember things because our devices do. When is that appropriate and when does it become a problem? What can we do to hone our critical thinking skills and remember more? All Your Hats: When we look at a new problem, we need a lot of hats to consider it thoroughly. The white hat is for logical analysis; a red hat helps us recognize our feelings. The black hat can be our critic, while the yellow hat is a sunny optimist evaluating an opportunity. Put on your green hat for growth, and lastly, your sky-blue hat can oversee and manage the whole show. We'll also review the ten things we can do to improve our memory and a PIE technique for remembering things more easily. P for place, I for imagine, E for entwine. Don't take our word for it–listen to the end of the show and learn how to remember more. This Week's Guest: Jim Kwik is a world expert in speed-reading, memory improvement, and optimal brain performance. He is the CEO and Founder of Kwik Learning, a leader in accelerated learning with online students of every age and vocation in over 150 countries. For over two decades, he has served as a brain coach to students, seniors, entrepreneurs, and educators, as well as professional athletes, political leaders, and corporate clients such as Google, 20th Century Fox and Cleveland Clinic, and such institutions as the United Nations, Caltech and Harvard University. Jim Kwik is the author of Limitless: Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional Life His website is https://jimkwik.com/ The photo of Jim Kwik is by Nick Onken. Listen to the Podcast: The podcast of this program will be available Monday, July 20, 2020, after broadcast on July 18. 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

Show 1219: How to Achieve Maximum Memory Fitness

In these challenging times, keeping our brains healthy and working well is important. Social isolation can be debilitating, but there are approaches that can help counteract these difficulties. Research on Maintaining Memory: What does new research tell us about achieving maximum memory fitness? How important is it for us to take care of conditions like high blood pressure or impaired hearing? How much do diet and exercise actually affect our cognitive health? Easy Steps to Achieve Maximum Memory Fitness: Dr. Cynthia Green outlines important strategies to help us with our memories. To keep our brains healthy, it is imperative to maintain our physical and emotional health. To accomplish that, stay physically active and follow a healthful diet. In addition, we must address problems like depression that can undermine cognitive function. In addition, she offers a number of memory tactics, such as repetition or connecting a new name or fact you want to remember to something you already know. Another approach is more complex, but appeals to many people: create a mini-movie in your mind demonstrating the words or concepts. To-do lists and specific forget-me-not spots for items like keys or wallets can be very useful in eliminating those where-did-I-put-it moments. Caring for Elders: Regular interaction with our older relatives can help them avoid social isolation. Simple activities that help them connect to things like tastes or songs from their childhood may help those with dementia. Following Dr. Green's recommendations should help us stay alert for signs that we ourselves may be developing cognitive difficulties in time to seek intervention. This Week's Guest: Cynthia R. Green, PhD, is a nationally recognized expert on memory fitness and brain health who lectures extensively on memory improvement, brain fitness, successful aging and related topics. Dr. Green is the president of Total Brain Health Brands, a leading provider of brain fitness programs that help people build better brain health. Dr. Green has served on the faculty of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the Mount Sinai Medical Center since 1990. She is currently an assistant clinical professor there in the Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Green is the author of several books, and co-author with dementia and activities expert Joan Beloff of the recently released 2nd edition of Through the Seasons: An Activity Book for Memory-Challenged Adults and Caregivers. Her website is www.totalbrainhealth.com Listen to the Podcast: The podcast of this program will be available Monday, July 13, 2020, after broadcast on July 11. 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 1218: How Industry Manipulates Science to Downplay Risks

