Monday, January 28, 2013

Food colorings : Are they safe ?

Food dyes have been the subject of scrutiny as early as 1906 but the government has not banned them outright even when there were questions their safety. Part of this was to appease the food industry and part of this due to lack of conclusive evidence. Most of the concerns had been based on observations of teachers and psychiatrists rather than large scientific studies. During the 1990s when food colorings reached peak production ,it was noted that behavioral problems in kids also increased. There were even a few studies that showed that hyperactive children,when given food dyes, became more hyperactive. In fact a study commissioned by the British government, actually showed that children with no known behavioral problems became hyperactive when given food dyes ! So it is no surprise that Europe took the lead in banning certain dyes and monitoring if the redness in an orange drink came from oranges or an orange dye. As a result foods marketed in Europe are relatively free of dyes and if one is used, plant based dyes ( which do not cause the above mentioned problems) are used rather than synthetic coloring.

So even though the jury is out regarding the effect of food colorings,it is prudent to avoid them or minimize their use . Parents of children with behavioral issues might want to consider experimenting with eliminating foods that contain food dyes. Whether or not food dyes cause problems might be controversial. What is indisputable, however, is that most foods that contain food colorings contribute to the what is now considered the biggest health threat to children: childhood obesity.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


1.What causes pulmonary embolism and how serious is it? Pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs when a blood clot lodges in the lungs and is a potentially life-threatening situation. Generally the clot forms initially in the legs or arms. This condition is called DVT or deep vein thrombosis. The clot then can travel through the bloodstream to the lungs. According to the Centers for Disease Control, up to 200,000 Americans suffer pulmonary embolism (PE) each year, and nearly one-third of them die.

2.Who is at risk? There are some people or activities that increase the risk of PE. Sitting for prolonged periods in a car or airplane slows blood flow in the legs,increasing the risk for clot formation. Many cases of DVT/PE have been reported after long flights or car trips. Other risk factors include immobilization after surgery or illnesses that leaves the person confined to bed.Obesity,heart disease,cancer, smoking and injury to the legs,smoking and the use of birth control pills or estrogen are also risk factors.
3. What symptoms does pulmonary embolism cause? Warning signs vary but among the more common are chest pain (which worsens during a deep breath), shortness of breath, dizziness or coughing up blood. Some people have anxiety and a 'sense of doom'.

4.How is it diagnosed? Clinical examinations,ultrasound of the legs, CT scan angiogram of the chest and a blood test called D-dimer are used to diagnose this. Contact your physician immediately.

5.How is it treated ? People with PE are treated with oxygen and blood thinners.A few require clot dissolving agents called thrombolytics. In bigger medical centers, surgery can be performed to treat the clot.In high risk patients a filter is placed in a large blood vessel called an IVC filter. ( Inferior Vena Cava is a major vein through which the clot can travel to the lungs.)

6.What can be done to prevent PE? On long trips, stop and stretch your legs every few hours with a short walk to help prevent clot formation. Standing on your toes and pumping your calves is a good exercise and can even be done on long flights. Avoid prolonged bed rest after surgery or injury and discuss blood clot prevention with your doctor. Resuming physical activity soon is very important. Any unexplained leg pain or swelling should be brought to the attention of your doctor. A simple ultrasound of the leg can rule out a blood clot there. There is also a blood test called D-Dimer which,if positive, can point to the possibility of a blood clot.

If you have any questions,please contact us at 845-246-WELL

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Though some may not know it,medical use of marijuana is legal in several states including neighboring New Jersey.Glaucoma,anorexia(loss of appetite),chronic pain,chronic vomiting,HIV and cancer related medical conditions are the commonest indications. In some states like Maine and Michigan it is also used in patient's with Alzheimer's disease.

So what about New York? Actually,in the 1980s, New York State Health Department did distribute this to patients through research channels. However due to political reasons and lack of satisfactory control measures the project was abandoned and state run medical marijuana programs were closed down. A medication called Marinol which was 'marijuana in a pill form' was approved by the F.D.A. and this was supposed to be the safer form of cannabis with comparable benefits.(Over the years that has not proven to be true.)

The bill that is pending in N.Y.State legislature is stricter than most other states.It requires that patients be certified by a medical doctor to have a debilitating or life threatening condition to justify use.Recipients are then to be issued a 1 year permit and research reports on the subject reviewed annually.

Advocates of the bill state that marijuana for medical use is justifiable just based on cost and side effect profile of the drug.Pain medication can cost thousands of dollars a year compared to marijuana.The relative lack of side effects is another point in its favor.Opponents of the bill are concerned that there has not been enough research and double-blind studies done on marijuana to make it a legal F.D.A. approved drug.They are also concerned that it might make it more accessible to kids( a fact that has not been proven,by the way,in states where medical marijuana is legal). A third factor that has come in the way of medical marijuana is the push to legalize marijuana for recreational use.This has become so controversial that it has jettisoned and sabotaged the support for medical marijuana approval.

