Thursday, October 16, 2014

Essential Oils - Nature's Healers?

Is it possible that something as simple as the oil that is pressed out of a living plant can offer a complete healing from some of the worst physical ailments? It's possible.

According to millions of essential oil users, the oil from the pretty purple lavender flower aids in stress relief and insomnia. The oil from the basil leaf has been known to relieve sore muscles and improve breathing.

Oils from the cassia plant promote healthy digestion and improve immune system function. Supposedly, the clary sage leaf produces oils that help alleviate menstrual symptoms and balance hormone levels. The lovely white blossoms of the geranium flower produce oils that claim to clear skin, lessen anxiety and strengthen the liver.

But what about the science of all of this? According to nih.gov's website, Medline Plus, lavender oil is possibly effective for hair loss and developing research suggests using lavender oil in a vaporizer overnight or on a gauze pad left beside the bed, might help some people with mild insomnia. That same website also states that some research suggests that adding 3 milliliters of a 20% lavender oil and 80% grapeseed oil mixture to daily baths produces small improvements in mood, compared with baths containing grapeseed oil alone.

Additionally, nih.gov reports that some research suggests that rubbing 2 or 3 drops of lavender oil on the upper lip, so that the vapor is inhaled, might reduce migraine pain and nausea, and help stop the headache from spreading. That sounds a lot like what millions of essential oil users are claiming.

What about basil oil? According to Dr. Madhukar Patil's (Ph.D. Chemistry Professor for the Institute of Science in Bombay, India for 30 years) website Organic Facts, "The health benefits of basil essential oil include its ability to treat nausea, motion sickness, indigestion, constipation, respiratory problems, and diabetes."

Another trusted scientific website, WebMD states that basil oil contains many chemicals and that it has been used for stomach problems, head colds and to improve circulation and kidney function. It even comments that basil has been used to fight warts. If it helps head colds, that would certainly improve breathing function.

With regard to cassia oil, nih.gov's website Medline Plus states that some studies suggested that cassia cinnamon oil might be effective for controlling type 2 diabetes. And WebMD reports that some research has found that a particular type of cinnamon, cassia cinnamon oil, may lower blood sugar in people with type II diabetes. Are diabetes and digestion connected? Makes sense.

As far the geranium flower oil, WebMD states that "some studies have shown that applying botanical oils such as geranium oil can reduce the pain of postherpetic neuralgia". This type of pain is a complication of shingles, an extremely painful condition resulting from having had the chicken pox as a child.

WebMD only attributes the improvement of digestive disorders and kidney disease to the consumption of clary sage oil, but says nothing about its ability to regulate hormones or alleviate menstrual symptoms. So the jury may still be out on that one as far as concrete medical evidence. But there seems to be enough people testifying to the health benefits of essential oils that it might be worth taking a look at.

Essential Oils - Get A Closer Look

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Can Exercise Keep You From Getting Sick? Enterovirus & Ebola Protection? Maybe...

The CDC has confirmed 628 infections in 44 states in the US from Enterovirus D68 and one death. It was a 4-year old child (Eli Waller) in Hamliton, New Jersey that died from the infection on September 25th.

Recently, the Florida Department of Health confirmed it's first case of Enterovirus D68 in the state. A 10-year old girl in Polk County was treated at Tampa General Hospital for 6 days back in September and then released. To date, there are 5 reported cases of Ebola now in the US.

With scary viruses running around out there like the Enterovirus D68 and Ebola, it makes you wish you could do something to protect yourself from sickness or create in yourself an immunity to these viruses. But we all get sick from time to time and so it feels like there is no way to prevent it. However, Dr. Christiane Northrup, author of Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom comments in her book that there might be a way to prevent sicknesses or at least prevent their frequency.

She states that vigorous exercise greatly increases circulation in your body. This in turn creates an increase in white blood cells throughout your body. White blood cells are an important part of the immune system that fight off infectious disease and foreign invaders. With more white blood cells running around in your blood stream, the more likely they are to catch and destroy viruses and other germs that make you sick.

