Connect with us

Health

Most MS patients use alternative treatments like marijuana, vitamins or massage

Published

on

Despite the existence of conventional medications to manage multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms, a majority of patients also rely on alternative therapies, including vitamins, exercise and marijuana, a new survey suggests.

For the study, researchers at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland asked MS patients if they used “complementary and alternative therapies” — medicines and practices outside of standard medical care.

A majority of just over 1,000 respondents said they used some type of alternative therapy, including marijuana, vitamins, herbs and minerals, plus mind-body therapies like exercise, mindfulness, massage and various diets.

An earlier survey, conducted in 2001, found some people regularly used these therapies — and many found them helpful — but only 7 percent were talking to their doctors about them.

“It was a little bit of a wake-up call to physicians that they need to be more educated about complementary or alternative therapies, and then consider these therapies as part of the overall treatment plan for their patients,” said lead author Dr. Elizabeth Silbermann, a neurology fellow.

MS is a potentially disabling disease that results from the immune system attacking the nervous system and damaging nerves. Symptoms vary, and while some patients eventually lose their ability to walk, others may experience only mild symptoms. MS has no known cure, but treatments can slow the disease’s progression and help patients manage symptoms.

“We have a lot more treatment options for our patients, and we’re treating our patients earlier than we ever did before,” Silbermann said.

But now that there are so many more medications, the researchers wanted to know if people are still using complementary or alternative medicines.

To find out, Silbermann’s team surveyed MS patients in Oregon and Washington between August 2018 and March 2019.

The investigators found that 80 percent of respondents used dietary supplements (such as vitamins, minerals, and herbs) compared to 65 percent in 2001.

Around 70 percent reported using conventional medications to manage their MS symptoms.

The percentage using mind-body therapies (such as mindfulness and massage) nearly tripled — 39 percent of current patients, up from 14 percent in the earlier survey. More than eight in 10 were exercising, an increase from 67 percent in 2001.

Good evidence for exercise

Exercise is one of the only alternative therapies in the survey that has strong evidence of success in curbing MS symptoms.

“This is a disease that does cause physical disability and weakness, so it’s very natural to refer patients to physical therapy and to encourage them to be physically active,” Silbermann explained. “There’s pretty good evidence that things like stretching can be helpful for MS-related muscle tightness, and that staying physically active and doing some aerobic exercise can be very helpful for our patients.”

In the current survey, about 30 percent of participants reported using marijuana in a variety of forms. Pot is legal in Oregon and Washington, where the study was conducted, potentially limiting generalization of the results.

There is some evidence that marijuana can help patients with muscle “spasticity” or tightness.

“When you ask patients to report how tight their muscles feel, they will report consistently that their muscles feel less tight when they are using cannabis, which is great,” said Silbermann.

Pot’s pros and cons

Sean Hennessy, an epidemiologist at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia, said, “One of the few uses for cannabis-based products for which there’s reasonable evidence of effectiveness is muscle spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis.”

Hennessy was involved in a 2017 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that synthesized available information on cannabis products and their use in medicine.

But pot can potentially exacerbate existing MS symptoms, including muddled thinking and memory problems. Silbermann said that “it goes to show us that everything does have a side effect that we have to consider as part of an overall treatment strategy and plan.”

One of the most significant findings of the new survey was that over half of respondents said they spoke to their doctors about their use of alternative medicines, compared to the dismal 7 percent in 2001.

Silbermann said she hopes this is because patients feel that physicians are more accepting and knowledgeable about other treatment options. However, not enough is known about alternative therapies for physicians to decide which are safe and effective, she added.

Physicians need to know what supplements or drugs you might be taking for many reasons, but especially to ensure that the medications they prescribe don’t have any potentially negative interactions. But alternative medicines like supplements and cannabis are not well-regulated or well-studied, limiting the ability to assess their safety and efficacy.

“It’s hard to know exactly what you’re getting. So there’s always a concern about the purity of whatever you’re taking, and that’s especially true in cannabis,” Silbermann explained.

