Acupuncture for Back Pain

Acupuncture is a significant element of Chinese medicine.  It has been traditionally used to treat pain and has also been used for stress management and wellness.  Acupuncture is used to balance the flow of energy known as chi or qi (chee).  This energy may flow through meridians that are pathways in the body.  It is believed that this energy can be re-balanced by inserting very thin needles through the skin at specific points along these meridians.

Although acupuncture can be used for many types of pain and other conditions, this post will concentrate on its use for lower back pain. 

Lower Back Pain (LBP)

Lower back pain (LBP) affects as many as 70% of adults in industrialized countries during some point in their life.1

 This causes an economic burden on both society and individuals.  It is estimated that at least $100 billion is spent due to lower back pain yearly.2

 

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There are many treatments for LBP, but no single remedy appears to be superior.4

For this reason, many LBP sufferers turn to alternative treatments, including acupuncture, to relieve pain and discomfort.5

Is acupuncture effective for LBP?  An overview of systemic reviews looked at this question in 2015.6

A total of 16 studies were included in this review.  These studies were of variable quality. The researchers came to the following conclusions:

  • For acute LBP, acupuncture does not appear to be more effective than sham acupuncture in improving function, and inconsistent evidence that acupuncture is more effective at relieving pain than sham acupuncture.
  • For chronic LBP, there is consistent evidence that acupuncture provides short-term clinical benefits on pain relief and functional improvement compared to no treatment or when added to prevailing interventions.
  • It appears that acupuncture causes significant pain relief but no impact on the functional limitation on chronic LBP when compared to sham acupuncture.

To summarize this overview of the systemic reviews available, acupuncture can provide short-term clinically relevant improvement in pain and functionality in treating lower back pain when combined with conventional therapy.

Low Back Pain in Pregnant Women

Many studies have examined back pain in pregnant women.  Rates of LBP in these women range from 25% TO 90%, with most studies estimating that 50% of pregnant women will experience it.7

One-third of these women will suffer from severe pain.  This decreases their quality of life.  Eighty percent of women suffering from LBP say it affects their daily routine, and 10% cannot work.8

 The most common risk factors associated with lower back pain in women include a history of pelvic trauma, chronic LBP, and lower back pain during a previous pregnancy.9

 Regular exercise prior to pregnancy may reduce the chances of developing LBP during pregnancy.

A study published in 2018 examined the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of back pain in pregnancy.  Fifty-six pregnant women at a gestational age between 14 and 37 weeks who complained of lower back pain were included in the study.  The subjects received up to six sessions.  This study found a statistically significant reduction in lower back pain as early as the second acupuncture treatment.  Improvement gradually improved with the number of sessions completed.  No serious adverse effects related to the acupuncture were reported.10

Side Effects of Acupuncture

Acupuncture, like other treatments, can cause side effects.  The most common adverse effects include bleeding, soreness, or bruising at the site of needle insertion. Other, less common risks include:

  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Internal bleeding
  • Convulsions
  • Hepatitis B
  • Dermatitis
  • Nerve damage

 

With the use of disposable needles, hepatitis B, and other infections are rare.  It is important to note that the side effects of acupuncture are uncommon.  Most people will tolerate acupuncture sessions with no adverse effects.

Acupuncture can be used for a variety of conditions, including:

  • Chemotherapy-induced and postoperative nausea and vomiting.
  • Dental pain.
  • Tension headaches and migraines.
  • Labor pain.
  • Lower back pain.
  • Neck pain.
  •  
  • Menstrual cramps.

 

This treatment is a popular alternative to traditional medications.  Acupuncture can be an effective treatment for lower back pain in pregnant individuals and others who suffer from LBP. This treatment seems to work best for short term relief of back pain when combined with traditional therapy.  As with most alternative therapies, more research is needed to determine best practices when utilizing acupuncture for back pain.

 

I have recently met a local acupuncturist and plan to get treatment in the next couple of weeks.  I will let you all know how that goes.  Luckily, the Protandim Tri-Synergizer product has eliminated my back pain.  I am always searching for other treatments to help me live a healthier, happier life.

 

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to me.  Have a great week, and stay safe!  

Update

I decided to try acupuncture for myself on October 29th.  This was simply a wonderful experience.  My goal was to improve circulation in my hands and feet.  I don’t do well with cold weather and in Oregon, the cold season is here.  

After a few minutes of standard medical questions, my time had come.  I laid on the warmest, most comfortable bed you can imagine.  It was beyond relaxing.

Hannah was awesome.  I could barely feel the needles, and she was very friendly.  She enjoys answering questions and it was clear she enjoyed her profession.  I told her I wished I had tried this earlier in my life.  It really improved my mood for the rest of the day.

The atmosphere, conversation, and warmth were amazing.  If you haven’t tried acupuncture, I strongly recommend it!  I will be going back for more sessions.

Take a look at the ad below.  If you need any of these services and live in the Portland area, this is a great place to visit.  These professionals are friendly and truly love helping people become healthy.

 

 

Michael Brown in Lab Coat with arms crossed

Michael J. Brown, RPh, BCPS, BCPP

Mr. Brown is a Clinical Pharmacist specializing in pharmacotherapy and psychiatry.

Read Michael’s story here.

Feel free to send Michael a message using this link.

 

 

Disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click on, or make a purchase through a third-party link.

Developing a Morning Ritual to Increase Productivity

Can getting up earlier help you become more productive?

What should you do during your first hours of the day?

What if you aren’t a “morning person.”

 

I have decided to include some posts on productivity in the next several months. This is a happy, healthy, healing blog, and I firmly believe being more productive can increase happiness. Through my new business ventures, I have learned many new things that I would like to pass on to you.  

I have always been an early riser but never created extra time in the morning for a ritual, until recently!

The more I read about successful people’s habits, the more I realize that most of them follow some routine. If you are a business owner or thinking of starting a business, this post will increase your chances of success.  