The US National Library of Medicine seems to agree with Dr. Northrup. It states on it's website (nlm.nih.gov), "Exercise sends antibodies and white blood cells (the body's defense cells) through the body at a quicker rate. As these antibodies or white blood cells circulate more rapidly, they could detect illnesses earlier than they might normally. The increased rate of circulating blood may also trigger the release of hormones that "warn" immune cells of intruding bacteria or viruses."

Another theory revolving around exercise and sickness prevention is that exercise calms the mind and relieves stress. Prolonged or chronic stress is an enemy to the immune system, but the relieving of stress may give your immune system a boost. Here's why: When your body is under stress, your adrenal glands release hormones called adrenaline and cortisol to help you react to the stressful situation at hand. It's the fight or flight reaction.

While this is happening in your body, your brain tells other systems like the immune system and the digestive system among others to temporarily stop working so that your brain can concentrate on "fighting or flighting". Once the perceived "danger" has passed, body systems begin to return to normal. However, under a chronic stress situation, your body continues to suppress these systems. That's why your immune system doesn't function at optimum and you seem to get sick more often.

On a side note, your digestive system has trouble metabolizing your food efficiently during these chronic stress situations  as well and you may gain weight. Most people are familiar with the fact that excess cortisol (the stress hormone) causes extra belly fat. Extra weight can tax the body too, causing an impaired immune system. Exercise helps to burn off these stress hormones, relaxing the brain and boosting the immune system.

Symptoms for Enterovirus D68 are much like that of a cold except that fever might be higher, breathing can become labored, chest pain may be present and stools might be significantly softer. It is more common for children to become infected with Enterovirus D68 and possibly adults with asthma or compromised immune systems. The CDC highly urges everyone to wash their hands with soap and water frequently to help prevent the spread of this disease. It was noted that typical hand sanitizer is not affective in destroying the virus.

Exercising for 20 minutes a day can greatly increase blood circulation, heart health and apparently improve your immune system too.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Historic Brennan's In New Orlean's French Quarter To Open Again Soon

Back in 2010, I was asked to write a fictional restaurant review based solely on internet research. I chose Brennan's Restaurant in New Orleans. This restaurant is the deep subject of one family's rich heritage since 1946 and it's loaded with unique local history as well. However, in June of 2013 the restaurant closed due to some family related issues, but new owner Ralph Brennan promises via this website (http://www.brennansneworleans.com/) that the restaurant will be reopening soon. Here is the original review that I wrote back in 2010.



Brennan’s Restaurant – Delights Fit for Royalty

A recent business trip to New Orleans with a colleague gave us the perfect opportunity to check out Bourbon Street and some of the famous restaurants in this romantic neighborhood deep in the French Quarter. We chose Brennan’s Restaurant for its unique history and incredible reputation for delicious Creole provender. The restaurant resides in the Old Absinthe House that used to be the oldest saloon in America and secret stomping ground for the famous pirate Jean Lafitte. It now houses 12 elegant French/Creole style dining rooms and five impressive private banquet rooms.

As we entered the establishment, we passed a courtyard that was lush with exotic plants and the soft fragrance of magnolia blossoms. While waiting to be seated, we viewed the alluring scenery of Creole sketches. In a few moments, we were guided to an upstairs dining room and to a table on the balcony overlooking the courtyard. Anticipation turned to excitement as the Cajun style atmosphere and the aroma of freshly prepared French cuisine stimulated our senses.

I chose the Creole Onion Soup for an appetizer that portrayed a soft but luscious flavor and my colleague chose the New Orleans Turtle Soup. For my main entrée, I had difficulty deciding between Trout Pecan and Brennan’s Blackened Redfish. Both sounded absolutely wonderful and I finally went with the Trout Pecan for its especially savory description of fresh trout filets sautéed and topped with roasted pecans and pecan butter, served with glazed carrots. I wasn’t disappointed and I found myself fighting the urge to order another plate. My colleague ordered the Blackened Redfish and expressed that the incredible combination of grilling to perfection and choice seasonings made this dish unforgettable. Our waiter suggested a bottle of Sonoma Chardonnay to complement our meal and we readily accepted.

