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Any approach that differs from conventional — or Western — medicine is typically considered complementary and alternative, or CAM. But these practices have become much more mainstream, leading to growth in the health care approach called integrative medicine, which draws on traditional and non-traditional systems tailored to each individual’s needs. The U.S. National Institutes of Health agency that reports on CAM therapies has even changed its name to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, to better reflect this shift in philosophy. Getting familiar with integrative health will help you decide if it’s the approach you want. Integrative medicine focuses on your well-being and considers all aspects of your health: physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual and environmental. It draws on whatever medical approaches — traditional or alternative — will serve you best. Integrative medicine centers are now part of many leading institutions across the United States, such as the University of Arizona, Duke, Scripps, Vanderbilt and the University of California, San Francisco. Board certification for practitioners from the American Board of Integrative Medicine was introduced in 2014. These advances have made it easier to find integrative doctors and medical centers. Key Tenets of Integrative Medicine: Creating a partnership between patient and practitioner. Using conventional and alternative methods as needed, and less-invasive yet effective interventions when possible. Focusing on prevention and promoting good health as…  read on >

Cannabidiol (CBD) oil has become the hot new product in states that have legalized medical marijuana. The non-intoxicating marijuana extract is being credited with helping treat a host of medical problems — everything from epileptic seizures to anxiety to inflammation to sleeplessness. But experts say the evidence is scant for most of these touted benefits. Worse, CBD is being produced without any regulation, resulting in products that vary widely in quality, said Marcel Bonn-Miller, an adjunct assistant professor of psychology in psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “It really is the Wild West,” Bonn-Miller said. “Joe Bob who starts up a CBD company could say whatever the hell he wants on a label and sell it to people.” Cannabidiol is extracted from the flowers and buds of marijuana or hemp plants. It does not produce intoxication; marijuana’s “high” is caused by the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD oil is legal in 30 states where medicinal and/or recreational marijuana is legal, according to Governing magazine. Seventeen additional states have CBD-specific laws on the books, according to Prevention magazine. Those are Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Strong Evidence for Treating Epilepsy Only one purported use for cannabidiol, to treat epilepsy, has significant scientific evidence supporting it. Last month, a…  read on >

Hundreds of millions of people visit U.S. amusement parks every year and take over a billion rides. Serious injuries are few — about one in 24 million. Yet accidents — including fatal accidents — do happen, often because riders didn’t follow safety guidelines or had a pre-existing medical condition. But sometimes accidents can be caused by faulty equipment or operator error. Here’s how to protect yourself and your family while still having fun. Always follow posted safety rules, especially those concerning age, height, weight and health restrictions. Be conservative when choosing rides for children, seniors and people with disabilities. Use all seat belts, shoulder harnesses and lap bars. Double check that they’re fully latched. Both small, thin riders and obese riders are at higher risk than others of being ejected from rides that have only lap restraints. All riders must keep all limbs inside the ride at all times. Hold onto handrails and stay seated until the ride comes to a complete stop. Keep your eyes forward to protect your neck. Never stand up or rock in a ride that’s not designed for it. If a ride stops midway, stay seated and wait for instructions. Make sure your kids know this if they ride without you. Report unsafe behavior or conditions you see to a manager immediately. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission regulates how…  read on >

Motorcycles are still deadlier than cars, but there’s some good news: Nearly 6 percent fewer bikers died on U.S. roads last year than in 2016, a new report says. Preliminary data indicate that there were 4,990 motorcyclist fatalities in the United States in 2017 — which is 296 fewer than the year before, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). But even with that reduction, motorcyclists account for a disproportionate amount of all traffic deaths. Deaths per mile traveled are 28 times higher among motorcyclists than among people in passenger vehicles, the report noted. “Motorcyclist fatality numbers have fluctuated from year to year over the past decade,” said report author Tara Casanova Powell. “While we are cautiously optimistic about this projection, we really need to see a sustained trend downward toward eventually eliminating motorcyclist fatalities altogether,” she said in a GHSA news release. Last year, motorcyclist deaths fell in 30 states, remained the same in two states and rose in 18 states, according to the report. In 2016, one-quarter of motorcyclists who died had a blood alcohol level over the legal limit, the highest percentage of any vehicle type. Data suggest that trend continued in 2017. Several states had an increase in distracted riding-related motorcycle deaths in recent years. And one state (Virginia) had more than double the number of such deaths between 2016…  read on >

(HealthDay News) — Many people don’t get enough exercise. But a sedentary lifestyle has been linked to a host of physical and mental woes, from cancer to depression. The National Library of Medicine says an inactive lifestyle also is associated with: Obesity. Heart disease. High blood pressure. High cholesterol. Stroke. Type 2 diabetes. Osteoporosis.

