Dear Friends and Patients:
When I was a teenager, growing up on Siesta Key in Sarasota, I spent many hours going to the beach which was a few blocks away from my parent’s house. I had a marvelous time swimming, fishing and surfing. There was no such thing as suntan lotion and the “sun worshippers” in that period were using baby oil with a little iodine added to it to get a dark tan. As time went on there has been more awareness that years later sun exposure could cause skin cancer, especially if a person had several serious sunburns. With the summer upon us I’d like to share some information on sunscreens.
Choosing the Right Sunscreen
Up until a few years ago choosing a good sunscreen meant looking for a high SPF (sun protection factor). SPF basically is a measurement of how effective the sunscreen is in preventing sunburn caused by UVB rays, which cause sunburn. If you’d normally burn with 10 minutes of sun exposure, SPF 15 multiplies that by a factor of 15, allowing you to go out in the sun for 150 minutes before burning. For the vast majority of people, SPF 15 is fine – it filters out 93% of UVB rays. SPF 30 filters out 97% of UBV rays, which is a small improvement, and going to a SPF 50 or higher, you’d filter out around 99%, but potentially have a greater risk of irritation from sunscreen ingredients. While UVA rays do not cause sunburn, research has shown they also can cause an increased risk of skin cancer, and because they penetrate deeply into the skin, they also cause wrinkles.
New Broad Spectrum Sunscreens
Most sunscreens on the market today protect against both UVA and UVB. They will contain a variety of ingredients in various amounts that work in 2 ways. Some work by scattering the light (e.g. zinc oxide or titanium dioxide products) away from your body. Other components work by absorbing the ultraviolet rays before they reach your skin. So comparing sunscreens can get a little complicated because different brands use different ingredients and different amounts of ingredients. Furthermore, in a recent Consumer Reports article, in over 20 sunscreens tested, only 7 actually protected the skin as advertised for the required amount of time.
Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide have been around for decades. One downside is these metals can make your skin ghostly white and they can be difficult to wash off (a benefit when going out into the water).
Avobenzone is commonly found in sunscreens. Avobenzone was patented in 1973 and was approved in the EU in 1978. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1988. Its use is approved worldwide. It needs to be “stabilized” or it will break down with sun exposure.
Ecamsule is a newer ingredient that has been available in Europe and Canada as Mexoryl SX since 1993. This stuff is expensive but can be found in the USA in L’Oreal’s Anthelios products. It blocks UVA rays and is usually well-tolerated in skin-sensitive persons.
PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid), dioxybenzone, oxybenzone and sulisobenzone as well as alcohol, fragrances or preservatives are compounds that children and persons with skin conditions or sensitive skin should avoid. There is a question oxybenzone may be a hormone disruptor in humans, but this concern was based on animal studies where large amounts were applied and caused hormonal problems. Titanium dioxide or zinc oxide products fair better.
Suggestions on Sunscreen Use
- Use a liberal amount of sunscreen and apply 15-30 minutes before going out. It’s okay to apply under makeup. Be sure to cover the ears, feet, bald spots, and back of the legs.
- Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, even if the advertising says it works “all day long.” If it’s hot and you’re sweating or going into the water, apply more frequently.
- Be aware of the expiration date on sunscreens and throw out the expired ones from previous seasons.
No matter how high the SPF, be aware sunscreen will never fully protect you so you may want to stay in the shade as much as possible. Radiation levels in the USA are highest between 10AM and 4PM and I suggest wearing sun-protective clothing and a hat. There are fishing or sports shirts that by themselves have a SPF of 15 or higher.
Medical marijuana has been getting more and more attention in the news, but what has been overlooked up until recently is hemp oil, especially with a state and federal crackdown on opioid prescriptions. Hemp oil is not an illegal substance in Florida. Hemp extract became known as Charlotte’s Web after the parents of a little girl named Charlotte Figi, who had a severe seizure disorder (where she was having up to 300 seizures per week), started giving their daughter a hemp extract low in THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) but high in CBD (cannabidiol). This greatly relieved the little girl’s symptoms. CBD is not associated with the intoxicating effects of marijuana. There are other plant products such as black pepper, clove extract, black truffles, green tea, Panax ginseng and hops that also contain phytocannabinoids
What is the ECS and what does the ECS do?
The ECS system (endocannabinoid system) is a primary homeostatic regulatory system with receptors throughout the entire body. Fish, animals and humans have their own ECS systems. The ECS system is not a structural system such as the cardiovascular or musculoskeletal system, but works to keep a vast array of functions in equilibrium. Endocannabinoids broadly work as neuromodulators and help support a healthy stress response and positive mood, help support brain and nervous system health, promote relaxation and sleep, help gastrointestinal function, and help maintain a healthy inflammatory response throughout the body. They also provide pain relief from occasional soreness, and support a healthy immune function. Although these benefits have not been evaluated by the FDA, there are multiple patient reports supporting these observations.
Is All CBD Oil the Same?
A 2017 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) article reported test results of 84 hemp oil extracts found on-line. 55% of the products tested were either over or under labeled for the amount of CBD oil contained and some of the products had more than the 0.3% THC allowed by law.
It should be noted the Hemp Oil we are talking about is derived from the plant stalks. Hemp seed oil is cold-pressed oil from the hemp seeds only. This contains no cannabinoids, and can be used as a cooking oil. It does contain high levels of healthy Omega 3 & Omega 6 fatty acids. At the Center we carry a high quality Hemp oil product that also contains phytocannabinoids from clove bud, black pepper fruit, hops, rosemary in addition to the hemp stalk.
Vitamins are a Relatively New Discovery
Although many of us take supplemental vitamins and minerals, it may surprise you to learn vitamins are a relatively new discovery – around a century old. In the early 1900s the germ theory of disease was accepted as the cause of most illnesses by the medical community, and diseases such as rickets, scurvy and pellagra were thought to be caused by an infection. The medical community thought all a healthly diet required was fat, protein and carbohydrates.
In 1912, Casmir Funk, a chemist, and Sir Fredrick Hopkins, a British biochemist, proposed the Vitamin Hypothesis of Disease where the absence of a particular vitamin in one’s diet would lead to certain diseases. Ironically it was Christian Eijkman, a Dutch physician, who received a Nobel Prize in 1929 for the discovery of vitamins. Eijkman spent a good part of his life doing research on beriberi, a terrible disease that resulted in anemia, cardiovascular disease and paralysis. Beriberi occurred mostly in the poor. Although he found substituting unpolished rice for polished rice would prevent beriberi, Eijkman still believed the disease was due to some type of infection and only until later in his career did he change his thinking. In 1911 Funk discovered the actual substance in unpolished rice that prevented the disease. This substance was a nitrogen-containing compound called an “amine.” Funk named it a “vital amine” or “vitamine.” We now know this vitamin as B1 or thiamine.
Scurvy was probably the first illness recognized to be related to a nutritional deficiency. Individuals would feel exhausted and weak, their gums would bleed and later arteries would break open causing internal bleeding. Diarrhea would set in and death would follow. Although Hippocrates first described scurvy in the 5th century BC it wasn’t until much later it earned its deadly reputation where sailors on long sea voyages would die from this disease. In the mid-1700s a Scottish physician, James Lind, discovered sailors who were given a lemon/orange combination recovered very quickly from scurvy. In the late-1700s the British Admiralty mandated lime juice for all sailors. I’m sure our readers know vitamin C is the vitamin that prevents scurvy and it wasn’t until 1928 that this vitamin was discovered by a Hungarian scientist by the name of Szent-Gyorgyi. Since it was ‘anti-scurvy’ or “a-scorbutic”, vitamin C got the name ascorbic acid. Also, since it was the third vitamin discovered it was named for the 3rd letter in the alphabet: C. Szent-Gyorgyi went on to win a Nobel Prize for his discovery.
In 1914 the surgeon general appointed Dr. Joseph Goldberger to tackle the crisis of pellagra. Pellagra was a disease at that time that was endemic throughout much of the world. The disease caused skin rashes, especially when a person was exposed to sunlight, lesions in the mouth, diarrhea, and mental deterioration.
