Tips on Selecting a Complementary Health Practitioner

Tips on Selecting a Complementary Health Practitioner

Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MS/LIS
Posted April 25, 2017

Background

More than 30 percent of adults and about 12 percent of children use complementary health care approaches, according to the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) for 2012.

However, there is evidence that persons who use complementary health approaches often do not discuss their use with their medical doctors. Instead, persons often rely on other sources, including family and friends, practitioners of complementary health approaches, the Internet, popular magazines, and advertising.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), which is the Federal Government lead agency for scientific research on complementary health approaches, reminds you that, if you are considering going to a complementary health practitioner, you should tell your medical doctor and other health care providers.

Talking with all of your health care providers will help you to select a complementary health practitioner that is appropriate for your specific medical condition.

Selecting a Complementary Health Practitioner

NCCIH has published a fact sheet titled, Six Things to Know When Selecting a Complementary Health Practitioner

One of the six things in the fact sheet is: Tell all of your health care providers (for example, medical doctor, registered dietitian, pharmacist) about all of the complementary approaches you use.

The reason that you need to tell all of your health care providers about your complementary care is that health conditions can affect the safety of complementary approaches. For example, if you have glaucoma, some yoga poses may not be safe for you.

Keeping your health care providers fully informed helps you to stay in control and to manage your health.

For more information, see the Selected Information Resources at the end of this blog post.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your medical doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor.

Selected Information Resources

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Complementary, Alternative, or Integrative Health: What’s in a Name?
Summary Note: Fact sheet defines terms. Bar graph shows the ten most common complementary health approaches among adults, based on the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).
(Accessed 17 April 2017)

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Credentialing, Licensing, and Education
Summary Note: Fact sheet provides an overview of the credentialing of practitioners. One section gives examples of how Licensing Requirements for Complementary Health Practitioners vary from state to state and different practices.
(Accessed 17 April 2017)

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Four Tips: Start Talking with Your Health Care Providers about Complementary Health Approaches
Summary Note: Tips on how you can begin a conversation with your health care provider about complementary health approaches.
(Accessed 17 April 2017)

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Six Things to Know When Selecting a Complementary Health Practitioner
Summary Note: Tips help to guide your search for a complementary health practitioner.
(Accessed 17 April 2017)

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Tips on Complementary Health Practices
Summary Note: Tips help you to understand a therapy’s potential benefits, risks, and scientific evidence, so that you can make informed decisions about health care approaches that are best for your own medical condition.
(Accessed 17 April 2017)

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) for 2012. Use of Complementary Health Approaches in the U.S.
Summary Note: Highlights key facts about the use of Natural Products and Mind and Body Approaches by American adults and children. One section includes NHIS findings about consumer spending and insurance for complementary health approaches.
(Accessed 24 April 2017)

 

Advertisements

Use Dietary Supplements Wisely

Use Dietary Supplements Wisely

Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MS/LIS
Posted March 08, 2017

Background

Many Americans take dietary supplements in an effort to stay healthy. Although high-quality clinical trials (studies in people) have confirmed the benefits of some dietary supplements, key questions remain about the safety and usefulness of others.

Some supplements can play an important role in health. For example, Calcium and Vitamin D are important for keeping bones strong. Pregnant women can take the Vitamin Folic Acid to prevent certain birth defects in their babies.

Some other dietary supplements have been shown to cause serious harm. For example, the herbs Comfrey and Kava can cause severe damage to the liver.

Still other dietary supplements have not gone through high-quality clinical trials, so there is not enough scientific evidence to support their use.

One reason for limited clinical trials is that large carefully controlled medical studies are costly. Clinical trials for conventional drugs are often funded by large companies that develop and sell prescription drugs. Fewer resources are available to support scientific research on many dietary supplements.

Federal Regulation of Dietary Supplements

The Federal Government regulates dietary supplements through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, the regulations for dietary supplements are not the same as those for prescription or over-the-counter drugs.

A manufacturer of a dietary supplement does not have to provide the FDA with data that demonstrate the safety of the product before it is marketed. In contrast, manufacturers of drugs have to provide the FDA with evidence that their products are both safe and effective before the drugs can be sold.

