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Surviving Cough and Cold Season with High Blood Pressure or Diabetes. By Our Student Pharmacist, Alexander Schlater.


So you’ve got high blood pressure and diabetes, and now, on top of everything else, you’ve got a cold.

You head to your neighborhood pharmacy to pick up some medicine for your incessant cough and pounding headache. As you navigate the aisles scanning a hundred different boxes, all claiming to provide maximum relief, you wonder which is right for you. You also remember an article you read on the Internet, that some cough and cold products can be dangerous if you have high blood pressure or diabetes. You see a box that says for high blood pressure, but that price tag can’t be right, can it? Luckily, your friendly pharmacist notices you are troubled and comes over to assist. You detail your predicament and they happily explain everything you need to know about choosing cough and cold products if you have high blood pressure or diabetes.

First of all, don’t be intimidated by the mountain of choices on the shelf. Most cough and cold products use the same handful of ingredients in different combinations under different brand names. If you ask a pharmacist about a product, the first thing they will do is flip the box over to see what the active ingredients are, and you should too. All too often people will choose a product with a familiar brand name without knowing what they are actually getting. Some products will specifically say they are safe with high blood pressure or diabetes, but many products that don’t say this are still perfectly safe. Don’t pay a premium for the same ingredients with a fancy label.


If you have high blood pressure:

If you have high blood pressure, but your blood pressure is well controlled by taking blood pressure medication, you may be okay to use cough and cold products, especially for short term use, but check with your doctor.

Check the label for these active ingredients that can raise your blood pressure:

Use caution taking products containing NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen. These are used to treat pain, fever, and swelling and may be sold alone or in combination products used for cough and cold or flu. These can make high blood pressure worse especially at higher doses.

Although aspirin is considered an NSAID, at low doses it can actually help protect your heart. If your doctor prescribed or recommended daily aspirin for heart health, keep taking it as directed.

As an alternative you can take acetaminophen. It has the same effect on reducing pain and fever, but won’t affect your blood pressure.

Use caution taking nasal decongestants.

These come in two main types, pills or nasal sprays. The pills contain either the ingredient pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine. Pseudoephedrine is the one sold behind the pharmacy counter. Both can increase your blood pressure. The nasal sprays contain either the ingredient oxymetazoline or phenylephrine (the same one as in the pill).

As an alternative you can use an intranasal steroid such as fluticasone, triamcinolone, or budesonide. These can help with nasal congestion without affecting your blood pressure, and, if you have allergies, they will help with those too.


If you have diabetes:

As with high blood pressure, if your diabetes is well controlled with medications, these products may be suitable for short term use.

Use caution taking nasal decongestants. The same ones that can raise your blood pressure can raise your blood sugar. These include pills containing the ingredients pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine, and the nasal sprays containing the ingredients phenylephrine and oxymetazoline.

Use caution with liquid, chewable, and lozenge medications.

These products often contain sweeteners which may increase your blood sugar. Since sweeteners are inactive ingredients, they might be harder to identify from the label. When in doubt, check with your pharmacist. If possible, opt for a pill that is swallowed. Many products also have sugar free varieties available.

As you can see, there really aren’t that many products that you need to avoid. Don’t be intimidated by all the different brand names and sensational claims. Check your medication label for the active ingredients and know what you are taking. And rest assured, if you’re ever unsure of what is best to take, your pharmacist always has your back. All you have to do is ask.

Meet Our Student Pharmacist, Alexander Schlater, for the Month of October at Happy Druggist in West Jefferson.


This month at Happy Druggist in West Jefferson, Paul and the gang are joined by Alexander Schlater, a fourth year pharmacy student from The Ohio State University’s College of Pharmacy.

Alex will graduate in May 2020 and will then take the test to become a registered pharmacist.  Alex will be in West Jefferson throughout October, so please stop by and meet him while he is in the store.

Here is what Alex tells us about himself:

Hi. I am Alex Schlater, a fourth-year pharmacy student at The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy. I grew up in Dayton, Ohio and attended Wright State University where I did my undergraduate studies in Chemistry and Psychology.

At Wright State, I cycled through what now seems like an inordinate number of career paths including education, biochemistry, neuroscience, and psycholinguistics. I began considering pharmacy for the same reasons as these other fields of study; a science heavy field focusing on how the human body is affected in different scenarios.

What set pharmacy apart was the real-life applicability of the field. Being a pharmacist was something you did, rather than something you studied and wrote about.

From there, I got a job as a pharmacy technician. I fell in love with the fast-paced environment and need for critical thinking that keeps you active and engaged throughout the work day. I have not looked back.

It was reassuring finally having a set path to follow.

Once in pharmacy school, however, I discovered that my path was not as set as I had thought. I was going to be a pharmacist, sure, but who knew how many different kinds of pharmacists there were?

Again, I began picturing myself in all of these different settings to see what fit. And while nuclear pharmacist would be an impressive way to introduce one’s self, what I have learned along the way is that I want to work with patients, be it in a traditional community pharmacy setting or the new one-on-one opportunities available to pharmacists. For now, I will keep an open mind and see where my journey takes me.

Outside of pharmacy, my interests include music, travel, and food. I play guitar and love recording music. I hope to get a self-produced album done within the next year. My biggest musical influence is Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, whose songs made up nearly all of my early musical education. I have also learned a lot from the works of Eric Johnson, Jon Schaffer, and Randy Rhoads.

As I said, I love to travel, whether that be to China or just a few states over. While abroad, I enjoy seeing the changes in the mundane. For instance, if you bump into somebody do they say some equivalent of “excuse me” or ignore it; do you hand money over or set it on the counter? Those kinds of things enthrall me.

I also love hiking in different regions of the world, as it lets you experience the differences down to an environmental level; what kind of trees you pass by, how steep the path is, and how rough the soil is.

And of course, I love experiencing different cuisines. While some might go queasy at the sight of a bizarre dish, I jump at the chance to try something new and unique.

Life is a collection of experiences and I plan to make the most of my time.

Vaping. By Our Student Pharmacist, Barry Shen.


What is Vaping:

Vaping is a form of smoking from an electronic cigarette, vaporizer, or hookah. Vaping was originally advertised by cigarette companies as an alternative “safer” way to smoke for those attempting to quit. This promotion is misleading since vaping is not FDA approved as an aid for quitting smoking.

The very companies promoting the use of electronic cigarettes and other vaping products are the same ones selling regular cigarettes which shows an obvious conflict of interest. For example, Juul, one of the largest companies for electronic cigarettes, is owned by Altria which is the same company that produces Marlboro cigarettes.  Recently, Juul announced it will suspend all advertising of their vaping products with their CEO Kevin Burns stepping down from his position.

Is it safer than smoking cigarettes

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vaping is considered “less harmful” compared to smoking a regular cigarette. However, it should be noted that just because a product isn’t as harmful as the original doesn’t mean it is safe to use. While there aren’t as many chemicals in electronic cigarettes, they still contain harmful products such as nicotine, lead, volatile organic compounds, and cancer-causing agents. In adolescents, these chemicals have the additional harm of stunting their learning and memory development.

Pod components

How do they work?

Electronic cigarettes are composed of a battery, a container holding the solution, a heater, and a mouthpiece. When in use, the solution, which typically contains nicotine, is heated into an aerosol that can then be inhaled.

 Types of Vapes

There are many different types of devices used for vaping sold by several brands. Some of the largest companies selling electronic cigarettes are Juul, Markten, and VUSE.

Originally, the first generation electronic cigarettes resembled normal cigarettes with a white body and tan mouthpiece. Over time, their designs diverged from the traditional cigarette appearance into more aesthetically pleasing shapes such as pens and USB drives. Flavors like mango and strawberries have also been added. Aside from nicotine, patients have also reported vaping THC and CBD with their devices.

Yearn Juul

Who vapes?

There are increasing reports of lung injury and deaths correlating with the use of vaping products especially among teens. To make matters more frightening, these companies are coming out with products that come in a variety of appealing colors, shapes, and flavors. One example is Juul’s UNWELL YEARN Pods. The shape they come in greatly resembles a USB stick. When in use, they admit no odors or any visible smoke. Because of this, teens are able to sneak these products into the middle of class to use while fooling their teachers into thinking they are just a kid who has a habit of nibbling on their USB.

According to the CDC, there are nine reported deaths in the US so far with the cause being related to vaping. The State of Ohio has taken steps to prevent these tobacco products from getting into the hands of children by increasing the age restriction of being able to purchase from 18 to 21. These are all steps in the right direction to protect our youths from the harmful effects of vaping.


  1. US Department of Health and Human Services. E-cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon Generalpdf icon[PDF – 8.47MB]. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2016. Accessed July 27, 2018.
  2. https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/25/business/juul-ceo-resigns/index.html
  3. https://csnews.com/ohio-governor-signs-tobacco-21-measure-law

Image references:

  1. https://www.elementvape.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/
  2. https://www.kingcounty.gov/tobacco/juul
  3. https://i0.wp.com/www.nationalreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/juul-vaping.jpg?resize=1024%2C597&ssl=1

Free Electronic Waste and Appliance Recycling on Saturday, September 28 from 9 am to 1 pm at Union Recyclers.


On Saturday, September 28, there will be a FREE electronic waste and appliance recycling day from 9 am to 1 pm (rain or shine) at Union Recyclers, 15140 US Route 36 East in Marysville.

Items that will be accepted from households, businesses, industries, schools, and the government at NO Charge include: Computers, any and all types of cable and wire, cameras, servers, VCRs, Monitors, DVD Players, all types of cell phones, keyboards and mice, CD and DVD media, battery backup systems, flat screen computer monitors, scanners, printers, fax machines, copiers, all stereo equipment, video games, video game systems, all phone equipment, speakers, floppy disks, microwaves, sweepers, and other household electronics.

Televisions will be accepted for a fee of $30 each. There is a $10 Fee for each CRT (cathode ray tubes found in most computer monitors) Monitor. Please pay by cash or a check.

Freon and Non-Freon appliances including refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, dehumidifiers, stoves, dishwashers, washers, and dryers will be taken at NO CHARGE.