Drink Water First Thing in the Morning

We wake up each morning, dehydrated. The best practice is to drink water as soon as you arise. This serves several purposes:

  • Increases energy levels: Increased hydration boosts the oxygen received by the brain. This will make you more alert and increase energy.  
  • Helps eliminate toxins: Increasing water intake will result in more urine output, which flushes toxins from the body while we sleep; our immune system goes into repair and recovery mode, including removing toxins. Many people begin the day with a cup of coffee that has some beneficial effects, but this can cause more dehydration.
  • Helps improve skin health: Drinking water on an empty stomach hydrates the skin and increases elasticity. This helps to reduce wrinkles and keeps your skin looking healthy. Water can also help to clear up acne and other skin blemishes.
  • Decreases headache frequency: Many headaches occur as a result of dehydration.  

Enjoy Some Quiet Time

This is a new revelation for me. I have always rushed to get things done and rarely took the time to stop and reflect on other aspects of my life. Spiritual health and gratitude are critical. Here are some activities to calm your mind. This doesn’t have to take more than a few minutes, but it is time well spent.

  • Pray: If you believe in a superior power, the morning is an ideal time to pray. If you wake up before others in your house, this can be a very peaceful practice.
  • Meditate:  Meditation has many benefits.  
    1. It can reduce stress.1

         2. Meditation has also been shown to help decrease symptoms of various anxiety disorders.2

Another study concluded that mindfulness meditation can have long-term beneficial effects in patients diagnosed with anxiety disorders.3

       3. Meditation has been shown to relieve pain through several brain mechanisms.4

Our state of mind affects our perception of pain.

      4. Meditation can improve sleep.  Sleep is a vital part of the productivity equation.

We all need an adequate amount of sleep to function at a high level. Meditation has been shown to help people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.5

  • Recite self-affirmations: This can train you to think positively about important things in your life. You can either find some that fit your personality on the internet or create your own. Here are some of the self-affirmations I recite.

          I trust that I am on the right path.

          I use my experience and talents to help others become healthier.

          My drive and ambition allow me to reach my goals.

          I am confident in my ability to create a stable source of residual income that will allow me to retire comfortably.

         I am grateful to have people in my life who love and support me.

This process will help your subconscious mind begin to create more positive thoughts.  

Visualize yourself where you want to be: Spend some time with your eyes closed, imagining you in your successful future. 

  • Visualization is used by athletes and business people to install positive images into the subconscious mind.  Picture yourself in the place you would like to be in the future.  This can be a powerful tool.  If you are able to visualize and accept something, you have a much better chance of acheiving it.

 

Exercise

We all know the benefits of exercise. To be happy and healthy, you must exercise. 

Moving gets your blood circulating and improves mood. Exercise helps with weight loss, sleep, energy level, and so much more.  

I try to do another activity while exercising. My next goal is to purchase an exercise bike to do my prospecting while I pedal. I spend at least 30-45 minutes prospecting in the morning each day.  

Another idea is to listen to a book or motivational talk while exercising. Whatever you do, be sure to get this in. If you would prefer to exercise later in the day, that is fine; just be sure it gets done.

Read Books on Self Improvement

Many people have written books on how they became successful. These books are available for a few dollars in most cases. There is no reason to develop a new way of doing things if you can learn from someone who has already figured it out.

Spend a few minutes each morning reading self-help or inspirational books. If you aren’t a reader, start by reading a few pages each day. If you do this consistently, you will be able to read many books per year.  

Books are available on your phone as well. I listen to books on audible every single day. 

I do this while driving to and from work. I have learned a great deal by making this simple change.

Journaling

Journaling has many benefits. It helps you become a better writer, solve problems, and set goals. 

Writing down your successes and failures can lead you in the right direction. Journaling also improves memory and mood.  

We have all heard of mindfulness. Journaling gets you there. It forces you to examine your thoughts and feelings.

There are many tools to help with journaling. I use the Five Minute Journal iPhone app, which I purchased for only $4.99. This app helps me focus on the positive aspects of my life.  

Five minutes in the morning and evening is all it takes with this simple tool.

Work on Income Producing Activities (IPA)

If you own your own business, the morning is a great time to complete tasks that lead to revenue. As mentioned above, I spend 30-45 minutes each morning prospecting for new team members. This gets one thing crossed off of my task list for the day. I suggest working on the most critical items on your “to-do list” as early as possible. This gives you a jump start on your productive day.

Mornings don’t have to be a drag! You can learn to love this time of your day. Develop a routine that works for you using the elements listed above. I strongly suggest drinking two 16 ounce glasses of water shortly after you wake up. 

Getting up earlier can increase productivity. You can train yourself to be a morning person. If you do things often enough, they become habits. Trade your bad habits for good ones.

Resist hitting the snooze button. If necessary, move your alarm clock across the room, so you have to get out of bed to shut it off. Immediately brush your teeth and drink your first glass of water. This should give you the energy you need to move to the next task.

The rest is up to you. If this isn’t your thing, start small. Get up 45 minutes earlier and try it out. I think you will find this very beneficial.  

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me anytime.

Have a great week, and stay safe!

Michael Brown in Lab Coat with arms crossed

Michael J. Brown, RPh, BCPS, BCPP

Mr. Brown is a Clinical Pharmacist specializing in pharmacotherapy and psychiatry.

Read Michael’s story here.

Feel free to send Michael a message using this link.

 

 

Disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click on, or make a purchase through a third-party link.

Several Shitake Mushroom Benefits

What are the health benefits of shitake mushrooms?

Should you try to eat more?

What if I don’t like to eat mushrooms?

 

Shitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) are native to East Asia and are the second most popular mushroom consumed today. Shitakes have been a staple in Asian cuisine for centuries. These mushrooms have a meaty texture and are an excellent addition to salads and soups. 

They also provide a great meat substitute.

Shitakes are tan to dark brown and typically grow on decaying hardwood trees in warm, moist climates. Japan produces about 83% of the shitake mushrooms available worldwide, and 60% of all shitakes are dried before consumption.1

These mushrooms not only provide many vitamins but also are thought to possess other medicinal properties. This post will explore some of the many benefits of this delicious mushroom.

Shitake Mushroom Nutritional Facts

Before exploring the medicinal benefits of the shitake mushroom, lets take a look at the nutritional value of this mushroom.2

The information below represents the nutritional value of one cup (145 g) of shitake mushrooms:

  • Calories 81.2 kcal
  • Protein 2.26 g
  • Fat 0.319 g
  • Carbohydrate 20.9 g
  • Fiber 3.04 g
  • Sugars 5.57 g

These mushrooms also contain many vitamins and minerals.