Unlike drugs, supplements are not intended to cure, diagnosis, prevent, or treat diseases. This means that supplements should not make claims, such as, reduces pain, or treats heart disease. Claims like these can be made legitimately only for drugs, not dietary supplements.

How to Take a Dietary Supplement as Safely as Possible

A reliable, free, and up-to-date consumer source for information about health issues is the website of MedlinePlus, produced by the National Library of Medicine, the world’s largest medical library.

MedlinePlus publishes health topic pages that you can visit to learn about conditions, diseases, and wellness issues.

For example, the MedlinePlus topic page for Dietary Supplements explains how to take a supplement as safely as possible.

  • Tell your health care provider about any dietary supplements you use.
  • If you are going to have surgery, it is particularly important that you talk with your medical doctor about the dietary supplements that you take.
  • Do not take a bigger dose than the label recommends.
  • Read trustworthy information about the supplement.

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) was established to conduct research on the usefulness and safety of complementary and integrative interventions, including dietary supplements, and to make the findings available to the public.

The NCCIH has published a free online fact sheet, called Using Dietary Supplements Wisely. The fact sheet provides a general overview of dietary supplements, discusses safety considerations, and suggests sources for additional information.

If you are considering taking a dietary supplement, talk first with your conventional medical doctor. He or she can access information to help you to understand possible risks and benefits before you buy and use a dietary supplement.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your conventional medical doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your conventional medical doctor.

Selected Information Resources

National Health Interview Survey 2012. Use of Complementary Health Approaches in the U.S.
Summary Note: The 2012 National Health Interview Survey provides the most comprehensive information on the use of complementary health approaches in the United States.
(Accessed 06 March 2017)

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Five Myths about Popular Natural Products Marketed for Disease Prevention and Wellness
Summary Note: Fact sheet with brief statements about popular beliefs that are myths, related to specific Natural Products.
(Accessed 04 March 2017)

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Herbs at a Glance.
Summary Note: Series of fact sheets providing evidence-based information on 50 herbs and botanicals. Fact sheets include common names, potential side effects, what the science says, and resources for more information
(Accessed 04 March 2017)

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Understanding Drug-Supplement Interactions
Summary Note: Series of 13 slides asks you true or false questions, followed by correct answers, about your understanding of interactions between dietary supplements and prescription or over-the-counter drugs.
(Accessed 04 March 2017)

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Using Dietary Supplements Wisely.
Summary Note: Fact sheet written in plain language to help you to decide whether a dietary supplement is safe or useful. Nine subheadings include Key Points, Safety Considerations, and References. Emphasis is on the need to talk with your doctor before you buy a dietary supplement.
(Accessed 05 March 2017)

National Institutes of Health. National Institute on Aging. Health and Aging. AgePage. Beware of Health Scams.
Summary Note: Explains why people fall for false sales pitches. Advises how to protect yourself from health scams. Lists helpful resources with addresses and phone numbers. Topic focus is on health and aging, but relevant for adults of any age.
(Accessed 04 March 2017)

National Institutes of Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. Dietary Supplements.
Summary Note: Good place to begin learning about the benefits and risks of dietary supplements, with subheadings on Definitions, What You Need to Know, and Specifics on various types of dietary supplements. Includes separate sections on Children, Teenagers, Seniors, and Women.
(Accessed 08 March 2017)

National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements.  Botanical Dietary Supplements.
Summary Note: Explains that the word, natural, on a product label does not necessarily mean, safe. And, the word, standardized, on a label does not necessarily indicate product quality. Encourages you to talk with your healthcare providers (medical doctor, registered dietician, pharmacist, etc.) about your interest in, questions about, or use of dietary supplements and what may be best for your overall health.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know.
Summary Note: Explains benefits and risks of dietary supplements. Suggests how to be a Smart Supplement Shopper. Steps on how to Report Problems to the FDA.
(Accessed 08 March 2017)

 

Choose Music for Self-Care

Choose Music for Self-Care

Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MS/LIS
Posted February 26, 2017

Why Choose Music for Self-Care?

Historically, music plays a central role in human development. Scientists believe that people may have started to sing as soon as language developed.

