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Healthy Living by 1800WellMed.com

Optimism vs. Pessimism and how it affects your health.

The US News report published this morning shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who has read about the correlation between stress and heart health. The study is quite straightforward: It says be happier and stress less, and your heart will endure less stress thereby keeping it healthier longer. Doctors have been warning us for years now about the negative effects stress can have on our hearts, but what about the potential positive effects of stress?

To start, let’s discuss the origin of stress. “Stress less” is a concept easy to type, less easy to practice in day-to-day life. One study argues that stress may be inherent in your personality, dependent on the glucocorticoid receptors your brain has learned to use which relied heavily on how much stress you endured as a baby. Generally, our brains memorize stress and continue to produce it based on the history of production, an attribute we often characterize as a personality trait.

Psychology Today seems to argue that there is more choice involved. The German study referenced proved that “…pessimism about the future may encourage people to take fewer risks, be more vigilant about their medical health, and generally take more safety precautions.” A point made we had trouble disbelieving. The article went on to claim that, of the large pool of people studied, the ones who had the highest expectations for their future, were often the ones let down the most as years progressed, leading them to be the group that died earlier or became disabled sooner than the less idealistic group. That leads us to our next question: Are idealism and optimism the same thing? If idealism is a lack of knowledge or perception of things as they are, does being optimistic constitute that behavior? What if an optimistic lifestyle involves understanding the possible negative outcomes, yet choosing to focus on the possibilities instead?

“A pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty” – Winston Churchill

One Easy Rule for Losing Weight

Most experts try hard to put this one weight loss rule delicately, and the point is often easy to miss. It’s

really quite simple. While our bodies vary in so many ways, they all need the same basic elements to

thrive. Water, nutrients, vitamins, complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, fiber, among others. So why do

companies sell us foods outside of this healthy range? We’ll save the complications with capitalism for a

different blog. Because us folks at 1800Wellmed care about our community, we want to extend this

piece of straightforward advice: Stop eating delicious stuff. You want cookies instead of salmon? Who

could blame you. You want breads instead of vegetables? Understandable. You can opt for the magic

diet junk foods and pray for a miracle, or you can try to work hard for something you want. And working

hard often involves some discomfort. Not the kind of vomiting ­related discomfort the lapband has been

known to bring on, but the kind where you’re shoveling black beans and spinach down the hatch while

your family gleefully devours cheesy enchiladas. Allott one meal per week to cheat and indulge!

Otherwise, get your act into shape. Learn to be tough about it. Stop eating for pleasure and start eating

for nourishment. A valuable line of advice a trainer once told me was “You can’t always feel good.”

Initially, the fish and broccoli seems like torture, but as your body bounces back from the sugar and fat

abuse it has endured, you’ll realize feeling good isn’t on your tongue, it’s in your renewed and

invigorating lifestyle.

Is lack of sleep robbing your body of good health?

Lack of sleep is an accompaniment to negative health effects. A new study proves taking a daytime nap can help protect your body against sleep-lacking-related ailments.

Published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, a recent study at the Université Paris Descartes-Sorbonne Paris Cité, claims 3 of 10 adults sleep 6 hours or less a night, a bad habit contributing to depression, obesity, and diabetes.

How can naps help reverse this? According to the study, just a 30-minute nap can release health-improving hormones that help the body fight off disease. “This is the first study that found napping could restore biomarkers of neuroendocrine and immune health to normal levels,” says Brice Faraut, PhD, one of the study’s authors.

After monitoring the participants’ urine samples, the hormonal level after a night of restricted sleep for the stress hormone, norepinephrine, was 2.5-fold higher, increasing their bodies’ heart rate and blood pressure. However, those that had napped maintained an unchanged norepinephrine level. Additionally, lack of sleep lowered levels of interleukin-6, a protein with antiviral properties identifiable via participants’ saliva, though those whom napped saw no dip in the protein’s presence.

These findings suggest naps help maintain balanced chemicals within the body that help promote health. “Napping may offer a way to counter the damaging effects of sleep restriction by helping the immune and neuroendocrine systems to recover,” Faraut professed.

Unfortunately, naps aren’t always easy to take. The natural occurrence of stress throughout the day gets heart rates up, making it difficult to relax. Over the years, science has helped us learn of natural ingredients that help calm our bodies, allowing us to sleep. Melatonin, tryptophan, and chamomile are all proven natural substances that help people sleep. Visit 1800wellmed.com for your herbal remedic needs, get a nap in, and get your hormones in a healthy state.

If Your Thyroid Doesn’t Get The Nourishment it Needs, Then Your Whole Body Comes To a Complete Stop!

