Author Archives: TheAfterburnSG

Do Not Give These Medications To Your Pets

A huge chunk of the calls that pour into the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (ASPCA’s) Animal Poison Control Center every year involve pets poisoned by people pills. About 40 percent of the animal poison control calls—25,000 cases—revolve around pets exposed to human medications. “Pet exposures include pets eating dropped pills, owners giving the wrong medication to their pets, animals getting into pill cases or even breaking into cabinets,” explains Tina Wismer, DVM, medical director at the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center. “Just like with children, always store your medication where your pets cannot reach it because, unlike children, dogs will chew right through those bottles and eat whatever is inside.”

Most common pills involved with poison control call complaints:

The pill: Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)

The problem: Ibuprofen is the most common human medication ingested by pets, thanks in part to many brands’ sweet outer coating. What seems like a sweet treat to your pet could cause stomach ulcers or even kidney failure in an animal.

The pill: Tramadol (Ultram)

The problem: This pill can be beneficial to pets, but only at doses carefully prescribed by a vet. Too much tramadol can cause sedation or agitation, wobbliness, disorientation, vomiting, tremors, and possibly seizures.

The pill: Alprazolam (Xanax)

The problem: The anti-anxiety and sleep aid prescription could cause lethargy and trouble walking for your pet, but sometimes pets suffer the reverse effect and become extremely agitated. Large doses of alprazolam could send your pet’s blood pressure dropping to dangerous levels or even cause collapse.

The pill: Adderall

The problem: Adderall is a combination of four different amphetamines and is used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Not meant for a pet, it causes racing heartbeat, high body temperature, hyperactivity, tremors, and seizures in animals.

The pill: Zolpidem (Ambien)

The problem: Ambien helps people sleep, so they often set it out by their bed, where pets routinely swipe pills off of owners’ nightstands. Zolpidem may make cats wobbly and sleepy, but most pets become very agitated and develop elevated heart rates.

The pill: Clonazepam (Klonopin)

The problem: Used as an anticonvulsant, anti-anxiety drug, or sleep aid for people, clonazepam causes low blood pressure, fatigue, trouble walking, or collapse in pets.

The pill: Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

The problem: This popular painkiller may cause liver damage or red blood cell damage that could deprive your pet of the oxygen needed to live.

The pill: Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn)

The problem: This over-the-counter pain reliever may cause ulcers or kidney failure in dogs and cats.

The pill: Duloxetine (Cymbalta) is prescribed as an antidepressant and anti-anxiety agent.

The problem: When ingested by pets, duloxetine can cause agitation, vocalization, tremors, and seizures.

The pill: Venlafaxine (Effexor)

The problem: For reasons veterinarians still don’t understand, cats love to eat these antidepressant capsules.

Top Tips for Protecting Your Pets
• Always keep human medications away from pets unless you are specifically instructed by a veterinarian to give the medication.
• Do not leave pills sitting on a counter or anyplace a pet can get to them.
• Do not leave pill bottles within reach of pets.
• Make sure pets aren’t in the room when you’re taking pills. “Dogs especially will devour anything that hits the floor, so taking pills in the bathroom or behind closed doors is the best way to avoid accidental exposure,” Dr. Wismer says.
• Always contact your veterinarian if your pet has ingested any medication not prescribed for them.
• Never give your medication (or any medications prescribed for a two-legged family member) to your pet without first consulting a veterinarian.

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Posted by on October 3, 2012 in Health and Science


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Top Foods To Cure What Ails You

What to Eat to Fend Off a Cold

White Button Mushrooms – Foodies rave about exotic mushroom types, but the common white button variety could be your key to a cold-free winter, suggests research from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston. They contain polysaccharides, which activate natural killer cells that destroy cold- and flu-causing viruses, says Dayong Wu, PhD, a scientist at the center.

Salmon – Three ounces of salmon can supply nearly 800 IUs of vitamin D, close to the amount that some experts recommend you get each day. That’s a good defense against sniffles: Researchers at the University of Colorado Denver found that people with low levels of D had significantly more colds. Without enough of this crucial nutrient, your body can’t produce antimicrobial proteins called cathelicidins, which destroy bacteria and viruses, according to lead study author Adit Ginde, MD.

