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Tips for Seeing Your Pet Through the 4th. July 3, 2012

Posted by acroanmph in Public Health.
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dogs, pets, fireworks, calm, holiday, vet

My pup, Roxy

Independence Day doesn’t feel so independent when your pet is roped to you with an invisible short leash.

It’s obvious the animals are already anxious about the 4th.

My 4 year-old flat-coat lab sits on my feet whether I’m sitting or standing, and is shaking like crazy every time a firecracker goes off, and can barely bring herself to eat. This is a definite red flag.

Once in a while she runs up to my shower and lies down there. I shied away from sedatives for the big day, knowing my dog would still feel just as anxious, but her bodily reactions would be hampered. I do not believe that a sedative would create calm in my dog. A call to my vet lent me some useful suggestions. Here’s what you can do to avoid medicating your pet and — yes, dependently surviving our upcoming holiday.

  • Spending the holiday with friends? Take your pet! S/he requires a safe and secure environment and mostly this means being with you. If you have a crate your pet is used to, bring it and stow them for limited periods to create a sense of familiarity and normalcy.
  • Keep them in a quiet room with a fan and white noise or background music with a heavy beat to mute external noise. If possible, pair your pet with a calm companion.
  • Keep an eye out. Animals have a keen sense of events to come. The San Francisco Chronicle reported on the amazing phenomenon of an exponential amount of “lost pet” ads just prior to the massive quake of 1906.
  • Cool water. Our canine friends will not tolerate heat as well as we do. Do not provide ice or ice water as this will constrict blood vessels, trapping the heat inside. If your pet will not drink water, hose him down and set him in front of a fan. This will likely prevent heat stroke. And, of course, do not leave your pet in a parked car, even if the windows are open.
  • My vet suggested the Thundershirt. I asked about this some months ago and determined at the time that it was ridiculous, but you may want to give it a try. You can find these at pet stores for about $20 and it’s basically an anxiety wrap for your pet that “feels like a hug.” Ok. I’ve been giving actual hugs to my dog for the past week and she is still just as anxious about the fireworks. If you try this, let me know how it goes.
  • My vet also suggested pheromone spray. This has the similar effect of lactose on nursing puppies which gives them a sense of well-being. If you are interested in going this route, you may also want to check into sedatives like valium, Xanax or Prozac. But like I said, I don’t think that’s the best answer. The drugs are not designed to eliminate anxiety, but rather to tamper the natural response, and keep your vet in business.

Do you have other tips? This has been an annual issue with our pets and I haven’t even tackled Tango’s dangerous reactions to fireworks yet. Cats do not seem to be affected by these festivities.

horse, fireworks, holiday, July 4th, Independence day pets,

Tango

Please share your experiences and advice in the comments section. Thank you, and happy dependent Independence Day to you! Rock on, USA!

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Assess Your Stress To Help Your Heart June 1, 2012

Posted by acroanmph in Public Health.
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If your heart is a volcano, how shall you expect flowers to bloom? ~ Kahlil Gibran

Stress is the way our body reacts to change. This week, we are talking about emotional stress because it is something within our control, whereas physical stressors aren’t always. Our bodies are designed to adapt to stress but sometimes the way we react to that stress creates more of it. We have the power to choose our perceptions of and responses to any occurrence.

How does stress affect the heart?

Inflamed reactions and worry have more than just a passing physiological affect on the body. The instinctive “fight-or-flight” response increases the heart rate and blood pressure. Blood flow is re-directed to the muscular system releasing fats into the bloodstream to be used as energy, speeds breathing or makes it more difficult, and increases cortisol and triglyceride levels. Continued stress can lead to an abnormal heart rhythm, elevate your risk for heart disease, and cause a stroke or heart attack.

Your physical and mental well-being are worth getting control of emotional stress and anger. Stress is a normal part of life and dealing with it effectively decreases the risk of suffering from heart ailments.

5 Calm Coping Actions

An enlightened soul radiates love and light. And I mean radiates. This can be you! Here are five methods you can adopt to control your responses to emotional stress and do a little soul-searching.

1) Starting today, you have a clean slate! Give yourself permission to start anew and let go of what is weighing you down. Create your own moral code of conduct independent of religious virtues, which can occupy another space in your life. This tip is an exercise on living morally in this life so you are able to attain your maximum potential. Too worried to let go? That’s ok, move on to step 2.

2) “Seventy-five percent to ninety percent of all primary care visits are stress-related” (HealthMath). Knowledge is the first step to solving any problem. Identifying your particular stressors will enable you to tune in to methods of coping with them specifically. A good place to start is with this free, simple assessment tool from HealthMath. The tool measures perceived stress and reactions to life situations. Intrinsic and extrinsic variables are measured, and analysis is based on responses. Identification of stressors can help us tune in to our reactions, reign in the drama or the feeling of being overwhelmed, and develop new coping abilities. Helpful tips are based on your score.

3) Take care of business. Like my first car salesman told me, “You’re not gonna do it (make the loan payment every month) unless you have to.” This extends to all areas of life. Staying on top of chores, bills and other duties or commitments leaves you feeling responsible and self-sufficient, and frees up time to pursue other interests, including step 4.

4) Spend uninterrupted time on personal reflection. You may have to complete this step many times before you make any notable progress. Try journal-writing, free-association writing, meditation or prayer, or taking long walks by yourself for the sole purpose of soul-searching. If you can’t seem to find the time, schedule it on your calendar. Use this time to shut out external “noise” and self-talk, remain in a calm state, and open your mind to all possibilities. Allow your inner voice/the light within you/your true spirit to guide you in defining your purpose in life. This does not include all the “should do’s,” but ideas that enable your inner light to shine through you and outward to touch other people in a positive way. Where do your talents lie? About what are you passionate? What is unique about you? What feeds your soul and makes your spirit soar? The answers are already within you. When you finally find them, make a written plan addressing how you can incorporate them into action every day.

5) Respond to anxiety, rather than react to it. Choose what you will say or do to keep the situation in perspective. Avoid shouting or swearing as this increases tension and induces stress within the other people around you. Face your stressor(s) head on and do not settle on a compromise unless it leaves you feeling joyful.

Your heart health depends on your ability to manage stress. Managing stress is completely within your control. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” For heart’s sake, is it time to make a healthy change?

Related Reading

Infographic: Love Helps: How Relationships and Marriage Effect Health, Happiness and Finance

Journal of the American Medical Association, Chronic Stress and the Heart

The American Institute of Stress

Is The Food Pyramid Killing Us? May 21, 2012

Posted by acroanmph in Public Health.
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diet, nutrition, food pyramid, heart disease, stroke, hypertension

Two groups of food pyramid promote leading causes of U.S. deaths

Hang in there with me for just a few minutes, folks.

