PHARMACY CORNER

Can CBD oil help calm your mind?

By Stephanie Simons,
Head Pharmacist,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire

 

Of all the pharmaceutical developments over the past years, few have been more controversial – or misunderstood – than CBD. Though originating in the same marijuana plant as Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the psychoactive drug more commonly known as ‘weed’ – CBD is a different chemical compound, without the intoxicating, potentially dangerous effects of THC.

Used in a wide range of products like drinks, gummies and even skincare, Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is found in both hemp plants and the cannabis plant Cannabis sativa. While it doesn’t give the ‘high’ associated with THC, it can provoke a relaxing response that soothes anxiety, stress and even pain.

The research is still in early stages, but many scientists believe that CBD oil can impact receptors in the brain. Receptors are proteins attached to your cells that receive chemical messages to help you respond to stimuli. CBD is thought to impact the brain’s receptors for serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for your mood, easing symptoms of stress, worry and social anxiety. Some people find it helps with related conditions like depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), while many find its relaxing effects improve their sleep.

CBD is also thought to improve the skin. When ingested, CBD impacts receptors in the body’s immune system, potentially reducing inflammation in the body which, in turn, can help prevent acne on both the body and face. CBD is found in a variety of topical skincare products too. Some studies say it can reduce sebum, the skin’s natural oil which, in high quantities, can cause acne. CBD is also packed with antioxidants which counteract free-radical damage and reduce both inflammation and signs of ageing – making it a fast-rising ingredient in the skin care industry.

So – where to start? CBD is available in a wide range of products so you’re sure to find one that’s right for you. If you’re keen to ease your stress or get a better night’s sleep (aren’t we all?), try a drop or two of CBD oil like Reliva Tincture – Mint or Upstate Elevator Company’s CBD extracts in lemon or peppermint under your tongue for about 30 seconds to a minute. Start with a low dose of 250mg and build your way up as required.

If you prefer something sweet, Upstate Elevator Company’s 10mg Mixed Fruit CBD Gummies are a delicious way to incorporate CBD into your day. Or many enjoy one of their fizzy drinks, available in a wide range of flavours from Raspberry Hibiscus Lime Seltzer to African Ginger and Mexican Lime Soda, as a healthier alternative to that evening glass of wine. 

For those with sore muscles, try applying Reliva Cream, a CBD-infused body cream that soothes and cools muscle ache. Those keen to boost their antioxidant defence can try USA Hemp’s Antioxidant Crème; jam-packed with CBD, organic avocado, jojoba, rosehip, carrot, and organic neem oil to keep those free radicals at bay and preserve your skin’s radiance.

You may see reports that CBD can be used to treat more complex physical issues including epilepsy, arthritis, and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. However, it’s important to note that if you’re managing a serious condition or symptoms, always consult your GP or pharmacist before trying CBD.

If you do take CBD and experience unpleasant side effects like diarrhoea, fatigue or a change in appetite, consult your doctor as soon as possible.

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.

 

Eat your greens!

By Stephanie Simons,
Head Pharmacist,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire

 

As children, we were all told to finish up our greens if we wanted dessert. Though annoying at the time – our mothers were right! Decades of scientific research has shown that eating leafy green vegetables is one of the simplest ways to maintain a healthy body and mind. Not only can it help you feel better in the short term, but these powerhouse foods can reduce your risk of numerous health problems down the road too.

Green veg get their vibrant colour from a pigment called chlorophyll. A potent antioxidant, ingesting chlorophyll helps your cells fight the damage caused by harmful free radicals found in your environment (e.g. sunlight or polluted air). It has also been shown to reduce inflammation and slow bacteria production, thus helping wounds to heal more quickly – and improving problematic skin.

You can increase your chlorophyll intake through supplements like Now Chlorophyll capsules or liquid or powders like wheatgrass (Pine’s Wheatgrass) or spirulina (Now Spirulina Powder). While these provide a great boost, it’s still worth adding more green veg to your diet, to get both your chlorophyll and a wide range of other benefits.