For decades, the tobacco industry was able to ward off anti-smoking policy by claiming that science did not support it. In hindsight, it is clear that most epidemiologists came to the conclusion that smoking is bad for health without much delay. But tobacco companies were able to exploit disagreements over a few facts to sow doubt that held up public health policy for a long time. Our guest describes how industry manipulates science to downplay the risks to the public. Science for Hire: Evidence-based medicine is supposed to be based on science. We may think of scientists as secluded in academic laboratories, striving to uncover the truth. In fact, however, many scientists work for corporations and in industries where exposing the truth might interfere with profits. How does the struggle between the desire to protect profits and the need for transparency play out? Our guest suggests that industry manipulates science as it did in the case of bisphenol A. This compound was found in plastic containers, the linings of cans or cash register receipts. Millions of people are exposed to products like BPA every day. Even when the hazards come to light, the compounds chosen as replacements may not be safe. According to our guest, Dr. David Michaels, "These deceptions affect every part of American life: the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the cars we drive, and the sports our children play." When Industry Manipulates Science to Produce the Opioid Epidemic: The opioid epidemic is a particularly harsh example of this phenomenon. The companies producing narcotic painkillers knew quite well that their drugs would be addictive. But they took advantage of an informal observation–not a study–published years ago to suggest that, when used to alleviate pain, these medicines are not actually addictive. We have seen the dire consequences of manufacturers promoting this idea while pharmacies and healthcare providers accepted it uncritically: uncounted lives destroyed in every part of the country. "Junk Science:" Big Pharma, Big Ag and Big Food are following the trail that Big Tobacco blazed. One of the weapons that they use to protect themselves from studies that show harm from their products is to declare them "junk science." Research showing problems with the pesticides glyphosate and chlorpyrifos has been declared junk science. So have studies on asbestos in talcum powder, not to mention traumatic brain injury in football players. Capturing the Regulators: You probably imagine that organizations like the Food and Drug Administration or the Environmental Protection Agency are watching out for us. After all, their mission is to keep the American public healthy. However, here is another way industry manipulates science. Unfortunately, many industries have figured out how to take over the regulatory agencies that are supposed to protect the public. Because industry pays better, it isn't unusual for staffers to take high-powered positions in industry. How does that impact the effectiveness of those who stay behind? This Week's Guest: David Michaels, PhD, MPH, is Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. He served as Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2017, the longest serving administrator in the agency's history. Prior to that, he served under President Bill Clinton as Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environment, Safety, and Health, charged with protecting the workers, community residents and environment in and around the nation's nuclear weapons facilities. Professor Michaels is the author of Doubt Is Their Product and The Triumph of Doubt: Dark Money and the Science of Deception. Listen to the Podcast: The podcast of this program will be available Monday, June 29, 2020, after broadcast on June 27. 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. The podcast contains additional information on sugar and how that industry manipulated science. We also discuss the conflicts of interest that arise regarding drug research funded largely by the pharmaceutical industry. How do we decide that research has provided adequate information for action? Buy the CD Download the free podcast

Show 1217: Natural Ways to Keep Your Immune System Strong

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of having a healthy immune system. It appears that more than three-fourths of the people who contract the infection recover without hospitalization or obvious lingering effects. The others, however, get really sick. We can assume that our immune systems mediate our response to the virus. We want it to be able to beat the infection back. On the other hand, we don't want it to overreact and create a cytokine storm. Are there ways you can keep your immune system strong? Our guest, Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, is one of the country's leading experts on scientific studies of botanical medicines and other supplements. She suggests that there are some vitamins and minerals you need to optimize if you want to keep your immune system healthy. Vitamin D: One of these is vitamin D. A new study shows that 95 percent of Americans don't get adequate vitamin D from their diets. Some individuals may be getting plenty of vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, while others are careful to avoid sunshine unless wearing sunscreen. Apparently, people with inadequate levels of vitamin D are more susceptible to infection with SARS-CoV-2 as well as other pathogens. People with the lowest vitamin D levels have the poorest outcomes. Are you getting enough vitamin D to keep your immune system in shape? Dr. Low Dog suggests between 2,000 and 4,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily to ensure you can make antimicrobial peptides that ward off pathogens. Vitamin A: Nearly half of the American adults participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2005 to 2016 did not get enough vitamin A in their diets. Green leafy vegetables as well as orange or yellow vegetables are great sources. Getting enough vitamin A is critical for good respiratory health. Other Vitamins: Vitamin C and the B vitamins are also crucial for your immune system function. Dr. Low Dog recommends that we get between 200 and 400 mg of vitamin C daily when faced with a challenge like COVID-19. You'll also want to make sure you are getting good amounts of vitamin B12, B6 and folate. Zinc: You may not have thought much about zinc, but it is essential to maintain your immune system functioning well. Low levels of zinc are linked to a reduced ability to fight off infection. What are the clues? Sometimes, a loss of the senses of smell or taste may signal that a person has inadequate zinc. You should try to get about 20 mg a day, though elderly individuals might need 30 to 40 mg daily during an infection. (Losing the sense of smell could also be an early symptom of COVID-19.) Herbs and Other Supplements: Medicinal Mushrooms: You might be surprised at the idea that mushrooms can contribute to the health of your immune system. However, mushrooms like reishi, cordyceps and maitake are rich in compounds called beta-glucans. These can really improve your ability to meet pathogenic challenges. Probiotics: Another supplement to consider is a probiotic. The gut microbiota serve as a signal hub for the immune system, and probiotics appear to help keep them alert and functioning well. The website Dr. Low Dog mentioned is usprobioticguide.com. She also mentioned a study published in The BMJ on June 13, 2018. Traditional Chinese Herbs: Astragalus is an herb from traditional Chinese medicine that has shown antiviral activity. It appears to help modulate the immune system for an appropriate response to pathogens. Garlic and licorice are two other herbs from the Chinese tradition that appear to benefit immune response. Other Herbs and Supplements: Other herbs from different regions of the world are also supported by studies: Andrographis, Eleuthero (which has shown activity against influenza in at least 30 studies), curcumin and elderberry. Moreover, you might want to consider N-acetylcysteine (or NAC) and quercetin (500 mg twice daily). This Week's Guest: Tieraona Low Dog, MD, is an internationally recognized expert in the fields of integrative medicine, dietary supplements, herbal medicine and women's health. Dr. Low Dog has served as the elected Chair of the US Pharmacopeia Dietary Supplements and Botanicals Expert Information Panel. She was appointed to the Scientific Advisory Council for the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Her latest book is Fortify Your Life: Your Guide to Vitamins, Minerals and More. For more information, see her website: drlowdog.com Listen to the Podcast: The podcast of this program will be available Monday, June 22, 2020, after broadcast on June 20. 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

