The Benefits of Cocoa for Type 2 Diabetes

An article published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry suggests that specific compounds in cocoa may help with Type 2 diabetes. Researchers from Brigham Young University and Virginia Tech fed animals a high-fat diet, combined with cocoa and found the animals had decreased obesity and a greater ability to handle high blood sugar levels.

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St. Mary Offers New Technique to Breast Cancer Patients

St. Mary Medical Center, in Langhorne, has introduced a new technique to limit radiation exposure to the heart for women receiving treatment for left-sided breast cancer.

The technique is called “deep inspiration breath-hold” (DIBH) and reduces radiation exposure to the heart by as much as 75 percent. This additional safety measure helps decrease a patient’s chances of adverse cardiac events, such as heart attacks and sudden cardiac death, later in life.

DIBH involves the patient taking a deep breath through a special spirometry monitor, which measures the volume of air inside the lungs. The patient is also given a set of goggles with a visual screen that shows how much air is being taken in and guides the patient to hold her breath for 20 to 30 seconds at a time. When lungs are inflated, physicians can deliver radiation more precisely, reducing exposure to healthy heart tissue.

“The more we can limit the exposure of healthy tissue to radiation and protect the heart, the better the long-term outcome of the patient will be,” says St. Mary radiation oncologist Hiral Fontanilla, M.D. “This is another advancement for our patients, who are living decades after initial diagnosis, thanks to more effective therapies.”

St. Mary Medical Center is recognized for achieving numerous national quality distinctions for best practice standards in care delivery, image quality, personnel qualifications, equipment, quality control procedures and quality assurance.

Location: 1201 Langhorne Newtown Rd., Langhorne. For more information, call 215-710-2000 or visit StMaryHealthcare.org. October 2017

Matters of the (Female) Heart: 10 Things Women May Not Know About Heart Disease

CRG_AbingtonCardio_DrMeshkov_0216_1by Arnold B. Meshkov

  1. Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States.
  2. The incidence of heart disease has been increasing in women for the last 30 years.
  3. Women may not have the typical symptoms of cardiac chest pain, or angina pectoris, as a symptom of a blocked artery or atherosclerosis.
  4. Often, the only symptoms women may experience are shortness of breath and fatigue.
  5. When women do experience cardiac chest pain, it is often due to problems with the very small blood vessels of the heart, and not due to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
  6. Heart disease in women presents on average about 10 years later than in men; with the population living much longer now, women without any history of heart problems are presenting with heart disease for the first time much later in life.
  7. Women are treated with invasive procedures such as angioplasty and cardiac surgery less often than men.
  8. Women have the same risk factors for heart disease as men, such as family history, cigarette smoking, “metabolic syndrome”, elevated cholesterol and lipids, high mental stress levels, high blood pressure (hypertension), being overweight and diabetes.
  9. Women have a significant risk of heart disease after menopause, but treatment with estrogens has been shown to increase that risk even further.
  10. Women are much more likely to suffer from “broken heart syndrome”, which presents with the typical symptoms of a heart attack but is not due to hardening of the arteries, and is often associated with major life stress events.

Arnold B. Meshkov, MD, is board certified in internal medicine, cardiology and echocardi-ography. For more information, call 215-920-0815, email Info@AbingtonCardiology.com or visit AbingtonCardiology.com.

May, 2016 Issue

Back to Basics: Rethinking Our Approach to Menopause

by Wendy Warner

Around 6,000 women reach menopause every day — that’s more than two million per year. For many of them, it’s a rocky time filled with mood swings, poor sleep, hot flashes, night sweats and foggy thinking. The really bad news is that at least a third of women in one survey stated they don’t think they’re aware of all the options out there for treatment, or that they are not happy with the options presented to them. Add to this that in conventional gynecologic training, physicians are taught that treatment for symptoms is hormone replacement therapy (HRT)…and then they’re told that HRT isn’t really all that good for women. What’s a doc to do?

The reality is that there are a lot of options out there. HRT is certainly one of them, but jumping into bioidentical hormones right off the bat could mean that the underlying reason for the symptoms and imbalance is never addressed. At some point in the future, when these women decide to stop their hormone therapy, they might start flashing all over again because no one ever helped them fix the cause. Also, hormones can be expensive, so looking for the cheaper alternatives first makes sense.

Get some lab work done. Check a full thyroid panel (TSH, free T4, free T3 plus thyroid antibodies and reverse T3) along with cortisol and DHEA. Check fasting glucose and a hemoglobin A1C, even if the fasting glucose is normal. This information will help establish where to focus attention in treatment.