Sunflower Seeds – This healthy snack is packed with vitamin E, which has been shown to boost the activity level of the body’s infection-fighting T cells. That may be why scientists at the Center on Aging found that this nutrient lowers the risk of getting a cold by 20 percent.

Yogurt – People who ate two cups of yogurt a day for four months had four times the gamma interferon, a natural substance that fights viral and bacterial infections, than those who skipped the calcium-rich food, a University of California Davis School of Medicine study reveals. The key: Choosing yogurt with live active cultures.

What to Eat to Beat Stress

Shrimp – Omega-3 fatty acids in shellfish may boost your mood by reducing stress hormones, like cortisol. People who ate three to four ounces a day lowered their risk of anxiety, depression, and stress by 30 percent, according to a study from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain.

Curry – The curcumin in turmeric — a spice in curry — lowers stress levels by inhibiting cortisol secretion, says a study conducted in China.

Milk – In a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, women who ate four or more servings of calcium a day had a 30 percent lower risk of PMS symptoms like anxiety and irritability.

Pistachios – Eating one and a half to three ounces of pistachios daily can lower blood pressure when you’re faced with a mental challenge by relaxing blood vessels, say researchers at Pennsylvania State University in University Park.

Red Bell Pepper – Vitamin C, which is abundant in these peppers, lowers stress by limiting cortisol production and stimulates the release of oxytocin, a feel-good chemical. When researchers at the University of Trier in Germany subjected people to the anxiety of public speaking, those who took 3,000 milligrams of C felt calmer and their blood pressure returned to normal faster than those who skipped C.

What to Eat to Soothe Stomach Pain

Yogurt –In a study at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, women with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) who ate two 4.4-ounce servings of Activia yogurt daily for a month saw up to a 78 percent decrease in bloating. The yogurt contains probiotics — good bacteria that help restore normal stomach and intestinal functioning.

Fennel – Anethole, a substance in fennel leaves, seeds, and oil, is known to alleviate stomach cramping. It even helps colicky babies, says research from St. Petersburg Medical Academy of Postdoctoral Education in Russia.

Ginger – Studies show that this root quashes nausea from motion sickness, morning sickness, and even chemotherapy by 30 percent. This may be because ginger reduces inflammation in the stomach, according to study author Julie Ryan, PhD.

Peppermint Oil – Seventy-five percent of IBS patients had 50 percent fewer symptoms after taking two capsules containing 225 milligrams of peppermint oil twice a day for four weeks, say researchers at G. d’Annunzio University in Italy. The menthol in peppermint appears to soothe irritated intestinal muscles.

Raspberries – Fiber, which is found in oats, vegetables, and fruits like raspberries, was more effective than a placebo in taming symptoms of IBS, according to a review of studies at McMaster University in Canada.

Head Off Headaches

Snapper – The omega-3s in fish are great for your head. Almost 90 percent of people who got migraines reported fewer of the headaches after taking two grams of omega-3 concentrate daily, according to a Brown University School of Medicine study. “Fish and fish oil lower the production of a prostaglandin, a chemical that causes inflammation and pain,” says researcher Zeev Harel, MD.

Black Beans – Beans contain riboflavin, a nutrient that has been found to reduce the number of headache days by at least 50 percent in more than half of sufferers, say researchers at the University of Liege in Belgium.

Cayenne Pepper – The compound that gives cayenne its heat, capsaicin, can ease cluster headaches (which typically affect one side of the head and occur several days in a row), probably by destroying a chemical that carries pain messages to the brain. Although people who get cluster headaches often inhale capsaicin through a nasal spray, try adding cayenne to your cooking.

Quinoa – Magnesium, often deficient in migraine sufferers, is plentiful in this grain. “The mineral relaxes blood vessels and normalizes serotonin receptors,” explains Alexander Mauskop, MD, director of the New York Headache Center in New York City. In one German study, patients taking 600 milligrams of magnesium daily saw their headache frequency plummet by more than 40 percent.



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Restaurant Entrees Exceed USDA Limits

More than 96% of restaurant entrees exceed USDA limits for calories, sodium, fat and saturated fat in a single meal, according to a study of the nutritional contact of more than 30,000 menu items from 245 restaurant brands by Rand Corp.  Appetizers, which often shared, average more calories than entrees (813 versus 674).  Entrees at family-style restaurants have more calories, fat and sodium than those at fast-food restaurants.

