Posted by: Chris Maloney | August 24, 2016

Is CNN Just Promoting Cogniflex Or Does It Really Work?

It’s hard to tell sometimes when articles become advertisements. Today’s CNN article on Cogniflex appearing here (and on Facebook) looks like it was also published in March. We have unbelievable endorsements from Stephen Hawkings and Harvard, check. We have a movie tie-in, check. And we have a single, anecdotal report from a single CNN employee Alan Frasier saying the drug was wonderful. All three basics of an advertisement. Further quick checking shows that Cogniflex is just a rehash of Addium, MZT-48, Adderin, etc. The fake article and quotes are nearly identical. Thanks to supplementcritique.com for going through all of these so I didn’t have to.

The article is a fake. But the concept is certainly supported by CNN, which touts other drugs for high achieving executives.

So, let’s look at Cogniflex and see if anything could be there. The official website lists ingredients L-carnitine, L-theanine, caffeine, bacopa monnieri, rhodiola rosea, and vitamin B6. All of these are generally familiar to anyone looking for a brain boost, with the possible addition of bacopa, which is an Indian herb called brahmi. Of the ingredients, carnitine, theanine, and vitamin B6 are less likely to be very active, bacopa and rhodiola are boosters, and caffeine is the active ingredient. Does caffeine affect alertness? Duh.

But does Cogniflex outperform a cup of Joe? Have the creators come up with boosters in the right combination to maintain the caffeine’s effect over the day? First, you can go to the free website pubmed and see if there are any studies on cogniflex. None. So no, the creators didn’t do anything besides create an amazing amount of fake news about their product that they are now recycling with new names. They aren’t interested in anything but your credit card.

Just say no.

If we go further and look at the individual ingredients, bacopa does have a long history of being helpful in brain function (for impaired people over twelve weeks, not overnight). It also appears to be mostly nontoxic (they couldn’t kill a rat with it). I found a fairly exhaustive rundown of the many rodent studies and small human studies here. The examiner gives bacopa higher marks than I would, but the author admits taking the herb.

Cost of bacopa? Probably five dollars a bottle from a discounter. So if you feel you need to shell out for a brain booster, save yourself a few dollars, talk with your doctor, and try the raw ingredient instead of a mix. That’s likely a good rule of thumb. Look at the ingredients, talk with your doctor, and try an individual ingredient rather than paying anyone to put them together for you.

Or, even better, you could get away from the computer and go exercise. That definitely helps brain function.

 

Posted by: Chris Maloney | August 14, 2016

Page Turner On Sale In Honor of Lithgow’s Reopening!

I live next to a cemetery. James G. Blaine, Maine’s most famous senator, sleeps at the top of the hill. Just down from him is the Turner family, resting together. The youngest Turner, Page, was born on my birthday in 1889. She would have visited the original Lithgow Library during her lifetime. But she didn’t live very long. Page died in 1906, just shy of seventeen.

It seemed so sad to me that someone named Page Turner should die before her life really got started. So I wrote a book for her. A little austenesque, a little steam punk, a little weird, Page in my book is defined by her name. All the characters are, like self-aware Dickens characters who can’t escape their fates because of a few letters applied like a spell to their destinies.

The book is mostly fit for young readers with the possible exception of one death. It’s in self-defense, but death-by-pencil is still a bit grizzly. If you’ve the stomach for it, Page Turner is, well, it lives up to its name.

In honor of Lithgow’s reopening, I’ve dropped the prices on Page Turner as low as I can go on Amazon and kindle. Go to Lithgow, then take a trip up the hill to visit Blaine and catch Page on the way back down.

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Posted by: Chris Maloney | August 13, 2016

Lithgow Library Reopens Today!

I’m so excited!  Our new expanded Lithgow Library, originally christened back in 1894, is going to reopen. Lithgow was where I took my infant son when we needed a place for nap time. He could sleep and I could consume books like the omnivorous reader I am.

How excited am I about Lithgow? I wrote a book to support the Library, full of historical figures like the Masons, James Blaine, and the two pennies hidden in Lithgow’s cornerstone. It’s a ghost story suitable for young children and anyone who like history.

To honor my grandfather, I listed Roy as the author, but the work is mine.

In honor of Lithgow reopening, I’ve dropped the price on two pennies to 5.95 (as low as Amazon will let me go) and the kindle price down to 0.99 cents. Go to Lithgow, read Two Pennies, and see if you can find the stained glass, the stacks, and the ghosts of masons past.

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Quick, have you or anyone you know recently been to Florida? Do you live near an airport? If the answers are yes to either question, you might be feeling a tad uneasy about the CDC’s unique new warnings about Miami.