According to Hennessy, there are not enough referenced resources that physicians can rely on to know what medications interact poorly with cannabis.

“So, yes, it’s a good idea to tell your physician if you’re using cannabis, but they don’t really have anywhere to look to see whether cannabis interacts with whatever other drugs you’re taking,” Hennessy said.

Silbermann stressed that more research is needed to back up any recommendations about alternative therapies. “It’s an entire other field of medicine, and I think that we’re just learning how important it is to our patients,” she said.

The results were recently published online in the journal Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.

More information

There’s more about multiple sclerosis at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Copyright 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.



Source link

Health

Kids’ ‘green’ time reduces adverse effects of ‘screen’ time on behavior, learning

Published

on

Sept. 4 (UPI) — More time spent outdoors — and less in front of a screen — leads to improved mental health in children and adolescents, according to an analysis of existing research published Friday by the journal PLOS ONE.

Based on data from 186 previously published studies, researchers determined that young people who spent more time on handheld games and devices, television and computers were more likely to have behavior and emotional problems and display symptoms of aggression and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder.

The young people also were more likely to have learning or social difficulties.

Conversely, children who spent more time outdoors and who had increased access to “green” spaces for play and learning were less likely to have these undesirable traits.

“Overall, the studies showed that high levels of screen time were associated with poorer psychological well-being, while more green time was associated with better psychological well-being,” co-author Tassia Oswald told UPI.

“While a lot more work needs to be done in this field to help us understand why this is the case, it is important that [technology] doesn’t become the only thing young people do in their leisure time,” said Oswald, a doctoral student in public health at the University of Adelaide in Australia.

The prevalence of mental health illness among children and adolescents is increasing globally, according to Oswald and her colleagues.

In the United States, roughly 7%, or 4.5 million, of children ages 3 to 17 have been diagnosed with a behavioral problem, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates.

On average, American children and adolescents spent between four and six hours per day watching or uses devices with screens, and may be exposed to violence and misleading or inaccurate information, among other potentially problematic content, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

A separate study of 1,239 8- to 9-year-olds in Melbourne, Australia, published earlier this week by PLOS ONE, found that watching two or more hours of television per day at that age was associated with lower reading performance compared to peers two years later.

In addition, using a computer for more than one hour per day was linked to a similar reduction in their ability to understand and work with numbers.

However, no links were found between the use of video games and academic performance, the analysis showed.

Preliminary evidence suggests that green time potentially could limit the effects of high screen time, meaning nature may be an under-utilized public health resource to promote youth psychological well-being in a high-tech era, according to Oswald and her colleagues.

“Monitoring screen time can be difficult for parents — especially at the moment when many children have transitioned to online learning due to COVID-19 lockdowns,” Oswald said.

“Trying to encourage a balance of activities is good — so if a child spends an hour on a video game, encourage them to get outside for an hour.”



Source link

Continue Reading

Health

Study: Common cold may help prevent flu, perhaps COVID-19

Published

on

Sept. 4 (UPI) — The virus most often behind the common cold is capable of preventing the flu virus from infecting airways by jump-starting the body’s immune defenses, a study published Friday by The Lancet Microbe found.

Now, the researchers from Yale University, want to determine if rhinovirus, the most common cold-causing virus, offers similar protective effects against COVID-19.

In an analysis of more than 13,000 patients with symptoms of a respiratory infection, those who had rhinovirus were not simultaneously infected with the flu virus — even during months when both viruses were active.

The finding may help explain why an expected surge in cases of H1N1 swine flu, predicted for Europe in fall 2009, never occurred, the researchers said.

It’s possible that the H1N1 virus was unable to infect those who already had the common cold, which was widespread at the time, they said.

“Infection with the common cold virus protected cells from infection with a more dangerous virus, the influenza virus, and [this] occurred because the common cold activated the body’s general antiviral defenses,” study co-author Dr. Ellen F. Foxman told UPI.

