Thursday, October 15, 2009

Board Exams are Evil Spawned by Satan

If the title of this post doesn't warn you that I'm pausing in the H1N1 series to vent, then could I remind you of that ocean front property in Ohio that I'm selling? :).

Seriously though, earlier today, if you didn't catch it, I posted a list of natural agents that have antiviral properties... so I haven't neglected my blogging duties.

Anyway, I just want to say that the National Board of Medical Examiners are evil! First, they develop these 8 hour exams which we spend months studying for, gaining weight, and eating whatever is close enough to our grasp that doesn't have mold on it, while we become greater zombies with hackers' tans because we haven't seen the light of day for months! And all the time, we are sacrificing our social lives for the will of the Board examiners. (Image taken from

Okay, that's not true, I do have a social life: I have a very exquisite relationship with Harrison's Internal Medicine book, which I often find myself cheating on by sneaking off with Crush the Step 2. Then to mix it up, I spent a few nights every so often with First Aid for the USMLE and USMLEworld. Believe me, we became very intimate during the last few months. I took them out, we had dinner together. Of course, I paid; it is the 21st century. We slept together: but often I found myself, sneaking off early in the morning pulling a coyote ugly to get to the next board exam review book. I admit that I wasn't very committed to just one.

Then as with any deep relationship, it had to end the day before the exam. I think I found a Dear John note on my pillow, stating, "I can't take the neglect anymore. Signed Harrison's." Therefore, I went cold turkey. No more board review books. My Exam analysts were saying that it was for my own good that I was to part with them for a few days. Believe me, it was hard. I could hear to books calling to me, saying sweet nothings and begging me to take them back. It took all I had to walk away and say no more.

So there I was exam day, getting frisked for possible study materials that I might have sneaked in over the Prometrics center border. It was seriously like Fort Knox. They take your finger prints, your picture, your driver's license, your certificate of exam eligibility, your first born child... it was dreadful. Forget about the fact that you're already nervous from having to take the daunting test that could determine your future, but you also get shaken down like a drug dealer during a meth bust. "Up against the wall. Okay, frisk 'em. If we find any cheat notes, you're going downtown buddy."

So after the airport security picked my pockets, I found myself sitting in front of the ugliest computer screen I had ever seen in my life. The darned PC looked like it was going to croak right in front of me. I was half ready to yell out: "Quick! Call a code and get an AED!"

It makes you think, "All that action and all I get is this is fossil?" Which it only added to my stress because the whole time, I kept thinking that the piece of computer would crash and they would make me take the test over.

Eight hours. Can you believe that they make you take a test for eight hours? Well, at least there were breaks, but still, it starts to wear on you. During the seventh stretch of the exam, I felt like I was ready to throw in the towel. The darned thing had sucked out my brain and was now spitting it back at me in defiance. I couldn't take it. I just wanted the torture to end.

So I looked at the clock running down. Fortunately, I had time to spare. Thank heaven to all those English lit classes that I took just to get out of taking math. I couldn't ask for better lessons on how to read as fast as lightning than trying to get through the evil book of Frankenstein.

So I had two and a half hours left on the clock and only one more block of test questions. So I did what any knowing, burnt out medical student would do. I went bowling. Yep, I signed out of the test in a designated break place, went through security, and went bowling. After a full game of throwing a huge marble ball at some pins to blow off some test anxiety, I came back through the top secret clearance squad and finished the test.

Yeah, but was that it? Oh heck no! I'm a D.O. We osteopaths are gluttons for punishment. I had to take the COMLEX a week later. The COMLEX, for those of you that don't know, is the osteopathic version of the board licensing exam. It's eviler than the USMLE... those twisted National Board of Osteopathic Examiner beastards! And another 400 question test brought me back to the same testing center, through the same frisking process, and back to the same archaic computer.

So here I am now, sweating it a month later, and still my test results for the COMLEX are not back yet. I mean really, how hard is it to grade a test that was taken on a computer?

There must be some logical explanation for them to take so long to report back, because making someone wait several weeks for test results that could determine their future is too cruel and too absurd to be without some severe cause. So, I've been considering a couple of possibilities as to why the NBOME are taking forever to post scores: not even Al-Qaeda would be so intentionally inhumane.

So the following are ten possible reasons as to why they would take so long on such a seemingly easy task:

1. The satanic computer, mad at me for saying a prayer that it would survive the exam, ate my test. Evil, evil computer!

2. An Dark Evil Overlord has infiltrated the NBOME, plotting to take over the world by turning young doctors into mindless zombies that spend their whole day checking online for their test results.

3. Terrorists have abducted the NBOME Chief of Score Reporting, holding him ransom for a pound of pickles.

4. It's the end of the world and they know it. They feel fine... Yeah, they feel fine about not giving us our test scores. Punks! Well, I don't feel fine: I'd still like to see my score... A passing score would put a positive spin on the world ending.

