Diving deep and flying high, Mayo Clinic’s Hyperbaric and Altitude Medicine program is approaching 10 years of service in Rochester, Minnesota. Although hyperbaric oxygen therapy is rooted in medical science, the process still strikes some people as a bit of a mystery.
“Many individuals have strong opinions as to what it is and what it isn’t,” says Dr. Paul Claus, the unit’s medical director. “I think people just have to have an open mind, read the literature and look at the evidence. It came out of [deep-sea] diving experience, when oxygen was used to decompress divers who had been too deep too long and absorbed too much nitrogen.”
Even though sessions are still referred to as dives, today’s applications for therapy include treating diabetic wounds, gas embolisms in blood vessels, radiation injuries from cancer treatments and carbon monoxide poisoning. So how does it actually work? Dennis Douda talks to Mayo’s experts. Read More
In general, physical activity is better for preventing weight gain than it is for promoting weight loss, and it appears this also applies to yoga.
Most types of yoga don’t have the same level of calorie-burning power as aerobic exercise does. Consider that a person who weighs 150 pounds (68 kilograms) will burn 170 calories in an hour of doing basic (hatha) yoga, compared with 340 calories for an hour of low-impact aerobics.
But any physical activity is good activity. Yoga will get you moving, after all, and it can provide health benefits such as improved blood lipid levels and enhanced mood. Read More
If you’re not an athlete or serious exerciser — and you just want to work out for your health or to fit in your clothes better — the gym scene can be intimidating. Just having to walk by treadmills, stationary bikes, and weight machines can be enough to make you head straight back home to the couch.
Yet some of the best physical activities for your body don’t require the gym or ask you to get fit enough to run a marathon. These “workouts” can do wonders for your health. They’ll help keep your weight under control, improve your balance and range of motion, strengthen your bones, protect your joints, prevent bladder control problems, and even ward off memory loss.
No matter your age or fitness level, these activities can help you get in shape and lower your risk for disease:
You might call swimming the perfect workout. The buoyancy of the water supports your body and takes the strain off painful joints so you can move them more fluidly. “Swimming is good for individuals with arthritis because it’s less weight-bearing,” explains Dr. I-Min Lee, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Read More
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I notice a lot of food products, including cereals, no longer use artificial colors. Is this because food dyes are harmful?
ANSWER: There’s no solid evidence that artificial colors in food cause health problems. But there aren’t any health benefits associated with artificial colors, so removing them from foods isn’t a bad idea. When you consider color in your food, though, rather than focusing on artificial color, look to foods’ natural colors as a guide. Including food with a variety of natural colors can help you get a range of healthy vitamins and nutrients in your daily diet.
In the U.S., the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, regulates the additives that can be put into food, including artificial colors. Before any additives are used in food, the FDA puts them through a rigorous approval process to ensure safety. Read More
I’ve heard natural remedies for depression, such as St. John’s wort, can work as well as antidepressants. Is that true?
So-called natural remedies for depression aren’t a replacement for medical diagnosis and treatment. However, for some people certain herbal and dietary supplements do seem to work well, but more studies are needed to determine which are most likely to help and what side effects they might cause. Here are some supplements that show promise:
St. John’s wort. This herbal supplement isn’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat depression in the U.S., but it’s a popular depression treatment in Europe. Although it may be helpful for mild or moderate depression, use it with caution. St. John’s wort can interfere with many medications, including blood-thinning drugs, birth control pills, chemotherapy, HIV/AIDS medications, and drugs to prevent organ rejection after a transplant. Also, avoid taking St. John’s wort while taking antidepressants — the combination can cause serious side effects.
SAMe. This dietary supplement is a synthetic form of a chemical that occurs naturally in the body. SAMe (pronounced sam-E) is short for S-adenosylmethionine (es-uh-den-o-sul-muh-THIE-o-neen). SAMe isn’t approved by the FDA to treat depression in the U.S., but it’s used in Europe as a prescription drug to treat depression. SAMe may be helpful, but more research is needed. In higher doses, SAMe can cause nausea and constipation. Do not use SAMe if you’re taking a prescription antidepressant — the combination may lead to serious side effects. Read More