New Superbugs and New Defenses

In response to multiple news stories over the recent years about the invasion of superbugs, defined as those bacteria resistant to almost all forms of antibiotic therapy, I’ve written blogs HERE and HERE about the invasion of superbugs that hamper our medical professionals from effectively treating infections that were once easily eradicated with broad-spectrum antibiotics.

Subsequently, I wrote a blog about a “post antibiotic era” HERE, which indicated that few new antibiotic discoveries are happening to combat the increasing number of bacteria that develop resistance to our most reliable antibiotic therapies.

Approximately, 35,000 Americans die each year from drug resistant bacterial infections. Worldwide that number climbs to a staggering 700,000 deaths each year. According to United Nations estimates, the number of deaths from drug-resistant infections could rise to 10 million humans by 2050.

We are presently in what scientists call “an antibiotic discovery void” in which more of our common bacterial infections (UTI’s, common respiratory infections, ear and throat infections, etc,) are evolving to be resistant to currently available antibiotics. This drug resistance evolution is happening much faster than medical science can discover and bring to market new drug therapies to combat those resistant bacteria.

Over this last year, I’ve been reading about some exciting and rather innovative research into a technique called “Crispr,” which could become the next generation of our fight over drug-resistant bacteria, and possibly even those stubborn viruses—many of which are immune to drug therapy (think the common cold virus).

Scientists have discovered that, in nature, Crispr is a natural gene-editing tool in a specialized region of DNA and used by bacteria to evolve and protect itself against deadly viruses. Researchers have taken that natural Crispr tool and discovered how to alter or edit other DNA to a specific use.

By using Crispr-associated enzyme technology, scientists (at least in a laboratory environment) have been able to kill a species of Salmonella bacteria. This cutting-edge research is the beginning of a significant new way of thinking for future antibiotic therapies that can target highly specific, and highly aggressive, drug-resistant bacteria.

Although the results of this research are proving to be extremely effective in the laboratory, the next step is testing in living animals and then in human trials. We may be years away from having such treatments commonly available, but hope is on the horizon that the devastating effects of a “post antibiotic era” and the prediction of “an antibiotic discovery void” may well be a thing of the past rather than a future reality.

From an author’s perspective, however, such new research in the hands of a fictional villain could create an entirely new future for the human race—at least in a sinister thriller plot to alter the balance of world power.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

For some interesting and entertaining reading, download my two medical thriller novels in the Jon Masters Thriller Series.

Both involve Murder, Mayhem and Medicine!


Lethal Medicine: “When a drug study clinical trial involves more than cutting-edge research and innocent people’s lives are threatened.”

eBook or Paperback – Order Here!


Imperfect Murder: “When trust in our nation’s drug delivery system is shaken to its core and worldwide drug safety is threatened.”

eBook or Paperback – Order Here!

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Halloween—An Ancient Ritual and Modern Fun

Halloween is celebrated each year as one of our first Fall holidays, on October 31st, and this year that day happens to be tomorrow. So HAPPY HALLOWEEN everyone!

It’s the day we dress up in crazy, and even outrageously morbid, costumes and celebrate with special food and drink, and we party! Our youngsters often celebrate by going house to house yelling, “Trick or Treat” in the hopes of being given sweet treats rather than on the receiving end of a mean trick. It’s a time of pumpkin EVERYTHING these days, and I think I’ve already overdosed on all things pumpkin!

With as much of a modern fun time that Halloween is and as commercial as it has become, the holiday can be traced to an ancient and serious evolving history.

The early Celtic pagan holiday of Samhain at the end of October involved ritualistic ceremonies to ward off ghosts of the dead. The Celts celebrated in costumes made mostly of animal hides as a disguise against evil spirits of the past, and they prepared and enjoyed special feasts of autumn foods. Lanterns made out of gourds were used in these celebrations and these became the ancient version of our pumpkin lanterns. Huge bonfires were lit to ward off evil.

