Monthly Archives: April 2023

Mislabeled melatonin supplements are possibly leading to an increase in emergency room visits.

This article shows the dangers of obtaining Melatonin on the internet. I cannot stress the importance of getting it made up by a competent Australian Compounding Chemist. There is a reason it is so cheap on the net – poor quality.

Mislabeled melatonin supplements are possibly leading to an increase in emergency room visits

By Claire Wolters | Fact-checked by Jessica Wrubel

| Published April 29, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Several melatonin brands mislabel their products and contain high melatonin potencies, according to a new study.
  • Because pediatric melatonin use and pediatric melatonin-based ER visits increased during the pandemic, the researchers urge heightened caution over melatonin use for kids.

Pediatric melatonin use increased during the pandemic, and melatonin-related emergency room visits increased along with it. Now, a new study suggests that incorrectly labeled supplements and inconsistent melatonin potencies may be to blame—and researchers are urging caution around the popular sleep aid.[1]

“I would not trust that a quantity of melatonin listed on a melatonin gummy label is accurate given our results,” says Pieter Cohen, MD, associate professor of medicine at Cambridge Health Alliance and lead author of the study. 

Cohen’s team revealed that a majority of melatonin brands are incorrectly labeled, containing either no melatonin or too-potent doses, and, in some, various levels of cannabinoid additives.

From 2020 to 2021, US Poison Control Centers received a 530% increase in calls for pediatric melatonin ingestions, according to the study. In addition, these calls were associated with tens of thousands (27,795) of emergency department and clinic visits, thousands (4,097) of hospitalizations, hundreds (287) of intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, and two deaths, according to the study.[1]

These numbers aren’t just on paper. Daniel Ganjian, MD, a pediatrician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, says he’s noticed a recent increase in melatonin overdose calls in the practice, most of which appear to result from accidental ingestion.

“Almost all the homes have some melatonin in it,” adds Ganjian. “Kids go into a mom or grandmother’s jar of melatonin, and they eat it. [They think,] ‘Oh, this is candy.’”

Some pediatric patients take melatonin on purpose, too. (Parents may give melatonin to help their children fall asleep.) With that in mind, the study heightens the importance of cautiously approaching supplements, which most pediatricians should already be doing, Ganjian says. 

“Any time we give supplements, we’re always wary,” Ganjian adds. “This makes things even more wary [because] now that you don’t even know how much you’re giving a child.”

What the melatonin study found

To conduct the study, Cohen and the team evaluated 25 unique brands of melatonin gummies that clearly stated “melatonin” on the label and were available for purchase. They reconstructed these gummies in a lab setting to dissect their ingredients and compare the actual make-up to that displayed on the supplements’ labels.

Their investigation revealed wide ranges of melatonin composition in the different brands—spanning from a high of 13.1 mg per serving to one low of 0, i.e., no detectable melatonin at all.

It also revealed wide ranges in how closely the gummies’ true melatonin composition matched its label. A majority of the products studied (22 brands) were inaccurately labeled, and only three products contained melatonin levels within 10% proximity to the labeled quantity. When taking out the ‘no melatonin’ outlier, “the actual quantity of melatonin ranged from 74% to 347% of the labeled quantity,” the researchers wrote.

A total of five products declared the inclusion of CBD, but the actual quantity of CBD did not match that on the label. CBD quantities ranged from 10.6 mg to 31.3 mg per serving in the designated brands, which was more than 100% of their labeled quantities.

Going forward, Cohen said he and his team hope to pursue answers to study answers to further questions about melatonin use and safety:

  • Guidance around the safety and security of melatonin gummies, particularly in households with young children.
  • The most common types of melatonin gummies are currently used for children.
  • The potency of melatonin tablets.

How can physicians guide melatonin recommendations?

Melatonin is a supplement and is not currently regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. The new findings place an additional responsibility on physicians to be careful about if and to what extent they recommend pediatric patients take melatonin.

“When we decide to recommend melatonin, we should specify precisely what dose we recommend,” says Cohen. “Then, we need to help patients find melatonin products that are properly labeled.”

Given the “current regulatory environment,” he added that doctors limit melatonin recommendations to products certified by either United States Pharmacopeia (USP) or the National Science Foundation (NSF) as those should be accurately labeled.

Based on his own experience in pediatrics, Ganjian recommends doctors first encourage sleep hygiene techniques, like recommending the patient sleep in a calming environment, turning off the lights at a consistent time, and keeping distractions (or the family dog) out of the bed, before turning to a supplement like melatonin. After that, if recommending melatonin to a pediatric patient, he emphasizes the importance of starting with a small dose and titrating up if needed.

“In general, the model for children is: the less, the better,” says Ganjian. “If things are not needed, don’t give it.”

What this means for you

Researchers revealed that several common melatonin products are mislabeled and contain varying potencies of melatonin. They encourage caution around melatonin use, particularly among young children.

Managing overactive bladder

Managing overactive bladder

Clinical Articles

Proactively asking at-risk patients about overactive bladder can improve outcomes, urogynaecologist explains

While an overactive bladder (OAB) can affect men, it is much more common in women, with 20-30% experiencing it at some stage of their life, according to Dr Yu Hwee Tan, a urogynaecologist in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast. Women who are impacted by OAB often report that it limits their quality of life, preventing them from exercising or going out.

