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The majority of women experience at least one urinary tract infection (UTI) at some point in their life. The normal treatment is antibiotics, but some researchers have questioned whether this is necessary - because some studies found most cases will simply resolve on their own without antibiotic treatment. Another issue is growing antibiotic resistance in treating UTIs - some women try one antibiotic after another in their UTI treatment due to antibiotic resistance.

Recently a study was conducted in 3 Scandinavian countries that looked specifically at this issue: Can uncomplicated UTIs be simply treated with non-prescription ibuprofen (e.g. Advil) or are antibiotics better? Women with UTIs were randomly assigned to a 3 day course of antibiotics (178 women) or a 3 day course of the pain reliever ibuprofen (181 women). They found that 53% of the ibuprofen group recovered without antibiotics (even though it took about 3 days longer than women who received antibiotics). However, seven cases (3.9%) of pyelonephritis occurred in the ibuprofen group, and none in the antibiotic group. Five of these patients were even hospitalized - but all recovered with antibiotics. Pyelonephritis is a kidney infection (the bacteria of the UTI has traveled to the kidneys).

There were no cases of pyelonephritis in the antibiotic group (they took  pivmecillinam). But even with an initial 3 day course of antibiotics - 11.2% of the antibiotic group needed a second course of antibiotics within 1 month to recover. The researchers main conclusions: since we can't tell who will respond well without antibiotics - therefore everyone should take them for a UTI.

My only question is: why not do this same study testing a course of D-mannose vs antibiotics for UTIs? One study found that non-prescription D-mannose to be as effective as antibiotics in treating recurring UTIs. Anecdotal evidence (from women) is that it works especially well for those caused by E. coli (up to 90% of UTIs). And antibiotic resistance will never happen taking it, because it's not an antibiotic. (Post on a mannose product for UTIs in development).  ...continue reading "Antibiotics Better Than Ibuprofen For UTI Treatment"

People ask me: what's going on with research in the treatment of sinusitis with probiotics? Well, the answer is that things are moving along slowly - very slowly, but there are good signs. Earlier this year an interesting article by researcher Anders U. Cervin at the University of Queensland (Australia) was published that specifically talked about "topical probiotics" as a potential treatment for chronic sinusitis. By this he means that probiotics (beneficial bacteria) could be directly applied to the nasal passages in the nose, such as a nasal spray. And he discussed how the prevailing view nowadays, based on scientific evidence, is that in sinusitis there is an "imbalance of the sinus microbiome" - the community of microbes living in the sinuses. Yes!!!

Cervin mentioned all sorts of research showing beneficial effects of using different strains of probiotics for various illnesses, mentioned the Abreu et al study (which is the reason I focused on Lactobacillus sakei as a sinusitis treatment, and which works successfully for many people), but.... nowhere did he mention Lactobacillus sakei by name. What???

Cervin discusses how studies are needed to test nasal sprays for the treatment of sinusitis, and made a lot of good points. He looked at studies already done, wondered what bacterial strains might be beneficial, but obviously didn't read the Abreu et al study carefully to see that L. sakei might be a good candidate to test. And he didn't do an internet search to see what probiotics people are using already as a successful treatment for sinusitis (see post). He did mention that the only good trial using nasal spray probiotics in humans with sinusitis found no effect - because they tested the wrong Lactobacillus strains - they were honeybee strains [see post], and not ones found in humans.

Eh... So once again I'm heartened by the focus on the microbial community in sinusitis, and heartened that he said there it was time to get out of the laboratory and start testing probiotics as treatments on people. But I'm dismayed that the focus is so narrow that he's missing what is in front of him - what is already out there. He also missed that a "snot transplant" study is now going on in Europe, which is sure to have interesting results.

By the way, some of the questions the article raises are ones which, based on the experiences of myself and others over the past 5 years, we can already answer: living bacteria as a treatment are better than dead bacteria (using dead bacteria doesn't work), nasal treatments work but just swallowing a probiotic pill doesn't, Lactobacillus sakei works as a treatment for many, the L. sakei bacteria reduces inflammation in the nasal passages, the probiotic can be used in place of an antibiotic, and only treat when needed and not continuously (continuously treating can also result in an imbalance in the sinus microbiome). [See post The One Probiotic That Treats Sinusitis where these issues are discussed.] ...continue reading "Researcher Sees Potential for Sinusitis Nasal Probiotics"

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Big announcement today! I am happy to announce that the product Lacto Sinus, which contains the probiotic Lactobacillus sakei specifically for sinus health, is now available. Lactobacillus sakei is the one probiotic (beneficial bacteria) that has successfully treated the chronic sinusitis of many people, including all members of my family. It has been an amazing journey - and since using Lactobacillus sakei our sinuses feel great, and we have not had to use antibiotics in 5+ years! A win-win.

