August 21, 2014
Science Notes, University of California, Santa Cruz
Wolf Mehling noticed his breath for the first time at age 27. He’d spent three years battling a crippling pain that shot through his back and legs. When told by doctors the agony could only be cured with surgery, he turned to “breath therapy,” a form of alternative treatment popular in Germany in the 1970s.
The treatment, which made him focus on his breath, left him healed—and intrigued. Today, Mehling’s workspace at UC San Francisco holds no signs of a person disabled by pain. Floor-to-ceiling windows open the small office to a view of the crowded streets below. A thumb-sized Buddha perches on the window; a rolled-up yoga mat unfurls in the corner, as though it’s more accustomed to lying flat. It is unusually thick, the sort used by serious practitioners. Read more.
August 4, 2014
Vaporized Medical Marijuana Study Given Green Light
A clinical trial of medical marijuana could provide new hope for people suffering from sickle cell anemia. The study happening at San Francisco General Hospital is so cutting edge that the government almost stopped it from happening.
At Oakland’s Harborside Health Center, the walls are lined with just about every pot plant you could imagine. But across the room at the state’s largest cannabis dispensary, something else is on sale. It’s liquid marijuana — including some kinds that are rich in a chemical called CBD.
“CBD is another cannabinoid, one of the active ingredients in the plant. It’s not psychoactive, but it is active against inflammation and pain,” Dr. Donald Abrams said. Read more.
August 4, 2014
CSU Institute for Palliative Care Announces First Fully Online Self-Paced Business Case for Palliative Care Course
The Business Case for Palliative Care, starting August 18, is designed to orient clinical and administrative leaders to the critical concepts behind the business case for palliative care. The self-paced course introduces the analyses needed to assess the impact of existing programs while identifying growth opportunities for hospitals, clinics, and home-based palliative care providers.
The CSU Institute for Palliative Care’s Executive Director, Helen McNeal, said, “A serious business evaluation of the benefits and challenges of a palliative care program will ultimately benefit the organization and those they serve. It is important that clinicians and administrators understand the financial analysis behind an effective palliative care program and how their program can demonstrate its value. This course is a great place to start.” Read more.
July 14, 2014
Integrative Oncology Podcast
Survivorship 2014: Integrative Cancer Care
Dr. Abrams discusses what integrative oncology is and the basic recommendations for cancer patients, including whole foods, supplements, medicinal mushrooms, and mind-body interventions. Recorded live on June 28, 2014. 59 min. Listen.
Dietary risks now rank number one among 17 leading risk factors contributing to the number of deaths and percentage of disabilityadjusted–life-years for both sexes combined in the United States.1 The aggregate of the 14 subcomponents of diet (ie, diet low in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, milk, fiber, calcium, seafood omega-3 fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids; diet high in red meat, processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, trans-fatty acids, sodium2) assessed by the US Burden of Disease Collaborators surpasses the impact of tobacco smoking on the nation’s morbidity and mortality and does not include high body mass index and physical inactivity (ranking fourth and fifth in contributing to overall deaths). It has been estimated that as many avoidable malignancies are related to diet as tobacco (30% to 35%), again not accounting for the significant additional contribution of obesity (14% to 20%).3 As oncologists become more aware of these undeniable associations, it becomes a critical part of our job to be able to answer patients’ questions about nutrition during and after cancer treatment and not default to the unhelpful “it doesn’t really matter, eat what you want” which may not be in the best interest of the patient. Read more.
June 19, 2014
Exercising with Cancer, Why and How it Helps
Cure Panel Talk Show
We are beginning our series on Cancer and Exercise this June with a discussion on how exercise can help cancer patients/survivors. The discussion will be co-hosted by prostate cancer survivor and advocate Richard Davis. We have an amazing panel of experts – Dr. Donald Abrams and Dr. June Chan from UCSF, Dr. Lee Jones from MSKCC, and cancer fitness trainer Carol Michaels.
The discussion will touch upon various aspects of exercising while being treated with cancer and try to answer questions like, Why and how does exercise work to help fight cancer?, What should you know about resuming exercise after surgery? Should you continue exercise during chemotherapy? and even provide practical advice on how and where to exercise, and how to find cancer specialized trainers. Listen now.
June 6, 2014
Spreading the Well-Being of a Mindful Childbirth
UCSF Science of Caring
Devoted to making childbirth less scary and more joyful, nurse-midwife Nancy Bardacke keeps circling back to UC San Francisco School of Nursing.
A 1976 alumna of the school’s nursing program and a 1981 graduate of the nurse-midwife specialty, Bardacke is the originator of Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting, a childbirth preparation program that combines daily mindfulness meditation with more traditional teaching about the physical and emotional aspects of having a baby. Read more.
