Things Your Pediatrician Worries About

Our kids aren’t growing up in the same world we did.  How many times have you said, “When I was a kid, we just roamed around on our bikes all day and came home for dinner”?  Yes, the challenges of the modern world for our children extend from the ubiquity of screens to vaping and everything in between.

It’s no wonder that pediatricians – whose job it is to advocate for kids’ health – are concerned about many things the little guys are encountering. We break down four of them right here for you:

Plastic and Food

Plastic packaging of our kiddos’ foods may not be entirely safe. Remember the uproar over BPA (bisphenol A) a few years ago? The chemical found in all kinds of plastic bottles was found to be carcinogenic and was promptly banned by the FDA. Well, pediatricians say there are other chemicals like this out there that we just don’t know that much about.  Since pound for pound, kids eat more packaged food than most of us, this is concerning. There are literally a thousand different chemicals used in food packaging that the FDA labels “Generally Recognized as Safe”.  Doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence. The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) is asking the FDA to increase its scrutiny of these chemicals and the potential effect on growing bodies. The concern is that some of these might interfere with the little peoples’ hormone synthesis and metabolism.

What to do with this info:

  • Go for fresh fruits and veggies when possible
  • Package foods in glass or stainless steel
  • Don’t microwave plastic containers with food in them

Microwave Meals

Speaking of microwaves … Easy Mac® is the favorite around our house.  When I was a kid, you had to boil water, cook the noodles, drain them, mix the cheese… Ain’t nobody got time for that!  Now, we have instant everything. Well it turns out that kiddos are burning themselves left and right on these things. From 2006 to 2016, more than 9,500 kids have landed in the ER with burns from microwavable instant soup products.

What to do with this info:

  • Don’t be in too much of a hurry for your kids to use these products independently.  Keep an eye on them when they’re heating them up!
  • Be especially careful with soups. Since they slosh around, they can inadvertently result in burns more easily.

Leftover Prescriptions

You know those leftover antibiotics you always have?  Your kid’s doc told you to “make sure she takes the full course.”  But then life happened, and you stopped. Susie got better, so you just stuck the remaining amoxicillin in the linen closet.  “This may come in handy later on,” you think to yourself. Well, turns out, you’re not alone. In a recent survey of 500 parents, researchers found that nearly half of parents had hung on to leftover antibiotics.  And of those, 73% had used them on a different child for something different! Here’s why that’s got pediatricians concerned.  Antibiotics in kids are almost always dosed by weight. So the dose is likely not to be correct. But even more importantly, the other child might not need antibiotics, might need a different one, or might need a longer course than the 3 pills you have in the closet!

What to do with this info:

  • Always have your child take all of their antibiotics unless the pediatrician says it’s ok to stop when the condition improves.
  • Throw out any leftover medication!  Don’t save for another time or give to another child. The risks of misdosing or inappropriately administering are just too great.

Soft, But Not Safe

Injuries still abound with infants around things that we just don’t think of as dangerous.  Those saucer-shaped infant walkers that are so fun to watch the kids glide around in? Well, they’re super dangerous.  In fact, they land about 2,000 kids in the ER every year with everything from broken bones to skull fractures.  Also, kids using them can go where normally they wouldn’t be able to. Some kids have glided out into the swimming pool or down the stairs. The AAP has been calling on the government for years to ban them, but it hasn’t happened yet.  And a study out this month reveals that from 2007 to 2016, an estimated 2.3 million kids under the age of 5 were injured in falls from beds and sofas. We often think of the stairs as the most dangerous place in the house. But kids are twice as likely to be injured by a fall from a bed or sofa!

What to do with this info:

  • Don’t use infant walkers with your babies learning to walk.  Just don’t. Pediatricians don’t. They know how dangerous these things are.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can just watch them. A kid can move four feet in one second in these.  Likely faster than you can travel to reach them if they get in trouble.
  • Never leave a baby alone (even for a half a second) on raised furniture (beds, sofas, etc).  And teach them not to climb up on furniture.

Here at Remedy, we never want to instill unnecessary fear in parents.  We parents got enough to worry about right. (I didn’t even talk about screen time.  Saving that for another post). With all the clatter and “fake news” out there, we want you guys to know what we docs are actually talking about and concerned about.  Hit us up with questions, or even better, let us know what topics you want us to weigh in on!

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I should preface this by admitting – I’m a doctor, and I attend Orange Theory for HIIT workouts – maybe a little too much.

