The number of people suffering from diabetes is on the rise, and that has led to more and more illegally marketed cures and treatments flooding the market.

It probably comes as no surprise to learn that The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises consumers to steer clear of these treatments. Some of these supposed “wonder cures” are sold as over the counter treatments when they actually contain ingredients that should make them prescription drugs. One of the big issues here is that diabetes sufferers often go off effective legal drugs in favor of the illegal variety. Without the proper care and treatment, these people can end up becoming at risk for even more serious health issues.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the US alone, more than 29 people deal with diabetes, with roughly 7 million going undiagnosed. There are millions more who are in the pre-diabetic stage, which means that they have high blood sugar levels that could effectively be brought back to normal with proper diet and exercise.

In discussing the rise of illegal diabetes treatments, Jason Humbert, a commander with the U.S. Public Health Service, of FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs, spoke about how people who suffer from chronic ailments will often become desperate and go with any type of treatment that promises to help, regardless of the risks. He also warned that failing to follow proven treatment plans can lead to further health issues, with the likes of kidney disease, blindness, amputations, and even death being near the top of the list.

Unapproved Diabetes Drugs

Several companies have received warning letters from the FDA in regards the marketing of diabetes products that are in violation of federal law. These products are usually marketed as the following: OTC drugs; ayurvedics, dietary supplements, alternative medical treatments, or homeopathic treatments. Diabetes is not the only disease targeted by these companies, with the likes of cancer, macular degeneration, STD’s, and more also on the list.

Upon inspection of supposed “all-natural” products, the FDA discovered that most contained undeclared active ingredients usually found in prescription diabetes medications. Serious health issues can arise from these undeclared active ingredients. Consumers and doctors unaware of these ingredients may end up in a situation where said ingredients interact in potentially harmful ways with legally prescribed treatments. One of the most common complications is that the recommended daily dosage of a diabetic drug may be exceeded. The end result in this circumstance would be a big drop in blood sugar levels that is referred to as hypoglycemia.

Online pharmacies who illegally market prescription drugs are also a target of the FDA. There are several ways to spot legitimate online pharmacies, and they include: requiring consumers to have a physical US address, requiring patients have a valid prescription, being licensed by a state pharmacy board, and having a pharmacist on hand to answer questions about medications.

Illegal online pharmacies often market and sell drugs that have not been approved in the US. They may also sell medications without the consumer being required to present a valid prescription. The FDA cannot guarantee that the drugs sold on these sites are safe or effective, or that they have not been contaminated or tampered with.




Carb Counting and Blocking

February 11, 2018

Low carb diets are popular. It is like everywhere you look you find a variation of these. The reason it is so popular is simple; it works. But what if you love your breads, pastas, and potatoes? Can you eat carbs and still lose fat? In this post we shall look at the benefits of natural carbs blockers and whether they can help you lose fat.

While cutting down on some carbohydrate foods such as white bread, white rice and other refined grains and sugars is recommended, cutting carbs drastically may not be a good idea. The reason is that you need carbohydrates for energy.

While the term “carb counting” appears to be more commonly used, we prefer the term “carb blocking”. This is not the same as carb cutting which, as mentioned, may not entirely be healthy. Carb blocking is about how your body manages (read utilizes) carbohydrates. You see, the digestive system breaks down carbohydrates into sugar, which enters your bloodstream. This causes the pancreas to produce the hormone insulin. This is the real enemy in your weight loss battles. Why?

Insulin prompts your body to absorb blood sugar for energy, or store it as glycogen in the liver and muscles, or as fat. However, due to poor dietary habits consisting of high levels of processed carbs, many of us have developed a certain level of what is known as insulin resistance. This means that body is not able to effectively use insulin.

Certain foods and compounds have been found to potentially influence the way the body manages carbs, which can influence body weight. These work in one of two ways:

  • Carbs blocking: Also known as starch blockers, carbohydrate blockers block amylase, a compound that helps digest carbs. This causes the carbs (and calories) to pass through the system undigested.
  • Improve insulin sensitivity: When your body is sensitive to insulin, only a small of the hormone amount needed to clear glucose from your system is released into your bloodstream. This is a good a thing as the presence of insulin can negatively affect fat burning.