MILLIONS of people are affected by an under active thyroid  which is by far the “sneakiest” organ in your body. Most people don’t realize   that their thyroid gland, located just at the base of your throat, is wired to EVERY organ and system in your body. So what happens when it very quietly begins to under-produce its magical hormone, thyroxine ? Your entire body — from head to toe begins to slowly fail. Needless to say this makes you fell sluggish and awful. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for most people to simply ”explain away” their symptoms as: “Oh, I‘m just getting old.” “I’m just stressed.” “I’m not getting enough sleep.” “It’s just part of life.” Not true! Before they know it, they will have 10 or 12 symptoms, and the health problems will pile up.

Your thyroid is a small, yet very complex vital organ that needs your attention .The hormones your thyroid produces are vital to your every day life and good health. They enter your bloodstream and are then carried to literally to every part of your body, every cell, organ and tissue. All these various parts work together to keep you alive and healthy. These hormones also play an extremely important part in your body’s metabolism — meaning how well you are able to burn off calories. Metabolism plays a HUGE role in energy levels and weight control. You often hear people who are overweight talk about a “thyroid or metabolism problem.” With poor metabolism, caused by your thyroid, excess weight loss and low energy are almost a given. Even more important, your thyroid regulates your heart, liver, brain, kidneys, muscles, lungs and every other organ, tissue and system. Without adequate levels of Thyroxine, created through a process that mixes iodine with an essential amino acid, constantly in your bloodstream, your body will slump, slack off, wind down and not operate as intended. When this happens, “Run down” doesn’t even begin to explain how you’ll feel.

Thyroid issues quietly affect millions of people each year … Even though it’s not as talked about as high cholesterol, heart disease and arthritis, an under active thyroid is a very common health issue that can lead to much more serious health issues. In reality, your thyroid gland is a weak link, an Achilles heel, that needs more attention than most people give it! The fact is, thyroid disease is estimated to affect 32 million Americans each year. And women are eight times more likely than men to have hypothyroidism, especially older women.

Thyroid hormones are critically important! They regulate the metabolism and function in every cell of your body. So having too little of these hormones will definitely have a profound impact on your health. The most common treatment for an under active thyroid is simply to take iodine or start on a prescription synthetic thyroid hormone drug. However, regular use of a natural supplement, such as NEW Thyroid Control ™ , can help your body to naturally restore deficient iodine levels, while also stimulating the thyroid, to produce crucial thyroid hormones, thereby treating the root of the problem. While a synthetic drug, or a pure iodine treatment can be a quick fix for your thyroid, many thyroid experts have discovered other natural nutrients that can also help drastically improve the health of millions of Americans who suffer the draining effects of an under active thyroid. Even a slight iodine deficiency can drag you down, sap your energy, and make life uncomfortable and difficult. Iodine is a key element needed for the production of thyroid hormone. And since the body does not make iodine, it relies on diet to provide enough. So iodine deficiency is caused simply by not having enough iodine in the diet. Iodine is naturally present in soil and seawater. And is also found in various foods such as breads, iodized tablesalt,cheese, saltwater fish, cow’s milk, seaweed, eggs, shellfish, frozen yogurt, soy milk, ice cream, soy sauce and yogurt. It’s this simple, if you don’t have enough iodine in your body, you can’t make enough thyroid hormone, which leads to enlargement of the thyroid. Before the 1920s, iodine deficiency was common in certain areas of the US. But treatment of iodine deficiency with iodized salt has virtually eliminated these areas. And the availability of iodine in foods differs in various regions of the world. Individuals in the United States can usually maintain adequate iodine in their diet by using iodized table salt (unless they have to restrict the amount of salt in their diet), by eating foods high in iodine and by taking a multivitamin containing iodine. However, the amount of iodine in foods is not listed on food packaging in the U.S., and it can be difficult to identify good sources of iodine in foods. How do you know if low iodine is a problem for you … There are no tests to confirm if you have enough iodine in your body. When iodine deficiency is discovered, it is best managed by eating foods that contain high levels of iodine.The Institute of Medicine has set the Recommended Dietary Allowance for iodine in adult men and women at 150 mcg per day. But taking too much iodine can also cause health problems. This is especially true in individuals that already have thyroid problems. The good news for you is that today you can take advantage of a new, natural treatment that performs above others. Wellmed’s Thyroid Control is an astounding Iodine + Vital Nutrient Support Formula that is quickly absorbed into your body to give you just the right amount of iodine support you need for great health. if you keep reading, you’ll see why Thyroid Control is the “perfect formula” and outperforms other similar formulas.