The leading causes of U.S. deaths are heart disease, cancer, respiratory ailments and stroke. Right? In the vast majority of cases, these are attributed to poor nutrition, not genetics. What food groups do we as a nation consume the most? Meat and dairy. Consumption of which foods increases at the same rate as chronic disease and fatal illness? Meat and dairy. What are two of the main food groups the Food Pyramid encourages us to eat as part of our daily diet? Meat and dairy. Why would an agency of the federal government urge us to consume the two most unhealthy foods as part of each meal? (defended my 10-year old son).

Welcome to the Western diet, Western diseases and the cozy kinships within the USDA, a not unbiased agency which regulates and promotes their own interests. According to Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM),

The USDA’s statutory duty is to foster and assist in expanding uses in moving larger quantities of agricultural products throughout the private marketing system to consumers in the US and abroad. They compromise consumer health in favor of promoting specific food products.

The US spends more money on health care than any other developed nation, yet we have among the highest rates of preventable disease. Our convenient diets are nutritionally deficient, being high in fats, sugar, salt and animal proteins, as brilliantly researched by Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s famous 20-year China Study, and his subsequent work with the esteemed surgeon, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Forks Over Knives. Their independent and collaborative science illustrates that our bodies are engineered for optimum performance with plant-based nutrition.

For over a century, the USDA dietary guidelines have included meat and dairy as the primary sources of protein and calcium. A previous post, Calcium for Bone Health-Not What You Thought, details a direct correlation between animal-based calcium consumption and increased rates of osteoporosis.

The federal government is considering regulating our diets in an effort to tackle the obesity epidemic, especially in children, due to the amount of time spent and number of calories consumed during school hours. This is an appalling notion. There is obvious conflict mandating compliance with National School Lunch Program menus, and providing the very guidelines which promote obesity-related illnesses. Regular lunch entrees in my school district include corn dogs, breaded and fried chicken patties, breaded and fried chicken nuggets, fried mozzarella sticks, cheeseburgers and pizza. Always available: milk, ice cream, unhealthy snacks and drinks in vending machines. By contrast, a regular French school lunch in the town of Barjac, for example, consists of coleslaw, mussels mariniers, sautéed potatoes, and an organic, locally grown pear for dessert. Water and baguette are standard at every meal, of course. Karen LeBillon’s book, French Kids Eat Everything, details fundamental differences in their approach to school lunches. Menus are decided by regional school administrators and parents, there is no national food program, and there is a national ban on vending machines.

Each one of us is in control of our own health destiny. A plant-based diet not only prevents what’s killing us, but can reverse it. Dr. Esselstyn was shunned by the USDA after reporting his results, and the Food Pyramid still contains meat and dairy. In his TED talk, he explains our top killers are food-borne illnesses.

Your food choices are 100% up to you. What will you choose to eat today?

*           *           *

Forks Over Knives is streamable from Netflix. It just might save your life.

Related Posts:

My Picks: Top 10 Superfoods For Disease Prevention

Location, location, location! The High Cost of Living in a Food Desert

Trickery, Manipulation and $50: A Plan for School Cafeterias

The Kind Diet

SoulVeggie

Good Grief May 14, 2012

Posted by acroanmph in Public Health.
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Love shines upon us

As much as we like to think it won’t happen to us, or decide not to dwell on what “could be,” try to live in and appreciate the present, at some point grief slams into us harder than any body blow. It’s a personal catastrophe that takes our breath away – for months or years. It rearranges our reality and we are alone. Each one of us must process this reality. The guidance of family, friends, therapists, religious mentors or self-help books reaches part of us, but we must do the work on our own. We must come to terms with the event and find a new route on our roadmap. A route we had not previously considered or ever wished to be on, could never have conceived of previously and leaving us blatantly unprepared. We must teach ourselves how get to somewhere that is not here. To pull ourselves out of despair.

Grief, of course, need not result from of a death. It may follow the end of any significant relationship or change in a major life circumstance. Divorce, chronic or terminal illness, infertility and miscarriage, job loss, or loss of freedom may lead you into the stages of grief.

What effect does this have on our own mortality? Does the stress of devastation and long-term panic increase our susceptibility to disease thereby shortening our lives? Are we consumed by our reality and our search for the new route to the extent that those who depend on us suffer? Do we try to be strong for our dependents while inside we continue to crumble? Do we even care about the future of the new route upon which we find ourselves? Would a hug help? I don’t know. Probably. I’m sure it depends on perceived realities, personal circumstances, coping ability, dependence on piety, previous experience, quality of relationships and mindset – different for us all.

What I do know for us collectively, is that it sucks and it’s a long haul. Even your loved ones do not share your exact perceptions, experiences and depth of devastation. And try as they might, bless ‘em, even if they are similarly suffering, they are limited in their ability to feel what is like to be you, and you cannot fathom what they are going through. Perhaps you cannot even discuss it.

The only goodness in all of it is that you have a choice. You look at the values, attitudes, manner of your departed and, when you are able, embody those beautiful aspects of them in order for them to have continued life through you. I’m certainly not to that point yet, but at least I have a goal and that gives me something to work on and look forward to. It’s an unrealistic goal, and I know it, but that is okay. I may enjoy the journey in the meantime and achieve more than I would have otherwise.

Maybe there’s something in that person that you’d like to illuminate. I hope you find it and shine it all over the place.

* * *

I wrote this one year ago. Now it has been two years since my mother left this earth. I have re-read this from time to time to update it, but I still feel the same way. My mother remains in my thoughts throughout every day, and the goal remains.

Further Reading:

The Grief Recovery Institute

Tick Tock. Off Your Clock? May 3, 2012

Posted by acroanmph in Public Health.
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Sleep patterns, circadian rhythms, disease clock

Circadian rhythms control acute health episodes

10 a.m. heart attacks? It’s no coincidence. Our internal body clocks are governed by circadian rhythms, where over a period of roughly 24 hours, our bodies generate physiological processes to determine periods of sleeping, eating, and much more.

Diurnal mammals experience clear patterns of brain wave activity, hormone production, and cell regeneration based on sunlight and temperature. This activity occurs in the hypothalamus, located just above the cross point of the optical nerves in the brain.

