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West Nile, Malaria, Dengue and Neem

Herbalism hasn’t always fascinated me like it does now. When I was younger, I wanted to be a medical doctor of the Western variety. It wasn’t until I taught Human Anatomy lab at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln that I realized wasn’t cut out for the politics of modern medicine in the United States. Some of the stupidest students got into medical school, while the most knowledgeable, driven, and talented ones kept trying and trying to get in, with no success. While in college, I had a minor crisis about uninspired students getting into med school. And thank God. Western medicine did not suit me. I changed directions in life. I believe that health is so much more holistic than what medical school teaches students today. Since that time, I’ve explored everything from acupuncture and massage therapy to herbs and hypnotherapy. There is no cure-all out there, but it’s unfortunate that more people don’t realize how valuable alternative medicine is when it is applied with thought and careful consideration. When our family travels to tropical countries, we take along a medicine bag full of various antibiotics and Western remedies for things like malaria, diarrhea, and other ailments, but I also bring along herbs. Often, herbs are less harsh and more effective than Western remedies at either preventing or curing different health issues in the U.S. and abroad. It can be hard to procure necessary meds for everything that can go wrong abroad. Sometimes pharmaceuticals in foreign countries are “suspect” (not what they say they are). Herbs, in contrast generally have a broader spectrum of action as well as fewer undesirable side effects associated with them. Neem is one excellent example of a broad spectrum herb that’s incredibly valuable in tropical countries. I discovered this herb when our family was looking at going on a trip to Costa Rica. I didn’t really want my 12 year old daughter taking harsh drugs the whole time we were going to be there (3 months). Neem had several benefits that I was able to find online. One was that it could help prevent malaria. The other was that it could also help prevent Dengue Fever, a disease for which there are no preventive medications and few treatment options other than just keeping the patient hydrated until the disease has run its course. But Dengue can kill. If you get infected, your vacation will be definitively ruined. Dengue is characterized by a high fever... read more

How to Deal with ED

When I was working through my graduate psychology courses, I had to choose a set of psychopathologies that I would summarize for my class and then give a seminar about them. All the members of the class had to choose, but I was gone on the day when everyone picked something. I was in the hospital having a miscarriage. When I returned, the topic that was left for me was Sexual Dysfunctions. I was okay with this actually, despite the fact that my classmates were already uncomfortable with me because I had had a miscarriage (psychologists are notoriously fearful of things related to sex and death—that’s why they study it—I didn’t finish the program, by the way). Sexuality is infinitely important and having a healthy sex life, I believe, is part of being healthy overall. But nevermind my personal beliefs about sex and sexuality. Everyone has a right to their own beliefs and ways of doing things. What does perturb me, however, is that a number of pharmaceuticals today contribute to the so-called Sexual Dysfunctions that have been dubbed “psychological” in origin. Both men and women suffer needlessly, feeling like failures in bed or even in their relationship as a whole because of a simple reaction to very common drugs. One such drug that causes sexual problems like erectile dysfunction (also known affectionately as “ED”) is Sudafed or pseudoephedrine. When you have a cold, pseudoephedrine works by opening the bronchioles (the little tubes that lead into the lungs). Makes sense, but what a lot of men don’t realize is that pseudoephedrine/Sudafed and other related drugs are also vasoconstrictors. (Yikes!) You need good blood flow to have an erection. Any drug that constricts the blood vessels could be a cause for ED. Lots of men have a reaction to pseudoephedrine but they’re too embarrassed to speak up. They believe there’s something really wrong with them and either go to the doctor or sit around just hoping the problem will go away. Sometimes, if they believe they have a problem and don’t discover the origin, the problem could conceivably persist after the ED bout caused by pseudoephedrine. Several years ago, my husband went through a stressful period and had some inexplicable “difficulties” in bed. We blamed it on the stress, but he also had a cold and had been taking cold medications at the same time. The problem went away with the cold (at the time we didn’t notice the correlation),... read more

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