5. The NBOME is an alien organization mothership from the planet Zerthon bent on sucking the hope and life out of the earth's young physicians.

6. It's a government conspiracy to keep us from finding out our scores. I think the alien one is more convincing.

7. An evil artificial intelligence infiltrated the NBOME's computer files, deleting all our test scores to make us humans suffer.

8. Barney the Dinosaur broke in and beat up the NBOME staff so that they wouldn't be able to post our scores. I knew that dinosaur was evil!

9. The NBOME are a cult dedicated to sacrificing our test scores to their unholy gods.

10. A dorky space ranger from the future came back and shot all the NBOME staff with a freeze ray to keep them from posting our scores which would send about a chain of events that may destroy the universe as we know it! I hate that space ranger; I'd rather have my test scores.

See, maybe there are very good reasons for them torturing us poor, unlucky test-takers. At any rate, I feel better now that I vented. :)

Post to you next time.


P.S. I figured out the NBOME motto:

"It's not that we don't care; it's that we don't want to care."

Going Natural: Cocconut Milk Can Kick Swine Flu Backside

I just flew back home from a conference with the International College of Integrative Medicine in Michigan and I have jet lag, so I'm going to try to keep to the bare essentials. Today, I'm just going to mention some natural things that you can use in the event that you or one of your family members catches the H1N1 or any virus for that matter. (Image taken from

Now this advice is not meant to replace going to your primary care professional. Far from it. In fact, so far from it that you could travel to Pluto and back before reaching it. If you begin to experience any of the symptoms of the H1N1, the first thing you need to do is get yourself to the hospital or make an appointment with your primary care physician. So basically, let's just put it this way, you avoid going to the doctor when you experience the flu symptoms, then you risk doing what is in the following image:
(Image taken from

So, instead of replacing professional medical advice, this post is just meant to provide you with some additional tools by which you can strengthen your immune system to fight off infections. Having said that, let's get down to it:

To begin, I have come across a number of reputable natural products, which deserve acknowledgment here. I must state that I am not in any way trying to promote the sale of these supplements or have any monetary invested interest in them.

I just want to mention that studies have been done that show the efficacy of these agents in helping the body naturally handle viruses. I am sure that there are other products and companies out there with their own versions of these same supplements and are just as reputable. I just haven't heard of them yet. These I discovered, because they were from companies that were screened by physicians at the ICIM conference.

On the other hand, I would like to also provide a word of caution in regards to just going out and buying supplements. Be careful that the companies that you purchase from have been tested in independent studies as to being safe and free of harmful chemicals. For instance, 20% of the Ayurvedic Herbs sold in the Boston area had traces of Arsenic, lead, and mercury in them. (Quig,D. (2004) "Chronic Metal Toxicity: Assessment of Exposure and Retention," In Textbook of Natural Medicine, ed. J.E. Pizzorno, Fr. Elsevier, 3rd ed.)

In addition to that, make sure that the good quality supplements that you use do not have any contraindications that apply to you or your current medications. For instance, those currently taking Warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven, Marevan, Lawarin, and Waran are some of its brand names) should be aware that over 90% of herbal supplements have adverse reactions with the drug. (See for more details: Lemos, et al. (1999). Herbal Interactions with Warfarin.

The following is a list of supplement categories, their descriptions, and the common products out there.

Lauric acid derivatives:

Lauric acid was first discovered in human breast milk. It is a medium chain, fatty acid that has antibacterial and antiviral properties. It also was discovered within coconut milk. I hear that "phew" of relief when I told you that it wasn't just found in human breast milk.

The most common form of lauric acid is Monolaurin, which is a glycerol ester of lauric acid and is more biologically active than lauric acid itself. Monolaurin is a natural antimicrobial agent that helps protect the immune system from a range of infectious critters.

To be more succinct, Monolaurin has the property of aiding the immune system in destroying envelope-coated viruses. In a study performed by the CDC, Lauric acid/Monolaurin was demonstrated to solubulize the enveloped membrane of 14 human RNA and DNA viruses. These viruses include influenza, Rubeola, RSV, Coronavirus, Newcastle's virus, Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), Herpes Simplex types 1 & 2, Human Papilloma Virus type 6, and cytomegalovirus, to name a few. (Note: Monolaurin has no effect on naked viruses, such as encephalitis, coxsachie, pox, or polio viruses.)

This product works by disintegrating the envelope coat of the viruses. The bugs take in the fatty acid for use in their own replication, instead the lauric acid derivative destroys their envelopes, paving the way for the body's immune system to attack the virus. (See Hierholzer JC and Kabara JJ. (1982). In vitro effects of Monolaurin compounds on enveloped RNA and DNA viruses. Journal of Food SAfety, 4:1. See also, Lieberman, SC. Antiviral Intervention for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. See also, Fierro, AA. (2007) Antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal nutritional supplement: a combination of natural or neutraceutical compounds shown to have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. US Patent Office. US 2007/0116778. See also, Clarke and May (2000). Effect of antimicrobial factors in human milk on rhinoviruses and milk-borne cytomegalovirus in vitro. J Med Microbiol, 49: 719-23).

