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Category Archives: Health

What you need to know about flu season and how to avoid a twindemic


By: Justin Ceravolo, pharmacist for Cypress Pharmacy

With the resurgence of new COVID-19 variants, the message to get vaccinated for the flu is loud and clear. The sooner, the better.

The typical flu season peaks from December to February, with 40 to 50 million flu illnesses, 800,000 hospitalizations and between 30,000 to 60,000 deaths annually.

However, last flu season could hardly be considered typical amid the year of COVID outbreaks and heightened safety measures.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says flu activity hit historical lows for the 2020-21 season. And while that may sound like a big win, it also has health officials concerned for what’s to come.

What’s Coming?

Reduced population immunity due to the lack of flu activity could mean more severe outbreaks and an earlier than normal start for the 2021-22 season, according to the CDC.

As new COVID cases continue to climb, stakes are higher for flu patients due to limited hospital capacity, and the looming threat of coinfection.

That’s why it’s vital to schedule your flu shot appointment early before viruses begin to spread. It takes approximately 14 days after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide the adequate amount of protection.

Flu Amid COVID

One of the major challenges of having influenza circulating among the coronavirus is their overlapping symptoms, which include fever, chills and body aches, along with upper respiratory symptoms, pneumonia, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

While there are a few symptoms they don’t have in common – like losing your sense of taste and smell – people should get tested for both flu and COVID if symptoms arise.

Scientists are still studying the severe and deadly impacts of coinfection among patients with both flu and COVID-19, assured that vaccinations are the best option for developing immunity against any dangerous disease.

Vax Facts

According to the CDC, flu vaccination prevents tens of thousands of hospitalizations each year. During the 2019-2020 season, studies show the flu shot prevented an estimated 105,000 flu-related hospitalizations.

Last flu season, out of an abundance of caution, receiving the influenza and coronavirus vaccines at the same time were not recommended. But with further research, this guidance has changed.

In fact, the CDC revealed it is safe and effective to get both shots on the same day, which is co-administered to different arms to reduce pain and swelling.

The CDC recommends annual flu shots for all people ages 6 months and older, with rare exceptions, and is fully covered by most health insurance plans without the need for copayment. And despite common misconceptions, the vaccine cannot cause flu illness. Some may experience soreness at the injection site or a headache, stuffy nose and sore throat that generally only last for a day, however, most people have no symptoms after getting the shot.

While the flu shot was once not recommended for those who were allergic to eggs, the CDC now advises that even people with egg allergies should receive an annual flu shot. To avoid any confusion, it’s important to consult a health care professional, pharmacist or credible source with any questions on the flu vaccine.

Staying protected

So, how will this year’s flu season pan out? The answer depends on us.

Along with the most common practices to prevent the spread of viruses – washing your hands and covering a cough or sneeze – take other important precautions to reduce your risk.

  • Get vaccinated
  • Practice social distancing
  • Wear a face mask in public, indoor settings

As flu season begins to move in, now is the time to roll up our sleeves for better health.

So, you realize you need to get better sleep?


By Dr. Stan Headley, natural health consultant for Cypress Pharmacy

Restless nights. Tossing and turning. Waking up exhausted. Frankly, we just aren’t getting enough quality sleep these days. Spoiler alert: You’re not alone.

In fact, this affects one in three adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 70 million Americans suffer from some form of diagnosed sleep disorder. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend people between the ages of 18 to 60 should sleep a minimum of seven hours each night to promote optimal health and well-being.

Hitting snooze

Lack of sleep is more than a slight inconvenience of temporary brain fog. Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that makes it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep or both, and can have unwanted side effects like daytime fatigue, depression and anxiety. Insufficient sleep has been linked to the development and management of a number of chronic diseases and conditions, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.

So, what exactly happens when you sleep? The brain cycles repeatedly through various stages of sleep.  Rapid-eye movement, or REM, sleep is the deepest stage of slumber, when we tend to dream. On average, studies show healthy adults go through three to five REM cycles per night.

Countless factors can have an impact on your quality and length of sleep each night, including stress, caffeine and alcohol, physical and mental health conditions and certain medications. Everything from what you eat to how much you exercise in a day can cause a positive or negative effect on your sleep. In many cases, people will turn to natural sleep aids and other effective ways to promote better sleep.

Natural sleep aids

Melatonin has become a popular natural sleep aid, with 3 million Americans using them in 2012, according to the CDC. However, dosage can be tricky and can often wear off before getting a full night’s sleep. While melatonin is still popular option for falling asleep, there are several other natural alternatives that can provide much better results without the potential for side effects.

For many people who face stress during the day, higher cortisol levels can interfere with the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. L-theanine, an amino acid that down-regulates cortisol, can help effectively set the stage for improved sleep at bedtime when taken during the day.

For those who use a daytime product to help control elevated cortisol levels, magnesium can be a quality supplement to help restore the natural rhythm. Magnesium is highly recommended for anyone who has sleep issues because it acts as a calmative and helps our muscles relax, helping us fall asleep more easily.

Vitamins B12 and D3 have also been found to support better sleep. While vitamin B12 is well-known to generate energy in the body, people with B12 deficiencies can experience irregular sleep patterns and a lack of sleep. The intake of B12 can increase melatonin production and help regulate sleep patterns.

Vitamin D3 can also help support sleep cycles and your quality of sleep. Current research shows there’s a direct correlation between sleep disturbance and low levels of vitamin D.

Full-spectrum, pharmaceutical-grade CBD, or cannabidiol, oil is another natural option for achieving quality sleep. Current studies suggest CBD may help with falling asleep and staying asleep, according to Harvard Medical School. CBD-infused oil drops, administered under the tongue, appear to enter the bloodstream faster, binding to the targeted brain receptors through our body’s endocannabinoid system to induce REM sleep.

