Wellness Wednesdays – 5/10/17

Wellness Wednesdays is a MVMag.net-exclusive feature that curates the best health & wellness content from around the Valley and the Web.

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WELLNESS TIP OF THE WEEK

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

by Kristina Dudley from All Care Laser Center

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer after being exposed to the sun. Here are some tips to help you and your family stay sun safe:

Avoid sun during 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the peak hours of the day, and seek shade when possible.
Apply products with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30+ on a daily basis to exposed areas of your body. Use these products even on cloudy days as burning rays can penetrate through them and reach unprotected skin.
Remember to reapply SPF every two hours and to use at least 1 oz for your entire body.
Wear protective clothing, hats and sunglasses.
Avoid tanning beds.
Get an annual skin exam and talk to your primary care physician about sun exposure.
Learn your health history. If anyone in your family has had melanoma, you are at a greater risk.

It’s possible to remove unwanted sun damage with laser treatments. Visit All Care Laser Center in North Andover for a free consultation and to learn more about treatment options, as well as products you might find helpful this summer while you’re out enjoying the sun. Your health deserves it!


HEALTH IN THE VALLEY

Patriot Care CEO Bob Mayerson says the company’s Lowell medical marijuana dispensary is designed to offer a welcoming atmosphere to patients who might be intimidated by the process. “We’re not a head shop, and we’re not trying to be like that,” he says. “Some say the atmosphere in our facilities is more along the lines of a cross between a spa and an Apple store.” Photo by Jack Brockway.

Taking Root with Medical Marijuana: Part 2 of 2

by Will Courtney (continued from Part 1 in last week’s edition of Wellness Wednesdays)

The patients Altvater sees must pay out of pocket for a consultation, usually about $200 to $300. They must bring thorough records and undergo a 60- to 90-minute consultation to review their entire medical history.

If the patient exhibits a qualifying condition under Massachusetts law and Altvater believes the patient can benefit from medical marijuana, he will counsel the individual on the proper use for a specific condition. He says he aims to find the smallest dose that will work, but there are no formal prescriptions.

After clearing the person for certification, a card that’s issued by the state arrives about a week later. With it, the patient can visit a medical marijuana dispensary to buy their medicine.

The only dispensary in the Merrimack Valley is located in Lowell and operated by Patriot Care, which has two locations in the state and has been approved for a third. The person at the controls of Patriot Care isn’t from the medical field, but he has had plenty of success in business.

Patriot Care CEO Bob Mayerson is a former Staples treasurer and COO of Eastern Mountain Sports, but he says his decision to enter the marijuana industry was about more than dollars and cents.

“There was no aha moment,” he says. “It was sort of like a good book you can’t put down. … The more I got involved, the more interesting it got helping to create a whole new legal industry that was focused around helping people.”

Located just off the Lowell Connector in an area otherwise dominated by manufacturing companies, Patriot Care offers patients a wide array of products, including flowers (buds), concentrates and edibles (mostly brownies and cookies). The product is grown and processed in Lowell, as well.

Mayerson says the business comes with significant challenges. While medical marijuana is legal in 28 states, many banks refuse to work with them due to the 1971 federal statute.

While dispensaries are closely regulated by the state Department of Public Health, there are no pharmacists or physicians on site. Mayerson says a significant focus is put on training the staff “to make sure they understand the context of how to provide this medicine.”

But if there is any question whether they are helping the patients they serve, Mayerson agrees that the evidence comes from patients’ stories more than science.

“I can’t say one way or another that it’s effective, I can only tell you what people tell us,” he says. “I was surprised by how many people say it was effective for them in some way and allowed them to lead normal lives.”

Altvater says he rejects about 40 percent of the patients who come to see him, but admits that is a higher percentage than some other doctors in the industry.

Department of Public Health spokesman Tom Lyons says his agency visits each of the nine state dispensaries as often as once per week, and that the amount of product sold is closely tracked. Mayerson says the application process to open a dispensary is lengthy and rigorous.

“The law has strict requirements for opening a dispensary and for accessing this treatment for patients,” Lyons says. “Behind all of this is they must have a bonafide relationship with the patient.”

To handle this new work, DPH created the Medical Use of Marijuana Program. That program is about to get a lot busier, and Lyons says Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration is currently working to create rules that would allow nurse practitioners to certify patients, as well.

So, after nearly 5,000 years, and without traditional medical backing, there appears to be a growing consensus that medical marijuana will do more good than harm.

