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Aphrodisiacs April 15, 2010

Posted by Dr. Jacqueline E. Campbell in Health, Wellness.
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One of my favourite television shows is called Bizarre Foods, aired on the Travel Channel. It is hosted by an adventurous spirit named Andrew Zimmern who travels the world searching for and sampling “ bizarre foods “. In one episode, filmed in Japan he ate a beating frog’s heart, thought by some to “improve potency “. We do not have to go Japan to learn about aphrodisiacs. Every day my E mail inbox is flooded with offerings of “love / sex boosters “ from spammers . So I began to wonder, what does Cupid use? A fork or an arrow?

Aphrodisiacs are substances that evoke or stimulate sexual desire. In order for a substance to be a true aphrodisiac, it has to create desire – not improve performance and ability. So for the record neither Viagra nor Cialis are aphrodisiacs. Research has found that some foods, herbs and supplements do stimulate the production of hormones or other chemicals that affect libido however scientists are unsure whether those chemicals are produced in a high enough quantity for us to really notice the difference.

Aphrodisiacs derive their name from the Greek goddess of sexual rapture, Aphrodite. Philosopher and physician Pliny the Elder believed that the blood of a bat, collected on wool and placed under the head of a woman, would make her lusty. It is interesting to note that some of the classic aphrodisiacs actually contain nutrients critical to sexual function.

Male and female sex drives are controlled by hormone levels, the major player being testosterone. If we do not have enough testosterone, then sexual interest (also known as libido) can decrease . Stress, fatigue and depression can negatively affect libido. When we encounter something sexually stimulating , a chain reaction begins. First, signals are sent from the limbic lobe of the brain via the nervous system to the pelvic region. These signals instruct blood vessels to open. In turn this opening of blood vessels (also called dilation) creates an erection – in both men and women ( female erectile tissues are found in the clitoris and surrounding the vaginal entrance ). At the same time, our brains begin to release norepinephrine and dopamine, neurotransmitters that tell our bodies that what we are feeling is good and pleasurable.

People throughout history have made aphrodisiac associations with animals that are known to be virile and prolific reproducers. Rabbits, tigers, goats and bulls have reputations for prolific reproduction, strength and/or virility. Throughout history people have ingested the sex organs of these animals to enhance sexual performance.

In days of old, when people developed their love potion theories, they relied heavily on “food porn” and so whatever resembled genitalia was used to obtain desire .There are some symbolically phallic foods- asparagus, carrots, bananas ( both fruit and flower have a phallic shape ; the fruit is rich in potassium and B vitamins both essential for sex-hormone production), cucumbers and avocados (called the “testicle tree” by the Aztecs). The vulva – looking oyster ( high in zinc, a mineral necessary for sperm production) is undoubtedly king among edible aphrodisiacs. There are others including figs, peaches, pomegranates and eggs. Many of these foods are full of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that can help keep sex organs and hormones running in peak condition .

Other foods thought to have aphrodisiac properties:

Chocolate contains phenylethylamine, a mood regulator that contributes to chocolate’s amphetamine-like effects and may stimulate production of dopamine . Chocolate also contains arginine, an amino acid the body converts to nitric oxide .Viagra works by increasing nitric oxide levels in the body, thereby opening up blood vessels in the penis.

Garlic increases circulation. There was a time, long ago, when Tibetan monks were not allowed to enter the monastery if they had been eating garlic because of its reputation for stirring up passions.

Honey is rich in B vitamins and boron which helps the body metabolize and use oestrogen. In medieval times, people drank mead, a fermented drink made from honey, to promote sexual desire. In ancient Persia, couples drank mead every day for a month (the “honey month” or “honeymoon”) after they married in order to get in the right frame of mind for a successful marriage.

Aphrodisiac herbs include ginkgo biloba , which opens blood vessels, improving circulation and helping to restore the ability to achieve erection and ginseng which energizes the body, and boosts the production of testosterone in men and women. Black cohosh and dong quai , herbs which help regulate hormones can be beneficial to women. Horny goat weed, yohimbe and muira puama are herbs which may be beneficial to men.