Combinations of natural sleep-inducing ingredients can also promote soothing and restful sleep. Blended formulas may include key ingredients such as valerian root, GABA, 5-HTP, chamomile, hops and passionflower to support healthy circadian rhythms for a peaceful night of sleep.

Better habits at bedtime

Sleep accounts for nearly one-third of the human lifespan. Melatonin, our natural sleep hormone, increases in the body about two hours before bedtime, which can be a good time to start your nightly bedtime routine.

If you’re looking to make every hour count, there are several ways to improve your sleep health through lifestyle changes, like limiting amount and timing of stimulants like caffeine and alcohol, limiting screentime prior to bedtime and increasing exercise including cardio, strength training and yoga. Even the food and drinks we consume can help improve sleep, including complex carbs, chamomile, ginger, peppermint and warm milk.

Ask your pharmacist or health care professional if the medications you are taking may be making it difficult to fall asleep. Many prescription medications, even medications prescribed for insomnia, can block the body’s natural production of melatonin.


Top Immune Boosters for Peak Flu Season


By: Dr. Stan Headley, natural health consultant for Cypress Pharmacy

It’s that time of year again – when spreading holiday cheer could also mean spreading viral illnesses. In fact, it’s no coincidence that infections such as colds, flus and pneumonia drastically increase during the fall and winter months when family and friends come together.

Catching a cold, or any other respiratory-related illness, increases our chance of contracting a much more serious virus, influenza. Factors like getting older, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other medical conditions also cause our immune system to become weaker.

So, what are natural, proactive ways to protect yourself during peak flu season?

Recent clinical studies suggest that having a nutritional supplement regimen may be as effective in preventing viruses as prescription medication. Vitamins and supplements such as elderberry, vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc and quercetin can support and boost your immune system.

In addition, most people think of probiotics strictly for improving digestion. However, evidence-based science indicates 70% of the immune system resides in the digestive tract. Probiotics provide a healthy immune response and help prevent viral syndromes of all types.


While elderberry flew off shelves in the height of COVID, its popularity didn’t occur overnight. Packed with antioxidants, the dark purple berry has been used for centuries to fight infections and boost immunity. Found in everything from cough syrups to vitamin gummies, elderberry can be an effective ingredient for managing cold and flu symptoms. Recent studies show other benefits include promoting heart health and reducing inflammation. Food is medicine, and elderberry is a classic example.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is vital for the proper functioning of your immune system, which is your body’s first line of defense against infection and disease. Both anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory, this essential vitamin is great for enhancing the function of immune cells that protect our body against pathogens that cause disease. It’s estimated that at least 40% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D.

Vitamin C

Found in foods like oranges, broccoli and spinach, people often think they get enough vitamin C from their diet. However, the truth is about 90% of adults are nutritionally deficient. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and crucial for supporting immune function. A popular remedy for fighting infection, several studies suggest vitamin C may cause shorter and milder colds due to reducing inflammation in the lungs.


Present in every cell of the body, Zinc plays an important role in maintaining immune function. Immune cells must rapidly divide to respond to daily challenges and require adequate amounts of zinc to do so. Studies show that this vital mineral can block the replication and growth of viruses in the body, which make it a powerful ingredient in many over-the-counter cold supplements.


Packed with antioxidant and antiviral properties, quercetin is found in many of our fruits, vegetables and grains. Recent studies suggest that it can help your body combat free radical damage and reduce inflammatory lung response when used with zinc. It’s also believed to help zinc penetrate cells to fight respiratory infection at a cellular level.

Immune-boosting vitamins and supplements are also often available in special blends, offering all-in-one options with essential vitamins and minerals shown to promote overall immune health.

Some supplements can interact with medications or have unwanted side effects if not taken in the proper dosage, so it’s important to consult a health care professional or your pharmacist to develop tailored supplement regimens.

Bottom line: Even those who’ve received the trifecta of flu, COVID and booster shots can feel a bit uneasy when it comes to the sound of suspicious coughing or a runny nose amid peak flu season. While proper handwashing and social distancing helps to prevent the spread of infection, taking targeted immune-boosting vitamins and supplements can also add a proactive layer of protection against the seasonal flu.

Top 3 Diet Trends of 2021


With so many diets out there, it’s hard to know where to begin, and nutrition is crucial now more than ever. During 2020, the majority of the population has quarantined, been unemployed, or simply has been inactive; such stressors can cause us to overeat and indulge in fatty foods with little to no nutritional value. These eating habits can lead to sluggish behavior, bloating, increased cholesterol, a weakened immune system, and a general lack of energy. To get you back on track, here are three trending diets that, with the right direction, can help optimize your health.

Mediterranean Diet

Have you ever heard of the peasant diet? If not, you may have heard it called the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet has risen to fame over the past few years. For those pursuing a healthy lifestyle and looking to reduce their risk for type 2 diabetes, the Mediterranean diet offers a plethora of well-balanced meals, including the daily consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats.

  • Studies conducted in the U.S., as well as Europe, connect the Mediterranean diet to the reduction of type 2 diabetes. Eating patterns associated with lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes were characterized by higher intakes of vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains. The studies compare this diet with a diet consisting of high intakes of red meat, sugar-sweetened food and drinks, refined grains, and high-fat dairy products (the Standard American Diet, known as the SAD diet).
  • Individuals whose diets consisted of reducing their total meat and dairy intake by 50% and replaced them with fruit, vegetables, and cereals contributed the most to reducing the risk of mortality. During the study, fruit and vegetable consumption was increased by 63% and saturated fat and salt were decreased.
  • It is important to remember that the Mediterranean Diet is more plant-based than meat-based. Under this diet, it is advised to limit your red meat intake and replace it with fish, poultry, beans, and eggs as protein sources. Instead of choosing butter for bread or general cooking, choose olive oil as your primary fat source. Olive oil provides monounsaturated fat and has been found to lower total cholesterol.
  • When it comes to choosing seafood, some good options include fatty fish: mackerel, herring, sardines, salmon, lake trout, and albacore tuna (rich in omega-3 fatty acids).
  • Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce inflammation in the body, as well as help reduce blood clotting and decrease the risk of stroke and heart failure. Do You Know Your Omega 3 and Vitamin D Levels?