Halloween is distinctly tied to the religious holiday of All Saints’ Day, which in modern times is celebrated on November 1st.  Halloween, translated literally as All Hallows’ Eve, was moved from Spring in ancient times to coincide with the more religious All Saints’ Day, a day set aside to remember our deceased loved ones.

The Eastern Church in the 300’s celebrated a feast of all martyrs on May 13th as an early version of All Saints’ Day, and that date held until the seventh century. It was Pope Boniface IV who moved the feast of remembering the martyrs and deceased loved ones from May 13th to the November 1st date of our current All Saints’ Day. This was primarily to blend a pagan ritual time with a more religious one that immediately followed. Thus, All Hallows’ Eve evolved into our modern Halloween.

The mystical rituals of earlier times became our modern lighthearted night of fun and games that we now know as Halloween. The ritual of apple bobbing, that is so popular at Halloween parties, was originally a fortune-telling game on All Hallows’ Eve a couple of centuries ago. Apples would be selected to represent all of a woman’s suitors, and the guy represented by an apple that she would end up biting into would become her future husband. This Halloween ritual became a matchmaking opportunity for young women in the early 19thcentury.

Our modern Halloween has evolved into a day and night of fun and festivities in which the outrageous and ridiculous wins over anything normal and real. Fortunately, our modern Halloween rituals have little hidden meaning of actually warding off evil spirts or hint at life-altering predictions like matchmaking. Now we simply eat, drink and be merry on what was once a much more ghoulish holiday.

Have a fun and safe Halloween!

Posted in A Christmas Gift Idea, About James J. Murray, All Hallows' Eve, Almost Dead, Ancient Celtic Rituals, Ancient Halloween Rituals, Blog Writers, Blogging, Celtic Holiday Samhain, Halloween, Halloween Celebrating, History of Halloween Discussed, James J. Murray Blog, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, New Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hope on the Horizon for Pediatric Peanut Allergies

Over one million American children have a peanut allergy!

I wrote a blog a couple of years ago which indicated that researchers found that people with food allergies are increasing at a significant rate—an 18% jump between 1997 and 2007 alone, and that peanut allergies have tripled in recent years. That blog indicated several reasons for this rapid increase, but I won’t go into those specifics with this blog,

The good news, however, is that there is now a therapy to prevent this increasing threat with the recent recommendation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval of the first-ever drug to treat life-threatening peanut allergies in children.

This drug is not a cure for the allergy. Rather, the goal of this therapy is to greatly reduce the risk of accidental exposure to small amounts of peanuts and peanut-based food products that can set off a catastrophic and life-threatening anaphylactic reaction.

The new drug is an oral immunosuppressive therapy regimen that reduces sensitivity to peanut allergens over time. Gradual exposure to small amounts of peanut protein over the course of six months or so can allow a child with a severe peanut allergy to safely ingest the equivalent of two peanuts without a significant reaction.

This does not mean the child can safely eat peanuts from that point forward, but it does reduce the allergic reactions from the accidental ingestion of peanut dust from contaminated food preparation surfaces, products manufactured in plants where peanut products are also manufactured, and products containing small amounts of peanut-source ingredients.

I think some of you may remember that I am a volunteer certified running coach. This year my coaching focus has been to develop a youth running program in the non-profit running club that I am a member of.

One of the significant things we do in our registration process of our youth training program is to identify the medical/medication needs and any significant allergies of our young participants. Food allergy identification is a primary component of that screening process since we serve snacks at the end of each training session.

We have had several of our youth participate who have severe peanut allergies. We identify those kids on day one and make sure their parents provide separate snacks to prevent any possible risk of triggering a life-threatening event during group snacks and rehydration.

Such kids are the likely candidates for this drug regimen. It could possibly save the life of one of those kids if they accidentally ingested a peanut-containing product in the future.

Thoughts? Comments” I’d love to hear them!

