Medical Assistant

Mediterranean Made Easy


Fruits and Vegetables: loaded with antioxidants, which fight the inflammatory chemicals that can damage the body’s cells.

Veggies like onions, garlic, an shallots contain allium which may help fend off enzymes that eat away at joint cartilage. The richer the color of fruit, the more antioxidants it has. Good choices with anti-inflammatory properties include berries, purple grapes, tart cherries and dark red apples.

Whole grains: numerous studies confirm that the emphasis of high-fiber, slow-digesting grains help keep blood sugar stable.

Fish: should be consumed at least twice a week. The inflammation fighting effects of eating seafood rich in omega-3 oils can benefit heart and joint health; and may even lower dementia risk. Best sources include fatty fish like salmon and tuna.

Legumes, nuts and seeds: These plant based foods are the diet’s main source of protein. All are packed with nutrients and fiber shown to lower inflammation in the body; especially the omega-3 fats in walnuts and flaxseeds.

Dairy and poultry: Keep meat portions small; sauté leftover chicken or meat with veggies in olive oil and add a tomato-based sauce.

Herbs, spices and olive oil: the diet is low in saturated fat and processed foods, but still packs a flavor punch with heart-smart ingredients like basil, rosemary and the health fats in olive oil.

Sweets are used sparingly. Try to mix the sweet with nuts to reduce the rise in blood sugar that sweets cause.

Help your body bounce back while sleeping


Ease hip and knee pain by sleeping on your side with a pillow tucked between your knees.

Soothe a sore neck by sleeping on your back, with your pillow above the shoulders. Roll up a small hand-towel and place it beneath your neck to keep it in a neutral position.

Baby your back and maintain the natural curve of the spine by sleeping on your stomach with a rolled up towel under your lower back and a pillow beneath your knees.

Sleeping on your side may sidestep sleep apnea by preventing airways form collapsing. To keep from rolling onto your back, try sewing a tennis ball onto the back of our pajamas.

Calm down acid reflux by raising the head of the bed  so your head is higher than your stomach, helping to keep stomach acid from rising into your esophagus.

If you have a gout flare or plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the tissues under the heel, you’ll want to take pressure off the feet. Instead of tucking in sheets, drape them over a footboard or buy a blanket lift to keep the covers off your feet.

Health Monitor

Next-Generation Therapies for Depression

The search for better treatments for depression embraces multiple strategies to fight this common, life-threatening disorder.

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is available now and was dev eloped in the 60′s. Cognitive therapy teaches people how to change their thinking to influence their moods. Therapists now believe that CT combined with  mindfulness- observing one’s thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them can be helpful for those who suffer from depression.

Kappa-opioid receptor (KOR) antagonists- naturally occurring opioids the brain help regulate neurotransmitters, but opioids such as morphine tend to increase pleasure and have the potential for addiction. KORs are in development and there is hope they will offer an antidepressant effect with the pleasure response or risk of dependency.

Ketamine and related drugs are in trials. A powerful anesthetic, ketamine targets a glutamate receptor called NDMS that helps to increase brain-cell function. Studies have shown that a ketamine infusion can reverse suicidal depression within hours though their can be hallucinogenic side effects. Testing is underway on non-hallucinogenic variations and different methods of delivery.

Brain stimulation- directly stimulating the brain to relieve depression has progressed since the early days of ECT. New studies suggest that low-field magnetic stimulation (LFMS), which painlessly sends low-strength, high frequency  magnetic waves to the brain, may offer treatment-resistant patents immediate relief.

Triple uptake inhibitors (TRIs) are being tested on humans. Today’s antidepressants target the brain’s neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine. Now researchers are suggesting that dopamine should not be overlooked and are  investigating drugs that simultaneously target all three key transmitters.

AARP The magazine August/September 2015

Staying Sharp


Minneapolis-based neuropsychologist David Alter is co-author of the new book called Staying Sharp focused on how to approach aging with intent and purpose. These are 5 things to help stay sharp:

1. Cultivate sharp attention and mindfulness- prioritize what matters

2. Stay curious- the brain wakes up when it encounters something unexpected

3. Be open to new adventures- a youthful brain involves flexible responses to problem solving

4. Be an optimist- it gives you the ability to stay the course rather than being consumed by frustration

5. Stay true to who you are, and prioritize quality relationships over quantity- honesty and empathy are keys to meaningful relationships which are what keep us and our brains going

Supplement Sleuth


An article in September 2015 by Stacey Colino discusses finding vitamins that are safe and effective.  Below are a few tips from their guide:

1. Understand the industry: the FDA does not require dietary supplement manufacturers to prove safety, efficacy, purity or potency. The level of testing varies among companies and manufacturers are responsible for regulating themselves.

2. Know that supplements should enhance, not replace healthy eating.

3. Be wary of ‘niche’ options: no over the counter or store bought supplement taken orally decreases stress and most energy boosters are loaded with caffeine.

4. Don’t go overboard: While excessive amounts of some water soluble vitamins will wash out in urine, other nutrients like vitamin A can be toxic to the liver. Look for formulas that provide no more than 100% of the recommended dietary intake. Always read the back of the bottle, paying attention to the numbers on the ingredients list.

5. Tell your provider about all the supplements you’re taking even if you think they are harmless.

Smart Shopping Tips:

Look for the USP symbol on the label because it shows what that the supplement contains what it claims to.