Keto Diet

The Keto diet is high in fat (making the body work to burn it off, entering ketosis) and low in carbohydrates- 20-50 grams a day. But be careful that you do not cut out carbohydrates to the point of constipation, headaches, or bad breath.

  • The Keto diet benefits vary person to person, depending on how much carbs people have stored/consume. That being said, the reduction of carbs (less than 20-50 g per day) can help individuals lead the body into a state of ketosis. Hence the keto diet. The intake of foods high in fat and low in carbs will have your body using the fat stored to burn for energy instead of carbs. Rich in proteins and fat, the keto diet consists of lean meats, eggs, cheeses, fish, nuts, butter, oils, seeds, and fibrous vegetables.
  • While the keto diet has many benefits, there are a couple of things to remember: The keto diet is a restrictive diet, with the primary goal being weight loss. Individuals who suffer from kidney disease should consult their doctor before starting. This diet can bring on bad breath, nausea, and a general lack of energy.
  • If you find yourself lacking in protein, try our Cypress Pharmacy’s Perfect Protein Powder. Animal protein can contain appreciable amounts of cholesterol and saturated fats. Additionally, they can also be sources of antibiotics, hormones, and other undesirable elements inherent in our food supply. Plant-based proteins have no cholesterol or saturated fat and, when properly formulated and enhanced, can provide protein with a nutritional value comparable to animal-derived proteins.

Keto Swaps:

  • Rice to cauliflower rice or shirataki rice
  • Pasta to vegetable noodles made of zucchini, palmini, cabbage, and fennel
  • Potatoes to rutabaga, turnips, radishes, and winter squash
  • Cereals to nuts, seeds, and coconut
  • Bread and wraps to lettuce wraps (for sandwiches), nori sheets (for sushi), collards
  • Regular milk to nut, seed, or coconut milk
  • Instead of butter or canola oil, try avocado oil or coconut oil

The Mediterranean Diet and the Keto Diet are healthy choices to consider if you’re thinking of trying intermittent fasting. Both diets can give you fresh, lean meals to try out and keep you on track to your health goal.

Intermittent Fasting

  • Intermittent fasting works by prolonging the period when your body has burned through the calories consumed during your last meal and begins burning fat.
  • Once you’ve checked with your doctor to confirm this diet is safe for you, a simple approach would be attempting 16/8 fasting. What this means is that you’ll be eating for eight hours and fasting for sixteen. There is also 5/2 fasting, where you eat regularly for five days a week, then the other two days you consume 500-600 calories. While partaking in this fast, it’s important to remember to limit not only sugar intake in foods but as well as beverages. Drinks such as water and zero-calorie drinks are encouraged, as well as black coffee and tea, which hold little to no calorie or sugar intake.
  • Consider adding Cypress Pharmacy’s Balance Meal Complete to provide additional nutrients and improve gut health.
  • Top Benefits: improved memory, increased heart health, and physical performance.

In all, these trending diets reveal that with a little push and some dedication, we all can be on our way to a healthier version of ourselves. If you’ve wanted to try the Mediterranean and Keto diets or intermittent fasting, take a look at our easy outline.  With the help of these tips, we hope you’ll find it easier to make meals for you and your loved ones that optimize your health. Remember to always check with your doctor or health care professional before making any changes.

Why Melatonin is Not the Best Solution For Sleep


For many years, melatonin has been a leading choice as a first-line natural therapy for mild insomnia. While melatonin has proven to be effective at preventing jet-lag when traveling across time zones, it is just not the “fix” most people are looking for when it comes to consistent deep REM sleep on a nightly basis.

Nearly 70 million Americans suffer from some form of diagnosed sleep disorder. There are many more people who are undiagnosed and struggle every night to reach any kind of restorative slumber. Millions of people resort to seeing their physician and requesting a sleep prescription, which generally includes either Ambien or Lunesta. Others may take Xanax at different dosage strengths if they also suffer from some type of anxiety. These medications can be helpful, but sometimes at the risk of some significant side effects, including dry mouth, dizziness, hangover feeling, and sometimes even memory or concentration problems. When it comes to Ambien, there is a host of known side effects, including potential hallucinations, changes in behavior, and even sleepwalking and sleep-driving without any recall. Since natural products, including nutritional supplements and herbal medicines, continue to gain in popularity, more and more Americans are turning to natural solutions for sleep as well.

Melatonin – The Standard For Natural Sleep – Until Now

There are several reasons why melatonin is not the best option for natural sleep. Melatonin gets secreted at night when it’s time to sleep. The problem is that most melatonin supplements do not mimic or simulate your natural circadian rhythm because it does not stick around long enough beyond helping you to fall asleep. For most people, it does not keep you asleep long enough to achieve a cycle or two of rapid eye movement (REM) level of sleep. Dosage adjustments can be a bit tricky too. With increased dosage, some report a sedative or drowsy effect the following morning, plus some report not feeling refreshed and mentally clear and ready to take on the day ahead. Other natural solutions have proven to be more effective at raising melatonin and serotonin levels in the mid-brain. The research indicates that most people with sleep disturbances need both of these crucial hormones to achieve quality sleep.