It’s hard to understand the CDC’s announcement that pregnant women should avoid an  area in Miami’s  Wynwood arts district. The last time I checked, mosquitoes don’t read road signs. Other that financially destroying a region of Miami (where should we go to dinner? Zika or Non-Zika?) the CDC’s unprecedented announcement seems both myopic and overblown.

To begin with, the CDC backdates its warning to June 15th, so anyone who’s visited Miami and is now living in Maine suddenly needs to be concerned. The CDC also goes through an extensive set of restrictions for couples wanting to conceive that extends far beyond avoiding the Miami area.

It is one thing to say mosquitoes in a certain area in Miami should be avoided. It is another for the CDC to say that: “All pregnant women in the United States should be assessed for possible Zika virus exposure during each prenatal care visit.” The first is a dramatic warning for a small area, the second is an admission that mosquitoes are not the primary cause of Zika spread (people are) and that Zika is a sexually transmitted disease that is not limited to any region in the U.S. It’s pretty concerning to have the CDC confirm: it’s here, it’s everywhere, and we have no treatment.

But before we all run around screaming about Zika, what’s missing from this discussion is any larger picture. We need a reasonable plan, not an area quarantine that the mosquitoes won’t obey. After financially destroying an area of Miami, what’s next? Should we avoid Austin, San Diego, anywhere Zika cases arise? Of course not. The vast majority of people are at tiny risk from Zika. Even the overwhelming majority of women who catch Zika will have no birth defects. But we’re not hearing that, we’re hearing increasing terror and an arbitrary warning that will make no difference to the spread of the disease. Because it’s people, not mosquitoes, that we need  to stop spreading Zika.

I’ve written a very short book that lays out why, while concerned, we shouldn’t be panicked by Zika. I also lay out a case that women who just have Zika without other similar exposures may have even less risk. We need to have someone step in and lower our panic, not increase it with quarantine announcements.

Posted by: Chris Maloney | July 27, 2016

Pelvic Congestion Syndrome: Is There A Cure?

Quick, what disease affects 25% of the world’s women? Chronic pelvic pain. What’s the cause? We don’t know. But we have a treatment.

Surgeons have decided that chronic pelvic pain is caused by varicose veins in the pelvis. The disease has been termed pelvic congestion syndrome, pelvic venous congestion, or pelvic vein incompetence. Specifically, these veins tend to be around the ovaries. Ignoring that women without any pain also have these varicose veins, surgeons are currently cutting or blocking the veins with some success.

The number of studies on Pelvic Congestion Syndrome makes it almost non-existent (242 studies, bunions have 3,000 studies). We don’t have definitive studies that show that the varicose veins cause the pain, but we do have pain relief for patients who’ve had the surgery. This varies from half to 75% of women, which is a good number unless you realize that almost half of the women undergoing blockage of their veins continued to experience pain. If the venous congestion causes the pain, and you resolve the congestion, wouldn’t we expect a near-universal decrease in pain?

Pain is the symptom most likely to respond to a useless intervention. A recent acupuncture study found that almost half of the placebo group felt pain relief for chronic pelvic pain (compared to 92% of those actively treated). For placebo response, surgery is particularly likely to give a high response rate (see Huffington Post discussion). And without large-scale trials, blocking the veins in the pelvis may not be that effective.

But what if it is? Other studies show that an imbalance in estrogen may make the difference in whether or not a woman experiences pelvic pain. Surgery blocking the veins to the ovaries doesn’t just affect pain. According to one case report “(a)fter the treatment, all subjects experienced a dramatic decrease in pelvic pain, as well as an improvement in two or more preexisting symptoms, including extremity swelling, dyspareunia, external varicosities, constipation, and emotional disturbance.” All that from a little vein blocking? Yes, because blocking the flow from the ovaries would also affect the amount of estrogen they secrete into the body.

It may seem backhanded to apply a surgical solution to a hormonal imbalance, but for women with chronic pain the payoff may be worth it. Especially if they have searched for years for a diagnosis and hit upon something that sounds official. We have a diagnosis: Pelvic Congestion Syndrome. We have a solution: a low risk surgical blockage of those veins. We have outcomes: a great number of women experienced pain relief.  And we have very few other options being offered. The lack of randomized trials or high quality trials means little to someone in chronic pain.

 

 

 

 

Anyone who has read Dr. Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air can feel how deeply he loved his young daughter. I found myself wondering at the time if it was the right thing for him to have gone back to his residency. Could he have gotten a few more precious months?

