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Stuffy nose? Put down that Zicam!

As reported by the Associated Press, “Consumers should stop using Zicam Cold Remedy nasal gel and related products because they can permanently damage the sense of smell, federal health regulators said Tuesday.”

According to the article, the culprit could be zinc which scientists say damage nerves needed for smell. The investigation by the FDA was prompted upon receiving around 130 customer complaints about a loss of smell after using Zicam, and that doesn’t even include the more than 800 complaints Matrixx, the producer of Zicam, has received from consumers (which they must now turn over to investigators).

“‘It won’t bring my smell back, but at least I feel like there’s some justice that’s starting to take place,’ said David Richardson, of Greensboro, N.C., who lost his sense of smell after taking Zicam for a cold in 2005. He said he hopes the product will be formally banned.”

So, why didn’t they catch this before? Apparently Zicam was able to bypass federal review because the remedy is a “homeopathic” product containing herbs, minerals and flowers … Oh, yeah, and smell-killing zinc …

” ‘Loss of the sense of smell is potentially life threatening and may be permanent,’ said Dr. Charles Lee, of FDA’s compliance division. ‘People without the sense of smell may not be able to detect dangerous life situations, such as gas leaks or something burning in the house.’ ”

This whole thing is particularly upsetting to me because I love Zicam and have recommended it to everyone I know. In my mind, there’s no question that it works. Having said that, my smell is worth a lot more to me than missing a cold.

No more Zicam for this girl.

Harriett@snoety.com

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Associated Press, “FDA says Zicam nasal spray can cause loss of smell,” Matthew Perrone, June 16, 2009

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Food, Fitness & Health On Harriett's Mind

Is your “core” workout hurting your back?

If you’re working out, doing Yoga or Pilates, I figure you know what I mean by that “core” …

Having recently gotten off a long flight with a sore and tender back … and with my on-again off-again lower back pain (thank you prior bad computer-setup situation – bah!), I was interested to read this article called “Core Myths” that asked “Is your core workout hurting your back?”  It was recently in The New York Times Sunday Magazine and the writer, Gretchen Reynolds, reiterated what my Pilates trainer and my physical therapist have been telling me.  But, knowing how many times I’ve received bad advice from others less knowledgeable in the past, I wanted to be sure to pass this info on to you.

For example:

Guess what — it’s not just about strengthening the abs! That can, in fact destabilize your spine by pulling it out of alignment.

And — you know all those times your trainer told you “flat back” — well, not necessarily … you probably should instead be going with a small curve (be sure and watch the video that accompanies this story).

About those sit-ups — skip them.  “They place devastating loads on the disks.”

I passed this article on to my own terrific physical therapist, Natalie Barzana, who I go to weekly at ICE and asked her what she thought of the story.  Here’s her response which is worth reading:

“So, I read the article and I totally agree with it. Basically, exercise is shifting gears and focusing more on functional movement patterns. It is the realistic approach to human movement. Movement is dynamic and usually requires co-contractions (involvement of more than one muscle group). This article supports the idea that the core muscles are a group of muscles (not just a single muscle) which create a balance and support for the spine. In order to protect our spine while picking up a heavy box, playing recreational sports, or carrying a 20 lb toddler, we must be able to activate more than just the transversus abdominis. Therefore, specificity of training is very important. Choosing exercises that mimic natural movement patterns and focusing on the core as a unit of stabilizers all help to prevent common orthopedic injuries.”

And, of course, I had to get my Pilates instructor’s take on it because she’s totally knowledgeable and wonderful.  Here’s what Michelle Philips has to say:

“I was drawn to the comment about Pilates.  I feel Professor McGill painted an inaccurate picture of what the goals and intentions of Pilates truly are.  What makes Pilates so effective is that the workout is designed to not only work the transverse abdominus but ALL the “core” muscles.  Joseph Pilates referred to all of the abdominals and postural muscles as the “girdle of strength” and designed exercises to work not only the girdle but the entire body uniformly.  A uniformly developed body is a balanced body. Pilates isn’t designed to work the “core.”  It’s designed to work the entire body (and mind).  Professor McGill stated how important it is to not only work abdominals but all trunk muscles to help prevent back pain and maintain a healthy spine; therefore, supporting the value in Pilates.”

If you’re working out and whether or not you have back problems now, I strongly suggest you read and watch this story.  An ounce of prevention and all that …

Harriett@snoety.com

PS:  If you want to reach Natalie or Michelle send email to harriett@snoety.com

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Family, Friends & You On Harriett's Mind

Women force change …

I’ve been watching the pictures — the women picking up the stones and encouraging the men to throw … the women shielding the injured … the women in their headscarves and dark glasses raising fists and holding signs … You can only watch and be struck by their passion, power, beauty (yes, that, too) and bravery.

Anne Applebaum in her Op-Ed, An Overlooked Force in Iran in The Washington Post reminds us:

“Not Obama, not Bush and not Twitter, in other words, but years of work and effort lie behind the public display of defiance and, in particular, the number of women on the streets — and their presence matters. Their presence could strike the deepest blow against the regime. For at the heart of the ideology of the Islamic Republic is its claim to divine inspiration: Its leadership is legitimate, as is its harsh repression of women, because God has decreed that it is so. The outright rejection of this creed by tens of thousands of women, not just over the past weekend but over the past decade, has to weaken the Islamic Republic’s claim to invincibility, in Iran and across the Middle East.  The regime’s political elite knows this well: It is no accident that the two main challengers to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the Iranian presidential campaign promised to repeal some of the laws that discriminate against women, and it is no accident that the leading challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi, used his wife, a political scientist and former university chancellor, in his campaign appearances and posters. ” …

“The regime may succeed. Violence usually succeeds, at least in the short term, in intimidating people. In the long term, however, the links, structures, organizations and groups set up by Iranian women, not to mention the photographs of the past week, will continue to gnaw away at the Iranian regime’s legitimacy — and we should take note. I cannot count how many times I’ve been told in recent years that “women’s issues” in the Islamic world are a secondary subject: Whether the discussion is of the Afghan constitution or the Saudi government, the standard line among most commentators has always been that other things — stability, security, oil — matter more. But regimes that repress the civil and human rights of half their population are inherently unstable. Sooner or later, there has to be a backlash. In Iran, we’re watching one unfold.”

As we know only to well, it’s usually the women — sometimes in front of the men; often inconspiculously behind them — that make for change.

Harriett@snoety.com

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Food, Fitness & Health Secret's Service

Pillows for pain …

If you ever needed a back pillow for your chair or car … a weird shaped pillow to support your head, hips or knees … a roller for your neck … and you never knew where to go … here’s the place: www.healthyback.com. Decidedly unsexy with really ugly, useful things, it’s their memory foam pillows that I go for.

According to the site, Healthy Back came to be after “Anthony Mazlish was suffering from back pain and looking for a solution in the DC Metro area. After driving from store to store, he became frustrated by the lack of options available to him. In the midst of this frustration and pain, Mr. Mazlish realized the world needed a store that specialized in a variety of ergonomically designed products. This store would help customers relieve back and neck pain; thereby improving daily comfort. The store he envisioned was Healthy Back.”

And we’re glad he did. Got a pain.  Somewhere on their website, you’ll find just what you need.

www.healthyback.com

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