Hunting tools may have been the first musical instruments. By about 10,000 B.C., people had discovered how to make flutes out of hollow bones. The first written music dates from about 2500 B.C.

Many ancient cultures, including the Chinese and Egyptians, used music in religious ceremonies. The Greeks used instrumental and vocal music in athletic games and in dramatic performances.

Musicians and musical instruments appear in many ancient works of art. For example, the kithara, an instrument of the lyre family, was an important stringed instrument of Greece. The Greeks believed that music played on the kithara had a healthful calming effect on listeners.

Today, you may choose to use certain kinds of music in your everyday life to experience calm and relief from stress. For example, you can learn to think of music as a helper in specific situations. All you need is willingness. You do not need to know how to play a musical instrument or even how to carry a tune.

Ten Ways to Choose Music for Everyday Self-Care

  • Attend a concert or musical program in your local community.
  • Introduce children to music from your childhood.
  • Listen to relaxing music for restful sleep.
  • Listen to music that helps you to cry when grieving.
  • Listen to music that brightens your mood and gives you hope in life.
  • Sample types of music with CDs, tapes, or records from your public library.
  • Serenade your partner with love songs.
  • Sing lullabies to your children.
  • Sing or dance along together for friendship.
  • Sing while cooking or cleaning or gardening.

For more information about how you might use music in your everyday living, see the Selected Information Resources following this blog post.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor or other healthcare provider.

Selected Information Resources

Cunico, Evelyn. Choir Singing and Health. CHIME Consumer Health: Consumer Health Information Made Easy.
Posted December 23, 2014.
Summary Note: Selected list of physical, social, and emotional health benefits of choir singing. Selected References include links to clinical trial studies providing evidence that choir singing affects heart rate, blood pressure, and mood.
(Accessed 19 February 2017)

Hemingway, Colette. The Kithara in Ancient Greece. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. October 2002.
Summary Note: Relying on ancient artwork, author describes the kithara and the bodily position of the musician while playing the instrument. Author explains that by the end of the Seventh Century, B.C., the kithara played a major role in Greek public performances.
(Accessed 26 February 2017)

National Institutes of Health. Strike a Chord for Health. Music Matters for Body and Mind. NIH News in Health. January 2010.
Summary Note: Lists everyday Musical Activities, such as singing or dancing, that are healthy for body and mind. Neuroscientists discuss brain imaging techniques showing that music activates brain regions that have implications for treatment of patients with autism, depression, dementia, heart disease, or stroke.
(Accessed 19 February 2017)

National Institutes of Health. More than a Feeling. How the Arts Affect Your Health. NIH News in Health. June 2008.
Summary Note: Suggests particular Arts, such as dance classes, drawing, listening to music, or writing to reduce stress and improve quality of life.
(Accessed 19 February 2017)

Nemours Foundation. Kids Health. Music and Your School Aged Child. Reasons to Love Music.
Summary Note: Presents ideas on how parents can fill their child’s life with regular singing and music playing for fun and for mental and social development.
(Accessed 19 February 2017)

Ruud, Even, Professor. Can Music Serve as a Cultural Immunogen? An Explorative Study. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-Being. 2013 August 7; 8:20597.
Summary Note: Six narratives (personal stories) comprise interviews with persons who share how they used their own memories of music as a way to immunize (protect) their health. Author discusses how music can serve a range of everyday needs, such as feelings of well-being or alertness or relaxation.
(Full Text accessed 19 February 2017)

The World Book Encyclopedia. Chicago: World Book, Inc., 2015. Vol. 4 Entry: Classical Music History and Vol.13 Entry: Music. Print edition.
Summary Note: Illustrated general encyclopedia with authoritative information written in plain language. Music entries trace history from Antiquity (before 500 A.D.) through today.
(Accessed 19 February 2017)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be an Informed Consumer: Use Multimedia to Know the Science

Be an Informed Consumer: Use Multimedia to Know the Science

Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MS/LIS
Posted January 26, 2017

Background

Understanding complex scientific concepts often requires specialized knowledge based on higher academic degrees and years of professional experience. However, basic scientific concepts are easier to understand.

Your desire to learn the science behind consumer health, with the guidance of multimedia instruction, can develop your scientific literacy to improve your personal healthcare decision-making.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) is the Federal Government lead agency focusing on the study of the usefulness and safety of complementary and integrative interventions.