Show 1216: How Sugar Interferes With Healthy Decisions

The telomeres that cap our chromosomes are a good way to gauge biological aging. Dr. Elissa Epel, who studies aging and metabolism at UCSF, has found a link between soda consumption and cellular aging, even in young children (Childhood Obesity, April 2018). She and her colleagues took advantage of a natural experiment at the University of California, San Francisco, to see if making sugary beverages less accessible made a difference for people's health. Quite a few of the people who had been accustomed to consuming at least one sugary beverage daily had prediabetes. When the vending machines in their workplace no longer offered soda, many of them experienced lower insulin resistance, an indicator of better metabolic health. Drinking less (or no) soda would benefit our health. Many people have trouble overcoming a soft drink habit, though, since sugar can interfere with healthy decisions in subtle ways. How We Make Decisions: Neurologist David Perlmutter and his son, Austin Perlmutter, MD, have teamed up to write Brain Wash: Detox Your Mind for Clearer Thinking, Deeper Relationships, and Lasting Happiness. They describe the three layers of the brain and the importance of the prefrontal cortex for decision making. But can we make healthy decisions when sugar is appealing to an older, deeper brain layer we may not even be aware of? In addition, advertisers of products for children may take advantage of the lure of sweets. Are they brainwashing American kids? What could we do about that? Bringing Your Brain Back into Balance: Phineas Gage was a 19th century railroad foreman who survived a dramatic accident after an iron rod went through his skull. This story illustrates the importance of the prefrontal cortex. His was destroyed in the accident, and shortly after that, he acted quite differently. Reportedly, his friends hardly recognized him as the same man. However, later in life he partially regained his previous skills and temperament. That demonstrates our brains' plasticity. How can we use that adaptability to overcome the siren song of sugar in the supermarket? In summary, the doctors Perlmutter offer us some simple steps to help us make healthy decisions. And, finally, they offer us a peek into their own grocery carts. We did not discuss any connection with COVID-19 with the Perlmutters or Dr. Epel. However, you may be interested in Dr. Roger Seheult's recent episode of MedCram.com (#83) in which he connects the hypothetical dots between a high fructose intake and greater susceptibility to a severe infection. This Week's Guests: Elissa Epel, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, at University of California, San Francisco. Her research aims to elucidate mechanisms of healthy aging, and to apply this basic science to scalable interventions that can reach vulnerable populations. She is the Director of the Aging, Metabolism, and Emotions Center, and the current President of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research. Her research on a workplace sales ban on sugar-sweetened beverages was published in JAMA Internal Medicine on Oct. 28, 2019. David Perlmutter, MD, is a Board-Certified Neurologist and five-time New York Times bestselling author. He serves on the Board of Directors and is a Fellow of the American College of Nutrition. Dr. Perlmutter is also the recipient of numerous awards, including the Linus Pauling Award for his innovative approaches to neurological disorders; the National Nutritional Foods Association Clinician of the Year Award; the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the American College of Nutrition; and most recently the 2019 Global Leadership Award from the Integrative Healthcare Symposium. Dr. Perlmutter is the author of several books, including Grain Brain, Brain Maker, and his most recent book, Brain Wash. His website is https://www.drperlmutter.com/ Austin Perlmutter, MD, is a board-certified internal medicine physician and New York Times bestselling author. His focus is in helping others to improve decision-making and quality of life. He is also interested in methods of understanding and reducing burnout in the medical field. Dr. Perlmutter is the co-author, with his father, of Brain Wash. He writes for Psychology Today on his blog, The Modern Brain. Listen to the Podcast: The podcast of this program will be available Monday, June 8, 2020, after broadcast on June 6. 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 1215: Chasing a Cure for the Cytokine Storm of COVID-19