The first place to look, as usual, is food. How we eat as perimenopausal women really does make a huge impact on how we feel. All the steps in hormone production require nutrient cofactors that are found in vegetables (magnesium and B vitamins, in particular). Eating more veggies and fewer grains and sweets (even excess fruit) can make a huge difference for someone having hot flashes. Also, not everyone needs to be gluten-free, but gluten-containing grains do have a negative impact on the liver’s breakdown of hormones; focusing on gluten-free grains will decrease this. Eating more legumes also helps, as they contain flavonoids, fiber and other chemicals that impact hormone metabolism.

So, although each woman needs to work out details for herself, a good rule to use is the  following: half of what you have eaten by the end of the day should be a vegetable.  This is tough, as most of us don’t eat any at breakfast. Of the remaining half of your food each day, make one-third of it animal protein if you eat animals (this includes eggs and dairy, obviously), one-third should be healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocados, the oils in salad dressings and what you cook with) and one-third would include grains, fruit and anything else (like chocolate).  Following this rule will result in really small portions of these foods.

Exercise also has a huge impact on menopausal symptoms — the more the better, though it is possible to actually do it “wrong”. Move but don’t get extreme about it.  Focus on strength building and not so much cardio, since most perimenopausal women  lose muscle quickly. That might mean just a more vigorous yoga class or pilates and doesn’t need to include lifting weights in the gym.

Learning more emotional resilience and better stress management has a huge impact as well. Most of us spend a great deal (all?) of our time in the fight-or-flight mode. Too much on our plate, too much bad news, no downtime…this keeps our adrenal hormones  stuck in the “on” position, and when this happens, estrogen and progesterone balance goes out the window. Progesterone gets converted to cortisol to conserve energy for the adrenals, which leads to unbalanced estrogen. Also, the high cortisol is what triggers the temperature-regulating portion of the brain to set off hot flashes. This can be overturned by higher estrogen levels (which is why HRT works), but if it’s still going on when a woman stops her HRT, she’ll simply flash all over again.

When all of these lifestyle issues are being worked on, but sleep and thinking straight are still difficult, interventions like herbs and hormones should be considered. Many plants combat menopausal symptoms, from black cohosh to Siberian rhubarb to night blooming cereus, but all work best when used with herbal adaptogens and nervines. Adaptogens help support adrenal function and include plants like ashwagandha, holy basil and rhodiola. Nervines calm us down; fresh milky oats is a favorite. Different plants  work better for different people, so seeking out a knowledgeable provider is a must.

For some women, hormone replacement therapy may ultimately provide the best results. There are conventional hormones, which one gets at a regular pharmacy. Some  are bioidentical (chemically just like what our bodies make) and some are chemicals that are “new to nature” that have activity similar to estrogen and progesterone, but our bodies have never seen them before. Several major studies agree that among replacement hormones available, bioidentical hormones are safest. The downside to “regular” prescriptions is that they are mostly oral (probably not the best choice) and have limited doses available. Compounded bioidentical hormones, however, are designed to let each woman have the dose that is right for her, and several different forms of delivery are available, including capsules, creams, pellets and bucchal troches.  Compounded forms also allow for inclusion of testosterone and adrenal support, which are not available in “commercial” HRT.

Menopause is not a disease, but it is a transition that will likely require each of us to reevaluate how we’ve been living. We need to look at the big picture and not jump to an easy fix. Our bodies will thank us.

Wendy Warner, MD, ABIHM, is board certified in gynecology and holistic medicine. Her practice, Medicine in Balance, is located in Langhorne. For more information, call 215-741-1600.

May 2016 Issue

OneTaste Meetups Aim to Access the Power of Female Sexuality

WomanSilhouetteMeditatingMountain_45080254_lIt might sound wild or shocking, but Orgasmic Meditation (OM) isn’t about titillation. Its practitioners believe that the power of female sexuality, harnessed through meditation, can actually change the world. According to OneTaste, an international group devoted to OM, OM is “a consciousness practice (like yoga or Pilates) designed for singles and couples to experience more connection, vitality, pleasure and meaning in every aspect of their lives.”

OneTaste holds regular events through the popular website Meetup.com. While there is sexual content to the meetings (which are definitely for adults only), everyone’s clothes stay firmly on. OM is about relaxation, connection, and getting past the stigmas and barriers that stand between women and the true power of their sexuality. Women are welcome to attend alone or with a respectful partner of any gender. Participants can expect to get an entirely fresh sex-ed curriculum as they learn about the benefits of OM, the Five Laws of Orgasm and why orgasm is different from climax. OMers learn how to access a grounded, conscious, orgasmic experience that can help them “develop a larger state of consciousness, have better intimacy and stronger connections.”