More than 5 years ago I read research about the sinus microbiome (microbial community), and how chronic sinusitis sufferers lack the keystone bacteria Lactobacillus sakei that successfully treats sinusitis. There were no probiotics with L. sakei available back then. None. But we (my family) were able to successfully treat chronic sinusitis with live kimchi, which can contain Lactobacillus sakei (see Sinusitis Treatment Story). Kimchi is a wonderful product, but... with kimchi you never know if you're getting L. sakei, and even then it dies off rapidly. We went on to experiment with other products for years, with none of them ideal. So it is great that finally, after all these years, a product like Lacto Sinus is now available.

Nice things about Lacto Sinus are that the Lactobacillus sakei strain is kimchi derived, the product holds up well, it is in powder form, easy to use, and it only needs to be refrigerated. (That's right, it's meant to be refrigerated, and not frozen.) Since it also holds up well for a time without refrigeration, it also ships well. Lacto Sinus is sold by Lacto Health, and shipped from the NJ/NY metro area.

Gentle, yet strong. It is being sold as a probiotic dietary supplement for sinus health. It comes in powder form with directions stating to mix with a little bottled water or take it dry, and swallow - after all, it is a dietary supplement. Lacto Sinus comes with a little spoon for ease of use. The product is meant to be used when needed for sinus support.

I want to mention that I have been a consultant to the company, and have been testing the product for over a year. As usual, I self-experimented to see what works best for me - but of course, only using it when needed (for example, if I start to slide into sinusitis after a cold). After 5 years of self-experimentation (as I've described in posts and pages) my sinus microbiome has improved, so at this point I only need to use a little bit for successful results. What has worked for me is swishing a little of the dry powder in the mouth, and then swallow, and not drink or eat for a least 30 minutes after that (to let it travel to the sinuses). Yes, I like the product a lot!

By the way, the advice to use only when needed - should be applied to any probiotic  supplement that is used as a sinusitis treatment or for sinus support. And as I describe in The One Probiotic That Treats Sinusitis - based on my family's experiences and of the people contacting me - most people are helped by Lactobacillus sakei, but not all.

Finally, I want to point out that currently all probiotics in the United States are sold as dietary supplements and not as treatments. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) at this time does not allow any medical treatment claims for any probiotic sold. Using a probiotic dietary supplement in ways other than label directions is SELF-EXPERIMENTATION. [See Sinusitis Treatment Summary page for self-experimentation details.]

A lot of ifs in this study, but... if it holds up, then a really, really cheap medicine. A study by researchers at Augusta University (in Georgia) found that drinking a little baking soda (sodium bicarbonate or NaHCO3 ) with water tells the spleen to go easy on the immune response. In other words, ingesting the baking soda promotes an anti-inflammatory response by the spleen ("activates splenic anti-inflammatory pathways") - which the researchers found in both rats and humans.

The researchers thought this could mean that perhaps some day drinking a little baking soda each day could lower the body's inflammation in kidney disease and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. How much baking soda? The researchers tested 2 g of NaHCO3  (less than 1/2 teaspoon) dissolved in 250 ml of bottled water in a small group of healthy adults. More studies need to be done. From Science Daily:

Drinking baking soda could be an inexpensive, safe way to combat autoimmune disease

A daily dose of baking soda may help reduce the destructive inflammation of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, scientists say. They have some of the first evidence of how the cheap, over-the-counter antacid can encourage our spleen to promote instead an anti-inflammatory environment that could be therapeutic in the face of inflammatory disease, Medical College of Georgia scientists report in the Journal of Immunology ...continue reading "Drinking Baking Soda as a Medical Treatment?"

Researchers measured chemicals in the air in 2 cities (Boulder, CO and Toronto, Canada) and found equally high levels of 2 chemicals in the air during morning commute times - benzene (from vehicle exhaust) and a type of siloxane (from personal care products). What? This study's results make a strong case for reading ingredient lists of personal care products (especially lotions, shampoos, deodorants, antiperspirants) - and avoiding those containing siloxane (which emits volatile organic compounds or VOCs!).