Posted in About James J. Murray, About Medications/Pharmacy, Anaphylaxis, Blog Writers, Blogging, Children and Food Allergies, Common Food Allergies, Cutting Edge Drug Therapy Research, Deadly Food Contamination, Food Allergies on the Rise, Foods and Lethal Allergic Responses, Foods That Kill, Identifying Peanut Allergies, Increased Peanut Allergies in Kids, Increasing Food Allergies, James J. Murray Blog, Lethal Food Allergies, Medical Technology Advances, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, New Blog, New Drug Discoveries, New Drug For Treating Peanut Allergies, New Drug Research, Peanut Allergies, Pediatric Peanut Allergies, Pharmacy/Pharmaceuticals, Prescription For Murder Blog, Prescription Trends, Preventing Peanut Allergy Reactions, Screening For Peanut Allergies, Severe Food Allergies, The Pharmacy Profession, The Price of Freedom | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A New 21st Century Weapon of Mass Destruction

Before the 2000’s, the world feared WMD (weapons of mass destruction) that involved nuclear technology. The threat of nuclear war, whether accidental or intentional, shaped how the military, our diplomates and alliance nations acted to protect its people and to prevent the mutual destruction of the world with a nuclear clash of superpowers.

In this century, biological weapons (although in limited use since WWI) became the new WMD with threats from Iraq and more recently Syria. World leaders scrambled to develop antidotes and anti-toxins to some of the most significant and most lethal biologicals that could somehow make it into the hands of terrorists to destroy large segments of the civilized world.

A few months ago, I wrote a blog about how as much as 80% of our prescription medications are imported from India and China, with a significant percentage of the active ingredients coming from China. I mentioned that the current trade wars could create a situation where prescription medications for US citizens would likely become more expensive with rising tariffs.

Recent news articles (Here and Here) indicate that the evolution of the United States outsourcing so much drug manufacturing to other nations over the years not only brings the possibility of price increases, but it also could create a very real crisis of prescription medication shortages if our prescription drug supply were to be held hostage as a negotiating tactic.

Just imagine if our supplies of life-saving antibiotics , for instance, (many of which are generic drugs made in Chinese manufacturing plants) were suddenly cut off. Some antibiotic products are certainly made in the United States, but a little known fact is that the last penicillin factory in the United States closed in 2004 and that manufacturing process was outsourced overseas.

China is the world’s largest exporter of vitamins and other antibiotic raw material in the modern world. China also is a key manufacturer of the active ingredients in blood pressure medications and prescription drugs for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, epilepsy and depression.

Real national security risks exist with Chinese dominance of the global pharmaceutical industry. Retired Brig. Gen. John Adams told NBC News, “Basically, we’ve outsourced our entire (drug) industry to China. That is a strategic vulnerability.” Essentially, Western nations have handed an aggressive foreign government the power to hold all the cards for 21st Century WMDs over our collective heads, with the United States in a unique position to be the most vulnerable with the current trade war instabilities between the US and China.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

Posted in About James J. Murray, About Medications/Pharmacy, Affordable Prescription Drugs, Biological Weapons, Bioterrorism, Blog Writers, Blogging, Chemotherapy Supply Shortage Issues, Chinese Drug Industry, Chinese Prescription Drug Exports, Controlling Drug Costs, Developing Story Arcs, Developing Story Plots, Developing Storyline Ideas, Drug Distribution Chain, Drug Shortages in the US, Drugs and Terrorism, FDA and Drug Supply Shortages, Generic Drug Manufacturing, Generic Drug Safety, Generic Drugs in the US, Increasing Costs of US Pharmaceuticals, International Supply of Drugs, James J. Murray Blog, Made In America, Medication Cost Increases, Medication Safety Issues, Medication Shortages in the US, Modern Weapons of Mass Destruction, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, New Blog, Pharmaceutical Shortages in the US, Pharmacy/Pharmaceuticals, Prescription Drug Safety, Prescription Drug Shortages, Prescription For Murder Blog, Prescription Trends, Shortages in the US Drug Distribution Chain, The American Drug Supply, The High Cost Of Medications in the US, The Price of Freedom, Trade War Instabilities, Trade Wars, Trade Wars and Pharmaceuticals, Where Are America's Prescription Drugs Made?, Where Are Our Drugs Made, WMD | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Advances in Nanoparticle Technology!

