The National Institute of Health and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health have released a great health resource that is available instantly at your fingertips! The mobile app HerbList is available for free on the Apple store and on Google Play.
HerbList was designed to give consumers access to information about popular herbs and herbal supplements quickly and easily on mobile devices. Users can access information about the safety and effectiveness of herbal products. They can also link to additional resources for more information and mark favorite herbs to quickly view them again and access them offline.
“Providing an app for users is part of NCCIH’s effort to inform consumers and health care providers within the complementary and integrative health space. People are considering herbs and herbal supplements for various reasons, and it is important that they are aware of what the research says about safety and effectiveness ” said David Shurtleff, Ph.D., acting director of NCCIH.
Another great resource for Herbs and Supplements is MedlinePlus’ Herbs and Supplements webpage.
When I was in grade school, it seemed as if nearly every kid would miss a week of school to have their tonsils removed. They would return to school bragging about their recovery spent eating ice cream, drinking milkshakes, and watching cartons. I can almost acutely recall being jealous of these classmates. After reading new research that evaluates the long-term health risks of tonsillectomies, I realized maybe I shouldn’t have been quite so jealous!
Tonsils are located at the back of the throat. These are knobs of tissue with one located on either side. Tonsils are part of the lymphatic system which works to clear infections and keep the balance between body fluids. Specifically, the tonsils, in concert with the adenoids, work by preventing germs from coming in through the mouse and nose.
A tonsillectomy is a procedure to remove the tonsils. This is typically recommended for those that suffer from recurrent infections of the tonsils or when the tonsils are enlarged enough that they obstruct breathing. For adults, the tonsils are occasionally removed when there is concern for a tumor.
Over half a million tonsillectomies are performed annually in the United States but little research has been done to determine the long-term health risks associated with this procedure. A new study released by the University of Melbourne is the first to look at potential risks. Their results suggest that individuals who undergo a tonsillectomy are at 3x the risk of their counterparts for diseases of the upper respiratory tract such as asthma, influenza, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – COPD.
Read the entire study findings to learn more.
A National Institute of Health funded study finds that the absence of SPINK7 in cells lining the esophagus may be impacting those who have eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE). The lack of this protein may cause inflammation and tissue damage.
EoE is a chronic disease of the esophagus where white blood cells build up causing tissue damage and inflammation. EoE is more prevalent in men than women and typically affects those under the age of 50. This is a relatively new disease and ongoing studies could impact diagnosis and treatment in the future.
The discovery that SPINK7 is found in those with a healthy esophagus but absent in those with EoE could lead to a treatment that could reverse some of the damage and inflammation associated with the disease. Currently treatment consists of managing symptoms through diet, exercise, and even surgical intervention.
Read more about the NIH Study.
A NIH study shows a correlation between Vitamin D and miscarriage. “Our findings suggest that vitamin D may play a protective role in pregnancy,” said the study’s principal investigator Sunni L. Mumford, Ph.D.
Vitamins aid in helping with normal growth and development in the body. Vitamin D is used to absorb calcium, one of the main components of building bones. Vitamin D also plays a role in the nervous, musculoskeletal, and immune systems.
Vitamin D is obtained naturally through your skin when exposed to sunlight. It can also be obtained through diet or supplements. Foods that provide vitamin D include:
- Fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon
- Foods fortified with vitamin D, like some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals
- Beef liver
- Egg yolks
Those who do not maintain sufficient levels of Vitamin D are at risk for osteoporosis or rickets. The new NIH study also finds that too little Vitamin D could increase the risk for miscarriage. From the news release, “Among women who became pregnant, each 10 nanogram per milliliter increase in preconception vitamin D was associated with a 12-percent lower risk of pregnancy loss.”
Although the article does not discuss cause and effect, it does acknowledge that more research is needed. Read the entire NIH press release.
June is Men’s Health Month. Coming up is also Men’s Health Week, which takes place the week leading up to Father’s Day. This year’s dates are June 11-17, 2018. According to menshealthmonth.org, “the purpose of Men’s Health Week is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.” http://www.menshealthmonth.org/week.html
To find more consumer-friendly information on related research, resources, specific issues and other health information, see the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus health topic page on Men’s Health: https://medlineplus.gov/menshealth.html
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that impacts body movement. It impacts almost 2% of the population, most commonly occurring in those 60 years of age or older. according to MedlinePlus, Parkinson’s occurs when brain’s nerve in cells don’t produce enough dopamine which is a brain chemical.