Medicinal Qualities of Shitake Mushrooms

Natural products, or nutraceuticals, are very important in developing and discovering new pharmaceuticals used in the treatment of chronic diseases such as cancer.3

Polysaccharides present in mushrooms are thought to have antitumor and immune system activation properties.4

Shitake mushrooms contain polysaccharides, lipids, sterols, and terpenoids, which may effectively treat various tumors and infections.5

Antioxidant Effects of Shitake Mushrooms

As we age, our bodies are less efficient at preventing the damage caused by oxidative stress.6

Nutraceuticals, such as shitake mushrooms, can be used to help reduce the oxidation caused by free radical species.7

One study published in 2013 found aqueous extracts of L. edodes demonstrated catalase-like activity leading to the conclusion that shitake mushroom extracts may be a potential source of antioxidants.8

This is important because oxidative stress is known to contribute to over 200 diseases.

Antiviral and Antibacterial Activity of Shitake Mushrooms

With all that is happening in the world today regarding COVID-19, it isn’t surprising to learn that many people are searching for antiviral nutraceuticals. Shitake mushroom extract has been shown to inhibit viral replication in poliovirus and bovine herpesvirus in a concentration-dependent manner.9

These mushrooms have antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties.10

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Mushrooms contain Beta-glucans, which are polysaccharides that stimulate the immune system. This leads to the ability to help fight bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungus. These molecules are necessary for the mushroom’s survival.

Shitake Mushrooms Contain Vitamin D

Did you know that mushrooms are the only natural plants that contain vitamin D?

It is well-known that this vitamin is crucial for healthy bones and teeth.

The concentration of vitamin D found in mushrooms is dependent on their exposure to Ultraviolet light and how they are grown.

A study performed on mice found that those fed UV-enhanced shitake mushrooms had a higher bone density than a group provided a low-calcium, low-vitamin-D diet.12

Shitake Mushrooms May Help Fight Some Types of Cancer

A cohort study of 36,499 Japanese men found an inverse relationship between mushroom consumption and prostate cancer incidence.13

One polysaccharide, lentinan, assists in fighting tumors as a result of immune system activation.14

 

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Shitake mushroom extract has also been shown to decrease the proliferation of leukemia cells significantly.16

Mycologists strongly believe that the compounds found in mushrooms can suppress many forms of cancers at several stages.

Many plant and fungal species have been used as food and medicine in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. These products have shown the ability to promote good health and may even prevent or treat many diseases.


Mushrooms are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and other compounds that can positively affect our bodies. Mushroom supplements have recently gained popularity in the United States for people who desire mushrooms’ health benefits but do not enjoy them as a food source. These supplements also allow one to consume mushrooms in a concentrated form.

As with most nutraceuticals, more clinical studies are needed to determine the many uses for mushrooms, such as shitakes.
The benefits of consuming these appear to outweigh any risks.

As always, if you have any questions regarding this post or any other, please send me an email. I attempt to answer all emails I receive.

Have a great week, and stay safe out there.

Michael Brown in Lab Coat with arms crossed

Michael J. Brown, RPh, BCPS, BCPP

Mr. Brown is a Clinical Pharmacist specializing in pharmacotherapy and psychiatry.

Read Michael’s story here.

Feel free to send Michael a message using this link.

 

 

Disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click on, or make a purchase through a third-party link.

Krill Oil vs Fish Oil: What is the Difference?

Are krill oil and fish oil the same?

Which one should you take?

What are the benefits of these supplements?

I receive a lot of questions regarding the differences between krill oil and fish oil.  I decided to answer this question and explore the benefits of these supplements.  Let’s start with the basics.

The traditional fish oil supplements are derived from fatty fish such as salmon, anchovies, tuna, herring, sardines, and mackerel.  Fish oil is one of the most popular dietary supplements consumed world-wide.

Krill oil comes from Antarctic krill, which are tiny crustaceans.  Krill is consumed by other sea animals such as penguins, whales, seals, and birds.

Krill Oil and Fish Oil Both Contain Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for proper brain and nerve function.  They are an essential component of the membrane that surrounds each of our cells.  Omega-3’s are known as essential fatty acids because they must be obtained from food sources as our bodies cannot produce them.1

 Krill oil and fish oil both contain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).  These are omega-3 fatty acids that have the ability to improve brain health and heart health.   The difference is how fatty acids are stored.  It appears that krill oil stores omega-3’s as phospholipids, whereas fish oil stores them as fatty acids.

This may be an important factor in how our body utilizes them.  There have been some small studies comparing Fish oil and krill oil.  One study published in 2015 found a higher plasma concentration of EPA and DHA in subjects receiving krill oil compared to those who ingested fish oil supplements.2

Omega-3 supplements have the following benefits:

  • Decreasing high triglyceride levels – When your triglyceride levels are too high, the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease increases.
  • Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis – Some evidence suggests Omega-3 fatty acids may help with the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. One study published in 2017 concluded that “higher intake of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids during the year preceding disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs may be associated with better treatment results in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis.”3

Krill Oil Contains Astaxanthin

Astaxanthin is a carotenoid pigment that has many health benefits of its own. This substance gives krill oil its reddish color and is not found in most fish oil supplements.

Astaxanthin acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and may promote cardiac health.4

Krill Oil May Be More Effective in Treating Hyperlipidemia

A multi-center randomized, controlled study found krill oil to be significantly more effective than fish oil in reducing glucose, triglyceride, and LDL levels.5 

Krill oil was also able to significantly lower total cholesterol and increase HDL levels in this study.  

Other Sources of Omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids naturally occur in some foods and are artificially added to others.  Some examples include:6

  • Fish and seafood (especially salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel, and tuna).
  • Plant oils (flaxseed, soybean, and canola).
  • Nuts and seeds (Chia seeds, walnuts, flaxseed).
  • Fortified foods (some eggs, yogurt, milk, juice, and soy beverages).

Other sources include cod liver oil and algal oil.  Algal oil is derived from algae and is a great choice for vegans and vegetarians.

Is Fish Oil Easier to Obtain?

Fish oil supplements can be found in most grocery stores.  Krill oil is becoming more popular, and with the ability to order supplements over the internet, it is certainly not difficult to obtain.  Fish oil may be cheaper than krill oil, but our omega-3 and krill oil supplements are similarly priced. 