Many green veg like kale, spinach, and broccoli contain high levels of Vitamin K, which plays a key role in blood clotting, enabling the body to heal itself. New research also suggests that by helping the body to absorb calcium, Vitamin K is also important for bone health and can reduce the risk of fractures and osteoporosis. Supplements like Now Vitamin K are available if you’re concerned about your intake. Check with your GP or pharmacist first if you are taking any blood-thinning medication.

Green veg also contain folate (folic acid). Present in a variety of dark green veg, folate is a type of B vitamin which supports the production of red blood cells, helping you to stay energised, alert, and emotionally balanced. Folate is particularly critical for pregnant women as it reduces risk of neural tube defects like anencephaly and spina bifida. Pregnant women are often recommended adding a supplement like B-Complex + Folic Acid and Materna to their daily diet – do check with you’re GP if you’re not sure.  

While oranges are known for their Vitamin C, green veg like peppers and broccoli can be even better! Another powerful antioxidant, Vitamin C supports your immune system, helps to keep your teeth, gums and skin healthy – and reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease and eye conditions like cataracts and glaucoma. Most people can benefit from both food and supplementary sources – Redoxon and Haliborange are great if your kids are picky eaters – to get the most out of this mighty nutrient.

However, it’s not all about vitamins. Many green vegetables like bok choi, peas and Brussel sprouts are also a great source of protein. Fundamental for the structure of our cells and tissues, protein plays a critical role in fuelling your body and carrying oxygen around your body in your blood. Many contemporary diets are deficient in protein, especially those that avoid meat or dairy – but green veg is an easy way to increase the protein on your plate.

But what if you don’t like it? It’s no secret that we’d all prefer a pizza over a bowl of greens, but there are ways to include vegetables in tasty ways. Spinach and kale are easy to pop into your morning smoothie – when blended with sweet fruits like bananas or berries, you won’t taste them at all! Add broccoli and zucchini to your curry or stir-fry or bake some kale chips for a quick snack. You don’t have to overhaul your eating habits – a small tweak here and there can make all the difference. Our busy lives can make it difficult to stay healthy but eating a bit more green veg is a simple way to boost your health every single day. If you’re concerned about your health or would like further advice, please contact your GP or local pharmacist.

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.

Time to get moving

By Stephanie Simons,
Head Pharmacist,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire

 

Feeling a little heavier lately? With the disruption to exercise and eating routines brought on by the pandemic, even the leanest among us have seen the pounds pile on. This is nothing to be ashamed of – after all, your body has survived a world health crisis! But while a little weight gain is nothing to worry about, obesity can put you at risk of serious health complications.

More than a third of adults and a sixth of children in the US are classified as obese, increasing their risk of at least 60 chronic diseases including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer, as well as poor mental health. It is also thought that the overweight or obese are at much greater risk of death when infected with Covid-19.

The pandemic changed everything, including our daily habits to manage our health. However, research suggests just a 5-10% reduction in your body weight can improve blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugars, thus reducing your risk of numerous serious conditions. There are several simple lifestyle changes that can make a big difference.

Nutrition

During lockdown, many of us were eating more food and using less energy, causing our weight to increase. Adjusting your diet, however, can reap significant rewards. Instead of turning to unsustainable fasts or celebrity diets, look to incorporate nutritious, home-cooked meals into your everyday menu.

Proteins like chickpeas or fish, wholegrains like oats or brown rice, and a wide range of fruit and vegetables, will improve your health right from day one. You can even add a multivitamin like Centrum, Alive or Nature’s Truth ABC formulas or a protein powder like Pure Protein, Sun Warrior, Lean Body or Vital Protein to make your meals work harder for you.

Too busy to cook? Plan your meals ahead and cook big batches once or twice a week to have handy when you need. There’s no need to give up snacks either – try nuts, dates or crudités.