Healthy Food Choices

February 3, 2018

The FDA are going out of their way to help people make healthy choices, which they are doing via a two-pronged approach. The first part is providing the information you need to make those choices.

The second is that the FDA is helping food manufacturers change or reformulate their recipes so that the food they produce is healthier.

Nutrition Facts Labels are New and Improved

The Nutrition Facts label has appeared on packages in your local grocery store for over 20 years, serving as a guide to health-conscious consumers. The FDA has made changes in format and content to those labels in recent years.

The changes made include:

  • Calorie and servings information is highlighted, as those are two of the most important elements in making healthy food choices
  • Additional nutrients are listed. “Added Sugars” are now included on labels for the first time, both in grams and as a % Daily Value. We are now aware that exceeding 10% of your total daily calories via added sugars is considered unhealthy. This is information that is consistent with 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
  • Besides Added Sugars, you will now find that potassium and Vitamin D are a required part of nutrition labels
  • Serving sizes are now more in line with how people really eat, which means that the per serving information is more on point. This information now holds a more prominent place on the label, making it easier to find.

With these new changes to the nutrition label, food manufacturers often feel more inclined to make healthier choices in their recipes. The biggest change came back in 2006 when the FDA required trans-fat be shown on nutrition labels. This change led trans-fat levels to be drastically reduced, which also mean less added sugars.

New Labelling Takes the Mystery Out of Calorie Counting

It is estimated that roughly 1/3 of the calories that Americans consume via food and drink happens outside the home. With this in mind, it’s important that accurate nutrition information be made available everywhere. Restaurants now routinely show calorie counts on their menus, which includes fast food and takeout food chains. You may even find that movie theaters now show calorie counts with their food items.

The information shown usually includes the following:

  • Calories from alcohol are not always shown, but food vendors are now routinely required to show that information on their menu
  • Putting calorie information in context can be tough for consumers, which is why the new rule demands that the following message be placed on menus and menu boards: “2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.” This same footnote appears on nutrition labels.
  • You may also find that vending machines now post calorie counts for the foods sold there

Targeting a Salt Reduction in the Food Industry

Sodium is another big issue in the U.S. It is estimated that the average American consumes 3,400 mg of sodium per day, which amounts to 50% more than the recommended total. Processed and prepared food accounts for the majority of that total.

Sodium is shown on nutrition labels, but even if you are careful about reading the nutrition facts, it can still be tough to limit salt intake to 2,300 mg per day. This is because restaurant foods tend to be high in sodium.

There are some members of the food industry who have made steps to reduce sodium levels in food, but those levels are still way too high. The FDA has voluntary 2-year and 10-year programs in place to help manufacturers reduce sodium levels in their foods.


Children pick up all kinds of different health issues at school or daycare, and seeing them come home covered in oozing blisters can be traumatic. If the sores turn out to be impetigo, you can relax, as it is a common skin complaint among kids. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several medications for the treatment of impetigo.

The blisters and sores that show up are with impetigo are caused by a bacterial skin infection, with the most commonly infected areas being on the face, neck, hands, and diaper region. Pediatrician Thomas D. Smith, MD, of the FDA explained that while impetigo is contagious, it is also preventable and manageable.

The Causes of Impetigo

The skin contains two types of bacteria that are responsible for impetigo, and they are Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes, the letter of which is also the trigger for strep throat. Most people carry these bacteria without any sort of issue, but a simple cut, scratch, or insect bite can lead to a bacterial infection that results in impetigo.

Anyone, child or adult, can get impetigo, and can suffer from it more than once. It’s an ailment that can hit at any given time, although, it is usually more prevalent in warmer months. In the U.S. alone, roughly 3 million cases of impetigo are seen every single year.

Smith explained that impetigo is most common in children aged 2 to 6 years old, as they are more likely to get the cuts and scrapes that can lead to the spread of bacteria.

Impetigo Treatment

Listed below are the most common signs of impetigo:

  • Fluid-filled sores that are prone to bursting and forming a yellow crust
  • Itchy rashes
  • Blisters filled with fluid

You should immediately contact your doctor if you see any of the above symptoms. Your doctor will probably prescribe topical or oral antibiotics to treat the impetigo. Multiple visible lesions are most commonly treated with oral antibiotics. What you will not find is an over the counter impetigo treatment option.

The Control and Prevention of Impetigo

If left untreated, impetigo will clear up in anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Smith makes it clear, though, that you need to use soap and water to keep the affected areas clean, and that you do not scratch. The problem with going this route is that the impetigo can spread to other parts of the body.

Perhaps more importantly, you may end up infecting other people. The spread of infection usually comes via close contact as opposed to casual contact. The spread to others can be prevented by doing the following:

  • Keeping the infected area clean using soap and water
  • Keeping sores and scabs loosely covered until they heal
  • Gently remove crusted over scabs
  • When you touch an infected area, wash your hands with soap and water

Since impetigo spreads via skin to skin contact, it is not uncommon to see outbreaks in a family or classroom setting. Smith recommends that you avoid using items that people infected with impetigo use. If you have impetigo, try to keep your nails short, as this will prevent the bacteria making home under the nails, making it easier to spread. Also, avoid scratching the sores.

If the symptoms persist or get worse, be sure to call your doctor. Signs of worsening symptoms include increased swelling, pain, and fever.


The Effectiveness of Antidepressants

For most patients, a prescribed antidepressant only starts to take full effects after several weeks of taking the recommended daily dosage.

While it is human nature to come off medication once you start to feel better, this should only ever be done under the guidance of your doctor. Stopping too early can lead to withdrawals symptoms, not to mention the return of your depression.

It is worth noting that a large percentage of patients do not respond to their prescribed antidepressants. For those patients, all is not lost, as switching to a different medication or adding another may lead to improved results. Others may see no response, no matter what they try. Whatever the case, keeping an open dialog with your doctor is important.

Common Side Effects of Antidepressants

The most common antidepressant side effects include the following:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight gain
  • Diarrhea
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Sexual issues

Your doctor may need to prescribe several different medications before finding the one that works for you.

Potential Serious Health Risks

When prescribing an antidepressant, your doctor should talk to you about the potential health risks, some of which are discussed below:

Suicidal thoughts: Back in 2004, manufacturers of antidepressants were prompted by the FDA to add warning labels to all antidepressant medications. The labels are used to warn of the potential for an increased risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior in both children and adolescents in the initial treatment phase, as well as during an increase in dosage. The FDA required the warning to include young adults up to the age of 24 on labels after 2007.

You should immediately call your doctor if you, or someone you know, is having suicidal thoughts. Other options include a visit to the emergency room at your local hospital or a call to the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Birth defects: Pregnant women run the risk of harm to the fetus when taking antidepressants. If you are pregnant, plan on becoming so, or are breastfeeding, it’s important that you talk to your doctor about all the potential health risks that come when taking antidepressants.

High blood pressure: This health risk is most common in those taking MAOI’s for depression. Foods that contain high levels of the chemical tyramine should be avoided. These foods include, but are not limited to certain cheeses, pickles, and wines, as well decongestants and other medications. The combination of this chemical and MAOI’s can lead to a dangerous spike in blood pressure that can bring about a stroke. Talk to your doctor about a suitable diet when you are prescribed antidepressants.


Nails are a lot more complicated than you think. What you see on the surface has actually been in the works for quite a while. So if you’re not looking after them from the inside out, it’s likely to lead to your nails splitting and peeling.

Brittle splitting nails is a common condition marked by thin or weak fingernails or toenails that are prone to splitting, chipping, pealing and breaking. This condition is also known as onychoschizia and it can occur if nails are either dry and brittle from too little moisture or soft and brittle from too much moisture.

