My Journey into Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction

I was browsing the internet when a statement caught my eye and it stated “Do you want to
relieve stress related symptoms, promote a sense of well being and peace of mind”? I was
intrigued and thought I would love to relieve stress and also learn ways to help my patients too.
I clicked on the link and was taken to a course description titled “Mindfulness-Based Stress
Reduction program (MSBR) that was being offered for 8 weeks over the summer.

I signed up for the program without really knowing what the course was going to be about.
The first night of class I was in a room with 15 other participants who were of different ages,
backgrounds and occupations with our instructor Kevin who was a licensed social worker. We
were given the book “ Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Kabat-Zinn along with a workbook and a
CD. He had us imagine that we had a rock in our hand and walked up to a well and dropped it
in and then he went around the room and asked us what that symbolized to us. I remember
that I had said that it symbolized throwing away the stressful feelings and discomfort. He also
asked us not to set a goal or expectations for the course.

The program focused on attitudinal qualities that would relieve stress including: non-judging,
patience, beginner’s mind, trust, non-striving and acceptance. Non-judging is being an
impartial witness to our own experience and not having a reaction to the experience. Patience
is allowing letting things unfold in good time and make a connection to the present. Beginner’s
mind is not allowing our beliefs and thinking from seeing things as they really are. Trust is to
listen and trust our own being through meditation. Non-striving is about trying less and
through meditation we are non-doing. Acceptance is seeing things as they are in the present
and not trying to force things to the way we want them to be which causes more stress and
prevents positive change.

We had daily meditations on our CD that guided us through body scan which focused our mind
on each body part starting with the head and then ending at our toes or sitting or laying
meditations or meditative yoga. We had a log in our workbook to document our feelings and
reactions to different situations that may have given us distress or pleasure. We had a retreat
day after our sixth week in which we did not speak during that time. Our instructor gave us
directions during the day and guided us through different types of mediation. We ate our lunch
mindfully and took our time tasting and chewing our food more times than we would normally
and did not pick up the fork before we swallowed our bite. I was a little anxious as well as
some of the other participants of not talking or using our phones for a whole day and staying
focus on the present, but it actually was easier than I thought and at the end of the day I felt a
sense of peace.

This type of course is not for everyone, but it is evidenced based and taught internationally.
The course has taught me a way of being. It is not a philosophy, it is a be practiced by being
mindful and carrying out the meditation practices daily. It takes commitment and is to be
practiced daily in order for it to be available when needed.

At the end of the eight weeks, I am better at being more mindful and at mediation, but it is a
work in progress. After the eight week course I had learned that my initial response to the first
question of dropping the rock into the well throwing away stress thoughts and feelings was not
mindfulness, it is about learning to live with all the thoughts or feelings good and bad and
acknowledging them and not reacting to them. “ Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It is
the way it is. And how we relate with this truth is what makes all the difference. “. Virginia Satir

Submitted by Edith Chang, M.D.

Veggie Vitals – Asparagus, A great weapon in your arsenal of healthy foods!

AsparagusThe asparagus spears – get it? Weapon – spears?  Anyway, these spears pack quite a punch when it comes to nutritional benefits and they have been doing so for over 4,000 years.  It was declared a food of the gods by Pharaoh Ikhnaton and his wife Nefertiti and was well liked by the Greeks, Persians, and Babylonians.

Asparagus does take a bit of time, however, to grow into maturity.  It is planted in the ground 3 years before it can be harvested for a full season.  But, once it does start growing, it does so with gusto.  A mature plant is harvested all season – approximately 90 days, and can sometimes grow 6 to 7 inches in one day.

Whenever I pick up some asparagus from the store, my husband always says, “I don’t like the green asparagus, I like white!”  Obviously he is not aware that green and white asparagus come from the same plant.  Sunlight is what causes the spears to turn green.  When the spears puncture through the ground, dirt is piled on top of them to shield them from sunlight.  They continue growing underground and when finally harvested the stalk is all white.  FYI – purple asparagus comes from a completely different plant and if cooked for a prolonged period of time will turn green.

Asparagus is considered by some to be an aphrodisiac.  Apparently there is an Arabian love manual from the 16th century that provided an asparagus recipe for the stimulation of erotic desires.  I did some Googling, but couldn’t find the recipe.  But I did find some scientific rational as to why it might have been considered as such.  Asparagus contains high levels of vitamin E and foliate which are necessary for histamine production and histamine is related to easy sexual orgasm, both in men and women.  Recommendations are that it be consumed over 3 consecutive days for the most powerful effects.