Taking A Closer Look At Insomnia

There are several different types of Insomnia, as not all cases of sleep disorder are identical. The two main types are short-term insomnia and chronic insomnia.

Short-term insomnia – also known as acute insomnia, this is a brief episode of difficulty sleeping. This is typically caused by a stressful life event, such as the loss of a loved one, a new difficult medical diagnosis, a pandemic similar to what we have been going through, drug rebound effects, or major life-changing events. Generally, the short-term version lasts for less than 3 months, and symptoms fade on their own as time passes, and a person copes with a stressful incident that gave rise to their sleeping problems. Short-term insomnia can become chronic or long-term insomnia in both children and adults.

Chronic insomnia – this is a long-term pattern of difficulty sleeping. To be classified as chronic, a person has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at least three nights per week for three months or longer. Some people with chronic sleep issues have a lifetime of poor sleep. Chronic insomnia has many potential causes. Like acute or short-term insomnia, it can be associated with stressful situations. Still, it also may be related to irregular sleep schedules, poor sleep hygiene, persistent nightmares, mental health issues, underlying medical problems, medications, foods, to name a few.

Nutritional Deficiency and Insomnia

You may not have realized or thought about vitamin and mineral deficiencies and the link to insomnia or sleep issues. Nutrients are the building blocks for neurotransmitters that send signals throughout the nervous system to calm down the mind and body. So, not having certain nutrients can make sleep more challenging. The body needs a wide variety of vitamins and minerals to function properly. Most of these nutrients come from a healthy balanced diet. Here are some of the common nutrient deficiencies linked to insomnia.

  • Calcium and magnesium – lacking these two minerals can cause you to wake up after a few hours and not return to sleep.
  • Vitamin D3 – there is a direct correlation between sleep disturbance and low levels of vitamin D.
  • Vitamin B12 – because of the link between depression and B12 levels, many individuals with mild to moderate depression who also have insufficient B12 levels struggle with sleep. Ongoing research is looking into this relationship.
  • Magnesium – magnesium by itself is still one of the vital minerals needed to assist in sleep quality. It helps to regulate circadian rhythm, which is the natural sleep-wake cycle. Magnesium acts as a muscle relaxant and can help induce sleep. It can help produce melatonin and the neurotransmitter called GABA, both of which contribute to the sensation of calm to support healthy sleep.

Other Common Sleep Disorders

Two other sleep disorders that cause millions of people to struggle with their sleep are restless leg syndrome (RLS) and sleep apnea. RLS causes people to have involuntary twitching, jerking, and kicking of the legs when lying supine. This can often be related to other medical issues, but it does respond well to magnesium, potassium, vitamin B12, and alpha-lipoic acid supplementation.

Sleep apnea is another fairly common sleep disorder that sleep medicine physicians and pulmonologists deal with daily in their practices. Sleep apnea affects about 20 million Americans and is a potentially serious sleep disorder. This problem is commonly associated with snoring and extremely irregular breathing throughout the night. In sleep apnea, breathing actually stops for as long as two minutes at a time while the individual is asleep. When breathing stops, the level of oxygen in the blood drops, resulting in oxygen deprivation. Sleep apnea can cause daytime sleepiness as well as be associated with other, more serious health problems.

Natural Solutions For Sleep

When designing a protocol for sleep using natural solutions, it is important to evaluate several sleep factors, including severity, duration, sleep patterns, diet, medications, exercise, hormonal status, and current stress levels. After these have been established, natural solutions for sleep and general wellness can be implemented. While melatonin is still popular for many people to fall asleep, statistically speaking, it does not do a great job of keeping you asleep. It just does not last long enough in your sleep receptors. The following natural solutions provide much better results without side effects for various levels of insomnia.

  1. CBD oil – in my professional opinion, I have not seen another natural product to rival the effectiveness of full-spectrum pharmaceutical-grade CBD oil for sleep. The sublingual liquid tincture appears to enter the bloodstream faster, bypass the liver and stomach and bind to the targeted brain receptors via the endocannabinoid system and do its job to induce REM sleep.
  2. Magnesiumagain, this mineral is highly recommended for anyone who has sleep issues. It does a great job of inducing relaxation and reducing nervous tension in the muscles.
  3. Sleep Perfect Formula is one of the most innovative blends of nutrients that promotes soothing and restful sleep. It supports healthy circadian rhythms and relaxes the entire body. Some of the key ingredients include valerian root, GABA, L-theanine,5-HTP, chamomile, hops, and passionflower. It also includes 3 mg of melatonin.

Generally speaking, there are no hard and fast rules about how much sleep is enough because every person’s needs are different. Some people can function on as little as five hours, while others perform best with nine or ten. Most adults require 7 to 8 hours to feel refreshed and operate at peak efficiency. Children and adolescents require more sleep. Seniors tend to sleep less through the night and awaken earlier than young people.

Can Natural Remedies Help Shingles?


Every year shingles lands thousands of people into the local hospitals for treatment. Shingles (also called herpes zoster, or just zoster) is a painful skin rash, usually with blisters. In addition to the rash, shingles can cause fever, headache, chills, or upset stomach. More rarely, it can lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness, brain inflammation, or even death. Shingles is a common condition that is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox.

Current statistics indicate that shingles occurs in approximately 20 percent of the general population. It is more common with age, and at least 50 percent of the cases occur in people over 50. For those who live to 80 or beyond,  about 50 percent of them will experience an outbreak. The most feared manifestation or consequence of shingles is something called postherpetic neuralgia( PHN). The pain from PHN can be severe and debilitating. The pain secondary to PHN can persist after the outbreak of the rash has been put into remission. It can sometimes last for months or years.

What Causes Shingles?

