Tips to Strengthen and Support Your Immune System

happy family jumping together on the beachAs you know, frequent hand washing and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze are recommended to reduce your chances of getting sick. But what about taking preventative measures to prepare our bodies’ natural defense system to combat viruses? Although there is no sure-fire way to avoid catching a cold or the flu, there are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk of these illnesses.

Our immune system is a powerful complex network of cells that acts as our defense against foreign invaders. However, at times of high stress, our immunity can get compromised and may need an extra boost. We’ve rounded up some of our key tips on how to help prevent illness and support your immune system.

1. NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS

Eating a balanced diet with whole foods is the best way to ensure you are meeting your daily recommended vitamin and mineral requirements. But in reality, many of us are not meeting these requirements through diet alone. An effective measure we can take is to incorporate supplements into our diet (in addition to our nutritional intake from food), especially during the cold and flu season.

Here are some recommended supplements that have protective properties against viruses.

* Before taking supplements, please speak with one of our friendly pharmacists to ensure the product is suitable for you, as there can be potential drug interactions.*

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is crucial for the development and repair of our bodies’ tissues. It plays a function in the absorption of other vitamins and minerals like iron, improves wound healing, and helps to maintain cartilage and bones. Vitamin C can be found in sweet bell peppers, oranges, grapefruit, and cruciferous vegetables. The majority of evidence shows that taking high doses of vitamin C orally might decrease the duration of cold symptoms by 1 to 1.5 days in some patients.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is required for many essential physiological functions, and acts by regulating the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the body, which is crucial for bone and skin health. Vitamin D is found in foods like fatty fish, egg yolks, cruciferous vegetables, mushrooms, and white beans. Studies support the use of vitamin D in reducing the risk of respiratory tract infections, especially in children. There is some conflicting evidence to suggest the ideal dose, but increasing your daily vitamin D dose during the winter months is recommended.

Ginseng

Ginseng is an herb plant grown in the Asian continent. It can help to improve cognitive function, physical stamina, stress management, fatigue, and is also used in other types of herbal medicines. Studies show that ginseng has immune-modulating properties, which help to protect against infections of pathogenic viruses. There is clinical evidence to suggest that taking a ginseng supplement or extract can decrease your risk of catching the flu or common cold.

Quercetin

Quercetin is a flavonoid, found in plant foods like red onions, grapes, berries, and apples. It has antioxidant properties, can reduce inflammation and ease allergy symptoms. It’s also being studied for its potential antiviral effects.

Zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral that supports our bodies’ immune system and metabolic function. Zinc is naturally present in foods like oysters, red meat, pumpkin seeds, cashews, and legumes but it’s also a commonly added ingredient to cold and flu medications. Overall, studies have shown zinc products may be beneficial for modestly reducing the duration of symptoms of the common cold in adults.

2. SLEEP

Sleep is essential for a healthy immune system, but can often be neglected. The average person needs approximately 6-8 hours of sleep each night but many people around the world aren’t even getting that amount.

When our brain is at rest, sleep aids in the disposal of harmful toxins, cell regeneration, brain regeneration, hormone balancing, memory function, and wound healing.

Lack of sleep can lead to a compromised immune system due to increased inflammation.

It’s important to make sleep a regular priority in your schedule. Although the exact amount of sleep varies by individual, ensure that you feel well-rested to function and thrive throughout your day. Also, aim to create good sleep hygiene practices, like limiting electronic exposure prior to bed time (or downloading blue light blockers for your devices if you are using electronic devices), sleeping in a cool, dark room with no lights or sound, and limiting caffeine intake. Some patients can also benefit from adding a melatonin supplement to their diet, which can help restore your body’s natural circadian rhythm.

3. NUTRITION

Nutrition is a critical element of our bodies’ immune system. The majority of our immune system stems from our gut health and our immune system protects against viruses, bacteria, parasites, and other toxic cells.