Medical science in the 21st century is increasingly more sophisticated and growing exponentially. One of the more fascinating areas of medical research involves the evolution of nanoparticles.

Nanoparticles are (in simple terms) small objects that behave as a unit to have common properties and to perform specific jobs.They are tiny complex particles on the scale of one billionth of a meter—mere fractions of the width of a human hair.

These particles are molecular-sized entities that can be made from almost any material: metals, plastics and a multitude of hybrid materials. The most common at present are made of silicon, and 3D printing technology is advancing this technology faster than ever.

Because they are approximately the size of a biological molecule, they offer great potential for use in the human body to cure diseases, mainly because of their ability to transport substances on their surfaces or within their structures (think sponge-like configurations) into the body.

When used for medical purposes, they enter the body most often via intravenous injections. But advanced nanos that can be administered via an oral capsule and nanoemulsions that could be used for aerosolized nasal delivery are being developed.

Recently, I came across an interesting article about new research into using nanotechnology to prevent the paralysis resulting from severe spinal cord injuries.

When spinal cord injuries occur, often it’s the body’s own immune system that causes the inflammation and subsequent paralysis by squeezing and killing nerve cells. Inflammation prevents communication between neurons and produces scars that prevent nerve cells from regenerating. Thus, there is a cascade paralysis effect to areas below the injury site.

Nanoparticles, in this case, are used to bind with immune cells to prevent them from racing to the spinal injury and causing inflammation that may create a paralysis. These nanoparticles, in essence, render inflammation-causing immune cells useless and protect the spinal cord from inflammation. This allows nerve tissue to regenerate.

To this date, the process has been successful with mice and this area of research is also targeting multiple sclerosis.

As with all technological advances, the amazing cures and enhanced qualities of life that are on the forefront of nanoparticle development could have an alternate dark side. As we’re seen with powerful herbal and pharmaceutical remedies, misuse can result in lethal outcomes.

I can already imagine what poisons and toxins could be delivered into the body by nanos, and what other lethal consequences could be achieved by ill-used nanoparticles entering the body by injection, oral or nasal spray applications.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

Posted in A How To Blog on Murder Plot Ideas, A How To Blog on Murder Weapons, About James J. Murray, About Medications/Pharmacy, About Murder, All About Murder, Applications of Nanotechnology, Biological Weapons, Blog Writers, Blogging, Bloodless Death Scene Writing, Developing Storyline Ideas, Dramatic Murder Weapons, Ideas for Murder Scenes, Instruments of Death, Interesting Murder Weapons, James J. Murray Blog, Killing With Lethal Nanoparticles, Medical Uses of Nanotechnology, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, Murder Weapons, Nanoparticle Technology, Nanoparticle Technology in Medicine, Nanoparticles for Medical Cures, Nanoparticles in Medicine, Nanoparticles To Cure And Kill, Nanotechnology Used For Murder, New Blog, New Methods of Murder, New Methods To Kill Characters in Your Novel, Plotting Interesting Murder Scenes, Prescription For Murder Blog, The Science of Murder, Tools of Murder, Unique Murder Plots, Unique Murder Weapons | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dead Man’s Fingers Fungus

I’ll bet you’re thinking this blog is about a disease, and maybe a “yucky” one at that. Nope . . . not even close! This is all about another type of fungus—mushrooms.

Mushrooms are a culinary delight, including such wonderful treats as morel mushrooms and truffles. Even the more common, and much less expensive, varieties are welcome additions to many recipes.

Care must be taken, however, to stay away from some of the deadly varieties, such as those I wrote about in a previous blog. Some varieties can be used, and are often abused, for their hallucinogenic effects. I’ve described those in another blog.