Source:  Bottom Line Personal, August, 15, 2012 Issue


Chewing Gum Improves Mood

People who chewed gum for at least five minutes twice a day for two weeks showed improved levels of anxiety, mood and fatigue.  Their scores on tests of depression and mental fatigue were 47% better than the control group.  Chewing may increase blood flow to the brain and lower levels of stress hormones.


Source:  Bottom Line Personal,, September 1, 2012 Issue:  Chifumi Sato, MD, Department of Analytical Health Science, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, quoted in Men’s Health.


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Posted by on September 19, 2012 in Health and Science


Do You Have Low Testosterone?

The sex hormone testosterone gives a man his beard, deep voice and sex drive. It also may give all of us—men and women—better health and a longer life.

Research shows that low levels of testosterone may increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Low testosterone also can trigger fatigue, low libido, erectile dysfunction, enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia), muscular weakness, poor endurance, irritability, poor concentration and poor memory. What you need to know now…


An estimated 40% of men age 45 and older have testosterone deficiency—total testosterone below 300 ng/dL. (This phenomenon is called by various names, including andropause, male menopause and hypogonadism.) This deficiency is linked to…

Cardiovascular disease (CVD). In a four-year study, men with one risk factor for heart disease (such as high blood pressure) were four times more likely to develop CVD if they had low testosterone. Other studies link low testosterone to an increased risk for stroke, blood clots, high total cholesterol, high LDL “bad” cholesterol and arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats that can trigger a heart attack or stroke). One such study concluded that “testosterone levels may be a stronger predictor of coronary artery disease than high cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and body mass index.”

Metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Metabolic syndrome—a risk factor for type 2 diabetes—is a constellation of health problems that can include insulin resistance, abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high triglycerides and low HDL “good” cholesterol. In a recent two-year study, metabolic syndrome was completely reversed in 65% of men on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).

Osteoporosis. A study found that men with low testosterone had an 88% higher risk for hip fracture.

Midlife male depression. A study from Columbia University showed that TRT completely reversed depression in more than 50% of depressed men.

Alzheimer’s disease. Research links higher levels of testosterone with better blood flow to the brain, better memory and less risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Death from any cause. In a study of 900 men, those with low testosterone had a 43% higher risk for all-cause mortality (dying from any cause). In another, seven-year study, every 173 ng/dL increase in total testosterone levels was linked to a 21% lower risk for all-cause mortality.


The Androgen Deficiency in the Aging Male (ADAM) Questionnaire can determine if you have symptoms of low testosterone. If you do, you should be tested for a low blood level. However, you can have so-called “normal” test results for total testosterone and still have a deficiency. That’s because testosterone may be bound to a compound called sex hormone binding globulin, so only a small percentage reaches your cells.

Best: Ask your doctor to test you for total testosterone and free (unbound) testosterone. You may need a doctor trained in the use of bioidentical hormones or a naturopathic physician.

Another problem with testosterone tests is that “normal” values vary widely from laboratory to laboratory. One study from Harvard Medical School found 17 different sets of “normal” values for total testosterone among 25 labs.

What to do: If you have the symptoms of low testosterone…and your level of either total or free testosterone is below normal or borderline normal at whatever lab your doctor chooses…you should consider TRT.


If you have low testosterone, you can first try to boost it by…

  • Losing weight
  • Managing stress
  • Weight-training
  • Getting eight hours of sleep
  • Eating healthy, monounsaturated fats and limiting processed carbohydrates, such as sugar and white flour
  • Eating organic food (estrogen-like pesticides can stymie testosterone).


If you still have low testosterone after making lifestyle changes, you may need TRT. There are four forms of TRT for men. All are effective and safe. You and your doctor can determine the best treatment for you…

Prescription 1% or 1.62% testosterone gel, such as Testim and AndroGel, which is applied once a day.

Testosterone injections, which typically are given once every two weeks, though some doctors prefer to give them once a week.

Testosterone pellets, which are surgically inserted.

Compounded 1% to 10% testosterone cream is custom-formulated by a compounding pharmacy and applied once a day.

Whatever the form of testosterone, the following is advisable…

Aim for a total testosterone blood level of 600 ng/dL or just a little higher (up to 900 ng/dL).