Malnutrition of macronutrients (protein, fats, carbohydrates) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) can suppress our immune system.

It’s important to eat a diet including many natural plant-based foods (that are unprocessed or as minimally processed as possible). Include lots of fresh vegetables and fruits at each meal, and incorporate a variety of foods so you are receiving a wide spectrum of nutrients.

 

Feel free to contact us to discuss how we can help you live a happy and healthy life. We are here for you!

Coronavirus: Be Careful Where You Get Your News

coronavirus

News about a deadly virus that appeared in Wuhan, China in December (now called 2019 novel coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV) is everywhere lately. And as the number of cases rises, it’s understandable if you’re wondering how likely it is that you or a loved one will become ill. And quite likely, you’re also wondering how to prevent this.

So, where should you turn for the latest information on a rapidly changing situation? It’s hard to beat the convenience of the internet, and we know there’s a lot of useful and reliable information online. But there’s also a lot of misinformation. The trick is to figure out which is which.

Why You Need to Know About This New Virus

The concern regarding this new virus is well-deserved. As of January 31, there have been

  • Nearly 10,000 confirmed cases and 213 confirmed deaths attributed to 2019-nCoV, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 99% of the cases and all of the deaths have been in China.
  • 26 countries reporting cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nearly all of those with confirmed cases either live in China or had traveled from China to other countries.
  • Six cases in the US in four states (Arizona, California, Illinois, and Washington). Another 160 people in 36 states are being evaluated for suspected infection.

All of these numbers are likely to rise in the coming days and weeks, because each infected person could potentially spread the infection to many others. And it’s possible that a person can spread the infection before he or she knows they’re sick; this has not been proven for this particular virus, but if true, quickly containing its spread may be impossible. That’s why it’s particularly important to get reliable information about what is happening and what you can do to protect yourself.

Beware: Misinformation is Rampant

Just as the number of people and countries affected by this new virus have spread, so have conspiracy theories and unfounded claims about it. Already social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok, have seen a number of false and misleading posts about 2019-nCoV, such as:

  • “Oregano Oil Proves Effective Against Coronavirus,” an unfounded claim
  • A hoax stating that the US government had created and patented a vaccine for coronavirus years ago, shared with nearly 5,000 Facebook users
  • A false claim that “coronavirus is a human-made virus in the laboratory”
  • Sales of unproven “nonmedical immune boosters” to help people ward off 2019-nCoV
  • Unfounded recommendations to prevent infection by taking vitamin C and avoiding spicy foods
  • A video with useless advice about preventing 2019-nCoV by modifying your diet (for example, by avoiding cold drinks, milkshakes, or ice cream). This video, which demonstrates the removal of a parasitic worm from a person’s lip, is many years old and has nothing to do with 2019-nCoV.

Facebook is trying to fact-check postings, label those that are clearly false, and reduce their ranking so they are less prominently displayed. Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok have also taken steps to limit or label misinformation. But it’s nearly impossible to catch them all, especially since some are in private social media groups and are harder to find.

In the US, the Flu is a Much Bigger Threat

While news of a novel and deadly virus spreading across the globe may be terrifying, it’s important to recognize that the most threatening virus in this country right now isn’t 2019-nCoV — it’s the flu. According to the CDC, there have already been up to 26 million cases of the flu this season, leading to hundreds of thousands of hospital admissions and up to 25,000 deaths. And this flu season has not been particularly severe.

Getting a flu shot is a great first step if you’re worrying about avoiding illness. Other measures to protect yourself from the flu (such as staying away from others who are sick and taking care to not infect others if you’re sick) are basic strategies that can also help you avoid 2019-nCoV.

Reliable online sources on 2019-nCoV

While no one source of information is perfect, some are undeniably better than others! It’s best to look for sites that:

  • rely on experts who use well-accepted scientific analyses and publish their results in reputable medical journals
  • have a mission to inform and protect the public, such as the CDC and the WHO, which recently added a myth busters page to its information on 2019-nCoV
  • are not promoting or selling a product related to the information provided.