May 27, 2014
Dr. Donald Abrams: Taking a Holistic Approach to Cancer Treatment
The Giving Comfort Blog
We at Giving Comfort learned from one of our Distribution Network Partners that Dr. Abrams serves as a cancer and integrative medicine specialist at the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine in San Francisco and Chief of Hematology and Oncology at San Francisco General Hospital .
Dr. Abrams summarizes his approach to cancer care, “I believe people, especially those getting cancer treatments, benefit from having both a Western diagnosis, as well as a whole-person approach. Good nutrition is an important part of the prescription, but other options are: fitness training, massage, acupuncture, herbs, biofeedback, meditation, guided imagery, integrative psychiatry, yoga, or tai chi.” Read more.
May 26, 2014
Going to the doctor for back pain can be a slippery slope
Back pain is one of the most common health complaints, affecting more than one in four adults every year, and a popular reason for physician visits. But most people recover from back pain whether they’re treated medically or not, says Wolf Mehling, a professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco.
For people who do see a doctor, research shows that while the vast majority get better, a small percentage get worse. In a recent study, Mehling and his colleagues interviewed 521 people six months after they’d seen doctors for acute back pain; 81 percent of them were completely recovered or much improved, while 16 percent were the same or slightly improved and 3 percent were worse off. Read more.
May 7, 2014
Your Fridge Is Your First-Aid Kit
Men’s Health Magazine
1. Eat garlic for colds. Ignore the side effect of bad breath. “Garlic boosts the immune system, so eating a baked head of garlic as soon as you start to feel a cold coming on can help you recover faster,” says Priscilla Abercrombie, Ph.D., a nurse practitioner at the University of California San Francisco’s Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. Drizzle a head of garlic with olive oil and bake until soft. You can put it on bread or crackers, but you’d have to eat the whole thing to win the immune boost, Abercrombie says. Read more.
May 2, 2014
ADHD medicine’s long-term safety still a question
(Reuters Health) – Scant research has been done on the long-term safety of drugs for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a new analysis shows, though millions of American children have been taking them for decades. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 11 percent of American children between the ages of four and 17 – or 6.4 million – had been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011. About half were taking drugs to treat the disorder.
“We have too few long-term studies on the effects of these medicines,” Dr. Sanford Newmark told Reuters Health. “There’s a big, big gap in our understanding of what the effects of these medicines might be. It’s worrisome.” A pediatrician from the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, Newmark was not involved in the current study. Read more.
April 25, 2014
Specialized Yoga Program Could Help Women with Urinary Incontinence
An ancient form of meditation and exercise could help women who suffer from urinary incontinence, according to a new study from UC San Francisco. In a study scheduled to be published on April 25, 2014 in Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery, the official journal of the American Urogynecologic Society, UCSF researchers discovered that a yoga training program, designed to improve pelvic health, can help women gain more control over their urination and avoid accidental urine leakage. Read more.
April 5, 2014
Meaningful Innovation for Aging Populations
Open Gov Underground
My father John Wilbur, a former NFL player, lived with brain and nerve damage – symptoms that describe the phenomena we call “dementia,” where cognitive ability is lost. He passed away this December. Living with him the last year of his life was something that opened my eyes to the diversity of ways we experience the world, especially in a time when over 35.6 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s or memory loss caused by dementia. Read more.
March 19, 2014
Chemist says omitting MSG cured daughter’s autism
San Francisco Chronicle / SFGate.com
Katherine Reid, a Bay Area biochemist with a daughter who was autistic, believes she may have found an antidote to the neurodevelopment disorder – and it’s as simple as changing a person’s diet.
Because there is no Food and Drug Administration-approved medical treatment for the core symptoms of autism, people have turned to homeopathic remedies, probiotics, invasive therapies and alternative diets. It has become increasingly popular for parents of children with autism or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder to turn to gluten- and casein-free, or dairy-free, diets in hopes that it will make a difference. Read more.
Can ADHD Be Prevented?
Scientific American Mind
From the start, Tzippora Gold was a smart and loving little girl, with a strong independent streak and tons of energy. During infancy and toddlerhood, her family noticed nothing amiss. But when Tzippora entered preschool, she did not listen to the teacher or sit in a circle. “I had never in my life thought that a three-year-old could get sent to the principal’s office,” recalls her mother, Sara Gold of New York City, a graphic designer. “But she was. I pulled her out in the middle of the year because they couldn’t handle her. And this was supposed to be a top-of-the-line preschool.” Read more, including quote by our neurodevelopmental pediatrician Dr. Sanford Newmark (fee for full article).