Examples of Monolaurin products are:

Lauricidin (3-monolaurin) which can be found at Refer to the company for correct dosing. I'm too lazy to include that information today. But if you're really interested, leave a question in the comments section below this post and I will send you the dosing instructions.

Monolaurin from Ecological Formulas. Which can be found on any natural supplement site.

Viraclear EPs 7630:

This is not a lauric acid derivative, but this is a homeopathic remedy for viruses that has been proven in more than 20 clinical trials as being effective in enveloped viruses. (refer to Chucalin, AG, et al. (2005) Treatment of acute bronchitis in adults with a Pelargonium sidoides preparation (EPs 7630): a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Explore,1:437-445. And also, Kamin, W. (2007). Pelargonium sidoides extract EPs 7630 in the treatment of respiratory tract infections in children and adults--an overview of recent results. Planta Med, 73:822.) No studies have been performed testing the effects of EPs 7630 on the novel H1N1, so the Integrative Therapeutics company, being a largely research based organization, makes no claims that it can help in treating the swine flu.

Yet, this product has been shown to the shorten duration of and reduce the severity of symptoms of upper respiratory infections, including the common cold, bronchitis, and sinusitis. I'm not saying that this agent is perfect for dealing with the H1N1, but it is something to consider. You can find this product at

Herbs and Spices:

Origanum is a genus of about 20 species of herbal plants from the family of Lamiaceae, particularly the culinary herbs of Marjoram and Oregano. The most important of this group is Oregano, especially Oregano Oil. This oil has been shown to be effective in boosting the immune system against viruses, bacteria, and parasites. (Image taken from

In fact, Preuss, et al. (2005) demonstrated that the essential oil Organum had bacteriocidal effects against microbials such as Staphylococcus aureus, Mycobacterium terrae, Helicobacter pylori, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Escherichia coli. They compared it to monolaurin, which was also found to have bacteriocidal effects, but only on bacteria such as S. aureus, H.pylori, and M. terrae. Both fatty acids were also bacteriostatic to Bacillus Anthracis Sterne. (Preuss, H., et al (2005) "Minimum inhibitory concentrations of herbal essential oils and monolaurin for gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria." Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, 272, 29-34. See also, Batovska, et al. (2009). Antibacterial study of the medium chain fatty acids and their 1-monoglycerides: individual effects and synergistic relationships. Pol J Microbiol, 58: 43-7. And also, Soekmen, et al. (2004). In Vitro antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antiviral activities of the essential oil and various extracts from herbal parts and callus cultures of Origanum acutidens. J. Agric. Food Chem, 52:3309-3312.)

Elderberries: Why we love them

Professor Zakay-Rones, et al. (1995) demonstrated that Elderberry extract called Sambucol (SAM) reduced the hemagglutination of and inhibited the replication of several strains of influenza virus and reduced the associated symptoms. (Please refer to: Zakay-Rones, Z., et al. (2005) Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak of influenza B in Panama. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 4:361-369.) (Image taken from

PharmaCare Europe produces the Sambucol product and can be found at http://wwcol.comw.sambu/.

Pure Compounding Pharmacy ( also offers a nice elderberry extract with dosing instructions as well as a Immune support package which includes it.

Peppermint Oil: It doesn't just smell good

In a study, Shuhmacher demonstrated that peppermint oil, the essential oil of Mentha piperita, was active against even the acyclovir resistant strains of enveloped viruses. "Considering the lipophilic nature of the oil which enables it to penetrate the skin, peppermint oil might be suitable for topical therapeutic use as virucidal agent in recurrent herpes infection." (See Schuhmacher, A. (2009). Virucidal effect of peppermint oil on the enveloped viruses herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2. Phytomedicine, 10:504-510.) (Image taken from

Olive Leaf Extract: A few words

Well, I hadn't intended to include this extract, but I recently discovered research that shows its antiviral properties against viruses, such as HIV and VHSV. So, I decided to give the olive leaf extract an honorable mention in this list. (Lee-Huang, et al. (2003). Anti-HIV activity of olive leaf extract (OLE) and modulation of host cell gene expression by HIV-1 infection and OLE treatment. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 307, 4:1029-1037. And also, Micol, V., et al. (2005). The olive leaf extract exhibits antiviral activity against viral haemorrhagic septicemia rhabdovirus (VHSV). Antiviral Research, 66:129-136.)

So there you have it: a small list of natural items that you can add to your armory to prepare for the battle against the H1N1. Man, I'm tired.

Link of the day on Herbal Safety: This site gives a listing of the current herbs, their indications, contraindications, and side effects.(Image taken from