Exercise

Whether you prefer Pilates, the gym, or a quick dip in the pool, lockdown knocked our established routines out of whack. Many of us have struggled since then to regain our motivation. The key is not to strain yourself to resurrect your old habits, but instead create new ones that fit with your current lifestyle.

Online videos and classes are a great way to get back in the swing. Diverse, flexible and lower priced (or, indeed, free) this is exercise you can tailor to your preferences and your schedule. For those keen to get back to the gym, mark out small sessions of time, increasing only when you feel ready. Start with once or twice a week and build from there – you’re much more likely to keep it up – Vitamin B supplements like Nature’s Bounty or Nature’s Truth B-Complex will help you feel energised.

And enjoy the sunshine! A family hike or a trip to the beach is enough to get the juices flowing and help you feel more active again. Just don’t forget the sunscreen (try Blue Lizard or Neutrogena sunscreens!)

Support

Diet, exercise and mental health are intrinsically linked. Many of us are still recovering from the mental strain of the past year and this can make it difficult to address physical health concerns.

It can therefore be helpful to talk to others dealing with similar experiences who can support you to improve your mood and wellbeing. This might be your partner, your family and friends, or even a local group. A cooking class could inspire you to more adventurous cooking, or a sports team could give you the boost you need to get moving. You can always talk to your GP or pharmacist too if you need to discuss any health concern.

As your mood improves, you’ll find yourself much more motivated to prepare that nutritious meal or head out to your first post-lockdown yoga class – which, in turn, will help your mental health too. The important thing is not to face things alone – you’d be surprised how many people are feeling the exact same way.

Times have changed and our bodies have changed with them. As we move through this transition, it’s important to take things slowly. If you’re concerned about your mental or physical health, do speak to your pharmacist or GP.

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.

A helping hand

By Stephanie Simons,
Head Pharmacist,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire

 

I don’t know about you, but I am very much enjoying being out and about again. However, the world looks very different these days, and the past year has taught us some important lessons about safety. So what exactly do we need on hand as we venture out in the world again?

First of all – hand sanitiser. Once a rare purchase, it’s now an essential for everyday life to kill viruses and bacteria that live on surfaces and skin. Your sanitiser needs to be at least 70% alcohol to be effective – try Germ-X or Nesti Dante Hand Sanitizer.  Make sure to apply it before and after time in public spaces like shops, bars or schools.

Of course, repeated sanitiser use can also cause problems for your hands, as the high alcohol content breaks down the skin barrier and leads to irritation. This is especially difficult for those with skin conditions like eczema. Opt for sanitisers that contain ingredients like aloe to soothe problematic skin – such as Eco Sanitizer – and be sure to carry a hand cream too. A moisturising cream or lotion will soothe the dryness caused by your sanitiser, particularly with frequent use. E45 Cream is a great general option or try Cerave, Eucerin or Simple if your skin is very sensitive, dry or damaged.    

As those with kids – or a fondness for high heels – will know, bandages should be with you wherever you go. Carry a selection of sizes to cover everything from blisters to nasty cuts, including ones large enough to cover a knee. Most packs include a variety of sizes such as Curad, Bandaid, Nexcare or try a more petite option like Bandaid Travel pack if you’re short of room! Antiseptic wipes also help to clean the injury until you get home. A small First Aid Kit or a Ziploc bag with a few supplies is brilliant for on the go or to keep in the car.

The outdoors also poses a risk of allergic reactions. Up to 30% of adults and 40% of children suffer from hay fever, so it’s always helpful to have a remedy on hand. Adults can try tablets like Clarityn, Benadryl or Piriton or sprays like Benadryl or Bactine while remedies for kids include Benadryl, Piriton or Clarityn syrup. Skin irritation is equally rife in the summer months, whether it’s from plants or those pesky mosquitoes. Apply an insect repellent like Off or Cutter throughout the day and use creams like Benadryl or hydrocortisone to help soothe itchy or irritated areas.

