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Category Archives: Articles

Managing Your Psoriasis

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As a pharmacist, I frequently get questions from patients suffering from psoriasis about what they can do to improve their condition. Since August is National Psoriasis Awareness Month, I thought it would be a great time to share some of these tips.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation leading to the formation of red, scaly patches on the body that bleed and itch. It is the most common autoimmune disease in the United States, affecting as many as 7.5 million people. Approximately 30% of people with psoriasis will go on to develop psoriatic arthritis.

While there is no cure for psoriasis, a number of nutritional supplements and dietary changes can help reduce the severity of the symptoms, greatly improving overall quality of life. These include:

Fish Oil: Omega 3 Fatty Acids, such as those found in fish, have many anti-inflammatory effects in the body, and also have a positive impact on the body’s immune system. To get these anti-inflammatory benefits, it is recommended to get around 3000mg a day of EPA and DHA, the two active components. This equals about 4 capsules of Metagenic’s OmegaGenics EPA:DHA 720 Capsules.

Vitamin D: Psoriasis increases the rate at which skin cells grow, and Vitamin D has been shown to slow this growth. Vitamin D may also help counteract the body’s response to inflammation associated psoriasis. Try increasing your blood levels of Vitamin D in the range of 30-60ng/ml. For most people, this may require 2000-4000IU daily. Since D3 is as much as 3 times more potent than D2, be sure to take a supplement containing this form, such as Protocol For Life’s High Potency Vitamin D3.

Probiotics: Probiotics are the good bacteria found throughout the body. While most think of their health benefits being localized to the gut, they have effects against non-gut inflammation and have a positive impact on the immune system as well. Studies have shown decreased inflammatory markers in psoriasis patients taking probiotics. Be sure to get a high potency probiotic containing several strains of bacteria, such as Metagenics UltraFlora Spectrum.

Anti-inflammatory Diet: Since psoriasis is an inflammatory disease, many individuals have benefitted from following an anti-inflammatory diet to help reduce their symptoms. Avoid foods such as fatty red meats, dairy products, processed foods and refined sugars, and instead focus on foods that reduce inflammation, such as fish, nuts, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Gluten Free Diet: Research shows that up to 25 percent of psoriasis sufferers have a sensitivity to the wheat protein gluten, and that celiac disease (a condition caused by intolerance to gluten) and psoriasis share many common genetic and inflammatory pathways. While there are not conclusive studies showing a gluten free diet helps psoriasis sufferers, many patients have experienced an improvement in symptoms.

In addition to the above, our pharmacists frequently compound many different prescription combinations for psoriasis, including steroids, zinc pyrithione, Vitamin B12, Salicylic Acid and Tacrolimus, among others. Give us a call and see if we can help you.

 

Do You Suffer From Chronic Inflammation?

Carolyn Huntress 0014  Carolyn Huntress, RPh – Rochester location

 

Inflammation and its associated pain, both chronic and acute, is a common complaint for many, especially adults. While it is an appropriate and critically important immune response to a stressor on the human body, the resolution of inflammation is also critical. Chronic inflammation due to constant activation of the immune response may lead to long term health concerns. Many diseases have origins in or are aggravated by chronic inflammation; these include arthritis, peripheral vascular disease, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and autoimmune diseases such as IBD.

The immune response has two phases, initiation and resolution. The initiation phase is the body’s natural protective response to an injury where mediators in the body orchestrate a response whereby neutrophils (white blood cells) converge on the affected area. The resolution phase is essentially when the inflammatory response is curtailed and the affected area is cleaned of debris from the inflammatory response.

While traditional anti-inflammatory medications such as NSAIDs work to reduce the pain and swelling of an injured or stressed area of the body, they do not specifically address the resolution phase. Until recently scientists believed that the resolution of inflammation was a passive process. Newer research has discovered that there are specific mediators that can target the area of immune response to actively promote the resolution of inflammation. The mediators are called specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPMs) and are found in variable amounts in the body.

SPM production in the body is dependent on age, diet, stress and other environmental irritants. Because of this, the body does not always have enough of these important mediators to fully resolve the inflammatory response. The body can also convert Omega 3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA into the necessary SPMs, however, this process is inefficient in the face of chronic inflammation and other co-morbidities. Nutritional supplementation with SPMs can address these deficiencies and actively work to resolve inflammation.

The specific mediators identified to resolve chronic inflammation, 18-HEPE and 17-HDHA, are found in a new Metagenics fractionated fish oil product called OmegaGenics SPM Active.

Call or stop in to Pine Pharmacy to learn about this new option for the resolution of chronic inflammation

Men: Start taking better care of yourselves!