There’s a lot of talk lately about our shrinking attention spans. Who has time for anything anymore? So it’s no wonder that the hottest thing in fitness is “high intensity interval training” or HIIT. It’s the perfect workout for all of us with borderline-ADD.  With interval training, you may work out for an hour. But you never do one exercise for more than five minutes, and typically not more than 90 seconds. Sprint, then burpees, then jumping jacks, then hop on the rower. Constantly changing it up makes for a workout that fits our diminishing attention spans. You also burn a ton of calories in a short time, and it’s great for your heart. Working out at a high intensity can improve your blood pressure and overall cardiac fitness.

So, what’s not to love about it? It can be taxing on your body, and can leave some of us with injuries. Particularly if your form begins to suffer when you get tired (spoiler – nearly everyone’s does).  

Experts are now only recommending HIIT no more than 2-3 times per week for most healthy people. The primary concern? Fatigue-induced overuse injuries.

Also, you should know that the so-called “afterburn” or EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption) has been mostly debunked.  There is some degree of calorie burn that happens in the eight hours or so after the workout. But it’s minimal relative to the workout itself, and it’s not that different than what you would get after a steady-state cardio workout at moderate intensity for a longer time.

If you’re not into HIIT, you’re likely doing what we’ve always done. Running, cycling, rowing, swimming at moderate intensity – what’s known as steady-state cardio. That’s really good for you too!  Both HIIT and steady-state cardio are great for your heart and overall fitness. Steady-state takes longer to burn the same amount of calories, but is less taxing on your body.

And one final word about exercise and weight loss. Be careful about using exercise (either HIIT or steady state cardio) as a transactional calorie system where you get to eat more food if you exercise. This mentality often leads to failure.

Studies have shown over and over again, that when it comes to weight loss, the most important thing is what and how much you eat. There’s a common saying – “abs are created in the kitchen,” and it’s mostly true. So should you do HIIT or steady-state cardio? Probably some combination of both. Find the mix that feels right to you. At the end of the day, you’re exercising!  Don’t overthink it. Do the exercise that’s enjoyable to you, because that’s the one you’ll stick with.

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Austin Water Advisory

OK – who else in Austin woke up with a text from their mom that said something to the effect of “WATER BOIL ALERT!1!” (I left that “1” in there because sometimes mom types fast when she’s concerned and there’s no time for autocorrect.)

“Boil water advisory?” What is that?

Excessive Rainfall

Turns out all the rainfall has wreaked havoc on the reservoir system of Central Texas.  You know how Lady Bird Lake looks like chocolate milk? Well, the churning up of all sorts of mud and debris in our waterways translates into less-than-ideal drinking water.  

We’ll break down a few FAQs for you here about the ol’ watering hole situation.

How often do “boil water” advisories happen?

This is the first that Austin has had (you can say you were “first!”).  But they’re not uncommon. If you’ve lived in other cities, you may have been through one. Fort Worth and Corpus Christi both had “boil water” notices in recent years.

What triggers a “boil water” advisory?

Any event that leads the managers of the water system to believe that bacteria could be in the water system.  This could be a break in the line, a loss of water pressure in the lines, or as in the case of Austin, an unusually high content of silt. (To be clear, as of this writing, there has been no actual bacteria detected in the water supply. Just the risk of it.)

What are the actual recommendations for this particular advisory?

  • Reduce water use as much as possible to ensure adequate supply for basic needs, fire protection, public health and safety.
  • Boil water intended for drinking. To ensure destruction of all harmful bacteria and other microbes, water for drinking, cooking and for making ice should be boiled and cooled. The water should be brought to a rolling boil for three minutes.
  • In lieu of boiling water, use bottled water. And if you’re going to the store, wear a helmet (kidding). 
  • Businesses should not use drinking fountains or soda fountains that rely on tap water.

Should I Be Concerned if I Drank the Tap Water?

It’s very likely that you’ll be fine, but there are some things to watch out for. Contaminated water can contain bacteria, viruses, or parasites.  If ingested, these microbes can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches or illness. Infants, young children, some of the elderly and people with severely compromised immune systems should be particularly careful, as these illnesses can be more severe in these populations.

Stay healthy out there, Central Texas. We at Remedy fully support the precautions our cities take to keep us safe, and we would recommend that you follow the guidelines. If by chance you do get sick, give us a call.  We’re here to help with information and diagnostic testing if needed.