Whether you’re a “lark” or a “night owl,” your circadian rhythms have been genetically set since birth. They may vary slightly over the span of a lifetime, but we cannot change our chronotype. This makes working the night-shift very difficult for larks, and explains the real causes of jet lag. Melatonin, the hormone produced after darkness, causes drowsiness. When sunlight hits our eyelids in the morning, light-induced signals travel through the brain to turn off melatonin production.

Because [shift workers’] work schedules are at odds with powerful sleep-regulating cues like sunlight, they often become uncontrollably drowsy during work, and they may suffer insomnia or other problems when they try to sleep. Shift workers have an increased risk of heart problems, digestive disturbances, and emotional and mental problems, all of which may be related to their sleeping problems. The number and severity of workplace accidents also tend to increase during the night shift. Major industrial accidents attributed partly to errors made by fatigued night-shift workers include the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl nuclear power plant accidents. One study also found that medical interns working on the night shift are twice as likely as others to misinterpret hospital test records, which could endanger their patients. It may be possible to reduce shift-related fatigue by using bright lights in the workplace, minimizing shift changes, and taking scheduled naps. -NIH, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

People who suffer from sleep disorders attempt to offset their body clocks by light therapy or increasing melatonin in the form of drug therapy, with some temporary success.

The image indicates which acute disease states coincide with time of day. Many health conditions are regulated by these rhythms. For example, lung function is at its optimal level around 4 p.m. Conversely, it is at its weakest around 4 a.m., the time of day when most asthma attacks occur. Heart problems and strokes escalate during the time that our blood pressure is highest, generally between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Deaths from all causes generally occur around 6 a.m.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30% of all adult employed Americans get no more than 6 hours of sleep, when they really need 7-9 hours. Women sleeping 5 hours per night or less are three times more likely to suffer a heart attack.

6 “Good Sleep” Tips to Maintain Your Circadian Rhythms

  • Regulate the amount of sleep by setting a bedtime and wake time, allowing for the recommended 7-9 hours. Try to make it the same 7-9 hours each night.
  • Follow your mother’s advice and get in at least 2-3 of those hours before midnight.
  • Reduce intake of stimulants 4-6 hours before bedtime. That nightcap is likely to cause sleep disturbances, and choose decaf for your after-dinner coffee. Nicotine has a calming effect, but remember that it’s really a stimulant.
  • Keep the bedroom dark by installing light-blocking window shades. This allows for continuous production of melatonin during the sleep hours.
  • Relax before bedtime with a hot bath, light reading, aromatherapy, or whatever you find calming. Watching TV, having emotional discussions, and even a cluttered bedroom are likely to subconsciously invoke anxiety in that room over time.
  • Eat to sleep. Like turkey, milk contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid related to relaxation and restfulness. Other sleep-enhancing foods are shrimp, tuna, halibut, pumpkin, bananas, peaches, apricots, avocados, artichokes, asparagus, almonds and walnuts, oats and eggs.

Ready to get back on the clock now? Sweet dreams.

Related Study: Why the Circadian Rhythms Affect Health

Birth Rights: Gender Selection April 23, 2012

Posted by acroanmph in Global Health, Public Health.
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PGD, fertility, human rights, infanticide, abortion

Who gets to live?

Gender selection for the purposes of eliminating genetic disease or family balancing remains controversial. Not just an option for abnormal genetic screening results, is it another step in population control, gendercide, and the war on women?

The world’s highest population countries remain China (1.35B) and India (1.2B). These and many other countries have traditionally placed greater preference on male offspring, and have instituted population control measures over the last several decades. The manner in which the policies are enforced is physically and socially horrific. As gender selection for birth abnormalities became more common in developed nations, many couples now seek it out to choose their baby’s gender if for no other reason than “family balancing.” Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) virtually guarantees successful gender selection of embryos. X-chromosone-linked diseases are identified in vitro and the undesired embryos removed, for indication of genetic disease. Or not.

China

Held-over beliefs from Confucianism enabled continuation of the practice of female infanticide and abandonment in China long before the 1978 “family planning” law was enacted, allowing one child per couple. (Occasionally now in rural areas, if the first-born was female, two children may be granted.) This has created a nation of five decades of “missing girls” and an extremely lopsided sex ratio. Population estimates show 111 million Chinese men currently unable to find a wife, secondarily spurring an increase in human trafficking of Chinese girls. It is calculated that 21 million children are born each year and the female portion is missing due to institutionalized killing or neglect. Baby girls are drowned, poisoned, starved, or carted to orphanages where 90% of them will perish as will any record of them having ever existed. Pregnancy in China must be approved and if a subsequent pregnancy is discovered, the mother, now criminal, is captured for a forced abortion procedure usually in late-term, also causing a spike in maternal mortality.

One investigation into an orphanage, or “dying room,” found,

…a lame girl sitting on a bench…her leg swollen with gangrene. Then crying was heard from a nearby cot. Underneath the blanket was a tied bundle of cloth, a girl was found. Upon unswaddling her, the last layer being a plastic bag, she laid in urine and feces. The next cot was the same, and the next and the next. Many children had lesions where the string wrapping them had cut into their bodies. All the non-handicapped children in the orphanage were girls. A response from the Chinese government reads, ‘The so-called dying rooms do not exist in China at all. Our investigations confirm that those reports are vicious fabrications made out of ulterior motives.’ As a result of the documentary The Dying Rooms (1996), American families have adopted over 35,000 Chinese girls, more than any other nation.

India

Described as the “heartland of sex-selective abortion,” India’s Hindu practitioners readily agree that many unwanted female children are “done away with.” Most Indian women are not able to be independent agents of their own destinies, but victims of a long-standing social ideology which prefers sons. Families must provide for the daughter while she is growing up, knowing once she marries, a large dowry will be required and she will become of service to the husband’s family. Formally outlawed, the dowry practice is still pervasive.

The combination of dowry and wedding expenses usually add up to more than a million rupees [US $35,000]. In India, the average civil servant earns about 100,000 rupees [US $3,500] a year. Given these figures combined with the low status of women, it seems not so illogical that the poorer Indian families would want only male children.” Murders of women whose families are deemed to have paid insufficient dowry have become increasingly common. -Female Infanticide and Feoticide.

India is expected to surpass China in population by 2030 as a result of it’s “less successful” family planning policy. Nevertheless, 50 million girls and women are missing from India’s population as a result of systematic gender discrimination, according to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

U.S.