“I certainly don’t think it’s a harmless drug,” Altvater says. “There are pros with it, and a lot of the cons have been overemphasized compared to other agents in our society. … I don’t know it’s going to help people in every case, but I’m pretty sure it’s not going to do any harm in the majority of patients who use it as therapy.”

Editor’s note: Massachusetts is now one of eight states, along with the District of Columbia, to have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. In our September 2017 issue, we’ll look at what the new laws mean for the Merrimack Valley.

Cedardale Health & Fitness’ Andover Location Now Open

Cedardale Health & Fitness’ Andover location opened on May 1. Located in Haverhill for the past 45 years, Cedardale was forced to close its doors on March 1 due to a massive fire. In an effort to keep its’ close-knit, community-based membership together, Cedardale management are now operating in the former Boston Sports Club on 307 Lowell Street in Andover, owned by local developer Lupoli Companies, while its Haverhill club is rebuilt.

The Andover facility features four indoor tennis courts, a 7,000 square-foot fitness center and three group fitness studios. Cedardale Andover tennis offerings will include instruction, social programs, teams and open court bookings. Group Fitness classes will include Zumba, Spinning, Yoga, Circuit and High Intensity Interval Training. All Group Fitness Classes will be included in the membership. Fitness offerings include a variety of cardiovascular, strength, and functional training equipment along with Personal Training. Individual and Group Nutritional Counseling is available as well. The club includes locker rooms each with its own steam and sauna and will offer supervised child care.


WELLNESS AROUND THE WEB

Need Help Concentrating? Turn On the Tunes!

It might be a bit counterintuitive for some people — who might see music as more of a distraction than a focus aid — but the research is pretty consistent in finding that people perform better when they’ve got a selection of their favorite songs handy. That goes for pretty much everyone regardless of one’s line of work; from factory workers to software engineers to writers, happiness and efficiency seem to go up with some tunes playing in the background. The only exceptions to the rule are new music and lyrics: on the first point, people tend to perform better if they know the songs playing — while on the second, some people aren’t quite as adept at tuning lyrics out, particularly when their job involves the composition and/or reading of words! (via Medium)

Is Your Organic Milk Really Organic?

A Washington Post investigation into farms producing so-called “organic” milk revealed that a solid number of the farms may not be meeting — or even trying to meet — USDA standards, which require cows to graze daily throughout the growing season and actually get a certain percentage of their diet from grazing. How can one tell if a cow has actually been allowed to graze? Because of the difference in their diets compared to traditional dairy cows, ones allowed to graze produce milk with elevated levels of conjugated linoleic acid. The Post found that certain farms’ USDA-certified organic product sat at the same chemical levels as ordinary milk, a sure sign that they’re avoiding proper procedures — which are admittedly much more expensive for organic milk than they are for regular milk. (via The Washington Post)

More Evidence that Parkinson’s Starts in the Gut — Not in the Brain

Scientists have noticed a correlation between a procedure called a truncal vagotomy and lower rates of Parkinson’s disease. A five-year study revealed that patients who had undergone the procedure — removing the link between the digestive tract and the brain — were 40 percent less likely to develop the disease than those who hadn’t. The study is one of a number that have come out recently that show that Parkinson’s may actually be sourced in the gut, rather than the brain as was previously thought. (via Science Alert)


LOCAL HEALTH HIGHLIGHTS

May 13

The Amesbury Chamber of Commerce will continue its Weekends of Wellness with a number of options available from local businesses, including Pilates demonstrations, a CrossFit Workout of the Day and special discounts. Amesbury, Mass. | AmesburyChamber.com

May 14

Nancy’s Mother’s Day 5K for Opioid Awareness will kick off at the Elks Lodge in Chelmsford at 10 a.m. The run raises money to help fund education programs for local kids about the dangers of opioids and other substances. Chelmsford, Mass. | NancysRun.com

May 17

Dermatologists David Gruber and Christine Kannler will hold free skin cancer screenings at Holy Family Hospital in Methuen from 3 to 5 p.m. Appointments are required, so call (978) 687-0156 ext. 2101 or email jill.thresher@steward.org to schedule yours today. Methuen, Mass. | HolyFamily-Hospital.org

May 20

Lawrence General Hospital will host a free child safety car seat inspection event at Commonwealth Chevrolet in Lawrence from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nationally certified child passenger safety technicians will inspect your child’s safety seat to ensure it is installed correctly. The event is free and open to the public. Lawrence, Mass. | Facebook.com

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