Dr. David Fajgenbaum was a medical student in excellent health when he was struck with a mysterious disease. He nearly died before his doctors finally diagnosed him with a rare condition known as idiopathic multicentric Castleman disease. They hardly knew anything about it, and the few treatments that were available didn't work for him. So he dedicated himself to finding a medication that did work. It turned out that an existing immune-suppressing drug called sirolimus was successful at suppressing the cytokine storms that put his life at risk. What Does Cytokine Storm Have to Do With COVID-19? One way that COVID-19 is killing people in this pandemic is by triggering the immune system. When it overreacts, the result is what doctors call cytokine storm. This causes high fevers, lung damage and terrifying respiratory distress. Cytokine storm or a similar immune overreaction may also help bring on MIS-C. (Multisystem Inflammatory System in Children) This is a complication affecting babies, children and young adults, in which multiple organ systems begin to fail. When immune system cells release a lot of cytokines, these pro-inflammatory compounds can also push blood to clot and harm organs throughout the body. Are There Drugs That Can Calm Cytokine Storm? Dr. Fajgenbaum has been leading a collaborative that is doing research on treatments for Castleman disease. He found himself thinking that someone should apply that research to help treat severe cases of COVID-19. When he didn't see anyone else doing so, he realized he and his team had the skills and knowledge needed. Consequently, following his motto of turning hope into action, they went to work. Dr. Fajgenbaum shares this perspective and the progress they have made so far. This Week's Guest: David Fajgenbaum, MD, MBA, MSc, is an assistant professor of medicine in the department of Translational Medicine & Human Genetics at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, he is Associate Director for Patient Impact of the Orphan Disease Center at the University of Pennsylvania. His book is Chasing My Cure: A Doctor's Race to Turn Hope Into Action. The photograph of Dr. Fajgenbaum is by Rebecca McAlpin. A patient who has experienced five cytokine storms similar to those caused by COVID-19 before identifying a drug to save his life, Fajgenbaum is also the Executive Director of the Castleman Disease Collaborative Network (CDCN) and Principal Investigator of the CORONA project. Dr. Fajgenbaum's work has been highlighted extensively, including a cover story in the New York Times and the Forbes "30 Under 30" list. The website for the book is https://chasingmycure.com/ while the website for the CORONA project is https://cdcn.org/corona/ Listen to the Podcast: The podcast of this program will be available Monday, June 8, 2020, after broadcast on June 6. 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