When you visit the NCCIH web page titled, Be an Informed Consumer, you will find many health information resources to help you to Know the Science behind health research.

For example, the NCCIH web page includes a video titled, What is a Placebo?

Get Informed Video: What is a Placebo?

In the video titled, What is a Placebo? Q and A with Ted Kaptchuk, M.D., a medical doctor discuses The Therapeutic Encounter between the clinician and the patient in terms of the Placebo Effect.

In this eight-minute video, Doctor Kaptchuk talks in plain language about the importance of the doctor-patient relationship. You will learn that a Placebo is usually a sugar pill. The Placebo Effect is about how you experience and react to things, such as symptoms and complaints.

In general, the Placebo Effect, also called the Placebo Response, has been defined as the benefit that patients receive from a treatment that has no active components.

What is The Therapeutic Encounter?

The Therapeutic Encounter is about how your doctor and you interact. If you feel hope and trust during your interaction, it is more likely that you will experience a Placebo Effect of relief from symptoms such as, anxiety, depression, headache, insomnia, nausea, or pain.

Of course, conventional prescription drugs, procedures, and surgery are crucial to treating many medical conditions. For example, Placebo Effects will not shrink a tumor or lower cholesterol.

However, a critical part of all health care is the thoughtfulness and caring that the clinician (for example, the doctor, nurse, allied health professional, or complementary health practitioner) communicates to the patient.

Find a Caring Clinician

The bottom line advice of this video is that you should try to find a clinician with whom you are comfortable, according to Doctor Kaptchuk. Finding a clinician whom you trust is one way to take charge of your own healthcare.

For more information on how to Be an Informed Consumer, see Selected Information Resources that follow this blog post.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor or other healthcare provider.

Selected Information Resources

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Be an Informed Consumer.
Summary Note: Fact sheets, videos, and slides that can help you to think critically about issues such as effectiveness and safety, when considering complementary healthcare approaches.
(Accessed 21 January 2017)

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Know the Science. Know, Discover, Get Informed: Videos. What is a Placebo? Placebo Effect. Q & A with Ted Kaptchuk, M.D., Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School.
Summary Note: Eight-minute video discusses how the interpersonal style of a clinician may bring about a positive response called a Placebo Effect that is independent of any specific treatment.
(Accessed 23 January 2017)

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Know the Science. The Facts about Health News Stories
Summary Note: Series of 12 slides present examples of health news stories. You are asked to answer what is missing from each news story. Answers are provided. One slide is a checklist of questions to help you to understand health news stories.
(Accessed 23 January 2017)

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Know the Science. Nine Questions to Help You Make Sense of Scientific Research
Summary Note: Series of 10 slides help you to understand the information you may find in a scientific journal article, such as the Abstract, Methods, and Results. Defines basic, translational, and clinical research. Explains difference between statistical and clinical significance. Encourages joint decision-making with your clinician.
(Accessed 23 January 2017)

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Know the Science. Understanding Drug-Supplement Interactions Test Your Knowledge.
Summary Note: Series of 13 slides asks you true or false and multiple choice questions, followed by correct answers, about your understanding of interactions between dietary supplements and prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Includes advice on how to avoid problems if you are going to have surgery.
(Accessed 23 January 2017)

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Study Examines the Placebo Response in Patients with Asthma. NCCIH Spotlight, July 15, 2011.
Summary Note: Study of 40 asthma patients sheds light on the Placebo Effect on subjective and objective outcome measures in clinical trials. Data showed that only treatment with an albuterol medication inhaler improved lung function and relieved the symptomatic distress caused by the restricted movement of air. However, patients’ self-reports on their symptoms showed significant and approximately equal improvement with albuterol, a placebo inhaler, and sham acupuncture.
See citation for this study published in The New England Journal of Medicine at Wechsler and others, in this blog list of Selected Information Resources.
(Accessed 24 January 2017)

National Public Radio. One Scholar’s Take on the Power of the Placebo. Transcript of radio interview, January 06, 2012.
Summary Note: Discussion of potential applications for the healing power of trust and emotional support between clinician and patient. Interview with Ted Kaptchuk, M.D., Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and Director, Program in Placebo Studies and The Therapeutic Encounter, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston.
(Accessed 23 January 2017)