Aluminum beverage cans will be purchased for 5 cents over the price of the day! No 55 gallon drums/barrels of cans will be accepted.

Absolutely NO tires, light bulbs, alkaline batteries or household hazardous waste will be accepted. NO Early Drop Offs!

For more information, call Union Recyclers at 937-642-7283 or visit their web site HERE.

If a business, industry, school, or government office has a large quantity of electronic waste, contact Accurate IT to schedule a pick up date/time. Call 1-888-811-2487 or visit their web site HERE.

This event is being sponsored by the North Central Ohio Solid Waste District, Union Recyclers, Accurate IT, the Union County Commissioners, and the Union County Chamber of Commerce.

Tai Chi. By Our September Student Pharmacist, Barry Shen.

What is Tai Chi

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese martial art style focusing on the health of the mind and body. It is composed of a series of slow dance movements that integrate musculoskeletal, breathing, and meditation training.  While originally made for self-defense, research has shown various health benefits for those with conditions such as hypertension, neuromuscular injuries, anxiety, depression, and much more who practice it as a form of physical activity. There are many different forms of Tai Chi.

History of Tai Chi

The origin of Tai Chi can be traced back 300 to 700 years ago in China and was originally developed as a form of self-defense. It was believed to have come from the village of Chengiagou in Wenxian County, Henan province, during the late Ming Dynasty to early Qing Dynasty.

The first known practitioner of Tai Chi recorded in history is Chen Wangting. Being considered the original practitioner of the art, one of the five forms was named after him, the Chen Style.

Over time, Tai Chi evolved into five separate styles: Chen, Yang, Wu-Hao, Wu, and Sun.

The Five Styles of Tai Chi

Chen– The oldest known style as well as the origin of all other forms developed in the late 1500s. Chen is characterized primarily by alternating slow and fast movements. While there are health benefits, this form is considered the most combat applicable with high physical demands.

Yang– This style is the second oldest form and the most commonly practiced in the world. Most schools of Tai Chi will often teach this form to anyone interested in its health benefits.

Wu Hao– The most rarely practiced form even in China. It is distinguished by smaller movements with an emphasis on balance, sensitivity, and chi development.

Wu– The second most popular form practiced in the world. Its training focuses on grappling, hooks, and throws. Beginners interested in the combat applications of Tai Chi will learn this form from instructors.

Sun– The youngest of the five forms of Tai Chi, it is known for its smooth movements and being the least physically demanding. It is favored among the elderly and it is also influenced by various other Chinese martial arts.

Benefits of Tai Chi

Some benefits of Tai Chi include:

  • improved mood
  • aerobic capacity
  • stamina
  • flexibility
  • balance
  • strength

There are also increasing studies on Tai Chi’s effects on high blood pressure which is a major public health issue as well as a risk indicator for future cardiovascular disease. One of the best methods of controlling high blood pressure is increased physical activity. Tai Chi can be beneficial for blood pressure lowering especially for those who are unable to perform other more vigorous physical activities such as running due to injury or age.

A study done in 2013 followed 40 elderly patients with blood pressures over 140/80 the course of 12 weeks. The Tai Chi group was shown to have a significant decrease in blood pressure compared to the group who was told to not exercise which demonstrates Tai Chi’s blood pressure lowering capabilities.

Another larger study following 246 elderly patients compared blood pressure lowering capabilities of Tai Chi to brisk walking. The results showed that Tai Chi was able to significantly lower blood pressure (13.33) more than the brisk walking group (3.37).

What do I need to know before starting

Because of its minimal strain on muscles, the movements of Tai Chi are relatively safe for most patients of all ages. All patients should check with their doctor before starting Tai Chi if they have arthritis, back pain, severe osteoporosis, broken bones, lung conditions, or are pregnant.

Tai Chi in Columbus and the surrounding area:

Taoist Tai Chi Society

Jerome United Methodist Church

10531 Jerome Road

Plain City, OH 43064



Master Mollica’s Kung Fu & Tai Chi

10 Oakland Park Avenue

Columbus, OH 43214



Chen Taiji of Ohio

240 W Oakland Avenue

Columbus, OH 43201



Tai Chi Dublin

4929 Donegal Cliffs Drive

Dublin, OH 43017




Chan, A. W. K., Chair, S. Y., Lee, D. T. F., Leung, D. Y. P., Sit, J. W. H., Cheng, H. Y., & Taylor-Piliae, R. E. (2018). Tai Chi exercise is more effective than brisk walking in reducing cardiovascular disease risk factors among adults with hypertension: A randomised controlled trial. International Journal of Nursing Studies88, 44–52. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2018.08.009

Pan, x., zhang, y., & tao, s. (2014). effects of tai chi exercise on blood pressure and plasma levels of nitric oxide, carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulfide in real-world patients with essential hypertension. clinical and experimental hypertension, 37(1), 8-14. doi:10.3109/10641963.2014.881838

Szymanski, Jarek. “The Origins and Development of Taijiquan (tr. from “Chen Family Taijiquan – Ancient and Present” published by CPPCC (the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference) Culture and History Committee of Wen County, 1992)”. Retrieved 16 June 2011.

Image Reference