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What's New! - A Healthy Living Newsletter

January, 2002

My patients frequently ask my opinion about new health books on the market. And there's certainly no shortage of experts peddling their advice! While many of these books are excellent, others are written by people who don't have a clinical background in the subject. Simply put - they're inaccurate.

The people writing the books either don't regularly use the medicines they write about or they're presenting theories as if they are facts. Others can be valuable tools for improving the quality of your life.

If you find this newsletter useful, please forward it to a friend!

Living with Anxiety
A Clinically-Tested Step-By-Step Plan for Drug-Free Management
By Bob Montgomery Ph.D. and Laurel Morris Ph.D.

"You worry too much." "Why are you such a worrywart?" Have these or similar comments have been directed to you recently? Do you find yourself worrying excessively or are currently on anti-anxiety medications? Then here's a book worth reading.

Living with Anxiety is a practical well-written book which deals with an embarrassing subject in a constructive way. Anxiety is considered a weakness in our society - a condition that ostensibly seems to plague mostly women and seniors. This book shows that anxiety is an equal-opportunity condition. Men, and some women, just show it a different way - often by aggressive or complaining behavior.

Authors Montgomery and Morris have two main premises. One which is reflected in the title of the book, is that anxious people will always be anxious. Their goal should be to control the anxiety rather than let the anxiety control them. The second is that while medications are useful short-term; they don't change the cause of the anxiety, help you cope or move you closer to being drug-free - which hopefully is your long-term goal.

Living with Anxiety starts with the basics by defining all types of anxiety: generalized anxiety, social phobias, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), and agoraphobia (fear of leaving your home and going into a public space in which you might have a panic attack). Their definitions are in everyday language with examples of what this behavior would look like in a social setting.

Then, Montgomery and Morris cover a point that is often overlooked by physicians - not all anxiety is rooted in emotional problems. Did you know that hypoglycemia, epilepsy, excessive caffeine, thyroid or adrenal gland problems, middle ear problems and heart problems (specifically mitral valve prolapse) can be physical causes for anxiety? If you are on prescription medication, did your prescribing physician test you for these possible causes?

The main thrust of the book is how to decrease your anxiety so that it doesn't affect your life. Living with Anxiety offers a systematic approach to decrease various forms of anxiety with goals and exercises. Finally, the book tells you how to wean yourself off conventional anti-anxiety medications safely to avoid rebound effect.

I really liked this book It's simple to follow, easy to pick-and-chose sections appropriate to you, and practical.

Successful Aging
The MacArthur Foundation Study shows you how the lifestyle choices you make now - more than - heredity - determine your health and vitality
By John W. Rowe, MD and Robert L. Kahn, Ph.D.

I want to start with 2 warnings. First, this book was written by researchers. They beat every point to death before moving onto the next. I like statistics and research as well as the next person, maybe better, but enough is enough. Second, it is written entirely in a conventional medical slant. Parts of it sound like it was written by a pharmaceutical company. However, the overall premise is important - which makes the book worth reading.

We are all living longer. And with the same logic as saving money for your retirement, Successful Aging tell you have to prepare mentally and physically for your older years. Yes, that's right - a healthy human body, like your savings, requires investment and attention. This preparation is based on the following goals:
1) Avoiding Disease and Disability
2) Maintaining Mental and Physical Function
3) Continued Engagement with Life
Successful Aging isn't the imitation of youth with "some improbable shade of blond or red hair dye". And it sure isn't the persistent preoccupation with disability, disease and chronological age. It's taping into the basic human physical design and realizing the remarkable capacity of older individuals to recover lost function and of younger individuals not to lose the function in the first place.

The first 4 chapters deal with aging statistics and a few of the myths of aging. You know "To be old is to be sick", "A senior citizen can't make health changes at this point" and the related point "Even if I wanted to, it's too late for my body to respond to these changes" If you need convincing, then read them - otherwise skip them.

Then next few chapters discusses the various diagnostic tests to for early detection. Mammograms to avoid breast cancer, yearly PSAs to detect prostate cancer, and aspirin for a healthy heart. (This really bugs me, as aspirin along with thinning the blood also causes tears leading to bleeding in the stomach and intestinal lining. Gingko and garlic are far safer blood thinners for most people.) They recommend 1200 mg of daily calcium supplementation to prevent osteoporosis, but fail to discuss the different absorption rates of the various forms of calcium. For example, calcium citrate is better absorbed than calcium carbonate. Also, calcium citrate decreases the risk of calcium-based kidney or gallbladder stones. To round this section out, they also include several painfully obvious suggestions such as, to avoid lung cancer, don't smoke.

Chapter Six finally discusses the role of Exercise and Nutrition in Maintaining Health. It's extremely basic advice, but incredibly important. Unfortunately, it was only 23 out of the 206 pages of the book.

Rowe and Kahn switch gears at this point and venture into "unmedical" territory by including the roles of mental function and social relationships in successful aging. Retention of mental function corresponds to retention of physical function in the senior population. And "just good old-fashioned talk therapy from friends and loved ones helps to keep the aging body vital."

Successful Aging is an important concept, but I think the book falls quite a bit short of what it could be. I can appreciate the authors wanted to report the MacArthur study results, but I think a far more important task is to guide the 40-60 year-old in making healthy decisions that will affect their mental, emotional, and physical well-being in their senior years.

Herb Tip: Every winter I receive many emails and frantic calls from people who just can't get sick, but feel like they are coming down with a cold or flu. I give them the following advice - which works 95% of the time.
1) Go to the store and get a quality herbal combination and Vitamin C. The herbs should include Echinacea and a varying assortment of Eupatorium, Goldenseal, Inula, Ligusticum, etc. It might even contain Vitamin A, beta-carotene and zinc. Don't get anything with Astragulus as that is long-term, not short-term. I like (and use) Wise Woman's Phytoguard, but Herb Pharm, MediHerb, and Gaia Herbs are also excellent and will do the job. I've never seen the bargain herbs work effectively.
2) Take 1-2 pills of the herbal combination every waking hour, along with 500-1000mg of Vitamin C. Do this for 4-6 hours or until you start to feel substantially better - not to exceed 12 waking hours. If you overdo the Vitamin C, you will get lose bowels - a sure sign to cut back. These are adult doses, and can be reduced appropriately for children.
3) After you start to feel better, cut back to 1-2 pills every 3 hours, then every 4 hours, etc.
4) Don't forget to rest and eat light nutritious foods like chicken broth, miso, and/or vegetable soup.

Copyright 2002 Dr. Juniper Martin, LLC


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Dr. Juniper Martin
11825 SW Greenburg Road, Suite A2
Tigard, OR 97223