An oldie-but-goodie when it comes to first aid is aspirin. Not only great for headaches and pain, it can also help emergency heart issues until you can reach help. Bayer Adult 325mg or any equivalent generic is a simple, effective option.  Other basics include bottled water – for anything from dehydration to cleaning a cut – and high protein snacks like granola bars keep blood sugar up and treat dizziness and/or nausea.

After the past year, it can take time to adjust to the world again. However, with a few useful remedies on hand, you’ll be ready to take on anything that comes your way. We’ve all learned how important it is to take care of ourselves – let’s put this into practice. If you have any questions or concerns, speak to your pharmacist or GP.

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.

 

Itchy and scratchy

By Stephanie Simons,
Head Pharmacist,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire

 

As Bermuda heats up, many of us will be digging out our favourite summer clothes! But for those with difficult skin conditions, the idea of sundresses and shorts fills them with more dread than excitement. Many conditions tend to flare up in the sunshine and heat, causing painful texture and rashes across the body.

Eczema

Eczema (atopic dermatitis) affects more than 18million people in the US, over half of which are children. Eczema causes the skin to become itchy, dry and cracked, and is usually a lifelong condition, although many cases lessen in severity come adulthood. As with other allergic reactions, the symptoms of atopic eczema often have certain triggers like soaps, detergents, stress and the weather.

Summer can be particularly difficult when managing eczema. The best solution is to keep your body temperature low to reduce sweating. Stay in the shade, crank up the air conditioning and drink plenty of water. When you do sweat, remove damp clothes and shower off the sweat, bacteria and dust as soon as possible. A gentle shower gel like Oilatum or Dermol will get you nice and clean without further aggravation.

Mineral sunscreens like Cerave SPF 50, Blue Lizard and some of the Alba and Neutrogena products are also less likely cause problems than their chemical counterparts – make sure you opt for SPF 30 or above. A good ceramide-rich body moisturiser like Cerave Moisturizer and Diprobase will help to soothe dryness and rebuild your skin barrier, while topical corticosteroids like Hydrocortisone can help reduce swelling and irritation during a flare up. Talk to your GP if you’re struggling, as medical support and prescription treatments are also available.

There’s a wide variety of products that are dermatologist-approved for eczema, psoriasis, body acne, and other problem skin conditions.

Psoriasis

Psoriasis, the build-up of excess red, itchy skin cells, affects at least 8million Americans. A highly visible condition due to its red, scaly texture, psoriasis also proves tricky in the summer months, as hot weather, the sea, chlorinated water and sun exposure can all irritate affected areas.

As with eczema, keeping your body temperature down will always help. Make sure you wear high factor sunscreen and limit skin’s exposure to the sun where you can. Rich moisturisers and after-sun lotions like E45, Cerave and Epaderm will calm skin after time outside, while gentle exfoliators like St. Ives Oatmeal Scrub can help improve skin’s rough texture. Topical Vitamin D products by Nature’s Bounty or Nature’s Truth and steroids creams like Hydrocortisone are also effective at treating the feel and appearance of psoriasis.

Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes red, itchy scaly patches, most commonly on the knees, elbows, trunk and scalp

Body acne

Even those blessed with the most blemish free skin can fall victim to body acne during the summer. The body naturally produces more oil in the heat which, combined with sweat and sunscreen, can clog hair follicles and cause everything from blackheads to painful acne.

The good news is, there are plenty of ways to keep those body blemishes at bay. Sunscreen is essential, so choose light, non-comedogenic gels and sprays like Neutrogena and Banana Boat branded products which best suit acne-prone skin. When out and about, tie up long hair up to avoid trapping and spreading oils across your neck and shoulders (making sure to use sunscreen on exposed areas), and opt for looser clothing which helps prevent sweat getting trapped between fabric and skin.   

