Critical Health News

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia

My friend Laura called last week and asked me to write about fibromyalgia, so here goes.

The first thing I think about when I hear the dreaded diagnosis is something one of my professors in pharmacy school used to talk about at least once a semester.  "A diagnosis is a definition and a definition is not a disease."  What he meant was the nomenclature associated with some type of bodily dysfunction is nothing more than a moniker and designation.   It tells nothing about what is occurring in the body or how to address it; it simply names it.

Fibromyalgia is the Latin term for “muscle fiber pain”.   That means when you go to your doctor complaining of muscle pain and you leave with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, what your medical guru is basically doing is taking your complaint,  translating it to a medieval dialect, giving you a pain medication or maybe an anti-depressant (!) and then billing you.  This is a textbook example of how the medical model works.  It can’t do anything real, but it can officiate your symptomology by sanctifying it with a Latin moniker.

It reminds me of the Wizard of Oz.   As you’ll recall at the end of the flick, the scarecrow, with a head filled with nothing but straw, travels far and wide to find the magical wizard (doctor) who, it was said, could miraculously create for him a brain.  As it turns out however, the wizard (doctor) is nothing but a fraud, and while he can’t deliver him any gray matter, he can give him something that, where he comes from, re-presents a brain.  A diploma!   In other words instead of giving his patient anything real, he gives him a piece of paper that supposedly symbolizes something real.  Sounds a lot like the medical model to me!

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Understanding Hormones

Hormones

I had just finished a talk when, as usual, folks were milling around looking to get some questions answered. A woman named Nancy steps out of the crowd. She's in her early 50’s with a whole slew of symptoms I’ve heard many times before: Hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and anxiety. Her moods are swinging like a cheap screen door in a winter storm and loss of libido may end her marriage. She’s carrying an extra 30 pounds of body weight. No matter how she changes her diet, she can’t seem to drop them.

She, of course, knows it’s her hormones. At least that’s what she tells me. But when I ask her what exactly she means by "hormones", she really can’t come up with much of an answer. That’s because she has little understanding of what is meant by this catch-all term “hormones”. Nancy isn’t alone. Women like Nancy come up to me after every presentation I do. I receive letters, take phone calls, answer texts and messages on this subject many times a week.

Modern scientific understanding of hormones is over a hundred years old. However if you do a random survey amongst your non-medical friends, not many people could really explain what a hormone is and/or what it does.  How can we really understand how to address hormone related health issues without having a basic grasp of what these things are and how they work?

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Chitin

Chitin

Shrimp and lobsters make their own anti-inflammatory molecules, and that has scientists very excited. In a press release posted last week by the College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University, officials announced that they had received a $380,000 National Institute of Health grant to investigate just how the marine medicine could be used to eliminate inflammatory diseases in humans.

The crabby chemical that is the center of attention is called a chitin, and it’s a key constituent of the shells of various oceans animals including crayfish, shrimp, krill, and barnacles, and is one of the most abundant molecules in all of nature, second only to cellulose. And, as it turns out, in addition to being abundant (and cheap), chitin has powerful anti -inflammatory properties. Properties that are so impressive, that the natural molecule found in so many crust critters is being studied in hope of finding a pharmaceutical treatment for inflammatory diseases including Irritable Bowel Syndrome, arthritis, and heart disease. And it’s not just shellfish that contain this fascinating medicinal molecule. You can find chitin in the hard shells of insects as well as in the cell walls of most fungi and algae.

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