While allergists have long known that farm life helps prevent allergies in kids, new research shows the benefit might even extend to adults who live near a farm. The findings “are indicative of potentially beneficial health effects of living in close proximity to farms,” said a team led by Dr. Lidwien Smit, of Utrecht University in the Netherlands. One U.S. expert said the study supports what’s known as the “hygiene hypothesis.” This theory holds that early exposure to immune-system allergy triggers — called antigens — actually helps prime the body against developing allergies. This theory was supported “when it was demonstrated that children growing up on farms developed less asthma and atopic diseases later in life,” noted Dr. Alan Mensch, a pulmonologist at Plainview and Syosset Hospitals on Long Island, N.Y. “This included allergies to grass, dust mites, and even cats and dogs,” he said. But is there any benefit to simply living near livestock farms for people who aren’t farmers or ranchers? To find out, Smit’s group surveyed 2,500 adults between 20 and 72 years old who lived in rural areas near farms. The Dutch team found that nearly 30 percent of the adults had allergies. Of these people, nearly 12 percent were allergic to grass, nearly 12 percent were allergic to house dust mites, around 5 percent were allergic to cats and about…  read on >

(HealthDay News) — Few people go through life without having episodes of lower back pain. For some people, though, it’s a daily struggle. The American Academy of Family Physicians says back pain may be controlled by maintaining proper posture and sitting, lifting, standing and exercising properly. Others have to seek medical attention for relief. The academy mentions these warning signs that you should see a doctor about your aching lower back: If pain radiates down your leg below your knee. If your leg, foot or groin feel numb. If you have fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain or weakness. If you have difficulty going to the bathroom. If the pain was caused by an injury. If pain is so intense that you can’t move. If your pain doesn’t improve or gets worse after two weeks.

Men looking for a wife might need to get a grip — a strong hand grip, that is. Researchers examined data from more than 5,000 adults in Norway to study the association between their marital status and grip strength. They were between ages 59 and 71. Although the study couldn’t prove cause and effect, it found that men with a stronger grip were more likely to be married than men with weaker grips. Grip strength was not associated with women’s chances of being married. “Our results hint that women may be favoring partners who signal strength and vigor when they marry,” said study researcher Vegard Skirbekk, a professor at Columbia University’s Aging Center and School of Public Health in New York City. As his team pointed out, prior research has linked grip strength with a person’s ability to cope independently and as a predictor of risk for heart disease and death. So Skirbekk theorized that “if longer-lived women marry healthier men, then both may avoid or defer the role of caregiver, while less healthy men remain unmarried and must look elsewhere for assistance.” “The fact that many men are alone with a weak grip — a double burden for these men who lack both strength and a lack of support that comes from being married — suggests that more attention needs to be given to…  read on >

Rock climbing is no longer just for extreme sports athletes and thrill-seeking daredevils. With hundreds of indoor climbing facilities across the United States — plus climbing walls in local athletic clubs, sporting goods stores and even cruise ships — this fun activity continues to grow in popularity. Climbing has benefits for people of all ages. From a fitness point of view, you can expect to get a total body workout. Mental and emotional benefits include enhancing both your problem-solving skills and your self-confidence. It’s also a great way for kids to challenge themselves and feel a sense of achievement with an activity they’ll find fun. An indoor climbing wall is a great way to learn the basics. You’ll be able to experiment with hand and foot holds placed in sequences of varying difficulty and get a feel for the sport. Plus you can usually rent equipment on site until you’re ready to make the commitment to buy your own. There are many different types of rock climbing to consider, with progressive levels of difficulty: Bouldering is done at low heights and is common at indoor gyms — it’s ideal for beginners to start in a safe, controlled environment. Sport climbing is climbing up rock faces dotted with bolts, and it’s usually done with a partner. Soloing is climbing on your own, usually without a rope.…  read on >

Hit-and-run deaths in the United States reached a record high in 2016, a new report shows. “Hit-and-run crashes in the United States are trending in the wrong direction,” said David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Our analysis shows that hit-and-run crashes are a growing traffic safety challenge and the AAA Foundation would like to work with all stakeholders to help curtail this problem,” he added in a news release from the foundation. Hit-and-run deaths in the United States rose an average of 7 percent a year since 2009, with more than 2,000 deaths reported in 2016. That’s the highest number on record and a 60 percent increase since 2009, the authors of the report said. The highest per-capita rates of such deaths were in New Mexico, Louisiana and Florida, while the lowest rates were in New Hampshire, Maine and Minnesota. Nearly 65 percent of people killed in hit-and-runs in the United States are pedestrians and bicyclists. Over the past 10 years, nearly 20 percent of all pedestrian deaths were due to hit-and-runs. That’s compared to just 1 percent of all driver deaths in that same time period. Since 2006, there has been an average of 682,000 hit-and-run accidents a year according to the findings, which were released April 26. Jennifer Ryan, director of state relations for AAA, said that “it…  read on >