Synthetic Cannabis-Like Drug Reduces Sleep Apnea

Image courtesy of Maxpixel

Image courtesy of Maxpixel

There is currently no drug treatment for sleep apnea, a sleep breathing disorder. If untreated there is an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, sleepiness, cognitive impairment and motor vehicle accidents. Researchers at Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois at Chicago studied the effect of dronabinol, a synthetic version of Delta-9 THC which is found in cannabis. Dronabinol targets the brain and nerves that regulate the upper airway muscles rather than the physical problem of collapsing airways. The 6-week study included 73 adult patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea, finding that the higher dose of dronabinol (10mg) was associated with a lower frequency of apneas or hyponeas (overly shallow breathing) during sleep, decreased subjective sleepiness, and had a greater overall treatment satisfaction compared to placebo. The severity of the disorder was reduced 33% compared to complete compliance with the CPAP device, which targets the physical problem. Larger scale clinical trials are needed to figure out best approach to cannabinoid therapy in obstructive sleep apnea, but this study shows promise of a potential new therapy for sleep apnea.

For more information visit ScienceDaily.

Do you or someone you know have sleep apnea? Have you ever counseled patients using a CPAP device? What are your thoughts on these findings?

Cinnamon Turns Up the Heat on Fat Cells

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Researchers had previously observed that an essential oil, cinnamaldehyde, which gives cinnamon its flavor, appeared to protect mice from obesity and hyperglycemia by affecting metabolism. Researchers in the lab of Jun Wu, assistant research professor at the University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute, found that cinnamaldehyde improves metabolic health by acting directly on fat cells, adipocytes, inducing them to start burning energy through a process called thermogenesis. Wu and her colleagues tested various human adipocytes, when treated with cinnamaldehyde they noticed increased expression of several genes and enzymes that enhance lipid metabolism, observing an increase in Ucp1 and Fgf21 regulatory proteins involved in thermogenesis. Cinnamon has been enjoyed by people for thousands of years, so this could potentially offer patients an easier to adhere to approach for metabolic health. Further studies are needed to determine how to attain the best metabolic benefits from cinnamaldehyde without causing adverse side effects.

For more information visit ScienceDaily, and the original study via the journal of Metabolism.

How often do you consume cinnamon? Would you consider incorporating cinnamon more often in your diet now? Do you know of any other spices that also boost metabolism?

FDA warns of ‘deadly risks’ of the herb kratom, citing 36 deaths

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia commons - Psychonaught

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia commons – Psychonaught

The FDA issued a public health advisory this week regarding the herbal supplement Kratom, warning of the potential for misuse, addiction, and death when used improperly. Kratom is a plant grown in Southeast Asia that is believed to work by activating the same receptors as opioid pain killers with less respiratory depression. Some use Kratom safely to self-manage pain and depression, while others abuse Kratom recreationally in combination with other drugs for its euphoric effects. The FDA is concerned as there is currently no reliable scientific data for either the risks or benefits, and Kratom related calls to poison control centers increased ten-fold from 2010-2015 with 36 related deaths in 2016. Some drug companies are beginning to research Mitragyna (the plant Kratom powder is derived from) as an opioid replacement in pain management.

For more information please visit The Washington Post and the FDA.

Have you ever discussed Kratom with patients who used the substance? What was their experience? Do you think that large opioid companies may be lobbying the FDA against Kratom?

Walnuts may promote health by changing gut bacteria

Image courtesy of pixabay.com/utroja0

Image courtesy of pixabay.com/utroja0

A study recently published the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry suggests that the consumption of walnuts influences the bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. Byerley and colleagues assessed 20 rats, 10 of which received walnuts while the other 10 received matching nutrients. It was found that more of certain probiotic species such as Lactobacillus were present in the rats that ate walnuts. This highlights another potential benefit of walnuts, though the connection needs further investigation.

For additional information, please see here.

Questions: Are walnuts a part of your diet? What snacks do you usually eat?

Omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation via cannabinoids

Image courtesy of Pixabay/stevepb

Image courtesy of Pixabay/stevepb

A recent study by University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign found that Omega-3 fatty acids have similar effects with marijuana- but without any psychotropic effects. The research team found out that Omega-3 fatty acids provide anti-inflammatory effects via endocannabinoid system. This study suggests that omega-3 fatty acids are expected to play important roles in neuroinflammation and in cerebrovascular diseases such as stroke.

For additional information, please see here.

Questions: What supplements/vitamins do you take daily? Are omega-3 fatty acids part of your daily regimen?

Mineral water can be calorie-free calcium source

Image courtesy of pixabay.com/Pezibear

Image courtesy of pixabay.com/Pezibear

New research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition by Greupner and colleagues suggests that calcium-rich mineral water can provide as much calcium as milk and other dairy products. The study included 21 healthy adults and found that calcium absorption was equal across the different sources. Mineral water provides a key benefit over milk and other dairy products in that it contains zero calories, making it ideal for overweight or obese patients.

For additional information, please see here.

QuestionsThe recommended daily amount in the United States is 1300 mg of calcium. Are you getting enough? How likely are you to drink milk after reading this?

Vitamin E, selenium supplement did not prevent dementia

Image courtesy of Bergadder/Pixabay

Image courtesy of Bergadder/Pixabay
In the Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease by Vitamin E and Selenium (PREADViSE) clinical trial, 3,786 men were given either vitamin E, selenium, both, or placebo to observe the incident of dementia. At the end, there was no difference in the incident of dementia between the four groups. This finding suggests that taking vitamin E and selenium alone or both did not help prevent dementia in older men. However, there were limitations to the study such as short supplement exposure time, dosage, and gender. Currently, researchers do not recommend the use of vitamin E and selenium for the prevention of dementia.
  
For additional information, please see Science Daily.
Question:  Are you currently taking vitamin E or selenium? What supplements do you typically recommend to your geriatric patients?

Link between Vitamin D treatment and autism prevention

Image courtesy of Papaya45/Pixabay

Image courtesy of Papaya45/Pixabay
In an animal study, researchers discovered that giving vitamin D supplements to mice during pregnancy prevent autistic traits in their offspring. This discovery further supports how crucial vitamin D plays in brain development. In human studies, researchers found a link between pregnant women with low vitamin D levels and an increased likelihood of having a child with autistic traits. However, more studies are needed to determine a safe dose for pregnant women.
 
For additional information, please see Science Daily.
Question: What other vitamins or supplements are you comfortable to recommend during pregnancy?  

B vitamins may have ‘protective effect’ against air pollution

Image courtesy of 3dman_eu/Pixabay

Image courtesy of 3dman_eu/Pixabay

According to researchers in the US, high doses of vitamin B supplements may protect us from damages caused by very fine particular matter such as PM2.5. These fine particulates are from diesel cars, wood burning stoves, and others can cause an epigenetic change to our cell that can damage our health. Although the study showed protective effect from vitamin B supplements, there were many limitations in the study. Thus, more studies are needed before recommending patients to take vitamin B supplements.

For additional information, please see BBC.

Question: Do you supplement with B vitaminsHow familiar are you with sources of outdoor and indoor air pollution?

 

Allergies? Probiotic combination may curb your symptoms, new study finds

Image courtesy of Blickpixel/Pixabay

Image courtesy of Blickpixel/Pixabay

University of Florida research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed probiotic combination that can help reduce allergy symptoms during the allergy season. Scientists enrolled 173 healthy adults with mild allergy symptoms were randomized to two groups: one taking lactobacilli and bifidobacteria combination probiotic or placebo. Patients in the treatment group suffered from fewer allergy symptoms and had better quality of life as a result.

For additional information, please see ScienceDaily.  

Question: Have you used probiotics for allergies or other indications? How likely are you to recommend patients suffering from allergies probiotics?