The west, being more advanced, tends to use our ethnocentric values to judge other cultures, and often realign them with ours. In no case would we view infanticide is acceptable family planning. Yet, we tout the ability to Choose The Sex of Your Unborn Baby Now! at a high cost and for reasons much more frivolous than poor quality of life of millions of girls and women around the globe. Steven Pinker’s article, “Why They Kill Their Newborns,” notes that we are much more tolerant of killing newborns than older children as seen in the lenient two-year sentencing of Amy Grossberg who threw her infant into a dumpster against the outcry and harsher life sentence of Susan Smith for killing her 14-month and 3 year-old children.

Even American-born baby girls are “sacrificed by the tens of thousands,” according to Steven Mosher of Population Research Institute. A Columbia University study found a disparity between the number of males and females born in certain Asian and sub-Asian populations within the US.

Do you call it abortion, neonaticide, or infanticide? Some people call it the gravest, largest holocaust on earth. Do you see gender selection for non-genetic reasons as morally wrong? For whom? I’d like to know.

Related articles:

Control Your Diet to Control Your Alleriges March 28, 2012

Posted by acroanmph in Public Health.
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6 comments
seasonal allergies, flowering trees, diet, hayfever,

Choose an anti-inflammation diet to help control allergies

I spent the entirety of last weekend outside, one day at a 9-hour outdoor seminar and the other day at my son’s 3-game baseball tournament. Generally allergy-free, by the middle of the second day, I was sneezing, coughing, eyes watering like crazy, and had the worst nasal congestion I’ve ever experienced with runny nose. I used up 3 little packages of tissues in about 20 minutes. I couldn’t wait to get home to my remedies. Sound familiar? What do you do? Take Antihistamines? Visit your specialist for immunotherapy? Are you more likely to take a holistic approach to strengthen the immune system and avoid OTC medicine side-effects?

The Diet|Allergy Link

Many of the foods we eat produce a direct response from our bodies. What we put into our gut is processed by our liver. These two systems work well together even when dealing with all the unnatural foods and other odd “invaders” we send down or breathe in. Occasionally, they become overwhelmed and things they normally handle well, like pollen, become too big a job.

What To Eliminate From Your Diet

The milk protein, caseinOne symptom of seasonal allergies is inflammation. We can usually feel the pressure in our heads, but it lingers around the rest of our body as well. It is often present in people with asthma, diabetes and other autoimmune disorders. Casein causes inflammation and produces mucus even if there is no dairy allergy present. Removing it from the diet completely is especially helpful for managing the common triad of allergies/eczema/asthma. Be wary of non-fat and non-dairy items and read the labels. Some cheese substitutes made from soybeans and almonds may still contain casein.

Protein. Vancouver’s Dr. Andrew Weil, who writes weekly for the Vancouver Sun, advises reducing the amount of protein consumed. “I believe that high-protein diets irritate the immune system in some people, aggravating allergies and autoimmune diseases. Because proteins are the components that make an organism unique, the immune system reads them to decide whether materials in the body are ‘self’ or foreign. When the immune system is overactive, as it is with an allergy, flooding the body with animal and plant proteins may confuse it further and may make resolution of these conditions less likely. I have found that low-protein diets can be helpful to people with chronic allergies and other immune-system problems.”

Sugar. Just 3 ounces of sugar can suppress the immune system within 30 minutes, and up to 5 hours. Given that the average American eats three times that amount in a single day, eliminating or even reducing sugar intake can significantly boost your immune system.

Gluten. Foods processed from wheat, barley and rye can produce excess mucus in the nasal cavity which is not drained from the nostrils. This stagnated mucus is a fantastic environment for encouraging fungi, viruses and bacteria growth resulting in sinusitis. Read labels and stay away from semolina, starch, bulgur, gram flour, bread crumbs, bran, spelt, couscous or high protein flour. [Note: it can take up to 4 weeks for your body to rid itself of gluten residue.]

What To Add To Your Diet

Cold water fishHaddock, tuna, salmon, cod, trout, mackerel, sardines and herring are all rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Shellfish also contains these acids, but not as much. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and when consumed regularly can be effective in treating hay fever, sinusitis, hives, eczema. Asthma sufferers will notice an increase in open airways. [Note: avoid omega-6 fatty acids. These have the opposite and adverse effect of causing inflammation, and are found in sunflower oil, mayonnaise, prepared salad dressings, and fast foods.]

Vitamin C. This is actually an antihistamine in itself. The plus side, though, is that it does not damage the liver as OTC antihistamines can, and it can strengthen the immune system. Foods rich in Vitamin C are broccoli, shallots, yellow onions, oranges, kiwi, strawberries and bell peppers. Raw fruit smoothies are a great way to get more Vitamin C, especially if you make them yourself so you can be sure nothing is added which might hamper the benefits.

Local bee products. Honeybees pollinate all sorts of blooming plants and trees. Apiary products in your area will contain a minute amount of the specific pollens that you encounter every day. Eating 1-2 tbsp. of local honey or bee pollen daily will naturally build up your immunity to these flowering varietals.

In The News

Two interesting studies have linked diet with disease in newborns, or the likelyhood of disease developing during childhood. One study showed that an apple each day during pregnancy will significantly reduce the risk of wheezing and asthma developing. And a diet regularly including fish will dramatically decrease incidence of eczema, even from birth.

Another study in the same publication touts the benefits of a Mediterranean diet. This diet is heavy on fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, olive oil and fish, and extremely low in red meat. It was reported that children are 66% less likely to have itchy eyes and runny nose, and the incidence of asthma, at least on the island of Crete, is nearly zero.

Related Reading:

Mediterranean Diet May Prevent Allergies

OAS and Out With The Fruit Bowl (at least at my house)

Bee Pollen: Superfood

My Picks: Top 10 Superfoods for Disease Prevention

A Little More Shuga, Please March 22, 2012

Posted by acroanmph in Global Health.
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HIV/AIDS Kenya Shuga Family Planning

HIV prevalence by African country

One of the most effective public health education tools to combat HIV/AIDS in Kenya is back. Last month, the popular TV program Shuga began airing it’s second season.

Three episodes were funded for the first season through MTV’s Staying Alive Foundation and other funding partners, but demand has landed six new episodes this season. PATH joined with other sponsors PEPFAR and UNICEF to bring this meaningful tool to Nairobi. And since it’s rights-cleared, it will air on all five major broadcast companies throughout Kenya.

In addition to teaching safe sex and HIV transmission methods, this season of Shuga: Love, Sex and Money addresses alcohol use, transactional sex, rape and homosexuality. This was an important part of their sexual behavior communication plan, as it is still illegal to be gay in Africa.

What makes the show so popular?

It’s steamy hot, which, for all intents and purposes, is unchartered programming territory for the 16-24 year old Kenyan target group. It’s sexy, fun, and relatable.