February 26, 2014
Death Cafe: Talk about dying and eat cake, too
San Jose Mercury News
…By creating a safe, sanctioned place to share our thoughts, we can demystify dying and make it easier to face, says Shelley Adler, a University of California-San Francisco medical anthropologist who held the first San Francisco Death Cafe this past spring. On Saturday, Adler will hold her third discussion at the guesthouse of the Zen Hospice Project, where she is director of education. Read more.
February 25, 2014
Death Cafe: Talking About Death — While Eating Cake
KQED State of Health
In a dimly lit room decorated with several Buddhas and a large red-and-white Zen illustration, twenty-nine people sat in a circle. Some were eating chocolate bundt cake. It was an unusual setting to be discussing the topic at hand: death and dying. These death cafes have sprung up around the world to address the taboo subject head-on. Organizers hope that increased awareness of death will help people make the most of their lives. Read more.
February 19, 2014
The Search for Well Being: Treating the whole person in the new healthcare era
Humankind Radio Program aired on NPR’s KQED
Segment 2: Here’s the story of a frightening situation that could happen to any of us. When a California attorney, Deb Graceffa , started experiencing strange symptoms an initial diagnosis pointed to a potentially crippling illness. But high-tech testing and conventional medicine failed to arrest her symptoms, which continued to worsen. After trying numerous doctors, she was referred to a respected physician, University of California medical professor Rick McKinney, who is deeply experienced in integrative care. His approach differed from the others’ and led to a fairly rapid diagnosis requiring minor, mostly natural treatments that gave rapid relief. We hear from the physician and grateful patient about the nature of their communication. More
February 13, 2014
Who Needs Stimulants for ADHD?
Scientific American Blog
In 1970, 150,000 U.S. children were taking stimulant medications. By 2007, that number had risen to 2.7 million, according to pediatrician Sanford Newmark of the University of California, San Francisco. In the video embedded in this post, titled “Do 2.5 Million Kids Really Need Ritalin?” Newmark analyzes the reasons behind the rise in prescriptions, which follows the sharp climb in diagnoses for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). He also makes a case for fewer scripts, detailing the downsides of these medications and suggesting alternative remedies for ADHD, including changes in diet, supplements, as well as parenting, school and lifestyle interventions. Here are some highlights of Newmark’s talk, along with time stamps indicating when to watch. Read more.
January 23, 2014
Let’s Eat Cake and Talk About Death
Cake and death are the foundation of “Death Cafés,” according to UCSF anthropologist Dr. Shelley Adler, PhD. At these gatherings, diverse strangers come together in small groups, eat cake and talk about death and dying.
Although it may sound like a macabre coffeehouse inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, the recent rise of the Death Café is actually part of a revolt against the taboo of death.
“Death is such an equalizing aspect of life,” Adler says. “It’s a fundamental experience for everyone, regardless of gender, race or class. Yet most people seem afraid to mention it, as if by naming it, we will hasten its arrival. As a result, end-of-life decisions can become traumatic, and quality of life is reduced.” Read more.
January 17, 2014
Nutrition and Supplements During Cancer Treatment and Beyond
The Cure Panel Talk Show
We are excited to host Dr. Donald Abrams on our talk series on Cancer and Nutrition. Dr. Donald I. Abrams is a cancer and integrative medicine specialist at the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Mount Zion. Abrams provides integrative medicine consultations for cancer patients and has completed research in complementary and alternative therapies including mind-body treatments, botanical therapies, medical use of marijuana and traditional Chinese medicine herbal therapies. In addition to his role at the Osher center, he is chief of Hematology and Oncology at San Francisco General Hospital.
Dr. Abrams will be discussing Nutrition and Supplements During Cancer Treatment and Beyond with myeloma survivor/advocate Pat Killingsworth, breast cancer survivor/advocate Beverly McKee and nutritionist Dr. Smriti Parikh. Listen to the podcast.
January 6, 2014
Study: Meditation’s Effects Similar to Pills for Depression
Meditation has been used for centuries, but its benefits have been primarily anecdotal, whether it’s a Tibetan monk blocking out pain to walk across hot coals or a college student meditating to cope with the loss of a loved one.
Now, researchers at Johns Hopkins University have applied scientific analysis to the practice and found that mindfulness meditation programs, which promote heightened awareness, can help with common mental health problems. …
Dr. Kevin Barrows, director of mindfulness programs at the University of California, San Francisco’s Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, said the study’s findings were “not surprising, but affirming.” He said that meditation often receives unfair criticism because studies on its effectiveness do not always meet the rigorous scientific standard of research. Read more.