Five Reasons to Stop at SPF 50

1. Diminishing Marginal Sunblock Utility:  SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays; SPF 100 blocks 99%.  SPF 30 to 50 will offer adequate sunburn protection, even for people most sensitive to sunburn.

2. Lackluster UVA Protection:  UVA rays penetrate deeper into your skin, cause free radical damage, suppresses the immune system, and is associated with higher risk of developing melanoma.  Most US sunscreens are designed and oriented to block UVB rays which cause sunburn.  Because of the ingredients used to focus on blocking UVB rays, higher SPF sunscreens may actually block UVA rays less effectively.

3. SPF Labs Are Not Real World:  Sunscreens are tested in labs under unreal and various conditions.  What one company calculates to be 100 SPF another company may calculate to be 30 SPF with only the slightest changes to thickness applied, or light intensity.  P&G asked the h FDA to cap SPF at 50+ because it is misleading and inappropriately influences purchase decisions.

4. False Security Leads to Bad Behavior:  When sunbathers apply high SPF sunscreen it was found that they stayed in the sun longer.  The effect is increased sun exposure, and sun worshippers tend not to apply sunscreen regularly because of perceived protection.  In both cases, there is increased risk of skin damage.

5. Toxic Ingredients:  Sun-filtering chemicals required for high SPF sunscreen can penetrate the skin causing tissue damage, hormone disruption, and allergic reaction.  Without posting gains in the area of proven extra protection from skin damage, it is not worth the additional risk of such ingredients. 


Thirteen Sheep To Fantastic Sleep


Two young disciples sat under a tree meditating in hopes of learning the secrets of the universe. One was interested in harmony and the other in power.

The first disciple opened an eye to look at the other and began to brag of the greatness of his master.

Disciple 1: “My master can perform all manner of incredible feats. He can place characters on paper with gestures from a hundred paces away. What about your master?”

Disciple 2: “Yes, mine too. He does all manner of fantastic things. When he is hungry, he fills his stomach with rice. When he is tired, he closes his eyes.”


Sleep is as biologically essential as food or water and affects nearly all systems and functions of our body. This includes metabolism, immune function, mood, cognitive performance, self-awareness, and disease resistance, among others. Research shows that chronic lack of sleep and poor quality sleep increases disorders including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity. In fact, healthy adults limited to six hours a night of sleep had cognitive abilities fall sharply compared to those with eight hours of sleep.  After only 4 hours of sleep, your ability to operate a motor vehicle is the same as driving with double the legal alcohol limit.  


Different people require different amounts of sleep. Here are some general sleeping recommendations:


We should have 5-6 sleep cycles in a night. Each sleep cycle lasts about 90-minutes and consists of non-REM followed by REM sleep.

Non-REM sleep allows the body to repair muscles and tissues, stimulate growth and development, boost immune function, and build up energy for the next day.

REM sleep is dream time. Our brain experiences wakeful-like brainwave activity so that we can process new memories into long-term memory and consolidate new learning.

REM sleep occurs progressively longer towards the morning so multiple cycles are needed to optimize learning.


Sleep can be as elusive as a dream, or as inescapable as a tsunami.

There are two key processes underlying the need to sleep.

The first is a homeostatic system that builds pressure to sleep over time awake. The more we are awake the greater the pressure is to sleep. Sleep reduces that pressure and thus promotes a propensity for wakefulness. Of course, we can interfere with the homeostatic system with such things as a coffee, allowing anxiety to take hold of us, or being carried away with excitement.

The second biological process is our circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is a group of physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour pattern responding primarily to light and darkness. Physiological markers like melatonin, cortisol, and body temperature, reflect are different at each stage.

Health and wellness depend on us not interfering with these natural processes through our environmental stimuli or lifestyle choices.


While many of us look to improve our waking life, the answer may not be in our waking rituals.

1. Expose yourself to adequate natural lighting. We are evolved in such a way to be in rhythm with the sun.

2. De-stress. Diffuse lavender oil. Meditate for a few minutes to invite serenity, peace, and calm. Say a prayer of gratitude. Cortisol, the stress hormone, will fall and reduce alertness.

