“Brain Booster” Supplements may Contain Unapproved Drugs

October 7th, 2020

BrainDietary supplements marketed as “brain boosters” may contain high doses of pharmaceutical drugs that are not approved for use in the United States, according to a new study.

Unapproved Drugs Found in Supplements

The team of researchers behind the study analyzed 10 supplements with claims of memory enhancement, sharpened mental focus and more.

All the supplements were purchased online in the U.S. and were openly labeled as containing ingredients that are considered prescription drugs in countries including, Russia, China and Germany.

In three-quarters of the products, labels listed inaccurate quantities of these ingredients. Plus in some of the supplements, the researchers found other unapproved drugs that were not listed on the product labels, the study found.

Combining different drugs can make them more risky, and some of the combinations in these products have never been studied for safety or efficacy.

For the new study, researchers looked at two scientific databases—the National Medicines database and the National Institutes of Health’s Dietary Supplement Label Database—to identify ingredients that were chemically similar to piracetam that had been previously found in other “brain boosting” supplements.

Piracetam and the similar chemicals that the researchers looked for in the study are not approved for use in the U.S., but are prescribed to treat dementia, strokes, brain injuries, and other neurological issues in some countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Some of the supplements that contained piracetam-like chemicals contained two to four times the typical pharmaceutical dose of these compounds, according to the study.

Along with the labeled chemicals, researchers also detected picamilon and phenibut in these supplements. The FDA has previously warned companies that it’s not legal to sell picamilon, which is used in Russia to treat neurological conditions, as a supplement. They have sent out similar letters about phenibut, which is used to treat anxiety and sleep problems in Russia.

Some of the particular pharmaceutical drugs found in the new study have been associated with serious effects, including increased and decreased blood pressure, insomnia, agitation, dependence, sedation, and hospitalization.

The study was published September 23 in the journal “Neurology Clinical Practice.”

Brain Health

To help keep your brain sharp, you don’t need to go running to the pharmacy. Here are some ways that you can help your brain:

  1. Healthy heart: When artery walls get thick with plaque it is difficult to get enough blood to the brain and nurture its cells.
  2. Plenty of quality sleep: A key way to keep your brain working is to shut it off for seven to nine hours a night. New research shows that during sleep, the brain clears out toxins called beta-amyloids that can lead to Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
  3. Move your body: Exercise keeps you slim and fit and it could improve your cognitive health too. Exercise boosts blood flow to the brain. And studies have shown it can increase the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory, which naturally shrinks as you age.
  4. Eat well: A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, low in saturated fat, full of the nutrients found in leafy green vegetables, along with whole grains can help keep your brain healthy throughout your life.
  5. Be social: Spend as much time as you can with friends because when you socialize the blood circulates to several parts of your brain as you are listening and formulating responses.
  6. Try new things: Building new skills throughout your lifetime helps keep your brain healthy by consistently creating new connections between brain cells.

Scientists have found that brainy activities stimulate new connections between nerve cells and may even help the brain generate new cells, developing neurological “plasticity” and building up a functional reserve that provides a hedge against future cell loss.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to keep your brain healthy, whether that is through diet and exercise or hanging out with friends. IAA knows that keeping your brain sharp now can help you down the road later in life.

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Is the Pandemic Affecting Your Teeth?

September 30th, 2020

Teeth being brushedHas your jaw been feeling sore lately? Have you been having dental issues? The pandemic may be the cause.

Increase in Damaged Teeth

Pandemic-related anxiety is affecting our country’s mental health. That stress in turn, leads to clenching and grinding, which can damage teeth.

Tooth trauma may be the result of:

  1. Working from home: Many Americans are working from home, often wherever they can create a work station.  The awkward body positions that result from this can cause us to hunch our shoulders forward, curving the spine into a C-shape. Poor posture during the day can lead to a grinding problem at night.
  2. Poor sleep: Due to the stress of the coronavirus, the body stays in a heightened battle-ready state, instead of recharging.  All that tension goes straight to the teeth.

Loss of regular routine may also be contributing. People often brush their teeth before going to work, but now that people are not going into the office, they may wind up skipping a few brushes.

Finding Solutions

Good dental hygiene is important to overall health. Here are some tips for keeping your teeth in shape during the pandemic:

  • Awareness is key: Are your teeth touching? That is a sign you are doing damage. Your teeth should not be touching throughout the day at all, unless you are actually eating and chewing your food. Instead, your jaw should be relaxed, with a bit of space between the teeth when the lips are closed.
  • Change it up: Try to mix it up with standing whenever possible and incorporating more movement.
  • Posture: Ideally, when you are seated, your shoulders should be over your hips and your ears should be over your shoulders.

It is also important to try to keep up with routine dental care so long as your dentist allows.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to keep your teeth in tip-top shape. Remember with IAA, one call does it all.

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“Benadryl Challenge” Sends Children to the Hospital

September 23rd, 2020

 Box of BenadrylThe “Benadryl Challenge” urges kids to overdose on the over the counter antihistamine Benadryl.

Benadryl Overdose

The challenge was posted on the popular social media app, TikTok. Users dared each other to take large amounts of the medication.