Wechsler, Michael E., M.D., John M. Kelley, Ph.D., Ingrid O.E. Boyd, M.P.H., Stefanie Dutlie, B.S., Gautham Marigowda, M.B., Irving Kirsch, Ph.D., Elliot Israel, M.D., and Ted J. Kaptchuk. Active Albuterol or Placebo, Sham Acupuncture, or No Intervention in Asthma . The New England Journal of Medicine. 2011 July 14; 365(2): 119-126.
Summary Note: The New England Journal of Medicine author manuscript is available in PubMed Central 2012 January 14. In this blog list of Selected Information Resources, also see Summary Note for NCCIH. Study Examines the Placebo Response in Patients with Asthma.
(Full Text accessed 25 January 2017)

 

 

 

Sleep Well to Stay Healthy and Safe

Sleep Well to Stay Healthy and Safe

Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MS/LIS
Posted December 22, 2016

Background

Sleeping is a basic human need, like breathing, eating, and drinking. Yet, sleep is often the first thing that busy people limit in their daily routines.

A common myth is that people can learn to get by on little sleep with no negative effects. However, scientific research shows that getting enough high-quality sleep at the right times is vital for physical health, mental health, and safety.

Sleep enhances your quality of life. With seven to eight hours of sound sleep each night, you may find that you are happier and more productive during your day.

Your Guide to Healthy Sleep

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) offers a free online guide called, In Brief: Your Guide to Healthy Sleep
The Guide explains why sleep is good for you, and why skimping on sleep is not healthy.

Physical Health

Your body and brain stay active during sleep. For example, sleep helps to repair and heal your heart and blood vessels. When you do not sleep enough, that sleep deficiency increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, obesity, and stroke.

Hormones released during sleep control your body’s use of energy. Scientific studies show that the less sleep people get, the more people prefer eating foods that are high in calories and carbohydrates, which may lead to obesity.

Sleep also affects how your body reacts to insulin, the hormone that controls your blood glucose (sugar) level. When you routinely do not get enough sleep, your body’s sugar level becomes higher than normal, which may result in diabetes.

Getting too little sleep can also change the way in which your immune system responds. Your immune system defends your body against harmful substances. So, for example, if you get too little sleep, you may have trouble fighting common infections.

Sleep also supports healthy growth and development. Deep sleep triggers the body to release the hormone that promotes normal growth in children and teens. This hormone also boosts muscle mass and helps to repair cells and tissues in children, teens, and adults.

Mental and Emotional Health

While you are sleeping, your brain is preparing for the next day. During sleep, your brain is forming new pathways to help you to learn and to remember information.

In addition to improving learning, sleep helps you to pay attention, to make decisions, and to be creative.

Sleep also affects your mood, according to the NHLBI. For example, children and teens who do not get enough sleep may have problems getting along with others. They may feel angry, have mood swings, feel sad or depressed, or lack motivation.

Scientific studies show that getting enough high-quality sleep changes the activity in some parts of the brain. Sleep helps you to control your emotions, to manage your behavior, and to cope with change.

Safety – What is Micro-Sleep?

What is micro-sleep, and why do you need to know about it? During the daytime, you may experience brief moments of sleep when you are normally awake. These brief moments of sleep, caused by lack of high-quality sleep overnight, are called, micro-sleep, according to the NHLBI.

You may not always be aware when you are micro-sleeping. For example, you may have driven somewhere and then not remembered part of the trip. Or, if you are listening to a lecture, you might miss some of the information or feel that you do not understand the point being made by the person who is speaking. Instead, you may have slept briefly through a part of the lecture.

To some extent, you can control micro-sleep by getting enough sleep. Or, if you know that you have not slept enough, you can learn to become more aware of micro-sleep risks and then take steps to protect yourself and others.

For example, drowsy drivers may feel capable of driving. Yet, studies show that sleep deficiency harms your driving ability as much as, or more than, being drunk. It is estimated that driver sleepiness is a factor in about 100,000 car accidents each year, resulting in about 1,500 deaths.