Patients ( 9.5 out of 10 times men !) frequently ask me for recommendations to “ improve mi performance “. My reply is “ stay in good physical condition , adopt a healthy lifestyle , respect your partner and yourself . Do not believe that one herb or concoction to going to bring life to the almost dead ! “. The fact is that good “ penile health “ is associated with good blood flow to the genitalia . Diabetes ,hypertension , high cholesterol levels , peripheral vascular disease ( poor circulation ) , obesity and inactivity can cause erectile dysfunction. The most meaningful sexual relationships begin with respect – for your partner and yourself – and understanding his or her needs.

DR. JACQUELINE E. CAMPBELL B.Sc. (Hons) M.Phil. (Pharmacology) M.B., B.S.

Dr. Jacqueline Elaine Campbell is a family physician whose special interests are Pharmacology, and the use of Alternative/Complementary Medicine in the treatment of diabetes and other diseases that are common in Jamaica.

She is the author of A Patient’s Guide to the Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus.

http://www.6westmedical.com

HEALTHY TRAVEL April 10, 2010

Posted by Dr. Jacqueline E. Campbell in Health, Wellness.
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Well its that time of the year when many persons begin planning to go overseas on vacation. Overseas travel can be an exciting yet potentially hazardous with dry, recycled air on airplanes, jet lag, unfamiliar food and drink and climate changes. Add to that the numerous airport security checks! It is amazing that we still want to travel! However with a little preparation you can stay healthy while traveling.

Plan Ahead

Prevention is a big part of staying well while traveling. As soon as you have picked a destination and planned your itinerary, ensure that your medical insurance is valid in that part of the world. Travel with the contact information for your doctors, a list of the names and dosages of any medications you take and, if necessary your doctor’s summary of your medical history.

Depending on where you are headed and for how long, you may want to consider getting vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides up-to-date immunization recommendations on its web site (www.cdc.gov). Of course the decision to get vaccinated should be based on personal risk, not just on destination.

The Journey

Travel can be stressful . Meditation and deep breathing are excellent stress-busters. Focusing on breathing will not only slow your heart rate and bring oxygen to the brain and body, but it can lower blood pressure, ease anxiety and calm nerves. Flower essences, kava, passionflower and lavender oil are also useful in helping to alleviate anxiety

Jet Lag

OK , so you have made it ; but for those who have crossed a few time zones your 24 hour internal clock is likely off, resulting in “jet lag”- fatigue, irritability and insomnia. This occurs when your internal clock doesn’t match your current time zone, leading to a “mix up of your days and nights.” In general, the more time zones crossed, the worse the jet lag.

However, there are a number of ways to reduce or prevent jet jag . You can gradually adjust your sleep schedule in the days prior to travel to more closely match the time zone of your destination. In addition while traveling drink lots of water, set your watch to the time of your destination as soon as you depart, take power naps, and try to get accustomed to your new schedule as soon as you land.

To adapt to your new location , first take a walk or go outside for 20 to 30 minutes during the brightest part of the day . Then, as bedtime approaches, turn the lights off and relax. For those who like to watch TV before going to bed – be careful as the light from the television can suppress your natural melatonin secretion and make it harder to fall asleep. Melatonin is a natural hormone that helps regulate the body’s 24 hour clock. Take melatonin supplements to help prevent or reduce jet lag

Digestion

Bacteria such as E. coli, can often lead to traveler’s diarrhea. A few precautionary measures can prevent this.

• Take ( beneficial intestinal bacteria) before and during your trip to boost the health of your digestive tract.

• Drink only bottled or boiled water. Depending on the location it may be necessary to use this water to brush your teeth.

• Wash your hands frequently.

• Clean and peel all fruits and vegetables.

• Eat freshly cooked dishes that are well done and steaming hot.