There is a most interesting variety of mushroom that reeks of death. However, it’s not deadly to humans. It’s commonly called “Dead Man’s Fingers.” The technical name for this fungus is Xylaria polymorpha.

Although this fungus can resemble the fingers of a corpse reaching out from the earth, it’s not a zombie clawing its way out of a grave. It does have deadly properties, however, only not to humans. Dead Man’s Fingers are fungi growing out of decaying wood—stumps or logs of dead, buried trees—that continue the decay process to rot wood.

In fact, this attribute has several beneficial purposes. The Dead Man’s Fingers fungi are nature’s sanitation to rid forests of dead tree wood. These fungi are also used to increase the acoustic ability of woods used to make violins. Raw violin wood is inoculated with the Xylaria fungi to cause a certain degree of wood decay, thereby decreasing the wood’s density. After a time, the fungus is killed with ethylene oxide to prevent further wood rot and this creates the beautiful sounds of a violin.

Although this fungus is indigenous to the regions of Nepal, Bhutan and Northeastern India, it can be seen in the United States where it attacks apple, maple, beech and elm trees as well as a variety of ornamental shrubs to destroy home landscapes.

The colors of these interesting fungi vary from white to blue to black at different stages in their life cycle. When young, they are pale in color, almost white, and they vary from that whitish color to a pale blue as they grow. When this variety of mushroom continues to age, the bluish color deepens all the way to black before the fungus dries out and dies.

In China, younger blue fungi are often cooked and eaten; but, as the fungi age, they are considered not edible because they become hard to digest. At that point, most Dead Man’s Finger Fungi are used as decorations or garnish, instead.

I don’t consider this fungus lethal in any way to humans, but it can make for an interesting plot twist if used in a setting where it might appear that human remains are reaching out from the grave. I’ll have to figure out a way to use this in one of my storylines. What about you?

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

Posted in A How To Blog on Murder Plot Ideas, A How To Blog on Murder Weapons, About Interesting Mushrooms, About James J. Murray, About Medications/Pharmacy, All About Mushrooms, Blog Writers, Blogging, Bloodless Death Scene Writing, Blue Fungi, Botanical Murder Weapons, Botanicals That Kill, Dead Man's Finger Fungi, Dead Man's Fingers, Deadly Fungal Attacks, Deadly Mushrooms, Developing Storyline Ideas, Dramatic Murder Weapons, Fungi and Violin Wood, Hallucinogenic Drugs, Ideas for Murder Scenes, Interesting Event and Ideas Develop into Short Stories, James J. Murray Blog, Killing With Poisonous Plants, Lethal Botanicals, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, Mushrooms That Kill Trees, Mushrooms That Rot Wood, New Blog, Plant Poisons, Plants That Kill, Plants Used For Murder, Poisonous Plants, Prescription For Murder Blog, Unique Lethal Compounds, Unique Murder Plots, Writing Death Scenes, Writing Dramatic Murder Scenes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

When a Murder is Not Technically a Murder!

When someone dies, they’re dead, right? Well . . . maybe not. And when someone dies at the hand of another, that’s a murder, right? Well . . . maybe that’s true, or maybe not.

Sure, there are various degrees of murder, ranging from intentional to unintentional homicide—and those include legal terms such as first degree or second degree murder, negligent homicide, etc.

But what if the dead person simply wakes up and walks out of the morgue? Is that considered a murder, or is that an “almost murder” if the person wakes up the next day and recovers from that dastardly deed?

Legally, people are either dead or not! Is an “almost murder” called an assault? What if the person was not technically harmed, nor remembers any such event? What is that called?

Three years ago, I published a murder mystery novel that featured my favorite detective duo—Homicide Detective Rosie Young and her partner Detective Vince Mendez. Rosie is tough, single-minded and a no-nonsense investigator. Vince, on the other hand, is more laid back. He kicks back and analyzes more than Rosie. She’s inclined to power her way through a case and pull out all the stops to find the bad guy.

In my Novel ALMOST DEAD, these detectives encounter the true challenge of their lifetime when, not one, but two murder victims wake up within 24-hours of their “murder” and simply move on with their lives as if nothing had happened. So, that can’t be called a murder, right?

Well, these victims appear dead with all the diagnostic clues of end of life—no muscle, corneal or gag reflexes, no detectable heartbeat or breath sounds. They were pronounced dead by the coroner beyond a shadow of a doubt!

Impossible, you say? Maybe, but there is science to explain such events. And, of course, drugs do exist that, when administered in the proper dosages, can create a situation that mimics death. In my novel I use both the science of physiology and some interesting pharmaceutical agents to make that very thing happen.

There is a long list of drugs, both from ancient times and the present, that can mimic death, and I’ve blogged about them in the past. The problem with most is that they are short-acting, and larger doses that can prolong a deep comatose state either produce violent side effects or lead to a truly lethal outcome.

In ALMOST DEAD, I create the plot and the perfect combination of drugs to produce unique and believable death scenes that prove to be only temporary with the victims not staying dead.

The chase to find answers and uncover the person responsible for such craziness leads Detectives Rosie Young and Vince Mendez on a multi-faceted, fast-paced hunt of this elusive villain and leaves a body count of truly dead people in their wake.

ALMOST DEAD is the first in my detective series. Book two is my current work in process and will be published toward the end of this year.

Almost Dead – A Murder Mystery Novel

“Intriguing and Great Entertainment!”

Click HERE for Amazon Download

(Available in eBook or Paperback Formats)

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Drug Trade Balances

First off, this is not a blog about trade wars! I adhere to the philosophy of not blogging about religion, politics or sex—and today is no exception—but, with so much in the news about trade tariffs, my pharmaceutical mind went to the question of where our prescription drugs originate.

Those prescription drugs in your medicine cabinet are purchased from various and sundry pharmacies (online pharmacies, mail order, corner drug stores, etc), but how and where do those pharmacies acquire their drugs? They usually buy them from a drug supplier called a drug wholesaler. Many large chain pharmacies, however, now order them from centralized, company-owned warehouses.

But, where do THOSE drug wholesalers or central warehouses get their medications from? Good question! It’s possible that there may be yet another wholesale middleman before we can say that those warehoused drugs are bought from a pharmaceutical manufacturer.

The supply chain of prescription drugs that ends with your prescriptions dispensed at the store level can be very complex and that supply chain often takes an international route before ending up in consumer hands.

Are prescription drugs sold in the United States even made in the United States? How about Canada? Do Canadian pharmacies stock only drugs actually made in Canada? Those questions are again complex with no simple answer.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) generally defines a specific drug’s country of origin as ONLY the final stop in the manufacturing process where the ingredients are actually combined into a pill, capsule, patch or solution—or even packaged in the final container. Studies show that more than three quarters of the active ingredients of a drug (the specific substance that actually causes a prescription to produce a therapeutic effect) are manufactured mainly in India and China.

Per FDA guidelines, drug companies are required only to list the name and their business address on the label. Therefore, a US-based pharmaceutical company could list a US name and address for a finished drug product even though the active ingredients, or the drug itself, was made overseas.

That means your common cholesterol-lowering medications, even the more expensive brand-name ones made in the US, may contain ingredients actually made in manufacturing plants in India, China and elsewhere. Estimates are that up to 80% of the active ingredients of even brand name medications are manufactured in India and China.

Furthermore, some of the most commonly used generic medications are now completed into finished products in other countries, and India and China are where most of those drug manufacturing plants are located. Generic drugs make up almost 90% of the prescription medications consumed in the US and Canada, and nearly 40% are made in India alone and shipped in.

My point here is that prescription medications are an international commodity, especially generic drugs, and the medications you take every single day may well be affected by any change in trade policy.

I won’t discuss the pros and cons of generic drugs here. I wrote a blog a long time ago about this. Click HERE to see that blog. I believe most generic medications are safe to use. I take some of those medications myself from time to time, but I readily admit that oversight of the overseas manufacturing plants is not as stringent as those on the North American continent.

As examples of what can go terribly wrong in some international manufacturing plants and the lethal ripple effect that can happen anywhere all along the drug distribution chain, you can read my novels Lethal Medicine and Imperfect Murder.

Both are in my Jon Masters international thriller series. I’m proud that both have received great reviews on Amazon, and one of those actually freaked out my editor as she worked on polishing that manuscript. Maybe they’ll give you a thrill as well, or maybe even some goose bumps, if you read them.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

I’d also love for you to read my novels ~ Great Entertainment!

Order Lethal Medicine HERE and Imperfect Murder HERE.


Posted in A New Novel By James J. Murray, A New Science Thriller Novel, About James J. Murray, About Medications/Pharmacy, Blog Writers, Blogging, Designing Murder Plots, Developing Story Arcs, Developing Story Plots, Developing Storyline Ideas, Drug Distribution Chain, Drug Misadventures, Drugs For Murder Plots, Fiction Based on Facts, Fiction Based on Real Life, Future Drug Manufacturing Practices, Future of Drug Manufacturing, Generic Drug Manufacturing, Generic Drug Safety, Generic Drug Use, Generic Drugs, Imperfect Murder The Novel, Imperfect Murder Thriller Novel, James J. Murray Blog, James J. Murray's IMPERFECT MURDER Novel, James J. Murray's LETHAL MEDICINE Novel, Lethal Medicine Thriller Novel, Lethal Medicine-The Novel, Medication Safety Issues, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, Murder With Drugs, New Blog, New Book Release, New International Thriller Release, New Methods of Murder, Pharmacy/Pharmaceuticals, Plot Development, Plot Ideas and Where They Come From, Plotting The Perfect Murder, Prescription Drug Safety, Prescription Fill Practices in the US and Canada, Prescription For Murder Blog, Prescription Trends, The Art of Writing, The Practice of Pharmacy, Trade Wars, Unique Murder Plots, Where Are America's Prescription Drugs Made? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Eat Real Food and Live Longer

The headline would seem to be a no-brainer. Eat real food instead of “junk food” and you’ll likely live longer, or at least have a better quality of life as you age. These days, however, eating real food (i.e.: unprocessed foods) may not be as easy as you think. Additionally, including ultra-processed foods in our modern diets has increased dramatically over the past several decades.

An ultra-processed food is generally defined as a food item that contains multiple chemical ingredients and which is manufactured from a variety of industrial processes.

Some would say the age of processed foods began with the introduction of the “TV Dinner Age” and that may well be true. The switch to convenience or packaged foods from store shelves, fast foods from drive-thru outlets, and eating at restaurants that simply microwave foods that are pre-made offsite are all included in this category of ultra-processed foods.

Recent studies indicate that increased consumption of ultra-processed foods result in a higher risk of an early death. These foods contribute to a shorter lifespan in a number of ways that include heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases.

Eating “clean” is generally defined as eating real foods that do not contain chemical ingredients. Ultra-processed foods are on the other side of the spectrum, with ingredients that include a list of chemicals with too many syllables to pronounce or even define. In general, previous studies have shown a link between high consumption of processed foods and an increased risk of obesity and the chronic diseases mentioned above.

A recent study shows that about 30% of the calories in a modern diet comes from foods that are in the ultra-processed category. The study also indicated that, for each 10% increase in the proportion of ultra-processed foods in a participant’s diet, there was a corresponding 14% higher risk of death over the study period of seven years.

Ultra-processed foods are higher in sodium, have a greater sugar content, and are low in fiber. They also generally contain chemicals that may be harmful or at least produce harmful chemicals in the manufacturing process. An example that has been studied extensively is the nitrite chemicals added to processed meats like bacon and hot dogs.

