by Richard Sagall, M.D.

With colder weather fast approaching everyone is concerned over coming down with colds, the flu, or other winter-time illnesses. It makes sense to take steps to stay healthy. The idea of “boosting your immune system” sounds inviting. But what does this really mean, and can it be done?

What is the Immune System?

The immune system consists of the parts of the body that fight infections. There are three body parts generally considered part of the immune system.

·   The lymphatic system consists of lymph nodes that filter the lymph fluid and lymph vessels that carry away waste materials. Lymphocytes also enter the lymph fluid and destroy bacteria, viruses and other foreign substances.

·   The bone marrow produces various types of white blood cells that fight infection. Red blood cells are also made in the bone marrow, but they have no role in immunity.

·   The spleen filters the blood, removing old and damaged red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and other foreign substances.

What Does the Immune System Do?

Simply put, the immune system keeps you healthy by fighting off invaders

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It is the time of year that children are preparing to return to school where they will be exposed to lots of new experiences and ideas but also higher risk of exposure to viruses and other illnesses. Here are tips to ensure your children have a successful and healthy time in school.

Vaccinations are the best course for preventing illness. In addition to the vaccines recommended by your doctor, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age.

Sleep is essential to keep children (and adults) focused throughout the day. Adults need about eight hours of sleep, while young children often need more. It’s important to set a bedtime that ensures they get enough sleep, and to keep a consistent schedule.

It is never too early to teach good hygiene habits. To help children avoid getting sick and prevent them from bringing germs home, it’s important to show them how to wash their hands after using the restroom or before eating.

A healthy diet can help children grow and learn more effectively, as well as keep their immune systems primed to fight off illness. Avoid junk

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President Donald Trump gave a speech about pharmaceutical drug prices last month. During his presidential campaign and leading up to his inauguration, he accused pharmaceutical companies with “getting away with murder” for what they charge patients for prescriptions and promised to enact reforms to lower drug prices. After sixteen months in office, his speech last month consisted of few proposals as opposed to proposing meaningful legislation or guidelines that could have an immediate effect on prescription costs and actually led to pharmaceutical stocks rising.

Trump took aim at Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) who he referred to as “middlemen” who implement “gag rules” that forbid pharmacists from telling patients they are spending more than they need to on a prescription (you can read our blog on the laws proposed to combat PBM gag rules here). He also touched on other popular proposals such as removing barriers to generic medications

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Today is World Asthma Day, and we are in the midst of the time of year many know for seasonal allergies and asthma attack symptoms. Most spring allergies are caused by pollen released by trees, grass, weeds, and other plants and can cause runny nose, itchy eyes, and other uncomfortable symptoms. The rising temperatures can also negatively impact those with asthma.

While some of the symptoms are the same, allergies and asthma are two entirely different diseases, but there can be overlap. The primary difference is that allergies are a disease of the immune system whereas asthma is a disease of the lungs. Over 26 million Americans are affected by asthma. There are two types of asthma, allergic and non-allergic, with similar symptoms caused by airway obstruction and inflammation. The most common symptoms are shortness of breath, chest tightness, coughing and wheezing. The difference between the two is that non-allergic asthma is triggered by a variety of causes (such as cold air, exercise, smoke, or stress and anxiety) while

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Cannabis extract, commonly found in early 20th century pharmacies

Medicinal cannabis (aka medical marijuana) is a growing topic in the United States. Today, there are 29 states (plus Washington DC) where cannabis is a legal medical option for patients. Cannabis is mostly prescribed for pain relief but can also be used to treat muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis, chemotherapy-induced nausea, lack of appetite from chronic illness, seizure disorders, Crohn’s disease, and more. However, cannabis exists in a legal gray area: while medicinally legal in a majority states, it is federally illegal and considered a Schedule I controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)—defined as having no acceptable medical use and high potential for abuse; the same categorization for heroin, LSD, and ecstacy.

The cannabis or hemp plant can be traced back to Central Asia before being introduced to Africa, Europe, and the Americas. Hemp fiber was used to make textiles used for clothing, rope, paper, and sails for hundreds of years before an Irish doctor found cannabis extracts

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