“They have to always be aware of where a toilet is,” Dr Tan says. “They go to the toilet often as they have the fear of wetting themselves or of smelling like urine because they’re leaking. So it definitely is something that can significantly impact a woman’s life.”

Yet despite this, many women go untreated.

Dr Tan says it’s difficult for women to talk about because they feel ashamed, so many wait years before they seek help. For that reason, Dr Tan recommends GPs ask at-risk patients if they are experiencing any bladder symptoms.

The risk factors for overactive bladder are:

  • Being female
  • Aging – especially being post-menopausal
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Neurological conditions such as MS
  • Poorly controlled diabetes

Early intervention can make a big difference. For example, for women who’ve just given birth, “the most improvement they can make to their pelvic floor function is in the first six to 12 months after delivering a baby,” Dr Tan says. If they are experiencing any troublesome symptoms, she suggests referral to a pelvic floor physio as the first course of action.

Screening opportunities include the 6-week post-natal check-up, baby vaccination appointments, or during a routine pap smear.

Dr Tan also notes that OAB is related to age or menopause and is unlikely to improve over time— and may get worse, so having the conversation with your patients is important for their quality of life.


Overactive bladder can involve:

  • Urinary urgency
  • Urge incontinence
  • Urinary frequency – more than 7-8 times a day
  • Nocturia – getting up multiple times at night to urinate

To diagnose OAB, Dr Tan says a physical exam is important to ensure there are no vaginal or urethral abnormalities.

Screening tests should also be up to date, and it’s important to rule out UTI or malignancy, especially in older patients, smokers or those who have a family history of bladder cancer. Routine tests should include a mid-stream urine to exclude UTI as well as urine cytology. It can be useful to check renal function as well as obtain a renal ultrasound, and ensure medical conditions are optimised.

Conservative management

Dr Tan says there is good evidence that lifestyle intervention can reduce OAB symptoms.
This can include weight loss if they’re obese, bowel function optimisation and modifying fluid intake. Caffeinated beverages such as coffee or tea can also irritate the bladder, so although it can be challenging, cutting back can help reduce overactive bladder symptoms.

Referring to a pelvic floor physio to teach women how to retrain their bladder and optimise pelvic floor muscle training is also valuable, Dr Tan says.

The next step

If there is no improvement after three months of lifestyle changes and physiotherapist input, medications are the next step.

Dr Tan says there is level one evidence for the use of anticholinergics, like the Oxytrol patch and Ditropan as well as beta-3 adrenergic agonists such as mirabegron (Betmiga). Ditropan and Oxytrol are the only ones listed on the PBS, but these have more side effects, including dry eyes, dry mouth and constipation. There is also some evidence that long term use of non-specific anticholinergics may be associated with an increased risk of dementia.

“So we’re in a slightly difficult situation because those are the only medications on the PBS. And often patients find that they can’t really afford the more expensive medications which are not on the PBS like Mirabegron.”

Dr Tan suggests a review at three months to assess the effectiveness of the medications.

If patients have tried a couple of medications with no improvement, 3rd line interventions which require referral may include:

  • botox
  • percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation
  • sacral neuromodulation

Botox for bladders

Using a camera inserted through the urethra for guidance, the Botox is injected into multiple spots in the bladder wall which temporarily paralyses the detrusor muscle. “The effects generally last on average between six to 12 months,” Dr Tan says, and there is no downtime. It can be done as an outpatient procedure and the patient can drive home afterwards.

Risks include bladder infection and voiding dysfunction requiring catheter use e.g. self-catheterisation.

Percutaneous Tibial Nerve Stimulation

Percutaneous Tibial Nerve Stimulation is an increasingly popular non-invasive treatment that involves stimulating the posterior tibial nerve with “something that looks like an acupuncture needle” Dr Tan says. It has the same nerve supply as the bladder.

It is a low risk 12 week course. Each treatment is 30 minutes and by the end of the course the patient needs to have at least a 50% improvement in their symptoms in order to continue. It is successful in about 60% of patients – successive treatments following the 12-week course are tapered over time and some patients require ongoing treatment once a month.

Sacral Neuromodulation

Sacral neuromodulation involves inserting a device just above the right buttock. It stimulates the sacral nerve and helps to modulate the overactive bladder symptoms.

The downside is that it’s more expensive and is invasive. It’s not suitable for people who have a pacemaker, and older models are not compatible for MRI. There is usually a two-week test phase where a lead is put in to stimulate the nerve, and the actual device is only implanted in patients who have at least 50% improvement in symptoms during the test.

To hear more on from Dr Dr Yu Hwee Tan on this topic, listen to her recent podcast here.

Recommended resources:

Follow up of my post of the 24th April

It appears that my post “what has happened to Humanity” on the 24th was censored. The video I posted of Dr Miller outlining the inferior quality of the medical care he received because he was not vaccinated, was not shown. This is not the first time I have had material blocked. Previously some e-mails I sent to patients which were critical of vaccines were returned undelivered, as they contained “prohibited material” according to Optus. I am a pacifist and mild mannered person by nature, but I am angered by this.

Here is the video again, in a different format. I hope this avoids the censors – I can only but try.

Could Certain Foods Help With Hot Flashes?

Could Certain Foods Help With Hot Flashes?

Article from the New York Times.

There’s only preliminary research on how diet might affect menopause symptoms, but some nutrients show promise.

