Skin Conditions, Mental Health And Natural Therapies

There is no doubt that some people with skin conditions suffer not only from the sometimes debilitating skin eruption but also mentally as well. This is very evident if the skin condition presents itself in an area clearly visible to the public. These skin conditions compounded with other stressful factors in ones life such as adolescence can create mental scars that last a lifetime.

Common skin afflictions that tend to cause the greatest amount of anxiety are Acne, Psoriasis, Dermatitis, and Eczema. Whilst there is allot of medical research into the causes of these afflictions, most medical practitioners will treat the skin condition with prescription medications with varying degrees of success. It is rare that the practitioner will go to the next step and insure the mental state of the patient or suggest alternate natural therapies outside standard medical practice. Practitioners need to be holistic in their approach especially if a patient presents and is vulnerable mentally, such as during adolescence and the case of Acne.

Isolation and rejection in the community can result from the visible manifestations of these skin conditions. Psoriasis, Dermatitis, and Eczema to the non medical eye can be extremely visually confronting. The natural human reaction for self preservation causes people to back away or engage little with a person whom appears to have a strange illness for fear of contracting it themselves. When the disease is manifested in a child or adolescent, and they encounter peers at school and social events, these children can be treated extremely harshly and alienated from the group. This rejection is often the catalyst the emotional issues relating from the skin condition.

It is not uncommon to see people with skin conditions present with mental and emotional problems, like anxiety, stress and depression arising from alienation and non acceptance in their social sphere.

So how could these skin conditions be handled to effect the best holistic outcome? There are two main avenues open to a patient. Standard medical prescriptions and natural therapy. As numerous skin conditions have no known cause or trigger it is often a case of hit and miss on the prescription of medications. Holistically the patient should be reviewed and natural therapies explored in conjunction with traditional medicine. Natural therapies such as balneotherapy (soaking or bathing) with pure Dead Sea Salts which are thousands of years old are often underestimated and offer assistance and help in the healing process. The minerals and “de-stressing” characteristics carried out in balneotherapy have been proven in many studies to be beneficial to many skin ailments. It has long been know that the skin – the bodies largest organ can rapidly absorb minerals which are thought to boost the skins regenerating capabilities. Also the act of soaking also allows the patient to relax and reduce anxiety which inturn assists both the skin condition and the mental state.

The patient should also be reviewed and referred for professional assessment if anxiety, depression or mental issues present especially if the skin condition is chronic in nature.

In summary the medical community needs to embrace the natural health alternatives and suggest these “do no harm” options to their patients. This supplemented with prescription medication will serve the patient in the best possible way.

Health, Wellness and Medical Science – 2007 Top Ten Trends

The Aspen Health Forum just gathered an impressive group of around 250 people to discuss the most pressing issues in Health and Medical Science.

1- Global health problems require the attention of the scientific community. Richard Klausner encouraged the scientific community to focus on Global Problems: maternal mortality rates, HIV/ AIDS, clean water, cancer…

2- “Let’s get real…Ideology kills”. Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, on what it takes to stop HIV/ AIDS: “I am from Ireland, a Catholic country. And I am Catholic. But I can see how ideology kills..we need more empathy with reality, and to work with local women in those countries.” This session included a fascinating exchange where Bill Frist rose from the audience to defend the role of US aid, explaining how 60% of retroviral drugs in African countries have been funded by the American taxpayer. Which made Nobel Prize Laureate Peter Agre, also in the audience, stand up and encourage the US to really step up to the plate and devote 1% of the GDP to aid, as a number of European countries do, instead of 0.1%.

3- Where is the new “Sputnik”?: Many of the speakers had been inspired by the Sputnik and the Apollo missions to become scientists. Two Nobel Prize Laureates talked about their lives and careers trying to demystify what it takes to be a scientist and to win a Nobel Prize. Both are grateful to the taxpayers dollars that funded their research, and insist we must do a better job at explaining the scientific process to society at large. Both are proud of having attended small liberal arts colleges, and having evolved from there, fueled by their great curiosity and unpredictable, serendipitous paths, into launching new scientific and medical fields.

4- We need a true Health Care Culture: Mark Ganz summarized it best by explaining how his health provider group improved care when they redefined themselves from “we are 7,000 employees” to “we are a 3 million strong community”, moving from being a cost controller with a paternalistic attitude to a health facilitator, looking underneath symptoms to identify and deal with underlying patterns.

5- You can’t manage what you can’t measure. We heard many times how defining and measuring outcomes, so common in the private sector, is critical to ensuring a good allocation of resources in the health and scientific fields, that use so much taxpayer money. For example. NIH funding grew from $9B in 1994 to $29B in 2007, yet the results are not clear. The same happened with health care as a whole, a sector that now consumes 16% of the US GDP with health outcomes (infant mortality, patient deaths in hospitals) worse than other countries that invest far less.

6- The rising role of public-private partnerships: There are multiple initiatives launched to bridge the increasing gap between academia and industry. The Foundation for the NIH has facilitated key conversation between the FDA and pharma companies. The Gates and Clinton Foundations have launched innovative partnership models to tackle global health problems.