What makes the show so successful?

It’s changing behaviors and saving lives. Read here about reaching young adults who had little to no access to TV or internet in 2009. Between 60% and 80% of all viewers were more receptive to this teaching tool for behavior change. About the new season, from The Saturday Post Zambia,

The documentary addresses social and economic factors that contribute to the high HIV prevalence and new infection rates, particularly among young people, in Sub-Saharan Africa and the world. The film resonates with young people. The main [goal] is to increase knowledge and start a debate about HIV among young people so that they don’t get infected. It aims to encourage behaviour change to prevent new infections.

The secondary phase is to remind people that HIV is not a death sentence. People can live positively with HIV. The campaign is an explosive drama shot and produced in Kenya that challenges young people to ignite a movement to change their sexual behaviour and turn their norms to stop the spread of the killer disease specifically in Kenya, Trinidad, Ukraine and Zambia.

Take a look at the Season 2 trailer:

Shuga: Love, Sex, Money Still To Come… from mtv staying alive on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Sesame Square, Kami and Shuga Battle HIV

MTV Shuga

MTV Staying Alive Foundation

PATH: A Catalyst for Global Health

Continuous Chest Compression: The Latest in CPR March 7, 2012

Posted by acroanmph in Public Health.
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3 comments
CPR, CCR, cardiac arrest, save a life

Continuous Chest Compressions save more lives than traditional CPR

There’s a new, more effective method for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, developed by Gordon A. Ewy, MD, and Karl Kern, MD, physician researchers at the University of Arizona. The reason? To encourage by-standers to help out if they are uncomfortable performing traditional CPR, involving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on a stranger. Additionally, this method is easier and doubles the likelihood of survival from sudden cardiac arrest. No certification is necessary.

Continuous Chest Compression is a hands-only method of CPR whereby the helper aims for 100 chest compressions per minute. This seems like a lot, but it is the only way to start the blood moving to the brain. The video clearly demonstrates how to perform this procedure. Please take 6 minutes to learn how simple it can be to save a life, and pass it on.

Unintentional Injuries and Ostara February 29, 2012

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5 comments
Spring, vernal equinox, Ostara, Eostre, Easter, spiritual health

The earth blooms at the vernal equinox

Fantastic powder and continued snowfall brought us back to Crystal Mountain for our weekly ski day. I looked forward to a regular run with a first-time guest we brought along who was performing impressively. I took a sudden bad fall, my body careening one way, one ski unnaturally in the other. Pressure in my knee and a pop. And I still had to get down the mountain. Turns out I tore my MCL.

In and out of a medicinal haze, one leg having the mistaken self-identity of a wet noodle, my thoughts traveled. They went to exotic, wondrous realms that we all occasionally glimpse. They roamed far and long. They focused particularly on the beauty and majesty of the earth and I don’t know how to describe it really, but I felt the Wheel turn. It wasn’t the first time, but it was perhaps the strongest.

It’s still wintry outside, but the crocuses are popping up in little yellow armies all over the place. My tulips and daffodils are close behind. Easter. My husband’s annual musings: What do bunnies and eggs have to do with the resurrection of Jesus Christ? And why did He ascend into heaven after 3 days? On and on. We don’t have answers for him.

Every year with grand pageantry we frantically rush about in fancy clothes, search for colored eggs, eat a special breakfast, speed to make it to the church service on time, sign all the kiddos into appropriate classes — if they want — or would they like to come sit with mommy and daddy this time? Can they be quiet and sit still for an hour? No? Ok, sign them all in to separate classes as originally planned, run down the hallway and up some stairs, quickly compose ourselves before entering the sanctuary, squeeze into separate spots on overcrowded pews and, with a sigh, sit down to receive the famous, magical, miraculous lesson that is Easter. After all that, we’re still asking the same questions and wondering if this was how God intended for us to spend Easter morning.

In an effort to feel more fulfilled this year, we will be celebrating Ostara instead. I found some answers on my own, things that even my many college religions classes never touched upon.

In celebration of the Germanic goddess Eostre, the holiday contributed not just its name to Easter. Prior to Christianity, people celebrated the balance of light and darkness, the return of the sun and the warming of the earth, fertility of animals, especially the abundance of goats’ milk, and the hare who is nocturnal all year until early spring when it is in a frenzy to mate as much as possible. Female hares can even conceive more than one litter at a time. As gifts, people decorated eggs in bright colors for their neighbors and friends as tokens of the new life spring brings. The celebratory meal consisted of, among other things, ham and honey. Ham, because all winter they survived on salted meats and ham was considered the finest. For a period before Ostara, they would fast (hello, Lent) to purge their bodies of the heavy, unhealthy meals. And honey, as a symbol of pollination which would yield a bounty of fruits and vegetables. (We turn that “sweet” into chocolate and candy.) Ostara was a celebration of the wonder of all Earth’s gifts, and a time of renewal. A time to be grateful.

The onset of Christianity (I don’t mean for that to sound like a disease-state) sought to forcibly banish all these customs. People who wanted to retain the old ways then had to hide their colored eggs on their friends’ land. Children were sent out with baskets to find and collect them. The ancient holiday occurs at the vernal equinox. During this time, the moon is dark for 3 nights. Christianity borrowed a bit of that too in determining that Jesus would ascend into heaven after 3 days.

We’ve always known that Christian holidays fall on or around the Pagan ones and that old traditions were loosely incorporated in an effort to persuade people to more readily accept the new religion. Well, to me, one is pretty black and white–a time of joyous thanks that the long winter is finally over and a rejoicing for the promise of new life inside and out. And the other still has so many shades of gray that I can’t see my hand in front of my face. The texts of the Gospels alone, while beautiful, were decided by groups of men who argued time and again what must be included and excluded. And today we live and breathe by those decisions? That doesn’t make sense to me.

On March 20, we will celebrate Ostara. On April 8, I will host Easter dinner for my extended family. I will serve, among other things, ham and honey. After a hectic Easter morning, they can relax at our table knowing they did the right thing earlier that day, and so can I. All I will have had to do is bake the ham and thank God for the miracle that is the Earth.

Ostara blessings to you!

Family Activity

Find the time the vernal equinox will occur in your location. Just prior, if possible, take an egg outside and set it upright. It will balance perfectly – some say for minutes, some say for hours or days – due to the sun’s equidistant position between the poles of the Earth!

Vernal equinox egg

See if your egg does this at the vernal equinox!