• Do not drink unpasteurized dairy products, raw fish and meat.

Remember the traveler’s motto: “Boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it.”

If you do get diarrhoea , rest and drink lots of fluids. On the other hand many people become constipated the minute they leave the comfort of their homes. Exercise, increasing fluid and fibre intake , probiotic supplementation and aloe vera drinks will help to “ loosen the pipes “.

Tips for a comfortable flight

Unless you are in first class, flying is generally not one of the more enjoyable parts of any trip. The following rules will help you to stay healthy before and after your flight.

1.     Avoid alcohol and caffeine directly before and during your flight. Drink purified water, ideally 8 ounces for every hour you are in the air.

2.     Carry along nutritious snacks such as dried fruit and nuts rather than junk food

3.     Immune system support is vital during travel. The day before flying I increase my daily intake of Vitamin C to 6000 mg and increase my intake of antioxidants Schizandra Plus ®and Rose Ox ®. I also take these supplements during the flight.

4.    Wear several layers of comfortable clothes. This will help you to adjust for temperature fluctuations.

5.    While on the plane get as much exercise as you can- walking up and down the aisle, doing stretching exercises in your seat all help to reduce discomfort, especially swelling of legs and feet. These exercises will increase circulation and prevent the development of blood clots in the legs – deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

DR. JACQUELINE E. CAMPBELL B.Sc. (Hons) M.Phil. (Pharmacology) M.B., B.S.

Dr. Jacqueline Elaine Campbell is a family physician whose special interests are Pharmacology, and the use of Alternative/Complementary Medicine in the treatment of diabetes and other diseases that are common in Jamaica.

She is the author of A Patient’s Guide to the Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus.

http://www.6westmedical.com

LIFE LESSONS February 22, 2010

Posted by Dr. Jacqueline E. Campbell in Health, Wellness.
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As a holistic physician, I frequently have long talks with my patients , trying to know the whole person . It is crucial that I listen to these persons, so that there can be good therapeutic alliance . This is essential for effective healing . One of the roles of a physician is that of teacher – this is a role that I relish . In fact in another life I would want to be a kindergarten teacher. When the doctor becomes the teacher, medicine the science is transformed into medicine , the art .

We are now at the beginning of a new year , a new decade – a perfect time for reflection. As I reflect on my life I remember the lessons I have learnt. There have been many. Some have been learnt from my dear family and friends, who have cushioned me. At times I have been taught by my patients .

PATIENCE

Some patients can ramble – to get from point A to point B, they have to go first to points S , then M before arriving at B . This can be understandably frustrating as work needs to be done. I have learnt to be patient because we all have a story to tell. We all want someone to listen to us. Sometimes this is all the medicine a sick person needs.

FAITH

One day, Miss G. came for a routine “check up“. Out of no where she exclaimed “God answers prayers in three ways – yes , no , wait“ . Whoa ! I thought, this lady can read my mind, how did she know that I had been asking God why He was not answering my prayers? Since then whenever I pray, I remember what Miss G said.

ENDURANCE

This means to hold up under pain, fatigue. I frequently see many examples of endurance . Mrs. R, is a young woman with breast cancer who has undergone surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, only to have her cancer spread to her bones. She is in pain, but does not show it. Her energies are vibrant. She always greets me with a smile and asks “How are you doing today ? “

PERSEVERANCE

That lesson was learnt from Mr. W. He had a stroke . Overnight he became a cripple. He was confined to a wheelchair , but decided that he was not staying in that chair . After many months of painful physical rehabilitation , he is now able to walk with the aid of a walker . He is convinced that within the next three months he will be walking unaided.

HAPPINESS

Nothing puts a smile on my face like a little child bursting into my office , unannounced just to smile and greet me . I know the greeting is for me as I do not give children sweets ! . I have learnt that happiness is not directly correlated with material possessions or physical appearances. It is a state of mind.