Recheck blood levels. Many primary care doctors prescribe testosterone gel—and never recheck their patients. Your doctor should check your levels after one month…then every three months for one year…every four months for the second year…and every six months for the third year and thereafter.


A deficiency of testosterone in perimenopausal or menopausal women can cause symptoms similar to testosterone deficiency in middle-aged and older men, such as fatigue, depression, weight gain, low libido and osteoporosis.

What to do: Ask your doctor to test your free testosterone. If your level is low, consider treatment with testosterone cream from a compounding pharmacy at a dose of 0.5 milligrams (mg) to 2 mg daily. (This is an off-label use of testosterone, not approved by the FDA.) Most women notice more energy, younger-looking skin, thicker hair and increased libido.

Some women worry that testosterone will give them “manly” characteristics, but this does not happen with female-appropriate doses.

Source:;  Chris D. Meletis, ND, and Bill Gottlieb, CHC. Dr. Meletis is executive director of the Institute for Healthy Aging and coauthor of His Change of Life: Male Menopause and Healthy Aging with Testosterone (Praeger). Bill Gottlieb, CHC, is a health coach certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners and author of Maximum Manhood: Sexual Healing Secrets and Anti-Aging Breakthroughs (OPM), in which Dr. Meletis is a featured expert.

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Posted by on September 17, 2012 in Health and Science


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Butt Rewards

“For the best butt toning on two feet,” says walking pro Tina Vindum, walk for 5 minutes, do one of the supereffective shapers shown here, then repeat until you’ve done all four exercises. (If your route has hills, tackle these moves every time the path hits an incline — or a set of stairs — for maximum butt-blasting benefits.)


Skater Stride

Targets: Quads, butt, hips, obliques, back, and triceps

While walking, take a large step diagonally forward to the right with right foot, toes pointing forward (not to right). Sink into a lunge, bending both knees 90 degrees, as you bring left elbow toward right knee and swing right arm straight back. (Beginners, do a dip rather than a lunge.)

Press off left big toe to bring left leg forward, brushing it past right leg, then swinging it forward out to the left diagonal (like a speed skater) to plant left foot, toes forward.

Do 25 steps to each side, alternating legs.


Sumo Squat and Lift

Targets: Quads, inner and outer thighs, butt, hips, back, shoulders, and biceps

While walking, turn so that your right side is facing “forward” (or uphill), fists near hips.

Lift right foot, flexed, to take a large side step to right.

Lower into a wide squat as you lift both hands up in a wide V.

Rising up on right leg, lower arms as you lift left leg to side, foot flexed.

Step left foot next to right.

Do 12 reps; repeat with left side facing front.


Power Lunge with Leg Lift

Targets: Quads, hamstrings, butt, hips, arms, and abs

Walking, lunge forward with left leg, both knees bent 90 degrees (beginners, 45 degrees).

With hands in fists and elbows bent at 90 degrees, bring right fist toward nose, left behind you.

Shift weight onto left leg, straightening it; lower arms and lift right leg out and back on a diagonal as high as you can.

Bring right leg forward into a lunge; repeat on that side.

Do 25 reps per leg, alternating sides.


High-Knee Cross

Targets: Quads, calves, hips, butt, and abs

While walking, tighten abs and lift bent left knee as high as you can directly in front of you, coming up on right toes. Simultaneously bend right elbow 90 degrees, bringing it across body toward left knee. (Swing left elbow back to counterbalance.)

Hold for 1 count, then lower left foot to step forward. Repeat with right leg.

Do 25 reps per leg, alternating sides.

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Posted by on September 13, 2012 in Workout Fitness Freak Chronicles


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Remedies For That Dang-Nabbit Itch


To scratch or not to scratch, that is the question. When confronted with an itch, most of us tend to throw self-discipline out the door and scratch to our skin’s content. While that may prove momentarily satisfying, scratching excessively can injure your skin. And if you break the skin, you leave yourself open to infection.


Itching, medically known as pruritus, is caused by stimuli bugging some part of our skin. There are a lot of places to bother on the body, too. The average adult has 20 square feet (2 square meters) of skin, all open to the world of irritants. When something bothers our skin, an itch is a built-in defense mechanism that alerts the body that someone is knocking. We respond to an itch with a scratch, as most people want to remove the problem. But the scratching can also set you up for the “itch-scratch” cycle, where one leads to the other endlessly.