Many people live with an underactive thyroid for years before they realize it’s causing their health problems … Just like millions of people in the U.S. are suffering from heart disease, high cholesterol, arthritis and other serious health problems, millions of people are also suffering from declining health due to an under active thyroid. And what makes this dangerous is that an underactive thyroid reaches to every corner of your body and has an ill effect. It will negatively affect your heart, your blood, your brain, your skin, your liver etc. Even more dangerous is that it happens slowly, invisibly and quietly. There is no “obvious” event that lets people know they have a thyroid problem. It’s very easy to explain away these various, unrelated symptoms, as they develop slowly and not all at the same time. Also, since life is generally stressful for most people, that stress can mask the true cause of a person’s thyroid problems. It’s not usually noticed until several of these symptoms get really bad, maybe months or years after your thyroid begins shutting down, that people say something to their doctor. They may mention that they … ✔ Are more frequently constipated ✔ Have noticed changes in their skin, hair and finger/toenail texture ✔ Are cold all the time ✔ Can’t focus or think clearly anymore ✔ Feel weak and tired all the time, no matter how much sleep they get ✔ Have gained weight ✔ Have become emotional for no reason Do any of these symptoms describe how you feel … Even if you are experiencing only one or two of these symptoms now, there’s a good chance it is due to a thyroid shutdown! And you can’t count on your doctor to diagnose it during an exam either. They are prone to simply explain away your symptoms or simply tell you to “keep an eye on it.” Thyroid symptoms can be very similar to various other conditions. Which means most physicians won’t quickly or easily diagnose an underactive thyroid. Even though the red flag indicators are easy to see. What often happens is that doctors treat individual symptoms instead of looking at the broader cause. This causes people to feel like they’re just making up problems and complaining too much when in fact they need help! The good news is, this problem is easy to treat compared to other health problems … It’s very simple, if your intake of iodine is low, your thyroid will not have the materials it needs to produce thyroxine. Without adequate thyroxine in your body, your metabolism will slow to a near standstill. And this begins to have a trickle down effect on the rest of your body. So the best way to keep your thyroid healthy, supplied with the building blocks it needs, is to provide it with an adequate iodine and nutrient supply so it can continue to naturally produce thyroxine. Unfortunately for most people, getting enough iodine through a normal diet isn’t easy. In fact, sometimes, the healthier the diet, the less iodine is consumed. Resveratrol, St. Johns Wort, Zinc and Ginger will work together to give your thyroid the best natural support possible. Many of these have been used for hundreds, even thousands of years to support good health.

And iodine isn’t the only nutrient that can help. There are other nutrients that have shown to support the thyroid very well, that can give an added boost to iodine alone. Thyroid Control contains a special form of quick-acting Iodine that can be easily absorbed by your body as soon as it enters for fast synthesis, and a combo of 17 other natural thyroid support nutrients for extra power. Thyroid Control ™ gives you 3 important benefits that other formulas can’t guarantee: 1. Along with pure iodine, Thyroid Control also gives you 17 other powerful, natural support ingredients. These nutrients have shown to have a positive effect on your thyroid for added support. These ingredients, such as Resveratrol, St. Johns Wort, Zinc and Ginger will work together to give your thyroid the best natural support possible. Many of these have been used for hundreds, even thousands of years to support good health. 2. Thyroid Control gives your body only NATURAL nutrients needed to help your thyroid function naturally on its own. These nutrients offer an alternative to taking a prescription drug for the rest of your life. Only in rare cases will any medical doctor tell you it’s better to take a drug rather than a natural supplement if possible. Taking Thyroid Control, with only known natural, powerful and safe ingredients, is a better option than helping your thyroid along with a drug designed to take over thyroid function, rendering it useless. 3. We rejected several versions of our formula until powerful Thyroid Control was born! That’s right, before the unique formula makeup of Thyroid Control was finalized, many versions were tossed away as “not effective enough.” Most supplements won’t do that. They throw ingredients together and call it “effective.” The exacting power of our carefully formulated blend is what gives Thyroid Control its unique “magic.” It’s not just one ingredient, but a precise combination of key ingredients, in specific amounts, that make it effective. A few milligrams up or down will cause an ineffective product. Hence, our uniquely powerful formula succeeds where others fail.

