Fight Ragweed Allergies In Nashville!

For many Nashvillians, August and September mark the unofficial end of summer and the start of the back-to-school season. Fresh starts, new beginnings, new seasons… but it’s not all rosy. No, in fact, for many residents of Davidson County and surrounding areas, August and September bring the much-dreaded ragweed season.

What Is Ragweed?

Ragweed is a flowering plant that makes many who suffer from Nashville allergies think, “I guess spring wasn’t so bad after all.” Yes, ragweed really can be that miserable, bad enough to make Nashville’s spring allergies seem manageable. (And that’s saying a lot, considering that Nashville ranks in the top 30 cities in the U.S. for allergies.)

Ragweed’s 17 species produce a fine-powder pollen beginning in the Southeast region during late July / early August. The plant’s bloom cycle continues north and to the west as the weeks progress. Though ragweed season is the worst in Nashville during August and September, the plant often remains active into the month of November. Individuals who are especially sensitive to ragweed may be affected until cold weather season settles in.

If you’re allergic to ragweed, it may not give you much comfort, but know that you’re in good company: three out of four people with allergies are allergic to ragweed.

What Are the Symptoms of Ragweed Allergies in Nashville?

Also known as “hay fever,” ragweed allergies can produce many of the symptoms typically associated with rhinitis (inflammation and swelling of the nose’s mucous membrane), including:

  • Sneezing
  • Itchy or runny nose
  • Nasal cogestion
  • Irritated, watery or puffy eyes
  • Itchy throat
  • Sinus headaches and pressure
  • Trouble sleeping

In individuals with asthma, ragweed can exacerbate symptoms, resulting in worsened coughing and wheezing.

What Can I Do About Ragweed Allergies?

It’s you vs. the one billion pollen grains that every ragweed plant has the capacity to release. (Multiply that times the number of ragweed plants in the area!) But our team at St. Thomas Medical Group is on your side. Here are a few ways you can fight back against ragweed allergies.

#1 Avoid These Foods

“Avoidance therapy” is one of three common approaches to treating allergies. Of course, it doesn’t help much to say, “Avoid ragweed,” as the pollen spreads everywhere. (That being said, you will still want to try limiting or avoiding time outdoors.)

You can, however, avoid certain foods, whose plants contain pollens similar to ragweed. These include banana, zucchini, sunflower sees, cantaloupes, cucumber, and others.

#2 Additional Methods for Reducing Exposure

For people who suffer from ragweed allergies, the best thing you can do is to reduce your exposure to the pollen. Follow these tips as best as you’re able:

  • Use HEPA air filters in your home HVAC system to help prevent pollen from entering the home.
  • Don’t air dry clothing or sheets on an outdoor line where they can pick up pollen.
  • If you spend an extended amount of time outside, remove shoes and clothing before entering the house so that pollen doesn’t track inside.
  • Wash outdoor pets regularly to limit pollen from entering the home.

#3 See an ENT/Allergy Doctor in Nashville

An ENT doctor at Nashville’s St. Thomas Medical Group may be able to confirm a ragweed allergy by performing a skin prick test. During this test, a small amount of the allergen is introduced to the immune system, and the reaction is observed.

While there is no “cure” for ragweed allergies, a positive result on this test may help your allergy doctor recommend anti-allergy medications that may be helpful.

Get Help for Your Nashville Allergies With an ENT Doctor!

Do you suffer from ragweed allergies in Nashville? Or do you simply suffer from some kind of allergen… you’re just not sure what? See an ENT doctor (sometimes called an “allergy doctor”) at St. Thomas Medical Group for care. Call the Nashville ENT & Allergy Clinic at +1 (615) 386-9089 or send a message online.

Joint Injections Can Improve Mobility & Quality of Life

Is joint pain just a part of getting older? Maybe. But who says you don’t have options for dealing with it? As the body ages, joints produces less hyaluronic acid (HA), a substance found in synovial fluid, a lubricant in the joints. A reduction in HA levels occurs in patients with arthritis and other conditions.

Fast Facts About Those Achy Joints

According to Arthritis Foundation, as many as 54 million adults in the United States have doctor-diagnosed arthritis, the leading cause of disability. Osteoarthritis accounts for approximately 31 million of those cases.