What are the true facts about marijuana?
It has been shown to be useful in several conditions but particularly in glaucoma,severe acute or chronic pain from various causes especially cancer,nausea and vomiting from cancer chemotherapy.It has also been used in HIV and AIDS related symptoms including loss of appetite.

It has not been studied well enough to establish its use but there is a lot of ongoing research.Though it has not been directly linked to lung cancer,it is inhaled and therefore it does affect lung function.

Marijuana has been shown to produce dependence at rates comparable to other drugs of abuse and relapse rates among individuals seeking treatment for marijuana dependence are similar to those with other drugs of abuse.Furthermore, many violent crimes are committed by individuals undergoing withdrawal from drugs of abuse, including marijuana.So it is certainly not an innocuous substance.

If approved medical use of marijuana in New York will be extremely controlled and very strict guidelines will be enforced including restricting who can prescribe it and close monitoring of dispensing and use habits.

Monday, May 3, 2010


Osteoporosis is a condition where calcium in the bone is absorbed resulting in the bones becoming weak and brittle. The most serious complications of osteoporosis are fractures, especially in the hip, wrist and back. In fact, approximately 33% of those who reach age 90 will have had a broken hip. 20% of individuals over age 65 who break their hips die as a result of the injury. Apart from falls, osteoporosis is a major contributor to hip fractures. The thinning of the bone makes it more breakable. An injury that would normally not break a bone, would do so in osteoporotic conditions.

People that are at higher risk for osteoporosis include thin individuals,smokers, alcohol abusers, people that do not exercise and those that have a poor calcium intake or have low Vitamin D levels. Women, especially, are more vulnerable to osteoporosis because of hormonal changes that occur at menopause. Osteoporosis begins quite early in life, perhaps, during the early 30's. Most people take calcium below the recommended dosage (1,000mg per day). It is not surprising, therefore, that the incidents of osteoporosis is quite high in the general population.

One way osteoporosis can be prevented is by increasing calcium/Vitamin D in the diet.In general,one glass of milk a day or an equivalent of another dairy product is useful. Those that cannot tolerate this should take approximately 1-2 grams of a calcium supplement daily. A calcium based antacid pill, such as Tums, is an inexpensive source of calcium. (However, too much calcium can cause kidney stones and other health problems). Weight bearing exercise, such as a daily 20 minute walk, or aerobic and weight lifting activities, have been shown to prevent bone loss. Stopping smoking and limiting alcohol consumption can prevent osteoporosis as well. Women going through menopause have another option: hormone replacement therapy. Many gynecologists used to routinely put many post menopausal women on estrogen supplements.That practice has stopped due to side effects and other serious risks of estrogen therapy.Conjugated estrogen creams are safer-though it has not been established if they help in osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is preventable and if adequate steps are not taken to do so, it can lead to serious injury and disability. The simplest way to prevent osteoporosis would be to start early in life by adequate calcium intake.

There have been recent developments in the treatment/prevention of osteoporosis.Medications such as Actonel,Fosmax and Evista are used in preventing/treating osteoporosis. Vitamin D levels can now be measured by a lab test.Bone density measurements can give an idea how strong the hip and back bones are-since they are commonly affected in osteoporosis.Thus it is possible to get a head start to thwart this common disease.

Non medical preventive methods such as: exercise (especially resistance or weight training), avoiding smoking/alcohol and a balanced diet enriched with calcium are essential.

Osteoporosis is a preventable/treatable condition and can affect men as well as women.It is important to discuss prevention with your doctor.

Please call us with any questions at 845 247 WELL

How to live longer ?

Based on statistical studies, several factors have been shown to increase longevity :
* Sleep:Getting 7-8 hours of sleep a day. By giving parts of the body adequate rest, it helps regenerate and rejuvenate the cells to help it function better.
* Weight: The mortality rates in obese people are higher than those who are thinly built and who are in good shape.
* Exercise: This has been shown to not only increase the quality of life, but also prevent medical problems such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
* Alcohol: Alcohol taxes the liver as well as the brain cells. Even though it has been shown that 1-2 glasses of red wine increases the good cholesterol, that is the HDL, and has been shown to reduce heart disease, there is no reason to start drinking if one is an abstainer. Increased or excessive amounts of alcohol is certainly detrimental to health.
* Breakfast: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and this gives all the energy that is required for the start of the day. It is unclear how eating breakfast can make you live longer, but it supposedly does.
* Snacking: People who snack often end up gaining a lot of weight and fat, which can in turn lead to medical problems. One of the more popular snacks is potato chips, which also has a high salt content.
* Optimism: Optimists generally have been shown to lead less stressful lives and this may be the reason why they seem to live longer.
* Marriage in males: It is unclear how this increases life expectancy, but married men have been shown to live longer than their unmarried counterparts.
*Laughter:People who are jovial tend to be less affected by stress. Stress is one of the most under rated cause of medical problems and decreased longevity.
*Sexual activity: A British medical Journal article stated that couples having sexual intercourse 3 times a week

Of course, the above is based not on scientifically validated studies, but a combination of statistics, scientific research, and conjecture. However, some experts feel that the above mentioned factors increase life expectancy by seven years in males, and eleven years in females.

