Addressing the Silent, Looming Threat of Antibiotic-Resistant Sexually Transmitted Infections

Addressing the Silent, Looming Threat of Antibiotic-Resistant Sexually Transmitted Infections By Ron Chiarello, PhD Sexually transmitted infections are at an all-time high, affecting one in five Americans, yet this significant national problem has received little attention from a COVID-19-weary media and public. Now, we may be entering a critical era for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as antibiotic-resistant infections have developed the potential to affect virtually all humans, making antibiotic resistance “one of the world’s most urgent public health problems,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While the availability of antibiotics has saved millions of lives, the collateral damage from their widespread use, often without clear medical indications (for example for viral respiratory tract infections or benign conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and SIBO has led to a progressive reduction of gut microbial diversity and to the emergence of microbes resistant to antibiotics. Antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea, in particular, looms as a threat because nationwide gonorrhea control largely depends on the country’s ability to successfully treat the infection, according to the CDC. Considered together, the rising hazard of STIs coupled with antibiotic resistance underscore the urgent need for at-home, low-cost rapid STI testing. STIs: A Common, Costly Burden Nationally and Globally While most in the healthcare world were understandably focused on COVID-19 vaccinations in January, the CDC released a number of startling statistics related to STIs that merit revisiting – particularly at a time when the topic “has fallen out of the national conversation,” according to the director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. On any given day in 2018, 68 million Americans had STIs, with 26 million people newly acquiring STIs that same year. Nearly one in two of these newly acquired STIs happened to people between the ages of 15 and 24. Americans who acquired STIs in 2018 alone face a “staggering” burden of $16 billion in direct lifetime medical costs, with the vast majority of those attributed to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and human papillomavirus (HPV). At a time when the nation is clearly struggling to contain STIs, antibiotic resistance has created new challenges. Gonorrhea, which infects about 820,000 Americans each year and is the nation’s second-most commonly reported STI, has emerged as a distinct risk. Gonorrhea has developed resistance to nearly all of the antibiotics used for its treatment. Today, we are left with just one recommended…

From Ancient Wisdom to Modern Science – The Health Benefits of Berberine

From Ancient Wisdom to Modern Science - The Health Benefits of Berberine By E. Dylan Mayer Growing up in a partly Iranian household, it wasn’t a rare occurrence to have traditional Persian dishes such as zereshk polo (barberry rice with saffron chicken). As I was never the biggest fan of zereshk, as they are bitter – I would always ask my Mom to make it without them, so I didn’t have to pick them out one by one! However, now that I’m aware of the remarkable health benefits of these red little berries, I make sure they’re in my diet. According to records of Ayurvedic medicine in India and traditional medicine in China, berberine, a natural plant alkaloid extracted from Berberis aristata and Coptis chinensis, has been used as an ancient antidiarrheal medication for thousands of years. More recently, berberine has been popularized due to its documented health benefits, specifically for lowering cholesterol, promoting metabolic and cardiovascular health, controlling blood sugar, and reducing high blood pressure. In a 2020 study published in Nature, researchers studied 409 randomized participants in a berberine and probiotic intervention experiment. There were four groups, 106 participants were in the probiotic + berberine group, 102 in the probiotic group, 98 in the berberine group, and 103 in the placebo group. The results found that hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) was significantly lower in the probiotic + berberine vs. berberine alone, suggesting that berberine was responsible for the therapeutic effect. When looking at other metabolic parameters such as fasting and postprandial blood sugar levels and blood lipids (triglycerides, total cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels [“bad cholesterol”]), researchers found that berberine + probiotic treatment and berberine alone significantly improved these parameters. “…berberine has similar positive therapeutic effects on type-2 diabetes, hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol) and hypertension…” Confirming the above results, in a publication reporting results from a meta-analysis of 27 randomized controlled clinical trials with 2569 patients, published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, the authors concluded that berberine has positive therapeutic effects on type-2 diabetes, hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol) and hypertension with no serious side effects. In the treatment of type-2 diabetes, they found that berberine with lifestyle intervention tended to lower the level of fasting and postprandial blood sugar levels and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) compared to lifestyle intervention alone or placebo. In the treatment of hyperlipidemia, berberine with lifestyle intervention showed better results than lifestyle intervention alone, and berberine with…