Shingles is caused by a reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), also known as human herpes virus-3 (HHV-3). This virus is related to herpes simplex virus types 1 & 2. The initial infection with (VZV) results in chickenpox (varicella). Despite recovery from this illness, the virus lies dormant in the sensory nerve roots of the spinal cord for years or decades in some cases, until it becomes active again and is then classified as herpes zoster. The condition is then diagnosed as shingles. It is unknown why the virus becomes active again, but age-associated immune dysfunction and stress are major factors.

It is estimated that 9 of 10 adults have had chickenpox and are at risk of shingles later in life. Shingles arise from viruses that are already within the body and are not caught from someone else. Someone who has never had chickenpox has a low risk of contracting that illness from close contact with the shingles rash. VZV infection typically occurs through the inhalation of virus particles. Chickenpox, on the other hand, is highly contagious because in that disease virus is shed from the throat into the air that others breathe. Because this does not occur in shingles, it is not very contagious, and regular hand-washing with soap and water minimizes the risk.

Typical Symptoms Associated With Shingles

Shingles has two primary symptoms: rash and pain. More generalized symptoms include enlarged, tender lymph nodes draining the affected area and occasional mild fatigue. The affected area is generally red with small vesicles or blisters. Several blisters per area are common in shingles. New lesions may occur for up to one week, after which the rash shows signs of healing. Some lesions may end up scarring, which can be permanent. Typically, the rash lasts 2-5 weeks.

Pain is the other primary symptom with shingles and may precede the rash where it is called prodromal pain. The skin and the dermatomes (nerve endings on the skin) become very sensitive to pain. The dermatome areas most commonly involved are the trunk ( flank areas) palms, inner arms, legs, feet, and face. The trigeminal nerve in the facial area can be a common site that may lead to the spread of the rash near the eyes, which can be quite dangerous. Shingles in the eye can cause glaucoma, scarring, and a serious condition called acute retinal necrosis that can cause blindness. Because shingles can cause such serious problems, the recombinant shingles vaccine is recommended for people over 60 years of age.

Complications of Shingles

Pain that persists more than 30 days after the appearance of the rash is the most feared consequence of herpes zoster. The burning or stabbing pain of PHN is attributed to virus-induced damage to the nerve roots.

PHN has been associated with the following four key factors:

  1.  Age: people over 50 have about a 50% chance of PHN
  2. Prodromal pain: pre-rash
  3. Severe acute pain
  4. Failure to obtain adequate antiviral treatment within 3 days of the appearance of the rash

Standard Shingles Treatment

The standard treatment of shingles uses two types of drugs, analgesics (pain relievers) and antiviral prescription medicines. The goal is obvious: to resolve pain rapidly because the pain that persists and worsens predisposes patients to PHN by permanently sensitizing nerves to even the mildest stimulation. The other primary objective in therapy is to stop virus replication. It is critical to stop the virus from reproducing itself, thereby minimizing the damage it does to nerve cells.

Natural Remedies And Nutritional Supplements For Shingles

Natural products can be part of the therapeutic regimen when it comes to dealing with a case of shingles. They do not replace the standard shingles treatment, but they can complement it.

The nutritional supplements and plant extracts helpful for shingles and PHN fall into four categories:

  1. antiviral/anti-inflammatory properties
  2. immune-enhancing supplements
  3. supplements that support recovery
  4. topical and miscellaneous natural pain relievers

Supplements included in the antiviral, anti-inflammatory category include flaxseed oil, omega-3 fish oils, and turmeric. All of these have anti-inflammatory properties, and turmeric also demonstrates antiviral properties. Also, green tea extract exhibits antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant potential.

Immune enhancing supplements include vitamin D3, echinacea & goldenseal, elderberry, zinc, and Immune Health Support with medicinal mushrooms (reishi, maitake, shitake).

Supplements that support recovery primarily focus on the typical antioxidants vitamins A, C, and E, which oxidize molecules within cells.

I would not overlook the value of pharmaceutical-grade CBD oil in topical applications, including balms, salves, lotions, and roll-ons, as well as either CBD capsules or sublingual liquid tinctures to decrease inflammation and pain as well as accelerate wound healing.

Many times, your best therapeutic options come from blending conventional drugs with natural remedies and nutritional supplements. It is highly recommended that adults 60 years and older get the recombinant shingles vaccine called Shingrix, too, which is available at your local pharmacy.

Hurricane season 2020: Is your medicine cabinet ready?

hurricane season

Ready or not, the 2020 hurricane season is upon us. We’re already off to a fast start, with forecasters predicting an above-average season and up to nearly two dozen named storms. Although planning for a hurricane may not be top of mind given the current pandemic, it’s more important than ever to prepare now for future storms on the horizon.

The lessons of past hurricane seasons reinforce the importance of anticipating what needs will arise before, during and after the storm. For those managing conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, going without medication can be life-threatening. Therefore, it’s vital that your hurricane readiness plan includes securing all personal medications.

Preparations will likely require extra steps this year, so don’t wait until a storm is only days away. Possible pre- and post-storm scenarios include evacuations and extended closures that may limit access to prescription medications. Now is the time to prepare a stockpile of over-the-counter medications and all regular prescriptions.

Prepare now for greater peace of mind

Consider these steps for preparing your prescription medications before the next storm:

  1. Do not wait – fill prescriptions early. Work with your health care provider and pharmacist to order and fill an extra 30-day supply of all medications needed in advance of a storm, and make sure your annual prescription renewals are up to date. According to Florida law, you can obtain a 30-day refill, even if you just refilled your prescription, if you are in a county that is under a hurricane warning, a state of emergency or has activated its emergency operations center. (See  floridadisaster.org for prescription refill information)
  2. Keep a written and digital backup record of your current prescriptions with you if you evacuate or in a safe, dry place. Ideally, share information with someone out of the storm’s path who will be able to access and share your information after the storm. Keep a record of your current dosage and doctor’s contact information for each medication to help pharmacists assist you during an emergency. Carry copies of your medical insurance, Medicare and Medicaid in case it’s hard to search records when systems or power are out. Proof of residency (such as an electric bill) may be needed to re-establish insurance and other disaster assistance when that time comes.
  3. Store your medication properly. Be prepared in case you lose power for a prolonged period of time by storing medications that require refrigeration in coolers and ice to keep them cold. Insulin, for example, must be refrigerated, and other medications can become unstable in extreme temperatures. Store medication in waterproof bags to protect from water and contamination.

What else should be on your hurricane season checklist?

Well before the next predicted storm, check to make sure all over-the-counter medications have not expired. (Why wait for a storm? You should check medications regularly to make sure they are not out of date.)

Recommended medications and supplies to have on hand (and packed should you need to evacuate) include:

  • Acetaminophen for fever
  • Benadryl and Ibuprofen for pain and inflammation, plus topical products such as hydrocortisone and Benadryl cream
  • Miralax or stool softener for constipation
  • Imodium or Pepto Bismol for diarrhea and upset stomach
  • Adhesive bandages for cuts and scrapes
  • Wet cleaning cloths (such as baby wipes) in case clean water is unavailable
  • Water (five gallons per person to last three to five days) and Pedialyte for hydration
  • Soap and alcohol-based hand sanitizer to kill germs
  • First aid kit
  • Protective face masks, especially if evacuating to a public evacuation shelter

Try to have documentation of your immunization records in case of exposure to unsanitary conditions. Injuries are common during disasters, so patients should know if they are up to date on tetanus vaccines. If available, get your annual influenza vaccine, as it may be difficult to obtain during and after a hurricane.

In addition, establish a network of people including neighbors and friends who know of your medical conditions. This support group can help oversee any care for you in the event of a disaster.

Hurricane season can be unpredictable. With some advance planning, you and your family can feel better prepared to weather the storm.

The knowledgeable team at Cypress Pharmacy can help identify important considerations based on your custom medication needs. Call us today at 239-481-7322 for more information.

Natural Solutions for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

chronic fatigue syndrome

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a defined clinical condition. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is also known as chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome. This is a mysterious medical condition that affects approximately 1 million Americans. The disease has no known cause, and there is no specific test that can measure for it. CFS is basically a diagnosis of exclusion. In other words, many other common conditions must be ruled out first, before physicians consider the possibility of this now accepted medical condition we call Chronic Fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. 

CFS usually manifests as extreme tiredness or fatigue, which cannot be alleviated with normal sleep patterns. Symptoms may intensify after physical exertion. The following appear to be the most common symptoms according to database surveys on this unique condition:

  • fatigue that lasts 6 months or more
  • headaches
  • muscle aches
  • short term memory loss
  • joint pain
  • sore throat
  • tender lymph nodes
  • sleep disturbances
  • psychological elements like depression

Nutritional supplements may play a role in alleviating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome symptoms and enhancing energy levels. CFS patients are often deficient in several vital nutrients due to poor dietary food choices and lack of supplementation.


Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) primarily affects women between the ages of 25-50 years but can affect anyone. While the cause is unknown, it can be triggered by several factors, including infections, Epstein Barr virus (EBV), mental or physical stress, nutrient deficiencies, immune system abnormalities, allergies, hormone imbalances, and low blood pressure. It tends to run in families, so some researchers have hypothesized there may be a genetic predisposition involved. 


A physician’s role in diagnosing CFS can be challenging because reliable testing is limited, and CFS symptoms are very similar to those of other conditions. The CDC estimates that only 20 percent of people with CFS are correctly diagnosed by their primary care physician. A patient may be told they have any number of diseases, including depression, Lyme disease, lupus, fibromyalgia, mononucleosis, or hypothyroidism, which all present with a similar clinical pattern. 


There is not one known specific cause of CFS. Generally, several factors combine to create the syndrome. Some common factors that may contribute to a diagnosis of CFS include:

  1. nutritional deficiencies like amino acids, magnesium, and vitamin D
  2. undiagnosed viral, bacterial, or parasitic infections
  3. heavy metals, chemicals, or molds
  4. unhealthy digestive tract
  5. thyroid issues
  6. immune conditions
  7. adrenal exhaustion
  8. hormone imbalances
  9. chronic inflammation
  10. mitochondrial dysfunction
  11. hypertension
  12. chronic mental stress
  13. physical stress
  14. herpes viruses

A CFS diagnosis can be made only when the patient has suffered from persistent, unexplained fatigue for at least 6 months plus four of the following symptoms must be present: disturbed sleep, short-term memory changes, sore throat, aching or stiff muscles, multi-joint pain without swelling or redness, headaches, persistent feeling of illness for at least 24 hours after exercise. CFS does tend to arise suddenly in otherwise active individuals. Many people who have CFS feel their concerns are initially dismissed by physicians, friends, and family which may also contribute to a feeling or sense of isolation. Once diagnosed, the symptoms may fluctuate, but usually, CFS is not a progressive disease. Most people tend to improve or get better by degrees, and some will fully recover. 


Most people with CFS seem to gradually improve over time. It appears the best approach is to boost energy levels and support the immune system as much as possible. Several nutrients have been suggested to be deficient in people with CFS including but not limited to: B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, and essential fatty acids including omega 3 fish oils or flaxseed oil. 


Some studies have looked at nutrients or hormones with immune-boosting properties and found promising results. In one study conducted at the University of Iowa with 155 patients diagnosed with CFS, nutrient depletion was found to be the common link to many of the symptoms in CFS in this group. The supplements most noted and proven to enhance and increase energy levels include: 

COQ10  this is a potent antioxidant that aids in metabolic reactions, including the process of forming ATP (the molecule used by the body for energy). 