Side Effects of Krill Oil and Fish Oil

The side effects of krill oil and fish oil are similar and very mild.  These include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Upset stomach and heartburn
  • Bad breath
  • Fishy smelling sweat
  • Acne and oily skin
  • Nausea
  • Flatulence
  • Fishy burps

Drug Interactions

Both fish oil supplements and krill oil can interact with the following drugs:7

  • Anticoagulants and Antiplatelet drugs – Bleeding risk may increase.
  • Antidiabetic drugs – Hypoglycemia risk may increase.
  • Orlistat – May decrease the absorption of krill oil or fish oil.

Should You Take Krill Oil or Fish Oil?

Although the evidence isn’t substantial, I prefer krill oil.  My reason for this is that it may be more bioavailable and has the additional benefit of containing an antioxidant.  Krill oil is not hard to find, and it doesn’t cost that much more to obtain.  Krill oil also doesn’t have the fish odor associated with fish oil supplements. 

It is crucial to ingest essential fatty acids for the proper functioning of the body.  These molecules are important for our cell membranes and  proper brain and nerve function.  Always remember that getting these fatty acids from your diet is a better choice than taking supplements.  The healthiest way to live is to eat a well-balanced diet utilizing mostly whole foods, drink plenty of water, exercise regularly, and get an adequate amount of sleep.

If you don’t believe you are getting enough essential fatty acids, then take a supplement.  I prefer krill oil for the reasons stated above, but fish oil is also a good choice.  Be sure to talk to your physician or pharmacist if you are allergic to shellfish before taking krill oil.  If you use blood-thinning medications, always check with your physician or pharmacist prior to taking any supplement. 

I am always happy to answer questions regarding drugs or supplements.  Send me an email, and don’t forget to sign up for our monthly newsletter below.  You will receive company news and coupon codes for savings on all of our products.

Have a great week, and be happy and healthy.

Michael Brown in Lab Coat with arms crossed

Michael J. Brown, RPh, BCPS, BCPP

Mr. Brown is a Clinical Pharmacist specializing in pharmacotherapy and psychiatry.

Read Michael’s story here.

Feel free to send Michael a message using this link.

 

 

Disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click on, or make a purchase through a third-party link.

Some Remarkable Over The Counter Antivirals

The threat of COVID-19 has prompted a lot of questions regarding over the counter antiviral remedies. I thought I would discuss a few herbs that are thought to possess activity against viruses in general. We do not have specific information regarding COVID-19 because it is too new.  

Presently, the only known weapons we have against the spread of COVID-19 are handwashing, social distancing, and wearing masks. 

Until a vaccine is available, our options are limited. I take dietary supplements for several reasons. Some of these may help decrease my risk of contracting this virus. 

I believe benefit far outweighs the risk in this situation.

I have written about many of these herbs in the past. For more information, click the highlighted link to visit the corresponding blog post.

Green Tea

Green tea (Camelia sinensis) consumption can have significant positive effects on human health.1

Green tea contains catechins, which are polyphenolic compounds. These substances, especially epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), have shown broad antiviral effects.2

Green tea extract has the potential to cause liver toxicity. Products that contain the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) verification stamp must be labeled with the following:

Due to the potential risk for hepatotoxicity with green tea extracts, products that carry the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) verification stamp must include the following text on the label: “Do not take on an empty stomach. Take with food. Do not use if you have a liver problem and discontinue use and consult a healthcare practitioner if you develop symptoms of liver trouble, such as abdominal pain, dark urine, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)”3

Ascorbic Acid ( Vitamin C)

Studies have shown that patients with acute infections have low circulating ascorbic acid levels.4

 

5

We also know that vitamin C modulates interferons and cytokines in patients with viral infections.6

Ascorbic acid has also been shown to reduce neuralgia pain associated with the herpes virus.7

There have also been instances where influenza A patients with life-threatening respiratory failure have rapidly improved after receiving ascorbic acid and thiamine.8

Elderberry

Elderberry is a dark purple berry that grows on the European elder tree. There is evidence that elderberry fruit extract taken four times daily can reduce the symptoms and duration of influenza infection if started within 48 hours of symptoms. This extract can reduce the duration of symptoms by 56% on average.9

Another study found that lozenges containing elderberries taken four times daily within 24 hours of influenza onset improved flu-like symptoms compared with placebo 10

Zinc

Zinc is the second most abundant trace element in the human body. This element is essential for growth, development, DNA synthesis, and RNA transcription.11

A review article published in 2019 concluded that zinc can stimulate the body’s viral response.12

In vitro studies have also shown zinc may possess antiviral effects. This paper also stated that zinc treatment at therapeutic doses can drastically improve the clearance of acute and chronic viral infections.13

We know that Zinc lozenges can decrease the duration of the common cold by up to 40%.14

Quercetin

Quercetin is a common flavonoid found in many Chinese herbs and fruits, vegetables, and red wine.  

Quercetin has been shown to possess anti-influenza activity. This is likely due to its ability to inhibit the entry of the virus into the cell.15

This substance has also exhibited the ability to inhibit virus replication in the initial stages of influenza infections.16

Echinacea

Echinacea is the name given to some flowering plants in the daisy family. This plant has been used for centuries by Native Americans to treat many illnesses. 

Currently, Echinacea is used primarily as an herbal remedy in the treatment of the common cold and flu.

 Echinacea extracts have shown antiviral activity against several different viruses.17

 

18

 

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There are also studies claiming Echinacea is an efficacious immunomodulator. There is still insufficient evidence available to make therapeutic recommendations for specific disease states.20

We all want to protect ourselves from infection. 

It is much easier to prevent an illness than to treat it. There are some simple steps we can take to stay healthy.

  • Eat whole foods.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid bad habits.
  • Get enough sleep.

I also believe herbal products can help us stay healthy. One of the biggest causes of sickness is oxidative stress. Our cells are bombarded with free radicals daily. 

Just breathing the air can introduce toxins into the body.  

In addition to my products, I take ProtandimTM Tri-Synergizer daily. This not only helps protect my cells from free radical damage but also makes me feel better and improves my energy level. I strongly recommend giving this supplement a try.