Alisha Haridasani Gupta

By Alisha Haridasani Gupta

April 20, 2023

For a phenomenon that affects roughly 75 percent of menopausal American women, hot flashes are still surprisingly mysterious, with little known about how they work or what to do about them.

“We don’t have exact answers — just several theories and questions,” said Dr. Arianna Sholes-Douglas, an obstetrician-gynecologist and author of “The Menopause Myth: What Your Mother, Doctor and Friends Haven’t Shared About Life After 35.” With the decline in estrogen during the menopause transition, the body’s internal thermostat sometimes registers the body as hotter than it is and sets off rapid sweating and a dilation of blood vessels in an attempt to cool down.

But what triggers that process and why? It’s unclear. How are hot flashes connected with other health issues, like cognitive concerns and cardiovascular disease? Also hazy. Treatment options are limited to hormones and just one non-hormonal drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration. All of which, Dr. Sholes-Douglas added, is a clear reflection of the scant attention and little funding devoted to medical research into this phase of a woman’s life.

In the last two decades, researchers have started to investigate another potential source of relief: diet. The idea stems from studies that have found that hot flashes differ across cultures and might be a largely Western experience. With that in mind, researchers have hypothesized that environmental factors, like diet, might play a part in this difference.

But many of the studies on dietary interventions are small or inconclusive, said Dr. Stephanie Faubion, medical director for the North American Menopause Society and a director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Women’s Health. In studies that have suggested certain foods reduce hot flashes, the mechanisms at work are not fully understood, she added.

Still, there is no harm in adjusting your diet to see if it might help manage your hot flashes, Dr. Faubion said.

Which foods might help?

Soy products, like tofu and soybeans, contain isoflavones, which are chemicals that can bind to estrogen receptors in the body, said Neal Barnard, an adjunct professor of medicine at the George Washington School of Medicine. For that reason, the thinking goes, soy may mimic estrogen. It’s one of the most-studied foods in connection to menopausal symptoms, and there’s some evidence that eating it might be associated with fewer hot flashes. But it’s unclear whether that’s because of the soy itself or another mechanism.

In a pair of recent studies, Dr. Barnard and his team randomly assigned 84 postmenopausal women who reported moderate to severe hot flashes to either their regular diets or a low-fat vegan diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, including a daily half-cup of cooked soybeans. Moderate to severe hot flashes decreased by roughly 80 percent in both studies.

“The caveat there is that this was essentially two different interventions — they were on a whole-food, plant-based diet and they had high soy,” said Dr. Faubion. “So what part of that was responsible for those results? We have no idea.” The women in the study also ended up losing weight, which Dr. Faubion said is noteworthy because some studies have shown a correlation between increased body fat and hot flashes, particularly during certain stages of menopause.

Also of interest to researchers are omega-3 fatty acids. But while some studies have found that taking omega-3 supplements seems to reduce the frequency of hot flashes, others found that they make no difference. Supplements aside, the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in foods containing omega-3s — like flaxseeds, walnuts and fatty fish like salmon — has been shown in some studies to be associated with fewer hot flashes and other menopause symptoms.

Are there foods to avoid?

There’s some evidence that a diet high in sugar and fat is associated with worse hot flashes. Beyond that, doctors often suggest avoiding certain foods and drinks that seemingly trigger a hot flash, said Dr. Hoosna Haque, an OB-GYN at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, such as “spicy food, caffeine, alcohol and also really high-concentrated sugary foods and highly processed foods.”

But, she said, that recommendation is often based just on anecdotal evidence, and it’s not fully understood why those foods and drinks might trigger a hot flash.

“It might just be because they can cause spikes and drops in energy levels,” Dr. Haque said. Or because something like caffeine can dilate blood vessels — much like hot flashes do — and may set off a similar chain of events.

Ultimately, “we counsel patients that a balanced, healthy diet may help relieve symptoms, but it isn’t a treatment,” Dr. Haque said. And healthy diets “can also have beneficial effects down the line, when it comes to things like bone health, weight gain and cardiovascular health.”

Alisha Haridasani Gupta is a reporter on the Well desk, focused on women’s health, health inequities and trends in functional medicine and wellness. Previously, she wrote the In Her Words newsletter, covering politics, business, technology, health and culture through the gender lens.

Vaccine Injuries Become Dominant Theme of German Reporting on Covid Jabs

This should be read in conjunction with my earlier post. Early on in 2021 I started seeing patients who had obviously suffered ill effects from the Covid vaccine. Nearly all of them had been told their problems were not due to the vaccine. After 25 years of medicine, I had never seen the likes of some of the things I was witnessing. Which is why I stopped after my second Covid shot in May 2021, and had no more after that. Surprise, surprise- I have not had Covid any any shape or form in the last 3 years, in spite of ignoring the advice of all these learned specialists. I have not worn a mask either. (see my previous post where they are shown not to work- Cochrane study)

Vaccine Injuries Become Dominant Theme of German Reporting on Covid Jabs


23 April 2023 6:31 PM

Last month, German Health Minister and renowned virus pest Karl Lauterbach gave a remarkable interview in which he denounced “exorbitant” pharmaceutical profits, deplored “dismaying” vaccine injuries, and called for the manufacturers to set aside funds for those who have been harmed. He did so amid a growing wave of reporting on vaccine injuries in the German press – a wave which his statements have now turned into a tsunami. In the weeks since, vaccine injuries and side effects have become the dominant theme of German press coverage on the jabs, from local papers to national media.

