Botanical Medicine, Case Studies, and My 25th Birthday

Having over 6 years of postsecondary education is an impressive thing. That is not meant to toot my own horn; it is meant to do the opposite. I would think that by now, even if I am unfamiliar with something, whether it be a pharmaceutical or an herbal supplement, I would have heard of it by now with my background in sports, exercise science, nutrition and biology. Even if I hadn't come across something in undergrad or in my own research, maybe I would have heard it sometime in my two plus years in graduate school.

It just so happens there are still a plethora of botanicals and nutritional supplements (with research backing up its efficacy) that I have never heard of. This week in botanical medicine, my professor, Dr. Brett Martin, went through some botanicals that neither my classmates nor I had ever heard of.

The first one I want to mention is Yerba Santa. It is an herb used for respiratory problems. It is an expectorant and an anti-inflammatory agent. When I first heard it, I thought there is no way there are mainstream sources with this herb. Much to my surprise,Yerba Santa is on websites like WebMD. I was blown away.

Another botanical I had never heard of is Goldenseal. The active constituent in goldenseal is Berberine, a highly studied compound. Berberine can be used to treat hyperlipidemia and NIDDM. It has been found in meta-analyses to be as effective as pharmaceuticals at lowering blood lipids. Both LDL and total cholesterol were significantly reduced in said study. Berberine is also a potent antimicrobial agent. It is known as "nature's antibiotic." I continue to learn of new herbs and supplements that I may utilize one day to help treat my patients conservatively.

Each week in Advanced Diagnosis, we have case studies. Though I cannot talk about the cases outside of the class, I can talk about the experiences I am having. The cases that have been presented are challenging our clinical reasoning. The histories are vague but our exams allow us to pinpoint the problems.

Some of the standardized patients in these case studies, truly present with these conditions. I am ecstatic that I have been able to diagnose these tricky presentations and it says a lot about the education we have received here at NUHS. We truly are trained as primary care physicians.

We are able to differentiate between muscular, vascular, neural, and ligamentous generated issues. We know a surplus of orthopedic tests we can use to paint a clearer picture of the diagnosis. We are one trimester away from clinic and I can't think of a better way to prepare us. My only criticism is that we don't do more cases, but it could be overwhelming with all our other classes.

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Over the weekend, I celebrated my 25th birthday! My girlfriend surprised me by taking me to the Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida. Big Cat Rescue is a sanctuary for big cats like lions, tigers, bobcats, cougars, servals, ocelots, lynx, panthers and others. This sanctuary provides care and a safe place to live for many abandoned, orphaned and abused animals. I was overwhelmed by the good work they do. All the money from admission goes to supporting the animals.

I saw so many beautiful animals. My favorites were the tigers. I also learned how white tigers are homozygous recessive therefore extraordinarily rare. Breeders had to inbreed them in order to produce a litter of white tigers. The problem is inbreeding causes many birth defects in these animals. Thankfully there are places for these animals to go like the Big Cat Rescue. We went out to lunch afterwards and finished up the evening by going bowling with my friends. It was a great birthday and I hope to visit the big cat rescue again in the near future.

If you have any questions, please email me at ChristopherKotwicki@student.NUHS.edu