With COVID-19 comes uncertainty and fear. Besides staying as healthy as possible, we should also wash our hands often, wear masks when near others, and practice social distancing. Although the products mentioned in this post are not proven to treat, prevent, or cure COVID-19, some have good evidence against other viruses. I think the benefits of taking them far outweigh the risks.

Nutraceuticals have been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Large, randomized-controlled studies are not always available to support these agents due to prohibitive costs. This does not mean they are ineffective. It usually means there is not enough profit to be made from them to justify the high costs of the studies.

If you have any questions regarding this post or about medications or nutraceuticals, please send me a message. I would also like to invite you to join our email list to receive our monthly newsletter. Our newsletter will keep you up to date on new products, our influencers, and sales.

Until next week, stay happy, healthy, and safe!

Michael Brown in Lab Coat with arms crossed

Michael J. Brown, RPh, BCPS, BCPP

Mr. Brown is a Clinical Pharmacist specializing in pharmacotherapy and psychiatry.

Read Michael’s story here.

Feel free to send Michael a message using this link.

 

 

Disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click on, or make a purchase through a third-party link.

Ideas for Limiting Screen Time for Tweens

Do your children spend too much time on electronic devices?  

Are they tuned out of everything besides their phones, tablets, and Television?

What can you do to stop this?

What effects may too much screen time have on your kids?

My wife and I have struggled with this issue for many years. If you let your children spend too much time on their devices, you feel like they aren’t interacting enough with the outside world. They are also at risk of viewing inappropriate information and even can become victims of predators

If you limit their screen time too much, they have a tendency to drive you crazy. Although electronics should not be used for “babysitting,” most of us have become dependent on them for a little reprieve at times. This post is designed to give you some ideas on how to limit screen time effectively.

What are Tweens?

Tween is short for tweenager. A tween is a child between 9 and 12 years of age. These kids are in a transition period between small children and teenagers. Many challenges occur during this period, including:

  • Puberty may start resulting in body changes and mood swings.
  • Peer pressure to engage in dangerous activities often occurs during this time. 
  • Tweens are often coerced into using illegal drugs or having sex. 
  • The increased workload at school occurs. Homework can take many hours per week to complete.
  • Tweens become more concerned with their appearance and social standing.

These kids are also very fond of their electronic devices. 

I am sure you are aware that they begin using them at earlier ages as time progresses. If left unchecked, these kids will likely spend most of their time staring at a screen.

Harmful Effects of Too Much Screen Time

There is much debate as to the effects of too much screen time on our developing children. It is beyond the scope of this post to go into all of the studies regarding this topic. My philosophy is anything that interferes with basic human needs can be detrimental. 

These basic needs include:

  • Social interaction.
  • Adequate sleep.
  • A healthy, well-balanced diet.
  • Exercise.

It is clear that too much screen time can have a negative effect on all of these. In addition, other problems can arise based on what the child is watching on the screen. 

My opinion is that screen time should be limited to keep our kids from missing out on the basic needs listed above. 

I am writing this post to help parents with this daunting task.

Ideas to Limit Screen Time

I have researched this topic and will list what I believe to be the best techniques to limit screen time. Please remember that these are not the only options, but ones that I believe are the best.  

Identify time periods where electronic devices are not allowed

The first step in limiting screen time is to identify “blackout periods.” These can be whatever you, as a parent, decide. Some examples are.

Meal periods – I believe meals should be family time. We have a rule in our house prohibiting electronic use during dinner. 

This should be a time to discuss what happened during the day. Remember to role model this behavior. If you are talking on the phone or texting during dinner, it is hard to convince your children not to do the same.  

Before Sleeping – You have probably heard that using electronic devices just prior to sleep decreases sleep quality.1

My suggestion is to take the devices away from your children at least one hour before bedtime. There are several reasons for this.

  • Evening exposure to LED-backlit screens has been shown to decrease melatonin levels and decrease daytime alertness and cognitive performance.2
  • Having a phone or tablet close by while sleeping increases the risk of nocturnal awakening. Phones may ring at night, and tablets may produce sounds due to various apps.
  • The fact that the device is available to the child may result in them waking up earlier to begin using it.

Family time – Holidays and special occasions should be a time to interact with family and friends. This may also include vacation time. Make specific rules around screen time during these periods and stick to them.  

Encourage Exercise and Outdoor Activities

One way to limit screen time is to send the kids outside to play. My family invested in a full-size trampoline to help with this. You could also have them help in the garden or play sports with them. This also helps with exercise.   

Playdates with other kids is also an option. 

Anything that gets them moving works. 

Use Electronic Devices as Rewards

If your children believe they can use their electronics whenever they choose, it can be difficult to limit screen time. 

Change the rules and only allow screen time after homework, chores, and physical activities are completed. 

Remember, you are in charge, not them. 

They may squawk at first, but they will survive.

Not only will this result in less screen time, but it will also incentivize your children to get their work done.

Consider Third Party Programs to Help

There are programs available at reasonable prices to help parents keep their children safe on-line. One such product is bark. This program can:

  • Monitor texts, email, YouTube, and 30+ apps and platforms
  • Get alerts for issues like cyberbullying, on-line predators, suicidal ideation, and more
  • Manage screen time
  • Filter which websites your kids can visit
  • Keep up with kids with location check-ins

Another product is Net Nannytm This program also manages screen time and can block inappropriate content from reaching your children.

I am not affiliated with these companies in any way but believe their products are useful. You can find these and other products by doing a simple Google search.

Kids love electronics. I remember how excited my brother and I were when we opened our first video game console back in the dark ages. Pong was a game where each person had a flat paddle and moved it up and down the screen, trying to hit the moving square.  

Video games are much more sophisticated these days. 

They are designed to keep players engaged for hours. I am sure if these were available when I was younger, I would have been hooked as well.

As parents, we must protect our kids from all threats. Too much screen time can rob our children from some of their basic needs. It is essential to model the behavior we want our kids to display. I spend a lot of time on my phone, but it is almost entirely work-related. Even though this is the case, what my kids see is me on my phone most of the time. It is difficult to make them stop doing something that you are doing yourself.

Try to spend time with your kids doing things that don’t involve screens.  

  • Play board or card games.
  • Take a hike in the woods.
  • Visit the beach.
  • Play sports with them.
  • Bake goodies with them.
  • Read a book to them.