So try and stay happy !

Panic Attacks: Agoraphobia

All humans have a built-in "alarm system" that goes off when they feel threatened. This alarm starts physical and emotional changes that prepare us to either flee or fight the danger that triggered the alarm. In some people this alarm may go off unexpectedly, creating a very strong sense of panic and feeling threatened even when no danger is present. This "false alarm" is called a panic attack. It occurs in a condition known as panic disorder.

What is a panic attack?

A panic attack is an extremely terrifying experience. Several physical and emotional signs occur during a panic attack. The most common signs are a racing heart, shortness of breath, faintness, hot or cold flushes, trembling, tingling, weakness and nausea, or feeling as though one's self or the external world has changed somehow. In addition, people with panic attack may fear that they are dying, or going crazy, or are about to lose control. There is a sense of impending doom. The signs of panic attacks can change or stay the same from one attack to another. In other words, the intensity of the symptoms vary with each attack.

What is agoraphobia?

Panic attacks can be so frightening that some people begin to change their behavior because they are afraid of having an attack. They may avoid activities or places where escape isn't easy if a panic attack occurs. Some people may be unable to do routine activities. This pattern of fear and avoidance is called agoraphobia.

Why do panic attacks keep happening?

Once panic disorder develops, it usually becomes a daily cycle of fear. The cycle begins with advance anxiety about where, when, and how the next panic attack may occur. People with panic disorder often become aware of and worried about physical changes that might happen. This buildup of fear and anxiety often leads to the likelihood of actually having a panic attack, and for some people, a reason to avoid the situation entirely. People who have panic disorder with agoraphobia may spend a lot of time avoiding activities and places they fear might trigger a panic attack.

Do many people have panic disorder?

Yes. Research has shown that many people have at least one panic attack in their lives. Three out of every 100 people will develop panic disorder. Of those who seek treatment of panic disorder, about two thirds have also developed some degree of agoraphobia. Panic attacks can be hidden, even from doctors. People often worry about what others think. They fear that this strange experience is something that doesn't happen to other people. Panic disorder usually begins in the late teens through the mid-thirties, but can also occur in children and older adults. Two thirds of patients with panic disorder are women. The tendency to have panic attacks seems to run in families.

What else should I know about panic disorder?

As in any disease, people with panic disorder may have complications. Some people think of themselves as weak or defective because they have panic attacks. The strain that panic disorder puts on families can cause marital and family problems. In addition, about one third of people with panic disorder also have depression or problems with drugs or alcohol use. If you have panic disorder or agoraphobia, a complete physical exam is the first step. You can talk with your doctor about your panic attacks and other problems.

Is there a treatment for panic disorder?

Although panic disorder can feel terrible, it can be treated. You can take medicine or have a special type of therapy. Several medicines can help control panic attacks. Some medicines may be used for only a few weeks. Other medicines may be used for a year or longer. Therapy can also help cut the risk of relapse (having the panic attacks start again). If one is treated with medicine alone, one might start having panic attacks again when the medicine is stopped. About 80 to 90% of people who have behavioral therapy are helped, even if they don't take medicine. Your doctor can help you decide on the best treatment approach for you.

Most people do not seek treatment because their symptoms sound so bizarre that they fear no one will believe them.Remember, you are not alone.There are hundreds of people with this condition. If you have any symptoms,please consult with your health care provider.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Saugerties Wellness Center is pleased to announce their newest offering to enhance your wellness :
The Saugerties Wellness Center's Anti Aging Program has many facets geared to keep you looking healthy and improve your health. We have begun offering a multitude of services:

- Botox injections to treat forehead wrinkles,frown lines and crow's feet around the eyes.

-Dermal fillers like Juvederm and Restylane to fill in laugh lines,marionette lines and smoker's upper lip wrinkles.

-Mesotherapy to dissolve fat (double chins,bra strap bulges,love handles and cellulite).

- Microdermabrasion to make your skin smoother.

-Chemical Peels to make your face look and feel silky soft.

-Weight loss programs designed to shed excess weight. These include an unique web based program with meal replacement shakes and discount gym memberships. We also offer HCG injections/diet for weight loss.

-Smoking Cessation program using acupuncture

-Nutritional and Vitamin supplements not available in stores.

-Medical grade cosmetics to keep your skin healthy and supple.

-Acne treatment geared toward teens and young adults.

-Hyperhidrosis(increased underarm sweating) treatment to reduce or eliminate perspiration.

-Lip augmentation to give you natural looking full lips.

Our prices are affordable and we even have payment plans to suit your budget. All procedures are physician performed.
We also have frequent special discounts on all our procedures and products.
So keep watching this blog.

Feel free to contact Dr. Ramaswami or Marie at 845-247-WELL.
One of our staff members will also be glad to assist you.

Look well...feel well!

Have a great week.