After relaxing for a few moments, our waiter returned to suggest the famous Bananas Foster to finish the meal with a sweet touch. We decided to split one and the presentation of this dessert qualified for live entertainment. The dessert comes to your table as bananas and banana liqueur, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon. The plate is then flamed with rum while you watch and topped off with vanilla ice cream. The combination of bananas, the rich sauce and cool creamy topping is to die for.

We left the restaurant with a sense of utter and complete satisfaction and reflected on the feeling that we had been spoiled and pampered like French royalty. Now, where is our limo driver?...

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Book Review - How The Light Gets In by Louise Penny

Ms. Penny is a master storyteller that brings vivid characters to life in this mystery novel in her Chief Inspector Gamanche series. In this tale, she has the amazingly remarkable ability to weave more than one story together at once. The book has 416 pages and 42 chapters. It is published by Minotaur Books.

Inspector Gamanche is called by a friend to the village of Three Pines to help find a missing person. Meanwhile trouble brews in the Surete Police force and Inspector Gamanche must foil a catastrophic plot to save lives.

Ms. Penny's character development is cleverly crafted. HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN, while deeply suspenseful, is profoundly psychologically thrilling. She delves into the mind of addiction, natures of good and evil, and the loyalties between families and between partnerships.

The only drawback is the excessive use of curse words. Particularly the "F" word which I did not realize was the "F" word until near the end of the book because it was written in French. After repeated use of it, I finally looked it up. Despite that fact, Ms. Penny held me captive until the end and compelled me for more from Inspector Gamanche and the village of Three Pines. - Book Review submitted by Traci Cocchi

Inspector Gamanche series:
STILL LIFE
A FATAL GRACE / DEAD COLD
THE CRUELEST MONTH
A RULE AGAINST MURDER / THE MURDER STONE
THE BRUTAL TELLING
BURY YOUR DEAD
A TRICK OF THE LIGHT
THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY
HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN

HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN debuted at #1 on the New York Times and made bestseller lists internationally. It is now out in paperback.

Amazon.com named HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN to their BEST OF 2013 list

Publishers Weekly's Best Books of the Year

Barnes and Noble - Best Fiction of 2013

Goodreads - Best Mystery-Thriller Books 2013

Nominated for the Gold Dagger, the highest crime writing award in Britain.

Nominated for the Edgar, the highest crime writing award in North America

Nominated for an Agatha and a Macavity Award

HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN was named one of the top 5 fiction books of the year by the Washington Post

Sunday, September 14, 2014

What's For Supper? Menu Plans & Meal Ideas

How many times have you cringed when you heard that question? Maybe at that moment, a short list of entrees that you continually rotate throughout the week or month crosses your mind while creativity screams at you for something original, something delicious, even more important something easy to make. Night after night, week after week, month after month, year after year, the people you cook for demand that you prepare something good, yet different like it can roll off your fingertips with ease.

You search endlessly through cookbooks, online sources and amongst family and friends for new menu ideas only to find that your newly discovered recipe has several ingredients that you've never heard of or certainly don't keep in your kitchen on a regular basis. So then, it's a trip to the store to find this rare ingredient that ends up being expensive and now you've compromised the family budget, once again. Isn't there an easier way? Can't somebody come up with a few or even better, twenty meal ideas that are fresh and original, easy and won't kill the family budget?

Heck, you may not even care if they're original or not. You just want someone to tell you what to make each day, how to make it, have it be easy and have you're family love it and think you're a genius. Is that asking too much? Maybe not. There's a new book out called Menu Planner Meal Ideas by S. D. Lender. It's a twenty day, or four week dinner plan. Each week consists of dinners for Monday thru Friday. Each dinner includes an main entree, a side dish and a dessert suggestion.

The first week is called International Flare and features Mexican Monday, Italian Tuesday, Asian Wednesday, American Thursday and Greek Friday. Recipes are included for each entree and side dish. Most of the desserts suggestions are so simple that a recipe is not needed. Week two is called Southern Comfort and includes five down home southern dishes. Friday's Turkey and Dressing offers a way for the hard working parent who has no time to cook a way to present this meal by cheating the traditional time it would normally take to prepare this dish.

The third week is titled Super Southwest and offers a new and super easy take on some traditional southwestern meals. And last but not least, Week Four is called Tropical Fun with items like a quick to fix coconut shrimp, orange and lime chicken and a pineapple pork to name three of the five delicious meals included. Many people eat out on the weekends anyway, so there are no menu ideas for Saturday and Sunday. Imagine going thru four weeks of preparing meals and not having to make the same thing twice. It's genius!

At the end of the book, there is a grocery list that has everything that you will need to prepare the twenty meals. You may wish to buy some items like the fresh vegetables and dairy items week by week, but the frozen fruits and vegetables, baking items and canned goods can be bought at the beginning of the month and then you know you will have everything you need to come in from work, kick off your shoes, tie up your hair and start preparing supper. And when you hear those dreadful words (What's For Supper?), you can hand them the book and point to the page you're on. Problem solved. Life is great.

Menu Planner Menu Ideas by S D Lender

Saturday, August 30, 2014

So You Just Bought A New 3DS. Or Did You?

Apparently, a lot of folks are upset about the fact that Nintendo is coming out with a new handheld game device called the New 3DS and New 3DS XL. I say "coming out" because it hasn't even been released in Japan yet. That happens likely around the end of October, 2014. Europeans may get the system in the spring or summer of 2015 and if you live in the US...well, maybe sometime soon after that.

In August of 2012, Nintendo released a 3DS XL which boasted longer battery life and larger viewing screens that gave players a better 2D and 3D viewing experience.This version was the first revision of the original Nintendo 3DS handheld game device. For parents and gamers in general to upgrade to that device cost them about $199. This is no small investment when it comes to game entertainment.

But now, gamers are being told that they're "new" device will soon be outdated. The reason for this is that some of the much loved games like Xenoblade Chronicles for Wii will be released in the future for the New 3DS and the New 3DS XL but are not playable on the older versions of Nintendo DS handheld devices (DS released in the US in 2004, DS Lite, DSi, 3DS, 2DS and 3DS XL). So if you want to play those hardcore gamer's games, you will have to upgrade...again.

The New 3DS boasts an even longer battery life and a faster CPU (Central Processing Unit) or the brains of the device. The device will house a new easier to use analog controller button for controlling the camera throughout the game called the C-Stick. This feature will likely remind users of the GameCube. The best feature of the New 3DS and the New 3DS XL will be the optimized 3D screen that allows much better 3 dimensional viewing. No more having to shift your angle to view the screen.

The New 3DS and New 3DS XL was designed with hardcore gamers in mind because games that are scheduled to be released for it have 65+ hours of core content. That's hardcore game playing. The game slot has also been moved to the front left side of the device and new colorful face buttons have been added. And since the new 3D screen automatically adjusts to the effects of brightness, this saves on and can extend battery life.

The New 3DS will also let you use your Amiibo figures. These are small, bright and colorful plastic game characters several inches in height that interact within the game when placed on the game pad. These figures improve the gamer's experience.  The New 3DS will be selling for around $154 and the New 3DS XL will be selling for about $173. Or you could save your money and wait for the next revision which will probably be coming out soon afterwards.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Today's World - Riots & Ice Buckets

In Ferguson, Missouri, hoards of people are hitting the streets to protest the recent shooting of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man who was shot by Darren Wilson (28), a local police officer.

On August 9th, Michael and a friend of his, Dorian Johnson (22) were walking down the middle of Canfield Drive in Ferguson, Missouri when officer Wilson pulled up and ordered them to step over to the sidewalk since they were jaywalking.