There are many activities that can be done without electronics.  

Finally, if you are worried about what your children are being exposed to or want some help managing their screen time, consider purchasing a program like bark or Net Nannytm. These can

filter out damaging content and alert you when your kids are doing inappropriate activities on-line.  

Electronics are not going away any time soon. These are just a few ideas to help your children grow up happy and healthy. If you have any comments about this or any other post, please send me an email.

Until next week, be happy, healthy, and safe!

 

Michael Brown in Lab Coat with arms crossed

Michael J. Brown, RPh, BCPS, BCPP

Mr. Brown is a Clinical Pharmacist specializing in pharmacotherapy and psychiatry.

Read Michael’s story here.

Feel free to send Michael a message using this link.

 

 

Disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click on, or make a purchase through a third-party link.

How to Relieve Sunburn Itch and Pain

Getting a sunburn can ruin a portion of your summer fun. Sometimes we end up with a sunburn even when applying sunscreen.

  • What are the dangers of getting a sunburn?
  • How do you protect yourself?
  • How do you get rid of the pain and itch that occurs when you get a sunburn?

A few weeks ago, our family traveled to Seattle to spend time with my sister-in-law and fiancé. 

We spent several hours on their boat having fun taking in the sites. I put sunscreen on my face, arms, and thighs. Unfortunately, I must have skipped my lower legs because they both became sunburned.  

I have fair skin and burn quickly. The following day, I woke up in pain. I decided to write a post on sunburns because I know this is a common problem, especially during the summer.

It is crucial to protect your skin from the sun. It is unhealthy to get a sunburn, but it can also ruin a vacation or weekend, and the pain may last for several days.

The Risks of Getting a Sunburn

The most significant risk involved with sunburn is skin cancer. This is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Melanoma risk is substantially increased with a severe sunburn early in life. The good news is this risk factor (sunburn) is easy to modify.1

 

It is important to begin protecting a child’s skin from the sun early in life. Use sunscreen and cover the body with adequate clothing when venturing outdoors. 

Remember, sunburns can also happen when it is cloudy.  

 

 

 

How to Protect your Skin from the Sun

If you plan to be in the sun, be prepared. Sunburn can happen in as little as 15 minutes. 

Here are some tips to help avoid those pesky sunburns.

  • Stay in the shade when possible. Find a tree or building that blocks direct sun exposure. Late morning through midafternoon is when the sun’s rays are the most damaging.
  • Wear sunglasses. It is essential to wear sunglasses that protect your eyes against UVA and UVB light. 

Wear a hat. Wide-brimmed hats are best, but a baseball cap is better than nothing. Hats can protect your head and neck from damaging rays. 

  • If you are bald like me, this is especially important!
  • Cover your skin with clothing. It is best to cover as much of your body as possible. There are many clothing options available designed to block the sun.
  • Use sunscreen. I know this is obvious, but sunscreen can be easy to forget. It is important to reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming, sweating, or drying off with a towel. Always use a sunscreen with a high SPF (at least 15) and be sure it blocks UVA and UVB.

 

Treatment of Sunburn Pain and Itch

If you find yourself suffering from a sunburn, there are some steps you can take to ease the discomfort. I often get questions about what to do for sunburns. As a pharmacist, my primary role is to help people live a healthier life. Here are my recommendations for the treatment of sunburn.

 

Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) – This will help with the pain and inflammation that can accompany a sunburn. I recommend taking ibuprofen with food to avoid stomach upset. Be sure to consult your physician or pharmacist if you take other medications or have kidney disease before taking ibuprofen.  

 

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) – Although acetaminophen doesn’t help with inflammation, it is a safe pain reliever. It also has fewer drug interactions than ibuprofen. One strategy is to alternate ibuprofen and acetaminophen.

 

Aloe Vera Gel – This is a cooling, soothing, moisturizing product that can significantly decrease the itch and pain that occurs with a sunburn. 

We always keep a bottle of this in our refrigerator just in case.

 

Take cold showers or baths – This can help cool the skin. After bathing, gently pat yourself dry and apply a moisturizer. This helps trap moisture in your skin and can relieve dryness.

 

Drink plenty of water – Those of you who follow this blog know I am a proponent of adequate hydration.  

 

Allow skin blisters to heal – If your skin blisters, do not pop them. 

These blisters help protect your skin from infection. If the blisters are severe, seek medical attention.

There are many products available at your local pharmacy that are specially designed to treat a sunburn. Here is a link to one that I recommend:

SunBurnt After Sun Gel

We have all experienced a sunburn at some time in our lives. Even with the proper preparation, it happens from time to time. The important thing is to limit sunburns as much a possible. The more you sunburn, the higher your risk for skin cancer. This is especially true for younger individuals.  

 

We all love to be outside, especially during beautiful weather. Getting exposure to the sun is vital for our mental health and also increases vitamin D levels. Just be sure to protect your skin!

 

I hope you are all having a great summer. Remember to exercise, eat whole foods, drink plenty of water, and spend as much time with your “happiness elements” as possible.  

 

Michael Brown in Lab Coat with arms crossed

Michael J. Brown, RPh, BCPS, BCPP

Mr. Brown is a Clinical Pharmacist specializing in pharmacotherapy and psychiatry.

Read Michael’s story here.

Feel free to send Michael a message using this link.

 

 

Disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click on, or make a purchase through a third-party link.

Zinc Rich Foods for Vegetarians

Zinc is an essential trace element that is necessary for many functions in our body.  Animal studies have shown those deficient in this element are at risk for alopecia, testicular atrophy, thickening of the epidermis, and growth failure.1

Zinc deficiency is prevalent in developing countries, but the elderly as well as vegetarians and vegans, are also at risk.2

3

4

5

6

Low levels of zinc may also predispose people to many diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and atherosclerosis.  Other possible effects are an increase in chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, and impaired cognition.7

 

8

9

10

Vegans and vegetarians do not consume meat, which is a rich source of zinc.  Foods containing unrefined cereals, legumes, or plants rich in phylates bind zinc, decreasing its absorption.11

This article will review some of the foods other than meat that are a good source of this element.  Keep in mind that the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for zinc in adults is 8 mg/day for women and 11 mg/day for men.