It’s been a serious shift, the likes of which I’m not sure has unfolded in any other country. To give you a taste of it, I’ve assembled a representative selection of stories from the last eight weeks or so, in roughly reverse chronological order. As you read through them, remember that these are all links to publications read by ordinary people; I’ve excluded all media with overt Covid-sceptic associations.

  • From the national tabloid BILD:

He lost his sight: Dietmar S. sues BioNTech for 150,000 Euros.

Dietmar S. became as good as blind in his right eye following Covid vaccination. Now the case is going to trial.

“The problems are hushed up”: Marburg cardiologist Bernhard Schieffer treats people who suffer from long-term symptoms after Covid vaccinations. He criticises the lack of support – and Health Minister Karl Lauterbach.

Post-Vac: “My life is no longer like before” – Sick after Covid vaccination.
Almost five million people in Hesse have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Some have developed serious illnesses afterwards. One of them is Dieter Gebert from Kassel.

Lupus after Covid vaccination: A young woman from Hesse is treated in special Cologne clinic.

19-year-old Juline from Butzbach was severely injured by a Corona vaccination and now requires expensive immunoadsorption.

  • From the state media behemoth ZDF:

Covid vaccine injury: Do manufacturers face liability? Anyone who has suffered vaccine damage can take action against the vaccine manufacturers and apply for state benefits. But the hurdles for compensation are high.

  • From tagesschau, a major state media news service:

Soon the first lawsuits will start: Across Germany, there are almost 200 civil lawsuits against Corona vaccine manufacturers like BioNTech. The plaintiffs claim to have been harmed by the vaccination.

Injection with an aftermath: A man from Sigmaringen suffered a stroke after Covid vaccination

Shortly after the second jab, Bernhard Strobel collapsed. He still feels the consequences today. Now he is going to court.

VACCINE INJURY! 1ST CASE BEFORE THE COURT: Oxana G. (35) is wheelchair-bound following Covid vaccination.

Across Germany, 185 civil lawsuits are pending because of damages caused by Corona vaccinations. Oxana G. (35) is one of the injured parties. The fact that the courts are finally dealing with her case is already seen as a success by the woman from Halle: “I have lost my life – as I knew it before. I hope that my family and I will finally receive compensation and help.”

  • From Hessenschau, a publication of regional Hessischer Rundfunk:

Sick following Covid vaccination: Why official points of contact [for the vaccine injured] are necessary.

Around five million people in Hesse have been vaccinated against Corona. Some have become seriously ill as a result of the vaccination. Those affected often fail in their search for medical expertise; they feel abandoned by the health system and the state.

  • From Die Zeit, Germany’s largest weekly newspaper:

What we know about Covid vaccine injury: Karl Lauterbach has promised victims of vaccine damage faster help – and caused confusion about how common it is in the first place. The state of the question.

Covid vaccine researcher: “Allegations must be investigated immediately.”

Vaccine researcher Carlos A. Guzmán talks about the benefits, limitations and side effects of the Covid vaccine – as well as allegations of inconsistencies in the approval process.

  • From the Bamberg-based news portal inFranken:

Pensioner (87) dies eight months after Covid vaccination – his son’s lawsuit fails.

After an elderly man died within a few months of Covid vaccination, his son filed a lawsuit against the doctor. He has now failed before the Landgericht.

  • Again from ZDF:

The suffering of Covid vaccine victims: Long-term complaints can occur following a Corona infection. Vaccination is supposed to protect against this – but it can also have side effects. What’s next for the vaccine-injured?

Possible heart damage after Covid vaccination: Woman sues BioNTech for damages.

The company is facing its first civil lawsuit for alleged damages caused by the Corona vaccine. The trial is scheduled to begin on 15 March at the Frankfurter Landgericht.

The trend is so dominant that it colours all other reporting on Covid and the vaccines. It’s hard to miss the subtle anxiety at work in pieces like this one from the Vienna-based Standard, asking whether we’ll have to vaccinate ourselves against Corona every year from here on out, or the not-so-veiled notes of hope in ZDF reporting on successful Phase 1 trials of the German nasal vaccine. What’s the big deal about regular vaccination and why should we care about new live attenuated vaccines, if the mRNA jabs were God’s gift to man?

There are clear, encouraging patterns here. The reporting originally surrounded lawsuits brought against the vaccine manufacturers, but has steadily assumed a more general focus. Regional and local papers are carrying a big share of these stories, with major state media playing a supporting role. The publications most popular with German biens pensants, meanwhile, like Süddeutsche Zeitung and Die Zeit and even Frankfurter Allgemeine, are pointedly underrepresented. This is a trend driven from the bottom up by popular interest, and in that it is the opposite of much Covid reporting since 2020.

Of course, these stories have always been out there, but until the last few months, enthusiasm for the vaccines was sufficient to suppress them. As with all pandemic policies, mass vaccination exhibits qualities of inertia. Obsession steadily grew through the summer months of 2021, as the jab failed to eradicate Covid, and achieved a frenzied peak around December 2021. There was nothing to do about the insane mania and its manifold irrationality back then, and the steady disenchantment with these products will prove just as inexorable.