More than 20 percent of the population has brittle nails. Brittle splitting nails most commonly affect women. The condition is also more common in older adults. This is due to the fact that nails grow more slowly as people age. The nails of older people have also undergone more exposure to sun and other conditions that cause brittle splitting nails.

Patients who have trouble with brittle splitting nails should consult a dermatologist about the best way to treat this condition. Brittle splitting nails are often treated by applying lotions that contain alpha hydroxy acids or lanolin. These substances can be applied to nails both before and after wetting the hands. Agents with urea or lactic acid are also effective at treating dryness. Taking a multivitamin with zinc, iron and biotin may increase the strength of nails. Olive oil is also an inexpensive treatment.

In addition, people can take other steps to prevent their nails from become split. It is best to avoid allowing the nails to repeatedly become wet and dry. Cotton-lined rubber gloves can protect the nails by keeping them dry during household chores, such as dishwashing. The gloves will also protect the nails from exposure to harsh cleaning products. People with an occupation that involves frequent wetting and drying of the nails will benefit from wearing gloves at the workplace.

Depression, or major depressive disorder, is a serious medical condition that affects a large percentage of the world’s population. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that as many as 350 million people worldwide may be suffering from depression at any given time.

Sufferers often misdiagnose depression, believing that they are either just suffering from a lack of sleep or a poor diet. Even those who are aware that they are depressed may feel too ashamed to seek the help that they need.

For some, depression can be treated without medication, but for others, meds are an essential part of the treatment process. Antidepressants approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are what are prescribed to help tackle the symptoms of depression.

Depression: The Diagnosis

The diagnosis of depression should only ever come from a health professional. They will look at several factors, such as severity, duration, and the appearance of some or all of the following symptoms”

  • Change in mood
  • A loss of interest in activities that previously brought joy
  • Weight loss and change of appetite
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Restlessness or slowed movements
  • Fatigue and loss of energy
  • Feeling of guilt and worthlessness
  • An inability to make decisions or concentrate for extended periods
  • Persistent thoughts of suicide or death

To begin your mental health evaluation, your doctor will usually take into account your previous medical history. They will then take a look at your current symptoms, ruling out other potential health issues, such as Parkinson’s disease and thyroid disease, before arriving at a diagnosis of depression.

There is also a better than average chance that your doctor will screen for bipolar disorder, a brain issue that can come with many of the same symptoms as depression. This screening is especially important, as a patient suffering from bipolar disorder who is prescribed with depression medication can end up suffering from elevated moods that border on mania. A person who becomes manic can very quickly turn psychotic.

Treating Depression with Medication

Medications used to treat depression are believed to work by altering the brain chemicals – serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, etc. – referred to as neurotransmitters. It is these chemicals that are responsible for regulating your mood.

Antidepressants tend to fall into certain classifications, such as:

  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs); these include the likes of Paxil (paroxetine), Prozac (fluoxetine), and Celexa (citalopram)
  • serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs); these include Cymbalta (duloxetine) and Effexor (venlafaxine)
  • tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs); these include Pamelor (nortriptyline), Elavil (amitriptyline), and Tofranil (imipramine)
  • monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs); these include Parnate (tranylcypromine) and Nardil (phenelzine)

Doctors may also prescribe the following antidepressants:

  • Remeron (mirtazapine)
  • Wellbutrin (bupropion)

The medications that are prescribed to treat depression have very different effects on the neurotransmitters in the brain. SSRI’s are designed to increase serotonin signaling, while MAOI’s block the enzyme responsible for breaking down neurotransmitters.

Mitchell Mathis, M.D., director of the Division of Psychiatry Products at the FDA, believes that there is evidence showing that a combination of prescribed antidepressants and talk therapy is the most effective way to treat patients with medication. It all begins with talking to your doctor about a diagnosis and the best form of treatment for you.