Hemp Seeds (Hulled) – (9.9 mg zinc per 100 g)

Nutritional Information

Hemp seeds are actually nuts.  They are very nutritious and have been used as food and medicine in China for 3,000 years.12

Hemp seeds may reduce the risk of heart disease by increasing nitric oxide concentrations, which help blood vessels dilate and relax.13

Hemp seeds are a good source of essential fatty acids and can be used to make salad dressings or sprinkled over vegetables, pasta, or popcorn.

Pumpkin Seeds (Organic) (6.43 mg Zinc per 100 g)

Nutritional Information

Pumpkin seeds are not only high in zinc, but also can lower blood sugar levels, improve prostate, heart and bladder health, and protect you from certain types of cancer. 

These seeds also contain antioxidants, magnesium, and healthy fats.

Pumpkins seeds can be eaten raw or roasted as a snack, added to smoothies, or sprinkled on fruit.  They can also add “crunch” to salads or baked into bread.

Cashews – (5.36 mg Zinc per 100 g)

Nutritional Information

Cashews have many uses and can be used to make vegan cheese.

Click for Vegan Cheese Recipe

Cashews come from a tree (Anacardium occidentale) native to the tropical regions of Brazil.  They are fruits, not nuts.  Cashews are found at the end of cashew apples.  Cashews are poisonous prior to roasting. 

Tofu (Silken, Firm) – (0.61 mg per 100 g)

Nutritional Information

Tofu is food our family enjoys often.  I fry the tofu in coconut oil until browned and add different vegetables, coconut milk, and curry paste.  I serve this with rice.  Very tasty and nutritious.

Tofu has many uses. 

Click here for tofu recipe ideas

 

Quinoa – (2.68 mg Zinc per 100 g)

Nutritional Information

Quinoa is one of the most popular health foods available.  This grain is high in fiber, protein and contains all nine essential amino acids.

Quinoa contains high amounts of quercetin and kaempferol, which are strong antioxidants.14

Quinoa can be added to salads, soups and vegan garden-burgers.  It can also be added to pancake batter for an easy health boost.

Chia Seed – (4 mg Zinc per 100 g)

Nutritional Information

Chia seeds are one of the superfoods.  These seeds contain a fantastic amount of nutrition with few calories.  Even though chia seeds contain 12 grams of carbohydrates per ounce, 11 of these are non-digestible fiber. 

These seeds are able to absorb 10-12 times their weight in water.  This helps expand the stomach making one feel full.15

Chia seeds can be mixed with water and used as an egg substitute in vegan cooking.  They can be added to smoothies, sprinkled on cereals or oatmeal.  They can also be added to bread or muffin and baked.

Lentils, pink or red, raw – (3.6 mg Zinc per 100 g)

Nutritional Information

Lentils have always been a food I enjoy.  Red lentil curry is delicious and nutritious.  This recipe is fantastic.

Ethiopian Spiced Red Lentils

Lentils can also be added to soups or eaten as a side dish.  They can also be made into a loaf as a substitute for meatloaf. 

Walnuts (3.09 mg Zinc per 100 g)

Nutritional Information

My grandparents had walnut trees, and we used to crack them open and sell them to neighbors. 

These nuts are probably most often used in baking. 

Walnuts can be added to fudge, bread, and cakes. 

They are rich in antioxidants and are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Dark Red Kidney Beans (3.29 mg Zinc per 100 g)

Nutritional Information

Kidney beans can be used for chili, added to soups, or added to salads. 

Kidney beans are a good source of protein and fiber.

  They also contain antioxidants and can help promote colon health.

All-Purpose Enriched, Bleached Wheat Flour (0.72 mg Zinc per 100 g)

Nutritional Information

Wheat flour can be used for many baked goods. 

My favorite use of wheat flour is to make sweet potato muffins. 

I have included this recipe because it is one of my favorites. 

This recipe came from Runner’s World magazine.  I discovered this while training for a marathon.

Sweet Potato Muffins

Zinc is vital for many functions of the body.  We must obtain zinc from our diet.  Since vegans and vegetarians don’t consume meat products, it is critical to get this trace element from other sources. 

Some seeds, nuts, and legumes can provide the zinc necessary to keep our body healthy.  Zinc can also be taken as a nutritional supplement.

I hope you have found this post useful.  If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to send me an email. 

Enjoy your summer, and stay healthy and safe!

Michael Brown in Lab Coat with arms crossed

Michael J. Brown, RPh, BCPS, BCPP

Mr. Brown is a Clinical Pharmacist specializing in pharmacotherapy and psychiatry.

Read Michael’s story here.

Feel free to send Michael a message using this link.

 

 

7 Healthiest Water Flavoring Ideas to Try

If you have been following my blog, you know I have written posts on the importance of hydration and the negative consequences of consuming too much sugar as well as artificial sweeteners.

I have explained that it is best to drink eight, 8 oz. glasses of water daily.  This is the rule under normal conditions.  If you are sweating more than usual or out in the heat for extended periods, this amount should be increased accordingly.

Many of us get bored drinking plain water all day.  I decided to find some good water-flavoring ideas and put them in a post for your convenience.

This has been enjoyable because I have been able to try the different flavors.

Cucumber and Blueberry

This is one of my favorite combinations.  

  • 8 ounces water
  • 1/4 c. Blueberries
  • 1/4 Cucumber
Blueberries are loaded with antioxidants.  Cucumber is low in calories and high in fiber and also contains antioxidants.  This is a favorite of mine, as blueberries are my favorite fruit.

Cucumber, Lemon and Apple Detox Water

Besides its antioxidant properties, cucumber also acts as an anti-inflammatory.  Lemon adds flavor to the water as well and can help boost immunity.

  • 8 cups water
  • 1 small cucumber, sliced
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 apple, cored and sliced

Cucumber, Watermelon and Mint Infused Water

This flavor combination is a real treat!  The watermelon and mint add spark while the cucumber producer a mellow, soft flavor to the mix.

  • 8 cups water
  • 1 small cucumber, sliced
  • 1 cup cubed watermelon
  • Fresh mint to taste

Red Currant Infused Water

Red currants are high in flavonoids and vitamin B.  This can help protect body tissues and prevent arteriosclerosis and diabetes. Red currants taste like a raspberry, rhubarb mixture.

