Posts made in April, 2010

The female Viagra rears its head…yet again

Posted by on Apr 19, 2010 in sexual desire, sexual health | 3 comments

Got sexual dysfunction? Big pharma continues to search for that magical fountain to restore your libido, desire and ‘vavoom’ in the bedroom. This time, the airways are abuzz with data from a study of rabbits. Yes, rabbits. Seems sort of appropriate that a bunny might be the one to get women back into the bedroom, doesn’t it?

Last November, I told you about the antidepressant flibensarin, which research shows may have the ability to positively affect brain receptors and neurotransmittors that play a role in sexual response. In other words, flibensarin may help boost sexual desire in women who have lost an interest in sex. Now, mind you, hypoactive sexual desire and female sexual arousal disorder, which affects up to 40% of women, are serious, distressing conditions. However, there are data that show that sexual desire cannot be put into a neat box, that the mind, body, soul and environment play key roles in women’s sexual health. Once, again, I refer back to Dr. Christiane Northrup, who I maintain, has provided a healthy, non-pharmaceutical approach to overcoming some of the key variables that play a role in loss of desire. If you haven’t checked out that post, I encourage you to do so.

And yet, the pursuit of the gold ring continues.

In the latest bit of research to reveal the “secret garden” investigators found that by stimulating the pelvic nerve, they were able to promote the release of a neurotransmitter (an endogenous chemical responsible for signals between cells and neurons in the body) called VIP (vasoactive intestinal peptide), a hormone that resides mostly in the gut but also increases blood flow.  Under normal circumstances, the action of VIP is broken down by an enzyme called NEP.  However, by giving the rabbits an experimental drug, they were able to block NEP, thereby allowing the VIP hormone to do its job better to increase and maintain blood flow to the genital organs.

The key takeaway messages from this highly experimental study were as follows:

1) The drug was able to block an enzyme that plays a role in preventing blood flow to the genital area during arousal, meaning that it revealed a potentially important pathway for the development of drugs that might do the same

2) This action happened without affecting the rest of the body’s cardiovascular system, which indicates it might be safe

Interestingly, in a press release, company representatives distinctly stated that the particular agent used in the rabbit study was not appropriate for further development and that the company had no interest in developing a drug for female sexual arousal disorder.

So, why did the media jump on this story?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: sex sells.

The moral – be careful and delve deeper. Sexual desire is tricky. In women, it entails a lot more than stimulation. What’s more, do we really need another pill in the bedroom? Thoughts?

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Chamo chamo chamomile-on

Posted by on Apr 16, 2010 in anxiety, depression, herbal medicine | 2 comments


Is chamomile the ultimate chameleon, good for both anxiety in depression?

Back in February, I posted information about a small study that showed that a daily chamomile tablets (containing 220 mg of pharmaceutical grade extract) significant reduced anxiety and improved well-being among postmenopausal women. Thanks to a fellow reporter and Twitter colleague Miriam Tucker, I learned that the researchers of this study presented findings at a recent Anxiety Disorders of American meeting that might be of equal interest, i.e. that benefits of chamomile might extend to depression as well.

In a second part of this study, the researchers looked at the effect of chamomile on the same women who currently suffered from anxiety and depression, who had a past history of depression or who had never had depressive symptoms. Although the results were not as striking as in the first study, they did see what they characterized as meaningful reductions in depression ratings among women who had both anxiety and depression. Across all the groups, the researchers observed significant declines in depressed mood, guilt and thoughts of suicide).

Women entering perimenopause have twice the risk for developing depressive symptoms than during other phases of their lives. Researchers have also shown that attitude towards menopause can also increase the risk. While various interventions including antidepressants, exercise and maybe even moderate intake of red wine may help, it’s wonderful to know that scientists are seriously looking into the role of chamomile and studying it under controlled conditions to prove or disprove its power over our moods.

Is chamomile the ultimate panacea when it comes to mood swings and the blues? Perhaps not. But it may provide a wonderful option to women and men alike, who are seeking solutions out of the medicine cabinet.

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Wednesday Bubble: weight loss – It’s in the sea! Guest post by Danielle Omar, RD

Posted by on Apr 14, 2010 in diet, weight | 12 comments

Not bursting any bubbles this week! Rather, I am hoping that guest author Danielle Omar, RD can provide a unique perspective on weight loss, fiber and one of our biggest resources: the sea. Danielle is a fellow Advisory Board member and when we met, we realized that we had a lot in common, especially when it came to women and eating and midlife. So please, welcome Danielle and show some love!

Is fiber the newest weight loss panacea?  Perhaps!  As a nutritionist, I’ve been recommending soluble fiber for years for digestive and heart health, but its role in weight loss and hunger control are what is getting recent attention.   As part of a new wave in obesity research, scientists are now developing foods that contain specific types of fiber that may help you lose weight just by eating them.

Glucomannan, which is extracted from the Asian plant Konjac or elephant yam, has been around for a while.   It’s known for its ability to expand up to 50 times its own water weight.  You are already eating it in many  foods (the food industry uses it as a thickening agent), but you may also be familiar with the wildly popular shirataki noodles.   Made from Glucomannan, they’ve reached cult status in “low carb” circles for their ability to mimic pasta noodles, without all the carbs.

Researchers at both Chicago Rush University College of Nursing and The University of Connecticut have authored review articles finding the fiber in Glucomannan to promote weight loss and satiety, help lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and help balance blood sugar levels.  Although long-term studies are needed, the results are promising.

Another new player in the fiber game is alginate, a fiber found in the sea vegetable kelp.   Alginate has been getting recent praise for its ability to reduce the absorption of fat in the diet by up to 75%.   Researchers are claiming that alginate stops the body from absorbing fat better than the over-the-counter obesity treatment options currently available (like Alli).  Researchers have not started testing on humans, but preliminary results are creating quite a buzz.

In the meantime, why not do some research of your own?   Sea veggies are not only high in soluble fiber, they’re also a great source of vitamins and minerals and a natural source of iodine, which is important for thyroid health.   So head to the grocery store and pick yourself up some sea vegetables!  The most popular kinds include:

Nori: dark purple-black, usually bought in sheets, as seen in sushi rolls

Kelp: great as a salt substitute, available in flake form

Hijiki: looks like black wiry pasta, needs no cooking, just soak and soften – add to salads

Kombu and Wakame: found in longs sheets, as seen in miso soup or salads; sweet flavor

Arame: lacy texture, sweet and mild flavor

Dulse: soft, chewy texture; great addition to soup or raw as flakes

For more information and easy recipes using sea vegetables, click here.

Have you tried sea greens?  What do you think?

About Danielle…Danielle Omar, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian with ten years of experience promoting food confidence through healthy living and smart eating.  She brings real-life understanding to her nutrition consulting practice and has counseled hundreds of people in weight management, wellness, and sports performance. Danielle uses her unique approach, Live It, learn It, Get It to create powerful health transformations and real food confidence in her clients’ lives.

In addition to private counseling, Danielle serves as an adjunct professor in nutrition science at the university level.  She has been featured on local news and media stations and has conducted interviews for entertainment outlets such as The Washington Post and the Food Network.  Danielle is active in social media and delivers a unique perspective on her Food Confidence blog, which focuses on mindful eating techniques and eat-smart tips.

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Not so hot? Actually…

Posted by on Apr 12, 2010 in hot flash | 2 comments

Have you heard of ‘Not so Hot?’ I may need to get my hands on one of these babies. Not So Hot is an aerodynamic ‘flash fan’ to cool those hot flashes in an instant. What I like about the design is that the fan is discrete and easy to carry in a purse or hand bag, whips out when you feel that flash coming on, and then folds away for the next one.

Obviously, the goal is to not have those flashes, but if you’re gonna have them, why not be prepared? Heck, the Not So Hot fans definitely appeal to me more than the Cleavage Coolers, which you may recall, remind me of rubber chickens for the menopausal set.

Have you tried ‘Not so Hot?’ What do you think?

[Disclosure – I have recently become a fan of ‘Not so Hot’ on Facebook. But I have not been approached nor paid to write about the product.]

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Sets – a Freudian Slip?

Posted by on Apr 9, 2010 in apparel, hot flash, nightsweats | 0 comments

Remember Cool Sets? Last year I was asked to try out their wicking PJs —  (sounds wicked), which rely on Cool Balance technology  — a unique weave that allows the fabric to draw moisture away from your body, speeds evaporation and leaves you cool rather than soaked and suddenly cold from that awful night sweat or hot flash. You may recall I loved the concept but wasn’t too psyched about the fashion.

Well, the folks at Cool Sets approached me again to see if they could change my mind with some of their new designs. Admittedly, when it comes to what I put on my body, I’m pretty picky, even if it’s just a tee and shorts. I was even more skeptical when the company representative wrote and described what she was sending as “sassy.” Uh-oh.

Cool Sets – I love love love what you are doing for women everywhere. But the “fun and flirty” item of clothing you sent reminds me of a vintage slip, actually, the vintage slip that I wore to a Halloween Party several years as a ‘Freudian Slip.’

Is the fashion statement behind Cool Sets a Freudian Slip? Honestly, I do believe that you are meaning one thing, and producing another. And yet again, I willing to overlook the fashion wrong to see the product right: I remain thoroughly impressed by what your product does, not how it looks.

Now, can we get you on Project Runway for a redesign?

p.s. The photo is not a close up of a Cool Sets nightgown. It is a piece of vintage lace.

[Disclosure: I received no payment from Cool Sets to write this post. They did, however, send me an article of clothing to “test drive.” No terms were expressed by other me or the company regarding what I would write or when or if I would write it.]

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