Dr. Goldberger was a member of the public health service. He noted persons in institutions such as orphanages and prisons had a high incidence of this disease. He also noted the diet in the lower socioeconomic groups in the Southern region where he lived mostly consisted of cornbread, molasses and a bit of pork fat. He went into the prison system and asked for volunteers for an experiment with the promise they would be pardoned. The prison he choose was a farm prison so the inmate’s basic nutrition was good. He separated prisoners into 2 groups to eliminate cross-contamination from infectious disease. One of the groups was placed on the southern poor diet of cornbread, molasses and pork fat and within a few months this group developed pellagra. The researchers tried to ‘catch’ pellagra from the ill prisoners but were unable to do so. When Goldberg placed the pellagra prisoners back on a healthier diet of fresh vegetables, milk and meat, their pellagra symptoms disappeared. In spite of this research the medical community refused to accept this study and Goldberg spent the rest of his life looking for the specific nutritional factor that caused pellagra. He was unsuccessful. It was only later, in 1937, Conrad Elvehjem discovered niacin (nicotinic acid), a B vitamin,that both prevented and cured pellagra in dogs.
RDAs Can Be Misleading
As vitamin research continued at a rapid pace, more vitamins were discovered and the government eventually got into the act with recommendations for minimum amounts of vitamins and minerals. Even today most traditional physicians feel our diets are adequate to provide all the nutritional elements we need without supplementation. RDAs or required daily allowances are the minimums to prevent diseases but RDAs are misleading. For example, the recommended daily intake by the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine for men more than 18 years old is 90 milligrams of vitamin C daily; for women more than 18 years old, it is 75 milligrams daily; for pregnant women more than 18 years old, it is 85 milligrams daily; and for breastfeeding. A glass of orange juice has around 50mg of vitamin C in it as does one small lemon. (You might be surprised to know one serving of broccoli has 130mg of vitamin C and two cups of chopped kale 160mg of vitamin C.)
The lack of ascorbic acid causes scurvy, so if a person doesn’t have scurvy they do not have a deficiency of vitamin C. Or the lack of vitamin D causes rickets, so if a person doesn’t have rickets, they do not lack vitamin D. The problem with this thinking is scurvy or rickets are the end-stages of disease. They are not the first symptoms of a deficiency. Vitamins do much more than just prevent disease. There is a wide gap between optimal health and end-stage nutritional disease. This is why I advise my patients to eat plenty of fresh organic fruits and vegetables, and target supplements when necessary based on age, lifestyle and stress level.
Functional Nutritional Analysis
I highly recommend all patients get a functional nutritional analysis called Spectracell. Each of us is metabolically and biochemically unique, and the micronutrient requirements for one person may differ significantly than the requirements of another. If you do not absorb vitamins, minerals or essential micronutrients properly, you can have deficiencies. Chronic illnesses such as heart disease or diabetes can be affected by micronutrient deficiencies. As we get older deficiencies commonly occur, especially with vitamin B1, B2, B12, folate and D. Standard lab tests that measure vitamin or mineral levels at “static” tests and do not measure whether the nutrient is properly functioning within the body. Spectracell analysis reveals a person’s functional nutrient status over a several month period of time, utilizing a person’s white blood cells. Log on to www.Spectracell.com. for more information. We draw a person’s blood her at the Center and ship it FedEx to Spectracell labs in Texas. This is by appointment only. This is a special test not available at a commercial lab although many insurance companies will cover the majority of the costs. If it has been over one year since you’ve had a Spectracell test I would suggest you schedule an appointment with us to determine if you have functional nutritional deficiencies.
What’s New At The Center
NEW STAFF: We are excited to announce Deborah Edwards has recently joined our staff. She is a nationally certified medical assistant with years of experience in multiple disciplines, including ophthalmology, gastroenterology, general surgery, ENT and medicine. She will be working directly with Dr. Erickson to provide quality care to our patients She is also in training to become certified as a thermography technician at Gainesville Thermography.
NEW PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS: Ultra Absorbic-C II is finally available. This product is a liquid non-corn derived vitamin C that uses phosphatidyl choline nanospheres providing an extremely high oral absorption replicating IV delivery. The delivery system is extracted from non-GMO organic sunflower seeds rather than soy. Cost $25 per bottle.
Hemp Oil + will be available in late June 2018. It contains a proprietary blend of naturally occurring phytocannabinoids and terpenoids from European hemp stalk diluted in a base of nutritionally rich hemp seed oil. A bottle of 30 gel caps is $68.
STAFF SUMMER VACATION: the Center will be closed from Monday, July 2nd through Friday, July 6th and reopen for normal business hours on Monday, July 9th. If you have an urgent medical problem please contact your primary care physician or go to an Urgent Care Center or ER.