Wednesday August 23, 2017

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5

January 30

Alternative Therapy Grow Like Weeds

Meanwhile, alternative therapies grow like weeds

Section: Life, Pg. 06d

With the prospect of weeks of coughs, itchy noses and dark circles under their eyes, many Americans are no longer content to attack their allergies with just one or two drugs in their arsenal.

Leonard Bielory, director of the Asthma and Allergy Research Center at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, says cold and allergy symptoms are one of the top reasons people seek out alternative treatments.

A 2002 study by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health found that 36% of adults in the USA had used some kind of non-conventional therapy to treat a variety of maladies during a 12-month period. Most of those who sought alternative therapies used them in combination with prescription drugs or other conventional treatments.

Despite the growing popularity of such treatments, there is scant scientific research on their effectiveness and safety.

"When a patient asks me whether they should try alternative or herbal medication, I counsel that it generally won't be harmful, but it's not likely to be beneficial, either," says Brian Smart, an allergist in Glen Ellyn, Ill. Smart recommends that patients talk to their doctors about any supplements or alternative medicine they are using. "And they should carefully watch for side effects," he says.

Complementary and alternative medicine encompasses a variety of treatments, including herbal and food supplements (even eating locally produced honey to boost the immune system with small doses of pollen), chiropractic services, acupuncture and other non-Western practices such as traditional Chinese medicine.

But the scientific community in this country has been slow to keep up with the public's imagination when it comes to studying alternative ways to treat allergies: There is little conclusive data on whether alternative therapies work.

Little standardization

Adding to consumers' uncertainty about the safety and effectiveness of alternative therapies is the way the Food and Drug Administration regulates supplements -- as food, rather than drugs -- so there is little standardization within the industry.

Mark Blumenthal, executive director of the American Botanical Society, a research and education group on supplements, says sorting through the information "is a daunting task and can be very confusing."

But Blumenthal says alternative medicines have shown some promise for treating allergies. He cited promising early studies -- one conducted by a Swiss allergy clinic and another by a U.S. naturopathic physician -- of the herb butterbur and freeze-dried nettle leaves, as well as some herbal blends.

Doctors, however, don't always know which treatments have been proven effective in trials. Indeed, the NIH survey showed that only about a quarter of people who used complementary and alternative medicine said a doctor suggested it.

A widely publicized study that appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine in July concluded that echinacea {ndash} the biggest-selling herbal supplement in the USA {ndash} was no better than a placebo at preventing or treating colds. (Some advocates countered that the dosage in the study was too low.)

"Yet people are still going to use it," Bielory says. "So we have to learn what they're using and if it has a positive effect, and what adverse effects" there might be.

"We want physicians to appreciate what is science and what is anecdote," he says. "And for that, more research is needed."

NIH has taken steps to fill that void. In 1992 it opened a research office on alternative medicine with $2 million funded by Congress, an initiative that has grown into a research center that grants nearly $108 million to scientists each year.

A possible 'botanical drug'

One of those researchers is Xiu-min Li at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. A doctor trained in both Western and traditional Chinese medicine, Li is studying the effect of a combination of three Chinese herbs -- ling zhi, ku shen and gan cao -- on patients with asthma, and she says that because so many asthma patients are affected by allergies, it is possible the formula could be used widely in treating common allergies.

With funding from NIH, she derived the three-herb combination from a more complex formula commonly prescribed in China. Clinical trials are expected to begin within the next few months.

"I think people are very excited," she says, about the possibility of a "botanical drug" that will have FDA approval. "This is a population that really wants to try an alternative approach."

Meanwhile, patients also can make minor changes in their daily lives to help control their allergies.

Smart suggests patients use nasal saline that can be bought in pharmacies or mixed at home. "It moisturizes nasal surfaces and it will wash out bacteria and pollen," he said.

"Close the house up and put the air-conditioning on," says Thomas Platts-Mills, president of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. "You can reduce the amount of pollen."

Platts-Mills adds: "There're lots of very sensible things people can do. It doesn't require taking medicine all the time."