DHEA  also singled out for its ability to help with CFS. This valuable hormone primarily produced by the adrenal glands has been shown to improve energy levels in chronic fatigue individuals. 

ADREBOOST  this blend of vitamins and herbal medicines increase the adrenal gland to help modulate cortisol levels for increased energy. This is especially beneficial in people with hypothyroidism (low thyroid). 

B-COMPLEX – most notable is that vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 are consistently low in patients with CFS. Energy levels and stamina are generally noted to be improved. 

GLUTATHIONE  this is the most potent antioxidant that we know of. It helps prevent damage to DNA and RNA, detoxify heavy metals like mercury, lead, and cadmium, and also boost immune function. Low levels of glutathione, which is frequently seen in CFS, has been associated with muscle fatigue and muscle aches. 

LIPOIC ACID  this antioxidant helps with the absorption of both CoQ10 and glutathione, as seen above. It is known to help with neuralgias or numbness and tingling sensations. 

ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS– these are the important fatty acids that cannot be made by the body. These are instrumental in producing new cells, increasing blood flow and circulation, and have some natural lubrication properties. Best known in this group is Omega-3 fish oils with the proper ratio of EPA to DHA. 

MAGNESIUM  this essential mineral, which is lacking in 80 percent of adults, participates in energy metabolism and protein synthesis. It also provides benefits in muscle recovery, calms the nervous system, and helps support healthy sleep patterns and digestion. 

GLUTAMINE  this essential amino acid is particularly useful for the cells lining the gastrointestinal tract to increase energy metabolism and enhance gut motility, which converts healthy foods into energy. 

Since CFS is a complicated illness with few clinical studies to validate the best therapeutic treatment approaches, many patients will start their first-line therapy with nutritional supplements to help support the immune system and, at the same time, enhance energy levels. It is always recommended to contact your doctor or healthcare provider if you have symptoms that resemble CFS, especially if extreme fatigue prevents you from fully participating in activities at home, work, or school. 

Do You Know Your Omega 3 and Vitamin D Levels?

omega 3

Since February is American Heart Month, creating awareness of the real risk of heart disease is timely. When people think about cardiovascular or heart health in general, they typically are not focused on what their blood levels of Omega 3 fatty acids or Vitamin  D3 are as part of the big picture.

Omega 3 fish oils in therapeutic dosages, with the proper ratios of EPA to DHA, have proven in clinical studies and patient outcomes, to demonstrate tremendous health benefits for the heart, cardiovascular system, and brain. Research shows that Omega 3s and Vitamin D offer protection against cardiovascular disease of all types.

Several studies have shown a close link between high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids from fish oil and protection from various aspects of coronary heart disease. One such study published in the journal Preventive Medicine found that the greatest protection from sudden death by cardiovascular causes was seen in individuals with an Omega 3 index greater than or equal to 8%. Another study published in Atherosclerosis found that an Omega 3 index of 8% or higher reduced risk of death from coronary heart disease by 30%.

A similar link between Vitamin D3 levels and cardiovascular disease has been demonstrated in medical research. Several studies have shown that lower Vitamin D levels are associated with high blood pressure, elevated blood glucose, atherosclerotic plaque in blood vessels, arterial stiffness, and higher rates of cardiovascular events.

Experts suggest maintaining blood levels between 50ng/dl and 80 ng/dl for Vitamin D and an Omega -3-index of 8% to 12%. Be sure to take a third party validated, pharmaceutical-grade quality Omega 3 and Vitamin D3 supplement daily, and tell your doctor you are taking it, to ensure they avoid any prescription medications for your heart health that might interfere.

The lifeblood of heart health is really not the pump itself, but, the vascular system composed of approximately 60,000 miles of blood vessels including the capillaries, arteries, and veins that distribute blood to nourish every cell in the body that really matters. Keeping these hard-working vessels supple and open is the key not only to avoiding disease, but also to ensure vitality and longevity.

The alternative, arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries can slowly and sometimes silently bring on cardiovascular (CVD) which can result in a heart attack, stroke, vision loss or cognitive mental decline. CVD is the leading cause of death in America, killing one in four people.

According to the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), nearly 45% of the U.S. population will be predicted to have some form of heart disease by 2035. Only 15% of CVD is related to genetics: the rest is attributed to lifestyle, and the right choices can make all the difference. The key is to adopt heart-healthy habits before the body delivers a potentially fatal warning. The initial presentation of heart disease can be an acute event or sudden death in half of men and two-thirds of women. That is not treatable.

The first step toward cardiovascular health is awareness. Here are some of the most important indicators of CVD risk: high blood pressure ( over 140/90), high cholesterol (over 240 mg/dl), elevated triglycerides (over 200 mg/dl), high blood glucose (over 140 mg/dl), obesity (BMI over 30), Inflammation (hsCRP test above 2 ml/dl), physical inactivity (less than 30 minutes daily), smoking, and chronic stress lead the way.

Any of these factors can increase the risk of heart disease, but when you have a cluster of 4 or 5 of these, it can lead to a condition called metabolic syndrome, which significantly increases your potential for heart disease and type II diabetes. Metabolic syndrome, like CVD, is now very common, and according to the CDC affects about one-third of adults. The one most distinct marker for metabolic syndrome is an accumulation of fat around the waistline characterized by a measurement of over 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men.

Newer preventive tests are now being recommended by cardiologists and primary care physicians, including computerized tomography (CT) scan to determine your calcium score. This procedure checks for the hardening of the arteries and predicts the risk of a 10-year future cardiovascular event. This identifies people who have preclinical atherosclerosis, regardless of risk factors, and convinces people to begin a heart-healthy lifestyle by modifying their behaviors. These guidelines are issued by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association ( AHA) jointly, targeting patients over age 50 years.