Try to shower every day – ideally as soon as you get home – to remove the debris before it wriggles into your pores. An exfoliating body wash with ingredients like salicylic or glycolic acid, such as Cerave Eczema Wash and Neutrogena Acne Body Wash will slough away dead skin cells, while facial spot treatments like Neutrogena Spot Treatment or Bye Bye Blemish products can be used on the body too – don’t be tempted to pick or squeeze! We all experience skin issues at one point or another – no one’s perfect! Do what you can to soothe irritation, but don’t let your skin stop you enjoying the lovely weather. If you’re struggling with symptoms or unsure how to treat them, have a chat with your pharmacist or book an appointment with your GP. With a little help, and perhaps a cream or two, you’ll be shining bright this summer.

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.

 

Sunshine on a cloudy day

By Stephanie Simons,
Head Pharmacist,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire

 

Summer is approaching and as we prepare the barbeque and dig out the swimwear, chances are we’re looking for some good sun protection too. But when it comes to protecting your skin – and your health – sunscreen isn’t just for the beach. It’s for every single day.

All year round, the sun gives out two types of harmful ultraviolet rays which penetrate the skin – even on cloudy days. UVB rays can cause sunburn, while UVA rays have a longer wavelength that damages deep into skin cells. Both types cause DNA damage which, over time, can trigger premature ageing and mutations that lead to skin cancer.

Anyone can get skin cancer, regardless of age, gender or race, and approximately one in five people in the US will develop the condition. However, wearing a sunscreen of SPF 30+ every day can significantly reduce your risk, whilst also preventing sunburn and stopping those fine lines cropping up before they should!

Sunscreen isn’t just for the beach. It’s for every single day.

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and comes in two types: chemical and physical. Physical sunscreens like Blue Lizard and Alba sit on the surface of your skin and contain active ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide which act as a shield, deflecting the sun’s rays. Chemical sunscreens like Coppertone and Banana Boat, on the other hand, penetrate the surface of the skin to form a sponge that absorbs UVA and UVB rays, significantly reducing their harmful impact.

Which one is right for you? The best sunscreen is the one you like most – because this is the one you’re most likely to use. It’s therefore a good idea to try a few brands and see what suits you best.

Chemical sunscreens are often lighter formulas that sit nicely with makeup and suit all skin tones. However, common ingredients like oxybenzone or avobenzone can sometimes cause irritation. Great chemical sunscreens include Neutrogena, Aveeno and Cerave for the face, or Aveeno Body Lotion with SPF for the body.

Physical sunscreens are thicker creams that can leave a white cast on darker skin tones, yet their gentler ingredients are less likely to provoke sensitive skin. It’s also worth noting that chemical sunscreens take 20-30 mins to absorb, so if you’re often in a morning rush, an instantly effective physical sunscreen might be the one for you! Try Blue Lizard Face for the face, or Blue Lizard or Alba Mineral Sunscreen for below the neck.

It’s equally important that you apply the right amount – ideally a thick layer on all skin that will be exposed to the sun (including those areas where clothing may slip, such as shoulder straps). If you’re out and about, remember to reapply during the day, as most sunscreens will protect you for no more than two hours – even less when you sweat or swim. Spray sunscreens like Australian Gold, Coppertone or Banana Boat are always useful for topping up.  

Of course, no sunscreen can protect from 100% of UV rays, but there are additional ways you can protect your skin too. Balance your sun exposure with time in the shade, especially from 10am – 2pm when the sun is at its strongest. If you’re keen to boost your Vitamin D, try a supplement like Nature’s Bounty, Sundown or Now Vitamin D products or a multivitamin, and avoid sunbeds at all costs! Products like Neutrogena or Australian Gold Sunless tanners are here to give you that summer glow without the skin damage.

Skin cancer is highly treatable when caught early, so it’s vital that you keep an eye on your skin – and check your children’s too. If you notice any new or growing moles, itching, bleeding or more general changes, do consult your GP or pharmacist. After the past year, we all deserve some sunshine. Just remember to stay safe too.

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.

Easing the impact of Covid

By Stephanie Simons,
Head Pharmacist,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire

 

After more than a year, we are finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Covid vaccinations are making their way through the population and, with them, some much needed hope for the future. However, though things are certainly improving, it’s clear there will be no snap back to ‘normal’, especially for those most impacted by the pandemic.