Other good online sources of information on the virus include:

While gathering information online may be your easiest initial option, contact your doctor if you have symptoms of an infection, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath. If necessary, your doctor may recommend that you see a specialist at an academic medical center (such as a hospital affiliated with a major medical school) who is likely to have the most recent information about a previously unknown infectious illness like this one.

The Bottom Line

When considering a new infectious disease about which so much is still unknown, it’s important to seek out reliable information and act on it. Be skeptical of implausible conspiracy theories or claims of “fake news” that dismiss recommendations from public health officials. Addressing the concerns surrounding 2019-nCoV requires accessible, reliable, and frequently updated information; the best we can do is to look to the experts whose mission it is to protect public health.

 

 

 

Sourced by Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Low Dose Naltrexone For Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia

When you hear the word naltrexone, your first instinct is most likely to think of this medication as something that is used to treat opioid or alcohol dependence. However, what if we were to tell you that patients suffering from fibromyalgia could use this medication to find relief and treat their pain. As strange as this may sound, breakthroughs in research in the recent years have actually shown that low dose naltrexone may potentially have a multitude of uses, including treating autoimmune diseases, pain and central nervous system disorders.

What is Naltrexone?

So what exactly is naltrexone? Naltrexone is an opiate blocking medication, commonly referred to as an opiate agonist. In other words, this medication blocks the effects of opioids by competing to bind to opioid receptors in your body. This medication has been used for many years to safely treat patients suffering from opioid and alcohol dependence. Naltrexone is generally well tolerated, however, potential side effects may include abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, and restlessness. Naltrexone should be avoided in patients with liver failure and those who are currently taking or dependent on opioids.

Low Dose Naltrexone vs. High Dose Naltrexone

Typically naltrexone is prescribed in doses of 50 mg/day or higher for the treatment of opioid and alcohol dependence. However, studies have confirmed that lower doses of naltrexone (3 to 5 mg) decreases symptoms with certain diseases. These diseases included Chron’s diseases, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia.

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a devastating disease that affects your muscle and bones and causes extreme pain, fatigue, insomnia, plus memory and mood issues. These symptoms can decrease the quality of a person’s life tremendously. Unfortunately, the exact causes of fibromyalgia are not known.

Researchers believe that those suffering from fibromyalgia may have extra sensitive microglia and subsequently, their central nervous system (CNS) may have increased inflammation. Microglia are important cells in our CNS, which are crucial to the proper functioning of the immune system. Once these cells become stimulated, they set off a chain of events in your body and they release chemicals, which encourage the inflammatory process. This activation results in symptoms of fatigue and increased pain sensitivity, which are common complaints in patients with fibromyalgia.

Low Dose Naltrexone For Fibromyalgia

The proposed mechanism of action is that low dose naltrexone weakens the inflammatory process and therefore decreases the pain associated with this disease. Scientists believe that naltrexone represses the action of the microglia cells. By hindering the effects of the microglia cells there is a reduction in the severity of the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia.

Medication Availability

Naltrexone is currently only commercially available as 50 mg tablets, thus lower doses of this medication need to be compounded by a specialty compounding pharmacy such as Compounding Pharmacy of Beverly Hills. We work with your doctor to customize this medication specifically for you. Contact us today to learn more.

 

 

 

 

Sourced by: CareFirst RX

 

Tips For Planning Your New Year’s Resolutions

New Year's ResolutionIt’s a new year which means it’s time to make resolutions.  In fact, 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions and the most common resolution is losing weight.  If you are like most people, you will discover that making resolutions is easy.  It’s keeping to them that is the challenge.

According to psychologist John Norcross, author of Changing for Good, studies show that people who resolve to change behaviors do much better than non-resolvers who have the same habits that need to be changed.  Statistics he has gathered reveal that, by the end of January, some 64% of resolvers are still sticking to their resolutions.  At six months, that number drops to 44%.