When examining lifestyle factors and reducing the risk of CVD, the most important change that people can make is diet. But, many times, unfortunately, people are not willing to make the necessary healthy food choices that can improve overall health, and specifically heart health. This typically means avoiding processed foods and consuming less salt, trans fats, saturated fat, and cholesterol, while adding more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, wild-caught fish, nuts, and seeds. I don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all diet, but, the Mediterranean diet continues to be considered as maybe the best diet for most. It has withstood the tincture of time and continues to show many health benefits including for the heart.

Here is a list of some other cardiovascular boosting foods to consider adding to your daily diet:

  • Leafy greens flush out excess sodium and can reduce inflammation.
  • Berries improve circulation by boosting nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels and improves blood flow.
  • Pomegranate lowers blood pressure and reduces plaque formation.
  • Walnuts and almonds lower LDL, the bad cholesterol.
  • Wild-caught fish including salmon, anchovies, albacore tuna, flax seeds, hemp seeds, and omega 3 oils lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Pharmaceutical-grade nutritional supplements, vitamins, minerals, and herbal medicines can also be an important part of a healthy heart program. Such supplements including gugulipid, red yeast rice, CoQ10, Omega 3 fish oils, Vitamin D3, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, folic acid, garlic, nattokinase, and others are critical if one is serious about being proactive and making the necessary diet and lifestyle changes that will reduce their relative risk of developing heart disease or suffering from some type of CVD in the future.

In summary, there are known risk factors that increase your chances of having a heart attack or stroke, which can be managed through personal discipline, by making the necessary lifestyle and behavioral changes as part of your daily routine.

Here are the top 10 personal risk factors which may be modified in most cases:

  1. high blood pressure
  2. high cholesterol
  3. elevated triglycerides
  4. metabolic syndrome
  5. obesity
  6. high stress
  7. poor diet
  8. chronic inflammation
  9. physical inactivity
  10. smoking

It is important to know your numbers and keep working towards a healthier lifestyle especially if you have a strong family history or other known risk factors. Just remember, that heart disease is modifiable, and in many cases can be reversed or modified with diet and exercise.

If you have any questions, feel free to call 239-481-7322 to speak with one of our healthcare professionals, to learn how we can help you improve your heart health today. You may also go to cypresspharmacy.com for more information.

Seven Powerful Ways to Strengthen Your Heart


Maybe it’s because we want a magic pill, or we expect the recommendations for lifestyle changes to be different, but many of us are not very kind to our hearts.

Even as the word has gotten out in the past few decades about lifestyle changes anyone can make to have a healthier heart, heart disease remains the No. 1 cause of death in the United States.

Nearly half of all premature deaths may be due to lifestyle choices, such as insufficient exercise, poor diet, and smoking. These risk factors increase the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, and stroke.

Putting aside risk factors for heart disease beyond our control such as age and family history, most of us can improve our heart health. And good lifestyle choices can help minimize hereditary and other risk factors. And there’s a bonus! When you make choices for heart health, your overall health benefits, too.

In a study analyzing over 55,000 people, favorable lifestyle habits such as not smoking, having a healthy weight, being active and eating a healthy diet lowered heart disease risk by nearly 50%.

Here are some lifestyle habits your heart (and body) will love.

  1. Stop smoking. Even if you have no other risk factors, smoking raises your risk of developing heart disease by two to four times, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Products such as gum and patches are available to help stop smoking.
  2. Eat healthier. Americans get more than half of their daily calories from ultra-processed food, increasing the risk of heart disease. Food consumption can impact other risk factors, including cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, and weight. Choose nutrient-rich foods — which have vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients but are lower in calories — over nutrient-poor foods.
  3. Control cholesterol. Too much bad cholesterol and not enough good can result in plaque building up and blocking the arteries. While genetics play a role, extra weight, physical inactivity, type 2 diabetes, and excessive alcohol intake contribute to high cholesterol. High cholesterol often doesn’t have symptoms until a problem arises, so it’s important to have a blood test to reveal your levels. Medication can reduce cholesterol if diet and exercise do not.
  4. Get active. Research shows that 2.5 hours per week of moderate-intensity physical activity can help lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and keep weight at a healthy level. A Harvard study found that watching TV for two hours a day increased the risk of developing heart disease by 15 percent! The good news? Being even a little more active is better than nothing. Taking at least 4,400 steps a day lowers your risk of death more than taking only 2,700 steps per day.
  5. Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity puts you at risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and insulin resistance, a precursor of type 2 diabetes, all factors that heighten your risk of heart disease. Good nutrition, controlling calorie intake and physical activity are the best way to maintain a healthy weight and have heart benefits of their own.
  6. Manage diabetes. More than 65 percent of people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke. If you have prediabetes, losing at least 7% of body weight and exercising 2.5 hours per week can reduce the risk of progressing to diabetes.
  7. Take targeted supplements. Professional-grade nutritional supplements, herbs, vitamins, and minerals can support heart function. It’s important to consult your doctor or pharmacist about the benefits and possible risks of supplements. Because supplements are not regulated like medications, it’s important to purchase your supplements from a trusted source.

Sounds easy, right? Improving your health is not a one size fits all approach. It can be hard to make dietary and lifestyle changes, and it is easy to fall back into old habits. Ongoing support can help you commit to improved health, and Cypress Wellness is here to help you along this journey.

Information on “Seven Powerful Ways to Strengthen Your Heart Naturally,” is the topic of Seminar Saturday, Feb. 8. The free public seminar will be held from 1 to 2 p.m. at Cypress Pharmacy, 9451 Cypress Lake Drive in Fort Myers. To RSVP, visit https://cypresspharmacy.com/events.

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