3. Avoid chemicals that interfere with sleep like alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine.

4. Take a warm bath. The increase and decrease in body temperature help signal the circadian rhythm and stimulate sleep neurochemicals.

5. Turn off the TV, put away the gadgets, and turn on white noise.


Vitamin A: Studies suggest vitamin A deficiency alters brains waves in non-REM sleep causing sleep to be less restorative.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): In clinical trials, supplementation of healthy individuals that had marginal B1 deficiency improved their sleep.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin): Increases REM sleep and improves both quality and quantity of sleep by converting tryptophan to serotonin.

Folate & Vitamin B6: Both are cofactors for several neurotransmitters in the brain such as serotonin and dopamine, many of which regulate sleep patterns.

Vitamin B12: Normalizes circadian rhythms.

Magnesium: Improving magnesium status is associated with better quality sleep, mimics the action of melatonin, and alleviates insomnia due to restless leg syndrome.

Zinc & Copper: Both interact with NMDA (sleep-regulating) receptors in the brain and a higher Zn/Cu ratio is linked to longer sleep duration.

Oleic Acid: This fatty acid is a precursor of oleamide, which regulates our drive for sleep and tends to accumulate in the spinal fluid of sleep-deprived animals. Oleic acid also facilitates the absorption of vitamin A.


Live in harmony with your environment. Paying attention to your personalizing factors on how you choose to live your life, from hydration, to sensory input, to relaxation, to supplements. Sleep when you are tired and eats when you are hungry. Unclutter your life so you can more easily identify your needs.


Adolescents are undergoing incredible changes in their bodies and minds.  They are under intensifying academic pressures and escalating social pressures.  Depression tendency spikes as kids become teenagers.  A great deal of money, time, and energy are poured into addressing adolescent violence, suicide, substance abuse, and unsafe sex with little to show for it.  Scientists have shown that lack of sleep causes problems with mood, behavior, increases a proclivity for risky behavior, and even engenders cheating.  Therefore, researchers are asking the fair question of what role can adequate sleep have in finding a solution to greater well-being for adolescents.  Read more on this issue in the New York Times.



Gluta-What?!? Mother of Antioxidants, Five Fast Facts

In preparation for the onslaught of free radical damage coming our way courtesy of the BBQ extravagance made possible by memorial day weekend, we thought it important to introduce you to Glutathione. Glutathione meet people, people meet Glutathione.

Maybe you’ve already met or heard the name passed around town. Glutathione has more nicks than Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen. She is called “Mother of all Antioxidants, Master of Antioxidants, and Your Preeminent Free Radical Scavenger.” She is one of the most talked about supplements in the natural health and medical circles. Rightfully, so too! 131,985 peer reviewed journal articles mention Glutathione.

What exactly is Glutathione? It is a peptide used and made by every cell in your body essential to maintaining a healthy immune system, and fundamental to achieving wellness. Glutathione helps prevent damage to cells by neutralizing harmful molecules generated during energy production while playing a role in processing medications and cancer-causing compounds, and building DNA, proteins, and other important cellular components.

Five things you don’t know about Glutathione:

Glutathione Deficiency Causes

Glutathione deficiency is caused by hard living (think excesses), recurrent infections, chronic physical/mental/emotional stress, injuries, toxic environments including heavy metals, GMOs, Splenda and its artificially sweetening cronies, overuse of antibiotics, and hot dogs (think processed foods).

Glutathione & Anti-aging

Researchers observed mean and maximum life longevity increases of 42% and 44% respectively when blood levels of glutathione were increased in animals. This is a very promising anti-aging treatment.

Glutathione Detoxification

Glutathione binds to heavy metals, toxins, and free radicals caused by our diet and environment and shows them the door. This includes helping rid the body of pernicious mercury.  Additionally, Glutathione helps protect our lungs through an enzymatic metabolic pathway that protects cellular proteins and DNA from oxidation caused by airborne pollutants like cigarette smoke and smog.

Glutathione & Cognitive Function & Cancer

Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s Disease, and cancer have been linked to a deficiency in Glutathione due to the effects of oxidative damage in its absence.

If you are thinking about righting the wrongs from this weekend…

We, at Thornburg Pediatrics, call her GlutaGut.  We carry it as a supplement in a more absorbent form called S-Acetyl Glutathione carefully manufactured by cGMP certification for purity and efficacy in 200 mg acid-resistant vegetarian capsules. If you would like to give Glutathione a try give us a jingle, slide through, drop a tweet, find us on Facebook, or send us a postie.  

Children Caffeinated: What are safe limits for kids?









Tragedy struck on April 26th when a teenager died from a caffeine-induced cardiac event after drinking three caffeinated drinks.  The article can be found here.

What are Caffeine Safe Limits for Children?

Children’s brains are developing and their bodies are growing so limiting caffeine is recommended.

Sleep is vitally important for a child’s developing brain. Since caffeine can interfere with sleep, it should be avoided.

Caffeine should be treated as any other drug and used with caution until a person understands how it interacts with his/her particular genetic make-up and health profile.  It’s also important to understand that a person’s safe limit of caffeine can change over time as a person’s health evolves over his/her lifetime.

Ages 12 and Under

Caffeine isn’t recommended for children under 12.

I may recommend caffeine for children diagnosed with ADHD, but generally, there really is no reason for children under 12 to consume caffeine.

For children 4 or older an occasional caffeinated soda or chocolate treat will likely pose no concern and around 45mg per day is recognized as a safe amount, but caffeine shouldn’t be a daily part of a child’s diet.

Ages 13-18

Teens are still developing and need 8-9 hours of sleep a night.  They should consume no more than 100mg of caffeine daily.

This is equivalent to about:

  • 1.3 shots of espresso
  • 1.25 8 fl.oz. Red Bulls
  • .5 of a 5 Hour Energy Shot
  • .6 of a 16 fl.oz. can of Monster Energy Drink
  • .2 of a Starbucks Venti brewed coffee
  • 3 12 fl.oz. Cokes

Medical Quackery, Complement or Criticism?

I was at a dinner party listening to conversations brewing around the table. Fun to hear what people will talk about after a nice dinner and wine. A seedling of a story sprouted into a deeper conversation concerning alternative medicine. Sam had just returned from Thailand and spoke about an experience at a massage center. We teased him that massage parlors in Southeast Asia don’t really give massages but “massage alternatives.” He smiled, understanding what we meant, and politely restated his interpretation of massage therapy changed his western perception of alternative medicine.

Sam had been exploring Buddhist Temples in the traditional northern city of Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is 12 hours by train and a world apart from the more corporeal Bangkok. People from all over the world go to Chiang Mai to study massage therapy and a friend who studied there insisted he seek out a Mr. Kai for a massage saying, “Mr. Kai would change your life.”

After winding through stone alleyways and lanes he located the massage center. He was at once surprised to realize that all the massage therapists were blind.  In the open-air communal massage room he announced himself adding he was looking for Mr. Kai because a friend insisted he get a massage from him.

An old man with wispy white hair turned and said he was Mr. Kai. He had all the peace and calmness of a Buddhist master, martial arts master, or Eastern studies scholar – that’s when Sam noticed Mr. Kai was working with a middle-aged western woman. She turned to meet Sam’s gaze and Sam related that her eyes were soulful. Her eyes harbored 40 years of pain and suffering behind a glimmer of growing hope as Sam looked on. Tears started in her eyes and her body trembled. She was having a great emotional release at the hands of Mr. Kai. Sam was wonderstruck.

This woman was overcome with peace by the time the massage was over. This was no typical massage. This was a massage alternative. Mr. Kai was a healer.

Mr. Kai explained her body was re-living pain from the mind and spirit that was entangled in suffering from emotions and past experience. He was a conduit between the pain of the body and the mind-spirit. He worked with people to get them to acknowledge their pain, their responsibility in it, see need for maintenance of their pain body, and facilitated a release. Physical disease starts in the mind as energy and later manifests in the body, he said. Mr. Kai was helping restore, maintain, and promote a sense of good health and wellness.

Sam was intrigued. As a westerner he always thought of his body, mind and spirit as separate entities. To mainstream US medicine Sam was separated into organ systems and treated in parts. He thought wryly of Frankenstein’s monster where separate parts do not make a whole.

At this point in the dinner conversation the more rational and logical voices began to question the credibility of such claims. How do you make the jump from massage to healer? At the worst, this man must certainly be milking these sad saps for all their worth, or at best these are anecdotal tales without rigorous science to back up such claims.

I chirped in with a historical perspective on medicine. The 1800s medicine system was an eclectic pursuit of various healing methods. There were traditional MDs, spiritual MDs, homeopathic MDs and osteopathic physicians. Today we only have traditional MDs and osteopaths.

Former Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Koop said, “During the 19th century, American medicine was an eclectic pursuit where a number of competing ideas and approaches thrived. Doctors were able to draw on elements from different traditions in attempting to make people well. Perhaps there is more to this older model of American medicine than we in the 20th century had been willing to example.” The most famous of all surgeon generals was noting that different people heal in various ways and one system cannot address all needs. This gave the more philosophical dinner guests something to chew on. But for the more doubting, I acknowledged the incredible advances of scientific medicine while sharing its failures to highlight my point.

The extent of alternative medicine utilization confounds proponents of western scientific medicine. In 2010, people made 202 million visits, laid out over $14 billion, and regular users were above 20 million for Oriental Medicine Doctors, Acupuncturists, Chiropractors, Naturopaths, and Massage Therapists. In some cases, the cost of good medicine is also problematic. The cost of healthcare will reach $10,000 per person for the first time this year and each year is consuming more and more of the GDP. The current medical system is cannibalizing our economy.

I went on to say that a lack of trust of the mainstream medical establishment is driving away both patients and doctors alike. We are in a bureaucratic and information healthcare crisis. Doctors want to heal but the quality of research is suspect at times and the paperwork to see a patient is too cumbersome.

John Ioannidis MD, the C.F. Rehnborg Chair in Disease Prevention at Stanford University, Professor of Medicine, Professor of Health Research and Policy, Professor (by courtesy) of Biomedical Data Science at the School of Medicine; Professor of Statistics (by courtesy) at the School of Humanities and Sciences; co-Director, Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford; Director of the PhD program in Epidemiology and Clinical Research and Harvard med school graduate, notes that greater than 75% of clinical research is paid for by private companies with specific interests. “We think of the scientific process as being objective, rigorous, and even ruthless in separating out what is true from what we merely wish to be true, but in fact it’s easy to manipulate results, even unintentionally or unconsciously. At every step in the process, there is room to distort results, a way to make a strong claim, or to select what is going to be concluded.” Dr. Ioannidis is widely published. JAMA and the New England Journal of Medicine accept his finding on the bias in medical research. This turns the scientific method on its head a bit.

I went on to say there are three reasons people test the waters of alternative medicine. First, someone may have been raised up in an environment where alternative medicine is already part of the repertoire for health and wellness. Second, others feel helpless after exhausting the options that modern medicine has to offer, or unsatisfied with medicating symptoms away without addressing the underlying problem. The third type to venture into alternative medicine is the one with a philosophical approach towards healing, who recognizes MD medicine is practiced differently even in advanced western countries of which the US  does rank as well in term of preventing diseases.

This last point is the reason I started to investigate alternative medicine. I listened to the parents in my practice request non-traditional treatments and researched their request. This led me to examine various respected and diverse medical systems around the world. My conclusion is medicine is a combination of science and culture.

Mainstream medicine can alleviate symptoms and make someone symptom free but this is a long way off from feeling healthy. Additionally, I believe people are looking for more natural and holistic approaches to feeling well by addressing the mind, body and spirit through personalizing factors of everyday living.

I concluded with the question, “How can one system address everyone’s needs?” We all see the world differently. Look at Lynn Payer’s book, Culture and Medicine. She outlines how Great Britain, Germany, France and the US use the same scientific literature to treat common adult illnesses but interpret the literature through a culture prism. Each country has its own take on medicine and each would be considered malpractice in the other countries. Who are we to say alternative medicine does not work? Maybe the private interests that guide 75% of the mainstream literature are not asking the right questions when they pay for the results of their studies.

The dinner conversation was lively and enjoyable. Everyone partook and walked away with a feeling of being heard and with compelling reasons to take ownership of their participation in the Road to Wellville.