HEALTH

Study: Vitamin D supplementation may augment chronic hive therapy

BY Michael Johnsen

OMAHA, Neb. — A study by researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center found that vitamin D as an add-on therapy could provide some relief for chronic hives, a condition with no cure and few treatment options.

Jill Poole, associate professor in the UNMC Department of Internal Medicine, was principal investigator of a study in the Feb. 7 edition of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. The two-year study looked at the role of over-the-counter vitamin D3 as a supplemental treatment for chronic hives.

Over 12 weeks, 38 study participants daily took a triple-drug combination of allergy medications (one prescription and two over-the-counter drugs) and one vitamin D3, an over-the-counter supplement. Half of the patient’s took 600 IUs of vitamin D3 and the other half took 4,000 IUs.

Researchers found after just one week, the severity of patients’ symptoms decreased by 33% for both groups. But at the end of three months, the group taking 4,000 IUs of vitamin D3 had a further 40% decrease in severity of their hives. The low vitamin D3 treatment group had no further improvement after the first week.

“We consider the results in patients a significant improvement,” Poole said. “This higher dosing of readily available vitamin D3 shows promise without adverse effects. Vitamin D3 could be considered a safe and potentially beneficial therapy, she said. “It was not a cure, but it showed benefit when added to anti-allergy medications. Patients taking the higher dose had less severe hives — they didn’t have as many hives and had a decrease in the number of days a week they had hives.

Poole said the study didn’t include patients with kidney disease or those with calcium disorders.

The study was funded through a $50,000 grant from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and the UNMC Clinical Research Center.

Researchers are considering doing a larger study.

An allergic skin condition, chronic hives create red, itchy welts on the skin and sometimes swelling. They can occur daily and last longer than six weeks.

 

 

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Merz North America launches Mederma PM

BY Michael Johnsen

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Merz North America recently launched Mederma PM, a new one-of-a-kind scar cream formulated to work at night, when skin naturally regenerates faster.  

Mederma PM Intensive Overnight Scar Cream is formulated to complement this nighttime activity with Tripeptol, a skin-nourishing complex with peptides, collagen and antioxidants to promote healthy-looking skin and help skin fight free radical damage. 

Once-nightly application is clinically shown to make scars smaller and less visible, and can begin to bring noticeable results in as little as 14 nights.

 

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Smoking cessation may improve mental health

BY Michael Johnsen

ST. LOUIS — New research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that people who struggle with mood problems or addiction can safely quit smoking and that kicking the habit is associated with improved mental health, the university announced earlier this week. 

“Clinicians tend to treat the depression, alcohol dependence or drug problem first and allow patients to ‘self-medicate’ with cigarettes if necessary,” said lead investigator Patricia Cavazos-Rehg. “The assumption is that psychiatric problems are more challenging to treat and that quitting smoking may interfere with treatment.”

But in the study, Cavazos-Rehg, an assistant professor of psychiatry, found that quitting or significantly cutting back on cigarette smoking was linked to improved mental health outcomes. Quitting altogether or reducing by half the number of cigarettes smoked daily was associated with lower risk for mood disorders like depression, as well as a lower likelihood of alcohol and drug problems.

“We don’t know if their mental health improves first and then they are more motivated to quit smoking, or if quitting smoking leads to an improvement in mental health,” Cavazos-Rehg said. “But either way, our findings show a strong link between quitting and a better psychiatric outlook.”

In addition, she believes the serious health risks associated with smoking make it important for doctors to work with their patients to quit, regardless of other psychiatric problems.

“About half of all smokers die from emphysema, cancer or other problems related to smoking, so we need to remember that as complicated as it can be to treat mental health issues, smoking cigarettes also causes very serious illnesses that can lead to death,” she explained.

The study is published online in the journal Psychological Medicine.

Funding for this research comes from the National Center for Research Resources and the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health. The study also was supported by the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research and by the American Cancer Society.

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