(c) USA TODAY, 2006


January 29

“Top Docs” in New Jersey “Best Doctors” in New York Metropolitan Area “Best Doctors” in New York Magazine 2010

For the past 20 years - Dr. Bielory has been rated as one the “Top Docs” in New York and New Jersey by his fellow peers.

The Top 1,119 Physicians

As contentious as this year’s health-care debate has been, there was one thing everyone agreed on from the beginning: When you’re sick, you want the highest-quality care you can get. Our thirteenth annual Best Doctors list—1,119 names in 66 specialties in all five boroughs and several surrounding counties—is designed to help you find just that. Whether you need to find a general practitioner or a heart surgeon, there’s an excellent choice. Allergy & Immunology

 
Inside Jersey<br />September 16, 2010

Inside Jersey

September 16, 2010

5th Anniversary <br />July 1, 2010

5th Anniversary 

July 1, 2010

Top Doctors in New York Magazine May 1, 2010

Top Doctors in New York Magazine May 1, 2010

NY Metro Area’s Top Doctors February 1, 2010

NY Metro Area’s Top Doctors February 1, 2010

Top Doctors in New Jersey October 1, 2009

Top Doctors in New Jersey October 1, 2009

Top Doctors: New York Metro Area 12th Edition February 5, 2009

Top Doctors: New York Metro Area 12th Edition February 5, 2009

2009 NJ Top Docs

2009 NJ Top Docs

2009 Top Doctors in New York February 5, 2009

2009 Top Doctors in New York February 5, 2009

2008 NJ Top Docs

2008 NJ Top Docs

2008 New York Magazine <br />May 28, 2008

2008 New York Magazine 

May 28, 2008

Castle Connoly

Castle Connoly

2007 New York Metro Area’s Top Doctors <br />October 29, 2007

2007 New York Metro Area’s Top Doctors 

October 29, 2007

Castle Connoly

Castle Connoly

2007 New York Magazine <br />June 1, 2007

2007 New York Magazine 

June 1, 2007

2006 Top Doctors: New York Metro Area 10th Edition  <br />September 14, 2006

2006 Top Doctors: New York Metro Area 10th Edition  

September 14, 2006

Castle Connoly

Castle Connoly

Castle Connoly

Castle Connoly

2006 Top Docs

2006 Top Docs

2004 Top Doctors: New York Metro Area 6th Edition <br />May 5, 2004

2004 Top Doctors: New York Metro Area 6th Edition 

May 5, 2004

2004 America’s Top Doctors

2004 America’s Top Doctors

2003 Top Doctors: New York Metro Area 6th Edition <br />April 1, 2003

2003 Top Doctors: New York Metro Area 6th Edition 

April 1, 2003

2002 New York Magazine  June 10, 2002

2002 New York Magazine  June 10, 2002

2002 Top Doctors: New York Metro Area 6th Edition <br />April 1, 2002

2002 Top Doctors: New York Metro Area 6th Edition 

April 1, 2002

20cover_150

20cover_150

21cover0406007_150

21cover0406007_150

nov7_medium

nov7_medium

2003 NJ Top Docs

2003 NJ Top Docs

21cover050606_150

21cover050606_150

2006 New York Magazine <br />June 6, 2006

2006 New York Magazine 

June 6, 2006

21384

21384

95_22Cov150

95_22Cov150

2002 Top Doctors: New York Metro Area 5th Edition April 1, 2002

2002 Top Doctors: New York Metro Area 5th Edition April 1, 2002

2000 New York Magazine <br />April 1, 2000

2000 New York Magazine 

April 1, 2000

2000 How to Find the Best Doctors: New York Metro Area 4th Edition April 1, 2000

2000 How to Find the Best Doctors: New York Metro Area 4th Edition April 1, 2000

199 New York Magazine <br />June 7, 1999

199 New York Magazine 

June 7, 1999

1999 How to find the Best Doctors: New York Metro Area

1999 How to find the Best Doctors: New York Metro Area

1997 How to Find the Best Doctors: New York Metro Area 2nd Edition April 1, 1997

1997 How to Find the Best Doctors: New York Metro Area 2nd Edition April 1, 1997

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January 28

Advances in Penicllin Allergy testing

Delayed-onset urticarial or maculopapular rashes are frequently observed in children treated with β-lactams. Many are labeled "allergic" without reliable testing.Viral infections may be an important factor in many of these rashes. β-lactam allergy is clearly overdiagnosed because the skin rash is only rarely reproducible (6.8%) by assessment such as penicllin skin testing and oral challenges. The FDA approval of new skin test reagents for penicllin allergy testing and clearly assist in removing the stigma of penicllin to a majority of thes cases. Thus, skin testing and possibly oral challenges should be considered in all children who develop a delayed-onset urticarial or maculopapular rash during treatment with a β-lactam. Allergists are able to assess patients with penicllin allergy and to perform skin testing.