This isn’t the repudiation I would have chosen. The focus on isolated stories allows the very same press outlets to recycle WHO propaganda that the vaccines have saved a million European lives, and to repeat uncritically the claims of foolish regulators that “vaccination was the decisive factor” in ending the pandemic. I also have reservations about the emerging discussion of “Post-Vac Syndrome” – not because I doubt that the vaccines have made people sick, but because it seems to be built from the same ill-defined grab-bag of fibromyalgia-adjacent symptoms as Long Covid. This is a continuation of the media-supported myth that vaccine injuries are merely a subset of the long-term sequelae from Covid itself, and it’s a not-so-subtle way to preempt any kind of cost-benefit analysis. But, for a pandemic that was also built largely on innumerate anecdotes, and a media that has proven chronically unable to notice basic patterns or count things, perhaps this is the only repudiation that was ever possible.

The pharmaceuticals have made a lot of money, but their mRNA vaccines have failed. The Robert Koch Institut have stopped updating their vaccine dashboard, after almost four months of totally flatlined uptake; one of the foremost mRNA promoters, Bill Gates, has called the jabs a disappointment and compared them unfavourably to masks, of all things; and BioNTech, facing a revenue decline of 70%, have announced an impending return to mRNA-based cancer therapies – their original focus upon their founding in 2008, where they’ve never enjoyed particular success. Perhaps if the vaccinators had proceeded cautiously, limiting their promises and jabbing only the most vulnerable on a strictly voluntary basis, they could’ve preserved some future for their doubtful products. Instead, they oversold and over-administered their snake oil, and two years later most people have decided they don’t like it very much

What has happened to humanity over the last few years.

I had many patients tell me that their GP refused to see them when told that they had not been vaccinated. One GP became very aggressive, shouting at his patient to get out of the clinic because of their unvaccinated status. No doubt this was a widespread reaction. Many of you would have similar stories to tell. What happened to our moral code, our humanity that we treated sick people like this, due to a personal choice they made (Which now appears to have possibly been a reasonable decision) Day after day stories are appearing of people severely injured by one of the Covid vaccines (previously censored- no-one dared publish anything negative about the vaccine.) I would be interested to hear from those of you who suffered as Dr Miller and his patients did in the video below. How widespread was this behavior in Australia? Was it ever reported? The media, to their shame, never did their duty in questioning many of the outrageous happenings of the last few years.

When someone you love is upset, ask this one question

Author HeadshotBy Jancee Dunn

Last September, I got a phone call from my sister Heather, a special-education teacher at an elementary school in upstate New York.Heather — known as Mrs. Stella to her students — had experienced a challenging week. Her pupils were settling into a new school year, but some of them had become agitated in class.“What do you do when a kid is emotionally overwhelmed?” I asked. Many teachers at her school, she told me, ask students a simple question: Do you want to be helped, heard or hugged?The choice gives children a sense of control, which is important when they’re following school rules all day, Heather said. “And all kids handle their emotions differently,” she explained. “Some need a box of tissues, or they want to talk about a problem on the bus, and I’ll just listen.”It struck me that this question could be just as effective for adults.Throughout our marriage, if I told my husband Tom about a problem I was having, he would start troubleshooting before I was done talking. He meant well, but his suggestions made me crankier. Sometimes I just craved a silent bear hug.Now, when one of us is upset about something (if I’m honest, it’s usually me), the other will ask that question. It has been a game changer over the last few months. It clarifies needs. It de-escalates swirling emotions. It helps us take positive action.Each option — an embrace, thoughtful but solicited advice or an empathetic ear — has the power to comfort and calm. Receiving a hug from your partner increases levels of oxytocin, the bonding hormone, and helps
dial down stress. There’s evidence that being heard, known as “high-quality listening,” can reduce defensiveness during difficult and intimate conversations. And some research suggests that couples who give each other supportive advice have higher relationship satisfaction.But different emotions require different responses, said Dr. Elizabeth Easton, the director of psychotherapy at Pathlight Mood and Anxiety Center in Denver. “So one response, like reassurance, may work well for anxiety but may further infuriate someone who is frustrated,” she said.Your preferred style may be incompatible with your partner’s, said Jada Jackson, a licensed mental health counselor in Dallas. “When I’m working with my couples, I will say to them, ‘Listen, don’t assume that because you want a hug, or to fix things, that your partner is going to want the same.”Even in her own marriage, Dr. Jackson said, “I tell my husband, ‘Don’t try to fix it all the time.’ Sometimes I just want to vent.”Problem-solvers might try to repair things for their own satisfaction, she added, “not necessarily because they want the other person to feel better.” (A 2018 study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that giving advice can enhance the adviser’s “sense of power.”) And unsolicited feedback can add another layer of tension, Dr. Jackson said.Someone who is upset may already be aware of solutions, said Frank Castro, a clinical psychologist in New York and California, “but they just may want to sit with feeling frustrated or disappointed before they move on to problem-solving,” he said.Or you may move in for a reassuring hug, “but your partner is like a prickly cactus,” Dr. Castro said, and is not in the mood to be touched.Finding out whether your loved one wants to be helped, heard or hugged “is really asking, ‘How can I meet your needs?’” Dr. Jackson said.By posing the question, you’re not making assumptions, Dr. Castro explained. “You’re asking permission — and also being very intentional — which is a sign of empathy.”When Tom asks me what I need, it shortens the amount of time I spend being worked up. I take a minute to pause, assess and answer: Most often, it’s simply a hug.“That’s usually what my students say, too,” Heather said.