Cucumber, Lemon, Lime and Mint Infused Water

This is a very refreshing recipe.  Think of this as spa water.

  • 8 cups water
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 lime sliced
  • 1 small cucumber, sliced

 

Lavender and Lemon Infused Water

Lavender is known for its calming properties.  It also takes lemon water to another level.  Try this combination.

  • 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp dried lavender buds
  • 2 quarts cold water

Cucumber, Lemon, Lime, Berry and Mint Infused Water

Lastly, for the adventurous types out there.  Here is an infused water with many flavors.  Have fun with this one.  Try different amounts of the various ingredients and enjoy the results!

Michael Brown pictured with Final Thought written

Most of us don’t drink enough water.  The recommended intake is eight, 8 oz. glasses of water per day under normal conditions.  

If you become tired of drinking plain water, consider infusing it using some of the ingredients listed in this post.

If you are looking for a good fruit infuser water bottle, click here.

I would love to hear about the ideas you have for other infused water flavors.  I am always looking for new ways to keep the healthiest drink on the planet more tasty.

For the best 10 infusion pitchers to buy in 2020, click here.

Have a great summer, everyone.  Stay happy, healthy, and safe!

Michael Brown in Lab Coat with arms crossed

Michael J. Brown, RPh, BCPS, BCPP

Mr. Brown is a Clinical Pharmacist specializing in pharmacotherapy and psychiatry.

Read Michael’s story here.

Feel free to send Michael a message using this link.

 

 

Disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click on, or make a purchase through a third-party link.

Is Aspartame Sweetener Bad for You

What is aspartame?

Is it bad for you?

My favorite soft drink is Diet Coke. Diet Coke is sweetened by a substance called aspartame. I have been trying to improve every aspect of my life regarding health choices. One thing I plan to change is what I choose to drink. 

Not surprisingly, water is going to be my main drink going forward. Water can be flavored using fruit for a different taste. Stay tuned for a future blog post on different ways to enjoy the healthiest drink on the planet!  

Disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click on, or make a purchase through a third-party link.

What is Aspartame?

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener marketed under the following names:

  • NutraSweetTMCanderelTM
  • EqualTM

This substance is found in over 6,000 food items and is consumed by millions of Americans daily.1

 

2

 

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Aspartame is found in many diet soft drinks, chewing gum, and vitamin supplements. It is not a good sweetener for baking because it breaks down and loses most of its sweetness when heated.  

Aspartame is a dipeptide of two natural amino acids, L-aspartic acid, and L-phenylalanine. After ingested, aspartame is broken down into-

  • Aspartic acid
  • Phenylalanine
  • Methanol4
  • Formaldehyde5
  • Formic acid

Aspartame and your Health

Aspartame has been a subject of controversy for years. Many believe that this sweetener is hazardous to one’s health. We will take a look at some of the available studies.

Effects on the Brain

The metabolism of aspartame mentioned above may lead to the following effects on the brain.

  • Phenylalanine acts as a regulator of neurotransmission.6

  • Aspartic acid is an excitatory neurotransmitter 7

Studies have shown a decrease in the production of dopamine and serotonin following aspartame ingestion. 

This is believed to be caused by an increase in aspartic acid and phenylalanine.

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We know that aspartame also increases the permeability of the blood-brain-barrier altering concentrations of some substances such as dopamine in the brain. This change in dopamine concentration may lead to the pathogenesis of some mental disorders.10

Other researchers have concluded that these adverse effects of aspartame only occur at very high concentrations not generally achieved by typical aspartame consumption.

11

A study published in April of 2014 tested the effects of high-aspartame meals (25 mg/kg/day) vs. low-aspartame meals (10 mg/kg/day) on spatial orientation, working memory, mood (irritability), depression and headaches.

This study was double-blind, and the subjects served as their own controls. They received either the high-aspartame diet or low-aspartame diet followed by a two-week washout period. During this washout period, they consumed their regular diet. After the washout period, they received the other aspartame diet (high or low).  

The treatment periods were eight days in length.

The results are shown in Table 1 below.

 

 

This study found that subjects showed weaker spatial orientation and an increased frequency of irritability and depression when consuming the high-aspartame diet 12

Another study by Walton et al. in 1993 also found high aspartame diets caused more irritability and depression. This study was not completed due to adverse reactions experienced by the study subjects.13

 

Aspartame and Cardiometabolic Health

An analysis of 7 trials (1003 subjects) was published in 2017. These subjects were obese, overweight, or hypertensive. This study found that artificial sweeteners, including aspartame, may be associated with increased body mass index (BMI) and cardiometabolic risk.14

More experimental studies are needed to compare different sweeteners with regard to BMI and cardiometabolic effects. At the current time, research does not support a benefit of artificial sweeteners for weight management.

 

 

 

Other Health Concerns Regarding Aspartame

Aspartame has been a controversial substance for many years. Here are some of the other risks reported with its use.

  • Lupus
  • Cancer
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Dizziness
  • Seizures
  • ADHD
  • Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

Some people have also reported headaches after ingesting aspartame. 

My recommendation for anyone suffering from headaches is to keep a journal. Keep track of what you eat and drink daily. When you have a headache, write down the time and severity in the journal.

Determine if patterns exist.

Are certain foods a possible trigger? 

If you are taking medications for psychosis or suffer from phenylketonuria, you should avoid aspartame.  

Please see my blog post on low glycemic sweeteners by clicking here. 

My research shows the most likely adverse effects resulting from aspartame consumption are weaker spatial orientation and an increased frequency of irritability and depression. These only seem to be a concern when consuming higher amounts of aspartame.  

Although aspartame has been blamed for many other negative health effects, the available research doesn’t support this.

I look at aspartame as a risk vs. benefit situation. 

Since there are other sweeteners available, I am going to limit my intake of aspartame. My goal will be to consume black coffee, water (flavored and plain), and AXIO.

I don’t feel the risk of consuming aspartame is currently worth the benefit.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please let me know.

Have a great week, and be happy and healthy!

Michael Brown in Lab Coat with arms crossed

Michael J. Brown, RPh, BCPS, BCPP

Mr. Brown is a Clinical Pharmacist specializing in pharmacotherapy and psychiatry.

Read Michael’s story here.

Feel free to send Michael a message using this link.