Parkinson’s disease symptoms can vary by individual and oftentimes early signs are overlooked. Typically, symptoms originate on one side of the body but as the disease progresses, both sides of the body will be impacted.
Parkinson’s signs and symptoms may include:
- Slowed movement (bradykinesia)
- Rigid muscles
- Impaired posture and balance
- Loss of automatic movements
- Speech changes
- Writing changes
There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s but there are options to help lessen the severity of symptoms. In addition to medicine and/or surgery, deep brain stimulation (DBS) is also a treatment option for those with severe symptoms. DBS involves electrodes implanted in the brain that send electrical pulses to stimulate parts of the brain that control movement.
A new study supported by the National Institutes of Health’s Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Technologies (BRAIN) Initiative and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) takes a different approach to DBS. The newest stimulator uses feedback from the brain directly. Previously, a trained clinician would have to manually make adjustments to the DBS programming.
Additional studies are being planned. “The novel approach taken in this small-scale feasibility study may be an important first step in developing a more refined or personalized way for doctors to reduce the problems patients with Parkinson’s disease face every day,” said Nick B. Langhals, Ph.D., program director at NINDS. Click here to learn more.
Nearly 1,000 Americans are dying daily from hypertension. This is one of the reasons cited for the new guidelines released that recommend treating patients for hypertension earlier than previous guidelines directed.
MedlinePlus defines blood pressure as “the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries.” Hypertension, or high blood pressure, occurs when your blood pressure is higher than 129/79. Those two numbers represent systolic and diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure is the first number listed and it represents the force measure each time the heart beats. Diastolic pressure is the second number listed and this is the pressure measured while the heart is resting between the beats. The previous guidelines didn’t consider a patient to be hypertensive until their systolic pressure was over 140.
Blood pressure categories in the new 2017 guideline are:
- Normal: Less than 120/80 mm Hg;
- Elevated: Systolic between 120-129 anddiastolic less than 80;
- Stage 1: Systolic between 130-139 ordiastolic between 80-89;
- Stage 2: Systolic at least 140 ordiastolic at least 90 mm Hg;
- Hypertensive crisis: Systolic over 180 and/or diastolic over 120, with patients needing prompt changes in medication if there are no other indications of problems, or immediate hospitalization if there are signs of organ damage.
- First heart attack:About 7 of every 10 people having their first heart attack have high blood pressure.
- First stroke:About 8 of every 10 people having their first stroke have high blood pressure.
- Chronic (long lasting) heart failure:About 7 of every 10 people with chronic heart failure have high blood pressure.
- Kidney diseaseis also a major risk factor for high blood pressure.
“Achieving the 2017 guideline treatment goals may further reduce 340,000 cardiovascular events and 156,000 total deaths annually compared with the 2014 guideline treatment goals,” said senior study author Dr. Jiang He from the Tulane University School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine.
The National Institute of Health has started human trials on a possible Ebola treatment. Researchers have been working hard to find a cure for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) since the fatality rate for those who contract the disease averages nearly 50%
Ebola first appeared in 1976 in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The disease is believed to be spread through fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family. Ebola can enter the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals. Human-to-human transmission occurs through direct contact with blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people which is why health care workers treating EVD are often infected.
- Severe headache
- Muscle pain
- Abdominal (stomach) pain
- Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)
There is not a current proven treatment for EDV so the start of the NIH trial is an important step forward. “We hope this trial will establish the safety of this experimental treatment for Ebola virus disease — an important first step in a larger evaluation process. Ebola is highly lethal, and reports of another outbreak in the DRC remind us that we urgently need Ebola treatments,” said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D
A new research study suggests that there is a possible treatment for COPD that would not only treat the disease but also some of its associated co-symptoms. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has no cure. There are two types of COPD: chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
Causes of COPD include exposure to air pollutants, respiratory infections and genetic factors but tobacco smoke is the leading cause. Symptoms of COPD can start out mild but progressively worsen over time. They include:
- An ongoing coughor a cough that produces a lot of mucus; this is often called smoker’s cough.