How digital marketing of legal but harmful products escalates health threats to the most vulnerable

Getty Images

How digital marketing of legal but harmful products escalates health threats to the most vulnerable

Published: April 4, 2023 6.09am AEST


  1. Tim McCreanorProfessor Race Relations, Health and Wellbeing, Massey University
  2. Angela Moewaka BarnesResearch officer, Massey University
  3. Antonia LyonsProfessor of Addiction Research, University of Auckland
  4. Ian GoodwinAssociate Professor in Media and Creative Communications, Massey University
  5. Nicholas CarahAssociate Professor in Digital Media, The University of Queensland

Disclosure statement

Tim McCreanor receives funding from the Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Fund.

Angela Moewaka Barnes receives funding from the Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Fund.

Antonia Lyons receives funding from the Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Fund.

Ian Goodwin receives funding from Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Fund.

Nicholas Carah does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.


Massey UniversityUniversity of Auckland, and University of Queensland provide funding as members of The Conversation AU.

Massey University and University of Auckland provide funding as members of The Conversation NZ.

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The marketing of legal but harmful products – like alcohol and tobacco – has always targeted our emotional desires. But it has now moved to digital and social media, and this creates a heightened threat to public health because both the products and the platform target our neurological response.

Promoting psychoactive products for profit by stimulating the neurotransmitters in the brain’s reward centres, or its limbic structures, is called “limbic capitalism”.

But as limbic capitalism has gone digital over the past decade, marketers can now reach us on our smartphones as we use digital and social media platforms.

The algorithms that keep us swiping and tapping on images and videos stimulate the dopamine drive in our brains that induces feelings of pleasure.

When used to promote potentially addictive products, this presents a serious threat to public health and the wellbeing of individuals, communities and populations. We know alcohol and tobacco products are linked to a wide range of harms and injuries, but existing regulatory frameworks have nothing to say about these new forms of marketing.

Read more: Alcohol marketing has crossed borders and entered the metaverse – how do we regulate the new digital risk?

The addictive power of social media

We surveyed people aged 14 to 20 in Aotearoa New Zealand about their experience of alcohol and tobacco marketing on social media. While they valued the way social media enabled them to keep in touch with family and friends, they also frequently told us they felt these platforms were addictive.

As one 20-year-old Māori/Pākehā male told us:

Content algorithms are addictive and predatory. The only value is in being able to communicate with friends and whānau.

An 18-year-old Pākehā female said:

I dislike the addiction it fuels, dislike the competitive and comparative posting and dislike the mental health issues it feeds to young people.

Participants’ responses highlight the addictive power of social media platforms and, despite their benefits, the price users pay in continuing to use them. These insights lead us to argue limbic capitalism is becoming “limbic platform capitalism”.

New challenges to public health

This highlights the importance of understanding how much capacity we have to choose and control our compulsions on mobile social media. Users of digital platforms have valuable insights about how marketers use social media to target their vulnerabilities as they pursue their own interests and social lives online.

The public health challenges of limbic platform capitalism present a serious escalation. This is because marketing has been naturalised into these digital environments and has become difficult to identify and avoid. It has become more powerful in its capacity to target our limbic system.

Woman lying on a bed and using a smart phone at night.
Digital marketing has become difficult to avoid. Getty Images

An example comes from Perth in Australia, where the alcohol industry used the global COVID pandemic as a marketing opportunity. The number of alcohol ads increased significantly on commonly used digital platforms. Users saw alcohol ads at least every 35 seconds, offering easy access to alcohol without leaving the home and promoting the use of alcohol to “feel better”.

Our participants reported noticing increases in vape and alcohol ads on social media, including delivery offers, during lockdowns. When asked what changes they had seen in marketing since lockdowns, they also showed awareness of the synergies between platforms and products, for example:

The way they promote their products. The sounds they use. A lot of songs have become famous off [platform name]. So a lot of companies use the really famous music to help promote.

Need for regulation of social media marketing

Mobile social media are now central to young people’s professional and social identity, leisure and civic engagements. While they actively use social media for their own ends, they are simultaneously recruited as limbic platform and product consumers.

Platform algorithms are designed to generate, analyse and apply vast amounts of personalised data to target and tune flows of content to users, influencing their desires, behaviours and consumption, in order to increase profits.

Read more: NZ children see more than 40 ads for unhealthy products each day. It’s time to change marketing rules

These developments and their public health implications require immediate attention. Algorithmic models intensify targeting of users at times, places and contexts when they are most susceptible. Home delivery of alcohol in the evening is an example.

This can influence purchase decisions, potentially harming vulnerable consumers and exacerbating health inequities. Such commercialised algorithm-driven systems raise serious questions for health policymakers about public oversight of the algorithms. Should we ban the promotion and marketing of unhealthy but legal products on limbic platforms?

Scholarship exploring mobile social media landscapes is essential to inform public health and health promotion research agendas, initiatives and policies. We urgently need regulatory responses for this new era of marketing, where both commodities and the popular platforms they are marketed on are dynamic, participatory, data-driven and limbic.

Is Tofu Healthy?

By Alice Callahan

  • Published April 4, 2023Updated April 5, 2023

Q: I’ve heard conflicting stories about tofu. It’s either a great source of protein or loaded with estrogen and therefore unhealthy. Which is true?