An itch can range from a mild nuisance to a disrupting, damaging, and sleep-depriving fiasco. Itches happen for many reasons, including allergic reactions; sunburns; insect bites; poison ivy; reactions to chemicals, soaps, and detergents; medication; dry weather; skin infections; and even aging. More serious itches, such as those caused by psoriasis or other diseases, are not covered here.


Scratching isn’t the only solution to an itch. The kitchen cupboards hold a few more.


Home Remedies from the Cupboard

Baking soda. Baking soda battles itches of all kinds. For widespread or hard-to-reach itches, soak in a baking soda bath. Add 1 cup baking soda to a tub of warm water. Soak for 30 to 60 minutes and air dry. Localized itches can be treated with a baking soda paste. Mix 3 parts baking soda and 1 part water. Apply to the itch, but do not use if the skin is broken.

Oatmeal. Add 1 to 2 cups finely ground oatmeal to a warm bath (not hot or you might have breakfast for the next month in your tub) to ease your itches.


Home Remedies from the Refrigerator

Lemon. Many American folk remedy recipes call for using a lemon to treat itchy skin — and rightly so. The aromatic substances in a lemon contain anesthetic and anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce itching. If nothing else, you’ll smell good. Squeeze undiluted lemon juice on itchy skin and allow to dry.


Home Remedies from the Spice Rack

Cloves and Juniper Berries. The American Indians of the Paiute, Shoshone, and Cherokee tribes knew how to stop an itch in its tracks. They used what nature provided, namely juniper berries. (No need to run out in the wilderness to gather berries. They are available in some grocery stores.) These berries contain anti-inflammatory, volatile substances. When combined with cloves, which contain eugenol to numb nerve endings, the result is no more itch. To make a salve of both spices, melt 3 ounces of unsalted butter in a saucepan. In a separate pan, melt a lump of beeswax — about the amount of 2 tablespoons. When the beeswax has melted, combine with butter and stir well. Add 5 tablespoons ground juniper berries and 3 teaspoons ground cloves to the mixture and stir. Allow to cool and apply to itchy skin. Note: It is best to grind the spices at home because the volatile substances are preserved better in whole berries and cloves.

Basil. Splash your skin with refreshing basil tea. Like cloves, basil contains high amounts of eugenol, a topical anesthetic. Place 1/2 ounce dried basil leaves in a 1-pint jar of boiling water. Keep it covered to prevent the escape of the aromatic eugenol from the tea. Allow to cool. Dip a clean cloth into the tea and apply to itchy skin as often as necessary.

Mint. If you’re saving that basil for spaghetti sauce, try a mint tea rinse instead. Chinese folk medicine values mint as a treatment for itchy skin and hives. Mint contains significant amounts of menthol, which has anesthetic and anti-inflammatory properties when applied topically. In general, mint also contains high amounts of the anti-inflammatory rosmarinic acid, which is readily absorbed into the skin. To make a mint tea rinse, place 1 ounce dried mint leaves in 1 pint boiling water. Cover and allow to cool. Strain, dip a clean cloth in the tea, and apply to the itchy area when necessary.

Thyme. If you’re saving that mint for a glass of lemonade, there is one more spice on the rack that makes a good anti-itch rinse: thyme. This fragrant herb contains large amounts of the volatile constituent thymol, which has anesthetic and anti-inflammatory properties. In other words, it numbs that darn itch while reducing inflammation caused by all your scratching. To make a thyme rinse, place 1/2 ounce dried thyme leaves in a 1-pint jar of boiling water. Cover and allow to cool. Strain and dip a clean cloth into the tea, then apply to affected areas. Note: In Chinese folk medicine, dandelion root, easily plucked from most yards, is added to this rinse. If in season, place 1 ounce dried dandelion root and 1/2 ounce dried thyme leaves into 1 quart boiling water and proceed as directed.


Home Remedies from the Windowsill

Aloe vera. Aloe vera is a must for burns, but how about itches? The same constituents that reduce blistering and inflammation in burns also work to reduce itching. Snap off a leaf, slice it down the middle, and rub the gel only on the itch.




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Posted by on September 12, 2012 in Health and Science


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