High Blood Pressure In Black People – by Dr Tony Vendryes

HYPERTENSION HAS been called the ‘silent killer’ and severely affects overall health. It is the most common cardiovascular condition in the world with a lifetime risk of almost 50 per cent in many populations. As early as the 1930s, people of African descent in the United States (US) were recognised to have a higher incidence of hypertension than did white folk although this condition was not common in their homeland Africa.

Large-scale surveys have now demonstrated a low prevalence of hypertension in rural Africa, with an increasing gradient towards the urban areas, the Caribbean, and the United States.

Here are some startling facts: Blacks develop high blood pressure earlier in life and have higher blood pressure levels than whites. More than 42 per cent of black men and women over age 20 in the US have high blood pressure. African Americans have nearly twice the stroke risk of whites and four times more middle-aged blacks than whites die from a stroke.

In the UK, men from the Caribbean have a 50 per cent higher risk of dying from blood pressure-related strokes than the general population. People of colour are at higher risk of being vitamin D deficient. 

Vitamin D And High Blood Pressure 

Medical research has shown a link between vitamin D and hypertension. People who have higher vitamin D intake tend to have lower blood pressure. Muscle cells are present in the walls of your blood vessels and a build-up of these cells can stiffen the blood vessels, making it harder for blood to flow and blood pressure to rise. Receptors for vitamin D are in these blood vessel cells. Thus, vitamin D may help to prevent excess muscle cells building up in your blood vessel walls.

Also, vitamin D helps to balance the activity of the hormonal system (the renin-angiotensin system) that controls your blood pressure. When this system is overactive, the body can retain salt and water and blood pressure can rise. According to a study in the medical journal Hypertension, taking vitamin D helps lower blood pressure in African Americans. Research participants received daily vitamin D or no vitamin D.

Participants who took no vitamin D had their blood pressure increase, while all those taking vitamin D saw a decrease in blood pressure. Positive results in lowering blood pressure was seen from 3,000 IU/day or more of vitamin D daily. Another study showed that taking 50,000 IU of vitamin D weekly helped improve high blood pressure control. Experts conclude that people with hypertension should consider using vitamin D supplements and sunbathing to help in the control of high blood pressure and maintaining better vitamin D blood levels. 

Blood Pressure Control Plan 

Although mainstream medicine has tended to focus its efforts mainly on managing high blood pressure with medication, compelling evidence indicates that the condition is often treatable with relatively simple lifestyle modification. 


What you eat influences your blood pressure. I recommend a reduced consumption of the simple carbohydrates, the starches and sugars. You should eat generous quantities of healthy proteins (plant protein, fish, organic poultry and eggs) combined with lots and lots of vegetables and non-sweet fruit. Be careful to avoid unhealthy animal fats and the hydrogenated vegetable oils commonly used to fry foods.
Correct Obesity 

To manage blood pressure, it is essential to correct obesity. The Cellular Nutrition Program is an excellent way to manage your nutrition while correcting obesity. With this approach, you simply replace two meals each day with nutritionally balanced protein shakes and follow the above guidelines for your other main meal. Frequently, you will begin to need less blood-pressure medication, so it is important to have you health-care provider monitor your progress and adjust your drug therapy. 

Exercise Regularly 

Exercise powerfully enhances blood-pressure control. Start with 20 or 30 minutes of brisk walking five or more days per week. In addition, deliberately increase your general level of daily physical activity. 

Optimise Your
Vitamin D Level

Get your vitamin D status checked with a simple blood test. Supplement with vitamin D and have regular sun exposure to elevate the levels of vitamin D in your blood to the upper limits of normal.

Take Other Supplements

Specific supplements powerfully enhance blood-pressure control. Optimal levels of the mineral magnesium is critically important for stabilising blood pressure and most blood pressure sufferers are magnesium deficient. Up to 1000mg of a chelated magnesium supplement daily is ideal. Additional supplements include multivitamins, the omega-3 fatty acids, the B vitamins, and the anti-oxidants vitamins, especially C and E

Manage Stress

Chronic stress promotes and worsens high blood pressure because the stress hormone cortisol makes the body retain salt and water. Learn healthy stress management strategies.

Just remember, 90 per cent of the cases of high blood pressure are related to lifestyle.

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Is Bread Bad? by Dr Tony Vendryes

(Jamaica Gleaner) Wednesday | June 17, 2015

THE BIBLICAL instruction – ‘Man shall not live by bread alone’ may actually contain sound nutritional advice, especially with today’s bread.

Not all breads are created equal and some are considerably less healthy than others. Modern technology has transformed bread, once considered the staff of life, into a weak unhealthy crutch.

Originally, bread was made from wheat ground between large stones to make a flour that contained everything in the original grain, including the germ, the fibre, the starch, and a wide array of vitamins and minerals. The final whole wheat product was a blend of all the naturally occurring nutrients.

Modern Bread

Without refrigeration, stone-ground flour spoils quickly so modern food manufacturers remove the outer coat of the grain to increase the shelf life of flour-based foods. The outer coat contains healthy wheatgerm oil that rapidly becomes rancid when exposed to heat and light, so by removing it, a longerlasting flour is created. This produces financial profits for the food industry, but nutritional disaster for the consumer.

White bread is made from white flour which was once wholewheat flour stripped of most of its nutrients. This happens when the bran and the germ of the grain is removed.

And then to make bread an even brighter white, with scant regard to consumer health, flour is treated with a chemical bleach similar to Clorox. The bleaching process leaves residues of several toxic chemicals in the bread. This mass-produced bread is lily white, soft, spongy, devitalised, laced with added chemicals and nutritionally deficient.

The mighty Food and Drug Administration has actually approved more than 30 different chemicals for addition to bread.

Do not be misled, if the product claims to be enriched. Up to 30 nutrients, including fibre have been removed from the flour, while only a few (iron and some B vitamins) are replaced.

Research reported in the British Medical Journal, The Lancet, revealed that dogs fed only white bread died of malnutrition within two months. However, dogs fed a diet of only bread made with stone-ground, whole-wheat flour lived in good health for an extended lifespan.

Choosing Your Bread

Unfortunately, slick advertising and fancy claims make it difficult to distinguish a real healthy bread from the ‘not so healthy’ variety. To determine which bread is best, read the label carefully.

Regardless of the name of the bread, the first ingredient listed on the label should be ‘wholewheat’ flour or ‘wholegrain’ flour. Not ‘wheat’ flour, ‘bleached’ or ‘unbleached wheat’ flour or ‘enriched wheat’ flour. The terms ‘stone-ground’ and ‘wholegrain’ flour indicate a healthier bread.

Choose a product that is brown in colour from natural flour without any colouring agents added. Look for a bread with a minimum of chemicals listed on the label. Wholegrain bread does not rise as much and thus contains more wheat and less air. It will be heavier to lift and firmer to squeeze. If you squeeze it and your fingers sink in easily and the bread springs back, that’s not a very nutritious loaf. When eaten, the chewier the bread, the better.

Limit Your Bread

According to research from Tufts University in Boston, and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who eat too much white bread have larger waistlines than those who eat whole grains. The investigators found that calories from white flour settle at the waistline and result in a half-inch increase per year for people who regularly eat white bread. By the end of the study, those who ate white bread gained three times more belly fat than those who ate whole grains.

In fact, white bread, or bread of any colour if it is made with finely processed wheat flour, raised one’s blood sugar about the same as an equal number of calories of ordinary sugar. That applies even to wholewheat bread, if made with finely milled flour.

Thus for the many individuals with blood sugar imbalance or frank diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol or triglyceride disorders, obesity, cancers or inflammatory disorders, eliminate or reduce to a minimum your consumption of foods made from flour, especially white flour. To make matters worse, most baked flour products have added sugar and unhealthy fats. That includes not just bread, but the vast array of biscuits, crackers, rolls, cakes, puddings, dumplings, buns, pastries, pastas and pizzas that are an ever-present part of our modern diet. And by the way, don’t be misled into thinking that toasting bread makes it any more nutritious. It doesn’t.

Bread Addiction

Are you addicted to bread? Some experts have identified some specific chemical substances in wheat that creates pleasurable feelings in much the same way that the drug morphine does. That may explain why some people seem addicted to bread.

And then there is the question of gluten, another protein found in wheat. But that’s the subject for another article.

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Dr Tony Vendryes: Laughter is a great medicine


(Jamaica Gleaner, Tuesday 2 June 2015)

IF YOU found a medicine that was free, and powerful, that cured many ills, and was readily available, would you not use it? Well, laughter may just be that medicine. And it’s infectious, as the sound of a loud laugh can be more contagious than a groan, a cough or a sneeze.

Psychologists say laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. It can quickly bring your mind and body back into balance, lighten your burdens, renew hope, reconnect you to others, and keep you grounded. When shared, it binds people together and increases happiness and intimacy.

Physical Benefits
Laughter promotes physical relaxation. A good, hearty laugh releases physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.

Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases both the immune cells as well as antibodies that fight infections. This improves your resistance to illness and infections.

Laughter releases endorphins, the body’s natural morphine like chemicals. Endorphins, produced by the brain promote an overall sense of well-being and the relief of pain. Professor Norman Cousin’s in his book, Anatomy of an Illness, described how he used laughter to treat a severe painful immune system disease that he suffered from.

He found that watching comedies helped him feel better and that 10 minutes of laughter gave him two hours of pain-free sleep.

Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of the circulation and increases blood flow, which can help protect against heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular problems.

Researchers at the University of Maryland studied the effects on the blood vessels of people watching either comedies or drama movies. They found that blood vessels of the group, which watched a comedy film,behaved, normally – expanding and contracting naturally. But, in the people who watched the drama, their blood vessels tended to constrict and restrict blood flow.

Blood-sugar control: One study of diabetics looked at the effects of laughter on their blood-sugar levels. After eating, the diabetics attended a dull lecture. The following day, they ate identical meals and watched a comedy. Researchers found that the group had lower blood-sugar levels after the funny movie than after the serious lecture.

Mental Benefits
Laughter dissolves distressing emotions and shifts perspectives. Laughter makes you feel good. The good feeling can linger with you even after the laughter subsides. It is very difficult to feel anxious, angry, or sad when you’re really laughing. Humour helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult times, disappointments and loss.

More than just a respite from sadness and pain, laughter can give you the courage and strength to find new meaning and hope. Even when distressed, a laugh, or even a smile, can go a long way toward making you feel better.

It can help you to see situations in a less-threatening light. A humorous perspective creates psychological distance, which can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed

Social Benefits
Humour and playful interactions strengthen our relationships. They trigger positive feelings and foster emotional connection. When we laugh, a positive bond is created. This bond acts as a strong buffer against disagreements, tension and disappointment.

Laughing with others is even more powerful than laughing alone.

The Health Benefits Of Laughter
Physical Benefits:

– Boosts immunity.

– Lowers stress hormones.

– Decreases pain.

– Relaxes your muscles.

– Prevents heart disease

Mental Benefits:

– Adds joy and zest to life.

– Eases anxiety and fear.

– Relieves stress.

– Improves mood.

Enhances resilience, social benefits.

– Strengthens relationships.

– Attracts others to us.

– Enhances teamwork.

– Helps defuse conflict.

– Promotes group bonding.

Some scientists have pointed out that there is not enough good research on humour and health to draw strong conclusions. But we all know that laughing and being happy can make us feel better and give a boost even though science may not be able to tell why.

So, regardless of whether laughter actually improves your health or boosts energy, it undeniably improves your quality of life.

As one researcher pointed out, “if we enjoy laughing, isn’t that reason enough to laugh? Do we really need a prescription?”

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Great Herbs From China by Dr Tony Vendryes

TODAY ‘MADE in China’ is the common label that appears on a vast array of consumer products. But it would be short-sighted to think that this is just a recent phenomenon. Chinese goods and products have been in our lives for centuries. This is particularly true in the area of holistic health care.

Traditional Chinese medicine is a fantastic health system that integrates the use of many modalities like acupuncture and includes the widespread use of Chinese herbs. Today, I would like to highlight some of the Chinese herbs I myself have used and recommended for more than two decades.

Green Tea
This is the most widely consumed herbal beverage worldwide and has been used by the Chinese for more than 5,000 years. Green tea is made from the leaves of the plant camellia sinensis that are specially treated by a steaming process. That makes it distinct from black tea, created by sun-drying the leaves.

Modern medical research has clearly demonstrated the many health benefits of green tea. Potent antioxidants found in the tea leaves called polyphenols have been found to benefit many conditions ranging from cancer, diabetes and hypertension to circulatory problems and high cholesterol. For example, Japanese research suggests that regular green tea consumption reduces the risk of breast and prostate cancer.

More recently, however, scientists have focused on another substance found only in tea leaves, a unique, amino acid called theanine. Theanine is the predominant amino acid in green tea and gives tea its characteristic taste.

Research shows that theanine creates a sense of relaxation in approximately 30-40 minutes after ingestion by two actions. First, it stimulates the brain to produce alpha brainwaves. This creates a state of relaxation and mental alertness similar to that achieved through meditation.

Second, theanine increases the levels of the brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin to produce feelings of well-being and relaxation. People may thus use green tea to alleviate the negative effects of stress without becoming sedated, as theanine does not cause drowsiness. In fact, theanine seems to balance the stimulation of the low levels of natural caffeine in green tea.

The name ginseng includes several species of plants that have fleshy roots. The English word ginseng derives from a Chinese term that refers to the forked shape of the roots, which resembles the legs of a man.

For more than 5,000 years, the Chinese used ginseng for its rejuvenating powers as a highly prized and expensive herb. It was only in the 18th century that American ginseng was discovered and became widely cultivated and exported.

Herbalists consider ginseng to be an adaptogen. It helps the individual regain balance and provides energy and prevents fatigue. Ginseng stimulates physical and mental activity, especially in people who are weak and tired.

In addition to providing an energy boost, both Asian and American ginseng lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, reduce stress, promote relaxation, and enhance sexual function in men and menopausal women. Korean research in 2002 revealed that 60 per cent of men who took ginseng noticed an improvement in their erectile dysfunction. One study from the Mayo Clinic revealed that ginseng specifically reduced fatigue in cancer patients.

Tang Kuei/Dong Quai
If ginseng is the premier male Chinese herb, then tang kuei is its high ranked female counterpart. This powerful root is famous in China for its amazing health benefits for all, but especially women. Tang kuei regulates the female menstrual cycle, works wonders for menopausal symptoms, helps to tone the female reproductive organs, and builds the blood in women who tend to be anaemic.

As it is also a good pain reliever, muscle relaxant and sedative, men also benefit from using tang kuei, especially in a tablet called Tang Kuei Plus where it is combined with another relaxing herb, chamomile.
Medicinal Mushrooms
Traditional Chinese medicine has used mushrooms for thousands of years, and practitioners in China prescribe more than 200 species of mushrooms. However, three mushrooms – Shiitake, Reishi and Maitake have been most researched.

Shiitake mushrooms: The shiitake mushroom is one of the most popular medicinal mushrooms that Asians use as a stimulant to boost health, prevent strokes, and improve circulation. Shiitake mushrooms contain a substance called beta-glucans that has been shown to reduce the side effects of common anti-cancer treatments. In Japan, beta-glucans has been approved for use in cancer patients having chemotherapy.

Reishi mushrooms: Chinese medicine routinely utilises reishi mushrooms for their antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and immune strengthening abilities. Reishi mushrooms are considered particularly beneficial for heart and prostate health and for fighting cancer. Western medicine is now researching reishi mushrooms to treat hypertension, heart disease, arthritis, muscular dystrophy and prostate cancer. Reishi mushrooms also have a calming effect and promote restful sleep.

Maitake mushrooms: Maitake mushrooms are popularly used in the Orient to strengthen and improve general health and to manage emotional and physical stress. Modern research shows that the maitake mushrooms enhance the immune system, help stop tumour growth, and can make some chemotherapy drugs more effective and reduce dosage.

Additionally, maitake mushrooms may help individuals with high blood pressure, prostate cancer, HIV infections and diarrhoea.

I recommend the regular use of all these amazing health-enhancing herbs from China.

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Overweight in teens boosts middle age bowel cancer risk


    (Jamaica Observer)  

  • Teenagers who are very overweight may run double the risk of developing colorectal cancer when they reach middle age, according to research published Monday.

    Researchers tracked the health of more than 239,000 men who had been conscripted into the Swedish army between the ages of 16 and 20 from 1969 to 1976.

    At the time of conscription, around 12 percent of the men were underweight, more than 80 percent were of normal weight and five percent were moderately overweight.

    Of the remainder, 1.5 percent were very overweight — with a body mass index of between 27 and nearly 30 — and one percent were obese, with a BMI of more than 30.

    The conscripts were regularly checked for colorectal cancer for next 35 years, during which 885 cases — 501 colon cancers and 384 rectal cancers — were detected.

    Those who were very overweight as teenagers were twice as likely to develop bowel cancer in middle age, compared to subjects of normal weight.

    Those who were obese were nearly 2.4 times likelier to be diagnosed with the disease.

    The study, led by Elizabeth Kantor of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts, appears in Gut, a specialist journal published by the BMJ.

    Previous research into obesity and colorectal cancer has looked mainly at adults. This is the first large-scale probe into the impact of overweight in teenagers.

    In adults, bowel inflammation has been suggested as a likely cause of the problem, but it is unclear whether this is the same among teens, said the authors.




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    ‘Lock Jaw’- Are you at risk? by Dr Romayne Edwards


    (Jamaica Observer, Sunday 17 May 2015)

    TETANUS, also known as “lock jaw”, is an infection that is caused by the anaerobic bacteria Clostridium tetani.

    This bacteria exists as spores all over the environment in soil, dust, on farm tools, equipment, or in the stool of animals and humans.

    Whenever the skin is breached (for example: umbilical cord cut at birth in a mother with no or inadequate immunisation, doing body piercings, tattoos, injection of drugs, gunshot wounds, broken bones with exposure to the environment, burns, bites from animals, or ulcers all over the body) the bacteria enters the bloodstream. In some reported cases no wound or condition where the bacteria could enter was identified.

    The Clostridium tetani bacteria produces three types of exotoxin: tetanospasmin, tetanolysin and nonconvulsive toxin.

    Tetanospasmin, a neurotoxin, is largely responsible for the signs and symptoms of tetanus. It binds irreversibly with the nerve endings after entry into the body and spreads to the brain, spinal cord and muscles. It then impairs the nerves that control the muscles of the body by inhibiting the chemicals that stop muscles from contracting by nervous control.


    There are four types of tetanus: Generalised (affecting all of the body); localised (affecting specific areas, usually next to the site of entry of the bacteria); cephalic (affecting the head, face and neck muscles); and neonatal (affecting newborns).

    Approximately three to 21 days (average eight days) after being infected, a progressive illness occurs. Tetanus causes spasm and stiffness of the jaw (trismus, unable to open mouth) and neck muscles, problems swallowing, stiffness in the muscles of the abdomen, and painful body spasms such as the spine (opisthotonos) that occur due to stimuli such as loud noises, light or even touch. The patient may also have abnormal vital signs such as fever, rapid heart rate and elevated blood pressure with sweating.


    * Lack of immunisation or insufficient doses of boosters against tetanus (especially in the elderly)

    * Deep wounds, puncture wounds

    * Dirty wounds (contaminated with faeces, dirt or grass, for eg barn yard wounds

    * Injured tissues and tissues infected with other bacteria

    * Foreign body in wound, for eg nails or splinter


    Complications of this disease results in:

    * Difficulty breathing and then respiratory failure, which can lead to the heart stopping and death from lack of oxygen

    * Broken bones of the spine from the intense spasm of the muscles (opisthotonos), joint dislocations: jaw and shoulder dislocations, broken long bones

    * Mental defects and disability, especially in infants

    * Abnormal heart rhythms and heart disease

    * Lung infections

    * Kidney failure due to excess muscle breakdown and dehydration

    * Clots in the legs and lung

    * Stomach perforation and peptic ulcer


    Once tetanus is suspected, the patient should report to the emergency department.

    A quick assessment is made of the airway, breathing and circulation of the patient and each managed appropriately. If the patient is having difficulty maintaining a secure airway, then endotracheal intubation is necessary (a tube has to be put in the trachea through the mouth or nose for breathing by a ventilator), later a tracheostomy tube (a tube in the trachea through the overlying skin is necessary for prolonged ventilation).

    Blood investigations are taken from the patient, including blood culture and culture of the appropriate wound (while removing dead and devitalised tissues).

    The patient is then given sedatives (morphine), muscle relaxants, drugs to prevent erratic blood pressures, breathing and heart rate, and antibiotics (metronidazole). The mainstay of therapy is tetanus immunoglobulins (ready-made antitoxin, antibodies to bind to the toxins not yet bound) and a dose of the tetanus vaccine to start immunisation, both given at opposite and separate sites.

    The patient will need admission to the intensive care unit.

    The course is often tumultuous for the patient and can result in death. For the spasms to stop new nerve endings usually have to be generated. Recovery usually occurs after four weeks.


    Tetanus prevention occurs by being completely immunised. The tetanus toxoid is given with the pertussis vaccine (DTap) at least four times in children (2, 4, 6, 15-18) months (termed the primary series), and then every five to 10 years booster doses (Td) are given (4-6, 11-12 years) then every 10 years afterwards.

    If a patient’s immunisation status is not up to date for tetanus (vaccine not received in the last 10 years), but the primary series was given in childhood and a wound has occurred then only the tetanus toxoid vaccine is necessary.

    If a wound is received and there is no or inadequate vaccination received, both the tetanus immunoglobulin and the vaccine is needed if it is a tetanus-prone wound. Some types of tetanus-prone wounds are deep, dirty, contaminated wounds with faeces and foreign bodies, puncture wounds and those greater than six hours without care that need surgical intervention.

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    Stress Affects Your Mouth Too by Dr Sharon Robinson

     (Jamaica Observer, Sunday 17 May 2015)
     Stress may make you clench and grind your teeth.
    TOO much stress affects your entire body, including your mouth, teeth and gums.

    The potential impact includes: mouth sores, such as canker sores and cold sores; clenching or grinding your teeth; not taking care of your teeth; maintaining a bad diet; gum (periodontal) disease or worsening of existing periodontal disease; bad habits like chewing your nails, ice, pencils, or other objects; and depression. These oral health problems can be prevented.


    Being under extreme stress may affect your mood and cause you to skip brushing, flossing and rinsing.

    When you’re stressed, you may also develop unhealthy eating habits, such as snacking on large amounts of sugary foods or drinks. This can put you at risk for tooth decay and other dental problems.

    What should you do? Remind yourself of the importance of proper oral hygiene and practising healthy eating habits. A regular exercise routine can relieve stress, boost your energy levels and encourage you to eat healthier.


    Cold sores, also called fever blisters, are caused by the herpes simplex virus and are contagious. Cold sores are fluid-filled blisters that often appear on or around the lips, but can also crop up under the nose or around the chin.

    Emotional upset can trigger an outbreak, so can a fever, sunburn, or skin abrasion.

    Prescriptive antiviral medications may be used to treat mouth sores.

    Canker sores are small spots with a white or greyish base that have red borders. They show up inside your mouth, sometimes in pairs or in greater numbers. Experts are not certain of their cause. However, it could be a problem with your immune system – your body’s defence against germs. Or, they might be due to bacteria or viruses. Stress will likely raise your chances of getting them.

    To ease irritation, don’t eat spicy, hot foods or anything with a high acid content, such as tomatoes or citrus fruits. Most canker sores disappear in a week to 10 days.

    What should you do? Try over-the-counter “numbing” medicine that can be applied directly to the sore. If you get canker sores often, your dentist may prescribe a steroid ointment.


    Stress may make you clench and grind your teeth – during the day or at night, and often subconsciously. Teeth grinding is also known as bruxism.

    If you already clench and grind your teeth, stress could make the habit worsen, leading to problems with your TMJ, which is located in front of your ear where the skull and lower jaw meet.

    What should you do? See your doctor and ask what can be done for the clenching and grinding. Your dentist may recommend a night guard, worn as you sleep, or another instrument to help you stop or minimise the actions.

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    MAGNESIUM – The Multipurpose Mineral by Dr Tony Vendryes

     (Jamaica Gleaner, Tuesday 12 May 2015)                                                                              

    WE ARE often reminded of the importance of many minerals like calcium, potassium, iron, and zinc for good health.

    However, magnesium, another versatile mineral, is often neglected. It is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body and is found mainly in our bones, muscles, and nervous system.

    It features in more than 300 different biochemical reactions in our bodies and is critical to health and wellness.

    Medical research indicates, however, that magnesium deficiency is widespread in both poor and developed countries and may contribute to a long list of common health problems 

    Deficiency Disorders

    The list of magnesium deficiency disorders includes angina, asthma, irregular heart beat, heart attacks, high blood pressure, strokes, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, constipation, depression, digestive disorders like the irritable bowel syndrome, dizziness, high cholesterol, insomnia, irritability, nervousness, seizures, poor concentration, migraines, headaches, muscle cramps, spasms and weakness, kidney stones, premenstrual symptoms, menstrual pain, sugar cravings, and temper tantrums. 


    Magnesium is widely distributed in whole unprocessed foods. Green leafy vegetables, apples, bananas, avocados, legumes, soybeans, tofu, peas, beans, nuts and seeds are rich in magnesium as are some herbs and spices like chamomile, dandelion, garlic, hops, and kelp. Green juices are also a good source. Although the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for magnesium is about 300 to 400mg/day, as much as three times this amount may be needed for optimal health.

    It may be more magnesium rather than calcium that you need for strong bones. Although the RDA for calcium has been doubled and Western women have increased their calcium intake, osteoporosis has increased instead of gone down. Magnesium deficiency alters calcium metabolism, resulting in osteoporosis. Research studies show that calcium plus magnesium and vitamin D supplementation improves bone density and prevents osteoporosis.


    Surveys show that sufficient magnesium intake may reduce the likelihood of stroke and lower the risk of coronary heart diseases. Magnesium deficiency increases the risk of abnormal heartbeat and death after a heart attack. Magnesium supplements are very beneficial to the heart and cardiovascular health. 


    Magnesium plays a key role in naturally regulating blood pressure, and in fact, most people with hypertension are magnesium deficient. Magnesium supplements and a magnesium-rich diet consistently lowers high blood pressure. The expensive hypertension prescription drugs known as ‘calcium channel blockers’ prevent excess calcium from entering the walls of the blood vessels, hardening the arteries and causing high blood pressure. Inexpensive magnesium is nature’s best calcium channel blocker.


    Studies show that individuals with a magnesium deficiency are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and its complications. Magnesium aids in carbohydrate metabolism and influences the activity of insulin and blood sugar control. Research has proven that for every 100mg of increased daily magnesium intake, there was a 15 per cent fall in the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Studies show that diabetics with magnesium deficiency are likely to have severe diabetic eye disease complications.

    Migraines, Mental Health 

    Magnesium benefits also include the treatment of migraines, insomnia, and nervous tension. Magnesium also helps many types of psychiatric problems including panic attacks, stress disorders, anxiety, and agitation. Magnesium supplements considerably reduce the severity of such attacks and also helps in preventing them. Magnesium is often called the anti-stress mineral because it has a calming effect and induces restful sleep. It is very useful for the person with an overactive nervous system or who is hot-tempered or agitated. Magnesium is so important to the nervous system that the brain stores twice as much magnesium as other body tissues.


    Another benefit of magnesium is relief from constipation. If your body lacks calcium and magnesium, you may have inadequate peristalsis, which are those automatic contractions of the colon that happen during a bowel movement. Peristalsis moves the stool through the colon,
    and an imbalance in calcium and magnesium may slow
    or stop this action and cause constipation.


    Magnesium relaxes the airways and acts as a natural bronchodilator for asthma. Magnesium given by intravenous injection works even when powerful drugs fail to stop an asthma attack. However, surveys show that doctors rarely give asthmatic patients magnesium as part of their treatment.

    Kidney Stones

    Research at Harvard University clearly demonstrated that taking magnesium along with vitamin B6 significantly reduces the formation of kidney stones made from calcium.


    In addition to eating magnesium-rich foods, I advise taking magnesium supplements. Use forms of magnesium such as magnesium chloride, citrate, aspartate, or orotate capsules as these formulations are absorbed best. When combining magnesium with calcium, use a ratio of
    two parts calcium to one part magnesium. From 500 to 1,500 mg of magnesium daily in divided dosages is usually adequate.

    Soaking in a bath with magnesium chloride (mag-nesium oil), or magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts), or using it to massage the body is another excellent way to administer magnesium as the mineral is absorbed directly through the skin.

    People with advanced kidney disease should consult their doctor about the use of magnesium supplements.

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    What you need to know about bacterial vaginosis -by NICOLE NATION –

    (Jamaica Observer, Thursday 7 May 2015




    women may not know this, but bacterial vaginosis is the most common cause of abnormal vaginal odour. Dr Tina Hylton-Kong of the Epidemiology Research Training Unit shares with us some important things that you need to know about bacterial vaginosis.

    1. Bacterial vaginosis is a very common cause of abnormal vaginal discharge in Jamaica, especially in women ages 15-44.

    2. Normally in the vagina bacteria is present which can either be ‘good’ or ‘bad’. The ‘good’ bacteria is called lactobacillus and it helps to make the vagina acidic in nature and helps to protect the vagina from the ‘bad’ bacteria. Bacterial vaginosis occurs when the balance between the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ bacteria is upset. And when this occurs there is more ‘bad’ bacteria than there is ‘good’.

    3. Several things can put you at increased risk for having bacterial vaginosis — having multiple sex partners, frequent sexual intercourse, douching even with something as simple as vinegar, sharing sex toys, the frequent wearing of tight clothing, antibiotic use as well as having an intrauterine device for birth control.

    4. It is important to note that you cannot get bacterial vaginosis from toilet seats, bedding or swimming pools.

    5. Interestingly, bacterial vaginosis is not considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD), however, if you do have bacterial vaginosis this does increase your chances of getting a STD or HIV. Bacterial vaginosis can also result in pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which is an infection of the female reproductive organs.

    6. Bacterial vaginosis not only affects women with multiple sex partners, it also affects women who have never had sex.

    7. Most times women will suspect that something is wrong when their vaginal discharge becomes smelly or there is change in its colour. Along with the discharge other symptoms can include lower abdominal pain, itching or burning in the vagina. Some women may experience a strong fish-like odour, which is usually short-lived and occurs right after unprotected vaginal sex. It is important to note that more than a half of females sometimes do not notice any symptoms.

    8. Bacterial vaginosis will sometimes go away without treatment. If your doctor decides to treat you, metronidazole or its derivatives will be prescribed as tablets which would be taken orally twice daily for five to 10 days. It is important for women to complete their course of medication even though their symptoms may have resolved somewhat. The male sex partners of women with Bacterial vaginosis do not need to be treated with medication.

    9. Women who are pregnant and have bacterial vaginosis put their unborn children at increased risk of being premature or underweight. Also having bacterial vaginosis while pregnant can cause your water to break before time.

    10. Your doctor may take a sample of your vaginal discharge to determine if it is indeed bacterial vaginosis.

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    NUTRITION AND EXERCISE by Dr Tony Vendryes

    If exercise is king, then nutrition is the queen, and together they rule the kingdom of wellness. Unfortunately, many people only focus on one and do not have the full benefit that both can bring.

    The belief exercise itself is what makes people healthy is only half true. Exercise simulates the body, but it is the adaptation and recovery after exercise that really benefits health. Your health does not improve during exercise, neither do you burn much fat while you are exercising. Almost all the health benefits of exercise are created during the recovery period after exercise when your body adapts and responds to the stress it has experienced. This recovery time can vary from a day to several weeks, depending on the intensity of your exercise.

     During that time, your body uses nutrients to strengthen and rebuild itself. If you do not give the cells of your body the right nutrients during that recovery period, your recovery will be compromised, and you won’t get the full benefits of all the effort you put into exercise.

    For example, subjecting your bones to the stress of exercise causes your body to build stronger bones. But it takes days or even months to rebuild bones. During this period, your body remodels bone by depositing nutrients, particularly minerals into your skeleton. If you do not have enough nutrients available in your body at the time, then you are not going to build strong bones.

     Supplementation enhances exercise

    When you exercise, your body uses up more nutrients than when you do not exercise. For example, just sweating, increases your loss of minerals like sodium, potassium and magnesium. In addition, exercise increases the body’s needs for antioxidants like vitamin C and E because of the increased production of free radicals caused by exercise. Nutritional supplementation is an extremely important part of any exercise programme, and people who exercise need to supplement more than those who do not exercise. Even if you only exercise a few days per week, you should supplement every day.

    PROTEIN: Protein is very important, as it is the main food group that the body requires to repair, replace and heal itself. Your own protein requirements depends on your lean body mass and the intensity of your exercise programme. In general terms, the more intense your exercise and the more muscles you have, the more protein you need in your diet. On average, women need over 75gm and men more than 100gm of protein daily. Choose health forms of protein from plant sources like soy, nuts, beans, seeds and vegetables along with fish and organic poultry. To speed up your recovery it is important to have some protein within an hour after exercise. A post exercise soy protein shake is a convenient way to accomplish this.

    ENERGY FOODS: Complex carbohydrates, particularly vegetables and fruit, along with healthy fats, should provide for your energy needs. Ideally have a carbohydrate, like a fruit or fruit juice, just before exercise. The more intensely you exercise the more high-energy foods you will need.

    WATER: Water is the commonest component of the human body and accounts for more than two thirds of your body composition. Water is essential for healthy body function, and exercise increases your daily requirement for water. Water should be consumed before, during and after exercise to avoid dehydration. The more you sweat, the warmer the climate, the more water your body needs. Added electrolytes, as found in dilute fruit juices and coconut water, is also beneficial.

    SUPPLEMENTS: It is important to supplement with various vitamins, including all the B vitamins plus vitamins C, E, A, D and K and minerals like magnesium, zinc, potassium and calcium. I recommend that you have a high-quality multivitamin and mineral supplement tablet with each meal, three times daily, to give the recovering cells in your body all they need throughout the day.

    In addition, several phytonutrients, (which are nutrients that comes from plants) will enhance the benefits of exercise. There are thousands of these different substances found in foods and nutritional supplements. These can greatly enhance the benefits of exercise and the best multivitamins have some of these added to them. I also recommend extra antioxidants, the omega-3 fatty acids and energy-enhancing herbs like green tea, ginseng and guarana.

    Through this superior supplementation (called cellular nutrition), your body can adapt optimally to the physical stresses placed upon it through exercise. If you exercise and do not supplement with good nutrition, you are wasting most of your exercise effort and you could multiple your results if you added some good supplementation on top of your physical exercise.

    Remember when you exercise, you place a much higher nutritional demand on your body’s chemistry. With good cellular nutrition you can multiple the results of any exercise programme and experience greater fitness, stronger bones, better cardiovascular health, improved mood and emotional health, prevention of cancer and diabetes, reduction in body fat and many other benefits.


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