12 Proven Methods for Long-Lasting Leg Health

Leg care should be an important part of your overall health regime. Healthy legs are vital to mobility and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. They allow us to work, exercise, and to play. Without healthy legs, life is certainly much more difficult. Failure to take care of your legs can lead to significant problems including pain, cramping, swelling, varicose veins, loss of mobility and a serious medical condition called Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). Deep Venous Thrombosis refers to the development of a blood clot that gets embedded in one of the major deep veins of the lower legs. This blood clot will block blood circulation through these veins, which carry blood from the lower body back to the heart. The blockage can cause pain, swelling, or warmth in the affected leg

Without proper leg care, swelling may affect both legs and may include the calves and even the thighs. This swelling, called edema, becomes more noticeable as we age and we lose some of the elasticity in our veins. This loss of elasticity in our leg veins causes a loss of some of the ability our veins once had to pump blood from the lower portion of our body to our hearts. Fortunately, there is much you can do to maintain healthy legs your entire life! A healthy lifestyle will help to keep your legs their healthiest and keep you moving about freely for many years to come. Following are the things you can do to maintain your legs in their most healthy condition, keeping them fit and ready to take you where you want to go.


  1. Avoid prolonged periods of immobility – Of course, there are times during our day when we must sit for extended periods of time. But you can do your part to prevent long periods of immobility, such as going for a walk instead of watching TV. If you must sit, get up once an hour and take a 5 minute walking break. Go and say hello to a co-worker, or better yet, walk outside for 5 minutes for a quick breath of fresh air!
  2.  Elevate your legs while Sitting or lying down – When you are reading or watching television, prop your legs up, parallel to the ground, by resting them on a pillow or a table in front of you. This helps keep blood from pooling in the lower legs and improves blood flow to the rest of your body.
  3.  Get out and Walk – Thirty minutes of walking daily does wonders for your health! This simple exercise uses the muscles of the legs to help your veins pump blood back to your heart. The pumping movement of the calf pushes blood back to the heart and every step lowers the pressure in the legs, preventing swelling and varicose veins in the legs.
  4.  Don’t cross your legs – Many of us develop the habit of crossing our legs very early in life. Girls in particular are taught at a young age that crossing the legs is a ladylike way to sit. However, sitting with legs crossed is one of the worst things you can do to your legs. This position basically creates a tourniquet effect and cuts off the return of blood through your leg veins. With some practice, it is possible to break this habit and find other comfortable ways to sit that allow for proper leg circulation.
  5.  Be a smart traveler – Traveling usually means long periods of sitting, whether in a car, an airport, a plane or a train. As you spend hours sitting, the blood in your legs struggles against gravity to return to your heart, and your legs start to swell, ache and cramp. Make sure to take the following actions to ensure proper leg circulation when you travel:            

     – road trip. If you are traveling by car, take a leg break at least every hour and a half. Take several minutes to stretch and flex your legs, and take a short walk around the rest area. Just five minutes of exercise will get the blood flowing through your legs.                                                                  
    -use the gym . Most hotels have a gym available to its guests. Take advantage of the gym for 30 minutes each day, using the treadmill to walk and get the blood flowing in your legs.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
    -layovers – A long sit in the airport is usually inevitable when traveling by air. Use this time to get a little exercise. If it’s a long layover, get up once an hour and wander around the airport; go window shopping, or get yourself something to drink or a good magazine. When sitting in your chair, prop your legs up on your luggage occasionally to prevent the pooling of blood in your legs.                                                                                                                                                                                                    
    -take a Stroll around the plane . Of course, safety comes first, and it is recommended that you keep your seatbelt fastened during your flight. But if you are able, take a short stroll up and down the aisle for a few minutes each hour. Your cramped legs will thank you!                                                                                                                                                                              
    -Sit in the exit row or Bulkhead Seat. The exit row and bulkhead seating typically allow for the most leg space on an airplane. If you are lucky enough to get one of these seats, take the opportunity often to stretch your legs and do some simple leg exercises to keep your blood moving.      

    – Wear comfortable, proper fitting shoes. It is inevitable that your feet will swell while you are sitting or standing for long periods of time. Wear sturdy, comfortable shoes that will stretch with your foot as it swells. Athletic shoes with ample toe room, or shoes with expandable panels or adjustable straps work best.                                                                                    

     -Do flexion exercises While Sitting. Sometimes it is not practical to get up and walk around the airplane. In that case, do some simple leg stretches in your seat. Extend your legs, one at a time, leading with the heel to stretch your calf. Then point your toe, alternating pointing your heel and toe to get the blood moving through your calf. Then rotate your foot at the ankle, first to the left, then to the right several times. Lastly, wiggle your toes.