January 26

Flu Shot and Egg Allergy

The risk of an allergic reaction to influenza vaccine in patients with egg allergy is very low, likely due to the very low amount of ovalbumin in the vaccines. Any such theoretical risk is far outweighed by the very real risk of such patients remaining unvaccinated. Thus all patients with egg allergy of any severity, including anaphylaxis, should receive influenza vaccine.

Skin testing with the vaccine and dividing the dose are not necessary. The injectable vaccine should be administered in a medical setting where anaphylaxis can be recognized and treated should it occur.

For those with a history of hives only after egg ingestion, the vaccine can be administered in the primary care provider's office. For those with more serious reactions to egg ingestion, the vaccine should be administered in an allergist's office.


January 26

HaloTherapy

A New Therapy – Salt Rooms: HaloTherapy

by ASHLEY STAKER on JANUARY 9, 2011

At the very same time that we’re being inundated with advice on restricting salt intake, we’re also hearing about a new type of therapy based on the claim that spending time in a salt room, breathing in moist, salty air, can help ease chronic respiratory problems such as asthma while also clearing up skin issues such as acne or psoriasis. Based on a centuries-old Eastern European curative therapy, spalike salt rooms are beginning to appear around the country. Are the benefits for real?

THE SALT ROOM EXPERIENCE

The quasi-medical term for this treatment is “halotherapy.” It involves sitting in a smallish room lined with blocks of salt mined from ancient salt caves. A generator (like a steam vaporizer) emits vapor containing about one-half cup of salt during a 45-minute session. People remain clothed for the treatment but often bring a clothing change for afterward since the salt tends to leave a residue.

It sounds like “a day at the beach”, but does halotherapy help your health in any meaningful way? According to asthma and allergy specialist Leonard Bielory, MD, chair of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) Integrative Medicine Committee and director, STARx Allergy and Asthma Center in Springfield, New Jersey, there are concerns.

NICE BUT…

Dr. Bielory calls salt rooms a “nice concept” but voices some concerns. He agrees that the salt particles may help skin conditions such as acne or eczema but he worries that salt therapy may prove detrimental to some people with asthma. He pointed out that asthma is the result of constriction in the respiratory tract, which can be caused by excess mucus or by spasms. Breathing salt-infused air might help break up mucus and therefore help some folks to breathe better, but others may find that the salt is an irritant that triggers spasms.

Dr. Bielory’s objections don’t stop there. There’s no way to guarantee the purity of the air in the rooms, he said — pointing out that, theoretically at least, salt attracts certain bacteria and that each person coming for treatment brings a fresh supply of additional bacteria that might evolve in the environment. Other worries relate to the length of time and at what temperature it is safe to stay in the rooms, and whether salt rooms may be dangerous for people with other health conditions, such as cardiac problems.

Offering a different perspective, it should be noted that this therapy has hundreds of years of successful use in Europe behind it, and there are naturopathic physicians who treat patients with inhaled salt therapy for such things as chronic bronchitis, asthma and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Is it worth a try? Maybe, but don’t be casual about it. If you are interested in exploring the use of halotherapy for a particular medical concern, make sure you find a doctor “worth his salt”, in other words, one who knows the way around this particular block.

Source: Medifast Health


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Location: Springfield, NJ
Today's Date: August 23, 2017
Station Director: Leonard Bielory, M.D
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