Show 1214: How to Defend Your Brain During the Pandemic and Beyond

For decades, neurologists have been telling us that Alzheimer disease is driven largely by the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain. They have suspected that this is determined in large measure by genetics, and they've been searching for medications that can clear beta-amyloid out of the brain. But what if beta-amyloid is actually an innocent bystander doing its best to shield neurons from infection? Find out how to defend your brain from COVID-19 and other insults. What Is the Role of Beta-Amyloid in the Immune System? Scientists have now accumulated significant evidence that beta-amyloid, also referred to as A-beta, is an important part of the innate immune system. If it is, will it ramp up when a person becomes infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19? How does COVID-19 affect the nervous system? Vascular complications and oxygen restriction could put the brain under significant stress. Bolstering Our Defense Against COVID-19: Even before the pandemic started, scientists were paying attention to the effects of infections and toxins on the brain. To defend your brain, you will of course need a good diet. But you may also want to add a few supplements that you didn't know much about beforehand. How much zinc is appropriate? Should you be taking glutathione or AHCC? Dr. Bredesen describes a beneficial regimen. Measuring Your Micronutrients: Calculating whether your diet is actually optimal to protect your brain can be tough. Dr. Bredesen suggests an app called Cronometer. It can help you track your micronutrient consumption as well as your exercise to figure out how well you are doing in following a brain-bolstering eating pattern. You'll want to make sure you are getting plenty of flavonoids. People who eat the most of these plant compounds from colorful veggies and fruits have the lowest risk of developing dementia. Drugs and the Brain: What in the world could a heartburn medicine have to do with your brain health? It turns out, according to scientists in Sweden, that drugs like lansoprazole (Prevacid) or rabeprazole (AcipHex) block the enzyme that the brain uses to make acetylcholine. This compound is a crucial neurotransmitter. There are dozens of other medications that can interfere with its activity. When people have too many of these anticholinergic drugs on board, it can seriously affect their cognitive capacity. That's why reducing the anticholinergic burden is an important step to defend your brain. People also need to be aware of the toxins they encounter, from mold to heavy metals like mercury or lead. Find out how to take good care of your brain and reduce your risk of Alzheimer disease even in the face of the pandemic. This Week's Guest: Dale Bredesen, MD, is an expert in aging and neurodegenerative diseases. He is a Professor of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at UCLA. Dr. Bredesen is also the founding President and CEO of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and the Co-founder of MPI Cognition. Dr. Bredesen is the author of the New York Time's best seller The End of Alzheimer's: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline. His new book, The End of Alzheimer's Program: The First Protocol to Enhance Cognition and Reverse Decline at Any Age, will be available on 8-18-20. Listen to the Podcast: The podcast of this program will be available Monday, June 1, 2020, after its broadcast on May 30. 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 1213: How Does COVID-19 Affect Your Heart?

What comes to mind when you think of COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus? Chances are, you think of the lungs. There's been a tremendous amount of attention to the breathing difficulties the disease can cause. Hospitals in northern Italy and New York City have been overwhelmed because they didn't have enough ventilators. But this disease is by no means limited to the lungs. It affects almost every part of the body, including the cardiovascular system. How might COVID-19 affect your heart? How Does COVID-19 Affect Your Heart Health? Our guest, Dr. Steve Nissen, is a leading cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic. How has the pandemic affected cardiac care at the clinic? Doctors are concerned because some people have stayed at home despite symptoms that might signal a heart attack or stroke. Learn what you should do if you are experiencing problems. Drugs to Treat COVID-19: No drugs have been shown to cure COVID-19, but a few have earned an emergency use authorization from the FDA. Some of these have become quite controversial because of the paucity of conventional randomized controlled trials to test their efficacy. What is the story on hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin? Some cardiologists worry about this combination because the medications have the potential to exacerbate a long QT interval. What is that, and why might it be a problem? The ACE2 receptor is one of the gateways the SARS-CoV-2 virus uses to get into human cells. What does that mean for blood pressure medicines like ACE inhibitors or ARBs? Another drug that is being used to treat COVID-19 is remdesivir. The controlled trial was stopped early when an interim analysis showed that people taking the drug were able to leave the hospital earlier. Dr. Nissen has been critical of that decision by the NIH, and he explains his stance. Science During a Pandemic: Do the criteria for clinical trials change during a pandemic? Clinical investigators have found that much of their research has had to be put on hold or stopped completely during this time. Providing for safe physical distance for participants has been too challenging in many cases. But trials related to prevention and treatment of COVID-19 have high priority. How can one conduct careful research at a time like this? Stents and Heart Health: Until fairly recently, people looked upon stents as a sort of magic bullet for the heart. When a coronary artery becomes blocked, the heart may go without blood to nourish it. A stent inserted into that artery can prop it open where the blockage was. The idea that this will "fix the problem" is alluring, but research does not support it. Instead, it appears that stents are life-saving for someone who is having a heart attack. They make no difference for a person with predictable chest pain (what the cardiologists call "stable angina"). Taking Care of Your Heart: Could the stress of being isolated during COVID-19 affect your heart? What should people do to take care of their hearts, regardless of the circumstances? Probably all of us should follow Dr. Nissen's good example. He walks every day, usually getting in 16,000 to 17,000 steps. He follows a sensible Mediterranean diet, with an emphasis on fish and vegetables instead of meat and potatoes. What are you doing for your heart? This Week's Guest: Steven Nissen, MD, is Chief Academic Officer of the Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, where he holds the Lewis and Patricia Dickey Chair in Cardiovascular Medicine. He is the co-author, with Mark Gillinov, MD, of Heart 411: The Only Guide to Heart Health You'll Ever Need. You can find him online at https://my.clevelandclinic.org/staff/1185-steven-nissen Listen to the Podcast: The podcast of this program will be available Monday, May 25, 2020, after broadcast on May 23. 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

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