If tofu and other soy foods were interviewing for a spot in your weekly meal rotation, they would offer an impressive résumé of nutrition credentials.

A three-ounce serving of tofu, for instance, can provide between four and 14 grams of protein (depending on the style), including all nine of the essential amino acids.

It also supplies B vitamins, healthy unsaturated fatty acids and minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron, said Amy Bragagnini, a dietitian and a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Yet soy foods are also burdened by an unsavory reputation. Ms. Bragagnini’s clients, for instance, routinely ask if soy foods are linked with cancer, a concern stemming from their relatively high levels of isoflavones, plant-based compounds that are structurally similar to the hormone estrogen.

The presence of isoflavones has also led to the worry that soy might negatively affect fertility or give men more feminine characteristics.

But overall, studies have shown that including soy foods in your diet is not only safe, it may also benefit your heart and metabolic health, said Dr. Qi Sun, an associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

And while it’s true that the isoflavones in soy can weakly mimic estrogen, he added, they also seem to have anticancer, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.

Here’s what we know.


One historical worry about soy has been that its estrogen-like isoflavones might promote breast cancer, but many studies have shown that women who eat higher amounts of soy foods have no greater risk — or even a lower risk — of developing breast cancer than those who eat little or no soy, said Xiao-Ou Shu, a professor of epidemiology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

The protective association is strongest in studies conducted in Asian countries, she noted, where soy is commonly consumed from infancy to old age.

In a study published in 2012, Dr. Shu and her colleagues found that among women in China and the United States who had been diagnosed with breast cancer, those who ate about half a serving or more of soy foods per day after their diagnoses were less likely to have a recurrence than those who ate smaller amounts.

Before this finding, Dr. Shu said, doctors had sometimes warned breast cancer patients to avoid soy foods. Today, the American Institute for Cancer Research says that “limited evidence” suggests that women who eat moderate amounts of soy may be more likely to survive — and perhaps have fewer recurrences of — breast cancer.

A moderate amount is defined as one to two servings of whole soy foods such as tofu, soy milk, edamame or soy nuts per day.

Some studies have also reported a protective effect of soy for prostate and lung cancers.

Fertility and menopause

The American Cancer Society recommends soy foods and legumes as part of a healthy, balanced diet, but says that the evidence that soy foods in particular might protect people from breast or prostate cancer is “too limited to draw firm conclusions.”

The concern that soy might interfere with fertility — including by affecting sperm count or quality, the ability to conceive, or testosterone or estrogen levels in men — has also not held up to the evidence, Dr. Sun said.

Some small studies have found that soy can modestly reduce menopause-related hot flashes, but these results have been mixed, Ms. Bragagnini said. Still, she added, if you’re dealing with these symptoms, “it can’t hurt to add a serving or two a day” of whole soy foods to see if they help.

Some research has also found that greater soy intake is associated with a lower risk of osteoporotic fractures in postmenopausal women.

Heart health

There’s some evidence that including soy in your diet can benefit your heart, Dr. Sun said.

He led a study published in 2020 that found that consuming more soy isoflavones, particularly from tofu, was associated with a moderately lower risk of coronary heart disease.

And in another study, of nearly 120,000 health care professionals in the United States, Dr. Sun and his colleagues found that during the more than 30 years of follow-up, those who consumed at least one serving of tofu or soy milk per week were 15 to 16 percent less likely to die than those who ate less than one serving per month.

“It’s almost a no-brainer that people should choose tofu and other plant-based proteins instead of animal source proteins,” particularly those from processed and red meats, which are associated with a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, colorectal cancer and earlier death, Dr. Sun said.

And, he added, eating more plant-based foods can “not only improve human health, but also improve the health of the globe,” because protein sources like soy, beans, peas and nuts have lower greenhouse gas footprints than meat, cheese or eggs.

How to incorporate more soy foods into your diet

As a dietitian, Ms. Bragagnini has found that tofu is sometimes a hard sell when she recommends it to clients.

“They just roll their eyes,” she said, “but they’ve never really even tried it.”

Tofu and tempeh, which is made from fermented soybeans, take on virtually any flavor profile and can be baked, sautéed or simmered in a sauce — or, Ms. Bragagnini’s favorite, crisped in an air fryer.

And if those blocks of soy protein just aren’t your jam, she suggested snacking on soy nuts, steaming some edamame or making smoothies with unsweetened soy milk.

Ms. Bragagnini encourages people to include one or two servings of soy foods in their daily diet.

But she cautioned against using isoflavone supplements, which can contain far greater amounts of the compounds than are found in foods. And, as with all supplements, they are not well regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. “If a little is good, a lot is not necessarily better,” she said.

Don’t listen to Gwyneth Paltrow – IVs are not a shortcut to good health

AP Photo/Alex Goodlett

Many years ago, I was involved in treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with various IV vitamins and minerals – I eventually decided that this was not working and stopped doing it. Nothing much has changed since then, except social media, and now we have celebrities who are suddenly health experts recommending various treatments. I think people should stick to those with a medical background.

Don’t listen to Gwyneth Paltrow – IVs are not a shortcut to good health

Published: March 30, 2023 11.33am AEDT


  1. Emily BurchDietitian, Researcher & Lecturer, Southern Cross University
  2. Lauren BallProfessor of Community Health and Wellbeing, The University of Queensland

Disclosure statement

Emily Burch works for Southern Cross University.

Lauren Ball works for The University of Queensland and receives funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council. She is a Director of Dietitians Australia, a Director of the Darling Downs and West Moreton Primary Health Network and an Associate Member of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences.

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Actor and businesswoman Gwyneth Paltrow declared “I love an IV!” recently, calling herself an “early adoptor” of intravenous infusion during a podcast. Both she and the show’s host were hooked up to drips during an interview in which they discussed bone broth, skipping meals and infrared saunas.

The Goop boss has been criticised for her “beauty from the inside out” ideas, which she says are helping her recover from long COVID and reduce inflammation.

Lots of TikTok users are not having it – but IV supplements have hit the mainstream in recent years. Here’s why they are not a quick fix and can be deadly.

What is IV vitamin therapy?

IV vitamin therapy administers supplements directly into the bloodstream via a needle inserted into a vein. Fans of the therapy believe this route leads to higher nutrients in the body compared with oral supplements or food-based nutrients as it avoids nutrient losses through digestion and excretion.

Providers of these injections say they customise the formula of vitamins and minerals depending on the patient’s perceived needs. Many do this without an initial blood test, making it close to impossible to know if you have a pre-existing vitamin deficiency. A typical session in a shopfront or home visit can take 30–90 minutes and cost anywhere between A$80 to $3,000.

Popular drip “cocktails” include blends of vitamin C and B complex “for energy”, B complex and zinc “for skin”, vitamin C, magnesium and amino acids “for happiness”, and a supposedly “anti-ageing” blend of glutathione. Many of these contain mostly water-soluble vitamins C and B, which are processed by the kidneys and excess nutrients excreted through urine when the body has received the amount it needs to work properly.

What does the science say?

IV therapy is not new and has been used in the medical profession for decades. In hospitals, it is used to hydrate patients and administer essential nutrients if patients have difficulty eating, drinking or absorbing them. Single nutrient deficiencies like vitamin B12 or iron are often treated with infusions under medical supervision.

The “cocktails” that IV vitamin therapy clinics create and administer are not supported by scientific evidence. There have been no clinical studies to show vitamin injections of this type offer any health benefit or are necessary for good health.

Very few studies have looked at their effectiveness in adults. In those that have, they are either of very poor scientific quality, found no significant differences and involved only a handful of people, were missing a placebo group, or contained only anecdotal evidence from single cases.

woman wearing robe with drip in arm
Businesses may offer vitamin ‘cocktails’ but there is no evidence to support them. Shutterstock

Read more: Marketing, not medicine: Gwyneth Paltrow’s The Goop Lab whitewashes traditional health therapies for profit

What’s Gwyneth on about then?

Paltrow recently shared her enthusiasm for glutathione as her favourite IV vitamin therapy.

Glutathione is heralded as the “master antioxidant” in the body and is naturally produced by our cells, working to prevent oxidative stress and tissue damage. The body’s demand for this nutrient is believed to increase as we age. Studies have reported that taking an oral glutathione supplement doesn’t increase blood levels in humans.

In 2015, a trial reported some beneficial effects on immune function with long-term glutathione oral supplementation, but the authors said more studies were required to further understand the nature of these effects.

It is important to note that no research has supported the claim IV therapy with glutathione slows down ageing or reduces oxidative damage.

Read more: Green juice, microdosing, cupping and … cocaine? Netflix’s Wellmania takes a humorous dive into the heady world of wellness

What could go wrong?

Injecting anything straight into your bloodstream comes with some big risks, especially if those administering the drips aren’t medically trained.

Medical doctors tend to avoid inserting IV lines into people unless it’s absolutely necessary (such as for medical emergencies). Air bubbles (or embolism) accidentally introduced via IV can be fatal.

Another major risk is hypervitaminosis, or consuming too high a dose of a vitamin. Unusually high stores of vitamins in fat tissue can, over time, cause problems like Alzheimer’s diseasecancerkidney issues, muscle spasms, pain, burning and itching.

And any time you have an IV line inserted, it creates a direct path into your bloodstream and bypasses your skin’s defence mechanism against bacteria. This can put you at risk of dangerous systemic infection.

IV therapy also puts your wallet at risk. If you are not vitamin deficient, supplements (oral or infused) may just create very expensive urine.

There is no regulation of IV therapy by the Therapeutic Goods Act in Australia, so ultimately you could be paying to receive sugar water, rather than the advertised formulas for “anti-ageing”.

Many advertisers quote their patients as feeling or looking better after an infusion. The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) believes there is little or no accepted evidence to support such generalised claims and they are, therefore, misleading and in breach of national laws.

In November last year, Ahpra warned businesses about making misleading health claims in relation to infusions. It is also illegal in Australia to misrepresent yourself as a medical practitioner or nurse.

Read more: Do vitamin drips really work? The evidence says ‘no’, so save your money and eat real food

Don’t believe the hype

While it sounds logical that consuming more of a good thing would be good for you, research shows this is not necessarily the case. In a healthy person, nutrient digestion and absorption are carefully regulated to release them into the bloodstream from the gut and liver. Excessive amounts of nutrients entering the bloodstream without undergoing this process may result in harm, and the long-term consequences remain unknown.

Most of us are far better off trying to get vitamins and minerals by eating a balanced diet with a wide variety of vegetables and fruits. It’s also much easier, cheaper and safer.