One cup of raw asparagus contains approximately 27 calories, 0 grams of fat, 5 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of sugar, 3 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of protein.  That same cup also provides 70% of your daily vitamin K needs, 20% of vitamin A, 17% of folate, 16% of iron, 13% of vitamin C, 13% of thiamin, and smaller amounts of vitamin E, niacin, vitamin B6, and potassium.

Here are some of the benefits indicated by the Juicing for health website.

Acidity, Blood:  The high alkalinity of this wonder juice is effective in reducing the acidity of the blood and helps cleanses the tissues and muscles of waste.

Arthritis and Rheumatism:   A unique phytochemical in asparagus that produces anti-inflammatory effect helps relieve arthritis and rheumatism.

Bowel movement:  Consume asparagus regularly for its mild laxative effect and dietary fiber that provides for regular bowel movement.

Cancer:   Asparagus is a prime source of anti-oxidant and glutathione that can help prevent the dreaded cancer.

Cataracts:  The anti-oxidant and glutathione in asparagus prevents the progression of cataracts and other eye problems.

Diabetes/Hypoglycemia:  The healthful minerals in asparagus juice make it an important diet for people who are controlling their blood sugar levels. However, it is not to be taken by people with advanced kidney diseases.

Diuretic:  Asparagus is a wonderfully diuretic vegetable and its efficacy is more pronounced when it is taken in juice form.

Heart disease:  Drink a small amount of asparagus juice mixed with raw honey three times a day daily to strengthen a weak or enlarged heart.

Kidney:  The diuretic and alkaline properties of asparagus help prevent or dissolve kidney stones. It helps break up oxalic acid crystals formed in the kidney.

PMS symptoms:  The diuretic effect of asparagus juice helps relieve premenstrual swelling and bloating. The magnesium in this wonder juice also help relieve irritability, fatigue, depression, etc.

Pregnant women:  The high content of folate, calcium and other minerals in asparagus are important in reducing the risk of birth defects and low birth weight. The diuretic effect of the juice is also a big help in reducing water retention in pregnant women.

June 11 is Asparagus Day!

Brain Supplements – Are they safe? Do they work?

This question was posed by a reader who had heard about natural brain supplements from the website Alpha Brain Review.  I checked out the website and I must admit that I found it to be very ironic as I encountered several grammatical errors on a site that was supposed to promote brain function.  Now, to be honest, nowhere does it claim that it will make you a better speller or eliminate grammatical errors, but still – if it’s helping with focus and clarity you would think that a quick read-through to double check for errors would be in order before posting to the web.

Ok – so grammatical prejudices aside, let’s take a look at brain supplements from a medical stand point.

When considering a supplement, the first thing to ask is why?  Are you having memory problems, trouble focusing, etc. or are you just trying to ace a test for which you are not prepared?  Supplements are not a substitute for adequate preparation and they are not a substitute for a proper nutrition.  Supplements treat deficiencies. There is no reason to think that taking additional nutrients beyond the minimum necessary will have functional benefits.

And, if you’ve been having memory problems or trouble focusing and this is not normal for you – then perhaps a trip to the doctor is in order.  It could be that there’s a medical reason behind these issues.

Next to consider are the claims of the supplement.  Whenever you encounter these types of supplements, the first thing you usually see is the word natural.  The ingredients are all things you would encounter in nature.  Natural, however, isn’t always safe.  Check out the ingredients.  WebMD allows you to search for supplements and see an unbiased review that includes uses, side effects, interactions, and dosing.  This review will also include the science, identifying if there is actually evidence to support the claims that are made.

With regard to Alpha Brain, there is very little science.  The ingredients I researched are all touted to be beneficial in treating Alzheimer’s disease, but there is insufficient evidence to support any of these claims.

There is research, however, that supports the following with regards to improving memory:

  • A healthy diet, in particular a Mediterranean diet which focuses on fruits, vegetables, and nuts with moderate amounts of dairy, fish, and poultry.
  • Challenging your brain to learn new things.
  • Exercise.

So, when it comes to supplements, brain or otherwise, do your homework.

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Reviewed by Mary Lynn Kiacz, M.D.

 

 

 

Do Vitamins Really Help?

A while ago I had a doctor’s appointment and during the course of the visit they asked me if I was taking a multivitamin. I was not. I left that appointment with the recommendation that I start taking a multivitamin every day.

Fast forward a couple of months and I’m at an appointment with a different doctor. They ask if I am taking any medications, vitamins, or supplements to which I reply, ‘Why yes, I am taking a multivitamin.” This doctor then tells me that studies show multivitamins are not beneficial and that after I use up the supply I have, I should just stop.

So, which is it? Do multivitamins help or not?

Looks like the answer is – depends. It depends upon your reasons for taking a multivitamin.

If you’re looking for a magic pill that will prevent the big diseases, cancer, heart disease, and stroke – then you’re out of luck. Findings from several long term studies show that vitamin takers are no healthier than those who do not take vitamins when it comes to the big diseases.

If you’re looking to transform your crappy diet into a healthy one, again out of luck. It is always better to get your nutrients from food – power on the plate – than from a pill. If, however, you’re looking to plug in some nutritional gaps in your diet, then a vitamin may be the way to go.

When choosing a multivitamin:

  • Read the label carefully. Note which nutrients are included and their amounts.
  • Get the basic vitamins and minerals.
  • Check the percentages. Choose one that provides 100% of the Daily Value(DV) for most of the vitamins and minerals included.
  • Choose one designed for your age and gender.
  • Don’t overdo it.
  • AND – it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before taking any vitamin or supplement.

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Yoga As You Are

Health benefits of yoga.

As I was reading through the RPAC news this week, I came across the following blurb. 

Yoga As You Are 2014
Whether you’re in work clothes, school clothes or workout gear, come to Yoga As You Are, held  Wednesdays, from 12:45 – 1:15 p.m. in Dance Room 1 at the Ohio Union. Classes go through Wednesday, April 23. Sticky mats are provided, but feel free to bring your own.

Now, to be honest, I have not done much yoga.  It sounds very zen and all and I expect that it is very good for me, but just not something that I’ve gotten into. Probably that’s because I’ve always harbored fears that I’ll either  1. fall asleep while meditating or 2. Get stuck in one of those pretzel -type poses they do.

But, being one to keep an open mind, when I saw the blurb above, I did a bit of research to try and find out what sorts of health benefits yoga offers.  Here is what I found:

  • Increase Flexibility: One study showed that after just 8 weeks of yoga participants improved their flexibility by up to 35%.
  • Boost Immunity: A Norwegian study found that yoga boosts immunity at the cellular level. They found that these changes occur while still on the mat – much more so than a control group that went on a nature hike while listening to soothing music.
  • Ease Migraines: Research shows that after just 3 months of yoga practice, migraine suffers can expect fewer and less painful migraines.
  • Better Sleep: A Harvard Study found that 8 weeks of daily yoga significantly improved sleep quality for people with insomnia.
  • Fight Food Cravings: Researchers from the University of Washington found that regular yoga practice strengthens the mind-body connection which in turn helps you to tune in to the emotions associated with certain cravings.

Some pretty impressive benefits.  Perhaps I’ll head over the Union this week and give that yoga class a try.

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Information above found at the following sites:

Everything you need to know about fish oil supplements

Nutraoriginblog.com

Ever since researchers discovered that Greenland Eskimos had really low rates of heart disease because of all of the fish they ate, fish oil has been a hot topic.  And once supplement manufacturers realized they could bottle and sell it, fish oil really took off. 

So let’s dish about fish – here’s everything you need to know about fish oil supplements.      

What conditions does fish oil really help?

It’s been proven that the Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil – eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linolenic acid – prevent heart disease, improve cholesterol by reducing triglyceride levels, and prevent heart attacks, stroke, and death in people who already have heart disease. 

While Dr. Google will tell you that fish oil will cure rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, depression, bipolar disorder, menstrual pain, and certain kidney problems, there isn’t a lot of good evidence to back that up at this point.

Is taking a fish oil supplement the same as eating fish?

Obviously, the best way to consume fish oil is to eat oily fish.  The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends at least two servings per week for cardiovascular health.  A serving is 3 ounces (the size of a deck of cards, or ¾ of a cup).  So if you can afford, prepare and stomach salmon a couple times per week, you can skip the fish oil capsules.

How much fish oil supplement should you take?

A good target intake is between 250 and 500 mg per day of EPA + DHA.  You could get that in a daily 1 gram fish oil supplement, which contains between 200 and 800 mg of EPA + DHA, depending on the formulation and manufacturer.   

Do fish oil capsules have side effects?

The most common side effects are nausea, heartburn, a fishy aftertaste, and burping.  Taking them with food or refrigerating them helps a lot, but some brands can’t be refrigerated so be sure to check with your pharmacist.  In general, fish oil capsules have an “expiration date” of about 90 days after opening a new bottle.  Capsules with a very strong or spoiled smell should be thrown away.

Can you get mercury poisoning from taking fish oil supplements?

There’s been a lot of concern lately about mercury contamination in the world’s fish supply.  In general, this is more of a concern for pregnant women and young children, but it’s always a good idea to pay attention to what you’re eating.  Fish known to be low in mercury include shrimp, canned light tuna (not albacore), salmon, pollock, and catfish. 

Fish oil capsules are generally low in mercury and other pollutants.  But to be safe, only buy products with the “USP Verified Mark” on the label; these have been tested and found to contain acceptable levels of mercury.    

Jason Goodman, PharmD, RPh
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Is taking deer antler velvet IGF safe?

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I am currently taking IGF (Insulin-like Growth Factor) derived from deer antler velvet as a nutritional supplement. Will the usage of IGF in a healthy person cause hyperthyroid problems or any other health issues?

This is an interesting question – actually two interesting questions: can taking deer antler velvet hurt you, and can taking IGF hurt you?

First, the following disclaimer: Products that are sold as supplements (as opposed to medications) are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration so they are not tested for safety, efficacy or standardization.  In other words, when you buy a supplement, there is no guarantee that what is in the bottle has been tested to see if it even contains the ingredient in question, let alone whether the ingredient actually does what it claims to.  (That’s not a value judgment, just the facts.)

With the fine print out of the way, here’s what I can tell you:

Deer antler velvet is used for its purported ability to raise testosterone levels to treat decreased libido (low sex drive), infertility, and erectile dysfunction in men.  It is used in combination with other herbs to treat sexual dysfunction and hormonal dysfunction in men and women.  It is used to treat conditions resulting from deficient kidneys.  Some people use it because of its reputed benefit as an aphrodisiac and muscle strength enhancer.  It is also sometimes prescribed to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms in the treatment of morphine addiction.  

All of the studies I found in the medical literature that looked at the use of deer antler velvet were done on rats – NOT humans – so it is impossible to rule out any adverse effects for sure.  I couldn’t find much information about whether or not it causes thyroid problems.

Unfortunately, the potential problems with IGF would seem to negate any of these theoretical benefits.  It has been shown that improper use of hormones such as dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), androstenedione, and human growth hormone may increase the risk for development of prostate cancer or promote the growth of existing prostate cancer by raising IGF-1 levels.  Therefore, men who are taking supplements with IGF in it (or those that raise IGF levels) could theoretically be putting themselves at an increased risk for prostate cancer.  Again, it hasn’t been rigorously studied so it’s impossible to know for sure, but if you have any risk factors for prostate cancer, it’s probably best to avoid taking this supplement.  

Side effects of IGF supplementation most commonly occurred in elderly patients and involved kidney problems, which would again nullify some of the purported benefits of deer antler velvet supplementation.

So the best answer I can give you is… I have no idea.  No one really does.  But if you ever have questions about any medications that you are taking, feel free to come in and talk to our pharmacy staff.  And of course, if you have any specific health concerns, you can always make an appointment to see one of our health care providers. 

Jason Goodman PharmD, RPh
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Poop transplants!?

www.moviefone.com

Kidney transplants?  Old news. 

Liver transplants?  Yawn. 

Face transplants?  Been there, done that, saw it in People

Poop transplants!?

Hah!  New I’d get you with that one.

That’s right, people.  Doctors are now transplanting “healthy” poop into the colons of patients with an intestinal infection called Clostridium Difficile (“C. Diff”) and it looks like it could actually be a very promising treatment.   Researchers in Oklahoma City performed fecal transplants on 77 patients with C. Diff that didn’t respond to standard treatment with antibiotics and had a 91% success rate in eradicating the infection

Why the heck are we talking about a medical treatment that is so gross?  Is the Student Health Center going to start offering poop transplants?  Well no, but many antibiotics that we commonly use to treat infections are associated with an increased risk of C. Difficile infection – even in young, healthy people – so it’s worth chatting about. 

C. Difficile is actually one of many “good” bacteria that normally live in our intestines, where it helps to prevent infections.  When we take antibiotics to treat other kinds of infections, they kill off some of these “good” bacteria in our gut as well as the ones they’re supposed to be killing.  This allows C. difficile to overgrow and release toxins that damage the cells lining the intestinal wall and cause severe diarrhea. 