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By:  Alfonse Muto, RPh President/Owner

I hate to say it, but your wife, sister, daughters, and mother are all right, our gender is stubborn! Men in their youth tend to have the feeling of invincibility. That “Superman” feeling often leads to stupid decisions with risky consequences:  excessive drinking, smoking, poor eating habits, lack of exercise, and many others. The prevailing thought regarding those consequences is always “it will never happen to me”.

Unfortunately, oftentimes, the poor decisions continue into later ages in life in a different form.  Too often, middle aged and older men get into a pattern of reactive healthcare, only responding to health concerns as they pop up, rather than proactively taking an active stance on preventative measures to protect their bodies. Unfortunately, it often takes significant medical issues such as heart attacks or strokes to open their eyes, and by then, it’s too late. The years of poor lifestyle choices have already taken their toll, and the damage that has been done is difficult, if not impossible to repair.

Men of all ages need to develop habits that foster this preventative mentality to prevent the damage before it is done.  Balanced diets, regular exercise, limited alcohol consumption, and proper dietary supplementation are keys to ensuring we protect our bodies.

Stop in one of our stores today and ask us about some preventive things you could be doing to get back on track!

May is Arthritis Awareness Month – Relief through a natural approach!

Matthew Fleming Author

 

Arthritis Relief: A Natural Approach

 

As you may have heard, arthritis is a form of inflammation of one or more of your joints caused by the wearing down of cartilage, which is a disease currently not well understood with more than 100 different types and related conditions. Many of these forms are accompanied with symptoms including joint pain and stiffness.  It most commonly occurs among women and tends to worsen as people age.  Each and every day more than 50 million adults and 300,000 children who have some form of arthritis are struggling to find any type of relief, making it the most common cause of disability in adults and limits us from doing daily activities.

 

But what if we didn’t have to keep going from doctor to doctor trying to figure out what the “miracle” drug for us to help solve this debilitating disease?

 

Truth is unfortunately, there are no special medications out there to cure arthritis, only those that may reduce the symptoms of pain and inflammation and therefore potentially improve our quality of life for the time being. So with that in mind, let’s look at a few simple options to incorporate daily that can drastically improve joint pain.

 

Exercise is another important component to combating arthritis. Specific exercises can increase strength and flexibility to the muscles around your joints, reduces joint pain, and lessen fatigue, along with helping to control weight and improve overall fitness.  These include things like low-impact aerobics such as walking, biking, and swimming that focus on cardiovascular endurance are best since they tend to putt less strain on the muscles and joints.

 

Our everyday diet can play a major factor in the amount of inflammation that may occur in our body. Promoting healthy eating habits, such as limiting the amount of foods high in sugar, wheat, soy, alcohol, and those that are processed with artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives.  So what does that leave us with? Real, fresh, organic foods that are nutrient dense.  Obviously with the way many of us eat this may be a daunting transition to make, but just starting with incorporating more produce into our diet instead of processed snack fillers which are toxins to our body could make a huge difference

 

These changes to our diet and exercise is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we can do naturally to help improve arthritis symptoms. But what it can be is a step in the right direction to start listening to our bodies that are giving us these signals to start making small healthy adjustments that in the end can result in large benefits to our overall well-being.

 

 

My “Gut” feeling says you’re going to need some help with that…. A word on Probiotics

Kathryn Seelman Author

As a retail pharmacist I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen patients staring at the wall of probiotics trying to pick out the right one. You’ve heard from your neighbor or doctor, the internet or TV that probiotics are great for (Enter Laundry list of health complaints here). Humans need “good bacteria”. When we are introduced into this world as an infant bacterium is introduced into our gut. That Bacteria colonizes there and lives symbiotically helping to break down food, absorb nutrients, and control our immune system. Unfortunately, since the introduction of antibiotics in the early 1900’s we’ve been raging war on not only the bacteria that makes us sick and can be deadly but also the bacteria that is vital for human health. Even if you’ve been fortunate enough not to need an antibiotic for medical reasons, our food chain is bombarded with them and processed foods which do not promote “good” bacteria growth. For this reason, many healthcare practitioners would state their reputation on a Probiotic being the most important supplement you can take, yet when you arrive at the pharmacy to simply pick one up the choices seem to be endless. What’s the difference between the box that costs $5 vs $15 vs $25 or even $50? Even as you compare the ingredients they seem to make no sense. Why would the product with 5 billion CFU’s cost twice the price as one with 10 billion CFU’s and what the heck is a CFU? Why are some refrigerated and others not? What’s the differences in the bacteria listed? I’ve had patients plop a dozen boxes on my counter just to point out miniscule differences such as a change in the color of the box. Manufacturers aren’t always trying to make this difficult to the consumer but bacteria are a living organism: meaning it lives, dies, changes, and moves just like you! You can’t just weigh out a certain quantity, encapsulate it, and expect the same number of bacteria to be there a month later, especially when you have no idea how it was shipped and stored. You also can’t expect a person that was just bombarded with antibiotics during a hospital stay to need the same type of bacteria in their gut as an individual that might not be feeling great from the last trip to Cancun. Bacteria are as different as you and me and their use can be just as varied. Many manufacturers are not willing to spend the time and money on this logistical nightmare in order to ensure their product will live up to the hype of what probiotics can do. The result: a confusing wall of products, many of which may only contain placebo. If you want a good probiotic skip the hassle and confusion. Come talk to myself or any of the pharmacists here at Pine. We’ll pick a product specifically for your needs from a manufacturer that ensures quality. We’d be happy to help!