While arthritis may be considered an older person’s disease, as many as 300,000 infants and children have arthritis or a rheumatic condition.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “One in four adults with arthritis—15 million people—report experiencing severe joint pain related to arthritis. Additionally, nearly half of adults with arthritis have persistent pain.”

Is There a Solution In HA Joint Injections?

While there’s no “cure,” per se, for arthritis, many patients are able to find some level of relief with hyaluronic acid joint injections. HA joint injections reintroduce the lubricant the body should be producing on its own. Some patients may experience relief after just one series of injections, while others may need multiple injections over the course of several weeks or months. Whether one or several injection sessions are necessary, many patients find a reduction in pain and stiffness, better shock absorption, and greater range of motion as a result of HA joint injections.

Arthritis Foundation reports, “About 30 percent of people who undergo hyaluronic acid injections become virtually pain free, and symptom relief may last up to two years […] Yet, another 20 percent of patients experience no benefit.”

Is It All About Technique? Ultrasound-Guided Injections of the Joints

There are several methods for injecting joints with HA. At St. Thomas Medical Group, Nashville rheumatologists use ultrasound-guided technology for injecting joints. With ultrasound technology, providers can get a more accurate view of the tissues and internal structure of the joint. This allows for more precise needle placement and more effective results from the injection therapy.

In taking the ultrasound approach, providers will rub a clear ultrasound gel over the joint, which acts as a conductive medium, allowing for a clear image of the joint. This maximizes the opportunity for a successful, targeted injection by minimizing sound wave interference.

Many studies have investigated the efficacy of ultrasound-guided joint injections compared to landmark guided injections. A 2018 study evaluating the existing evidence on ultrasound-guided injections in sports medicine reports, “In the lower extremity, ultrasound-guided injections at the knee, ankle, and foot have superior efficacy to landmark-guided injections.” Clinicians, researchers, and insurers debate the effectiveness of ultrasound technology in some other joint injections. More research is being done.

Do Ultrasound-Guided Injections Hurt?

Prior to injecting the hyaluronic acid, your provider may use a numbing agent to reduce pain and discomfort. Also, in many cases, using ultrasound technology may speed up the procedure and result in a less painful injection.

After undergoing this brief outpatient procedure, you may experience some acute swelling or discomfort for 24 to 48 hours post-injection. During this time, patients are advised to rest and take it easy. Standing and walking should be minimal during this recovery period.

Get Joint Injections In Nashville & Gallatin

St. Thomas Medical Group is proud to offer joint injections that can improve mobility and quality of life in patients with sore, stiff, and achy joints. For more information, or to find a rheumatologist in Nashville or Gallatin, call +1 (615) 964-5823 or schedule an appointment online.

To Vape or Not to Vape?

Vaping has taken the U.S. by storm, rapidly eating into the tobacco market while implying a “safer” or “healthier” alternative to cigarettes. For those unfamiliar, “vaping” refers to the act of inhaling and exhaling an aerosol along with flavoring and various chemicals (typically nicotine). Vaporizers (or “vapes,” vaping devices) come in many different forms; many are rechargeable, refillable electronic devices. A wide range of flavors are available for every palate. Many popular flavors, such as cotton candy or fruit medley, are enticing to younger audiences.

Is Vaping “Better” Than Smoking Cigarettes?

Many vape manufacturers would have you believe vaping is a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes. As Johns Hopkins Medicine points out, regular tobacco cigarettes contain approximately 7,000 chemicals (many of which are toxic), while e-cigarettes contain far fewer toxic chemicals. Though the toxicity may be lower, not enough research has been done to know precisely what chemicals (or levels) are present in vape devices.

At the very least, e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes always contain one highly addictive and toxic chemical: nicotine. Nicotine can increase blood pressure, cause an adrenaline spike, and elevate heart rate, thereby increasing risk for heart attack. Of course, nothing about device or delivery mechanism changes the addictive nature of nicotine.

Perhaps worst of all, vaping is introducing a new generation to nicotine by the millions. Let’s take a closer look at the connection between vaping and teenagers…

Vaping & Teens

The National Institute of Drug Abuse reports some key statistics in its Teens and E-Cigarettes report:

  • 30.7 percent of teen e-cigarette users will start smoking within six months, compared to just 8.1 percent of non-users.
  • Seven in ten teenagers are exposed to e-cigarette ads.
  • A shocking number of users don’t know what’s in their e-cigarette, due in part to the fact that manufacturers don’t have to disclose their ingredients. Only 13.2 percent of teen users say nicotine is in their device, while 13.7 percent say they don’t know, and 66 percent say “just flavoring.”

According to the American Heart Association, vaping use doubled among high school students from 2017 to 2018. It’s no wonder that on December 18, 2018, Surgeon General Jerome Adams declared vaping among youth an epidemic in the United States.

The Health Risks of Vaping

Vaping isn’t just risky for teenagers, who may use it as an entry point for years of tobacco abuse. Vaping has a few health risks of its own. For example, did you know that vaping can irritate cells in the gums, mouth, and throat? Or that many vaping liquids contain chemicals harmful to the lungs, including diacetyl, 2, 3-pentanedione, and acetoin, according to a 2016 study that analyzed 51 types of flavored e-cigarettes? (As an interesting aside, this study notes there are more than 7,000 e-cigarette flavors on the market… and that was over three years ago.)

Vaping: Not Safe or Harmless

It’s possible that vaping may be a marginally better alternative for adults addicted to nicotine. However, vaping is not safe or harmless, nor should it be recommended as a smoking cessation tool.

The question the medical community should ask is, “Just how harmful might vaping be?” More research is needed to understand the chemical relationships involved in e-cigarette devices. In the meantime, their use is not recommended.

You Can Quit! We Can Help!

If you desire to quit smoking, talk to your doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group in Nashville about the many safe and approved cessation therapies that may be available. Change is possible. Call +1 (615) 297-2700 or schedule your appointment with a provider online.


Breath Easy Again With Septorhinoplasty or a Balloon Sinuplasty

For millions of people, chronic sinusitis is a constant irritant: stuffy nose, difficulty breathing, and swelling and tenderness around the eyes. Chronic sinusitis can interfere with overall quality of life for weeks, months, or even years on end. Medication therapies like nasal corticosteroids and saline nasal irrigation may help some patients. For many, however, surgery may be the best option.

At St. Thomas Medical Group, ear nose and throat (ENT) specialists in Nashville offer several procedures for treating chronic sinusitis. Two of these procedures are known as balloon sinuplasty and septorhinoplasty.

What Is Balloon Sinuplasty?

Balloon sinuplasty – you may also hear it referred to as “BSP” – is a minimally invasive procedure that may provide sinus pain relief to individuals with chronic sinusitis. It’s an in-office procedure that involves no cutting of any tissues or bone. Hundreds of thousands of people have undergone this procedure and enjoyed the fast-acting, long-lasting results.

How Does BSP Work?

During a balloon sinuplasty procedure, your ENT doctor will insert a small balloon catheter through the nasal passageways to reach the inflamed sinus. The balloon is inflated and saline is sprayed through the catheter in order to flush out mucus and infection. Once the sinus is cleared, the balloon is removed and the sinuses remain open. Additionally, use of the balloon helps widen the walls of the sinus passageway.

Again, this procedure is done in-office; local anesthesia is all that’s necessary for this procedure. The majority of patients who undergo BSP are back to work and normal activities in just two days. In a study of 203 patients who underwent the procedure, more than 82% said the procedure was “tolerable” or “highly tolerable.”

What Is Septorhinoplasty?

Septorhinoplasty is a surgical procedure during which any internal obstructions blocking the nasal passageway are surgically removed. Additionally, the appearance of the nose may be improved during this procedure.

The surgery combines two common procedures: septoplasty and rhinoplasty.

  • Septoplasty: During this procedure, an ENT specialist sets the septum straight. The septum is the bone and cartilage that separates the two nostrils and nasal cavities. “Deviation” of the septum is a common reason for having septoplasty.
    Rhinoplasty: In rhinoplasty, surgeons change the shape of the nose in order to alter physical appearance or improve breathing. Unlike many forms of cosmetic or plastic surgery, rhinoplasty may be covered fully or in part by insurance.
  • Septorhinoplasty is commonly used to obtain a desired nose shape and size while also improving a person’s ability to breathe clearly.

How Does Septorhinoplasty Work?

During the procedure, which is performed under general anesthesia, the surgeon removes parts of cartilage and bone in order to create the desired shape. The septum is broken and straightened in order to improve breathing and reduce symptoms associated with chronic sinusitis.

Recovery from septorhinoplasty may take between one and two weeks. It can take several months for the final appearance of the nose to take shape.

Do I Have Chronic Sinusitis?

While only a doctor can diagnose chronic sinusitis, individuals with this condition may experience symptoms such as inflammation of the nasal passageways, difficulty breathing, pain or tenderness around the sinus cavities, reduced smell and taste sensation, drainage, and abnormal mucus discharge. If you experience some of these symptoms, talk to your doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group about what options may be available to you.

Schedule An Appointment at the Nashville ENT & Allergy Clinic

Have questions for an ENT specialist in our Nashville offices? For more information or to schedule an appointment, call +1 (615) 383-9089 or visit the Nashville ENT & Allergy Clinic online. You, too, may be breathing easy again… call today to learn about your options!

gluten celiac faq

FAQ: Your Gluten and Celiac Disease Questions Answered!

When it comes to gluten and celiac disease, many people have more questions than answers. Between fad diets, online supplements, and health claims that run the gamut from too-good-to-be-true to downright scary… how’s a person to know what to believe?

In an effort to better serve you, our patients, the gastroenterologists at Nashville’s St. Thomas Medical Group have put together this FAQ list covering the basics of celiac disease and gluten.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat and many grains, including rye and barley. Gluten is what gives dough its sticky texture. While most common in wheat, rye and barley, gluten is also present in many foods that you wouldn’t expect due to food processing techniques. Even whole (non-gluten) foods, such as oats, may contain enough gluten to trigger symptoms. This can occur from contact in growing fields or processing plants.

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease and genetic disorder that is triggered by gluten. In patients with celiac disease, the ingestion of gluten triggers an autoimmune response in the body’s digestive system, resulting in the destruction of villi, tiny finger-like projections within the small intestine. Villi increase surface area inside the small intestine, making it easier for the body to properly absorb food. Fortunately, the interior lining of the small intestine renews itself every few days, so the damage caused by celiac disease is not permanent.

Remember, it’s important to recognize celiac disease for what it is: an autoimmune disease. Celiac disease isn’t a food allergy or dietary choice.

How common is celiac disease?

The Center for Celiac Research and Treatment reports that one out of every 133 people in the United States are affected by celiac disease.

What are the symptoms of celiac disease?

Symptoms of celiac disease may include constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, fatigue, and more. Altogether, there are approximately 300 known symptoms of celiac disease. Many symptoms are “extra-intestinal,” which is to say they occur in body systems beyond the digestive system. Some patients may experience arthritis, joint pain, dementia, and other symptoms. That being said… some individuals with celiac disease experience no symptoms at all.

How is celiac disease diagnosed?

The initial screening for celiac disease can be done with a simple blood test, which detects specific antibodies. If the blood test indicates the possibility of celiac disease, then your gastrointestinal specialist may order an intestinal biopsy. Biopsy is the only way to make an official diagnosis.

How is celiac disease treated?

While there is no cure for celiac disease, the goods news is that affected individuals can lead normal, healthy lives by following a gluten-free diet.

What can I eat if I have celiac disease? What foods should I avoid?

Individuals with celiac disease can eat any foods that do not contain gluten. Avoid any foods that contain wheat or wheat-derived flour. This includes bread, pasta, and cereals, as well as foods you might not expect to contain gluten: canned soup, ketchup and mustard, processed meats, ice cream, and yogurt. (Due to increased awareness of celiac disease, gluten-free options are now available for nearly every food.)

Is celiac disease a major health concern? Is it dangerous?

Yes, biopsy-diagnosed celiac disease is a major health concern. Left untreated, the effects can be life-threatening. Untreated celiac disease may increase risk for cancer, osteoporosis, pancreatic disease, malabsorption, hemorrhaging, and other serious health issues.

If you have celiac disease, talk to your doctor or gastrointestinal specialist about following a proper gluten-free diet.

Schedule An Appointment With a GI Specialist

For more information, visit the St. Thomas Medical Group Endoscopy Center (phone +1 (615) 301-7040) or Nashville Gastrointestinal Specialists (phone +1 (615) 383-0165).


Concussion 101: Know the Signs & What to Do

As summer winds down and the school year starts up, so does the sports season. In fact, approximately three out of four US households with school-aged children have at least one child involved in organized sports, according to the Aspen Institute.

Playing youth sports offers a number of benefits. Children develop strength, coordination, confidence and social skills, all while learning important lessons about work ethic and being part of a team. But with those benefits comes risk… specifically, risk of concussion.

According to Brain Injury Research Institute, an estimated 1.6 to 3.8 million sports- and recreation-related concussions occur in the United States each year. During one four-year period, the Institute reported that six percent of all sports-related Emergency Department visits by children ages 5 to 18 involved concussion.

What Is Concussion?

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that may occur when the head or body sustains an impact, causing the brain to move quickly in the skull. This quick and sudden shift can cause damage to brain cells and result in chemical imbalances.

The Signs of Concussion

Concussions may not always present obvious symptoms. It’s somewhat common for kids and teens who have experienced a concussion to say they just “don’t feel right.” Parents may notice their child:

  • Is forgetful or confused about what’s going on in the game.
  • Is slow to answer questions.
  • Moves clumsily.
  • Appears to be stunned.
  • Exhibits changes in personality, mood, or behavior.
  • Has trouble recalling events that occurred before the impact.

Of course, if your child loses consciousness – even briefly – then removal from play and concussion evaluation is strongly recommended.

Self-Reported Concussion Signs & Symptoms

We’ve discussed a few signs and symptoms that parents can observe. However, it’s also critical that your child knows the symptoms of concussion, so that they can be “on guard” and perhaps more likely to remove themselves from play should they experience a concussion and no one else notices. Self-reported symptoms include:

  • Headache or pressure in the head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Balance issues
  • Dizziness
  • Blurry or double vision
  • Troubled by noise or light
  • Feeling sluggish or in a haze
  • Feeling confused
  • Having trouble concentrating or remembering things
  • Feeling “down” or “off”

For more information, view a “Fact Sheet for Youth Sports Parents” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC Heads Up offers many additional resources for parents, players, coaches, and providers.

What to Do In the Event of a Concussion?

If you believe your child may have sustained a concussion, remove them from play immediately. Your child should take the rest of the day off and be seen by a healthcare provider for evaluation. Only after receiving a return-to-play clearance from a provider should your child get back to practice or gameplay. Don’t try to determine the severity of the injury on your own. Instead, defer to a licensed provider, as symptoms may not appear until hours or days after the trauma. Concussion can be a serious brain injury; you don’t want to rush the recovery process!

Concussion Law In Tennessee

In April 2013, Tennessee joined 43 other states in passing a sports concussion law designed to protect youth athletes and increase awareness of the risk of concussion and traumatic brain injury. According to Tennessee state law:

  • Youth athletes and parents must sign a concussion form before competing.
  • Coaches are required to immediately remove an athlete who appears to have suffered a concussion from play and practice.
  • Youth athletes who have sustained a concussion must be cleared by a licensed healthcare provider before returning to play or practice.

Learn more about the Concussion Law in Tennessee, and download policies, forms, and other documents here.

See a Family Doctor in Nashville for Concussion Evaluation

Are you concerned that your child may have experienced a concussion? Do you need a post-concussion evaluation or return-to-play clearance? Schedule an appointment with your family doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group in Nashville online or by calling +1 (615) 301-7040.

Stress Management Techniques

6 Stress Management Techniques for Improving Health

To a certain degree, stress is a normal part of life. But all indicators suggest that stress has gotten out of hand for many adults and teens in the US.

The Global Organization for Stress reports:

  • Stress is a top health concern for US high schoolers.
  • Four in five adults feel stress on the job.
  • Three out of four adults report experiencing moderate to high levels of stress in the past month.

At St. Thomas Medical Group, our physicians are committed to your total wellness, which includes understanding your stress triggers, family relationships and social issues so that we may provide a higher level of comprehensive care.

We encourage you to talk with your primary care providers about how you can reduce stress and improve your overall health with tactics like these…

#1 Exercise When You’re Feeling Stressed

Exercise releases endorphins, which boost mood, reduce perceptions of pain, and improve your outlook. Even as little as a half-hour of walking or jogging can have a significant impact on your mental and emotional health.

#2 Cut Out the Triggers

Caffeine, alcohol and nicotine can worsen stress. Try replacing caffeine and alcohol with non-caffeinated teas, natural fruit juices, water and healthy beverages.

#3 Create a Bedtime Routine

Stress often makes it difficult to fall asleep and get a good night’s rest. Avoid screens and intense mental activity in the hours leading up to bedtime. Also, set a regular bedtime and try to stick to the new routine. Caffeine should be avoided in the evening, and alcohol consumption kept to a minimum.

#4 Talk to a Friend

Sometimes just talking to a friend about the factors stressing you can make you feel better. You might find that talking about your problems out loud brings some perspective. You may find solutions and realize that some problems aren’t as bad as you initially thought. At the very least, it’s often comforting just to be heard and seen by others.

#5 Be Realistic About Your Time

If you try to cram everything into your day and find yourself stressed when you run out of time, then you might be able to de-stress by re-evaluating your expectations! Create a schedule that more accurately reflects what you’re capable of completing. Check things off as you go through your day. And, remember, it’s okay to say no to things that aren’t on your schedule or to-do list!

#6 Make Time for Yourself

Having hobbies and time for relaxing is an important part of a healthy, well-rounded life. Find activities that you enjoy in order to reduce stress!


Need a local primary care provider who will listen to you and advocate for your health and well-being? Find a primary care doctor in Nashville at St. Thomas Medical Group. Call +1 (615) 297-2700 or schedule online.

vertigo nashville

Vertigo May Affect As Many As 40% of Adults Age 40+

One in ten people experience vertigo, and four in ten adults age 40 and older will experience vertigo at some point in their lives. Vertigo is characterized by dizziness or a feeling that the room is spinning. This sensation is sometimes accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

ENT doctors at St. Thomas Medical Group help adults suffering from temporary and permanent vertigo throughout the greater Nashville area. Let’s take a closer look at this common health issue…

What Causes Vertigo?

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is caused by small crystals in the vestibular labyrinth (within the inner ear) becoming loose and moving into nearby semicircular canals. As a result, head positioning can be very sensitive, causing dizziness and other vertigo symptoms. The good news is, treatment is available for this condition. Learn more below.

What Treatment Options Are Available?

Some cases of vertigo can be resolved through in-office maneuvers performed by your doctor or a physical therapist. These maneuvers, which involve positioning the neck and head, aim to return dislodged crystals in the ear canal to their appropriate place.

Your ENT doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group may also recommend a diuretic (water pill) to reduce fluid retention, an issue that may contribute to vertigo. However, diuretics may not be right for all patients; talk to your doctor to learn more. Inner ear injections and surgery may be options for severe cases, though these approaches are certainly not common frontline therapies.

What Else You Can Do…

Reduce vertigo symptoms at home by:

  • Sitting upright on the edge of the bed for a few minutes before getting up.
  • Develop balance with yoga or similar exercises.
  • Move your head slowly; avoid sudden, jerking motions.

Vertigo Can Increase Risk for Falls

Vertigo isn’t just uncomfortable; it can actually put individuals at an increased risk for falls, which can be life-threatening. According to one study, “The presence of dizziness in the elderly is a strong predictor of falls, which is the leading cause of accidental death in people older than 65 years.” Because vertigo can lead to falls, which can cause brain injury, broken bones, and other complications, it’s especially important to see a physician for vertigo.

ENT Doctors in Nashville, TN | Vertigo Treatment Available

Do you struggle with vertigo or dizzy spells? Find an ENT doctor near you at St. Thomas Medical Group. Call +1 (615) 386-9089 or visit the Nashville ENT & Allergy Clinic’s online home for more information.

essential oils

Are Essential Oils Beneficial? Safe? A Medical Perspective

Diffuse, inhale, ingest, massage… essential oils are catching on like wildfire! In North America alone, the aromatherapy market is expected to grow from $1.6B in 2016 to $2.8B by 2024. As more manufacturers enter the market and more health-conscious consumers begin experimenting with blends of lavender, peppermint, bergamot, and other oils, many are asking, “Are essential oils safe? Do essential oils actually work?”

The truth is, there’s a lot we don’t know about essential oils. Unlike traditional drugs, which undergo rigorous clinical trials and have known side effects, essential oils are not subject to the same regulations imposed by the FDA. In fact, essential oils must clearly state that they are “not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”

Of course, simply lacking FDA regulation doesn’t mean essential oils can’t have any benefits. Rather, we just don’t know for sure what benefits they do offer. And, in many cases, the potential risk and harm may outweigh the benefits.