  6.  Take the stairs – During our busy days, it is often very tempting to relax for a minute and take the elevator or the escalator. Make it a goal to take the stairs instead. Walking up the stairs gives your leg muscles and heart a great workout, and it will get the blood pumping through your leg veins, getting all that blood back to the heart!
  7.  Wear compression hose- If you are prone to leg problemssuch asswelling, varicose veins, or DVT’s, or if you work on your legs for long periods of time, wear elastic compression stockings. These stockings are specifically made for treating veins as they assist in supporting the vein walls and promoting leg circulation. They provide graduated pressure on the leg, and as a result, blood flow isincreased which helps reduce swelling, fatigue, pain and possible clots in the legs. It is critical for the stockings to be measured and medical grade, so make sure you work directly with your physician to get the proper fit.
  8.  Lose Weight – Carrying around extra weight is a burden to your legs, which bear the impact of all of that weight. It is a medical fact that obese men and women are 2.5 times more likely to develop DVT’s than those who maintain a healthy weight. If you need to lose some weight, work with your doctor to develop a plan that is right for you to reach a weight that will improve your overall health, and help to prevent the formation of DVT’s.
  9.  Eat a well-balanced diet-  Maintaining a healthy weight through eating a well-balanced diet limits stress on your legs and promotes general wellness. Foods high in salt can cause water retention and increase swelling, so monitor your intake of salt. Foods high in fat and carbohydrates increase the likelihood of gaining weight. Eating a healthy balance of carbs, fat and proteins are essential to maintaining good health.
  10.  Drink plenty of water – Our bodies lose an average of 2.5 liters of fluid daily through our skin, our lungs, and urination. We need to replace this fluid by drinking at least 8 glasses, or 3 liters of water daily. Water is necessary to prevent dehydration and to prevent our blood from becoming sluggish. Sluggish blood is much harder to pump through the veins than well-hydrated blood.
  11.  Stop Smoking – Smoking increases the risk of damage to vein walls and may result in varicose veins and leg ulcers. Smoking slows down the natural healing process of our bodies, preventing fast healing, and allowing for the formation of problems such as leg ulcers. Smoking can also lead to hardening of the arteries, which in turn can lead to blood clots. Stopping smoking allows you to exercise more, because breathing is easier once you no longer smoke. Stopping smoking is part of healthy leg and overall body care. 1
  12. Maintain your blood pressure and cholesterol levels – Eat a healthy diet. Plaque can build up in arteries and veins when you eat too much fat and cholesterol. A buildup of plaque in your veins will increase the chances of developing DVT’s. If you have high blood pressure, work closely with your physician to maintain it at a healthy level, to keep your veins and arteries healthy. Most of these activities are probably things you already do on a daily basis without giving it much thought. If you focus on some of the additional ideas that you can start to put into practice in your life, you will notice improved leg health. Remember that healthy legs are vital to a healthy lifestyle and if you serve your legs well, they will serve you well as they carry you forward through a healthy and active life!


Cholesterol information guide

Shrimp is full of cholesterol, but the real cholesterol danger lurks in the slyly packaged “cholesterol-free” cookie. You see, shrimp contains very little of the fat that makes that cookie taste so good. And it’s the saturated fat in food — not the cholesterol — that has the greatest affect on your cholesterol level. No wonder people are confused. Here’s your guide to understanding what it all means, because what is clear is the link between high cholesterol in your blood and heart disease. You’ll find out whether you need a cholesterol test and what “good” cholesterol is, along with quick tips for creating a heart-healthy diet. What you won’t find is a recipe for those cookies.

Cholesterol, a white, waxy fat found naturally in your body, is used to build cell walls and make certain hormones. Too much of it, though, can clog your arteries and eventually choke off the supply of blood to the heart, which is the reason high cholesterol is a leading risk factor for heart disease.
Other factors that put you at risk include:
• High blood pressure
• Smoking
• A family history of heart disease
• Being male
• Diabetes
• Obesity


EXERCISE Thirty minutes of aerobic exercise 3-4 times a week may be all you need to raise the level of beneficial HDL in your bloodstream. Working out also helps control weight, lower blood pressure, and reduce’ stress. Suggestions: Brisk walking, running, dancing, swimming, cycling, jumping rope, skating, aerobics.

CHANGE THE FAT CONTENT OF YOUR MEALS Following a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet can usually reduce your blood cholesterol by about 10-15%, thus lowering your risk of heart disease by 20-30%. Individual results will vary, depending on genetic makeup and former eating habits.

1. Reduce Saturated fats. You see,Saturated fat raises the level of harmful LDL cholesterol in your blood (butter, whole milk, cheese, ice cream, red meat, palm oil, palm kernel oil, coconut oil, hydrogenated soybean and cotton-seed oils)

  • Limit meat products high in fat (hamburger, bacon, sausage).
  • Read labels carefully and beware of foods that contain large amounts of hydrogenated vegetable oils, cocoa butter, coconut and palm oils, beef fat and lard.
  • Remove the skin from poultry, trim the fat around meat, and use lean beef, pork, or veal.
  •  Prepare one meatless meal a week.
  • Snack on pretzels, air-popped popcorn, rice cakes and fruit instead of candy, nuts and chips.
  • Drink skim or non-fat milk and beware that cream substitutes are made with tropical oils.
  • Eat low fat cheese, such as part-skim mozzarella.