At first, it may seem strange to extend the warning, Do Not Drink and Drive, to the thought, Do Not Sleep and Drive. But, if you think about this before you drive, you might plan for safety. For example, on your driving route, you might plan to visit a transportation rest stop, or take time for a coffee break, or listen to upbeat music in your car.

Six tips for a Good Night’s Sleep

  • Plan and keep a schedule. Go to bed at a set time each night and get up at the same time each morning. If you are in the habit of sleeping later on weekends, plan an activity that will encourage you to get up at your weekday time. For example, you might plan to read a book, or write in a journal, or prepare breakfast with your spouse.
  • Sleep until sunlight. If possible, wake up with the sun. If this is not possible, use bright lights in the morning. Sunlight helps your body’s internal biological clock reset itself each day.
  • Exercise. Try to exercise for 30 minutes each day. If your schedule does not allow for 30 minutes at one time, space your exercise into two fifteen minutes sessions. Studies have shown that daily exercise helps people to sleep at night.
  • Stop smoking and limit drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol. Smokers sometimes wake up in the early morning due to nicotine withdrawal. Caffeine acts as a stimulant to keep you awake. Alcohol keeps people in lighter stages of sleep.
  • Relax before bed. With practice, you can train yourself to associate certain restful activities with sleep and make them a part of your bedtime ritual. For example, you could take a warm bath or read or listen to calming music.
  • Make an appointment to talk with your medical doctor. See the NHLBI website called, How to Discuss Sleep with Your Doctor, in the Selected Information Resources that follow this blog post.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or to treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor or other healthcare provider.

Selected Information Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC Division of Population Health. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Sleep and Sleep Disorders.
Summary Note: CDC Sleep Home Page. Data, statistics, and other resources to promote science-based public policies that improve the sleep health of the U.S. population. Consumer links include Key Sleep Disorders and Sleep Hygiene Tips.
(Accessed 20 December 2016)

Christensen, Matthew A., Laura Bettencourt, Leanne Kaye, Sai T. Moturu, Kaylin T. Nguyen, Jeffrey E. Olgin, Mark J. Pletcher, and Gregory M. Marcus. Direct Measurements of Smartphone Screen-Time: Relationships with Demographics and Sleep. PLoS One. Published online 2016 November 09. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0165331.
Summary Note: Health e-Heart Study of 650 adults measured frequency of smartphone use and compared it to demographics and sleep quality. Study shows that exposure to smartphone screens around bedtime may negatively impact sleep. Study builds on previous research showing that back-lit technologies may lead to non-restorative sleep.
(Accessed Full Text 2016 December 13)

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Mayo Clinic. Healthy Lifestyle. Stress Management. Going the Distance. Surviving the Holidays. Blog posted by Edward T. Creagan, M.D. December 18, 2015.
Summary Note: Medical doctor offers Holiday Season stress management tips, such as, restorative sleep.
(Accessed 05 December 2016)

National Sleep Foundation. Lifestyle.
Summary Note: National Sleep Foundation Lifestyle section includes articles that help consumers to learn healthy sleep behaviors. Topic examples include, How to Sleep Well When Traveling, and How to Deal with Different Sleep Routines. For health professionals, National Sleep Foundation peer-reviewed journal titled, Sleep Health, is available by subscription.
(Accessed 22 December 2016)

Nemours Foundation. KidsHealth.org. All About Sleep.
Summary Note: Discusses topics related to sleep safety and health. Topics are organized by the child’s age, from infancy to teens. Available in English and Spanish. Icon allows sending information by email to a friend or family member.
(Accessed 05 December 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Relaxation Techniques for Health.
Summary Note: Discussion of Relaxation Techniques for Health, including what the science says about the effectiveness, safety, and side effects of relaxation techniques. Includes brief discussion of insomnia and stragegies for getting a good night’s sleep.
(Accessed 13 December 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Sleep Disorders: In Depth.
Summary Note: Information on the usefulness and safety of complementary approaches for sleep disorders. Discusses Mind and Body Practices and Dietary Supplements. Includes Section, titled, Is It a Sleep Disorder or Not Enough Sleep?
(Accessed 13 December 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). In Brief: Your Guide to Healthy Sleep .
Summary Note: NHLBI consumer guide discusses importance of sleep in terms of daily performance, mood, health, and safety. Includes a section called, Could You Have a Sleep Disorder?
(Accessed 05 December 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). How to Discuss Sleep with Your Doctor.
Summary Note: Ask yourself these questions before you talk with your doctor about your sleep habits.
(Accessed 13 December 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Why is Sleep Important?
Summary Note: Discusses sleep in terms of daily emotional, physical, and mental needs. Links to how much sleep is enough and strategies for getting to sleep.
(Accessed 13 December 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep.
Summary Note: Discusses the five stages of sleep from Stage One to REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Includes
Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep.
(Accessed 05 December 2016)