If you consider siloxane and fragrances (which can contain a long, long list of chemicals, including VOCs) as significant sources of air pollution, you might not want to breathe it in or put in on your skin to be absorbed.  Bottom line: Read labels! From Science Daily:

Personal care products contribute to a pollution 'rush hour'

When people are out and about, they leave plumes of chemicals behind them -from both car tailpipes and the products they put on their skin and hair. In fact, emissions of siloxane, a common ingredient in shampoos, lotions, and deodorants, are comparable in magnitude to the emissions of major components of vehicle exhaust, such as benzene, from rush-hour traffic in Boulder, Colorado, according to a new CIRES and NOAA study.  ...continue reading "Personal Care Products and Air Pollution"

A wacky study in some ways, but the results give another great reason to eat dark chocolate ("It's for my vision") if the results hold up with more research. Unfortunately the milk chocolate used did not have the same beneficial effects for vision (it just had no effect). But still to be determined is how long does the small increase in vision acuity and contrast sensitivity last after eating dark chocolate, and does it really mean anything in the real world? The beneficial results in vision were found about 2 hours after eating the dark chocolate, so it is unknown how long the beneficial effect lasted.

The good news is that in the study 30 healthy adults were randomly assigned to different groups, it was "double blind" (no one knew who got what to eliminate bias), it was rigorously done, they used real chocolate available to everyone (72% Cacao Dark Chocolate bar vs Crispy Rice Milk Chocolate bar - both from Trader Joe's), and the researchers had no ties to industry. The researchers concluded eating a "dark chocolate bar improves the ability to see low- and high-contrast targets, possibly owing to increased blood flow", but they don't know what this means for real life.

As the researchers point out -  there were 8 times more flavanols in the dark (316.3 mg) vs milk chocolate bar (40 mg). Their thinking was clear in the study's introduction: "Several studies suggest that dark chocolate from favanol-rich cacao beans may enhance blood flow to central and peripheral nervous systems, improve cardiovascular function, and retard memory loss and other signs and symptoms of degenerative diseases, including Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases. The cacao flavanols in dark chocolate have antioxidant effects that retard and partially reverse degenerative changes in various diseases. Dark chocolate consumption also has been associated with enhanced mood and cognition."  Wow.

The big question: How much dark chocolate did they eat to get these beneficial effects?  Answer: 47 grams (or 1 serving, 280 calories) of the 72% cacao dark chocolate. From Medical Xpress:

A bit of dark chocolate might sweeten your vision

It may not replace prescription glasses, but a few bites of dark chocolate might offer a slight and temporary bump up in vision quality, new research suggests. Heart-healthy compounds in chocolate called flavanols appeared to sharpen eyesight for a group of 30 healthy young adults in the new study. The observed change in vision was small, but significant. However, the study authors stressed that it's too early for ophthalmologists to recommend chocolate as medicine for the eyes. 

...continue reading "Eating Dark Chocolate Benefits Vision?"

An interesting study about frequency of chemical sensitivities in the general population. The study, conducted by Prof. Anne Steinemann (at the Univ. of Melbourne) is observational, and based on self-reports by 1137 people. But it's amazing that so many people (1 in 4 Americans in the study or 25.9%) report some chemical sensitivities, and also that 12.8%  report that they have medically diagnosed Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS).

But it makes sense when you think about all the chemicals we are bombarded with daily, many with known negative health effects. Perhaps you have a physical reaction or feel allergic to certain products - such as household cleaning products, paints, perfumes, insect spray, or other scented products? That could be a chemical sensitivity.

People especially reported health problems from scented consumer products (with added fragrances), such as air fresheners, scented laundry products, cleaning supplies, scented candles, perfume, and personal care products. Yes - those are products to avoid for many reasons, but especially health reasons (see here, here,  and here). Not only do we breathe in the chemicals, but our skin absorbs them! They are indoor air pollutants (some are endocrine disruptors, some are carcinogenic), and should be avoided. [See here for in-depth discussion.]

Instead, buy unscented products, and totally avoid some unnecessary products such as air fresheners and dryer sheets (it's advertising that says they're needed, but they're really not). From Science Daily:

One in four Americans suffer when exposed to common chemicals

University of Melbourne research reveals that one in four Americans report chemical sensitivity, with nearly half this group medically diagnosed with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS), suffering health problems from exposure to common chemical products and pollutants such as insect spray, paint, cleaning supplies, fragrances and petrochemical fumes.  ...continue reading "Do You Have Chemical Sensitivities?"

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The last post was about several reviews of vitamin D studies, and how when people are put randomly into different groups and then followed for a while - that the studies generally are not finding the same wonderful effects of higher levels of vitamin D in the blood that observational studies are finding - instead finding no effect or mixed results. Some issues with observational studies: the groups are self-selected, some are a one time snapshot of a person (thus one can't tell what happens over time); and can't prove cause and effect (can only say there is an association or link). [See all posts about vitamin D.]