7- From Lifespan to Health-span. Population distribution in developed countries is shifting from a “population pyramid” to a “population rectangle”. The point of much ongoing research is not “how to spend more time on the nursing home” but how to slow down the process of aging, so we can live healthier longer.

8- Patient-advocacy groups are having an impact. We heard many examples on how small groups of motivated individuals have built large patient advocate movements that influence public policy. Michael Milken talked about the Cancer March, that helped increase NIH funding from $1.5B to 5$B. Hala Moddelmog, from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, explained how they have 1 million people engaged in promoting cancer research and prevention. Robert Klein, key advocate of the California Proposition 71 (that will provide $6B for stem cell research through long-term bonds) explained how the proposition was passed, including engaging over 80 patient-advocacy groups.

9- There’s a new emphasis on understanding “how systems work” instead of “how isolated genes make things happen on their own”: Genomics is starting to help predict susceptibility to disease and to therapies. Now, we must keep in mind the role of our experience and environment in turning some genes on or off.

10- The importance of our Lifestyle-Each of us owns our own health. 70% of heathcare costs derive from lifestyle-related diseases (such as smoking-induced cancer). We heard several calls to action for insurance companies to incentivize behavior modification to promote good lifestyle habits that improve quality of life and can delay disease symptoms, resulting in billions of dollars of cost savings.

LOINC and Medical Coding

LOINC stands for Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes. LOINC is a universal standard for identifying laboratory observations that was developed by the internationally-recognized non-profit medical research organization, Regenstrief Institute, Inc. LOINC was created in 1994 as a response to the demand for an electronic database for clinical care and management. It is accessible to anyone for free and both the American Clinical Laboratory Association and the College of American Pathologist have endorsed it. The actual purpose of the LOINC database is the exchange and pooling of different results from blood investigations (chemistry, hematology, serology, microbiology (including parasitology and virology), and toxicology; as well as categories for drugs and the cell counts), scanning reports, vital signs (ECG etc) outcomes management, and also for research.

LOINC is likely to become a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act ) standard for some segments of the Claims Attachment transaction. LOINC applies universal code names and identifiers to medical terms related to the Electronic health record. What are the different databases that are promoted and have been included in it? They include,

  • Medical code names
  • Laboratory names
  • Nursing diagnosis
  • Nursing interventions
  • Outcomes classification
  • Patient data set

Each database currently has over 41,000 observation terms. Each database record includes six fields for the unique specification of each identified single test, observation, or measurement.

  • The measured /observed component
  • Property like length, mass, volume etc
  • Time interval of observation
  • System- context
  • Type of scale (quantitative, ordinal, nominal /narrative )
  • Type of method/ procedure)

The resulting benefits of adopting LOINC include reduced errors, improved communication in integrated healthcare delivery networks, improved EHR (electronic health records), automatic transfer to public health authorities of case reports for reportable diseases, and improved transfer of payment information.

Laugh to Humor Your Health and Your Creativity

Have you laughed you daily dose of laughter today? One big LOL can turn a stressful and lousy day into perfect merry day. If you haven’t laughed by 9:00 a.m. on any given day, then your day is off to a poor start. Everyone is familiar with the old cliché “Laughter is the best medicine.” Real life experiences tell us that this cliché is absolutely correct. According to medical experts we only need 15 chuckles a day keeps the doctor away.

Laughter comes in many forms; it could be subtle smile to a bursting belly laugh. You don’t have guffaw and fall out of chair, or laugh until you cry to be laughing sufficiently. A simple smile is a step in the right direction. Humor can be a powerful ally in sustaining wellness and preventing lapses. Several researches proved that laugher releases chemical in the brains namely the beta-endorphins and enkephalins, which are natural pain killers. These natural pain killers are believed to be 100 times much stronger than any morphine- or opium-based drugs usually taken as painkillers.

Psychologist Alice M. Isen and colleagues conducted a study to a group of college students to determine how laughter affects creativity. Given a box of matches, a box of tacks, and a candle, the college students were asked how they would affix the candle to a corkboard so that when the candle is lighted the wax would not drip onto the corkboard. Before attempting to solve the problem, some group of students watched a comedy film of television bloopers that would put into laughter. The other group of students watched Area Under a Curve, a math film. The researchers found that 75% of the students put into a cheerful condition solved the problem correctly, whereas only 20% of students who watched the math film got it correct. Watching comedy shows such as Hannah Montana or J.O.N.A.S! can induce a good amount of chuckle to complete your daily dose of laughter.

Furthermore, laughter benefits the whole cardiovascular system through dilation of blood vessels and increase of blood flow throughout your body. When you laugh you gulp in large amount of air, which creates a rich, highly oxygenated flow of blood. When you laugh your blood pressure and heart rate increase as much as you exercise, but after the laughter subsides, both your blood pressure and heart rate return to levels lower than you started. As a result, you feel refreshed all over after a good dose of laughter. It is interesting that even the Bible agree with the power of laughter. On Proverbs 17:22 it states that “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”