 

Explore Spirituality as a Stress Management Skill

Explore Spirituality as a Stress Management Skill

Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MS/LIS
Posted November 02, 2016

Background

Sometimes, persons express their spirituality as part of a religious practice or as a belief in a Higher Power. Other times, spirituality is experienced as a response to art, nature, music, or a secular community of persons.

Spirituality is often found by getting in touch with your inner self. A key part is self-reflection. Slowing down your mind and body to self-reflect often helps to relieve stress.

Ten Tips to Explore Spirituality

Here are ten tips on how you can explore your spirituality to help manage stress and become more peaceful.

  • Focus your thoughts on the people and activities that are important to you.
  • Write in a journal to express your feelings.
  • If possible, talk with someone you trust about your beliefs.
  • Visit your public library to find inspirational stories or books.
  • Arrange time with family and friends.
  • Accept yourself and others without judgment.
  • Walk in the woods and experience the silence.
  • Listen to relaxing music and imagine yourself in motion with the sound.
  • Visit an art museum and enjoy experiencing a painting or a sculpture.
  • Eat mindfully, with others or by yourself, tasting and slowly enjoying your food.

For more information on spirituality and stress management, see Selected Information Resources that follow this blog post.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor or other healthcare provider.

Selected Information Resources

Anandarajah, G and Hight, E.  Spirituality and Medical Practice: Using the HOPE Questions as a Practical Tool for Spiritual Assessment. American Family Physician. 2001 January 1; 63(1):81-9.
Summary Note: Describes a spiritual assessment tool as a way to begin incorporating spirituality into medical practice. Suggests questions that a medical doctor may ask a patient, based on hope, organized religion, personal spirituality, and effects on medical care. Free American Family Physician (AFP) Full Text link from PubMed abstract page.
(Abstract and Full Text accessed 10 October 2016)

Greeson, JM, Webber, DM, Smoski, MJ, Brantley, JG, Ekblad, AG, Suarez, EC, and Wolever, RQ. Changes in Spirituality Partly Explain Health-related Quality of Life Outcomes after Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Journal of Behavioral Medicine 2011 December; 34(6):508-518.
Summary Note: Observational trial study of more than 200 adults participating in 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program found that daily spiritual experiences may be part of a key mechanism underlying mental health benefits. Full Text HHS Public Access.
(Full Text accessed 10 October 2016)

Levin, J. Prevalence and Religious Predictors of Healing Prayer Use in the USA: Findings from the Baylor Religion Survey. Journal of Religion and Health. 2016 August; 55(4):1136-58.
Summary Note: Study investigated prevalence and religious predictors of healing prayer use among U.S. adults. Higher scores were associated with more frequent healing prayer. Full Text available on subscription from Springer.
(Abstract accessed 10 October 2016)

Mayo Clinic Staff. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Healthy Lifestyle. Stress Management. Spirituality and Stress Relief: Make the Connection
Summary Note: Discusses spirituality as a stress management skill. Suggests self-discovery questions that can clarify personal value and life purpose.
(Accessed 10 October 2016)

National Institutes of Health. National Cancer Institute. PDQ® (Physician Data Query) Supportive and Palliative Care Editorial Board. PDQ®  Spirituality in Cancer Care – Patient Version. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Updated May 18, 2015.
Summary Note: PDQ® Spirituality in Cancer Care summary provides information about religion and spirituality as coping approaches. Describes a spiritual assessment approach to help medical doctors understand patient beliefs about their care.
(Accessed 10 October 2016)

Nemours Foundation. How Can Spirituality Affect Your Family’s Health?
Summary Note: Discusses spirituality as a family coping approach during difficult decision making.
(Accessed 10 October 2016)

 

Breathing Exercises Calm Mind and Body

Breathing Exercises Calm Mind and Body

Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MSLIS
Posted on October 02, 2016

Background

How can you calm your mind and your body to help manage the stress of everyday life challenges?