- Shortness of breath, especially with physical activity
- Wheezing or a whistling or squeaky sound when you breathe
- Chest tightness
Researchers recently discovered a molecular pathway that can be pharmacologically blocked to prevent the damaging inflammation of COPD. The senior author of the study, immunologist Associate Professor Margaret Hibbs said, ““Nothing previously has proved to be effective in treating patients with COPD, which is why this finding is so exciting. We can now attempt to target this protein.” According to Professor Hibbs, “this would be the first ever strategy that would not only treat the lung disease but the co-associated medical conditions at the same time.”
The NNLM SCR is pleased to welcome Rachel Tims to the RML. Rachel will serve as the All of Us Community Engagement Coordinator.
Prior to this position, Rachel served as a Prevention Project Officer for the MidSOUTH School of Social Work at the University of Arkansas Little Rock. In this role, she supervised 13 Regional Prevention Providers across the State of Arkansas under the Substance Abuse Block Grant. Rachel holds a Master of Science in Addiction Studies from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB). She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation Services from UAPB.
She is excited to join the NNLM SCR. Please feel free to contact her about the All of Us program.
Contact Rachel at Rachel.firstname.lastname@example.org or 817-735-2651.
Over the past couple of weeks, you may have hear about a new research program that the NIH has launched. All of Us endeavors to enroll 1 million or more adults to participate in a research study. Data from this study will be used to further advance the practice of precision medicine.
Precision medicine allows doctors to determine treatments that are likely more effective for individuals, taking into account their genetics. Although this approach to medicine is not new, advances in research have significantly fast tracked the progress of it.
- Participation is open to all.
- Participants reflect the rich diversity of the U.S.
- Participants are partners.
- Participants have access to their information.
- Data will be accessed broadly for research purposes.
- Security and privacy will be of highest importance.
- The program will be a catalyst for positive change in research.
You may have heard terms like telemedicine, telehealth, or mhealth in discussions around providing clinical care or education from a distance. MedlinePlus defines telehealth simply as “using electronic communications to provide or get health care services.” Some definitions that might be found in around telehealth policies and legislation include:
- Synchronous – live video and/or audio
- Asynchronous – also known as “store and forward” and not live
- Remote home monitoring – monitoring things like glucose or heart pressure from a distance
- Originating site – where the patient is located
- Distant site – where the provider is located
Telehealth may also include services like getting text message reminders to take medicine or consults done over video conferencing (although it can be found being used interchangeably with telemedicine or mhealth). The potential benefits that MedlinePlus also outlines are:
- Avoid having to travel (including money spent on traveling)
- Expert care from an out-of-state specialist
- Helps older adults or those with mobility issues
- Regular monitoring of health problems without frequent appointments
- More independence and less hospitalization for people with chronic diseases
Insurance doesn’t pay for all services and, depending on the state, the ability to practice or receive telehealth services comes with certain restrictions. The Center for Connected Health Policy published a document last year that examines each states laws. You can find that document here:
State Telehealth Laws and Reimbursement Policies: A Comprehensive Scan of the 50 States and District of Columbia (Fall 2017) – Center for Connected Health Policy: The National Telehealth Policy Resource Center (external)
The quantity of health information available is both an advantage and disadvantage for those turning to the internet to try and self-diagnose their symptoms. For example, a google search for “racing heartbeat” returned 1,710,000 results in less than a second. How does one determine if the website they are browsing has accurate and complete information?
Utilizing a trusted health resource to perform a search will significantly narrow the results down to credible sources with relevant information. For example, I did the same search, “racing heartbeat” on a health resource website and came up with only 62 results but from sources such as the National Institute of Health, Mayo Clinic, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
The health resource that I used is MedlinePlus.gov, a website produced by the National Library of Medicine, that offers a plethora of information about diseases, conditions and wellness. The site offers current information and there are no “sponsored links” during searches or advertising anywhere on the site.
Take a video tour of the site today!
A new study confirms earlier research about what causes sundowning in Alzheimer’s patients. This could lead to a pharmacological treatment to eliminate this issue.
Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that typically begins in those 60 years and older. It is the most common type of dementia and impacts parts of the brain that handle thought, memory and language. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s and the symptoms grow progressively worth with time.
Sundowning is a symptom of Alzheimer’s that occurs as daylight begins to fade. It presents as increased irritability, restlessness, or confusion. This will occasionally persist during nighttime hours as well making it difficult for patients and their caregivers to get proper sleep.