But anyway, today's post is about some more vitamin D studies, all published in 2018. All of them find health benefits from higher blood levels of vitamin D. What is an ideal level of vitamin D varies from study to study, and some are observational - thus can only say "find an association with" in the findings. The fifth study finds beneficial effects from higher doses of vitamin D, and the participants were randomly assigned to the groups (good!). Click on links to read details. All excerpts are from Science Daily:

Vitamin D deficiency linked to greater risk of diabetes

An epidemiological study conducted by researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Seoul National University suggests that persons deficient in vitamin D may be at much greater risk of developing diabetes. The findings are reported in the April 19, 2018 online issue of PLOS One ...continue reading "Five Studies Looking at Vitamin D and Health"

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The controversy over whether people should be supplementing with vitamin D or not, and whether there are health benefits or harms from vitamin D supplementation is heating up. While observational studies have found health benefits with higher vitamin D blood levels, the beneficial results have generally not held up (or mixed findings) when people were randomly assigned to groups (randomized clinical trials). Most agree that blood levels of under 20 ng per mL is too low, but an issue is what is a desirable blood level? Should healthy people routinely supplement?

Having higher blood levels of vitamin D from sunshine appears to be good (it's the sunshine vitamin, after all). It's the taking of a vitamin D supplement that is now controversial and being debated. By the way, if one decides to take a vitamin D supplement, then the D3 form is desirable (rather than D2).

It was pointed out that a number of negative health effects can occur in those taking more than 4000 IU daily of vitamin D. For example, it may cause toxic effects such as renal impairment, hypercalcemia, or vascular calcification. In  2014, 3% of all U.S. adults and 6.6% of adults older than 60 years reported taking a vitamin D supplement of 4,000 or more IU per day. [See all vitamin D posts - most discuss observational studies finding benefits.]

The following are articles from Medscape (the medical site) and American Family Physician discussing recent research that is not finding health benefits with vitamin D supplementation, or mixed findings (e.g. one review found it may be protective in lowering death from any reason or from cancer; also reduce the number of upper respiratory infections)Therefore, some medical groups suggest that vitamin D screening is an unnecessary test, a waste of money,  and shouldn't be routinely done in healthy individuals. Note that many, many trials are going on right now to try to settle the vitamin D supplement issue (whether there are health benefits or not). ...continue reading "Mixed Findings In Vitamin D Supplement Studies"

Uh-oh, it looks like some (many?) new or fairly new kitchen cabinets are outgassing several types of PCBs from the wood sealants used on the cabinets. PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) were banned in the 1970s due to health risks - for example, they are known carcinogens, and some are neurotoxic (also here).

Researchers from the University of Iowa monitored air inside and outside 16 Iowa homes and found 3  types of PCBs (PCB-47, PCB-51, and PCB-68) wafting off the finished kitchen cabinets. They suggest that the PCBs becoming airborne are "unintentional impurities", that is, inadvertent byproducts of polymer sealants (from the common ingredient 2,4-dichlorobenzoyl peroxide) used in modern kitchen cabinetry. They found that unfinished cabinets had no PCB emissions. The concentrations seemed to be dependent on the year the house was built - with higher levels in houses built in the past 5 years (one house had just been completed),  and also in a recently remodeled kitchen (new cabinets!). The cabinets were made by different manufacturers.

So now we have a new source of indoor air pollution to think about. The big questions are: 1) What, if anything, does this mean for human health? 2) How long does this outgassing from sealants go on for? 3) Are there alternative sealers that don't have this problem? By the way, the researchers discuss that household paints emit PCBs (such as PCB 11) as byproducts of paint pigment manufacturing, and yes, they were found both inside and outside houses. We love our plastics, use them in so many products, but there are consequences. From Env. Health News:

Finished kitchen cabinets are emitting toxic PCBs

Researchers tested indoor air at 16 homes and found three types of PCBs are widespread, and finished cabinets are the source of the toxics, according to a study released today. They suspect the PCBs [polychlorinated biphenyls] are byproducts of sealants used on the cabinets. The study, from the University of Iowa, is the first to suggest wood finishing products are a significant source of PCBs to indoor air and finds that, despite federal bans on PCBs, the chemicals are still being released into the environment, including our homes.  ...continue reading "Kitchen Cabinet Sealants Can Be A Source of Indoor Air Pollution"