Almost 30 million US citizens have contracted Covid-19 in the past year. Fortunately, the majority have not died from the virus, but many still have to adapt to the lasting symptoms that continue to affect their daily lives.

Long Covid refers to the plight of those with ongoing Covid symptoms. It’s estimated that one in ten still experience symptoms for at least twelve weeks after testing positive, and some for a long while more. Common symptoms include extreme tiredness and fatigue, an inability to concentrate (or ‘brain fog’), a loss of taste, smell, and/or appetite, and mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Others may also experience muscle aches, chest pains, or insomnia.

There is no specific treatment for long Covid, but there are things you can do to help while you wait for the symptoms to pass. Above all, be patient and don’t push yourself into activities you’re not ready for. Short, regular rests will be more effective than sleeping for fewer, longer periods, and you can arrange your schedule around the parts of the day when your energy levels are best. It’s important to keep moving if and when you can, as this will help your muscles rebuild and release endorphins that improve your mood.  

Also ongoing is the mental health crisis the coronavirus has unleashed across the globe. Even for those who’ve never caught Covid, it has been a time of tremendous stress, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. Vaccinations may lessen the worry, seeing family again may ease feelings of isolation – but the overall mental impact could last far longer than the pandemic itself.  

This is particularly true of those who have lost a loved one during this time. More than 500,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the US alone, leaving behind grieving families, friends, colleagues and neighbours. There are very few of us who haven’t been bereaved in some way over the past year and research suggests grief has been suffered more intensely than ever before.

Bereavement can unleash powerful emotions, from anger and sadness to guilt and exhaustion. Due to Covid restrictions, families have often been separated from their loved ones for some time before their deaths, unable to say goodbye or hold funerals to mark the loss. Many have also had to face their grief alone, unable to access the invaluable support of friends and relatives.

Everyone experiences grief differently, yet we can all benefit from taking care of ourselves, even when we don’t feel like it. Eating and sleeping well will give you more energy and improve your mood. Try a sleep aid like Sleep-Eeze, Unisom or ZzzQuil or Melatonin to help to reset your body clock or a multivitamin like Centrum, One-A-Day or Topcare Multivitamins for Adults to help you on your way and accept that some days you will just need to cry and remember the person you’ve lost. It’s all completely normal and part of the process.

Whatever we’re dealing with, it’s important that we all stay connected. Human interaction plays a vital role in our health, so it’s vital that we check in on people, offer support and likewise ask for help when we need it. Your local pharmacy and community health teams are also here to support you, no matter what stage of the pandemic. We can help with everything from the best painkillers to specialist grief counselling – or even just offer a listening ear. If you or a loved one are struggling to cope with physical or mental symptoms, contact your GP as soon as possible.

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.

 

Feeling sleepy? It could be your red blood cells

By Stephanie Simons,
Head Pharmacist,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire

 

Feeling overly tired? Or a bit short of breath? These symptoms can affect us all at some point or another, and there are many reasons why. A common culprit, however, is anaemia.

Anaemia occurs when there’s a reduction in red blood cells circulating in the body. This prevents organs from getting enough oxygen to function correctly, causing fatigue, shortness of breath and often other symptoms too like pale skin, tinnitus, headaches and hair loss.

At least 6% of the US population has some form of anaemia. While women, young children, and people with long-term diseases are more likely to have the condition, it can affect anyone. The good news is, anaemia can be detected by a simple blood test and, in most cases, easily treated.

The most common form of anaemia is caused by iron deficiency. Iron is needed by your bone marrow to make haemoglobin, the part of the red blood cell that takes oxygen to your organs. This can be tackled with supplements like Ferrograd, Spatone, Floradix or Ferrous Fumarate or stronger doses prescribed by your GP. But first of all, we must identify the cause behind the deficiency.