Ten minutes before this incident happened, the two boys were caught on videotape robbing Ferguson Market a few blocks away on West Florissant Avenue. Apparently, the boys refused to moved to the sidewalk and this seemed to anger the police officer. Neighbors reported hearing the screeching of brakes and tires as Wilson backed up to enforce his request. This is apparently when a struggle took place with one bullet being fired inside or into the squad car. Eye-witnesses report that at this point, the boys began to run away, but officer Wilson kept shooting.

However, Dr. Michael Bayden, a well-known but former chief medical examiner for the city of New York stated in his autopsy report that all 6 shots that were fired towards Michael were fired into the front of his body, twice in the head and 4 times in his right arm. The fatal shot was fired into the top of Michael's head. The first shot into Michael's head was through his right eye, came out his jaw and into his collarbone. He was 6 ft. 4 in. and weighed 292 pounds.

These events horrified the residents of this small St. Louis suburb and many have taken to the streets in protest of the police officer's actions. Speculation on both sides of the coin has it that possibly the officer was still shooting at Michael even after he had been hit and was down. On the other hand, others contend that he may have been falling to the ground while officer Wilson was quick firing. In either case, the fact remains that Michael was unarmed when he received the fatal shot.

The police report says that Michael was struggling with the officer for his gun. Eyewitnesses say that Michael simply was shoving the officer back into his police car. I guess we'll let the jury decide. Adding insult to the injury of this small town nightmare is the looting and rioting that's taking place. Many residents have expressed the fact that they suspect these latter events are being conducted by out-of-towners that have come to town simply to stir up trouble and make the difficult job of executing justice in this case even harder.

In other parts of the country, celebrities and commoners alike are videotaping themselves with icy buckets of water being poured over their heads for the purpose of raising money to benefit ALS. ALS or Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease is a fatal disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord causing the deterioration of voluntary and involuntary muscle movements such as speaking, swallowing and breathing.

This is called the Ice Bucket Challenge, whereby individuals post these ice dumping videos to their Facebook pages and then tag a friend or friends challenging them to do the same or else make a donation to ALS. The hope is that many people will make the video for fun, to spread awareness for the illness and to inspire motivation to join the challenge and then make a donation as well.  As of today, the ALS's website, alsa.org reports that $15.6 million has been donated to help fight the disease due to this challenge.

A sincere expression of sympathy goes out to the family of Michael Brown for their very tragic loss and a sincere hope that the residents of Ferguson will find some comfort and peace very soon. With things heating up in Ferguson, one might wonder if a bucket of icy water would do some of the troublemakers there some good.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Instagram - Is It The New Facebook?

Teenagers these days seem to be spending a lot of their time posting selfies to Instagram. One such teenager was asked if they still use Facebook. Her reply was, "Not so much. Facebook is full of commercials...and old people. I like Instagram better 'cause I can see my friends pictures and they can see mine without the other junk."

It's true that Facebook is now being used by just about every business that exists to promote their products or services online through something called Social Advertising or Social Media. Just about every website you visit these days has a Facebook icon where you can share this page or product on your Facebook status.

Not only Facebook, but Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and many other social media sites offer the option to share website pages on your home page of that particular social media site. Instagram is still young in its popularity, so teenagers have the "court" so-to-speak to share and interact with their friends without all the commercial ads.

The basic premise of Instagram is similar to Facebook and many other social media sites. You open an account. It's free to do so. You are encouraged to connect with your friends. You can do this by searching for their username or real name. Once connected, you start posting pictures. This is likely the main difference between Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook is mostly about typing what's on your mind, whereas Instagram is mostly about posting pictures. Either one of these actions can be done on either site, it's just that the focus seems to be different for each site. Facebook pages do seem to be getting bogged down with less original comments from their owners and more copied content from other people's pages.

What's the name of that other social media site that used to be popular? Oh yeah...MySpace. You don't hear much about that one anymore. Wikipedia has a list of popular social networking sites. The list is in alphabetical order and the first 100 only makes it to the "J's". That page also explains that there is another page linked to this page that lists all the defunct social networking sites.

Humans are social creatures and apparently they love to connect with other humans. And making a profit off of human emotions can be a big business. And now with Instagram, profits are being made off of human vanity. It's just too much fun to take a picture of yourself. So everybody is doing it. Why even Kim Kardashian is selling a book that contains nothing but selfies in it. 

In April of this year, Instagram boasted that they now have over 200 million users. That's a lot of selfies.




Sunday, August 10, 2014

Book Review: The K-Frost Caper by James Blakley

The K-Frost Caper is an approximately 194 page mystery/crime story written by James Blakley and published by Inkwater Press. Most of the story takes place in sunny Miami, Florida where Luna Nightcrow, an insurance fraud investigator works to uncover the truth about what appears to be insurance fraud and a possible missing person's case. Her talents are showcased to us in the first chapter as she recovers for the insurance company a valuable 19th century Cherokee talisman. We learn of her guts and bravery as she faces her informant's murderer in a dark alley in a small gambling town in Oklahoma.

Despite her tough exterior, she reveals an occasional tender side when she expresses loneliness even if it's only to us as the reader. Even though her physical description is only referred to as cinnamon colored skin and long raven hair, it's hard not to assume that she must be strikingly beautiful. I did note what seemed to me as some inconsistencies in her character development.

In her first scene, she is described as wearing a black bolero jacket, jeans and boots, typical attire, I guess for a casino in Oklahoma. But then when she is on her next assignment in Miami, she is described as wearing a navy pantsuit, pink scoop neck top, heels and bling and later a gray skirt, pink shell and heels. (I guess she likes pink) When she gets into real field work, she wears jeans, a t-shirt and tennis shoes. With these drastic differences, I found it hard to get a feel for her character. She seemed like a simple girl on some occasions, eating biscuits and gravy for breakfast, but on other occasions, she would relax into first class on a flight and sip espresso. Maybe that was the point. Maybe she was a quandary of sorts.

As mentioned earlier, it was easy to assume at first that she was beautiful, so I was disappointed when the author speaks about her "love handles" when she goes swimming in the hotel pool. I wondered then if she had a bit of middle aged chubbiness. The most striking things about her character were her bravery and guts. She didn't seem to have any fear approaching what one would think would be dangerous situations. Of course, she did carry a .38 sometimes and always a 650,000 volt stun gun.

Mr. Blakley slowly develops an exciting romance between Luna and the detective (Tiago) who meets her at the airport and brings her to the police station to brief her on the case. The sexual tension that builds between them is pretty cool and although there is no graphic sex in the book, the relationship  between them is somewhat steamy and engaging. You definitely find yourself hoping that things will work out between them. Additionally, there is only mild language and some descriptive violence but not so much that I would call it graphic or gore.

There are plenty of characters to learn and sometimes it was a big confusing as to who was who. I had to go back and reread a page or two to remind myself who Ms. Crossley was. They were a couple of times that I thought I had figured out who was the villian(s) and then I was wrong. So, the suspense was there all the way until the last chapter. I also liked the way that the action sequences would burst out of nowhere maybe at a point when you might be thinking that the story was getting "slow". Those instances kept me reading until I finished the book in three days.

There were some scenes of predictability. Like when Luna and Tiago go to meet with Quinn Wu who has some information for them. I pretty much expected the outcome that is presented. As to the title: K-Frost Caper, this is explained early in the book. The subject of the insurance fraud investigation is a man named Kelvin Frost who applies for life insurance in Alabama, drowns without a body being found and then applies for life insurance again in Florida. But when Luna gets there, it is told to her that a man named Kelvin Frost was murdered just prior to her coming. A previous insurance investigator who was sent before Luna is also missing, so actually the story is a big mysterious mess that Luna has to be sharp enough to sort through it all without getting hurt herself.

I noticed in the reading a couple of typos and a few grammatical errors. Also, there is some Spanish spoken by one of the characters that is not explained and that is a bit frustrating.  But Mr. Blakley's writing style is deliciously engaging and wonderfully creative. I gave the book a 4 out of 5 star review on Amazon.com. This is an honest, paid-for review.

The K-Frost Caper by James Blakley



Wednesday, August 6, 2014

ZMapp Cure for Ebola - So, Why 932 Dead?

News reports for the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are claiming that the death toll so far for this horrible, worst ever in history Ebola virus outbreak has reached 932 only six months after the first reported case in February. It now appears to be spreading at an alarming rate with over 1600 infected.

But as soon as two Americans got infected, emergency doses of the experimental drug ZMapp were administered, the patients were flown out of the country and they appear to be recovering well in an Atlanta hospital. Meanwhile, many more West Africans are continuing to be infected from this dreadful virus and dying faster than body bags can be shipped into the country.

The Ebola virus symptoms are very similar to many other illnesses, starting with fever, rash, sore throat, headaches, body aches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. It quickly moves onto internal bleeding, respiratory failure and death. It is not an air-borne virus. It can only be contracted through direct contact from bodily fluids like sweat, blood, urine, saliva and semen.

Mapp Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. developed the drug known as ZMapp by combining laboratory developed tobacco proteins with mice antibody cells and a couple of other older drugs. The testing of certain components of this drug on monkeys infected with Ebola showed great promise, but clinical trials on humans weren't planned until next year.

The two American patients, Dr. Kent Brantly and Ms. Nancy Writebol agreed along with their doctors in Liberia to try the drug despite the potential for unknown risks. So this was a selective situation on two people who knew the risks and considered the alternative to be worse knowing that there is an over 70% fatality rate with the Ebola virus. However, the FDA has not given approval for wide distribution.

It has given an emergency approval for an Ebola test, but not for distribution of the drug itself. Mapp Bio. isn't even ready for the drug to go through clinical trials yet, never mind seek approval from the FDA for dispensing. Even when that does happen, approval and permission to dispense in West Africa has to go through the offices of the Ministry of Health Ethical Committee in each country that wants the drug.

This overwhelming "red tape" process will likely cost the lives of many West Africans. And the World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed great concern that this outbreak could very well become a global threat. Will the process for getting the drug approved be speeded up if that happens? Time will tell. A bigger concern might be...what are the side effects of this drug going to be? (Hopefully not more suicidal thoughts and tendencies)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Blood - Is Yours Thick or Thin?

You know the old saying, "Blood is thicker than water"? Of course, that saying applies to the loyalty among blood relatives. And it's true that in most cases, relationships between family members are "thicker" and stronger than most other relationships. But in a literal, physical sense, blood can be too thick.

Normal, healthy individuals should have a blood thickness that makes it flow through the veins and arteries without forming blood clots too easily. On the other hand, blood shouldn't be too thin so as to spring a leak that can't be stopped. People have died from something as simple as a nosebleed that just wouldn't stop bleeding. Blood containing too many platelets can form a clot too easily, too few platelets and the opposite happens.

According to nih.gov, your blood should be just thick enough to form a clot in something that is measured as an INR (international normalized ratio). It's about the time, usually seconds, that it takes for your blood to form a clot. This is called Prothrombin time. Healthy people's blood should form a clot between 11 and 13.5 seconds. This would translate into an INR of 0.8 to 1.1.

If a doctor has determined that your blood is too thick and you are running a risk of forming a dangerous blood clot, then he might likely put you on a medication called Coumadin or Warfarin. It is basically rat poison in a pharmaceutical form. It works to thin your blood. If your doctor prescribes one of these medications, your INR likely needs to stay between 2.0 and 3.0.

Most people taking these medicines have to have their INR checked either weekly or monthly, because it can make your blood too thin. In that case, then the doctor will adjust your medication to bring that number down. The higher the INR number, the thinner your blood is.

Most doctors will tell their patients not to eat dark, leafy green vegetables like broccoli or spinach while taking Coumadin. This is because these vegetables are rich in Vitamin K. This vitamin works against Coumadin by making your blood thicker and easier to clot. If your blood gets too thin, then a dark, leafy green salad might do the trick.