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No Longer Covered Under Parent’s Insurance

You knew this day would come.  There was the day when your parents said you had to start paying your own cell phone bill. Then came auto insurance. No wonder twenty-somethings everywhere breathed a sigh of relief when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed in 2010. Under the new laws, you could stay on your parents’ health insurance until you were 26!  (That is, unless they kicked you off before that.)

You don’t have to be a student. You don’t have to live with them You don’t have to be a dependent on their tax returns. No ifs, ands, or buts. You can stay comfortably insured with mom and dad.

Turning 26 & No Health Insurance?

But now you’re turning 26. Time to venture out into the world of health insurance coverage on your own. What are your options? Don’t fear. You have many. Before we get into them, make sure that you know this term: qualifying life event.  Sounds major, right?  It basically just means that turning 26 (like getting married, having a kid, or losing your existing coverage) is one of those “life events” that allows you to sign up for new coverage no matter what time of year it is.  All the other suckers have to wait until “open enrollment”. What’s open enrollment? We’ll get into it later. For now, just know that you have 60 days from your qualifying life event to get that insurance going.

When Are You No Longer Covered Under Your Parent’s Health Insurance?

By the way, it’s worth mentioning that you should research it and see if your coverage on your parents’ plan will evaporate at the stroke of midnight on your birthday, or at the end of the calendar month or year. Depending on the kind of healthcare coverage your parents have, you may lose coverage immediately on the day you turn 26. Some plans allow young adults to remain on their parents’ plans until the end of the month following their 26th birthday. Others let them stay on their parents’ plans until the end of the tax year.

Ok, so here are the options…

  1. Enroll in your employer’s health plan. This is clearly the most grown up option, right? You got a great job.  They have benefits. And now you’ll be on them. Make sure you know what the plan covers. Is it a PPO or HMO? What is the deductible (the portion for which you will be responsible)? How much does your employer contribute and what will you pay? Perhaps you work for some hotshot startup that pays the full amount of your premium. If so, decision made – Go with that.
  2. Choose a plan from the insurance marketplace. Open enrollment for the marketplace is typically November 1 to December 31 of the preceding year.  However, because it’s the 26th anniversary of you being born, you can sign up for a marketplace plan anytime of the year! Just remember to do it within 60 days of the ole b-day.  (Or 60 days before. Yes, you have a whole 120 day window!)
  3. Choose a catastrophic health insurance plan. Since you are under 30, you could get a catastrophic health insurance plan. These are offered by the usual insurance companies. The deductible, your responsibility, is often extremely high for these – sometimes in the $7,000 to $10,000 range. You will be responsible for most all medical care up to this point.  The tradeoff is that your premium will be a lot lower! And the plans by law still have to cover some preventive care.  So even before your deductible is met, they’ll cover preventive services including up to three primary care visits per year.
  4. Join a health sharing plan. These are not insurance plans, but protect you in a similar fashion.  Basically, they are a group of people with similar values who enter into an agreement to share medical expenses.  It’s not as weird as it sounds. Basically, you pay a monthly amount that is similar to a health insurance premium.  That funds a pool which can be drawn from when you or others have health expenditures that exceed your predetermined sharing limit.  The sharing limit works like a deductible, so you agree to basically pay for everything out-of-pocket up to that point. After that point, your expenses are covered by the pool. Some examples of these are Liberty HealthShare, Medi-Share, and Sedera.  Medi-Share is an example of medical sharing plan that is faith-based and has certain proscriptions while Sedera is a more secular type of sharing plan.  (Disclosure: I am a doc, and I have one of these plans in lieu of health insurance for my family of 4! But, I’m also a doctor, so.)
  5. Stay on your padres’ insurance via COBRA.  Not the venomous snake found in India. (COBRA stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act – so that’s neat.)  This could be a really attractive option, but it’s only available up to 36 months.  Typically, when a family or person is already insured, the monthly premium for one additional dependent is priced at a fairly attractive rate. So, if your parents are cool with you staying on their coverage until age 29, COBRA might be a good option for you.
  6. You could decide not to get health insurance.  We really don’t recommend this. Why take risks with your health?  The media is full of stories of people who took that risk and ended up with the double-whammy of a serious medical condition and bankruptcy.  Not a good place to be.  Even if you opt for the cheapest premium, highest deductible, get something.  This is one area in your life where you can’t afford to be uninsured.

