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Thursday, December 13, 2018

If You Hang Around a Barbershop

"If you hang around a barbershop long enough, 
you will probably end up getting a haircut."  

Love it!  I'm told this isn't a novel line, but it's new to me, and I'm totally stealing it.  Best way ever to underline the point -- be careful where you hang out and who you hang out with.

Although a good line for us all, it's especially apt for the newly or fragilely sober.  i.e. beer gardens, wine tastings, and corner pubs aren't the way to go for these folks; neither is hanging out with the old drinking buddies. Duh, obvious, I know. But how often do you review your choices with this perspective in mind? Do I want to emulate this person? Do I want to become what this place produces? How often has your doc warned you to steer clear of cheesecake indulging buddies while battling cardiovascular disease? Choose the gym rat bud instead?

An old brilliantly practical teacher of mine, the iconic Harvard consult liaison psychiatrist George Murray MD, gifted me a 1955 videotape (yes I'm that old-- they were tapes) -- The Man with the Golden Arm -- telling me to learn this same obvious but under-appreciated point. We are all like Frank Sinatra, he said, who in the main character role, goes back to his drug addict ways after returning to the drug addict world.

Bottom line, let's watch out for barbershops.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

5 Different Questions to Ask Your Kiddo

Enjoy this cute little article that serves as a good reminder... to put a little effort into the kiddo after-school communication. Maybe consider the author's 5 different questions to ask your kiddo -- beyond the classic tried and true and universally dreaded, "How was your day?" (That I, for one, am endlessly guilty of.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Gotta Love Light Therapy

Woo hoo for LIGHT THERAPY!  Yup, an article from Current Psychiatry last week summarizes recent research on the use of light therapy for bipolar depression, concluding that 15-60 minutes of 5,000-7,000 lux of light around noon daily might well improve bipolar depression, as it helps a host of other depressive disorders. Although OF COURSE do NOT start any treatment (even light therapy)  without talking to your doctor about it first.

But how AMAZING is this?  That mere light can make some of us feel better?  The risks of light therapy not surprisingly generally are considered minimal. (Although light therapy could increase cycling into mania for those with bipolar disorder, like almost everything that treats bipolar depression, although it's not hard to turn the thing off and quickly if this happens).

But what light to buy, if you decide to go this route?  Not all light therapy lamps/light boxes are created equal.  Many cheaper ones simply don't shoot off enough light lux.  The authors suggest using one that offers 10,000 lux when a 1 foot away. And of course use one without ultraviolet radiation, unless you have a hankering for wrinkles and skin cancer.  And one more warning, most should turn it off evenings, or it can kick up insomnia.

p.s. BY THE WAY, if you don't have the funds for one of these fancy lights, no need to panic, just do something radical in this day and age -- go outside. You'll get more lux than the best of those lights, and even on wintery midwest days, like we're plagued with around here. (Note, wear sunscreen, always.)

Monday, November 19, 2018

Weighted blankets

I love interventions that might help but with zero or close to zero risk. So I'm drawn to the chatter about weighted blankets as an adjunct to increase security and so decrease anxiety.  It's far from a novel concept. It has long been suspected that weighted blankets are helpful to soothe some with autism spectrum disorders. A bitty study found the blankets useful as a component to help calm struggling inpatients in a so-called sensory room (also known as a comfort room).  There are a host of weighted blankets available online, so pick your flavor, and who knows which are better?  By the way, I would discuss the use of the weighted blankets with your doc first, especially before using them for the young, the old or the ill. Take care.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Tony Robbins

OK, I admit it, several decades late, I'm a ridiculous Tony Robbins fan -- yes a fan of the super tall life coach of the stars and billionaires.  No, I absolutely do NOT agree with everything he says, especially when he deals with mental illness.  Still, he makes excellent points, and in effective ways.  And I think the more and more varying approaches we can fish through to improve our lives and ways, the better.

Enjoy the tall guy's videos on You Tube, such as here.

Sunday, September 23, 2018


Any doctor who has stood in an operating room enough times, has seen the blackened lungs of those who smoke. Seriously, stop smoking. There's nothing better you can do for health, well other than driving as carefully as that famous little blue haired lady surely did.

So, I much appreciate BBC's article last week Don't Go Cold Turkey, that pragmatically promoted the use of nicotine replacement to increase the odds of successfully quitting cigarettes -- which it does two to three-fold.

However, I'm not a fan of the article's blithe endorsement of e-cigs (which seem to be multiplying in my youthful academic corner of the world), and they did so without reviewing the many risks of e-cigs. Check out the Surgeon General's maybe surprisingly decent and useful website on e-cigs and youth to learn more.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Food to help sleep?

Interested in naturally better sleep but not interested in taking the prescription sleeping medication route? Well, why not give an evening dose of foods rich in melatonin a try?

It's a way to avoid any potential risks from the uncontrolled supplement market version of melatonin. (Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the FDA doesn't keep tabs on supplements, so their contents are unreliable.)

Good news, there are loads of foods rich in melatonin, including  bananas, orange juice, pineapple, white mushrooms, cranberries (fresh only),  or especially pistachios, of all things!  Who knew 2 pistachios could help sleep? Can't think of a reason not to give it a whirl, unless you are nut allergic of course.

All, as discussed by my favorited health food guru real MD, Dr. Michael Gregor in his latest video. Enjoy!

Higher protein/Lower carb diet increases risk of death?

Protein still gets such a positive rap in this country, that folks might be surprised to hear that a recent large study presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress found that higher protein/so lower carbohydrate diets increase risk of death from multiple causes.  And they're saying it's not some tiny increase in risk, although I'm eager to see the study in print.  They reported finding an increased risk of death from heart disease, cerebrovascular disease (stroke) and cancer (of 51%, 50% and 35%) on those consuming a lower carbohydrate diet.  They also report on a meta-analysis finding similar, although less dramatic results.

The professor who led the study, professor Banach, explained:
"Low carbohydrate diets might be useful in the short term to lose weight, lower blood pressure, and improve blood glucose control, but our study suggests that in the long-term they are linked with an increased risk of death from any cause, and deaths due to cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, and cancer."
So, maybe eat some baked potatoes, and have a great day!

Friday, August 24, 2018

"Self Care Alone is Not a Cure for Mental Illness"

In her Huffington Post article, "Self Care is Not a Cure for Mental Illness", Claire Hubble nails the point that research-backed traditional care including medication is essential for many. Yes, put an Asterix on her awesome point here! Do NOT shy away from needed medical and psychiatric care, even if you like to utilize the kale, yoga and holistic everything else!  Hubble's article is worth a read. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Finding More Joy

Need a dose of joy today? Who doesn't?

Ingrid Fetell Lee's article "Ode to Joy: how to find happiness in balloons and rainbows" in this week's Guardian beautifully explores some life-brightening steps --  like upping the polka dots, bright colors and flowers in your world.


Does a Vaporizer make Cannabis Use Less Hard on the Lungs?

My favorite holistically oriented medical guru, Michael Gregor MD, discusses whether the method of cannabis use changes its impact on the lungs in his latest little, info-packed video.

The short answer: a vaporizer may decrease tar exposure, but the stuff still seems to pack a negative respiratory punch.  And no, the good doctor doesn't get into the brain impacts of the stuff this time round, (nor the politics, thank goodness!).

What is Wellness Anyway?

"The state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal."