Posted in Health, news

Chocolate and Other Cough Cures

In 2015 we were elated to learn that chocolate was officially considered a cough suppressant.  Now we learn of another study encouraging sucking on the theobromine-containing scrumptious morsels to quell one’s cough.

This week, researchers from Hull University in England report chocolate to be a faster cough reliever than cough syrup.

They tested 163 patients with either cough medicine with codeine or a chocolate flavored medicine named ROCOCCO and found the cocoa to help improve the cough within two days compared to those who were taking the former.

Alcohol and narcotics are not recommended to cure your cough and the FDA has urged children under 2 years of age to not be given any kind of cough and cold product that contains a decongestant or antihistamine.

So if you or your child cannot get rid of a cough, what can you do?  Here’s the breakdown…..

Why do we cough?

Coughs are actually a brilliant defense mechanism designed to spew out unwanted irritants that make it to our respiratory tree. Its lining has sensory neurons, that when triggered, tell the brain to induce a mechanism that will help clear the airway.  This can, simplistically stated, include a cough but also immune cells mobilized to fight possible infection or heal inflammation.  If the act of mechanically coughing irritates the respiratory tree, you may cough more. Likewise, if inflammatory cells produce excess mucous, this could cause a cycle of continued coughing.

What causes a cough?

We’re well aware that infections caused by virusesbacteria and fungi can cause coughs. But the following need to also be considered.

GERD – Gastroesophageal reflux disease – the acid that is refluxing out of the stomach and into the esophagus can, while lying down sleeping, makes its way up into the respiratory tree, irritating the lungs

Medications – such as ACE inhibitors used for high blood pressure – cause accumulation of bradykinin which can induce coughing

Pollution – including dust, pollen, and smoke

Chemicals – such as household products who’s aerosol irritate the lung lining

Mold spores

Cold weather



Post nasal drip

Lung conditions – such as asthma, sarcoidosis, emphysema

Heart conditions – such a heart failure


Psychological coughing – such as a tic

and more……

What can cure a cough?

We don’t actually “cure” the cough, because remember, it’s a well received defense mechanism.  But to control the cough requires us knowing why you’re coughing in the first place.

If one has pneumoniaantibiotics will be needed to kill the bacteria causing the lung infection.

If one has GERDmedications that decrease acid production and secretion may be required.

If its due to allergiesavoidance of the allergen and medications such as antihistamines, or corticosteroids might be utilized.

If it’s a tumor, then surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy may be necessary.

But for the common viral nagging cough that many of us are dealing with this season, here is what we recommend:


Whether its holding your head over a pot on the stove, humidifier, vaporizer or steam shower, the cough reflex subsides and the moisture helps decrease inflammation.

Stay hydrated

Mucous thickens when water content is low, so loosening it up with hydration will make it less irritating.  A dry throat doesn’t do us any good either so keep your fluids up.


Studies have found this to be an effective cough suppressant. Add it to some warm water, lemon juice or tea and your throat will be soothed as well. Avoid in children under one year of age.

Cough drops

Menthol cough drops work by causing a local anesthetic effect on the back of the throat, temporarily decreasing irritation.

Cough suppressants and expectorants

Decrease the cough reflex and thin the mucous respectively.  One, however, should not self treat using these chronically without having their cough evaluated first.

Natural remedies

Natural remedies (without much scientific evidence) such as Peppermint, Thyme, Eucalyptus, Licorice, Ginger may also provide some relief.


What about alcohol and narcotics for cough?

These are not medically recommended, however, many people choose to self-medicate with alcohol and pain pills to control their cough.  Here’s why. Older cough syrups used to contain alcohol, as alcohol may dry up mucous, and induce sleep which may lessen the cough.  Narcotics decrease respiratory drive and provide analgesia which also decreases the cough reflex.  But alcohol is a no no as it can increase acid reflux, worsening cough, and narcotics are a bad idea as they decrease respiratory drive.  However, many prescription cough medications do include codeine and are used when the cough is severe.  However, the FDA does not recommend use of opioid containing cough medicine in those under the age of 18.