Staying Insured for Your Wellbeing

For young, healthy people aging off, consider catastrophic coverage. As a corollary, think of how your auto insurance works.  You pay for all the regular maintenance, oil changes, car washes, etc. Your insurance is there in case you really demolish the thing.  Catastrophic health insurance is actually the closest thing to true insurance there is. It is there if you get truly “catastrophically” sick or injured.  The other plans are really just medical care plans, not medical insurance. They pay for everything, and you likely don’t need that. Negotiate self-pay rates for things, pay out of pocket. Use the preventive services covered by the plan. Save up a cash reserve (which, we might add, you need anyway in case you lose your job or something).  Then, if it just so happens that you end up with a $100,000 hospital stay, you’ll be covered.

Ensuring a Smooth Transition with Insurance

Finally, one last thing to keep in mind.  Try to sign up for coverage before the 15th of the previous month you hope to have coverage.  Most insurance will start on the first of the month, and having signup completed 15 days ahead of time will ensure smooth activation of coverage on that day.

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Texas Bugs & Their Diseases

“Hey kids, be sure to put on bug spray at Field Day. We don’t want to get malaria!” – not something you hear in 2018.  But for hundreds of years in this country, malaria was actually pretty common. It wasn’t until the 1950s that the US government undertook a massive program (spraying millions of homes with insecticide) that malaria was eradicated. Just like that, it was gone.

What is Malaria Caused By?

How’d that work so well?  Malaria is caused by a parasite that lives in the mosquito. Scientists refer to the mosquito as a vector, and these types of diseases as vector-borne diseases.  Eliminate enough of the vector, eliminate the disease.

Lyme Disease, Nile Virus, & Zika Virus

So why does this matter now? We still have quite a few other vector-borne diseases. Ever heard of Lyme disease? It’s carried by ticks. In more recent history, North America has become acquainted with West Nile Virus and Zika virus, transmitted by mosquitoes.

Texas’ Climate is Susceptible to Bug-Borne Diseases

Texas is particularly susceptible with a warm climate and a prime breeding ground for mosquitoes. (Incidentally, we also see a lot of typhus, which is transmitted by fleas). Texas doctors and scientists are becoming more vigilant for transmission of these bug-borne diseases.  For example, mosquitos in Austin and Houston recently tested positive for West Nile. When this happens, local officials can step up spraying efforts, and doctors are on the lookout for cases. Combine Texas’ exploding population with these insect-friendly qualities, and it’s no wonder the number of these cases is on the rise in recent years.  In fact, we wrote a detailed piece on West Nile previously.

So what do these diseases look like? Here’s a quick primer:

West Nile virus

  • Vector: Mosquitos
  • Symptoms:  Most show no symptoms. Some have fever, headache, aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea, rash. Serious cases have high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness, paralysis.
  • Geographic spread: Statewide
  • Last large outbreak: 2012, focused on the Dallas area

Chagas disease

  • Vector: Kissing bugs
  • Symptoms:  In the acute stage, fever, swelling around site of the insect bite. In the chronic stage, patients often show no symptoms for years but later develop heart rhythm abnormalities, a dilated heart, and a dilated esophagus or colon.
  • Geographic spread: North, central, and south Texas
  • Last large outbreak: Ongoing

Murine typhus

  • Vector: Fleas
  • Symptoms:  Fever, aches and pains, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, cough, rash.
  • Geographic spread: North, central, and south Texas
  • Last large outbreak: The number of Texas cases more than doubled between 2008 and 2016.

Zika virus

  • Vector: Mosquitos
  • Symptoms: Many show no symptoms. Those who do experience fever, rash, headache, joint pain, red eyes, muscle pain.
  • Geographic spread: Statewide
  • Last large outbreak: 2016, when there were 315 reported cases, including six locally acquired in the lower Rio Grande Valley. In 2017, the number of reported cases dropped to 54.

Dengue fever

  • Vector: Mosquitos
  • Symptoms: Severe headache, severe eye pain, joint pain, muscle and bone pain, rash, low white cell count. Serious cases show severe abdominal pain, vomiting, red spots on skin, bleeding from nose and gums, vomiting blood, black stools, drowsiness, irritability, clammy skin, difficulty breathing.
  • Geographic spread: Gulf Coast and south Texas
  • Last large outbreak: Outbreaks in the U.S. date back to the 1700s; many involved tens of thousands of cases.