I have decided to “eat clean” for a number of reasons. I’m an older adult and want to remain active and healthy for a great many more years. I also have arthritis in some of my joints, particularly my hands and shoulders, and I have started a regimen of eating less inflammatory foods. The short story on my journey to eating clean from an inflammatory standpoint is to eat less processed foods, but also less refined carbohydrates. So, my diet is now richer in unprocessed fruits, vegetables, proteins and good fats with less reliance on commercial carbohydrates to fill me up.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress. Maybe I’ll even drop a couple of those nasty excess pounds in the process.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d like to hear them!

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Quantifying Pain Effectively

There are a multitude of methods to measure a patient’s pain level. Most use a sliding scale to quantify one’s pain from 0 (no pain) to 10 (the worse imaginable pain).

Top ten types of pain scales:

  • 1 – 10 pain scales
  • Faces pain scales, typically the Wong-Baker FACES® pain rating scale
  • Global pain scale
  • Visual analog pain scale
  • McGill pain scale
  • Mankoski pain scale
  • Color scales for pain
  • Pediatric pain scales
  • CPOT pain scale
  • Patient-created personalized pain scales

Of the above-mentioned pain scales, the most often used include a visual of facial expressions (such as, the Wong-Baker FACES) in which patients point to a face that depicts their degree of discomfort.

Although these pain scales are relatively effective, they are subjective in that they rely on a patient’s perception of pain, with the resulting built-in flaws. In other words, one person’s pain level of “5” is different from another person’s perception of what a pain level of “5” may be.

Researchers are now working on a prototype for a blood test that could measure the severity of pain without the subjective nature of patient self-reporting or physicians relying on clinical observations of the pain a patient may be experiencing.

New research indicates that there are identifiable biomarkers in a patient’s blood to objectively determine how severe a person’s pain level is. A biomarker is basically a measurable substance in an organism that indicates a specific phenomenon. The biomarkers in this case help researchers identify compounds in blood to quantify pain intensity. Thus, a more accurate and effective pain treatment regimen could be initiated.

Much of the present opioid epidemic/crisis has been contributed to the over-prescribing of addictive medications, without the close monitoring of when to discontinue pain meds in a timely manner. As a patient begins to experience less pain, less addictive pain medication options could be substituted with equal pain-relief effectiveness. Biomarkers could identify when that appropriate time is.

Study experts are discovering also that biomarkers in blood can objectively direct researchers to match a patient’s current pain experience with specific analgesic drugs to control pain.

Treating pain more effectively without using strong, addictive medications or decreasing the use of addictive drugs when pain is beginning to recede will be a medical breakthrough. Treating pain intelligently with the right medication at the right time could provide a much-needed change from the current overuse of opioid medications and lessen the potential of drug addiction.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

Posted in About James J. Murray, About Medications/Pharmacy, Alternative to Botanicals for Painkiller Drug Manufacturing, Alternatives to Opiate Painkillers, Blog Writers, Blogging, Controlling Drug Costs, Death From Prescription Painkillers, Drug Abuse, Effective Pain Control, Epidemic of Narcotic Overdoses, James J. Murray Blog, Medical Technology Advances, Medication Abuses, Medication Non-Compliance, Medication Safety Issues, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, New Blog, New Drug Research, New Research Technology, Non-Addictive Pain Treatments, Opiate Epidemic, Opioid Crisis, Opioid Crisis Management, Opioid Therapy Alternatives, Pain Biomarkers, Patient Therapy Outcomes, Pharmacy/Pharmaceuticals, Prescription Drug Safety, Prescription Drugs Become Street Drugs, Prescription For Murder Blog, Prescription Narcotic Overdoses, Prescription Painkiller Overdose, Prescription Prescribing Practices, The Opioid Epidemic, The Pharmacy Profession, The Practice of Pharmacy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment