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Black people were not made to eat a heavily acidic diet as their body does not respond well to having excessive acids added to its chemistry. Not adhering to a more alkaline diet is the key to many diseases people suffer from, according to herbalist Dr. Sebi (who was born Alfredo Bowman). He says many illnesses that people suffer from, like cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol can be eliminated if people ate foods that aren't heavily processed, or made in laboratories. He says people should aim to eat foods that are closer to what their ancestors in Africa did long before man knew about science and depended on it to feed them. If they did, he said they could find their health can dramatically improve. The message of a more alkaline-based diet was the message Sebi shared with Bahamians on his recent fourth visit to The Bahamas.
Although his dietary approach is relatively new to The Bahamas, throngs of people are already buying into Sebi's concept of the alkaline diet.
Annemarie Hepburn was introduced to Dr. Sebi's products seven months ago, and reports having seen remarkable results.
"My nephew would always tell me I should stop feeding my 92-year-old mother the natural foods I thought were good for her -- but once I tried the food and products from Dr. Sebi I was impressed. I had a skin problem but since doing a cleanse and using the Sea Moss I not only have clearer skin but also I'm losing weight naturally. My mother is even so impressed that she doesn't even like eating other foods she used to love like crabs and cassava," said Hepburn.
Sebi, 79, a health and food researcher originally from Honduras, has been sharing his knowledge for over 40 years and said he was led by God to do the research on taking care of the body and finding the truth about better nutrition. Despite disbelief of his concepts he is encouraged to spread the word about having more balanced and acid-free diets from his own life experience and seeing results everyday from people living on his prescribed alkaline diet.
"The mistake many people make about their health is that medicine and science are the answer to everything. But if you start from a good foundation in the first place there is no need or room for medicine to have to heal you. In fact most illnesses are caused by inflammation, and inflammation is caused by irritants or things your body does not need and constantly fights against," he said. "And the greatest of these problems is the presence of acids constantly being ingested in our bodies -- be it from fruit, starches, processed foods and preservatives to drinks and other things people eat without thinking about from day-to-day."
Sebi, who established a healing village in LaCieba, Honduras and the Dr. Sebi's Research Institute in Los Angeles, which focuses on gathering natural foods and researching what makes some foods healthier than others and what benefits they have for the body, said the problem all starts with the mucus membranes in the body that protects the body from acids and irritants. He said that due to being bombarded with these things, the mucus begins to grow in excess and there is chronic inflammation. Whether the inflammation becomes a cold or causes a chain reaction that results in other illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure or even cancer is all determined by how the body reacts to trying to regain its proper balance.
"The best way to describe how badly we are hurting ourselves is to look at a car. When you have a car you know already that you are to put gasoline in it or diesel for it to run properly and for as long as it should. The same goes for the body. We are to put in the right kind of fuel so we run well and don't have hiccups or breakdowns along the way," he said.
The herbalist said the natural foods man should eat have long been lost over time, but that there are still many natural foods that are alkaline-based that people can be eating like sea moss, wild rices, agave sugars and fish.
"While this is what many of us should be eating today you have to know what's good for your body. For instance, although most birds fly all of them aren't made to eat the same things," said Sebi. "An eagle knows he must eat meat. He asks no one if it's healthy or if he needs more vegetables and starch. Other birds know they must eat fruit and seeds. They will never eat meat. So the same for humans. We are all wired a certain way to eat certain things so we can benefit the most from the foods we consume rather than be harmed."
According to the herbalist, disease and illness only exist in acidic environments, which is why Sebi encourages people to know how their body functions and to intake more alkaline products.
"This is not just to say to eat more natural foods, but to know where your natural foods are coming from. Many of the acids we are exposed to are from food we assume are harmless like cane sugar and starches. Cane sugar is not good because not only is it processed, but many of the strains of cane used today are made in laboratories and therefore are acidic in nature."
Return to eating natural foods
Sebi believes returning to eating natural foods untouched by science will promote more healthy cell growth, eliminate unhealthy ones and diminish disease and premature cellular deterioration in the body. He and his natural cell food research teams have been able to gather and readily provide the foods he talks about
for health conscious consumers.
Douglas Storr who was already health conscious said he was enticed into giving Sebi's products a try because he's always looking to do even better things for his body.
An avid fan of exercise, Storr would suffer with muscle pains and other aches normally, but he said once he found more natural products through Dr. Sebi's products he was able to fulfill his need to eat more healthily and reduce his aches.
"I was really impressed with the products like sea moss because it has done so much good for me. I had experienced a really bad tumble a few weeks ago and I really couldn't walk on it (foot). It was bruised, it hurt and I knew I had to go to a doctor, but before I did that I tried the sea moss which is supposed to help cell rejuvenation and healing first. I was amazed that as bad as my sprain was I was feeling better within three days," he said. "I never experienced something like that. I also used the sea moss to treat my dandruff and that too went away within a few uses. I really have more energy now than I have had before because of being more careful with my diet I feel."
Dr. Sebi who was born in the Spanish Honduras, never attended school -- not even kindergarten, according to his official biography. Instead, he took cues on being obedient to the procession of life from his grandmother. His early days of play and observation by the river and in the forest, coupled with guidance from his grandmother, afforded Sebi the foundation to be obedient to what he terms is the "truth" in his later life.
He went to the United States as a self-educated man who was diagnosed with asthma, diabetes, impotency and obesity. After unsuccessful treatments with conventional doctors, Sebi was led to an herbalist in Mexico where he found healing success from all of his ailments. He began creating natural vegetation cell food compounds geared for inter-cellular cleansing and the revitalization of all the cells that make up the human body.
Inspired by the personal healing experience and knowledge he gained, he began sharing the compounds with others, which gave birth to the USHA Research Institute and the Usha Healing Village.
Dr. Sebi's products can be found locally at New Life Natural Cell Foods on East Street south.
How many times have you heard someone say their neighbor is trying, or has poisoned their pet? Often, the pertinent clinical signs are unrelated to any toxin, however, many times, toxicosis is the source of clinical signs. Most toxic exposure in animals is accidental. Many pets may ingest plants, pesticides, automotive products and over-the-counter prescription drugs available in or around the home, despite the owner's best efforts to prevent them from doing so.
Today, because of the age of the Internet, there are a lot of truths, half-truths and untruths out there. There are so many rumors, and misinformation, that one must be careful on the Internet. I will try to give good information that has been verified as good about certain poisoning.
Ingestion of grapes and raisins may result in acute renal failure in dogs. Vomiting, lethargy and polydipsia (thirst) may occur five to six hours after ingestion, followed by loss of appetite and diarrhea. The owner should induce vomiting and place the animal on fluids.
Ingestion of sugarless candy or gum containing xylitol is poisonous to dogs. Weakness, ataxia and total collapse may occur 30 to 60 minutes following ingestion. Xylitol promotes insulin release by the pancreas which results in profound hypoglycemia.
Ingestion of chocolate can poison cats and dogs. All chocolates contain caffeine and theobromine which are toxic. This causes restlessness, cardiac arrhythmia, seizures, vomiting and diarrhea.
Onions and garlic can be bad for dogs. Too much onion and garlic in the diet can produce depression, rapid heart and respiratory rates and pale mucus membranes.
Ingestion of poinsettia flowers or leaves can make cats and dogs sick. This plant contains a milky lard sap that contains diterpenoid esters. These are irritants to the gastrointestinal system.
Macadamia nuts produce muscle weakness in dogs. Weakness, depression and vomiting usually occur six hours after ingestion.
Centipedes if eaten by pets can cause harm. All centipedes are venomous and can inflict harm by their stings, or because they have been ingested.
Vitamins A and D have toxic potential for many animals. Excessive amounts of vitamin A promote bone lesions. Excessive amounts of vitamin D will result in hypercalcemia and calcium deposits on soft tissues.
Herbal products can harm cats and dogs. When left open and available, potpourri, garden herbs, cooking powders, perfumes and any various odorants or similar scent products are attractive to cats. They are very irritating to the gastrointestinal tract.
Greenie dental treats are not risk free for cats and dogs. Greenies are hard, green, molded bone-shaped treats that contain wheat gluten and other additives. They are intended to be chewed before ingestion to help prevent oral odors, tartar buildup and gingivitis. Unfortunately, pets occasionally will swallow large pieces of the hand treats rather than chew them, resulting in gastrointestinal upset.
Clorox bleach contains sodium hypochlorite which is corrosive and may cause harm due to eye and skin contact. Too often, Bahamian owners wash their floors or kennels on a daily basis, resulting in a lot of skin lesions as a result of the bleach.
Anything and everything can potentially be toxic for a companion animal because the dose alone makes all the difference.
Daily I receive emails that may have some validity, or may be clearly erroneous, or sometimes are half-truths concerning different toxins. I have to use my knowledge, experience and common sense to provide appropriate, realistic and professional information. Because there is one true toxicology lab available to veterinarians in The Bahamas, many times we are at a disadvantage and hence we do miss some diagnoses.
o Dr. Basil Sands can be contacted at the Central Animal Hospital at 325-1288.
Finding a way to relax and control her weight was what originally led 49-year-old Porcia Fernander to try acupuncture. The first time she tried the treatment over the course of several weeks she lost 10 pounds and knocked a few inches off her waist. That was one of the most energizing periods of her life. She was thankful to the physician that advised her to try the Eastern alternative form of medicine. She had finally found the relief she sought and now has regular acupuncture therapy to cope with her occasional pain and aches related to her job.
"As a bus driver I don't get a lot of time to move around or exercise particularly since I have early mornings and late evenings. I also struggle to eat a proper diet as I don't really have any real breaks when driving a bus particularly since I run my own business, so it is easy to pack on the pounds with continuous poor eating as well as get cramped and achy due to sitting in the same position all day or having bad posture. I really needed to find a way to get my metabolism going and start a health plan that was more natural. So I was glad when I found acupuncture because it truly solves my problem."
Acupuncture therapy, a procedure that in previous years was met with lots of trepidation by Bahamians due to their fear of needles or their general misinformation about the procedure, is taking off in The Bahamas according to Dr. Nisha Armbrister, a licensed acupuncturist and doctor of traditional Chinese medicine at Alternative Care Center located on Dean's Lane. But she said that there are adventurous people or who are educated enough about what actually happens who are willing to try it and who have found that this Eastern alternative form of medicine really helps.
According to the doctor acupuncture is when disposable thread-like needles are inserted into the pressure points of the body (of which there are over 300 points) that are all connected to the nervous system. In stimulating the pressure points by inserting needles, a message is sent to the brain to produce more of certain hormones and natural chemicals. In a way this naturally accelerates metabolic processes in the body and in essence encourages more expedient self-healing from ailments or pains."
The procedure she said has been used for over 4,000 years worldwide, particularly in Africa, Asia and South America compared to modern western medicine which has only been around for 250 years she said. And contrary to belief, Chinese medicine is not just confined to acupuncture but also includes three other modules Chinese medicine practitioners like Armbrister use -- herbal medicine, nutrition and Tui Na or body massage which is used to increase circulation and vital energy (qi).
"A lot of people believe a myth that acupuncture is only for weight loss, but there is so much more to it than that," said the acupuncturist. "Originally acupuncture was intended to relieve pain, but in treating patients for pain by creating balance in the body, the patient's metabolism often increased and as a result weight decreased."
Another myth that Bahamians have she said is that acupuncture hurts. The wellness professional says while it may prick at times, it does not hurt in the same way that a traditional hollow needle used for immunization or taking blood may feel. The needles used are thin, solid and disposable. They are small enough to fit in a skin pore and are usually only inserted a half inch into the skin.
Undergoing acupuncture is a simple process that Dr. Armbrister said does have merit. Despite modern people having a deeper affinity for Western medicine she has found many people who are interested in the Eastern medicine and are willing to try it before trying surgical or synthetic means of pain relief. There are even people who choose acupuncture and other natural means of relief primarily over medications and developing dependencies on synthetic products.
"Unlike Western medicine where you expect immediate relief with the pop of a pill, acupuncture is not like that. If you have an acute pain or disorder you can get a session or two to get you back on track, but with long term illnesses and aches and pains you will need more sessions. After all, the illness didn't develop overnight so how can you expect it to be healed overnight. This is very natural and allows people to use their bodies' own natural healing defenses which is the way to go about things in most cases."
Dr. Michael Ingraham, a general practitioner who operates from the Natural Health Center said acupuncture does have a lot of merit due to modern science finally being able to monitor how it works. He said the medical procedure was first mentioned in the "Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine," an ancient text that is generally used as the foundation of Eastern medicine and that unlike many modern forms of medical treatment, acupuncture is all-natural.
"Acupuncture is a very useful procedure for most people with any kind of pain, chronic illness or bodily imbalance. This procedure is not hype like many people may feel and it's good for more things besides the popularized weight loss theory. I have successfully treated many patients with problems ranging from migraines, sports injuries, sciatica (ruptured disk), lumbago (lower back pain) and even chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension. All of these illnesses may seem to have little in common and you may wonder how something like acupuncture can treat them all, but the truth is acupuncture is a means to stimulate the body to heal itself no matter what the problem is."
The doctor with 32 years of medical experience said that acupuncture in many ways is superior to modern medicine due to it being universally helpful for many illnesses. He said it should also be a preferable treatment method for people hoping to go a more natural route as opposed to using chemicals and surgery to cure or manage an ailment. He said such extremes like medicines should be a last resort as they actually alter the body's chemistry and in some cases end up doing more harm than good. He said using invasive methods like surgery to heal the body of non-critical chronic illnesses should not be done before trying alternative and more gentle means of healing like acupuncture and massage therapies.
Dr. Ingraham said acupuncture heals because it focuses on over 360 important points as well as the 12 essential meridian system or energy channels in the body and stimulates them. The points and channels closely align with other systems in the body like the lymphatic system and circulatory system. Because they even lie near important organs through massaging or treating acupuncture points they in turn assist in the circulation and healing to the area connected to the point.
Despite its usefulness many people may still be turned off by acupuncture due to its use of needles and a universal fear of pain but the physician said the procedure has evolved over time and people can be less fearful.
"When people think of acupuncture they may think of all the needles and pain that is said to be associated with it, but acupuncture, although ancient has become a very modernized thing," said Dr. Ingraham. "The point of acupuncture is to pinpoint areas of the body that are in pain or affected by poor or hyper-energy circulation. And the traditional way of doing it used to be needles but now we have advanced and there are electro-magnetic therapies that can target the same painful areas and give results. Another method is laser treatment which is a form of acupuncture that uses a gentle light to treat that is very effective on young children; so really acupuncture is not what people think about anymore."
Although the physician would recommend this procedure to most patients he warns people to be wary of who they are attended by. He said there are many people who claim to be acupuncturists but who are not certified or properly trained. Before opting to visit an acupuncturist he advises people to do their research on the practitioner and the clinic to ensure they are qualified and certified for the job. He said to also enquire about their proper sanitation of needles if they are used in the procedure. The doctor said while acupuncture can do wonders over time, if it is not done by a qualified practitioner it can do more harm than good.
Recently, while working on a booklet of herbal remedies for publication I received a phone call that, in these difficult times of stealing and criminality, was to me refreshing and commendable. The caller, who later identified himself as an entrepreneur of the Bacardi Road area, inquired whether I had a daughter who owns a BlackBerry cell phone. I asked the caller the reason for his inquiry. He told me that someone had left a BlackBerry phone in his place of business and that he found a number in the phone with the word daddy, so he dialed the number which happened to be mine.
I have a healthy number of daughters so it took me a while to find the one with the number of the phone that was found. I contacted my daughter who, at the time, did not realize that her phone was not in her possession. She contacted the caller and collected her phone.
In these hard and economically tough times, to have someone who finds a cell phone, especially a BlackBerry and take the time to locate the owner, is nothing short of miraculous; and especially in an area in which this phone was lost.
Hubert Sands, operator of Sands Convenience Store off Bacardi Road, is indeed a shining example of what being an honest and responsible citizen is all about. Sands is an ex-policemen, a businessman and a shining example of a Bahamian citizen. There are many more like Hubert Sands out there in John Q. Public - but sad to say, they are in the minority. I join my daughter in extending to Sands her thanks and gratitude for his unselfish and honest deed.
- Errington W. I. Watkins
Saturday 17th July 2010 6:00 PM
New Life Productions presents Dr. Sebi, a world renowned herbalist as he conducts lectures and consultations on his cures for a variety of major diseases and illness, including diabetes, cancer, heart disease, AIDS/HIV, and much more. Cost: $30/advanced; $40/at the door Start Time: July 17th at 6:00pm Where: Loyola Hall For more information, contact 242-394-3040 or 242-535-6473 Email: email@example.com www.Drsebi.com
- Genre : Action, Fantasy
- Rating :
A sorcerer fights for the soul of a young physician who has fallen in love with a woman whose true identity is that of Madame White Snake, a thousand-year-old snake demon....
Just a mention of the word tumor can cause patients to experience a wave of terror, but according to health experts uterine fibroids that are generally non-cancerous tumors and grow in a woman's uterus are much more common that one would imagine.
Fibroids are muscular tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus.
They can grow as a singular tumor or there can be many of them in the uterus, ranging in size from an apple seed to as large as a grapefruit.
Dr. Vanessa Ingraham, a licensed naturopathic physician and certified yoga instructor, said fibroids are very closely tied to an estrogen/testosterone ratio imbalance in women, and in The Bahamas the contributing factors to that imbalance are typically diet, the environment and cosmetic choices.
Ingraham and her husband Dr. Stephen Truszkowski, a trained sports-based chiropractor and contemporary medical acupuncturist, own and manage The Blake Integrative Medical Clinic.
"We know that consuming foods that contain xenoestrogens and phytoestrogens from plants or actual estrogens from either lactating animals or dairy products, or from chicken and animal foods, not only decreases the age of puberty in young girls but they also add to the estrogen burden on women throughout their life," Ingraham said.
"The xenoestrogens, which are all the plastic residues and agricultural chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and all of the things they spray on conventional crops, all of these things act as xenoestrogens.
"That means that even though they are not estrogen hormones they are able to bind to hormone receptors and trick the body into thinking there is estrogen, telling the tissue to separate or telling the tissue to do whatever it's meant to do when estrogen binds it."
When it comes to the women that Ingraham treats for fibroids, the understanding about the condition, its causes and how to limit the potential for recurrence ranges from patient to patient.
As noted by Ingraham, international statistics show that black women are three times more likely to develop uterine fibroids, though the exact cause of this is unclear.
Ingraham said that common skin care products, hairstyles involving glues and perfumes used by Bahamian women are often highly carcinogenic and can cause hormonal imbalances in the body.
"Lotions, make up and lipsticks that contain heavy metals such a lead, all of that," Ingraham said.
"Also the cleaning products, and women traditionally do more cleaning and are exposed to more household chemicals than men.
"All of the bleach, Febreze and scented products have an impact on hormone imbalance."
The four primary types of uterine fibroids include subserosal fibroids, which develop in the outer portion of the uterus and continue to grow outward, and intramural fibroids, the most common, which develop within the uterine wall and expand making the uterus feel larger than normal.
Then there is submucosal fibroids that develop just under the lining of the uterine cavity and can have the most effect on menstrual bleeding. This type of uterine fibroid is also associated with infertility and miscarriage.
Pedunculated fibroids grow on a small stalk that connects to the inner or outer wall of the uterus.
According to the National Uterine Fibroids Foundation, 12 hysterectomies are performed in the United States every 10 minutes, but nine of them probably did not meet the guidelines set out by the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists for hysterectomy.
Even more startling is that between 170,000 to 300,000 of the 600,000 hysterectomies performed annually in the United States are the result of uterine fibroids.
The foundation notes that 60 percent of women who undergo a hysterectomy have their ovaries removed.
Some of Ingraham's patients have had hysterectomies performed, giving them the impression that there they are in the clear, but as pointed out there are many forms of uterine fibroids.
For women with fibroids, The Blake Integrative Medical Clinic focuses on significantly reducing stress, balancing hormones naturally via high-quality supplements.
But before treatment begins Ingraham and her team of consultants conduct an assessment in an attempt to identify the cause of the condition.
Nutritional therapy, diet and supplements can stabilize and lower the levels of estrogen in the body.
As estrogen amounts drop, existing fibroids should subside, reducing in size and even new ones can be prevented from developing.
Diet and supplements can also reduce some of the symptoms of fibroids, Ingraham suggested.
Supplements of both the herbal and non-herbal types are commonly used to shrink fibroids, including good sources of zinc, Vitamin A and Vitamin C.
"These are kind of standardized to know exactly how much of each phytochemical in each formula is used," Ingraham said.
"We use a lot nutritional supplements as well. A lot of the foods we eat are not as nutritious as they used to be because of shipping and containers, and not keeping things fresh and cold enough, or picking them too early.
"Foods do not have the same mineral profiles as foods did 50 or 100 years ago so we use a lot of dietary supplements, vitamins, minerals and amino acids."
There is range of products available, but Ingraham recommends using high-quality supplements after a consultation, and being mindful of vitamins made from coal tar and petrochemicals (source of artificial color that is used in many foods).
Petrochemicals and their byproducts, such as dioxin, are known to cause an array of serious health problems, including cancer.
What to avoid
Avoid pesticides, herbicides and fungicides and wash your food well, particularly fruits.
Bathe the washed food in a produce wash for around 20 minutes before cooking.
Have a good water filter for your source of water.
Use only organic whole foods where possible.
Buy hormone-free meats and dairy products where possible.
Do not microwave food in plastic containers.
Use glass or ceramics whenever possible to store food.
Do not leave plastic containers, especially drinking water, in the sun.
If a plastic water container has heated up significantly, throw it away.
Avoid using a fabric softener as it can put petrochemicals right on your skin.
Use a simple laundry and dish detergent with less chemicals.
Use organic soaps and toothpastes and avoid fluoride.
Avoid creams and cosmetics that have toxic chemicals and estrogenic ingredients such as parabens and stearalkonium chloride. Instead use more natural products. Inexpensive brands usually have more toxic ingredients.
Avoid nail polish and nail polish removers.
Use naturally-based perfumes as perfumes are petrochemically based.
Avoid surfactants found in many condoms and diaphragm gels.
o Recommendations provided by Beyond Vitality: Holistic Health, Nutrition and Fitness.
o For more information on the wide range of services or supplements offered at The Blake Integrative Medical Clinic visit www.purehealthbahamas.com or www.blakeclinic.com.
Nassau, Bahamas - An ethnobotanist, a herbalist and a family counsellor have joined forces
to publish one of the most comprehensive and scientific books ever
on Bahamian bush medicine.
Lead author Dr Jeffrey
McCormack is a former faculty member at Middlebury College, and
the University of Virginia. He trained in natural products chemistry and
physiological plant ecology, and has worked in the fields of
sustainable agriculture, genetic preservation, plant breeding, and
Gone are the days when women were raised to find a husband, and their only pride and joy was in the abundance of children they bore. So-much-so, that it has almost become a rite of passage for young women to find contraception that works for them so they do not fall into a situation where they have too many children too soon, and too little means to provide for them.
According to Dr. Laura Dupuch, obstetrician and gynecologist who practices out of The Ladies' Medical Centre in Sandyport getting on the "contraceptive bandwagon" as soon as possible is essential -- particularly in these modern and materialistic times, people want to be able to control finances and provide for their family adequately. She said the use of contraception not only allows a couple to control the growth of their family, but helps women to exact a greater sense of freedom in their lives. Which she said is important since intercourse is not used solely for reproductive purposes and most women have careers today and do not want to run the risk of getting pregnant in order to enjoy a healthy sex life.
"Contraception can be defined as any method used to prevent pregnancy. It is hard to say when this concept first came about, but in the last 50 years or so there have been major leaps and bounds in making products that prevent pregnancy," said Dr. Dupuch. "Prior to this time, contraceptive measures were often as basic as washing out the female's genital area immediately after intercourse or using a rhythm or withdrawal method to predict ovulation and herbal remedies to prevent pregnancy, but such means were not very effective. But now it has advanced to the point where certain contraceptive methods like condoms and oral contraceptives work so well that they can guarantee a 99 percent chance of not getting pregnant if used correctly."
Although condoms and oral contraceptives may be the most known and even preferred options for contraception there are many others out there. And before people make a decision about which to use, Dr. Dupuch advises they look at the pros and cons of the different measures of birth control, and measure them against their needs.
For males the contraceptive options are few, but the most common is the use of a male condom which the doctor said is advantageous because it not only prevents pregnancy 95 percent of the time in their female partner by hindering sperm from entering the vaginal canal, but also protects the male and female from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Spermicide is another option that can be effective on its own, but is usually used in combination with other contraceptive tools like a condom or vaginal diaphragm. It can be purchased in the form of a gel or foam.
"Condoms and spermicides are the best means of male contraception, second to the option of vasectomy (male sterilization) which is far superior to any other form of contraception for males or females. But for males who generally don't want to go that far, the condom and spermicide both have a 95 percent success rate of preventing pregnancy," she said.
According to Dr. Dupuch, the condom's added benefit is that because it is a barrier method of contraception it can also greatly reduce the chance of contracting STDs if used correctly. But she said there could be a loss of sensation during intercourse when using a condom which is a downside. But she feel it should definitely be used nonetheless.
Whereas men have few options when it comes to contraception women have numerous choices to choose from. And she said that on average without contraceptive measures being taken, women in their reproductive years have an 85 percent chance annually to get pregnant.
"Because of the advancements in science today women no longer have to experience an unwanted pregnancy with the innumerable contraceptive means of preventing it available. The preventative rates of most of the options are really high -- like the oral contraceptive when if used correctly is 99 percent effective. Options like the diaphragm have a 95 percent rate of effectiveness, IUDs [have] a 98 to 99 percent rate of success and of course condoms and spermicide are 95 percent effective," she said.
While the rate of effectiveness is a major component in choosing a good contraceptive method other things like the level of responsibility a person wants in administering the method should also be taken into consideration. Choosing the right one is an individual choice and it should be done with caution, said the doctor.
Less common methods for females are the numerous barrier methods like the diaphragm or the cervical cap.
The diaphragm is a dome-shaped contraceptive device that is placed within the vagina and can be used with a spermicide to increase effectiveness. Dr. Dupuch said many women opt not to use it because it can be messy and has to be deliberate. Much like a condom for men, the woman must stop what she is doing and put the diaphragm into the vagina prior to sex. And after intercourse, she has to be certain to leave the device in for six hours before removing it.
"This method while very effective tends to be a mood killer -- and because the device can be used again there is a higher risk for vaginal infection," she said.
A cervical cap which is a similar device that sits over the top of the cervix is also another option but not as common today either.
Female condoms which are fitted to the shape of the vagina and have two rings on both ends to keep them in place are also not well liked, said the doctor, due to their being awkward and sometimes cumbersome to insert correctly.
Similarly, the sponge, another device that needs to be inserted in the vagina prior to intercourse, she said, has also lost popularity mostly due to how messy it can be since it has to be saturated with spermicide to be fully effective.
"There are lots of things women can choose from, but many of these barrier-type methods are not that popular because they are really old-fashioned, inconvenient or messy for the most part. But for some women who don't want to go through surgery, insert anything for a long length of time in their uterus or take oral contraceptives, these methods are good," she said.
"Oral contraceptives are likely to be the most common form of contraception in use currently. There are two types -- the first uses both estrogen and progesterone. It has to be taken every day for 21 days and then there is a seven-day period where a female doesn't take any pills or uses a placebo pill. During this time, she should get a period and if she takes the pill correctly everyday she has a 99 percent chance of not getting pregnant," said the gynecologist.
While the major downside to oral contraceptive is remembering to take the pill daily, its benefits tend to outweigh that fact. Taking the pill can improve skin, regulate menstruation in people with irregular periods, cause lighter and less painful periods and help with premenstrual syndrome (PMS). It also can prevent ovarian cysts and in the long run may protect a female from ovarian cancer.
"Although many people may be concerned that taking the pill over a long period of time can cause breast cancer, this is not so. Taking the pill can slightly increase one's risk for breast cancer, but this possibility is slight. If a healthy woman, without other risk factors for breast cancer such as strong family history, takes the oral contraceptive pill, her risk of getting breast cancer is only slightly increased and is proportional to the length of time she takes it. After stopping the pill, her risk reduces over the next 10 years back to normal," she said.
According to the doctor, some breast cancers grow under the influence of estrogen, and people with a family history of that kind of cancer would be advised not to use that form of contraception. If breast cancer develops among those women, it is usually detected early, since it is recommended that they do regular breast exams and are monitored by their physicians every few months. She said that their recovery is usually better since studies show that the cancer is normally localized to the breast and responsive to regular chemotherapy treatments, she said.
Dr. Dupuch said it is for this reason that women on birth control pills are closely monitored and a thorough family history is done so the right kind of contraceptive pill can be recommended.
Another disadvantage to this type of contraception is that it can cause nausea, weight gain, breakthrough bleeding and headaches. It can also increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or stroke from five per 100,000 for the average woman not on contraceptive pills to 15 to 25 per 100,000 women a year. The chances for this happening increase even more if the woman is over 35, a smoker, obese or has a family history of the condition.
The other form of oral contraception is a progesterone only pill which differs from the previous type because it has to be taken every single day without any breaks. It is effective in preventing ovulation and some women don't even have a period while on it. An advantage is that it gives a woman a lower risk of developing DVT as it has no estrogen. It is usually used in older women, or those with higher chances of developing DVT and stroke. But it is a more rigid contraceptive because most brands of the pill only have a four hour window of error while the progesterone and estrogen combined oral contraceptive has a 12-hour window of error.
Long term methods
For women who don't want to have the daily responsibility, opting to have injectable contraceptives, hormonal implants or an intrauterine device (IUD) inserted by a physician are good options.
Some females choose to have a progesterone injection every 12 weeks (three months) which is effective for the period, along with other contraceptives to prevent STDs. This option while much more convenient, as a woman only has to think about it every three months has a downside in that it can cause irregular vaginal bleeding, weight gain, reduced libido and even promote depression.
If every three months is still too often to think about contraception, trying hormonal implants could be the best choice for the busy female. It's a method that must be administered in a doctor's office and is usually effective for five years. Much like oral contraceptives, it should prevent ovulation and even stop periods for the period of time it is in use. Its cons are that it is difficult to remove if a female changes her mind about her contraceptive method and the place where it is implanted can cause some discomfort for some people. Its failure rate is less than one percent according to Dr. Dupuch.
"Another good long term contraceptive choice is an IUD. It usually contains copper and is inserted into the uterus. It has a mechanism that causes an unfavorable environment in the uterus for an embryo trying to implant itself and it also provides a barrier to prevent implantation," she said. "It also works well because it thickens up cervical mucus making it difficult for sperm and egg to meet. Because it can make contraception worry free for five years due to it having a less than one percent failure rate it is still commonly used."
The disadvantage of this method is that it has to be inserted by a physician. It can also cause heavy bleeding and painful periods. If not inserted properly or if it shifts for some reason, it can perforate the uterus and go into the abdominal cavity which can cause serious health risks. Also within the first few weeks of it being placed there is a possibility to develop a pelvic infection.
Another type of IUD called Mirena is another great option. It can also last for five years, but instead of copper it uses progesterone. Unlike the copper-based device it can make periods lighter while also preventing ovulation. This method can even stop menstruation entirely for some women. The gynecologist said it is as effective as female sterilization but is reversible. Once a female stops using it, fertility returns.
For those women who want the benefits of an hormonal contraceptive but not have to worry about taking it orally daily, there is a relatively new method called Nuvaring -- a vaginal hormonal ring which is inserted in to the vagina for three weeks and removed for a week (to have a period) before another is inserted. It has similar risks to the oral contraceptive pill but it's benefit is that one does not have to remember to take the pill everyday.
For some women who have already had all the children they want or don't want any children at all, sterilization is a good option. This could mean getting an ecclusion which is using a clip to cause obstruction in the fallopian tube stopping eggs from being released. Or one can have a tubal ligation in which a physician ties and cuts the fallopian tubes. Dr. Dupuch said this is a really good option as its failure rate is one in 250 women.
This disadvantages to tubal ligation are that it must be performed surgically. And it is also permanent which means if a female changes her mind, there is no reversal in most cases.
According to Dr. Dupuch, no matter which option of contraception you choose, it is essential that it is done consistently and that you are comfortable with it. She said contraception is a personal choice and if a woman is uncomfortable about it she should see her physician for advice.The pros and cons of birth control
Pain is not something new to Jane Doe (name changed). The 41-year-old had already experienced numerous medical scares in her life so the sporadic pain she felt in her stomach almost five years ago did not phase her. It was only when she was due for another medical check-up and had to undergo a Computer Tomography (CT) scan was she informed her little tummy ache was actually caused by gallstones - crystallized formations that can vary in size from a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball that collect in the gall bladder.
Gallstones are formations in the gall bladder made up of collections of cholesterol and other substances in the body. They aren't necessarily dangerous but they can lead to much discomfort and other health issues depending on how the stones pass through the body. There are no clear cut reasons as to why they develop, but many factors are associated with their formation. They tend to occur in people over age 40, mostly in pre-menopausal females as opposed to males. Being overweight, one's genetics and regularity of exercise can also contribute to why they can develop.
"At the time I didn't even think it was too serious," said Doe who has also battled and for now is winning over breast cancer. "It was something I could live with, after all it wasn't bothering me all too much," she says. "In fact like any typical Bahamian when it comes to pains in your stomach, I thought that it was just gas. And since I was going through other medical issues taking care of that problem was the last thing on my mind. It was only within the last two years that the gallstones have gotten significantly worse and the pain became severe that I knew I had to do something."
Doe was presented with a few options as to how to deal with her problem, such as herbal remedies or to have a surgery to remove the stones. She chose to have her entire gall bladder removed to avoid the problem ever occurring again. The gallbladder is a small organ that aids mainly in fat digestion and secretes bile produced by the liver. In humans, the loss of the gallbladder is usually easily tolerated.
Two weeks after having her gallbladder removed laproscopically, Doe says she can already feel the difference and is glad she made the decision to live without pain.
"The only thing that concerns me a little is that I now have to change my eating habits. Since I don't have my gallbladder anymore, which makes the gastric fluid that breaks down fats, I can't eat as much of my favorite fatty or spicy foods like peas and rice, macaroni and fried chicken. Although it is a loss I do think it was for the best because with conditions like this had I been eating a lot healthier it may not have occurred. Now I have a serious reason to stay on the straight and narrow with my health and it will be a good thing in years to come."
While Jane Doe is relieved, Dr. Ian Kelly, a general practitioner operating from 72 Collins Avenue, says although gallstones are often not seen as a dangerous medical condition, if not treated properly, they can lead to other health related issues like infections to the pancreas or the gall bladder, and can lead to jaundice if the bile isn't filtered properly.
Although intense pain is often associated with gallstones, not everyone who develops them will have symptoms. The doctor said some people can go for years without knowing about the stones because the pain is non-existent. For others, the pain is so minor they don't opt to have them removed at all.
"The removal of gallstones is one of the most common surgeries done and for many people it happens when they face complications due to their gallstones," says Dr. Kelly. "The pain people feel comes from the stones trying to pass through the ducts. These stones tend to be smaller [less than eight millimeters] and can successfully pass out of the system on their own, but the larger ones can get stuck, and if they cause blockage in the gallbladder they can cause an intense pain in the upper right side of the abdomen. It can last for a while or pass quickly."
The most pain can occur after a fatty meal. Bloating, gas, indigestion and belching are also common signs of gallstones. But it is important to get correctly diagnosed by a physician.
When the pain becomes too much or patients show signs of an infection in the gallbladder or pancreas they may be recommended for alternative medications or to a surgeon to have a surgery.
"There are several ways to deal with gallstones. There are medications that can help them pass and of course there are surgeries to remove the gallstones - or if it's really serious the entire gallbladder may have to be removed. But before you make any serious decisions you will need to speak with your physician or a surgeon," says Dr. Kelly.