Chikungunya virus

  • Vector: Mosquitos
  • Symptoms: Fever, joint pain, headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, rash.
  • Geographic spread: Gulf Coast and south Texas
  • Last large outbreak: There were probably outbreaks in the 1800s throughout the southeastern U.S. involving tens of thousands.

How to Prevent Bug Diseases

Ok, so we get it. Bugs carrying diseases. More cases in Texas than there used to be. What to do about it?

  1. Don’t panic!  Even with these diseases on the rise, they’re not that common.
  2. Use insect repellent when outdoors.  Especially on the little ones 2 months and older.  Use a product that contains DEET but not more than 30%.  The American Academy of Pediatrics has declared that these are safe for kids older than 2 months. We recommend something like this.
  3. Keep area that may have standing water dry.  These are breeding grounds for mosquitos.

So, watch out for those vectors, Texas.  And if you find yourself getting ill after a bout with some mosquitoes, give Remedy a call.  We’ll get you checked out and on the mend.

Book an appointment today!

Modern Insurance Plans

Modern insurance plans are so highly customized and varied, it’s often difficult to predict what any particular service will cost a particular patient.

Keeping Healthcare Costs Low

Our goal is to keep your cost of care as low and easy to understand as possible.

For self-insured or cash pay patients, you can stop right here. You’re already all paid up, so treat yourself to this adorable otter compilation.

How Remedy Works with Insurance

Insured patients, you can watch that video as well, but stick with me for 73 seconds. Here’s how Remedy works with insurance:

1 – After your visit, Remedy bills your insurer as an “in-network provider” with appropriate cost codes for service.  These codes vary depending on whether you’re a new patient to us or not, and whether a prescription medication was given. (It’s actually a little more complicated than that, but that’s the gist.).

2 – Based on your individual plan, your insurance will pay all or some portion of that claim directly to us. Note – this can vary depending on how your employer has structured their plans.

3 – If, for some reason, your insurer elects to not cover the full amount, the remainder is billed back to you. Note that this does not mean that Remedy is not “in-network”. The amount is applied to your “in-network deductible”.  It’s just that for whatever reason, your insurer has decided that you pay it instead of them.

Fair & Transparent Pricing

Our commitment is to fair and transparent pricing. While we can never predict how insurers will treat individual claims, we encourage you to discuss any questions with us. And we will never charge any patient – insured or not – more than our flat rate pricing.

A Quick & Painless Process

The entire process typically takes about 2-6 weeks, depending on the insurer. For those of you with higher-deductible HSA plans, you can simple pay the cash pay price and then post to your HSA journal.

Questions? No problem. We’re here to chat.

And now, here’s that otter video again.


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African Dust: What Is It?

Someone suggested that I write something about the “African Dust” that’s been plaguing Texas. You know, the clouds of dust that have blown across the ocean, wreaking havoc on Texas allergy sufferers?

So I sat down to write something; “What do you say? It’s dust.” Yet everywhere I went, people were talking about it.

What is African Dust???

What is the African dust? Well it comes from the Sahara, gets blown across the Atlantic and the southern US states before arriving in Texas. This isn’t new. It’s been happening for years in the summer. It’s just that this year, it’s particularly bad.

We’ve seen a spike in allergy cases, asthma and sinus infections. Many experts are saying that the plume of particles gifted to us by Africa is to blame. These dust particles are respiratory irritants, so naturally they can trigger asthma attacks or a severe case of allergic rhinitis. Allergic rhinitis can also be a precursor to bacterial sinusitis.

What To Do with Cases of African Dust?

What to do? The first list makes up what could be called “Allergen Avoidance.” Basically, how to minimize the effect that allergens have in the first place. Things like:

  • Shoes off in the house and shower before bed to avoid contaminating sheets
  • Using pillow covers and mattress covers
  • Keeping humidity down. Don’t use a humidifier!
  • Minimize stuffed animals
  • Remove carpeting if possible and opt for wood floors
  • Run an air filter. The evidence around these is questionable.  Some experts think they just stir up the allergens in the air. If you use one, make sure it has a HEPA filter, and point it so the outflow is directed at your head while sleeping.
  • Vacuum with a HEPA filter-equipped vacuum

Let’s say you’ve done these things. But that dust (or ragweed or anything else that’s got your sinuses gunked up) is still killing you.