FORGIVENESS

So many times I have heard of patients been physically and emotionally abused by a family member . I remember asking a lady in her seventies why she continued to live with her husband of 50 years who had disrespected her . Her reply was simple – “I have forgiven him . Although I no longer love him, he is the father of my children, my gifts from God. You see I accept him for the blessings that he has brought me. God is going to turn him around.”

EMBRACING MY “ HUMAN-NESS”

I have learnt that it is OK to give an encouraging smile , to call a patient to enquire about his/ her health , to hug a patient – although there was this one time when an 80 year old gentleman thought that the encouraging pat on his back, gave him permission to proposition me . I have learnt that it is OK to even shed a tear.

LOVE

This is demonstrated on a daily basis when we see patients been accompanied to the office by loved ones . These loved ones just want to be present to show their love, support and care.

In caring for my patients and empowering them to take charge of their health, I have learnt many lessons. I have learnt to embrace truth, honesty, kindness, faith, hope , love and mercy. I have learnt to have peace of mind, strength and joy of spirit. I continue to learn. I give thanks for my patients.

DR. JACQUELINE E. CAMPBELL B.Sc. (Hons) M.Phil. (Pharmacology) M.B., B.S.

Dr. Jacqueline Elaine Campbell is a family physician whose special interests are Pharmacology, and the use of Alternative/Complementary Medicine in the treatment of diabetes and other diseases that are common in Jamaica.

She is the author of A Patient’s Guide to the Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus.

http://www.6westmedical.com

HAPPY January 21, 2010

Posted by Dr. Jacqueline E. Campbell in Health, Wellness.
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I sat on the bathroom floor watching my baby niece Angel as she sat in the bathtub singing “baby happy” and clapping her tiny hands for joy . I could only smile as I wiped away the water Angel had splashed on me . I was enjoying the moment. I too was happy . As I dried her , I remembered a patient I had seen earlier that day. She said to me  “Doc , I have never been happy . I do not know what happiness is “

She was not unusual ,as over the years I have met countless unhappy people . I have never had a patient come to me and say “I am so happy . I am just here for a check up.”

Children always seem to be happy . Photographs of children invariably show them smiling – no matter the circumstances . I have seen some recent photographs of children orphaned by December’s tsunami and they are smiling – genuine smiles too .

Subjective wellbeing is the nickname experts in the field give to happiness .One person’s hell may just be another’s paradise . I have met happy poor people , unhappy poor people , happy rich folks , unhappy rich ones .I have also met happy terminally ill people and unhappy ill people .

So if we begin life as happy children how do we get unhappy ? And what is happiness ?

Richard Davidson , a professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin states that happiness is not just a vague ineffable feeling , it is a physical state of the brain . This state can be induced deliberately . Researchers have concluded that happiness has a powerful effect on the rest of the body . When psychological tests were conducted , persons who rate in the upper happiness scores develop 50% more antibodies than average in response to flu vaccines . Some studies have discovered that happiness or related mental states like contentment , optimism and hopefulness appear to reduce the risk or limit the severity of hypertension ,heart disease , diabetes , lung disease and colds . Findings of a Dutch study published in November 2004 stated that happiness or related mental states reduced an individual’s risk of death 50% over the study’s nine year duration . That makes sense because health care professionals have known for years that depression can actually worsen hypertension , diabetes and heart disease.

If happiness is a physical state of the brain ,where is it located ? Two brain imaging technologies – functional magnetic resonance imaging ( MRI ) , which is able to map the flow of blood to active parts of the brain and electroencephalograms ( EEG ) which detect the electrical activity of the brain – consistently point to the left prefrontal cortex as a prime locus of happiness. Professor Davidson found in his research that high levels of activity in the left prefrontal area coincided with feelings of enthusiasm , alertness , joy , high energy and happiness . Activity on the right frontal area corresponds to feelings of anxiety , worry and sadness .

So how can we be more happy ? There are a number of ways but we are better off aiming for happiness moment to moment than trying to become happy through long term planning . Science has demonstrated that human beings are fairly hopeless at predicting what will cause happiness or how long that happiness will last . For example , you can sacrifice and save for a bigger house , in a better neighbourhood , only to find out that you are not welcome in that area or that working so hard to afford a particular lifestyle causes you to be too exhausted to enjoy the new lifestyle . In other words we tend to overestimate how things will affect us and rarely underestimate them .

Here are some suggestions for a happier life based on my personal experience and observations and research findings from University of California psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky.

• Get as much positive emotion as possible.  Savour life’s joys

Fear is the greatest enemy of happiness . In our life there are two basic fears- fear of not having enough and fear of not being enough . How can theses fears be overcome ? By appreciation. Dan Baker coauthor of What happy people know contends that appreciation is fear’s greatest antidote .He states that the brain cannot be in a state of fear and a state of appreciation at the same time . The two states may alternate but cannot coexist . That is because appreciation engages the prefrontal cortex that is dominant over the amygdala ( which is the brain’s rapid response system where fear resides ) . To keep fear in check , I recommend that you count your blessings by keeping a daily or weekly , “gratitude journal “. In this book you write down five things for which you are thankful . These can be as ordinary as “the marigolds are blooming and make my garden so pretty “ or as defining as “I finally realized that my husband loves me “

• Practice acts of kindness . Being kind to others

Whether friends or strangers , triggers a number of positive effects . The act makes you feel generous and improves your sense of connection with others . Think about it – stopping the car to allow a elderly person to cross the road and having that person wave to you and say “Thank you . God bless you “.

• Take care of your body

Eat healthily , exercise , get adequate sleep every day

• Smile ! Laugh!

Do not take life too seriously

• Thank a mentor .

If there is someone who has guided you at one of life’s crossroads ,express your appreciation – if possible in person .

• Learn to forgive

Bad memories cannot be erased , but they can be overcome .

Focusing attention on finding satisfaction in the here and now is more effective than fixating on the past . If someone has hurt or wronged you , let go of the anger and resentment by writing a letter of forgiveness to that person . An inability to forgive is associated with persistent thinking about the situation and / or dwelling on revenge . Forgiving allows you to move on .

• Invest time and energy with family and friends

Income , job title , address and even health appear to have small effects on satisfaction with life . The greatest factor in happiness appears to be strong personal relationships.

• Figure out your strengths and find new ways to use them.

Focusing on strengths and building on successes creates energy which drives real change.

Use your inner strengths in the service of something larger than yourself.

• Develop strategies for coping with hardship and stress

Hard times cannot be avoided. Situations will arise that cause much anxiety and stress . I believe that one of the determinants of the outcome of a stressful event is how the event is viewed . I firmly believe that happiness is a choice . Despite the circumstances we can choose to be happy .

DR. JACQUELINE E. CAMPBELL B.Sc. (Hons) M.Phil. (Pharmacology) M.B., B.S.

Dr. Jacqueline Elaine Campbell is a family physician whose special interests are Pharmacology, and the use of Alternative/Complementary Medicine in the treatment of diabetes and other diseases that are common in Jamaica.

She is the author of A Patient’s Guide to the Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus.

http://www.6westmedical.com

Obesity Epidemic in Children January 17, 2010

Posted by Dr. Jacqueline E. Campbell in Obesity and Children.
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Miss P. recently took her 8 year old son to see me ” Doctor, this child is just getting too fat. All he does is eat junk food and drink soda ”
“So where does he get that sort of food from?” I enquired.

“At home,” she replied.

“So who buys the food?” I asked.

“I do,” replied Miss P. “So doctor what can you going to do about his weight?” This scenario plays out frequently in my office.

I do not have any statistics on our population, but what I have observed in the last 15 years of practice is that the children are getting “bigger.” It is not uncommon to see an 8 year old who weighs 100 pounds or more! Think of this parents, how old were you when you reached 100 pounds? Well I reached that weight when I started University!