This can be as simple as your diet. Most people get a steady supply of iron from the food they eat, but many miss out on its key sources. Vegetarians and vegans don’t receive the high doses found in meat, but it’s easy to pack in plant-based sources like pulses, leafy vegetables and fortified breads and cereals. Those who avoid meat may also not ingest enough Vitamin B12, which is essential for building red blood cells. B12 is often added to plant milks like almond, oat or soya, or can be taken as a supplement like Vit. B-12 by Nature’s Bounty or Nature Made. The strengths available range from 250mcg to 2500mcg.

Blood loss can also cause anaemia if the number of red blood cells lost exceeds the amount being produced. Women who experience heavy and/or overly frequent periods often suffer from anaemia due to this depletion in the body’s red blood cells. Anaemia can also indicate gastrointestinal conditions such as ulcers, haemorrhoids, gastritis or cancer which cause internal bleeding, which is why it’s always important to flag symptoms to your GP.

Pregnant women often experience anaemia too, as both mother and baby need higher levels of iron than is usually ingested. While mild anaemia is normal during pregnancy, more severe cases can increase the risk of pre-term delivery, a low birth weight, and blood loss during labour, making it more difficult to fight infection. Expectant mothers should look to increase the iron in their diets and discuss any symptoms with their GPs, who will test for and treat anaemia throughout the pregnancy.

Folic acid (Vitamin B9) plays a key role in red blood cell production, and GPs often prescribe this to pregnant women or suggest a lighter dose made by Nature’s Bounty or Nature Made. A diet rich in leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, beans, and whole grains will also boost your folic acid intake. These are tiring times for us all and a little fatigue is nothing to be alarmed about. But if you are at all concerned that you or a family member may be anaemic, speak to your GP as soon as possible. Pharmacists too are always happy to advise and discuss any possible supplements. Most cases of anaemia are easy to diagnose and to treat as long as we keep an eye out for the signs.

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.

 

Dodging the detox myths

By Stephanie Simons,
Head Pharmacist,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire

 

January is always a great time to reset and look forward to the year ahead. However, we can sometimes go about this the wrong way. After the holiday season – the champagne, the chocolate, the mince pies… – it’s tempting to turn to dieting and ‘detox’ measures in a bid to get back in shape. But while our intentions are good, these quick-fire measures reap very few results – and some could actually damage your health.

We all indulge over the holidays, and the accumulation of alcohol, sugar and fat can leave us feeling sluggish and a bit heavier than usual. We often look to quick diets to shed those extra holiday pounds, but such methods are simply types of fasting, which can have serious repercussions.

When your body doesn’t get the calories it needs, it starts to build up ketones, chemicals that cause nausea, dizziness and dehydration. You may indeed lose weight, but will be from the loss of water, glycogen (carbohydrate stores) and muscle, a process that weakens your body and your immune system. Such diets can also escalate into eating disorders, leading to years of mental and physical issues.    

Other trends focus on ‘detoxing’ – attempts to purge your body of the ‘toxins’ incurred over the holidays. However, while extreme alcohol use can lead to alcohol poisoning, the average intake of food and drink at Christmas is nowhere near enough to fill us with ‘toxins’. Our bodies, moreover, are resilient. Your liver and kidneys are mighty organs that cleanse detoxify the blood, removing any impurities and keeping the body clean.

Juice ‘cleanses’ are a common culprit. It’s great to pack in more fruit and veg, but this regime denies your body many of the essential vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and fatty acids it needs to function. A juice cleanse also reduces your protein intake, causing your body to take it from other sources, like your muscles, organs and bones. Your body ends up in a much worse state than when you started!

That said, there are still safe and healthy routes to that January boost. Ease up on the sugar and processed foods and add in more fruit and veg, whole grains like brown rice and oats, and plenty of protein. Rather than eradicating food groups, aim for variety instead – and don’t deny yourself the odd treat!