  • Mild symptoms should be treated with a regular daily dosing of an H1 antihistamine such as Zyrtec® (approved for kids 6 months and older) or Allegra®.
  • For more persistent symptoms (let’s face it, if you read this far, that’s probably you), the most effective treatment is a nasal steroid spray (like Flonase®) used daily or during periods of exposure.
  • If you also have asthma, talk to your doc about also being on Singulair®
  • An antihistamine nasal spray such as azelastine or olopatadine. Some trials have shown these nasal sprays to be effective, and their onset is faster than the nasal steroid.
  • Nasal irrigation. I remember hearing about this years ago, and thinking, “Really?  Real doctors are endorsing this??” Well, turns out shooting saline up your schnoz is actually really good for you if you have allergies. You can use it on kids too if they can cooperate.  One product we like is the NeilMed Sinus Rinse® and the Neti Pot. A friend of mine has gotten her highly allergic kids excited about this by calling it their “booger shooter”.

Stuff we don’t recommend:

  • Systemic steroids, like a “steroid shot”, a “Medrol® Dose Pack”, or a course of prednisone.  If you’ve ever had this, then it seems like relief sent down from heaven. There’s no question that a blast of steroids will knock out allergy symptoms.  But the problem is the side effects. Systemic steroids are TERRIBLE for you. Remember Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco?
  • Nasal decongestants.  Like Afrin® for example.  Again, it seems uh-may-zing.  You shoot this stuff up your nose, and ten minutes later you can breathe.  But, it’s also terrible for you if used for a long period of time. Prolonged usage, which is only 2 or 3 days, can lead to a condition called rhinitis medicamentosa. This is where your nose runs all. the. Time. Gross.

Countless great things have come from Africa. For starters, it’s the birthplace of humanity. Also, coffee. But the African dust is not something that’s welcomed here.

Hope these tips help you get through it.

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Kombucha: A Doctor’s Perspective

I had to drink my first kombucha for this post. Yes, I live in Austin.

I’m also a Gen-Xer who can be a little behind the times (did y’all hear Blockbuster closed?). So I’ll admit that I hadn’t drank “booch” until now. What did I think?

What is Kombucha & Where Is It From?

First things first, what’s kombucha and where did it come from? Ever heard of SCOBY? That’s short for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.” You ferment some tea with the SCOBY, and presto, you’ve got kombucha! It’s believed to have originated in China (or Russia depending on who you’re talking to), where it’s widely consumed.

Health Benefits of Kombucha

What about the health benefits? *dims lights, clangs cymbal, whispers* For centuries, it has been believed that kombucha can:

  • Cure asthma, cataracts, diabetes, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, diarrhea, insomnia, even herpes.
  • Shrink the prostate gland and expand libido
  • Reverse gray hair (like retracts it back into the scalp? We’re not sure)
  • Lower hypertension
  • Prevent cancer
  • Provide an overall good sense of well-being.

No Definitive Proof

However, in 2003 and again in 2014, researchers could find no definitive proof that kombucha provided any of the purported clinical benefits. In fact, the authors of the former article went as far as to say that kombucha should not be recommended for therapeutic use, as it is in a class of “remedies that only seem to benefit those who sell them.” Solid burn, researchers.

Kombuch Provides Antioxidants

Then, a competing study out of booch-loving Latvia found that kombucha provides antioxidants, aids in detox, boosts energy, and boosts immunity. Slightly vague, but those sound good. So what to make of it?

How Kombucha Interacts with the Gut

There’s a lot of research right now into the gut microbiome. That’s the collection of bacteria, yeast, and other microorganisms living in our gastrointestinal tract. Medical researchers are just starting to understand how important the microbiome is in our immunity. It may be that things like the probiotics in kombucha aid our microbiome in some way. The discoveries of this research at this point, though, is a little like me – behind the times.

Who Shouldn’t Drink Kombucha?

Should anyone not drink kombucha? It is not recommended for kids under 4 or if you are immunocompromised in any way. Remember, the SCOBY has bacteria in it. Pregnant and nursing women should talk to their doctor first.

Kombucha Has an Acquired Taste

So what did I think when the fizzy, vinegary drink touched my palate? “Not bad.” It’s an acquired taste, like most fermented beverages (if you know what I mean). And while it has some sugar in it, it’s definitely superior to grabbing a soda.

So while I can’t tell you there’s hard evidence that kombucha will turn your grays back to brown, it’s a pretty refreshing, tasty beverage that (may) even be good for you.