2. Reduce cholesterol.  (eggs, meats, butter, whole milk)

  • Cook with egg whites instead of whole eggs.
  •  Cut back on commercially prepared baked goods.
  • Limit portion sizes of lean meat, fish, and poultry to no more than 6 oz a day, or about the size of two decks of cards.
  •  Learn to do without organ meats (liver, brain, kidney).
  •  Eat more water-soluble fiber, such as oat bran, legumes, psyllium, and fruit, which may help lower cholesterol levels when made part of a low-fat, low cholesterol diet.

3. Increase unsaturated fats

polyunsaturates  lower both LDL and HDL levels (corn oil, sunflower seed oil, safflower oil).

MONOUNSATURATES lower LDL levels but leave the beneficial HDL intact (olive oil, canola oil).

  •  Cook, fry, and bake with vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower, corn, soybean, and olive. •
  • Make your own homemade salad dressing. •
  • Use soft margarine.



Who: Men between 35 and 65 should be tested along with women over age 35 with any risk factors. (It’sunclear whether men over 65, or people under 30, gain any real health benefits from lowering high cholesterol levels, but the National Cholesterol Education Project has recommended screening for everyone over 20.)

When: Once every year

By Whom: Preferably your doctor, who can measure LDL as well as total cholesterol. If you use an outside service:

• Check to see that the testers are doctors, nurses, or
medical technologists
• Get a written copy of your results to show to your
doctor What It Means: The test measures the total
amount of cholesterol in your blood: The HDL or “good” cholesterol, which cleanses arteries; plus the LDL or bad” cholesterol, which builds up and clogs arteries. Here are guidelines for reading your test results:

NOTE: If your cholesterol level places you in the borderline group and you have two or more of the risk factors mentioned, you’re actually at high risk for heart disease.

Alzheimer’s disease and ‘the long goodbye’

Bracken Burns knew something was wrong with his mother, Jane Burns, when he noticed the computer magazines. The mother of the former Washington County commissioner had no interest in computers, yet she had been duped into buying them from a telephone solititor. Burns and two other prominent members of the community share their stories about their loved ones’ battle with Alzheimer’s disease, starting on Page B1. Photo by:Katie Roupe/ Observer-Reporter

Bracken Burns knew something was wrong with his mother, Jane Burns, when he noticed the computer magazines. The mother of the former Washington County commissioner had no interest in computers, yet she had been duped into buying them from a telephone solititor. Burns and two other prominent members of the community share their stories about their loved ones’ battle with Alzheimer’s disease, starting on Page B1.
Photo By:Katie Roupe/ Observer-Reporter

Coping with end of life experience a difficult proposition

The protracted period from diagnosis to death from Alzheimer’s disease has been called “the long goodbye,” and for good reason.

Other individuals afflicted with terminal diseases, whether it’s cancer that has metastasized beyond the reach of treatment, or heart disease that has fatally weakened cardiac muscle, retain the basic elements of their personalities until they draw their final breaths. But with Alzheimer’s disease, as it slowly progresses, the components of an individual’s personality are worn away along with their cognitive skills and memory. Usually, near the end, they no longer even speak. Their body declines, but the pace of their cognitive decline is speedier. Usually, by the time someone with Alzheimer’s disease dies, the traits, tendencies and abilities the person possessed have long since departed.

Friends and family of the individual with Alzheimer’s disease become strangers, and, in a sense, the individual with Alzheimer’s disease becomes a stranger to family and friends.

That fact often changes the grieving process for those left behind. When death does come, it often seems like the person they knew and loved has, for all intents and purposes, been gone for a while.

That was what Mary Jo Podgurski found. Her mother’s death from Alzheimer’s disease in 1996 followed just a few months after the director of the Academy for Adolescent Health Teen Outreach endured the death of her father after he succumbed to lung cancer. Podgurski found that, while she felt all the rawness one feels at the death of a parent when her father died, her response was more muted when her mother died.

“I felt a lot of guilt,” she explained. “I was close to both parents, and I grieved deeply for my father. But I felt guilty when I wasn’t as sad when my mother died. It wasn’t the same kind of grief.”

After some reflection, she realized, in her words, “that I had lost her a decade before.”