Be Aware.
The first step is to learn to be aware that you are feeling stress. For example, if you feel tension in your neck or shoulders, be aware that you are feeling stress.

Choose.
The second step is to choose a way to manage your stress. For example, if possible, choose to avoid the event that leads to your stress. If you cannot avoid the event, make a decision to change the way you react to stress.

Practice.
The third step is to practice your new reaction to stress before you experience a stressful event. For example, just as you may schedule 30 minutes of physical exercise into your day, set aside 15 minutes of each day to practice slow, focused breathing.

Practice is Key to Success

There is no single, correct approach for activating the body’s Relaxation Response or using any other mind body technique, according to Herbert Benson, M.D., Mind Body Medical Institute Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and Director Emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.

For example, some persons do not enjoy being still, so they might prefer focused breathing while doing yoga exercises. However, whichever technique you choose, you must regularly practice that technique to gain benefits.

The goal is to break the train of everyday thoughts, so that your mind and body can relax, according to Benson.

Relaxation Response

Following are steps that can activate the Relaxation Response, a phrase that Benson created in the 1970s to identify the body’s physiological reaction that is opposite to the stress (fight or flight) response.

  • Select a word, a sound, a short prayer, a phrase, or an image, or focus only on your breathing during the exercise.
  • Sit comfortably in a quiet place and close your eyes.
  • Breathe slowly and naturally. As you exhale, repeat or picture silently your word or phrase, or just focus on your breathing.
  • If you keep thinking of other things, do not judge yourself for this, but just return to your focus word and your breath.
  • Continue to repeat these steps for ten to twenty minutes.
  • Practice this exercise once or twice daily.

When practicing this exercise, these are the two most important things to remember, according to Benson:

  • Repetition
  • Letting go of other thoughts

For more information, see the Selected Information Resources that follow this blog.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor or other healthcare provider.

Selected Information Resources

American Academy of Family Physicians. Stress: How to Cope Better with Life’s Challenges
Summary Note: Tips and exercise steps for managing stress
(Accessed 22 September 2016)

Benson, Herbert, M.D. and William Proctor, J.D. The Relaxation Revolution: Enhancing Your Personal Health through the Science and Genetics of Mind Body Healing. New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 2010.
Summary Note: Book highlights scientific evidence that the mind can restructure thinking processes to expect good health, and that the expectation, in turn, influences the body to change its genetic activity in a healthful direction.

Benson, Herbert, M.D. with Marg Stark. Timeless Healing: The Power and Biology of Belief. New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1996.
Summary Note: Chapter 6: The Relaxation Response

Cunico, Evelyn, M.A., M.S. Meditation: Resources for Stress Management. CHIME Consumer Health. November 2014.
Summary Note: Blog identifies resources on the history of meditation, scientific research on meditation, and meditation features, such as relaxed breathing. References link to the Mayo Clinic and the National Institutes of Health.
(Accessed 25 September 2016)

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Relaxation Techniques for Health. Summary Note: Describes relaxation techniques that science researchers have evaluated to find whether the techniques might help to manage a variety of stated health conditions. Includes References and consumer information about NIH Clinical Research Trials.
(Accessed 22 September 2016)

National Institutes of Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. Relaxation Techniques for Stress.
Summary Note: Patient instructions on simple ways to relax, including breathing slowly, biofeedback, progressive relaxation, yoga, and tai chi. Emphasizes the importance of regular, frequent practice.
(Accessed 07 September 2016)

Nemours Foundation. TeensHealth. Yoga: Meditation and Breathing
Summary Note: Explains that meditation and focused breathing are important parts of yoga. Practical step-by-step breathing approaches, with or without yoga. Encourages visualization and daily breathing exercises to develop calmness and self-assurance.
(Accessed 24 September 2016)