When taken in excessive quantities, the drug also known as diphenhydramine can cause a myriad of unpleasant and dangerous side effects, some of which can be fatal.

A Benadryl overdose has two common presentations:

  1. Coma: Difficult or impossible to wake up.
  2. Delirious: They may be picking at their clothes or not making any sense. They are likely mumbling incoherently, agitated and have impaired vision.

Some experts suggest that because the drug is available over the counter, many might perceive it to be less harmful than it actually is.

Signs and Symptoms

The following are signs of a Benadryl overdose:

  • A decrease in sweating or urination—latter symptoms can bring on serious issues
  • Changes in vision, such as inability to focus on your surroundings and restrictions in pupil size
  • Delirium, which may include a feeling of “spinning” or hyper-awareness, as well as long periods of anxiety
  • Excessive body heat and flushing of the skin, since too much of the drug can trigger overheating

There is also a risk of seizures and deadly cardiac arrhythmias.

Kids between the ages of six and 12 should only take up to two tablets over the same period of time. No one, no matter their age should take more than six doses within 24 hours.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America hopes that parents and children can have a healthy dialogue regarding this dangerous trend. IAA knows that it is every parent’s goal to keep their kids happy and healthy.

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The Common Cold can Help Prevent the Flu

September 16th, 2020

Person sneezing and coughing with white cloud aroundRhinovirus, the most frequent cause of common colds, can prevent the flu virus from infecting airways by jump-starting the body’s antiviral defenses, Yale researchers reported.

New Study on the Cold and Flu

The team studied three years of clinical data from more than 13,000 patients with symptoms of respiratory infection. The researchers found that even during months when both viruses were active, if the common cold virus was present, the flu virus was not.

To test how the rhinovirus and the influenza virus interact, scientists created human airway tissue from stem cells that give rise to epithelial cells, which line the airways of the lung and are a chief target of respiratory viruses. They found that after the tissue had been exposed to rhinovirus, the influenza virus was unable to infect the tissue.

The presence of the rhinovirus triggered production of the antiviral agent interferon, which is part of the early immune system response to invasion of pathogens. The effects lasted for at least five days.

Researchers analyzed nasal and throat specimens collected from 13,707 people with evidence of respiratory infection. Just over seven percent of the specimens tested positive for the rhinovirus, while just under seven percent had confirmed influenza A infection. Only 12 people in the study population had evidence of both viruses simultaneously, the researchers found.   

The report was published on September 4, in the journal “The Lancet Microbe.”

COVID-19 and the Common Cold

Scientists do not know whether the annual seasonal spread of the common cold virus will have a similar impact on infection rates of those exposed to the coronavirus.

It is always important to keep an eye out for signs of the coronavirus. People with COVID-19 have a wide range of symptoms:

  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Fever or chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Sore throat

Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to know what is going on in the world of health. Keep up to date with IAA!

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"Black Panther" Star Chadwick Boseman Passes Away From Colon Cancer

September 9th, 2020

Colon Cancer Awareness ButtonChadwick Boseman known for his roles as King T’Challa, James Brown, Thurgood Marshall, and Jackie Robinson, passed away after a four year battle with colon cancer.

Colorectal Cancer on the Rise in Younger Adults

Boseman was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer in 2016. He was 43 years old at the time of his death.

The actor’s death has highlighted the increase of colorectal cancer cases of those under age 50. Colorectal cancer cases among those under 50 have been increasing since the 1990s, according to a March report by the American Cancer Society. Half of all new diagnoses are in people under age 66, the report said.

The American Cancer Society report found that the median age for people diagnosed with colorectal cancer was 72 in 1989. It stayed that way until the early 2000s and then fell to 66 by 2016.

The rate at which people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the United States is dropping among those 65 and older, but rising in younger adults.

Based on the analysis of the data, researchers found colorectal cancer cases among people younger than 50 have been increasing since the mid-1990s. From 2012 to 2016, incidence rates among that age group rose by 2.2 percent annually and included tumors found in both the colon and the rectum, the study found.

Among adults ages 65 and older, the study found that a rapid decline in colorectal cancer incidence persisted during the 2000s and that rates fell by 3.3 percent annually from 2011 to 2016.

There were limitations in the research and scientists were unable to determine exactly why certain declines or increases in colorectal cancer occurred among various age groups.

Signs and Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

In its early stages, colorectal cancer (also called colon cancer) may not have symptoms. Depending on where the tumor is, symptoms of colorectal cancer include:

  • Anemia due to bleeding in the intestines
  • Belly discomfort or bloating
  • Changes in bowel movements
  • Cramping in your rectum
  • Dark patches of blood in or on your stool
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling like you can’t empty your bowels completely
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss with no clear cause
  • Pelvic pain
  • Rectal bleeding

The American Cancer Society recommends regular colorectal exams starting at age 45 for people who have an average chance of getting it. Other health organizations still recommend routine screening at age 50.

Colorectal cancer is the third deadliest cancer among men and women in the United States—after lung and prostate in men and lung and breast in women.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to be healthy! One of the best ways to do that is to keep up with preventative care. For those 50 years of age and over, that means a colonoscopy. This screening which happens every five to 10 years can help save your life. IAA wants to help you, help yourself.

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