She continued, “You feel a gradual loss. My mother was such a bright, active woman. She was so well-read, you could talk to her about anything. When she actually died, I felt strangely empty of grief.”

Patty Henderson, a counselor with the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh, says she frequently hears similar observations from loved ones of someone in the grip of Alzheimer’s disease, or someone who has just died from it. Spouses or children often grieve not only for the absence of the person they once knew, but also for the roles that person once played and the day-to-day skills they once possessed.

“The person is changing before your eyes,” Henderson said. “If it’s a spouse, you’re losing your partner. If it’s a parent, you’re losing an authority figure. That can be a very difficult thing.”

A 2008 study carried out at the University of Indianapolis found that grief was, in fact, the heaviest burden that those caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease had to endure. The study focused on the idea of “anticipatory grief,” and mourning the loss of someone before they actually die, and “ambiguous loss,” which arises when you are dealing with someone who is no longer psychologically or socially present. Both issues trumped the daily frustrations of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, the study found. It urged that caregivers be made to understand that these feelings are normal and widely shared.

Unlike Podgurski, Mary Ann Crabtree’s mother is still alive. Crabtree, a McMurray resident and psychologist, said that she is well acquainted with the feelings of loss that are part and parcel of dealing with a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. Her mother, who is approaching her 100th birthday, “has changed a lot,” Crabtree explained. She can no longer read books, watch anything with the simplest narrative on television and has more or less lost the ability to “hold a thought.” The educated, thoughtful mother she once knew now revels in “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” because that’s about all she can follow.

“She doesn’t remember her old friends or her old jobs,” Crabtree said.

The feeling that someone is already gone before death fully claims them – that they are “a shell,” in the words of Paul Tripoli, a Washington-based clinician and counselor – leads some friends and family members to stop visiting someone with Alzheimer’s disease altogether.

“Some people say, ‘It just isn’t Grandma,’” Tripoli said.

When people who are grieving the loss of someone afflicted with Alzheimer’s, Tripoli tells them that even if they start grieving before someone is gone, that doesn’t guarantee that the loss with be felt less acutely when the person actually does die.

“What we try to tell people is that no matter how much you grieve, it doesn’t have a quantity to it,” he said. “There really isn’t a quantity.”

And despite the fact that there is common ground among those who have lost, or are in the process of losing someone, with Alzheimer’s disease, grief in any form remains a deeply personal, idiosyncratic experience.

“Obviously, it’s very individual,” Henderson said. “You can’t say that everyone will experience the same thing.”

Dr. Holly Lucille: How Your Thyroid Can Make You Depressed


Dr-Holly-thyroid-articleDepression can come upon us in mysterious ways. Sometime we spend a lot of time searching for an emotional cause and may overlook physical causes.

Naturopathic physician Holly Lucille, ND, RN, believes that depression occurs when your thyroid is out of balance. Lucille, who is author of Creating and Maintaining Balance: A Women’s Guide to Safe, Natural Hormone Health, says she often treats thyroid issues in patients with depression in her Los Angeles office.

As a licensed naturopathic doctor, Lucille is a primary care physician trained to use natural methods in preventing and treating disease. “Naturopathic doctors focus on treating the whole person, promoting health and finding the root cause of disease,” she explains. “They are trained to understand and discover the underlying components of a patient’s illness rather than treating only symptoms.”


Naturopathic doctors treat disease using the most up-to-date laboratory technologies and imaging techniques, she says, as well as holistic and nontoxic approaches to therapy, with a strong emphasis on disease prevention and wellness.

We asked her to answer a few questions about the thyroid and depression:

What is the thyroid and what exactly does it do?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that is located in the base of your neck. It is responsible for aerobic and anaerobic metabolism in each and every cell in our body, which is the energy that allows the body to function when at rest and while moving. When functioning properly, the thyroid maintains metabolism and responds to changes in our bodies.

What are some of the ways the thyroid malfunctions and why?

The main dysfunction of the thyroid is that of under-functioning. There are many different reasons that the thyroid can under-function in our modern day. An auto-immune reaction is the number one reason but there are others. Heavy metal accumulation, oral contraceptives and estrogen therapies, Candida infections, poor nutrition, poor sleep, low ferritin and low vitamin D levels and chronic stress are other things to consider.

How and why do thyroid issues impact depression?

When the thyroid under-functions and causes subsequent symptoms of hypo-metabolism [abnormal decrease in metabolic rate], everything slows down. Fatigue sets in and feelings of melancholy or apathy soon appear. This can either cause or be mistaken for depression or it could certainly exacerbate any existing depressive state.

What kind of testing lets people know the status of their thyroid?