Watch out for problematic products- consult

Consider products that have been tested independently-


Slash Your Stroke Risk


Many strokes are preventable if one risk factor is modified and that is reducing blood pressure.

Blood pressure numbers are a reflection of how hard the heart has to work with each beat. If left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to stiffening of the vessels and increase risk of plaque buildup.  A stroke happens when a piece of plaque ruptures, causing a  blood clot to develop.

Three steps to lower blood pressure:

1. trim the amount of salt in your diet; ideally 1500 mg of sodium daily

2. increase  activity by walking daily which will lower blood pressure and strengthen your heart muscle over time

3. adopt the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet program which is rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and lowfat dairy

What the numbers mean:

Normal = less than 120/less than 80

Prehypertension = 120-139/80-89

Hypertension = 140-160 or higher/90-100 or higher

September 2015


Skip the following natural cures


Interesting healthsmart article in the July 2015 All You edition which highlights some home treatments for stress headache, menstrual cramps, runny nose, canker sores and recurring yeast infection.

It recommends skipping the following natural cures!

1. oil pulling for oral hygiene which consists of swishing oil around your mouth for up to 20 minutes is said to whiten teeth and prevent cavities. You still have  to brush, floss and schedule a routine dental visit.

2. ear candling for congestion sucks out ear wax and impurities caused by a cold. Research reveals that the candle doesn’t create a suction effect and warns you can get burns or a punctured ear drum.

3. black cohosh for hot flashes refers to an herbal supplement has not proved to be effective in larger studies. You are better off trying meditation or other techniques to control stress which makes it harder to handle hot flashes.

Brave New Worlds In Diagnosing Diseases


Information on the latest generation of test to identify who’s at risk for certain diseases, as well as determine the best treatment.

The Oncotype DX prostate  cancer test analyzes genetic information in a biopsy to distinguish between slow-growing tumors that warrant regular monitoring and faster-growing tumors that dean immediate treatment which avoids aggressive treatment.

By analyzing a person’s genetic code, it’s now possible to predict which drugs will work bet for each patient and which ones are ineffective and possibly dangerous. The FDA has posted on its website more than 150 medications for which DNA screenings can help avert futile treatments.

Instead of a colonoscopy, some people have a new alternative: the PillCam COLON2. It is a disposable, battery-run video camera in a capsule that is swallowed. It travels in the body for up t 10 hours and transmit high-speed color pictures of its journey to a recording device attached to a belt around the waist. One still needs a cleansing prep and any polyps or other findings must be dealt with in the old  fashioned way. For now it is available for  those who can not have a traditional colonoscopy.

AliveCor Heart Monitor ECG Check uses your smartphone to record an accurate ECG and send it to the physician. A thin device with built-in sensors is attached to the back of the phone and a free app is downloaded.

AARP Bulletin/Real Possibilities May 2015

The head-to-toe guide to natural remedies


Great article in June 2015 Real Simple magazine regarding herbs, minerals and even good that can improve health- often with minimal side effects.

For your brain there is information on butterbur, magnesium, melatonin and rhodiola.  People who supplemented with the butterbur herb reduced migraine frequency by 48% in four months. Rhodiola is an herb native to Eurasia which reduces stress and fatigue, improves mental focus and fights depression.

For your eyes there is information on lutein and zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids.

For your nose and sinuses there is information again on butterbur, Echinacea and zinc. Butterbur relieves seasonal allergies by shrinking swollen nasal membranes  and blocking the release of histamine, the chemical that triggers sniffles.

For your mouth there is information on vitamin B12 and lemon balm. Applying lemon balm cream to a cold sore right after it surfaces helps it to heal faster.

For your heart there is information on dark chocolate, coenzyme Q10 and garlic. CoQ10 is an antioxidant found in every tissue of the body with its highest concentration in the heart, where it plays a key role in controlling blood pressure.

For your stomach information is included about apples, ginger and peppermint the  latter which is helpful for IBS or chronic stomach pain.

For your skin there is information about arnica, calendula, honey, oatmeal, tamanu oil and tea tree oil. Arnica ointment may help bruises heal fast reducing inflammation and pain. Calendula is a marigold derived extract with antibacterial properties that reduce the risk of infection in open wounds. Tamanu oil is native to the South Pacific Islands and is high in anti-inflammatory fatty acids that may spur the growth of new, healthier tissue.

For your whole body there is information about coconut oil, coffee and curcumin.  The latter is derived from turmeric root which is a primary ingredient of curry powder ad reduces inflammation.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Redefined


Between 836,000 and 2.5 million Americans have CFS and an estimated 84 to 91% of people with this illness are not diagnosed.

The Institute of Medicine committee recommends CFS be renamed systemic exertion intolerance disease. New diagnostic criteria has been identified to streamline diagnosis. People with CFS demonstrate three core symptoms:

  1. impaired ability to engage in pre-illness levels of activity for at least six months, with profound fatigue
  2. worsened symptoms after any type of exertion
  3. fatigue that persists even with sleep

To be diagnosed, the patient must also exhibit one of two additional symptoms:

  1. impaired ability to think
  2. inability to remain upright, with symptoms that improve when lying down

CFS tends to begin affecting people between the ages of 40 and 60 years and occurs four times more often in women than men.

CMA Today May-Jun 2015