A sampling of some of the 500+ newspaper columns I've written over the years
I have been reported to the College for a few of these.
See if you can guess which ones. :-)
Blame Sunburn on Vikings
A wee bit of magic can work wonders
Doctor's vehicles not so hot
St. Patrick was a vegetarian
The Bible is a source for medical inspiration
Chocolate is healthy for Valentines Day
The Art & Science of Sore Jaws
Spinal Manipulative Therapy
Lawyers who are ADD
Depression is a treatable disease
Medical benefits of tea
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Nisga' medicine in the Nass Valley
Chocolate for Valentines Day
Even it’s name is truly divine -“Theobromo Cacao”. “Theo” means “of the Gods”, such as “theo-ology” being the study of the Gods; “broma” means “food”; and “cacao” is derived from the language of its Aztec discoverers , who named it “cacahuatl”. “Chocolate” to you and I.
And with Valentines Day upon us, medical research has shown that chocolate is far from a sinful indulgence. Chocolate has amazing medicinal properties that make it good for heart, mind, and soul.
Research just released in the past few months indicates that chocolate truly is good for a broken heart. This was discovered in the course of a 9 year study on 30,000 Swedish women. Those who consumed 1-3 doses of chocolate per month had a 26% lower chance of congestive heart failure than those who abstained. For those who partook 1-3 times per week the risk reduction was 32 %.
This follows on upon research from several years ago that showed chocolate was good for your blood pressure. A study in Australia found that consuming daily chocolate lowered blood pressure quite effectively. Strangely, the biggest obstacle in that study was a behavioural one – convincing people that eating half a bar of chocolate a day was actually good for their health !
Anything that is good for blood pressure usually prevents strokes as well, and this has also been shown. Chocolate consumption lead to fewer strokes and fewer deaths from strokes – by up to almost fifty percent, depending upon the type of chocolate and the amount consumed.
We used to think that all the fat in chocolate was bad for the heart. But cocoa butter, the main ingredient of chocolate, contains “flavinols”, which are naturally occurring compounds which are beneficial to the heart ( and mind ). We have known since an article published in the medical journal “Hypertension” in 2005, that dark chocolate flavinols have paradoxically good effects on the body. They lower blood pressure as mentioned above, improve cholesterol, and improve the way the body utilizes insulin.
They also keep blood platelets from clumping together and forming into clots, which is probably how chocolate can prevent heart attacks and strokes. It has the same basic mechanism as a daily dose of baby aspirin. But is much tastier.
Of course when we think of chocolate and the heart we are usually thinking more of mind, mood, and romance. But chocolate shines there too.
Scientific studies have shown that women who sniff chocolate score higher on memory tests done shortly afterward. And in the April 2010 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine doctors discovered that depressed people eat more chocolate. Whether the chocolate alleviates symptoms or not is still under study, but depressed people certainly like it for some reason.
Tryptophan, an essential amino acid in chocolate, lessens anxiety by producing the neurotransmitter serotonin; so chocolate theoretically could act as a natural serotonin enhancer, similar to the Prozac class of drugs. Endorphins in chocolate, are the body's natural opiates, and reduce sensitivity to pain. Another ingredient, anandamide acts like a cannabinoid to promote relaxation. So chocolate is a natural anti-depressant, anxiety reliever, and pain killer. As well as giving you an energy boost.
Perhaps the only depressing fact about chocolate is that a survey of women’s attitudes indicated that many women like it so much that they prefer chocolate to sex. On the bright side, the two also seem to go quite well together.
Of course, like all medications, chocolate should be taken in moderation and does have certain side effects – particularly a curious widening of the hips. But there is good news here also !
Pure chocolate is almost pure fat, and has about 9 Calories per gram. And a slightly bitter taste. But the sugar used to sweeten chocolate has only 4 Calories per gram. So each gram of sugar displaces a gram of chocolate that has almost twice the calories of the sugar. Moral of the story – the sweeter the chocolate the less fattening it is. Which alone would make chocolate worthy of its name as the “divine food of the goods”.