There are some foods that naturally make your blood thin. For example, strawberries, blueberries, onions, garlic, cinnamon, paprika, olive oil and oregano to name a few. These fruits and vegetables contain an ingredient known as salicylates that naturally thins the blood. Do you recognize that word? Maybe because it's the main ingredient in aspirin.

Everybody knows that aspirin is a blood thinner. How many times have you heard a doctor tell you before surgery not to take an aspirin two weeks before surgery? Or how the TV commercials that sell aspirin talk about how it can save your life during a heart attack? That's because it's a blood thinner.

So, if the main ingredient in aspirin is salicylate, would it be possible to eat a bowl of strawberries to overcome a headache? Well, the funny thing about some fruits and vegetables like strawberries is that they also contain Vitamin K, the blood thickener. The original Danish word for coagulation (blood clotting) is spelled with a "K", thus the name Vitamin K.

Exercise is also something that thins the blood. So does Vitamin D that you get from sunlight and Vitamin E that you get from many vegetables like spinach and broccoli.  But, didn't we just learn earlier that spinach and broccoli contain Vitamin K, the blood thickener? Yes, we did. It depends on which ingredient the food has  more of.

Eating yogurt or other cultured foods thicken the blood because they help form Vitamin K in the intestinal tract . Omega-3 rich fish is a blood thinner, but some types of fish are too high in mercury to eat very often. Are you confused yet? You should be.

I think it's about achieving a perfect balance which is obviously very hard to do unless you have your INR checked daily. That would probably thin your blood just from all the finger pricks. Probably the best advice (unless you already have a blood condition that warrants a doctor's care) is to eat plenty of a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, proteins and spices, get plenty of sunshine and exercise daily.

But, it seems like we've all heard that before.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

This is my hottest selling item on eBay right now

This is a Jon & Anna of New York crepe chiffon dress featuring a rounded hem. It comes with a scoop neckline, is sleeveless and has a hidden elasticized waist. The lining makes it cool and comfortable. The woven 100% polyester material makes it beautiful.

The length of this dress falls to the knee. Measured from size Medium - 34" - 44" approximate length from high point shoulder to hem. This dress comes in four colors to choose from: Coral, Green, Black and Purple. Bust measurements for small are 34-36, medium 37-38, large 39-40 and XL 41-42.

Own this dress in your favorite color for a very affordable $13.50 and it comes with free shipping. Be smart and beautiful!

Oh Most Powerful Internet...Take Me To This Dress!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Litter Laughter - Funny or not?

Recently, my husband and I were driving across the Howard Franklin bridge that spans across the Tampa Bay in southwest Florida. We were enjoying the bright sunshine and the cool, crisp breezes. My husband handed me an apple to snack on while we finished our trip, so I heartily began chomping.

After a few minutes, I finished the apple and lowered my window to toss the core out into the bay. I didn't give that action any further thought. My husband spoke up and scolded me. "You're going to get a ticket!" he complained. I thought about it for a moment and then I offered my defense.

I explained to him that apple cores decompose and so because of that fact, it was not illegal to throw them out the window. He shook his head and said that he disagreed with me. I assured him that I was right, after all I was right most of the time whenever we had a disagreement.

Then, he turned to me and said in a rather frustrated tone, "Dead bodies decompose too, but would it be okay to throw one of those out the window?" LOL! My daughter was riding in the car with us and we both cracked up laughing at his comment for the next ten minutes.

Well, it turns out that my husband is right after all. It IS against the law to throw any trash out the window of your vehicle whether it's biodegradable or not. And the fines can be pretty hefty ranging from $500 to $1000 or more. And even if it wasn't illegal to throw these items out the window, it's a dangerous decision to make that just might cost someone's life.

These food items take longer than you think to biodegrade. An apple core, banana or orange peel can take up to six months to completely decompose. And while they are decomposing, they can attract rodents and maybe even larger animals to creep near to the road and possibly cause an accident.

Moral to the story: Sometimes your husband is right.