For this reason, many commentators have expressed the opinion that New Year’s resolutions are a waste of time. But in fact, experts say, the very act of making resolutions improves your odds of success.  The key, they say, to keeping your resolutions is planning.  You need a detailed blueprint that addresses how you will reach your goals in a way that leverages your strengths and minimizes your weaknesses.  Below are a few tips to help you stick with your New Year’s vows.

  • Have realistic expectations – Once you see you are capable of making changes in your behavior, it inspires confidence. Imagine yourself practicing a particular behavior change two weeks out, two months out, two years out, and if you can’t, then re-evaluate your goal to make sure it is doable.
  • Create detailed mini goals for yourself – Break your resolutions into lots of specific “baby steps.” This will allow you to see incremental progress toward your larger goals and provide greater motivation to keep going.
  • Enlist support – Studies show that social support is critical, especially after the first few weeks when your motivation may begin to flag. Seek out someone who will be there for you long-term.
  • Control your environment – Remove temptations that may distract you from your goals.  Surround yourself with people, places, and things that will help you change your behavior.
  • Reward yourself – Reward yourself along the way for continued motivation and success.
  • Anticipate slips and deal with them constructively – Setbacks are inevitable; it is how you respond to them that matters.  Use slip-ups as helpful reminders to remain strong and get back on track, not as excuses to give up.

Whatever your New Year’s resolutions for better health, remember that just by making them you are already ahead of the pack!

Tips for Healthy Holiday Travel

holiday travelIf you are traveling this holiday season, don’t let illnesses ruin your experience. Since winter is cold and flu season, it’s important to protect yourself and your family from common viruses that are around. Keep the following tips in mind, so that you can stay healthy while traveling during winter.

Common Winter Viruses

Which viruses should you be worried about when you travel during winter?

  • Seasonal influenza: More commonly known as the flu, this viral illness can cause serious complications for some individuals.
  • Common cold: Many different viruses can cause sneezing, a runny nose, coughing and other cold symptoms.
  • Norovirus: This gastrointestinal illness, which can cause nausea and diarrhea, is a concern if you’ll be taking a cruise this winter.
  • Mosquito-borne illnesses: If you’re traveling to a tropical climate, protect yourself from Zika virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses.

Get Immunized

Being immunized can help protect you from certain illnesses. You should get your flu shot, which helps lower the risk of complications from flu viruses. Plan ahead, since the flu shot takes about two weeks to become fully effective. If you’re traveling abroad, you might need to get other kinds of immunizations, depending on where you’re going.

Take Supplements

Some dietary and over-the-counter supplements can help you stay in good health during your trip. Vitamin C can give your immune system a boost, which helps protect you from cold and flu viruses. Vitamin C also helps reduce inflammation if you get achy muscles during your trip. B complex vitamins can help you handle any stress you’re feeling about your trip. Keep in mind that stress can affect your immune system, which can increase your risk of getting sick. Probiotics can help ensure that your digestive system is healthy while you travel.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water while you travel helps different bodily systems function properly. Carry water with you while flying, or keep a cooler filled with bottled water in your car if you’re driving. You might also want to bring a refillable water bottle to carry around at your destination.

Get Physical Activity

No matter how busy you are while you’re away on vacation, it’s important to get regular physical activity. Staying active helps keep your body in good condition, lowering your risk of becoming ill. Simple activities, such as going for walks or doing stretches, are enough to provide you with this benefit during your trip.

Sleep Well

Hectic vacations can make it difficult to sleep, but your immune system needs a good night’s rest to function effectively. Try to stick to a regular sleep schedule during your travels if possible, and read or do another calming activity before bed instead of looking at any screens.

If you need to stock up on medications or dietary supplements before you travel, contact us at The Compounding Pharmacy of Beverly Hills. We are here for you!