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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network and Board Certified Family Physician

Posted in Health, news, sex

Losing One’s Virginity: Breaking it Down

Many adolescents and young adults ponder this life-altering decision with very little guidance.  And understandably so as discussing losing one’s virginity with one’s parents fails to be a popular dinnertime conversation.  And big brother and sister don’t always give accurate and unbiased advice.

In Biblical times it was easy….one was told to “wait till you’re married.”  The timing, partner, and societal acceptance was already laid out, eliminating much decision-making.

Today, however, there’s immense pressure for both boys and girls to lose one’s virginity, for many as early as middle school.

So the average child or adult contemplating losing one’s virginity relies on social media, television, movies, friends and classmates to help form this decision.

So what does one need to take into account before they lose their virginity?


It’s permanent

You’re only a virgin once…..until you lose it, meaning you will never get it back once its lost.  Virginity is not a bad thing so don’t give it up so quickly.  If you have any doubts on who to give it to then he/she is probably not the right person.




It’s not the ultimate show of love

Many times teens are goaded into having sex as a sign of their true commitment and love.  Yet there are many other ways when a relationship is new to show your compassion and dedication.  Love is a feeling, not an act.


It won’t always resemble what you see in the movies

Unlike what we saw in 50 Shades of Grey, losing one’s virginity may instead be 3 minutes of pain and awkwardness.  Love-making includes love, passion, intamcy…so if that’s how you want to lose your virginity than make sure all the ingredients are there first.


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There is no “golden” age in which one should lose it

In school, students commonly boast about losing one’s virginity before 16.  Yet this random choice of age has no scientific basis.  True, many of us in caveman days had full families before that age, but in today’s society, a teen pregnancy is not that easy.  Which brings us to….


You could risk getting pregnant

Most young single teens or adults are not ready to start a family, despite their youthful fertility advantage.  Hence one unprotected sexual encounter could make a soon-to-be ex-virgin a new mom or dad within 9 months.


You could risk getting an STI

Likewise a night of what you anticipate to be passion could give you a week, month or lifetime of a sexually transmitted illness.  Condoms are a must.


Many may lose their virginity when they don’t want to

Tragically many who engage in pre-sexual activity such as foreplay or 1st through 3rd bases may find themselves in a situation where their partner advances to penetration without their consent.  Many thus lose their virginity to rape.



A recent study last summer carried out by ZavaMed found 31% of those surveyed , specifically 45% of women, regretted how they lost their virginity.  Unfortunately they can’t take that moment back. Which brings us to….


Alcohol is not your friend

Many unfortunately lose their virginity when they lose their inhibitions due to alcohol.  One drink is all it takes to bring one’s guard down.


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There’s no doubt losing one’s virginity is a rite of passage into adulthood. It could be the most amazing  and beautiful moment or one full of cringeful regret.  So don’t rush into giving away what could be your most precious commodity.


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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network and Board Certified Family Physician

Posted in Beauty, Health, news

Vaginal Scraping Trend Dangerous

Doctors are warning women against “vaginal scraping” in an attempt to rid themselves of any “remnants” of their ex.

Celebrity Mel B, after her split with her ex husband, told The Guardian, “They scraped the inside of my vagina and put new tissue in. It’s almost like a rape victim would do – essentially, you want to scrub yourself clean.”


However gynecologists warn that these types of procedures could increase one’s risk of infection.

In July the FDA issued a warning against vaginal rejuvenation.

Consumers undergo a curette scraping or laser procedure that destroys vaginal tissue prompting regrowth. However this could leave the patient with pain, itching, burning, increased risk of infection and scarring.

The tightening of the tissue consumers are seeking are actually a result of scarring from the laser or scraping treatment, a risk most doctors would not recommend one takes.


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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network and Board Certified Family Physician


Posted in Health, news, seniors

How to Avoid Falls in Older Adults

One of the leading causes of hospitalization in the elderly is a fall at home.  And in those 65 and older, falls contribute to the leading cause of fatal injury in that age group.

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), 25% of seniors fall each year.  On their website they cite the following:

  • Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.
  • Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.
  • Falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths.
  • In 2015, the total cost of fall injuries was $50 billion. Medicare and Medicaid shouldered 75% of these costs.
  • The financial toll for older adult falls is expected to increase as the population ages and may reach $67.7 billion by 2020.

So how can we prevent falls in older individuals?


Improve the lighting in the home

Many times light bulbs extinguish and are slow to get replaced.  Many lighting fixtures in the house emanate from the ceiling, hence the average person needs to wait for a family member, neighbor or handyman to come over and assist in changing the lightbulb. This results in a room remaining darker than it’s supposed to be.

light bulb


Moreover the location of lighting may not be ideally placed, augmenting shadows that could intervene with one’s view causing them to miss their step.


Avoid having untrained 4-legged pets in the home


cat legs


Dogs love to follow their owners everywhere they go in a hot second.  And cats love to rub up against one’s ankles and calves to remind you to feed them.  No matter what age, our fluffy critters can cause us to trip.  Birds or goldfish may be a safer option to avoid falls.

Clean up the clutter

Boxes, piles of magazines, balls and toys the grandchildren leave lying around can all impede one’s stride.  The less often one needs to pivot and walk around something, the less chance they have of falling.




Use non-slip mats on flooring surfaces

Many floors become slippery when wet and non-slip mats, flooring can help.



One still needs to be careful avoiding tripping on the slip guard but these can be carefully installed.

Avoid mats and rugs that lift up and can catch on a foot.

Non-slip socks can also help our seniors when they walk around the home.


Install handrails and guards around the home

Walls and furniture do not provide adequate support for those who need assistance standing up and walking.  Moreover, many of these home modifications are tax-deductible which will help offset the price.


Improve their sight and hearing

Cataracts and hearing loss can plague seniors, making them more vulnerable to falls.


Preventing falls is essential for our seniors and if more advice is needed please visit here.


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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network and Board Certified Family Physician

Posted in Health, news

Stools Help You Stool

A study from Ohio State University reinforces the theory that putting your feet up when you poop helps passage.

Studies have long suggested that standing or squatting when we poop is more natural and easier on our bowels.  When we sit angled with our legs at a 90 degree angle to our torso, we may worsen constipation.  (you see why we needed to learn geometry in school…)


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Dr. Peter Stanich and colleagues used a sample size of 52 people and of those who used a stool when they pottied, 71% reported faster bowel movements and 90% reported less straining.

They cite these “defecation posture modification devices” are a natural way to help one evacuate their bowels without relying always on medication.


So how do we define constipation?

Constipation is a decrease in frequency of bowel movements or difficulty passing stool that persists longer than one’s normal bowel movement cycle.  In general, less than three bowel movements a week could be considered constipation.20-30% of the US population suffers from constipation and this percentage increases in those who are elderly or confined to medical facilities. Some people have hard stools that are difficult to pass with normal motility, whereas others have soft stool but poor motility.


What causes constipation?

A variety of factors could be the culprit. These include:

  • Lack of water
  • Lack of fiber in one’s diet
  • Certain foods in one’s diet such as cheese, diary, fat, gluten, those high in meat
  • Caffeine
  • Hypothyroid
  • Stress
  • Lack of exercise
  • Pregnancy
  • Hormone fluctuations
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Cancer
  • Laxative abuse
  • Eating disorders
  • Medications such as narcotics, antidepressants, iron supplements
  • Constipation should never be ignored………


What should our stool look like?

When someone is constipated, the stool is not moving through the colon as quickly as it should.  The more hours and days it sits in the colon, the more water is absorbed. So the stool churns and churns becoming dryer, smaller and harder.  So pebbles or rock-like stool is a sign of constipation.  Conversely, as in diarrhea, stool has not been processed by the colon properly, water has not been absorbed and thus it appears very soft or liquid-like. This puts one at risk of dehydration. Therefore healthy stool is a happy medium.

Using the Bristol Stool Chart, the ideal stool would be in the shapes of Type 4 and 5.




What should I do if I’m constipated?

First drink more water. Secondly look at your diet and see if you have any offending agents such as dairy or fried foods.  Thirdly visit your medical provider for an evaluation.  Finally, try and relax.  Many of us have difficulty pooping because we are stressed or on a time crunch.  Your body doesn’t care if you have a meeting in 5 minutes.  The body likes to relax when it relieves itself so grab a magazine, or my blog, and take some time out of your day to poop.  Sometimes we need to stop and smell the roses……


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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network and Board Certified Family Physician

Posted in dental, Health, news

Dental Floss Study Suggests Exposure to “Toxic Chemicals”

Unwaxed dental floss or water picks may offer less exposure to PFA’s.

The concept of dental floss was first introduced in 1819 by Levi Spear Parmly, who recommended a waxed silk thread to remove food particles away from the teeth and gums.  Dental floss was later patented by Johnson & Johnson in 1898 and it’s been a dental favorite ever since.

I’m a fan as too many people brush their teeth haphazardly and fail to adequately clean in between the teeth.

Now a study from the Silent Spring Institute and Public Health Institute in Berkeley, California, suggest that users may be exposing themselves to elevated levels of toxic chemicals known as perfluorocooctanesulfonic acids (PFA’s).

PFA’s are used in food packaging, commercial household products, industrial products and more.  Animal studies have suggested their link to tumors such as testicular cancer, high cholesterol, liver and kidney dysfunction, and issues with one’s reproductive and immune system.

The EPA states the following:

PFAS are found in a wide range of consumer products that people use daily such as cookware, pizza boxes and stain repellants. Most people have been exposed to PFAS. Certain PFAS can accumulate and stay in the human body for long periods of time. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse health outcomes in humans. The most-studied PFAS chemicals are PFOA and PFOS. Studies indicate that PFOA and PFOS can cause reproductive and developmental, liver and kidney, and immunological effects in laboratory animals. Both chemicals have caused tumors in animals. The most consistent findings are increased cholesterol levels among exposed populations, with more limited findings related to:
  • low infant birth weights,
  • effects on the immune system,
  • cancer (for PFOA), and
  • thyroid hormone disruption (for PFOS).

The study was published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology. Authors tested 18 dental floss brands, including Oral-B Glide, and found higher levels of PFA’s (perfluorohexanesulfonic acid) in the test subjects (178 California-based middle aged women) who used the waxed dental floss.

Study author Katie Boronow, states, “This is the first study to show that using dental floss containing PFAS is associated with a higher body burden of these toxic chemicals….The good news is, based on our findings; consumers can choose flosses that don’t contain PFAS.”

Most dental floss brands, however, do not report on their packaging if they contain PFA’s or not. Unwaxed versions may be PFA free.

However, many other daily habits can expose us to PFA’s such as eating fast food packaged in waxy coated cardboard containers.

So since good dental hygiene is paramount for health, I suggest speaking to your dentist about your flossing habits and consider also using a water pick as it can be very effective at removing food particles and bacteria from one’s teeth and gums.


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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.



Posted in Health, marijuana, news

Half of Medical Marijuana Users Admit to Driving “High”

A study from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, found more than 50% of medical marijuana users admitted to driving within 2 hours of using cannabis and feeling “high.”

Study authors surveyed 790 medical marijuana patients in Michigan who were using the products for chronic pain, and asked about their driving habits over the last 6 months.



Marijuana Medical Benefits are Strain Specific


More than half admitted to “feeling high” when behind the wheel, and 21.7% admitted to driving when they were “very high.”

Study author, Dr. Erin Bonar, a licensed psychiatrist and assistant professor, found the results “troubling,” advising against using marijuana when driving. She states, “Research studies show that things like your coordination and reaction time can be slowed by using marijuana, and those functions are important when you are driving.”

Did the Legalization of Marijuana Lead to a Rise in STD’s and Foodborne Illness? reports the following:

A recent study published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), which found motor vehicle crashes were up 6 percent in four states where recreational marijuana is legal—Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington—compared with four neighboring states where marijuana is restricted or illegal. 

Most users of medical marijuana are not using cannabis to get high, as some lack the THC, tetrahydrocannibinol, psychoactive component. However, many preparations may and those using it for medial purposes may be unaware that they could still be committing a DUI.


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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.