Ernst E (2003). “Kombucha: a systematic review of the clinical evidence”. Forschende Komplementärmedizin und klassische Naturheilkunde. 10 (2): 85–87

Jayabalan, Rasu (21 June 2014). “A Review on Kombucha Tea—Microbiology, Composition, Fermentation, Beneficial Effects, Toxicity, and Tea Fungus”. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety. 13 (4): 538–550.

Vina, I (Feb2014). “Current evidence on physiological activity and expected health effects of kombucha fermented beverage.” J Med Food. 2014 Feb;17(2):179-88.]

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Cyclospora: What to Do About It?

“Cyclospora” – sounds like a performance cycling brand. Before you rush out to buy that website domain (we checked; it’s for sale), we should probably tell you that it’s actually a nasty parasite making news nationwide. And it, apparently, has a Facebook profile? The nerve.

The main way “Lil’ C” affects your body is with the “Big D” – diarrhea, often for over a week. Other symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Weight loss

How Do People Contract Cyclospora?

People contract this illness when water with cyclospora has contaminated fruits and veggies. Most typically, this occurs in imported basil, cilantro, raspberries, lettuce, and snow peas. The problem is that Cyclospora isn’t something you can just rinse off with the old “hold the lettuce under the sprayer for three seconds” thing.  The parasite is more resilient than that. Not even iodine or chlorine kills it. In fact, the only thing that will kill it is boiling. Boiled lettuce, anyone?!

Public Health Officials Track Cyclospora

You can see why public health officials track this infection so vigilantly. We can’t have everyone freaking out about raspberries. And no one wants to attend your pool party featuring boiled raspberries (they do NOT instagram well, from any angle). 

Cyclospora in Texas

Over 60 cases in Texas have been reported so far this summer, a quarter of those in Travis County. So be on the lookout, and get tested if you have the symptoms.

Odds of Infection are Low

I’m going to be honest; I love cilantro, and you won’t see me curtailing my cilantro intake due to cyclo-fears. Am I cavalier? Maybe (*pops labcoat collar*). But the odds of getting the infection are extremely low, and there just isn’t much you can do if you don’t like boiled basil.

If you do happen upon some bad snow peas, give Remedy a call. A quick test will confirm the diagnosis, and get you the antibiotics that will speed your recovery.

And if Cyclospora tries to friend you on Facebook, you know what to do.

Book an appointment today!

35 Years of Age & Older

Over 35? Me too. It’s a great phase, really. You’re still young enough to eat ice cream, but old enough to feel its negative effects for hours afterward (a real “circle of life” experience). You’re right in the sweet spot.

But (record scratch), it’s not all cookies and cream for us 35+ers. Researchers recently found that only 8% of us are getting the proper preventive medical care that we need.  And for men, that number is more like 2%.

The survey included 15 evidence-based recommendations for various screening tests and immunizations. Screening for high blood pressure performed the best, where it was found that 87.3% of adults have had this done (high five, as soon as your testing arm is free!).

Shingles Vaccine

Getting the shingles vaccine scored the lowest. Granted, it’s not recommended until you’re 60, but only 37.9% of those eligible had received it.

Truth be told, there are a lot of things we aren’t sure about in medicine. But one thing we are sure about is that screenings save lives. Detecting high blood pressure, high cholesterol and many types of cancer can be lifesaving. Counseling around tobacco use, alcohol use, obesity, and depression have all resulted in measurable improved outcomes.

Are you wondering what screenings you should get? Has it been a while since you talked to a medical professional? The results of this study suggest that there’s a pretty good chance that is true.  

Reach Out to Us at Remedy

You can always reach out to Remedy; that’s one of the reasons we’re here. We don’t push unnecessary tests and therapies, but follow evidence-based guidelines about what screenings should be done.

The 15 measures were identified with guidance from an expert national steering committee. Each measure had to be evidence-based (based on recommendations from the US Preventive Services Task Force or the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices), relevant, and actionable. If you’re curious which 15 items were on the list, here it is. Contact us to see which of these screenings you might need:

High Blood Pressure Age 18
Cholesterol Typically age 35 for men, 45 for women, may be younger in patients with risk factors
Breast cancer Age 40-74
Colon cancer Age 45-85
Cervical cancer Age 21-65
Osteoporosis Women age 65 and up
Prostate-specific antigen Men aged 55-69
Tobacco All adults
Alcohol use All adults
Obesity All adults
Depression All adults
Influenza Yearly
Zoster (Shingles) Age 50 and up
Pneumonia Age 65 and up
Counseling on aspirin use Age 50 and up


Book an appointment today!