Location, location, location! The high cost of living in a food desert. February 9, 2012

Posted by acroanmph in Global Health.
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4 comments
Food desert, Health, Obesity, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Grocery, Produce

Food Desert

How far do you live from a large supermarket? What if you only purchased foods you were able to carry either by walking or using public transportation? What if there was a McDonald’s one block over? How is your health affected?

These are questions posed around the communities of food deserts, areas in industrialized nations which are not close enough to any nutritional food retailer. In urban areas this is usually measured at one mile away, in rural areas, about ten miles. Existing stores in these areas carry high-priced, unhealthy options. In many cases, these are the only options.

Health Hazards

The high-fat and sugar content of the foods sold at convenience stores or small “grocers” (term used as loosely as possible) is causing an increase in disease in lower socio-economic communities where large supermarket retailers will not build for lack of profit. Consumers in these low SES minority neighborhoods show an increase in meat and processed foods, and much lower intake of fruits and vegetables, but are spending 37% more on food in general. This contributes to spikes in obesity, diabetes, sugar addiction, malnutrition, and heart disease.

As of 2011, the USDA underestimates about 2.4 million Americans living in food deserts. Factors not included in this measure are access to transportation, barriers for the elderly, food price, crime rate, and ethnic disparities, leaving the actual number of people at risk of food insecurity to be much higher. One study (Policy Link and The Food Trust, 2010) showed that in New Mexico, the same cart of groceries costs $85 for rural residents, and $55 for urban residents, a common disparity in relative costs. About a quarter of the people who qualify for welfare and food stamp programs live in food deserts. In fact, according to Mari Gallagher, founder of National Center for Pubic Research, USDA food stamp retailers provide more barriers to nutritious foods than fast food retailers.

Health, nutrition, diabetes, produce, obesity

Food Desert Locator

Food Oases

Several states are seeing community-level interventions which pair public and private finances to significantly undercut costs and losses to supermarket chains. Co-ops are useful in promoting local growers, and farmers’ markets, although costly, also increase access to food. Community currency has been shown to boost profits in both of these endeavors. Even community gardens strengthen community and social support while providing access to nutritious foods. About 20 grants exist to help individuals and communities afford healthy food projects.

Please click the link below to watch what Karriem Beyah has done for an urban food desert in Chicago’s South Side:

Urban Deserts: Fresh-Food-Free Zones TIME.com

What can your community do?

Related Posts:

Hidden Hunger In The Heartland

My Picks: Top 10 Superfoods for Disease Prevention February 3, 2012

Posted by acroanmph in Public Health.
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Scoot over broccoli, almonds and green tea! While we’ve always loved you for being healthy, you just don’t cut it anymore on my Superfood list.

Any search on the internet will include these foods among about 20 others, but my Superfoods qualified for the list by being either 1) rare [I love trying exotic foods]; or more importantly, 2) a whole food high in phytonutrients which not only act as antioxidants but are essential nutrients. Essential nutrients are required for normal body functioning, but cannot be synthesized in adequate amounts, and must be obtained from a dietary source. Processed or cooked foods have lower levels of phytochemicals and contribute to an increase in preventable disease. Your physician may be able to manage or treat disease, but prevent it in the first place by controlling what’s in your power–starting with your diet. So, in an effort to put your health in your own hands, try out my list of Superfoods for disease prevention.

1) Blue-Green Algae or Spirulina: Used since the 9th century, it’s about 60% protein, 7% lipids, and contains all essential amino acids. It’s better than meat or dairy products, and is superior to most plant products such as legumes. Photosynthesis in cyanobacteria produces oxygen. Cancer cells cannot thrive in oxygen-rich blood, or in alkaline conditions. Six species, however, are susceptible to toxic contaminants and may quickly grow into algae blooms, so be careful where you get yours, or use a supplement. Look for cyanobacteria.

alaskan salmon, superfood, weight loss, diet2) Wild Alaskan Salmon: Maximize your benefit by eating this at least twice each week. Not any Atlantic or farm-raised salmon, but fresh Alaskan salmon whenever you can find it. The omega-3 fatty acids are powerful for heart (reduces risk of heart disease by 38% and heart attack by 60%) and brain (decreased risk of Alzheimers, asthma and behavioral conditions present in children, and depression and other psychiatric disorders) function; perfect for pregnant moms for healthy development of fetal brains and retinas. It is always delicious. It is usually expensive. The alternative is paying for disease treatment, which is more costly [in dollars and quality of life] in the short- and long-term.

bee pollen, honey, superfood, allergies, health3) Bee pollen: My regular readers may already be familiar with a previous post on this topic, but the benefits were so extreme and numerous that I could not include them all without multiplying the length of my post by about 3. So, to recap — this is assimilated into the body naturally at the cellular level. It is the only existing compound which scientists have not been able to reproduce in the laboratory. It is 40% protein, is high in B-complex vitamins, as well as A, C, D, E; contains 27 mineral salts and over 5,ooo enzymes necessary for healing and digestion; and contains 96 known nutrients. It aides in so many health issues (strengthens capillaries, improves cholesterol and complexion, reduces risk of prostrate cancer and supports sexual and reproductive function, calms allergies, and even contains natural pheynlalanine which curbs appetite) and much more. This is one amazing Superfood. Get it. Eat it. Up to one tablespoon per day. Ask your doctor if it is safe for you, and try one grain of the pollen first to see if you suffer any anaphylaxic reaction. Where to buy: Bees In The Burbs.

4) Cacao: First used in Mexico, Central and South American cultures, the bean of this small evergreen tree is high in antioxidants and phytochemicals, fiber, iron, magnesium, chromium, zinc, vitamin E, and flavinoids. It does not contain vitamin C as previously thought. When the seeds are roasted, they lose some of their nutrients and this processed form is called cocoa. Most developed nations process it even further, reducing the health benefits and contributing to our overall fat intake. The Archives of Internal Medicine reported that cacao is 14 times better at lowering blood pressure than red wine, and 21 times more effective than green tea. It’s a natural muscle relaxer, especially for asthma, and has been used to treat edema or swelling from fluids. It increases oxygen in the blood so it reduces risk of heart disease and cancer, and increases blood flow to the brain. Where to buy: Theo Chocolates.

watermelon, superfood, health, diet

5) Watermelon: Not just a snack! Locally-grown is best. Otherwise, just know that this Superfood is one of THE healthiest fruits. It contains the highest amounts of lycopene. Yes – much higher than tomatoes! Lycopene is an antioxidant which fights against heart disease and cancer, especially prostate cancer, and inflammatory diseases such as asthma, diabetes, and atherosclerosis. It contains vitamins A, B6, and C for improving tooth and gum disease, and macular degeneration. It helps heal wounds and is a natural energy booster. Also high in potassium, watermelon can help control blood pressure and possibly prevent strokes. It relaxes blood vessels which contributes to a “Viagara effect.”

6) Kamut: Allergic to wheat? Kamut is a unique high energy grain reported now as “the wheat you can eat.” Athletes also prefer this type of wheat as it contains 65% more amino acids than common wheat, more lipids and fatty acids, and is 40% higher in protein content. It is a good souce of selenium, zinc and magnesium. Kamut has an interesting back story. “Following WWII, a US airman claimed to have taken a handful of this grain from a stone box in a tomb near Dashare, Egypt. Thirty-six kernels of the grain were given to a friend who mailed them to his father, a Montana wheat farmer. The farmer planted and harvested a small crop and displayed the grain as a novelty at the local fair. Believing the legend that the giant grain kernels were taken from an Egyptian tomb, the grain was dubbed ‘King Tut’s Wheat.’ But soon the novelty wore off and this ancient grain was all but forgotten. In 1977, one remaining jar of ‘King Tut’s Wheat’ was obtained by another Montana wheat farmer, who with his son, an agricultural scientist and plant biochemist, soon perceived the value of this unique grain. They spent the next decade propagating the humped-backed kernels originally selected from the small jar.” They are naturally resistant to insects and disease–if one stalk is effected, the others remain healthy. Kamut is a registered brand which is available as a cereal, in breads, pancakes, waffles, cookies, pasta, bulgar and couscous.

cinnamon, diabetes, obesity, sugar, superfood, health, diet7) Cinnamon: Nearly everything sold in grocery stores today, besides fresh produce and meat, has added sugar. This even includes low-calorie and low-fat foods and health food bars. Bagels. Campbell’s soup. The added sugar takes many forms–fructose, sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, lactose and maltose. This, imo, has lead not only to an increase in type 2 diabetes and obesity, but to a national sugar addiction. These added sugars instruct the body to hold on to fat instead of burn it, and have a disastrous effect on blood sugar and insulin levels. There is only one natural product to counter this – cinnamon! You may have been unaware of this and that is because it is not man-made and drug companies cannot profit from cinnamon. Studies show that even one gram (less than 1/2 tsp.) of cinnamon per day reduced blood sugar by 20%. The recommended amount is up to 6 grams which can reduce blood sugar by 63%. It mimicks all the positive effects of insulin and encourages uptake of glucose. Take cinnamon before, during, or after a meal when blood sugar levels are highest. Minimize or eliminate processed foods from your diet and use cinnamon regularly. You will see and feel the difference!

8) Maqui Berry: Originating from rainforests of Chile and Argentina, the composition of the purple Maqui berry (or Chilean Wineberry) has twice as many antioxidants as other berries, including the Acai berry. It promotes cardiovascular health, immune system, skin, bone and joint health. It is also a great detoxifier and will help jump start a weight loss regimen. The berry is available in many forms, so if you’re like me (which you’re probably not) and not fond of berries, look for it in supplement form from a knowledgeable practitioner as it is common to find weaker strains of the berry or supplements of less-than-optimum strength.

9) Quinoa: Often served at our table in place of rice, Quinoa is an ancient Incan grain which is a complete protein (contains all 9 essential amino acids) packed with phytonutrients. It is an extremely rich source of manganese and magnesium, folate and phosphorous, it assists the body to fight migraine headaches, diabetes and athlerosclerosis. It protects mitochondria from oxidative damage and is therefore recommended for reducing several types of cancer. When eaten in conjunction with fish, preferably wild Alaskan salmon, it can reduce by 66% wheezing and incidence of asthma, especially in children.

alliums, onions, garlic, shallots, leeks, superfood, diet, health10) Alliums: This is the onion group which includes shallots, leeks, scallions, garlic and chives. We often incorporate their pungent flavor in cooking, but how are they beneficial for health? They are high in antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral activity which reduces blood platelet aggregation and hyperlipidemia, and helps heal colds and coughs. The phytochemicals are released upon chopping or crushing. They enhance thiamin absorption and lower blood pressure. This group is occasionally contraindicated for people taking certain diabetic therapies, so check with your physician before regular use.

Some of my Superfoods are best locally purchased and not from major supplement stores. Ask a holistic health practitoner, or click on the links to some fantastic small business retailers, select wisely and eat purposefully. Bon appetit!

The Healing Waters: Mineral Hot Springs January 24, 2012

Posted by acroanmph in Public Health.
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Hot mineral springs, mineral spa, thermal water, travel

Heat and minerals combine for natural healing

More accessible than thalasso spas or hammams, mineral hot springs are natural geothermal waters heated through contact with volcanic magma or the earth’s crust. Temperatures range from 15° above ambient ground temperature to 176° F. Hot springs have been used for healing purposes by indigenous peoples since prehistoric times all over the earth.

Mineral Therapy

Interaction with several layers of earth and clay contributes essential minerals to the waters. Even trace amounts of minerals can have a significant therapeutic effect when absorbed through the skin. Mineral content and chemical compositions most often found include:

Arsenic: while toxic in large quantities, trace amounts encourage plasma production and tissue growth; beneficial for fungal infections on the skin; arthritis.

Bicarbonate gas: increases circulation and opens peripheral blood vessels. Use in tepid to warm waters can alleviate symptoms associated with cardiovascular disease, hypertension and mild atherosclerosis; relieves stress.

Boron: increases brain activity, strengthens bone and builds muscle.

Chlorides: beneficial for rheumatic conditions, arthritis, stress, arthritis.

Iron: increases blood production and strengthens the immune system.

Lithium: alleviates depression; helps with digestion.

Magnesium: converts blood sugar to energy; promotes healthy skin.

Potassium: regulates heart rhythms and decreases blood pressure; eliminates toxins.

Sulfates: treat respiratory ailments and skin infections. Also beneficial for liver  and gastrointestinal conditions.

Help Yourself

Balneology is the scientific study of naturally occurring mineral waters, and is incorporated into routine medical care in Europe and Asia. It is not practiced in the United States where preventive health has been pushed aside in favor of morbidity treatment. Given the number of mineral hot springs in the US, this is unfortunate. Two-time Nobel Laureat (for chemistry and peace), Dr. Linus Pauling noted, “Every sickness, every disease, every ailment can be traced to a mineral deficiency.” Being in charge of our own health destinies, however, we may avail ourselves to the many therapies of mineral springs.

In the late 1880’s, Doc Holliday, gunslinger of OK Corral legend, ended up living in Glenwood Springs, CO where he used the hot springs to treat his tuberculosis. In the early 1900’s, Teddy Roosevelt occasionally hunted in Colorado, and found the hot springs and vapor caves there beneficial for his health conditions.

Carson Hot Springs in Nevada, was enjoyed by settlers on their way to the Gold Rush, and a resort there even began bottling a healing “new Mineral Water” as early as 1895.

Three thousand years ago, American Natives occupied what is now known as Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas. The Quapaw and Caddo tribes there still consider the hot baths a sacred and integral part of their culture.

Check for mineral hot springs in your area or when traveling. Many websites offer mineral content of their springs, and you will be surprised at how many more elements are common than the few listed above. Also be aware of rules and regulations–some spa settings will be pricey, and more natural settings are likely to attract nudists. But there are so many mineral hot springs, you can be sure to locate the perfect one. A handful of US hot springs:

Glenwood Hot Springs, CO.

Faywood Hot Springs, NM.

Crystal Hot Springs, UT.

Virginia Hot Springs, Allegheny Mountains, VA.

Goldmeyer Hot Springs, WA.

Sol Duc Hot Springs, Olympic National Park, WA.

*Caution*

Some springs are extremely hot and can be fatal. Check with your doctor to know your body’s tolerance with your health conditions. Surrounding ground is also hot and has often melted soles off of shoes.  

The Healing Waters: Hammam January 17, 2012

Posted by acroanmph in Public Health.
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5 comments
Hammam, healing waters, communal bathhouse, medicinal spa

Traditional hammam, Morocco

Snowed in and shivering this week, my mind wanders to other forms of medicinal healing waters, specifically those of the traditional hammam, “spreader of warmth,” also known as “the silent doctor.” Originating from Roman thermal baths, hammams were, and in many places still are, communal bath houses common in Turkey, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia, and a variation in Japan. In eastern cultures, hammam visits may be the only time women leave the house, so it is also a place for socializing. It’s possible to find old hammams still frequented by weekly bathers, or updated experiences in sterile spa settings. But the wash routine remains and you will leave the hammam refreshed and cleaner than perhaps ever before.

The hammam is reserved for women to use during the day and men at night, or on separate days of the week. It is customary to bring your own toiletries, undergarments, towel, kiis (exfoliating mitt), two buckets, optional small bowls for rinsing, optional floor mat, and something to wrap around your wet head upon your departure. Spa hammams, of course, use their own skin care products and allow men and women use of separate areas of the spa.

Hammam rooms are centered around a gushing flow of thermal water. The first room you will enter is the preparatory warm room. You will wear dark underwear but no bra. Fill your buckets with warm and cool water. Use the cool water bucket to rinse off the marble or stone floor space where you will sit, and to rinse your body. Spend time here to relax, allow your pores to open and your cares to flee.

Move to the hot room where you will spend ample time sweating to detoxify and cleanse your skin.When you reach your tolerance for heat it’s time to move on.

Enter a second warm room where you will wash. As a courtesy, someone may offer to wash your back. Do not interpret this as anything else. Or, an attendant may assist you if you have previously asked and paid for that service. After your skin is washed with the kiis, and also your hair, use the warm water bucket to rinse.

From here, you enter the cold room to begin to adjust to outside temperatures. Often there are benches and showers to use for a final rinse before a deep-pressured, abrasive massage on the stone floor. Remaining dirt and several layers of skin are removed, joints are cracked. Your skin is olive-oiled and then covered with a special lotion and you’re ready to be on your way. Remember to cover your wet head, as is custom, or someone is likely to do it for you.

Arabs tailored bath houses from early Greek and Roman ones, became an important hygienic aspect of religion and were often connected to Islamic mosques. Residents of and travelers to Cairo 500 years ago supported over 300 bath houses. You will even find some there today dating back to 1300. It’ll cost you between 2 and 3 of today’s dollars in a traditional hammam, or upward of 200 at a spa.

Heat, steam and massage have been enjoyed and used medicinally from ancient tundra dwellers to Jordan. “The silent doctor” still has us yearning for renewal from this ancient water therapy.

HAMMAM Spa, Toronto.

Riad Kniza, Marrakech.

Amanjena, Morocco.

Miraj Hamman Spa, Vancouver.

The Healing Waters: Thalassotherapy January 10, 2012

Posted by acroanmph in Public Health.
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6 comments
El Arco, Cabo San Lucas, spa, thalassotherapy

Sea water therapy for body, mind and soul

Although thalassotherapy is one of the ancient health regimens of Greece and Egypt and even Hippocrates, it remains one of the best-kept secrets.

Through the last half of the 18th century and the 19th century, Dr. Richard Russell’s hype of thalassotherapy benefits spurned a multitude of seaside resorts in England, and Duchess Berry’s in France. Today its greatest popularity is near the Dead Sea, and yet, it is a relatively obscure therapy.

Now almost entirely a spa experience, thalassotherapy is based in coastal cultures. It was believed since ancient times that the sea fog and the sea itself contain restorative trace elements of magnesium, calcium, potassium, sodium and iodine and are absorbed through the skin. Hippocrates observed that fishermen whose hands were often cut would never develop infections. In 1904, French biologist Rene Quinton proved that sea water contained the same elements as blood plasma and were curative.

Methods of Therapy

Thalassotherapy pools contain seawater pumped from far offshore, used within 48 hours at 98 degrees to maintain the vital microbes, minerals and plant life essential for healing. Immersion into this warm bath often with pressurized air jets, promotes the creation of healthy cells while the mind moves into harmony with the body’s nervous, respiratory and cardiovascular systems. Daily therapy over six days has a lasting effect for six to eight months as evidenced in people with diabetes, asthma, arthritis, heart ailments, hypertension, cellulite, stress and skin problems.

Massage increases circulation and respiration, heals sore muscles and eliminates toxins. Seaweed dilates blood vessels, allowing for more immediate entry into the bloodstream, and opened pores allow the skin to be more receptive to the natural ingredients. Marine mud, algae paste, seaweed wraps and salt scrubs are optional components.

Thalassotherapy Spas

Should you find yourself along the sea, inquire about thalasso spas. Treatments can be costly, but not prohibitive. The results you see and feel will override any reservations you have for future therapies. Here are just a few:

Biarritz Thalasso Resort – three locations in coastal France.

The Royal Myconian Hotel and Thalasso Center – Mykonos Island, Greece.

Playa Grande Resort & Spa – Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita – Rivera Maya, Mexico.

Kempinski Hotel/The Dome – Turkish Riviera.

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