 

Save Your Vision

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March is Save Your Vision month, a good time to discuss the link between nutrition and eye health. There is a growing body of evidence showing key nutrients play a positive and protective effect on our eyes, helping to preserve vision. However, with so many different products and claims out there, it can be extremely confusing choosing the right supplements. To help simplify things, listed below are some of the most effective nutrients used to protect the eyes.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), have been shown to be important for proper visual development and retinal function. Several studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may help protect adult eyes from age related macular degeneration (ARMD), diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and dry eye syndrome. They also stimulate vision development in infants and children, making this supplement a great choice for people of all ages concerned about their vision.

Lutein & Zeaxanthin:
Lutein and Zeaxanthin are two carotenoids found in the macula, and they help to protect the retina.Many studies have shown that these antioxidants reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases, including ARMD and cataracts. They also have a positive effect on the retina, reducing disability and discomfort from glare, enhancing contrast and increasing visual range.

Zinc:
Zinc is highly concentrated in the eye, and plays an essential role in the production of melanin, a protective pigment in the eyes. Vision problems, such as poor night vision and cloudy cataracts, have been linked with zinc deficiencies.

Vitamin E:
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protect the cells of the eyes from damage caused by metabolic by-products called free radicals, which break down healthy tissue. Studies suggest that Vitamin E helps to delay the formation of cataracts and slow the progression of ARMD.

Vitamin C:
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and powerful antioxidant. Evidence suggests vitamin C lowers the risk of developing cataracts, along with slowing the progression of ARMD and vision loss.

To ensure that you are getting what you need to maintain the health of your eyes, try Pine Pharmacy’s Eye Health supplement, a simple and effective way to get the proper amounts of lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc, C, E and many other key nutrients that protect the eyes. Also consider adding a high quality Fish Oil supplement, such as Metagenic’s EPA-DHA 720, for added benefit.

Pump up your heart health

 

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Your “ticker”, it’s the one muscle in the human body that none of us can afford to ignore. Cardiovascular disease is responsible for one in three deaths, and is the number one killer of American men and women. That’s why February is American Heart Health month, and is a great time to evaluate what you are doing to improve yours! Healthy diet and exercise are the best weapons available to fight cardiovascular disease. Exercise can serve to make your heart stronger and more efficient, lower your blood pressure, reduce high cholesterol, and decrease your weight.  Along those same lines, eating a well-rounded, healthy diet can control weight, and provide your body with the nutrients it needs to keep your heart at its peak operating efficiency. Sometimes though, diet and exercise are not enough.  No matter how hard we try, issues like high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure can prove to be stubborn, and we need some outside help. While there are many prescription drug options for cardiovascular issues, many people may not be aware of some supplements which may help to support and improve the overall health of your heart:

High Cholesterol:

  • Mega-10: A combination omega supplement which provides both Omega 3 and Omega 7 essential fatty acids, which helps to support cardiovascular health and cholesterol levels

  • Cholesterol Complete: A specialized formula designed to manage and promote health cholesterol levels in the body, as well as healthy homocysteine levels, a marker of heart disease

High Blood Pressure:

  • Perfusia SR: a form of the amino acid, arginine, which has been shown to help relax the arteries,  leading to decrease in blood pressure and better overall heart health

Overall Heart Support:

  • H2Q: a specialized form a Coenzyme Q10, which is a powerful antioxidant and helps to support energy production in all muscle tissue, including the heart

  • Cardiogenics Intensive Care: a comprehensive blend of herbs, amino acids, and minerals that help to maintain healthy blood pressure and heart muscle function

So whether your “ticker” is in top notch shape, or could use a little extra “TLC”, February is a great time to keep heart health on the mind! 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.