Fridge Wisdom

Fridge Wisdom From Paul Bell Considering the focus of this newsletter I expect you think this is about healthy consumption or storage of food and drink. No, its about wisdom on the outside of the fridge. We have a list of what we feel are wise things to be mindful of hanging on our fridge door, and I admit that I often read a few and consider them. So here are some with considerations: LET IT GO My mother was an adopted child with a very low self esteem and, despite having some good situations in life, she could never let go of that feeling of not being loved by her birth parents. In her early seventies the rules around adoption in Britain changed and she was asked by the authorities if she would want to see her records. Concerned, she agreed. A large box of letters arrived from her birth mother, explaining that within her family and their position it was impossible for her to keep a child born out of wedlock. She had been in hiding from her family in the countryside but after several months she had had to give my mother up to the adoption authorities. However, for years she continued to write to my mother explaining how much she loved and missed her but her letters were never passed on for 70 years. My mother’s heart changed and began to sing loudly. Small slights, massive hurts - there is a deep wisdom in just letting go. You can realize the work that you have to do on yourself when you catch yourself saying “I just can’t let that go!” “THE MOST CERTAIN SIGN OF WISDOM IS CHEERFULNESS” - Michel de Montaigne Being cheerful does not just allow you to breeze through all kinds of challenges and dull normalities, it improves the experience with others around you. What is the point of being grumpy, heavy, dour? Admittedly, some people cannot take a cheerful person seriously but that is their problem. I have been stopped and ticketed by a cheerful cop and the exchange felt good. He was just doing his job so why couldn’t he be cheerful about it. I have been operated upon by cheerful surgeons, which boosted my confidence far more than a serious exchange. Of course, once you start the cheerful ball rolling it bounces through the gathering and can return even stronger.…

Do We Really Need to Boost Our Immunity?

Do We Really Need to Boost Our Immunity? By Emeran Mayer, MD As the COVID-19 pandemic has engulfed the world, there has never been a time in which topics like Gut Health, Immune Support, Gut Cleansing, and Improvement of Gut Health have been more popular. Suddenly experts from the fields of functional and integrative medicine, nutrition and wellness have all jumped on this new trend. Podcast, master classes, social media posts and advertisements, bestselling books have all driven the frenzy around these topics, while scientific evidence from well controlled human studies have lagged behind. As a clinician and scientist who has studied the gut, its endocrine, nervous and immune systems, and the brain for the better part of my career, it is remarkable to follow this explosion of information and interest. In this edition of the Gut Health Insights, I start with one of the main topics of discussion, the Immune System, and will continue in future editions with Gut Cleansing, Leaky Gut, SIBO and Gut Health in general. The great majority of advice that lay audiences get from books and the experts on social media, implies that we need interventions to boost our immune system, implying that there is a blunted, inadequate, or compromised response of the immune system contributing to many of our chronic health problems, ranging from autoimmune diseases and allergies to colon cancer and Parkinson’s disease, and including the COVID-19 epidemic. However, looking at the science, it becomes quickly apparent, that nothing could be more wrong. As I explain in great detail in The Gut Immune Connection, a maladaptive increase in the engagement of the immune system in response to diet-induced changes in the gut microbiome does play a crucial role in most of the disorders making up our chronic non-communicable disease (CNCD) epidemic. The exaggerated, inadequately restrained response of the gut associated immune system is not only responsible for the number of autoimmune disorders (including inflammatory bowel disorders and celiac disease), allergies (asthma, food allergies) but also for the CNCDs, all of which have been increasing during the past 75 years. Even though there are different immune mechanisms underlying these different groups of disorders, they all share one mechanism, which is the compromised ability of the immune system to turn on the breaks once activated. An important factor in these compromised breaking mechanisms is related to an inadequate production of short chain fatty acids by…

Pan Roasted Branzino

Pan Roasted Branzino By Elisabetta Ciardullo Growing up in Italy, the best treat of all would be to go to a fish restaurant. Even with 4,700 miles of coastline, and numerous fishermen professional or not, eating fish is the ultimate treat for many Italians. So it was with great deference that I first approached the Spigola, as it was called in central Italy, or Branzino, in Northern Italy. And knowing that it was a very expensive dish made me savor every single bite as if it was a gift from the sea. When the first farmed branzino started to be marketed in Italy, I was startled by the drop in price compared to the wild caught ones of my youth. I bought one at the market with a little apprehension. I was in for a big surprise; perfectly delicate taste, tender and flaky texture, not oily: the fish is a great one even when farmed. Now, farming methods have improved hugely, and the fish is usually farmed in the sea: a technique used in Italy as well as in Greece, Turkey, and other Mediterranean countries. All in all, branzino is an exceptionally good choice, very low in mercury, offered at a reasonable price, and usually very fresh. Branzino is also rich in omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and has a low calories count. It can be cooked whole, but for those who do not like to remove the bones while eating, you can ask the fishmonger to fillet it: you will have 2 beautiful filets, usually corresponding to 2 small or 1 large portion, depending on what else you are serving. This is the way we use it in this specific recipe. [foogallery id="6779"] Ingredients: 1 branzino, approximately 20 oz whole, cleaned, and filleted. 1 cup or more sweet grape tomatoes, cut in half Basil leaves, 6-8 Parsley, 6-8 stems Spinach (optional) 1 cup cut 1-2 garlic cloves, whole or cut in half 3 tablespoon white wine 1 tablespoon lemon juice EV Olive Oil as needed Salt and pepper Preparation: 1. Heat up a nonstick pan, large enough for all the fillets. 2. Drizzle with olive oil. 3. Add the tomatoes, cut basil, cut parsley, and cut spinach, garlic, stir once and let it sizzle gently for 5-10 minutes, almost until when the green leaves start to burn, and the tomatoes are caramelized. Add salt and pepper, a pinch…