We are killing our children

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 17% of American children and teens ages six to 19 are overweight. Statistics from the Ministry of Health indicate that obesity in children has become an increasing problem in Jamaica.

According to the Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey 2006, one out of every four adolescents between the ages of 15 to 19 years is overweight. This finding is also supported by the monthly clinic summary report from hospitals and clinics across the island, which show that 6.7 per cent of children below the age of five, are overweight.

To make matters worse, according to a recent report in the British Medical Journal, children don’t tend to outgrow their “baby” fat. Researchers found that children who were overweight at 11 were just as likely to be overweight at 16.

Along with the rise in childhood obesity, there has been an increase in the incidence and prevalence of medical conditions in children and adolescents that had been rare in the past. Pediatricians and childhood obesity researchers are reporting more frequent cases of obesity-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, asthma and hypertension that once were considered adult conditions.

Being overweight or obese increases the risk of many diseases and health conditions, including the following:

– Hypertension
– Dyslipidemia (for example, high total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides)
– Type 2 diabetes
– Coronary heart disease
– Stroke
– Gallbladder disease
– Osteoarthritis
– Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
– Some cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)

THE PROBLEM

There are many contributing factors. These include too many soft drinks and junk foods available at home and school; less opportunity for active play inside school and at home; and too much TV. Take a look at many of the increasing number of housing schemes being built in Jamaica and you will see mini-mansions built to the outer limits that the land can hold. This in turn provides much room inside for computers and television but no yard space for children to play. More meals are eaten outside the home, there is easy availability of inexpensive fast food with larger portion sizes and aggressive TV advertising of junk foods. This all adds up to overweight children. In the long run it boils down to this fact: Most children are getting fatter because they are moving less and eating more.

THE SOLUTION

The solution for children is the same as for adults – exercise more and eat less. However, this is a tricky group to bring around. Children are coping with all sorts of complicated and confusing messages and issues, and it’s up to parents and caregivers to guide them.

Early parenting decisions set the stage, for better or worse. Breastfeeding reduces the child’s risk for obesity later in life.

Other things to think about:

Do you put water in the bottle or sippy cup instead of juice? How much TV are you going to allow your child to watch? Are you providing enough opportunity for outdoor play?

Be a good role model. Parents who watch more TV have children who watch more TV, and children eat the way their parents eat. If you dine on chicken nuggets and French fries, your child is likely to do the same.

Instead, opt for baked chicken and salad, and whenever possible make it yourself at home.
Always have healthy snacks on hand.

Don’t keep unhealthy foods in the house. If there are no soft drinks, potato chips or white bread available, your child can’t snack on them. (And neither can you!)

Provide whole foods rather than processed foods or beverages. A piece of fruit contains more fiber and nutrients than fruit juice. If your child insists on fruit juice, dilute it by half with water.

Turn off the TV. On average, children watch three to four hours of television daily, and the more TV, the more obesity.

Eat meals as a family. Getting together at the table and sharing the day’s news is not only nurturing, it’s also likely to add fewer calories than mindlessly shoveling in food in front of the TV,

Never use food as a reward or punishment. Don’t offer candy or cookies as bribes for good behavior.

Build more activity into family time. Instead of going out to a movie, go for a walk or go swimming.

Support your child. Overweight kids already feel bad about themselves, so make sure you let your children know you love them unconditionally no matter how much they weigh.

Consult your physician. If your child is overweight, it is especially important to get regular medical care.

He/she needs to be monitored for possible problems such as high blood pressure and/or diabetes. Additionally, your doctor can help you devise a safe exercise program and nutritional plan.

DR. JACQUELINE E. CAMPBELL B.Sc. (Hons) M.Phil. (Pharmacology) M.B., B.S.

Dr. Jacqueline Elaine Campbell is a family physician whose special interests are Pharmacology, and the use of Alternative/Complementary Medicine in the treatment of diabetes and other diseases that are common in Jamaica.

She is the author of A Patient’s Guide to the Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus.

http://www.6westmedical.com