It is important to note that conventional blood testing like the TSH test, which is the typical way thyroid is tested, is inadequate for understanding thyroid function. The most important thing to focus on are symptoms — what kind of syptoms the patient is having — and also a more comprehensive testing protocol would include basal body temperature, Achilles reflex return, total t4 [the level of thyroxine, a major hormone produced by the thyroid gland], free t4, free t3 [another major thyroid hormone], vitamin D level and ferritin, as well as thyroid antibodies.

How do you help people get their thyroids into shape to help depression?

The number one thing that you need to do is to understand what the main issue is. If we are going to fix the symptoms of under functioning thyroid we need to know where the problem lies as it is different with each individual.

What if someone has had their thyroid removed?

This will require life-long thyroid replacement therapy.

Can you describe some of the allopathic and naturopathic treatments for low thyroid and thyroid issues that contribute to depression?

Most allopathic practitioners will use a synthetic drug like Synthroid if there are signs of hypothyroidism. There are other options, like thyroid derived from a porcine source that is more bioavailable, but it is imperative to fix the underlying issues first before thinking about replacement of any sort, as the body is a great communicator and the thyroid is under-functioning for a reason. If we don’t go to great lengths to figure out why, then that problem, most of the time, will go on past the point of no return. It would be like cutting the wire to the fire alarm in a burning building just because the alarm was annoying you. The problem is, there is still a raging fire!

What is the biggest secret that depressed people should know about the thyroid.

I think they should know that is might be a huge contributing factor to why they are feeling depressed and should seek out a practitioner to truly help them identify and treat the cause!

Flu prevention: a naturopathic approach


It’s that time of year, when the flu arrives, and with it, the choice of whether or not to get the flu vaccine. Many people assume that just because I am a naturopathic doctor, I am against the flu vaccine. This is not true. My goal is to educate my patients on disease prevention and health promotion so that they can make an informed decision that’s right for them and their family.Health professionals are deeply concerned about the flu because historically there have been massive flu outbreaks, often with serious consequences. The greatest risk today is pneumonia, which can lead to complications in susceptible people. The flu vaccine is promoted as a response to these concerns.The main reason some people choose to avoid the vaccine is because its degree of efficacy varies from year to year. The Public Health Agency of Canada reported, “Vaccine efficacy estimates against laboratory confirmed influenza in healthy adults 18-64 years of age range widely from as low as 15 per cent to as high as 75 per cent. However, the majority of the seasons and populations studied have efficacy estimates of 50-60 per cent. Estimates appear to depend on the year of the study, which likely reflects the virulence of the strain and how well the vaccine was matched with the circulating strains of influenza.”

Others are concerned that the vaccine can contain a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal, along with a host of other preservatives and additives to make it last longer and work stronger. It can be associated with known side effects ranging from flu-like symptoms to, more rarely, allergic reactions.

If you have diabetes, heart disease, asthma, obesity, or an immune-compromised condition, the flu vaccine can be an important safety measure. If you are a health care worker or take care of children under six months old, your workplace might strongly recommend that you do receive the vaccine.

The flu vaccine is highly recommended for pregnant women, although this can be controversial for some. If you choose to, or must get the vaccine for health or work reasons ask your health care provider for the “single dose” vaccination, as this is thimerosal free. Nova Scotians have the option of receiving one of two vaccines: AGRIFLU or FLUVIRAL. AGRIFLU is single dose and contains no thimerosal, while FLUVIRAL does.

The following are naturopathic recommendations to protect you and your family.

1. Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water.

2. Resist all temptations to touch any part of the face (unless eating or bathing).

3. Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your sleeve, wash your hands and face as soon after as possible and discard the tissue.

4. Gargle twice a day with warm salt water.

The flu virus takes two to three days after initial infection in the throat or nasal cavity to multiply and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents multiplication.

5. Use a Neti pot to clean your nostrils or blow the nose hard once a day and swab both nostrils with cotton buds dipped in warm salt water to effectively bring down the viral population.

6. Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in vitamin C. Daily, eat dark leafy greens and at least two servings of berries or citrus fruit.

7. Choose to eat warm foods such as soups, stews, casseroles and baked dishes. Warm food is easier to digest and supports immune health.

8. Drink at least six glasses of warm liquids throughout the day.

9. Get plenty of rest and reduce stress.

10. Establish a flu prevention protocol. Probiotic: 1 to 2 capsules daily with food + Vitamin D 1,000 IU daily + Vitamin C (1000 to 3000 mg) with zinc daily.


Dr. Amy Punké, ND, has a naturopathic practice at Whole Self Wellness Centre, 106 Stellarton Rd., New Glasgow (above Healthy Selection).