Here are a few reasons why you might want to think twice before using essential oils on yourself or your children…

Abnormally High Concentrations

Essential oils are frequently touted as “natural” therapies. However, the incredibly high concentrations are anything but natural. As one nurse blogger points out, a popular manufacturer of essential oils “boasts that it takes 75 lemons to make one 15 mL bottle of lemon oil, 27 square feet of lavender plants to make one 15 mL bottle of lavender, and an entire pound of raw peppermint to make one 15 mL bottle of peppermint oil.”

Consuming just one drop of peppermint oil is the equivalent of drinking 26-28 cups of peppermint tea! Is that a “natural” way to get the potential benefits of peppermint? Not really. When it comes to abnormally high concentrations of anything, extreme caution is advised.

Lack of Standardization

Advil® is Advil®… and the drugstore brand version is pretty much the exact same thing. It doesn’t matter what store you buy it from or what area of the country you’re in. When it comes to essential oils, we’re living in the Wild West. The plants from which essential oils are derived can vary in concentration; weather and growing conditions, as well as processing techniques, can affect potency.

Unknown Causation

As always, correlation does not equal causation. If you massage thieves into blistered feet and notice an improvement the next day, is that a result of the oil alone? The massage? The massage combined with the oil? Moisture? It’s difficult to determine exactly what causes certain outcomes.

Questions About Essential Oils? See a Doctor in Nashville

At St. Thomas Medical Group, our physicians are advocates for your health. We are not opposed to the effective use of alternate therapies, and we encourage you to learn more about your wellness options. Looking for a doctor in Nashville who will listen to you and advocate for your health and well-being? Call +1 (615) 297-2700 or schedule online.

How Well Do You Know Hypertension?

Hypertension, also known as “high blood pressure,” affects one in three adults in the U.S. and contributes to more than 1,000 deaths per day, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Individuals with high blood pressure are four times more likely to die from a stroke and three times more likely to die from heart disease than those who do not have high blood pressure.

According to The Hypertension Institute at St. Thomas West Hospital, “The odds are good that most people will have high blood pressure in their lifetime. In fact, 90% of people with normal blood pressure at age 55 are at risk for developing high blood pressure as they get older.”

Unfortunately, only about half of the people with high blood pressure have their condition under control. Help for high blood pressure is available at St. Thomas Medical Group. Getting better starts with getting informed

What Is Hypertension?

High blood pressure occurs when the blood in your arteries applies excessive force to the arterial walls. While some fluctuation in blood pressure is normal, people with hypertension have excessive pressure on the arterial walls for an extended period of time. This significantly raises risk for heart attack and stroke.

How Do I Know If I Have Hypertension?

Oftentimes, there are no warning signs or symptoms of high blood pressure. It is important to understand that you could have hypertension without experiencing any symptoms whatsoever. Headaches and nausea are very uncommon symptoms of high blood pressure.

Because signs and symptoms are so rare, it’s important to see a doctor for a blood pressure screening. This quick and painless test simply involves placing an inflatable cuff around the arm to measure pressure in the blood vessels.

How Can I Manager My High Blood Pressure?

While blood pressure may be managed through certain medications, changing your diet and lifestyle is hands down the healthiest and best way to manage high blood pressure.

Manage high blood pressure by eating a diet that’s low in sodium, fat, and cholesterol. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and fiber. Staying active is also a great way to lower blood pressure. Aim to take three 10-minute walks per day, at least five days a week.

If you smoke, talk to your doctor about quitting. Limit alcoholic drinks to two per day (men) or one per day (women).

Am I At Risk for High Blood Pressure?

Anyone can develop high blood pressure. However, some common risk factors include:

  • Having a family history of hypertension
  • Getting older
  • Lacking physical activity
  • Eating an unhealthy diet (especially a diet high in sodium)
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Having high cholesterol
  • Having diabetes
  • Having sleep apnea
  • Smoking

High Blood Pressure Treatment in Nashville, TN

Need help getting your high blood pressure under control? Find an internal medicine doctor in Nashville at St. Thomas Medical Group. Don’t delay in getting the care you need. Call +1 (615) 297-2700 or schedule your appointment online.