Previous research had suggested that this phenomenon was connected to circadian rhythm and a new research team has confirmed it. ’We have shown that the circadian clock in mice is closely linked to an aggression centre in the mouse brain by a cell circuit. The human brain has those same groups of cells that the circuit goes through. With this knowledge, we are now enabled to target this circuit pharmacologically and target cells that make people aggressive at the end of the day’, said Timothy Lynagh, a member of the research team who confirmed the connection.
It is estimated that treatment in humans could begin in approximately 20 years.
Dr. Jimmy Guidry, State Health Officer and Medical Director of the Louisiana Department of Health, gave the closing plenary at a recent conference I attended. He gave an inspiration speech, asking fellow colleagues to keep fighting the good fight in spite of obstacles. Dr. Guidry recounted a story of having to tell residents about the adverse effects of drinking from the local water supply, and that often when he gives news like that, people sometimes shift blame onto him.
Public health can be a thankless profession that way.
A Boston University article describes a situation in 1992 when Dr. Ann Aschengrau had to explain why cancer rates on Cape Cod were so much higher than the state average. Despite several linkages, there was no single answer much to the frustration of the local community. The article goes on to state:
“Epidemiology is a science of probabilities and estimates, maybes and maybe nots. No single epidemiological study can provide a definitive answer. Rather, research points to particular places or contaminants that, correlated, might bear further investigation.”
For former residents of Huntersville, NC and Auburn, AL, the investigation is still ongoing. In Huntersville, 18 people who spent a significant amount of time in the town since 2000 have received the same diagnosis of ocular melanoma, a rare eye cancer that typically only sees an incidences of around 5 people per every million. 33 people in Auburn who have lived or worked there between 1980 and the early 1990s have been diagnosed with the same cancer.
Each set of patients is sometimes described as a cluster. NCI defines a cancer cluster as “the occurrence of a greater than expected number of cancer cases among a group of people in a defined geographic area over a specific time period.” They can be challenging to investigate in part because of how long it takes cancer to develop and how often people can move in and out of a geographic area.
Furthermore, according to Dr. Marlana Orloff, an oncologist who specializes in this form of cancer, cases aren’t always picked up by cancer registries because “although these people lived in the state for that narrow window of time, they weren’t diagnosed there, so they’d fall out of the calculation.”
Ocular melanoma, or “OM” for short is a malignant tumor that ends up having a 50% mortality rate due to the development of metastatic cancer—growths of the tumor that have spread to other parts of the body. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), risk factors for OM include:
- “Being exposed to natural sunlight or artificial sunlight (such as from tanning beds) over long periods of time;
- Having light-colored eyes (blue or green eyes);
- Older age;
- Caucasian descent;
- Having certain inherited skin conditions, such as dysplastic nevus syndrome, that cause abnormal moles; and
- Having abnormal skin pigmentation involving the eyelids and increased pigmentation on the uvea.”
You can find at more by exploring any of the links embedded in this article.
It’s the first day of May and the beginning of Arthritis Awareness Month. An estimated 22.7% of the U.S. population has received an arthritis diagnosis from a doctor. 43.5% of diagnosed patients have had to limit their activities due to this condition.
Arthritis is a blanket term used to describe joint pain or joint disease. There are actually several types of arthritis with osteoarthritis being the most common. Osteoarthritis often occurs as we age or following an injury (post traumatic arthritis.) Other types of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile arthritis, infectious arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and gout.
There are several risk factors for arthritis and the CDC lists two categories of risks. Those you can change (modifiable) and those you cannot change (non-modifiable):
Non-modifiable risk factors
- Age: The risk of developing most types of arthritis increases with age.
- Gender: Most types of arthritis are more common in women; 52% of all adults with arthritis are women. Gout is more common in men.
- Genetic: Specific genes are associated with a higher risk of certain types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematous (SLE), and ankylosing spondylitis.
Modifiable risk factors
- Overweight and Obesity: Excess weight can contribute to both the onset and progression of knee osteoarthritis.
- Joint Injuries: Damage to a joint can contribute to the development of osteoarthritis in that joint.
- Infection: Many microbial agents can infect joints and potentially cause the development of various forms of arthritis.
- Occupation: Certain occupations involving repetitive knee bending and squatting are associated with osteoarthritis of the knee.
There are a variety of treatments available for arthritis such as oral and topical medications, injections, activity modification, and surgery. Clinical trials are also an available option to arthritis sufferers.
