Month: November 2016
“Seeing how much my heath has improved by changing the way I eat and move has seeded me with an intense desire to help others realize how much better they can feel if they take better care of themselves.”
Several years ago, I gave my take on the “personalized care” movement: the broad push to use a person’s genetic data to design optimal therapies, treatments, interventions, and pharmaceuticals. I was supportive and hesitantly optimistic, but I also acknowledged the limitations and drawbacks. Yes, genetics do determine how we respond to different therapies, and we can optimize medical care using the information—if we understand what our genes are saying and how they interact with the environment.
It’s only picked up steam. In last year’s State of the Union address, President Obama announced the Precision Medicine Initiative, pledging renewed efforts and funding to develop treatments tailored for an individual’s genetics, lifestyle, and environment. Businesses have sprung up promising to analyze your genetic data and create personalized workout routines, meal plans, and daily habits.
We’ve made big strides in personalized medicine.
Every parent reading this has dealt extensively in placebo: the analgesic effect of the ouchie kiss. When your child bumps his head or skins her knee, the quickest way to ease the pain isn’t a Band-Aid, ice pack, or Tylenol. It’s a kiss. Works every time.
“But your kid only thinks it’s helping. You’re just tricking him.”
Maybe. So what?
In common parlance, “placebo” is a bad thing connoting uselessness, ineffectiveness, and treachery. Placebos are smoke and mirrors. Snake oil. Even the words clinicians use to describe the placebo arm of a trial—sham treatment, dummy pill, sugar pill—suggest placebo effects are nuisances impeding scientific progress. They’re inert. Their complete pharmacologically inactive nature defines them.
But I’m here to argue that the placebo isn’t just a necessary artifact of randomized controlled trials. It describes a very real effect that people can probably use to improve their lives.
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering two questions. The first one concerns transdermal magnesium. Does it work? Can magnesium actually permeate the skin and enter circulation? Probably. And for the last question, I provide a bunch of examples of natural products—foods and behaviors—that can increase vitamin D and B12 levels for an ailing vegetarian.
Mark, what’s your two cents on transdermal magnesium? I take between 200-600 mg mag glyconate daily. I then add mag chloride via ‘magnesium oil’ to my shoulders and anywhere my muscles are tighter than usual. Anyone else use the mag oil or gel?
I like it.
If you rely solely on the scientific literature, there isn’t a ton of strong evidence. But there is evidence.
In one study (PDF), subjects took daily 12-minute epsom salt (containing magnesium sulfate) baths for a week straight. After a week, magnesium levels had risen significantly in most subjects. Those who’d already had replete magnesium levels saw their urinary excretion increase, suggesting that excess magnesium does get absorbed but not retained. Epsom salt baths also provide bioavailable sulfate, a hugely important but underappreciated mineral in our physiology.
Research of the Week
Mainlining garlic for cold season? Have an apple over salad for the sake of those around you.
Dim light in the room when you sleep impairs cognitive performance the next day.
Doctors are over-diagnosing breast cancer.
An extra hour of sleep increases wages by over 1% in the short term and 5% in the long term.
Better pupils have bigger pupils.
Interrupting your sitting with frequent standing breaks increases mental alertness, reduces fatigue, and inhibits food cravings.
Here we have the rare Primal recipe that tells you to forgo homemade and instead use three store-bought condiments: Korean gochujang, kimchi, and PRIMAL KITCHEN™ Mayo. With this trio of ingredients, you can whip up a wildly flavorful shrimp appetizer. Plus, you’ll get some beneficial probiotic bacteria with every bite.
To make this addictive recipe, you’ll marinate shrimp in Korean gochujang, a fermented chili paste with a spicy and slightly sweet flavor. On the side, finely chopped kimchi is blended with Primal Mayo to make a full-flavored, pungent and creamy sauce for dipping. Quick, easy and delicious!