“This may explain why the flu season, in winter, generally occurs after the common cold season, in autumn, and why very few people have both viruses at the same time,” said Foxman, an assistant professor of laboratory medicine at Yale School of Medicine.

Concern has risen over the potential overlap of the COVID-19 pandemic with the annual flu season in the United States.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently said that the level of new cases of the coronavirus across the country is “too high.”

If cases continue to rise as flu season approaches, Fauci said, people infected with either of the two viruses, or both, could overwhelm the U.S. healthcare system.

“There [have been] a few reports of influenza-COVID-19 co-infections earlier in the year, and many of us are quite concerned what an influenza epidemic added to the COVID-19 pandemic could do,” Dr. Tony Moody, an associate professor of pediatric infectious diseases and immunology at Duke University Medical Center, told UPI

“At this point, we don’t really know what the two diseases will look like, or if other respiratory viruses will help or hurt during the current pandemic,” said Moody, who was not part of the Yale research.

For this study, Foxman and her colleagues analyzed nasal and throat specimens collected from 13,707 people with evidence of a respiratory infection. Just over 7% of the specimens tested positive for the rhinovirus, while just under 7% had confirmed influenza A infection.

Only 12 people in the study population had evidence of both viruses simultaneously, the researchers found.

To test how the rhinovirus and the influenza virus interact, Foxman and her colleagues created human airway tissue with epithelial cells, which line the airways of the lung and are a chief target of respiratory viruses, grown from stem cells.

After the tissue had been exposed to rhinovirus, the influenza virus was unable to infect the tissue because the cells’ antiviral defenses were already turned on before the flu virus arrived, Foxman said.

The rhinovirus triggered production of the natural antiviral interferon in the cells. Interferon is part of the early immune system response to the invasion of pathogens, Foxman said.

The protective effect offered by this new interferon lasts for at least five days, she said.

The findings may allow researchers to better predict how respiratory viruses spread and find new ways to combat them in the absence of vaccines, the researchers said.

They emphasized, however, that whether the annual seasonal spread of the common cold virus will have a similar impact on COVID-19 remains unknown.

“Our results show that interactions between viruses can be an important driving force dictating how and when viruses spread through a population,” Foxman said.

“Since every virus is different, we still do not know how the common cold season will impact the spread of COVID-19, but we now know we should be looking out for these interactions.”



Source link

Continue Reading

Health

People who don’t believe in God may get better sleep, study says

Published

on

Atheists and agnostics are much more likely to sleep like an angel than Catholics and Baptists, a new study finds.

It included more than 1,500 participants in the Baylor University Religion Survey who were asked about their religious affiliation, behaviors and beliefs, as well as their average nightly sleep time and difficulty getting to sleep.

While 73% of atheists and agnostics said they got seven or more hours of nightly sleep, only 63% of Catholics and only 55% of Baptists said they got at least seven hours of sleep a night, preliminary data show.

Seven or more hours of sleep a night is recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, or AASM, for good health.

Catholics and Baptists were also more likely to report having difficulty falling asleep than atheists and agnostics.

Study participants who said they slept seven or more hours per night were much more likely to believe that they would get into heaven, compared to those who got less sleep.

However, beliefs about getting into heaven weren’t linked with difficulty falling asleep at night.

The researchers said that better sleep results in a more optimistic outlook and that in this study, that manifested as people believing they’d get into heaven.

“Mental health is increasingly discussed in church settings — as it should be — but sleep health is not discussed,” said study author Kyla Fergason, a student at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

“Yet we know that sleep loss undercuts many human abilities that are considered to be core values of the church: being a positive member of a social community, expressing love and compassion rather than anger or judgment, and displaying integrity in moral reasoning and behavior,” Fergason said in AASM news release.

“Could getting better sleep help some people grow in their faith or become better Christians? We don’t know the answer to that question yet, but we do know that mental, physical and cognitive health are intertwined with sleep health in the general population,” she noted.

The findings were recently published in an online supplement of the journal Sleep, and were presented last week at the virtual annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.

More information

The National Sleep Foundation has more on sleep.

Copyright 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending