Posts made in August, 2008

A Balancing Act

Posted by on Aug 22, 2008 in bone health | 0 comments


One of the biggest challenges of life is to keep it all in balance, right? This is ever more important as we age and our bones start to thin. Postmenopausal women are three times likelier to fall than men who are the same age. This is due, at least in part, to declining estrogen levels, which not only affect postural stability but also the speed at which spacial information is processed by the brain.

Researchers now say that moderate amounts of exercise may significantly improve balance in postmenopausal women who suffer from osteoporosis.

In this study, 28 postmenopausal women participated in twice-weekly, 30 minute sessions on the treadmills over a month-long period. At the study’s end, significant improvements were seen in all balance tests.

The researchers say that this suggests that exercise is valuable in younger postmenopausal women for reducing fracture risk, risk of falls and reaction time. Walking at a fast pace is one of the safest ways to achieve results.

Check out these earlier posts for additional tips on how to achieve better bone health.  I don’t believe that any of us will end up on a double high wire after an intensive treadmill workout but I do believe that we can all benefit from improved balance!

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Wednesday Bubble – For $$$, You CAN Iron Out Those Wrinkles!

Posted by on Aug 20, 2008 in appearance | 2 comments


Wondering if you should spend that $200 on the latest skin cream to combat aging skin? The Fountain of Youth is evidently achievable. But not that cheaply.

Researchers have been spending time on wrinkle removers and there’s a review in the May issue of The Archives of Dermatology that actually lends credence to certain ‘wrinkle removers.’

The researchers say that the following treatments (which actually stimulate the production of new collagen – even in wrinkled photodamaged skin) can substantially improve the appearance and health of aging skin:

1) Prescription-strength topical retinoic acid, (e.g. Retin-A) which can produce new, undamaged collagen in skin that undergoes natural aging and aging due to UV ray exposure. According to an article on this very topic that appeared in yesterday’s New York Times, it’s best to use concentrations between 0.2% and 0.6%.  Be aware that at these concentrations, topical retinoic acid can cause a rash. Women must also avoid sun exposure as this can exacerbate rashes.

2) Carbon Dioxide Laser Resurfacing is procedure that uses thermal energy to damage the superficial, thin layers of skin. Ths stimulates a wound healing response that allows the production of new collagen, thereby improving skin’s appearance. However, wrinkles do not disappear immediately and several treatments may be required. What’s more, the 10 to 21 days  healing period following laser resurfacing  can be arduous, with swelling and pain, and weeping or oozing skin quite common.

3) Hyaluronic acid dermal filler. A dermal filler is injected directly into the skin and cause it to stretch. Fibroblasts respond by producing more collagen and less collagen-destroying enzymes, theoretically resulting in a smoother appearance. Dermal fillers have traditionally used collagen but data suggest that hyaluronic acid fillers last longer (i.e. ~ 6 months). Side effects include allergic reactions, lumpiness, needle marks, and pain with the injection.

The bottom line? OTC creams may soften wrinkle’s appearance but if you’re looking for a more permanent, effective solution, you need to see a doctor.


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Posted by on Aug 18, 2008 in sexual health | 2 comments

[Woody Allen, Sleeper 1973]

Remember the Orgasmatron from Woody Allen’s Classic, “Sleeper?” Seems that there’s a new device that’s going to give Woody a run for his money (no pun intended!).

An ad for Slightest Touch, an orgasm electronic enhancement agent, arrived in my inbox this morning. Hey, when over 11,000 women say that ‘sex has never been better,’ well, ya gotta wonder right? But I am especially intrigued by the idea that your orgasm will be so powerful that you should take electrolytes beforehand.

A painless electrical pulse travels up the leg’s nerve pathways to the pelvis, creating peak arousal. (Note the electrode patches around the ankles).

This device started as a foot massager (pretty kinky, eh?).  While it failed miserably at its orginal intention, subjects tended to get all hot and bothered during the experiment!

Hmm. Is this the answer for sexual desire and dysfunction issues in menopause?!

[Crossposted on Blogher]

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That Old Black Magic

Posted by on Aug 17, 2008 in herbal medicine, hot flash, nightsweats | 0 comments


Remember black cohosh? That wonderful herb in the buttercup family of plants that is commonly used  to address hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats and other vasomotor symptoms? Black cohosh has been used in traditional folk medicine for centuries and was introduced to the settlers by Native American Indians, who incorporated the herb into their traditional medicines for women’s ailments.

I’ve discussed the utility of black cohosh for sleep and other disturbances in a previous post.

Personally, I’ve been using a standardized black cohosh formulation in combination with some Chinese herbs, (as recommended by acupuncturist and Chinese medicine specialist Elaine Stern)  with great success for many months now. Hence, I am a huge fan. And in my book it is that ‘old black magic.” Still, I believe that it’s important to address warnings that link black cohosh to liver damage. Here’s what you need to know:

Based on recent statements that have been recently issued in Australia and the United Kingdom, The U.S. Pharmacopeia’s Council of Experts extensively analyzed data from 30 case reports, side effects reports and other sources to evaluate the association between black cohosh and liver damage.  They concluded that there was enough evidence from case reports to suggest a possible link and proposed that a cautionary statement be included on manufacturer labeling.

So, what’s the bottom line? Overall, there are been few reports of liver damage but they have provoked enough concern to raise a red flag amongst several regulatory agencies worldwide. Here, the U.S, the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements says that millions of people have safely used black cohosh without any apparent negative health effects.

As always, if you choose to go the herbal route, speak to an health professional who is well-versed in herbal medicine first. Try to select standardized formulation (it usually says it right on the label), which can help to insure that optimal and safe manufacturing processes have been followed and that you’re getting a pure form of the herb. Finally, be aware of potential side effects. In addition to liver damage, black cohosh has been linked with headache, dizziness, visual disturbance, constipation and intestinal discomfort, mostly at higher than recommended doses. Finally, remember that herbal medicine is medicine, and like Western preparations, requires vigilence, common sense, and can result in adverse effects if not used correctly.

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Domino Effect

Posted by on Aug 15, 2008 in sexual health | 1 comment

I’ve been writing about sex alot lately. Sexual dysfunction, sexual desire, sexsexsexsexsex. If you were Freud, you’d have a field day!

Seriously though, a new research study in an advanced publication of the journal Menopause suggests a strong link between symptoms of vaginal atrophy (thinning of the vaginal and vulvovaginal tissues due to declining estrogen levels) and sexual dysfunction. Sort of a domino effect, if you will.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina examined 1,480 sexually active postmenopausal women, 57% of whom had symptoms of vaginal atrophy. They then asked the women about their sexual experiences; more than half (55%) also had symptoms of sexual dysfunction. In fact, the study findings revealed that women with sexual complaints had almost 4 times the risk for vaginal atrophy.

These study findings suggest a strong overlap in these conditions. This implies that if you treat symptoms of one condition, you may be able to relieve symptoms of the other. The challenge will be to find a natural and effective treatment rather than rely on the old standby – estrogen or the novel standby – SERMS.

I am going to continue to explore this topic until I find a reasonable non-pharmaceutical or estrogen-based alternative for this problem. So far, I’ve not stumbled across anything that has some good research behind it. If you know of an alternative, do drop me a line.

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