The most common symptoms are watery diarrhea that occurs 3-5 times a day and is associated with abdominal cramping.  Symptoms usually start while you’re still on the antibiotic or 5-10 days after you stop.  Rarely, symptoms can develop up to 10 weeks later. 

In severe cases, the diarrhea will be more profuse and have blood or pus in it, and will be associated with dehydration, abdominal pain, fever, nausea and weight loss.  This is a serious condition called pseudomembraneous colitis which requires immediate treatment.

Most of the time, C. Difficile is treated by simply stopping the antibiotic that caused it to happen.  If necessary, a different antibiotic pill will be prescribed for 10-14 days.  If that doesn’t work, stronger antibiotics will be given through an IV along with the pills.  And if that doesn’t work… well, we send you to Oklahoma for a poop transplant.    

Probiotics have been shown to shorten the duration of diarrhea related to antibiotics, but research looking specifically at whether they can prevent or help treat C. difficile infection have been inconclusive so they are not routinely recommended. 

So the moral of the story, kids, is to use antibiotics as sparingly as possible.  Believe us when we tell you that your cold is just a cold or your sore throat isn’t strep.  Sometimes – in fact, most of the time – doing “nothing” is the best way to go.

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Where is the Closest Chiropractor that Accepts Student Health Insurance?

steadyhealth.com

Q: Where are the closest chiropractors in the campus area that take student health insurance?  I am trying to get an appointment for local adjustments, and I can’t seem to find any nearby.  Thanks.  

A:  The most conveniently located chiropractor, or any other alternative medicine doctor, is going to be at OSU Integrative Medicine. They are located at 2000 Kenny Rd, across the street from West Campus. They offer chiropractic, massage, and acupuncture services; all services are covered by SHIP (the Student Health Insurance Plan) with a qualifying diagnosis.  Dr. John Grandominico is the chiropractor and can normally get you in for an appointment fairly quickly.  Their phone number is 614-293-9777.

While Student Health Insurance does not require a referral to see a specialist, their office may require one from your primary care doctor in order to submit these charges through insurance. Referrals can be easily obtained with a visit at the Student Health Services.

Alison Sauers, Referral Coordinator
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Should You Clean Out Your Colon?

www.moviefone.com

I just came across a very interesting article in the Journal of Family Practice about the recent comeback of an oldie-but-goodie “natural” health fad – colon cleansing.  

Colon cleansing is based on the premise that waste products in your colon (i.e. poop) contain toxins that poison your body and need to be flushed out of your system.  It can be self-administerered or performed by a “colonic hydrotherapist” who will sometimes throw in some herbs and spices, including coffee, to enhance it’s “naturalness”. 

So… how shall I approach this topic in a calm, measured manner…

First of all, there is nothing “natural” about having someone stick a garden hose up your butt and dumping up to 60 LITERS of fluid into it!  Second of all, your colon is supposed to be full of poop!  Proponents will show you pictures of what they flush out as evidence of its effectiveness (that is one Google image search you want no part of), but it means absolutely nothing.  It’s like someone pointing inside your trash can to show you how filthy your house is.  It’s ridiculous!

Here’s what you need to know about colon cleansing:

  • There is NO evidence that it has any health benefits whatsoever
  • There IS evidence that it can be very dangerous, especially if you have a history of gastro-intestinal problems.  See the above article if you don’t believe me.
  • There are some organizations with scientific-ish sounding names like the National Board for Colon Hydrotherapy (NBCH) or the International Association for Colon Hydrotherapy (I-ACT), but colon cleansing “practitioners” are NOT licensed by any medical or scientific organization.  The only requirements for membership are a high school degree, 3 semesters of postsecondary education and CPR certification.  
  • None of the equipment or ingredients used in colonic cleansing have been approved by the FDA, which means there is NO proof that they do anything or are safe.  Some of the herbal supplements have been associated with liver damage and aplastic anemia.

I respect the fact people have different belief systems when it comes to their health, and that there are many valuable forms of health care outside the realm of traditional medical practice.  In fact, there is a center for Integrative Medicine right here on campus that I often refer people to.  But colonic cleansing represents a point where a worldview can become a threat to your safety.  It’s best to steer clear of it.

If you are having any problems with your stomach or intestines, come in and see us – we’re glad to help you figure out what’s going on.

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University