The National Network of Libraries of Medicine South Central Region has several funding opportunities available. Don’t miss your chance to apply!Library Student Outreach Award
Amount: Up to $2,000.00
Description: This award promotes the value of outreach to library school students interested in health sciences librarianship.
To learn more: https://nnlm.gov/scr/funding/library-student-outreach-award
Emerging Leader Award
Amount: Up to $4,000.00
Description: This award motivates and prepares a librarian for a position of leadership in an academic health sciences library.
To learn more: https://nnlm.gov/scr/funding/emerging-leader-award
New funding opportunities are released periodically so check our website frequently to see if there is an award you are eligible for. If you have questions about funding opportunities, please contact:
Dietary herbs and supplements are commonly recommended to me by friends and family for nearly any health complaint I have. A recent bout of insomnia brought an onslaught of recommendations and during my research I found some great information and an invaluable resource.
The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) defines a dietary supplement as a product that is intended to supplement the diet. The NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health adds:
- Contains one or more dietary ingredients (including vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, and certain other substances) or their constituents
- Is intended to be taken by mouth, in forms such as tablet, capsule, powder, softgel, gelcap, or liquid
- Is labeled as being a dietary supplement.
A great resource to find out information about specific herbs and supplements is MedlinePlus.gov. They have a complete list herbs and supplements and a wealth of information specific to each one. All one has to do is click the name of the product they are interested in and the following information is available:
What is it?
- How effective is it?
- How does it work?
- Are there safety concerns?
- Are there interactions with medications?
- Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?
- Are there interactions with food?
- What dose is used?
- Other names
The next time you are thinking about starting a new herb or supplement recommended to you, make sure to check out this website. It’s also commonly recommended that you consult your primary care physician.
Twenty three years ago today, Oklahoma experienced one of the worst terrorists attacks to ever occur on U.S. soil. A little after 9:00 a.m., a truck exploded in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building located in the downtown of Oklahoma City. 168 lost their lives that day and many more were injured.
Domestic terrorists Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were responsible for the attack. They were both arrested, tried, and sentenced for the crime. Terry Nichols was sentenced to life in prison and is serving his term in a Colorado penitentiary. McVeigh was sentenced to death and was executed in 2011.
Oklahoma is part of our region which is why we wanted to share this day in history and offer our support to their community. Please join us in a moment of silence after you finish reading this blog post.
Last week, I attended the Louisiana Public Health Association annual meeting for the first time. I had the privilege of also being a presenter there, premiering a session I’ve been developing on mHealth to a packed room. It was a two-day conference with a crawfish boil at the President’s Reception on the first night.
My particular focus was on opioid- and disaster-related presentations. One of the plenary sessions was delivered by Natalie Roy, MPH, the Executive Director of the AgriSafe Network, a non-profit organization that aims to reduce health disparities in the agricultural community. She spoke about the importance of addressing farmworker safety and the Ag Health Risk Assessment Tool (AgHRA), a tool (only one of its kind) they developed for assessing risk and taking steps to reduce risk for those in agriculture.
Dr. Joseph Kanter, the Director of Health for the City of New Orleans, talked about the Opioid Crisis in Louisiana and how they were addressing it. He stated that addiction was not the result of abuse but rather over-prescription, citing a statistic that 75% of current injection drug users began with a legitimate prescription. Louisiana has one of the highest rates of prescription, with 118 prescriptions per 100 residents in 2012.
They are taking a multipronged strategy that includes but is not limited to reducing the available of opioids, decreasing harm to current users, reducing stigma and dispelling myths around drug use, and expanding treatment. More information can be found here: http://ldh.la.gov/index.cfm/subhome/54
The final one I’d like to highlight was a Bleeding Control Basics course, taught by Dr. Jennifer Avegno and Dr. Rebecca Schroll. It is a trauma-version of CPR training that was developed after the 2012 Sandy Hook shootings where it was found that with basic training, some of the children could have been saved with basic bleeding control skills. The two main tools in the arsenal during this training was a tourniquet and a moulage trainer (simulated casualty in a small box). To find out more about this training, you can visit: https://www.bleedingcontrol.org/
There were a lot of great sessions. And at the reception, I also learned about Second line, a traditional dance where people walk and twirl handkerchiefs in the air. Eventually, I’d see this out on the street when visiting the French Quarter during my stay. Overall, it was a fantastic conference and I hope to return again.