Making small changes to your breakfast habits can make a big difference. For example:

  • Bananas are great source of energy and help you stay fuller for longer so you can resist the biscuits later in the day. Mix them into pancakes, scatter them on your cereal or grab one on the way out the door.
  • Nut butters can increase your protein intake and regulate your blood sugar levels throughout the morning. Spread on toast or dollop on your porridge for an easy, healthy treat.
  • Smoothies can be a nutritious breakfast or an energy boosting snack. Just blend frozen fruit, yogurt, nut butter and/or leafy greens with your milk of choice. You can tailor your smoothie to your individual needs by blending in protein powders like Pure Protein, Sun Warrior or Kos or supplements like Primal Kitchen Collagen powder.  

With some good nights’ sleep, exercise and healthy meals, your body will easily bounce back from last year’s festivities. In the meantime, try some skin-loving body treats like Cerave Hydrating Cleanser, or St. Ives Oatmeal Scrub which can double as a face mask to brighten your day. You’ll soon be feeling better and ready for whatever 2021 has in store!

If you have concerns about your health after the holiday season, do contact your GP or pharmacy as soon as possible.

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.

Beat the stress this holiday season

By Stephanie Simons,
Head Pharmacist,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire

Tis the season to be jolly and this year – we’ve definitely earned it. But for many this can be a stressful time too and, with the pandemic still casting a shadow over us all, this holiday season could be more challenging than usual.

Stress can be very detrimental to our mental and physical health. More than 40% of adults suffer adverse health effects from stress and nearly three quarters of all GP appointments are stress-related. However, if we can recognise the symptoms, there are ways to ease the strain and enjoy the festivities.

Stress is an evolutionary response. It occurs when a situation triggers your ‘fight or flight’ response, preparing you to defend yourself, or run for it! The hypothalamus causes stress hormones like adrenaline to surge through the body, causing your heart rate to soar, your breath to quicken and your muscles to tense – ready for action. In the case of danger, this gives us the best chance of survival. However, it becomes a problem in modern life when this reaction causes more problems than it solves.

The fortunate among us are rarely faced with life-threatening situations that require ‘fight or flight’. Instead we’re anxious about our jobs or family – or Christmas! If our anxieties continue, so does the stress response, which can have long term effects on our health.  

Ever noticed you come down with a cold when you’re stressed? That’s because it weakens the immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to the bugs circulating during the winter months. Stress can also cause headaches and tension in the neck and shoulders, while the build up of stomach acid can cause or exacerbate heart burn.

Longer term, the impact is more serious. Chronic stress can break down your emotional defences leading to depression, while excess adrenaline and cortisol can disrupt your sleep. The liver secretes more glucose, heightening your blood sugar levels and increasing your risk of Type 2 diabetes, while the narrowing of blood vessels can lead to high blood pressure – and even heart problems further down the road.

Chances are – this blog itself is making you stressed! But that’s not what we’re here for. The truth is, there are plenty of ways to find calm, even amongst the festive madness.

Serotonin is our happy hormone that can counterbalance stressors like cortisol. You can boost your levels by getting plenty of sunlight (even in the cold) and eating complex carbohydrates like oatmeal. Vitamin C is also known to help reduce stress, so stock up on oranges and broccoli in your next grocery shop or pop by your local pharmacy for a supplement like Berocca, Redoxon or Vitamin B complex formulas.

Exercise is also a great way to combat stress. It releases endorphins that improve your mood, while lowering your blood pressure – and giving you the chance for some alone time if the kids get a bit crazy!

Meditation, mindfulness and yoga are popular practices for calming the mind and body. Take a look online for quick and easy videos that you can slot in between the family Zooms! Aromatherapy products like Nature’s Truth Oils or room sprays can create a calm atmosphere, while soothing drinks like Chamomile or other herbal tea blends can help you wind down on an evening.

Stress can often feel outside of your control, but you do have the power to recognise and tackle the symptoms before they escalate. You can always talk to your pharmacist about how to best ease your stress or visit your GP if you’re at all worried about your health. We’re here for you throughout the holiday season – and always. Happy holidays from Lindo’s Pharmacy!

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.