Thousands of people in New York, London, and around the world have discovered the joy that comes when they let go of shame and embrace their sexual selves.  To participate, women can sign up at OneTaste.Us or Meetup.com, and an Orgasm Expert will call them and orient them before the event, answering any questions, so they’ll know what to expect.

To find out more, or to find a One Taste Meetup Group near you, visit OneTaste.Us.

Thyroid Health and Menopause: A Naturopathic Approach

by Lynn W. Feinman

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A woman’s natural life cycle presents an ever-changing landscape of potential health issues. Hormones, in particular, can be affected by the milestones of puberty, childbirth and menopause. Menopause-related hormone imbalance can be increasingly problematic due to lowered functioning of an aging thyroid, a gland that plays a large role in regulating hormones.

Thyroid imbalances can cause weight issues, anxiety and depression, fatigue, skin and hair changes, indigestion, sleep issues and more. Since thyroid imbalances can also be caused by autoimmune diseases and can have a genetic component, or can even be triggered by viruses, the first step in treating imbalances should always involve a proper medical diagnosis. Once the diagnosis is made, a naturopathic treatment plan can be created.  Because no part of the human body operates independently of the rest of the body, a holistic perspective is essential when addressing thyroid issues.

A founding naturopathic principle holds that if the body is in proper balance, it can tolerate the fluctuation of hormones. Traditional naturopathy considers the health of all major organ systems in the body, acid/alkaline balance and naturopathic detoxification. Specifically, naturopathy seeks to remove offenders (allergens), replace what nutrients might be missing and repair damage (inflammation). While a naturopathic approach to hormonal imbalance considers many factors, including exercise , stress and emotions, nutrition and sleep play a central role in restoring health.

Research shows that certain nutrients can nourish the thyroid gland, such as antioxidants and the herbs ashwagandha, schisandra and ginseng. Additionally, women  experiencing menopause benefit from specific nutrients, such as B vitamins and minerals.

Adding to the nutritional challenge, certain foods, especially when refined, often become  difficult to digest as we age. Eating more plant-based foods can be beneficial, with the caveat that soy and wheat are not nourishing foods for the thyroid and are common allergens. Engaging in nutritional cleansing can help reduce overload in the liver, the essential organ that manages hormonal fluctuations.

The lack of restorative sleep often underlies all other health challenges, especially during menopause. Naturo-pathic approaches integrate sleep hygiene, restoring sleep cycles and nourishing the nervous system. Commonly used herbs include chamomile, passion flower, valerian and skullcap.  Supplements may include melatonin and minerals, which help to calm the body. Since sleep is a naturally occurring human phenomenon, natural sleep cycles can usually be restored, depending on how long the imbalance has occurred.

Aging is a natural part of life, but with the proper whole-system approach to changing needs, delicate balances can be not only maintained, but enriched.

Lynn W. Feinman, owner of Natural Health Options, in Paoli, is a naturopathic doctor and yoga instructor specializing in health recovery and detoxification programs. For more information, call 610-608-1430 or visit NaturalHealthOptions.us.

May 2016 Issue

The Invitation: A Call to All Women

Magic Moments: Life Coaching for Women will host The Invitation for Women at Linden Hill Gardens, from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., September 27. This one-day event will teach women to embrace the power of being a woman, overcome obstacles and reach their full potential.

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Women Winning with Weights

by Daniele Hargenrader

Daniele Hargenrader

                     Daniele Hargenrader

Adding weightlifting along with body weight resistance exercises to the usual cardio routine is just the thing to take that old workout routine to the next level. By including resistance training two to three times a week, women will burn more calories while at rest, increase confidence and strength in everyday situations and get the toned look we’re always after.

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What Every Woman Needs to Know About Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

by Julie Yunaksa

Julie Yunaksa

Julie Yunaksa

About 9.2 million women in our country have pelvic floor dysfunction, but are unaware because it has not been properly diagnosed. Research suggests that women with incontinence demonstrate lower self-esteem, decreased sexuality and increased incidences of depression as compared to those with a healthy bladder. Those affected with pelvic floor dysfunction may cringe at the thought of coughing, sneezing, or laughing in public.

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Essential Oils for Women’s Health

by Jeffrey Rutstein

The way that we support our health and that of our children and families involves deliberate choice. One natural and powerful way to support and enhance one’s health is with the selective use of essential oils, which include many uses that focus specifically on women’s health problems.
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Virtual Conference to Teach Women Pregnancy Preparedness

Xandra O’Neill, women’s health and empowerment coach and owner of Womb to World Wellness, will host Creating Fertile Ground, a free virtual conference, April 7 to 11. The conference, sponsored in part by Natural Awakenings BuxMont, will feature experts teaching women how to boost fertility, overcome fear and trust the journey to motherhood.

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