I just read a report from a low carb diet site about a patient with brain cancer who got two years from a diet change. Perhaps Dr. Kalanithi could have gotten a few extra months by making the shift as soon as he found out about his metastatic cancer.

In my own research on colon cancer, which I published as The Colon Cancer Diet, I found that lowering sugar intake reduced cancer recurrence. While I make modest requests of other colon cancer folks, I myself have gone sugar-free.

Wouldn’t it be strange if, after fifty years of fighting the war on cancer, we were to find the simplest solution is a different diet?

Posted by: Chris Maloney | July 19, 2016

Utah Zika Case Mystery: Passed By Saliva Or Blood?

When I saw the news about the Utah caregiver contracting Zika far from any mosquitoes, I thought: “haven’t we been here before?”

We have. Remember Ebola? It was thought to be only transmitted with difficulty, from direct blood contact. Then we realized, too late, that bloody droplets were infectious as well. Caregivers went from surgical masks to separate breathing systems and the spread finally slowed.

In Utah, a caregiver came down with Zika virus. It’s a mystery, but one with only a few possible conclusions.

  1. The caregiver did have sexual relations with her dying charge. While this is possible, it is unlikely.
  2. A mosquito, carried by the man in his luggage, found a way to get into a stagnant water source with sufficient nutrients to carry it through the larval stage. It then grew to adulthood in the Utah house, biting the caregiver and infecting her. While this is possible, it is extremely unlikely.
  3. Another vector, a tick or a flea, drank the patient’s blood and then later bit the caregiver, transferring the infection to her. While this is possible, it would involve a previously unknown carrier of Zika virus.
  4. Zika virus is spread by bloody droplets, particularly in individuals who have a very high viral count, as this sick man did. During the process of caring intimately for him, the caregiver was exposed to a bloody droplet that reached a mucus membrane (eyes, nose, or mouth) and infected her. We know that Zika is spread by blood, and I’m not sure why this wouldn’t be the most likely scenario.
  5. Zika virus is spread by saliva or urine in individuals. We know that both saliva and urine contain the virus, but we aren’t sure if they are infectious. In an individual with a very high viral count, it is possible – if very alarming – that he infected his caregiver with either of those secretions.

In my book, The Bare Essentials of Zika Virus, I note that we’ve had documented blood transmission of Zika for nearly a decade. I also point out that the focus on how mosquitoes spread the illness ignores the reality that humans are the most likely to spread Zika to a new region. I also point out that serious and severe side effects (microcephaly, guillain-barré) are much more likely to be autoimmune cross-reactions rather than Zika alone.Zika full cover

The Bare Essentials of Zika Virus on Amazon and Kindle.

Posted by: Chris Maloney | July 14, 2016

How Do We Stop Mothers From Aborting Zika Babies?

It’s a terrifying time for expecting mothers with Zika running wild. A recent study by the New England Journal of Medicine shows that requests for abortion pills (RU486) have doubled in many affected countries, and gone up 30% in others. 

We need to stop this from happening. It is unlikely that Zika alone is causing the epidemic of microcephaly. The best data we have from previous outbreaks is that only 1% of mothers will be affected. Of those, we should be able to predict the chances of microcephaly by using existing testing for antibodies to dengue.

From my research, detailed in the short book I just published, it is clear that microcephaly is a cross-reaction between Zika and a previous infection with dengue. Only those mothers with multiple infections are at risk. Please spread the word and help prevent unnecessary abortions.

The Bare Essentials of Zika Virus by Dr. Christopher J Maloney N.D.
The Bare Essentials of Zika Virus
by Dr. Christopher J Maloney N.D.
Link: https://amzn.com/1535183012
Posted by: Chris Maloney | May 23, 2016

Moving To Naturopathicmaine.com

I’m been posting on wordpress for quite some time, and I’m going to be posting more on my own website.  You can read the latest post on allergies here.  http://naturopathicmaine.com/2016/05/itchy-eyes-a-few…hts-on-eye-drops/Edit

Posted by: Chris Maloney | May 13, 2016

Can Acupuncture Help Weight Loss?

Maybe. In a small study researchers found that acupuncture increased Leptin levels. And it really was the acupuncture points, because patients receiving sham acupuncture didn’t get the same increases.

What I really like about the study was that researchers did the acupuncture with electoacupuncture. By using electricity rather than needles, the research opens the way to having patients see their acupuncturist a few times a month but continuing daily treatment with their own electoacupuncture machines. The machines are relatively simple to use if the point is marked on the body, are cheap, and typically run on a single nine volt battery.

 

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